Inscape Column – Snow Falling – PHOTOGRAPH Magazine

Blizzard in Whistler by Jay Goodrich

The third issue of PHOTOGRAPH Magazine is now out with my latest installment of my Inscape Column – Snow Falling.

You notice it ever so slightly one morning as you take the kids to school, the dog for a walk, or during your morning run. A change. It comes in the form of cooler air, dew drops on the grass in the shadows, or even lower, longer light as that sun crests the horizon a bit later than it did yesterday. The dry browns and greens of summer begin an ever so slight change. The rims of leaves begin to see color. Reds in the east, yellows in the west. The furnace of our hot season begins to wane with every day that passes. Morning dew begins to turn to morning fog. In the beginning the sun breaks through almost instantly bathing everything in an indescribable warm glow. Then as the time progresses the fog lingers and lingers. Sunrise is shrouded in gray. Runs become colder. Kids begin to wear jackets. The dog waits for a bit before asking to head out on a walk.

Then one morning like magic, you hear a click from the living room. A quiet wisp begins to flow from heating vents. The dust that has been collecting there all summer long is backlit by the rising sun in a tornado of swirling and glowing particles. The sleeping dog’s ears rise and her eyes open to its change. Your alarm pops off. You begin to realize how much light is now gone. The sun that used to annoyingly blast you in your eyes at 5am is now rising much further south and its shadows on the walls are longer and more pronounced. The winds have returned and so has the rain. Moments after its rise the sun disappears…download the latest issue to read the rest of the current installment of my Inscape Column – Snow Falling.

  • Mountain Biking in Carbondale Colorado by Jay Goodrich

    Sam Stevens riding to Carbondale published in the March 2013 Issue of Bike Magazine.

I Do What I Do

I gave a single day workshop a couple of weeks ago to a great group of participants in downtown Seattle. That workshop was as much of an eye-opener for them as it was for me. It was the group’s questions that not only inspired me, but had me answering some questions in my own mind about how and why I do what I do.

“We are all here to do what we are all here to do…” – The Oracle, The Matrix Reloaded.

The question was posed, “So how do you do it?” “How do you create the images we see here before us?” “Do you shoot at the spur of the moment?” “Do you set up images?” “Do you pre-visualize your shots?”

My answer was all of the above. I never look away from opportunity and I am always trying to discover a scene that is unique to not only to myself, but to others as well. I look down, around, up, and behind me every minute of every day with camera and without. I use my training as an architect to create compositions that possess a strong sense of place, moment, and subject.

I know that what I am doing right now is what I was meant to do. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel like working. There aren’t days when inspiration is lacking. And the harder that I push myself, my vision, and my business, the greater successes I find. I want to challenge myself in a way that doesn’t always have the answer directly handed to me. The hardest days have typically become my best days – for successful creative solutions. Nothing on this planet is free and nothing worth experiencing on this planet comes easy. I told my class that I am analogous to a “Type ‘A’ Jack Russell hopped up enough caffeine to heart attack an entire small country who is ready to kill the UPS guy at the front door.” That’s every minute of every day. If you can keep up please feel free to at any moment.

I use that same energy to train every single day. Carrying a thirty pound pack in the backcountry on skis does not come easy. I am old. I ignore all of that. The days I don’t ski, I run, I mountain bike, I road bike, and I hike. On top of that I throw in some Tai Chi, some days of lifting weights in the gym, and then sets of push-ups throughout the coarse of my entire week. The key is to never slow down. A body in motion stays in motion. For every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is all very true.

As I type this I am helping my dear friend Art Wolfe in Portland with a workshop. Yesterday, I was at the Chris King Factory shooting for an article that I am working on. Next week I am shooting a vision for GoPro and hopefully skiing some powder if the snow comes back before I head to Patagonia, South America into some other amazing mountains. Through out all of these explorations I will challenge all who will listen, to throw conformity to the wind, and discover something unique that heads beyond the every day and beyond the snapshot. Your mind is your ticket to success. You are the one who can do what I do.

“I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone, and then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.” – Neo, The Matrix.

  • Skiing Winter Colorado Cat Patagonia by Jay Goodrich

    Brennen Fitzgerald looking out the window of the snow cat on Molas Pass.

8 Principles for Professional Photographers that I have discovered in My Career

I have been creating images and articles as a business model for a long time now. During that time frame I have discovered some principles for professional photographers that I have found to truly work towards obtaining, maintaining, and growing your career. Here goes without any sort of order.

1. Perseverance. When my wife and I moved to Vail almost two decades ago we had an amazing land lord. He owned two condos in East Vail, one of which he used whenever he had time to spare (which was very rare) and the other in which he rented to us. Based on his personality, there wasn’t any doubt in both of our minds why he was beyond successful. Every time he was in town, he took us to dinner to one of his favorite fine dining restaurants to see how everything was going. The discussions almost always went in the direction of business.

My photography and writing career were in the early stages of becoming a company and I asked Stephen if he had any advice during one of our meals. His reply was direct and to the point as if he had been asked the question several thousand times. “Honestly, the only thing I can offer you Jay, is that my success is based purely on the concept that I have been too dumb to quit over the course of the last twenty years.” Twenty years later and I still consider his suggestion words to live by.

