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Landscape Photography

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Nicole Sanchez is a visual artist, photographer, and videographer. Her publications, documentaries, and solo exhibits have received countless awards. To see more of her work, visit her liveBooks8 website:

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I am a Dominican-German photographer. I started studying Photography in Germany at a very young age. After I finished my education, I moved to the Dominican Republish where I worked on commercial photography. Eventually, I started making personal projects which resulted in 8 books, 7 solo exhibitions, documentaries, and countless pieces; some of which have been recognized by experts in the field, the media and museums like the Museum of Modern Art in Santo Domingo. My work is part of a personal evolution. It changes as I change. Every day I feel more identified with social issues, human reality, drama, and beauty.

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Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

NS: Personal, clean, modern.

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Q: How often do you typically update your website?

NS: It varies a lot. I can upload a series of images at once and/or take down a whole portfolio. Whenever I feel I have an image I want to share, I do it.

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Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?

NS: I try to vary my homepage often; sometimes it is the newest image I have created, sometimes it is just a certain feeling or mood that I have and want to share.

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Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?

NS: My favorite new feature of liveBooks8 is being able to display all the images of each portfolio in one page.

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Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

NS: Choose the images that best represent your work; it is better to show the right pieces rather than just publishing a lot of them.

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Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at

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Jeff Lewis 10

Jeff Lewis is an adventure and rock-climbing photographer located on the East Coast of Canada. He travels throughout the Western United States and Canada to capture fascinating images. He also dedicates his time to conducting photo tours and private workshops. To see more of his liveBooks8 website, visit

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I first started with photography after a trip to SE Asia to go rock climbing. I wanted to be able to capture my travels and the landscapes around me to show people how amazing this world really is. When I returned from that trip, I began to shoot photos of my home, Jasper National Park, as well as when I would go climbing with my friend. After a few years working in the “real world”, I decided full-time photography was the path for me and I haven’t looked back since.

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Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

JL: Clean, Focused, Simple.

Q: How often do you typically update your website?

JL: I usually do updates 2-3 times a year, unless I complete a new body of work I’m excited about, then I’ll add it right away.

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Q: How do you choose the photos you display on your homepage?

JL: I want those that visit my site to get a sense of who I am and what I do right away. As I mostly shoot landscaped and climbing, I try to choose the best images from those categories to show on the homepage. Hopefully those few images are enough to entice a longer visit, where someone can take a deeper look at my work.

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Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?

JL: One of my favorite features is that I can go to the Content section, add a page and then make it invisible. That way I can work on it until I’m ready to launch, or until I have enough content so that it is not empty when I publish it. Also, the ability to publish with one click is quite nice as well.

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Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

JL: Take the time to make sure you have everything the way you want it. With the ability to make pages invisible or not publish changes right away, you can view your changes on your own before you publish to your entire web audience. I think it’s important when viewing a website to know that it’s a finished product and not a “work in progress”.

Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at

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Keith Ketchum 11

Keith Ketchum is travel, lifestyle and action sports photographer. He obtained his degree in Studio Art from University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) where he drew, painted, designed, and focused in photography. He has worked for clients such as Travel + Leisure, ESPN, New York Post, Rolling Stone Italy, Surfline, Free People, Engadget, Freesurf, KaiKini, Jawbreaking, Slide, Kauai Lifestyle Magazine, Indie Swim, and ESM. To see more of his work, visit his liveBooks8 website:

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I got my start in photography through surfing. I traveled most winters to get away from frigid North Carolina, where I’m from, and would bring a cheap film camera, a couple of surf boards and a journal. Eventually disappointed with the quality of work I was producing at such beautiful location led to an investment in better equipment. This in return led to a decent portfolio and my first official staff photography job with a surf, art, music, and fashion magazine. That was a fun job. It was an eclectic group of creatives from different outlets coming together to form a quality publication. What started as a regional magazine eventually went world wide for a couple of issues. This all happened while I was studying studio art (drawing, painting, photography, design, etc) at UNCW. The magazine lasted until shortly after I graduated college before dying, like most print does, but by then I was established shooting fashion, weddings, assignments from other publications, fine art, and had a little studio space. My wife and I moved Kauai for a change, to settle down and start a family. It was always one of those places that felt more like home than home. I always called it my neverneverland. It’s also hard to take a bad photo here. We’ve been here for a few years now and I’m extremely happy with my work and the people I get to work with on the island and from around the world.

kauai fashion photographer, kauai photographer, kauai wedding photographer, keith ketchum, keith ketchum photography, hawaii photographer, hawaii fashion,

Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

KK: Clean, effective, and quality.

kauai fashion photographer, kauai photographer, kauai wedding photographer, keith ketchum, keith ketchum photography, hawaii photographer, hawaii fashion,

Q: How often do you typically update your website?

