Photography by Ira Gardner: Blog en-us (C) 2023 Gardner Media Group LLC [email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 02 Jan 2021 10:58:00 GMT Sat, 02 Jan 2021 10:58:00 GMT Photography by Ira Gardner: Blog 96 120 High Speed Sync

Yesterday I had a chance to experiment with using my Nikon d810 and SB700 flash in high speed sync mode.  I made these portraits of Travis who is a marathon runner who recently qualified for the Boston Marathon for the first time.  I wanted to knock down the ambient light and have shallow depth of field so I ended up setting the camera to f/2.0 at 5000th of a second and using the wireless commander to fire the SB700 as the main light.  I really enjoy how these images capture the grit and determination that Travis has built in to him.  



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Fri, 09 Nov 2018 12:05:23 GMT
Prayer For The Fallen

Reports of pipe bombs and the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue yesterday dominate my thoughts today and bring me to my emotional knees in sorrow.

When the daily news is too heartbreaking to bear I am reminded of what Ansel Adams once said… “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

I made this image in downtown today while on a quiet walk with with my wife.  It is the warmth of her hand and the beauty of Autumn that restores my spirit.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Mon, 29 Oct 2018 17:30:00 GMT
A Friendly Face

I always enjoy running into Dr. Greg Roth when I arrive out at campus.  Greg is our resident guru on wet plate and dry plate photography and is a role model for how to integrate work and life together with joy and passion.  He was taking a break from a photo session when I grabbed this quick portrait.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Visual Journal Wet Plate Photography Wed, 24 Oct 2018 17:30:00 GMT
Studying Music

I made this series of photos while teaching a workshop on how to go out and photograph people you don't know.  I approached two students who were studying in the music building at Spokane Falls Community College and asked them if I could make a few photos of them.  Danny (left) and Zawng (right) were very nice about it and made great subjects for this demonstration in spite of being in the spotlight in front of 12 other photographers!




[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Visual Journal Wed, 17 Oct 2018 17:14:00 GMT
Cougar Crest Show Opening
Come enjoy some wine and live music at tonight's opening reception!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Fri, 05 Oct 2018 20:32:49 GMT
Dillon and Destiny Sneak Peak

This weekend I had the honor of photographing a beautiful wedding event that was hosted at Belle Gardens in Deer Park Washington.  Dillon and Destiny were so amazing to work with.  It is always a fun challenge to find a way to tell each couple's love story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this wedding!   Here is a very small sample of the images I made for them. 



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Visual Journal Mon, 24 Sep 2018 14:25:50 GMT
Dance is getting recognition in Spokane!

This week I had the fortune of having one of my images featured in the Inlander Weekly Newspaper.  I made this image last fall on the Spokane River.  The dancers from Vytal Movement Dance Company were amazing to work with.  They spent over 2 hours in the water while I worked in the comfort of my fly fishing waders! Dance photography has had a huge impact on my career.  I spent a year photographing a dance company in 1988 and it launched my career.  It feels like life is coming full circle as I have had the privilege of working with choreographer Vincas Greene.


Last year I made this video introduction for them.  

Vytal Movement Dance Company 2017 Intro from Vincas Dance Matters Greene on Vimeo.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Fri, 21 Sep 2018 15:46:00 GMT
Sunrise over Rock Creek Sunrise over Rock Creek

Last weekend I had the pleasure of driving through the early morning darkness to reach Escure Ranch with a friend of mine.  We went there to go fly fishing on Rock Creek.  The 14,000 acre property had been a ranch for many years but had been purchased by the Bureau of Land management which converted it to public access.  I am so appreciative of that last fact because the scenery was breathtaking.  I didn't catch any fish that day but fortunately I had brought my camera gear and didn't really care.  I was engrossed in making some imges like this one.  My friend caught a beautiful rainbow trout that proved that they were there  and I caught some magical moments of meditation on the grassy shoreline where I watched butterflies, pheasants, blue heron, and ducks fly about as water striders moved about on the surface of the creek.    

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) visual journal Fri, 21 Sep 2018 15:27:41 GMT
Sometimes making art requires you to break the rules...

I made this portrait of Deva during a studio lighting workshop I was giving this morning.  I was teaching classic lighting styles and ratios when I went off script because I got an idea of trying to light her with reflective light off of a mirror that was placed below her.  I am deeply honored and humbled by the gift of her willingness be vulnerable for my camera in front of an audience.  

I feel emotion when I look at this image.  It feels sincere and authentic.  I broke the composition and lighting rules I was teaching but  I was instantly satisfied with the decision.  As I reflect on the image now  I feel it represents the concept of spiritual faith and a powerful inner strength that comes from the enduring human spirit.  Faith comes from the light shining  above and strength emanates out of the depths of our experiences.

I admire photographers like Dave Heath, Irving Penn and Michel Comte, and more recently Platon who have this ability to draw out emotion in iconic ways.  I think I am getting there with this image.  

To see more images from this photo session click here.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Visual Journal Thu, 20 Sep 2018 20:16:37 GMT
Helix Show Opening

I have a new show of seven works from my Satori Collection.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Fri, 07 Sep 2018 20:45:00 GMT
New Portfolio Arrives From Italy

Yesterday was an exciting day because my new portfolio of fine art images arrived from Italy.  I commissioned Graphistudio to custom build a leather album with a cut crystal cover and custom wood box to hold it!

This work represents my most important body of work of my career so far and I am pleased that the craftsmanship of the final portfolio matches the quality and effort I put into the images.

The Primordial images will be featured in upcoming gallery exhibits (stay tuned for details!)  and a limited edition of these books will be made available for purchase as a way to collect the entire collection in a beautiful art object.

I will share more about this project soon!


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Wed, 27 Jun 2018 14:54:37 GMT
Backyard Party

This past weekend I was hired to photograph a party at a private home. I find this sort of casual atmosphere a very challenging photo assignment because it is hard to elevate the work beyond a snapshot unless you really understand photojournalism and storytelling.  Even if you do understand those things it is still hard because it takes timing to get the magic in your photographs.  That last aspect is a lot like baseball where the batter has a simple tool (the bat) and has a simple task (hitting the ball) but needs lots and lots of practice to get the timing right and will still fail 3 out of 4 times.  That is what this assignment was like for me.

I was hired to be there for four hours. After the first hour of walking around and photographing all the guest you really have to get creative.  As I went through the images I realized that I absolutely loved doing this work because it required tremendous concentration and visual problem solving to make engaging photographs.  First of all I needed to be on full alert to pay attention to the gestures and expressions of the people I was photographing so I could capture the right moment.

This got me thinking about how important it is to come up with image rules before you start shooting.  The clients hired me to document their event and the goal was to not do posed photos but to tell an authentic story about the fun celebration that was happening at their house.  In order to accomplish this I knew I had to focus on gesture and expression and try not to be intrusive.

After photographing for an hour using my 50mm lens which is my favorite storytelling lens I had essentially photographed everybody at the event.  What was I going to to do for the next three hours?  I ended up photographing the party in three waves of image making.  The first wave was to photograph using the normal lens in a manner similar to Henri Cartier-Bresson.  The second wave of images involved photographing with a 24mm wide angle lens.  I got really excited about this because not only was I using a lens that belonged to my father from over 40 years ago on my new Nikon dSLR camera body but I was also able to set the lens for hyperfocal distance and know that I could get everything in focus from about 3 feet in front of me to infinity.  With that in mind I started playing with high vantage point images as well as getting pretty close to the people I was photographing.


The third wave of images involved grabbing my 75-200mm lens and taking telephoto shots without people being aware of me at all.  I was inspired by the great soviet era photojournalist Leonid Bergoltsev who believedf that for photojournalism to have any truth the subject could not be aware of the camera.  I set my lens to 200mm and grabbed tight shots of the faces as well.


Finally, the other aspect of all of this that I found profound was the fact that with digital photography I didn't feel limited in the number of shots.  In the early days of my career I would have limited myself to 200 frames of film because the client would never pay for more film processing and printing!  With digital photography I can shoot through the moment and capture a sequence of images that I then can select the peak moment to publish.  

For four hours on a saturday night a danced and weaved around the crowed house and back yard to make my photographs.  As I look at the combination of images from the night I am extremely happy with the results and with the ongoing learning that happens when I take on any new assignment.




[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Mon, 25 Jun 2018 16:46:56 GMT
Tao inspired art

Peace and Friendship
12"x20" Giclee Composite Photograph by Ira Gardner

I made this composite photograph yesterday after having spent the past few weeks revisiting the ideas of Taoism and Chinese painting.  Taoism has been an important part of my art practice for more than 10 years now.

 I was in Los Angeles last week for my parents 50th anniversary and I took them to the Korean Friendship Bell located in Angels Gate Park.  I was born in San Pedro and my parents were married there.  We moved away two months before my 9th birthday but it always feels like I am returning home when I visit and especially so for my mother who was raised there. 

I photographed the bell as well as the three pelicans as the three of us walked along the ocean.  I find it interesting how I managed to create an image that features two groups of three birds and how that reminds me of being there with my parents in our own group of three.  We went to a church service at the same place my parents were married and I wonder if the idea of the trinity subconsciously entered into this artwork as well. 

After returning from that trip I was inspired to build this composite image using images from my library.  The lower left reeds came from images I made with my wife while we were riding our bikes on the Trail of the Couer d' Alene's and the three ducks and the Cormerant on the pier were taken in Tacoma while visiting my friend Ed.  The water comes from an image made up at Priest Lake and the foggy background is from an image I made a few years ago at Liberty lake.  To finish the image off I added a texture layer from an image of a rough plaster wall.

