Recent Assignments: Portraiture for

This week I completed an assignment for, an online news organization based in Los Angeles. The story deals with the difficulty of reversing drug convictions later found to be based on faulty evidence in Harris County (Houston), Texas.

Harris County has a high rate of these drug exonerations because of the actions of Inger Chandler, chief of the Conviction Review Section at the Harris County District Attorney's Office. Along with Harris County Assistant Public Defender Nicolas Hughes, both are working to get a backlog of drug tests resolved and up-to-date, along with helping to speed up the process of reversing convictions.


The story is a great read. Check it out here.

Inger Chandler, chief of the Conviction Review Section at the Harris County District Attorney's Office

Harris County Assistant Public Defender Nicolas Hughes

Not arguing, just chatting.

Dr. William "Billy" Cohn, Cardiothoracic surgeon and medical device innovator

The first time I met Dr. William Cohn was on an assignment for the local newspaper. Jovial and charming, I was amazed not only by his curriculum vitae (Professor of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine plus five other prestigious directorships) but his genius for medical innovation as well. One of the last proteges of cardiology pioneer Dr. Denton Cooley, Dr. Cohn has 80 active or pending patents for his inventions and is the founder or co-founder of five venture-backed life science startups. Did I mention he also plays trombone in a blues band? That one of his inventions is an artificial heart that is pulseless and runs on turbines?

Dr. Cohn works out his ideas by building models in his garage and in a basement lab space at the Texas Heart Institute, where the below portrait was made. He uses expired medical devices, wood, and plastic to build models of his ideas.

I thought making of portrait of Dr. Cohn in the room where much of these expired medical devices are stored would be cool. In hindsight, I might have gone with a cleaner background, especially for viewers (usually outside of Houston) who may not be familiar with Dr. Cohn and his techniques.

The heart in the photo is real. The veins and arteries were filled with a plasticizer and then the organ was placed in a tub of sodium hydroxide to dissolve any surrounding flesh.

I was originally going to have Dr. Cohn hold the heart, but, genius that he is, Dr. Cohn suggested hanging it from the ceiling using surgical thread (easy enough to get rid of in post-production). With the help of my sturdy assistant Michael Klein and a very open schedule by Dr. Cohn, we were able to pull off an image that I hope conveys some of Dr. Cohn's fun-loving spirit.

Cover shoot: Conquest Magazine for MD Anderson Cancer Center

I'm jazzed to have the cover of the beautifully designed Conquest Magazine for MD Anderson Cancer Center. The magazine is sent to major donors to encourage giving to the institution.


The cover shoot didn't go as planned, but in a delightful way. The original idea was to have the subject by herself in the image. Sometime during the shoot, the subject asked if she could have a few pictures of her with her son. I gladly obliged. The designer ended up liking those photos so much, he put one of them on the cover instead of going with our original plan.


I remember recently finishing an arduous five day shoot that was heavily scheduled and that it was nice to photograph inside someone's home with virtually no time limit. It was refreshing to be able to squeeze in something spontaneous with about the best result possible.

Documented: Huge quench tower bottom vessel move for a Baytown, Texas petrochemical facility

One of my favorite activities is to shoot for oil and gas companies because the projects are usually large-scale. In this case, literally.

I was hired by a local petrochemical facility to document the move of a huge quench tower, used for cracking ethane into ethylene, a chemical building block for too many consumer and commercial products to list here. There are many moves like this in the building of a petrochemical facility, but this quench tower segment was the biggest move of the project.

The entire process took all night. Two drivers, one at the front and one at the rear, steered the giant, multi-wheeled vehicle that carried the tower, moving at about two miles per hour.

After three rain delays, a small army of people and the logistics and engineering of a space launch, the massive land barge rolled it's way through the night to it's final destination at the construction site.

Photojournalism: Jade Helm 15 for The Boston Globe

A story I worked on for The Boston Globe about the recent Jade Helm 15 controversy in Bastrop published today. Check out the story at the above link and tearsheets and outtakes below.

Photojournalism: Rockport Apartments Roof Collapse for the Houston Chronicle

Besides commercial photography, I still have a taste for photojournalism, where my roots are. Sunday, I took a day rate for the Houston Chronicle to get rain features. It turned into covering a roof collapse at a southwest Houston apartment complex that morning. Here's what I saw:

Craig and Margaret Agnew for The Boston Globe

Craig and Margaret Agnew, a defensive coordinator for the football team and a teacher, respectively, helped raise New England Patriot's first-round draft pick defensive tackle Malcom Brown. Brown grew up in Brenham and attended high school there, but originally lived 20 miles away until the Agnew family took him under their wing. 

