Appalachian Trail – Revisited

In 2013 my partner, Kit, and I left our lives in New York City to hike the Appalachian Trail. We knew that life in Maine was in our future, but we also knew that we had to do something 180° from life in NYC before we could adjust to the calmness of Maine. I know the phrase “life changing” gets thrown around a lot, but our thru-hike of the AT was just that. I can’t describe it in words, but lucky for all of us Kit is a fabulous writer, and kept a blog the entire time we hiked! Feel free to check it out here:
http://trailkit.blogspot.com/p/at-thru-hike.html

In terms of photography, the Appalachian Trail for me was a chance to do my own thing. I had spent 6 years hauling around a half ton of lighting and grip equipment while working with Martin Schoeller, I am forever grateful for everything I learned about photography, but I wanted something simpler: a project that was just me and a camera. The only photo gear I carried on our thru-hike was a camera, a 40mm, 85mm lens, a small flash, and half a terabit of memory cards. It was exactly what I needed! While working in New York I had almost forgotten what it was about photography I loved so much. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved being a photo assistant, but between office work, traveling all the time, and having a life outside of a beautifully hectic work schedule, there wasn’t a lot of time for my photography. The Appalachian Trail gave me so many things, but the most notable might have been my rediscovery of my love for photography.

Fast forward to late May of 2017. Down East Magazine called to ask if I would be interested in photographing a story about the Appalachian Trail. I actually spoke before my brain had time to process this question and likely said something like YESUREYUPABSOLUTNODOUBT. After this lapse of composure I collected myself I clarified that I meant, “Yes!” The beautiful part about this story was that the purpose was to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail, and to focus on the stewards and trail angels of the Maine section of the AT. This was an absolute dream assignment! I spent several days on the Appalachian Trail hiking and photographing some of the biggest contributors to the AT in Maine.

These three short days were small compared to the thru-hike of 2013, but still provided some wonderful moments. The most notable was perhaps when a young man sipping a beer stumbled upon me, atop a mountain summit, at sunrise, which I should note, was 4:40am. I was at this moment changing pants which meant we were equally surprised to see each other. Not surprisingly he was unfazed. It’s bizarre moments like this just don’t seem to happen to me, with such frequency, in my life outside of the Appalachian Trail. In fact, prior to this assignment, I had not spent more than a few hours on the Appalachian Trail since 2013, and this story was a way for me to reconnect to the Appalachian Trail. I might go so far as to say that photography helped me rediscover my love of the Appalachian Trail!

AU5A6286Vicotria “Bluegrass” Jofery – MATC ridgerunner on saddleback mountain

060617_DE_AT_Story-0521A white blaze on the way up the AT on Mt Katahdin.

AU5A5721-V2Vicotria “Bluegrass” Jofery – MATC ridgerunner. In the background can be seen the summit of Saddleback Mountain.

AU5A7339Greg Caruso – Operator of the canoe ferry service crossing the Keenebec River, outside Caratunk, ME. The canoe has a white blaze painted in the bottom of it, making it part of the official route of the Appalachian Trail.

AU5A6684MaryEllen Royce – A trail angel that leaves homemade cookies at the West Carry Pond shelter for passing hikers. In the background is her husband, David, her coconspirator.

060617_DE_AT_Story-0831Kim “Hippie Chick” and Jarrod “Poet” Hester, owners of Shaw’s Hiker Hostel in Monson, ME with their children, Juila and Finn in the kitchen where an AYCE hiker level breakfast of godly proportions is made. In the background Hiker’s Rooster, Happy Feet, and Footprint finish up breakfast.

060617_DE_AT_Story-0776Kim “Hippie Chick” and Jarrod “Poet” Hester, owners of Shaw’s Hiker Hostel in Monson, ME with their children, Juila and Finn on the front porch of Shaw’s Hiker hostel. Above them Kim Rosenbaum, also a 2017 MATC ridgerunner and AJ Linebach, caretaker of Shaw’s pause for a break. Serval thru-hikers chat behind the Hester family.

