There are only a few ways to safely capture high-quality video during this period of social distancing. The most popular method for collecting cinematic interviews (A-roll) is a drop kit.

Read More

Shooting video with crew off-set is possible, but it comes with some limitations and caveats.

Update – Because this post has been quite popular, I’ve also created a Drop Kit FAQ.

Drop kits are a zero-touch way to record high quality video interviews remotely. If you’re using a drop kit to record the A-roll for your video, it’s important to know what you can (and can’t) expect from your rig. A drop kit in the right hands can give amazing results, so much so that your audience doesn’t ever need to know that your talent was alone in the room.

Read More

The Arri Alexa Mini LF is one of the most anticipated cameras ever.  It’s a killer combination of Arri camera performance, true 4K+ resolution, and a price tag under $100,000. Getting started with the Alexa Mini LF can be intimidating, but here’s what I’ve learned shooting with mine so far.

Read More

When you’ve been a director of photography for as long as I have, you end up with a lot of stuff! Here’s an abbreviated list of equipment I own and operate regularly.


Arri Alexa Plus Camera

  • Arri Alexa Mini LF Camera Kit
  • Sony FS7 Camera Kit
  • Sony A7s II Camera Kit (2)
  • Sony A7r II Camera Kit
  • Sony a6500 Camera Kit
  • GoPro Omni 360-degree VR Camera Kit (2)
  • Sony EX3 Camera Kit
  • Arri Alexa Plus Camera Kit
  • Red Scarlet Camera Kit
  • Custom BulletTime 24-Camera Rig
  • GoPro Hero 7 Black Camera Kit (2)
  • Canon 5D mark III Camera Kit


  • Zeiss CP.2 Super-Speed Compact Cinema Prime Lens Set in PL and EF
  • SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x PL Lens Set
  • SLR Magic APO Hyperprime Cine Lens Set in PL and EF
  • Zeiss ZE Super Speed Set in EF
  • Fujinon MK series zoom lenses in E
  • Canon Photo Zoom Lenses (including 16-35, 24-70, 24-105, 70-200, and 100-400mm)

Camera Support

  • Sachtler V18 Tripod System
  • Sachtler FSB 8 Carbon Fiber Tripod System
  • Sachtler 7+7 Tripod System
  • Dana Dolly with Speedrail
  • Kessler CineSlider Dolly
  • iFootage Lightweight Camera Jib
  • 100mm Hi Hat
  • 75mm Hi Hat

Lighting, Grip, and Electric

  • Quasar X-Fade 4′ LED tubes (8)
  • Litepanels Astra 6x Panels with Bluetooth (2)
  • 1.2K HMI (PARs and Fresnels, with magnetic ballasts) (4)
  • 8-inch and 6-inch Mole Richardson Daylight Fresnels (4)
  • Flag Kits, Reflectors, and Floppies in Various Sizes
  • Junior, Baby, and C-Stands
  • Electrical Cables (Stingers)
  • Clamps, Sandbags, Apple Boxes, and Everything Else

Other Stuff

  • 17″ Teleprompter
  • Ford Transit Connect Van
  • Laptop Computer with Windows 10, MacDrive, and ShotPut Pro

I have a valid drivers license and US passport. In addition to working as a freelance cinematographer, I often work as a fixer; arranging for rentals, providing insurance, finding crew, and payroll services.

I carry my own liability, workers’ compensation, equipment rental, and umbrella insurance. It’s easy for me to get most video production equipment with a few days’ notice. I am also comfortable and experienced operating cameras from Panasonic , JVC, Blackmagic Design and others.

This equipment can travel with me to set in Chicago, Milwaukee, or the surrounding areas, or be rented separately.

If you’re a director of photography for documentary, reality, or even corporate video,  someone has probably hired you to shoot local landmarks. Here are some of my favorite Milwaukee standards, and where to shoot them, to set your scene in Brew City, USA.

Milwaukee Downtown

Grab a parking spot, most of these shots are within reasonable walking distance.

