New Stuff

Mollee and Courtney - 103111
A few weeks ago I went out with two of my favorite photographers/model friends.  Courtney and Mollee took me to their secret abandoned house to do a shoot with both of them.  I wanted to photograph Mollee for my borders series and then photograph both of them for another conceptual series.
Mollee - 103111

I forget how much fun, energy, and creativity comes out during a shoot with kindred spirits.  Mollee and Courtney are amazing photographers and know how to work both sides of the camera.  I also enjoyed their enthusiasm, laughter, hard work, and mostly, their belief in my work and efforts to help me get what I needed.
Courtney - 103111

We went out for dinner afterward and had one of the best chats about our lives, art, and other stuff.  Makes me glad to be where I am and to know great people.

Mollee and Courtney - 103111

Little Bird - The White Stripes


Back and forth

Rocky Mountain Front near Heart Butte, MT - 102311

Plans change as life forces them.  I just got back from a long road trip through Montana. 
This wasn't my first trip of my vacation either.  Just before that I went down the California central coast with my brother and his wife and stayed in two different motels.  In the past 18 days, I've slept in 9 different hotels, each one for only a night.  Needless to say, I am really good at checking in and out, unpacking and repacking, and moving on.

Last Sunday, a week ago, I was kayaking on Kintla Lake in Glacier Park near the Canadian border.  The fall colors enticing me to paddle a little further as the sun went down.  That was a magic day.  There were other magic days along the way as well, but I hate reading or listening to others' traveling tales almost as much as seeing their photos.  The memories or photos really only have meaning to the traveler, not their friends.  Their are exceptions though, if something newsworthy happens, if the traveler has a life changing experience and shares that, and a few other rare traveling gems.

Kintla Lake, Glacier National Park - 102311

Most of the trip involved me driving my little mid-life crisis sports car at just over the speed limit (I did get up to 100-110 mph for a dozen miles and also set a personal speed/time record for a curvy bit of Idaho road).  I saw 2905 miles of the American West through my bug-splattered windshield.  If I averaged 60mph over that distance, I spent 2905 minutes (~48.5 hours) being alone in my head.  You would think that during that much time in some of the most beautiful autumn scenery around I would find some deep intrinsically valuable nugget.  I didn't have any life-changing epiphanies on this trip.

On the second to last day I checked my credit card and bank account balances online.  I was shocked by how the former had grown and how low the latter had dropped.  I was being pretty frugal by staying in 1-2 star hotels, eating the free breakfasts, and keeping other expenses down.  It is amazing though how fast it all adds up.  It was worth it though.

I also started to notice my own energy/enthusiasm savings account was running low.  It didn't help having a cold and needing to rest and drive minimal distances for two days.  Like my monetary backing, I was running out of personal resources.  By the time I parked in my driveway I had to rethink how I am going to live the rest of my 8-week vacation.  By the end of week three I had used up over 2/3rds of my money I set aside for this time.

I originally planned to take this trip to Montana, then head to NYC for a week and end with a trip along the eastern Sierras on another road trip to Las Vegas.   That stuff isn't going to happen.

NYC is out.  I love the city more than any other.  It  is very difficult to cut that trip, but I have to.  It isn't just the money and energy.  I need a plan for what I want to do and capture there and sadly, my plans seem empty.  I really want to photograph the place, meet up with a few friends, work with models, both new to me and as well as veterans of my work, and create life-changing (at least to my life) art.  Sadly, I am not feeling the inspiration for what to create and don't have the time and money to gamble that something will come up when I get there.

A Las Vegas trip is still in play since it will be much cheaper and I will soon have a stronger/more permanent connection to that city.  That trip comes in November.

There is another reason for these deep changes to my travel plans, I need to take care of some shit in my life.  For years I've neglected finishing things that I started.  I have a truck in the driveway I restored 95% a few years ago, and it has sat at 95% for two years.  I have a website that cost a bit of money to set up and I need to finish it so I can gain the benefits from it.  There are thousands of untouched photos on my computer that I need to finish.  I have two or three major photo projects I need to finish up before starting new ones.  My home needs some repairs before the winter rains hit.  My physical and mental health is deteriorating due to gluttony and neglect. The list goes on.

I am sad I will have to snuff out the sexy, cool and exciting plans I created for this special time off.  I always desire to move on to the next thing at the cost of not finishing what I am on.  It is exciting to live like this, but also comes at a heavy cost of unfulfilled commitments and strained/broken promises and relationships.


Karl's three laws of life and art

Rain - 100911
Here are my three laws of life.  I've found all three to be true every time.

1. Everyone has psychological baggage.  If they say they don't -  denial, sublimation, repression, and telling lies are manifestations of their psychological baggage.  You can't go through life without carrying some of it.  It is how you handle the baggage that says a lot about you.

