Created images of Peter Townend for The Surfer's Journal.Read More
“It’s colder than a Witch’s tit!” My dad used to proclaim that when it got down in the 50s during our long hard southern California Winters.
A recent Wintery trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for my 40th birthday toggled my memory back to my dad’s proclamation. The temperature hovered around 20 degrees (F) at night (a couple of days it was colder!), and 40 degrees during the day. That’s scarf and glove weather! (And triple layering-down-jacket-beanie-and-snow-proof-boots-weather!)
Jackson Hole is beautiful. The moose wander down the streets like pedestrians walking to the grocery store. The people are friendly and non-pretentious. There are great places to eat. Watch out for the touristy restaurants, as they are over-priced and under-whelming. Jackson Hole Tourism offers a variety of ways to see the countryside and wildlife. Dogs pulled us out to a hot springs. This was such a cool experience! These Alaskan Huskies love to pull sleds, or so it seemed based on their extreme excitement. On another day we rode snowmobiles out to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. That was pretty cool, but I’m a little bummed I didn’t get to do any stunt driving out in the fresh powder. I was stuck in a caravan of snowmobilers, all headed out to see the famous geyser. We went up to ski/snowboard Jackson Hole resort. That is a killer mountain! At the top of the tram it looks like the arctic (based on pictures I’ve seen of the Arctic). There’s a lot of challenging terrain that make it fun for all levels…until all levels get tired, then my ears became filled with quips of “FUCK THIS, I’M OVER IT!!”
Nights started off sipping a creamy hot chocolate, laced with Rumplemintz, by a giant fireplace, followed by exploring a new restaurant’s take Elk and Bison. My favorite was the coffee-rubbed Elk filets at a restaurant called Local. It was delish!
“Oh, I moisturize at least five times a day!”
For some reason, that’s what I took away from my first encounter with the middle-aged Mod Paul, that and the reddish-blonde pompadour sitting atop his head.
Mod Paul is a charming, very well dressed Ginger that had the good fortune of retiring early in life. He has been a hair stylist, interior designer & competitor in Scottish Highland games. Now Mod Paul’s a surfer, cyclist, Socialite, collector of Mid-Century Modern furniture and of course all things Mod. He considers himself an American Dandy.
I often meet Mod Paul for coffee. The likely scenario goes like this: He comes sauntering up to the coffee shop, completely detailed out in some punky, yet classy Thom Browne suit, greeting me with a “Hey baby!” coupled with a million-dollar smile. Me, I’m usually in two-day old hair, surf trunks, a shabby t-shirt and sandals. We chat about surfing, photo-ideas and local gossip while sipping Macchiatos. Our meeting usually lasts about 45 minutes, then he goes traipsing off to his next meeting, looking fabulous.
“That was just like a concert in Lagos,” said Geoff. That was the best compliment I could receive!
Christian Weyers, from x-Group Entertainment (that guy =>), called me up in March (2014) saying that he saw my photography on Behance (a social media website for creatives). He wanted to know if I would be interested in creating promotional images for a band he's managing. I asked for more information. He went on to educate me on the Afrobeat movement of the 60s and 70s, how it originated in Lagos, Nigeria and how the movement is surging again in the underground music scene. He then told me about a 17-member Afrobeat band he manages called Lagos Roots. At that point in the conversation, the only question that rifled through my brain was: When do I ever get the opportunity to photograph a 17-member, Afrobeat band? This was a new one for me. So, after working out some logistics, I jumped in my car and headed north to Oakland, CA.
The objective was to create a dance-hall-like environment, with the band playing for their fans. I wanted the imagery to feel like the concert was taking place somewhere tropical / exotic. The location Christian procured, American Steele Studios, in Oakland, CA definitely helped to create the vibe. Lighting, location and a little booze helped everyone turn my idea into reality. The shoot was a success, everyone was happy with the imagery. The best compliment came from Geoff, the band’s lead singer and Lagos, Nigeria native. Check out the images here
A big Thank you goes out to:
- Christian Weyers and Lagos Roots
- Dan Rappa | Photo Assist | email@example.com
- Geoff Mau | Photo Assist | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tietjen Fischer | Wardrobe | email@example.com
- Ashley Ludwin | Wardrobe Assist | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Veronica Sjoen | Hair & Makeup | email@example.com
- Melissa Helder | Hair & Makeup Assist | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Erika Taniguchi | Hair & Makeup | email@example.com
- Janet Mariscal | Hair & Makeup | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Olga Pirmatova | Hair & Makeup Assist | email@example.com
- Nikki Kern | Talent - JE Models | Nikki@jemodel.com
Here are some images from the project:
The "JACK" series is a project I created that visually illustrates my father's personality. My dad was the primary model. The location of the project was the house I grew up in Huntington Beach, California. Images from the series will be on exhibit at the KONA Gallery starting January 25, 2014. Please come out to view all the debauchery and drink a few at the opening reception!
OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, January 25, 2014
TIME: 6:00PM - 11:00PM
LOCATION: KONA Gallery 412 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672
ATTIRE: Mostly classy, a little bit trashy
I'm very honored to have one of my images hanging in the Hahnemühle booth, representing the paper company at the Salon de la Photo Expo in Paris, France. This is serendipitous considering that I recently switched to their paper for my portfolio. You can read about the back-story to this image here. Here is what the Hahnemühle booth looks like:
In August 2013 I traveled to Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In between meeting the future in-laws, eating an ocean of fish and drinking copious amounts of homemade wine, I managed to create some images.
The island of Brac, Croatia slows you down and suggests relaxation. It's a rock-lovers paradise, as the island is riddled with tons of white rocks.
"Where Bosnia starts logic ends," said a man I was talking with at a party, while visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina. The effects of the Bosnian War are still visible in Mostar (where a lot of my in-laws still live) and there is tension in the air.
Both locations are beautiful and worth visiting. The people are non-pretentious; the food and wine are epic!
Food is important here. Eating in Brac is like an athlete training for a sport. The day is centered around the preparation and consumption of food.Wake up, eat a snack. Then, put pants on and walk down to the local farmer's market to buy fish and produce for dinner. On the walk back, stop to have coffee and a pastry. Once back at home, make a proper breakfast. Today's breakfast was scrambled eggs, a tomato, pepper & cucumber salad, prosciutto, ham and three varieties of local cheese. All of this dipped in mayonnaise, which is dispensed from what looks like a toothpaste tube. After breakfast, head out to the beach for a bit, then go for an afternoon coffee and gelato. Walk home and take a nap. Wake up and prepare dinner. Tonight's dinner included muscles steamed in white wine & garlic. Scampi sauted in diced tomatoes, white wine and garlic. Leaf fish baked with rosemary. All of that served with steamed potatoes and chard tossed in olive oil. Homemade red and white wine, dispensed from recycled plastic water bottles, washed down the meal. After dinner, walk down to the cafe for dessert. Tonight, it was gelato with sparkling water. Walk up the hill to the apartment and go to bed. Wake up and do it all over again.
PS: It was all delicious!
PPS: Oh ya, I also got engaged...and eventually married.
“Thailand is a country that will make you sweat without moving, it has bugs the size of a man’s hand and lot’s of women with penises (or so I'm told). The locals are friendly and the food is delicious. All in all, it's an amazing country to visit.” This was from an essay I wrote about my travels in Thailand. It pretty much sums up the trip I took last August (2012). You can read more about my trip here.
Two of my photographs were recently selected to be in The U.S. Embassy’s 180th Photography exhibition in Thailand.
The exhibit has traveled from Bangkok’s Central World to the Central Airport Plaza mall in Chiang Mai. Now it’s headed off to Chulalongkorn University’s Arts and Cultural Center from now until September 13th, 2013. If you're traipsing through Thailand, stop in and check out the exhibit. Here are some added dates and locations:
- Khon Kaen - September 27-29, 2013 (opening ceremony Friday, September 27)
- Surat Thani - November 15-17, 2013 (opening ceremony Friday, November 15)
It’s an honor to be in this exhibit. A big thank you goes out to the U.S. Embassy for included me in the exhibit. Also a big thank you goes out to Florian Trettenbach for sending me photos from the exhibit.
“Don’t be dumb!” My dad would sling that doozy at me a lot when I was a kid. I was staring at a jug of coolant being carried around by a lug covered in muscles, moving from one workout to another inside the gym, when my dad’s words of wisdom shot into my head. An incident had occurred earlier that day and somehow this jug of red workout juice was forcing me to think about it.
Back in 2008 I had been dumb once again, this time in my professional adult life. A colleague recently reminded me of this when I was trying to connect with him on LinkedIn. He kindly accepted my advances to connect, but not without reminding me of an embarrassing exchange of words, forever captured in the forum section of a rather popular sports photography website. Until the other day, I had selectively forgotten about my dumb remarks.
I used to shoot pictures for a large picture agency. Over the summer of 2008, some of my invoices started to become extremely past due. The people who handled the invoice process kept dropping the ball. When I tried to discuss the issue, they would blow me off. This made me feel of minor importance to them, which is ironic considering how much they rely on their freelance base for content.
