Monday, December 27, 2010


I have been photographing Emily for some time now and we both had some time available because of the Christmas/New Years holiday. This time I initiated the session.  Usually I'm harassed into it by her mother who insist the I photograph her children on a regular basis.  Usually I'm able to act disinterested until she promises enumerable rewards for doing it.  I'll eventually concede if she promises to feed us dinner.  She (Em's mother) is an amazing cook who is driven by the details of the meal. We used to alternate dining invitations until it became a contest and we finally decided to surrender to her superiority.
So, where was I?  Oh yeah, I asked Emily to help me with a project I've been preparing to market and she readily agreed. The results took on a direction that I hadn't originally intended but it was quite gratifying nonetheless.  Here, I was able to drive a 60's looking pose even further by contriving an old color slide look.  

Just to give you a range, here is a shot from the same session with Emily as her more mature self.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

90 Minus 5

The Tribute to my dad's passing has been removed in an effort to keep a lighter feeling to the blog

Sometimes I get too sentimental and depressing.  Thank you for your kind comments.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just Josh'in

Many years ago when I started my Portrait quest, I quickly settled into a comfortable niche for style but in a rare moment of lucidity, I had the foresight to see that maybe I shouldn't get pigeon holed into being a one style pony.  I decide to try to cultivate an alternate style just in case some art director or client had his fancy caught by the Old Masters look but needed something more contemporary. So, off in a hard and unfocused area I ventured.  This willing subject is Josh Sanseri, at the time, was a rising star from my old Alma Mater. Now, he is probably the best shooter that I have seen in a while, at shooting environmental or location portraits while keeping an incredible lighting balance between the existing and added light.

Last I heard from Josh, he was well on his way to being a huge success in Los Angeles, CA.   

The tone is a synthetic Ambrotype.  While it takes me away from my purist black and white mode, it just feels right for this.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Big Push

There have been times, I have read somewhere, that people were killed by being crushed in a crowd and wondered just how that could have happened.  This image I shot in a dimly lit subway moving toward the street, heading toward the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity. Somehow, the sanity seems a bit lost here. It was a long subway ride from the suburbs where every platform was overflowing with prospective riders and at every stop 4, 5 or 6 more people would force themselves into every opening of the train. It got to the point where holding onto the handrails was barely necessary.  We were so tightly packed we had become self supporting.

I can now understand the possibility of being trampled in a crowd.  Had there been any sense of urgency or panic, many here could have been severely trod upon.

This was shot into one of those convex mirrors and tightly cropped. The old expression, head for the light at the tunnel, is so very well illustrated here.

For those who might be interested, the enthusiasm at the Rally was monumental.  The Rally itself was a bit of a disappointment. Unless you got there at five in the morning, it was virtually impossible to see or hear anything.   Am I sorry I went?  Absolutely not.

clicking on the image helps

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Will They Think of Next

Last week or maybe it was 2 weeks ago, I posted an iPhone shot that I really liked. A couple of days later, someone, it turns out to be a friend of mine, suggested I look into a phone App that he had seen.  I didn't rush out to get it but while riding back from Virginia, I had some time to kill, so I downloaded it just for grins. I haven't totally explored its possibilities but the first few times I tried it, it made me happy.  Nothing  sensational will ever come of it but the odd, old film, feel, stirs something creative in me.  I need to figure out a way to extract it from my iPhone, full size.  The way it is now, it's a very small file.  Maybe that's the best it will ever be.  We'll see.  Thanks Mike.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Wait

I just looked at my "to do" list and none of it seemed like any fun, so what the heck, more Ashley. I think I may have captured the warmth and playfulness of this St Louis University student. If I could only make a living doing this.  Maybe someday when I grow up.

Change Up

Well, last week I made some time to do some lighting test and my friend Ashley, whose eyes you have seen in the past, agreed to be my subject. Yea, spared you the self portraits. I think I'll post more later but this one really caught my fancy. I don't know exactly what it is that stops me in my tracks but I love this image.
Youth, great skin, amazing eyes and a willingness to be patient with my dallying with lights.  Thanks, Ashley.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just in the NIK of Time

I'm about to do something I said I would never do. I've avoided ads and commercial comment, until now, but looking at the last post, I think it only fair that I say out loud or in this case in bold letters how important a tool can be. Without this software I more than likely would have lost interest in a boat load of images I have captured.  There is hardly an image that I have developed (mentally and digitally) that I haven't used a least one of the Suite of software produce by NIK. In my mind it is the second most significant software product a photographer can use short of Photoshop. 
I was introduced to the young man who is the brains behind NIK software maybe 10 to 12 years ago when I was still working for Kodak. Amazingly he still remembers that day and has been very courteous whenever we talk, though I'm sure he knows 10 thousand more important and influential people than I.
There are 5 variation that I used and they have just rolled out the new HDR software that is so very impressive.  
As usual I have gotten away from the point.  
When I look back at the iPhone image, recently posted, I just marvel how that was not much of an image until I kicked it in the head with the NIK software. Sure, the composition was pretty darn nice but the other properties were nothing of which to speak. 
I'm a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to sharing my little secrets or techniques. I say I love teaching young people the trade but there a few things that I feel a bit possessive about.  For the longest time I used a very proprietary system for converting images to Black and White.  I didn't share it with many people because it was unique to me.  Then one day I began to enlighten others and surprisingly as hard as most tried, few were successful at getting the results that I got. I think there is an intuitiveness about it that others didn't have and I couldn't iliterate.
Then along comes NIK and its suite of software tools and at the very least I would tell anyone listening, if you're sharpening your images in Photoshop,  stop now.