A Globe photo editor asked if I could photograph the couple who were mentors to Brown. I was also asked to photograph the school's head coach Glen West. On the logistical side, it was definitely good to have called the Agnew's ahead of time and schedule outside the confines of the photo assignment. Unbeknownst to myself or the photo editor, the reporter was having everyone meet at a restaurant - not really the most relevant environment for a portrait. Both coaches and Margaret were able to meet me at the school and stadium where I was able to make some portraits I was happy with.

Spring 2015 Conquest Magazine for MD Anderson

Technical portraits, documentary photojournalism, illustration - the latest issue of Conquest Magazine put me to the test. 

I met Meisha Brown, who was treated at the center as a child and is now a cancer advocate pursuing a Ph.D. in health education, studying chronic disease and health disparites research at Texas A&M University. She hopes one day to be an MD Anderson scientist working with other cancer patients who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I did an on-location shoot with a patient who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 21, a much younger age than the usual age range for diagnosis.

I lit up Dr. Sam Hanash who has made it his mission to find a way to detect lung cancer in its earliest stage, when it’s still curable.

My favorite by far, though, had to be the Little Yogis, a program for young cancer patients to practice stretching and breathing techniques. 

The excellent design is by Blue C Studios. Editing by Andy Olin.

TransCanada Keystone XL Terminal facility for the National Post

It was dumb luck that I was able to pick up an assignment recently that fit in with an ongoing project I'm shooting on the Keystone XL pipeline. The National Post of Canada asked me to tag along with a reporter to visit TransCanada's Keystone XL terminal facility they are building 30 minutes east of Houston in an area brimming with petrochemical refineries.

I was really happy with the photo play. This is the biggest I've seen my photos play in print in a while and is most likely my first ever broadsheet double-truck. Sweet stuff, indeed.

Mark Stefanik for The Wall Street Journal

Shooting a portrait about cybersecurity for The Wall Street Journal, I had spontaneous inspiration to purchase a chain and pad lock 15 minutes before the shoot and to have the subject stand behind a chain-wrapped computer monitor. Of course I also shot the portrait without the chain, which is what eventually ran in today's Wall Street Journal. Nonetheless, my computer monitor in bondage lives on here, at my blog. Enjoy.


Mark Stefanik of Advantage Benefit Solutions was hit by ransomware when his computer files were locked by a cybercriminal. Stefanik paid $400 ransom to unencrypt his data. 

2014 M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Annual Report

I'm proud to share some tear sheets from the 2014 M. D. Anderson Cancer Center annual report. It's been a great experience working with them and I continue to shoot for the research institution for their quarterly publication, Conquest Magazine.

We had to ditch the beauty dish shortly after the shoot began since the Alien Bees vagabond battery decided to give out at that very moment. We used a backup Quantum Flash instead.

Our brave subject and cancer survivor.

American Photography 31 selected winner

I'm honored to announce one of my images from my Keystone XL project has been selected for inclusion in the prestigious American Photo 31 annual award book, to be published in November 2015.

From 9,376 pictures entered by 904 photographers, magazines, agencies, publishers and schools, the jury selected, by a majority vote or better, only 328 images to appear in the book and represent the best pictures from 2014. - AI/AP

Rosemary Kilmurry, 93, in her living room near Atkinson, NE. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would cut through her property.

Hospital Discharges Rise at Lucrative Times for The Wall Street Journal

"A Kindred Healthcare Inc. hospital in Houston discharged 79-year-old Ronald Beard to a nursing home after 23 days of treatment for complications of knee surgery.

The timing of his release didn’t appear to correspond with any improvement in his condition, according to family members. But it did boost how much money the hospital got." - WSJ

I photographed the widow of Ronald Beard, Barbara, with a sizable stack of paperwork related to her husband's hospitalization and resulting conflict with Medicare. The story can be read here.

Barbara Beard by a stack of paperwork connected to her dispute with medical providers Feb. 5, 2014 in Katy, TX. Beard's husband was discharged from a long-term hospital after a 23 day stay to rehab following a botched knee surgery, and later died.


Arcade Fire tearsheet from January 2014 issue of Q Magazine

The discovery of tearsheets of my work with Arcade Fire continues with this double truck photo of their first performance for Reflektor in October 2013 in Bushwick (aka East Williamsburg, don't get me started), Brooklyn, New York in the January 2014 issue of Q Magazine, a British music publication. 

They began the evening in jest on a side stage with giant paper maché heads, and continued with a surprise performance by the full band on the main stage, which was hidden behind a heavy black curtain held with velcro.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Reflektors!

Win serenades the crowd.

Arcade Fire for Metro

For two weeks in October 2013, I was living the dream as a photographer for the band Arcade Fire as they played a series of warm-up shows for their Reflektor tour in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles. During our time in Miami, we produced a portrait shoot at a Haitian restaurant called Tap Tap, which has lovely paintings inside and great natural light. The images below made it into print in Metro, a British newspaper based in London. The shoot was produced on 800 ASA Porta 35mm film using natural light.

