What’s a photographer to do in a pandemic? I’m someone who likes to photograph people most of all. I need to avoid people as much as possible right now. And when I’m around others, I can’t photograph them in the close manner I’m accustomed to.
So I spend a lot of time outdoors. And with my family. I’m fortunate to live with 6 other people and I never take that for granted. I look at this as my professional blog, so I try not to focus too much on my family, even though they’re with me for nearly every shoot that isn’t for a client.
This is an unprecedented time in our recent history. I don’t think I need to draw hard lines between “personal” and “professional.” My family is here experiencing this pandemic with me. We go to local parks and playgrounds. These are the things I photograph.
My brain tells me these shoots get repetitive. But my spirit knows that each time I go out with my camera, new things happen – things that will only happen one time in the course of human existence – and I’m there to document and interpret them.
So, here’s my visual journal entry for this week. We spent time in a brand new environment to us: Eagle Creek Park on the NW side of Indianapolis. We walked, climbed, thought, poked at things, broke ice, fell down, wrestled, and took in the rare Indiana winter sun.
It’s been nine months since I started making these quarantine stories. Here are a few of the first ones from last spring.
Today I took a walk through the woods at Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve in Fishers, IN. It’s basically a suburban oasis of forest and natural grassland.
I had five kids with me, but for this post, you can just go alone.
Spending so much time at home these days, it can be a bit of an adjustment heading into public, even if it’s a natural and somewhat remote setting. Each time we spend some time in nature, I’m always glad we do!
I hope this brings some peace to anyone who is quarantining or currently without large swaths of nature in which to roam.
Depth vs Expression
For the next two images, I noticed this woman as I walked along a trail and couldn’t resist taking her photo. It was a nice moment. Which of the two images do you like best? They’re very similar but have two subtle differences. Leave a comment and let me know!
The most obvious difference is her facial expression. The top photo is more serene and the second is almost funny. I think she was having her photo taken by her husband off to the side.
The second, more subtle difference is the depth of field. The top photo was taken at f/11 so it has more depth than the second photo, which is f/2.8. Although, at this distance from the subject, it’s not as pronounced.
I prefer the depth of the second photo with the expression in the first. But since I don’t make fake photos by combining images, I’ll choose the first photo as my favorite because of the expression.
For the next two images, I played with depth again to bring out some different abstract qualities in the scenes.
For the image above, I liked how the shape of the leaves and the sunlight combine for some interesting abstract patterns. I used more depth (f/11) to get more of the shapes into focus. Also, in this case I thought the black & white edit better highlighted what I liked about the scene.
The image below is from the same area, but with the shallow depth and focus in the foreground, I ended up liking the color version better.
This next image below had some impressionistic qualities that caught my eye. By using a shallow depth of field, the foreground and background fall quickly out of focus to add to the painterly quality of the photo.
Visitors and Residents
The trails were busy with dog walkers and families having their portraits taken. We also passed some permanent residents who had not-so-recently had some flowers placed at their resting place.
This next section features some images that highlight basic concepts of photography and composition: color, line, texture, shape, pattern and more.
When I saw the bent and gnarled vines below, I thought it looked cool in real life, but I wasn’t confident it would translate well into a photo. I decided to take a shot anyways and it turns out I was wrong!
The black & white edit really highlights the shapes as does the high contrast.
Check out the posts below for more nature and life during the pandemic. It’s, you know, good and thoughtful stuff and not at all depressing!
We’re all doing things a bit differently these days. One thing that’s interesting to me is how some of the things we’re doing are CLOSE to what we did before, but not exactly the same.
For example, my family likes to hike and explore nature. But since we’re not going out to parks right now, we spent some time exploring the neighborhood golf course when it closed to golfers. It was an activity that we usually do, but in a new type of place.
What has the Great Pause meant to you and your family? Have you seen or experienced anything you’ve never done before?
What familiar activities are you doing in new environments? I’m interested to hear what you’re up to! Respond to this email or comment on my social media with your own stories.
This short photo story is a small part of a long-format narrative I’m currently developing to capture the look and feel of this quarantine era. New stories coming each week!
