Welcome to the Webbpage Blog. Home of Tim Webb Photography. Here is where you can see what really goes on in my life. Enjoy!
I had good intentions of making this post about Ansel Adams on his 120th birthday which was February 20th, but I got busy and forgot. So instead, I'll post it today on the 38th anniversary of his death.
One of the best ways to get better at photography is to study other photographer's work, especially the great ones, even if they don't do the same type of work that you do. I used to stand in the grocery store dissecting fashion magazines just to pick up on lighting techniques. I began the habit of studying other photographers back in the early 1990s when I was still up to my elbows in chemicals and the darkroom process, while working as a newspaper photographer for The Clay City Times. I would pour over The Lexington Herald-Leader while eating lunch each day, studying the work of photographers like Charles Bertram, Ron Garrison, Mark Cornelison, David Stephenson, Frank Anderson, and David Perry. I would later become good friends with all these guys, but at the time, I knew each one based on their style of photography.
Although Ansel Adams is somewhat of a cliche today, I can honestly say I have learned more by studying him than anyone else, with former University of Kentucky yearbook photographer and National Geographic phenom Sam Abell as a close second. I never did a great deal of landscape photography but I always admired Adams for being a pioneer and I consider him the father of modern-day photography. He legitimized photography with his previsualization and use of the zone system that he created. I like to think that he created the foundations of Photoshop decades before it was ever a thing. He also inspired a lot of the photography that I did on three hiking trips to the Grand Canyon between 1996-1999.
As odd as this may sound, I also learned a few corporate photography tips from Mr. Adams. Which sounds weird, because he's so well known for his landscape photography, few people realize that he did a lot of corporate work as well. It was actually a lot of the corporate photography paying the bills that allowed him to invest so much time in the vast landscape and environmental projects that he took on in the early part of the 20th Century. I fell in love with his autobiography and have read it several times. One of my favorite pieces of advice from that book is to never go on a business lunch with an empty stomach because the client may try to get you drunk and bargain the price. Adams would always eat buttered bread before such meetings to coat his stomach. I also learned how the pressure of being self employed and the fact that photography of any nature is a seven-day-a week gig and can take it's toll on your body, because at one point Adams was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown.
As much as I had read and poured over the work of Ansel Adams, it was in 2002 that his work totally changed my life. Ironically, my father, who was the one who introduced me to the photographic life in 1978, called me one night and said there is a really good PBS documentary on Ansel Adams playing on KET and I think you would really enjoy it. Just like in 1978, my Dad had no way of knowing the impact that that conversation would have on me. I went on to watch that documentary no less than fifty times. I used to watch it over and over, picking up something new each time. And the documentary's soundtrack had an even bigger impact on my life. I can honestly say that if iTunes hadn't come around when it did that I would have easily worn out my copy of the soundtrack CD. I suffer from panic attacks and high blood pressure, and if I'm ever "stroking out," the Ansel Adams soundtrack can always calm me down. I like to think of it as musical Xanax.
In 2012, I got to check off a major piece on my bucket list when I visited the Ansel Adams Gallery, where he processed much of his major works during his hay-day in Yosemite National Park. I not only got to spend time in the building where Ansel Adams actually worked and built his career, but I was also able to buy a couple of his prints for my office.
I would be remiss to do a post like this without saying which Ansel Adams photo is my favorite. I'll start with my second favorite, which is the photo of Georgia O'Keeffe and Orville Cox taken in 1937 at Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona. I love that photo because it captured such a beautiful behind-the-scenes moment with his fellow artists. I have devoted an entire gallery on my website portfolio titled "Snappers" to that very thing, behind-the-scenes moments with my cohorts.
