Blake Gordon Photography

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In Print: Saguaro Cactus poaching for Red Bull's Terra Mater
TM-cactus grid.jpg

Earlier this spring, I traveled to central Arizona to investigate the illegal poaching of saguaro cacti for Red Bull's Terra Mater magazine. The National Park Service recently began tagging saguaro cacti in order to prevent theft - which is primarily tied to housing development in the region. However, saguaro cacti are often harvested for landscaping beyond the region bound for California or even China.

The state requires that transplanted cacti be tagged. The only exception to this is if a private land owner is merely relocating one within their own property.

We weren't able to connect with any subjects who illegally harvested. To strengthen the story visually, I looked at how saguaros were represented in the landscape, from wild plants on national forest land and in Saguaro National Park to residential applications in old trailer parks and million dollar homes as well as roadside plantings by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

In Print: Kalus Obermeyer for the Wall Street Journal
Klaus Obermeyer flashing a smile whiles swimming laps at the Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, CO

Klaus Obermeyer flashing a smile whiles swimming laps at the Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, CO


Klaus Obermeyer is nothing short of a legend in the ski world, and particularly in Aspen, CO where he resides. Born in Germany, Klaus arrived in Aspen in 1948 as skiing in Colorado was beginning to take off. He later developed Sport Obermeyer and created a number of innovations in ski wear. Hewas inducted into the U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1997.

Above all these things though, is Klaus' radiant personality. I photographed him working out recently for a Wall Street Journal article, "At 95, a Lifelong Skier Says the Source of His Vitality Is His Workout". Klaus has practiced aikido for 35 years and uses various machines and weight training exercises in the gym. However, swimming is his favorite training activity. And all that keeps him active with skiing, which he still does regularly. In fact, Klaus just celebrated his 96th last week.

Happy Birthday Klaus!



In Print: Allure of the Altamaha
Wolf Island

Wolf Island

I story I worked on in the spring about the Altamaha River in Georgia was recently published by The Nature Conservancy. The deadline was tighter with this story than with Water Works and a recent drought in Georgia meant the water levels were against us, but I was still came away with some strong images. The Altamaha River delta was extremely visual from the air. I was really honored to work on a story celebrating wildness in my home state.

Long leaf pine cone in Moody Forest

Long leaf pine cone in Moody Forest

In Print: The Nature Conservancy
TNC cover (Issue 02 / 2012)

TNC cover (Issue 02 / 2012)

I got a hold of the latest Nature Conservancy magazine and got see our feature story on the Edwards Aquifer in print. It was a fantastic assignment to get back on the ground and do an in depth environment assignment in Central Texas as I recently moved to Colorado. The region holds a special place in my heart and the challenge of photographing the Edwards Aquifer - an environment system that is underground and essentially invisible - was an enjoyable challenge.

Everyone worked real hard throughout the project and it was really enjoyable to collaborate with the design team on the layout. I'm very humbled (and pleased) that the images were given such space and weight in the magazine.

The piece is 16 pages (w/ 5 spreads of just images) and a cover.

The rest of the online piece can be found here.

The Edwards Aquifer for The Nature Conservancy
Medina Lake, Texas / 01.31.2012

Medina Lake, Texas / 01.31.2012

Earlier in the year, I had a fantastic assignment from The Nature Conservancy to create photographs for a story on the Edwards Aquifer in Central Texas. Not only was this a relevant land-based story in Texas during a time of critical drought, but the photo editor, Melissa Ryan, came to me interested in a more artistic interpretation of the subject.

With the welcomed creative freedom comes the responsibility of producing something unique with finite resources. Exploring the relationship between landscape and culture is central to my personal research and I was thrilled at the opportunity to utilize that way of seeing for a client. On my end, that involves quite a bit of exploring and looking for subtle moments in the interaction between people and place that speak of our larger condition.

The story was shot on film with a Hasselblad and a single 80mm lens. The square format is atypical for magazine work, but gave the images the sense of a formal documentation that we were looking for. The design team did a great job of maintaining the strength of the images through a consistent pacing in the layout. Exploration and constant refinement to the point of exhaustion are certainly a part of my process with personal work and I am very grateful that the rest of the team worked so hard to create something beyond a typical editorial assignment.

Read the article HERE.

View a gallery of images HERE.

See a video about the process HERE.

Jungle Fish

Costa del Mar has launched a 'Protect' branch of their site promoting the eco-tourism/conservation project I've been helping with the past two years - shooting video twice last year for a documentary film on the project directed by Louisianna Kreutz titled "Jungle Fish". See the trailer HERE. The film can be purchased online through their store.

I went down to Guyana again this year to shoot still images, which I also did on the previous trips. Still images are embedded throughout the site, and there is a gallery HERE.

Emmy nomination / catching up

I'm back from another trip to Guyana and have plenty of catching up to do, but am incredibly flattered to receive an Emmy nomination for my contribution to a NPR/ProPublica piece on traumatic brain injuries in the military. The piece can be found here. The story was in the later stages when I was called in and so my contribution owes a lot to the investigative reporting from Daniel Zwerdling and T. Christian Miller at ProPublica, John Poole's video interview at NPR and photo editor, Coburn Dukehart's ability to weave it together into a well crafted multi-media story.

But of course, none of that work compares to Victor Medina and the other servicemen and women who have had to deal with TBI and have had the courage to try and change military practices for the better.

editorial: G+J, Stern, WSJ

I recently shot some editorial portraits for a few different clients: the German financial magazine G+J, another German magazine Stern, and The Wall Street Journal.

The first for G+J, was of Van Hoisington, president and chief investment officer of Hoisington Investment Management who unconventionally puts his investments on deflation. He told me about growing up in the tiny plains town of Paradise, KS.

