35mm f/8.0 1/125sec. ISO100
If you came from another planet and watched Earth, you would no doubt laugh (or whatever your race's equivalent to laughing is) until becoming physically ill. The human race sometimes seems to me to be a bad situation comedy. We endlessly worry ourselves over the most inane and trivial matters, often while allowing much more dangerous issues to slip past us unresolved.
The internet is a blazing example of the habits of our strangeness. The inexhaustable power of information sharing and communication the internet provides is far beyond the science fiction fantasies of any previous time on this planet, and what do we use this impossibly powerful tool for? Primarily to look at pictures of nude people and secondly to broadcast our every thought to as many others as we can.
The countless hours we spend on facebook pushing our inanities on others is trumped only by our never-ending search for erotically exciting imagery. The strangest thing about these habits is that we don't need the internet for either of them.
In the time before the internet people were spending their time looking for erotic images and broadcasting their thoughts, but we did it outside, in the analog world.
I fell in love with the internet before it was a reality, but as time goes on, I am disappointed in how it has grown up. I still spend my waking moments seeking erotica and broadcasting my thoughts to others, but I have grown bored with photos and social networking long ago, and now seek these things in the third dimension. I miss the tactile sense.
How long until we lose the ability to register physical sensation? The flat screen of the smartest cellular device will never feel like reality, and as friendly as I am with my keyboard, I find myself staying away longer and longer.
As my ghost lingers on in the social networking world as a voiceless shade I live on, in a different world, a world where I can touch and taste and smell, a dirty, disgusting world full of wonderful deliciousness, and I wonder why I ever wanted the digital in the first place.
47mm f/5.6 1/125s ISO100
It is often said that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I have never truly believed that statement. It is true that the pen is subtler than the sword, that the pen creates wounds that may bleed for much longer than the sword, and it can even be said that the pen cuts deeper than the sword, as the sword can only cut flesh and bone while the pen may pierce the mind and soul as well. The pen may have it's advantages over the sword, but mightier I doubt.
The pen very often motivates the sword, and the goals of the pen are achieved through the works of the sword. So the pen may be the invisible hand holding the sword. The pen may use the sword to destroy, but cannot destroy the sword. The sword can, however, destroy the pen. The sword may be used to destroy all pens and all works of all pens, and even all those who remember the works of the pen, but the pen can never make the sword extinct.
The pen has tried to destroy the sword. From many hands have words of peace been penned, and many mouths have spread those words in many lands, but words cannot destroy, they can only create. The pen cannot destroy, it can only create. The pen can cause destruction only by inspiration.
The sword can only destroy, and destroy it does, from good or ill. The purpose of the sword is never lost on deaf ears or blind eyes. It takes intelligence to be touched by the pen, but there exists no creature too small or mean to be touched by the sword.
The pen might not be mightier than the sword, it may in fact be it's equal counterpart. One half of the whole, together creating the ultimate weapon, but apart both failing at their ultimate goal.
240mm f/8 1/125s ISO100
On this planet, most animals are predators. Although there are plenty of species that consume only plants, and a handful that eat the leftovers from other animals, the majority live by killing others.
At some point in the story of homo sapien we developed the taste for meat, most likely starting out as herbivores. It is not entirely clear why, but we now have the ability to eat both plants and animals.
Many animals that adopted a diet of other animals also developed anti-social behavior, the leopard for instance is a solitary creature, only seeking others of its kind briefly during mating season and for a short period while rearing their young. Tigers are also mostly solitary, and although lions hunt in packs adults spend most of their time alone.
Except for a small number of species, like the wild African dogs, an animals circle of "friends" is small. Can we expect anything different from humans?
Humans seem to have always existed in packs, but our ability to form strong bonds with our own kind is strained as numbers swell. Like the lion, we seem to build a circle of close friends numbering from six to ten and those outside that small number suffer different levels of neglect. Of course, we can work in teams of far greater numbers, our ability to deeply relate seems limited.
Although we often have delusions that humans are more like lions, kings of the jungle, we seem to be somewhere closer to penguins, living in massive communities but developing close relationships with a small few.
I often encounted people who believe humans are somehow elevated from other animals, better and special, but as time passes and I observe humans and animals, as I read the observations of others, I firmly believe that we are not much different. We are a unique animal, yes, but not so far removed as some wish to proclaim.
Most predatory animals hunt in small groups of friends to provide for their families. Humans no longer need to hunt, we rely on a small number of individuals who produce large quantities of food for the rest of us, and I can't help but wonder sometimes whether or not we have lost something by this disconnection. Humans seem to be the animal most disconnected from the ebb and flow of nature, perhaps this habit is one small contribution to that disconnection.