Download the free trial version of NIK Sharpening Pro. I'll give you back your investment if you don't love it.

May your love of the trade, blossom beyond your greatest expectations.

Thanks Michael.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Everybody's Doing It... plus one more

 plus one....

Ever since Apple came out with the iPhone, maybe even before, photographers have taken to using it for some niche art opportunities. I, for one, have not taken to it as yet. It is not for the shaky of hand. The shutter release is in a very inconvenient location and add the relatively low resolution and less than stellar lens and I'm pretty much out of luck. Undaunted by my ineptitudes, I keep trying.  Today I found, that if I dink around long enough on the computer I can eventually produce something of interest. This is the recently renovated Continental Building in the Grand Arts Center, just down from my studio. As I look at it, I see maybe, an Orson Wells vintage property or maybe Superman or even Buck Rogers or as a friend suggested, maybe even early Gotham, Batman. Whatever I'm seeing, I like it.  I had this friend who's motto was, "If you shoot enough, you'll eventually come up with something." Got it.

Let me add this quote from Elliot Erwitt.

"To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them."

Since the original post, I've come around to the western view of the Continental Building and added a different perspective, both in angle and style.  Somebody stop me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Whatizit #5

So, I'm wondering if anyone else has seen one of these?  I found it permanently affixed to the street on my way to the City Diner here in the neighborhood. It appears to be made out of the striping paint for the roads. Thick and rubbery. I tried to peel it up but it ain't moving. Is it a one of a kind or part of some protest or political Logo. Got any ideas?  If so please to comment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

For Lunch

This image makes me sorta happy.  Simple yet graphic, it's the kind of thing I want to be able to do when the opportunity arises.

For years I've been looking for the perfect everyday camera.  One that I can keep with me all the time. Something compact but close to DSLR quality.

I recently bought a G11, which on paper, seems to fit that bill. Frankly, while it's not everything I'd hoped for, I'm getting a little more warm and fuzzy with it.

I had lunch today on a little plaza not for from the studio.  It was a gorgeous day and I had my new camera along.

The search continues but this ain't bad. 

*Still don't know why the quality in the original blog image seems to pale in comparison to the "click on" version.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


This is, as promised, an encore for Phillip and maybe not his last. I think the two of us could do a show, a "Character Study, Man and Camera."
I found myself a bit sidetracked, not hard to do these days, and in need of some stimuli, so I imposed on the the collection of unprinted captures from Phillip's session. What photographer could resist presenting this quality of character.

Clipped from his previous post:

Phillip Welch, Lexington, Virginia.  Artist, Craftsman and nice guy.  Phillip is one of those locals that allowed me to interrupt his life long enough to pose for my series. Without much fanfare, we dropped into his studio and basically didn't leave until he agreed to subject himself to my lens. Keep in mind none of these folks, save James (our friend), know me from Adam.  If it weren't for the introduction from our friends, my chances of getting any shooting done would have been severely hampered. 
Phillips forte is the art of creating fine furniture pieces from wood unlike anything you might find at Crate N Barrel or Ethan Allen or even Sotheby's for that matter.

The image itself is not how most folks who know Phil would picture him. I'll run more later.  As a matter of fact, the shoot ran so smoothly and quickly because, as it turns out, he is a natural. He sat down and went through poses almost faster than my light would recycle.  He was a Master of using his hands in the poses and feared no capture that might someday come back to haunt him. Mugging it up, he looked more like an experienced actor than a small town artist.  In fact, I asked him if he would like that I submit images to various agencies, because he has a very commercial face and an ability to follow direction that is usually only found in very experienced model/actors.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Finally the Rooster has Landed

Clicking on the image helps

I have been saving this image as the finale to the Virginia series but since I have stalled and faltered of late, I thought it best if I moved him up.

This is Rooster Ruley.  Legend amongst legends in the hills of West Central Virginia. A world class Bluegrass Banjo player, Rooster is the genuine article.

Rooster's image is how I pictured all of my subjects to be on that trip but I guess I let my imagination run a little too wild. 

When you look at this face, I'm bettin' you're forming an opinion as to what Rooster is really like. Well, you're right. If I've done my job here, you're probably thinking, undisciplined, loose living, carefree and  living life to it's fullest, I'd say you're right on the money.