2. Respect Clients. Notice how I am not telling you to like your clients. In fact, you can hate them to the point that you want to stab them in their sleep. Although, if this is your true emotional experience in a given situation, my advice might be to seek counseling or some new clients. The key here is that we are not going to get along with everybody. Especially in a creative industry. Everyone thinks they are right and more so when those people are the ones footing the bills for you.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t treat them with the respect that they deserve for getting to their position and shouldn’t expect to receive the same respect from them. Voicing an opinion that is different than a client’s isn’t wrong and if in the end you lose that client because of it, that client wasn’t worth working for anyway.

3. Shoot What You Love. Don’t think for one minute shooting weddings is going to make you successful if you would rather be shooting bears in the Alaskan Wilderness. However, there is nothing wrong with shooting bears in Alaska and shooting weddings if you have a true love for them both. Money and success come to those who put passion into what they are trying to achieve. I don’t care if it is building software, cars, electronics or crunching numbers as an accountant. The best and most qualified people in any field are the ones who love that specific field.

If you hate numbers don’t be an accountant. If you love people, shoot portraits, and if you hate your fellow man go out into the woods and get eaten alive by mosquitos. The key here is coming to the conclusion of what it is you are going to focus on.

4. Compose, Compose, Compose. I don’t care how different your opinion is from mine on this matter, this is the single most important aspect of photography. It is also the hardest to master. While many of you can dispute me saying that light is most important, as you realize your professional career, you will come to grips with the fact that light doesn’t always go the way you visualize and contracts don’t always permit you another day to allow your best work to happen. If you can pull a composition out of thin air in any situation, you can make everyone happy. A strong composition is always the connection to your viewers emotions. Work it, master it, and never drop the ball when looking through that viewfinder. You will never regret it.

5. You Need to Spend Money to Make Money. The key here is business and very few businesses succeed without marketing and an official marketing plan in place. Why would you want to fly by the seat of your pants and always worry about paying your bills? Photography is no harder to succeed at than any other self-made career, which makes it REALLY HARD to achieve your wildest dreams. We may live in the world of opportunity, but thinking for one minute that the world cares about you because you got the cover of Time once in your life a decade ago is as careless as handing your three-year-old matches in a dry hay field. You need to plan and planning has you putting a realistic budget and system in place to show the world that you are not only good at what you do, but that you can get them what they need. Market yourself, your style, your subjects, and your successes and others will come.

6. Confidence. I am not talking ego here. I am talking about bonafide confidence in one’s self. Confidence does not mean that you are cocky. It means that you are content in your place in this world, on this planet, and in your surroundings. You are not self-centered, you give any and all people your time, no matter the situation. You are balanced as best you can be every minute of every day. Tai Chi is the study of Yin and Yang. Most people think of it as a meditative martial art, the true masters find and achieve an equilibrium with the planet, that in turn, finds them as close to indestructible as anything in existence. If you can strive to discover this kind of power, you will in turn succeed. You will know that you are the best that you can be and others will feel that energy. The confident egotist may succeed faster, but in the end you will surpass them. You will steal their bits of good energy and learn how to use it against them. The cocky egotist is truly lacking any and all forms of self-confidence. Discover your Chi.

7. Win the Crowd and You Win Your Freedom. “Proximo: Listen to me. Learn from me. I was not the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd and you will win your freedom.” – Gladiator. I know we may be headed down a road of abstractness here, but if you do win the appreciation of those who follow you, you will win. They will help you become successful without blowing the budget in number five of this post. They will in turn win from your shout outs of their shout outs. My father always said, “What comes around, goes around.” Positive thinking and promotion will allow you to write your own ticket. That would be the ticket for your next project that you think will allow you to achieve numbers three and four of this post as well.

8. Consistency. Do everything that you can to achieve consistency in your photography, your brand, and your professionalism. People will notice and the more people that notice, the more success you will discover. Remove the disconnects, like I said earlier it is ok to shoot weddings and bears, but think about how those clients will look at your identity if they are both coming to the same place. Who will be turned off and who will be turned on? Which side of the fence is greater? Separation here is okay, if different clients are going to different locations, but the message (brand) is the same for each.

I am a contemporary photographer who creates imagery and stories of adventure and architecture, but if you are not an architect, you are not coming to the site (that would be this site) that highlights my roller coaster of life. However, you are seeing the same contemporary imagery and brand identity on the site that I do bring you to.

Have you discovered some aspect of life or career that has helped you understand your place in this world? Give us a comment!

  • Basalt Boulders at Sunset in Lamar Valley by Jay Goodrich

    Basalt boulders are set against the setting sun in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park Wyoming.

Manipulation

My friend and editor Chris Robinson of Outdoor Photographer Magazine did a post on manipulation a few weeks ago to which I addressed a few thoughts of my own. Here is what I had to say:

It’s kind of funny that this post has come to the surface at this moment in time. My opinion has recently changed on this discussion due to a whole slew of new clients. And here is my thinking and the thinking of many of the editors I currently work with.

If it is created in camera and the history to that single capture can be traced, the sky is the limit to how you obtained that RAW file. Filters, flash, lenses of choice, pretty much whatever you deemed you needed at that moment in time to create that photograph, is okay. The initial image should make its statement from the beginning. No crops outside of the camera. Then from a processing perspective, adjustments are allowed to make your image presentable from your view point, but nothing should be added or taken away from that original composition with the exception of dust.

Some editors are even asking that you skip using Photoshop to make adjustments altogether and only utilize Lightroom/Camera Raw. I think that this might be a little extreme, but maybe they have personally been burned too many times and they have decided that drawing the line in the sand weeds out those who try to cover their tracks.

