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By Penn Hansa, PPA Intern
Jonathan Givens, CPP, isn't just a photographer.
For starters, he was a master carpenter for the Oprah Winfrey show who had never considered picking up a camera until Oprah herself suggested he take pictures of the sets he built for the show. Fast forward 11 years, and Givens is now a Certified Professional Photographer who has made a business out of taking pictures of the thing he loves - entertainment.
Givens grew up as an actor, dancer and singer. He first performed when he was five years old, and was 12 when he had his first paid gig. Theater life was consuming, but Givens didn't want it any other way. "I didn't go to my high school graduation because I was in technical rehearsals for a show," he said. "Theater was always there for me. It was the place where I got to be silly and jump around, and do all the crazy things I wanted to do."
He was doing what he loved - until injuries set him back. He shattered an ankle during a show, and then his voice was "destroyed" by the steroids that were prescribed to help his vocal cords. But Givens couldn't stay away from the stage, and instead, moved his talents behind the scenes to work as a technician in 2001. Taking jobs here and there, he eventually worked as a technical director at a youth theater in Phoenix, where he taught a child actor named Emma Stone how to build scenery.
He made the move to the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2003, and as the carpenter who built the set, was part of the team who won an Emmy the following year for Best Set Design on Oprah's Pop Star Challenge. the host's own version of American Idol. When he built a set for Destiny's Child's appearance on the show, complete with smoke rolling over a moving sidewalk for the singers to walk in time to the beat of "Lose My Breath," he knew he should take pictures of his work. "It was hours of preparation and $80,000 worth of work and materials for only 10 seconds of airtime," Givens said. "I needed some way to document what I was doing, so I wasn't just throwing the set away."
Other highlights of his career include working with Cirque du Soleil in 2006 as head carpenter of the
show Alegria on their European tour. He also did rigging on major motion pictures like Iron Man 3 and Rock of Ages and at Univision Studios. In photographing the sets he was building, he began taking pictures of the entertainers he was working with and found that people were much more fun to take pictures of than set pieces. He started his own studio in Miami, Entertainment Photography Specialists, and joined PPA in 2012.
"I didn't want to be just another guy with a camera, which is why I joined and got certified. There are a thousand photographers out there, and tons of people who try to do the work that I do. PPA membership sets me apart from the rest," he said.
He attributes his success as an entertainment photographer to his background as an entertainer and technician, and notes that it's allowed him to capture some unique pictures. As a certified rigger, he was able to set an aerial dancer under a bridge in Portugal, with the 5:30 a.m. sunrise and a lighthouse in the background. "It's definitely different from being just a portrait photographer because I have to set up all the rigging," he said. "It's a logical challenge setting up the images."
What also helps are the emotions he recognizes in the performers, passions that he can empathize with having once had them himself. "I don't get my subjects posing - they are doing what they enjoy, and I take pictures of that. I can see the passion behind what the performer does, from the performer's point of view. When the dancer loses herself in the dance, I click the shutter.
"I photograph what I know - entertainment. I'm not only thinking about the lighting, the composition or all the other technical aspects of photography, but I'm also considering how the image will promote the subject's career, or gain attention for the production," he said. "And that's what's made all the difference."
Tom Bochsler's 50-plus year career took him all over the world as a photographer and speaker, but he
didn't have to look far to find a home for his massive collection of images.
The 82-year-old Burlington, Ontario native decided to gift his life's work to the Hamilton Public Library. The recently completed donation took place over about six years and contained a total of 500,000 negatives. The library found value in the images as they provide a visual history of the area.
Bochsler, who was designated as having Outstanding Significance and National Importance by the Heritage-Cultural Property Export Review Board, started his career in Hamilton in 1956 and joined PPA not long after.
The collection spans the well-known industrial photographer's early years in photography and thousands of local images. Many of his black-and-white historical photographs were created using the 10-pound Speed Graphic camera, which used one-shot flashbulbs as its lighting source. Bochsler has photographed every single nuclear power plant in Canada, and the collection includes images of nuclear reactors, salt mines and steel factories from across Canada. The photos will stay in a climate-controlled archival vault to ensure the images don't decay over the years. The library's history and archives department is tasked with scanning the images and making them available to the public.
Last month, Bochsler also had the opportunity to give an audio/visual presentation in a display of selected images during Super Crawl, an annual art and musical festival downtown Hamilton. In addition to the collection, Bochsler published a book, , which features 272 of his favorite images from 1950 to 2003.
According to Bochsler, he donated his life's work rather than the alternative--throwing them in the trash.
"It's all very exciting for me," he said. "There are many members out there who find their old negatives and files a burden. I initiated the contacts to explore a home for my collection. Along the way I found people interested in saving history."
Got a cool story to tell? We're always looking for more! Email PPA's communications specialist, John Owens, with yours (put 'PPA Member Story' in the subject line) and we'll see if you're worthy of a spot on the mighty PPA blog!
