Contributing Photographer to WNC Magazine

I am proud to be a contributing photographer to this month's issue of WNC Magazine. This months issue cover story is on the burgeoning recording industry here in Asheville. There are several wonderful recording studios here in town and the story featured three of them, Echo Mountain (who I have worked with in the past on several projects), Collapseable Studios (I have known Aaron Price a long time here in Asheville) and Audio Robot Studio. I was asked to visit these studios to capture images that reflect their different atmospheres, recording technology, and philosophies.
I love working for a magazine and getting to see my images in print. Working with the good folks at WNC allow me to shoot stories that I would not get to shoot on my own and it enables me to meet new people in Asheville and hear their stories which I really enjoy. 
Here is a link to the on line version of the story... 
Please go by your favorite magazine rack and grab a copy of this months issue. Along with the story on the recoding industry, I shot the images for the Love It! spread as well as some of the images for the Lifestyle section. My good friend Suzie Phillips has a great story in this issue as well. Check out her out as she creates beautiful mid-eastern cuisine with a style and flavor that is all her own. 
I am working with WNC this month as well.. stay tuned more to come!

Hope you are enjoying this wonderful weather....


Asheville, NC Downtown Fireworks 2010

I have to admit, I was excited to watch Asheville's Downtown fireworks display this year, especially because I had the fantastic vantage point of being on the roof of the Flat Iron building on Battery Park. As I made my way to the roof, I was imagining a beautiful display, colors filling the sky, streams of light cascading down over the city, the cheers, oohs and ahhs of the crowd down below, followed by a deafening roar of voices as the crescendo peaked during the finale.
I set up my tripod, put my Canon 24-105 f4 L lens on, set the camera to 400iso, f8 @ 3.2 seconds, cracked open the most patriotic of July 4th drinks, a Corona, and I was ready to rock. I watched as crowds of people pushed toward the launch site. In the distance behind me I could see the wondrous display of fireworks coming from Lake Julian and thought, our are going to be better than that! As the red glow of the Biltmore Fireworks began over the mountain my friends and I sat with bated breathe as we glued our eyes toward the center of town.
Having grown up in NY, I had the privilege of watching the Grucci Family light up the East River every 4th of July. Their fireworks are like a dream, the concussions from the dynamite hitting me in the chest, the throngs of people screaming to each new explosion in the sky, the Brooklyn Bridge glowing in the night air.  This was not, that. Not by a long shot.
The Asheville fireworks began slowly... one could say meagerly, frankly. But I maintained hope! I thought, surely Asheville will pick up the pace, our fair city will not be outdone by the coal burning folks at Progress Energy!

As the lights got brighter from the skyward explosions, I was feeling better, clicking open the shutter, I extended my exposure times to 4 seconds then to 5 seconds to let in more of the ambient light, to help give perspective to the size of the displays. Our fireworks show was off and running. I glanced over to my right to see how the Progress Energy show was going,  I could see lights blooming in all directions, circles in the sky within other spheres of alternating lights, bulbs of color cascading down in all directions and I thought : "Come on Asheville.. lets go already!"

And this is what I got. LAME. Oh well, maybe the next one will be better... the kids in my neighborhood did better when I was in grade school...
Ok, thats kind of cool.. I like the streams in random directions...
Eh. not bad.. but we can do better!
My expectations were lowering. I was enjoying the show but I really thought we were working to some great crescendo of light and sound.
And then....
It stopped.

A collective sigh was heard throughout the city. "What the hell just happened?!" was the thought running through my mind and the minds and mouths of all those around me. I heard people say: " Really?!" "Is it over?" "it cant be over.. that wasn't the finale.. no way!" I heard a little girl say : " Is that it Daddy?" I was sad.
My fellow viewers and I sat and thought, surely, there must be more to come, this is just a pregnant pause....
And we waited....
And waited....
People began packing up their chairs, gathering their little ones, cleaning up their empties and marching home.
And still I waited. Surely there must be more, Asheville didn't go out like that.
I looked around and I was the last one on the roof. It was over. 12 minutes had gone by. Below, I could see the sea of people making their way back to their vehicles, pushing sleeping babies in their strollers, Dads carrying blankets, chairs and diaper bags with sad looks on their faces. I decided to pack up my gear. I guess it was done. Oh well, so be it. July 4th has come to a close.
As I was walking away, tripod folded neatly under my arm, camera safely in its bag, empties in hand... a huge explosion went off behind me... figures! Asheville's 15 plus minute pregnant pause had come to an end. All at once, fireworks began exploding without rhyme or reason in the sky. It was as though someone had said.. "Screw it!, lets light all this stuff off at once!" I quickly grabbed my camera and hurriedly unfolded my tripod to grab a couple last effort shots...