060617_DE_AT_Story-0440Lester Kenway, in the red hat, is a trail constructing legend! He is seen here with a trail construction crew, (L to R) Erin Dahl, Adam Windsor, Phineas Peake, Katheryn Nitzschke, Brandon Joyce. They were cutting a new length of trail on the Mt. Katahdin section of the Appalachian Trail.

To see the full story please visit: http://downeast.com/keepers-of-the-trail/

 

Client: Down East Magazine; http://downeast.com/
Writer: Kathryn Miles; http://www.kathrynmiles.net/
Subjects:
Lester Kenway; http://www.trailservices.com/
Kim and Jarrod: http://www.shawshikerhostel.com/
Victoria Jofery
MaryEllen Royce
Greg Caruso

 

 

 

Bending Iron

In an ongoing collaboration with the Maine Craft Association I recently had the pleasure of photographing Doug Wilson. Not only a master blacksmith living in Maine, Doug was also an incredible host, super gracious, and I might add patient, when it came to creating photographs together! The combination of fire and decades worth of soot and ash on the walls of his shop made for a pretty picture perfect photo location. I tried to create a bit of a mood in terms of lighting to help draw out a bit of the grittiness that is metal working. You can see some of Doug’s talent over at his website: here

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Client: Maine Craft Association, http://mainecrafts.org/
Subject: Doug Wilson, http://www.dewilsonforge.com/

“May Flowers” Personal Projects

In a effort to create more work more often I am undertaking a monthly personal project. Finding inspiration and ways to look differently at the world you so often see can be difficult. So often we are so focused on the world that we know we forget to look around and forget to see things in a new light.

After a long winter and cool spring the flowers opened slowly here in Maine. I begin noticing the Forsythia blooming before everything else, it’s common for these little yellow reminders of a winter’s passing to arrive ahead of everything, but This year they seemed to be way ahead of everything else! I started noticing that there were only barren tree limbs, small budding leaves and vibrant forsythia flowers. It was a damp and grey Sunday afternoon hanging out with friends that a thought struck me, what about using all these flowers and a backdrop set against their respective complementary color. I turned to my friend Jessica and asked “do you own a purple shirt?” It was with this the project began.

I wanted to push myself beyond what I might normally, I’m not sure I achieved that but I feel with most personal photo endeavors it added a little bit to my skill set.

Flower-People-2up-3Flower-People-2up-2Flower-People-11631Flower-People-2up-4Flower-People-2up

Big Al’s Super Values – A Truly Maine Adventure!

There are some assignments that just make sense! Sometimes an email comes in with a subject line that makes my palms sweat and my mind race with ideas and excitement. This is exactly what happened when Down East Magazine asked me to photograph a feature story on Big Al. I did not grow up in Maine, which meant my knowledge was initially limited to the store front in Wiscasset on rt 1. Along with the assignment sheet came a link to an old Big Al’s commercial, do yourself a favor and check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giC7KjfjjnY.

The ideas started pouring out onto a note pad. I felt like the hardest part of this assignment was going to be trying to make Big Al not look to over the top. he was already such a character I wanted him to appear in some images as down to earth as possible. At the same time I realized this was an opportunity to create some over the top images. Here is a small sample from the shoot that I think represents a pretty good mix.

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Client: Down East Magazine, http://downeast.com/
Subject: Big Al, http://www.bigalssupervalues.com/
Writer: Ron Currie, http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/98373/ron-currie
Photo Assistant: Thomas Huot, https://www.instagram.com/pho_thom/

The Left Arm Project

In March I had reconstructive surgery on my right shoulder, after years of putting it off. I am right handed, which meant holding a camera the way I normally do was out of the question. The recovery time is 6 weeks in a sling, after about one week of computer work, I quickly realized I was going to lose my marbles being indoors and not photographing. A quick post to Facebook asking for photo subjects resulted in a full two days of photographing various friends, acquaintances, and strangers around Maine!

I further challenged myself by only allowing one small wirelessly triggered TTL strobe. I could not believe how freeing and wonderful it was to not be technically bogged down with so much equipment. I am constantly having to remind myself that being a photographer means creating pictures! I know that sounds ridiculous but it is so easy when you run a business to get lost in the everyday nuances of marketing, emails, and website updates, and so many other aspects of running a business that you some times forget to create work.

