Another Egg-scuse for a Photoshoot

“To show your true colors you have to come out of the shell.”

That’s egg-actly what we did one wonderful afternoon. Richard Pry, an up and coming Food Stylist, prepared some fancy deviled eggs. I, of course, used my favorite lighting from our beautiful northern facing windows of Polara’s natural light studio.


This is a new chapter in my “Bounty of Oregon” series which showcases raw then prepared foods all sourced locally.


Even the simplest of these eggs such as the one garnished with a single spear of chive is whimsical and appetizing. Eggs garnished with bacon & avocado or salmon & caper make a delicious new dish that delights the eye as much as the taste buds. Thank you Richard for a fun experience and your vision.

Happy Easter!

Always Go Into a Shoot with an Open Mind

Oftentimes good photos come from the places you would least expect them to. That’s why it’s important to never judge a shoot beforehand. Everyone seems to want to shoot musicians, celebrities, and big campaigns with big budgets, but it’s important to bring the same amount of love and curiosity to every location photography shoot no matter how big or small it is.

A few months ago I shot some corporate photography for a company called Reitmeier that fabricates and installs HVAC systems. The budget wasn’t huge, we didn’t have much in the way of production, and we didn’t have a stylist. What we did have was excellent art direction from my friend Michelle Cheney at Kinesis, and a setting that allowed for some compelling images. When I went to the initial meeting I sensed right away that there would be opportunities to make successful photographs. The space was unique and it was filled with interesting gear and materials.

The first shot of the day was supposed to represent Reitmeier’s HVAC service and repair department so we went on the roof to shoot a technician servicing the HVAC unit. I don’t know why the photo gods keep putting me on roofs, in cranes and on scissor lifts, but for some reason they feel they have to cure me of my fear of heights. I just have to go with it.


At first I thought “Geez, I need to get rid of that nasty flare”. Then another voice in my head said “You idiot! That flare is what makes the photo good!”. Now I don’t listen to that guy often. He’s usually the guy that wants to drive too fast, drink too much, eat things that are bad, and generally say inappropriate things. But when I’m on set he’s often right.

Below is a photograph from the roof again, for the careers section of their website.


We were in the conference room for this photograph, illustrating teamwork. Great light and the fall colors really helped make this shot.


This photo was intended to highlight the HVAC design part of the business. Love those low angles and wide lenses.


Next came a group portrait of the department heads. These photos can be a challenge for many reasons. It’s hard to find a background that works for multiple people who are different heights and wearing striped or patterned clothing. We had planned for this. I had the company send out a memo to the participants to wear non-white solid colored clothing. I also brought a variety of apple boxes as a posing aid. Earlier in the day I noticed this area where they kept the various kinds of ducting that are used in HVAC installation. I thought they would make an interesting background that tells the company story at first glance.


It was a successful shoot, we told the company’s story and the client was happy with the outcome. With having so many diverse clients, I get to learn a lot about many subjects I never really knew much about. It’s one of my favorite parts about this job.

The Evolution of a Look

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.”— Yves Saint-Laurent

Steve Cherry, one of Polara’s ace softgoods photographers, has been shooting clothing laydowns for national clients for over 20 years. The photographs you see represent some of the work he has done in evolving styles of his fashion clients. Here’s one of his photographs of vintage Filson clothing.

Filson Vintage Double Tin Pants

Photographers, art directors and designers spend a lot of time trying to present the clothes we see on models in a new fresh way. In the world of off figure clothing photography, the styles of photography have been much slower evolving.  Originally, the clothing was laid down and stuffed with everything from tissue paper to white felt or fleece.

Sahalie pants in skylark

Some of the intricacy of styling and shooting include setting the shoulders soft or square, emphasizing one or two long lines to give the garment some swoop and shape or sometimes, even sporting a mass of wrinkles in an attempt to feature the fabric. Each garment was filled to give it a three-dimensional identity of it’s own.

green rain jacketAnother way that clothing has been photographed is on a form. At it simplest, these forms are mannequins and work with the basic draping that gravity provides.

outdoor skirt

At its most complex is the so-called “hollow-man“ look where special forms are used that hide within the clothing.

Filson Jacket

This look features very natural curves and an almost windblown feeling that mimics the way the clothing would be worn however the body disappears so the article of clothing becomes the hero.

On the other hand… The newest rage in off-figure photography is the so-called flat look.

Filson Plaid Shirt

The clothing is simply laid flat without stuffing, the shoulder set square or gently rounded and wrinkles added to show the relative stiffness or softness of the fabric.  In a way this is a natural evolution of the more wrinkled version of previous 3D lay downs. This look was created first of all to give the consumer a fresh perspective on the clothing. It presents the product without the appearance of styling. It tries to show the clothing honestly.   More and more catalogs and fashion retailers are adopting this style even in their window dressings.

Filson Crusier Jacket

Is it fashion or style, with all the implications that the Yves St Laurent quote that started this article implies.  Right now, by voting with your shopping dollars, you get to decide. Ain’t that fun?


The 2014 Eastside Distilling Calendar


Hello Everybody! Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you all know that The Eastside Distilling 2014 calendar is now available. The Calendar features awesome beverage photography of tasty cocktails (trust me, I sampled them all) by yours truly.

In addition to a superbly accurate accounting of the dates and corresponding days of the week, the calendar also features cocktail recipes (developed by the good folks at My Bartender), and all of the cocktail related holidays and events you would ever want or need to know about and probably some that you don’t really need to know about but that are cool anyway. They are available at Eastside’s tasting room, located at 1512 SE 7th Ave, along with a wide variety of Portlandy spirits and accoutrements. Here is a sneak peek at the photos!


You have to see it to Belize it!

In January, my wife and I were fortunate enough to spend some time with our friends in Belize for their wedding. We were very excited for the bonus of a warm weather vacation in January, plus we had never been to the Caribbean. Our friends also asked if I would take photos of their wedding. IMG_0166

_D8C2680We spent a week in the town of San Pedro on Amber Gris Caye, a barrier island in the Caribbean. Belize was a British colony that didn’t gain full independence until 1981, almost everyone speaks English, so there was no language barrier.  San Pedro was a strange mix of Central America, England, and Jamaica.

_D8C2716_DSC1382 We had a really great time and had our dose of sunshine for the winter.

I have no plans to become a wedding photographer, however I’m quite pleased with these photos plus it made a good excuse to shoot other things as well that interested me. I hope you enjoy.

_D8C2584If you would like to see the whole series of photos from Belize please visit Polara Studio’s Flickr page.