At that time, I was fresh off a layoff in an industry that had (and apparently still has) a heavy case of the flu (metaphorically speaking). A lot of the other newspapers were laying Photographers off as well, thus, I was freaked out about my future. Money was tight and I needed to pay my bills.
I posted a query on this popular sports photography website, asking if other freelance photographers had received the same treatment from this company. The feedback started to get heated, in my favor. I got caught up in the online mayhem and started to type inappropriate comments. That’s when the momentum changed direction. Comments like “I smell a bridge burning!” started to appear. This combined with all kinds of professionals reprimanding me for my choice of words. My initial point was fair, however, the direction I took it in was a total idiot move.
“Embarrassing” is the word that completely describes how I felt when I re-read this old forum. I know I burnt a bridge with this company due to my words. Who knows how many other jobs I missed out on, due to the way I handled myself.
The message of this tale my friends is think about what you type, think about it some more and then one more time for good measure. Carelessness can live on forever in the Internet, causing embarrassing items to pop up and haunt you. Think before you hit “send.”
During the first three weeks of February I was in Europe visiting prospective clients. The purpose of this trip was to connect with select people who I would like to work with on future editorials and/or advertising campaigns. This trip was well researched and organized. I met a lot of really cool people and learned a lot. It was my first time in Europe, so I decided to document my thoughts during the trip. I had meetings in London, Hamburg, Paris and Zürich. I also visited a friend in Brorup, Denmark. Here are notes of an American’s observations in Europe.
A Cowboy-boot wearing, 92-year-old, rock-n-roll-looking taxi driver with a face like a Catcher's mitt gave me an unsolicited tour of London after picking me up at Heathrow airport. That was the most expensive taxi ride of my life. He played dumb like he didn’t know how to get to where I was staying. Using my iPhone, I tracked his route versus the most efficient path to my apartment. Lets just say he took me down a few more one-way streets than necessary.
On my first day, I plugged my cell phone into the power outlet to charge, via a certified U.K. - U.S.A. adapter and blew the fuses in the apartment. ARGH!!
London is a clean town considering how populated it is and there aren’t many Police officers present, unlike NYC where you see them everywhere!
People MUST walk at a running speed (yet still walking) when anywhere near the London Underground. I considered stopping in the middle of the herd, then the thought of a lawn mower rifled through my mind. (I would be the blade of grass)
I realized that I struggle to like Modern Art after visiting the Tate Gallery. I kept hearing myself quietly say "fucking goddamnit! REALLY?" It just seems like a lot of Intellectual masturbation!
SHIT! It’s COLD here! Feels like it should snow; yet water still seems to fall.
People are not very social here. When you walk by Londoners, all eyeballs are down or straight ahead. Rarely do you get a "hello" or even the opportunity to offer up a "hello." Then, when you force them to pay attention to you, in my case it was a semi-aggressive “Hello!” with my face entering their personal space. All of a sudden Londoners become the most polite people on the planet. No joke! It’s all smiles and very polite behavior.
Word to the wise: Ralph Lauren gloves from Nordstrom’s are not worth a wooden nickel! My gloves are already ripping. LAME especially when it's colder than Witch's tit!
When you tip at a pub, you become a rare and exotic animal on exhibit. All the bartenders start staring, pointing and talking. I found out after the fact that I shouldn't tip at pubs, only at restaurants.
These people pack on to the train during the morning commute! I'll probably begin mutating based on all the DNA attached to me from so much human contact!
Had an epic dish of Pork Belly at the Old Dairy in London. Learned what Dukkah is, lots of crushed nuts - peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, Etc. - mixed with herbs and spices. They added it to the salad. DEEE-LISH-EEE-OSO. Old Dairy = Cool gastro pub.
I'm staying with a really cool family. They are close friends of my girlfriend and her family, so it makes me feel more at home.
The people in Hamburg get to the point very quick. There's ver little unnecessary chitchat.
Hamburg is a very clean city - barely a spot of trash anywhere. Their bathrooms are so clean you could lick the urinals and come away feeling minty-fresh!
The Hamburgers are very beautiful and natural looking. Obesity is not a problem there, unlike in America. Ironically, there seems to be bread shops every 100 yards. Odd!! And to top it off, these pastries will make one achieve a 6000-calorie diet, per day, in no time at all. And it doesn't suck achieving that either because these little buttery Batards are a symphony for the mouth!
It is WAY TOO cold here!
