My early years were documented with a Vivitar 110, a modest camera with built-in flash and stylish wrist-strap. Later, my dad gave me his father’s Nikon S-2, a 35mm rangefinder introduced in 1954 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. With it, I calculated proper exposure without the aid of a light meter and did experiments with depth of field. 50mm lenses are great for portraits, and I found myself getting closer and closer to the subjects of my photographs. I’ve used a Kiev-made rangefinder in recent years for similar purposes.

Lately—well, for perhaps the past 13-14 years—I’ve been shooting with a twin lens reflex (TLR) camera. I take it with me nearly everywhere.

I use photography to document my life. As a result, the subject matter varies widely: from toddlers and grandparents to interiors and botanicals. I take advantage of available light in order to depict these subjects as I’ve found them, and aim to represent a moment, event, or place through multiple details (not unlike the Cubist’s notion of depicting multiple viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context).


Open today! I’m honored to have created a mural for Q?rius (pronounced “curious”), the new education center at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. My mural greets visitors to the 10,000 square foot interactive environment, just inside the Constitution Avenue entrance along the National Mall.

With 7,600,000 visitors in 2012, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History lays claim to most attended museum in North America—and is only 2nd in the world behind the Louvre in Paris, France (with its 9,720,000 annual visitors). Its collection includes more than 126 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts—from the Hope Diamond to the Hall of Dinosaurs.


Q?rius combines labs, unparalleled access to collection vaults, creative studios and hangout spots—to inspire exploration by teenagers and help them understand how science is relevant to their everyday experience. This ties in with a national effort to increase interest in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math. In a current series of New York Times editorials, the need is laid bare: the number of students pursuing careers in these fields is plummeting as the need for those workers soars.

“We’re taking the traditional museum and turning it inside out to help teens make sense of the world they are inheriting and giving them access to Read the rest of this entry »

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Kiplinger’s August issue is on newsstands, with two of my photo illustrations accompanying Jeffrey R. Kosnett’s story A Cabin in the Woods. As part of the cover package about retiring where you want, the story discusses the how and why of buying (or building) a vacation home with an eye to retiring there. The illustration with cabin exterior (above) was run full-page; the cabin interior (below) was 1/2-page.


Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine was founded in 1947 and has a paid monthly circulation of 800,000. The monthly advises its readers on managing their money—covering investing, retirement planning, taxes, insurance, real estate, buying and leasing a car, health care, travel and financing college.

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I’m happy to share art for A Faith of Their Own, a new book authored by Chris Folmsbee. The cover is a mash-up of my photograph, illustration and hand-lettering—which I later reapplied to a companion guide and DVD. A Faith of Their Own will be published July 1, 2013 by Beacon Hill Press, an imprint of Nazarene Publishing House.


Nazarene Publishing House (NPH), founded in 1912, is the publishing arm of the Church of the Nazarene and is the largest publisher of Wesleyan-Holiness literature in the world. NPH prints more than 25 million pieces of literature each year, and processes more than 250,000 orders each year from more than 11,000 churches from many denominations.

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Chinese (Lunar) New Year begins Sunday, February 10, 2013. In anticipation, I was commissioned to create a card celebrating both The Year of the Snake and San Francisco—my home, and home to the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Gung Hay Fat Choy!


Card front (l) and interior (r)

The May issue of Report on Business Magazine features new illustrations that accompany Ivor Tossell’s story “The ABCs of Cybersecurity.” The assignment included a full-page opener and three spots that served to illustrate the author’s A-to-Z primer. To read the story, download it in pdf format.

C is for China.

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Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine recently commissioned three photo illustrations to complement the February 2012 issue’s cover story: Save Thousands in 15 Minutes or Less!

Left to right: Full-page illustration that served to kick-off the story; illustration that accompanied banking tips (e.g. ditch that expensive airline credit card); illustration that ran adjacent to phone-related tips (e.g. lose your landline, use apps to text for free, etc.). Click on each of the images to enlarge, or download a pdf of the story to see the work in context.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine was founded in 1947 and has a paid monthly circulation of 800,000. The monthly advises its readers on managing their money—covering investing, retirement planning, taxes, insurance, real estate, buying and leasing a car, health care, travel and financing college.

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Happy New Year! I had some fun with this illustration, a reimagining of six Midwestern states in the form of Australia (using actual boundary lines of Australia’s provinces). Photographs were taken in East Helena, Montana. Please click on the image to enlarge.

If you are into maps (as I am), check out Montpelier, another map-inspired project featuring a contiguous hand-drawn line over 46 photographs. Both projects are a mash up of photography and illustration, the real and the imagined.


My apologies to subscribers that were resent older posts late-December. My web host had a hard disk failure that resulted in posts getting resent (at time of failure and again upon restoration).

You will obtain your goal if you maintain your course is the sixth entry to a series featuring fortunes. Photographs were taken at Cato’s Ale House in Oakland, California, in 2011.


Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought is the fifth entry to a series of fortunes, each hand-drawn and overlaid onto photographs of my sons. Photographs were taken in Truckee, California, in February 2010.

Initiated in late-2009, the ongoing series includes: Stop searching forever, happiness is just next to you; Everything will now come your way; Sing and rejoice, fortune is smiling on you; and Long life with friends & family is yours.


Vespers is a recent collaboration with my wife, Jennifer Tolo Pierce. The series was photographed at Cato’s Ale House in Oakland, California.

By Jennifer Tolo Pierce

past the piles
of unwashed laundry
the too-small bed crowded
with the sleeping sprawl
of children—
Past the broken toy
cars, the missing buttons,
the gummy mouths wet
with spit
Rewind past the barkeep’s
last call,
the half-drunk beer leaving
its sweaty beaded frown
Past initials carved
roughly into wood—
It began with a “J” and met
with a “K” and led
here, to this room in Paris
above the Square Caillancourt
where the church bells clang
upon the hill and a stain
the color of tea blossoms
across the ceiling—something
Holy— something that much closer
to God.

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