I think what excites me the most about this kind of work is that I am constructing the final image like a painter.  The word photography means "writing with light" and in this way I feel as though I am making a photographic version of chinese brush paintings.  In compositing this image together  I am blending my life experiences into a harmonious expression of peace and gratitude for the memories of special moments where I felt connected to something to the Tao of life.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) digital composite Fri, 22 Jun 2018 14:40:10 GMT
New Logo New Logo I recently went through a new branding exercise to try to simplify and unify my photography logo.  After a year of experimentation with different logos I have decided to simplify and modernize the look.  The roundness of the G along with the simple black and white icon of a camera represents the themes of the sage/creator archetype that is at the heart of everything I do.  I hope you like it!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) and news updates Fri, 15 Jun 2018 16:21:07 GMT
Conservative America Collin Masteller I made this digital composite this morning from a photo shoot I did with Collin Mastheller who is a dear friend and colleague who works in video production.  Collin is a a hard worker who keeps his opinions to himself at work but dresses in a very provocative manner on an almost daily basis.  I actually don't know his political viewpoints because he doesn't participate in debate or argument about such things and yet he dresses on a daily basis in a manner that most would label as a "conservative red neck."  I know Collin to be a funny and loving family man and a calm person under pressure when working on a project with me.  Everyone loves Collin because of his extremely laid back mannerism.  It's just his clothing that is loud!

I asked him if I could make a photograph of him for an illustration about the stereotypes of conservative America and Trump supporters and he agreed.  On the afternoon of the photoshoot we had a good laugh over the fact that four people had asked him if he was wearing a costume or if this was his actual clothing.  It wasn't a costume.  I saw him wearing the same outfit at his work just yesterday!

For me this image is not only a reflection of our times in American Politics, but because I know this person, it is a reminder that these are our friends and neighbors as well.  Politics has become so polarized that it is easy to choose sides and stop speaking to one another.  I think my efforts to make this image is related to my efforts to explore ways in which we can start a conversation.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) digital composite Fri, 01 Jun 2018 12:48:00 GMT
Be Iconic Video Introduction

Here is a video that introduces my recently completed portfolio of editorial portraits that I am calling "Be Iconic".  Click here to see the entire portfolio!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) photo stories Thu, 31 May 2018 13:42:03 GMT
SoCal Lifestyle Portrait Lighting Demo

Commercial Photographer Cory Henderson brings the essence of southern California into his work.  He is a phenomenal talent with lighting and digital editing skills.  I had the opportunity to work with him recently to develop his branding and portfolio and it became obvious that he is a creative archetype who brings an element of fierce independence to everything he does.  His affinity for photographing graffiti led me to make this composite image of him recently.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) digital composite Thu, 24 May 2018 13:07:30 GMT
Hip Hop Photographer Portrait Lighting Demo

I've had the privilege of watching this young talented photographer become an outstanding hip hop concert and lifestyle photographer.  I made this image of Cristobal Arellano while teaching a portrait workshop a year ago.  I just came across the image yesterday and decided to add a graffiti background that captures the strength of his work.  He is quiet but speaks loudly with his camera. 


Check out his work at:


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) digital composite Thu, 24 May 2018 13:04:05 GMT
Color Harmony

With digital editing I can build color harmony into any photograph.  Here is an image I made of a Abilesh who is a computer science student studying in America.  As you can see the room lights behind him didn't make for a good background.  I brought him out to a hallway that had a skylight and used the natural daylight to illuminate his face.  When I balanced the color for the daylight the background turned an unattractive yellow orange. I decided to build a stronger color harmony by replacing the background image in this editorial portrait that is designed to have a high facism ratio to emphasize the cerebral thinking that goes into being a comoputer scientist. Since he had yellow and blue in his clothing I decided to play off of those tones and add some canvas texture as well.  By combining multiple background layers I could create more depth to the final image.


Here is how I built this image.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) digital composite Wed, 23 May 2018 17:36:14 GMT
New York Mindset

I have been playing with the creative potential of overlaying textured images on to my portraits to add some editorial content to the images.  I photographed Sasha last year and although she was still in high school at the time, I could see big cities in her future as this was a young lady filled with strength and confidence!

I found a stock image of New York from Adobe Stock but it wasn't until I overlaid my own image of the empire state building that the whole thing seem to come together.    This kind of stylizing of images is causing me to look through my library of images with a new set of eyes for the creative potential that exists.

I think this is a logical progression for a portrait photographer who is trying to say something more within the confines of the studio.  I think Arnold Newman would have enjoyed the creative potential that exists with digital compositing.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) digital composite Wed, 23 May 2018 14:46:43 GMT
Yume "Dreams" "Yume" 2018, Composite Digital Photography

This weekend I have been experimenting with building digital composite images that have depth and texture.  This image combines a photo I made from a Japan week event at Spokane Falls Community College along with a bridge I photographed in Hilo Hawaii during March of 2018.


"Heiwa" 2018, Composite Digital PhotographPeace and Harmony This was another Bon Odori dancer who was standing quietly.  I added a background from a Japanese Garden I photographed in Hilo, Hawaii.


"Yūgana" 2018, Composite Digital PhotogaphSparrow fan dance that illustrates the concept of "graceful". This is the tree sparrow dance being performed.  It reminded me of an image I made of a blue heron taking off.  The bird was from the San Juan Islands and the lake and mountains were from Jasper National Park in Alberta Canada.


Image Titles:

Top: Yume (Dream), 2018 Composite Digital Photograph

Middle: Heiwa (Peace), 2018 Composite Digital Photograph

Bottom: Yūgana (Graceful), 2018 Composite Digital Photograph

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sun, 20 May 2018 20:27:12 GMT
Classic Elegance

I made this quick portrait while giving a workshop on shooting portraits on gray backgrounds for composites and Anna happened by in a beautiful red dress.  She was kind enough to let me make some photographs of her as examples for the workshop.  I applied some beauty retouching and layered in some texture into the background.  It was so much fun to photograph Anna.  She is so intelligent and and talented.  I appreciated working with her.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) digital composite Fri, 18 May 2018 14:30:00 GMT
Meet Clara Mannino Lately I've been experimenting with reworking some of my portraits to build stronger color harmony in the work using digital composite editing techniques.  Here is a portrait I made of a wonderful musician and teacher named Clara Mannino.  I met her while working on a project for the Holy Names Music Academy which provides music lessons for our community from some of the most highly respected musicians in the northwest including numerous symphony members.


I enjoyed my photo session with Clara so much that I decided to record a short video of her playing and talking about her work as a teacher.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) artist info photo stories video production Wed, 16 May 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Words Matter: Power 2 The Poetry

The Richmond Art Collective was hosting an artist studio open house event on a cold winter night in Spokane.  This young woman and two of her friends walked into my studio and asked me if there was only visual artist allowed in our studios and I said "absolutely not! All art mediums are supported here.  We just don't happen to have any poets in residence right now."  She then asked if it would be all right for her to do a spoken poem performance in the hallway of our studios where people were gathered around a potluck table.  I said "sure... go for it!"  In an instant the building was electric with energy and passion as she recited a poem about Black Lives Matter.  The passion and energy of her words absolutely gripped me.  As soon as she was done, I immediately handed her my business card and asked her to come back next week with her friends for a photo shoot.  I assured her that my interest was purely to support her cause.  Bethany is only 22 and already has her MBA degree from Eastern Washington University.  AJ the Wordsmith has overcome so many barriers and has traveled the world writing and performing his own poetry. Marie is a college student from Detroit.  Power 2 The Poetry is a local arts group that is seeking to give voice and empowerment to marginalized people.  They are working on creating an incredible after school poetry program at three local high schools next year.

This photo shoot was intense and wonderful.  I had to earn their trust through collaboration.  I made this composite image and presented a poster size print at their open mic event in March.  The fire they lit in the room that night has continued to burn in me as well as I attempt to make work that celebrates the enduring human spirit.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) digital composite photo stories Mon, 30 Apr 2018 13:15:00 GMT
Making of a large production shoot I made this tableaux image with a great group of models and colleagues.  I wanted to portray stereotypical roles like the cowboy, biker, judge, and beautiful women.  However, in my twist I wanted to have the women be strong, bold, and disinterested in what any of the men in the room thought of them.  I like the idea of using stereotypes and then destroying them through the strong gaze of empowerment.

Here is a short movie that illustrates the use of stand in models while the hair, makeup, and wardrobe was being put together on the set.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Fri, 13 Apr 2018 15:30:00 GMT
Solar Eclipse 2017

August 21st will be a day I will never forget.  I had the privilege of witnessing a total eclipse with two of my favorite photographer friends, R.L. Dietz and Craig Sweat.  R.L. is an astro photographer I have known since 1989 and he had spent the last 30 years waiting for this event and Craig is a commercial photographer whose kindness and intellect never cease to impress me.  

R.L.  convinced Craig and I to drive down to Oregon and join him in a campsite in a beautiful meadow in the Mahleur national forest the night before the eclipse.  It took 5 hours to get there and 12 to get back!  It was worth it.

R.L. set up a couple of telescopes with tracking motors and I got to attach my camera with one of them.  His knowledge and expertise of astronomy made this image possible.  