I almost got beat up today (laughing). I shot a picture of this young guy and his grey-muzzled dog and he got ANGRY! He yelled something I didn't understand (if you're wondering, I don't speak German). I turned around like a dopey American, with a surprised, dopey look on my face. I think at that point he felt he was dealing with an idiot. He yelled something like "Fuck off!” waved his arms violently and walked on. I thought an international incident was about to occur. I need to get the U.S. Embassy on speed-dial! I'm pretty sure I would've taken his dog.
I have to take a shower sitting down in the tub. No, I'm not lazy! The shower at the home I'm staying at doesn’t have a shower curtain. I believe this is common in Europe. This is not common for me. However, I have to say I really don't mind it. Lots of activities should be conducted sitting down.
Took a taxi to the train station this morning. GOOD GOD that was the cleanest and friendliest taxi ride of my life. The guy loaded my luggage into a new Mercedes-Benz. It was so clean inside that a surgeon could conduct surgery on the upholstery. There wasn’t any clunky-looking taxi fare machine commonly found attached to the dashboard. My taxi fare was broadcasting digitally from the driver's rear view mirror (the one attached to the wind shield). Germans, they’re always coming up with cool shit! Of course my fare would be broadcasting from the Driver's rear view mirror of a Mercedes-Benz. Anything else would be stupid!! The driver was so nice. He kept telling me about the history behind all the cool-looking old buildings. I felt like I was on a guided tour through Hamburg. And unlike in London, this taxi driver was taking the most efficient route.
It was my first time taking a train through Europe. I was going to Kolding, Denmark from Hamburg, Germany. Train travel in Europe is a cool way to travel, but shit it's expensive! This type of travel is more expensive than flying and it takes longer. That's a weird conundrum! I mean if you're constantly in a leisurely, Sunday-drive sort of mode, then train travel is great. But if you got to get someplace, jump on a jet!!
I almost missed my train. I stood at the train station waiting for train EC 386 to Aarhus, Denmark to show up. Turned out the train was sitting right in front of my face staring at me. The train probably thought "what a dumb American!" But I wouldn't have known what the train was thinking because I don't speak German, so my feelings weren't hurt!
The Danish are very friendly and willing to speak English (when asked). Like the Hamburgers, when the Danish found out I'm from California it was all smiles and lots of "Super-Cool!" thrown around.
The countryside is really beautiful and really cold. There are a lot of very old homes littered throughout the countryside. In fact most of the buildings with people living in them are older than America itself.
I went to a cool old town called Ribe. It dates back to the tenth century. All the buildings have the year they were built above the front door, either carved in the wood or with wrought iron-looking numbers. I want to do that at my brother's house - "Built in the Year of our Lord 1970”…(laughing)…that sounds so feeble compared to the buildings in Europe. Oh well, we all have to start somewhere. Now, I just have to convince my brother this is a good idea!
When I was told the exchange rate of the Danish krone to the U.S. dollar is about 5 to 1, I was stoked! Ok, all you Finance and Business Gurus turn your thinking caps off for a moment, I'm gonna get dumb! So where was I? Ah yes, that sweet exchange rate. So there I was, all stoked on life thinking (from a simpleton's point-of-view) that I could buy a bunch of this and a lot of that! WOOOO-HOOO! Then I got the bill for one espresso, one cappuccino and a cookie. 84 kroners!!!! That's around $16! Shit, an order like that only costs a little over $5 in the U.S. Then, I saw a pair of men's boots for 5000 kroners! REALLY? That's about a $1000. Ain't nobody got time for that!!! I better get Unicorn leather for that amount. The lesson of this story is that it’s expensive in Denmark!
The family I stayed with has a really cool, Danish-designed home (I know, "brilliant Sean! It is in Denmark and all"). The refrigerator is built into the wall. If you walked into the kitchen, you wouldn't have any idea where it was, then BAM there's the refrigerator on your right-hand side (unless you were standing facing the bathroom, then it would be on your left-hand side).
There is endless countryside surrounding their house. BUT DO NOT go tear-assin' out into that countryside on a motorcycle, bicycle, horse, or on your dad's shoulders because you can end up in jail, warned Anja (the mom of the family). Apparently there are a lot of farmer's fields and other pieces of land protected by the government. They catch you cruisin' and campin' and it's off with your head – metaphorically-speaking!
