TIFFANI MOORE

Celebrity stylist and creative consultant Tiffani Moore of Traveling Trousseau

I’m a fan of improbable things — Tiffani Moore

Today I’m sharing a new portrait I shot at the end of 2016 of the amazing celebrity stylist and creative consultant Tiffani Moore of Traveling Trousseau – a creative firm with social change as its core mission. Tiffani was also a recent NY1 New Yorker of the week for the work Traveling Trousseau has done with Susan’s Place – a homeless shelter in the Bronx. Tiffani’s other clients include Gbenga Akkinagbe, Alonzo Mourning, Lisa Price, Matt Barnes, McDonalds, Del Monte, Trojan, Neutrogena and many more.

Be sure to check out her fantastic Creative Mornings talk here.

TIFFANI MOORE

WHITE ON WHITE

Alison Lavis from The White on White Series

After taking a much-needed break from social media, blogging, and the internet in general for the whole month of December, I’m happy to announce that I’m back, I have a ton of new work to share, and I’ve been spending the past few weeks planning, strategizing, and getting ready to hit the ground running in 2017!

The first batch of new work that I want to share is a personal project that I started back in November of 2016 in order to explore some concepts of simplicity in portraiture. I wanted to create something as simple as possible that puts the focus squarely on the subject. I was highly inspired by this quote:

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” – Charles Mingus

A white wall, white wardrobe, a subject, and me. It’s about as basic as you can get, and yet working within strict limitations like these can be just what you need to stimulate you creatively.Actor Dudney Joseph Jr, and Former lead singer of It Dies Today Jason Matthew Wood

Artist Brittany Baker and Makeup Artist Mallory Stoos Ashley Schaffert Lederer of the Morning Glory Blog Club DJ Joe Chalifoux and Model Paige CarsonMarina Boswell photographed as part of my White on White series

mv20161116-0064Tom Tubiolo and Lulu Robinson Jessica Schreiber from the White on White Series

WHITE ON WHITE

DAVID COOPER FOR BUFFALO SPREE MAGAZINE

David G Copper of The heritage Centers Foundation

David G Cooper of the Heritage Centers Foundation – A group dedicated to securing private funding to provide needed services such as educational opportunities, transportation,  therapeutic equipment, and much more for the more than 8000 Erie county residents who are challenged with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

DAVID COOPER FOR BUFFALO SPREE MAGAZINE

JAMES HARRINGTON FOR SUPER LAWYERS

WNY Attorney James Harrington

Defense attorney James Harrington for Super Lawyers Magazine. This WNY based lawyer has, for the past few years commuted between his home office in Buffalo, NY to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where he has been involved with one of the most notable cases in recent American memory – the defense of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the man once known as “The 20th Hijacker”

Harrington is sometimes reviled by critics for his role in the case, but just as often celebrated for his dedication to the American legal system and the ideal that all accused, regardless of of how heinous that alleged act, deserve competent representation and a fair trial in court. I think his philosophy can be best summed up in a quote he gave to the magazine I shot tis assignment for: “If the law doesn’t work for the worst of us, it doesn’t work for the best of us.”

JAMES HARRINGTON FOR SUPER LAWYERS

MACARTHUR FELLOW WILL DICHTEL FOR NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

MacArthur Genius grant recipient Will Dichtes photographed at Cornell University for Northwestern University

Imagine a material so porous that little more than a gram of it contained the same surface area as a football field.

It sounds like the kind of made-up miracle substances you usually hear discussed solely in the realms of sci-fi or comic books, like Adamantium, Unobtanium, or Nth metal — The kind of elemental MacGuffins that exist to explain away the fantastic powers of those that use them. The primary difference is that supramolecular chemist Will Dichtel has taken his material out of the world of science fiction. In fact, he’s on the verge of taking this and other revolutionary nanomaterials out of the lab and giving them practical real-world applications that could potentially change our planet for the better. Continue reading “MACARTHUR FELLOW WILL DICHTEL FOR NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY”

MACARTHUR FELLOW WILL DICHTEL FOR NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

PAMELA NICHOLS FOR BUFFALO SPREE MAGAZINE

Portrait of Pamela Nichols atBuffalo SPACE for Buffalo Spree Magazine
My latest editorial for Buffalo Spree Magazine had me creating portraits of designer Pamela Nichols at Buffalo SPACE – a creative and event venue attached to Buffalo’s historic Pierce Arrow Automobile Factory. You can take a look behind the scenes of this project below to see a little of what happens on set with me and my team.

