I have taken tens of thousands of photographs at MIT, even photographed it from the air. As an MIT graduate, I am comfortable working with people from all walks of life at the Institute.
Scroll down to see a sample of the images I have gathered and scroll to the bottom to see a video which I helped to develop.
I have taken several hundred portraits of MIT faculty, staff, and students. Many people feel awkward having their picture taken and some are downright terrified.
First, I chat with each subject to find out more about them and put them at their ease. Then we walk to a few different locations that give us good available light with backgrounds that complement the subject.
We take 5 to 10 photos in each of 3 to 5 locations, so there is a choice of lighting and expression. Using available light means the sessions are less stressful and usually only 15 minutes, so people can get back to work.
From joyous graduations to academic seminars to more somber events, there is a constant series of gatherings that mark important moments, many of which deserve to be recorded for news purposes and for future reference.
I try to capture the human face of events, but I am always ready to handle the big group photo and the "take our picture" requests that will form the basis for powerful memories in 20 or 50 years.
There is a lot more to teaching than waving one's hands, but there is no doubt that all teachers are on stage at times, and the lecture is a very theatrical way to capture them at work.
When I photograph a class, I use a quiet camera, available light, and become as inconspicuous as possible. I shoot faces with a telephoto lens so most teachers and students don't actually realize I am taking their photo.
Classes at MIT can be anything from a lecture to a hands-on shop class. The trick is to be as unobtrusive as possible and look for the best places to sit where you get a good view of students – with good light.
I usually try a few spots in each class and move slowly and shoot so quietly that most don't notice me after a while.
These are classroom photos of students paying full attention to a lecture. It must be a great joy to the teacher when students are this attentive and it makes for good images, as their eyes are wonderfully locked into the moment.
Students are justly proud of their MIT status and wear the brand in many forms. I always look for the logo, particularly when the photograph takes on a greater depth because of an unexpected situation.
The school ring (the Brass Rat), and equation-Tshirts are also subtle ways of reinforcing the MIT identity.
From time to time, humor breaks out in a classroom and I love to capture those moments. When someone smiles, laughs, or tries to contain a laugh, they expose another facet of themselves. These are great to see and they expand our view of what it means to be at MIT.
In order to introduce The Listening Room, a web format that shares the finest from MIT Music, we wandered the halls seeking out volunteers to be photographed in Bose headphones as they listened, blissfully, to music. We captured students and staff, and were even able to get one of distinguished and agreeable MIT President L. Rafael Reif. The Listening Room was developed by Emily Hiestand, Director of Communications for the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.
Often we need portraits where the subject is doing something other than the expected "look into the camera." They might be looking away, posing with an artifact from their field of study, or posed in a special environment.
It all depends on the intended use for the image. But I often add in an offbeat portrait as an alternative, and they are sometimes chosen ahead of the more reliable images.
I have photographed almost every facet of the wide and deep academic music program at MIT, from classical to jazz to Gamelan to chorus.
The collection of music photos lead to the creation of a photocentric book, “The Musical Institute of Technology," written and designed by Emily Hiestand, which has been widely distributed within and beyond the MIT community as a window on the Institute’s conservatory-level music program and the powerful role of music in an MIT education.
Documenting the rich theater life at MIT, I always try to photograph the dress rehearsal so I can move about to find the right angles of view.
The extreme colors of theater lighting can present challenges, but also leads to interesting, vibrant images.
Shown are scenes from MIT productions of Arturo Ui, Everybody, and Griffelkin.
Photographing parties can be difficult because of dark lighting and general chaos, but there are great photo ops to be had, such as MIT President, L. Rafael Reif, giving a high-five to a fan, or many unguarded looks and smiles.
I take photos from a distance with a telephoto lens to avoid breaking in on the moment, but occasionally walk right up with a wide angle lens and invite interaction.
Often during a photo session, one detail stands out and asked to be documented. Or there may be a small detail that is critical to the story being told. I look for these.
Along with the more conventional images, I look for the moments when extremes, such as the fisheye look or the slow-shutter blurred look will tell the story better or give the designer something strong with which to work.
I also create original videos for MIT and other clients.
The video to the left was conceived and directed by Emily Hiestand and Sarah Goodman on the MIT SHASS Communications team; I supplied much of the video footage, still images, and the editing.