One of me by the band during the shoot.

Mo' Muscle Cars for The Wall Street Journal

I had a last minute assignment for The Wall Street Journal yesterday - a story about how small business owners are dropping their insurance as more of their employees choose plans provided by the Affordable Care Act. Owner Blake Meaux had a lot of beautiful cars to choose from, but with the overcast sky, this gray 1957 Chevy Bell-Air seemed like the perfect choice. A cropped version of the first photo ran on page B5 of today's WSJ. 

Conquest Magazine for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Recently I shot a couple of portraits for a new client that I'm happy to share. Giulio Draettta, Ph.D, M.D., a professor in molecular and cellular oncology and Andy Futreal, Ph.D., professor in genomic medicine, are both part of the Moon Shots program at M. D. Anderson. The goal of the program is to accelerate both research and practical application of the most current cancer treatments possible. The program researchers are targeting eight cancers: acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), melanoma, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers. 

Giulio Draettta, Ph.D, M.D

Andy Futreal, Ph.D.

Ferguson, Missouri protests for National Public Radio's Code Switch blog

Protestors lock arms in front of police to keep agitators from creating more turmoil.

By a fluke of circumstance, I happened to be in St. Louis during some of the protests happening in Ferguson, Missouri. My family had been on vacation for the prior two weeks with my in-laws. My father-in-law wanted a nice family portrait that I was to be included in. Normally when I go on vacation, I travel very light camera-wise, usually taking only a body and lens and a laptop. This time, however, I decided to bring my whole kit since it would be easier to have all the necessary equipment on-hand and not piecemeal and potentially forget something crucial. 

My wife, a health and science reporter, was to attend a fellowship in Columbia, Missouri immediately following our vacation. She's a St. Louis native, so the plan was for her to go to Mizzou while I stayed behind with our daughter so she could get extra time for a week with her grandparents. 

An image made right around the time I was shot in the forearm with a rubber bullet. Oddly, it was on my left arm, which may indicate that the bullet was shot not from the approaching police force, but from an unknown flank position.

While we were on vacation, I could see that things were really heating up 20 minutes from my in-laws home in St. Louis. I thought to myself that surely things will have cooled down by the time I got there. When we eventually arrived in St. Louis, my wife took off for Columbia and I called a family friend to come by and watch our daughter (my in-laws weren't back yet) while I went to explore the situation in Ferguson. I naively told the family friend that I expected to be back in an hour or so and that at this point, it was probably just going to be people marching up and down W. Florissant Avenue, holding signs and marching. I even opted to only bring a little film camera I own. I figured I'll experiment and then go home. 

What I didn't realize was that things were far from calm. While things were peaceful enough when I got there, they deteriorated within about an hour and a half. The word on the street was that some people had decided to march toward the police command center about a half-mile from where many protestors and media were stationed. The next thing I knew, canisters of tear gas, smoke bombs, flash-bang grenades and lastly, rubber bullets, came flying down the street.

The aftermath of my left forearm after being struck with a rubber bullet

I found a gaggle of other photojournalists to group up with, most of them decked out in gear that I didn't have - tactical helmets, gas masks and flak jackets. I was standing on the curb trying to frame up a shot when I felt something hit my arm and it hurt like a thousand expletives. I instantly recoiled and ran back, zig-zagging, into a parking lot. I thought to myself "Holy sh*t! What the hell was THAT?" My arm started swelling up immediately. I was full of adrenaline and kept trying to make pictures, armed with a film camera with 400 speed film pushed to 3200 and one 35mm prime lens. It felt like futility. The cops kept pushing everyone back and their approach was overwhelming. As I came within about 500 yards from my car, I heard shattering glass. Groups of men were starting to loot a Papa John's Pizza on one side of the road and a pharmacy on the side of the road I was on. I looked around and noticed I was the only media left at this point and that things were getting very, very hairy. I made it back to my car, but only after being faced down by an approaching armored vehicle surrounded by soldier-y looking men with flashlights on their rifles, approaching my general vicinity. Hands up, I crab-walked away from them, made it to my car and then headed out when there was a break in the rush of people running by.

The next day, I made phone calls around town to find out about purchasing at the very least, a tactical helmet and hopefully a gas mask. The first place I called said they had sold out of helmets after last night's melee. Another place said they only had four helmets and were holding them for CNN. After what could be a whole other blog post just about getting last minute protective riot gear, I came away with a very used kevlar helmet and a Serbian gas mask with a dried out filter element. Still not on assignment for anyone, I went out the next night to try again, this time with my digital gear. The night was intense, but not as intense as the prior night. There was some tear gas used (hence discovering that the filter element in my Serbian gas mask was compromised) but by the time I got to where some shooting at the police had taken place, things had calmed down, at least by the strange standards of the protests.