For Stern, I photographed Chris Rodriguez after he was interviewed about his time as an Army recruiting officer in Houston a few years ago. He shared the post with Aron Andersson who committed suicide during that time. Sadly there is no shortage of PTSD-type stories coming out of our two lengthy conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lastly, the assignment for The Wall Street Journal was of a Shayne McGuire, a pension fund manager at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. We wandered around the Texas State Capitol grounds early one morning, though only had a small serving of sunlight.

NPCA: Valles Caldera I shot a story for National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) on the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico earlier this summer, capturing both stills and video/interview material. I enjoyed working on a larger, collaborative editorial project with a process that everyone was exploring. I worked with Jason Bosch at Aurora Novus, the multimedia production arm of my agency, Aurora Photos to produce the video under the guidance of Amy Marquis, associate editor at the magazine.

This parcel of land is, of course, quite stunning, but also has an interesting cultural history behind it. It's been logged and mined, though mostly used as ranch land for the past hundred or so years. It's mild summer climate and situation at the headwaters of the Jemez River make it an ideal summer habitat for many animals. It shifted from private to public ownership and has been in an interim management policy, though is now in the process of coming under National Park Service management, though is likely to remain under the 'preserve' model.

As serene as the caldera is, my time there was definitely focused on making work. I was fortunate enough to catch an incredible evening of weather. It always strikes me at how wonderful and amazing "bad" weather is.

GEO Italia: Reality TV

I was interviewed by photo editor Paola Brivio of the Italian magazine GEO to profile my Reality TV project in their July 2010 issue. Paola questions were very insightful and wove through several ideas my work. I've included a copy of the interview here.

Smithsonian Magazine

I got an unexpected package in the mail today. It was a couple of copies of the April 2010 Smithsonian Magazine. I shot some work for them last summer, and though I knew it at the time, it's taken a while to go through to print. The story "All-American Monsters" is written by Richard Conniff and is on America's fascination with the mammoths. I didn't know it until meeting him at the Mammoth Site in South Dakota, but many Americans at the time of Thomas Jefferson were convinced that we would find these animals alive and roaming on this continent.

It was really great to get it in print from them in the mail. So few times do I get my first viewing of the layout in print. I really like the work that they do and am excited to shoot this assignment.

PDN Photo of the Day

Hello 2010.

PDN ran one of my nightwork images from Natural Bridges National Monument for their Photo of the Day blog for Jan. 1st. A wonderful way to start the New Year. Those red rocks and stars always put things into perspective for me.

publishedBlake Gordon
nightworks in WEND magazine

midnight in January from Grand View Point

WEND is featuring a selection of nightworks of the Colorado Plateau in their SNAP gallery this month. WEND is a great magazine that keeps its adventure storytelling authentic primarily through engaging first-person narratives. They're based in Seattle and also have a strong commitment to environmental ethics as a business.
"Silence and emptiness convey divine immanence by their lack of prosaic forms. The desert is the environment of revelation, genetically and physiologically alien, sensorily austere, esthetically abstract, historically inimical. It is always described as boundless and empty, but the human experience there is never merely existential. Its solitude is a not-empty void, a not-quiet silence. Its forms are bold and suggestive." - Tom Shepard, Man in the Landscape

NPR: Houston's Third Ward

I shot a series of images of Houston's Third Ward for NPR's Morning Edition this past Monday. The photo editor at NPR, Coburn Dukehart, was great in that she gave me the freedom to shoot the story however I saw fit. It was quite a blessing that had me digging a bit deeper for engaging images.

I met the Steve Inskeep of the Morning Edition and state rep Garnet Coleman for a tour of the Third Ward. The piece was on gentrification in the Third Ward. Being an issue I muse on anyway, it was great to get a story that played into my training as a landscape architect. Following around the Morning Edition crew was a great insight on their process - very professional. I shot during the day, but ended up getting a lot of great material at night. The urban form really puts itself on display during those sleeping hours.

The story and online gallery can be found here.

Canoe & Kayak: Texas Water Safari

spread in Canoe & Kayak

CANOE & KAYAK recently ran a feature on The Texas Water Safari, self-billed as the "Toughest Canoe Race in the World". The 260+ mile canoe race has been going on since the 1960s and takes place in the summer.

I shot the images during the 2007 race with balmy temperatures above 100 degress. 2008 was one of the lowest water years on record and I heard the race all the more challenging in low water. Only 53 of the 100+ teams finished in the allotted time. The story is available online here.

Canoe & Kayak: HEROES cover

CANOE & KAYAK ran its Heroes issue in March and used some images that I shot at last summer's Outdoor Retailer show. It was a great shoot as I had to set up a temporary studio with 20' wide seamless and multiple strobes prior to start of C&K's anniversary party. There was about 20 athletes that we initially shot as a group and then broke them down into smaller bunches. I really enjoyed working with this group as there were some great group dynamics in addition to all of them being stellar athletes. I broke down the studio into a smaller setup and did the 'party photobooth' gig as everyone had a great time.

nightworks in Outside magazine

Outside ran a double page spread of one of my wilderness nightworks images in the Exposure section of the October issue. I shot it on a week long shoot on the Colorado Plateau last January. This project is still in development so stay tuned for further news.

magazine, publishedBlake Gordon
National Geographic Adventure spread

National Geographic Adventure: First InThe September issue of National Geographic Adventure is out with a spread from the Texas Water Safari. It's a shot of the winning 6-man team right before they exited the Guadalupe River for the final 3 mile stretch across the bay.

The image was shot at 11:30pm under a near full moon. I drove for a few hours (thanks Joey) to catch up with the leading team at the finish line. Arriving early, I found that their was an old wooden bridge that could make for a good vantage point during their last stretch of river. I arrived, setup, swatted off mosquitos, and had about 5 seconds to catch them with the flash before they were out of range.