Digital cameras are designed to produce exposure and rendering in the middle of the field to all parties. This is definitely a design decision by the manufacturers and a realistic approach to the photographic process. Not everyone wants to shoot Velvia, nor does everyone want to shoot Portra. So if someone says that they don’t process their image, they obviously don’t know what they are doing or are flat out lying.

In this discussion though, the word manipulation is going to come up. And I am finding this word miss used in the photography industry more and more these days. Manipulation reflects a change in that original capture, and not one of minor adjustment. I think the definition of manipulation is when HDRs, multiple capture merges, and adds and subtractions occur to an image. This symbolizes the “untruth” in photography to me, and it is becoming a main reason for so many people always questioning the validity of any beautiful image released to the world. The word manipulate is a very bad swear word in the world of photography and the beginners need to add it or subtract it from their vocabulary accordingly.

Now I know that there are many who would argue HDR is not manipulation. I know this because this used to be my fight. My change is simple, clients like National Geographic, Powder Magazine, Bike Magazine, Sierra Club, and Audubon, Etc., do not accept this work. Thus, in an effort to never send something that deviates from my clients’ requests, I have decided to work wholeheartedly for the in-camera response. And I have to tell you that it has made me a much better photographer because of it.

Photography is a hard medium and artistic expression to really define. It captures reality to some extent, but it truly doesn’t go to the point of painting, nor to the point of what we witness seeing through our own eyes with everyday life. It is a sort of skewed reality. We adjust what our viewer sees from the point at which we pick a lens that is not 50mm. And even then, we can change our view point from there on what we decide to highlight in our composition. This whole discussion is an argument of grey areas, of reactionary dualities and ironies. And in as much an artistic personal expression as the medium itself. Though, I do find that standing behind the justification that it is art and I can do what ever I want, not quite as valid now.

Don’t get me wrong either. I still think HDR is cool. Merging exposures is a great way to solve light issues that were never solvable before and to those using them more power to you. I have decided to let go of it and purely create with my black box to what is standing before me in any given situation. Again, partially, because of my client base requests and partly because my life in the office has become simpler because of it.

Yes, I do process my images. I add contrast, color changes, saturation adjustments, curves, levels, dodges and burns, vignettes, highlight adjustments, shadow adjustments, global and selective tweaks. My RAW does show exactly what I was thinking, just on a much more muted palette and that is okay. It is not missing the star trails, or the tree in the corner that I just left in because I was too lazy to move the camera figuring I could crop it out later. Do I have those HDRs, merges, and Content Aware moves? Yes I do. And this is my final point, I tell those interested in using them that the image was worked that way. If they decide to use it at that point, THEY MADE THAT DECISION, not me.

What is your point of view on this topic? Let us know.

  • Backlit Flowers Abstract Landscape by Jay Goodrich

    Backlit dried flowers from last summer are interlaced with fresh sping blooms to create an abstract image of line, shape, texture and pattern.

It’s the Scraps that Define Us

I sat in La Bicyclette, a restaurant in Carmel, California eating a salad and some hand-made, simplex, fufu pizza that some of my friends disliked whole-heartedly. I on the other hand thought the favor profiles, albeit super simple, worked for me. It was not the food that first wafted me in like the Sirens though. It was the general presentation of church and state. Actually, the lack there of. La Bicyclette is the type of place that cashed in on my marketing psyche. Old contempo, just enough rustic to poke through that super simplistic cleanliness I so desire in my own image celebration. A true café misplaced from an era in Europe that screamed Hemingway.

On the table when I sat down was a piece of crumpled and abused white paper with a paragraph of old-school Smith Corona typewriter letters. Simple, clean, and begging to be read, so I indulged. “The café is where people from all walks of life, whether they are artists and writers, or business people and politicians, can come and interact freely. The café in European culture has always been more than just a place to eat and drink. Cafés are social hubs, places for ideas, and debate in a casual atmosphere that is comfortable and stress free. Because of this, cafés are bustling with activity and there is a sense that everyone belongs. Great ideas and dialogue go hand in hand with great food and wine. We find inspiration in the aliments (ingredients) that nourish our bodies and our minds. The cafés of Europe have spawned many a great idea and many a great meal. We hope that La Bicyclette follows in the same tradition. àvotresanté.”

You had me at, “Hi Mr. Goodrich, your table is ready.” It is safe to say that I am a marketer’s wet dream. Cool things just work for me and I will shell out coin to live in the moment of those little pieces. These “scraps” do possess another quality though, the emotion that generates inspiration. Throughout all of my travels, with all of the people that I meet, and things that I see, I collect. Business cards, slips of paper with some type-written message like the aforementioned, and photos. Photos of it all and about it all. These little scraps are my own little Picasso or Pollock. I can own them and treasure them as if I were a well endowed collector. Vignettes into a world of further creation. Further direction even. One little message at a time. Look around they exist everywhere. Oh, and a cheers to that!

  • Photographing Through the Cypress by Jay Goodrich

    Lisa Lashaway photographs along the coast near Monterey California.

Open

With the announcement of our new website last week, I discussed changing directions. About taking your current status quo and trying to explore new avenues with your photography. Wonderful, right? There is a catch here though, and that is becoming open to the change. You can decide to go for it, decide you can make images in another discipline, but the bottom line is, regardless of your decision, you are going to need to become much more aware of your current surroundings in order to achieve it. And in reality, it’s not even about awareness, but a conscious effort or training even.