The night I met Rooster was the big music fest on top of the mountain. There were murmurs within the crowd that Rooster might show up. He did and as you might expect, he's the kind of guy that doesn't really take a liking to pushy, crowed places. I'd say he's standoffish and easily spooked. My challenge was to not scare him away before I could get him to commit to a sitting. I'm not sure what came over me but when we were introduced, I did my my best, sincere, look 'em right in the eye posture and said, Rooster it's nice to finally meet you and I drove 900 miles to take your picture. I'm pretty sure it caught him off guard. I had him somewhere between flattered and terrified. Surprisingly enough he agreed, only asking, are you a professional photographer? I looked him even straighter in the eye and said, Why yes I am. He quickly shared his brand new phone number with me (which I proceeded to lose that night) and told me to give him a call.

Two days later, after searching everywhere for his number and calling anyone who might know him, I got him on the phone and reprised my, I drove 900 miles to take your picture, line. Being a little more sober this time, he said, if you really drove that far to take my picture, you're a damn fool. I couldn't help but smile and hope the hook was set. We agreed on a time and I crossed my fingers, hoping he'd stick to his word.  He did.

I wouldn't say ole Rooster was thrilled about the session. He was obviously on guard and tentative. He came with a young woman who had some questions about what we were up to and where this pictures might show up. Rooster told me later that she was his wife and she too was a photographer. Had I known, I would have invited her to stay. I did try to reach her to see if she was still in the area but she didn't answer or return my call.

We no sooner got into a rhythm shooting and Rooster decided he'd about had enough. He didn't like that I would try to pose him in ways that weren't natural to him. I tried to explain that I understood but since I shoot for impact, I wanted to get his banjo closer to his face and that it was important to the composition of the shot and it would look very natural in the finished product. He wasn't buying it.

If you remember from the earlier post, it was hot and humid that week and he was pretty much done. I'd like to have had a little more time before we wrapped but then Karsh only got one shot at Churchill. (OMG, did I just draw a comparison with Karsh, who am I kidding?).

There are several more keeper images that I have yet to develop, digitally speaking. Maybe later in the year, I'll post those too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Toss Him a Line

Excuse me sir but I think I can make you a star. There must be a million lines that have been used to ask a woman to pose for a photographer. Well now, how does an older male photographer approach another middle age man about sitting for his camera. That was kind of the case with Roy.  Roy Fauber was attending the music fest on the mountain our first night in Virginia and I was looking for subjects to use while there. I think there was a quick introduction from my friends and I just got right to the point. He took the invitation quite in stride and performed beyond my expectations when the shoot day arrived.

A kind and gentle man with a pleasant since of humor, you can see the real Roy relaxed and comfortable with himself in this shot.

Another banker by trade, he spent a hundred years working for the Fed. It seemed like everyone I met in Virginia was either a musician or a banker.  I only wish he had been my banker when I was younger.

Maybe I should have started with..."Pardon me Roy..." 

Nah, I did just fine.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Creative Masterpiece

This post could maybe become a novel or at least a long short story.  I'll try to contain myself. 

Jack Thorwegan has been the mastermind behind multiple Ad Agencies and Ad Campaigns. I've known Jack for probably 35 years.  He came into St Louis after running the hottest Ad Shop in Chicago, if not the country. Hot Buttered Graphics.  While here he birthed probably 5 or 6 more significant agencies before finally taking an offer too good to refuse and now has become a consummate wine tester.  Well, now let me not paint him as some kind of lush. He legitimately enjoys trying as many varieties as possible. 

Stand fast Jerry, don't drift off into another Galaxy. Stick to the pertinent.

We have only of late, rekindled our past relationship and I managed to persuade him to sit for me.  I must admit, it was a little intimidating photographing someone obviously superior to me in this field all the while trying to seem confident and in control. What I didn't expect was that he ended up art directing the shoot for me. He gave me every conceivable pose I could ever imagine.  I would look back to the monitor to see what direction I might give and when I turned back, he was already doing something far more interesting than what I was about to suggest.  This from a self professed creature not liking the other side of the camera.

I think we both came away with a little more insight than we expected.

Thank you Mr. Thorwegan, save a glass for me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sallie, Dear Sallie

This lovely lady is my Sallie.  My Sallie that saved the day by renting me her storefront to use while doing my thing in Virginia.  A joy to be around and appreciative of my sense of humor- I think- she busted her kiester to make sure everything went well. Save the defective Air Conditioner that was beyond help.  I shot this in the heat of the moment, literally.  We were all pretty, shall we say, moist from the heat and she had the courage to sit for a second until the next person was ready.  I took her image into a different direction because it wouldn't be fair to turn her into the worn faced subject I'm used to. I'm pretty sure she deserves better.  Beside, the next time I do this, I have high expectation that she'll deliver some key folks for the shoot.