While I was waiting for the event to start I noticed mountain bluebirds flying around everywhere.  Bird photography and astro photography are two types of imagery I tend to avoid.  I don't bother photographing these subjects because I can't see where I can contribute anything new to the volumes of images that already exist.  However, since I was experimenting with a 500 mm lens and looking at the birds I went ahead and made a few shots.  Then R.L. helped me get my camera attached to his telescope to get ready for the big event.

For two hours I made intermittent photographs of the eclipse leading up to totality.  When the moon finally passed completely in front of the sun it was an awe inspiring moment.  I almost forgot to make any photographs! The experience left me disoriented and bewildered.  After more than 30 years of listening to R.L. stories about astro photography I finally understood what drove his passion.  

On the long drive home I thought about what I could do to make something that would express the magic that I felt at the moment the moon blocked out the sun and turned day into night.  I had never seen any other star but the sun during the daytime.  Since I teach photography I mentally went through the lessons I give about creativity and composition and how I always try to create a relationship between elements.  As I pondered the problem of composing an image of an eclipse that wouldn't look just like the other millions of photos taken in the zone of totality  I realized that I had all the elements I needed to personalize this event for me.  I imagined in my mind the possibility of combining the birds that were there in the meadow with the solar eclipse.  

This image represents my experiences on that miraculous moment and is my attempt at contributing something personal to library of images that documented this historic event.  


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Wed, 23 Aug 2017 16:04:22 GMT
Global Education Project

I did a quick video interview of an international student studying at Spokane Falls Community College.  These mini projects are so rewarding because of the wonderful people I get to meet.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Video Production Mon, 06 Mar 2017 00:32:02 GMT
Winter Day Dreams

I made this image last weekend after coming home from Priest Lake Idaho.  The lake was frozen out to the islands.  The background image is a panorama of four frames and the dog image was one I made on my cell phone.  As I was driving home I was thinking about the gift my brother had given me of a ship in a bottle and I hatched an idea to make this digital composite image.  I dusted off the bottle and headed out to my back yard in knee deep snow and photographed the bottle to give it some authentic light and texture.  I can't help but be reminded of the stories about Shackleton's expedition and the story of Argos the faithful dog in Homer's Odyssey.  This is part of my Whimsical Art series.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Mon, 27 Feb 2017 15:42:58 GMT
Notan Studies    

I made these images just outside the photo building at the campus where I teach.  I was working one on one with a student.  It never fails that when you are in the right mood the images are all around you.  I was just looking for line and for the light and dark values that give life to an image.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Tue, 21 Feb 2017 03:48:25 GMT
Mother's Birthday Portrait

Today was my mother's birthday.  I picked her up and took her downtown to my new studio and made this portrait of her.  While she waited for me to set up she took a moment to close her eyes and relax.  It was a perfect moment so that is what I made a photograph of.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 18 Feb 2017 03:45:00 GMT
Global Education at Spokane Falls Community College  





Last week I had the privilege of meeting Abhilash Singh who is an international student studying computer science at Spokane Falls Community College.  I made this short promotional video for the Global Education department.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Mon, 06 Feb 2017 05:22:37 GMT
Super 8mm Movie


I came across this movie I made about 10 years ago using an old Canon Super 8mm film camera.  I took the canoe and trailer across the state of Washington all the way to the farthest Northwest tip at Cape Flattery.  I can't help but feel nostalgia not only because of the aesthetics of the film, but the memories of being young and foolish.  Bittersweet memories...

Each real had only about 4 minutes of footage and was extremely expensive.  I love the look and wish I could have been a filmmaker back in the era of film.  May have to do a new movie next summer!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Video Production Mon, 30 Jan 2017 03:46:58 GMT

I made this image with exactly one light... and a compact mirror I borrowed.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Fri, 18 Nov 2016 23:45:00 GMT
Still Life Potluck

This past Monday I was giving a still life demonstration and came up with an interesting idea.  I had 12 students in the studio with me who had brought items from home to make photos of.  I decided to call an audible and announced that we were going to make our own version of a photographic nail soup. I told everyone that I was making our session into a still life potluck where everyone contributes to the pile!

I then lit the set up and starting photographing.  Initially I was looking at the whole pile of stuff but as I moved in closer I found myself absolutely amazed by the random juxtaposition that was occurring!  Bibles and Dinosaurs, record players and ipods, and many other things were there just to be enjoyed in a thought provoking whimsical manner.

I think this may turn into a major project in the coming year.  I think it would be great to gather random groups of people together and build a still life potluck!

The bottom image shows the entire set complete with our rising full moon!



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Wed, 16 Nov 2016 22:48:22 GMT
Natural Light and Studio Light

I made these two still life photos just to experiment with how the quality of the light source changes the meaning of the photo.  The image above was made by putting my favorite camera on a piece of black plexiglass and lighting it with some spot lights and parabolic reflector floods. I used a graduated Neutral Density filter to balance out the reflection by knocking down the direct exposure of the camera just a bit.  

Lighting this way reminded me of how Paul Outerbridge and Edward Steichen advanced advertising product photography by making the product the hero of the shot with crispness.  

With this image it still has the artificial studio scenario of a painted backdrop but I made this image with window light where I actually changed the angle of the background and controlled the fall off by adjusting drapes to block off some of the light.  I added some recent tintype portraits of my parents to the wine barrel table and there I had it!  A nostalgic look for this old school camera.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Tue, 15 Nov 2016 23:15:00 GMT
Impressionist Inspiration

Thursday morning I was struck by the yellow leaves outside my kitchen window.  I was thinking about how they will all be gone soon and that there was a delicate harmony and beauty in this moment.  I also thought of Van Goh and Impressionist paintings and the swirling movement of branches against the bokeh in the background.


It was a beautiful morning and I could decide which image to select for this so I made a tritypch.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 29 Oct 2016 15:47:10 GMT
Open World Lotfullah Najafizada photographed in front of painting done by my grandfather after returning from India after WWII.

I had the privilege of hosting Lotfullah Najafizada in our home for four days this week as part of the Open World Leadership Program that is organized by congress to invite "rising leaders of emerging countries to the importance of legislative functions in creating and sustaining democracies. "  Lotfullah was part of a delegation of 5 Rumsfeld Fellows that visited Spokane Washington October 22nd - 26th, 2016.

I was deeply impressed and inspired by Lotfullah.  At only 28 he is the managing editor for the largest 24 hour news television network in Afghanistan which makes him a target as well as person of great political influence.  During his stay we found so much common ground and through his perspectives I gained a profound appreciation for the life I have.


I made this portrait of him standing in front of a painting by my Grandfather that was inspired by his time stationed in India during WWII.  The painting itself depicts a poetic moment from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám.  I think I was trying to depict the beauty that I feel exists when we have an intersection of culture and open our hearts to one another.

Lotfullah Najafizada (right) and Zafar Hashemi (left) gives a presentation about Afghanistan at Spokane Falls Community College Wednesday, October 25th, 2016.  Mr. Hashemi is a deputy spokesperson for the President of Afghanistan and Mr. Najafizada is a journalist and managing editor for TOLO News, the largest 24 hour news network in the region.

Zafar Hashemi and Lotfulla Najafizada are part of a youthful generation that is rebuilding Afghanistan.  According to the United States Institute of Peace "h
alf are under eighteen. According to the Afghan Central Statistics Organization, in 2014 almost 47 percent of the country's 27.1 million people were under fifteen and 37 percent between fifteen and thirty-nine. Combined, 84 percent were under forty." 

Rumsfeld Fellows visit Spokane Falls Community College. Pictured left to right are: Mr. Mirsuljan Namazaliev from Kyrgyzstan, Ms. Manduul Altangerel from Mongolia, Mr. Lotfullah Najafizada and Mr. Zafar Hashemi from Afghanistan, Mrs. Hadda Estrada who is the Assistant Dean of Global Education and Strategic Partnerships at Community Colleges of Spokane, and Mr. Zurab Parjiani from the country Georgia.



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 29 Oct 2016 14:39:26 GMT
Poetry's play with words I was looking through some images the other morning that I had made of my dog and the fall leaves and these two images were side by side and they reminded me of the kind of imagery I would see in SUN magazine.  There was something poetic about them and the juxtaposition of action and stillness made me think of how poetry plays with words.  I think this just might be a visual poem about autumn, death and dying, and exuberant life and energy and spinning around the world non stop.  Random thoughts indeed...


Here are some other images of Murdoch that reminded me of watercolor paintings.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Visual Journal Thu, 27 Oct 2016 15:30:00 GMT
Whimsical Art

After a very long and stressful day I decided to play with some images as a form of stress relief.  I had photographed this hedgehog while giving a composite photography demo last spring but never ended up doing anything with the image.  But today I had to!  I drove by a cemetary that had this shrub and stopped and photographed it in the rain and then I spotted this golden tree that still had leaves left that was growing in the middle of a parking lot and decided to combine them together with an image I had taken up in Canada on black and white film many years ago.  I hand colored the water and sky in Photoshop and was reminded of how popular adult color books have become!  The image isn't perfect by anymeans and I didn't stay within the lines with my coloring, but it FELT GOOD and I think it is the start of a new creative endeavor that will lead me in a different way towards Surrealism.  I am beginning to photograph objects and natural elements and have started cataloging them for future illustrations whenever the stress is just right!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:00:00 GMT
Broken Nest  


We found We found this nest at the base of our plumb tree this summer.  I have held on to it for a couple of months.  It reminded me of my childhood when my two older siblings left home while I was still young.  I don't see them very often but I still think of them and remember good times together.  They moved south like the robins do before winter.  One has a birthday in Autumn and the other in Spring... and mine is in summer.  We all seem to migrate in opposite directions as busy and distant families do.  