Anyone can post the sign “Professional Photographer” at their front door. There is no test that has to be passed. You do not need to go to school for any kind of degree. Hell, you don’t even need to have a closet full of equipment. The reality though, is that you wouldn’t get very far, because in today’s society, people only want to work with people who can prove their experience. In another thought too, you wouldn’t even know how to take a picture if you were that far removed from your title. I am assuming that we can agree that it is not a lack of experience here, at least for what you currently focus on, no it is about stepping into different waters.

You have experience and knowledge, you just don’t have experience and knowledge in the subject you are about to immerse yourself into. So what will it take to get that experience? It will take time and it will take training. This training doesn’t need to be formal though, it can be experience driven. You can take the knowledge you already have and build upon it. Photograph and study, then adjust, then photograph some more. Eventually you will have the experience. It is in that experience then that you will have the consciousness to achieve. Why? Because once you have enough experiences, your brain transforms. It begins to talk to you instead of you talking to it.

When this little switch occurs, you notice things that you may not have noticed before. All of a sudden your level of seeing escalates beyond were you were an hour ago, a day ago, or even a year ago. It is at this point that you realize that heading out into any photographic situation with a preconceived idea is almost ludicrous. Unless of course you have planned and sketched the whole image out, and you are building the concept from the ground up. This holds true for much of the commercial photography out there.

The shot I have included in this post is the proof of this building block scenario. I changed directions for my new website. This took me out of my comfort zone and had me photographing things that I barely touched upon before. The trial and inexperience period happened fast only because I already had the building blocks of creativity laid prior with an architecture degree and fifteen years of photographing. None the less, it was hard to take an image with a person in it, that wasn’t doing something visually exciting – mountain biking, skiing, etc. Fast forward six months – my eyes, brain, and motor skills are teed up in search of these scenarios now. So when I was photographing an abstract of some trees along the coast of California during a workshop last week, my mind was on the lookout.

When one of our participants walked into my composition, I pounced. I shot something that I would have never seen a year prior because my brain would not have possessed the training to look. I would have probably asked her to move out of the scene. And the beauty of the whole situation is that none of the other people standing next to me realized I took the image, until they saw it at the end of the workshop. Go ahead and change directions, but make sure that when you do, you become open to as many situations in your surroundings that your brain will allow you to go after. Your image making skills will definitely show for it.

You’re Not in the Mood Well You Get in the Mood

Rooted and Rocked Mountain Biking Washington by Jay Goodrich

If you ask my wife, she will tell you that I am the moodiest person on the planet-ridiculously happy one minute and ready to end it all at a moment’s notice the next. Those mood changes surprisingly change my creative disposition, and not only the way I take photographs, but the way that I process them too. You can create mood in the field during different weather conditions or you can create different moods when processing your images after the fact. How do we go about this?

Shooting in the field is definitely the hardest of all the scenarios to generate mood because you are controlled exclusively by your environment. If you head out to photograph on a clear, cloudless day, the mood of your photographs will differ drastically from a day when you head out and everything is enshrouded in fog, or it’s raining, or snowing, or even clearing as the sun is setting. All these scenarios give your photographs very distinct and different moods. At the same time, you can change that mood while processing them too. Now generating a mood within your frame, can truly be limitless.

Think about the direction of processing your image. You can process an image darker to promote a more thought provoking view or lighter to cheer up your viewers emotions. The same holds true when adding color. Blues are cooler, thus driving a more inward feeling, while warm tones can promote a positive mood. You can add grain to add confusion. Add sharpness to add clarity. Blur parts of your image to change your viewers focus. And in the same thought you can combine of any of the previous mentioned techniques as well.

My photographic mission has been changing pretty rapidly lately and now Adobe’s Lightroom software is more of the mainstay image adjustment tool than Photoshop. This is happening because of two reasons. One, most of the editors that I am currently working with will not even accept a file out of Photoshop. It must be a RAW converted to a DNG. Lightroom allows me to make image adjustments and still export a DNG that looks the way I intended, but also allows my editors to see the original file for verification of its validity. Interpretation–NO MERGED IMAGES ALLOWED! And two, I don’t have a ton of time, so if I can create it in camera and then process it quickly, I then can move on to the next project.

Rooted and Rocked Mountain Biking Washington by Jay Goodrich

For those of you that aren’t in the mood to give it a try maybe the included image will get you there.

Not Goodbye Just So Long

dad photo

I think my mom said it best today, “John was a crusty exterior filled with a warm marshmallow center.” And after listening to friend after friend of his describe their experiences with my father, I couldn’t agree more. My father was a hard man to understand and know, but once you made it through that hardened exterior you were in for life. He would stop at nothing to fix whatever trouble you were in. Even if that meant crossing illegal borders with a small army to break you out of an international prison. Many people didn’t “like” him because they didn’t understand him. He had no filter, no buffer. He called it like he saw it and that wasn’t necessarily the way the people around him wanted it put. You did know exactly who he was though. As you learned more about the person he was you learned that there were special buttons that would set him off and the other special buttons that would diffuse his explosiveness.