Portrait of Pamela Nichols at Buffalo SPACE for Buffalo Spree Magazine

PAMELA NICHOLS FOR BUFFALO SPREE MAGAZINE

EJ MANUEL FOR DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF

Buffalo Bills Quarterback EJ Manuel
Buffalo Bills Quarterback EJ Manuel is a dog lover. Him and his pit bull Titan have been together since EJ’s college days – and they’ve even been featured on the NFL Network together. EJ understands the importance of giving dogs a healthy and loving environment and is dedicated to helping change the negative and often unfounded stigma surrounding pit bulls and similar breeds.

As many of you know, I’m a dog lover too, and I donate a lot of my time to working with local rescue organizations that help dogs in bad situations find loving new homes. Lately I’ve been teaming up with Diamonds in the Ruff – A Buffalo, NY based rescue and adoption organization that helps rescue animals, finds them foster homes, and ultimately works towards placing them with caring families.

Adoption portraits are great and can really help individual animals, but there’s a much bigger audience out there who needs to be made aware of the amazing work that the volunteers at these rescues do for these animals, so Diamonds and I wanted to take it to the next level with our collaboration. We’ve been working on a very special series of videos and portraits that pair well-known animal lovers from WNY with adoptable dogs from DITR –  EJ and Vera are our latest subjects, and they make an amazing team.

EJ and I aren’t the only ones who are enthusiastic about Diamonds and helping WNY’s dogs – we’ve also partnered with Max Brown and Scott Allen of Partners + Napier, a Rochester, NY based advertising agency, and Mark Montalvo of Skin Digital Retouching. Max actually adopted his own dog Bella from Diamonds, and Mark has generously donated a lot of the retouching work for the adoption images I’ve created the past few years for the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter.

Vera has been with Diamonds in the Ruff Animal Rescue for a while now. Now it’s time for this wonderful, happy girl to find her forever home. Don’t be afraid to fall in love. Help us spread the word about Diamonds, whether you’re a dog lover, #Billsmafia, or just a fan of my photography – You can visit DITR’s Facebook page to find out more about the organization and adopting Vera here.

Buffalo Bills Quarterback EJ Manuel with Vera , an adoptable pit bull from Diamonds In The Ruff Rescue in Buffalo, NY

Image

BEST OF ASMP 2015

Emilio

I’m so honored and excited to announce that my ongoing Shelter Dog portrait series was a winning finalist in the American Society of Media Photographers Best of 2015 Awards. For the past few years I’ve been working with local animal shelters and rescue programs in Buffalo, NY to provide adoption portraits of long term canine residents who are in dire needs of finding permanent and loving homes. These intimate portraits really give people an opportunity to connect with the animals and give them something that makes it easy to share these dog’s images and stories over social media – helping them to go viral in the local community and often allowing pups that have been at the shelter for months to find new families in a matter of days.

You can read my interview with AMSP here.

You can see the rest of the 2015 winners’ amazing work here. 

Bram Birch - PitbullPetunia - An adoptable rescue pit bull from Buffalo, NY. Apx 4.5 years old female. Stache

BEST OF ASMP 2015

SHELTER PORTRAITS: MINNIE

Minnie is an adoptable pit mix currently sheltered at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter

I’ve worked with a lot of dogs from the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter in the past few years, and I’ve bonded with a lot of them and followed their post adoption stories, but this is the first time that the volunteers have given me the awesome and special responsibility of actually naming one of these adorable pups — so I’d like to introduce you all to my friend Minnie — this one’s special to me.

She may look like a little puppy, but believe it or not Minnie is a little older, She’s one of those dogs that’s always going to have that “forever puppy” look. She was surrendered to the shelter by her previous owner, and while she plays very well with her friends at the shelter it is still recommended that this pit mix be adopted into a home with no other small dogs, as she can be a bit energetic and rambunctious when playing. Otherwise she is a sweet, happy, and curious girl who bonds quickly with people.  She hasn’t been at the shelter long, but I’m sure that with your help we will be able to find her a new home in no time.

Help spread the world about this sweet adoptable girl by sharing this post or her Petfinder page — where you can find all the relevant info about meeting or even adopting her.

