Photo Coleslaw

XXX Photography

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I recently wrote a piece entitled XXX Photography for the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.    Kinda sounds naughty doesn’t it?


Written by Spelman

02/04/2010 at 11:46 am

A Steinway for a Hasselblad?

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I was listening to this beautiful piano earlier today.  The kind of music that is almost haunting because it’s so full of soul and vulnerability. I allowed the music to no longer float through the background, but to become my focus. For a moment it was like I had my own personal soundtrack. Listening, I wondered if I would trade being a photographer to be able to play like that

The ironic part is, the answer was within the question.

I want to make images that could stop a musician and make him wonder if he would trade his ability to play to make images like that….

No matter whether you are speaking in terms of tonal range or tones of gray, art is an expression of connection and vulnerability.  We’re all on the same ride.

This last weekend I had the opportunity to work with some phenomonal Santa Fe dancers from the 3HC BBoy/Girl group.  It’s always a blast to shoot people who are uninhibited in front of the camera – thanks 3HC.

Written by Spelman

01/23/2010 at 12:11 am

A Second Glance

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The best photographs are the ones that require study.  In a world where imagery is strewn about with unprecedented rapidness, I appreciate the favor of something pausing me for a moment.  One superlative second of introspect reflecting a moment of captured time.

Billboards, Google and iPhones all attempt to seduce our attention. We whirl through our days in a protective stance from new input.  But every so often, something taps us and asks for a second glance.  That’s what a solid photograph does – it requires a second glance; initially from the photographer and secondarily from the viewer.

Written by Spelman

01/20/2010 at 12:38 am


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My primary objectives right now are to breath and survive.   I’m at that point, 3 years in, when most sane people get out.  It’s the true test, are you crazy enough to go forward when a brontosaurus-sized neon sign is flashing “ABORT NOW – BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER!”  As photographer, Keith Carter, says, “You have to learn to embrace a life of uncertainty.”

So I gotta breathe in.  Stay the course.

Surviving the photo industry is one part vision, one part business and all heart.

Luckily this year has come with two revelations that I am finding helpful in this department.   The first is that getting a business plan onto paper is incredibly important.  It’s hard to stay the course, when you’re driving down the highway at 85 mph and thinking,

“What course?  There was a course?   Was it back there at mile marker 112 with the KFC?”

A written plan comes with a serious sense of serenity.

Secondly, involvement with a solid photo community cannot be valued highly enough.  People to get inspired with.  Give you an honest critique.  Remind you why the hell you left that great dental and 401K plan behind.   So this blog post comes with a huge thanks to everyone who is right there in the trenches with me.   To all my photo friends: your support is invaluable .

I’ve just posted a bunch of new photos in all of the categories on my website.  Check ’em out when you have a moment –

I’ll be here, surrending to the uncertainity, right on course.

Written by Spelman

01/07/2010 at 10:19 pm

Lessons from 2009

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Did I say December for updating my blog?  I must have meant January.  Better blogging is on my resolution’s list.  A list filled with concepts like: set business plan to paper, develop a concrete marketing plan and check into rudimentary ballast.    Or something like that.

Seriously though, big plans for the blog this year.  This month will mark the first installment of GuestSlaw, a series of interviews throughout the year delving into the techniques and thoughts of several well-known photographers.  We may even discover a few hamsters in their closets while we’re at it.  Anything goes, it’s wild and crazy over here at the ‘slaw factory.

As the first blog of the year, I wanted to reflect back on 5 pictures I learn from in the last year. Probably shot around 10,000 frames in 2009, but these are a few of the ones that have a message I’ll remember.

1. His shirt was pressed so crisply it could have stood up proudly on it’s own and ordered a pulled pork sandwich.  His smile belied a firm handshake.  His name was Marvin and he was a Clarksdale, MS contractor.   He’s a big believer in people having dreams and following them…. living in a constant state of moving forward.  Marvin reminded me of why I take pictures.  To meet people like him.

2. I’ve never met a bayou that I didn’t want to photograph.   I’m never going to meet a bayou I want to swim in.

3. As much as it pains me to note, every once in a while a picture belongs in color.

4. The straight picture is never as interesting to me as the ambiguous one.

5.   I wish they sold those blinders they put on donkeys for human use.  You know the ones that keep ’em from getting spooked. I shot this picture on a day when I was frustrated with my photography and it reminded me that you never know when your next favorite might come along.  That this job comes with a lot of distractions, but in the end, sometimes it’s just as easy as keeping your eyes faced forward and pushing a button.

As Colin Hay sings, “I watch the sun as it comes up, I watch it as it sets.  Yeah, this is as good as it gets.  My, my, my it’s a beautiful world.”


Here’s to 20-10….

Written by Spelman

01/05/2010 at 8:24 pm

On the Road…

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After an incredible month in San Miguel I flipped around 2 days later and have been continuing to work on my project in Mississippi.  Lots of new photographs and thoughts on photography to report.  But it will have to wait until I return to Santa Fe…..  Stay tuned for new posts in early December.

Written by Spelman

11/27/2009 at 11:30 am

In San Miguel, Mexico

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Down in San Miguel for the month working with the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  It’s a vibrant city, easy to find picturesque scenes.  The inherent challenge for me in cities like this, is to find my own voice.  To stray away from the town center, the postcard pictures and the expected.  cartoon

Had my first experience with this a few nights ago.  Went to the Casino Bar with some friends to play some pool.  The Casino has a back room where the local men gather to play dominoes.  I approached them slowly, hanging out in the doorway and discussing dominoe strategy in broken Spanish.  Didn’t break out the camera for at least an hour, until after I had already played a game with them.    By then they were somewhat amused and comfortable with my presence.  Those are the moments I seek when traveling, when the photography is secondary to the encounter.


Written by Spelman

10/25/2009 at 2:46 pm