There were times throughout the course of my life with my father that I loved him, hated him, needed him, respected him, and disagreed with him. He was a man who could figure out how to fix anything. He could build anything. And he did it until the last days of his life. He never needed to rely on anyone but himself, until the last few weeks of his life. He was a two-hundred pound, six-foot tall giant. He taught me to shoot and respect guns, how to fly airplanes, how fix my car, how to trick out my car, and how to swim at three years old. I returned the favor a few years ago by taking him flying for the first time in close to thirty years. I never saw him smile that way prior. Grinning ear to ear.

Looking back there were decisive moments in my life were I knew that I had won a place in my father’s heart and soul for eternity. One was the day that I called and told him I was a licensed pilot and the other came unexpectedly as we sat drinking beer by the swimming pool a day after he met his first grandchild. It was dark out, a hot summer evening in New Jersey, the sound of crickets around. He took a swig of his Samuel Adams Lager and said under a quiet and confident voice, “I never imagined in a million years you would be the father that I never was.” I looked over a bit confused. Took it all in and realized what he just said. I said nothing. He continued, “I am so proud of you, that little girl is going to be something very special.” “Thank you.” I drank some more beer.

As I cried my brains out today as his friends spoke, my daughter, Jade, made herself around the room hugging not only me, but every single person, that shed tears as well. I reflected on what they said and realized one very important thing. He saw and knew what I had yet to perceive. I had learned from him, I had taken all of the good and thrown out all of the bad to become a better parent, a better person. And hopefully Jade will in turn do the same to me.

As I head onto the plane home, I will leave you with two things. My grandmother would always say to me, “Never say goodbye, just so long.” Why? “Because goodbye is forever and so long is until I see you again.” And the other is the quote that my sister picked for the remembrance card, “Fill not your hearts with pain and sorrow, but remember me in every tomorrow. Remember the joy, the laughter, the smiles, I’ve only gone to rest a little while. Although my leaving causes pain and grief, my going has eased my hurt and given me relief. So dry your eyes and remember me, not as I am now, but as I used to be. Because, I will remember you all and look on with a smile. Understand, in your hearts, I’ve only gone to rest a little while. As long as I have the love of each of you, I can live my life in the hearts of all of you.

So long father. I hope you are flying and shooting guns every single day without pain, without hesitation, and for an eternity, until we meet again.

The Road Trip

The Truck Stop in Green River, UT by Jay Goodrich

I am sitting here reliving my youth. It’s the same damn nightmare I remember, just different. I am driving on Interstate 84 finally headed home from a two-week long trip to Colorado. And, I am in fact twitching like a patient in a mental rehabilitation center. Is that the politically correct way to say that? If not, Lord I apologize.

Do you remember that nightmare? I don’t think there is an adult in their mid-forties that didn’t have the same nightmare as I did. A dark green metallic station wagon, simulated wood grain side panels with dark green metallic vinyl upholstery. Windows sealed tight. Air conditioning off. Dad chain smoking Parliaments and on enough coffee to kill a small horse. Mom reading a book or taking care of the whining kids in the back. Kids almost in tears to the point of twitching themselves. Those kids were me and my sister. My father trying to break the land speed record that he apparently held from last year’s trip to Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Disney Land. It doesn’t matter. I remember the chatter on the CB radio. And the whip antenna on the back chrome bumper of the green machine. “We’ve gotta Kojak with a Kodak at mile marker twenty five.” “Breaker one nine, breaker one nine.” The CB was the size of a large toaster. The car had an eight track with some kind of country-western crap playing over and over. Finally, at the breakdown point, my sister asks, “Are we there yet?”

Campfire Movement by Jay Goodrich

These road trips were a right of passage for most kids my age. I remember writing of them often when I returned to the school year, as did most of my friends. This was our little part of history. We stayed in hotels, motels, parks, campgrounds, and even in the metallic green monster itself. We snuck sips of Budweiser from our dad’s beers when they weren’t looking. Sometimes too many sips. We peed on trees far and wide. Ate hot dogs, hamburgers, and beans. Tons of beans. Then of course there were the s’mores. Hershey’s, marshmallow, and graham crackers. Not to mention the snacks that were full of sugar along the way. A bribe, to keep our mouths shut. Didn’t they realize the sugar was the cause of all of their problems?

Heather Goodrich Dropping into "Flushed Away" by Jay Goodrich

Am I hitting a chord within your soul yet? Enter 2011. Road trip rights handed over from our parents to Heather and me now . I am thinking of that line in the Matrix Revolutions, Morpheus looks at his ex-girlfriend Naomi as she asks him to dance, “Some things never change.” Then they hear her current boyfriend call her name, and he finishes with, “And some things do change.” Yes we have traded the green machine in for a Toyota Matrix on this trip, sometimes we take the FJ. We don’t smoke, we do try to break our personal records, knowing all too well that it will only be possible if we actually break the speed limits in larger quantities than previously. I truly now know why you try to break those records though. Because the faster you get there, the faster you get out of the car and away from the screaming kids. Heather does read. I can actually type on the laptop thanks to learning to fly an airplane in IFR conditions-that motion sickness thing kind of goes away. We both drink tons of coffee. We both drive. And we both argue with the kids and each other. The car gets trashed. The kids freak out. Although not as much as I did. Maybe it’s all the movies on the iPhones and soon coming iPads.