Thank you "My Sallie"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Peace, Love and Longevity

Today, my good friend John Frangoulis, married the love of his life, Christine Sanford-Frangoulis. John is a fine photographer himself but somehow he has become the president of the Jerry Tovo fan club. Not only is he the President, but its only member.  Some time back he hinted around about taking an engagement foto of this couple.  While he and Christine had been dating, I had no clue that they were the couple.  I tried playing him off because he knows I don't do more than one person in a portrait except for rare occasions. Later that week they were more subtle hints about weddings and engagements and rings and I'm still oblivious as to what he's going on about. Well finally, during a moment of complete repose, it strikes me, he's been talking about he and Christine. Talk about living in a fog.

Of course, I was delighted to do their engagement picture for them, though I must admit a bit of apprehension because I really like the focus of shooting just one person to a session.

So today was their day and a delightful day it was.  They were married at the incredible St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox church in the Central West End of the city. I have never been inside but I immediately knew I wanted to get in later to photograph it. It's stunningly beautiful.  The ceremony was so very intriguing in that has a great deal of similarity to the Catholic church in which I was raised but they seem to have held much more to tradition, something I found very enticing. I have felt for some time that churches have sold out tradition to keep the young (spoiled and easily bored) people coming. That is a conversation unto itself.

As so many times in the past, I have rambled astray from my original intent. 

The loving couple will reside in the house John bought in Ottowa Illinois as an escape from the rigors of city life in Chicago.  

We all wish the best for them and bid them, Peace, Love, Laughter and Longevity.

Friday, July 9, 2010

With Little Fanfare

Unfortunately when you do some hit and run portraits as we did in Virginia, you don't always get to spend a lot of time with your subjects.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm conflicted about knowing the person better before I shoot and not knowing them at all.  If I don't know a person very well, I don't find myself trying to force the image to fit their mold. On the other hand it has proven that at least having a lengthy conversation with the victim, I mean, subject, I can break the ice and really draw the person out, based on what I have discovered.  

This is Peter. Peter O'Shaugnessy, to be more precise.  An artist himself, he works with his hands and steel and fire.  His craft, Blacksmith. 

I haven't known him very long but I can say, I've never seen him with his shoes on. I asked him if he would mind releasing his hair from the ponytail he usually wears.  From past experience, I have found, not only does the hair come down but the inhibitions along with it. A much more relaxed poser was he.  

Thanks Peter for trusting me with your face.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So This is Finny

Elmer (Feenie) Foster is another one of those guys you just hafta call "One of the nicest men you'd ever wanna know".

They pronounce Feenie like a fish fin.  Finny.  At least that's how I heard it.

When we went to meet Feenie, he was sittin in a lawn chair out back of his house, armed with a .22 rifle and waiting for a ground hog to shoot.  Now I hope I'm not spillin the beans to the sheriff.  I just assume shootin ground hogs in your backyard is perfectly acceptable in Natural Bridge Station, Virginia.

When I asked him if he'd pose for my camera, he didn't even blink an eye.  What time and where?  Although he didn't necessarily follow my instructions, I'm pretty sure he shaved and got a hair cut.  Actually, he had this very cute little rooster tail cowlick when  he walked in.  I tried the old spit on the fingers mousse on it but it didn't seem to help.

I didn't see it at first but now that I look at this image, he strikes me as Arnold Palmer's Father.

You can look at this and just about figure there's some serious BS about to come outta that mouth.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

One of a Kind

I hope you're happy you old curmudgeon. 

This man, Virgil Mantle, has been my friend for, as he puts it, decades.  He was perhaps my best client and supporter. Although there was a time when I thought I may have killed him.  Normally the most patient man on the face of the earth, I drove him into an anxiety attack and I thought sure he was going to go into heart failure and die.  It was all because of a silly little incident where I may have spent a wee bit too much time chatting it up with a model friend of mine.  Certainly, I hadn't completely ignored him or his job, except for maybe the better part of an hour. I think maybe he needed a dose of prunes or something, because it was certainly not like him to react like that.  One thing for sure, I never ever took him for granted again.

In this image, he was the first to volunteer to allow me practice time with my new desire to become a portraitist. 

Now there have been a few people who have quietly pointed out that his eyes are closed.  Very observant. But this image, "Mr. Cute and Happy" as we call it, portrays him as he is, a very gentle man and a man who is comfortable enough with himself to let me display him in this moment of calm. His silvery hair and beard are always perfectly coiffed without looking obsessively cared for. He turned 71 or was it 72, and we'll be doing our annual vegetarian lunch soon. Now don't get the wrong idea.  We'll have steak or ribs or some fanciful hunk of meat but we will also have a couple of very dry Martinis with lots of vegetables, usually called olives.

I'm a bit embarrassed that I had to be reminded that after all these years, that I had neglected to include him in my blog.  Never let it be said that I'm the curmudgeon here. To you Mr. Mantle, you deserve your moment.  And I for one will not take part in the life's end celebration that you desire.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We Interupt Regular Programming to Bring You This Message

At last, the spot where vegetables go to die, has born fruit.

