Fighting fire with fire



Although they sometimes conflict, my art photography has been greatly influenced by journalism.

Not only because journalism is the center of my career, but because so many of the photographers who have influenced me are photojournalists. Mostly, that’s been a good thing.

In the days when I shot black-and-white film with a Pentax K1000 and did the developing and printing myself, I learned from my visual colleagues the importance of telling a story – simply, clearly, in a single image.


The principles they taught me about composition and lighting are still in my head and my trigger finger.

This sequence of photos was shot in the Chattahoochee National Forest during a prescribed burn earlier this month.

What I tried to capture, besides the basic visuals of the fire, was the calmness with which it happened. Thousands of acres burned without unintended loss to life or property.




Lance Creek, HDR


Lance Creek, Chattahoochee National Forest, on Thanksgiving Day. Temperature in the high 60s, and lots of vegetation has died off, giving easier access to view spots on the creek.

This HDR was created by layering and blending two exposures, with the SketchBook app on my iPad2.

I made minor adjustments afterwards in Lightroom.

Face that shot 1,000 portraits

IGP7078There’s nothing more intimidating for a photographer than shooting……. a photographer.

Especially someone that you really respect, admire, and want to be like. Who exemplifies standards that you grew up with, and that you don’t see much in journalism anymore.

Well, the photographer is me, and the photographer is Al Clayton.

You might know him for his snake-handling documentary, or for his portraits of rural poverty, or maybe for his funky photos of dead animals.

Al has done so much for photography, for the South …. and I know that I don’t even know 1 percent of it.

Even now, he mentors kids at the local high school. That’s how I got to meet him – we worked together with the students on the Smokey Hollow project.

The chance to photograph him came up as part of the “Faces of North Georgia” project that Sara Lindkrantz and I are doing. Sara and I set up a portable studio at the Summer Solstice Celebration in Jasper, and Al showed up.

I dragged him over and demanded that Sara shoot his portrait. Al turned his back on our little studio set-up. He pulled up a folding chair next to the glass door and positioned himself in the natural light. I held up the drop cloth behind him, and it turned out nice.

Later, when he was talking to Sara, telling stories, I laid on my back on the floor and shot candids of him. Not the most flattering angle, but I wanted him to forget I was there.

I love to just sit and listen to him tell stories, so that is what I was trying to capture here.