Here we are once again, at the cusp of a new calendar looking back on all the things we did (or didn’t do) in 2016, and thinking about all the things we want to do in 2017.  Shannon and I are not much for New Years Resolutions as we think you should have resolutions and goals all year round.  That said we also don’t look past an excuse to party, so really it’s kind of a one off for us.  Shannon is and always will be my cornerstone in life and photography, without her I couldn’t do what I do and I wish that I could do for her what she does for me.  At any time this whole freelance photography thing could end in firey disaster and I’ve been very lucky with my opportunities thus far along with the support she has given me.  I just want to take this opportunity to look back at 2016 and talk about some of my favorite assignments, and maybe some of my mistakes.


(Nikon D4s, 100ISO, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@66mm.  1/200th@F8.  Phottix Indra 500s behind Drew on each side shot through Phottix 10″x 60″ strip softboxes.  Phottix Mitros+ Shot through a Luna Folding Beauty dish held by a C stand above Drew.  All lights set to TTL and controlled via a ODIN 1 transmitter on the camera hot shoe)

I started out this year at the Roberts Camera EDU Expo with Phottix.  Phottix had me give a workshop about working on the fly with their TTL and their Indr500 heads, which they know that I love so much.  In fact, over this year I have added even more Phottix heads and equipment to my gear list, and I still continue to love the gear completely.  That’s why I always recommend the Phottix gear when I teach at IvyTech, Roberts Camera, Calumet Photographic, or anywhere else.  The Phottix gear has stood up to the challenge of a full time pro workflow and if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this about why it is my #1 choice for lighting gear now.  Speedlights AND large heads for studio and location.


(Nikon D4s, 50ISO, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@38mm.  1/200th@F10.  Phottix Indra500 shot through a 47″ octabox held above right the ladies by Kenneth Parks.  Indra set to Full power via a ODIN1 transmitter on the Camera Hot shoe)

Speaking of location, this photo was shot for the IU Alumni Association of the gals off of the hit show “Two Chicks and a Hammer”.  Well.  It was known that, now it’s known as “Good Bones“.   What a wonderful set of women to work with, they were so accommodating to the things that the magazine and I wanted and it netted them being on the cover to boot!  I haven’t seen the show personally as we don’t pay for television at home, but I’ve heard great things and it was very cool working with them for an afternoon to create a set of images including the one above.


(Nikon D800, 50ISO, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@70mm.  20 seconds @F7.1.  Cello illuminated with a Innova Bolt flashlight.  I light painted the strings and bow for 7 seconds and then rolled the focus to the closest focus setting to illuminate the sheet music and outer edges of the frame)

Nextly I started experimenting a little more again this year after some inspiration from Dave Black.  That photo is of Shannon’s Cello as shot for Valentines day this year.  Shannon has played the Cello for years, but has always loved her Cello.  I wanted to surprise her with this photo and had it printed on Aluminum 20×30 though Bay Photo for the surprise.  It took a lot longer than I’d like to admit to shoot it, as it was a light painting and there was always just one part that wasn’t right.  I’m thrilled every time I see it on the wall in her office though, and the smile she had when I surprised her with it made all the effort very much worth it.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Indiana

(Nikon D4, 2000ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@125mm. 1/640th@F2.8)

This last year I also had the opportunity to shoot sports for a few new clients.  That included shooting the Women’s Big Ten Basketball Championship for Michigan.  Unfortunately the ladies didn’t make it very far, but I was honored to cover them in their run and it was great to be at the games shooting for just one team, as opposed to shooting the entire event or BOTH teams in any particular game.  It really allowed me to concentrate on getting the best from the Michigan gals although I wish I’d have pushed a little harder and gone back to when I put up remotes for things like this.  Need more gear for that though… more on this later.


(Nikon D5, 100ISO, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@70mm.  1/200th@F14.  Phottix Indra500 on a C Stand with a Strip box above the motorcycle, Phottix Indra500 to the camera left in a 30×60″ softbox.  White foamcore positioned to the camera side of the gas tank to illuinate the letters and white poster board above the gas tank to reflect in the carbon fiber illuminated special with a snooted Phottix Mitros+).  All lights triggered and controlled by a Phottix ODIN2 Transmitter from the Camera hot shoe).

