Fitness With Kelly Brown

After every blog here I seem to suggest an effort will be made to get behind the desk more and write/share new content with some of the latest happenings. Or at least post more often. What seems to actually follow any said post is tons of editing work behind the desk. Very little blogging. Writing takes a back seat. And if there was a seat behind the back seat, like a 80’s style station wagon, that’s probably where the intent to post gets seated.

But I did want to pop up above all the happenings and general busyness, and share some recent work…more specifically a project with Kelly Brown, Jordan Hartly, and Ethan Alex. I don’t work with “fitness photography” per se, mainly because I don’t hang out in those circles, but the opportunity to work with Kelly Brown opened that door. As a tremendous athlete and coach, I saw the chance to put together some stylized images with Kelly. I can’t say enough good things about Kelly, Jordan, and Ethan. All talented in their own right. Kelly in-front of the camera, Jordan’s retouching is so well seen, and Ethan’s backdrops are on the same level as Oliphant. The images really came together and I’m thankful for the chance to yet again pull together everyone for a new vision. I’m really looking forward to the next time I’m able photograph something sport. More to follow…


West Michigan Orthopaedics

April has been a busy month. In between it all West Michigan Orthopaedics released a series of videos I recently finished working on. This was a partnership between myself and Com616. These informational/instructional videos are focused on some of the issues their patients seek treatment for. All and all it was a fun project and I was thankful to be part of it.

Just a quick post for today but I’m looking forward to some projects coming up…more to follow…

Winter Is Ending

By all accounts this winter was one for the books. It picked up rather slowly but when it arrived, it brought some pretty intense low temperatures and significant snowfall. Much of the mid-west fell below zero for a time. It was the talk of the town so-to-speak. As we rapidly approach warmer times I thought I’d post this image from awhile back when I was traveling up North. I have so many images from this vantage point I’ve lost track, but when the light does this I cannot help but make an image.

Lake Michigan, Winter 2019

Lake Michigan, Winter 2019

And if you’re wondering, yes, it was cold when making this image. Beautiful, but cold. Anyway, as always, there is NEVER enough time to post here, but I am excited about a lot of work happening beyond this blog, I’m looking forward to sharing it via Twitter updates or direct posts here. We’ll see… Have a good week, more to follow…

Point Of Val

I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate a couple of times with Valerie Oresko. On this last occasion it was just before the release of her new lifestyle blog (link above). Valerie has a wonderful sense of style and writing that is open and honest. I’m looking forward to where she takes it. The image here was featured on @castdetroit (thanks CastDetroit! for the shout). I also had the opportunity to meet Emily Annett who is a talent behind the camera herself. Her Instagram is loaded with really wonderful images. All of us were in the studio a few weeks back and I created a quick look with Val and Emily created some images that became a story for Val’s blog. It was a fun collaboration. Hopefully we’ll all be able to do it again. As for now, it’s back to editing. More to follow…

Valerie Oresko

Valerie Oresko

#BTS of some cool people

#BTS of some cool people

Between Posts

It’s been forever since a post here! Things have been busy on all fronts but I’m looking to post a little more over the coming weeks. Some of it new, some of it old, but all-in-all I feel like now’s the time to jump into a post or two while behind the desk. Also, my last post was on a holiday and after such a long amount of time between posts, I thought it fitting to start it up again on another holiday. Happy Halloween everyone! Have a good one and be safe out there! More to follow…

Poster for the Illinois WPA Art Project, showing a boy reading a book, surrounded by a bat, ghost, witch, and other images of Halloween. Published between 1936 and 1940.

Poster for the Illinois WPA Art Project, showing a boy reading a book, surrounded by a bat, ghost, witch, and other images of Halloween. Published between 1936 and 1940.

Studio BTS

While in between productions in 2018 I had intended to post more frequently (more than 2017 at least) but as time is limited, the posts seem to be as well. I did want to get a recent collaboration out there. Awhile back Motivity Pictures stopped by the studio. Motivity is a production company producing excellent work. They spent an afternoon in the studio for new portraits for their website. And as all photographers/videographers tend to do, they brought their cameras along. What followed was great conversation, awesome photos, and a wonderful little bts video. Check out the bts...

And here is the group image from my side of the camera....

Motivity Pictures

Motivity Pictures

There's a heavy tone here for a different look. All in all, a good afternoon's work. Hopefully more to follow here sooner than later...