So. Drumroll please. My favorite Ansel Adams photo is his 1941 image titled "Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico." My reason for loving it isn't because it's one of his most famous prints, it's because of the brilliance behind it. For the man who meticulously calculated all of his photographs, this one was done on the fly. He didn't have time to calculate the light, because the sun was dropping fast, and he was about to lose the light on the crosses in the graveyard, so he quickly set up his camera, and created it based on instinct alone. Remarkably, he was able to read the light! This matters to me because my first camera in third grade was an old Agfa viewfinder camera that had no light meter, and my Dad unknowingly gave me the greatest gift that he could've ever given me, even though it was years before my time...he taught me how to read light because the camera itself was incapable of calculating the light for me. That's why I relate to that photo so much!
Some things are just meant to come from the heart.
R.I.P. Mr. Adams.
I got to visit the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park in 2012.
Adams' autobiography served as a huge inspiration to my career.
The 2002 Ansel Adams documentary and soundtrack were truly life-changing to me.
"Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico" was so inspirational to me because it reminded me of how my father taught me to read light when I first started in photography in 1978.
As I wrap up my Jones 305 blog posts, which originated when I recently found several photos in my EKU digital archive that didn't seem relevant at the time, I was reminded of all of the people who came and went in my life during the nine plus years that I was there. It also reminds me of something that my father told me a long time ago. He described life as a book with many chapters. As one chapter closes another chapter is ready to be written. On Friday afternoon, January 23, 2004, I walked out of Jones 305 for the last time as Eastern's University Photographer, and ironically, on Monday morning, January 26th, I was right back on campus doing my first assignment as an independent freelancer, covering a electrical outage on campus for the Lexington Herald-Leader. To put things in perspective...had I stayed at Eastern I could've retired with my 27 years this past December. But I have no doubt that I made the right decision. I may never get to retire, but I'll sure have fun doing it.
Joetta Tipton, seen here at her retirement party in 2003, was the administrative assistant and the glue that held our office together. I owe her a great deal of thanks because she was the one who introduced Natalie and I to her granddaughter's baby sitter when Natalie was pregnant with our oldest son Nolan in 1997. We made one phone call and that was it. Daycare was never an issue with us. The same baby sitter and her husband achieved grandparent status in our family by keeping all three of our kids over a period of 11 years.
It was during my time at Eastern that I started collecting photography books and old cameras. I became like the Statue of Liberty for old cameras because people would show up in my office with old cameras to give me.
Hiding out in my ultra-cool darkroom that Kodak designed when the building was constructed in 1969 was the highlight of my days. It's so funny that darkrooms and the chemical process are now back in vogue. But, I've been there done that. Time to move on. I'm satisfied to be an old man using Lightroom.
Karen Lynn joined our staff in September of 2000, and quickly became one of my best friends. I always said that Karen was like the Cal Ripken Jr. of our office because she could do just about anything. She was so versatile. She could write, do photography, and graphic design. I used to joke and say that all you had to do was give Karen a roll of aluminum foil and the internet and she could build you a rocket ship the moon.
Shortly after Natalie graduated Morehead State in 1995 she hired on at Eastern at the ripe old age of 21, which worked out really well because we had the same work schedule and holidays. She eventually moved over to the student life office and was over student organizations and programed all the fun stuff for New Student Days. Above, she is seen in her office in the Powell Building in August 2001, and with the band Rascal Flatts who was on campus for a concert in April 2002, leaning on a column at the Powell Building during New Student Days in August 2001.
Below, Natalie and I both worked on the day of the 9-11 attacks. The University cancelled classes that morning as a show of respect, but also so that students and faculty could watch it as it all unfolded on the news. They put several large screen TVs in the student center of the Powell Building so that the university community could come together, and they fed them pizza as we all watched the news, trying to process what was going on. Although all we were doing was taking photos and serving pizza, she and I both understood that we were witnessing history as 9-11 was the Pearl Harbor and the JFK of our generation.
If you've ever seen the movie WE ARE MARSHALL then you're looking at the real life Jack Lingyel, right, who was played by Matthew McConaughey. Lingyel came out of retirement in 2001 to serve as Eastern's athletic director, which coincided with coach Roy Kidd's 300th victory and retirement. The two are seen here at the Oregon State game August 2002, Corvallis, Oregon.
