Instinct Then, Practice Now
I made this portrait 25 years ago by placing Fred under
the eaves of a barn, cutting off the light from above.
I turned him to have the light cross over his body. I
did it then by instinct. I'm doing it now because
it works every time.
Photos © 2003, Monte Zucker, All Rights Reserved
Each year around this time
I wonder what the next year will bring. Not this year! I'm planning
ahead and making decisions here and now to make 2004 the beginning of
another exciting new era of my life.
First of all, I'm moving from Florida to Palm Springs, California.
Not a small decision, but one that I'm looking forward to with
great anticipation. As long as I'm near my cameras and computers,
and a couple of airports, I'll continue publishing, teaching,
and lecturing. Only now, I'm planning to take a little more time
for myself and enjoy the fruits of having spent over five decades in
Life has been good to me.
My children, Sherri and Tammi, are grown and doing well. My grandchildren,
Sara and Evan, have also matured and are now starting their own lifetime
careers. I've had the good fortune of having had two lifetime partners,
Sondra and Fred, both of whom have brought love and understanding into
my life and who have helped me through the rough spots and shared with
me some of the finest moments a person can have.
I've had a photographic mentor, Joe Zeltsman, who not only taught
me photography, but also a way of maintaining a professional career with
an eye and a heart open to change, progress, and a desire to share my
knowledge with any and all who would want to learn from me.
In my later years I've been fortunate enough to have several incredible
sponsors. They have believed in me and I have believed in them 100 percent!
When I talk and write about them it is with a full heart. I know that
they would treat each and every buyer of their product and/or services
with the same care that they have shown me.
So, why am I making changes this late in my lifetime? Because, for me,
it's never too late to change. For me not to risk change is to fall
into a pattern of complacency--something that I've dreaded
throughout my lifetime.
Keep On Growing
Those of you who really know me and who have followed my photographic
career are aware that I have always attempted to continually mature as
a portrait photographer. Photographs that I make today have the background
of posing and lighting that have been the solid foundation that I learned
years ago. But my new images also have been influenced by photographers
who have challenged tradition (and me) and gotten away with it...beautifully.
I am the product of many who have gone before me, as well as many who
are adventuring ahead of me. So, why am I going on like this? Partly because
I want to share my excitement of being a photographer who is still in
love with his profession. And partly because I want to help shake up some
of you who may be falling out of love with photography and who do it just
because, "It's a living!"
Treasury Of Tradition
Here are some portraits (below) that were created in more
recent years. The photographs were inspired by my lifetime
experiences, loves, and relationships. For me, tradition
will always be in style as long as people give their hearts
to one another--openly, shamelessly, and unmistakably.
More Than Just A Living
For me it's more than "just a living." It's an
opportunity to explore life and to share my vision with countless others
who sometimes let life pass them by and thereby miss out on some of the
most wonderful moments that life has to offer. And what about those who
will come after us? What will they see? What will they know about those
who shared this earth before them? How will they feel about their lives,
loves, and legacy?
I'm hoping that some of you also feel like the beginning of a new
year is an opportunity--no, a necessity--to move on with your
lives and your work in order to challenge yourselves to be a "new
you" and to create images that you never before believed possible.
I'm going to be doing
just that next year and, hopefully, in the many years that follow. It's
not going to be easy, but it is going to be exciting. And that's
what I intend to do for myself and for you...to keep the excitement
going and to do the same for as many others who care to come along with
My slogan for 2004: Treasure the past. Use it wisely to build a pathway
to your future!
With that in mind I'd like to share some photographs with you; some
from recent times and some from my past.
Change everything? I don't
think so. Change a bit? Change a little at a time? Oh yes, and without
Share the excitement of the coming year with me. Stretch your imagination
and keep excited with your photography. That's what's ahead
for me in 2004. Hopefully, for you, too!
A Stretch Of My Comfort
Yes, an old dog can learn new tricks. This one shows a fill light from
below. I was using two softboxes by Westcott (www.fjwestcott.com).
The main light was placed overhead, almost frontal. The fill light was
the same intensity as the main, but directed toward the legs of the subject.
Only the light radiating over the top edge of the softbox actually got
to the face. A hairlight and background light matched the f/stop of the
I shot with a Canon 10D and
Canon's 135mm soft focus lens, used at its middle setting. The power
of the lights was cut down by placing a three-stop neutral density acetate
over all four lights, allowing me to shoot at f/5.6. An Elinchrom wind
machine from Bogen (www.bogenphoto.com)
supplied the finishing touch on some of these. The clothing contradicts
everything that I felt wouldn't work! Bottom line: If you've
taken the time to develop good judgment, then, if you really like it,
can it be that wrong?