*The Boxer, Then and Now

Mollee 033011

My mom wore out three Bridge Over Troubled Water albums by Simon and Garfunkel while I was growing up. She loves that album. I know every song by heart, even the ones I don't like (So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright). I spent many hot summer days listening to that album with my mom as I read. Each song has meaning to me.

As a kid, my favorite was Cecilia due to its eccentric instruments and rhythms
. I liked it even more when I hit puberty and understood the lyrics, I had figured out why he was washing his face -

Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia
Up in my bedroom (making love)
I got up to wash my face
When I come back to bed
Someone's taken my place

As I got older, I really liked Keep the Costumer Satisfied because of the massive brass section. In my mind, songs with "big brass ones" are the tops for instrumentation. You can listen to it here. The brass kicks in during the last half of the song.

In college, I listened to The Boxer's lyrics for the first time. One part really spoke to me.

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving"
But the fighter still remains
If you listen to the original recoding, Simon and Garfunkel sing "cut" with staccato, clipping it short so the listener feels the punch the boxer just suffered. That was the point when I learned that articulation of words can add so much meaning to the message. It made me listen to music differently. I wanted to hear how Frank Sinatra, Tina Turner, Pink Floyd, Al Green, Pavarati, and many other vocalists said the words so they had more meaning.

I also felt that verse of the song spoke to me since we all "carry all the reminders of ev'ry glove laid him down or cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame." What college student doesn't feel they are a failure in school, socially, physically, psychologically at some point?

In my thirties, this verse spoke to me.
Asking only workman's wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there
All I will say, when haven't we taken some comfort in places we are not too proud of visiting. I do declare.

Yesterday, I wanted to listen The Boxer again. I found a 2003 version of it from a S & G performance on David Letterman. The video is at the bottom. Once you get past the interview, the music starts at 2:00. Part way through, I heard a new (to me) verse.
Now the years are rolling by me
And they rock uneasily
And I am older than I once was
And younger than I'll be. That's not unusual.
No, it isn't strange
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same
After changes we are more or less the same

That pretty much sums up a mid-life crisis. As pitiful and cliche as a mid-life crisis is, those lyrics are speaking to me and I am listening. I am not going to dwell on them too much longer, but they are important now.

I've listened to this "new" verse a dozen times now and found out a bit about it through wikipedia. It was not included on the original Bridge Over Troubled Water album.

The Boxer by Paul Simon and performed with Art Garfunkel

I am just a poor boy
Though my story's seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station running scared
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places only they would know

Lie la lie ...

Asking only workman's wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there

Lie la lie ...
Now the years are rolling by me And they rock uneasily And I am older than I once was And younger than I'll be. That's not unusual. No, it isn't strange After changes upon changes We are more or less the same After changes we are more or less the same

Lie la lie ...

Then I'm laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone
Going home
Where the New York City winters aren't bleeding me
Bleeding me, going home

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving"
But the fighter still remains

Lie la lie ...

On David Lettermen

The original

One final note, it is good to hear S&G still have golden harmonies. They give me goose bumps with their beautiful sounds.


Some recent work.

Jacqui - 032611

Jacqui - 032611
I've recently been working with two photographer/models from the college I am talking courses from.  Jacqui and Griffin are two amazing artists/photographers/models.  Both have done a lot of great work in front of and behind the camera, as well as in other media.  G and J are close friends, I would even say artistic soul mates.  Griffin and Jacqui are fine art figure models as well as conceptual models.  For these sessions, I wanted to build my conceptual theme I am create a portfolio on. 

Jacqui - 032611
A few weeks ago, Jacqui and I headed out to the windmill farms near Collinsville, CA.  We took my old pickup as a prop and went shooting.  It was a cool, sunny day.  The hills were lush and green,which didn't matter much since I was going to convert our work into black and white.  We got some great gold out of our work. 
Jacqui - 032611

Griffin - 032611
The Sunday after working with Jacqui, I worked with Griffin.  We shot around the college campus.  It was pouring rain, so lighting was both a blessing and a challenge.  The heavy cloud cover gave a beautiful even light, the rain made it hard to set up auxiliary lighting.   As you can see, we got great gold as well.
Griffin - 032611

Griffin has a Model Mayhem site for his modeling and a great website of his own, Griffinly.com.  Jacqui is building a website and I will put a link to it as soon as it is published.  You can see some of their collaborative work at Griffin's website.  Check out their work in the Vacaville and the Injected Sculpture and the Guerrilla Nudes series.