Ami Piccirrilli was my last director at Eastern. I really didn't get a chance to work with Ami all that long before leaving, but it's funny how so many things come full circle. I hadn't talked to Ami much since 2003, other than on Facebook. But then, when I went out of business at the height of the Covid pandemic in March of 2020, it was Ami, who is now working in marketing at UK Healthcare, who called me out of the blue in April, and gave me my first assignment, post-Covid, when I needed it most. Ami unknowingly, literally helped resurrect my business from the ashes of unemployment.
I now photograph all of her provider portraits for the pharmacy division of the UK Chandler Medical Center. She always brings her laptop to work on stuff when we have photo shoots, but we usually sit around as we wait on people to show up and shoot the bull, and she doesn't get much work done. But...life is short. Why answer emails when you can catch up on things (just don't tell UK). It goes to show, don't ever write anyone off in your life, you never know when they'll be there to lend a helping hand.
I've really debated on whether I would show this photo and talk about the life-altering story behind it. I'm a man of faith and I don't like throwing anyone under the bus, and I'm a big believer that we're all a "work-in-progress" in God's eyes. But, ultimately, this one photo, and this one singular moment in time, changed my life forever. I appreciate history for the sake of history, regardless of whether it's good or bad, because it'll always be history.
At precisely 5:36 P.M. on November 18, 2003, the wrath of EKU President Joann Glasser caught up with me. And it was at that exact moment, that I knew with absolute certainty that my time at Eastern Kentucky University was over. A lot of good people had left Eastern because of Joann Glasser, and in the blink of an eye I joined that illustrious crowd. I waited until the next morning to resign, but I knew, even with three young children at home, that I would go work at Walmart if I had to, but either way, I was moving on with my career. It turned out that I was able to stay on a couple of more months, because I didn't want to be unemployed at Christmas, and I really wanted to make sure my wonder-student Chris Radcliffe, who graduated in December 2003, would get my job. And he did. Once again, the rest is history!
Like the old saying goes...the more things change the more they stay the same. My first official job as a freelancer with Tim Webb Photography was to go back on campus and photograph a major electrical outage for the Lexington Herald-Leader, that forced the University to put kids up in local motels during cold temperatures.
I want to end this post in a positive light. Working at EKU was the greatest thing that ever happened to my professional career. It brought me back to my alma mater and to Richmond, where I have lived for over 26 years. I love this photo because the building behind my right elbow was the Donovan Annex Building, which was the building where I earned my journalism degree. And the building directly behind it, near the edge of the photo is the Donovan Building that houses Model Laboratory School, where all three of my kids attended pre-k through 12.
By the time my daughter Laura started pre-k in 2007 they had moved her classroom into the old Eastern Progress office. Her little backpack locker was about 10 feet from where my photo cabinet was when I was Photo Editor my senior year in the Fall of 1991. Literally, her educational career began in the same spot where mine ended. Things really do come full circle if you wait long enough.
As I continue adding to my Jones 305 blog posts, #2 will highlight my student photographers.
My very first student was a young lady from Hindman, Kentucky named Shannon Ratliff. I owe Shannon a great deal of gratitude because when she started working with me in early 1995, I had no clue what I was doing, and was working way above my pay grade. But we made a good team and we were patient with each other as we figured things out.
My next student was a fine arts student named Richard Garland. I just thought I was a bonafide Pink Floyd fan until I met Richard. He was a very worthy music fan and a good photographer. Richard came back to EKU and now works for the library. It was also funny how one student would lead to other students. Richard introduced me to Hannah Trustee, who replaced him and worked with me for a while. Hannah completed a really nice photo essay on Eastern Kentucky that went toward her thesis while working for me.