Now my own son has left the nest and is married.  I'm so proud of him too.  It is the circle of life and I feel blessed to be here in the nest that Sarah and I are building in this rural landscape.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Visual Journal Tue, 18 Oct 2016 23:45:00 GMT
Dream, Create, Explore This is my ethos....



 I made this quick handheld panorama while visiting Gifford-Hirlinger Winery a couple of weeks ago. I was following my GPS to this winery after getting several recommendations.  When I pulled in to where my GPS said I was supposed to be I soon realized I had pulled into a private driveway and was now followed in by a range rover.  A man in a seahawk jersey rolled down his window and said, "can I help you?" After explaining my predicament he smiled and told me to follow him down the dirt road that continued beyond the house.  It turns out I had just met Mike Berghan, the winemaker and owner of Gifford Hirlinger.  We had a good laugh, wonderful chat, and some incredible wines that are all made from his estate vineyard. 

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Mon, 17 Oct 2016 18:00:00 GMT
Tertulia Winery

I had the privilege to revisit one of our favorite wineries with friends a couple of weekends ago.  We met Barry Wescott who was running the tasting room and full of knowledge about grapes, growing days, temperatures, blends, and more!  We will savor the bottles we brought back.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Visual Journal Mon, 17 Oct 2016 17:00:00 GMT

I was struck by the shear emotion created by the colors of the leaves.  It filled me with gratitude for being there in the moment and the aisan feel to this waterfall composition reminded me of the term Kansha which is a theme for me in my daily life.

The best selling author Elizabeth Andoh' titled a cooking book Kansha and defines it as: "appreciation -- is an expression of gratitude for nature's bounty and the efforts and ingenuity of those who transform those gifts into marvelous food."

I want to transform the gifts of what I see into marvelous images...

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Kansha Photography Visual Journal Thu, 13 Oct 2016 16:30:00 GMT

They are building another new building in Kendall Yards and I was arrested by the idea of all this manual labor.  They were hand painting sealant on the side of the building and when I came across these workers I was reminded of August Sanders work.  There is a dignity inheirant in all things hard and laborious.  I was grateful for the moment to photograph here.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Visual Journal Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:00 GMT
Street Photography

I made this image of Jane and Havalah while walking around Kendall Yards.  It reminded me of the kind of images that Mary Ellen Mark made as a social documentary photographer.  I loved the look of defiance and strength in their faces and the fact that even though this is 2016 you can get a sense of the 1960's or 1970's.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Portrait Social Documentary Street Photography Wed, 12 Oct 2016 15:30:00 GMT
Earth on a stick?

I was on the ground photographing the fall leaves and looked up and saw the sun shining through a student's blue sucker and said "Hold it!" Cropped in close and shot at F/16 to create the starburst on the top. I was hearing David Bowie sing Major Tom in my head as I imagined this image. 
[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Tue, 11 Oct 2016 16:30:00 GMT
Life changes...

Nothing prepared me for the phone call.  My mother was calling and she was upset.  She had been diagnosed with cancer and had just started chemo.  Her hair was falling out and she was angry and wanted me to come over and take her to the barber shop to have her head shaved.  She wanted to be in control.  I didn't blame her.  She asked me to bring my camera.  I photographed and hid my tears behind the lens.  We laughed and cried and spent the afternoon together.  It all goes to show that beauty is always there no matter what you take away.  

I love you mother.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Visual Journal Sun, 25 Sep 2016 18:15:00 GMT
The making of a darkroom print  

This is a short video that shows the darkroom printing process.  I made this print as part of a new collection of work from Priest Lake Idaho.


I am showing the work at this years Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Video Production Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:15:00 GMT
Family Tree I had the pleasure of photographing this family right before they expanded by one more.  We went to Finch Arboretum and I was captivated by the idea of the tree of life as we made this image completely under the branches of this beautiful tree as the sun peeked through.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Visual Journal Mon, 19 Sep 2016 23:30:00 GMT

I had so much fun working with Taylor!  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 17 Sep 2016 17:45:00 GMT
Authentic Portraits

I made these portraits for Jacob recently.  He is learning to drive his grandfather's old pickup truck so we decided to head out to a lake close by because it seemed like the perfect place to go when you have a pickup truck on a hot day!


As I looked back on the portraits I made of Jacob one word kept coming to mind..."Authentic".  I think what I am trying to convey in my portraits is a sense of authenticity.  This comes through with the choice of locations, the expressions, and the way in which the person interacts with the landscape around them.  Although this was a commissioned portrait session, I tried to find a narrative that fit the person I was photographing.  I think this is what differentiates this work from glamour photography.  With glamour photography there is a certain plastic feel to the imagery.  It is all just too perfect.  In these images the perfection comes from remaining natural and true to the spirt of the person I am photographing.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Mon, 12 Sep 2016 17:15:00 GMT
Rising Star

This is a recent photo shoot I did with the outstanding singer Raggs Gustaffe.  He needed some publicity shots for an upcoming performance in Las Vegas and for the release of his newest single.



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Fri, 05 Aug 2016 15:00:00 GMT
2016 Shootout

This past May I had the pleasure of doing something out of the ordinary for me.  I created a large production shoot that involved 8 models, hair, makeup, and wardrobe!  It is a departure from my usual documentary approach to photography.  This tableaux image is a presentation of a poker game that is a blend of old western meets steam punk.  I wanted to present stereotypes with a twist.  In my image the most powerful characters in the scene are the women!



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Wed, 29 Jun 2016 18:47:16 GMT
It's a new VR world!

I had the opportunity to attend the first ever SIFFX event as part of the Seattle Film Festival.  The event was an exploration of new media and storytelling techniques using virtual reality and 360 video production.  I got to try the latest Occulus head set and the Samsung Gear VR and was blown away how easily my senses were fooled into transporting me to other planets and under the ocean.  One of the displays had people sitting on toilets and  it just went to show how we can be so immersed in this new world that we no longer pay attention to where we are.  When you watch someone who is viewing 360 VR you will see their bodies thrash about completely unaware of the present moment.  When you think about it that way, we are using technology to come closer and closer to augment the way our mind already works.  As human beings we are constantly struggle to remain present while thoughts perseverate on the past and future.

As with all technology there is a frightening potential for negative and unintended consequences as well as the good.  I was impressed with the intellectual conversations, panels and discussions that addressed the philosophical and ethical issues pertaining to this new technology.  We are seeing some amazing work being done in documentary filmmaking and journalism.  I was particularly moved by pieces that took me into refugee camps and allowed me to swim with whales.  Keynote Speaker Nonny de la Peña was a trailblazer in this technology and her retrospective show reinforced the potential of an image to spark deep emotion.  Her work explored issues around abortion, poverty, and violent crime in a way that made you feel as though you were there and witness to all of this and powerless to do anything.  It was a powerful experience.


Ultimately I feel as though I am just catching up to the world my friend Whitney Rowlett has been working in as a CGI film producer in LA.  I finally feel like I understand what she has been describing to me about her work.  The word for the decade may become STITCHING!  The cgi world is a composite of imagery that must be stitched together.  Perhaps our own reality is nothing more than our perceptions stitched together.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sun, 12 Jun 2016 14:00:00 GMT
Fashion and Cultural Identity  

I made this image while walking near the space needle in Seattle.  It was obviously prom night for lots of young people and I was taken by the beautiful way these young women expressed their culture and their freedom to be themselves.  I asked them if I could make a quick photo and they said yes.  It felt like the perfect gift to me since I was away from home and all alone on my birthday.  THANK YOU!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 04 Jun 2016 15:15:00 GMT
Priest Lake Cedar

I spent the weekend at Priest Lake enjoying a fireplace and book at Hills Resort with my partner Sarah.  It was a wonderful weekend to relax and take a break from the extremely busy three months we have both had.  It had been mostly cloudy all morning when suddenly a patch of sunlight hit some of the cedar branches in front of our window.  I had to grab the camera and make this image.  I must admit that I am surprised at just how high the contrast of the direct sunlight was on the cedar and how brilliantly sharp the soft fern like branches looked in the photograph.  I look forward to returning in a month and starting a new project up at the lake.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Mon, 23 May 2016 01:12:54 GMT
Business Visionary

I had the privilege of meeting businessman Vince Bozzi at the Paulsen Building penthouse last week.  Bozzi is converting the residential penthouse into an event center which will enable more people in our community to enjoy the spectacular views of this beautiful city.  Bravo Bozzi!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Mon, 16 May 2016 15:00:00 GMT
Cowboy spirit

I was giving a large format portrait demo yesterday in the studio.  Tom was there so I asked him to let me make a photograph of him.  Tom is a cowboy to the core and someone I have grown to appreciate over the past couple of years. He represents the unique spirit of gentleness and true grit.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 14 May 2016 14:32:53 GMT
Meditation along the trail

Last tuesday I went on a walk with a friend.  We were talking cheerfully as we entered into the forrest.  But as soon as the light modulations and texture hit my eyes I was lost in a meditation of wonder.  These are the photos I returned with.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Thu, 12 May 2016 16:08:54 GMT
Seeing Red


This past week I had the opportunity to be an editor for a music video project that was shot on a RED 4k camera.  The quality of footage from this camera is stunning.  The DP shot 5 different takes of the musician Madeline McNeill performing her song Dreamer and I had to choose which shots to use and sync up the sound which was mixed by Noise Floor Studios.  The real challenge with this project is that as I lined up the beginning of a take with the audio after a little bit the audio and video would be out of sync so I would have to move to another take and cut on a new line of the song.  The final edit looked like a patchwork quilt. I loved the problem solving and really appreciate the opportunity to contribute to a team project.


