Posts Tagged ‘inspiration


ballet dancer

Recently, I had the pleasure of photographing a lovely ballet dancer and soon-to-be college freshman.  She had tons of wonderful clothes that she brought along, but we were only able to shoot a small number of outfits. We plan another shoot and will do some ballet poses then. As always your comments or questions are welcome!



pictures from in and around Santa Fe

I’ve just finished a week in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on a terrific workshop with Marti Jeffers.  Tonight we’ll post a few images I took during the week. The picture above was taken near Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch. Although I used a polarizing filter to punch up the color of the sky, it really was a rich blue. The light in this area is amazing and one can see how O’Keeffe chose this as a place to live and paint.

This is an abandoned building near Taos. It has apparently been for sale for many years. I have to be honest and say there was only one bird in the picture – I added a second one in Photoshop.

This was the exterior of a fancy hotel in Santa Fe. The luminaries are common throughout Santa Fe, as are, of course, adobe structures. For this image, I used a wide-angle lens and positioned the camera just a few inches away from the big luminary.

The sunsets in Northern New Mexico are fabulous. It may be the altitude and the dry air. This shot was taken on a hill overlooking Santa Fe. I haven’t shot many sunsets and vow to do more. You have to work fast, as the light changes very quickly.

And finally, below, taken back at The Ghost Ranch, is an image that includes a silhouette of your humble servant. As always, thanks for reading my blog posts!



It’s been a horrible winter in New England.  Everyone (especially me) is getting cranky. I needed to have some fun.  In a photography magazine, I’d seen some neat images of slinkies, so off to the toy store I went.

In this shoot, I really was just having fun.  The colors and shapes took over. Childhood memories came back. The colorful new plastic slinkies may be even better than the old metal ones I grew up with – who knows? 

There’s more snow, sleet, ran and cold today and tomorrow. But these images brought me a bit of joy and the faith that Spring will eventually come. And I hope they’ll bring you the same joy and faith as well!


The Smile of Faith

Faithful readers will recall I have written about smiles from time to time. It’s a topic that fascinates me –  I try to learn as much about as I can about smiles.

When I’m shooting portraits, I’m usually aiming for a smile. “Say Cheese!” doesn’t cut it – it just leads to that teeth-clenching, tense fake smile.   With children, I’ll often make a goofy face or say something silly. With adults, one of my tricks is to ask them to remember a happy experience from their childhood.  Just about every time, a broad smile pops out immediately. I’ve learned to be ready to hit the shutter button.

I wanted to pass along this short reflection, written by David Anderson, Rector of Saint Luke’s Parish, my church in Darien, CT.

The Smile of Faith

I read this week that a typical small child smiles six hundred times a day, and old men smile two and a half times a day. That tells you all you need to know about the course of human life.

 As we get older, we get more “serious.” I put that in quotes, because mostly we’re not getting really serious about life—in which case we’d be smiling more like six hundred times a day—we’re just getting sourer and sourer. Life hasn’t worked out like we planned. Things have gone wrong. We can barely eke out two and half smiles a day.

 We can’t smile, we can’t laugh when it all depends on us and we have to manage it all, keep it all going, “make it happen.” We can’t smile until we trust, relax a little, let it be. That’s the whole message of the gospel: God has everything under control . . . so you don’t have to.

 I could talk more about laughter, or just give you a reason right now to do it. So here’s one I heard recently.

 An elderly woman walked into the local country church. The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps. “Where would you like to sit?” he asked politely.

“The front row, please.” She answered.

“You really don’t want to do that,” the usher said. “The pastor is really boring.”

“Do you happen to know who I am?” the woman inquired.

“No.” He said.

“I’m the pastor’s mother,” she said indignantly.

“Well,” replied the usher, “do you happen to know who I am?”

“No.” she said.

“Good.” he answered.


my photo in “usa weekend” – this weekend!

So, it’s a big rush for a photographer to have an image published in the newspaper. It’s an especially big rush if the picture is in over 700 papers around the country!  This image appears in “USA Weekend,” a Sunday suplement magazine published by USA Today.

I took the picture above of three dynamo women, Maggy, Pam and Sharon, who have a cooking blog called Three Many Cooks. Check it out here.

For this image, we had in mind a “Charlie’s Angels in the kitchen” look, so I had Maggy and Sharon turn towards the outside.

These amazing women are starting a weekly column in USA Weekend this weekend. Check it out, including a short video (and, of course my photo of them with a photo credit!)  here.


my youngest collector

At my photography exhibit in the Fall, my images of marbles were among the most popular photographs.  One of my friends brought his 7-year-old daughter to see the show and she fell in love with this image.  So Daddy bought the framed print for her as a surprise Christmas gift.  I decided to give her the actual marble that is featured in the center of the image, a beautifully made piece by a talented glass artist.

Here’s a note received today from Dad:

I hope you had a great Christmas.  Ours was lots of fun, and your photo was a huge hit.  She was so intrigued by its shape before she opened it, having forgotten all about it.  Then she was overjoyed by it. Your very thoughtful inclusion of the actual marble made it extra special.  When I was turning off her lights Christmas night to put her to bed, her final comment on the big day was “ Daddy, thank you for the picture from Blake – I love it!”  Thanks, Blake, for brightening our Christmas with your great art.

Wow, this feels great on many levels.  It’s a real rush – and very humbling – for me to have people buy my work and to imagine them looking at the images hanging on their walls. This adorable and precious little girl is my youngest collector.


creativity and purpose

Craig Tanner has been and is an important mentor and teacher to me. I’ve taken two workshops with him and have a third planned in Santa Fe next April. Craig has critiqued several of my images. You can see some of these video critiques on my website by clicking here.  There are many wonderful resources on Craig’s website, The Mindful Eye.

Here’s a short piece Craig wrote recently about creativity for those interested in growing in photography, but it also can apply, I believe,  to other areas of our lives.


A common question I get on workshops is how can I move past my current creative limits. I often first encourage a reframe of the question. We are always evolving…. sometimes a little more slowly than others but it is an ongoing process. I think a better question is “What is the next step in my evolution as an artist?” When we reframe the question in this way we are encouraged to identify first with our purpose. When we know where we would like the next step of our vision to take us then it is a lot easier to practice being there.

Tanner Tips

Here are three simple steps for growing your creativity as an artist.

 1) Know your overall purpose as a photographer and the purpose for each shooting session.

 2) Next practice as much as possible and practice consciously. Conscious practice is when we know what we are working on to the point of being able to identify whether or not we are making measurable progress towards our purpose or goal.

 3) Finally, trust this simple but powerful process. If we just set out to make great pictures without a more specific or meaningful purpose our results may never satisfy. Our standard for great is always evolving along with our vision – just wanting to be great is not a purpose. It’s a moving target that can leave us feeling like the cat that chases its tail. But when we practice relative to a specific purpose that has an identifiable meaning we can measure our results and see clearly that we are making progress. That leads to satisfaction and a greater trust in the process which speeds us past our limits towards our infinite potential.

 Craig Tanner,