Next this year I picked up what was a very last second job which turned into being something much cooler than I had originally anticipated.  I was originally asked about shooting a photos of a motorcycle last second by my friend Joe Lee over at Big City Photography.  He was supposed to go there to do it for a press release, but he ended up having a conflict and asked me to fill in for him.  The shoot turned out to be much more exciting/involved as we were photographing Harley Davidson’s first new Dirt bike Racer in decades.  In fact, almost 8 months later (at the time of this writing) you can still go to Harley’s racing website and see the photos I took on their home page.  There are a few things I would have done a little differently on this job, and I feel as though this could have been handled a little differently as a whole, but at the same time it was easily a highlight from my 2016.


(Nikon D5, 1000ISO, Nikon 12-24F2.8N@24mm.  1/2000th@F2.8)

Another really cool event I was able to document this year was the Indy ultimate hosted by the Indiana Sports Corp.  The Indy Ultimate was a 10k that was run around downtown Indianapolis allowing the participants to do several activities including kicking a field goal at Lucas Oil Stadium (Colts) and shooting a free throw at Bankers life Field house (Indiana Pacers) among other things. I was responsible for photographing people participating in the different events around the course, and as if that wasn’t challenging enough it was wildly cold and rainy that day.  SO many people still showed up to run and participate, but at the end of the day I’m not sure I’ve ever been so wet in my life.  It was a fantastic event and will cross my fingers I am asked back to witness it again next year.


(Nikon D4s, 6400ISO, Nikon 400mmF2.8VR. 1/1000th@F2.8)

Another first this year for me was shooting the NCAA D2 Swimming and Diving Championships.  I’d shot diving years ago, but I’d never shot swimming and unfortunately the first day showed that.  Undeterred I was ready to prove I could do it and that I was hired for good reason and my experience working for the Indianapolis Star means that I adapt quickly to almost any challenge. In the end I was able to produce a set of images that I am really proud of, and I can only hope I have opportunity to use what I have learned in the future as there are a few angles I’d like to try that I was unable to do this time around.


(Nikon D4s, 1600ISO, Nikon 200F2VR. 1/3200@F2)

Speaking of Swimming and diving, it was the honor of a lifetime to be asked to cover the US Olympic Diving Trials for USA Diving and the Indiana Sports Corp this year here in Indianapolis.  To watch the best compete for their place on the Road to Rio was thrilling in every way, especially since several of the competitors were Indiana Residents (including some from my alma mater: Purdue).  Also was invaluable were the insights from friend Peter Bick who was also there on a few occasions, before heading out to Omaha to shoot the trials for USA Swimming.  It was thrilling to see the energy and excitement, and the heartbreak for some could be felt throughout the event. It was an incredible thing to witness though, and this was easily one of the greatest honors of my career having been asked to cover this.


(Nikon D5, 100ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8E @120mm.  1/100th@F2.8.  Phottix Mitros+ bounced from an umbrella to camera right, Nikon SB-900 with Phottix ODIN2 Receiver shot through a shopping basket with a green gel on half of the speedlight to give two colors in the background.  Both lights triggered by Phottix ODIN 2 transmitter).

This year again I have continued to spread photo knowledge with Ivy Tech as well as Roberts Camera’s workshops among a few others.  It’s always humbling to be asked to influence the minds of young photographers and I love doing it to give back to the photographic community.  I always enjoy seeing photographers flourish and seeing the looks on folks faces when they finally understand a topic that has alluded them, making them a much better photographer.  I love teaching workshops and classes with a hands on approach building photos as a group to make sure the most is learned from each experience.  The shot above is a student acting as model from the class about using a Gobo in your background which is easily one of the more difficult classes in the Ivy Tech Curriculum.  Thanks to help from Roberts Camera and Photo Video EDU we have a speedlight kit at educational pricing that makes learning the ins and outs of lighting so much easier.  It also allows all the students to have the same equipment; equipment that I know very well that I can answer emails about without having to look things up meaning that I can spend more time teaching, and the students can spend more time shooting.  What’s not to love about that!?  I look forward to continuing the teaching and workshops in 2017, keep your eyes open here and on my facebook page for more information!


(Nikon D4s, 1000ISO, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@52mm.  1/640th@F13.  Phottix Indra500s to the left and right of Andrew shot through Phottix 10×60″ strip softboxes.  TWO Nikon SB900 speedlights above the front of andrew on a C stand shot into a phottix 28″ beauty dish. (Yes, it’s only made for 1, but I rigged two to work for extra power) Single Phottis Mitros+ on a Kupo 7′ Stacker Stand with an orange gel behind Andrew aimed at the wall for the orange effect light.  All lights controlled by Phottix ODIN2 on the camera hot shoe).

Another highlight to the work I did in 2016 was the opportunity to shoot some work for Pokemon before the Pokemon GO craze started with a company named Blue Sky Technology Partners.  I’ll be honest in that I have little to no idea where the photos ended up, but it was really neat being given the opportunity to shoot for something that became so popular (again) so quickly.  Sure I’ve shot for lots of well known companies, but usually there is a limited demographic involved.  You know, the people that know really know but nobody else does.  With Pokemon, you walk up to almost anyone on the street (including kids) and they get excited.


(Canon 1DX, NEW Sigma 500F4 Sports, 1/4000th@F4)

Another thing I did quite a bit of this year was review Sigma Photos new lens offerings.  It’s been an incredible honor for to have them ask me to look at their newest latest and greatest lenses to not only offer feedback, but to put my thoughts online here and with Roberts Camera for the world to see.  This year I was asked to do this four times and each time I am honored and humbled to be asked.  This year I also bought one of the lenses that I reviewed and it gets used almost every time I go shooting; the Sigma 85F1.4 Art.  Sigma has really blown everybody away with their lens offerings and I hope I’ll be able to continue to offer them (and you) feedback in 2017.  (I already hear they have some super exciting stuff planned for January so stay tuned!)


(Nikon D5, 80ISO, Nikon 85F1.4D 1/124th@F1.8.  Phottix Indra500 set to TTL shot through a 47″ Octabox held on a C Stand above Lilly King at the IU Natatorium/Rec Center.  Indra triggered by Phottix ODIN2 on the Camera’s hot shoe.)

The last blog post I wrote was about my time photographing Lilly King the Olympic double Gold Medalist.  Such a wonderful young woman, so great to work with.  I’m still honored to have been asked to photograph her for the magazine and greatly look forward to watching her career unfold in the future.  Even though I blogged about this last, this still remains a great honor for me.

NCAA Basketball: Austin Peay at Indiana

(Nikon D750, 4000ISO, Nikon 12-24F2.8N@24mm.  1/1000th@F4.  Camera held to metal frame of goal post by a Manfrotto Magic Friction arm with quick release plate.  Camera triggered by Pocket Wizard Plus III using a LPA Pocket Wizard pre-release cable).

Last but not least to end this years recap in sports I’ll go back to basketball.  I covered Indiana University for football this year, and I’m assigned to cover a number of Indiana University basketball games as well for USA Today.  This season I decided to step it up a bit on my basketball coverage though after shooting for Michigan at the Big Ten Tournament (as mentioned above).  It’s not that what I was doing earlier in the year was bad in any way I just decided I wanted it to be BETTER.  This season at IU I’ve got at least one remote camera set up at the games and depending on how it goes I might make that two before the end.  It had been a long time since I had set up a remote camera, the last time  being almost 6 years ago when I used to cover the Indiana All Star Basketball games with the Indianapolis Star.  Since then I haven’t had the same equipment access though which made it difficult.  This year after a conversation with my friend Andrew Hancock I took the plunge, added some gear to my list and have started doing remotes again.  The first game I did it for even netted a spot in USA Today’s Photos of the day, which is even more exciting when I tell you that the game was an absolute blowout and the shot was still selected.  Here’s to seeing how doing ore remote work will all work out in 2017.

While 2016 may not have been a great year for celebrities, photographically I can only complain a little.  I didn’t shoot as much in 2016 as I did in 2015 but that’s ok as I feel like I shot better jobs and my my incredible wife and I took our first vacation in years.  Here is to a successful 2017 for everyone reading.  Like I said, I’ve been humbled at the fact that I am still allowed to do this freelance photography thing full time and I’m going to work as hard as I can to keep it up.  While this was certainly one of my longer posts, it in now way encompass everything I’ve been doing in 2016.  Some of those things I can’t discuss yet, and others just don’t fit in the time allotted.  Hopefully some of my shared stories from 2016 will inspire you to get out and do something a little different.  If not, hopefully they at least entertained you for a little bit.  I’ve got lots of neat things already planned for 2017 and I look forward to continuing to blog along this adventure.  Thank you all for reading if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be doing this.  Happy Holidays.  Happy New Year.  See you on the other side.