All posts by willie

My First Museum Show

For about a year and a half my cousin, Erik Petersen and I have been working on a project photographing artists. Erik is an artist that works on patinas for many artists that work in bronze. We came up with the idea to photograph the entire process of making bronzes, from what inspires the artists, to sculpting the pieces and right through the artisans that take the clay and bring them to life in bronze. We collaborated on the ideas for 7 artists and a handful of artisans and shot all the work over  a year and a half involving 6 trips to Arizona where all the artists live.

Our trips took us to a horse ranch in Southern Arizona, climbing down to ancient ruins on the Hopi Indian Reservation, wading in ice cold water in Oak Creek Canyon, a wildlife refuge outside of Phoenix and all around the beautiful state of Arizona.

The show is called Inspiration to Creation: The Hidden Life Behind Bronze and will be on view from November 15, 2014 through March 1, 2015 at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, AZ. I am truly grateful to be a part of this and the fine people at the museum who really gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted in bringing this to life. And most of all the artists themselves (John Coleman, Deborah Fellows, Evelyn Fredericks, Susan Kliewer, Bill Nebeker, Kim Obrzut & Ken Rowe) that welcomed us into their homes and accommodated our every whim, for the sake of a better shot.

You can learn more at our Facebook Page or the Museum Website


John Coleman
John Coleman – “Storyteller”



Ken Rowe
Ken Rowe – “Hooked”


Kim Obrzut
Kim Obrzut – “Star Rise over Sunset Crater”
Deborah Fellows
Deborah Fellows – “Sunrise in Senoita”
Bill Nebeker
Bill Nebeker – “Be-bop-a-lula”
Susan Kliewer
Susan Kliewer – “Her Vision”
Evelyn Fredericks
Evelyn Fredericks – “The Rain Paradox”
Erik Petersen
Erik Petersen – “Chemical Burn”


Superman for Daily Planet Magazine

I got a call from Daily Planet Magazine last month that I was very excited about. Apparently editor Perry White saw my cover photo of Darth Vader and thought I would be a good fit to shoot the cover story about the one and only Kal-El! (a.k.a. Superman). I arrived at Metropolis International and took a cab straight to the Daily Planet building in midtown.

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We set up a backdrop in one of the back rooms while Kal was getting his makeup finished. Once finished he joined us and was extremely polite and accommodating (although he didn’t want to smile).

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Once we finished with the first setup we headed up to the roof to get some epic flying shots. It was late afternoon and the sun setting rapidly so we set up lights on the ledge. I knew it would be a tight schedule and since none of my assistants can fly we didn’t get to do any test shots but had to wing it. Luckily again Superman was very patient and made sure we had the shots we wanted.

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I am very grateful for this opportunity. Thanks to Perry White, article writer Lois Lane and reporter Clark Kent who was very helpful in setting the shoot up! Final cover and spreads below.

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Korn Drummer Ray Luzier for Sick Drummer Magazine

In April, AGD Creative Director Andon Guenther and I flew out to LA to photograph a couple of rock drummers for Sick Drummer Magazine. The first was Ray Luzier from the band Korn. We drove to Ray’s house and shot in his practice room. Not knowing exactly what we were going to get, it ended up being very photogenic after rearranging a couple of items. Andon and I had sketched out a few shots and lighting setups beforehand so I setup my condensed travel lighting kit to get the shots.




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When we finished up in the rehearsal room, we wanted to get something very different. After noticing his young son’s mini drum kit we got the idea to have him sitting at it, then to just up the “rock star” factor we put him in front of a rose bush in the back yard. Ray was a super cool guy and ready to do whatever we asked him for a good photo.


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Camera Nerd Info:
Phase One 640 DF+ with  P40+ back and Schneider 80mm LS lens Inside shots: 2 gelled PCB Einsteins with reflectors. Outside shots: 1 PCB Einstein through umbrella

Beast Sports Photography

Last month I flew to Florida with AGD to shoot images for Beast Sports. It was a grueling few days with call times starting at 5:30-6am and usually lasting editing and planning for the next day past midnight. We shot mornings on the beach and afternoons in the gym. You can see all the photos in action on the new amazing website designed by Andon Guenther Design.