Here are more posts related to the quarantine and staying home…
Introducing 18th Street Indy! After much anticipation, one of my favorite brewers has come to town.
I like big, bold beers. IPAs are great, but why not make it a double? I want a stout so dark that it absorbs the light around it. I’ll take a sour beer, too. I don’t mean tart. I mean, full-on SOUR!
That’s why 18th Street beers are for me. They have bold flavor in spades. Have you tried any of their beers yet? If so, let’s talk about it in the comments.
18th Street Brewery is based in Hammond, IN and has been winning major awards since 2013. Just last year they won Best Brewpub in the U.S. in a USA Today reader’s poll.
Last week I stopped in to check out the vibe and take some photos of the new space. A decent crowd for a Thursday afternoon plus a rare sunny day throwing out some good light combined for a nice set of images.
Muckrock the Casbah
As an added bonus, a rad mural by Jules Muck, the Venice Beach artist known as muckrock adds some flash to the side of the building that makes it stand out on the block.
While you’re over on Instagram checking out muckrock, give us a follow as well. We’ll follow you back so we can talk more about beer and art and whatever else is interesting.
…to Ty, Courtney and Bo; three good folks you might see on your visit. Tell them you saw these photos online and you just had to come in for a visit ASAP.
Hey, believe it or not, 18th Street Indy isn’t my first beer-related story. Here are some posts about brewing, an artist who designs labels and some more awesome murals…
Last fall marked my third time documenting the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. It’s always a lot of action and emotion with plenty of great photos to take (if you know what you’re doing, that is).
My SEO plugin wants me to type a bunch of words. “F*ck off, plugin,” I say! I’m going to tell this story through photos. Just look at the images and feel like you’re there.
Let’s work together
If you have an event coming up and need a photographer to create meaningful images that serve multiple purposes: advertising, sponsor gifts, collateral or post-event gallery purchases, give email me and we can talk about your project in detail.
If you’re into the sports, check out some stories from both amateur and professional athletics.
One of the many reasons I love my work is that I never know what type of shoots are going to come my way. Documenting the rededication of Bethel Cemetery is definitely a photo story different than any I have done before.
A logistics company called Cardno contacted me in the fall to document the opening of a new/old cemetery. Due to necessary infrastructure improvements, Bethel Cemetery was relocated from its home by the airport to an area within Concordia Cemetery on the south side of Indianapolis. Cardno led the project.
Established in 1827, Bethel Cemetery saw its last known burial in 1935. Among the buried are veterans of the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
An initial survey of the site identified over 150 headstones. Throughout the relocation project, 543 individual were discovered. In the process they salvaged, restored and reassembled headstones that had fallen into disrepair.
Bethel Cemetery Families
Descendants of some of the Civil War veterans attended the rededication as well as some historically prominent families from the Indianapolis area. As a part of the rededication, reenactors from from the Civil War and War of 1812 along with an Honor Guard from the IN National Guard gave salutes to the veterans.
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If you own your own business or are a marketing pro and you want more info about having me out to do a story, send me an email.
I do documentary photographer for all sorts of commercial clients. Check out these stories below to see some cool stories.
Last week I visited Indiana City Brewing on the southeast side of downtown Indianapolis to check out their brewing process. It was fun to watch. The building they’re housed in is super cool and the morning light definitely heightened the scene.
I’ve been doing documentary photography and drinking beer (not at the same time) for nearly two decades, so it’s crazy I hadn’t shot any stories about brewing. Glad to finally end the drought!
Meet the Brew Crew
The Indiana City Brewing team has the flow down, moving quickly between tasks. Nick Shadle (the man in the mask) is Head Brewer. Ryan Oesch (the guy with the overalls who you can just tell has good taste in music) is Production Manager. And finally the dude with the best title of all, Cellarman, Mike Abrego.
So if you stop by the brewery and see them around, tell them you saw their photo on here and Zach says hello.
Indiana City Brewing Taproom
Now that you’ve seen all the photos, check out their site for more info and stop by the taproom soon!
