Category Archives: PERSONAL PROJECTS

Des Moine, Iowa

I had the opportunity to visit De Moine, Iowa this weekend and viewing the wonderful Pappajohn Sculpture Park that consists of 4.4 acres in Downtown’s Western Gateway now displaying 24 sculptures worth a combined $40 million. Local philanthropists and lifelong art collectors, John and Mary Papajohn donated their sculptures to the Des Moines Art Center to create a new public art space in partnership with the City of Des Moines. Des Moines Art Center was established in 1948 and has a large collection of contemporary art from 19th and 20th century artists.

One of the sculptures was by Keith Harring, who I had the opportunity of photographing in 1986 when he visited downtown Phoenix.



Heres a sculpture of “Nomade” by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.


General Franks and the Lauritzen Gardens

I had the chance to do a job for Institute of Personal Development, University of Phoenix this weekend for an on location shoot in Iowa which entailed the shooting of General Tommy Franks in Oskaloosa, Iowa, home of William Penn University.

Later that weekend I visited my family in Omaha and hung out in the Lauritzen Gardens. My parents, sisters/brother, nieces and nephews were all there to have a small family reunion and enjoy each other’s company.

Check out my flickr for photos my Dad and nephews at the River and my Family at the Lauritzen Gardens.


Keith Haring in Phoenix


The search in Dan’s archives was not without reward this week. I was poking around the piles of negatives when I uncovered something quite unexpected but also equally as exciting – I recognized someone! Keith Haring’s visit to Phoenix in 1986 was documented by Dan in a crowded room filled with children and adults down the street from his studio at Phoenix Art Museum.

Keith Haring is the father of street art and one of the biggest icons in art of the 21st century. He also is somewhat of an urban legend around Phoenix because he was known to make murals in downtown Phoenix, which have since been destroyed.

Haring traveled to Phoenix to conduct a drawing workshop at the Phoenix Art Museum with children and Dan had the amazing opportunity to record Haring interacting and making a collaborative work of art with his young audience.  Although this event seemed so simple in 1986 it has great significance to Phoenix, especially since the he passed away only 4 years later from AIDS.

Click Here to read more about his trip to Phoenix from Downtown Phoenix Journal


Dan & Swan

Hey guys! Laura Marks here again – posting updates from the studio as usual. Interning at the Vermillion studio has proven surprising, experiential and very knowledgeable on so many levels. This week I started organizing, archiving, scanning, and editing past photos that Dan has made over the years including commercial, travel and extra circular photographs.

I was scanning and archiving Dan’s old negatives this week when Swany coincidentally emailed him asking for images of her from the past to be included in the program for the FOCUS awards. Half the fun of scanning the photos was hearing the stories about Dan and Swan’s past together, adventures they shared and the friends they collected along the way.

Dan and Mary Virginia Swanson have known each other since the early 70’s where they attended Arizona State University together till 1979, with their mantra being “a crush at all costs.” After graduation Swan was hired as Workshop Coordinator at the Friends of Photography (FOP) in Carmel, California where she worked directly with Ansel Adams. After her time with FOP she accomplished many achievements and jobs including: Director of Special Projects for Magnum Photos, team member of the book series“Day In the Life“, Founding Director of American Photography Institute at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and establish SWANSTOCK, an agency that managed licensing rights for fine art photographers. These are only a few examples of the great contributions Swany has  done over the years.

When not meeting with photographers, presenting and attending industry events, Ms. Swanson continues her industry and marketing research, her writings on photography, and her mentoring and volunteerism.

Ms. Swanson will be receiving the 8th Griffin Museum FOCUS award for Lifetime Achievement and she definitely deserves it.


