All posts by Brian Feulner

Brian Feulner is the visual editor at the Bangor Daily News and a photographer in the state of Maine. Feulner frequently freelances for a variety of publications and companies and operates Feulner Studio and Gallery in Bangor.

Behind the lens: How to paint with light

Robert  Bukaty recently produced a Maine Frame for the BDN of photos from Acadia National Park and its night sky. He used a headlamp set in it’s red mode to light various trees, trail markers and road ways

If you have a camera that allows you to control the shutter speed, you can make photos like this too. When it’s dark, which it often is this time of year in Maine, take your camera and a tripod and head outside. Set it up with a long shutter speed, 30 seconds or more will do.

Adjust your aperture wide enough to allow as much light as possible while still getting the depth of field that you want. Remember, the smaller the f/stop (number representing the aperture, the wider it is and the more light coming in and more shallow the depth of field.  You’ll need all the light you can get if it’s really dark.

Trip the shutter, then shine a headlamp or flash light back at the camera and move it around. You can write a word or make shapes. If you focus the camera on an object, in Bob’s case a sign on top of a mountain in Acadia, shine the light on the object you want to illuminate  for the duration of your shutter being open. It may take some trial and error but you should be able to make photos just like Bob’s in the slideshow above.

If you have “light painting” photos you’d like to share send them to and we’ll post the best on our site.

This photo was made using the help of two people shining their head lamps at Robinson Point Lighthouse Station on Isle au Haut during a project we worked on called "Six Miles Out." last February.
This photo was made using the help of two people shining their head lamps at Robinson Point Lighthouse Station on Isle au Haut during a project we worked on called “Six Miles Out.” in February, 2014. Brian Feulner | BDN

Burt Shavitz of Burt’s Bees shares his photographic past

BANGOR, Maine — Most people know his face from a logo for the popular personal care product line he helped build. But before Burt Shavitz, the face of Burt’s Bees, and his business turned into a global sensation, he was a photographer living and working in New York City in the 1960s.

Shavitz, who agreed to be interviewed at the Bangor Daily News photo studio recently, was born in Manhattan, came from an artistic family and started taking pictures at an early age. While serving in the military, he became a photographer. Afterward he would find himself inspired by the characters he would meet in Central Park, a place he refers to often.

“There were people with their body gone [from the waist down] wheeling their wheelchairs around,” Shavitz recalled. “Mothers with small children pushing kids on swings with chains that were 12-feet-long.”

Not many of these were published because they weren’t what the masses wanted to see, Shavitz said. The photos that were published often appeared in publications such as the New York Times and Time and Life magazines.

Shavitz, wearing a red plaid vest underneath his huge bushy beard, looked over black and white photos he made of a child behind a chain-link fence in Harlem during the 1960s.

“I saw the place as a jail,” he said. “Look at the look in the kid’s eyes … you had to have a strong backbone to be able to spend a 90-degree day on macadam or cement.”

Among his memories of the people he photographed, Shavitz remembers several icons in the world of photography with whom he started relationships.

“I went out to the Flower District, which is where Gene Smith lived, just knocked on the door, he opened the door and said ‘come in,’” Shavitz said.

W. Eugene Smith, an American photojournalist known for his work during World War ll, soon had Shavitz sorting his negatives at Smith’s home in New York.

“He had an incredible amount of photographs he wanted me to sort. It gave me a chance to see all of Gene Smith’s pictures,” Shavitz said.

Diane Arbus, Tom Wolfe, Allen Ginsberg, Thelonius Monk and Andy Warhol were just a few of many famous people Shavitz got to know during his time in New York.

“The city was just chock-a-block full of people doing their own thing, and you met them here, there and everywhere,” he said.

Even with all the relationships he had made and his deep-rooted connection with New York’s streets, Shavitz made a decision to leave.

“The reason I left is here,” Shavitz said sorting through a stack of his prints.

“This is the house next to the alley where I used to live,” he said holding up a black and white image of the side of a building where an elderly woman wearing a scarf solemnly gazed outside.

“The old woman in the picture on the other side of the window never left that room, never, she was always leaning out the window,” Shavitz said. “I realized if I stayed there long enough, I’d end up in the same boat, which is nothing I wanted to do.”

Although it didn’t happen immediately, Shavitz left for upstate New York with his Volkswagen van, motorcycle and other belongings. It was years later after moving to Maine, selling honey from his truck and meeting the business-savvy Roxanne Quimby, he became the Burt from Burt’s Bees that many people recognize.

In 2013, after the release of Burt’s Buzz, a documentary about Burt’s life, the world had a glimpse of the unique character of Shavitz. The film brought Shavitz and his assistant Trevor Folsom to the Toronto International Film Festival.

“They put us up on the stage, and people in the audience asked questions. We gave them answers,” Shavitz said.

