Jeff Youngblood… and his mighty mighty beard.

   Jeff Youngblood is a friend and one of the most talented artists I’ve met. Sculptor, painter, multimedia artist extraordinaire. 

    Jeff is a very deep individual, tackling big issues and small ones alike with his work.

    Jeff is also one of the goofiest people I know, as proven by the objective of this shoot; not to take portraits of HIM necessarily, but rather to capture the essence of his BEARD.

    I told Jeff I wanted to do the shoot after reading that he was auctioning his beard (or rather, the right to shave his beard) off to the highest bidder in order to raise money to go to Latvia to be with his fiancee who lives there. [see their engagement session from earlier this year, HERE

    You just can’t make this stuff up!  So this quick session had no epic intent, no major purpose, just goofiness for the sake of goofiness and a tribute to a great beard, which I feel should always be recognized.

Sometimes being ridiculous is how creatives stay sane.



Baby Oliver: session 1

    A couple of my good friends are havin’ babies. Real cute ones. This is the first… mr. baby Oliver, son of the great designer Matt Spiel (who will be responsible for the next 9art re-branding project) and his most lovely wife Amber. This kiddo is growing super fast… it’s a good thing we didn’t wait any longer for the shoot, or I’m pretty sure he would’ve just walked off-set.

look at these baby blues!

I actually have an entire file on my computer that I title ‘best of matt spiel’. It contains dozens of ridiculous, goofy pictures of a man who is not scared to be goofy in front of a camera… in fact, he SHOULD be scared bc of all the pics I’ve accumulated… 

and, lastly, my personal favorite:

The War of Art

    Well that doesn’t sound like a typical blog post title for me, does it? Really, those are the kind of titles I leave to my writer friend Lance. But every now and then, I like to share my thoughts and be a bit more personal for a minute or two.

     I am nearly to the last page of a book that my aforementioned friend recommended to me. This friend is a writer, so I was a little apprehensive to read a book that had inspired him, when we are involved in completely different crafts. But I gave it a go anyway- on the terms that he would read my favorite motivational book for creatives, ‘making ideas happen’ (I may return to that in a later post). 

    The book that Lance lent me is called ‘The War of Art’. A very clever, kick-in-the-pants read that addresses artists in ANY medium and their constant battle with something the author refers to as 


     Resistance is that thing in the back of our minds that fights tooth and nail against our productivity as artists.

  • pride
  • fear
  • rationalization
  • victimhood
  • criticism

These things, and many others, are all just disguises that this mysterious & destructive RESISTANCE dons to prevent us from completing our work. Resistance has a counterpart too… the MUSE… but that’s a whole different subject.

A simple phrase, ‘real artists ship’, from the late Steve Jobs has been on my desktop the last year:

Real artists ship. What does that mean? It means real artists work. Or actually, real PROS work… and the goal of any artist is to be a pro, right?  

Don’t misunderstand. Being a pro, by definition of this book at least, doesn’t mean you’re a full timer, a ‘success’ or anything that can be measured by these type of standards. It means you are mastering your craft, growing better, and you are working at it as often as you can in spite of everything thrown at you. You can call yourself a ‘pro’ at your craft and still be working at starbucks or sitting a desk in a bank.

To quote ‘the Wart of Art’:

     ’A pro… doesn’t wait for inspiration. She acts in anticipation of its apparition. The sign         of the amateur is overglorification of and preoccupation w/ the mystery. The professional   shuts up. She doesn’t talk about it. She does her work.’

Doing work- or ‘shipping’- just means you are producing new work (whether you are a photographer, a painter, a writer, an actor, a cupcake cook, or flutist) at any cost. Does that mean you’re making money at it? Well, no! But if you get to a point where you are damn good at what you do because you’ve worked so hard at it- however many years that takes- then that can be a pretty nice by-product for sure.

Having that screensaver is an affirmation of the answer to a question I’ve asked myself for years…. Am I a real artist?  Or am I just some guy with a camera trying to make money?

I’ve decided I’m an artist. And ‘doing my work’ doesn’t really mean running a business (though that’s pretty important to be able to insure I CAN keep taking photos), it means creating new images that come from the heart and bring something new to the table. 

There might be things I take pictures of every now and then that require less creative thought than others- there are projects I do that I wouldn’t put in an ‘artist’ portfolio… but everything I do is approached with as creative a filter as I can give it, and I am always striving to produce new work that is as worthy of a gallery as it is worthy of hanging in a clients’ home. 

I’m certainly not saying I’ve taken a single picture even remotely worthy of hanging in a gallery. But I am saying that my goal is to be an artist, to grow, to learn, to better my craft,  to become more creative, more original, more one-of-a-kind and to always- or at least where possible- to approach my craft as an art, not just as a business.

If you are an artist, or have a God given ability and aren’t sure how to become one by using it, I encourage you to pause. Re-evaluate. Are you shipping?

The Sherwoods

    While their shoot took placer in the missouri countryside near a town you’ve probably never heard of called Stark City, this family actually resides in a country you probably can’t spell or pronounce. Or at least I couldn’t at first. Aber… ajar… aberzi… AZERBAIJAN! whew.

If you CAN pronounce it, maybe you’re smarter than I am. It’s pronounced ‘a-zer-by-john’, in case you were wondering… and Brandon works as a diplomat there. His family is from this area and the couple decided it was time for a family shoot while they were back in the states. 

   We did it early in the morning before the heat set in… the area was beautiful and it actually felt pretty nice out. The kids were adorable, and I am so happy with the shots that came out of this one. Enjoy!

Amy/Katie mega family shoot!

      7 kids. 4 hours. Crazy fun.

   I was invited to springfield to work with not one but two families at once; first Amy’s 3 kids (Henry, Daniel & Rebecca, ages 8, 6, and 4) then with Katie’s 4. Did I mention that Katie’s bunch is comprised of two sets of twins? (Ian & Molly, age 8, & Keli & colin, age 6).

The whole thing took place in Amy’s beautiful classic home (you may remember it from my shoot a few weeks back with little Caroline & Olivia).

I really enjoyed the day capturing these kiddos’ ornery yet sweet personalities- kids will be kids and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

You met Amy’s kids… now Katie’s! 

and, I’d like to end on the beautiful, chaotic reality that IS family. It’s my favorite part. 🙂