  • The Calling, a one-of-a-kind, 40-foot-tall orange star sculpture where Wisconsin Avenue bends to meet the lake. I usually shoot when pedestrians are around, for a sense of scale. It has no bad angles, but my favorite is from the top of the parking structure just to the northeast.
  • The Milwaukee Art Museum, is actually three separate buildings, but the one you’ll recognize is the Quadracci Pavillion. Milwaukee locals call it “The Calatrava” for the architect who designed it. This all-white building usually looks more like a sailboat than a museum. It’s been the setting for a Transformers movie and many commercials. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch it when the “wings” are open, depending on the time of day and weather conditions. Be sure to get shots from the pedestrian walkway crossing Lincoln Memorial Drive.
  • The newest skyscraper is the glass Northwestern Mutual Building, across from The Calling on Wisconsin Avenue. The tallest is the US Bank Center, at just over 600 feet. It’s not as sleek, but probably more recognizable as classic Milwaukee. If you’re lucky enough to get inside the NM building, there are terraces are a few hundred feet up. You have a bouquet of Brew City B-roll options to the west. With a long lens you can grab shots of the Fiserv Forum, most of the East Side, and the rest of the skyscrapers worth mentioning (mostly in Westown).
  • Discovery World / The Pilot House isn’t quite as famous, but is quite beautiful. If you’re in Milwaukee between May and October, try to catch the Denis Sullivan, a large sailing ship that docks at Discovery World.
  • Lake Michigan is core to Milwaukee, and quite beautiful. My favorite time to shoot it is right before dawn. If you’re shooting from near Discovery World or the Art Museum, you can see a lighthouse or two. If you decide to move south into Lakeshore State Park, be aware:  Wisconsin State Parks require a $50 permit for video or photo shoots. It’s an easy permit to get, but they will always kick you out without one.  Technically a peninsula, it feels more like an island, and there are some very pretty paths and footbridges that can lead your eye to the downtown skyline on the west. This is the only place you can shoot over the water toward downtown without getting a boat.


Milwaukee isn’t a huge city, so if you want active nightlife shots, you probably want to be out on a weekend. Here’s where you’re liable to find people socializing and having fun.

  • The Third Ward is a classy neighborhood just south of downtown. During the day it’s all boutiques and pop up shops, at night the bars and theater get busy.  Most of the Third Ward is in bed by 10pm, though.
  • Old World 3rd Street has a classic old Milwaukee look, and plenty of classic beers to go with it. When the weather’s nice, you can catch people dining outside on the sidewalk, or waiting in line to get into clubs. If the Milwaukee Bucks are playing, you’ll probably see a lot of spillover from the Fiserv Forum crowd nearby.
  • Brady Street is the trendy destination of the Lower East Side. Plenty of bars and lots of lighting make it a great place to catch some candid moments on the street. Your biggest challenge will be parking. In the summer, you can catch some street festivals and concerts here.
  • Water Street runs along the river’s east bank, and has a smattering of bars along the north end of downtown. While you’re there, it makes sense to grab a shot of the courthouse, too.
  • Kinkinnickinnic Avenue (or just call it KK) is the main drag through the Bay View neighborhood. It has a much more hipster vibe than anything downtown, with cafes, bakeries, and great local eats.

South of Downtown

Milwaukee remains one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States. To explore the city deeper than the surface level, spend some time on the north and south side. Here, the history of redlining, and discrimination have shaped the communities.

Historic Third Ward sign over the Milwaukee Public Market

  • The Hoan is the I-794 bridge that connects the Port of Milwaukee with downtown. There are tons of great places to shoot it, but while you’re near Discovery World, you can get a great shot of it to your south southwest if you brought a long lens, and you can get a little closer if you can shoot from inside Lakeshore State Park.
  • The Harry W Maier Festival Park is more commonly called “The Summerfest Grounds,” named for the epic music festival that takes place for the two weeks surrounding July 4 each summer. While there’s a lot of hustle and culture going on during the festival season, you’re not going to find much to shoot inside or around the park when it’s cold out.
  • The Allen Bradley Clocktower is part of the Rockwell Automation headquarters. It’s a large four-sided clock, with minute hands that are 20 feet long. Since it’s four-sided, there are no bad angles, and you may be able to catch it in the background of your other shots, if you compose them carefully.
  • The “Historic Third Ward” sign and Milwaukee Public Market can both be seen as you’re crossing east over the St. Paul Ave bridge.
  • Futher south, General Mitchell Airport isn’t particularly flashy, but you can get shots of planes coming and going. The white “MKE” sign welcomes drivers as they approach the airport from the west.
  • If you’re getting driving shots you’ll want to shoot 794 from the Port of Milwaukee and drive through downtown. To finish your trip, come back through downtown to the south side via Water Street/1st Street.

