Ketchup and Hot Sauce

It is a few weeks shy of the twenty-fourth anniversary of the day I got married. That relates because I have just launched into a new business endeavor with the woman that stood beside me that day as maid of honor. I am quite certain neither of us ever saw this day coming. Photography is the connection that has brought us to this point. Twenty-four years ago, I married a guy with a fine arts degree in photography, but I was headed to a doctorate program to study virology. Amy was a physics major with a career path in teaching. Cameras were not routinely slung around our necks.

That changed. We are both now voracious shutterbugs, bringing very different personalities to the camera. When I think of it, the way we approach photography matches the way we have always approached condiments. She’s Heinz® ketchup. I’m Cholula® hot sauce.


Let me explain. I have known Amy for twenty-nine years, a few of those we lived together. I know her well enough to realize offering her salsa or a strange vegetable is going to result in a crinkled-up nose and polite decline. She did surprise me in recent months by accepting an offer to try a smoked oyster. I believe I set back her food adventurism potential by several clicks. She was NOT a fan. She likes her flavors mild, predictable, and consistent. As a math and physics person, she also like formulas and she uses them in photography with huge success.  She produces consistent beautiful images of birds, animals, and the places they live. They are real and lovely. They document what she sees exceptionally well.

Representing the hot sauce, my approach to photography is about feeling. I like flavor, lots of flavor, in my food and images. For me, photography is about storytelling and relaying what I experienced in the moment. I am not the type to settle in with a tripod to wait for one conceptual shot. I need motion and more stories to tell than that allows. That said, I do not shun technicality. I fervently believe in the rule of thirds, but I move through a scene and process an image until it tells the story I have in my head.


Amy and I spent a few days at Grand Teton National Park last week scouting out photo shoots for our Teton photo workshop, each shooting our own styles. We tip-toed into each other’s palette—I even tried the massive 500 mm lens but quickly returned to my 14 mm happy place. I would not say my reaction to the telephoto was as dramatic as Amy’s to smoked oysters, but it is not how I see the world. We ate taco salads one afternoon between photo locations. She had French dressing on hers. I had some local extra hot salsa. It was perfect for each of us. And the same is true for our photography. The world needs both approaches—quirkiness and realism, Cholula® and Heinz®.


Focused Wild will be an amazing collaboration. Two long-time friends with equal passion for photography. Two very different approaches for shooting in locations that have endless potential for epic images and experiences. There will be many stories. I will tell them.

For more info on Focused Wild, click here.

Our first photo shoot in a national park service location or road-tripping to find better hot sauce? January 1994

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