“People in the audience like Matthew McConaughey, people like that who came to see our film who you have no idea who they are,” Folsom joked.

Shavitz looked back at Folsom and very seriously replied, “Who were they?”

“They were just actors,” Folsom said.

“Ah huh,” Shavitz said with a nod.

Shavitz shrugs the movie and all the inherent fame from Burt’s Bees off as no big deal and tends to focus on the present more than anything else.

“It was flattering after a fashion. I like the lead character,” Shavitz said.

The Frame: After the election

I was stationed at Mike Michaud’s HQ in Portland on election night with my colleague Chris Cousins, an old friend and BDN political reporter. I’ve covered many election nights before. Mostly, it’s a lot of waiting. This time was no exception. Supporters milled around, anticipating the Mike’s appearance. Candidates usually only come out of seclusion to claim victory or concede defeat.

I sat down at my laptop to file early pictures of the scene just after the polls closed. I wasn’t worried about missing Mike because stagehands at the Port City Music Hall had a hung a movie screen in front of the podium and were projecting a TV broadcast. I’d have plenty or warning of Mike’s arrival because the’d have to drag the ladder back out and unhook the screen from the rafters first.

I had that in mind again when it was all over. Mike conceded. I shot pictures. I sat down to upload the images to my hungry editors in Bangor. But I kept the corner of my eye on the stage. I thought there was a chance the same stagehands would come out with their ladder and take down the big “I Like Mike” sign behind the podium.

I thought it’d make a good statement of the election night results, something T.S. Elliot or Earnest Hemingway would call an “objective correlative.” That is, something concrete, like workmen taking down a sign, that stands in for an emotion.

You see, Mike Michaud is pretty stoic and so were most of his supporters that night. Nobody cried or wailed or carried on. My pictures lacked clear, storytelling emotion. So, when I saw the ladder go up next to the sign, I grabbed my camera and made some pictures. I didn’t know the sign was made of two pieces until they split it in half and carried one away.

That was just luck.

– Troy R. Bennett

First six months, introducing Ashley Conti


I can’t believe it’s been six months since I started at the Bangor Daily News as a visual journalist. Time sure does fly when you’re getting shipped off to different parts of the state.

To be honest I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first started here. I’ve been to Maine a few times, and to Bangor specifically, to visit friends, but didn’t know much more about it other than it gets cold in the winter.

To give a little back history of me, I grew up in Canfield, Ohio. The buckeye state. I went to school in Upstate New York at RIT (go Tigers!), then from there I’ve pretty much been a gypsy. I’ve lived in six states in six years. New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Vermont, and now Maine. Some of these places I’ve worked at newspapers, some I’ve freelanced or interned at, others I worked for photo related companies. All of them have allowed me to grow in some aspect of photography.

image1When I saw the opening at the BDN, I knew it would be a perfect fit. Maine seemed like a great place to explore more, and the staff really pushed how to present stories online.

Some of the assignments I’ve had are ones I would have never been able to cover had I not had this job. I’ve covered your daily assignments of press conferences and high school sports, but I’ve also been given the opportunities to cover national news and some really fun features.

I’ve been to the County more times than some people who have worked here for years have. My second month I was shipped up north for two weekends in August to cover the 2014 World Acadian Congress, a huge festival of Acadian and Cajun culture and history, held every five years. I was totally unfamiliar with Acadian culture, but dove right in and was able to learn so much.

Recently, I was sent up north again to cover the Kaci Hickox, Ebola quarantine story. This was my first time dealing with national news and the media that comes along with it. For four days I spent about 16 years each day staking out Ms. Hickox’s home with 40 other journalists to see what her next move would be. My photos ended up getting national play on Good Morning America, The New York Times, and various other publications. It’s really cool to see your hard work plastered everywhere.

But this isn’t why I got into this journalism. It wasn’t to have my photos go viral, or to hit huge publications. Instead, it’s to help tell the stories of the people of Maine.

A few of those assignments that stick out are Bangor police chief Don Winslow’s funeral, a special performance from the Bangor Band to honor Henry F. Watson, Saint George Greek Orthodox Church moving forward after their priest was arrested, independent logger Tom Pelkey whose business would be impacted from the Verso Paper mill closing, and Bob and Julie Miner who own and run DEW Animal Kingdom & Sanctuary.

All of these people opened their lives to me and allowed me access that many other people would never be able to have. I’ve seen communities come together to help each other out in times of need. I’ve seen the good in people, and I’ve seen the bad. I’ve held people’s hands when they’ve felt scared. I’ve hugged them. I’ve lent my shoulder for them to cry on. I’ve ran through sprinklers and shared meals with them. I’ve given away many high-fives and laughs and they’ve given them right back. I wouldn’t change a thing. I haven’t worked a day at this job yet.

I’m beyond stoked to meet more people as my journey at the BDN continues.