Jade Goodrich Giving Mark Kogelmann some Attitude by Jay Goodrich

Is it worth it? Well as an adult, if you actually take the time to look around while traveling, yes it is. You will quickly realize that those pieces of Americana that you remember from your youth do still exist. There are places in Idaho where the seventies never left. The worlds biggest frying pan is still in Kansas or close to it. And now you can beat your parents records because your car can actually travel faster on less gas. All this is contingent on the fact that you can put up with your kids and your spouse long enough to survive the journey. Yeah it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t trade any of this. What’s that saying? “Life is worth the journey…” Good feeling gone. I have to go, Jade wants to know if we are there yet.

  • A Race Tent During the 24 Hours of Moab byJay Goodrich

    A muddy bike and destroyed tent during the 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike race during an extremely wet weather system.

WWW

No, I am not talking about the World Wide Web or a new website I am going to launch to be a show stopper, like some of the upcoming Apple Products that were announced yesterday. I am in fact talking about photography and the image making process. I think we as photographers have a tendency to forget some of the simplest of ideals when we are photographing. Usually because the excitement of what is happening before our eyes clouds our vision. By attempting to keep site of these ideals, we become more successfully honed artists and in-turn can send a clear perspective out into the world. (This week’s photograph is viewable larger by just clicking on it so you can see more of what is going on.)

So if I am not talking web crap, what am I talking about? Simple. Where. What. Why. If you keep these three Ws in mind every time you trip your shutter, you will more likely than not create a successful photograph. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, so let’s consider this another guideline to better yourself as a photographer.

Where. Where in the world is this photograph taken? Wait that is not a gimme Jay, you said make it obvious. Record needle scratch here. Not obvious, but in there. The more your viewer has to look to try and deduce answers, the longer they will view. The longer they view, the more successful the image. Stuck to the brain and people return. So look. What do you see in the photo? The focus is on a rider. A rider who is behind some muddy and obviously wet cycling clothes. He’s eating something. Standing next to a propane heater. It’s dark out. All clues yet, not giving you the answer. Then in the foreground, a bike, a really muddy bike. It happens to be my wife’s bike, but that is irrelevant. It’s in a stand though and that says something–it needs work. A little TLC. Look around the room. Clothes hanging everywhere. Lights are on. Dartboard. Nalgene with a USCF sticker on it. United States Cycling Federation. A race? Look to the bike. A number plate hanging from the handlebars. Look deeper. Water bottles all over the place. Same with the food. What do hard core mountain bikers need during a race? Fluids and energy. All of a sudden we have one paragraph on the “where”.

What. What are we photographing? Well that has been answered in the previous paragraph to some extent. Mountain Biking. Some kind of race. It’s dark out. What kind of races head into the night? Long races. There is one obvious rider. One person you cannot really see, and two guys that are not riding. Relay racing? Team racing. It’s night time, so it has to be some kind of endurance race. Everything is boarded up. Heater. Jackets. Mud. It’s late season. Look at the mud. Even the color lends itself to more of the answers.

Why. Why are we photographing it? Besides the simple fact that we are photographers and we like the scene or are getting paid to shoot the scene, etc., etc., etc. I will tell you why I took the shot. Because of paragraphs one and two. There is a complete story in this one simple image. Over five hundred words already in this post and we are quickly turning it into that stupid cliché–a picture is worth a thousand words. But why else? The scene has great light. It is an unusual situation. How many photographers are up at an hour like this? It has marketing potential to the bike builder, to any company who has gear in there, and to the race coordinators. It works to add more detail to a set of images about this race. It shows the races when the are not racing. A different perspective. An intimate perspective. I liked that the scene unfolded with some interpretation. I liked the way that at first it is confusing, but then leads to more and more discovery. Do you see the dog? Do you see the clock?

Don’t worry, these shots don’t happen every day. Sometimes not even in a month of shooting. Don’t ever tell your clients that though. You as a photographer will work, really hard to accomplish great images. Usually when you feel like you are shooting pure trash, when you are most tired, most convinced you are failing, you create something that has…well, potential. Remember, WWW, and go out and shoot. Also, guess the actual specifics of this photo and I will send you a signed print of it, to use as kindling at your next BBQ.

The Wilds of Alaska Will Change You Forever

An extended version of this article was published over ten years in a magazine that is no longer in publication. It was actually only the second time I had ever been published in addition to being my second feature article. It still brings back all of those emotions.

Toenails of an Alaskan Brown Bear by Jay Goodrich

Three weeks in Alaska changes a man’s ideals of our world and makes nature an everyday experience in his life.

The peaks rose from the sea, lush and green, and slowly turned snowcapped, white like a frosted cupcake. My jaw was on the floor of the airplane. I looked over at my wife, Heather. She flashed me a grin. I felt extremely lucky. We met each other in a climbing gym; seeking challenge, we found love. We got married at a ski area in the summertime. And now Heather and I were on our way to our honeymoon. Not a honeymoon like most, to go somewhere tropical and sit on a beach and drink fruity drinks all day. Nope, we decided to mountain bike Alaska. The next three weeks of our lives would be the adventure of a lifetime. Falling in love is a great thing.

We met Mike late that afternoon, entering his little shop of river guiding horrors on a whim. It was like Obi-Wan-Kanobi meeting Han Solo for the first time. He was a well-spoken, clean-cut adventurer.

“I’ll take you wherever you want to go, but it’s gonna cost you.”

“Bears.”, Heather replied

“Come back at 9.”