The Louvre is outstanding, yet overwhelming. It's the Holy Grail of art! There is so much good stuff inside. The place is huge. I swear it's the classic Bugs Bunny gag - enter into a building to find that it's much larger inside than what it looks like outside. It's a labyrinth of hallways and rooms that open up into more hallways and rooms. It must take two-to-three days to see all that art, unless you are a Champion Speed-Walker and Looker. However, I doubt that you have these abilities because last I checked Champion Speed-Walkers and Lookers are extremely rare. I think there’s only a handful in existence. To sum up, you better plan on two-to-three days.
People are chompin' on a lot of bread around Paris. I see people gnawing on hunks of bread in the morning without anything on it. No peanut butter and jelly, no Nutella, just going at it raw. I like a good spread on my bread!
Like in London, the people really pack themselves on to the trains in Paris! I had to take the train from the airport to my apartment. The only difference between London and Paris is that they're more savage about it in Paris. They push their way on. In London, they’re a bit more civilized - no room, wait for the next train.
There was a couple of old ladies pushed up into my personal space. Every time they talked, I kept getting wafts of old-lady-denture/afternoon-wine-cheese breath floating into my nose and mouth. I could taste it. I kept thinking about toothpaste.
The apartment I rented had paper-thin walls. The first night I got there, my neighbors started fucking like rabbits in heat! This occurred on a regular basis! Sometimes at 10:30 in the PM. Sometimes at 2:30 in the AM. It was audio porn! They would turn the TV on to drown out the noise. But those walls are way to thin to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. I could practically hear what they were thinking!
All the setbacks big tobacco companies incurred in America have been made up in Europe, especially in Paris. Old guys cough up parts of their lungs, chew it and send it back down with delight. Then they follow up with a smoke...after a beer...at 8:30 in the AM! This must be the land of tough guys! The Marlboro Man would be proud...if he were alive...but he died of lung cancer. Can you guess from what??
There's finger-licking food on every corner and people playing harps with beautiful views of the city. The way they speak is with such grace; even the drunk guy on the train spewing nonsense made me a believer in his cause.
Cobblestone streets that serpentine back as far as the eyeballs can see. Cool-looking buildings older than America. Beautiful people. Overpriced coffee and chocolate. Super clean streets and bathrooms. The nicest taxi drivers. Freezing cold. Blah, blah, blah...seems like I've done this before. Oh ya, in Hamburg! Makes sense considering that the majority of people here are German (or so it seems).
There are a lot of Starbucks in Zürich. I think I counted four in one-quarter of a square mile. And they’re busy! That guy who started Starbucks must have made a deal with the Devil because this company is crushing it in America and Europe (and probably other less important lands too).
NOTE TO LESS IMPORTANT LANDS: I was joking about you being less important.
Oi, I need to get back to California. I'm starting to sound like a douch-ee tourist, spewing out hybrid-speak from every country I've visited. That's it! I've had enough Euro, time for some beach culture and Dea.
“You have a hair growing out of your forehead,” Dea says to me as Los Angeles’ Fabulous and Glamorous seem to glide by in a Gumby skate-walk-like movement. “It’s much lower than your hairline,” she goes on to tell me. I guess some rogue hair sprouted on my forehead, half an inch lower than my hairline. “Can you pull it out?” I ask with panic in my voice, as I start to imagine myself slipping into a Neanderthal shape. “Got it!” Thank God for girlfriends. I didn’t come here for a robust discourse about my hairy forehead. I’ll leave that discussion for my High School reunion. I came here to talk about pricing Photography for Art Shows.
A couple of Sunday’s ago I exhibited some of my framed prints at an annual underground indie art show in Los Angeles. A couple thousand people came out to look at a select group of creativity. In addition to Photography, there were Paintings, Illustrations, Sculptures, Jewelry, Hair and Makeup artistry, Fashion shows and live music. There was a lot thrown at public that night. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. I received a lot of compliments and some questions about the price of my art.
As I walked around, admiring everyone else’s art, I started to realize that my framed prints were priced way too high - for that show. People were selling paintings, almost the same size as my prints, for under $100. Let’s just say that I wasn’t even close to that number. I started to wonder if I should lower the cost of my art. Then I remembered walking through the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica, California. The least expensive picture in there was a 4”x6” black and white print, with white matting around it (no frame), costing more than $800. There was also a 50”x50” framed piece going for $50,000. The Photographer wasn’t anyone ultra famous. I asked the front desk attendant how many 50”x50” pieces they’ve sold. “We’ve sold two so far,” he tells me with a straight face. I try to hide my shock and awe. “We sell more than people think!”
