In My Little Town…

Photo © Bob Krist

Every time I spend some time around New Hope, PA, where I live, I’m always blown away by the great array of talented and interesting folks we have living in town. It’s a little art community on the banks of the Delaware River, and it’s home to great music clubs, art galleries, restaurants, funky shops, artists, sculptors, actors, musicians, cabaret artists, female impersonators, brewers, screenwriters….well, you get the picture.

I’ve always wanted to document my neighbors, and I have some studio space this month (courtesy of the New Hope Arts Center) to work on a project I’m calling “New Hope: In Character.”  I just started shooting this week and thought I’d share a couple with you. Right up top is Andre who runs a great restaurant called Zoubi.  Andre is from France and is the quintessential restauranteur—friendly, charming, and sophisticated.

Below are Sam and Stasia, the girls from Love Saves The Day, a funky shop (the original was in Greenwich Village) where you can find vintage clothing, toys from the 50’s and 60’s, and, um, all kinds of other stuff. There’s always a wacky mannequin outside the shop, and so we just had to include her.

And finally, Brendan the master brewer (so young, and so accomplished) and his associate, Dan, from the Triumph Brewery, where I often rush the growler to bring home some fresh, delicious suds that really make it hard for me to even pretend I’m leading a low-carb lifestyle!

Photo © Bob Krist
Photo © Bob Krist


As part of this project, I also spent last weekend offering pro bono portraits for area families with a member serving in the military. We photographed 45 families in two days!

It was an incredibly busy and rewarding weekend. We met some amazing folks who have put a lot on the line for us all, and it was a real pleasure to give a little something back.

My friend, Rich Kennedy, photo editor of the Doylestown Intelligencer, volunteered two days of his time and did all the computer work (plus some excellent art direction when I started to melt down on occasion…like when 13 people from one family showed up)!

We also had help from photographer Arun Paul and Rose Gutekunst, not to mention Peggy (aka SWMBO).

For a look at the studio space and a quick discussion of my basic light setup, hit the jump.

Photo © Bob Krist

It’s times like these that I’m glad I never sold my big strobe gear and light modifiers from my annual report shooting days. We’re only using one light so far, a DynaLite Uni 400JR in a big 4×6 foot Photoflex softbox on the left. We’ve got a black cutter card to feather the light off the background a bit, and a couple of 4×6 panels with white material as fill.

Behind the 9 foot painted paper backdrop, we’ve got a huge 12 foot wide painted canvas backdrop for when we get into the larger groups. For that, I’ll probably use the big umbrella you see on the left and bounce into it and then through the big 6×6 foot white panel you see on the left as well, for that beautiful double diffused look, using one head and a DynaLite 1000 pack.

Attsa one big huge soft light source, and I know I’m showing my age, but with apologies to St.David of Baltimore, I personally love the look of a giant, soft northlight.  Got the idea from my old drinking buddy, Vermeer. Talk about rushing the growler, boy could that guy put away the Heinekens….

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Hello Bob,
    You are an amazing fellow. I’ve read a couple of your books and found that your writing skills wonderfully match your gift of photography, and both are superb.

    Thank you for the work with the military families. I’ve done similar work with impoverished families that could not afford family portraits, and have wanted to do something similar with our local military families in my suburb of Sacramento. There are lots of such families everywhere that would benefit from not just the photos, but also of our show of appreciation for their sacrifices — and it is a whole family sacrifice. Perhaps you are in a position to wave a banner of sorts to start a nation-wide movement?
    Looking forward to your next post.

    P.S. Off the subject — when you shoot street scenes, do you always get a photo/model release from people that happen to be in the photos that will be published?

    1. Hi Bob: Thanks for the kind words. There is a national program, called Portraits of Love, and Fuji and PDMA (Photo Distributors and Marketing Association) run it. I found out about it after I set our project up, but Fuji came on board and offered prints for the families.