I continue to shoot assignment work through the recover process, and this project made it easier to do that, as it made me comfortable with the camera in my left hand and minimal equipment.

Here are some of my favorite images from this personal project.

032817_portland-day_AU5A5384Lindsey Gordon, photographer – Inside The Merchant Company, Portland ME

032817_portland-day_AU5A5319Kit, Jessica, Todd, Owners of the Merchant Company – Portland ME

Kelly_Roy_mdwphotographicKelly Stearns Roy, Photographer – Photographed in her studio, Arundel Maine

032817_portland-day_AU5A5186Keaven Hartt – Photographed in the backyard of her urban farm, Portland Maine

032817_portland-day_AU5A5224Keaven Hartt – Photographed in her kitchen she is currently renovating, Portland Maine

032817_portland-day_AU5A4881Mark Fleming, Photographer – Photographed in his office, Portland Maine

Molly_Spadone_032317_AU5A3560Molly Spadone, Designer – Photographed in her design studio, Kennebunk Maine

032817_portland-day_AU5A4820Molly Haley, Photographer – Photographed at Arabica Coffee, Portland Maine

032817_portland-day_AU5A4979Fred Copeman, musician – Photographed in Miss Portland Dinner, Portland ME

Justin-mdwphotographicJustin Melton, Tattoo artist – Photographed in studio, Kennebunk Maine

 

Fooding

I find that I tend to do what’s comfortable for me when it comes to photography. This is due in part to the fact that often time with subjects is limited and I want to maximize that time. Thus, I tend to default to lighting that I am comfortable with and poses I know work. That being said I love when I am forced outside of my comfort zone. When Down East reached out to me to photograph CODA, an american cuisine modern restaurant in Maine’s South West Harbor, I was excited and nervous.

I am not a food person, I enjoy food, but mainly because my body will shut down without it. I can appreciate food but see it more as fuel rather than an experience. This is why food photography has always terrified me. I have such passion towards people that’s why portrait work always feels so natural. The best food photographers I know are not only fabulous photographers, but also absolutely LOVE food.

When I arrived at CODA, both Chef Carter, and his sous chef Brandon were the most accommodating, always a good sign! I had a tremendously enjoyable time with the challenge of photographing outside my comfort zone. I feel comfortable saying that I think I even got some good food photographs out of it!

CODA-mdwphotographicM_Wilson_Coda_0417-0504_HRM_Wilson_Coda_0417-0322_HRM_Wilson_Coda_0417-9945_HRM_Wilson_Coda_0417-0177_HRM_Wilson_Coda_0417-0118_HRM_Wilson_Coda_0417-0473_HR

Client: Down East Magazine, http://downeast.com/
Subject: Coda restaurant, http://www.codasouthwestharbor.com/

WOODSMEN

Part 2 of 2

The Press Hotel is located in the former building occupied by the Portland Press Herald. When conversation first started about what the body of work could be in the gallery at press hotel it covered a wide range of topics. The idea that kept coming up again and again was the idea of logging here in Maine. The gallery director and I decided that logging was a  way to tie in a relevant topic in Maine as well as honor the history of the Portland Press Herald.

In addition to the eight images on display there is a supplementary piece printed on newsprint. The newsprint is from a paper factory in Québec Canada a couple of phone calls revealed that likely some of the pulpwood for the paper is sourced, in part, from Maine forests. This brought everything full circle as some of the faces of the woodsman in this printed piece are perhaps the same ones who cut the pulpwood used in the production of the paper.

I realize that it is unlikely for there to be a large revival of paper as the world moves more and more towards digital. With that in mind, the thing that kept coming up while working on this project was while the paper industry shrinks the need for lumber and wood to build homes and buildings that humans use has not declined. And while it can be argued that timber does not necessarily qualify as a sustainable resource I personally feel it is far more sustainable than steel or brick. Especially if you consider modern day forrester practices that allow the forest to regrow at a consistent pace and leaving minimal blight on the land.

Here are some images from the show and the supplementary printed piece.

MDW_Woodsmen-Press-1-pMDW_Woodsmen-Press-2-pimage1image5image7