Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentines Day Mom and Dad ❤. You two had the sweetest love story of all time. 58 years worth of being in love from day one of junior high school in Moville, Iowa. Thank you forever for your love, integrity, for setting a good example, and for teaching the whole family to never pass judgement on others. I carry your teachings and spirit with me always. 🎈


JOIN ME IN CUBA. LAST MINUTE CRAZY IDEA .Late afternoon light brightens Cuban teenagers who are offering me a ride. I was on foot and looking lost I guess. Or they just wanted to talk to a gringo with a camera. No matter. Warm light is appropriate for the Cuban attitude and personality. I haven’t been to Cuba for 10 years but I’m headed there Saturday. Keep your eye on IG Stories. I’ll be shooting heavy and at the same time have a full class of 14 through the Santa Fe Workshops program. That’s a week. I feel compelled to stay longer as you may imagine. So I’ve decided to do what I recently did in Playa del Carmen, México. Open up the idea of a one to one workshop. It worked so well with Alexandra @al.nielsen on that shoot for BeachGames that I thought I’d try it again. Un matched mentoring experience for an advanced photographer. FaceTime or Skype interview required. Portfolio review required. I’ll be shooting heavy and mentoring by both example and critique. It’s rare when I can have somebody with me in intimate people situations. Yet I can here. This is coming down fast. I have a window open from March 1-7. If you are serious, want to explore Havana, and feel mentoring by me would advance your photographic life, then write DM to @michellemaddensmith for tuition/application etc. Please don’t write to me directly. Michelle produces/organizes. This photo appears in my book CUBA (published by NatGeo) . My main goal with those I mentor, is to get them to a published book or commissions or exhibitions or all 3. Not everybody can do this. Yet my track record for advancing photographers in a real way makes me so proud of those who have realized a dream or two. It’s bust ass work and it’s the most fun you will ever have. I bond with those I mentor and stick with them way beyond the week they spend with me. Photography is my passion, my life. Not my job. I’ve never had a “job”. Don’t want one. Join me if you are ready to walk the walk. Viva Cuba!


Outer Banks NC 2-9-17. This photo only makes sense if you have a good neighbor named Frank who has creative control over many things around my place. Things I’m throwing out, he will make yard art. Frank and his wife Dawn look out for my house, cats, etc when I travel. Good neighbors to be sure, and that makes sense. @obxhomepage


Fog on Pamlico Sound, NC. 2-8-17


“BeachGames”. Playa del Carmen. Fact or fiction? I’m at home now going through all that I shot recently in Mexico. Assembling a sequence. Writing a novella with pictures. It’s the same as writing a song or short story. It’s not simply about each single picture, but how they all come together as a photo essay. How to tweak the imagination? I stopped my BeachGames zine over a year ago thinking I was finished. I thought since it was a zine I’d do it fast. Yet after I made a layout/dummy, I saw that even though BG was only going to be about 25 pictures, it was going to be harder than if it was a book of 100. Shorter does not mean easier. Quite the contrary. E.B. White’s ” Elements of Style” always in my head. Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” and “A Clean Well Lighted Place” always hanging over me. Sofia Cuppola’s ” Lost in Translation” and Nan Goldin’s “Ballad of Sexual Dependency” always benchmarks. While pure documentary has been a big part of my life and work, in recent years I’ve put high value and effort into “fiction” storytelling as the only way to really tell the truth. Yet in the freedom of fiction there can’t be one single note off key. No editors to blame if it’s not right. No gatekeepers. It’s weird. I may wish for “acceptance” as we all do, yet I am not trying to appease anyone. Take it or leave it. Yet I still must get it right. I’m editing in the opposite environment of the shooting. Home alone. No party. Winter. Bliss. Fire in the belly.