Griffin - 032611
Thanks to both models.  They delivered in ways beyond I could have wished or planned.  They were magic.

You will see more about them in future posts.    You can click on any of the photos for a larger view.

Griffin - 032611


*Getting to Know You - Valya

Valya - 081710
In honor of my diptych getting into a local show, I want to honor the model I worked with to create the right half of that piece, Valya.  This is a re-post from an interview with her last year.  It was originally posted in my old blog.

There are moments in art when everything aligns for perfection.  I started looking for models to work with a month before going to New York in June.  One found me, Moon ( a perfect moment of serendipity), the other I found, Valya.  Finding Valya was a perfect alignment of  working hard to find the perfect model and finding a wonderful woman who was quintessential to the session's success.

I spent hours going through One Model Place, Craigslist, and Model Mayhem looking for models.  In my head I had a feeling for what I wanted and I hoped I would find it before getting to New York.  After looking at hundreds of portfolios I saw the small thumbnail for Valya and knew instantly, that is her.  I went through her portfolio and my initial gut reaction was right.  I had to reach out and ask if she would work with me.

Valya is an artistic and erotic force to work with.  She exudes the attitude, look, and emotion I wanted to capture of and in that great city.  She is the perfect person to work with when creating art.   As she wrote in her Model Mayhem profile:
I am an art, erotic and occasionally a fetish model, or as I like to think of it, a performance artist, based in NYC and available domestically in the US.
I am also a fancy free and open-minded woman, passionate about making fine and erotic art (and blogging about it too)
Valya writes a great blog which was another reason I wanted to work with her.  Much of her work has a raw force to it.  She lets her images speak for themselves and offers minimal, but important written commentary, opinions and thoughts.  I appreciate her conservation of words and only adding as much as is needed.

I am excited to bring back a feature from my old blog called the "Getting to Know You" interview where I present someone I find who is important to art, creativity, writing, photography, and life in general, using the Proust questionnaire.

Valya is the first person I thought of to share her responses for two reasons.  She is an amazing artist, model, friend, and person that I deeply respect and appreciate.  For all these reasons and many more, I am honored to share her answers to these questions.

1. What is your favorite word? Russian word for porcupine, it sounds so cute: yozhik
2. What is your least favorite word? "Dirtbag", ew right?
3. What turns you on? Bizarre things, Freud would have a ball with me
4. What turns you off? Insincerity
5. What sound or noise do you love? Rain drops against a window
6. What sound or noise do you hate? Angry voices including when it is my own
7. What is your favorite curse word? Motherfucker
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I was and technically still am a fashion stylist (on hiatus while I get undressed for the camera), but when I was in school I had full intentions on becoming a psychotherapist, an analyst more precisely.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Physical labor
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "Ask me anything!"
11. What is your idea of perfect happiness? It's found in moments and is so fleeting, kind of the way Spalding Grey discussed "the perfect moment" in his monologue film "Swimming to Cambodia".
12. What is your greatest fear? The inevitable despair my children are bound to suffer from time to time through their lives.
13. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Maybe Mata Hari? I'm not sure.
14. Which living person do you most admire? Bjork, a genius.
15. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I am SUCH a procrastinator.
16. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty
17. What is your greatest extravagance? I'm afraid I'm not quite there!
18. On what occasion do you lie? To potentially save feelings or when I'm too cowardly.
19. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Oddly, it's the thing I often like most and that's my ethnic look.
20. When and where were you happiest? Please see # 11
21. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?  To be more practical...but then I wouldn't be me- at all.
22. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? That I had a real one.
23. What do you consider your greatest achievement? My 2 kids definitely, its not that making them was difficult ;), but raising them alone after getting divorced when they were just a little over 1 year and the other 3 months old, that was/is hard. And I like who they are as people, I like to think I have something to do with that :)
24. If you died and came back as a person or thing what do you think it would be? Someone privileged and with a heart of an artist.
25. What is your most treasured possession? My childhood photos.
26. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Unrequited love
27. Who are your heroes in real life? Strangers who say "bless you" to other strangers when someone sneezes.
28. How would you like to die? I am afraid to die, if I knew I was dying, I would prefer to take my own life. I wouldn't do it gory style, I would just OD on a boat load of feel good drugs. 
29. What is your motto"Its just the atmospheric pressure"

Thank you Valya.  I hope our paths cross again.