KK: I try to keep things fresh on my blog and depending on how busy I am, I skim back over the recent assignments posted there and pick the best few images from my website. Sometimes I update every month and sometimes a few months go by before I’m able to sit down, catch my breath, have a glass of wine and go over recent work with Bimini, my wife, asking which images she likes best.

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Q: How do you choose the photos you display on your homepage?

KK: Homepage images are like the teaser trailers of your website. They are very important and extremely difficult to decide on. You want to get the audience interested with composition and color (a.k.a.: eye candy) without giving too much away. You want to show what you do but only slightly. They have to click a few buttons to get the full effect. I also try to pick generic images that people can put themselves in. So, slightly pulled back vs. up close and personal.

kauai wedding photographer, kauai fashion photographer, kauai photographer, keith ketchum, keith ketchum photography, hawaii photographer, hawaii fashion,

kauai wedding photographer, kauai fashion photographer, kauai photographer, keith ketchum, keith ketchum photography, hawaii photographer, hawaii fashion,

Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?

KK: It’s hard to narrow down one favorite new feature about liveBooks8. I love how simple and designs are. They are clean and they let the images do the talking. The Scaler quality is amazing. I also love how easy it is to update, enter metadata, upload, view the mobile version, jeez…like everything.

kauai wedding photographer, kauai fashion photographer, kauai photographer, keith ketchum, keith ketchum photography, hawaii photographer, hawaii fashion,

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

KK: My advice for most anything art related, website included, was given to me when I was young from photographer Aaron Chang. “Less if more”. Many art instructors in college would eventually give the same advice. I think over time and I came to realize the true meaning of it, but those would be the wise words passed down from creatives I look up to. “Less is more”.

Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at

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Michael Holtby is a Travel and Wildlife Photographer based in Denver, Colorado. His work has been exhibited in the Camera Obscura Gallery in Denver and has published a variety of print portfolios including a coffee table book called One Planet, One People. To see more of his work, visit his liveBooks8 website:

I have been taking photographs seriously since 1968 when I traded a kayak for a Pentax Spotmatic. My mentor was a student of Minor White and inspired me to do more than snapshots. In the early 1980s, I attended the Colorado Institute of Art in Commercial Photography and was initially a Studio Product and Portrait Photographer. At this point, I am retired and can now take assignments only selectively, related to my primary interests: travel, ethnic cultures, and wildlife. I sell my work with gallery showings, but primarily I would describe what I do as “personal work”.

Mike Holtby 1 (Papua New Guinea)

How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

Colorful, impactful, and joyful.

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How often do you typically update your website?

I update my site usually about once every three months, usually following a lot of travel shooting. However, since updating to liveBooks8, I’ve been tweeking it every couple of weeks.

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How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?

I try to display photos on my homepage that grab your attention, but also represent the various galleries.

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What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?

My favorite feature of liveBooks8 is the ease with which I can modify my website, add to it, and display galleries. I also love the video gallery that allow viewers to quickly peruse or choose a closer look.

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What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

The average time people are on a website is likely to be short, so tailor your site to hook viewers with a quick look.

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Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at

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Chuck Haney is a professional freelance photographer/writer based in beautiful Whitefish, Montana. He travels extensively across the United States and Canada in pursuit of the finest and most intriguing images. His provocative use of natural light in landscape, wildlife, and outdoor sports images have drawn national acclaim and have landed him many assignments including advertising campaigns.

Chuck’s finest images grace the walls of many residential and public spaces. His travel and outdoor lifestyle articles have been featured in numerous national and regional publications; adding to 13 coffee table books, over 190 magazine covers, and numerous sole-photographer calendars to his credit. Chuck enjoys teaching a series of popular photography workshops across the country each year. To view more of Chuck’s work, please visit his liveBooks website: Follow Chuck on Facebook and Instagram!