I leave you today with questions, but no answer, in the hopes that you will use that wonderous human brain to observe, analyze, and conclude on your own.
300mm f/8.0 1/400s ISO2000
I've been busy lately, very busy, and that means I've been talking with people non-stop. Although I don't get paid to converse, conversation goes hand in hand with the greater majority of what I do. Although I love hearing what people have to say, some things just rub me the wrong way. One of the subjects people love to talk about is how corporate box-type stores are drowning small businesses.
Super-Cuts is putting barbers out of business, Home Depot is killing the small hardware stores, Wal-Mart is choking the life out of every "mom and pop" store in the country. The list goes on, and the complaints never stop.
Big, unfriendly stores like those mentioned above aren't actually putting anyone out of business. Every business draws life from the patrons, and it's the patrons that are putting small business in the morgue. That's right, you and me are responsible for the life and death of small business.
Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Super-Cuts, these are just buildings full of stuff who open their dores and wait. The stampede of people that flood these stores are responsible for the very things people often complain about. Sam Walton didn't buy up real estate and evict small businesses from their locations, he didn't kidnap your children and hold them for ransom asking you to close your store in exchange for their life. The sad truth is that we, as Americans, and perhaps as humans, would rather patronize an un-friendly one-stop-shop that offers mediocre products with generic options than a customer service oriented small business so long as we can feel like we're saving a few dollars or a little bit of our time.
Those people who complain about the "box-stores" often frequent them, and those few holdouts who boycot them do not offset the great majority of shoppers who are delighted to visit them.
The world is changing, and the change that can be felt universally is the economy. Not the value of the dollar, but how it is being spent.
Your money is infused with a power, that power is your patronage. Spending your money is just like voting. Don't blame Wal-Mart for "destroying small business", it's not a malignant corporation hell-bent on burying entrepreneurs, it's merely the popular vote among consumers. It's not their fault, it's ours.
No, succeeding with a small business isn't as easy as it used to be, but it's still possible. I prove that fact every day. I might not get the most "votes", but there are still people "voting for me".
The next time you go shopping, think about your dollars as votes, and consider who you're voting for when you're spending that money. THAT is Capitalism.
300mm f/8.0 1/400s ISO400
A favorite movie of mine quotes 'Notoriety never benefits the noted, onle the notee...' and this is a profound truth. I can't be certain if it has always been so, but in my lifetime I have noticed fame arise from infamy more often then actual likeability. From Elvis to Lady GaGa and everyone in-between, there are two quick ways to the top: sex and hate, and it seems like those who take the first road wane in popularity once they've reached the top. Those that take the road of hate, however, are propelled TO popularity by being hated. Elvis Presley, Marilyn Manson, Lady GaGa, even The Beatles and The Doors were pushed to greater heights of fame when people started to protest them, ban them from cities, burn their records. When popularity wanes, just do something to piss people off, and you'll instantly be in the spotlight.
It's a sad fact that most people won't be recognized for the good that they do. Most of us will not be patted on the back or praised for our accomplishments, we will not be told 'good job' or have our talents appreciated. We will, however, be criticized and nit-picked about every flaw concievable, and when a critic can't find a flaw, they will make one up. When criticism stops being constructive, it is meant to be destructive.
So, why would anyone want to be destructive to another person? We, as humans, wish to destroy our enemies, and our enemies are those that threaten us. This is a natural and helpful emotion, when based on physical grounds. It's a sad fact that most 'threatening' is merely a threat to the ego, and when the ego is threatened, people will lash out in 'revenge'.
How can you tell if you are being criticized justly or unjustly? If the ctitique helps or adds insight, it is just. If the comments are rude and unhelpful, they are unjust. If someone in your field tells you: 'Your work is really slipping these days.' that is a helpful note. If some random person posts on your facebook wall 'U Suk!!!!' that is obviously not helpful. The first comment deserves your attention, the second does not.
Even though we know what is helpful and what is not, and therefore know what critiques to take to heart, it can still be difficult when being barraged with unhelpful slander. It is in these instances it becomes important to remember that fine line between famous and infamous. If enough people take the time to slander you, you will become a point of interest. You will be remembered because those people who make it their goal to hurt you will make sure they tell everyone how terrible you are. From there you become the hot topic of much conversation and, before you know it, people are googling your name and learning as much about you as they can so the next time they meet with their hostile friends they have some new or unique facts with which to flame you. Eventually this growing fire will catch and you just might achieve some level of notoriety, if you can fan the flames just a bit.
