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Keep trying

There have been many times when I have come across a moment or a person whom I’d love to photograph, but for some reason, (like moving past in a vehicle, too busy to stop or didn’t have my camera with me) I’ve been unable to capture it or them. There are some photographers, like Jay Maisel, who say don’t even try to go back and capture something later. If you don’t get it now, in the moment, you’ve missed it. It’s gone … forever. This is probably good advice, for the most part.

However, I recently had a different experience during a vacation trip in Canada. My parents, Kim and I were on our way to my uncle John’s home in Kelowna, British Columbia for our family reunion gathering. The Kelowna area has the beautiful Lake Okanagan, mountains and lots of orchard groves. As we neared their home, we passed by an orchard and as we did I noticed a flash of orange and white in the orchard. It was an East Indian-looking man with an orange turban, white clothes and a long white beard, working in the field. Not exactly the kind of person I’d expect to see in Kelowna. We pulled up to the house and Kim and I talked about how cool it would’ve been to photograph him, but chalked it up to another one of those photo ideas that doesn’t actually happen (got lots of those in my head!)

The next morning, as we passed the orchard again on our way to the house, we saw another man, this one in a blue turban, coming towards the road, and us, on a tractor. I thought maybe we did have a chance after all! We stopped by his tractor and made some small talk (how are you? what are you growing here? how long have you been farming this land?) He was very friendly, and so I said, “My wife and I are photographers and were wondering if it would be OK to take your picture?” Sometimes you just have to ask. He happily agreed, so we piled out of the SUV and got our gear out. I already knew what lens I’d use—the 70-200, f2.8.

He introduced us to his father (the man in the orange turban) and we took a bunch of shots as we chatted with both of them (the son translated for his father who seemed not to speak any English). They were very gracious to us and shared a typical greeting they use as Punjabis—hands together with a slight bow and with the phrase, “God is true.” How ironic that this sentiment was the very thing we were talking about and celebrating in our family reunion just down the road.

We felt as though we made new friends in our short visit with them—all because of a second chance to make an idea into a photograph. It was a great reminder for me to not always give up so easily, but to keep on trying.

August 17, 2010 - 6:56 am Rita Schmidt - Those pictures were fabulous. The expressions on their faces and the color of their clothes showed up so well. What beautiful photography.

December 16, 2010 - 9:24 pm admin - Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoy the photos.

Annie Leibovitz

“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.”

—Annie Leibovitz

March Madness

I’m a huge sports fan. And I enjoy all kinds of sports — baseball, football, basketball, cycling, winter sports, summer sports, on land, sea, and air — I’ll watch ’em all. And especially the big events, like the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Tour de France, and Olympic games.

So, in the United States, the month of March also marks a sports phenomenon that I gladly follow — March Madness — the weeks-long NCAA college basketball tournament that determines the nation’s #1 higher-ed. hoops kings, at least for a year.

This year, the tournament has even greater interest for me, as our University of Richmond team, the Spiders, have earned their spot in the first round of play in the South region, after an outstanding season (a school record 26 wins!). The team has generated a lot of excitement and interest around our campus and I was recently fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph one of our top players (and A-10 conference Player of the Year), Kevin Anderson, for a feature story on the UR Web site.

I was thrilled with the chance to do a shoot like this and initially had visions of some kind of Sports Illustrated-type shot of him on the court in full uniform in some very dramatic pose. But after considering the article, about his life not just as an athlete but also as a student, I decided something a little more low-key and relaxed would be more appropriate (albeit, still dramatic). He was great to work with, a really nice guy and super-cooperative.

Along with the lighting arrangement (1 key light at right w/ shoot-through umbrella and 1 rim light behind him on the left), one part of the composition I really wanted to include were the NCAA banners hanging from the rafters, hopefully alluding to the team’s upcoming games in the tournament. To do this, with Kevin seated in a chair, I had to get as low as possible, which meant, on my back on the floor looking up. Fortunately, it worked and I managed to get some good shots off before having to wrap up.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s game and to see how far the team can go. However they do in the tournament, I’m sure that Kevin’s got a bright future ahead of him — as an athlete and a person — and I wish him the very best!