I dont mean to complain... but I was not impressed. I have heard through the grapevine that there was a fire on the ground where they were lighting off the munitions and that most of them blew up on the ground. I hope everyone is ok and that Asheville receives some kind of refund. Maybe next year will be better. 
If you would like to see the whole set of images, please visit me on Facebook.. here is a link...


Hannah and Andrew

Not every pregnant woman likes to have their picture taken, in fact, some women do not like to be the center of attention at all, and therefore do not like to have their picture taken whatsoever. This was the case with Hannah... she told me point blank that she does not like to have the attention on her and dislikes having her picture taken, and she wanted me to come to her and Andrew's home and capture some images of them as they are expecting their first child. Hannah told me that she knew it was important for their child to have some images of Mom and Dad as a couple before the birth and that she would tough it out for the sake of their child. 
Going into the shoot, I knew I would have to have my "A" game on more than ever... I wanted to make sure that Hannah was comfortable with me and the camera before we started shooting at all, so we 3 spent some time chatting in the kitchen, simply hanging out in their home, playing with the cat, discussing possible spots to shoot in and laughing a lot. By the time the camera came out and we were ready to shoot, Hannah was having a good time, goofing around with Andrew and doing great in front of the camera. In fact, she let me take some shots that she had said "no, thanks" to during our consultation, so I knew I was gaining her trust and she was feeling more comfortable by the minute. I don't want to discount Andrew's role in this process... he is supremely supportive, funny, and loving with Hannah... it was this combination that allowed us to get some great shots that range from documentary to down right goofy (those are not public) for their new child to look at when the time is right. 
Hannah went into labor on Tuesday and I am anxiously awaiting the news of their child... they choose not to know the sex before the birth... I am sure Hannah and Andrew are home basking in the joy of child birth and taking it easy and I will hear form Andrew soon enough. 
Blessings to Hannah and Andrew and their new baby.. hopefully I will be shooting images of the baby very soon... stay tuned...
Here are a couple of my favorites from the shoot...  


Hope and Alan's engagement images

What fun I had shooting Hope and Alan's engagement images 2 weeks ago! As you may know, I first met Hope and Alan when they came to the Asheville area 2 years ago on vacation when they first started dating. They invited me to their vacation cabin to shoot some images of them as Alan was stationed in Afghanistan and was going back soon and Hope didn't want to miss the opportunity to get some images with her sweetie.  
Well, fast forward to 2010 and Alan has rotated back to the states, which makes Hope a happy lady! What makes Hope even happier is that Alan proposed to her! I knew he would from the first moment I saw them together, they are so in love, their joy and happiness simply fills the room, or the street...!
So, Hope and Alan drove down from Camp Lejeune (where Alan is stationed and a 6 hour drive) to come to Asheville to have me shoot their engagement images and we had a great day together! We walked around, stopped into the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, had lunch at the Lexington Avenue Brewery and went to the veterans memorial in Pack Park. As we cruised around downtown enjoying the gorgeous spring weather, I was consistently taken by how in love these two are. I will let the images speak for themselves..
   Under the stunning Bradford Pear tree in bloom...

 A quick stop for a hug as we walked to the Chocolate Lounge
  Hope has Alan right where she wants him!
 How can you not have a good time at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge! 
 I love how content Hope looks in Alan's arms... too sweet!
Hope giving the railing a slide... how could she resist?
 It is not hard at all to get these two to show some affection for the camera!
 Had to grab a shot with the classic truck... 
   No caption needed :)
 Alan showing his love for Nebraska... his home town. 

 Hope wanted to make sure she got a couple of shots with Alan in his dress blues... We walked down to the veterans memorial as we thought it was a fitting place to shoot and captured some wonderful images... this is one of my favorites.

Beautiful Little Stella

It is one of my great joys when I get the opportunity to capture a wedding then get a call a year or so later asking me to take pictures of the couple's new child. That is exactly the case with Stella. Her Mom and Dad got married in June of 2008 and I was honored to be asked to shoot their wedding at Hidden River here in Asheville. About 3 months ago, little Stella came into the world, her bright blue eyes and blonde hair bringing a smile to anyone's face who has the pleasure of being around her. 
Stella is a very happy little girl and if you know her parents, you would know why! Stella has recently learned to make "raspberry" noises and loves to show off her new talent with any chance she gets... this is one of the funniest things I have witnessed a little girl doing and often during the shoot Stella had all 3 of us laughing out loud!
Thanks so much to Pete and Jen for including me in their lives and the life of their beautiful little girl. I cant wait to shoot some more images of this little lady as she grows up. 
Here are a couple of images from the shoot...