To start, I am not well versed on the topic of pricing Art. However, I do understand how to figure out my raw materials cost. This is the starting point I use to price my art. Regarding my framed prints at the show, I wasn’t selling them anywhere near $50,000. However, I started to wonder if I should price my art based on the venue of a show. If I ever have the opportunity to grace the walls of Peter Fetterman’s gallery, would I charge more than what I was asking at the indie art show? My Economics degree winces at that thought because that seems so inconsistent. To artificially inflate or deflate a price based on venue seems like an inaccurate way to conduct business, especially if the demand for my artwork stays the same. Thus, inflating or deflating prices should be based on the demand for work, not the venue.
“Dude, we have the perfect model for your shoot,” said Miles (one of the barbers at Syndicate). “She’s got a chin strap!” A confused look must have washed over my face because Miles went on to explain. “She’s got a Goatee!” “Ya, and Miles made out with her when he was drunk,” yelled one of the other barbers. They all started to laugh.
The cast for the Syndicate shoot was a surly bunch. Chin Strap and Rug, nicknamed that because of his super hairy torso, were pulled in off the street. (There is question as to where they permanently live.) My assistants and stylists pulled the rest of the guys in from the bar next door. I was dealing with a band of murderers, thieves and Punks. However, a more perfect selection of models couldn’t have been picked for the concept of the project.
Ok, that last sentence is probably a lie. No one is a murderer…at least I don’t think so!
Syndicate is a total guy’s joint, in the most heterosexual sort of way. Which is ironic considering that the shop sits in Long Beach’s Gay district. All the barbers have an abundance of tattoos displayed (face included). The shop’s walls are riddled with framed Tattoo art and band posters, along with unused skateboard decks, a vintage motorcycle and a deer’s head. Playboys, Rolling Stones and other such magazines are offered up as reading material. The vintage furniture is ripped and tattered, yet comfortable. The radio blasts a healthy dose of obscure Punk Rock. It’s as if the shop itself is permanently shooting a giant middle finger up at the world.
The Creative Process
I wanted to capture this vibe for the project. To add, I told my stylists to give the girls a burlesque theme, while trying to keep it fashionable. The girls did a great job displaying their deviant personalities. The mood board above illustrates the inspiration for the project.
MERV: “I’m gonna light it!” ROBERT: “Go ahead.”
20 seconds later we all watched the bottle rocket arc over towards the large, white van sitting across the street.
ROBERT: “Oh fuck!”
This was no ordinary bottle rocket. This sucker packed a quarter of a stick of Dynamite…allegedly according to Merv’s older brother. It was called the Earthquake. Well, the Earthquake was about to blow up my neighbor’s van. Our poorly planned ceremony, which commemorated the completion of our skateboard ramp, turned to shit in a matter of seconds. That was over 20 years ago in front of my dad’s house.
When my dad passed away in March (2012), Robert and his family came to the wake. We hadn’t seen much of each other since our days of bottle rockets and skateboard ramps. While at the wake, Robert and his dad, Gil, commented that they really dug the “Jack” series. (I hung framed prints from the Jack series at the wake.) Robert approached me a couple of months later asking me to create something similar for his dad. Thus the Gill project was born.
An important theme I wanted my stylists to execute for the “Gil” project was pretty much anything Mexican / Spanish. Robert’s family comes from both Spain and Mexico. I told Shifteh, my wardrobe stylist, to think about patterns, textures and colors that represent Spain and Mexico. The same direction was given to Bethany, my hair and makeup stylist. Another on-going element in the “Gil” project is Jonah, Gil’s four year-old Grandson. Jonah is practically attached to Gil’s hip. He’s always helping Gil with the household chores. That reminded me of Mini Me from the Austin Powers movies.
The pool shot is based on a conversation I had with Gil's wife Carol. Apparently Gil compulsively cleans their pool all the time. He’s retired, so I guess he needs to stay busy. The shot is also based on an idea I had regarding Robert and the pack of women that follow him around town. I had this thought that Gil lived vicariously through Robert’s deviant lifestyle, always suggesting to Robert that if he and “his friends” wanted to go swimming, his pool was clean and available.
The car shot is paying homage to Gil’s love of Hot Rods. He has always rebuilt old cars into Hot Rods for as long as I’ve known Robert. The girl is all revved up and hot for the blue beauty.
The kiss image is based on Gil likely bearing witness to the awkward end of dozens of dates his two daughters went on when they were younger.
The Christmas Light image is loosely based on a story I heard about Gil almost hanging himself. He tried to load the hood of his Hot Rod up into the rafters of his house. Somehow, while trying to do all this, he caught his chin on a wood beam, slipped off the ladder and momentarily hung himself without any support. His wife walked into their garage to find Gil hanging by his chin. Gil managed to get himself down and walked away with a bruise. I thought the story was funny and the perfect metaphor for all men and our often shitty decision-making, based on pride and ego.