We are partnering with Indiana City Brewing for a giveaway on our Instagram page now through November 22, 2019.
They are having a ticketed release party on November 23 for the beer brewed in this photo story, Cratchit’s Winter Olde Ale.
Artist Aaron Scamihorn does the label art for Indiana City, so check out these posts where he makes an appearance.
Indianapolis artist Aaron Scamihorn works as a graphic designer and illustrator. Under his company Ronlewhorn Industries, he creates illustrations, concert posters and design for companies like Indiana City Brewing, where he’s lead their overall design and can art since their founding in 2013.
Last weekend, I photographed Aaron at Indiana City brewing where he and some fellow artists created a new mural on the north side of the building. Scamihorn is new to spray paint as a medium (he’s produced 4-5 pieces to date by his count), but you wouldn’t know that by the resulting work.
Craft Brew Doodle Crew
Scamihorn leads a group called Craft Brew Doodle Crew. They meet monthly at Indiana City Brewing to collaborate on pieces that become can art for new beers. Members of the crew collaborate on the mural as well.
Other artists from Craft Brew Doodle Crew collaborating on the mural include (clockwise from top left)…
The NBA season is about to get underway, so I thought it time to finally share this shoot from last season. The Indiana Pacers hired me to document the inaugural game for their partnership with Motorola. I was brought in to capture some pre-game shots in the locker room and game action photos that highlighted the new patch.
It was a fun challenge to highlight a 2.5″ patch within the context of game action. I used a Canon 1DX camera body and 400mm f/2.8 lens. This allowed me to get very close up with the shots I was taking and the patch stood out as a result.
I always like to see what other angles will yield. Getting higher up in the stands and shooting downwards with a super telephoto lens places the court as the background and really isolates the subject. I really like the scoreboard in the shot below as a visual element.
High & Low
The two images below show different angles on a similar play. The image on the left was taken in the stands, the right side from the floor.
I like the cleaner background on the right image, but I also like the perspective of being at eye-level on the left photo.
However, shooting from the stands runs the risk of interlopers getting in your frame. That blur on the left image is a cotton candy vendor who wandered into the frame with less-than-ideal timing.
My style of photography involves getting as close as I can. Typically that means I like to move physically close to the subject.
However, that’s obviously not possible with professional sports, so I enlisted the aid of a Canon 400mm f/2.8 lens. This beast weights about 8.5 pounds and the glass at the widest is about 6.5″ in diameter. Not something I want to use every day, but for getting super-close, sharp images with great background blur, it was perfect.
One of the perks of working for the Indiana Pacers and not a media outlet is the special access.
Getting close to the bench during a timeout allowed me to get some unique angles that aren’t afforded most photographers. Also, shooting some images in the locker room before the game was a unique experience.
Always on the Lookout
Even when I have a very specific task (like getting shots highlighting the sponsor patch), I make sure to get other good shots when I see them. These could have other uses for the client.
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We definitely have lots of sports stuff to peruse. Here are a few more posts…
Flat Fork Creek Park is tucked away in the southeast corner of Fishers, Indiana. During this trip, Zach seeks different ways to capture the feel of this park at this time of year.
A bright sunny noon hour doesn’t often make for great photography, but sometimes you have to make the best of a situation! Giant clouds and blue skies are features of a midday shoot that I can use to my advantage.
Harsh sunlight can make photos boring and flat with washed out colors and dark shadows. During this shoot I took a wider view and utilized the big sky to add perspective and keep the images interesting.
For more photography tips while shooting in midday light, check out my free handy download. It has (more than) 5 helpful tips to make better images in bright sunlight.
Our story this week features Turkey Run State Park in western Indiana.
Carved by glaciers millions of years ago, this park features some of the most unique topography in Indiana. Walk with us through the ravines and sandstone gorges to see what this park has to offer.
Please share this post with a friend who appreciates things like photography, nature and art. When more people see and share our stories, we’re able to produce more stories for you to see and share. Funny how that works!