Seal Alaska by Jay Goodrich

He took our fifty bucks and the three of us sped off in his flat-bottom river boat. He hammered the throttle and we flew up Twister Creek at about 50mph

We crouched low in the bushes and didn’t say a word. A yearling Grizzly Cub was interested in us.  He was only half his full grown size, about 700lbs. The mom was in the tall grass, poking her head up a couple of times to make sure we weren’t going to harm the “little” guy. They disappeared into the bushes only to reemerge about fifteen feet from us. Mike, Heather and I all sat there not moving, not talking, just watching. It was amazing to see something that big in the wild. The cub’s paw prints were bigger than my size 12’s. Our trip was full of experiences like this for three weeks.

Whadya Lookin at Punk by Jay Goodrich

Cycling over to Exit Glacier weeks later, I began to get a cramp in my stomach as I realized the trip was just about over.  Heather and I had done things that people only dream of doing.  People always say “someday”. I believe that someday is now. Alaska is so wild, so untouched, that it grabs hold of you. A hold of your emotions, your dreams, and every thought you have ever had. Places that are so different than anything you have ever experienced do that to you. It was grabbing hold of me right now. Down where all your emotions come from, deep inside your soul. I was saddened that the end was approaching faster than I wanted. For the first time in my life I felt free, but freedom sometimes hurts. You are always afraid that it will leave you. I thought about the course my life was taking. The nine-to-fiver to pay the bills, to live that life I always wanted. Success. New York Style. That was the road I was on. But I wanted freedom forever, not just on the weekends. I was going to make it happen; I was going to take a different path.

Brown Bear Tracks in Mud Alaska by Jay Goodrich

I stood there taking photos of Exit Glacier, a glacier receding so fast that twenty years ago it was a quarter of a mile longer. It is amazing how fast this world can change. The shutter released on my camera for the 3000th or so time, and I decided. Screw nine to five, screw professional. It was time to do what I wanted. Pick the career I needed. I did, and at this moment in time photography was where I decided to go. This place, Alaska, changed my life forever. The desk I would now sit behind was my own. Outdoors was going to become a full time job. I have seen all I wanted to see of the “professional world”.

In a place where natural beauty abounds, I found beauty in my own life. I vowed from that day forward to never give up, and to always follow my dreams. I dreamt of Heather and got her. Now it was time to realize the rest of my dreams.

The trip was over. 500 or so cycling miles later we drove out of Seward headed to Anchorage and the big plane ride home. We were quiet, thoughtful. We were going to miss this place, but we were determined to return…

How has immersing yourself in nature changed your life?

And if you want to experience some of this wild for yourself, Jay and legendary photographer Art Wolfe have only 3 spots left in a workshop at the end of July. It could be your time…

Inspiration-As Open as The Five Year Old

Shoe Pastel by Jade Goodrich

Late last year, I wrote a blog post over on the Outdoor Photographer Website, about losing our creativity in America. This post was based on an article that was published on Newsweek’s website. Because of that article, our daughter’s main Christmas present was an easel and full set of professional art supplies ranging from pastels to water color paints and everything in between. I guess Heather and I figured we should at least give her the opportunity to create, since we knew it isn’t happening in her school. It didn’t take long for Jade to declare this “one of her favorite presents ever”. Heather and I are still shocked, because she got a baby carriage too, and those things usually wind up much higher on the love list.

In lieu of heading down the road of that bumper sticker–My Kid is an Honor Student…crap, I do have to say that I am quickly becoming the proud father of a somewhat creative daughter. People must have some kind of genetic mutation that kicks in when kids are born, that automatically gives us a propensity towards thinking our kids are the greatest. This probably happens so we don’t kill them, eat them, and get back to what it is all really about–sex! I am sure there is a perfectly good scientific explanation that my uber-educated wife can come up with, but I have yet to figure it all out. I have come to the conclusion that it gives our children the motivation to at least try, by having a vote of confidence from the ones they know the best.

Hands Watercolor by Jade Goodrich

The past week of my life has been pretty much work free, and unfortunately not by choice. Jade has been home sick with Strep Throat. Fevers close 105 degrees, vomiting, you don’t need to know the particulars, just really sick. It seemed like every dose of Ibuprofen had her up and about for at least 4 hours before the need of sleep would factor into the picture. During those times of insanity (sanity is when they are asleep) she wanted to “create artwork”. And there was no way I was going to argue with her at those moments, I just didn’t want her to puke on my carpet again.

Jade is 5, and acts like she is 15 with the exception that she still has a romantic innocence about herself. She holds prejudice against no one, doesn’t even fathom the idea of racism, and truly experiences the world with an open mind. It is fairly liberating for me to watch. My only goal now is to learn from it, to photograph like she paints–with complete freedom and for the absolute joy of doing so. I knew taking her to that Picasso exhibit was going to pay dividends. In 4 days of “home schooling” with dad, we watched countless movies on the apple TV, ate a few pounds of gummi bears, and actually painted 13 pieces. I guess I shouldn’t say painted, because Jade chose to use pastels, water colors, charcoal, and markers. Let’s go with created 13 pieces.

Flowers Watercolor by Jade Goodrich

I am hoping that her work is actually good and I am not being a “Jaded” father, then my creative background kicks in and I truly believe that this work has merit. She picked titles like, “name”, “face”, and “me” for some of the pieces, which has me thinking that she actually had a concept in mind when she went to town on that easel. The other part of the story is that it may not actually matter if the work is good or not. I got to spend a solid 4 days with my daughter, I got to be inspired by her creativity, and she personally taught me to look at the world differently, to create with more intensity. For that alone, I am forever grateful. And it might just have me picking up some of those art supplies to pull some of the visions I have banging around in that melon upstairs.