Every now and then you get to experience a defining moment in your life, the type of moment that creates shock waves for decades to come. One day in 1996, a very confident ginger named Brenda Ahearn walked into my office and proudly declared, "I have my Daddy's camera equipment and I want to be a photographer!" I was having a bad day and thought... "Sure you do!" I told her that my two paid positions were currently taken. She quickly informed me that she would be happy to volunteer. And she did. She had the most incredible work ethic that I had ever seen. I usually showed up to work around 8:20 each morning and Brenda had already been there for an hour, filing negatives or whatever needed to be done. Brenda was a rare breed who never questioned anything that I asked her to do. She would knock you down to answer the phone on the first ring because she said her father always told her it was good business to answer the phone on the first ring. It didn't take long for my two paid positions to weed themselves out, which opened up their spots for Brenda. And as they say, the rest is history, because Brenda overcame many obstacles in pursuit of her dream of becoming a photographer. She graduated in 1998 and went on to a phenomenal career in photography. Life has come full circle for Brenda. Her first job was the University Photographer at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Then she worked for several newspapers all across the country, and is now once again a university photographer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
I finally learned that the best photographers were the ones who sought me out. The ones that I recruited never seemed to work out. I took it as a God-thing and would just let the Good Lord send people to me. Somewhere around 2001 or 2002, a kid from Mount Sterling emailed me saying he was leaving Western Kentucky University's photojournalism program to come to Eastern, which was unheard of. He said he felt like he was just a number at Western. I told him how myself, along with Mark Cornelison and Rob Carr had come out of Eastern and succeeded when Eastern truly didn't have a photo program to speak of. But, I told him Eastern would give him one thing and that was opportunity. Opportunity to be a Big Fish in a very small pond. Me, Corn, and Carr were all examples of what hard work and perseverance could do for you at a place like Eastern. Kevin took my advice, transferred, and worked for me, The Eastern Progress and the Lexington Herald-Leader. Kevin took some criticism for leaving Western, but he proved his critics wrong by going on to get a masters in photojournalism from Ohio University, served on the board of the National Press Photographers Association, and eventually worked at newspapers in Boston, Augusta, Baton Rouge, San Antonio, Knoxville, The Associated Press, and is currently freezing to death as the Visuals Editor at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, where he was recently named the national visuals editor of the year.
I wish I had thought to take a picture of my student photographer Luke Ramsey on the morning of September 11, 2001, as we sat in my office editing photos while watching the events of 911 take place on a little black and white TV that I kept in my office. Whenever Luke and I see each other today, we both talk about how seeing each other reminds the other one of that Tuesday morning, and watching the second plane hit the South Tower on that little fuzzy black and white television.
Much like with Brenda years earlier, I had another life-altering moment while shooting homecoming portraits on October 1, 2001. My wife Natalie had already told me about a guy named Chris Radcliffe who worked for her at the Information Desk in the Powell Building. She said, "He is a real sweetie and if I could bottle him up and save him for a daughter someday, I would. He's also really interested in photography." As I was sitting in Conference Room C of the Powell Building that evening, bored out of my mind, waiting for homecoming contestants to trickle in for their portrait, I kept noticing this guy walking by really slow, checking out my studio lights. After his third pass-by I told him to come and talk to me. Once again, the rest is history! Chris was my longest tenured student, and he eventually got the University Photographer's position when I left in early 2004. Ironically, I had the job nine years and two months, and Chris was in the job nine years and five months. Just like with Brenda, I'm proud that I was able to give him a start, but he has since then blazed his own trail, having become a lighting guru and what I would consider an expert in Lightroom. After leaving Eastern, Chris has created a very successful freelance business that has literally taken him around the world.
Finally, my last student photographer who was there to help me turn out the lights on my last day was a guy named Chuck Vance. Chuck was the second student who influenced my music tastes when he unknowingly introduced me to a little indie band called Guster. Most people have never heard of Guster but they made a huge impact on me when I reached mid-life and was looking for something new to listen to. Chuck now goes by Charlie and is a CEO in northern Kentucky.
I was blessed to have some great talent to work with in my nine years at Eastern, and I like to think that I had a positive impact on them as well. Or at least I hope I did.
Shannon Ratliff covering EKU Baseball, Spring 1996
I did a portrait with Chris and Brenda in the studio in February 2003, when Brenda came back to Kentucky for her mother's funeral.