Double ‘O’ Intern Reporting for Duty


My name is Laura Marks and I am student completing my last semester at ASU. I’m majoring in Photography and minoring in Art History and loving every minute of it but, I wanted more experience in the photography field. I rang the doorbell to the Vermillion Studio not knowing what to expect on my first day as the new intern for Vermillion, but I know I was excited. The day consisted of meeting clients such as Bellarri, portrait photo shoot located outside in the unforgiving 110° Arizona weather, and a fast-abridged introduction as to how to edit photos in Lightroom. The second day entailed errands for a PetSmart gerbil cage, peanut ball couture photo shoot, and a last minute portrait shoot for an article in Banner Magazine about patients that suffered from brain concussions. But it was last night that took the cake for my experiences at Vermillion. Dan and myself rolled up to a joint on 19th and Northern in Phoenix with tinted windows. Not knowing what to expect from B’s Barber Shop, we entered the place and were greeted with Russian barbers, bright lights and the fresh smell of aftershave. The room was adorned with cherry wood furnishings, fancy salon chairs, and photos of celebrities such as Mike Tyson hugging Boris, the shop owner. The rest of the time spent at B’s was filled with jokes to make Boris and the tattooed hardball barber Chris crack smiles instead of stern intimidating stares. Needless to say it was an exciting and inspiring three days that had me enthusiastic for future endeavors at Vermillion.

DSCF1322PetSmarts Gerbil Cage with real life gerbils


The infamous peanut ball-used to help women during childbirthDSCF1336Dan and Jim Colletti  working

russian barber 02Boris shaving a lucky customer

russian barber 01Boris, Chris, and Vlad (left to right) styling hair at B’s Barber Shop.

Arcadia Green Revitalization

Arcadia Green is a mid-century modern gated community in the heart of Phoenix just south of Indian School and 48th across from the Greenbelt park. It is currently under revitalization at the hands of it’s members that aim to increase the quality of life and the aesthetic value of this Phoenix neighborhood.

I have had the opportunity to witness and photograph some of the individual projects that residents have undertaken and I want to share these images as a document to the character of my neighborhood. Many of the components of Arcadia Green have been restored to original condition and all of our current renovations are engineered to exemplify certain aspects of mid-century culture and style.

“I had an opportunity to meet with Dan Vermillion from “Arcadia Green” at 48th Street and Earll today. It is a complex that I have known about, but never really looked at carefully. When I did, wow – a mid-century discovery from 1967. It was developed by the “Pierce-Frank Construction Company” with a mix of Pueblo and Spanish…but in reality it is very “modern” and I suspect started out as a modernist design. I am also certain there is a designer behind the development team – there are features that suggest Haver (clerestory windows, projecting beams exposed on the interior), and very clean exterior forms.” 

-Alison King, Founder,

arcadia_green-2 arcadia_green-4 arcadia_green-3
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Benson Brewery Opens

I have recently returned from my home town of Omaha to attend the opening of Benson Brewery. I was overseeing the installation of four large photographs I was commissioned to create for permanent installation on the walls. For this project I photographed beer ingredients that compliment the creative recipes used to make the craft brews at Benson.

Family ties with Ryan Miller and a close friendship with Andy Willey is why I was so involved with the project from conception to the Grand Opening last week. The brewmaster, Andy Elliott, once worked at Odell Brewery in Ft. Collins, Colorado. The chef, Matt Taylor, has composed a dynamic menu that I have only begun to explore. I’m proud to see the space transformed into such a vibrant place and I look forward to many beers with family and friends at the bar.

You can also see this restored historic photo of the storefront of the old Benson Theater, which was a vital community building local business in its day. The brewery will fill that role and more.

Benson theatre cleaned 1200-Edit
StarAnise Hops Corriander Cinnamon
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Boating at Sunset

Last week I got a call from Banner Health hoping that I was available for a last minute shoot. Details included water location, kayaks and the sunset. It was a gorgeous way to spend the evening and wind down from working inside all day at the studio. Check out these shots from the middle of the lake and look for the article in Banner Innovative Care Magazine.


Aerial Mexico Video

Vermillion Photo was invited to Rocky Point in February to shoot a little video, some photos and some tequila with our good friend Marty. He owns some vacation property on the sea and wanted us to create some marketing materials for him. We produced two videos during our time-an aerial shot of the property and a tour of the condo.

Four Peaks Brewery Bus Wrap

Kiltlifter Drivers SideLast month I had the opportunity to photograph Four Peaks new marketing graphics for a bus wrap they will roll out soon. I must say that the perks of this job were endless and wet. Keep an eye out for the bus with this and new canned beer by the best local brewery.