Dec 062010
Hall Wars !

Quinnipiac University students compete to see who can reach the farthest while being held back by a large elastic band.

When I was a young intern photojournalist at the Hartford Courant, a senior photographer told me that the first rule is that you either you gotta find the picture or make one. These days it seems that I have to make the picture more often than not, so it’s always refreshing to shoot exciting events and situations that primarily document the energy and dynamics of the moment as it happens.

A recent such assignment was to photograph the fifth annual Hall Wars on the Quad of Quinnipiac University in Hamden. The event was a series of friendly competitions between freshman students of different resident halls, and included various sports: tug-of-wars, potato sack races, gladiator, and other fun games. The event was a great way to capture the school’s spirit, fun and excitement to balance the contrast of the usual academic situations.

With about 750 students participating, the activities were a way to get the incoming freshmen class involved and interacting with each other and raise money for charity. Here’s some additional fun images from the event.

 December 6, 2010  Education, Events, People Tagged with:  10 Responses »
Nov 102010
Harry Rich: A Mad Man No More

It seems very far away from the bustle of Madison Avenue and Connecticut’s advertising scene to find Harry Rich living in Vermont off a dirt road, surrounded by farms and mountains – but that’s where he has found peace and renewed inspiration.

I always admired Harry. He was very instrumental in hiring me early in my career, introducing me to many corporate and education clients, some of which I still work with today. Harry retired from the advertising world to southern Vermont, and I caught up with him again when he came down to the “flatlands” to be a panelist in the “Legends of Design in Connecticut”, a sold-out event held at New Britain Museum of Art sponsored by the Connecticut Art Directors Club and AIGA.

It was a pleasure to spend time with Harry and Mallory Rich recently when they invited Joanne and I to their house and studio in Sandgate, Vermont. It was great to talk with Harry again and to meet Mallory, who once ran a well known writing business in Connecticut, and is now a successful landscape painter.

It is interesting to note the difference in painting styles between Harry and Mallory. Harry is abstract while Mallory is more pictorial. The highlight of our visit was the rare opportunity to get personal insights into the artists’ work. Harry’s love of music and nature is a recurring theme in his work, and to hear him describe the intensive creative process shed new light and appreciation to what he laid out on the canvas. He mentioned that on some pieces, he works them for years – forever tweaking, adding, subtracting, evolving and sometimes starting all over. “How does one put a price on that?”, I thought.

Harry and Mallory exhibit their work extensively, often piling up canvases in their truck and treading the country roads to distant galleries. On a recent trip to an exhibition in Montepelier, the painting that appears on Harry’s business card actually flew off the back of the truck on route. The four foot square painting was recovered undamaged by a passing motorist who managed to locate Harry and return it to him a few days later. Harry jokes that it might have been a reflection of his work that the couple did not want to keep it, but more than likely, it’s just how Vermonters are.

In a world away from the buzz of marketing, Harry is also quite content working to keep his land from being overtaken by the surrounding forests.  I imagine Harry looking over his magnificent landscape, absorbing it all with Schubert playing in the background and thinking – life is good, very good.


To see more of Harry and Mallory’s work please visit their websites at and

 November 10, 2010  Editorial, People Tagged with: ,  18 Responses »
Oct 312010
The Bokeh of the Bouquet

The cover of Choate Rosemary Hall’s fall issue of The Bulletin features an image I took during their graduation ceremonies in June. The unaltered close-up image of the traditional red rose worn by the graduating class has an interesting quality due the lens’ “bokeh”.

Bokeh, as Wikipedia describes it better “is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light. Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting – good and bad bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field”.

It is exactly because of these unique optical qualities that blurs later induced in Photoshop often look so fake and unrealistic.

I intentionally wanted to create a visually simple image, and it all came together for a brief second as the student waited in line. This particular bokeh is the result of using a long lens (300mm) at the widest aperture and at a close focus distance which created a minimal depth of field.

The term “bokeh”, which comes from the japanese “boke”, meaning blur or haze, has actually only been in use since about 1996. I’ve read about photographers describing the bokeh qualities of certain lenses like wine connoisseurs talk about the intricacies of a particular vintage.

And yes, I know that in the headline, a bouquet means a bunch of flowers, not a single one, but hey, it kinda rhymed this way.