Denver Photography – Lenses, Perspective and River Running

While scouting photography locations for an upcoming corporate photography photo-shoot in downtown Denver today, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the cyclical nature of my career in photography.  My meeting with Sheryl Anderson of Wells Anderson & Race – a Denver law firm, was productive. We evaluated some fantastic locations for the group portrait photography session later this month as we talked about logistics and details. On a side note, I entitled the folder for this mini project “WAR_Scout” (a shortened version of Wells Anderson & Race_Scouting pics). 


This shot is almost exactly the one I made 30 years ago - the day I purchased a 40mm Hassleblad lens.

This shot is almost exactly the one I made 30 years ago – the day I purchased a 40mm Hassleblad lens.


Earlier this morning my new 20 mm lens arrived. So when I headed downtown to determine the best locations for the corporate group photography portrait, I opted to bring the new wide glass. Now what’s serendipitous is that back in my old photo-jornalism days, the 20 was my go-to lens. I remember like it’s yesterday the photo-spreads I did for The Crested Butte Pilot, The Gunnison Country Times, and Colorado Homes & Lifestyle Magazine. The 20 was always a big part of those photo-shoots. And although I consciously tried not to lean too heavily on my favorite workhorse, the best shots were often made with the 20.

I lost that lens 20 years ago in a rapid with no name on the Green River through Split mountain Canyon. It was the summer of 1995 and I was doing some action shots for Adventure Bound river Expeditions – the same company with whom I spent my college summers as a river guide. It was the last day of a four day river trip and I was exhausted from paddling that inflatable kayak in circles. My job was to find the optimum vantage point for the action-photos of the other rafts and kayaks as they pounded the white-water. Plus, I was trying to impress my sweetie Brenda who was my sole passenger.  We snaked into the last swift water and I remembered that if I hugged the cliff on the right side, there was always a nice sized wave – even in low water. But I made a lazy lazy mistake – a stupid 2nd year boatman mistake. As I always tell my pre-teen son, look out for the second-year river guide. The first-year boatman is too timid to make daring mistakes and third (or more)-year guides are savvy enough to know how to find maximum experience without endangering their cargo.

My 20mm lens along with all my other 35mm gear rests under that no-name rapid still today. As we entered that wee bit of white-water my kraft was under inflated. Like I said, it was an unnamed nothing rapid at the very end of a taxing trip. Of course the little wave was actually not so little. We flipped. Now here’s the Really stupid unforgivable lazy thing I did that day. My beautiful Pelican equipment case was lashed down properly, but there was NO lashing through the latch of the case – nothing to keep the case from bouncing open when we capsized. With adrenaline strength I grabbed the back of Brenda’s lifejacket with one fist and the kayak with the other. I was shocked that I could stand on a submersed rock against the rushing water long enough to contain the damage. But the damage was done. I saw both sides of my Pelican face down and floating canisters of recorded film bobbing in the waves. During my river days I was known as a low key soft spoken guide. But on this day my voice echoed far into the labyrinth… “SON-OF-A-BITCH”.  With my head hung low I gathered up a few film canisters as they floated away.

Funny how a lens can conjure old stories. But camera gear to a professional photographer sometimes has it’s own life. Like an old favorite shoe, we feel lost without it’s companionship.  But in the 90s, I shot almost entirely with medium format – my other friend. In fact, I loved my Hassleblad gear and used it far more than the 35 mm Nikon gear. Then, the digital revolution came, and the new trend was zoom lenses. My workhorse lens was the 17 to 55mm. Now full circle, my  one day old 20mm buddy and are looking to make a whole new portfolio of images.





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Ride The Rockies – Photography

Septuagenerian Sister Rides Rockies

Sandee and Tom Swanson nearing The Royal Gorge in 2015 Ride The Rockies.

Pair of low angle bike riding infrared photos from 2015 RTR.

When we caught up with Sandee and Tom on the Royal Gorge Bridge, our cool morning had already morphed into perfect summer day – comfortably hot.  It was June 18, the sixth day of a grueling bike ride that took 2000 riders from Grand Junction to Westcliff.  My traveling companion – eleven year old Levi, and I had already had a brisk hike along the rim trail before we settled on the south side. We waited as we watched riders huff up the final incline to the Royal Gorge.

Now I thought that this sixth day was one of the easier rides in the Denver Post sponsored 2015 Ride-The-Rockies. And much of their 45 mile morning ride from Salida was a gentle downhill. But then I learned about “the wall’ – a two mile stretch so steep it looks like this /.  In fact “the wall” is twelve % grade leading to the South side of the Royal Gorge. Riders were so exhausted that more than one just collapsed when they reached the shady spot we shared with resting riders. And then Levi spotted his Aunt Sandee.

Tom and Sandee Swanson on Royal Gorge Bridge – 2015 Ride The Rockies.

Levi and I hiked the rim trail at the Royal Gorge before meeting up with Sandee and Tom.


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Janus Student Art Buying Program – Photography

Jayne Buck (left) a panelist from the Janus Student Art Buying Program converses with International School of Denver’s art teacher Risa Machovec and ISD students Levi DeCroce, Finn Spangenberg and Sofia Morfin on their purchase.



Janus Student Art Buying Program at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival

A hearty “Thank You” goes out to Denver based Janus Capital Group for their investment in Kids. Over Independence Day weekend, 24 schools participated in the Janus Student Art Buying Program at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. Elementary, middle and high-school kids roamed booths at the bustling festival intent on finding just the right art to reflect their own school’s values.