2. Everyone you know will fail you at some point.  Many will fail you repeatedly.  Inversely, you will fail them all as well.  These failures could be as small as forgetting to pick up the bread he/she promised to bring to as painful as breaking your heart.  They will do it to you and vice versa.  My only advice when someone fails you, forgive when you can (somethings shouldn't be forgiven) and move on.  If it helps, remember you have failed or will fail them as well. 

3.  The tide flows and the tide ebbs, as does all aspects of living.  Life, love, hate, faith, passion, lust, and knowledge all go through these cycles.  Our tide of life flows in as we grow and develop into adults and reaches its greatest point before slowly moving out to sea again.  This same pattern is true for almost everything from our love of a certain food to the value of a kiss.

Since I try to keep this as much an art blog as possible, these laws apply to art and creative pursuits as well.

1.  People will interpret and respond to art based on their own person baggage.  If you aren't carrying around the right baggage, some art may not elicit any response.  That is fine.  There is plenty more art to get connected with.  Someone else will connect with the piece you feel nothing for.

 2.  The more personal and subjective something is, the more likely someone will fail you in regards to it.  I can't think of anything more subjective as art.  The challenge with subjective things is that words are often not enough to express expectations of others.  If I am working with a model and ask him to look despondent, what he gives me may be completely wrong for my needs.  This may be due to the different subjective definitions of "despondent".

I have also found the more subjective the purpose, the more likely someone will blow it off and/or stand you up.  Subjective things take lower priority than objective things.  People are more likely skip an appointment to create art than sell you something, provide a medical service, or pick up the bread.

Leila and Hana - 100911
3.  The tidal flow and ebbing of art.  Jackson Pollock was a big sensation.  His tide came in and he was on top of the world.  Roy Lichtenstein, and other pop artists, came in on a different tide and Pollock's tide ebbed out.  This flowing and ebbing also occurs at the personal level of the artist.  I will come up with a new concept, build it, grow it, develop it, create it and become obsessed with it.  At some point though my passion for the concept will ebb and I will want to get it finished.  By the end of it, I am tired of the work, looking at it, and and greatly lust to go onto the next alluring project.

Due to personal experiences, a tidal wave of issues may inspire frantic creation, and inversely, a deep personal wound can make an artist give up on or abruptly end a whole modality in art and self-expression.  There are certain things I will never photograph again because of this.



Bright lights

ESB - 100511

Yesterday was a long one.  I had to get to Napa to take my Subaru into the dealer for its 30k spa treatment at 7:30 am.  Mother nature decided to mark the day with the first rain storm since June that dumped until late into the evening.  I worked on my website a bit and then had to head out to prepare for my closeup.  It was time to be a model again.

I modeled nude for the first time a few months ago.   I wrote about my session with Kristin and what I learned from it.  Even though I was nude, you couldn't see my face.  In fact, I was more of a parts model than anything else.  Today's shoot was completely different.  It involved clothing and emotions.

My friend Richard Plunk (Model Mayhem link here - you may notice we have worked with the same models from time to time)  is making a conceptual series on self-identity and the "othering" we do automatically.  He wanted me to be a part of it and sit solo and with a female model friend for later shots.

As always, I enjoy learning from other photographers.  Richard is a different photographer than I am.  He is much more meticulous in his sessions.  He has a strong concept of the shot and sets up all the wardrobe, lighting  and has blocked out the scene in many ways before the first photo is snapped.  He  directed us in movement, emotions, and other details to get what he needed.

Even though he had a very strong concept of the photo, he asked us for ideas and let us experiment with our movements.  We would try something and if he liked it we would hold the pose and he would give subtle directions for subtle enhancements (e.g., chin up a little, tilt your head a touch, etc.).

We shot for around 80 minutes and I was getting tired by the end.  Shooting in a studio with huge banks of lights popping while holding poses, expressions, and thoughts takes immense concentration.  Working with another model where you are touching and holding each other while trying to keep all this other stuff in mind takes even more work.

What did I learn?  First, Richard's eye for detail is a must for his work.  His photos have a heavily composed aesthetic where every part of it is crucial to the narrative.  I appreciated the constant stream of direction and his attention to detail.

Second, I need to tighten up my directorial game when photographing models.  I need to be able to direct physical motion  (chin up, tilt head, etc.) with more precision.  With that said, I also recognize I direct differently by guiding through the emotions I want the models to feel and live during the shoot.  I learned this from watching videos of Avedon photographing subjects and manipulating the session with dialogue that evoked deep emotions within the models.

Third, I reaffirmed I want Richard to take my portrait I will need for my website bio page.  I feel he has a true aesthetic that compliments mine, yet is unique and will add to my portrait.  I look forward to that session as well.