My career in landscape photography began gradually. I would go for bicycling excursions in nearby Glacier National Park and see all these wonderful scenes unfold before my eyes. Soon, I was returning with my SLR camera in tow. This was in the early 1990s when I learned to shoot with film and manual settings.

For me, a perfect landscape image is one that places the viewer into the scene by using a wide angle lens and lots of depth of field. The best shots have fleeting magical light that happens briefly during stormy weather patterns and invoke an emotion. It’s also important to carry the correct equipment. I, for one, cannot leave my home without a sturdy tripod. I always mention to my workshop students that a good tripod is your friend for life.


As for my projects – there is no single one that I can choose as my favorite. Actually, whatever I’m working on at the time is my favorite project. The scope of my portfolio is wide and vast and I enjoy the fact that I work on such a variety of subject matter. One week I am shooting city images for my new book, “Portrait of San Francisco” and the next week I find myself searching for interesting barns for stock use in calendars.

I shoot at a wealth of interesting places; my favorites vary based on the time of the year. I love shooting in the deserts in Spring, the Great Plains in early Summer, hardwood forests of the Midwest in Fall and ski action or quite winter scenes near my hometown of Whitefish, Montana.


I am passionate about my craft. I think this is well-represented in my Portfolios pages on liveBooks, which highlight my favorite and most popular images. I think a photographer does best when he/she shoots subjects that they enjoy…You can tell that I have a zest for many subjects!


One piece of advice that I can give to fellow landscape photographers is to get to know your location by being patient and to take a closer look at what is really around you. You will discover a whole new world that could easily just slip by without careful consideration and reflection.

Want to be featured as one of our guest bloggers? Email us at!

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Michael Zide is a Landscape Photographer who has chosen to depict most of his work in black and white. For the past 30 years, he has dedicated himself to perfecting his vision for landscape photography. During this period, he spent time in Martha’s Vineyard and other parts of the East Coast capturing his most iconic photographs. He now dedicates a grand majority of his time to running workshops, mentoring, and speaking about the art of landscape photography.
To see more of his work visit:

I came to photography in my early twenties, one of those course changes that took me by surprise. My interests suddenly changed from pursuing a career in the medical sciences to a growing interest in the arts. For someone without an aptitude to draw or paint, photography offered me the perfect path to developing my creativity and artistic self-expression. Drawn to landscape photography from the very beginning, I moved to Martha’s Vineyard when I was in my early twenties and began a 12-year project to create my own visual interpretation of this well photographed East Coast icon.


In time I became the staff photographer for a weekly newspaper and developed many of the skills necessary to eek out a living in the world of freelance. Moving to Amherst, Massachusetts in the early 1980s, I specialized in marketing photography for educational, healthcare, senior living, and business institutions. From my time on the Vineyard to the present, I have taught photography both full-time and in workshop settings.


Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

MZ: Attractive, Professional, Useful

Q: How often do you typically update your website?

MZ: I change the site as my photographic galleries need updating or my current “happenings” need to be announced. I would say that happens every few weeks.


Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?

MZ: The photographs on my homepage serve as a portal into my vision of the landscape. I choose them as representatives of the surprising moments I have found and photographed over time, hoping they keep the viewer’s attention and spark their imaginations.


Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?

MZ: With SEO capability being so important, the new design was created to create a more user-friendly method of enhancing your internet visibility.


Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

MZ: Know what purpose you want your website to serve. Keep its appearance elegant and informative. Keep it easy to navigate through, allowing the viewer to take in whatever message you are hoping to communicate.

Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at

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New Year’s Eve Fireworks - Baltimore Inner Harbor

New Year’s Eve Fireworks – Baltimore Inner Harbor

Summer is officially in full swing, and the Fourth of July is just days away. After a day of celebrating in the sun, be sure to grab your camera for the evening’s main event: fireworks. Whether you’ve photographed fireworks before or are just starting out, this year, we want to challenge you to expand your creativity by taking your Fourth of July images to the next level. Charge your cameras and dig out your tripods! Get prepared and inspired, using this behind-the-scenes look at how these images from photographer Greg Pease came to life.

