I can’t say I ever drank a ton of wine on a regular basis. I love food and it comes naturally to pair the two, but living in Colorado I drink much more beer than anything else but that all changed last fall. For some time I had been meaning to sink my teeth into the world of wine so I was pumped when I got pinged for a job in wine country a few weeks before the harvest. My old friend Colin Gordon had me out to Napa and Sonoma valleys to shoot a bunch of content and branding photos for his first wine label, Bydand Wines, that he was launching with winemaker Tim Beranek. To do it I spent three days between four vineyards and a winery learning about their process, studying the differences in grapes and soils, watching incredible sunrises and sunsets, and learning a ton about the artistry of wine and winemaking.

Conceptually we wanted to relate the personal side of a small but high-end wine brand to potential customers, while showcasing that it was no amateur production. To accomplish this sort of goal I always start by looking for a narrative within a brand that strikes a chord with it’s people, the product, and every step in-between. Winemaking at this level is an inherently artisan practice from soil to bottle. It also happens to take place in a relaxed California farming community where the grapes are cared for better than some children; I wanted to make sure we spent a lot of time getting our hands dirty and showing the grapes the love and attention they get on a daily basis. The other half of the story is inside the winery where the production can take years until a bottle is finished and can feel more like an industrial laboratory inside. Ultimately, we walked away with a library of lifestyle and formal portraits, product images, landscapes, details, and action shots. Every one of these images is meant to stand alone on a social platform like instagram, but also to connect as a series or whole to produce a stronger story that will help outsiders understand the brand and the artistry behind it. Below is a collection of my personal favorites.

*On a personal note:* Bydand’s Pinot is phenomenal and I look forward to the next time I’m in Napa to hit Colin up for another house bottle.

Pinot Noir Grapes on the Sonoma Coast

Colorado’s food scene is blowing up, in case you didn’t notice. In the 10+ years I’ve been here I’ve watched Denver go from being a blip on the map to a full blown food-town with nationally recognized chefs, new restaurant openings seemingly every few days, and new ways of looking at how we view food as a culture. No one exemplifies the last point as well as Kimbal Musk, who heads The Kitchen Restaurant Group, which includes restaurants like the Kitchen, Next Door, and Hedge Row. With Next Door, Musk takes the fast-casual Chipotle-style restaurant (another Colorado based food brand that has changed the industry *cough*) to the next level by bringing fresh food to a fun and fast-paced community-style restaurant. Ultimately his goal is to bring real food, healthy and delicious food, to middle America, at an approachable price point, which is no small feat. To do that, he’s devoted time to his Square Roots platform, which educates young people in urban settings about the process and business of healthy food and urban farming.

I had a chance to sit down with Musk for Full Service Restaurants Magazine and shoot a few photos in his new Stapleton location of Next Door. We only had a few minutes after his interview but we managed to catch him feeling loose, happy, and vibrant. I almost can’t imagine him any other way, honestly. In a few more words, I would say he was intense, entertaining, lively, and ever-so-slightly cowboy-esque…but really he was just a super nice, very sharp guy. We only had a few minutes before he tore off in his Tesla back to Boulder but below are some of my favorite shots. And if you’re interested, check out the article at FSR, it’s a great read.

Kimbal Musk at his Next Door Restaurant in Stapleton for FSR MagKimbal Musk for FSR MagKimbal Musk at his Next Door Restaurant in Stapleton for FSR MagKimbal Musk at his Next Door Restaurant in Stapleton for FSR MagKimbal Musk at his Next Door Restaurant in Stapleton for FSR Mag

World Champion triathlete Josiah Middaugh is a bonafide crazy person. Well, he is in my mind anyway. I woke up at 5am in the dead of winter to catch the end, just the end of his workout at the outdoor salinity pool at the Weston in Avon. He trains there before dawn, three days a week, and I’m glad I didn’t have to get in the water with him. He gave us a few minutes after his workout to shoot some quick portraits for Vail-Beaver Creek Magazine, and was even a good enough sport to stand out in the cold, soaking wet in his swim gear, which is essentially nothing at all. Check out the shots:

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to head to Cuba for a little over a week with another talented travel journalist, Tyra Sutak. I have so much to say about it, but I’ll try to keep it short here. Cuba is one of the most unique places I’ve visited to date. People say landing in Havana is like stepping into a time capsule straight out of the 50s. Well, yes and no. It certainly looks like that when you land; the classic cars, the architecture, and the fact that everyone’s head is up, rather than buried in their cell phones (there is no such thing as cellular data in Cuba). It all leads to a nostalgic feeling like you’ve walked into the past, but that’s where the time-capsule feeling ends. Cuba doesn’t exist in a total vacuum, just one lacking in technology and the free flow of information.

People in Cuba are well informed, they care about politics, they’re progressive thinkers, they’re bright, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that they want more. I’m no stranger to poor countries, or to communist countries for that matter, but Cuba struck a different chord. I felt the government’s fingers in everything, and big brother’s eye watching over me most days. The only places to get online are at government sanctioned wifi hot spots on a network that has no privacy from public officials. Even staying at small, family-run casas particulares (essentially B&B’s), we were heavily documented by the families who were running them and our information was reported back to the government. Beyond that, people weren’t usually too thrilled to be photographed. Many people turned me down when I asked, and others said yes only after I pressed them a bit.

That’s not to say these aren’t great people; I had almost exclusively wonderful interactions with the locals I met all over the country. The Cubans I met seemed like genuinely happy people, despite the feeling I got that they weren’t completely satisfied in their lives. That’s part of it though, happiness and satisfaction aren’t that closely intertwined. You can see examples of that across lots of cultures when you look at people individually. The difference here, was that this sense of dissatisfaction didn’t feel like it was happening on a case-by-case basis, but rather across the board with almost everyone I met. 

For months now I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around this strange impression I had while I was there; trying to understand and make sense of what makes this place so unique, and what makes it tick, I still can’t quite put it into words (which is probably why I’m a photographer and not a writer). What I do know, is that for the first few days I was in the country I could barely pick up my camera and shoot a frame. I didn’t know how to tell the story of such an unexpectedly modern Cuba, nor did I know how do it justice in photos. It was everything I imagined and nothing I expected all at the same time. Maybe that vacuum of technology and information is at the root of it, because how could a place so far behind be so contemporary?

Here is a collection of some of my favorite shots from my trip:

High-end Seattle-based branding and marketing agency Brand & Sea contacted me last year about a project for the new Circa building. They wanted to create a lifestyle campaign of mixed color and black and white images that were hip and offbeat, with real people to help their brand vision for the upcoming Circa building in downtown Denver. Slated for both office and retail space, the building’s target demographics span from professional millennials through tech CEO’s. We found an incredible cast for the shoot and lucked out on the weather with a 75º day in late November.

It’s always a challenge to shoot in a “location” that doesn’t technically exist yet, so we instead focused heavily on the people and the neighborhood. We searched out locations in the area with the right vibe and energy and subtly finessed in some Circa props to help loop back to their brand. The shoot went off without a hitch and we walked away with more images in the can than our initial shot list, which is never a bad problem to have.