North of Downtown

Locals call the area north of Downtown and east of the Milwaukee River the “East Side.” The “North Side is everything between the river and Highway 145. While the East Side has lots of students, some neighborhoods have become much pricier and appeal more to urban professionals. The North Side is predominantly African American communities.

  • Bradford Beach is worth visiting any time the weather is nice.
  • The Martin Luther King Statue sits near the south end of MLK Drive.
  • Kadish Park is my favorite place to get sweeping skyline shots. You can watch the sun rise over downtown, and can see most of Milwaukee from the East Side to the Miller Valley.
  • The UW Milwaukee Campus is spread out over multiple blocks. The first UWM building, Mitchell Hall, still stands.

Milwaukee’s Industry and Culture

Much of Milwaukee’s brewing history is north and west of Downtown, where German, Italian, and Polish families settled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The south side was dominated by manufacturing and sausage making.

  • Miller Brewing was a major economic driver in Milwaukee for a long time. Today, the facility is still active and open for tours.
  • The Pabst Mansion is a beautiful home turned museum, built entirely with PBR cans. I’m just kidding, aluminum cans weren’t invented until 1959.
  • The Harley Davidson Museum is all new buildings. The only local factory work happens 15 minutes away, in Menomonee Falls.
  • The Charles Allis and Villa Terrace museums are massive mansions with lake views.

Sports and Sports History

  • Miller Park is home to the Brewers and relatively pretty to look at. It stands out, surrounded by surface parking. The site of the previous MLB field, County Stadium, is now called Helfaer Field. While the space is small, there are lots of statues and plaques commemorating Milwaukee’s baseball greats (both Brewers and Braves).
  • Fiserv Forum is the newest sports complex in Milwaukee, and home to the Milwaukee Bucks. Their previous arena, the Bradley Center, was demolished to make room.
  • The Milwaukee Mile is part of State Fair Park. It’s not particularly pretty, but it’s the oldest operating motor speedway in the world.  The inside of the oval hosted the 1939 NFL Championship Game.
  • Pettit National Ice Center is an Olympic training facility for speed skating and hockey.

Let’s shoot something in Milwaukee!

Hopefully, that’s enough B-roll ideas to start your story. If you need a cinematographer to shoot your Milwaukee B-roll, reach out!  If you have other favorite Milwaukee spots to shoot, please leave your suggestions in the comments!


Music Video: The Director of Photography’s Creative Playground

Music videos are a medium that embraces creativity. As a music video director of photography, I can take chances that aren’t possible on commercial shoots. While budgets are usually small, experimentation is encouraged. Here’s the best of what I’ve learned from almost a decade as a music video cinematographer and director. Read More

*Note* – Lytro was purchased by Google and subsequently disabled their web viewer and gallery. Unfortunately, it’s no longer easy to post and share light field images, and the images included in this post have been removed.

Looking to photography for the future of video

As a cinematographer, it’s my job to stay on the leading edge of camera technology. Light field photography and video have the potential to change the way we tell stories. Consumer light field video is a long way off, but light field still photography gets more accessible every day. I’ve been experimenting with the Lytro Illum camera, and finally have enough experience to share some of what I’ve learned.

Click or touch around and get a sense for what is possible with light field photography. 

Read More

As a freelancer, I’m not just behind a camera all day. I’m my own sales and marketing departments, too. Here’s my top five ways to make a personal brand stand out among a sea of contractors.

Read More

On many video projects, there’s not much time for preparation. We show up at the call time and the camera is rolling an hour later. But, having the right equipment ready-to-go takes planning. A prep day is critical the day before a shoot to get things ready. Read More

The key task of a director of photography is controlling light. As the trend toward smaller and smaller crews continues, I’m finding myself on sets with just one or two grips, gaffers, or production assistants. Updated lighting technology and more sensitive cameras have reduced the bulkiness of indoor lighting. But outdoors, most cinematographers are using the same tools Hollywood did almost a century ago. I’ve been looking for new ways to creatively manage lighting for video outdoors. Here’s how I’ve been managing light outside on shoots with small crews this summer. Read More