Camera Nerd Info:
Phase One 640 DF+ with P40+ back and Schneider 55mm & 80mm LS lens Gym shots: 3 PCB Einsteins with reflectors & soft box. Outside shots: 2 PCB Einstein with reflectors & soft box.

Darth Vader for SPACE Magazine

Recently I got the opportunity to do a bit of a dream shoot. I was commissioned by SPACE Magazine to photograph none other than THE Darth Vader for his recent cover story. The logistics of making this happen were by far the most complicated production I have undertaken. It was decided that I would photograph him aboard his Star Destroyer Executor while it was stationed outside of the Corellian system. I was picked up in an Imperial Shuttle and taken to the ship, which was 40,000 light years away (thank God for hyper drives). We were greeted by a whole squadron of Stormtroopers which of course required the obligatory Stormtrooper selfie.

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We found a quiet out-of-the-way hallway to set up lights and a white seamless for our shots as well as a few around some of the nooks and crannies of the ship.



Lighting Vader’s black dome was a significant challenge in itself. It reacts very different to light than the average human face. I was hoping he would be comfortable enough to let his guard down for a few shots without the mask but that was probably a bit overambitious on my part. I did get to play with one of the backup lightsabers though!

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We ran through a few different poses and ideas and fit in as much as we could into our allotted 10 minutes. I have heard horror stories of photographers  who overstepped their bounds and ended up doing labor in the Spice Mines of Kessel. Luckily I only lost one assistant who unwisely questioned the ways of the force.

In the end they chose this one for the cover and a few more for the feature article. Very excited to see this on stands across the galaxy!

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Camera Nerd Info:
Phase One 640 DF+ with  P40+ back and Schneider 80mm LS lens.
3 PCB Einsteins with various gels, soft boxes and reflectors.

Open Stax Advertising

Earlier this year I flew to Boston to photograph some portraits for an advertising campaign. My client Clear, Inc out of NYC hired me to shoot a few professors all located in the Boston area. I got a suite room and converted a room into a makeshift studio.

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I photographed three people over a day and a half and got different looks and emotions that could match up with quotes pulled from their interviews. It is always fun and challenging to strip all the decoration and pretense away, leaving just a face and the emotion of the subject.


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Kaepernick Redux

Every once in a while I go through my archives looking for any good photos that I missed after I made selections. I usually find one or two overlooked gems that sometimes I like more than my original selects. With these shots, I was anxious to try some new post techniques as well and give a new look to some older shots. I found this Colin Kaepernick image and it was just the look I wanted for my idea. 



And just because I’ve always wanted to do one of these process gifs.


National Underwriter Magazine with Nahua Maunakea

In March I had the chance to shoot a feature assignment for National Underwriter magazine. Nahua is a Hawaiian native that now lives in Denver so I wanted to shoot him somewhere noticeably Denver. The Hamilton building at the Denver Art Museum seemed like a great place to get some nice angles and modern architecture. It was quite a chilly early Spring morning, especially in the shade where we shot. My assistant Stephen braved the cold, standing in for a lighting test.




I stopped at the grocery store on the way in and picked up a coconut and pineapple to possibly use as props, which luckily Nahua was fully cooperative and into the idea.

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Nahua was a really great guy and incredibly natural which makes my job all the easier. The story made the cover and I’m really happy how it came out.

Camera Nerd Info:
Phase One 640 DF+ with  P40+ back and Schneider 80mm LS lens, 1 PCB Einstein through softbox


Snowboard Shoot at Keystone

A couple of weeks ago myself and Andon of AGD went up to Keystone to experiment with some slope-side portraits up at the beautiful Keystone Resort. It had been a few years since I hit the slopes so skiing down the mountain with my big Phase One camera in hand was pretty intimidating to start.

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Once we got used to the elements, we started having fun and getting some great shots. The 1/1600 second sync speed on my 80mm Schneider leaf shutter lens was invaluable in freezing the snow and darkening the background while keeping the depth of field nice and shallow.




At the end of the day the snow started coming down hard and we rushed out to get back to Denver. Andon took home an awesome ice beard. 

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