The Hot Rod and motorcycle image was Gil's idea. He wanted a picture of a sexy lady working on his Hot Rod. Why not throw two ladies into the mix?!
PS: The van never blew up 20 years ago. However, the cops did show up and my dad dealt with them in a perfect Jack DuFrene-sort-of-way. You can ask me about that another time.
“After looking at your work, everything else here is boring,” said Gina. Ok, let’s back up here for a moment. To be fair, Gina and I went to High School together, so I’ve known her for some time. There was probably a bit of bias involved with her complimentary comment! However, it was lovely to hear.
The Provocations art show, produced by RAWartists, was an intense display of sensory input. Music, Fashion Shows, Photography, Painting and Jewelry were jam-packed into a three-hour show. The Key Club, on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, was a great venue for the barrage of talent launched at the spectators. Everyone dressed up for the occasion and displayed their best behavior. My stepfather, Gary, put it best when he said, “that was a thoroughly enjoyable show! I had so much fun!” I concur Gary…I concur!
To listen to me babble on about Photography, push play and enjoy! (Please be patient for 30 seconds of intro.)
“You should try this, it’s really good!” I looked down to see something that looked like cadaver flesh. Ok to be honest, I’ve never seen cadaver flesh in person, I’m basing this assessment on my extensive career of movie watching. I reached down to grab a section. As the fruit was in transport to my mouth, its odor first assaulted my nose, which immediately raised some red flags. I had a similar experience with Limburger cheese - it smelled like dirty socks, but didn’t taste as bad as it smelled. This thought quickly rifled through my mind, so I proceeded to eat on faith alone. Immediately my taste buds confirmed what my nose complained about. Out it came. I don’t think I even started chewing. Durian fruit is not horrible if one is expecting to eat fruit that tastes like salty, strong onions with a hint of sweet. I was expecting something very different; thus, my entire being revolted. My Durian fruit experience is not a proper metaphor for my Thailand trip. It was quit the opposite. The trip was a nice blend of both vacation and traveling. Vacationing to me is going some place that allows me to de-stress. Traveling means to explore, to go and see new things. The Thailand trip had both elements.
The trip started out in Bangkok where we rode the skytrain out to the Weekend Market. This is basically a big outdoor Flee Market with lots of local goods at very inexpensive prices.
After Bangkok, we rode a bus out to Ayutthaya, visiting old Buddhist temples (or Wats) along the way. We then jumped back on said bus and drove out to Kanabanchuri where we stayed at a hotel nestled in the jungle right next to the River Kwai. We visited more ancient Buddhist temples along the way, rode elephants and then rafts down the River Kwai, visited museums and ate great food. Last we flew down to Phuket, where we finished off our trip.
Highlights of the trip were seeing the Hellfire Pass located near Kanabanchuri. (You should Google it, as it has a pretty amazing story). Next was riding a train through the jungle and then riding a bamboo raft down the River Kwai. And last, was the trip to Phuket where we dove off the Phi Phi islands and dodged dodgy locals trying to sell us everything from DVDs to massages. (We gave in to the massages. How could I not when someone's offering to rub my feet and shins for an hour for $6?!)
Thailand is a country that will make you sweat without moving, it has bugs the size of a man’s hand and lot’s of women with penises (or so I'm told). The locals are friendly and the food is delicious. All in all, it's an amazing country to visit.
A woman sent me an email a couple of months back asking if I could photograph her team to help promote her business. A mutual friend recommended me. The assignment was an active portrait of my client and a group of women that work for her. Her business, called OMG Aesthetic OC, is a non-invasive medical spa in Newport Beach, California. So, we met for coffee to discuss the details. When we were talking, she informed me that she hadn’t looked at my portfolio. “REALLY? You should have a look before I shoot pictures for you.” I told her that my work is a bit edgy, especially considering that the promos she ran in the past were much more conservative than my style of photography. After I handed my portfolio to her, she met my request with giggles of joy and comments of “I LOVE IT!” An ear-to-ear grin appeared on my face.
We reviewed the images she used in the past, discussed her concerns and then talked about where she wanted to go with OMG promos via my style of photography. My first suggestion was to introduce a muscle-bound guy into her promos. This seemed like a natural fit after she told me that guys were a large part of her target market. (I had thought her target market were primarily women)
I also pushed her to include various elements that are commonly found at her business, like a syringe for Botox and a Microdermabrasion machine. Including these elements would add a slight amount of surrealism to the imagery (especially considering how conservative her past promos were).