For three years now, I've sweat and dug and tilled and fertilized and almost prayed for my little cottage garden to produce anything.  Each year we had a few scrawny tomatoes and a Zuke or two but this Bush Bean harvest has to be the most significant yield yet.  Maybe the soil has homogenized and things are finding comfort and nutrients or whatever.
Praise the lord and pass the string beans.

Hope fully more to come.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alright, Enough Already

This is James. James Pannabecker, Esquire. Author, Lawyer, Banker, Concert Pianist, Farmer, long distance runner, Photographer's Assistant and my Friend.

I've known James for a long time but not very well, until recently. James and his equally talented wife, Karen, were our host on the recent photo safari to Virginia.  There's a trip I'll not soon forget. They invited us to visit them on their farm just south of Lexington. If you haven't driven Route 64 east into West Virginia and then into Virginia, you should.  You should do it at least once in your lifetime. The National Forests are totally amazing and the drive takes place mostly on a ridge with hundreds of small towns sprinkled below. I commented to my wife that I knew how the Grinch felt looking down on Whoville. It would make a superb motorcycle trip and you must stop along the way to visit some of those burbs.

I digress.

James was an open book and he practically tripped over himself to help me on my journey as best he could.  Photography, at least on a Commercial Professional level, was something that he had not experienced and he was all ears and open minded not to mention secretly thrilled at the prospect of the experience. I think at first he took it a bit lightly until he recognized my focus and determination was for real.  Once we got on the same plane, his involvement shifted into high gear.  I now realize, this story could become very lengthy and a chapter or two in a book, so I'll cut to the chase.

Once we had determined I would take a two day rental on a storefront in Lexington, James and Karen launched into a frenzied mental and physical search for Virginians who might best suit my need as subjects.  They made call after call and quizzed others as to who might be best suited for the cause. At one point James and I worked out a system, with a simple unnoticed nod, as to who to ask and who not to ask to sit. We went in and out of local shops and offices until we had more than enough subjects to fill my time there.

An interesting aside came the day I called the number on the building with the storefront for rent.  A very nice lady answered the call and I explained my dilemma...would she be amenable to renting her space for just a few days, I asked.  Cautiously she deflected answering the question until she consulted her husband.  I left my contact info and went on looking for a backup space just in case she deferred to accept my proposal.  After I had ended the call, I thought, I should have directed her to my blog as a reference to what it is that I do.  It had seemingly only been a few minutes when she returned my call.  "Jerry," she said with a certain amount of glee, "I went on-line to check you out and I found your site. I love it," she said. She then said something about did I know that Sally lived there. The cell connection was not the best and I didn't quite grasp her point.  The conversation went on through the crackling of the phone and the subject of Sally came up again.  I'm sorry, Sally?  Sally who?  Sally Mann she replied.  You mean THE Sally Mann, I responded?  At this point, maybe everyone is not familiar with The Family of Mann, it was one of the most successful photo tomes of it's time.  A bit of a documentary piece about Sally's family as they grew up. It was a bit controversial then and it reared its head through the decades over and over whenever someone would bring it up again.

Again, I digress.

It became quickly evident that James was more than willing to be my test subject, you know, someone to set up on, to test the lighting so as not to be embarrassed when the time came to shoot for real. Now, James is not a hulking mass of a man, nor is he old enough to wear his life on his face.  A phrase which became the the buzz words when approaching prospects.  I was concerned, how I would be able to apply my technique to someone not in the mold of my usual subjects. "James," I said, "you're not going to be able to shave for the next several days." I think if he could have sprouted a beard on the spot, he would have. I'm thinking maybe we could combine your farmer look with your concert pianist look.  Hence the the Tux shirt and Bow Tie and bib overalls (which got cropped from the shot).
I mulled that proposition over for a while because I try to avoid corny or costumed folks in front of my lens.  I think if I would have said I want you to pose naked with your goats walking on your chest, he would have done it.  You gotta love a guy like that.

When the time came to begin the James Portrait, the theme quickly emerged. He is a gentle man, an intelligent man and has a likeness to Bruce Willis and in some of the outtakes, he displays a slight essence of Kevin Costner.  Karen was thrilled and she assures me that James was equally delighted.

This is a very long written piece for me, I think I'll have James edit it for me. We'll see what comes of it then.

And Voila, the king James version has arrived.  My friends have long been eager to assist me in my grammatical quest for putting the correct words in the correct order so as to somehow make my copy seem as competent as my imagery.  It's not that I'm a moron, it's just that in my haste to embellish a thousand words to equal the picture, I sometimes skip over the little idiosyncrasies a good writer would never miss.