Quick Shout Out

Along the road of photography I love to meet people and be a part of their journey. Awhile back I met Terrence... Super cool guy and incredibly hard worker. His journey in-front of the camera has only continued to grow over the months and yesterday he gave me shout on Instagram after a lot of that work. I'm happy to help and working with him over the last few months has been great. Super excited to see where he goes.

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Anyway, pretty cool stuff. Aaaaand it's a pretty busy week so it's a short one. Looking forward to a video production with a new client that should be pretty fun. More to follow on that... Have a good one!

A Short Aside

It would be a missed moment if I didn't mention the monumental change in football over the weekend. If you didn't catch it, the name of this sight, Icon United, while photography and art centered, is a direct nod to football.  When I made the full leap into photography and multimedia, circa 2006, I also began to also heavily follow Arsenal F.C. out of Highbury, London.

Around then the Premiere League started to broadcast games here in the states more predominantly with the hope to widen their audience. And it worked, at least here. I found myself watching a match here or there, late at night or on the weekend...and before I knew it, I was interested. And as anyone does, when they are interested, they seek to learn more. To follow it more closely I felt I needed a club. After looking into a few clubs...their names, places, and probably most important in 2006, who had an online presence in which I could read about them, follow them and learn though them...I found The Arsenal. I learned about their history and I learned about the game. I learned about the rules. And about the other teams. And in the end, I learned I really enjoyed soccer. For someone who grew up with sports on the peripheral view of life, football caught fire in the mid oughts and has been part of my life since. More specifically The Arsenal caught fire and has been a part of my life since.

And yesterday that drama was in full force. A man I have been following for the last 12 years, the manager of Arsenal F.C., stepped down. Arsen Wenger managed AFC for 22 years, overseeing 1235 matches overall, and the only manager I have known. The lead principle in a drama I have keenly followed over the years. When this site was created, the "United" comes from so many football clubs that share the same unifier. I found it hard to work in an "F.C." in a way that might relate to photography and multimedia, so I went with united. I felt at the time, and still do to this day, that between a United group of creators, great content can be made. I've also found that to be true. I have been fortunate enough to partner with so many talented creators over the years.

In the world of soccer, it's a title attribute many clubs share. And while not a direct nod to Arsenal, the United here itself has been, and will continue to be, a fun nod to soccer in my life.

As change seems to be constant, this is a new form of it in a place that hasn't seen a lot of it. Arsen leaves this season behind and a new chapter begins begins for the club.  He will be missed here. He's been the only manger I have known at a club that I have come to follow religiously. It makes for exciting times. But as football clubs go, I'm happy to have fallen in with a club who's manager believed that football could be an art form. I'm happy that this club is from a district in North London, so far away from the mid-west, but close with friends and family. I'm also happy that Arsenal show up in one of my most favorite works, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - random but true. Arsen Wenger's last match managing Arsenal F.C. was yesterday and it would be amiss if I didn't note how much fun it has been to follow The Arsenal. I look forward to more drama full of highs and lows, a sport shared by the world, and how it's left an impression here. When I tell people, "Don't remember how to spell my name because it's furitless, it's tough to spell on the fly... just remember Icon United, it's easier." I usually get a smile as I hand them a business card and some even get the reference. Thanks for the memories Arsen.


Away From The Desk

This has been a week of hustle. I haven't had a lot of time behind the desk to sit down and post some new work or current happenings but new images and projects will hopefully show up here soon. There are several things going at the moment, and I was away on location, which definitely keeps you on your toes. This weekend isn't going to hold much downtime but I'm looking forward to posting some fresh stuff soon. Have a good weekend out there! More to follow...

Also, I like things organized neatly.

Tools Of The Trade

Tools Of The Trade

Passthrough Creative

A few posts ago I was enamored with the idea of "pictures of me existing" in perpetuity on (or in depending on how you look at it) the Internet. Every now and then I stumble across an image of me and I think it's interesting that I had no idea it existed until that moment I saw it. Yesterday, I had a somewhat different version of that experience. A picture I created, or photographed, showed up on a website other what I believed intended use was. For this image, I was not the producer or director, and I didn't have much to go on as I was subcontracted.

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As subcontracted photographer hired to take photographs for another producer/director I actually was never specifically told what the headshots (I hate that word) were going to be used for. Just a vague, "we need them for the website. To get to know us, meet the team." Yesterday, when I saw an image from that session pop up on Instagram in ad form, I did a double take. This is years after the portrait session, an original image from that session below. I don't believe this ad was the original intended use, but then again, I don't know because I didn't produce/direct the project.