Helping a friend and veteran leave a legacy
By Penn Hansa
Bruce Roscoe, CPP, orchestrated a portrait session of his best friend, Joe Rowe, that he'll remember for ages. As a photographer who served in the Vietnam War, taught workshops all over the United States and has been named as one of the top photographers in Arizona, Roscoe has had his share of photographic experiences. But this was the only shoot that he could give credit to fate for making it happen. "It could only have been divine intervention to have everything work out the way that it did," Roscoe said. "It was that incredible."
In a way, the photo shoot was 58 years in the making: Roscoe and Rowe have been friends since they were eight years old. "If I didn't see him in 10 years and then I saw him again, it would be just like yesterday," said Roscoe. "Nothing would change."
The origins of their friendship are a little hazy to both. "We probably met after getting in a fight with each other," Roscoe guessed. But they both recall the childhood they spent together on the East Coast. They sailed, surfed and snorkeled together at the beach, and spent hours in the forest climbing and exploring.
"We had it great growing up," Roscoe remembered. "We didn't know how poor we were. We bought a bike and it was Joe's and my bike. So he'd have it for a day, and then I'd ride it for a day, like a family bike."
When they finished high school in 1967, Rowe joined the Marines, and Roscoe decided to postpone college to join the army. The army recruiter asked if he had any special skills, and Roscoe told him that he wanted to be a photographer. It was the first thing that came to mind.
"My parents gave me a Brownie Bullet camera when I was younger, and I loved it," Roscoe said. "I thought I was going to travel and take pictures of kings and queens."
That wasn't quite what he ended up doing. After he went to school in the military to be trained as a combat photographer, his first orders were to go to Alaska.
But it was just a mistake - he was actually supposed to be in Vietnam.
During their service in Vietnam from 1967-68, Roscoe and Rowe never saw each other, and only had vague ideas of where the other was. When they returned, they were changed people. Both suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It was just different. We had our issues. We never knew what life was going to be like in a warzone. We changed, not for the good or the bad. We just came back as good as we could be," Roscoe said.
For years, Roscoe didn't touch a camera. "I always had a love for photography, but because of the memories I had associated with a camera, I had to be ok with myself before I got back into it," he said. When he eventually returned to the art, portraiture became his specialty.
"I think why I got into portraiture is because some of the pictures I took overseas and some of the ways people's faces looked told a story. And I thought, Well, you know what - if I can learn how to capture faces in a storytelling way, that's what I need to do. I need to start capturing people and telling a story with their face."
Roscoe ended up in Arizona and joined PPA in 2008. He became a Certified Professional Photographer in 2010, focusing on photographing the elderly.
"There's just so much character in their faces. In young people, you don't have the wrinkles, the character lines, the things that show how much time you've been in this world," Roscoe explained. "For these people who are grandparents, I want to pull a character out of them to leave a legacy for the younger generations."
As they lived their lives on separate American coasts - Roscoe in the west, Rowe in the east - they stayed in touch through their families and the occasional phone call. "Joe's mom was like my mom. I'd find out from her how he was doing, and she would tell him how I was doing," Roscoe said.
And then one day, Roscoe got a call from his friend Joe. Rowe told him he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, which his doctor said had been caused by Agent Orange, one of the herbicides and defoliants the U.S. military used as part of the herbicidal warfare program Operation Ranch Hand. The effects of the spraying affect both the Vietnamese and Americans as terrible remnants from a war that no one wants to remember.
Shortly after hearing the news, Roscoe left for Rhode Island to take Rowe's portrait. It wasn't a question of obligation, just a sense of duty to his friend and those who loved him. "I was trying to create Joe's final image for his family," Roscoe said.
He called the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Wakefield, and they graciously allowed Roscoe to use their hall for a temporary studio. But it left the question of lighting equipment, things that Roscoe couldn't bring from Arizona for the session. So he did an online search for photographers near Providence and came across Chris Garrison's studio. Roscoe emailed him and explained what he was trying to accomplish, and asked to borrow his gear. Without hesitation, Garrison heagreed to share his studio's equipment.
"I didn't know him before this email," Roscoe said. "I asked him why he would let me, a complete stranger, borrow his equipment and he told me, 'You know, Bruce, I've had people help me out when I needed them. I'm just trying to return the favor.'"
Fellow PPA member Roger Salls from Roger Salls Photography, who had attended one of Roscoe's photography workshops, came from Connecticut with a makeup artist to help with the shoot. Roscoe, recognizing the importance of the event, also contacted the Providence Journal for a reporter to cover their story.
The shoot only took a little more than an hour. Rowe arrived and spent an hour with the makeup artist, then Roscoe started doing his job. The Providence Journal sent a reporter, who was also a Vietnam veteran, to interview Rowe. It was as if all the stars had aligned. Everyone who was there that day was there for Rowe and to help create an image that would capture his character. "I felt like a movie star," Rowe said to his friend. "It lifted my spirits, and we had lots of fun."
It was a highly emotional shoot for Roscoe, who realized that this would be the last portrait he would take of his friend. "It is crushing to be losing one of the people you can really talk to without having any problems," he said. "There's not a lot of people you can call your best friend, and Joe is one of mine."
