The pictures I’ve stared at….

I took a picture today, and in the 6 hours since I pronounced it “done,” I’ve re-opened it, gone full screen on my 42″ display, leaned back and looked at it….probably 5 times.

It’s this:

I’ll understand if you don’t feel the same way about it that I do.  I’ve looked at it for a few reasons, one being that I just plain like it.  It’s simplicity, it’s symmetry, it’s contrasty crushed-black and whites.

I’ve looked at it because it was a complete idea, in my head, exactly like this, right down to the details….and then with less than 60 seconds of actual shooting, the picture matched the vision, and I shut down the shoot without bothering to check it on the camera…and I re-open the finished product, more than once,  to double-check that that’s what really happened, lol.

I had several choices for the outer ring, all of the others were smooth and perfect, I chose duct tape specifically so it would contrast with the shiny ring.

And there were plenty of ways I could have faked this image, I love that I didn’t.  I fired a camera that can take 12 frames per second and just DROPPED the ring through the shot.  Kept the winner.

I shoot 1.25 million pictures a year.  I edit more than 40,000.  So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that most things I shoot and keep I DON’T go back and look at, over and over.   That behavior defines certain photographs as uniquely special.

It may seem obvious, why I’ve gone back and looked at this picture so many times since the day I took it, in 2013.

Olivia is stunningly beautiful, that’s the obvious part.  But I have better pictures of Olivia.  I have sexier pictures of Olivia.  I keep going back because it’s just astoundingly………….perfect.  The color grade, the light, the body position…the DETAILS in the body position, the perfect curves and the perfect curves on the perfect curves.  Even my choice to have her “snap” into position before each shot to create the horizontal lines in the water that counter the s-curves of her body.


Depending on the day, I might tell you this is the best photograph I’ve ever taken.

It’s all simplicity.  It’s pure composition.  It’s straight from the camera.  It’s something no one else, not one other person would have seen.  I hoarded this image for several years.  Didn’t share it, didn’t use it for anything, just saved it.  It eventually became the cover of my book, “The Mountain and the Pebble.”  By the time I published that book, I’d likely gone back and viewed this image 200 times.

I waited 7 years to take this picture.  I had all the pieces in my head, I knew exactly what I was going to do and how I was going to do it.  The problem, is out of the 7 months I shoot sunrise in the water every year, maybe 5 or 6 or 7 days we get that liquid gold sun popping through just the right gap in the trees.  Fog on the water happens maybe ONE day out of those.

Then I have to BE THERE.  I have to have the right subject, and then I can’t screw up.  The light lasts maybe 5 minutes.  Oh, and this shot is from HUNDREDS of feet away, there’s no other way to take it.

I think it’s worth staring at on it’s own merits, but I think I stare it mostly out of disbelief that I ever pulled it off.


All in all, over the years, I’ve probably had a couple hundred images that were real, “go back and check them out over and over.”   My favorite 86 images to date (not counting the water drops above and the shot below) NO ONE has ever seen but me.  I don’t share my favorite pictures as a rule, they go into my private stock.

But this next one I’ve looked at, maybe more than any other.  And that’s saying something, because I shoot beautiful women every day.

But the lines……….are mathematical perfection.

It looks like I chiseled her out of soft light.

It’s possible I was falling in love with her at the time, which unfairly skews the voting, but no matter how many times I go back and look at this, it’s just as remarkably beautiful as the first time.

I did something with this I normally don’t do…I re-cropped and re-edited it several times.  Usually I just go on instinct, and make my decisions and stick with them.  But this is actually “Myranda-001-003”   My favorite picture of Myranda, the third edit.


The Mountain and the Pebble is on Amazon