Original Image, taken 2015

Original Image, taken 2015

Original Image, taken 2015

Original Image, taken 2015

For me, it's done and dusted. I didn't write a contract nor did I have a conversation about a licensing agreement with the producer. My job was to step in, photograph for another production company, and provide them with images.

I see this (and this instances like this) as problematic. It's happening more and more where companies simply "pass along" creative that is outside the Usage Rights of the original project. Usage Rights are a big thing for all creatives as they battle the forces of the Internet. And that's more or less the paradox. With the Internet, you're out there. Once that digital file leaves the camera, it REALLY leaves the camera. It's wonderfully productive to be able to effortlessly pass along images to creative directors/clients/prospective clients, etc... but it's also wonderfully easy for them to pass along your images to 3rd parties, who then use them for their own purposes. The implications are creatives loose money because the new 3rd party just got your creative for free. When there is an agreement in place for Usage Rights, and images still get passed along, it's grounds for a lawsuit or at least, renegotiating the contract. For this case, I simply don't know if there was any conversation about Usage Rights. I don't believe there was. But again, when not subcontracted, I'm far closer to my clients than I was with this project and I would know.

What's up Yotpo? You look to be in need of some creative if you're using 3 year old images.


It's talking circles for those who deal with this daily but for someone who generally creates very specific use content, I was surprised to see one of my images on the Internet in a vastly different use than what I understood. On Instagram of all places. Or perhaps, of course on Instagram. It's something I'm going to ponder over the weekend.

On another note entirely, I'm really excited about a lot of upcoming projects and new work. Have a good one out there! More to follow...

Warren Miller

Warren Miller was, and forever will be, an inspiration. I did, and always will, think of him fondly. He will be missed.

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When I made the decision to “go into photography” as “a career” I thought about people like Warren and all the “photo annuals” in the ski and snowboarding magazines that littered my childhood floor (somewhat as an adult now too). I grew up with Snowboarding Magazine side by side with National Geographic. I would spend endless hours looking through them. After all these years I still have a few from back in the day. Growing up, getting magazine after magazine filled with colorful, daring pictures of power hounds inverted off this cliff, chest deep in power on the steepest of fronts... these images filled my head of things that I would like to do. In 2007 I really forcefully made a choice to “figure it out” and see how photography could be a part of my life. So, after a year and half of work, I bought a camera, and before graduate school, headed West myself. I never really did create images from the mountainside l saw in the magazines, but I did take a few snaps that I look back on and smile.

Snowbird, 2007

Snowbird, 2007

X-Games, Park City, 2007

X-Games, Park City, 2007

Snowbird, 2007

Snowbird, 2007

Even a few that make me laugh. I don't know what I was thinking here...

Me. Self-portrait. Somewhere in Colorado, with my 5DMKI & Subaru, 2007

Me. Self-portrait. Somewhere in Colorado, with my 5DMKI & Subaru, 2007

By all digital standards the camera I bought then is worthless now, but I cannot for the life of me sell it (as if it would sell).

At that time, 2007, it was everything. From my companion in the mountains to a tool in grad school, it became this thing that was quickly defining me.

My First Digital Camera from 2007

My First Digital Camera from 2007

And while my images from my season in the mountains weren’t the audacious attempts like those I grew up looking at in magazines, and I had so much to learn about photography and life, those images were mine. I was there and hungry. And while I put career ahead of being a ski bum, which took me away from the Mountains, but I do always look for that opportunity to return (although, it had never occurred to me to make a career out of being a ski bum, maybe a missed opportunity there... but que sera sera and all).

Warren Miller will always be one of many inspirational figures in my life. Have a good weekend out there…

BTS Detroit

Just a quick one as we wrap up the's a nice BTS shot taken by the most excellent Artie Bowman onsite at company in Detroit. The client needed some warehouse images to showcase their new facility. I needed to get above it all to capture it. Clearly it all worked out with the help of a lift. The images turned out great and this BTS is pretty cool. Looking forward to posting more content here and some of the project in the hopper for next week. Have a good one out there. More to follow...

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My Hot Top 5 Of 2017

Usually around this time of year I like to write about the music I stumbled across that hit me and stayed with me for the year. This post is admittedly a little later than what I like, but busy times had a hand in that, and I suppose the ole' adage, "better late then never" applies nicely. I'm not a music expert by any means and I have a tendency to stumble across a song and pay it over and over and over but I would like to think my tastes are rather eclectic and diverse enough to merit a quick review. Also, I should note, these are songs I LISTENED TO IN 2017, not necessarily were RELEASED in 2017. Time used selectively here.

