Taking photos of my people is my favorite thing to do.
When I first began studying photography, portraits were a big part of the learning process. I talked two friends, one of my photographic mentors and his wife, Joe and Kathy, into posing. Those shots turned out nicely. My next subject was Kady. She and the kids were visiting me in Izmir in the Summer of 1985. She is such an amazing beauty that taking a beautiful photo of her was super easy.
I prefer natural light. Though I have the equipment to do studio portraits, I rarely use it. Give me a window, soft morning light, a face that I find interesting, and I'm set!
Below are portraits I have taken over the years, choosing my favorite photos of each person. Lately I've been adding some of my "guy portraits," interesting but a lot less fun.
First Izmir Apartment 1986
VMI Mid-Winter Formal
Taken with Kodak Plus-X Pan 35-mm with my Canon AE-1 Program and developed with Kodak Microdol.
I printed this in the NATO Dark Room on satin paper in 1986. It is even better in person. It would be hard to take a bad photo of someone this gorgeous.
This photo remains my favorite of The Girl. I wish she'd let me take her portrait every day.
Hunting Eagles, Manhattan Kansas
Bob ad Jim were two of my Combat Photographers during my first tour in Turkey. Needing to supervise and rate them, I had to know their job. I tasked them with teaching me. They began my life-long love of photography.
Bob took me to the PX and helped me purchase my first SLR camera, a Canon AE-1 Program, two lenses, and a flash. Jim went with me to purchase a camera bag and tripod. These two invested a lot of time in me, teaching me, walking with me around Izmir, and training me in the dark room.
Their Boss, Gil, was a piece of work, set in his ways, and resistant to my every suggestion. He saw the light while in my office for his first NCOER Counselling Session. I painted a very detailed picture of what he would have to do in order to achieve success and excellence ratings, something he'd need if he ever wanted to promote above Staff Sergeant. I also controlled his budget. We, of course, became good buddies. He was there my second tour, was in Kosovo when I arrived, and returned to Izmir before the end of my third tour.
Gilbert in Lexington, 2006
This is my son and one of the finest and most intelligent men I know.
I, of course, have taken photos of him all of his life . . . until recently. I just can't pin him down. The lad is busy.
Wearing my Patrol Cap, with his sister, returning from Iraq, Lexington after the military.
My daughter arrived as I was beginning to get serious about photography. She became one of my favorite subjects. Where once she loved for me to take her photo, now she refuses to let me. This is a battle I am willing to fight until she relents.
Here are a few from back in the day.
Church Crookham, UK
Silverwood, Lex Vegas
Charlottesville, VA, 2020
When my daughter-in-law said she needed photos, I envisioned something more grandeur than a profile photo for LinkedIn and her personal web page.
Nikon D850, 55-200 mm, f/ 1.4 - 5.6
Above is a photo I took at a wedding as she paints a portrait of the Bride and Groom during the ceremony and reception.
Love this shot, I just had to crop out her Ex
Bee is my ex-daughter-in-law, my grandson's mom, and always my daughter and a part of my family. She is one of my favorite people and the only one of my kid's high school friends allowed to park in our driveway back at the old house, which speaks volumes.
As you can see, she's a doll. I'll take her photo anytime.
Ah, but she says she looks like a chipmunk in my photos. Uhhh . . . No.
Charlotte, Lexington, and Charlottesville
No child has been more photographed. I took a ton, you know, first grandchild and all that goes with that. His Kady did too. Even the Cadets and VMI photographers got in the act.
He was a gorgeous child and is just as handsome in his mid-teens. Great Genetic material.
Hey Jk! We need to do more photos with the Hair!
My Scientist, Em, is always up for photos with Granddaddy.
I was very lucky on the action shot. I pretty much suck at sports photography, but I'm working on it. Above, she is helping me test out my new flash diffuser.
Maryland, 16 October 2021, after our Family Autumn Farm Trip
This may be the beginning of a fantastic collaboration between grandfather and granddaughter.
Taken in the afternoon sun, just before nap time with her Kady dazzling her with a squeaky-toy, SGM took her fingers out of her mouth just as I pushed the shutter release.