Minnie is an adoptable pit mix currently sheltered at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter

SHELTER PORTRAITS: MINNIE

THE CHOCOLATIER: BLUE TABLE CHOCOLATES

 Ben Johnson of Blue Table Chocolates - An Artisinal chcolate maker from Buffalo NY who hand crafts unique and colorful chocolate truffles in a variety of flavors, both exotic and classic

I often seem to get dragged along to local markets on mornings when I have no business being awake or even attempting to interact with others, but these always seem to be where I find really interesting small businesses that end up fascinating me. This was definitely the case one morning last year while visiting the Horsefeather’s Market on the West Side of Buffalo. Amongst the produce vendors, small shops selling coffee and handmade dumplings, and an interminably busy brunch spot — was a small table piled with tiny boxes hiding treasures. You could have easily walked past it if it weren’t for the electric colors of the actual product drawing you in. These simple and unassuming cartons were filled with selections of glossy Technicolor chocolate truffles — bright blooms of gold, red, and purple, bisected asymmetrically by a single bold line of color. A metallic dusting leaving them looking a little a starry midnight sky. But don’t for a second think that these truffles are too precious or delicate to eat, their intensity of flavor and uniqueness demands that they be sampled. And honestly, all this romanticized and pseudo-poetic language about chocolates is coming from someone like me — WHO DOES NOT LIKE SWEETS — so you know they have to be pretty good.

The man making and selling these chocolates is Ben Johnson, the owner of Blue Table Chocolates, and he got his start in chocolate as a way to fill his days while looking for a job. Ben came to Buffalo from Boston, MA, where he had been working for over a decade in the non-profit sector with an initiative focused on building affordable housing. Ben’s wife was the catalyst for a move when, as an academic, she was offered a job teaching at the University of Buffalo. “I started looking for the same exact thing here and it wasn’t coming up. So just to fill the day I got a job working at Choco-Logo on Broadway downtown, worked there for about three months, just working the line along with Buffalo’s Burmese community and just got hooked, just got totally hooked until I got another desk job, and you know, ‘say good‑bye, this was fun, you know, take care, guys, I’ll see you around, but I have to go back to my real life now.’ But I never really stopped.” Ben told me.

“So I would be working sixty, seventy hours a week in the non‑profit world and just be completely stressed and burnt out. After work I would get home at nine o’clock at night, say hi to the wife, put the kids to sleep, walk the dog, and then just be all amped up and would make chocolate until two or three in the morning. And I just did that in our kitchen for about four or five years and it got to the point where we would go to dinner parties and bring stuff I’d made along and our friends would ask ‘This is great, where can I get some?’ And there was no answer — like ‘Oh, no, this is just for fun’. The job I was in just got more and more demanding as time went on and I started thinking ‘Why are you doing this? You never see the kids, you never get to go to soccer games, you have no summer breaks.’ So we sat down, had a hard talk about what happens if I do this, what happens if I actually do what I enjoy doing — and the whole conversation was ‘well, what’s the next step, what do you do five years down the road? What do you do ten years down the road?’ And I thought ‘let’s just put that aside, let’s forget about five years, ten years — what do we want to do now? And then it will figure itself out’ So I said my peace and gave two months’ notice so they could start another search to fill my position. I think it was about two and a half years ago, I just started do this real small, some private events, online sales, and it’s just been taking off since then.”

Aside from the immaculate taste, the aesthetic of Ben’s truffles are a big part of the appeal. These chocolates are gorgeous, and not in an overly baroque or ornamental way. The simplest elements of design done well are on display here: line, color, and shape. There aren’t any fancy ornaments or overlaid patterns, just a clean and perfect structure to convey delicious chocolates to your taste buds. A simplicity that is perhaps owed to Ben’s own education in design and architecture. “I studied at UVA for four years. I had a lot of fun. The thing is, and I didn’t even think about this until long after it happened, but every architecture school has got its own assets and quirks, I think. UVA was known to not rely on color in renderings and the models and all that, because that was seen as something of a cheap out. It should be about the design proportions. At most you might add something like a single red line to define a section because it’s that single restrained moment that makes everything else pop more, and that kind of ended up as the aesthetic of Blue Table — don’t get all crazy with fifteen different colors, the rainbow tutti fruity, just have one clean line, and that’s sort of the become the look.”

Ben Johnson of Blue Table Chocolates - An Artisinal chcolate maker from Buffalo NY who hand crafts unique and colorful chocolate truffles in a variety of flavors, both exotic and classic

Much like the architecture he once studied, there is a language to the design of the truffles that Ben makes — a syntax of colors that imply flavor and define expectations. Sanguine crimson with a splash of eponymous color for blood orange, passionfruit is the color of a tropical sunset crossed with a cream color that reminds one of sand. Salted caramel is a regal purple shot though with pure white — royal colors for Blue Table’s best seller. Boxes are accompanied by a flavor guide that explains all this, but it’s much for fun to eat your way through a collection, learning to recognize your favorites by sight. And there’s always the surprises — monthly flavors that are based on the season, ingredient availability, what experiments Ben has ben toying with — sometimes for years. The current monthly offerings are french toast and maple bacon, while past months have included flavors like St. Germain, pumpkin caramel, blood orange, lavender, rosemary pine nut, banana rum, yuzu-ginger, and Pop-Rocks