Click on the edit pages to see a readable version.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oh, Alright Already

I've been trying to get some of the work I did in Virginia ready to print but yet I'm being torn to be, of all things, business like.  Pay the bills, file the taxes, unpack everything from the trip, and family too.  Can you believe my mom has the audacity to expect me to pay some attention to her too.  She's seen me for 65 plus years and I haven't changed that much in the last 3 weeks. Well, truth be told, guilt has something to do with it. I have neglected her a bit of late.

Phillip Welch, Lexington, Virginia.  Artist, Craftsman and nice guy.  Phillip is one of those locals that allowed me to interrupt his life long enough to pose for my series. Without much fanfare, we dropped into his studio and basically didn't leave until he agreed to subject himself to my lens. Keep in mind none of these folks, save James (our friend), know me from Adam.  If it weren't for the introduction from our friends, my chances of getting any shooting done would have been severely hampered. 
Phillips forte is the art of creating fine furniture pieces from wood unlike anything you might find at Crate N Barrel or Ethan Allen or even Sotheby's for that matter.

The image itself is not how most folks who know Phil would picture him. I'll run more later.  As a matter of fact, the shoot ran so smoothly and quickly because, as it turns out, he is a natural. He sat down and went through poses almost faster than my light would recycle.  He was a Master of using his hands in the poses and feared no capture that might someday come back to haunt him. Mugging it up, he looked more like an experienced actor than a small town artist.  In fact, I asked him if he would like that I submit images to various agencies, because he has a very commercial face and an ability to follow direction that is usually only found in very experienced model/actors.

This image went right to my heart.  It portrays so many possible emotions, it could be the modern version of Rodan's, the Thinker. This may be one of my favorite portraits from the past 4 years.

Thank you Phil, you rock dude.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Getting Warmer

I don't wanna say just how hot it was in Virginia but these guys might. Melt down!
I'm eking closer to a final edit of the last week.  Unfortunately there are other matters at hand.

Till then.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fodder Me Home

Well, the foto gods did more than their share.  It'll take me a while to edit through everything but there should be some blog worthy material for some time.  Till then.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I will be traveling to Virginia this week and hope to bring back much blog fodder.  Pray to the foto god for me. Till then.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eye Bank

I changed the image from the original post.  This is a big improvement. Attention image thief's, be reminded that all the images on this blog are copyrighted, Jerry Tovo. Eye will track you down.

If you go way back on the blog you'll find an eye (mine), that I shot to check focus on a little point and shoot camera.  It was nicely sharp and quite detailed.  Of late I have decided that since my portraits are so weighted toward the subjects eyes, that I should really look closely at how our eyes are really structured.

With that in mind I have begun to stock eye shots so that I can compare, as necessary, the true make up of the human eye and how it relates to my portraits

This is the first of those.  I'm sure I'll refine the lighting as I go but this is a good start.  Right away, I've learned that I don't like it when you force the eye to stop down by exposing it to too much light prior to capture.  The  pupils get out of proportion to the rest of the eye and it becomes unnatural.

Clicking on it makes it sweller

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Grrrreat State of Illinois

About a year ago a woman sold a cornflake on eBay, that supposedly looked like the State of Illinois, for around $1,500.  Well, all I have to say is I found one before her and mine is most definitely better than hers.    Actually, if you have ever sifted through a box of Frosted Flakes, most of them do look like this.  Should you happen to see the guy that bought hers, give him my blog address and we can negotiate.  Oh, wait, I forgot I accidentally stepped on it and it's now a powdered form of the State of Illinois.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Young Ryan and Parallel Universes

A couple of years ago I had a very significant comment posted on my blog.  Frankly, I don't remember what it said other than it started a very interesting relationship. This is that poster, Ryan Walters.  Over time we have come to realized that we share so many similarities that we have kidded about one mind living in parallel universes, separated by maybe, 40 years.  This image came from a lighting test for a shoot Ryan was doing in the studio.  One shot and nothing more, not bad under circumstances.  Of course there has been significant Photoshop work done to get to this look.  It's a bit of a homage to Ryan who certainly has this formula down pat. As of today, we are slowly merging out respective talents  into one studio.  Hopefully soon, he'll be steering the ship while I lounge on the deck, so to speak.

Friday, April 30, 2010


From the Archives...another hundred years ago, 1983 to be exact, I began doing a trendy calendar called "The Saint Louis Crackerjack Calendar."  At the time, I often referred to it as my Junior Achievement project.  The original idea was conceived before the famous "Chippendale Calendars" but after a few enterprising college students had done it as the men of ______ University.  My intention was to do a local women calendar but I got very little support.  The men version or as they became called, "Beefcake", ran for four consecutive years and while I really never made any money on it, I did learn a bunch about getting free help with marketing and the stories that came from it could have filled a couple of volumes.  This week I had occasion to dig out the leftover calendars and copy a few images for another use.  I have had several suggestions to do a reunion version but no one has stepped up to take the reins on that project.  It was a huge undertaking and while I'll never regret it, I don't have the steam to go it alone again.   BTW this dashing man is Steve Ruzicka and I haven't heard from or about him since.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just for Impact

In today's world of cameras and computers you can really add impact that might have eluded you in the film world.
For example, this image of my friend Ed, (see below) depicts him maybe as a strong, rugged warrior or a weathered salty, sailor, where age and sun have taken their toll.  In real life he's a sweet, kind, intelligent man.