Singer: Madeline McNeil

Camera: Shaun Springer

Sound: Joel Drexler

Editor: Ira Gardner


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Video Production Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:25:16 GMT
Modern Dance

Modern Dance from 50 Hour Slam on Vimeo.


During the months of February and March I spent time with Vincas Greene and a group of talented dancers at Gonzaga University  for a project related to the 50 Hour Slam that just launched last night.   Filmmakers from all over the region came together to spend this weekend making short films that have to incorporate the theme of dance into their films.  I was the cinematographer for this video that was provided as background for all of the filmmakers.  It was wonderful to see what film editor Adam Harum did with my footage.  I have been collaborating more and more with other talented filmmakers and photographers I find it so rewarding! 


For me filming dance and witnessing the transformation that occurs as dancers come together to learn new material was like a homecoming of sorts.  My career was launched in 1989 with an exhibition I put together of a dance company.    I have never lost my love of dance and dancers.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Video Production Sat, 02 Apr 2016 16:17:01 GMT
Getting THE CALL...


On the weekend of March 19th I had spent more than 16 hours grading student work.  On Sunday March 20th I received an email notification that former president Bill Clinton would be at SFCC and that major parking lots were going to be blocked. I decided that it was probably a good idea to avoid campus and decided to go skiing with my son who had the day off from work for a change.  When I awoke on Monday the 21st, I had a weird feeling like I may get a call to photograph the event.  At 6:30am I called my son and told him that I didn't think it was a good idea for me to leave town that day.  Sure enough at 8am I got a text message (because nobody actually calls anyone anymore!) telling me that that I was on the list of media who would be allowed in to photograph the president.  This one message sent me into high gear making sure batteries were charged, media cards were formatted, and shooting vest repacked.  You only get one shot at something like this!


Like most media events it was a hurry up and wait game.  I had two hours to kill waiting for the president's arrival.  I decided to photograph some of the preparation and security that goes into these events.  I remembered a great video by former Whitehouse photographer Christopher Morris where he talks about how to make interesting photographs when you are photographing the same subject everyday for four years!


At the last minute I decided to stick a digital recorder in my shirt pocket and run a microphone cable to it.  This is what I put together from that day.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Event Photography Photo Stories Fri, 25 Mar 2016 17:00:00 GMT
Let Me Sleep

Let Me Sleep from Spokane Film Project on Vimeo.


I had another opportunity to collaborate with a great group of artists and filmmakers...

The Spokane Film Project collaborated with Community Minded Televisionand the Laboratory Extended program to produce this video of their installation! This live art installation was presented by the Richmond Art Collective featuring performances by Madeline McNeill and Nefabit Hinton. This project aired on CMTV who partnered in the creation of this project during the month of February!

Audio/Visual elements designed by

Produced by:
Shaun Springer
Ira Gardner
Juan Mas
DaShawn Bedford

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Video Production Fri, 18 Mar 2016 16:45:00 GMT
Dreaming of travel

As I pulled into the office this morning I saw a jet taking off.  The sky looked like a beautifully painted canvas and I had to just grab this image with my cell phone.  Travel is so important to me.  It is the way in which I discover and celebrate this life I get to live.  Cheers to dreamers.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Cell Phone Photography Visual Journal Wed, 24 Feb 2016 16:53:51 GMT
Morning greetings

This morning I was greeting with a beautiful sunrise out my bedroom window.  I felt like the sun was greeting the earth and the two of them together were smiling.  It was such a wonderful experience to enjoy over a cup of coffee.  A quick snap with my cell phone before leaving was enough of a meditation to bring me peace before the rush of the day starts.


As I looked at the sunrise I was reminded of this song...


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Cell Phone Photography Visual Journal Wed, 24 Feb 2016 16:50:34 GMT
Central Park

This last December I got to spend some time in New York with friends and family.  I was excited to be there because I had never experienced the holiday season in New York city before.  This trip in particular has taught me to let go and just enjoy the act of seeing and making photographs without worrying about being so precise.  I shot this with my old Canonette QL17 35mm rangefinder camera which is so small and compact.  I enjoy traveling with that camera that I think for this kind of work I am just going to let film do its thing.  I bought TriX at B&H right after arriving at Penn Station. I am just now beginning to sort through the negatives and make some prints.  I made this image while we were walking in Central Park.  I couldn't decide between the horizontal or vertical crop so I made both.  What do you think?


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) 35mm film Darkroom Prints Photo Stories Thu, 18 Feb 2016 15:45:48 GMT
Handmade Accordion Book Project

I taught a workshop last week on how to make hand made accordion books.  I combined images I had taken on my cell phone with a custom made cover.  I like the blend of digital and craft together.  I liked this book so much that I gave it to my mother for her birthday today!



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Hand Made Books Photo Stories Wed, 17 Feb 2016 19:20:03 GMT
Shades of Steinbeck

One of my favorite people I have gotten to know the last year and a half is Tom.  He is a cowboy and an artist.  When I saw him appear in the studio I had to make this photo of him and combine it with one of my favorite black and white darkroom images.  The background image is of a woody station wagon out in Sprague Washington.  I've been told by three reputable sources that this beautiful old relic was once owned by Ansel Adams!  Anyway, I've been teaching some composite techniques and decided to blend this image that reminded me of John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath novel.  I shot the original image with a 6x6 square format camera on Kodak Tri-X and the portrait on my Nikon d610.  I had to make the square image stretch into a horizontal so I could show Tom and the woody in the same frame.  I think of this series of composites as being similar to creating cinematography.  Each image has a character and a background and you are left to fill in the blanks for the plot.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Digital Composite Photo Stories Wed, 17 Feb 2016 05:37:28 GMT
Spokane Neon

I made this composite almost by accident.  I was teaching a workshop involving shooting models in the studio for a composite image when Cody walked in and I had this creative impulse to photograph him and combine the shot with an image I made last October of a neon motel sign on Sunset boulevard.  I was inspired by Edward Hopper's Nighthawks painting.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Digital Composite Photo Stories Wed, 17 Feb 2016 02:56:35 GMT
Window of Seasons

Sometimes one thing leads to the next.  As I watched Sarah look out the window I was moved by the peaceful setting and had a vision in my mind of how the seasons have changed since we first came to know one another.  I decided to make the photo of her at the window and combine it with the recent series of images I have been making of the view from my office window.  I think the two combined together nicely and it was a wonderful way to commemorate a special moment.


Happy Valentines Day!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Sun, 14 Feb 2016 21:13:15 GMT
My Office Window

I think I learned to appreciate the way light varies from viewing the work of Richard Misrach and Joel Meyerowitz.  Misrach photographed the Golden Gate Bridge from his studio window over and over and each image is different and beautiful.  


Meyerowitz photographed a porch on Cape Cod in different light too.  As I make these images I am reminded of how subject, composition, and LIGHT are what make an image or break it.  I am trying to learn to see the light every day and to be grateful for it.


I have a small office above the Spokane river where I teach.  This winter I've found myself taking a cell phone photo of the different light that changes the view on a daily basis.  It takes me only a moment to snap the photo but the gratitude I feel last all day.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Wed, 10 Feb 2016 15:54:09 GMT
Native Issues Spokane Tribal member Jeff FergusonPhotographer and filmmaker Jeff Ferguson poses for a tintype portrait holding one of his large photographs from a Pow Wow.

I made this tintype portrait of Spokane tribal member Jeff Ferguson who is a photographer and documentary filmmaker covering issues affecting Native Americans.  He spokane on campus at SFCC on January 29th in conjunction with a photography exhibit of his work we are hosting.  During the artist reception we went into the studio and made this portrait.


As part of the presentation I also edited together a composite video from 5 of Jeff's projects and presented that as part of my introduction.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Wet Plate Photography Mon, 01 Feb 2016 16:56:19 GMT
Converting Pixels to Artifacts

So much of photography is pixel based imagery exhibited on a screen.  I've decided to explore some different techniques to transform the image into an artifact.  This is my first attempt at mixed media encaustic.  I took a digital image I shot in Paris a couple of years ago and printed it out on a laser printer and fused it to a piece of wood with melted beeswax.  Using a heat gun I melted the wax and watched it soak into the paper and reveal the wood grain below.  I then added a couple of coats of wax to the surface and have started to figure out how to work the wax and deal with its cloudiness as well as the ways in which I can add texture through the use of brush strokes.


I think this is going to be a new creative outlet for my work as I am already starting to think about the kinds of images that would be well suited for this process and as I start to explore ways to incorporate paints into the work too.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Visual Journal Mon, 01 Feb 2016 16:40:42 GMT
Spiritual Journeys

I met Jacob Johns yesterday while making a tintype portrait of a friend of mine.  While we were talking I noticed that he had a pouch hanging from a necklace and I asked him about it.  He emptied the contents of the pouch into the palm of his hand and explained how these stones were healing stones with each one having a specific purpose.  One was there to absorb bad thoughts and the other was to help manifest the good thoughts and another was a crystal for healing.  The weight of the pouch reminded him to be mindful.  I cannot remember all of the details but I understood the spirit of what he was saying and I share in that belief that says we speak our reality into existence.   I think it is so important to be mindful of our thoughts.  There is the belief in a universal law of attraction and I have experienced it first hand.


