Tag Archives: Ypsilanti

Behold Boaz


I traveled a fair amount in 2009 to photograph various running events and runners. One of my favorite trips was to Ypsilanti, Michigan (near Ann Arbor) to shoot Boaz Cheboiywo, a talented Kenyan runner who will likely become a U.S. citizen this year. When you insert yourself into someone’s life for a couple of days and try to make great photos, there are a number of scenarios that can unfold. Sometimes the subject is hesitant or inpatient. Sometimes the weather is horrible. Sometimes, as was the case with Boaz, the subject welcomes you into his/her home with open arms, makes you dinner, invites you to be present at all their daily activities…AND the light is a perfect mix of subdued sun and clouds. The photography gods smiled on me this trip and I was thankful. To see the full result of this (including Boaz holding the ridiculously tall pile of chapati he made for dinner one night), you should pick up a copy of Running Times’ January/February issue, which is now on the newsstands. The article and some of the photos are also online.

The image at left didn’t end up being the opening photo because a horizontal worked better, but it’s still my favorite shot of the trip. This was one of those wonderful times when I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do and it worked out exactly as I wanted. Driving around the vast open farmland where Boaz runs multiple miles every day by himself, it occurred to me a portrait of him amidst the corn could be powerful. We headed out to do a portrait session just before his second run of the day as the blue gray clouds of dusk were forming ribbons in the sky. There wasn’t much time before it would be too dark. I pulled over where there were ample dried cornstalks and tall honey-colored wheat, set up a flash unit on a lightstand, added a small umbrella, set it slightly off to the side and within the first few shots could tell my vision had been fulfilled. Boaz, by this point, was comfortable in front of the camera and seemed to know exactly what stance and expression to take without me saying a word. It could be that he is a natural, but I like to think that we’d spent enough time together at this point that he was comfortable with me. I never take photos upon first meeting my subject. I like to get to know them first without that barrier between us and believe it makes for better photos in the long run (no pun intended). Boaz is running the Houston Marathon on January 17th. I will be rooting for him. He has not only put in long, lonely hours on the road, but he’s also an awfully nice guy—one that this country will be honored to call their own.

On the Road

Okay, so it’s been a while. Sorry. The past couple of months have been a jumble of personal and work trips, and they aren’t over yet. Here are a few of the pictorial highlights.

LATE AUGUST: We visited my sister in Connecticut, where there were wildflowers, fog….

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a bathtub in the woods…

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farm-fresh fingerlings and a delectable stew…

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LATE SEPTEMBER: I went to the Common Ground Fair (for the first time I’m ashamed to say). There were proud farmers….

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and lovely food specimens…

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I biked up to Bar Harbor from South Portland (yes, that IS 162 miles) with two wonderful friends over two lovely fall days. We spent the second night on Little Cranberry Island where my friend Kelly grew up. Her mother, Anna, whose picture should be next to the word hospitality in the dictionary, still lives there, as do some of her siblings, some of whom are lobstermen. They provided us with a dinner of the freshest, most succulent lobster ever…

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The next day I had a couple hours to explore the island in all its golden fall glory….

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EARLY OCTOBER: I traveled to Michigan for a Running Times shoot. There was a world-class runner, a crazy chapati-eating dog (photos of these curiosities to come in the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine) and corn, lots of it…

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MID OCTOBER: Fall in Maine isn’t complete without a visit to an orchard. We chose Dole’s in Limington where there was a cat on a mission…

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and a surfeit of the round red things….

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Stay tuned for more adventures!