Can’t Han…dle the Wor….kload

For the last week I have been under the gun from commercial architecture clients with ridiculous deadlines. I essentially have 7 projects to finish mastering by the 15th of November, which all came to fruition at the same time last week. It wasn’t like I was slacking on my end, just playing on Facebook and Twitter, figuring that somehow all this stuff would magically get done. No, I am blaming the clients for slacking in this event. I really want to give them a piece of my mind, but the reality is that it would accomplish very little, and I would probably lose those clients in the process of venting and making myself feel better. That means I sit at my wonderful computer relentlessly for days,listening to and purchasing tons of music from Apple. I have spent so much time in Photoshop in the past week, I want to start writing the code for that program. No, not really, but I have become more knowledgable with it than ever before. The up side to all of this is that on the 15th, next Monday, I will have the billings to reflect the fruits of my labor. Is there really a downside to all this? Well the only real thing I can think of, is missing out on some quality sleep time. I have always said though that sleep is for the dead. Well honey, I might be dead and don’t really know it yet–would that make me a vampire?

As I have been typing this I have watched the sun rise over Mount Baker and begin streaming into my office. I love the early morning light here in Washington. For those who have never experienced it, it is almost indescribable. With that said, I need to head back to image mastering, but I did want to show you what happens with a typical architectural image of mine. Many of these new photographs will be on the new website when it launches on January 1, 2011–1/1/11.

Raw File from a Private Residence in Colorado by Jay Goodrich

The above image is the original raw, middle exposure photo from a gallery hallway in one of the projects that I am now working on. I did not light this scene with my typical hot lights or strobes, although I did capture 5, additional, one-stop exposures that I fused together with Photomatix Pro to even out the scene. Then the real work began. The client specified that they wanted the track lighting, miscellaneous sprinkler covers, alarm sensors, HVAC grills, and smoke detectors taken out of the image. To which I obliged thanks to the the new Content-Aware feature in Photoshop CS5. Being in control of how my work is viewed though, that was just the starting point. Removing the lights were easy, fixing the areas where they cast light on–the walls, was where I spent the time. In the end, there were close to two hours spent mastering this image and that is pretty much the norm for all of my architecture photographs. That is why I charge mucho dinero for this work.

Final Mastered Image from a Private Residence in Colorado by Jay Goodrich

Notice the lack of lighting on the beam, it is actually a new beam. Then there is the smoothing out of the light casts on the walls, the balanced color, and additional contrast. I was okay leaving the light on the floor in the foreground because if you notice further down the hall there is the same cast, which is actually from the same track lights. Those just happen to be on the backside of the beam in relation to the camera. And, if you ever want to know how I do all this, you can always sign up for a one-on-one chat session and I will show you. Well, the sun is up and this vampire has to go back to work. I have many new post ideas coming, I just need to find some time to get them all out there. In the meantime, let me know what you think of the image.

The Many Faces of HDR

Hand Blended Image in Photoshop CS5 by Jay Goodrich

You would have to be living in a proverbially photographic cave to not have heard about one of photography’s latest buzzwords–HDR. Although it has been around for quite some time, like all things that break photographic traditions, the community takes its time in adopting them. I have been using High Dynamic Range imagery for 5 years now. The reason that I picked up the technique, was to help me capture interior architecture images that more closely resembled the architect’s intent, without the need to over light the scene before me.

Photomatix "Grunge" Look by Jay Goodrich

Like any new tool, I quickly realized its benefits and its drawbacks. Although, I still use it in almost all of my architecture photography, I only use HDR processing with all the other photography disciplines that I shoot, when the composition warrants. That’s when a foreground subject rises above the horizon where a graduated neutral density filter could have evened out the scene. I would rather spend more time out in the field shooting and as little time as possible in front of a computer merging images. In addition, I am using this method only to create realism, and not create those amazing painterly images that photographers like Trey Ratcliff and Tony Sweet are producing.

Photomatix Automatic Photo Merge by Jay Goodrich

You have many choices with HDR. You can utilize a software like Photomatix Pro to automatically merge multiple exposures of a scene; at the same time deciding if you want a realistic look or a more artistic look. The new Photoshop CS5 does a great job of this too. In Photoshop though, you also have the option of manually merging all of those exposures to create an image that completely speaks from the heart of the artist. Even the iPhone has a built-in HDR option with its latest version of Apple’s operating system.

The Middle Exposure Raw File by Jay Goodrich

I can now produce images that I couldn’t just a few years ago. Which means HDR is a permanent part of my workflow. I don’t always use it, I will often use my graduated neutral density filters to even out the exposure of a scene, but the key here is that I don’t have to when a composition presents itself that goes beyond the limitations of even those.

As in any creative endeavor the proof is in the eyes of the beholder. How you choose to express the composition you photographed is entirely up to you. Like all things in life, too much of a good thing, can end up hurting you in the end. As you have seen in this post there are many options to any given photograph, it is knowing and understanding your options that will give you the best possible rendition of your personal vision and style. That is often the true success or failure of any image.

Want to learn more about HDR. Jay is teaching a 3 hour workshop at the upcoming NANPA Photography Summit in McAllen, Texas.