Jacob Johns is a Hopi man who seems to be on a great journey.  I felt a kindred spirit with him as I think we are all on a great journey.  To meet at this intersection of space and time was a blessing.


As I thought about this I found myself looking for music to put with these images and much to my surprise I ran across a 1997 recording of a Rainbow Family gathering.  This song seems to represent the kind of spirit I saw in Jacob's eye and also reflects how I see the world through the lens of my camera. 


Music courtesy of the Rainbow Family Gatherings recorded in 1997  and found at:

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Sat, 30 Jan 2016 13:47:16 GMT
Nick Photographs of Nick in the studio.

Simple curiosity sometimes creates the image.  In this case I was working with Nick and simply found myself curious about his tattoo on his arm.  When he raised his elbow to show me I saw the magic and immediately started shooting.  I was happy with this one as well as the head shot below.

Photographs of Nick in the studio.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Sat, 30 Jan 2016 12:48:28 GMT

I was giving a lighting demo using some simple flood lights when I saw this image possibility with Stephanie standing in the background and Taylor sitting in the foreground.  It was an unexpected pleasure.  I am having so much fun with photography right now and I think that is coming from the opportunities I am having to work with students who are new to the medium.  I don't think you realize how much you love what you do until you share it.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Sat, 30 Jan 2016 12:43:52 GMT
More Experiments

I am playing with imagery today. We make images with our eyes, ears, and our mouth.  I hear something that draws my attention.  I see something that draws my attention.  I speak to direct the image as I wish it to be.  The camera is an extension of the person using it...

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Visual Journal Wed, 27 Jan 2016 22:21:58 GMT
Rainy Winter Day

Today is a rainy day.  I decided to go outside and make a couple of photos.  I think there is a dream like quality to looking at the world at f/1.4 and It brings me a meditative experience.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Wed, 27 Jan 2016 20:51:51 GMT

I received a Facebook challenge to photograph nature every day for a week.  I was watching a video tutorial on Youtube and decided to combine the two elements together so when a student came by to see me I immediately asked her to join me in the studio for about 5 minutes to make a silhouette photo and then ran outside on the patio to grab some other images to combine with her likeness.  I think the concept of the challenge is to get us to think about nature and so I think this image is about thinking about nature.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Wed, 27 Jan 2016 20:44:01 GMT
A productive Friday The week before last I had a wonderful Friday morning making tintype portraits in the studio.  I ended up photographing three people for a project I've been working on with my colleague Greg Roth.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Wet Plate Photography Tue, 26 Jan 2016 15:37:35 GMT
A week in Montana

I spent a week last summer learning to fly fish in Montana.  It was a "buddy" trip that I will never forget.  Here are some images from that experience.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Tue, 26 Jan 2016 14:14:11 GMT
Cell Phone Visual Journal

I keep a visual journal on my Blackberry cell phone.  Almost everyday I make a few images of anything that catches my eye.  I've decided to start sharing them here.  I enjoy arranging them in a sequence that tells a story.   Here are a few recent photos from that journal.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Visual Journal Sat, 23 Jan 2016 20:53:04 GMT
Beauty in the face of challenges

This last fall I received a request to make some portraits by a woman who was undergoing chemo therapy.  When I met Kim I was immediately impressed by her poise, dignity, and beauty that radiated inside and out.  She is a walking testimony to strength, dignity, and grace.  My colleague Greg Roth and I made a Wet Plate portrait that I think truly captured her spirit in addition to these images I captured with my DSLR.



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Stories of strength and dignity Sat, 23 Jan 2016 20:20:45 GMT
Photographing Nicole

Thursday night I had the pleasure of teaching a workshop at a local camera club.  It had been a rough and really long day and I wasn't excited about the prospects of packing a lot of gear and driving 45 minutes to participate in this event but I had made a promise and a promise made is a promise kept.  I was in a bad mood because I kept taking the wrong turn and my head just wasn't in the game so to speak.  I was supposed to find a church on Harvard road but I ended up filling up a month of Sunday's as I stopped at 5 different churches before I found the event.  At one church where a cub scout meeting had already started I saw a table full of inspirational prayer quotes for the winter months and decided to grab it as I was hurrying out the door to keep searching for the location of the workshop.


After another 10 minutes past I found the right location.  I set up the simple two light setup and white seamless and was introduced to Nicole who would be our model for the evening.  As the workshop began all my stresses just melted away and I became completely energized and excited to shoot and teach.  These are just a few of the images I made that night.  THANK YOU Nicole!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Fashion Photography Photo Stories Photography Education Sat, 23 Jan 2016 16:14:10 GMT
Editorial Control RickRick is a retired firefighter who has decided to pursue photography as his next vocation.

I made this portrait of Rick who is a retired firefighter as part of a demo.  It reminds me of the old batter commercials where the spokesmodel tells the audience, "I dare you."  For this image I wanted to highlight his rugged looks which gave me an excuse to demonstrate how much editorial control we have over an image.  Extra clarity in this image adds a gritty masculinity to the image.  I love this image!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Fri, 22 Jan 2016 17:15:00 GMT
Scenes from Home

Walker Evans published a book that I love called Message from the Interior in 1966.  From that work I have been inspired to look into my own home for what I might find there as well as the homes of good friends and family.  Here are some recent explorations around domestic spaces.  I am drawn to the geometric patterns and the quality of light and how it can create drama in an otherwise banal situation.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Tue, 19 Jan 2016 18:26:44 GMT
Photogenic Drawings of Nature

I spent some time exploring the Turbull National Wildlife Refuge today.  When I got back I realized that one of my "mistake" exposures looked like a painting so I decided to play with these images to give them more of a pencil drawing feel to them.  They are delicate meditations on nature that reminds me of the original concept of photogenic drawing.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Tue, 19 Jan 2016 00:46:40 GMT
Recent Darkroom Prints

For the last month I've been trying to get into my darkroom and make prints.  I have been practicing a kind of "letting go" when it comes to my photography and have starting wandering around with an old 35mm Canon Rangefinder camera from the 1970's.  What I mean by letting go is that I am trusting that the film will capture what I intend without me having to fuss over looking at a digital playback of the image at the time I take the exposure and by letting go in the darkroom without fussing too much over the precision of the image like I normally do with work I edit in Photoshop.  I find it so peaceful to walk around with such a small unobstrusive camera and have found great joy in the solitude of the darkroom.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sun, 10 Jan 2016 15:45:00 GMT
Sitting Between Two Chairs

Back in 2012 I produced this documentary about two incredible Russian photographers from two different generations.  I have learned so much from this experience.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Video Production Mon, 04 Jan 2016 18:30:00 GMT
Secrets of the Deep

"Secrets of the Deep" Performed by Madeline McNeill from Slothberg Productions on Vimeo.


Last December I collaborated with filmmaker Shaun Springer and musician Madeline McNeil to help film an experimental art performance.  I didn't know what to expect when I arrived and I left knowing that this had been a real "happening" in Spokane!  Bravo!


Costume Design, Fabrication and Artistic Direction by Sex Cake Monster
[email protected]
FB: SexCakeMonster

Music by Madeline McNeill and Xperomint

Produced by:
Shaun Springer
Ira Gardner



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Video Production Mon, 04 Jan 2016 17:30:00 GMT
Secrets of the Deep

One of the joys of working in a creative community is that you get to participate in projects that are making a difference in our community.  I am sharing a video of a recent performance by local singer Madeline McNeil who was performing this piece on the behalf of an artist from Australia.  These impromptu shows have really become mini "happenings" at our community thanks to the efforts of the Chatham Laboratory.

I was one of several camera operators to film this performance that was edited by local filmmaker Shaun Springer as part of a Spokane Film Project effort.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Mon, 04 Jan 2016 14:30:00 GMT
Wet Plate Photography Experiments

The the past few months I have been working with Dr. Greg Roth to learn how to do wet plate photography.  Our weekly sessions have taught me so much.  These are a few of my favorite images.



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Wet Plate Photography Thu, 10 Dec 2015 00:20:19 GMT
Chiaroscuro Charater Study  
Today  in class I was demonstrating a one light portrait style while making a character study of Brook Kellog.  I have enjoyed getting to know Brook and realized recently that he is an excellent model with rugged features.  Part of the study is to look at how blank space effects how we think about a person.  I think leaving some room towards the right of his gaze adds to the reflective quality of the work.
  1. the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.
    • an effect of contrasted light and shadow created by light falling unevenly or from a particular direction on something.
      plural noun: chiaroscuros
      "the chiaroscuro of cobbled streets"
[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Thu, 29 Oct 2015 21:15:02 GMT
More Cell Phone Art  


This morning as I sat and drank coffee I was drawn to the reflection of a shot glass sitting on the glass table in my living room.  I decided to pull out my phone and make a few images and explore the possibilities.  

I decided to put some wide borders around these compositions as a way of concentrating the attention on shapes and tonalities of the images without focusing too much on the details.  