Guest blogger, Greg Pease, is a photographer, located in Baltimore, MD. Specializing in location photography, he uses his expertise to capture images of people in the workplace, aerials, and landscapes. Find him online at 


Fourth of July Fireworks – Washington DC

Fireworks displays have always sparked my imagination with their light, colors and patterns. Early in my career as a professional photographer, I began documenting my hometown of Baltimore’s revitalization in the mid 1970’s. I photographed the developing skyline, using the fireworks displays to illuminate the city and its marinas that ring around the Inner Harbor and the hundreds of boats gathered to view the fireworks above.

Fireworks provide a creative opportunity to use the quality and massive volume of light to illuminate and provide color and drama to large-scale subjects and scenes, such as landmarks, monuments and skylines at night.


Monument Lighting Holiday Celebration, first monument to George Washington – Baltimore

In 2011, I was hired by Visit Baltimore to photograph the reenactment of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry for their kick-off ad campaign for the Star-Spangled 200 Bicentennial Celebrations commemorating the War of 1812.

 Reenactment of Bombardment of Fort McHenry Photo Notes: This photo was produced using seven reenactors and one cannon moved to multiple locations while shooting from a scissor lift fully extended 50 ft. high. The image was created in Photoshop by assembling the multiple components including the flag, cannon fire and fireworks into a single image.

Reenactment of Bombardment of Fort McHenry
Photo Notes: This photo was produced using seven re-enactors and one cannon moved to multiple locations while shooting from a scissor lift fully extended 50 ft. high. The image was created in Photoshop by assembling the multiple components including the flag, cannon fire and fireworks into a single image.

At the close of the Star-Spangled 200 Celebrations, I photographed the grand finale at Fort McHenry. I wanted to use the fireworks to create the atmosphere that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that would become our National Anthem: “the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air…”

\Battle of Baltimore Reenactment of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry with Rockets Red Glare Photo Notes: Two cameras were used to shoot this photograph, one for the fireworks and the other for the Fort to create a single image.

Battle of Baltimore Reenactment of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry with Rockets Red Glare
Photo Notes: Two cameras were used to shoot this photograph, one for the fireworks and the other for the Fort to create a single image.

The Prep:
My planning begins with an aerial photo of the general area of the fireworks display. Google Earth Satellite is a pretty good source to determine where to set up cameras.
Pro-tip: Reflections in water are an enhancing feature, so look for water view locations.

The Gear
I set up two cameras, each with its own tripod.
45mm and 90mm are my favorite lenses (with a full frame sensor camera), and both are tilt/shift lenses, which enables me to shift up and down or vary my image format from horizontal to vertical to include more fireworks in the sky or water reflections below.
I use a LADDERKART (3 step) to transport equipment and to get above people standing in front of the camera/

The Details:
Long exposure noise reduction should be enabled.
f5.6 @ 5 seconds @ ISO100 was successful in many of the examples shown here.
Set your color balance. My preference is for a cool colored sky to make the generally warm fireworks visually move forward.
Shoot as the fireworks are ascending and descending, and vary the effect by shooting only the descending fireworks. This technique will prevent the fireworks from obscuring the buildings, etc.
Shoot as rapidly as you can before the smoke builds up.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks - Baltimore Inner Harbor

New Year’s Eve Fireworks – Baltimore Inner Harbor

There you have it! Try out these tips this weekend, and be sure to share the results with us by tagging #bestofLB8 on social media.

October 19th, 2015

Photographer Spotlight – Michael Zide

Posted by liveBooks

Q: Can you tell me about your background? How did you get started in photography?

MZ: My first camera took rolls of black and white film that were developed and printed at the local drug store. The only photo that I can find from that period is a treasure; I must have been six or so. It’s a slightly out of focus image of Rusty, my childhood dog. It’s a memory that represents that wonderful animal and my extremely poor photographic expertise. I also recall standing next to my father in his makeshift darkroom. I remember his patience in explaining each tray in the print-making process, the strong but oddly agreeable smell of stop bath and fixer and the first “magical” appearance of an image. An extremely talented amateur, my dad’s enthusiasm seemed to rub off more on my brother than myself.

