I had a rare opportunity to photograph architect Robert Traynham Coles this year. Now in his late 80s, Coles had a 50+ year career in the world of architecture, and his innovative and eponymous modernist home and studio in Buffalo’s Hamlin Park is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Robert T. Coles, for lack of a better word, is a legend in Buffalo. An African-American architect who battled racial discrimination through his career and who left an indelible mark on a city already heralded for its historic and preservation-worthy architecture. His visions for the JFK Recreation Center, the Merriweather Library, and myriad other private homes and public buildings that he designed are indicative of his commitment to an “An architecture of social conscience” a goal to create and advocate for public spaces that were more humane, civilized, and inspiring to those that occupied them while still being aspirational examples of mid-century modern architecture that emphasized light and openness. His designs for private home often blur the boundaries between residences and the outdoors.
Coles is also noted for his passion for social advocacy and efforts in the civil rights movement as he fought against housing discrimination, segregation, and the poor state of schools throughout his career. He also put great efforts into attracting more minority students to the study of architecture.
Coles studied under and worked with luminaries of the architecture world like R. Buckminster Fuller, Eero Saarinen, Minoru Yamasaki, and Carl Koch of Techbuilt. And when he did eventually close Robert Traynham Coles, Architect P.C. in 2012 it was the oldest African-American owned architectural firm in New York.
“I believe that because architects have the ability to see things as they can be, they have a special task, which goes beyond simply designing the physical environment. They must be activists involved in the social and political life of the community. They must address their efforts to change in these areas as well so that people can make the needed adjustments to an increasingly challenging and rich urban world. They must, in their works, build the demonstrative alternative to the way we live today. They must be initiators as well as implementors – leaders, more than followers. They must truly be revolutionaries who see their architecture as a broad movement to enhance the quality of life of urban people.” Robert T Coles – 2004
Thrilled to announce today that four of my portraits were named as finalists in the 2018 One Eyeland Photography Awards in the Professional Portraits — People category. My images of Michael Polczkalski, Edreys Wajed, Philip Brunner, and one of my War of 1812 Reenactor portraits were all recognized this year.
This year marks the start of a new collaboration between myself and Buffalo’s amazing Irish Classical Theatre Company. In the coming months I’ll be working with the cast and crew to create a series of character portraits of the company’s players in their roles from theatre’s seasonal productions. This first set of portraits are of actor David Lundy in his role as Seán Dóta in the play Sive by John B. Keane (which just closed to great reviews). Up next in their production schedule is Sense & Sensibility with Frost/Nixon, Hamlet, and Entertaining Mr. Sloane to follow throughout 2019.
I’ve loved traveling to New Mexico the past few summers to photograph the musicians, artists, and characters of Santa Fe and Albuquerque — its a world apart from the cold and snow people so often associate with Buffalo. The landscape itself is living art.
Infamous in both photography circles and bars across the country, Aaron Ingrao is on a whiskey-soaked multi-year journey across the country to document the lives and passions of Americas hardest working bartenders (and to squeeze in some quality mountain biking along the way). I shot this for a liquor.com story about Aaron’s trip in his vintage trailer along with his dog Luke (which he claims was named after me) to tell the story of the America’s craft cocktail revival and the bartenders behind it as part of his project Keepers of The Craft. Aaron was briefly home in Buffalo for a visit that coincided with the story, so we were able to meet up at Ballyhoo — one of our favorite local bars, to shoot these these portraits.
I don’t remember a lot of what happened after the shoot, but I think it had something to do with a bottle of Four Roses.
Did you know that my team and I have a public Spotify playlist where we post some of the best tracks we’ve been listening to in the studio and on road trips? Usually curated by me, but sometimes by Cassandra Lyons, Brandon Watson, or the occasional special guest! We’re a music driven group and big on the sense of atmosphere it can create for shoots and office hours in the studio. Usually updated weekly but there can be the occasional delay on extremely busy weeks/months.
Right after my return from an incredible trip New Mexico this summer I hopped right in the truck with my crew to head to Boston MA to shoot this assignment for M&T Bank as part of a series of client success stories. I love working with the creative team from Crowley Webb, the agency behind this project. The subject is David DiAntonio — the CEO of McCue Corporation, a company that makes industrial barriers and safety barricades. Always great to see my work in use!
I was immensely proud when former Buffalo Sabres Captain and Western New York Native Brian Gionta was named as the captain of the 2018 US Olympic Hockey Team. A veteran of teams like the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, Sabres, and Bruins, Brian actually turned down additional NHL offers as his tenure with the Sabres came to an end in order to play alongside Team USA in South Korea – a long time dream of his. I was even more excited to get to create some portraits of him after he was announced as team captain for a brief back page interview piece with him for Sports Illustrated.
Tom’s second solo episode while I was back home in Buffalo with Alistair Huxley Copping — the newest addition to my family!
In this episode Tom chats with Lynn Goldsmith about her images of figures in entertainment, sports stars, film, literature, and “the ordinary man on the street”. Her images appear in numerous collections: The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, The Museum of Modern Art, The Chicago Museum of Contemporary Photography, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Museum Folkwang, The Polaroid Collection, The Kodak Collection, etc. Her work over the past 50 years in the editorial world has appeared on and between the covers of Life, Newsweek, Time, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, National Geographic Traveler, Sports Illustrated, People, Elle, Interview, The New Yorker, etc.
