Category Archives: educational

The Science of Alternative Facts

This is the 4th in a series I am calling “We Are The People”. I am looking for other compelling stories if you know someone who’s story needs to be told, get in touch with me here or on messenger.

April fools day seems like perfect timing to reveal this portrait of Paul. He is a scientist  and describes himself as a conservative. Paul is the Dean of the College of Pharmacy at URI. He told me that he loves science becaue “The goal of good science is to find the truth. At the end of the day, you can believe the truth or not believe. But its still the truth.
Sometimes the truth is “unvarnished”, it may not be pretty or convenient or support someone’s point of view. But again its still the truth.
A good scientist removes their biases from the scientific process. Some of the most fulfilling experiments end with “Well, thats not what I expected!”


We Are The People/behind the curtain

I created this portrait with a 4 light set up. I placed 3 lights bare bulb: 2 pointed at 45 degree angles toward the camera and one placed really low to the ground behind Emily and pointed up at the flag in the center. The fourth light was shot though a small octa box onto her face. We placed the 8’x 12′ flag behind her outside in the snow storm attached to my tripod backdrop holder. The settings on my camera were ISO 64- shutter 200th- aperture 5.6 and my lens was an 85 mm Nikon lens.



The Rhode Island Portrait Project: 401 Studio

I have another installment of my very exciting portrait project. I love my community and there are some amazing people making Rhode Island a wonderful place to live. I have decided to photograph the people who are really making “IT” happen here in my community in a (hopefully) creative and fun way that tells a story about who those people are and what they are doing for their little section of the world.
This is a portrait of Elyssa and Matt from the 401 Studio, they are a screen printing company out of Wakefield RI that puts ink on clothing. So our idea was to put ink on them! How fun! The image that you are looking at is a composite of 3 different photos combined together to give the appearance of one. We threw paint at them and as the paint splattered all over they stayed still and I took all the splashing from the different frames and combined them for this image. Dig it!


For the photo geeks out there, I used 3 speed lights: Two lights in front of them a 72″ Octa box on the right and a small 15″ umbrella on the left and a bare speed light up and behind them (notice the shadow on the ground)  This was taken on a Nikon d600 camera ISO 500 with a 50 mm lens at F8 and a shutter of 1/200th of a second



Elyssa and Matt for the RI Portrait Project

Why I don’t give my photos away for free. (A harsh lesson in the business side of photography)

*Edit #2*   So in less than 24 hours this story has been seen, commented on and shared by about 10,000 people. I received what seemed to be a genuine apology from the person that wrote me originally, and a personal apology from the owner of the magazine. I accepted both and felt like they meant it. I’m definitely not getting hired by them in the future… But even so, this seems to have made a small difference. Thank you all so much for the incredible support, kind words and for standing up for not only me but all artists. I believe this is an important issue that we need to stay vigilant about.

*Edit* I have gotten a ton of very supportive kind and thoughtful responses to this post. THANK YOU! As it turns out this is a universal experience for artists of all kinds… I have also had quite a few people asking me to publish the name, email address and publication that I am referring to. But I’m not going to do that, I don’t want to hurt the publication, or get anyone fired, I DO want to take this experience and use it to make a positive instead. Please share this blog post around on social media. I have already had many thousands of people see it. Wouldn’t it be something if this message could reach 150,000 people? This is the number that they were using to try to make me give up my work for free, in order to be exposed to… Let’s use the power of the internet to spread this message around. Maybe just maybe we can do it!

As a photographer I get TONS of requests for free work. It is an unfortunate part of doing what I do. Today after the 3rd email of its type this week (and its thursday),

I snapped…  It is SO HARD to be a small business owner. Some days it feels like I am floating in the sea by myself on a small life-raft constructed from only my ability to create nice photos.