Growing up in the Southern California landscape, I was a kid whose eyes were constantly scanning the ground for the next Horn Toad lizard, (they looked like horned dinosaurs) or the large and bizarre looking insect called a Jerusalem Cricket (resembled something from another world entirely). In love with the wonders of nature, the surprising and the mysterious, no event affected me more deeply than the sight outside my bedroom window as the sun rose one particular morning. I was five years old and stood in place questioning the spellbinding scene beyond the glass panes. The event is referred to as Los Angeles’ “first historic snowfall” by the L.A. Times of January 11, 1949. Almost 20 years later I began to realize its lasting impact as a budding landscape photographer. My wife summed it up beautifully, “That first snowfall set in motion both the search for a view of equal enchantment, as well as a visual memory in search of meaning.” More than four decades later, last night to be precise, I found myself walking a familiar path into the Poor Farm Swamp Preserve minutes from my home. With camera and Gitzo tripod in hand I was testing the ISO capability of the Sony A7S with some Zeiss lenses. Pointing up at the sky, the exposures at 2,000 ISO were 20-30 seconds long. Only the tail slap of a beaver amidst the usual evening pond chatter could be heard in the almost total blackness. From that child years ago with eyes downward cast, last night I was looking up at the stars hoping not to run into a bear.

I experienced my own creative Renaissance in the late sixties. Picking up a 35mm camera, I began down the road so many photographers have followed. I was living proof of the rule of 500,000 which says that every photographer has at least 500,000 bad photographs inside themselves and it’s their job to get them out of their cameras as soon as possible. Making “successful” photographs is full of challenges. The camera does much more than record what is in front of the lens. It also translates that reality into a 2-dimension color or gray tone interpretation that communicates in its own particular language. It’s no small task to render a subject photographically successful regardless of how enticing and dramatic the scene. As Elliott Erwitt, one of my favorite photographers said, “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.”

The longer I make photographs, the more I find the process still keeps my interest because it is more art than science. Always surprising, so many photographs fail to measure up to expectation. Successes may be few in number, but they make all the others worth the disappointment.

Every success or failure is opportunity to study the workings of the decision-making process, pointing you further down the road towards the next image. To paraphrase the authors of “Art and Fear,” “…the seed for your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides, to matters you need to reconsider.”

Q: What is your definition of fine art photography?

MZ: In 1917, Marcel Duchamp entered a porcelain urinal, titled “Fountain” into the Society of Independent Artists exhibition. Thought to be a vulgar joke by some and quite disgusting, it was rejected. However, it definitely stirred the passions of the committee and gave them an opportunity to see reality in a new light, an opportunity they obviously didn’t take. To many people, myself included, this is part of art’s role.

The focus and intention of photographers are as varied as the number of people who hold cameras in their hands. Subjective and interpretive or objective and detached from human emotion, it provides a tool for infinite creative possibility as well as archiving the appearance of things down to the smallest detail.

Fine art photography is about making introspective, intuitive and conscious decisions that interpret the photographic subject through the mind and heart of the image maker. Each new attempt confronts the photographer as well as the subject. At its heart, all art represents studies in “self-reflection.” As Oscar Wilde said of another medium, “Every portrait that is painted with feelings is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”

The word “gesture” describes what I look for in the landscape. It is the evocative shape of things, the play of light on form, the weather and the emotional tone that attracts my eye. Everything in the landscape can serve as a metaphor for the camera and act as idea or e motion, much like an actor standing in for the concerns of the playwright. I seem to be retelling the stories of my life that occurred in past dreams and in memory through the evocative shapes of nature.

Q: How does fine art photography differ from other types of photography?

MZ: Fine art and commercial photography differ in intention. Fine art demands the photographer’s personal interpretation of the subject while commercial photographers interpret the client’ s message through adroit technical competence. Photographers that create fine art have no client other than themselves. They sell their work online or through galleries or other venues, but they are fully in charge of how they apply their creative impulse and in what form it ultimately may take. Commercial photographers, on the other hand, take direction from the needs of the client. Conveying the client’s message in the most eye-catching and compelling images possible, they are expert at shaping stunning photographs that communicate the virtues of that product. Generally considered work for hire and compensated financially, they may or may not have their name associated with their efforts. ]

Q: What drew you to fine art photography specifically? 

MZ: I was drawn to photography in stages. I remember seeing the beautifully reproduced work of Eliot Porter’s “The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado” published by the Sierra Club. It was eye opening. I was taken in by the highly detailed images, done with a 4X5 view camera and printed in rich color. Unlike other landscape images I had seen in magazines such as “Arizona Highways,” Porter’s work seemed to be on another creative level, more reaction to the scene than a record of the beautiful moment. Eventually I found my way to the black and white work of Minor White, interpretive and mysterious, his work opened my eyes even more to an artistic vein that continues to shape my efforts.

Q: Do you always use black and white?

MZ: Beginning photography back in the days of 4X5 sheet film, black and white was the only process I could control from capture to print. It was as much a practical as aesthetic decision. I was fortunate to find a mentor in Max Yavno, famous for his work in both commercial and fine art photography, I was inspired to push my work further as I witnessed his mastery in the darkroom. Responsible for demystifying much about the process, his friendship and knowledge were motivating forces in my early work. Now that photographs can be made digitally, color capture and “processing” are accessible to everyone. Deciding to work in black and white requires another way of seeing the world of light and form. Although I do make some photographs in color, I enjoy trying to solve the challenges of interpreting the world through the timeless beauty of black and white.

Wood Pile

Wood Pile

West Tisbury, MA. Sony A7R digital camera.

A heavy plank of wood destined to heat the Vineyard home of my friends had caught my eye. Rescued, this tree sprite traveled back home with me, a gift from my two artist friends.


Whirlpool | Aquinnah, MA

Whirlpool Aquinnah

Aquinnah, MA. Toyo 4X5 field camera.

Backlight is my favorite lighting. The closer the direction of light to the lens axis, the better. Len’s flare is always the challenge. For this perspective I had to walk out into the water off Aquinnah and plant my Gitzo tripod into the ocean bottom.

Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills

Lone Pine, CA. Toyo 4X5 field camera. Outside Death Valley, the Alabama Hills in Lone Pine is known for its distinctive rock formations and the location’s use for many of the early Hollywood cowboy movie chase scenes.

Frost and Orchard

Frost and Orchard

South Amherst, MA. Mamiya 645 with Aptus digital black.

My front yard was the setting for this image. I love the slightly asymmetrical placement of apple trees and the two diagonal frost lines adding more textural interest.

Moody Bridge | Hadley, MA

Off Moody Bridge

Hadley, MA. Mamiya 645 with Aptus digital black.

An image right out of my childhood dreams, I saw this tree off Moody Bridge Road and I thought I was back in the Haunted Forest of Oz. The tree was in a difficult lighting, either in speckled light or shade. I needed to accent the tree trunk and tree “arms” by positioning two location strobes and blending ambient and strobe exposures. During the 30 second exposure, I discharged each strobe head 12 times.

Aurora Over Music Street

Aurora Over Music Street

West Tisbury, MA. Nikon 35mm film camera with 35mm, f1.4 lens.

This moment could have been a simple document of the spectacular Aurora. I was extremely fortunate to find the curtain of light positioned directly above the Byrd family’s home in what seemed an almost spiritual gesture. I had to thank my canine companions for needing to walked outdoors at 2 a.m.

Suspended Tree and Fungus

Suspended Tree and Fungus

Shutesbury, MA. Nikon D800E and 20mm lens.

The fungus that is illuminated on this suspended log was large and brilliant orange. It was challenging to translate that eye-popping color into shades of gray that came close to equaling its luminous glow. The lens’ short focal length helped maintain a sense of the fungus’ relatively large sie yet show a wide enough expanse of the rushing water below.

Reflection and Fog

Reflection and Fog

Damariscotta, ME. Canon 5D Mark 111 digital camera.

This photograph benefited from micro-composing. I was very careful to position the end of the floating form against the light tone of the reflecting water. The image would have been weakened significantly if the dark hanging forms had overlapped the dark area of the image. The approach to the subject was through ankle deep tidal water. Having firemans’ boots with me was a big help.

Quarry | Rockport, ME

Quarry and Mask

Rockport, ME. Mamiya 645 with Aptus digital black.

Teaching at Maine Media Workshops a few summers ago, we took a field trip to this abandoned stone quarry. The rock wall and its reflection seemed to peer right into my camera lens.

Dunes | White Sands, NM

Shadow and Form

White Sands National Monument, NM. Toyo 4X5 field camera.

Of all my dune experiences, White Sands National Monument is the most memorable. Its brilliantly white gypsum dunes are breathtaking. It was also the setting for a misadventure I won’t forget.

Pier and Ice

Pier and Ice

Oak Bluffs, MA. Toyo 4X5 field camera.

To create the misty effect on some but not all of the rocks, 20 or so exposures were made on one sheet of 4X5 film. How misty or distinct the rocks appear was controlled by the timing of the cable release and shutter.

Woods in Snow

Woods in Snow

West Tisbury, MA. Nikon film camera.

A beautiful line of snow decorated the trees on this April 1st snowfall in Martha’s Vineyard a number of years ago.

Birch and Pine

Birch and Pine

Turners Falls, MA. Mamiya 645 with Aptus digital black.

Passing this stand of birch trees, I noticed the human-like gesture expressed by this particular scene and made this photograph.

Frost at Sunrise

Frost at Sunrise

Chilmark, MA.

There were many interesting compositions within the frosted pane. Aware that the photography that may work the best may not even be one you remember having taken, I try to exhaust the possibilities of “seeing” each subject and photographing it every possible way.

Heron in Motion

Heron in Motion

Rockport, ME. Canon 5 D Mark 111.

An early morning in Rockport, I was photographing this magnificent throwback to the dinosaurs as he/she was exploring the river bottom for breakfast. It took to the air and luckily I was ready to pan during the exposure and create this image.

See Michael’s full site and more of his images: 


How does one become a better photographer? To find the answer I decided to ask industry veteran Gerald Ratto. For over half a century Gerald has used film photography to capture the world. Gerald is a former student of Ansel Adams, Minor White, Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston; the list of industry legends he has worked with is extensive. His work has been displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and his client list includes some of the largest architectural firms in the world.

Gerald has worked with film since he was 12 and began photographing with a 15-cent box camera. Many of his most celebrated images (See his Children of the Fillmore and Vintage Collections) were shot traditionally. I began by inquiring about what differences exists between photographing with film and digital.

“Photography is really about seeing. We are in an age where people confuse photography with image capturing. When you hold up your phone or high megapixel camera are you really being a photographer? I don’t know. That depends on how intentional you are in the process. It’s easy to capture a huge amount of space today and then use Photoshop to retroactively tell a story, but something is lost in that process. You can make adjustments in Photoshop but you lose some of the expression because you didn’t really consider the content and the story that is being told.”

Is there any correlation between the physical developing process and the creation of an authentic photograph?

“Developing isn’t really a huge part of the process because of previsualization; seeing the story in your mind before you capture it with a camera. If you are doing it right you already know what the story is once you capture it. Then, it’s about going through a process to bring it from a small format to something people can see and display. Each camera is really the same. Each is simply a different instrument. If your process is the same then you can use different instruments to more accurately tell the story.”

Herein I realized the error of my initial question. The question is really not of whether we gain or lose something using film or digital methods, the question is how we remain intentional in an age where technology removes our limits. What are we doing as photographers to keep our content intentional and relevant?

I ask what advice Gerald can provide for how to stay relevant as a photographer.

“Photography is like discovery; every time you look in the viewfinder you’re closing in on an image that is part of something bigger—a little vignette of the greater world. You don’t want to go into any project with preconceived notions of what you are going to capture because by doing that you impose yourself upon the subject. Authenticity is the key to staying relevant. Allow the subject to tell the story and use your mastery of the instrument to capture it.”

Gerald’s work over the last 50 years showcases many different thematic elements; a testament to the depth of his abilities as photographer. I encourage you to take a look at Gerald’s portfolios and pay special attention to his mastery of light. From architecture models to portraiture, Gerald’s work showcases the breadth of his abilities as a photographer. As we finish up I ask Gerald what his favorite photo is. He smiles and replies, “The one I’m taking tomorrow.”

Gerald Ratto and his wife Marla manage a studio and reside in San Francisco, CA. You can view more of his work on his liveBooks site;

liveBooks wants to know: how do you view your work as a photographer? What tools/best practices do you use to stay relevant? Share a comment on our blog and start a conversation. “Like” us on our facebook page and be the first to receive exciting liveBooks news and content.

Photographer and writer Jay Goodrich’s work focuses on architecture, nature and adventure. In addition to writing and creating imagery he leads workshops and photo tours. Those who attend the workshop come away with a better understanding of photography and mastery of images, and they have a greater appreciation for the locations and peoples they have visited. His upcoming workshop takes place in Hilo, Hawaii November 5-12. Jay tells us about his workshops and his experience teaching them as well as attending them.


Melissa Dubasik: I’d love to get a little background on why you host workshops and what you hope others will get out of them?

Jay Goodrich: Teaching workshops just grew out of my love for photography. I wanted to share my experiences, my passion for this creative medium with others. In addition to that I think what is most important about my workshops is the communal experience. Everyone who is there is completely into photography and learning about photography, so it becomes not only a learning experience for the participants, but for myself as well.

I truly hope that all the people who attend walk away with a better knowledge about how to create a stronger image. I am somewhat of a gear head, but I really want people to understand that you only need your iPhone to be a creative photographer. Idea, concept, and composition first, how you record it to show the rest of the world is secondary. I do teach a lot of equipment and software based techniques as well because the era of the digital capture has opened up the boundaries…actually removed them completely.

MD: Is this workshop geared more towards being creative or improving one’s technical skills? Or both?

JG: I would say more emphasis on creating, but there is a lot of technology that gets talked about. I even teach software specific workshops on programs like Lightroom.

MD: What are some of the unexpected benefits one might get from attending one of your workshops?

JG: Traveling to amazing destinations and at times getting access to special places and locations. In our up-coming Hawaii trip, I have a friend who owns property there and he suggested that we stop by to photograph the stars over the lake of lava in his back yard one evening. I also try to focus on including luxury accommodations when possible. One of our previous trips to the Altiplano of Chile had us staying at an all inclusive five star spa. I try to give my clients a little something extra whenever I can. Even if it’s just a ride to the airport or a private critique of what they created after the workshop. I want to build relationships with my clients and I get really excited to watch them progress as photographers during the course of a workshop.


MD: What are the most important things for the attendees to realize when they participate in a workshop, to help them get the most of of the experience?

JG: I think they really need to understand, that it isn’t amazing everyday. There are days when sunrises don’t materialize. Weather changes. Miscommunications happen. Cars break down. People have gear troubles. We do our best to help everyone and fix all of the issues, but sometimes, it will just rain for a week straight. We will make the best out of it though. This leads to: they should also come with an open mind. Be open to a new experience and new people because everyone has a different perspective to offer.

MD: What differentiates this workshop from others?

JG: With this Hawaii workshop we are taking a little bit of a different approach. We are showing participants how we look for everything and anything while traveling. How our eyes are focused on multiple disciplines, multiple subjects, and ever changing light. This allows us to create a large portfolio of images, which in turn gives us a stronger market base, better coverage for a location, and makes us better photographers overall. If I just focused on photographing birds, I think I would have given up on photography a long time ago. It is the experience of what resides around the bend that keeps me going day in and day out. Focus on a great composition and it doesn’t matter what your subject is, you will walk away with a great image.


MD: Was attending workshops instrumental to help you become the photographer that you are now? If so, how did they do that?

JG: I have only attended two workshops in my life. One was taught by John Shaw about selling your work and the other was taught by my really close friend Art Wolfe. One sent me off in the professional direction and the other sent me off in the creative direction. Although, as I have grown my business over the years, I have been lucky to work with some of the top level pros in the industry and this has helped me realize what works and what doesn’t along the lines of instructing. I also have a wife who is a teacher, so she beats the knowledge of two masters degrees in education into me on a regular basis.

This has made me focus on smaller group sizes and on more client one-on-one time in the field. Typically, I never teach more than six individuals by myself and never more than ten when there are two of us. I also want to spend less time lecturing to participants and more time in the field showing them what works and what doesn’t work.


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