I had to depart quickly after the session to pick up my car from the dealer before they closed.  I would rather have stayed and shared a coffee with the Richard and the other model, but life started back up outside the studio and I had to get back to living.  All this brings me to my fourth lesson.  Time creating images with a model is of its own entity.  All other life issues, agendas, and urgency pause while the session creates something entirely different.   Once it is over, life resumes.  This is partially true for me as a photographer, except I still have so much work editing and preparing the photos that time continues on.  As a model, that pause of reality is a rare treat to escape what is life and to live it out in front of another photographer's lens.

Will I model again?  Yes for three reasons.  The first is that I owe it to art karma since I've relied so heavily on others to model for me.  The second reason is that I learn a lot about the model/photographer relationship that is different than the photographer/model relationship.  The third reason is that it feels so good to help create something and then be able to leave it in the hands of others and trust them to do it right.  Since I do most of my work behind the camera, I don't need to take ownership in these images or push them for my needs.  I am not going to put out a Model Mayhem page advertising my modeling work.   I am there to support the art and just enjoy creating and then releasing control and not have to worry about all the post production that I do for my own work.  I paid my dues by modeling.  It is up to the photographer to make sure those dues pay off for him or her.  With Richard, I hope I gave him what he needed.  He is a great photographer to work with.

One last note, Richard went on the same trip to NYC I went on last year.  He is somewhere in the image at the top.


Go your own way

Jacqui - 100311
Never really listened to the lyrics of this song until recently. I thought it was about freedom and being yourself from the catchy chorus and I was wrong. For me it is about two sides of a relationship. The singer is saying how she/he loves someone deeply and has done so much to make it work, but realizes that the receiver of the song needs to move on since it isn't working. I've been on both ends of this song. I've been the one who has tried everything and realized it didn't work. It is easy to play the victim role though and see myself as the good guy.

After listening to this more, I've realized I've also been the person being sung to. I've taken advantage of the relationship and never really cared for the other person as much as that person cared for me. Hard revelation to realize I've been the asshole too.

Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac

Loving you isn't the right thing to do
How can I ever change things that I feel?
If I could, maybe I'd give you my world
How can I, when you won't take it from me?
You can go your own way, go your own way
You can call it another lonely day
You can go your own way, go your own way
Tell me why everything turned around?
Packing up, shacking up, is all you wanna do
If I could baby I'd give you my world
Open up, everything's waiting for you
You can go your own way, go your own way
You can call it another lonely day
You can go your own way, go your own way
You can go your own way, go your own way
You can call it another lonely day (Another lonely day)
You can go your own way, go your own way
You can call it another lonely day
You can go your own way
You can call it another lonely day
You can go your own way.



Hit the road jack...

Candace - 100211

I am on an extended break from work. I earn an extra 6 weeks of vacation (they call it a "sabbatical") every six years. My 12 anniversary at the company was Sept 27th, so I decided to take my time off immediately. I need the break. The past year has been rough at work, home, school, and life in general. I've almost been laid off three times, worked 60+ hour weeks for months straight, and have seen many friends lose their jobs including 19 more on my last day before break. At home... just trying to figure out how the next half of my life will go is bad, but I am still struggling with figuring out tomorrow and keeping what I have and what I have lost from overwhelming me today. My studies helped me grow greatly as an artist, but at high costs of time, energy, and emotions, and bits of my soul. My soul is tired, beaten, and mixed with anger, regret, loss, but still has bits of hope for the future.

This break is going to be important. I will be traveling to some of my favorite places - Montana, the desert, Las Vegas, and New York City. I am going to enjoy some HFO time. In my college bus driving days, we would use that acronym as code for "Hang-the-Fuck Out", or in other words, just chill and do nothing. I will also be working on my website, which I just got a great domain name for and will be premiering here. I plan to photograph the hell out of my break as well. I may also shoot some reflective video and try to take stock of where my art is and create some things I've long needed to. Since I am going to be in the car for many hours driving to far states, it may be good for me to keep a video journal of my thoughts. I am also working on finishing up a personal photo series that I will also share here.

One more thing.  I apologize for the long break.  I have reasons for the break, but they are boring and involve the work and life that lead up to my vacation.  They are behind me for now.

I first chose this song because of the title.  It is one of my favorites from Ray Charles.  After listening to it, I am getting a second message of why I need to hit the road.  I think some forces in my life are telling me the same message.  Maybe it is time to "Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more."  I've worn out a few welcomes recently.  Time to go.

The first version is from way back.  The second from a 1996 appearance on Saturday Night Live.   Ray aged so well. He had the magic to the end.  The third is Jamie Foxx's interpretation from his movie Ray.  I wish I had back up singers.