Go Spiders!!!

March 18, 2010 - 8:01 am lorie - love it! you have always had a great eye for good composition

March 21, 2010 - 10:00 pm admin - Thanks Lorie!

March 17, 2011 - 9:24 pm Kevin Grey - Great job, Gordon. Nicely done! Hope your Spiders make is far in the tournament.

March 21, 2011 - 10:27 pm admin - Thanks Kevin! Seeing them go to the Sweet Sixteen is awesome! Hoping they can keep it going! 'Cmon KA!

Ansel Adams

“Photography is a way of telling what you feel about what you see.”

— Ansel Adams

February 24, 2010 - 8:57 am ginny - just stopping by today, 2.24.2010, to wish you a happy birthday! while i'm here i just want to reiterate how wonderful your website is. it is aesthetically beautiful. and, i love the addition of the quotes! i didn't think you could improve on perfection, but somehow you managed to do so. awesome. give your wife a huge hug; she was the one who spilled the beans..... :-)

February 26, 2010 - 4:30 pm admin - Thanks so much for your kind words Ginny! I'm always inspired by the wisdom and experience of other photographers/artists. Best to you!

May 30, 2011 - 5:17 pm Jan Southard - Gordon, meeting you and Kim was the highlight of my day! You both do wonderful photography and I have enjoyed your websites this afternoon. Please be sure to visit our Art Center whenever you're near Smithfield. Even if I'm not there, I know you'll enjoy talking with the other artists and docents! Take care, Jan Southard

May 30, 2011 - 10:30 pm Gordon - Thanks so much Jan. It was really great meeting you and some of the other artists at the center today. It's great to have all that artistic/creative activity happening in one place there in Smithfield. There's more going on in that town than just makin' bacon!

The Storyteller

Happy New Year — 2010!

It’s been a busy holiday season but things are finally settling back into somewhat of a “normal” routine for me. One of the things about the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays that are most important to me is getting together with family. And especially if they have travelled a great distance to visit.

Kim and I enjoyed a great time with my family in Maryland and were also able to visit with my uncle John, aunt Lorraine and cousin Byron, from Kelowna, British Columbia. (That’s in Canada, for you non-Canucks). One of the things that makes being with them so special is my uncle John’s storytelling. Having grown up on a farm in Alberta, Canada, his tales usually involve things like bulls getting into hay lofts (and how not to get them down!), pranks played on big sisters (like my mom), and soon-to-be brothers-in-law getting accidentally hurtled off of farm equipment or sprayed with high-pressured manure (dad was the victim of that one). It’s usually a good idea not to eat the holiday apple pie before one of his stories because of the side-splitting laughter that generally follows!

I hope that in 2010 you also have a chance to laugh with family and friends and appreciate the beauty of the people in your life. And maybe have some stories of your own to tell — in words or photographs.

April 22, 2010 - 5:22 pm Candy McCue Greer - Gordon - I LOVE this series! So real, so happy. Wow. In case you have no idea who I am I was a few years behind yo at Messiah College!

May 3, 2010 - 1:38 pm admin - Thanks for the comments Candy. I'm glad you like them!

Brad and Kristen

What better way to get practice doing portrait photography than to have your good friends as your models! (And good-looking ones too!) It’s an added bonus when they’re expecting a baby—as our friends Brad and Kristen are. Kim and I had a fun time doing some “expectant couple” shots of them recently in their home. They could totally model for a living, if they ever needed second careers, they were that easy to work with and comfortable in front of the camera. Although it was a challenge to keep Brad’s shirt buttons from popping off—he’s such a proud dad-to-be!

Here are several shots I got, using a white backdrop and two Canon Speedlights, one on each side, with shoot-through umbrellas. My talented wife Kim provided the art direction and styling. You can also check out her shots here.

Oh yeah, by the way … go Penn State! Another Nittany Lion is on the way!

Mark Twain

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

—Mark Twain