. No, not the social media kind, the old school kind, the kind that influences the only thing that matters, your vision.

We have all them in our lives and careers. Some are mentors, people we have had intimate contact, talking late through the night over many caffeinated or adult beverages. Others are people who we have a special affinity for their work. We've never met face to face, but their photography influences through a spiritual connection.

I've spoken a few times about my mentors, and those who have influenced my vision. The later is what I would like to discuss today. As a young photojournalist, it was W. Eugene Smith. His brilliant black and white photo essays moved me deeply, as they still do today.

One of the things I've strived to do in my photography is to work in layers. Foreground, middle ground, and background all coming together for a deeper and more complex image. I'm sorry, but I quickly weary of life at f/1.2. It's hard to tell a multifaceted story when everything beyond a person's eyelash is wiped entirely out of focus. However, in total disclosure, there was a time when I, too, was on the bokeh bandwagon and existed without the depth of field to keep a gnat sharp. It was fun, for a short time, then it got boring when every shot looked the same.

But I digress. My favorite visual storytellers are Alex Webb, David Allan Harvey, Constantine Manos, William Eggleston, and Ernst Haas. These are not my only influencers, only my current top of the top, best of the best. My full list is tremendously long and includes people of almost every genre. There's always something to learn.

Recess at St. Edmund’s Academy, Pittsburgh

Recess at St. Edmund’s Academy, Pittsburgh