Brenda and I, Summer 2018. She always comes to see me when she's back in Kentucky. I'm proud to have always been her mentor, her impromptu father at times, and always a trusted friend. I don't talk to her often, but when we do talk we never hang up the phone without saying "I love You!" It's just that kind of enduring friendship! She still calls me "Boss Man" to this day.
Brenda holds her Dad's original Canon camera that brought her into my office in 1996, along with a
copy of Time Magazine from 2016 with one of her photos inside.
Chris Radcliffe was Sigma Chi president while he worked for me, and now my son Cameron is the current Sigma Chi president. I love how things come full-circle. The great thing about having students come and go like a revolving door was they kept me young, not only in how they dressed but also with music. Chris introduced me to the music of Ben Folds. Our running joke is I used to make fun of the shoes that he wore, only to turn around and buy the same shoes a year later. In many ways, Chris was ahead of his time...well, maybe he was just ahead of my time.
Natalie always wanted to bottle Chris up and keep him for our daughter Laura, who was a newborn at the time!
Sometimes I could con Chris into being a model for stock photos.
Even after I left EKU and moved onto the freelance world, Chris and I continued to work together. We made several trips across Kentucky, including a couple of magazine assignments to the Red River Gorge, Wise, Virginia, and my family farm in Carter County, above.
When Chris worked for me he and Nolan would argue over who actually owned a Sponge Bob Square Pants stuffed animal that I kept there for Nolan. A few years later Chris took this really cool remote-fired photo of all three of us with a camera mounted behind the basket in Alumni Coliseum.
Richard Garland...the man, the myth, the legend!
Kevin Martin covering EKU Football Media Day, August 6, 2002.
Kevin, seen here with Eastern Progress adviser Dr. Libby Fraas, in April 2003. This photo meant a lot to me because Doc, as everyone called her, was not only one of my former advisers, but she was also a good friend and my greatest mentor. She could be a real ball-buster when she needed to be. And believe me, if you were one of her editors and you missed deadline she would dock your pay in a heartbeat. And when you only made $45 a week, that really cut into your beer-budget for the week. Anyone of us who came out of The Eastern Progress was well prepared to work at any newspaper in the country thanks to Doc. This photo meant a lot to me because Kevin was attending from the "University of Doc" the same as I had 12 years earlier.
In May 2009 the four "Big Fishes" from Eastern Kentucky University and former photo editors of The Eastern Progress, Kevin Martin, myself, Mark Cornelison, and Rob Carr worked the Kentucky Derby together. (Never mind the fact that Corn has a spire growing out of his head!)
I held a rare staff meeting with my student photographers on October 21, 2003. Little did I know at the time, that three months later I would be turning over the reigns to Chris Radcliffe, who is seen in the bottom left corner with his Nokia phone. It's also interesting to see the evolution of my office decor over time. It was such a great office to work in each day!
Chuck Vance, center, walking across campus at Horny Corner. Student's today don't have a clue where Horny Corner is located because the center of campus has changed so much.
Chuck posing with Amber Jones (Kennoy), who is now with WKYT Channel 27, for stock photos in the library, March 2003.
I was recently working on a project for EKU's Alumni Office for a magazine project that they're doing on Coach Roy Kidd. As I was diving into my EKU digital archive which officially began on the morning of August 2, 2001, and officially ended on January 23, 2004, I found a few gems that had fallen through the cracks at the time. I call this blog post Jones 305 because that's where my existence as a photographer was for a little over 9 years. EKU changed my life and changed who I was as a photographer. It was there that I first realized the importance of photography's most important element...light. Sadly, I had never given light it's due diligence before this time in my career.
I graduated EKU on December 12, 1992, with a degree in Journalism. After graduation, I went back to my hometown in Clay City and worked for my hometown newspaper, The Clay City Times. I came back to work for my alma mater almost two years to the day later on December 1, 1994. I was like a kid in a candy store working in a darkroom and office that was designed by Kodak in 1969 when the Jones Building was constructed.