Have you been to Turkey Run State Park? Leave a comment👇🏼! What’s your favorite trail? Do you like the ladders or do you prefer to steer clear?
If you’re into the great outdoors, be sure to check out these other posts.
Earlier this year I headed up to northern Indiana to visit Angola Wire, a company that makes wire displays for retail use and custom wire parts. Shooting photos of industrial work and heavy machinery is always a fun task. And when sparks are flying, it makes for some cool images.
I spent a half-day wandering the floor on foot or riding in lifts for a high-angle perspective of people and robots working side-by-side. I was happy with the variety of images I was able to capture in a short amount of time. To give some perspective of how much I shot in 5 hours, this post contains only about 20% of the final images I turned over to the client.
Contact me today to find out more about how my documentary approach to would work for your business.
Here’s some more people making, building, cutting, assembling and whatnot.
Carmel Artomobilia is an auto show in the heart of the Arts & Design District. What could be better than world-class cars just a few minutes from home? Here are a few shots from this year’s show.
If you’ve been following this blog or my Instagram page for any amount of time, you’ll see that I post cars from time to time. My car memories go back to when I was a kid: a ride in my dad’s friend IROC T-top; my uncle’s 1975 Corvette; that poster of a white Lamborghini Countach; and a whole host of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars.
Some of my favorite cars at the show were the 1969 Lamborghini Miura (below) and the 2019 Ford GT (above). The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado that leads off this post wasn’t too shabby, either.
If you want to know more about Artomobilia, or want to register your super-amazing car, visit their site here.
You have to wait another year for Carmel Artomobilia, so in the meantime, check out these other posts about super cool cars and trucks.
These are images from the 2019 Indiana Grown Monumental Marketplace. This event only happens once a year and includes nearly 150 vendors from across the state of Indiana. I was hired to provide a comprehensive catalog of images for digital and print advertising and I only had four hours to do it.
If you’re the kind of person who looks for great locally-made products, you need to check out Indiana Grown. They help connect Hoosier farmers and producers with consumers. Each year they take over Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis to host the Indiana Grown Monumental Marketplace.
Recently I had the opportunity to photograph artist Nathaniel Russell in his home studio. His work is often humorous, sometimes political and always thoughtful. Nature and animals are frequent themes, along with humans in their odd beauty and beautiful oddness.
It’s great to see a native Hoosier making cool art around the world and still calling Indiana home. Give him a follow on Instagram to see all the rad murals, posters, woodcuts, skateboards, fake fliers, album covers, illustrations and more that he comes up with. You can also purchase editions of his work in his online shop.
The day of my visit, Nat made some prints from a woodcut and numbered some limited edition silk screens of a big blue bird (sorry folks, sold out).
The music is on constant and literal rotation and this day’s selections included indie band Little Wings and country & gospel music artists The Louvin Brothers. In addition to his visual pieces, Nat plays and records his own music.
This last image is of cleanup, but I enjoyed the visual nature of it nonetheless. I didn’t notice until later that the splotches of black ink were covering the government pages in the phone book. I don’t know if this was coincidence, but I don’t care to ask.
If you’re into art and artists, check out these other posts on the topic.
Contrasts always catch my eye. Whether it’s contrasts in tone, color or subject matter, I like to find ways to document them with my camera. This post examines the contrasts at a new Carmel, Indiana pool.
Pool Open During Construction
Our neighborhood has a new pool this year and the area around it is still under construction. This gave me a chance to shoot a lot of those contrasts that I like.
There’s the bright blue water and colorful swimsuits next to the expanse of dirt. Another contrast is the smoothness of the water and new concrete against the footprints left by construction equipment. And the most obvious contrast to me is the shiny, sparkling new pool set against the completely raw, unfinished site around it.
On this day there’s a hard-to-miss a bulldozer circling the pool. The rumbling of a diesel engine, the crunch of dirt and rock, plus the squeak of the metal tracks provides an interesting contrast against the splashing and yelling of children. Below is a video clip I shot on my iPhone. Turn on the sound to get an idea of what it feels like to be there.
