Working With Reuben Wu and Phase One in Bolivia

Earlier this year I was asked to accompany photographer Reuben Wu on a trip to Bolivia to record video footage and behind the scenes stills for the release of the new Phase One XT camera. I had worked with Reuben in the past on another job, and jumped at the opportunity to work with him again.

The job was to fly to Chile, meet with Reuben there, then cross over into Bolivia and overland across the country while making images along the way. It was an amazing experience that I will not soon forget.

Beauty in Engineering, The Saturn V Rocket

My interest in astronomy and, subsequently, space travel has grown dramatically within the past several years. When I was younger I would feel belittled looking up at the night sky. Its just so large… and we’re so small. From that perspective it can be easy to feel insignificant and unimportant.

But after catching up on some very space-heavy reading and trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to wrap my mind around some fascinating theories regarding particle physics, astrophysics, astronomy, and the universe in general, I’ve really come to become passionate about those branches of science overall. So much so that I take every opportunity I can to create personal work inspired by the sciences.

One such opportunity came when my wife, Tiffany and I visited the Huntsville Space Center while we stayed with family for a little while in Alabama. There we saw one of the remaining 3 Saturn V rockets left, and it was incredible. I was able to take advantage of the natural light the display provided, and chose to isolate some interesting sections of the rocket which I think show the scale, complexity, and power this machine boasted.

The In-Between Images

This January I had a friend of mine over for a headshot session. Her old photo was quite old and didn't adequately reflect who she is now or present her in a way that was accurate. 

It was a pretty typical portrait session. We got a good shot that she's now using and I was happy with providing. In all, a "normal" photoshoot. 


Headshots are important. They are how you represent yourself as a professional to your peers as well as current and potential employers. Its normal to think of a headshot as a smiling, head tilted pose that is representative of that person as they are happy. And why not? I certainly wouldn't want to come across as unhappy, bored, or angry to people in the early stages of forming a first impression of me. 

I don't mind headshots. I recognize their usefulness and have photographed hundreds of them and will photograph hundreds more. I will always, however, appreciate photographs more of people as they are honestly in that moment. Not with a fake smile, convincing and charming though it may be. A true, honest expression devoid of any emotional facade. 

I came across one such image while reviewing the photos from this shoot. Almost immediately it stopped me while scrolling through Capture One's Browser. 

Finals 1.jpg

My friend was great at putting on a natural smile. I could ask her and she could give me a look almost and sometimes completely indistinguishable from a true in-the-moment smile.

After taking a short break I took a couple test shots to make sure she was sitting in the same position as the rest of the session. During one of those test images she delivered the above glance, looking straight into the lens. 

I love this photo. Her glance is piercing. Because she's not smiling, the 2nd image accentuates her beautiful eyes more than the first.  Its an honest moment. 

The subject is an extremely happy person. She's usually smiling, laughing, and telling jokes. The first headshot is an image of that person. This person is also very concerned with social change, women's and LGBQT rights, and many other current issues that distress her. While we weren't talking about any of these issues, I feel that the 2nd image is a photograph of that person.