I have a love hate relationship with alcohol.  I appreciate the burn of a good bourbon or scotch and last night was no exception at the end of a long work day.  But too many people I have known and loved have struggled with the side effects of too much drinking.  It is something that must remain in balance... the good and the bad.  For me this is a way to acknowledge the beauty of the struggle to find balance and harmony in life.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Thu, 29 Oct 2015 17:30:29 GMT
Cell Phone Journal


Perhaps my favorite camera is my blackberry smart phone that is always in my pocket.  I use it to make little visual notes to myself about images I might like to make.  It is like a diary for every little thought that comes to mind.  While it isn't technically perfect, it is intimate. 

Recently I finally had run out of space on my phone and had to download over 3000 images that had accumulated over quite a few years.  As I quickly glanced though all of the images I was amazed at how quickly they took me right back to my original experience.  Through the patterns of imagery that emerged during the browsing I could see myself and my perception of this magnificent world.

I realize each day that I make a photograph that I truly delight in the process of looking, seeing, and feeling.  Today as I was helping some students work with 4x5 view cameras outside, I looked up and was swept away by the blanket of red leaves above my head.  It reminded me of an impressionist painting and I had to make a record of it.

I will post some of my treasured images from my private visual journal from time to time.  I hope you enjoy!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Journal Visual Thu, 15 Oct 2015 22:30:01 GMT
Wet Plate Photography SarahSarahSarah, Ambrotype 2015

I had the pleasure of learning wet plate collodian photography from a colleague and friend Dr. Greg Roth recently.  He patiently guided me through the process of hand coating a glass plate and sensitizing it in silver nitrate.  With wet plate you have to expose and process the plate within a very short period of time before everything becomes too dry.  Working with a wooden 8x10 field camera offers another set of interesting challenges as well.  I think there is something of great value in this process and I am grateful for the experience.

Bird Bath & Egyptian OnionsBird Bath & Egyptian OnionsBird Bath & Egyptian Onions, Ambrotype 2015
These images are considered Ambrotypes because they are exposed on a glass plate as a very faint negative that becomes a positive when it is put over a black background.  The wet plate collodian process is used to produce tin types as well as ambrotypes.  The tin type was very popular during the civil war era but has the limitation of showing a mirror image.  One of the reasons I like to make ambrotypes is because it allows me to flip the glass plate so that the image is no longer reversed.  This also has the added value of protecting the emulsion when it is put into a frame.



Top: Sarah, Ambrotype 2015

Bottom:  Bird Bath & Egyptian Onions, Ambrotype 2015



Dr. Greg Roth and his 8x10 field camera with my 4x5 Wisner in the background.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photography Education Wet Plate Photography Wed, 10 Jun 2015 14:41:42 GMT
Watering the garden

I was making photos of our garden when my girlfriend came over and started watering the cabbage.  I kept shooting as she watered.  Later when I was quickly scanning the photos from the day I decided that this made an interesting animation.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Tue, 09 Jun 2015 14:21:14 GMT
As Time Goes By

I've been talking about cinemagraphs this week and decided to post a simple one here.  It is an interesting way of highlighting photography's quality of indexicality.  

These last two images were made out at the veterans cemetery in Medical Lake Washington.  I will be visiting this place again later this week as I pay tribute to my best friend's father who passed away this last weekend.  He was a good man who served his country and left an indelible mark on my heart.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Mon, 08 Jun 2015 14:45:00 GMT
Dharma Art

Recently I have returned to my pursuit of a zen meditation practice.  I started looking at Eastern philosophy as a means towards expanding my creative potential by engaging my senses more and letting go of preconceived ideas or goals.  True awareness of our physical perception is known as bottom up thinking versus the more Western goal oriented "Top Down" thinking.  Recently I've been reading a book True Perception that talks about the role of art in a meditative practice.  

The Amazon book summary states:

Genuine art has the power to awaken and liberate. The renowned meditation master and artist Chögyam Trungpa called this type of art “dharma art”—any creative work that springs from an awakened state of mind, characterized by directness, unselfconsciousness, and nonaggression. Dharma art provides a vehicle to appreciate the nature of things as they are and express it without any struggle or desire to achieve. A work of dharma art brings out the goodness and dignity of the situation it reflects—dignity that comes from the artist’s interest in the details of life and sense of appreciation for experience. Trungpa shows how the principles of dharma art extend to everyday life: any activity can provide an opportunity to relax and open our senses to the phenomenal world. 

 After more than 25 years of being a photography I think I am finally understanding how to make images that reflect my authentic self and I am really enjoying it. Here are a couple of images from a recent trip to a Japanese Garden where I let go of my need for any precision or any particular goals.



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Zen Photography Tue, 02 Jun 2015 14:37:51 GMT
A Campus Walk

I spent a couple of hours on Saturday May 30th walking around the college campus where I teach and was inspired to photograph all the beautiful landscape elements that were in bloom.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Mon, 01 Jun 2015 12:22:38 GMT
Willis Bell Collection

I came across this video a few days ago and it reminded me of how important photography is to me and how I am always happy to help publish work that matters.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photography Education Thu, 28 May 2015 12:15:00 GMT
Creating E-Portfolios

I have been teaching a digital portfolio development class this Spring and produced this video tutorial for my students.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photography Education Mon, 25 May 2015 14:30:00 GMT
Shootout Faces

Last week I spent time with students down at an old Masonic Temple building in Spokane Washington.  I just wandered around making portraits of students and faculty.  Ever since I got my full frame Nikon DSLR I've been using it with old glass from my father's Nikon F2 system.  For much of the last couple of months I've been shooting almost exclusively at F/1.4 and letting go of sharpness in favor of the emotive quality that shallow depth of field seems to bring to the work.  I've also been thinking a lot about Daguerreotype and Tintype portraits and the way those images seem to embody the full spirit of the person depicted in the image.  I've tried to bring some of that spirit to this work by slowing down and letting the person I am photographing remain still long enough to compose themselves in front of my lens.  I am enjoying this process.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photography Education Fri, 22 May 2015 14:15:00 GMT
Time passes...  

I had the privilege of attending the college graduation for a family friend's daughter whom I have known since she was four years old.  It is hard to believe it was only four years ago that I had photographed her high school senior portraits!  It is so exciting and such a privilege to be a part of.  


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Sun, 10 May 2015 14:15:00 GMT
Video Reel

There are so many ways to tell a story.  I can use words or I can use images or both.  I put together this collage video as a way to share a little bit of who I am as a photographer without the words.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Artist Info Fri, 01 May 2015 12:00:00 GMT

I recently photographed Miriam.  She is an amazingly talented fashion designer whose smile and hair reminded me of fourth of July fireworks!    She is so full of kindness and joy and it was such a blessing to work with her.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Wed, 29 Apr 2015 12:00:00 GMT
Portraits of Amos

I had the honor of meeting my friend Sironka's son Amos.  This young man has tremendous wisdom for his age and an incredible life story.  He comes from a Maasai village in Kenya and has travelled all over the United States representing his culture in song and dance.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:00:00 GMT
Recent Portraits Here are some recent head shots I did for an artist and actor named Nicholas Sironka.  He is from Kenya and a member of the Maasai tribe.  We have collaborated on several projects recently including the publication of two audio cd's and a new Ebook that features his paintings and audio recordings of the stories that go along with his paintings.  Sironka has some acting experience too and I was helping to update his Zed card as he gets ready to relocate to California.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Wed, 22 Apr 2015 11:30:00 GMT
Creative Life Spokane I had the honor of being photographed recently by Jon Lepper and Tim Halloran who are compiling environmental portraits of artists and musicians for a comprehensive website that they created.  It was interesting to experience being on the other side of the camera and watching two photographers work together.  It was a wonderful collaboration and I am thrilled to be a part of such a compelling collection of people and artwork.


Photos © Tim Halloran and Jon Lepper

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Artist Info Mon, 23 Mar 2015 11:30:00 GMT
Magic Moments

I have been keeping my camera out more often recently and trying to capture those intimate moments that are etched into my heart and mind.  Enjoying a glass of wine with Sarah was one such moment.  

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Sat, 14 Mar 2015 12:15:00 GMT
Introducing EIDOS: A Quarterly Journal About Photography and Culture

After more than 25 years of working full time in photography and filmmaking I finally feel like I have something meaningful to say about the medium.  This winter I am launching a new quarterly journal that features a wide variety of writing and photography.  

The first issue features the work of Walker Evans, Leonid Bergoltsev, Viktoryia Aleksandrov as well as essays and portfolios by me.

To purchase the journal please go to my publisher website at


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Publications Tue, 17 Feb 2015 15:30:00 GMT
A Beautiful Valentines Day

On Valentine's day I had the pleasure of taking a drive around Lake Coeur d' Alene before having dinner with a friend.  The sunset on the water was breathtaking and I felt blessed to share the moment.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Photo Stories Sun, 15 Feb 2015 13:15:00 GMT

I have a friend in Colorado who challenges me and inspires me.  It is with her in mind that I found myself making photos and thinking about the expression "Namaste" which essentially means, "the light that is within me honors the light that is within you."    

I decided to look for ways to represent this and photographed the christmas lights that are on my dining room window and the tulip bulb that I managed to grow into a bloom during the winter months by putting it in a mason jar and setting it on my window ledge.  The low winter light managed to induce the beauty to grow as has my own heart this past winter.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Wed, 11 Feb 2015 13:15:00 GMT
Upcoming Gallery Exhibit

Artist Reception will be on May 2nd from 5:30 - 9pm



[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Exhibition Gallery Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:20:26 GMT
Magazine Article Published! Spokane/Coeur'd Alene Living Magazine Article

I am honored to announce that my work is featured in the April issue of Spokane/Coeur d' Alene Living magazine.  It was a privilege to meet the writer Jeffrey Mix who spent time with me at my home office and darkroom for the interview.  The article was also an opportunity to announce my next exhibition at the Bozzi Collection gallery which will open Friday, May 2nd!