I got approached by a large local magazine for free work, and according to their website, the publication goes out to 150,000 people a year. Now the back story here is that I already do work for a number of publications and they pay me well for my work. Here is a link to some of the covers I have made 

And for those of you that don’t already know, a magazine works like this:    They create interesting things for folks to look at and read, this is called “content” and then hopefully people will want to look at the magazine and read it. The tourism publication in question was asking for “content” from me. That means the actual magazine part, because without “content” all they have to print is Ads and who wants to read a magazine of only Ads?  Depending on how many people it gets distributed to the magazine then sells ad space with varying prices.  So in short they are willing to accept payment for the ad space but not pay the content creators of the substance for what the magazine actually is.

If you are a photographer and are reading this now, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t give away your photos for free. No one can eat “exposure” you can’t pay your rent with “exposure”  it undermines not only you, but the other professional photographers out there. They stated in an email to me that they have some “extraordinarily talented photographers who are willing to let us use their work for free” and when I said that I wouldn’t give them my photos for free, they responded like this.

“I will happily oblige your request to bow out.
And I will be sure to pass along this response to the other three art directors on our staff, not including myself, to let them know—paid or unpaid—your attitude does not warrant consideration for any future work here. They will be copied on this email.
Further more, if someone ever asks me for a reference of a local photographer—which surprise, surprise, happens in a small state with a burgeoning art community—who shoots anything related to people, landscapes, still-lifes, editorial, or any other form of photography, I’ll make sure to let them know the same. There’s your long e-mail explanation on how we do things here at this large organization.

Now to be clear, I understand when an organization like The Matty Fund or The Domestic Violence Resource Center, or The Jimmy Fund, or Camp Carefree, or Butler Hospital  come to me and ask for donations. I have, over the years donated tens of thousands of dollars worth of photography to these very organizations, and will continue to do so. But this organization in question is a for profit (and doing quite well I might add) business.

I will end by saying this. While I do get discouraged by interactions like this, I have had the opportunity to photograph thousands of grateful, kind and generous people who have kept me in business since 1999. THANK YOU to these folks. Tomorrow is another day.

Here is a link to my IGNITE! presentation video. I really believe in the importance of exercise and would like to spread this message far and wide. Please share the video if you wouldn’t mind!


Gay Marriage makes it to Rhode Island! Seth Jacobson Gay Wedding Photographer

Gay Marriage was made legal yesterday by the state of Rhode Island! I am so proud to have witnessed this historic event! I want to tell you a short story of the changes I have seen in my lifetime in public opinion regarding gay folks.

In 1991 when I was 17 years old and a senior in High school, I was given an assignment to give a persuasive speech to my fellow students. The topic I chose: Gay Rights. As a young person living  in conservative Wisconsin, this seemed like a worthy topic, and something that seemed SO basic and easy to explain, but as it turned out, I didn’t persuade very many people. In fact I really angered quite a few folks. I should say that I am not gay, but just for suggesting that gay people ARE  people, and deserved a basic level of respect, I received a huge amount of grief from the community. A fellow classmate of mine punched me in the face, I got death threats written to me, and people left terrible mean messages on my family’s home phone machine, saying they were going to beat me up and cut off my hair (which was quite long at the time) etc… Being the stubborn person that I am and supported by a wonderful group of friends and family, I pushed back against that bad behavior and thumbed my nose at those people. Somehow I got my hands on a button that said “bend over, I”ll drive” I wore this to school and my friend Karl and I walked down the hallway holding hands. I was a rebellious young man and it felt at the time that I was making a difference, or at least I was speaking the truth in the face of bigots and that felt right. Looking back, I don’t think it changed anyones mind, or helped make any bit of a difference but I could hold my head high and know that I stood up for what was right.

Here I am now 22 years later living in RI and yesterday Governor Chaffee signed into law the Marriage Equality bill. I was on hand to see this historic gathering with a TON of Media, and about 1,000 other folks. It was a joyous and happy event. It is amazing to me that so much has changed in my lifetime. I can only hope things continue to move in the same direction for all people. Look at this couple  if you can’t read the notes they are wearing it says “waiting since 1976” WOW

Gay Marriage finally reaches Rhode Island

Gay Marriage finally reaches Rhode Island

Ignite Talk about Photography and Truth

I had the pleasure of being the very 1st presenter in front of a sold out crowd at the very 1st Ignite Southern RI put on by The Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce 

This was an exciting and inspirational evening of speakers that was an honor to be a part of! Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to make it come together!

