WOODSMEN

Part 1 of 2

In middle school speech class I had to choose a state to give a speech about. I took one look at a map of the United States and saw how much forest covered the state of Maine and without hesitation chose Maine as the state I wanted to speak about. Growing up in Illinois my access to large tracks of forest were few and far between. When I first visited Maine in 2005 the thing that struck me the most was not the rocky coastline, lobster boats, nor the even the ocean itself but the vastness of the trees and the smell of the wet moss in the forests. Now that I call Maine home my fascination and love of the forest has only grown stronger. Maine is nearly 90% forested and the logging industry has been part of this regions economy for nearly 400 years.

With the demand for paper shrinking and the introduction of large scale mechanized logging the number of actual woodsman has dropped significantly in the last 30 years. What used to be crews of 60 to 80 men have shrunk two crews of 3 to 4 men operating larger machines. The fact is in the end it is still humans that do the work even if that work is aided by machinery. What used to be one of the worlds most dangerous jobs has fallen far far down that list due in large part to the safety factor of heavy machinery.

When I set out to work on this project I wanted to be sure to focus on the people doing the work, the people putting in the 18 hour days, and most importantly to connect viewers with the faces of the logging industry. When I first started photographing logging operations the thing that struck me immediately was the attention paid towards water quality and environmental impacts that were affected by logging. I never came across a swath of barren land. Beyond the machine operators and truck drivers a very large part of the logging industry is sustainable forestry, in maintaining a healthy forest.

In the end the thing that struck me the most was all the people who were logging, operating machines, and driving trucks spoke so proudly of spending time in the forest, hunting, fishing, camping, and exploring with their families. There felt to me like a certain unspoken level of respect that all these workers had for the forest.

Below are a handful of images from the story. More images the series can be seen on my website mdwphotographic.com. Part two will explore the relationship of the photographs to the gallery space it is currently displayed in.

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Photography

Making a living as a photographer is dream, when I was a teenager all I could think about was photography. At that point it was mostly thinking about apertures and shutters, and spending lunchtimes in the darkroom. While working in NYC I began to understand the business of photography, what sells, what doesn’t and really how to make a living out of it. Now that I am a full time photographer, I think so much differently about photography. Admittedly, I am a technical person, someone obsessed with the nuances of lighting, and all the little details of a shot. I approach all shoots with research and concepts to help create the most compelling images possible.

This past week PDN released PDN’s 30, which is a list I have watched closely for so many years. I spent all of Friday evening pouring over every photographer’s websites. I began to notice a common thread through out; I can simply describe it as, passion. Every photographer on that list was photographing exactly what they wanted to be photographing, in an honest and compelling way.

I often find myself thinking about what I would photograph if I didn’t have to make a living from it? I don’t quite know the answer to that, but one thing’s for certain, images with passion behind them are far more compelling to look at.

I spent this past week in Arizona visiting my grandfather, who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. I traveled out there with my Dad, who I don’t see nearly enough. I had a wonderful time, and really got some beautiful insight into exactly what I’ll look like as I age.

Additionally, I brought along my camera as I always do and started taking pictures, at first thinking about how I might pitch it to magazine, something like, “A long weekend in Tuscan.” After half a day of this thinking I realized I would never pitch these images, I would never even add them to a portfolio, I just wanted to make images. No lights, a single lens, a brand new environment, and people I love. I left not only feel personally revived but creatively revived.

Here are my favorite images form that trip:

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Decoys

For years now I’ve wanted to photograph a decoy bird maker. This year I finally had that chance! A little photoshoot for Down East with Little River Decoys based here in Maine, that is published in the March issue. It was really spectacular seeing all the fine detail work that Steve Brettell put into each and every bird. I am so delighted with the images that came out of this photo shoot.

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Publication: Down East, downeast.com
Subject: Steve Brettell https://stevebrettell.com/little-river-decoys/
Photo Assistant: Thomas Hout, www.instagram.com/pho_thom/
Writer: Jaed Coffin

True Grit

This year started out with a spectacular shoot for the Maine Craft Association. The MCA is a fabulous organization supporting artist within Maine, and I have teamed up with them to photograph a handful of crafts people in Maine. After several discussions about the pressing needs that artists have for images of themselves working it was decided that this would be a much needed project.

Photographing Erica Moody (http://magma-metalworks.com/) was a delight. Seeing her metal working studio and coming up with quick ideas for both portraits and action shots is what photography is all about for me. The moment I saw the studio space and met Erica, I knew I wanted to go for something that was gritty and slight moodier that what I am usually drawn too. I am extremely happy with the results. Here are a handful of images form the shoot.

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Client: MCA http://mainecrafts.org/
Subject: Erica Moody http://magma-metalworks.com/
Photo Assistant: Clayton Simoncic https://www.instagram.com/claytonsimoncic/

 

Sunlight

Some years ago now I was assisting my mentor and former boss, Martin Schoeller, on a shoot in New York. I recall we were on the east side of the city along 11th ave racing around the corner to catch the last of the sunlight. Someone on set said “Oh that sunset! Make sure you get that!” To which Martin semi-jokingly replied, “Sunsets are for amateurs.” I have thought about this moment and the subsequent images that were created on this shoot countless times. I suspect what I recall most was the fact that Martin photographed his subject entirely in natural light (which so rarely happened), and this fact has cemented those images in my brain for years now.

The other thing that has played over and over in my head is the sentence “Sunsets are for amateurs.” I think about this all the time when I compose a shot with the setting sun in the background, lens flare crashing through the frame. Or every time I point my camera at a sunset along the Maine coast. It feels like sometimes I can’t help but look at a sunset, and in time I have grown to appreciate the challenge of making an images that utilizes only the sunset as a light source. I found these images while organizing some hard drives today, they are from the last sunset of 2016.

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Women’s March on Washington

I regret losing faith in politics. I got lazy and complacent with the way the world was, and now the world is different. I am looking forward to moving ahead and making a difference, as best as I can. Here are a selection of images from The Women’s March on Washington. Possibly the most calm, and respectful group of people I have ever been around! au5a7695au5a7674au5a7710au5a7722au5a7777au5a7754au5a7825au5a8010au5a7792au5a8141au5a8160au5a8117au5a8165

Tandem Glass

In this months Zest Magazine is a story about Tandem Glass, a partnership glass blowing outfit based in Dresden Maine. Terrill and Charlie were originally photographed for the Maine Craft Association as part of an on going documentation of artists and crafters here in Maine. I love shoots like this because they force me to work fast and focused. It’s so inspiring to be around artists and get a chance to watch them create amazing work. Equally rewarding is being able to photograph someone in a space that is their own! All the little details in an artists studio is always what makes shoots like this so special.

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Publication: Zest Magazine, http://www.zestmaine.com/tandem-glass-maine
Subject: Tandem Glass
Assistant: Clayton Simoncic, www.instagram.com/claytonsimoncic/