Now in it’s 14th year, the Janus Student Art Buying Program opens doors to future art buyers from Denver area schools. In this program art teachers win a budget to be used for purchasing art work which will be permanently installed at their school.


Jayne Buck (left) a panelist from the Janus Student Art Buying Program converses with International School of Denver’s art teacher Risa Machovec and ISD students Levi DeCroce, Finn Spangenberg and Sofia Morfin on their purchase.


At The International School Of Denver, students vied to represent their school by writing essays to the question “Why do people create art?” From hundreds of unidentified essays submitted, Art teacher Risa Machovec and other teachers selected the winning essays written by Sofia Morfin, Finn Spangenberg and Levi DeCroce.
The following sample was written by Levi DeCroce:
        People have been creating art since they have existed. Creating art is not a basic need like food and water, so why do we make it? There are many different  reasons for which we create art, such as self-expression. Other reasons include reflection of one’s surroundings and communication with others.

             Self-expression is the main reason for creating art. What people draw always has something to do with what they’re thinking about, or how they’re feeling.  For example, Pablo Picasso painted mostly in blue after his friend committed suicide. Even in the case of abstract art, there is always a hint of self- expression in the art.

             Reflection of one’s surroundings is a component of self-expression. What we see, we recreate in our art. For example, prehistoric people drew animals that they hunted on the walls of their caves. Later in history, people created art that represented their religion, also their surroundings. Even in the case of  abstract art, the artist has seen something resembling what the artist draws.

             The third most important reason for creating art is communication with others. If we want to tell someone something and we can’t explain it with words, we might draw something to help explain it. Some cultures had and have picture-like writing. One example is the ancient Egyptians’ hieroglyphics. Communication with others is less important than self-expression and reflection of one’s surroundings because communication is not a constant in art, as  are the other two reasons.

             As with anything else, there is more than one reason as to why people create art. The main reason is self-expression, accompanied by reflection of one’s surroundings. Communication with others is the third most important reason. Humans are not robots, so we have the need to express ourselves, and art is a way of doing that.
The three eager art buyers arrived early on Friday morning to select just one of the thousands of art works available at the festival. After perusing as many as 50 booths, the trio narrowed their choice to three artists before ultimately choosing a painting my Rick Loudermilk of Austin TX.  Risa Machovec aka Ms.mac says the painting will be displayed in the main office this summer before landing in the library.

ISD art teacher Risa Machovec along with student art buyers Levi DeCroce, Sofia Morfin and Finn Spangenberg show off the school’s new acquisition by Austin painter Rick Loudermilk.

Student art buyers Levi DeCroce, Sofia Morfin and Finn Spangenberg along with ISD art teacher Risa Machovec and Janus representative Andrew Kier pose with the school’s new art acquisition.


Savvy student art buyers with supportive families.

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Denver Photographer 2015 Award

The Denver Photography 2015 award – Video or Still, was again given to DeCroce Photography. We’re proud to win this hip crystal blue award as recognition of excellence in Denver photography. Now in our 55th year in business, DeCroce photography was founded in 1960 by Edward A. and Signe DeCroce.


The 2015 Denver Photographer award given to DeCroce Photography.


Awards for photographers in Denver do help attract new clients. But SEO blogging, tweeting, creating/distributing brochures and communicating regularly with existing clients are some of the keys to thriving in this business of photography. An excellent article in the ASMP website details a few more strategies for Commercial photographers.

As a Denver photographer who does his own marketing, I’ve had success in recent years attracting both corporate and commercial clients. Today’s storefront is very much tied not only to a professional photographer’s website but also search engine optimization (SEO). Without SEO efforts a great site might rarely be seen.

But sometimes we all get a little overwhelmed with new photography projects and with our own personal lives to adequately stay current our own marketing plans. This is my mea culpa!  I’ve been a bad boy this spring and early summer. In fact, I took a two month vacation from making any new changes to the DeCroce Photography website. And my blog posts have been sparse.

Well the good part is that there’s no shortage of new material. And in the coming weeks and months, visitors will be seeing a wide variety of stories. That’s a promise!

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Denver Photography -Youth Baseball

Denver photographers whose sons play youth baseball are obliged to capture Denver action photography. This photographer is no exception. So without further ado, here are a few images of my favorite subject!



Levi Shows super pitching form in this action photograph. Under his Southeast Denver Braves uniform it’s almost impossible to detect his prosthetic leg – most spectators never even notice. And during all-star tryouts, one coach said (under his breath), “ya gotta loose that limp kid”

Sequence of three youth pitching images during game – delivery of a fastball.

Levi was better and better at the plate in 2015

This duo of action shots from behind the plate were shot at Holly Hills in Denver.



The Southeast Denver Baseball League Braves season was fraught with scheduling problems from the start. Game after game was postponed due to torrential rains. And in the end, there just weren’t enough calendar days left to make them all up. Unfortunately for the Braves, they played six games against he best two teams and only five games against the bottom four teams. The Braves finished in the cellar.

But to assume that the team’s season was a failure is overstatement. This was a year of growth. It was a year of acquiring the kind of sour experience which allows appreciation of both baseball and life itself. It was a season that left at least a few of the braves hungry for a new season.

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