At left is Grandad's Christmas Photo.
Nikon D850, 50mm
Church Crookham, England, United Kingdom, 1989
I took this photo of Sally, our best friend, and my dancing and drinking partner, during a visit while we were station with the Paras. Sal is still as beautiful as she approaches her 70s.
Available light, Plus-X Pan, Canon AE-1 Program. The reticulation here was from rinsing with warm water. A really stupid mistake on my part. I took three 36-exposure rolls this day, and completely destroyed two of them. these two are what was left of the third roll.
I worked on them, HEAVILY, in Photoshop. The left photo, I colorized. I like how it turned out.
Close friend and Traveling Partner, SS, is rarely up for photos. He has, on a very few occasions allowed me to snap a few.
The shot above was taken at the Colorado National Monument. I shamed him. "What? You wanna come all the way out here and have no record of it? OK, maybe I just said, "Let me take a photo of you up here."
The shot on the left was taken in Savannah, GA (actually Pooler, but who wants to say that?) where he sat for me in Available light as I tested out my new D850 and 50mm Lens.
I need to take photos of him on his farm down in Tennessee; the man has a great face.
I am not in the habit of taking photos of people I don't know but this girl had to be an exception. Right? She caused quite a stir in London this day. She was posing for a person she knew and a few people, including me, joined in.
I had just come out of a museum and had one exposure of 6400ASA film left in my Canon AE-1 Program. I took the shot.
The Girl at Kadifekale
While out "learning" with one of my Army photographers, Bob Ducette, I spotted a girl and told Bob that I would like to take her photo. Bob instructed, "Ask First . . . just point to your camera."
She nodded approval.
I spent the rest of the day pointing at my camera. I found that, unlike what I had been told, Turks love to have their photo taken . . . if you ask first.
The First Turkish phrase that I memorized was, lutfin, bir fotoğrafınızı çekebilir miyim . . . Please, may I take your photograph?
Pointing is easier.
I got a text and photo from this lovely young lady saying, "This dress needs photos."
Young friend, Ryan, and I have had four photo sessions together. Every session has produced some pretty fabulous photos. I credit the Model!
I had to agree with her, the dress did, indeed, need photos, as did the girl.
NIKON D5100, 40 mm
"Beauty and femininity are ageless and can't be contrived . . ." ~ Marilyn Monroe
Taken with a Nikon D5100, a D850, and a Mamiya 6 with Portra 400.
Somewhere in our portfolios, we need to save room for naturally lit photos, among the flash-filled, reflected-light portraits.
I love how the shadows and light blaze across and emphasize Ryan's face in this.
I spent one morning at VMI, taking photos of this young American hero, for the schools web page. For a short period of time, he was a member of the Commandant's Staff and was one of the people I liked best.
A former Cobra pilot, he was well respected and loved by the cadets and spent hours on the stoops talking to them. It was a great loss when he returned to his first love, flying choppers as an instructor for the Army.
Virginia and Maryland 2010- 2021
I have taken more photos of this young lady than any other person. She once referred to me on her social media as "My Photographer."
She was a joy to work with, shy at first, but becoming more confident with each shoot. Then she moved away, joined the Marines, got married . . . life stuff.
These were taken with various cameras over eleven years, all around Old Virginia
Kahve Morning at The 404
Red heels on the Blue Ridge
The Girls of Summer
Izmir Turkey, June - August 2001
I met this young math teacher at Sardunya in Izmir while out showing two officers the sights. She became a good friend and became my favorite photo subject above all of the other beautiful people and things to photograph in Türkiye.
I have, sadly, lost touch with her, but believe I may have found her Instagram account.
I took all of these with my first digital camera, a small Sony Sure Shot, DSC-S50 with only 1.3 megapixels
Izmir Turkey, Summer 2001
This lady owned Divas Ajans, a modeling agency in Izmir. She enlisted me to photograph her models for her catalogue, at car shows, and at business openings around Izmir.
Tough Job (see below).
Of all the girls that I photographed at Divas, she was my favorite subject. She taught me more about photographing women than I could ever get from a book, in charge of every photo that I took, like here - she's wearing my glasses because, "a businesswoman should look professional."