      On your PS, I never get model releases for street scenes. It would be great to have them, but almost impossible to get them. Bob

      1. Thanks, Bob.
        I won’t take your time on this, but I’ve seen contests and publishers which state “– no other party can enforce any right or raise any objections in connection with a publication” which does not promote confidence. I’m with you, though. 🙂

        1. Bob: Publishers will always look to indemnify themselves, and contests which require model releases are thinly disguised grabs for free advertising photos, so they will require releases. But they’re ripping you blind. Honestly, most photo contests are horrifically one-sided deals, and offer you no chance for career advancement and just about as much chance of a prize as the lotto at the gas station. I’d avoid them at all costs! cheers, Bob

        2. As I said, you’re an amazing fellow. Thanks for the extended follow-up.

  2. Wonderful post to read this morning while enjoying my latte. I can see the life of a travel photographer even when talking about home. I’d never thought of visiting New Hope, but your post has perked my interest for a day (or 2) trip.

    That looks like a pretty nice studio setup, a lot different than your traveling studio. I like the simple setup of Andre’s shot. And, love the dimples on the young lady on the left. Looks like everyone had fun, that alone makes them great images.

  3. Whoa! 45 families in two days? I’m tired just thinking about it. Good on you though… giving something back is always a good thing.

    And speaking of that, and very coincidentally, I’ve got a post up at my blog right now about wounded veterans and a group of volunteers giving them a hand. It’s part of an online exhibit called “Impact.” If you find a free moment, have a look. Cheers.

    1. Mike: Nice project. Looks like fun! And it’s outdoors. Bob

      1. No kidding, right? They’re a good bunch, it’s a good cause and there’s adventure involved! Tough job, but I’ll try to push on. Haha!

        Thanks for looking, Bob.

  4. Bob,
    This was an awesome post to read first thing this morning. I love reading your blogs. Is that your studio or one you used for the day? I thought I remember reading in another post that you used your garage as a studio.

    1. Vin: That’s the space the Arts center (see post) is letting me have for a few weeks. Thanks, Bob

  5. Bob:

    Thanks, again, for an excellent and informative post. I am a professor at Carroll College, a small liberal arts Catholic college in Helena, MT (another great small arts community). This year I am helping the college establish a center for peace and justice. I am working with our photography instructor to have his students take portraits of some of the men who live in the local homeless shelter (all pre-arranged with the shelter of course). The portraits will then be put on exhibition in our library under the title “Portraits in Dignity.”

    1. Chris: Sounds like a great project. Come back with a link when it’s up and running. Thanks! Bob

  6. As a born-and-bred Jersey Guy (who’s lived in Virginia since 1983), I share Bob’s affection for New Hope. My wife and I have spent many wonderful days and nights enjoying the art scene, quirky shops, great restaurants and welcoming B&Bs of this little berg on the Delaware.

    My adopted town of Roanoke, offers a lot of the same amenities, including a brand new art museum, a lively arts scene, a local symphony orchestra and opera company, a farmers market, wonderful restaurants, great hiking and fly fishing, and a minor league baseball team (Class A Boston Red Sox [I’m a lifelong Yankees fan] affiliate. And then there’s the Blue Ridge Mountains…life is good!

    Bob, if your travels should ever take you down this way, I’d enjoy taking to you to dinner and showing you around.

    Thanks for your support of our military families.

    1. Thanks John. I may take you up on that. I’ve been through Roanoke a couple of times and love that downtown area! Bob

  7. Five years ago we moved from the 2 million plus of the San Francisco Bay Area to the 25,000 of Helena, MT. We have art galleries, a theater, a symphony, and an incredible public library. Is it San Francisco? Of course, not. However, everyone knows everyone else and in the Bay Area we were not three hours north of Yellowstone National Park and three hours south of Glacier National Park.

    The quality of life here is incredible. Well call 5:00 PM “rush minute.”

  8. Hi Bob,

    You have a great blog and I love your photos, the presence of such vivid colors in many of your photos makes them really appealing to the eye.

    Anyways, I saw your audio/video piece from your trip to the Amazon and really enjoyed it. I currently maintain a blog on just about everything PERU and would love to get your permission to write an article that highlights your work (especially the piece on the Amazon). I would of course like to receive permission to use some of your photos and will of course adhere to any terms and conditions of use that have currently in place.

    Keep up the blogging!

    1. Sure Marco: Just run them with a copyright notice and drop me a line when it’s up. thanks, Bob

  9. Hey Bob
    It was great working together. I am sure the families will be pleased.

    1. Arun: Thanks again for your help. I owe you some prints of you in the lighting setup! Bob

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