Thanks for checking out my photos of construction at a Carmel, Indiana pool. Here are some family activity posts you’ll want to check out.
Today while standing in line to buy donuts at Titus Bakery, I found out it is National Donut Day. It’s not just another Hallmark holiday; it’s a reason to indulge in our unofficial national breakfast treat (as if you need one other than “deliciousness”). So sit back and let me paint (photograph) a picture for you.
Below are more links to food and family posts. You’ll definitely want to see the burgers in the Moonshine Store!
What do you do with those old electronics you have around the house? Recycle them? Sure, but first, use them for a take-apart project.
Kids love to see what’s inside things. The opportunity to crack open an old computer is something they can’t turn down. And whether they’re using a tiny screwdriver to remove intricate pieces or just taking a mallet to the damn thing, it’s all good.
Building, breaking, reading, drawing, painting, tearing, examining, walking, throwing, watching, poking, smashing, running, jumping, climbing, falling, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing, and looking are all a part of learning about the world and how it works. Assigning “value” to one activity over another ignores the unique perspective of the individual.
Before you start a take-apart, make sure to take the batteries out of devices first. Some electronics (like stereos) have capacitors that hold a charge after being unplugged. Typically it’s not more than a day, but double-check these things before you get started.
Also, look for a local electronics recycling site when you’re done. I use the Household Hazardous Waste center in Noblesville, IN. It’s free to county residents. Search your own area to find options nearby.
Today we present a photo story of a young artist discovering a delicious medium. One of the many benefits of working from home when you have four (and soon five) kids who homeschool is witnessing, and subsequently documenting, their shenanigans.
This is what happens when you leave a tempting item on the kitchen counter within reach of a toddler. A new photo story!
It’s All Good
We believe that children are inherently good. They’re curious about the world around them and are naturally inclined to explore and experiment. When messes happen, we laugh, take some photos and then clean up together.
If you like these slice-of-life photo stories, be sure to check us out on Instagram. We also have a new Facebook page.
Also, here are some more stories on family exploration.
A documentary photographer never rests, even on Memorial Day weekend. Indy 500 race day in Indianapolis means family get-togethers and visits with celebrity cousins. Here’s what comedian Jim Gaffigan has to say about these special family members…
“…the ultimate reason for attending family gatherings is for your children to have the time of their lives with their cousins. Little kids love their cousins. I’m not being cute or exaggerating here. Cousins are like celebrities for little kids. If little kids had a People magazine, cousins would be on the cover. Cousins are the barometers of how fun a family get-together will be. Are the cousins going to be there? Fun!”
A note on approach
If you regularly follow my work and are a photography buff, you might notice these images have more depth of field than what I normally shoot. Many times I like a shallow depth of field to focus the viewer’s eye in a precise spot. Lately, I’ve been shooting more images with increased depth to allow the viewer to take in a scene in more detail.
I like how this works for images like the one above. You can see a number of interactions happening at once while also getting more information about the location for additional context.
Documentary Photographer – Related Posts
If you’re interested in more documentary photography of family-oriented places and events, check these out…
Bottleworks District is a massive development underway in downtown Indianapolis. This past weekend I took a tour of the property with Hendricks and their marketing partner Pivot.
In 1931 Coca-Cola built a state-of-the-art bottling facility in Indy. It’s an amazing example of Art Deco architecture. Unfortunately, the property was used primarily as bus storage for Indianapolis Public Schools since 1969. As a result, the condition of the buildings is not what it once was.
In 2016, the city sold the 11-acre site to developer Hendricks Commercial Properties. Hendricks is developing the property, an entire city block, into a mix of commercial, retail and housing called Bottleworks District. So, the original administration building will become the first West Elm branded hotel, designed by Ratio Architects. There will also be food vendors, a movie theater, apartment and condo housing, a business incubator and office spaces.
There are a lot of amazing details still in place in this building and it’s exciting that Hendricks is working so hard to restore as many of the original pieces as possible. Refurbishing the terra cotta exterior tiles alone will cost $4 million. Bottleworks District is shaping up to be a major destination in Indy and I’m excited to see the results!