Remember the quote from the beginning of this entry? It is at this point that it becomes relevant. Fame rarely grants benefits to the famous, it merely entertains the spectators. Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe sell billions of dollars worth of merchandise every year. Photographs considered throwaways during Monroe's living years sell for more than a used car today. Her fame didn't help her career, her career helped make her famous. Sure, some sensationalism helped bring her to the top, the same with Mr. Presley, because infamy can bring fame, but fame rarely brings monetary gain, and who wants to be a broke, unsuccessful famous person?
Even more tragic is that fame is so fleeting. The hottest star this week is just that, to be replaced by someone else in the next issue of this or that magazine. Not only does fame not generate money, it comes and goes in the blink of an eye.
We should all hope to be the scapegoat at some point, it will help push our names into the minds of more people, but we should be prepared to continue on our path once the tide has turned.
34mm f/5.6 1/160s ISO100
Humans have been obsessed with themselves most likely since the dawn of our time. Cave paintings and sculptures of the human figure are by far the most prevalent. Laws have been created and destroyed concerning the creating of images and likenesses, and even today the copyright war rages on, attempting to control the way likenesses are used.
We have laws concerning who can create a likeness, and how it can be created, and how it can be used. Free from the old superstitious fear of witches we are no longer afraid to allow our likenesses to be created, but we are still concerned with how they will be used.
The likeness of a person has been thought to be linked to the one it was fashioned after, and many cultures feared that their likeness could be used for malevolent purposes. Today, images may still be used to defame or slander the subject. Unlike yesteryear when a witch would torture a wax figure of her enemy to cause pain or even death, today vindictive persons may upload embarrassing images of their enemy to nefarious websites, or even send them to the phone of random strangers. The methods of mis-using likenesses have changed, but the results are still very much the same.
The ancient Greeks were probably the best artisans when the human form is concerned. Their statues and carvings have flawless lines, poses, and perfect anatomy. They have remained unmatched, and probably will for a very long time. The ancient Greeks didn't create images and likenesses for nefarious purposes, they did it because they found it beautiful, just as artists of today spend much time re-creating and capturing the beauty inherent in the human form in its natural state.
Advertising agencies have long since known the power of the human form, and will always add some 'sex appeal' into their campaigns, even if the average gazer doesn't recognize it. Artists of all types have always known the shapes of beauty and often employ the composure of the sensual in order to add interest to their works.
Time may pass, the world around us may change drastically, but people are still doing the same things they've done for thousands of years. As much as we have progressed as a species, we have changed so very little.
70mm f/8 1/400s ISO100
"They don't build 'em like they used to." Of course that's not true, people build things in whatever way their patron pays them to. 'They' could easily 'build 'em like they used to' if it was in the budget and requested. It's usually not, though. The opulent mansions of yesterday have given way to the skyrise apartment complexes of today, and I wonder if the change was for our benefit or not. Has man's spacial needs changed, or is it being ignored to cut costs and pack more people into a smaller space?
Of course there are many books and studies on the subject, the answer to those questions is out there for all to see, if one cares to look.
The structure in the image above isn't that old, but I have always loved the ominous look of those pillars.
53mm f/16 1/60s ISO100
Artists are a different breed of people. They're prone to mood swings, erratic and often eccentric behavior. I'm not quite sure what it is that drives a person to create art, but I do know that it is a habit that borders on compulsion for many artists.
It's that compulsion that seperates the artist from the hobbyist and the entrepreneur. The hobbyist is fine creating a few things here and there while the entrepreneur is fine with only creating art when they are paid to do so, but the artist has a constant desire to create and is usually only happy while creating. The artist, unlike the hobbyist and entrepreneur, is never happy with their previous works, and is always trying to create better works. I would gamble that all of the past masters of history would agree.
Photography, when indulged in for the art, is one of the most difficult mediums to work with. The limitation of what is in front of the lens is sometimes maddening.
When I want to paint, I am limited only by my imagination and my level of skill. Skill can be improved and imagination is never lacking, but to take a photo I have to actually FIND the things I wish to photograph. This means physically searching for the right location, the right model, manufacturing the right lighting, the right props, etc. etc. ad infinitum, and nothing is more frustrating to an artist than limits.
While not every artist has an agenda like Banksy
, every artist has a vision of what they want to create, and the photographic artist suffers from lack of materials more than artists in other mediums these days, those materials being subjects to photograph.