As a fledgling business, gaining a foothold in the community was important for Blue Table Chocolates, especially since their creative approach to truffles is a little out of step with the ubiquitous presence of sponge candy and chocolate pretzels in Buffalo. Rather than be slavish to tradition or trends, Blue Table has decided to embrace other elements of Buffalo’s shifting culture, including its growing immigrant and refugee community. One of the first major events that Ben got to flex his creative muscles on was a fundraiser for The International Institute of Buffalo — called Buffalo Without Borders – an opportunity that found him creating chocolates with flavor profiles al little outside of what you might find in any of Buffalo’s more traditional chocolatier’s catalogs. ”The idea was to find some sort of bridge between local Buffalonians and the refugee population. There are Burmese families all over Buffalo, as well as refugees from other areas, but it’s really segregated and there’s not much crossover between the communities. So the point of this event was to offer something that was influenced by the Burmese or the Bhutanese community, but was accessible to local Buffalonians as well, and the thought was that chocolate could be that medium.”

“I worked with three families, one from Burma, one from Bhutan, and one from Iraq — and over the course of three of four months of meetings I got to know their stories, their history, and what they like to cook at home. I would go back with a few small Tupperware containers that had samples of ganache — perhaps something like a date and white chocolate ganache with a touch of tahini for a Baklava inspired truffle. And these families were brutal, which was great. Sometimes even if they liked it they would feel the recipe had no real connection to their lives in Buffalo or back in their previous homes — so I had to start over and rethink what I was working on completely. So these families were incredible and really let me know when it wasn’t working. Ultimately I went through four or five versions before settling on something they really liked. For the Bhutanese family I created a toasted basmati rice pudding truffle that was similar in concept to an India rice pudding, but they toast the rice first in peanut oil which gives it a brown color and a great nutty aroma. We also added some toasted cardamom and golden raisin to round out the flavor a bit — which ended up being so specific and unique — but it totally nailed the flavor of this dish.”

“The Burmese truffle was an interesting process because the Burmese culture doesn’t really have a set dessert course in its meals — so instead we based it off a traditional Burmese tea salad, which is a communal event that brings together a lot of small dishes to accompany tea, and guests just sort build their own thing from what’s available. So we worked with coconut milk, chilis, and tamarind paste while omitting other elements of the service like the preserved fish and dried shrimp. It’s a truly unique truffle that’s a little more bitter than what we normally create, and certainly a lot hotter, but It appealed to the palettes of my hosts who kept pushing me to build stronger hotter flavors that they were accustomed to. We’ll be doing that event again this year, so I’m interested to see what I get to create this time.”

It may be a harder road to walk, but by eschewing trends and chasing what interests him, Ben has begun to carve out a loyal following — amongst both fellow obsessives and casual fans. Each season brings a constant evolution and refinement of Ben’s truffles, which he still produces by hand himself. Blue Table Chocolates have become something of a treasure to those that love them — something they will gladly seek out as they follow Ben’s market schedule, order directly from him, or even by opting to one of the subscription plans that Ben offers that featuring both his classic and special monthly flavors. Speaking for myself, it’s the uniqueness of the flavors that Ben creates that drew me to his chocolates — And while you won’t find sponge candy or other classic local favorites amongst his wares, you can be sure that Ben is awake, probably much later than you are, and working on something even cooler to excite you.

THE CHOCOLATIER: BLUE TABLE CHOCOLATES

SARAH SCHNEIDER OF HANDLEBAR

Sarah Schneider is the Owner of Handlebar - a bicycle themedbar and pub located in The Hub development center in Buffalo, NY
Want to get on your bike and meet somewhere for a pint? I know the perfect place.

Sarah Schneider is the owner of both Merge and HandleBar in Buffalo, NY – the later location being both her most recent venture and her gastronomical ode to bikes, beer, and simple but delicious food. This cycling themed pub has fixed its sights on Buffalo’s two-wheel set, and in a city that embraces events like the Skyride and becomes more bike friendly all the time – that’s a growing crowd.

With gears embedded in the bar, stools adorned with pedals, bike chain chandeliers, and the Penny-Farthing inspired logo that never fails to remind me of The Prisoner, HandleBar creates an environment that is equal parts industrial and organic, vintage and modern – a bright and inviting space for riders (and occasional enthusiasts of alternative forms of locomotion) to meet up and refuel. I’d be decidedly happy having some post-shoot drinks with crew and clients anytime.

Sarah is an avid gardener, raises fowl, and has a strong interest in sustainable food that has always been reflected in her hospitality ventures, so the crew and I were truly excited when we found out that she would be bringing one of her beautiful birds to the shoot. I’m used to having animals make an appearances in my images but I think this is the first time a chicken has made a cameo in one of my portraits, thankfully it was a quiet summer day with wonderful morning light coming in through Handlebar’s windows, so our feathered friend was a well-behaved and welcome addition to the images we were creating.