Rhode Island Portrait Project: Behind the curtain/ Bethany Geaber

This portrait was created as a part of a series of photos I am calling the Rhode Island Portrait Project. You can see some of the other photos in this project here

Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

I created this portrait with the intention of showing Bethany’s ability to transform herself as an actress. We chose 3 vastly different women from different time periods as our characters for this portrait rather than Bethany herself.. Going as far as to give them names, back stories and motivations for what was happening for them in these moments. I shot 3 photos with my camera on  a Tripod to keep the same position and then photoshopped them all together later. We shot the Gibson Girl 1st (her name is Edith) here are some set up shots. The costumes, hair and make up were pretty extensive Than you Becky!  We put a lot of time into making the details just right! Thank you to The beautiful Stadium Theater for letting us use their space to work in. Visit their website here and you can visit Bethany’s website here

set up for Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

set up for Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

Set up for Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

Set up for Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

Here is the photo we did of Bethany as the Gibson girl pre photoshop. You can see my Octabox in the photo which was later taken out in addition to this light I also had a light up the stairs camera left shining down. You can see that light on her face and arm. And one big 7′ umbrella camera left out of the frame feathered across her front to just fill in gently. You can see the 7′ umbrella in another frame below.

Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

The next shot was our 50’s lady named Audrey here is a set up shot.

Set up for Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

Set up for Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

I used a very similar lighting set up for this lady as for the 1st shot. We had Becky stand in to give Bethany someone to interact with where our Edith character would have been standing. You can just barely see a light camera left if you look close. Also of note thank you to Faye for holding the christmas stuff out of my frame 🙂 we shot this just after Christmas so the place was decorated for the Holiday and we had to take it apart and put it all back together for our shot…

Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

last we made the Courtney character shot. For this one I just used 2 lights on her right and left you can see both here if you look close on camera right you can just see my octabox our of frame.

Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

Bethany Geaber for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

Rhode Island Portrait Project: Behind the curtain/ John Ford

This portrait was created as a part of a series of photo I am calling the Rhode Island Portrait Project. You can see some of the other photo in this project here

I created this portrait with the intention of showing off John Ford’s incredible physical presence mixed with the feeling of aspiration, determination, and hope. I wanted the focus to be entirely on John for this so I went with a studio background instead of working in the “real world” the setting for my camera were:

ISO 141 Shutter 1/160th aperture F 4.5 with 3 light sources shown here

lighting set up for portrait of John Ford

lighting set up for portrait of John Ford

I used a bare bulb flash no modifications set camera right about 1/32nd power results shown here

Lighting set up for portrait of John Ford

Lighting set up for portrait of John Ford

Then I added another bare bulb flash about 1/8th power pointed at John from the back and very much toward my camera this added some wonderful back light and beautiful lens flare shown here

lighting set up for portrait of John Ford

lighting set up for portrait of John Ford

I used an Octabox up and camera left about 1/8th power. After a little photoshopping (I cleaned up the background and made the portrait a little more punchy but that is it)

here is the final photo

John Ford from Manic Training for the Rhode Island Portrait Project

John Ford from Manic Training for the Rhode Island Portrait Project

Some other tricks we did:

Baby oil smeared all over John to give him a nice sheen, and I sprayed him down with water to make it look like he was sweating. Open the photo to see it at a proper size

Michaelmas Photos from the Meadowbrook Waldorf School RI

Behind the Curtain Ed Tarbox for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

I am proud of this portrait of Ed Tarbox taken for The Rhode Island Portrait Project. I sat down with Ed to talk about creating this portrait and was struck right off the bat 1st by his genuine energy and friendliness and second by his true LOVE of cars. It became clear that I needed to photograph him with one of his personal cars. My 1st idea was to photograph him like a racer from the 30’s you know with the goggles and a scarf but after he showed me his vintage 1963 Corvette I knew we had a winner. The concept shifted and we started talking about James Dean and Marlon Brando from the late 50’s early 60’s and Wammo I could see it in my mind! I love it when that happens!