I don't mean to suggest there is a lack of things to photograph, I'm saying that photography poses a unique obstacle to the artist. When I want to paint a rockabilly chick sitting on a car I simply walk into the studio and start painting. To accomplish the same goal photographically I have to find a woman that looks similar to the one I imaging, I have to find the car, I have to find clothing that mimics my vision, I have to apply the makeup to the woman, style her hair, set up lights, etc. Making photographic art utilizes many of the same resources used to make a film. Hair and makeup artists, prop coordinators, wardrobe managers, casting directors, lighting assistants and more. One photo in Vogue, or similar, magazine takes upwards of four people to accomplish. It only takes one to paint a landscape.
I don't care whether you're a hobbyist, an entrepreneur, or an artistic virgin, I implore you to go out and create SOMETHING, even if it's only fond memories...
The above image was created in an area of San Luis County, California called by the locals 'Pirate's Cove'. It's a rare clothing optional beach, although you can't see the beach part in the image, but that's the point. The habitable portion is hidden from casual onlookers, and who doesn't like a secluded beach?
300mm f/22 1/125s ISO100
I made this image in almost total darkness. I held a flashlight in my mouth to illuminate this happy fellow while I focused and composed. It's a miracle I didn't step on him in the first place. I'm glad I noticed this tiny frog, because this image has made it's way into a variety of galleries. Prints can be purchased at my online shop, just click the link at the top of the page.
Frogs and all of their relatives, the newt, salamander, and the toad, have always lived on the fringes of human acceptance. Often associated with witches, and erroneously said to cause warts, frogs are used in various potions and decoctions of practicioners of the black arts. Their croaks are said to herald the coming of death and they can sometimes be witches in disguise.
Truthfully, frogs are commonly used for scientific purposes, not the small tree-frogs like the one pictured, but their larger and greener cousins. Remember your high school science class? The day I dissected a frog for the first time is burned in my memory, not before nor since have I seen so many girls faint or vomit. The medical field, historically, owes much of it's knowledge to the frog. We have dissected them, poisoned them, given them disease and forced them to wear makeup. In the not-so-recent past the frog was the cheaper alternative to the mouse so widely used in laboratories today.
Frogs don't cause warts, warts are a viral infection. We know that now, but the superstition still lingers. The idea that frogs caused warts was a logical assumption, many young boys had warts, and many young boys played with frogs so, frogs must be causing all those warts right? Interestingly enough, frogs were thought to both cause and cure warts at different times. If you had warts you could rub a frog on the wart and then bury it at a crossroads under a full moon and in seven days your warts would be gone. You could also cure warts by tying knots in a string, one knot for every wart, and burying the string. The next person to pick up that string would get your warts and you would lose yours.
That's enough history for one night, I bet you expected something about Easter didn't you? Maybe next year.
Enjoy your weekend.
28mm f/8.0 1/250s ISO100
It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this is a concept often brought up in the realm of photography. People often praise me for my ability to 'make them look so beautiful', but really all I do is frame up and push a button. Photographers don't make people look any different than they already do, we just set a scene that forces the viewer to see the beauty that is already there. Sometimes it's a matter of perspective, sometimes is composure, and sometimes it's lighting, but it's never me. It's you. I don't make you beautiful any more than I make a sunset more beautiful, I just present you with a perspective that forces you to see it my way.
When I make an image, I search for what makes a person, place, or object beautiful. I don't take a picture of something bland or mundane then use photoshop to 'jazz it up'. I find the perspective where there actually IS beauty. And not just the Vogue magazine type of beauty, that's glamour, not beauty, I have a talent for finding what makes a person interesting and turning it into an image. Let me spend some time with you, and I'll find what makes you interesting, and that's when I'll beg to take your picture.
I made this image on an overcast day with a drizzle. It's out front of a hotel in Clearlake, California and has been standing for thirty years that I can personally verify and probably much longer than that. The hotel has a number of rooms with tattered vintage wallpaper, hole-filled walls, and bad plumbing. It's a sight to behold, invoking fear and interest with it's stillness juxtaposed with the visage of decrepit chaos. This structure sits over the lake, and during sunset the entire abandoned site becomes a wondrous carnival of color and shadow.
This empty, rotting structure that many would call an eyesore has yielded me many striking images, proving that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, but perhaps in the perspective of the seeker of beauty.
2012 has been a good year for me so far, and it shows no sign of changing. Despite the very wintery weather, the Spring issue of Old Nick Magazine has been released, and features some photographs of mine (Yes, I do photograph models). It IS a gentleman's magazine, so if that will be a problem, please do not click this link: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/342442
If you do enjoy classy nudity, fine wine, and expensive cigars, please click the link. The magazine is available in print as well as digital so you can read it on your phone, pad, or computer.