I’m excited to visit HandleBar again soon, the place has a cool and relaxing vibe that pulls you into the culture it has built itself to serve. Whether you are coming for the food, drinks, or to meet up with like-minded riders, HandleBar should be a regular stop on your route – and frankly, knowing there’s a cold one waiting for you at the end of a ride is a great motivator to start cycling more.

Sarah Schneider is the Owner of Handlebar - a bicycle themedbar and pub located in The Hub development center in Buffalo, NY

SARAH SCHNEIDER OF HANDLEBAR

ADOPTABLE: PETUNIA

Petunia - white adolescent pit bull

About a year ago, a skinny white pit bull was found wandering near the Buffalo waterfront alone and scared. She was a sweet girl who had some trust issues, and very little was known about where she came from before she was found and placed with the volunteers from a local rescue program called Educate-A-Bull that aims to both educate the public about the false and harmful stigma surrounding bully breed dogs as well as rescue, rehabilitate, and find wonderful homes for these in-need animals. The program’s volunteers worked hard and did an amazing job of getting her healthy, noursihed, and socialized again. They named her Petunia.

After a local news station ran a story on the work I’ve done with the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter, a group of Educate-A-Bull’s volunteers contacted me to see if I would be interested in working with their program and creating an adoption portrait of this tiny lady, since she is one of the program’s long-term residents. Of course I jumped at the chance to get to meet, photograph, and play with this cute four and a half year old pit bull terrier.

Petunia is looking for a new home with a loving and experienced owner. She’s a wonderful dog that has been with Educate-A-Bull for about a year, and her ideal home would be one without children or other pets – preferably with an owner who can give her a lot of attention and make her feel truly welcome as she settles into her new home.

She is house and crate trained, and current on all her vaccinations. You can read more about little Petunia on her Educate-A Bull page.

Please help spread the word about Petunia’s story. I know together we can find her a forever home!

Petunia - white adolescent pit bull

ADOPTABLE: PETUNIA

STEVE GEDRA OF THE BLACK SHEEP

Chef Steve Gedra of the Black Sheep in Buffalo, NY.

For a long time Steve Gedra has been my favorite chef cooking in Buffalo.

With the two restaurants he’s owned in the city alongside his wife Ellen – their former Elmwood Avenue spot Bistro Europa, and their current restaurant The Black Sheep, Steve has cemented himself as one of the most exciting figures in the Buffalo dining scene, and I’ve got a lot of reasons to appreciate what he does – some culinary, and some a little more personal.

I love the fact that his menus often reflect things that I grew up with that tend to be a little harder to find on most local menus: head cheese, pig ears and pork liver aren’t uncommon things to see when you look over the menu at The Black Sheep. A lot of these are things that remind me of meals I shared with my dad before he passed way (coincidentally – I think he would have really liked Steve’s food).

I love that he works so closely with local producers to pass on the area’s best to his customers.

I love that Steve constantly mixes it up, often inviting other local chefs into his kitchen to collaborate as part of his monthly Midnight Mass events.

I love that Steve can convert some of the pickiest eaters I know – namely my fiancée. As an avowed pork hater she gets mad if I even cook bacon in the house, but she will gladly chow down on any number of porcine goodies if Steve is serving them.

I love Ellen’s deserts – even if for some mystifying reason you don’t eat anything else on the menu, just order dessert and you’ll be happy.

And I love that when I was recovering from a really nasty surgery that kept me from working for quite some time Steve invited Erin and I to Bistro Europa for what was, at the time, the most relaxing and stress free meal we had been able to enjoy in a while – he’s a genuinely welcoming and caring person who wears his love for his customers on his sleeve.

It was amazing to finally have a chance to create this portrait of Steve in the front bar of The Black Sheep. It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon before a weekday dinner kicked off, so we had some wonderful light coming in through the windows while we set up this shot and enjoyed some of the fantastic Chemex brewed coffee Steve made for us. Steve and Ellen put a lot of care into the design of the restaurant, including the intimate front bar that then opens up into the larger rear dining room, which is where we decided to photograph Steve enjoying a coffee and a few seconds of quiet prior to service.

STEVE GEDRA OF THE BLACK SHEEP

ON ASSIGNMENT: FORBES MAGAZINE

Craig Maxwell of Parker Hannifin

I’m thrilled to share some selections with you from my latest assignment for the always fantastic to work with Forbes Magazine. This time they sent me to Cleveland Ohio to create portraits for a story on Parker Hannifin – a nearly 100-year-old worldwide firm specializing in motion control and mechanical engineering that is in the process of disrupting their own research and development process in a really exciting way.