To view a digital copy of Spokane/CDA Living click here.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Magazine Article Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:45:47 GMT
New Artist Video About My Work! This past couple of months I have had a wonderful intern named Kelvis McKinzie who has helped me update my artist video.  It has been a wonderful process of sharing my workflow and ideas with him!


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Artist Video Tue, 25 Mar 2014 15:50:20 GMT
SPE National Conference in Baltimore

I had the privilege of attending the 2014 Society for Photographic Education national conference in Baltimore March 6-9th.  It was a fantastic event and I came away excited about many new ideas about the current media environment.  ASMP hosted a day of lectures about business and marketing and I was especially impressed by Judy Hermann's talk.

On a personal note I happened to arrive the day my best friend from high school retired from the Army where his last post was working with the Pentagon.  He came up to join me in Baltimore and I had the opportunity to travel to DC for a day and make some of the most meaningful images of my career while touring Arlington National Cemetery.  I will be posting some of these images on my personal works blog page as I get done processing film and editing the images down.  Keep checking back for more information!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 22 Mar 2014 20:48:28 GMT
Guest of The Film Project Podcast

I was recently asked to be a guest of The Film Project podcast hosted by a group of professional filmmakers.  It was an honor to be a part of this fantastic group of professionals.  Unfortunately I was in bed with the flu that day so they called me and interviewed me by phone.

Here is a link to the podcast:

Look for the March 9th edition.


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 22 Mar 2014 20:34:51 GMT
New profile on Thumbtack You can now contact me for assignments via thumbtack's new service.  Click on this link to check it out!















Photography by Ira Gardner

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sat, 07 Sep 2013 18:04:27 GMT
Light & Time

I was sitting in my office today and noticed the light reflecting off of my wrist watch.  I decided to pick up my cell phone and record some footage.  I then decided to add some other footage that I had made recently of lighting coming through the kitchen window and passing through a plastic water pitcher and an empty beer bottle.  I made several photos and recorded some video footage of the light dancing on the counter as it passed through glass and plastic.  Finally I made note of the shadows dancing on my barn studio floor.  I edited this all using the built in storymaker video app on my phone and posted it to Youtube.  it is my way of celebrating the little moments in life and how we are constantly moving and dancing.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Mon, 19 Aug 2013 21:28:46 GMT
How many prints can I hang on a wall?

A lot of people ask what size print or how many images they can safely hang on their wall.  Interior designers use a guideline of not covering more than 50% of any wall.  You can use any combination of frame sizes to come up with a design that covers your walls while maintaining the 50% ratio.  A small mosaic can work well or a series of uniform sized prints can make your space look like an art gallery!

So if I have a 8 foot wide area I can either hang one 48" inch framed piece of art or a combination of smaller framed images.  For this wall I put three 16x20 frames across an 8 foot area above a small black electric piano.  Before hanging these prints, I painted the wall a glacier blue color to create an accent wall in the room.  

If you have any home or office decor needs please don't hesitate to give me a call at 509.435.7420 and I can help you determine what will work best in your space.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Wall Decor Sun, 18 Aug 2013 00:59:28 GMT
Getting the darkroom ready for Little Spokane Arts Tour - September 28th  


I have just a little more than a month to get ready for this year's Little Spokane River Arts Tour and I have spent this fine saturday cleaning up my flat file/framing room and getting my darkroom ready to start working on a new collection of hand made prints.  I absolutely love making prints in my darkroom and this year I am excited about the collection of negatives I am working with that range from images from Paris, Vancouver Island, San Francisco, and Priest Lake Idaho!


Flat file and framing room



Image from Vancouver Island made on traditional 120 B&W film

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Sun, 18 Aug 2013 00:43:25 GMT
Recent Assignments I have had the privilege of completing some assignments for the Spokane International Airport.  Each time a new route opens at the airport there is a special celebration that commemorates the new route by having the first flight taxi through an arch of water created by the fire department on the tarmac.  In addition to this the airport puts on quite a party for the passengers on those flights.  Two new flights non-stop flights have opened up to LA and Chicago which happen to be two cities I have travelled to within the last three months!

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Tue, 06 Aug 2013 23:07:31 GMT
Quick photo of the day Closeup of 3 orange day lillies

Sometimes when I am doing mundane tasks around the house like watering the lawn I see something that grabs me.  I saw the sunlight glowing off of the day lillies next to my house and had to make a quick snapshot with my cell phone.  I have come to love my cell phone camera like an old school journalist with a small notepad and pen in his shirt pocket.  I can make little visual notes wherever I am.  Today I made this note and perhaps tomorrow I will get one of my other cameras out and a tripod and try to make this photograph.  I love that my cell phone camera is pretty much a square format which is just like the hasselblad and Mamiyia 120 cameras I love to shoot film with.  It keeps my eye in constant practice.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Thu, 25 Jul 2013 01:35:07 GMT
Visiting Artist W.B. Fontenot


You know you are in the presence of an artist when the kitchen is covered with tubes of acrylic and oil paint and the bedrooms are so jammed with canvases that he is sleeping on a mattress in the living room which is piled high with literature.  Just a couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting my friend the artist W.B. Fontenot.  He splits time between living and working in LA and doing his paintings up in a remote cabin in the Los Padres National Forest.  


He was showing me his latest work from the series "23:59/7" which is about the concept that we are all so consumed by work and the ethos of "24/7" in terms of business and our own connection to each other with technology that we barely have time for a even single minute break to ourselves.  The rich beautiful colors of the oil paints he is using gives one a good reason to pause and take in these paintings during that brief respite.  It is almost ironic that W.B. has completed 17 canvases since November and practically dedicates 24/7 to his artwork!


SInce I last saw him a year ago his work has taken on a much larger scale.  His work is on large wood panels as well as huge canvases and is well suited for large rooms  and public spaces.  Having worked in hollywood as a commercial photographer for the past 10 years his art begins with a photographic silhouette of an everyman character that he has photographed.  After post production he prints individual pieces and cuts out the figures has glues them to the panels.  By the time he has finished a piece the original photographic material is buried beneath complex layers of paint. On some pieces he collages pieces of text from newspapers and literature that are so dense that the "text becomes texture" echoing the sentiment that we are bombarded with messages daily through the media and in others he even has begun to incorporate a pattern of codes that invites the viewer to explore the hidden meaning within the painting that are are reminiscent of the newspeak of George Orwell's 1984.  Having worked within fashion and glamour industry he is all too familiar with the layers of hidden meaning and retouched virtual realities.  I think his work is both aesthetically beautiful with it's brilliant metallic colors and textures and intellectually stimulating for those who want to see something more that is worth contemplation.  

The real work comes in the layering of paint and the shellac varnish that gives the wood panels a pearl essence quality and creates "exploding color when it interacts with the paint".  When I first new W.B. Fontenot he was a photographer, but as I listen and watch him meticulously hunt through the hundreds of tubes of Golden brand paint and describing their rating system and pigment qualities and the  process it takes to find just the right hue and texture I realized that he has transcended the limitations of the photo-mechanical image and taken the precision of an engineer and blended it with a sable brush and a healthy dose of obsession for creating something truly original and far beyond the confines of photographic media.


After enjoying a pot of coffee and a few hours of riveting conversation I drove the nearly 3 hours back to LA and was left thinking about how real art is always just about the work of art, I mean the imagery and its symbolic meaning, not the artist's pedigree or educational background.  W.B.'s work is part of a new breed of painting that comes directly from the streets and has a graffiti like quality and raw energy about it.  His work is literary and he is clearly well read and yet as I look around at the gallery world of art I see so many artists whose resume speaks louder than their imagery.  Nobody would ask Bob Dylan for his credentials and yet it seems like the fine art world has become so closed off in many ways.  I once spoke with an artist at a small gallery reception who complained that she wasn't getting larger and more frequent shows because she had her MFA from one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the country and had huge student loan debt.  I think that is often the case.  I'm glad to see that W.B. is keeping it real in a tradition that reminds me of the best of 20th century art like Rothko and Rauschenberg.  In fact as I am writing this I think that is a very fair comparison because Rothko's work is truly a non-verbal experience that has to be felt.  The paintings that W.B. showed me had that depth in their fields of color along with the text that one would expect from a literate person.


I am happy to share with you that I will be publishing a book of W.B.'s work within the next three months and he has an unveiling of a massive new mural coming in September at the well known bar The Federal in North Hollywood.  To find out more about W.B. Fontenot's work and books currently available visit

More to come...



Here is a clip of some of W.B.'s earlier work "Dangerous Excess of Human Knowledge" that illustrates his collaging techniques.

[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Artist Painting Tue, 16 Jul 2013 19:43:14 GMT
News & Event blog launched Welcome everyone!  I will start posting news and event items to this page.  These items will be more than just the fine art black and white photography and will include everything that is happening with my photography ranging from exhibition news, book releases, commissioned projects as well.  


Thanks for being here!


[email protected] (Photography by Ira Gardner) Tue, 16 Jul 2013 19:42:50 GMT