So let's jump in...


5. Honne, Too Long, 2015

I don't know what I was doing in 2015, but it wasn't listing to this song. Don't remember how I found it this year but I dig it. Chill. Falsetto. Things I fall for.


4. The Lagoons, California, 2016

This song is just amazing. Again, chill, heavy sax influence...which I dig. The sax in M83's Midnight City is everything, which that song is SO good (I could have put it back on this list by my own rules). Anyway, I can't help but tap my foot when this song comes on. It was a choice studio song for me this year. 


3. Bvdub, Nameless, 2017

It wouldn't be MY list if Bvdub wasn't here. And by default I can't have bvdub #1 every year but I would say this year he comes #3 (but given the day, #1 I suppose). I can't think of a harder working musician out there. At least by sheer volume alone. I would argue by talent as well but sadly the ambient music scene isn't everyone's thing. Every year he releases at least one album. This year his release Heartless is a really great progression. It reminds me a little bit of Born In Tokyo (from 2013). His other 2017 release (yes there were two in 2017, usually are two a year) Epilogues For The End Of The Sky seems to have a higher play-count on Spotify than Heartless. It's tough to narrow it down for me. I really like them both for different reasons. I'm writing this early, so the perhaps the stillness is influencing my feelings. Go listen to both and make your own decision if it's your sort of thing.


2. Markus Schulz Presents Dakota Featuring Bev Wild - Running Up That Hill

I love trance. Probably a mix of early exposure to 80s synth and video games. I don't know, but when a trance song hits me, it hits me. This song is awesome. It hit the speakers late 2017 and I love it. Markus is one my favorite artists in this genera. Not a morning song, but choice indeed.


1. Slowly by Giraffage featuring Matosic

This is just a fun song. I can't help but dig it. I've had the pleasure of sharing it with several people and all seem to find it just the same, fun. I don't even know what category of music this falls into but it's somewhere between chill and pop (I think). Anyway, it's a great driving song. It's a great afternoon song. It's a great studio song. So much to like about it.

So there's my "hot top 5" of the year. There's way more that hit the speakers thoughout 2017 but as I reflect at the moment, these are those songs I played endlessly or at least came back to for a healthy amount of repeat plays.

Looking forward to getting back to photography. 2018 is already shaping up to be busier than the last. More to follow....

Back At It w/Cranium

When I meet up with passionate people who want to collaborate I always make the time. Vinh and Skotty of Cranium are definitely those people (follow them!) I spent part of the night in the studio with them this week photographing. And with tons of help from Artie we managed to put together some looks for their upcoming release at All City Kicks. All good things from them. Anyway, short post for the day. Could be the last one of the year! Crazy. Have a good one out there...more to follow...


Year's End Hustle

It's the Friday before Christmas and there's still a zillion things to do. Family stuff, work stuff, life's the time of the year where things are overly busy. The days are just packed.

I took this image awhile back of Clare and Dom. Two really cool people who spent an afternoon hanging out in the studio. It feels pretty "holiday" to me with the red, but that was more a coincidence of timing rather than planning. Originally I envisioned a deep red background because I thought these two would really look dynamic against it. And because I tend to post work far after it's been completed, it's now the holidays, and seems to fit just fine. Such is life. 

Dom & Clara

Dom & Clara

So, there you have it.  And where ever you are out there, I hope this time of the year is full of family, friends, and cheer. I'm looking forward to a very busy 2018. Before that though, I'm going to post my year end in music. It's been a tradition for me for at least a little while now : ) More to follow...

Portrait: Terrence

This week has flown by. I've had to spend time behind the desk and in the field to get projects done. I hustled two out the door at the start of week and have three burning as I type this. With the holidays on top of it all, these are some very exciting times.

Awhile back I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Terrence. He's an really cool guy and talented in front of the camera. He has a quiet confidence that invites you to maybe try something unexpected. Because of that, I didn't realize that he had a rather tight time schedule and I ended up keeping him there longer than he expected. But I was really happy to get another look or two before he had to leave. I think it all ended well but I didn't mean to go over time.

Again, your only as good as those around you and this one is no different...many thanks to Terrence, his MUA Hannah (sorry Hannah, I don't have any contact for you!), The Rock Agency, Jordan Hartley, and Arty. Really thankful to work with them all. Looking forward to working with Terrence again in 2018, but right now, I'm happy it's Friday...I need to catch up on a few things...have a good one...more to follow...