Craig Maxwell of Parker Hannifin

My first subject was Craig Maxwell – the company’s VP of technology and innovation, and the man responsible for creating the new R&D practices at Parker that allow singularly focused engineers and scientists to pursue research on their own wild projects in a program that’s part hacker space, part startup incubator, and part Shark Tank like pitch contest – a  program that’s keeping the company focused on agility, adaptability, and innovation at a time when slow-moving and overly conservative companies are falling to disruptive young upstarts. The symbiosis between the company and it’s passionate and competitive engineers benefits everyone – especially those engineers to whom Parker provides significant benefit and support, as Maxwell’s ultimate aim is for them to have an ownership stake in their profoundly important creations.

Ryan Farris of Parker Hannifin with his exoskeleton project for Forbes Magazine

My second subject for this assignment is a perfect example of Maxwell’s ideal. Ryan Farris is one of the singularly focused engineers I mentioned above – and the mind behind one of Parker’s most exciting new developments, a revolutionary wearable exoskeleton system aimed at helping people with severe spinal injuries to walk again. Aside from the healthcare application the firm is hopeful that there might be further industrial applications that they can develop as the technology evolves. Farris began work on the project while still a student at Vanderbilt University and it there that the exoskeleton caught Craig Maxwell’s attention, prompting him to bring the project in-house at Parker. Farris has been catching the attention of more than just the internal startup scene at Parker, as he was named one of Forbes 30 under 30 Young Innovators – an honor he greatly deserves as his invention should be brining real positive change to people’s lives in the next couple of years.

Ryan Farris of Parker Hannifin in Cleveland OH for Forbes Magazine

ON ASSIGNMENT: FORBES MAGAZINE

A BRAND SPANKING NEW ONLINE PORTFOLIO

I’ve made some significant changes to my online portfolios since the new year and today I’m ready to launch this all new mix of work for 2015. Some of these additions are from projects that I’ve been waiting forever to be able to share, while others are classics that I’m reintroducing to better illustrate the direction my work is taking. Click on any of the samples below to check out the full galleries on my main site.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing a lot more about my new marketing efforts for 2015, including a new print book, new promos, and some fun videos I’m working on right now.

Creative

Portraits of artists, musicians, and creative entrepreneurs – this is where you’ll find some of my edgier and more conceptual portraits in addition to a lot of my editorial work.

Creative Portraits Portfolio

Business

Everything from small business owners to corporate giants.

Luke Copping's Business Portfolio

Everyday

The day-to-day portraits of unique characters, some from assignments, others I’m drawn to photographing for myself.

Everyday Portraits Portfolio

Animals

Rescue dogs, commercial assignments, and private commissions featuring everyone’s favorite furry/feathered/scaly friends.

A look at my animals portrait portfolio

A BRAND SPANKING NEW ONLINE PORTFOLIO

ON ASSIGNMENT: ST MARY’S COLLEGE ANNUAL REPORT

Brenda Martinez - St Mary's College of California Alumni
How’s that for a dramatic sky?

St. Mary’s College of California sent me and my team on assignment to photograph Brenda Martinez for an alumni profile in their 2014 annual report. Brenda is a sixth Grade teacher in Western NY who runs a bilingual classroom as part of the Teach for America Program. Having taught in San Francisco and Mexico prior to taking her current position in Buffalo while she works on her masters, St Mary’s wanted an image that took Brenda out into the landscape of the region she now calls home. Though she’s a native of the far warmer climate of Pittsburgh, California, Brenda was more than happy to tough out a very windy autumn day on the shore of Lake Erie to get this shot.

Our location that evening was Wilkeson Pointe, a spot just outside of the city that’s recently been turned into a great public green space that includes paths and wind powered sculptures – it’s definitely one of the nicer places in the city to catch a great sunset. Despite the beauty of the shoreline at the Pointe that day, It was tricky working with the strong winds that were coming off the water, but thankfully we were able to set up some screens and wait for brief breaks in the gusts to make sure her hair wasn’t blowing all over the place – the result was this image that’s calm, but still has a beautiful sense of movement to it.

ON ASSIGNMENT: ST MARY’S COLLEGE ANNUAL REPORT

THE FOOD TRUCK: BETTY CROCKSKI

Kate Hey of the Betty Crockski food truck in Buffalo, NY

Don’t tell my fiancée, but I’m carrying on a passionate affair with a very special lady – she’s boxy, red, and weighs about eight tons. Her name is Betty, and she makes the most amazing pierogi (she’s also a truck, but don’t judge – the heart wants what the heart wants).