A man is directed toward police after shots were fired at law enforcement moments earlier.

The next day, I was contacted by friend and NPR supervising editor Kainaz Amaria asking if I'd like to shoot a two-day assignment for Gene Demby, who runs the Code Switch blog at NPR. The interesting element is that she was looking for photos that showed a sense of place and not so interested in protest pictures, images of which had already saturated the media. I was very game and spent the next two days with Gene going off the beaten path throughout Ferguson, not just the scenes of the protest but neighborhoods and the downtown area. 


It was good to get away from the protests and explore Ferguson from another perspective. It was definitely work that was in my wheel-house and Kainaz's great editing helped focus my efforts. You can check out the final product at Code Switch here. Some of my favorite images from the assignment are below.

The owner of Red's Barbecue, left, speaks with a man making repairs to the restaurant.

Linda Owen takes a photo of her husband Al August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, MO in front of the Ferguson Brewing Company. The couple are from an unincorporated section of St. Louis County and were visiting Ferguson to help support the town.

Linda Owen takes a photo of her husband Al August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, MO in front of the Ferguson Brewing Company. The couple are from an unincorporated section of St. Louis County and were visiting Ferguson to help support the town.

A school bus driver gestures while waiting at a stoplight August 19, 2014 in downtown Ferguson, MO.

As protests take place two miles away, a spin class goes on uninterrupted August 19, 2014 

A drive-thru sign at one of many shuttered businesses along W. Florissant Avenue.

Members of the Nation of Islam walk down W. Florissant Ave. August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, MO.

A closed clothing store along W. Florissant Ave. August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. 

A woman stands before a chop suey restaurant August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, MO along W. Florissant Ave. where rioting took place earlier in the week.

A child stops to tie his shoe along W. Florissant Ave. August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. W. Florissant Ave. has been the location of protests and occasional rioting related to the shooting of an unarmed Michael Brown by Ferguson police.

A protestor poses for a portrait August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. 

A police officer glares at a photographer August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. 

A woman, left, sings at a memorial where Michael Brown was shot on August 9, 2014 on Canfield Drive. Photographed August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO.

Road barriers stand at the end of Canfield Road, the same street Michael Brown was shot and killed on by a Ferguson police officer August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. Some residents have complained that they're not able to get to their homes and don't know shortcuts that law enforcement presumes they know. Many cars were observed by the photographer driving through adjacent yards to get past the barriers with ease.

A card from the FBI stuck in the door in a third floor apartment overlooking the street where Michael Brown was shot and killed August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. The apartment appeared to be empty and in disrepair as viewed through the undraped window.

DeShawn White, 12, left, Tayron Wilhite, 13, and Ricky Allen, 15, toss a football around August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. They were playing just around the corner from where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.

Jamyla Bolden (far left), then 8, is shown in a photo from Aug. 20, 2014. She posed with Trice Johnson (center left), 8, (center left), Destiny Sonnier (center right), 8, and Rayell Hickman, 8, along Ellison Drive in Ferguson. The kids were in a yard  just around the corner from where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer. Bolden was killed by a drive-by shooter while doing homework on her mother's bed August, 28, 2015.

Two kids play basketball on Ellison Road, just around the corner from where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer. August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO.

Markquetta Powell, left, and Deborah Austin chat on the sidewalk August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. The two were chatting just around the corner from where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.

People cross W. Florissant Ave. as evening approaches August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. The protest that evening was smaller and more calm than prior evenings.

A sprinkler waters a backyard lawn that abuts W. Florissant Ave., where protests have taken place nightly August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO.

Greg Jones, left, greets Walter Nash as Nash cooks free BBQ on W. Florissant for protestors August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO less than a mile away from where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.

Asia Jackson, left, and Taylor Barnes, sit in front of a W. Florissant Ave. boutique August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. Both are from Ferguson and were out to support the protest.

Elder Jason Watts, right, of the Williams Temple Church of God and Christ, listens to a woman who claimed she heard from God that the rain was a symbol that something bad was coming August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO.

Two police officers wait out a passing thunderstorm along the protest route on W. Florissant Ave. August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO.

Protestors walk past a bus stop at W. Florissant and Ferguson Ave. as law enforcement officers are reflected in the bus stop window August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, MO.

Red Ox Bar & Grill for Texas Monthly

I enjoyed a recent last minute assignment from Texas Monthly to shoot for the September 2014 issue dining guide. It's the most real estate I've had in the magazine to date. Below is the page and one of my favorite images from the outtakes.