phil-photo-age4Even at an early age I was interested in photography, as the photo at right shows. My dad had built his own hobby darkroom and played around with it a little, as had my grandfather before him. However, it wasn’t until I joined the Navy and bought a real camera, a Nikon F1, that I started to get serious about photography.

College improved my basic skills, but working as an art director taught me more. I was also fortunate enough to spend about a year working on a variety of photography assignments with Rick Chilson, a commercial photographer in Houston with a Masters’ from the Art Center College in LA. He taught me a lot about the art of working with light and film.

From that point I jumped into doing a fair amount of commercial photography myself, often driven by the necessities of limited client budgets as much as anything else. Along the way I used the skills learned for both professional and personal photographic works. As these few examples show.

 Commercial Photographic Work

jukebox-library-300pxSUMMUS Jukebox Library

This is one of a variety of product photos I took  in 1990 when I was the Communications Director for SUMMUS, a computer hardware manufacturer and reseller focused on developing high-end disk and tape storage systems for Fortune 1000 level firms and institutions.

This “Jukebox Library” used then-new Exabyte 8mm tape drives and a 50-cartridge carousel to back up data — over 100 GB — a truly massive quantity back then when the typical PC might have had a 40 MB hard drive.

The biggest challenge was to give these blandly industrial-looking devices a more dynamic look.

ninfas-dinner-300pxNinfa’s Mexican Dinner Plate

Location photographic shoots are always a challenge. This one, taken at the popular Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant appeared in a regional magazine promoting area activities, events and dining establishments.

The difficulty in location shooting is trying to get the light to do what you want it to do creatively — without being too obtrusive. I loved the stained glass and how the light worked through it, but the blue light made the hot Mexican food look rather unappetizingly cool. The solution was a combination of multiple exposures to get the lighting balanced between the back-lighting of the stained glass and warm lighting on the plated food. Tasty, all the way around!

Bishop's Palace, Galveston, TX: Photo by Phil McCutchenBishop’s Palace, Galveston, Texas

Early evening photo taken as part of a series used for a regional bank’s marketing collateral. The Bishop’s Palace, owned by the Galveston-Houston Catholic Archdioces, was built in the 1880’s and has survived all of the hurricanes to date. It has been cited by the American Institute of Architects as one of the 100 most important buildings in America.

The somewhat eerie evening light of the sky cannot be done justice in a photo. I understand that it is the result of sky haze and light pollution from the many industries along the Galveston ship channel.

mickey_gilley-300pxPortrait, Mickey Gilley, Country-Western Singer

In the early 1980’s at the height of the Urban Cowboy craze, I did a lot of freelance work for Gilley’s Club that included everything from record album design to magazine art direction and production to catalog work.

This portrait of Mickey Gilley, the co-founder and headliner of the club, was part of a series taken on location for a catalog of all of the Gilley’s souvenirs, clothing, accessories and other profit-generators the club produced to promote the brand.

While Gilley’s Club is now gone, Mickey is still doing quite well in that mecca of family-oriented entertainment, Branson, Missouri.

wendel-adkins-record-300pxWendel Adkins Record Album

As I mentioned above, I did a lot of work for Gilley’s Club and recording studio. Here is the back of one of the record album covers I created for Wendel Adkins one of the new country-western artists promoted by the club.

What makes this photo interesting for me is a combination of the dramatic portrait of the singer, where the lighting and pose is pushed to emphasize his strong persona, and the captioning to the left. I designed the back cover and had it typeset, then converted to a large negative film. This was placed in front of a diamond-pattern plastic diffuser. Then a red-filtered flash was used behind that to illuminate the text. A star filter on the camera lens completed the effect I wanted to achieve — a kind of sparkling glow that complemented the neon of the Gilley’s Club sign. This shot was combined with the portrait shot for final production.

blowtorch-300pxA Hotter Pepper

Originally created to illustrate a magazine article on the genetic breeding of jalapeno, scotch bonnet, habanero and other peppers to enhance their taste and level of “hotness“.

As this was done in “pre-Photoshop” days, all of the effects were done in camera. The antique blowtorch and the jalapeno were suspended before a black paper backdrop. A cut in the backdrop enabled a red-gel flash to provide the “fire” which seemed directed at the jalapeno. Foreground lighting and reflective strips of paper added dimension to the blowtorch and jalapeno.

Did I mention that, being a naturalized Texan, I really like chili?

color-kit-300pxColor Kit and Color Collection

For true fashionistas, wearing clothing whose colors complement your skin tones is a requirement. For the rest of us, it just helps us not look too dorky. The developers of this “discover your seasonal color at-home kit” came to me to create the logo, packaging and advertising photos for their product. The kits helped people determine their “season” (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) and provided a sampling of suggested colors that would work best for their skin tones.

This photo was taken to emphasize the packaging and contents of the kit and collection and was used in promotional advertising for the product launch at Macy’s. By the way, I discovered that I’m a Winter.

Personal Photographic Work

gasstation-300pxOld Texas Corner Store and Gas Station

Texas is home to an amazing array of older buildings still in use. Many of which have obviously seen better days. This one, not far from today’s western borders of Houston, was probably built in the 1920’s or 30’s, when the area was entirely rural farmland.

This corner store also served as the local Post Office, as the sign over the front door attests. By now I’m guessing that Houston has swollowed it up, as that city continues to expand.

18″x24″ Giclee prints mounted on canvas for framing of the above work are available for $500 plus shipping and handling. Contact me for details or to place an order at pm(*)

evening-of-fourth-day-300pxEvening of the Fourth Day

One of a series of works I created for gallery exhibition to illustrate a Christian theme or verse. The photo was taken of Sope Creek in Marietta, Georgia in early evening. Photoshop was used to combine this photo with a Hubble photo of the Orion Nebula.

The verse illustrated is from Genesis 1:14-15 — Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to divide the day from the night, and let them for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.

18″x24″ Giclee prints mounted on canvas for framing of the above work are available for $500 plus shipping and handling. Contact me for details or to place an order at pm(*)

bigbend01-300pxEl Capitan, Big Bend, Texas

The Big Bend area of Texas has a kind of raw grandeur about it. With it’s stark mountain vistas rising out of the surrounding desert, it’s far from what you would call civilization.

Visiting in the spring, though, when temperatures are more moderate and rain is not entirely uncommon, you’ll find blooming cacti in abundance. This view of El Capitan, one of the largest peaks in the mountain range, was taken close to sunset from near one of the camping areas maintained by the U.S. Park Service.

old-film-300pxOld Film Reels

My grandfather was an early fan of both still and film cameras. In the 1930’s he took a lot of home-movies — a very rare thing at the time — of the sights around the family home.

This photo was taken to introduce a DVD copy of some of those rare old home-movies, which included shots of such mundane things as the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the family home, and family activities.

sopecreek92wide-300pxScott Fishing Sope Creek, 1992

Just a year after moving to Georgia, I awoke my son, Scott, then eight, early one fall morning. I wanted to get some photos of the changing leaf colors along a small creek not far from our home. We had hiked the area earlier that summer, and I was sure that the early morning sun would work best to light the trees.

We got set-up just as the morning sun rose to light up the fall colors of the trees. The cool morning fog, warmed to a glow by the rising sun, hid the distant hillsides and trees. Scott had brought his small fishing pole and cast again and again into the water — going for distance, not fish (hey, he was eight). This photo was sharp enough that it’s been successfully enlarged to 36″x72″.

18″x24″ Giclee prints on canvas mounted for framing of the above work are available for $500 plus shipping and handling. Contact me for details or to place an order at pm(*)

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