“Each time I take a picture, I ask myself, “What is this picture about?” Then I work to edit out the extraneous elements, to get to the heart of the subject. My first goal is to convey the pertinent information about the subjects - winemakers, wineries, and vineyards, as well as the work that goes into growing grapes and making great wine. My second goal is to create strong compositions, artistic in their own right.
Years ago I visited Claude Monet’s house in Giverny, France. On the rich yellow walls of his dining room, I discovered his collection of prints by Hokusai, a genius of composition who lived in Japan from 1760-1849. You may know of his “36 Views of Mount Fuji”, including his iconic “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa”.
I loved his work, and when I visited Japan, I made a pilgrimage to the Hokusai Museum. I studied the way he would use the branch of a tree or the arch of a bridge overhead to frame a view. Monet was clearly inspired by Hokusai, and so was I.
In college, I studied architecture at Georgia Tech. In designing buildings, I learned about color, shadow, line and texture. I applied these elements to my photography from the start. I sought out beauty in abstract elements, using flow, rhythm, and pattern, which are abundant in rows of vineyards or barrels in the cellar.
To me, light is fifty percent of the success of the image. I always do my outdoor photography early in the morning and late in the afternoon, when the light is golden and the shadows are deeper. My saying is, “I shoot outdoors when my shadow is taller than I am”.
I choose what pictures to take based on the natural light that I have. For example, overcast skies are perfect for portraits, or close-ups of grapes and vines. I find that sunny skies are better for landscapes and architecture, because the contours of the land and buildings are outlined by shadows, giving greater definition.
Once I zero in on my subject, I make sure to “move my feet” to explore different sides and angles. I also elevate my perspective by strapping onto a lift, cherry picker or helicopter. Later in my career, I used my drones to fly high and get incredible perspectives.
Most of my work was for winery clients, who hired me to produce a library of images and videos to define their “visual identity.” I worked with many clients for a decade or more, building relationships that gave me a deeper understanding of their way of growing grapes and making wine.
I have been fortunate to work with the owners, winemakers and vineyard managers of some of the best wineries in the world. These are creative, innovative, knowledgable people who appreciated that I could bring “more than just photography” to their business. I could also help them develop their vision of how to tell their story to the world.
My career as a wine photographer satisfied my appetite for travel and allowed me to explore new cultures through the eyes of people who lived and worked there. I was lucky to learn from the best in the business and apply that to my work. Thank you to all the great people I have worked with. I appreciate your professionalism, creativity, and friendship.”