As much as I loved the old film days, the control one has now is nearly without limits.

click on image for closer view

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not so fast, Eddie

This is one of my best friends and his name is Ed.  It's not the first time Ed has appeared on this blog, however it was never under these circumstances and I must say this image nails how he feels these days.  Without going into detail, I will tell you his last 10 years have been extremely exhausting and when I look at this image and think of all his trials and tribulations, I just wanna give him the biggest, most secure hug, one man should ever give another. In his prime Ed was a world class designer and most everything he touched turned to gold.  We, his friends, are confident that, the good lord willing, he will bounce back to his previous form. 

I'm sorta responsible for the beard in that, after a brief illness, this scruffy brush forced it's way out of his normally clean shaven face.  I suggested that he keep it, at least until he could be properly photographed. Not one to pose for any such attention, I think the premise of the beard shot got his juices flowing. Now he's considering letting it grow into a full monte of a beard, if you would.  

God love you Eddie and thanks for patronizing my need to capture your essence.

clicking on the image will give you a slightly better quality view

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oh, the indebtedness

As I prepare to renew my mini exhibit for the month, I find myself choosing this image, an image that should have been up front in the very beginning of the blog.  Here, I give you my best resource, supporter, fan, editor and friend, Laurie Shoulter-Karall.  This woman adopted me, in an artistic sense, probably 15 years ago and hasn't for a second allowed me to waller or hesitate or despair or procrastinate-well not for very long.  Maybe patron saint is the best description for this fan spectacular.  Now mind you, I'm not the only one to be taken under her wing but there is a special connection that we share.

I must tell you what an honor it was to have her sit for me.  She has very stubbornly disallowed anyone to capture her image until this setting. Not only to capture her likeness but exposing her early onset Arthritis was a huge hurdle to overcome.

We have shared many an artistic moment and I'll be forever indebted to her.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I must be dreaming

I must have been dreaming but I went out this weekend to shoot schtuff and I think I may have be kidnapped and taken aboard a space ship of some kind.  I don't remember much but this morning I found this image on the last frame of a memory card. Still that doesn't explain the tiny autographed photo of Sonja Henie pinned to my T-Shirt?

OK, it's a silly little story but I had nothing else to say about this shot that I spotted a couple of months ago.  I finally found the right time to shoot it and this is the results.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I generally don't post serious images of myself but in absence of a muse, I became the subject of a light test.

10,327 frames later I found this technique that intrigues me. Aside from the subject, I see some strong possibilities for this light.

I hate to ask for opinions because some folks will take it as fishing for a compliment but if you have strong feelings one way or another, please feel free to comment.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I was just thinking

Sometimes I should pretend to be more pretentious.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Before Life in the Fab Lane there was...

Almost a hundred years ago we had a job for an exclusive line of shoes and the hook was, various models wearing the shoes, all jumping on a trampoline.  Mind you, they were all wearing high heels, some extremely high.  We covered the nylon surface of the trampoline with canvas so the heels didn't puncture and catch.  That worked well except when the canvas became clumped together and it made for an unstable landing, so to speak.  

One of the models was a young 15 year old beauty who had already captured the eye of the high profile fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld in NYC. If you don't know, Karl was a force to be reckoned with, one of the elite designer of the time and is still very engaged in that field. Big Money there. Well, this young model, then know as Kimora Perkins, wasn't the most athletic of the lot.  Her tall spindly frame didn't necessarily feel at home with her long arms and legs. Picture a six foot 2 inch 15 year old not totally grown into herself.

I ramble...   
The story goes on with an Art Director brought in from California specifically to direct this shoot.  Nice enough man and surely talented but with a strange sense of humor.  When Kimora was jumping he tried his best to get me to encourage her to go higher and higher.  Totally unnecessary for our goals but a sadist nonetheless. I turned to him and said in no uncertain terms that this particular model was earmarked for fame and I wasn't going to take a chance on her falling from that height and risk a career ending injury. He persisted, but then so did I.
I found these shots mixed in amongst the thousands of other poorly filed images from my archive. Not the best from my memory but graphic as to what we were doing.  I'll look harder for better examples and post them later. 

Oh, the model moved to New York and flourished, married Russel Simmons, all the while building an empire in fashion design labeled, "Phat Fashion" and extended to Baby Phat and KLS.  Her name, Kimora Lee Perkins Simmons.  You may know her from, Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane  An regular series on Cable TV that documents her daily life.  

This is the last time I'll tell this story. I've told it many a times but as the people who hear it are getting younger and younger and they have little clue as to what I'm going on about.         Kimora, way to go girl.