Since our first meeting we’ve shot two different ideas. The first is titled “An OMG Summer” and the second was left untitled. The idea for the first image was that the women of OMG perfected this guy with their medical spa skills. The idea for the second image was that the guy they perfected is now serving them, via a fun end-of-summer-backyard-barbeque. This is how the image turned out for the promo:
“Sean, your job is to mow the lawn this weekend.” “Ok,” was my reply.
My dad used to say this to me ritually during the start of each weekend when I was much younger. However, his idea of when I needed to work greatly differed from my idea. NOTE TO ALL PARENTS: If you give your child a large window of time (like two days) to do their chores, said child will likely wait until the last-minute – generally speaking. This is especially true when it’s the summer, the sun is out and the surf is up. My dad used to get so angry with me because I would wait until late Sunday afternoon to finish all of my chores. “I told you to mow the lawn!” he’d bark at me. “That doesn’t mean wait until the eleventh hour on Sunday!”
I try letting viewers conjure up their own interpretations to my images. And there have been lots of interesting interpretations of this image. However, here is a peak at what fueled this picture. The above scenario was the primary inspiration for this image, as the title is “Work & Leisure2.” It’s a loose interpretation considering the model with my dad is a young lady. I figured a pretty girl would make the image more fun to look at then throwing myself into the photo. Other inspirations for composition and content came from Sergio Leone movies and my cousin’s unwavering dedication to Spam his friends and family with emails filled with topless women. (Keep 'em coming Kim...for research purposes, of course.)
"Are you in pain?" Dea wakes me with an odd question at 3:00 in the AM.
"No, should I be in pain," I ask in bewilderment. "Why would you wake me up with that question? That's a very strange thing to ask!"
"It's not a big deal, let it go," she barks at me and then rolls over and goes back to sleep.
Immediately, I start checking to see if there are any new sutures laced into my body. Questions like "Did she harvest my kidney?" start rifling through my mind. Eventually I relax and go back to sleep. I asked her in the morning over coffee why she asked me such a question. "I was half-asleep and I must have dreamed about work. It was a knee-jerk reaction. I'm constantly asking patients if they're in pain at work." (She's a nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.)
Our three-day holiday to Cambria, CA was great (aside from the “pain” question). I loved walking the town with Dea, picking wild pigmy plums and buying antiquities for our apartment. This one antique store was a total labyrinth! It wouldn't end. Everywhere I turned, a new room would present itself. This was cool for a while until I started to feel like I was in a Twilight Zone episode.
Cambria is beautiful. There are tons of wild things everywhere, from blackberries to deer. We were constantly greeted with smiles. The food is good. My recommendation is the Indigo Moon Cafe. There are lots of great things to see. Hearst Castle is very opulent and eclectic. It's definitely worth the $25 it costs for a tour. The elephant seals on a beach near Hearst Castle are disgusting, yet really interesting to watch; thus, worth the trek out to see them.
From Los Angeles it's only about a four-hour drive. Stopping for lunch or coffee or both in Santa Barbara creates a nice break in the drive.
In summation, Cambria is a perfect weekend getaway to distress.
“I love your work, but you talk too much!” said the Goth-looking woman. “You’re in New York! You have to make it quick and to the point.”
Last week I attended the opening reception to ARThood’s “Great Promise” exhibit. One of my images from the Jack series was picked to be in the show.
The exhibit opened in the Stephan Stoyanov Gallery on Tuesday, May 28 and ran through June 3rd.
The reception on Wednesday night was cool, yet very sweaty. Cool meeting lots of different people; however, hot from a room packed full of people.
I decided to go at the last-minute, which didn’t make my bank account very happy. I also decided to fly my Aunt out as well, which was also very expensive.
A couple of weeks ago I heard a great idea. The lecturer was talking about how difficult it is for artists to talk about themselves while schmoozing at events.
“So, bring someone who knows you really well to talk you up,” said the Lecturer.
What a great idea! The last thing I want to do during a conversation is to spout off all things me. The way I see it is let the other person (in the conversation) ask to hear my stories of grandeur and brilliance. However, holding off until someone asks me questions about my work could derail the point of using events to promote myself. That’s where my Aunt came in handy. She worked the room, talked me up, showed my portfolio, brought people over to meet me, Et cetera.
Advice: Bring someone who knows you well to events. It is a huge success!
PS: Here are some of my favorite pieces from the show: