is pretty specialized and unusual. How did you get into doing
this kind of photography instead of local weddings and high school
Well, it just kind
of came with the territory. I went to work for a great photographer
in the eighties and he had some mining clients. There was a serious
learning curve. This wasn't something that was covered in school
and it came with its own set of challenges and chances to screw
up. It's the most difficult kind of work I do in what my insurance
company calls a "hostile environment". But all I'm
doing is photographing others, who are doing a very tough job
very well. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the
people who work in mining.
From looking at
your portfolio, almost everything you do is distant location
photography. Tell us about some of the wild adventures you've
had getting to remote places. How rugged does life get on these
I guess you're right.
There have been some places I probably wouldn't have had a chance
to go if it wasn't for the work. I don't know about wild adventures
but definitely amazing country and interesting people. Most mine
sites aren't right next to the highway so alternative forms of
transportation sometimes come into play. Not camels or elephants
or that kind of thing. Not yet anyway. Planes, boats, helicopters,
jeeps, things like that. And we've thrashed more than our share
of rental cars. I've watched giant Alaskan brown bears fishing,
from my perch in an open-sided helicopter while flying in that
sweet space between the treetops and the cloud ceiling. I've
landed on impossibly short dirt strips in the Fujifilm green
of South American jungle that stretches forever and looks like
it could make its own weather. I've walked Mexican deserts that
have Organ Pipe Cactus clusters that were around when Columbus
beached his boats. I pretty much have the greatest job in the
What kinds of
mines have you worked in?
Mostly gold, silver,
copper, lead-zinc. But also some kaolin and scoria. Underground
and open pit.
Does mining photography
require anything special? Or are those trade secrets?
I'd say it's probably
not great if you're claustrophobic. Realistically it's the same
as any remote location photography. Pack as light as you can
and still be self-sufficient. And a little flexibility and a
sense of humor couldn't hurt.
How do we get
you to shoot photos in our mine? What can we expect? What do
you need besides room service?
Ha! Well it's pretty
simple. All I need is a phone call or email to get the ball rolling.
What you can expect, I guess, are some basic questions that I
can use to educate myself about who you are and what your needs
and expectations are. Room service is not required. But not refused
Do you take time
researching or preparing the location? How long does it typically
take to get good shots? Days? Weeks?
Yes, I do whatever
research I think is necessary to prepare. Specifics like an assistant,
terrain, weather and special equipment are considered. There
should be a conversation happening that results in a shot list
and a plan. I understand that every time a piece of machinery
gets shut down or a process gets interrupted, it costs somebody
money. So I try to be as efficient as I can. But I will still
take the time I need to get the shot, because that's the point,
right? To answer your question, the time it takes to get the
job done hinges on several factors, the top two being number
of shots and strength of the plan to make those shots happen.
Just for the record, though, I've never spent "weeks"
to accomplish the mission.
What do you find
to be the most difficult part of photographing mines? And what
is the most enjoyable?
I talked a little about
this in an earlier answer. The difficulties are mostly related
to environmental conditions. It's tough on our equipment and
there can be time, space, light and water challenges. It's been
my experience, though, that the folks I'm working with will almost
always go above and beyond to make things happen. Even when they
think I'm a complete nut job. And that's what I like the most.
The people who work in this industry are a special breed and
I love working with them.
How do your mining
clients usually use the photos? Print? Web? Tradeshows? T-shirts?
No T-shirts yet, as
far as I know. Annual reports and websites are usually the reasons
mining companies find they need photography. But lots of other
uses, like investor meetings, EPA reports and various print needs
come up too.
What's your best
promise you make to mining clients?
I'll do the best I
can to tell your story and to give you some eye candy you can
be proud of. Thanks for listening and give me a call or email.