Kimora has remarried recently and those details are available on her website.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Winter's Melancholia

It was in the waning moments of winter when I snapped this shot of the girls swing and it struck me as such a lonely, quiet place. Absent the laughing and giggling.  Absent the big eyed delight of their daddies swinging them higher and higher.  It was so melancholy at the time yet now with the return of spring, my heart lightens and the joy of laughter is upon me again.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

When is a failure not a failure?

I've been cogitating on replacing my images in the mini show that I have upstairs from the studio. Thinking back over the portraits I had shot in the past year or so, it occurred to me that I dearly loved the one of the General from India and I'd hoped to pair it with an image of his wife. As it turns out, her shot wasn't as sharp as his and I spent a lot of time and technology making it usable.  I loved the results but unfortunately the two didn't match side by side.  Her final was very much like a 35mm film image and his, much more like large format, film or digital. So I'm headed off in a yet different direction but well please with the save.  *If you click on the image, the quality improves somewhat.

Friday, March 19, 2010

That's Rich, Volume 2

Several months back I posted an image of my friend Rich.  It was peculiar to my favorite style of black and white portraits. During that same session, I made a point of switching things up somewhat. It has occurred to me that I might become labeled for that style and while I'm not afraid of that happening, I do realized that I should not be complacent in being able to produce images of a different light.  So, I've been trying to work on a versatility in my portraits that may have some value in other arenas. I find this shot, with white background and stressed color, particular to my taste.  It's fairly easy to do variables from this state and could serve the commercial customer well. It's not unique to me as I have seen variations abound.  My friend, Ryan Walters, is particularly talented when it comes to a similar style.  Maybe he can help push me to be more consistent. I tend to wander when exploring avenues uncommon to my norm.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Wuz Gonna

In an effort to ease back into the blog, I was going to do this post and liken it to the digital scheme, whereby the cobbles would correlate to pixels.  However; my writing skills or lack thereof, could not seem to cobble together the correct or at least, sensible paragraph to do so. So, I'll throw the images out there and let my friends in blog, comment on how it should or might have been written.

Let's hear it for the next contributor to the blog.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rumor Has It

We have information, from unreliable sources, that this blog is about to resume it's normal pace. Whether that is a good thing, remains to be seen.

Monday, January 18, 2010

So, so significant a loss.

My fingers know not where to begin touching the keys, I don't know how to begin, for today I must tell you that a friend and an historic figure in the world of Art and Photography, has passed away.

From the Obituary section of Sundays Saint Louis Post Dispatch. 

"Salinas, Marcel Charles the painter and one of the leading lithographerof the 20th century died peacefully in St Louis, MO at the age of 96. 
Born in Alexandria, Egypt of French parents; he started painting as a child.
Captivated by the masters, he went to Paris to study at the Ecole des
Beaux Arts and was a student of Andre Lhote. Mastering the techniques
of lithography, he acted as both teacher and collaborator with numerous
artists working at the various ateliers in Paris. Pablo Picasso
selected him to create his series of 29 lithographs of the: Portraits
Imaginaires. He also worked with Salvador Dali, Victor Vasserely and
Erte. After delving into the art of photography, Henri Cartier Bresson
referred to Marcel as, My Guru. Residing in many fine collections, this
prolific artist created several thousand works of art including:
paintings, drawings and lithographs."

You may remember my postings on a couple of different occasions 
regarding Marcel.  He was truly my most prized Portrait and it was 
such an honor and experience to have been in the right place at the

right time to meet and know this legend. He was not an especially 
cheery man, at least not during the time that I came to know him. 
But you could tell that he bore the enormous frustration that came 
with failing hearing and sight.  Here was a man, a mind, that was 
full of the past and had little or nothing go forward with over the 
next few years. After our session we talked at length about his 
background and the fond memories of those that had steered him 
and in turn those he had mentored (Henri Cartier Bresson among 
them, holy crap). He was still edgy about the politic of his birthplace, 
Egypt. What the obituary failed to mention was that before he began 
making his mark in the Art community, he was a lawyer and that 
part of his mind was still ripe with angst over the history of his 

The last time I saw him, I took him a promotional piece that I 
had created. It was his portrait that truly graced that small tome.  
I had the audacity to autograph it and inscribe a brief thanks for 
allowing me the privilege of photographing his being. He hadbeenmoved to a place, a home if you would, that would allow for someone 
to be around when he needed help. His room was lacking for 
anything of family or even any style or amenity that might say, 
here lives Marcel Salinas. They shades drawn because the bright 
light hurt his eyes. When I handed him the book, he stared hard 
so that he could see what images it contained and then he took 
his hand, rubbed and caressed it, look me in the eye and said, it 
is now the only book I have. I'll put it right here where I can see 
it best. 
 If I were to quit photography today, I would be satisfied 
that I had done something, something significant in my career, 
something thousands of others cannot say. 

Rest in peace my friend.