The Value of Time

A few years ago, I came up with a theory. Every person has some balance of two incredibly valuable assets – Time and Money. If you have an excess of one of them, there’s a good chance that don’t have much of the other. I’d like to take some time and reflect on being aware of how you spend your assets can potentially improve your business and maybe even your life. In this post I will tackle Time specifically.

Here I sit on a flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco. This is the fifth time I’ve taken this flight in the past 6 months. I’m confident I’ll be making the same trip at least as many times before the year is up. When I’m on a long flight like this, I use some of my time wisely and then spend some frivolously. I will spend a few hours catching up on email, organizing my computer, trying to read a bit and write a bit, and then work on some images if time allows (concepting, toning, editing). Undoubtedly, I will also spend some time doing things that you could put in the category of wasting time (yes, this includes playing games on my iPhone). Believe it or not, it’s a very important part of the creative process for me. As I strive to establish efficiencies in all aspects of my business, my life has quickly developed a certain intensity. That being said, I find a lot of value in pulling back a bit and just relaxing.

From spring 2002 until about spring 2005 I spent a great deal of my time assisting commercial photographers. I believe this is a vital step in the process of developing a healthy photography career. When it was time for me to make the jump to from assistant to photographer, I was cash poor and time rich.  I was having a very hard time making ends meet, but certainly had hours and hours to spare. At the time I was working with one of my mentors, photographer Bill Cramer. He was very busy man at the time. He was shooting constantly, caring for his wonderful family, and developing the business that is now Wonderful Machine. I remember thinking about how I had so much of the one thing he could use – time.  As you could probably guess, his financial situation was quite enviable from where I was sitting.

When you’re a young, aspiring photographer you’ve got so much time on your hands. Time should be read as opportunity. You have very little responsibility, minimal commitments, and hopefully nothing holding you back from dedicating your life to developing yourself and your work. It’s an incredible time when you have the greatest chance of building yourself into someone greater than you can dream of yourself.  It’s also a window that likely will be closed before you know it.

When I was starting out, I made some tough decisions that made great use of my time.  These choices helped me go from full-time assisting to full time shooting in just one year. First, I moved out of the apartment with my friends and moved much closer to our studio. This helped me avoid some distractions and spend more time working. I also chose to destroy the idea of a 40-hour workweek. It was a tough transition, but now I can hardly remember what sleeping on the studio floor felt like.  Finally, I dedicated myself to a personal project that required me driving 350 miles each way to get to my subjects. This was the Titusville Steel Project and the time dedicated helped make it my first successful body of work.

These days, things are a bit different for me. A week doesn’t go by where I don’t say to my studio manager Robert: “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”

I’m coming off my best year ever in business and am shooting non-stop. Creatively, I am making the best work of my career. Most importantly, my wife and I are expecting our first child in September. We couldn’t be happier.

That being said, I’ve just been informed that we’re preparing to land in San Francisco and it’s time to shut down and stow all portable electronics.

With that, I leave you with a song that has been something of a personal mantra. Enjoy.

The Meaning of Life in 10 Questions… Heather Elder

There are some of truly creative people in this industry. Let’s face it, you’ve got to be constantly concepting, developing, and executing or you get left in the dust. I’m fortunate to work with some really dynamic and inspiring people, ranging from art directors, to producers, to creative directors, photo editors, art buyers, and print producers. Instead of questions about email blasts, printed promos, and portfolio reviews, I think that it’s time that I put some of them on the spot to show us their meaning of Life. “The meaning of Life” may be a little far flung to answer in only ten questions, but hopefully these interviews will serve to distill some of the inspired and intellectual energy of the creatives that we work with.

© American Express & Annie Leibovitz

It was somewhere in-between the plates of fresh pasta and the homemade chicken parmesan that I knew I’d made the right choice in selecting a new rep. On a recent trip to San Francisco, my studio manager Robert and I had the pleasure of sharing dinner with Heather Elder and her family. You might know her from the outstanding roster of photographers she works with, or maybe from her blog, a standard for creatives in our industry. Any way you cut it, Heather Elder is an insightful and inspiring agent – not to mention, her mother makes a mean red sauce. I’ll let her tell the rest…


The Meaning of Life in 10 Questions… Rev. James Martin, S.J.

We started the Meaning of Life series with the intention of showcasing some of the amazing minds that we are fortunate enough to work with in the creative industry. Ultimately though, all of the great people working behind the camera with us are only part of the story. We’ve decided to open this up to some of our subjects and have them explain themselves. “The meaning of Life” may be a little far flung to answer in only ten questions, but hopefully these interviews will serve to distill some of the inspired and captivating energy of the people that we are lucky to meet and photograph.

There was a time in my life that I thought, just maybe, I should become a man of the cloth. My mother told me that if was meant to be, that I would most likely hear some sort of divine calling. Fortunately for this blog, divinity never spoke to me. The same is not true for Father Jim Martin who is currently in the lead as my favorite subject of the year. Jesuit Priest, author, editor, and Colbert Report Chaplain, I’ll let him tell the rest…


Weekly Wrap-up, February 27th – March 2nd

After almost a month on the road, we were back in Philly all week. We had an editorial gig to keep things interesting mid-week, but other than that we hunkered down in the studio got some work done and enjoyed a few fun diversions along the way.

It’s always refreshing to have a week back in town when you’re on the road for a while, keep reading to take a look at what we were up to in Philly all week…


Mac English: Squirrel Hunting in South Carolina

“I’m 77 years old and I’m still out here chasing these squirrels. I always have done it.”

We traveled down to South Carolina just about a year ago to spend two days in Sumter National Forest hiking, hunting, photographing and filming none other than Mac English, a champion squirrel hunter. We were out there in the woods – far out there. It was quite the experience, but all things considered, I’d go back and join a hunt any day.

Keep reading for more stills, outtakes, behind the scenes and video…

(more…) Portfolio Update

Its about time! We’ve added a few new photos to the main portfolio on – take a look and enjoy the new shots in high resolution. If you’re curious for more info, we’ll be blogging about this photo quite a bit more in the coming weeks, and you might recognize Chris’s portrait of Tumblr Founder, David Karp from a previous blog entry as well. Enjoy!

Weekly Wrap-up, February 20th-25th

Another week on the road, another week making photos. Our travels brought us out to Cleveland Ohio this week to work on a project with our good friend Mark Masterson and The Cleveland Vibrator Company. Humor aside, they’re an all-American business that designs and manufactures industrial vibrators for all kinds of manufacturing and industrial needs. If you ever have any vibration related questions, we know some guys you could talk to.

Keep reading for a few more behind the scenes and stories from this week…