What a happy girl.. such a beautiful smile. 

I love Stella's hat... too cute!

Is there anything more precious than little toes? 

Daddy and his little girl...


Umphrey's McGee February 6th 2010

As many of you know, I started out in photography shooting images of live bands. During the 10 years I have been shooting, my favorite band has become Umphrey's McGee from Chicago. 
Umphrey's or UM is a band that draws on classic rock, prog rock, and has inspirations ranging form the Beatles to Zappa. I have gotten to know the band members, crew and management along the way to my 70th show and have been blessed to shoot some amazing experiences. This show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta was no exception. 
UM is at the cutting edge of technology both on and off stage. In addition, UM loves their fans... I mean really loves their fans. It is this love for their fans, combined with technology that brings us... the Stew Art Series.. or s2. 

For those of you new to UM... they call their "jams" "Jimmy Stewarts". A Stewart is a section of a song where the band will improvise live on stage, having one band member take the lead, the band allows the music to unfold however it is meant to unfold in the moment. It is this spontaneity, creativeness and energetic exchange between the band and the crowd that keeps me coming back for 70+ shows. 
Which brings me to why Atlanta was a special night for me. UM has started doing the Stew Art Series... this is a private "concert" before the night's show begins. They limit ticket sales to 50 people and for $100 a person can attend a private concert where they control how the music is going to be played. How do they do that you ask? With your cell phone, of course!
UM uses a live text screen that the audience can text suggestions of musical styles, specific songs, genres, or goofy suggestions to in real time. The band reads these and plays the music that fits the suggestions on the fly without pausing to discuss what they are going to play or batting around ideas. It is truly amazing to see. As a "for instance", the image above says Waful on acid. Jeff Waful is their lighting engineer... so not only is the band involved in this interaction with the crowd, but the entire crew is in on it... so in response to the "lighting guy on acid" suggestion.. Jeff light the stage like this:
I use this example because without being there it is difficult to put into words what the "Moog Metal Haji" suggestion sounded like. As the S2 continues, the band pauses to take questions from the crowd. This interaction with their fans allows the fans to get to know their favorite band better, get a deeper understanding of the music, where it comes from, how it gets there and where they draw their musical styles from. 
Here Brandon Bayliss answers a fan's question regarding who is early musical influences were and who he aspired to be as a musician when he was a child. 
One of the suggestions that was posted to the board was "oh no, Chris cant play drums!" As the fans know, Kris Myers is one of the best drummers playing live right now, they also know that Jake Cinninger (one of the lead guitarists) is also one of the better drummers out there. So, Kris Myers left the drum set and Jake jumped up there to bang out some nasty drum solos. This instrument is not uncommon... but what happened next was uncommon. Kris picked up Jake's guitar and stated ripping some metal licks on Jake's axe. This was certainly a crowd pleaser and I was excited to get a shot of this special occasion. Here Jake looks on in amazement as Kris puts on his best "Jake face" as he leans back into some power chords. 

The rest of the S2 saw more instrument swapping, with another suggestion coming in to have the bassist, Ryan Stasik, show off his piano skills. One of the things I think makes this band so good is their ability to understand and play each others instruments.

I felt really lucky to have been invited to attend the S2 event. I highly recommend it to any fan who wants to peek behind the curtain so to speak and get to know these amazing musicians a little better. Once the S2 was over, the band came out to mingle with the crowd and eat some pizza, answering more questions, signing autographs and posing for snapshots with the people who love them. I am taken again and again by the bands lack of ego and their willingness to connect with their fans. 
Here are some images from the full show Saturday night...which was sold out, by the way! 2600 people!
Taken with a tilt shift lens


Brendon Bayliss

Jake Cinninger


Ryan Stasik gives the official UM salute. Too much rock for one hand. 


More tilt shift fun
Best Fans in the world!


Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Booth at WNC Bridal Party

Hello everyone,
Just a quick post to say thank you to the WNC Magazine crew... you did a great job putting on this years Bridal Party. Despite the threat of some bad weather, there was a great turn out to the event. The guests had a great time, martini in hand, as did I. We had a lot of traffic at the booth and got to meet some wonderful brides and grooms to be, plus a lot of wonderful people in the wedding business. The fashion show was a big hit to round out the evening, the gowns were exceptional and the flowers were extraordinary! My friend Cami took shots during the event and you can see them here
Thanks again to all of you who took some time to stop by and say hello! It was good seeing you... keep an eye out for the Jon Leidel Photography booth coming around again soon at the next Bridal event in your town. 
Have a great week!