Here is the technical info on our portrait

Taken on a Nikon D700 ISO 800 as it was getting close to dark. 5 light sources if you include the ambient light from the sky (all shown below) the shutter was 1/60th at F4

Ed Tarbox set up for the Rhode Island Portrait Project

Light The Way, Lighting workshop Narragansett Rhode Island, Portrait Photography

I am very proud to announce the 2nd lighting workshop I am putting on with the talented Brad Smith! Here is the info on how to sign up if you want to take your photography to the next level. We will have models that will be done up professionally by the lovely and talented Lynda Williams of Formal Hair Design and make up by the beautiful Jennifer Hodge of Spectrum Make up Artistry

Lighting workshop info

Behind the Curtain: Cover Photo for Grace Magazine of Theresa Ferryman

This was a fairly involved portrait to create with a many meetings/phone conversations/and text messaging to talk about the concept and feeling that we wanted to create and capture. We created this cover shot of Theresa in what is the oldest working court room in the United States. Below are some iPhone photos I took for reference in advance of the portrait as well as set up photos in process of creating the portrait.

lighting diagram for portrait of Theresa Ferryman

natural light

I wanted to have a very dark portrait but the room was filled with light so I set my camera to way underexpose the photo and added light to that dark exposure using my flashes.  The photo was shot with an 85mm lens ISO 100 shutter 1/200 Aperture 5.6 The main light on her face up and camera left I wanted to be kind of harsh and I wanted the light to be only on her not the back ground, so I put a spot grid on it. I didn’t want the shadows to be too dark though so I put a ring flash on my camera at a very low setting this just nudges the shadows up a little but doesn’t get rid of them all together. And the 3rd light I added was shot through a soft box with a strip modifier on it I used this modifier because I wanted the light coming from behind her to be soft and just kiss her cheek and hair.

Here is the final portrait

Cover portrait for Grace Magazine

50’s Style Portrait behind the curtain

Lighting set up for 50's style portrait

As you can see above we had a 3 light set up for this portrait with an octabox set up pretty close to them camera left and about 3-4 feet away, a shoot through umbrella up and about 8-9 feet from the subjects off camera right, and a strip light up high and behind them to just kiss them with some soft light from behind. I set my ISO to 560 so that I could have a smaller Aperture and not use up tons of battery power. The exposure was shutter 1/60th at F/6.3 just to make sure that they were both in focus. I changed the color of the yellow paper back drop in Photoshop because I wanted the beige clothes and chair to be matched by the background a little more closely to make it all the more plain and uniform looking visually. This took quite a long time to set up and plan getting just the right clothes ect… But I think it was worth it, I love this portrait! My favorite little details are the paper and coffee on the side table and the heart-shaped Danish on the platter with a doily and everything!

50's style portrait finished

Behind the curtain with The Rhode Island Portrait Project (Katherine Quinn)

Katherine Quinn for The Rhode Island Portrait Project

I photographed Katherine Quinn for the Rhode Island Portrait Project using a 70-200 mm VR Nikon lens on my D700 body set to ISO 800

I used 3 lights a 43″ Octabox set up and camera left about 5′ away from Katherine this was my main light, a smaller soft box set about 15′ back and camera right this light you can see on her neck and cheek. I wanted this light to be very subtle and barely show. And last I used a ring flash to fill in again in a very subtle way some of the shadows on her. The location we chose Fete club in Providence RI has this wonderful art piece which has a spot light on it, as well as having some purple lights on in the club which show as well.  Here is a set up drawing for your dining and dancing pleasure

And also Thank you to Brad Smith for providing me with these set up shots!

Engagement Portrait Beavertail, Jamestown RI

I had the real pleasure of working at one of my favorite places in the world today, Beavertail in Jamestown Rhode Island! What a spot! I have photographed here many time and it is always a challenge to me to create a portrait that is beautiful and different from the last time I was here. I think I got it! and here is how I did it!