*I will publish reruns of some of my old posts I feel are contemporary, good and worth rereading. 



Enter, show left!

Event Mailer
I got a diptych into a local show.  The title of the exhibit is 80 eyes 40 views.  The works are from artists in two portfolio courses at the local college.  Half are photographers and the other half painters and sculptors.

My diptych by its buddys
These courses are for us to develop a series of work and create a portfolio.  Sadly, the exhibit only has one of our pieces.  My series will have five or six diptychs that need each other for deeper meaning.  With that said, I am happy at least a part my series will be exhibited.  I am even happier that one of the photos is of Valya.   I appreciate her willingness to share deeper emotions than just showing simple poses.  I wont go into my reading on this diptych (other than the title of the series is Tipping Point), but highly encourage you to share your observations.  None of the individual diptychs will have titles.

You can click on the diptych to see a larger view.
Moi and the diptych -I wish Valya could have been here for the reception


Recent Stuff - Febraury - Part 2

Rain - 031511

Quick recap of Part 1 - I worked with the wonderful Candace again.  A few weeks later I was stood up by a model and talked to another model about the experience.

A few days later I worked with another model who restored my faith in the model/photographer team.  Though she was great, the session left me feeling weird.   I went to a monthly photography event at the Center for Sex and Culture.  They host photo shoots with various themes.  The attendees pay a fee and get to work with models to photograph.  On the Sunday I went, there were four other participants.  We then spent the next two hours photographing the model.  It felt weird from the first moment. 

The model mainly works in fetish themes with an emphasis on BDSM.  I am not into that scene, but there is something about the starkness of the environment, the black leather against light skin that gives a strong graphic novel feel.  None of the session involved any heavy fetish stuff or go anywhere deep into a scene.  The closest it got was when she had a cat-o-nine-tails that she held and posed with.  The event organizer (one of the photographers) went over the  ground rules of not touching the model, being respectful, etc.  This wasn't the weird part.  It was the working conditions.

Call me a snob, but I have always worked alone with models (not including my 1:1 tutorials with Kim Weston) and I prefer to work alone.  Two of the five of us had experience working with nudes, the other three had little or none.  The problem came when figuring out how the session would work.

I suggested we take turns working with model, maybe in 10 minute blocks.  That got rejected and it quickly became a photo free-for-all.  It felt like a seedy paparazzi scene with a bunch guys standing in a semi-circle while the model tried to follow directions from us all.  A few of us knew enough to provide direction and talk with her.  The rest just snap, snap, snapped away.  We kept getting in each others' spot, blocking light, and getting into the photo frame.

At one point I got on a ladder and tried to photograph way high.  That worked for a bit, but I grew tired of it.  All the other camera holders remained at standing height snapping away.  I got on the floor and rested the camera a few inches off of it.  I was in no one's way and found some interesting low angles.  Within a second of getting up, one of the newbies took my spot.

I was the first one to mention my concept/idea to the model and show her some photos I took of her where we approached the idea.  They seemed to notice I knew a bit about this stuff and started copying my theme.

Out of the 120 minutes, I probably shot only a quarter of that time.  I stood back and watched the scene unfold the other 90 minutes.  During the break and at the end, I gave the model my card with my MM account and email. She gave me hers.  We chatted about some future ideas.    The session ended and I was happy to get out.

I felt awkward and dirty driving home.  After thinking on it, it made me think the event was a photographic circle jerk.  All the camera holders taking their thrill pics.  I felt dirty for being a part of it.

