Model: Lesley Barth
Taken 2015, Rockaway Beach, Queens
Singer-songwriter Lesley Barth and I have had a long creative partnership since I moved to NYC in 2015. She has since become one of my best friends and I’ve directed two music videos for her, as well as designed/photographed several of her album covers. We talk a lot about the creative processes we go through and check in regularly on our progress. I’m very grateful for her presence in my life.
Our very first collaboration was this shoot at Rockaway Beach one hot summer day. I brought along a white dress from my roommate’s costume stash, and she brought along some strange props. I was highly inspired by Anton Corbijn’s photo of Michael Stipe in the ocean for this series.
As we were shooting, a banner plane flew overhead, so I incorporated it into the shot. Good deals that day!
We also encountered a couple of weirdos on the beach. One said very brazenly, “Me and my buddy have a bet going on that you’re either a band or an Etsy store, and there’s money riding on it. So which one is it?”
I ended up shooting for that guy’s band too. But that’s another story. The moral of this one is, always bring interesting props to the beach!
Model: Dayne Doyle, 2015
Central Park, Manhattan
After a chance meeting with Dayne at the now-closed VYNL restaurant in Midtown, it turned out he was in a theatre production with my out-of-town visitor. Dayne and I hit it off and I did a series of portraits of him as a modern-day Hamlet. THIS crown prince of darkness just moped around in a hoodie, though! We had a lot of fun walking around Central Park and thinking of spooky ideas.
Models: Amy Schwartzman and Dora Schwartzman
I had the distinct pleasure of photographing choreographer Amy Schwartzman with her daughter Dora at their Brooklyn home in 2015. This shoot was very playful and incorporated Amy’s mother’s scarves in some impromptu dancing.
Model: Monica DeTonnancourt, 2015
Prospect Park, Brooklyn
My friend Monica and I did this enigmatic series one bright spring day in Prospect Park. Monica’s bright energy clearly shines through the bizarre distortion of the lace and sheer material. We had a lot of fun doing this and laughed our asses off the whole time. I think this was the first formal shoot I did after coming to NYC. I did some adventures at Coney Island shortly after moving to the city, but this was definitely one of the first ones I organised.
My ex and I used to go to a lot of country fairs tucked away in small towns. I was inspired a lot by their weirdness. The weirdest one of all was put on by central PA Brethren In Christ churches, which was set in the mountains and a little weird to access. (Brethren are also known as Dunkards, which are Anabaptists with roots in Mennonite tradition.)
Needless to say, a religious fun fair in the mountains was both charming and surreal.
These were photographed in 2012 or 2013; I can’t remember offhand.
This series was one of my more spontaneous early shoots experimenting with iPhone. Abby and I worked together in a theatre group on campus and did set design together for a couple of shows. Laura just sort of appeared for this. I can’t remember how this shoot even came about, but we wandered around campus and took some photos in a weird little space in one of the science building courtyards. Laura and Abby didn’t even know each other, but they played off each other great and we had a blast. They’re interesting portraits; they started out sort of stiff and polite and by the end they were dancing together.
My friend Gillian and I have known each other since college. We have a long history of sporadic yet epic hangouts. The first time I really met her I was sleeping in her dorm bunk visiting her roommate Stef (who would later become my roommate) and Gillian’s alarm clock went off…the music being “Uncle Fucker” from South Park. I was laughing so hard and she popped in and cheerfully apologized and we’ve been friends ever since.
When I started experimenting with iPhone photography, I visited her one night and did a series of photos of her playing guitar and singing (she has an incredible singing voice). They’re very early in this vein of work but I love them. I think these were taken around 2013.
Models: Lillian Lewis, Dave Wilkie, Keona Wilkie, Monte Wilkie (as foetus)
March 2015, State College PA
In March 2015, my friend Lillian and I were both experiencing massive shifts in both our lives. She was about to give birth to her third child, and was in the process of moving to Ohio to take a new job at a university. I was about to shed my old life entirely and move to New York City. Lillian and I spent a lot of our remaining time together disposing of what was holding us back and focusing on the future. She asked me to do a maternity shoot, “but not a lame one, a METAL one,” and this was the result of that venture. The photos of her growing family were all taken in her backyard in State College, PA. I am especially fond of the one with her daughter perched in the tree dressed in her crow costume from Halloween.
I was born in a small village called Woodward at the base of a mountain. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the place my whole life, but I can’t deny that I’m endlessly inspired and haunted by it. I often go back and use it as scenery or a backdrop. It’s a world of immense beauty and endless darkness. A few years ago my dad and I drove around in the early spring, before the place completely thawed. It was a harrowing experience on those icy forest roads, to say the least, but the views were gorgeous.
Model: Andrew Schall
Woodward, PA 2014
A few years ago some friends of mine and I were location scouting for a horror film set in a cabin in the woods. The monster of the film was described in the script as a sort of nebulous shadow creature that appears on a hunter cam strapped to a tree. Initially we were considering using my friend Andrew as the Creature, so we went out to the site and did some test shots to see how they’d register, and if my costuming idea would work. We scrapped this route, but the pictures ended up being enigmatic and weird and I liked them a lot.
Model: Melanie Rosenberger
University Park, PA 2015
Melanie was a college friend of mine whom I had lost touch with for years and randomly reunited with just before I moved to NYC. When I came back that summer to wrap up clearing out my apartment, Melanie and I decided to do a shoot together. She’d just found out she was pregnant with her first child. This series was taken in the Arboretum at PSU.
Model: Chuck Ramsey
Studio portraits, 2005-2007
Chuck Ramsey is the first musician I regularly collaborated with as a photographer. We both worked for the same university department, ran with the same circles of people, drank at the same pubs, and for a while even lived in the same building! He moved to Philadelphia at some point, then NYC, and got married. Later on our paths would converge again when his wife Lesley and I also became good friends. They would always help me time and again when things got rough for a while by giving me a sofa to crash on and kind words of encouragement. Chuck is absolutely my brother and I’m proud of the work we’ve done together over the years! Now we live 20 minutes from each other in NYC. Crazy, huh?
Chuck has always been open to fun ideas for portraits and I’m grateful he gave me the opportunity to spread my wings early in my career. We have had many adventures in our nearly twenty-year friendship.
These photos were taken when I worked for the photo department at PSU. We had an old school portrait light setup in the studio and I used it heavily. These were taken for Something New and Good Morning And Good Night, his first two albums.