Middlebury Magazine sent me to Cleveland OH for a cover story on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM Koby Altman back in March. We got to spend the better part of a day with Koby shooting portraits and documenting what a game day is like for him leading up to tip-off as he and the Cavs geared up to Face the Milwaukee Bucks that night.
It took a while, but I finally got my friend David Butler back in front of my camera after all these years.
Dave is a production designer, art director, and set dresser for feature productions like Marshall, The First Purge, TMNT 2, The True Adventures of Wolf Boy, Emelie, Sharknado 2, and After the Sun Fell – And that doesn’t even begin to touch on his decades of work in theatre and television.
We first met back when I was the studio manager at the wonderfully infamous production space in Buffalo, NY that David would do prop and set work for, and I consider myself unbelievably lucky to still be collaborating with him for the past ten years or so. He has built almost every set piece in my studio and he has been a true guide in helping me to turn my ideas into the finished images I share with you.
Tom flies solo in this episode as I was back home in Buffalo with my family in the final days before my wife’s due date!
Ron Haviv is an Emmy nominated, award-winning photojournalist and co-founder of the VII Photo Agency, dedicated to documenting conflict and raising awareness about human rights issues around the globe. Tom and Ron discussing what Haviv has learned while covering more than twenty-five conflicts in over one hundred countries. Ron has produced an unflinching record of the injustices of war and his photography has had singular impact. His work in the Balkans, which spanned over a decade of conflict, was used as evidence to indict and convict war criminals at the international tribunal in The Hague. President George H.W. Bush cited Haviv’s chilling photographs documenting paramilitary violence in Panama as one of the reasons for the 1989 American intervention.Haviv’s work has been featured in numerous museums and galleries, including the Louvre, the United Nations, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Haviv’s photographs are in the collections at The Houston Museum of Fine Arts and George Eastman House amongst others as well as numerous private collections.
Big thanks to Adorama and The Photo Bridgade for their continued support!
One of my favorite places to drink in Buffalo — with unforgettable beverages and an amazing crew behind the bar! Occupying the same space as the former Club Diablo (a goth/metal bar and a dearly departed former haunt of mine) The Angelica Tea Room is a much brighter and more refined space than the former occupant — instead of beer, shots, and thrash the focus has shifted to a mellower mood and features a collection of classic cocktails inspired by the exodus of master bartenders to foreign lands during America’s prohibition and the exotic new tastes they discovered and incorporated into the American cocktail tradition upon their return. ⠀
Clay Patrick McBride told me on the day the we recorded this episode that Anne Geddes has sold more books than Beyoncé has sold albums — and I’m inclined to believe it because Anne Geddes is as close as you can get to a household name in modern photography. Tom and I were thrilled to get to speak with Anne about her best known work photographing babies, children, and pregnant women — but perhaps more so we were excited to speak to her about her decades of philanthropic work and her experiences navigating an ever changing publishing industry that has had a radical effect on the photographic world.
Shot on the shores of Lake Erie for the latest issue of Valuation Magazine (the in-house publication of the Appraisal Institute —a trade association for real estate appraisers.) James is the Director of Appraisal Standards for global real estate services giant Colliers International, and was recently elected president of the board of directors of the Appraisal Institute.
Tom Kennedy and I talk with Clay Patrick McBride live at Adorama in New York about both his career creating portraits of the biggest names in music and sports, as well as his new role in teaching the next generation of up and coming photographers at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Clay’s classes and hang out with him a few times. Aside from being an incredible photographer I find him to be one of the most compelling and realist educators I’ve ever met.
Clay’s portraits of top athletes and musicians such as LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Metallica, Norah Jones, Jay Z, and Kanye West have appeared in countless magazines, among them Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated and NY Magazine. His commercial work includes dozens of album covers for Sony, Blue Note and Atlantic Records, as well as print campaigns for Pontiac, Boost Mobile and Nike
A multi-talented artist and musician, Edreys Wajed is best known outside of Buffalo under his stage name of Billy Drease Williams. This successful emcee and producer has been a member of both Raw Intel and The Elements, and founded the non-profit cultural preservation and educational organization The Art of Hip-Hop. A hiatus from recording has recently allowed this avid painter to focus on the visual aspects of his art — recently completing a series of large-scale portraits of American civil rights leaders William Wells Brown, Malcolm X, W.E.B. Du Bois, Frank Merriweather, Dr. Lydia T. Wright, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Harriet Tubman as part of The Freedom Wall, a project commissioned by one of the oldest public art institutions in America — the Albright-Knox Gallery.
Two of my images were named finalists in the 2017 One Eyeland Photography Awards! The first is a portrait of Elliott Douglas (above) that was created as part of a campaign for Bureau menswear. The second was for a portrait of illustrator Mickey Thoren-Harmon.
When I first discussed the idea of photographing the multi-talented Lindsay DeDario the original intention was for it to be part of my ongoing white + white series of portraits… that quickly changed when I found out that this accordion was on the table as a potential prop.
If I was ever going to learn to play another instrument it would be the accordion —I think it’s a terribly underrated instrument and I’ve always had secret aspirations to play fancy French waltzes for my wife like a character from a film set in a seedy 20’s cabaret. Naturally, when Lindsay mentioned that she had gotten her hands on this incredible white and gold specimen (she plays) I immediately fell in love with the idea of photographing her with it (because accordion… right?)
Thanks to Lindsay’s influence I might have to follow though on this hidden obsession and start playing to occupy my time between shoots.