Polish food means comfort for a lot of people in Buffalo, NY – pierogi, bigos, and golabki were regular appearances on a lot of tables. Even if we didn’t grow up Polish, a lot of us fondly remember eating these dishes at friends’ homes or picking them up at the Broadway Market around Easter as part of the melange of Eastern European, German, Italian, African-American, and Irish influences that much of this city was built upon. Yet for a town so steeped in Polish heritage it seems that there are only few a places that still serve these traditional tastes with any regularity (Peter K’s and Gadawski’s come to mind) and fewer still who have built upon these traditional takes to elevate and refine them into something truly special (The Black Sheep’s pierogi come to mind). Betty Crockski is straddling both sides of this line and bringing their own take on pierogi back to the streets of Buffalo.

The company’s proprietors, Kate Hey and Dana Szczepaniak, officially launched the truck, appropriately enough, on Dyngus Day 2014. Prior to this Dana had been working as CPA in New York City and Kate was working in marketing back in Buffalo, but some casual discussions at a Memorial Day party in 2013 quickly led to the pair writing a business plan and found Dana moving back to Western New York. Over the next eleven months the concept behind the truck and the recipes slowly developed. “We always knew we were starting a Polish food truck, both because of our backgrounds, but because we realized that Buffalo needed one badly. WNY has the highest concentration of Polish-Americans outside of Chicago, and there’s a strong sense of Polish Heritage here. We have the largest Dyngus Day celebration in the country, and we see it out in the community when people come to the truck and see our family names and tell us ‘I used to cut your uncle’s hair'” Kate told me after her portrait session. Long nights making test batch after test batch of pierogi for friends followed, becoming the method by which Kate was able to refine and finalize the recipes the truck served when it launched; Betty Crockski soon became regarded as one of the most exciting members of Buffalo’s young food truck community.

As part of their pre-launch process, the girls took a research slash eat-your-way-across-all-of-Poland trip to the old country to get a taste of some of the nation’s most famous restaurants as well as some now notorious upstarts that are completely reinterpreting the Polish food tradition. The trip wasn’t so much a revelation as it was a confirmation of what Kate described to me as Betty Crockski’s philosophy on Polish cooking – “We try to celebrate local ingredients and culture, as well as fill in the blanks in the polish dining scene here in Buffalo that’s very focused on the a mid-century style Polish-American approach to cooking and preparation. We had our own ideas and vision about what these dishes could be and were totally vindicated by our trip when we saw that these great polish chefs were already acting along these similar lines of thought and had been for a long time.” Dana added “We got to see so many different facets of both the traditional and contemporary Polish food scenes, not just from eating, but from being invited into restaurant and home kitchens and being taught the way someone’s father makes pierogi, or a contemporary style of making golabki that gets away from the low-and-slow traditional pantry style and takes a fresher, brighter, and quicker approach.” A food tour of Warsaw hosted by Magda from the blog Eat Warsaw turned out to be one of the high points of the trip, not just because of the food they experienced, but because of the context and history it provided about the evolution of dining out in Poland.

Dana Szczepaniak from The Betty Crockski Polish Food truck - serving homed pierogi and sausage in Buffalo, NY

The truck’s menu is small and perfect. Four kinds of pierogi: A cheese variety that blends local chèvre, farmer’s cheese, and BellaVitano; one that marries a mix of caramelized sauerkraut and house pickled plum in a bourbon glaze; a meystard braised pulled pork pierogi, and a spicy potato filed option with white cheddar and herb butter. This selection is punctuated by regular seasonal specials, like a turkey and walnut sage stuffing filled pierogi with boozy pickled cranberries, and bigos – a traditional polish hunter’s stew (think Poland’s answer to chili, where everyone has their own family recipe or twist they like to put on the dish pulling from their own experiences and tastes). They also feature their own fresh Polish kielbasa spiced with ginger, caraway, and marjoram.

There’s one other element in this Polish comfort food equation that diverges a bit from the Polish traditions that the truck sprung from, one that leads in a decidedly German direction. Betty Crockski sells this absolutely addictive mustard – they call it “Meystard” (and I call it “German Heroin”) and that name ties into almost 80 years of Buffalo food history. Kate’s family was the proprietor of the legendary Carl Meyer’s Hof, a German restaurant that was the first tavern in Buffalo to serve beer from old kegs. And while the restaurant has been gone since the early 80’s, the mustard served alongside the pierogi and sausage on the truck is the same homemade recipe that the Hof served for decades. Thankfully you can buy some to take home to help with the withdrawal you’ll start to experience when you can’t make it to the truck (or to go along with Betty’s new take-home packs of frozen pierogi).