There is a photo exhibit up at the SFMoMA titled Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera since 1870.   One of the photos exhibited is a piece by Chris Verene from his Camera Club series.  This series is about:
"In the mid-nineteen nineties, Chris Verene sought out photography clubs that advertise to aspiring models offering them a career in the modeling industry. These clubs have been in the US since the 1940’s—often seen as groups of male photographers huddled around swimsuit models in studios and on beach locations.
The project sought to document the photographers who join a club as way of access to women who would be willing to pose in lingerie, swimwear and nude. Verene joined these clubs in a number of American cities and surreptitiously made pictures of the men and their equipment while they were distracted by the models. Verene also conspired with a female friend who applied to the clubs as an aspiring model as a way of investigating the system that drives the organization. The two found that the clubs were never a real route to becoming a fashion model, and such promises were often offered in lieu of payment.
Verene’s “Camera Club” project is unstaged, and is a real document of how the clubs truly feel. It stands as a caution to young models—suggesting to all such people that they be careful who they trust with taking off thier clothes for pictures, and that they not always believe all the stories that such clubs tell." - From Verene's website
This is what it felt like to me, an exploitation of the model for our cheap clicking arousal.  
I thought on it some more the next day and my view changed.  The idea of it being a photographic gang bang remained, but the vileness of it changed.  I remember the first time photographing a nude model.  I was nervous and trying to do everything Kim Weston showed me.  I was awkward talking to the model and kept getting distracted.  I got some good photos from the event, but I would say I was barely above being a GWC (Guy With a Camera).  Maybe I should give the other camera holders a a bit of a break for being green.

The model was open and enjoyed the shoot.  She was not bothered by it and shared that she had done these before.  I could tell she had experience because she would pose and then look to each camera giving that photographer time to snap a few shots before moving to the next.  She ensured every photographer got a few seconds of individual time before moving or changing poses.  So, even though she became very objectified, she was actively participating.  I am not saying it is right, but at least it felt less like victimization.

So, what did I learn?
  1. I work alone or with lighting assistants.  I am the only photographer.
  2. I like leading, teaching, or guiding, but that should be a predefined role and expectation.  I don't like having to do this when my goal is tobe  the photographer.
  3. And most importantly, I am no GWC.  That was my first and last time going to one of these monthly events.
Photo note - I do not want to disparage the Center or the model, Rain Degrey.  The center is a great, sex-positive place that educates, celebrates, and provides awareness about sex, sex workers, and the world erotic.  Rain was great to work with and I highly recommend her.  


Recent stuff -February - Part 1

Candace - 031111

I worked with Candace Nirvana again last month. It was a great, relaxed shoot. She is golden to work with.  I highly recommend her.  I wont go into a lengthy writing on the session because it was a beautiful moment and the photos will speak for themselves. 

A few weeks after working with Candace, a local model contacted me through Model Mayhem. She wanted to build her portfolio and felt that the work on my MM portfolio represented a look she liked. I agreed to photograph her for free, in exchange that I got to work on some stuff for my current series I am working on. She quickly agreed and we set up a photo shoot. I took work off for the day and got everything prepped for the shoot. We were supposed to start at 1:30pm.   By 3:30, no phone call, email, or text.  Nothing.  I sent her this message.


Everything OK?


I got no reply. I am relieved to see she has logged into MM since then and is OK. She now has a declaration stating she will bring an escort along to sessions with all photographers she hasn't worked with.  If she didn't feel safe and thought she needed to do that with me, she should have told me ahead of time or at least asked. I hate getting stood up.  Out of the dozen plus models I've worked with, this is the first no show.  All other models have been great and very communicative when issues arise.

I worked with a different model a few days later and told her of this incident.  She said that it was too bad and then shared a few of her photographer horror stories.  Her experiences made look at this relationship from the other side of the lens.   I knew the  model/photographer relationship goes both ways with success and failure on both sides.  It was good to learn it again.  I will mention more about that second shoot in the next post.  That session made me feel awkward.


42 is the answer

Me at 41 - 030910
I've been thinking about the book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.   In the book, a very intellectual species builds a super computer called Deep Thought to find, "... the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything."  The computer spent 7.5 million years to find the answer.

On a huge, momentous day, all the people gathered around Deep Thought for the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

Lunkwill:  Do you...
Deep Thought: Have an answer for you?  Yes.  But your not going to like it.
Fook: Please tell us.  We must know!
Deep Thought:  Okay.  The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is... 42.

Everyone was so disappointed with the answer because it made no sense.  Deep thought then told them they needed to figure out what the questions was that had the answer 42.  That would take another 10 million years.