Terrence, 2017

Terrence, 2017

Saturday Hustle

This week was a busy one away from the desk but I had a little time this AM to reflect. I've also had a moment to go through some older BTS work. I've really started to take a liking to BTS shots. I'm pretty bad at actually remembering to get a few images but thankfully Artie has been there and on it. He's solid behind the camera and I'm thankful to be working with him on so many projects lately. Brooklyn can't go without mention either.


Incredibly cool to work with and tons of talent in front of the lens. She knows what the light is doing and what the style is. Quality of light and how to understand it is essential. I'll post a few of the finals from Jordan here soon. Still rolling out new work in the midst of these busy times. Have a good  weekend...


About a year ago there was a significant transportation change in my life. In fact you can see the progression start here. Coming in hot, on route to Chicago, I lost the majority of a muffler on I-94. Well, didn't loose it, but started dragging most of it down the road. I was "that guy you did not want to follow" down the expressway. After that, it did make me wonder what the larger implications were of having a 2002 Subaru with 250,000 miles on it. I still believe that it had some life left, but it was a gamble. And after more consideration, gambling with safety isn't a good idea. And if I were going to a production where my car couldn't physically get me there, that would have been a problem as well. In fact, depending on the contract you sign, many have a clause built in for needing reliable transportation. While I had unyielding faith in my ride, it may at times, been misplaced. Maybe. I mean look how majestic it looked. 

2002, Subaru Outback

2002, Subaru Outback

It is a strange thing, that year, that car, as it was a year ago...was probably one of the rapidly disappearing mechanical cars out there. It had a CASSETTE TAPE DECK. Virtually all of it was mechanical. There's something strange about that now. You really feel the idea of it being a tool, device...a machine when driving it. It wasn't a computer. Modern day cars are a computer. Very little question about it. The gas petal doesn't make the car go. But it's how you tell the computer that you would like to go and it determines if that's going to happen. Times change. Computer or no computer I had plenty of fond memories in that car. It lived through a time in my life where change was never ending. Virtually everything was changing every 3-6 months. I crossed the country from east to west, north to south and all back again several times over. Through sun, rain, whiteout blizzards, late nights and early mornings. It saw, along with me, virtually everything. Sights, sounds, places, weather... clichés and drama... it was sad to let it go. But as with time, things change, cars change. One thing that does seems to stay with us is music. Odd how that works. I remember finding, for better or worse, Coldplay in 2002. A Rush Of Blood To The Head was essential listing for me. I had a cassette tape that I would play in the darkroom at college. Printing in the darkroom until early hours of the morning. Always last to leave. There were floating boomboxes that would find themselves in darkrooms and random classrooms. You had to search them out if you wanted one because there were only two, but if you got one, that was lucky timing. They only played tapes though. The Coldplay cassette made it to the Subaru, to the darkroom, and back again, over and over... and then eventually to the shelf because CDs became cheap to make. And now, CDs are becoming the rare commodity as well. Such is time. But as time changes, the music seems to stay. Coldplay and Dashboard Confessional occupied the majority of what I listened to in college. And I still find myself listening to those albums from time to time. And with a little imaginative encouragement, I'm back in the darkroom, or as this frame of mind would have it, a 2002 Subaru off to a new place and a new adventure. Nice little reflection for midweek. Hey Subaru, let me help you tell a story, because as I have it now, this photographer's off on a new adventure and with a newer #Subaru. 

A Newer Subaru Outback

A Newer Subaru Outback

Portrait: Daphne

There are times when I get a great opportunity to randomly work with someone... this is a pretty good case in point. Daphne had some time in Michigan before heading back to the sunny southwest and we took a hour or two to put together a few solid portraits in the studio before she left. There were a lot of really good moments. It was awesome that we had a chance to work together. Daphne is going places for sure. It'll be great to say, "I knew you when..." but until then, these are some great portraits. I'll post a few here over the weeks and a few more on insta.

Daphne, 2017

Daphne, 2017

Also, I cannot believe it's Thanksgiving. Time is racing by. That being said, there is a lot to be thankful for. Both in life and work I am continually grateful for so many of the people and opportunities that are part of who I am and what I do. I'm looking forward to a lot, but it's impossible not to look back and feel a lot of gratitude. For those of you stateside, I hope you have a good Thanksgiving with family and friends. If you happen to not read this in the states, be well my friends. More to follow...