If you aren’t one of the dedicated few who’s willing to brave a food truck in the deathly cold of a Buffalo winter (and if you aren’t, what are you doing in this city?) Kate and Dana shared some good news with me: Starting in February they’re going to be partnering with the South Side Social and Athletic Club to do a small weekly Saturday menu of small dishes. Less a pop-up and more of a gourmet Polish happy hour, it’s going to be something of a lab for the Betty team to experiment with new recipes and try out what Dana calls “bar food, Betty style” in one of Buffalo’s oldest South-Side neighborhoods.

Betty’s may still just be emerging from their first very successful year in business, but they’ve already become an important part of both the food and cultural landscape of Buffalo. I’ve hung out on the truck with Dana and Kate during a service in the course of this project and I’ve gotten to see people absolutely light up when they have their first bite of one of Betty’s pierogi and then stand by the truck’s window and chat with other diners about their own childhood connections to Polish food in Buffalo and abroad. I’ve gotten to hear Dana’s stories about tracking down the perfect cheese for their pierogi, and after so many iterations, finding the perfect one produced locally by First Light Creamery by pure chance once day. While these stories are important, this isn’t just a chronicle of prepping sausage and making pierogi dough at two a.m., which is fascinating in its own right – but is quickly transforming into a story of how a sense of adventure and risk allowed such a new business to be integral in reconnecting a city to one of its most important culinary heritages.

THE FOOD TRUCK: BETTY CROCKSKI

UPGRADING TO THE MAMIYA 645 DF+

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

I’m the first to hate on photo blogs that obsess about new gear, pixel peeping, and how wonderful the latest and greatest new thing is, so let me immediately acknowledge that for a few brief moments I’m about to break my own rules.

Now that we have that out of the way I can share some really exciting news.

I made a big investment in my business and moved from primarily working with a 35mm SLR system back to primarily working with a medium format system again when I purchased a Mamiya 645 DF+ and a Leaf Credo 40 back at the end of 2014. I’d mainly been working with the Canon 5D series for the last couple of years and occasionally renting Mamiya/Phase systems when needed, but the more I shot with the medium format systems the more I fell back in love with the look of the images I was getting from them – I spent a good chunk of my film days shooting on the analog versions of the Mamiya 645 and the Mamiya RZ, so going back to that format actually felt really natural for me. I’d been looking into upgrading as far back as 2012, but from a business and financial perspective it wasn’t the right time to make that sort of investment, so I shelved the idea and decided to revisit it in the future. Thankfully, by the end of 2014 I had experienced quite a bit of growth in my business, been saving smartly towards upgrading, and was in a position where making the leap made a lot more sense.

I couldn’t be happier!

If you think you will ever be in the market to upgrade to a medium format system I highly recommend talking to the folks at Capture Integration in Atlanta before you do so. I agonized for well over a year before pulling the trigger on this new system, and lot of it was spent doing research, getting opinions, and trying to get my hands on various systems to test drive, but what locked it for me was when Chris Snipes from the CI sales team actually came to Buffalo for an event and made some time for me privately to answer a ton of questions and let me test drive a lot of different gear hands-on that really sold me. They’ve been great after the fact too, checking in with me and offering tons of support and optimization tips through their tech support and rentals manager Anthony Festa (a fellow Western New Yorker recently transplanted to the South). These are the people to talk to if you are serious about upgrading.

One of the first assignments I used the new setup on was this portrait of the late pro baseball umpire and actor Peter Calieri. He was probably best known as one of the field officials in Barry Levinson’s The Natural – maybe the best baseball movie ever. He was also a beloved part of the Buffalo, NY theatre community. Sadly, Peter passed away unexpectedly not long after he sat for this portrait.

Portrait of former pro baseball umpire and actor peter calieri
When I was in Seattle a few years ago at a workshop with John Keatly he joked that when he upgraded to a Hasselblad system he was disappointed that the images he took with the camera weren’t already retouched, and I totally get that now. These cameras are actually a little unforgiving, the files are so astonishingly sharp and crisp that you see EVERYTHING, but when you move past that and realize that the raw materials they give you to work with have so much potential and such a different feel from the 35mm format it changes the way you shoot and approach projects. I find myself working much more slowly and deliberately now. In general I’m capturing far fewer frames per project, and I’m certainly mindful of the quirks you encounter when moving to a new system. At first I was concerned about the weight and size factor, and it certainly is heavier than my MKIII, but at 6’2 it really hasn’t been too much of an issue for me. I’ve also found that I have to be extra mindful about nailing focus with this camera, as it’s much less forgiving that a 35mm in that regard – but when you see that perfect capture come in on-screen you are totally blown away by it.
UPGRADING TO THE MAMIYA 645 DF+