I appreciate Douglas Adams cheeky writing about this.  We (the royal we) spend so much time looking for the answers that we forget to ask the right question.  It reminds me of when my parents always corrected me when asking for permission.  "Mom.  Can you take me to the store?"  My mom would always respond with, "Yes.  I can take you to the store, but it doesn't mean I will take you to the store."  I then rephrased the question as "Mom.  Would you please take me to the store?".

Now that I am 42, I am trying to figure out both the question and the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.  Actually, I am not trying that hard.  Maybe some parts of all this is better left to being a mystery.  Until I figure all this out, I am happy with being 42.



Vatican - 030811

A few nights ago I had a dream where I noticed my world was falling apart around me.  All the balls I juggled were crashing down and I  couldn't keep up.  At one point I heard in the dream my wife tell me:
I am not going to help you clean up the façades you built around yourself.

That startling statement woke me up.  It kept me up thinking about all the façades I put up so people only see a version of me I think I can control and project. 
A facade or façade (pronounced /fəˈsɑːd/) is generally one side of the exterior of a building, especially the front, but also sometimes the sides and rear. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning "frontage" or "face".
In architecture, the facade of a building is often the most important from a design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building. Many facades are historic, and local zoning regulations or other laws greatly restrict or even forbid their alteration.           - Wikipedia
I believe we all wear *brilliant disguises  at times.  They are different than the **façades we build around ourselves.  The disguises hide something and the façades create "truths" and perceptions about what is inside.

This dream quote, "I am not going to help you clean up the façades you built around yourself!",  told me that I have to quit trying to be so many different "me's" for others.  I am getting worn out and just need to be Me.  Just Karl.

This new blog is an effort for me to become more WYSIWYG (pronounced whizzeeewig) which stands for What You See Is What You Get.  This includes sharing my warts, wrinkles, gray, thinning hair, and hazel eyes.  It also makes me own up to all the brilliant disguises and façades I've worn or built up.  I am not offering total transparency into all of my life.  Honestly, do you really need to know if I pee standing or sitting?  I am not aiming to be like Charlie Sheen and self-implode by sharing all my lunacy.  I don't have enough vices or money to reach his level of new "transparency".  I also don't have "Adonis DNA and tiger blood" in me.  I've just got Karl DNA and Karl blood in me and guess what - that is good enough.  

*One of my favorite songs by Bruce Springsteen (watch and listen below).
** I know I can spell it "facade", but the cool little  "ç" makes it much richer.


Take a look about

NYC - 030611
Hi.  My name is Karl Sutphin and I am a blogger.  I am also a photographer, artist, and a middle-aged, slightly balding, over weight white guy.  This is a blog about me and what I see, think and learn.  It will be lofty, liminal and low down*.   It will have lots of my photography and a bit about art.  This blog will also have a smattering of other stuff I run across

The name of the blog comes from an answer I commonly give to the question, "Whatya doin'? "  My reply, "Looking about."  I am fascinated by what I see and find meaning, joy, anger, love, sorrow, passion, lust, beauty, ugliness, and every other aspect of the human, inhuman, and non human condition out there.

I can photograph almost anything, but prefer having a person in front of the camera.  I am a sensualist.  My primary sense is sight.  I am very visually oriented. My other senses also appreciate being challenged, but I will always look first.

You may know me from my old blog, which shall not be named.  At that blog, I first went by SB, for Side B, my alias.  At one point I decided to give out my first name.  During the two years I wrote that blog, I felt I needed to be anonymous.  This perceived need to be masked had both real and assumed reasons behind it.  Toward the end I was fighting a personal battle over not being able to be myself and take personal accountability and ownership over my creations and life.  I ended that blog because I felt I couldn't be me.  Now, I can.  I will write more about the struggle in future posts. 

I am pleading guilty to future thievery.  My old blog is part of my past and will soon be removed, but I will recycle some of my favorite old posts.    I downloaded all my posts from it and reread every one of them.  I deleted over 90% of them, but I wrote some good stuff back then and don't want them to disappear.  I plan to give them a few updates, edits, and blatantly reuse them.  I also want to take ownership of that good stuff and stamp it with my name.

I encourage and appreciate comments.  Please share what you think.

So, with out any more fanfare, let us start looking about.

*Terms I learned to describe elements of Renaissance art.