Rowe, who works with PeaceTrees Vietnam to raise money for schools and libraries in Vietnamese villages, asked his friend to help make his last wish come true: to see through the completion of a library in the village of Mo O, close to where Rowe was stationed in the war.
Thinking back on the shoot, Roscoe couldn't believe that it all happened so perfectly. After all, if he didn't have the venue, the lighting, or the assistant and makeup artist, the final image wouldn't have been as meaningful as it is for both him and Rowe. "I find it interesting that you can get photographers from all over the country together, and you can make something happen," he said. "Nobody got any money from it. There wasn't any incentive. They were just doing it to help."
The ties of friendship and kinship, he realized, were stronger than he could have ever imagined.
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PPA member, Super Monday instructor and recent CPP recipient, Dave Goldman, has been named a CPP Liaison for the state of North Carolina.
"Becoming a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) was a huge accomplishment for me! Passing the CPP exam and image submission process was incredibly difficult. I now hold a designation that less than 8% of the photographers worldwide hold," stated Goldman. "I also now know that I have the necessary skill set to be professionally recognized by my peers as a Certified Professional Photographer. My clients always love my work, but it takes the recognition to a whole new level when it comes from the industry itself. Working towards the CPP has given me the ability and confidence to create strong images under any conditions and I can produce consistent, repeatable results each and every time."
Dave's passion for teaching inspired him to go above and beyond becoming a CPP to become the first and only state Liaison for North Carolina in Charlotte.
"I love to teach and I wanted to give back to the photography community. Most people have no idea where to turn for learning and they end up at local meet-up groups. These groups are okay when you are starting in the [photography] business," said Dave. "I get very motivated when I see beginners aspire to become certified and I can now help them achieve that. I hope to raise the bar and educate other photographers through workshops and hands-on classes."
Dave has a reason to be motivated--becoming a Certified Professional Photographer has made an significant difference in his business.
"Most photographers claim that certification means nothing to their clients; however in my case that is far from the truth. Would you use a first-year resident as a doctor because you can save a few dollars on an operation or use a specialist recognized by his peers in a particular profession? Certification shows that you took the time to learn about what you are doing and how you perform to a higher standard," said Dave. "Each client that comes to my studio asks me about the very visible certificate on the wall. I explain the difference between CPPs and every-day photographers with a camera and educate them on the investment they are about to make. Certification makes it a critical difference."
View some of Dave's Certification passing images below and if you are interested in pursuing the certification program, here are some easy steps to get started:
First, check out http://certifiedphotographer.com/, then to look for a CPP liaison in your local area and get connected. Find other CPP's and speak with them about what the process, what it brought to them and to their business. They'll help you sort through what certification can do for you. Finally, pair up with a CPP (shadow or second shoot are great options) and see how they do things and learn from them. After all, they are trained to create beautiful images under any circumstances, so you are bound to learn something.
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To RSVP, visit Rodney's website.
View some of Rodney's images from the PPA Loan Collection below.
Do you have something you want us to brag on? Tell us here: www.ppa.com/bragbook.
ALL IMAGES © RODNEY LOUGH, JR.
In Rutherford's case, she was honored with an Award of Distinction in recognition of her research and creation of original "Spirit Paintings," which capture the cultural history of the Great Smoky Mountain area. Most notable to the award are a series of four unique oil paintings that were created to record the ancestral residents associated with the Headrick Chapel in Wears Valley, Tenn. She also donated a portion of each reproduction print sale to the Friends of Headrick Chapel Restoration Fund to support the chapel's preservation.
"I am incredibly surprised and deeply honored to be recognized for my fine art and efforts to raise funds to preserve East Tennessee history," commented Rutherford. "As a portrait and restoration artist at the Heirloom Art Studio, it is always my hope that my work will bring joy and fulfillment to my clients and create heirlooms for the future. The Headrick Chapel Spirit Paintings have not only allowed me to capture a moment in time, but often put the faces of Wears Valley ancestors into the hands of descendants throughout the United States who, only through the purchase of my paintings, were able to view their ancestors for the first time."
These Spirit Paintings are just one of Rutherford's many specialties, combining the stories and histories of ordinary lives into one-of-kind, original fine art. Family members, historical figures, and people long gone are depicted as transparent ghosts forever captured as unique heirlooms that "bring back memories of another time," as Rutherford's website says.
Rutherford has been a PPA member since about 1986 and has earned her Master Artist and Photographic Craftsman degrees. She specializes in providing high-end photographic and fine art restoration, original portraits and paintings in oil and watercolor, photographic retouching, and original digital fine art to other pro photographers and specialty clients in 17 countries throughout the world. Rutherford holds a long list of prestigious awards from PPA and others, including Eastman Kodak Co. She was also awarded the Fuji Masterpiece Award for the invention of a process that captures and restores the images on blackened tintypes.
More of Rutherford's work can be viewed at www.heirloomartstudio.com.