My time at EKU totally shaped my career as a photographer because I went into the job as a boy and came out as a man, several hundred thousand photos later. I left EKU on January 23, 2004, and dove head-first into my own business as a freelance photographer. I will always love Eastern Kentucky University as both a former student and a former employee, and I will always appreciate the opportunity that Kentucky's school of opportunity gave me.
My first digital picture with an SLR camera came at 9:02 A.M. on August 2, 2001. I was unpacking and setting up my brand new Nikon D1X digital camera when our graphic designer Don Rist came through to get his morning coffee and stopped for a photo. Sadly, Don past away just a few months ago.
My second picture, a few minutes later, was of my computer desk in my office.
Jerry Wallace was the writer and the walking rock-n-roll encyclopedia in the office.
Our director Ron Harrell on the phone in his office.
Jerry and I got to travel with the football team to Oregon State University in 2002. We got up early the day of the game and visited the Oregon coastline.
I had yet to master the art of the selfie in 2002.
A mere shadow of myself covering the 2003 homecoming parade.
I decided not to shoot the Three Doors Down concert in April 2003, and instead sat next to another co-worker from our office Karen Lynn.
My former editor at The Eastern Progress and roommate in Frankfort during the spring semester of 1992, Terry Sebastian. Terry was back on campus in 2002 as Gov. Paul Patton's Press Secretary.
Jerry and I helping to plant a tree in front of the Cammack Building.
I was really active with the University Photographer's Association of America, seen here at our annual symposium
at Kent State with a side trip to Cleveland and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. I brought the symposium to EKU the following year.
It's funny to think about now, but with one leg still in film and one leg in digital, I really was a pioneer in the Digital Revolution. I literally kept a film camera, left, and a digital camera, right, in my bag for a while in 2001. Where I started in photography at such a young age, I still have more time with film & chemicals, 23 years, than I do digital, 20 years.
I always wanted to do a coffee table book on the best bathrooms on campus. My personal favorite was the men's restroom
in the Burrier Building because that building had the Home Ec classes and was full of girls, which meant the
men's room was always open.
I got to meet the venerable White House Correspondent Hellen Thomas in May 2002. She gave the best commencement address that I ever heard while at EKU.
My last official photo as EKU's University Photographer was of chemistry professor Tom Otieno on January 22, 2004.
The following day was my last day. Ironically, our two sons Chris and Cameron would go on years later to become best friends.
It all comes full-circle!
I achieved one of my life-long goals on Saturday. Well, sort of. I've always wanted to photograph a tornado but I've never had the opportunity. I've never had a desire to be a storm chaser, or anything like that, but I've always enjoyed shooting bad weather. I've shot thunder storms, lightning storms, wind storms, snow storms, and ice storms. And I've covered the aftermath of a few tornadoes, but never the tornado itself. I've even had nightmares about capturing a tornado on film or chip. The one thing that each nightmare had in common was that I was presented with an opportunity but my camera wouldn't focus and eventually I would have to give up and run for my life.
Yesterday, shortly after the UK bowl game against Iowa started, the tornado sirens went off and within a few minutes this funnel cloud formed within a mile of my house here in Richmond. Shortly after I shot this video it transformed from a funnel cloud into an EF-1 tornado that hit Union City and other parts of northeastern Madison County.
One of my greatest photography mentors is Sam Abell, who grew up in Ohio, but had family from LaRue County Kentucky. Sam left Ohio and came to the University of Kentucky in 1967 and produced the greatest two-volume yearbook that the university has ever seen. In 1970, the year I was born, he landed with National Geographic and went on to lay the roots of a phenomenal career in photography. His 2002 book The Photographic Life inspired me to leave my position as EKU's University Photographer and pursue a career on my own. In that book, Abell talks about the influence that his Dad had on him as a young photographer. Our stories are similar in that both of our fathers peaked our interest early in life with make-shift darkrooms in our homes. In the book, Abell also talks about the basic photographic concepts that his father shared with him, one of which, is that bad weather makes good pictures.