Personal History

When I was a kid growing up in Washington, D.C. in the late 1940s and early 1950s, I did a lot of drawing (more than some of my elementary school teachers would have liked) and wanted some day to draw a comic strip like the ones I read in the newspaper. In high school and college I took some art classes but chose architecture as my college major.

Gradually my interests shifted toward photography and city planning. In 1969 I went to London for a two-year postgrad program in planning, but soon found myself spending as little time as possible studying planning and as much as possible on learning and practicing photography. One thing led to another, and by the time I returned to the U.S. in 1971 I had a credible portfolio of architectural photography and had shot small jobs for several clients, including two architectural firms and a major German magazine. It had taken a while, but I finally understood that it was possible to make a living as a full-time photographer, and that I had to give it a try. Since then I’ve never seriously looked back. I’ve specialized in architecture but also shot a little bit of everything from weddings to wildlife, including a lot of landscapes and cityscapes.

Somewhere along the way I decided I was a good communicator and could probably do a good job of teaching photography. I began in 1980 with “Basic Photography” through Acalanes Adult Education Center in Walnut Creek, CA, and now teach regularly both there and at Walnut Creek Civic Arts Education, and less often at two other locations. Teaching forces me to be a perpetual student, to know thoroughly and clearly everything I hope to communicate to students and then some.

In 1989 I decided to get serious about selling stock photos, especially my “travel” work. After some research and visits to several agencies I joined Tony Stone, a British agency with an office in Chicago, now part of Getty Images. Since then I’ve expanded into two other international agencies. Stock provides a great motivation to travel and shoot a lot while traveling. Fortunately, I live near a world class tourist destination, so San Francisco has become my best subject.

I’ve always done my most personal work in black and white film. When I began photographing, it was the norm. Magazines printed the majority of their photos in black and white, fine art photographers considered it the superior medium, most architects asked me to shoot the main views of their buildings in black and white. Gradually color took over the commercial photo world and a big part of the fine art photo world. Photoshop’s ability to easily convert color images to black and white has led most pros to shoot only color to give their clients maximum flexibility. So naturally I now shoot almost all color for clients and stock.

But on the personal side, I started in 2000 working with BW infrared film and really loved what I saw. Now most of my personal work, especially landscapes and cityscapes, is in BW infrared, film and digital. I feel I’ve only begun to explore what can be done with this medium. The future is wide open.