28 April, 2019

Doc Diaries: Aesthetics and Storytelling at the Stanford Invitational (part 2)

I mentioned in part 1 that it's important to take some time before the meet to make guiding decisions about the general shape of the coverage. As a documentary photographer, I always feel a sense of duality between my aesthetic decisions and my storytelling decisions — they're almost inseparably intertwined. And as much as I love to make beautiful images, my actual aspiration is to make images whose aesthetics support the meaning that they're trying to convey. For track and field, beauty is often, but not always, the tool of choice.

31 March, 2019

Doc Diaries: Covering the 2019 Stanford Invitational (part 1)

One thing I love about photography is that beauty can emerge from the harshest conditions. I shot the two-day Stanford Invitational track meet this past weekend, and to be honest, I felt like I was hanging on for dear life. But even in depths of that struggle, I still managed to put together some of my best work.

This is a story in two parts. This first part will talk about the logistical considerations and decisions that helped me to survive the weekend. The second part will go into the aesthetic decisions that helped me to rise above the struggle.

There's a saying that the goal of an endurance race is to survive long enough that you can be there for the moments of the race that really matter. Something similar is true about endurance photography. You have to put yourself in the position to do great work, and then you have to actually make those pictures when the time comes.

03 March, 2019

Looking back and looking forward

Time flies… It's hard for me to believe but it's been about 11 years since I started this blog. A lot has changed, and yet, the goal has always remained the same: to share the stories I see in the world with people who want to hear those stories.

I just announced the start of a new project, that will hopefully build on a lot of the work that I've put into the blog. The blog will continue, make no mistake. But this new project should help me to bring new life to the stories that I wrote years ago, and also to pull together thematic threads that have sometimes spanned many of those years.

Thanks for joining me on this journey so far, and I'm excited about what the future may hold. As always, if you have thoughts, questions, comments — whatever it might be — I'd love to hear them.

28 February, 2019

Doc Diaries: Tunnel Vision (part 3)


The miracle of flight is, in many ways, actually a miracle of fluid dynamics. And even though you can't see the wind through an airplane window, I feel like clouds can give you a little bit of a glimpse into that world. They help to expose the otherwise-invisible workings of the world around us.

So, for instance, a running turbofan creates a region of low-pressure air ahead of it, which can cause interesting flow phenomena when interacting with nearby surfaces. Those streamlines are usually invisible, but in the right conditions on a damp taxiway, a vortex appears (as in the bottom-right of the picture). That vortex is always there, of course. But it's the cloud of condensation that makes it visible, and that reinforces the wonder of modern aircraft.