I was in photographic diapers when I was handed a Brownie Instamatic by my dad at the age of 4 and still have that camera.

At 6, I was being taken to photo conventions in NY and the passion was ignited.

In college, I was fortunate to study under Walter Rosenblum, who coalesced my photographic vision.

While doing graduate work in architecture at Columbia University, I ventured to Tahiti to study where my favourite Impressionist artist, Gauguin, lived and worked. Returning from that trip, my photo eyes were opened to the world. Through fortuitous opportunities, I was hired as a contract photographer for Air France based in New York.

I handled a variety of assignments including being the official AF photographer for the inauguration of the Concorde.

A subsequent 3 -month international assignment brought me to Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Paris with subsequent trips through France.

My travel work was represented at first by the Image Bank and subsequently became a member of Getty Images. My images have also appeared in Travel & Leisure, Nat Geo Traveler and for a number of Japanese agencies.

Switching rolls, I worked as an art director with major agencies in New York, concentrating on travel and cosmetic accounts. I also served as a judge for the One Show in photography and commercials. I had the privilege of working with such photo luminaries as Henry Wolf, Hiro, Anthony Edgeworth and Pete Turner.

A subsequent move to the west coast led to work with Tourism Fiji, Tourism New Zealand, throughout SE Asia and full circle, back to Japan. I lived and worked in Saigon for 3 years [pre and during the Pandemic] where I created photo-stories covering various aspects of life in the city through the eyes of an ex-pat. I continue to be sent on assignments to capture images “in real time” for tourism boards and travel related companies.

I have judged for photo associations around California including PPA, PSA, County Fairs and local photo groups but put more emphasis on helping photographers develop their vision.

“Jim, Thanks for judging our Poly Photo competition. You did an awesome job as was reflected by so many comments from those on our Zoom meeting. It was evident you spent a lot of time previewing our images and making detailed notes. Your decades of experience in photography showed in your critiques when you explained how our images could do better in competition with certain modifications. Our members are very serious about learning how to improve and will apply your suggestions. Thank you again for an amazing job of judging and teaching.” –Poly Photo

I have learned many valuable lessons:

Photography teaches patience. Be at one with your camera.

Ninh Binh, Vietnam – Net thrower

Mandalay, Myanmar – Monk’s eye

Photographing in the elements

 Bac Ha, Vietnam – Marketplace                  

 Chiang Mai, Thailand – Pattaya Elephant Preserve


Most of you, like myself, were raised in film, and, more often than not, it was black and white. I was taught a valuable lesson which I use to this day, to view the world in tones. In fact, I keep one camera body’s viewfinder in black and white to see the tones of the scene I am about to photograph. If it works in black and white, it will translate in colour – not necessarily the other way around.

My architectural training further enhanced my heightened sense for compositional and spatial relationships. It is something that comes automatically to me and I try to impart to anyone I mentor. Composition is the most important element in any photographic image. I always encourage photographers to study the masters: Henri Cartier-Bresson and Fan Ho to name two of my favourites.

 Mikisato, Japan​ – Serene morning

 Osaka, Japan – Meditation room, Daiko Monastery

 Tottori sand dunes for TTK Taavel, Japan

 Poster for White Sands National Park, New Mexico

But what is your image saying. What story is it conveying.
These are questions you should ask yourself before you press that shutter button.

Too often I see photographers more concerned about the technical virtuosity of an image and meeting the criteria of an association. We have progressed from hours in the darkroom to hours in front of a computer screen. Photography is not a competition, which is why I defer from “scoring.” Verbal guidance/positive critique is my preferred mode. I encourage you to develop your own vision and style.

When first working in film, it was dodging and burning and hand-spotting photos – minimal corrections from the original exposure. Today we have computerized tools to do those jobs and more. But another valuable lesson I was taught was ‘if you have to use post-production programs to correct a photo, beyond what you would have done in a darkroom, you probably shouldn’t have taken the photo in the first place.’

In a little over a hundred years, we have experienced photography emerge from its wet-plate beginnings, through film to the development of digital capture. Those same computer tools have taken us into another era opening limitless avenues of creative expression, though the advent of AI is yet another new frontier we must embrace. But remember, it should start with your image.