The shot above was taken with a tiny Sony Sure Shot in 1.3 MP, my first digital camera. Sit Down!
Sometimes, I mess up so badly that it takes me years to get over it. In the case of these photos, it took me 21.
Really! How often do old guys get to hang out with and then photograph someone who looks like this? You'd think I would have taken great care to get it all right.
This is Berna, Sevda's good friend, on the night I met the two of them That's my grandfather's rocking chair she's sitting in. We became good friends and still talk on Insta.
I took these with my trusty A-1 and Ektachrome. Either I flubbed the exposure badly or the local Turkish developer messed up. Either way, they will never be great photos. I worked on them until they are passable. Then turned them B&W.
The Girls of Divas Ajans
Kultur Park, Izmir, 1985
Two friends and I went photo-shooting around Izmir on a bright but cool Sunday morning. Walking through Kulture Park, we met a family resting by the central fountain. I stayed back, put my telephoto lens on my camera and took photos of each member of the family.
The eldest daughter was striking. She had the most incredible green eyes. Sadly, I was shooting Black and White. Not long after this, I bought another camera (Canon A-1) and a 50mm FD lens so that I could load one Camera with Black and White and the other with Color.
Digital Photography - so much easier.
Battle reenactments are a great time for me as a photographer. The trick is to position yourself where there are no modern elements in your shots. Watch for civilians, cars, planes, modern farm equipment, and what reenactors call Farbs (people wearing anything not authentic).
Generally, they don't mind having their photo taken, but I always ask. A quick point to the camera usually suffices. They'll usually just nod to stay in character.
A Regimental Drummer from Ole Virginia
I recently discovered the negatives from a roll of film that I took of my niece, Summer, back in the mid-'90s. She was about twenty-five and living at her grandparent's house.
I under-exposed them and the Alabama mid-day son was bright. No matter what I tried in the darkroom, I couldn't make a decent print. Ah . . . but I kept the negatives and digital processing came along. I scanned them one at a time, adjusting each to give me the best file with which to work. Then, reviewing them all, I chose four to add here.
What a shame it would have been if these photos were lost. Never give up on a photograph or negative; technology gets better.
Canon AE-1 Program, Kodak Plus X Pan 125
Lexington and Charleston 2010
I have only had two opportunities to photograph Cate. The first was for her dad's birthday. I never heard if he liked them, but I did.
The second was when I visited her in Charleston and she took me sightseeing.
Sony DSC - HX1
Yankee Horse Ridge, Blue Ridge Parkway 2012
My daughter's college roomie came to work at VMI after her time in the Army. I had taken her photo when she was in college, which produced some nice portraits, so we talked about doing another shoot.
During Exams, when there wasn't much for us to do, she and I went to the Blueridge. It turned out to be a perfect day. She liked these so much that she had me take photos with her little sister two weeks later. Those turned out well, too.
Working with Sarah was amazing. She moved seamlessly from pose to pose, pausing for the shutter, knowing what she wanted. I never had to say a word.
Sisters - Natalie and Sarah
2008 Lexington, VA
When my Brother Rat, Erica '04, called to ask if we could do photos, I, of course, said YES. She didn't mention that she was bringing her dogs. This was my first time working with animals, and, though I took over 200 photos that day, these are the only ones I would use. She was trying to control two dogs, I was frustrated, and the dogs controlled the shoot.
Still . . . I finally got to take photos of Erica.
Lesson: Whenever I take photos of friends or couples - I establish and maintain control. When working with animals, I bring snacks and toys.
Silverwood, Lexington, 2000
I took a series of photos of this beautiful girl just before leaving for Turkey in 2000. I screwed up all of the shots but one . . . this one.
I can only guess that I was nervous. One of J's high school friends, I've always had an old-man crush on her. Still do. She remains a part of my family, living with J and KS.
Perhaps, one day, she will let me take more.
Canon A-1, Kodachrome
Former cadet, Nohelia, at the Bushong House on New Market Battlefield, wearing a period dress of her own creation, made of Cadet uniform items. She is very clever.