It was a SUPER windy day with bright sun almost straight up over head. Which if you don’t know makes it REALLY hard to photograph… So I put Jim and Nicole is a small patch of shade next to an old abandoned building. in order to get a good exposure for them I had to make the background to bright as you can see here

beavertail portrait with no lights added

This test shot was taken at ISO 100, shutter of 250th at F6.3

Here is a crude drawing to show you the lighting set up

Then I dropped the exposure down to make the sky show the beautiful clouds behind them and put speed light off about 5 feet to my right with no modifiers just a bare flash at full power again ISO 100 shutter 250th, and F8 and here is what we got! Awesome !!! I am excited about this!

Portrait at Beavertail in Jamestown RI

Horse Shoe Falls beautiful landscape photography Rhode Island

This is the beautiful horse shoe falls in Shannock RI. I took this at about 9:45 at night far after sunset with a 30 second exposure. The camera can soak up light in a way that our eyes can’t so the image is something that we could never see live with our own eyes. I love this! It refers to what I call the BIG LIE in photos.  Photos don’t tell the truth even though we think they do. This is a perfect example of this. If you look on the bottom left of the image you can see some orange light striping across the rock and the water this is a lamp from a home about 50 yards away streaming through the trees. COOL ha? The technical info is ISO 100 shutter 30 seconds/ Aperature 2.8 on a 20 mm lens And this was shot on a tripod

The Horse Shoe Falls at Shannock RI

Portrait photography May 2011

Nancy May 2011

Here is a recent portrait that I created. Nancy was a natural in front of the camera and did a great job posing. Here are the technical details. I recently got some new toys and was trying them out for the first time. A new soft box to fit with my speed lights, and a spot grid both used in this photo. The soft box is coming off from our left and has a very thin strip of light coming in only about 2 inches wide. that means there is a baffles on the front of the soft box only letting a small strip of light come through, and in the main light is about 15 feet away from her on our left with the spot grid on it to focus the light directly at her. Also of note is that the main light is also shining through the frosted glass on the door you can see below putting that wonderful gradient behind her.

ISO 100 1/80th sec shutter and 2.8 aperature

set up shot for portrait above

Child Portrait Photography

Lucia Serene April 2011

I try not to post TOO many photos of my daughter because well you know, other people’s kids get a bit boring after a while… But here is my beautiful daughter in a portrait that I created today by the creek that runs past my home here in lovely Saunderstown RI. It was afternoon about 4:00 so the sun was behind her. I set my exposure to make the background exactly the brightness I wanted it and then put an umbrella up and to her right. With my speed light set at about 1/2 power. My exposure was 250th shutter F-stop 4.5 on my 85mm lens ISO 100

Here is a set up shot for you to see exactly where my light was

Lighting Set up for Lucia's portrait

TSR lights behind the scenes (or lighting a light)

I had an interesting job come my way this week. I don’t do a lot of “commercial” photography, very little in fact, but I had the time and they had a need so why not take on a challenge right? So I pushed myself a little and photographed this very interesting new lighting set up. TSR Thermal Solution Resources makes these lights which are bright, don’t get hot… Very cool in fact, as I was photographing this light I was impressed at how cool it stayed the entire time it was on which was a few hours. Here is the TSR website by the way

SOooo to the lighting set up and technical info.

Here is the shot

This was shot on my D700 at ISO 160 Shutter 30th of a sec, at F 5.6 on my 55 mm manual lens. This means there is no computer in the lens or any electronics of any kind. It is a manual focus lens made in 1977 long before digital photography even existed! this photo was taken using 2 lights both off camera. And the light itself on as well. One was placed just slightly below the subject and camera left about 1.5 feet back and the other camera right and high above the subject about 3 feet away. Also I had a silver bounce camera right and in front of the subject to fill in the shadows a bit.  also there was a window just camera left filling in soft light as well and the back ground is the side of my refrigerator… Here are some set up photos

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