Monday, August 31, 2009

A Rolling Stone.....

Just did an interview with Romke Hoogwaerts (which might be the coolest name ever) of Mossless here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chris Cunningham where are you now?

Chris Cunningham has skills. And his vision is DARK. The work he did for Aphex Twin in the late 90's was way, way, way ahead of its time. Flex, a piece from 2000 is not to be missed either:

CC was born in 1970. Which means he was making huge, kick ass work in his late 20's. After watching his
DVD (trailer above), which covers his work from 1995 - 2005 I was curious to know what he's been doing since then.

From what I can find online....not much. He made a scary/disturbing short in 2005 called Rubber Johnny. A music video for the Horrors in 2006. Then a commercial for Gucci in 2008. A quick photo shoot with Grace Jones for Dazed and Confused in 2008, then a live video/music set at the Big Chill Festival this year.

For someone this talented and accomplished, it's strange to see him slow down so dramatically. It seems like people this creative have no choice but to keep creating. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but I wish there was more of Mr. Cunningham's amazing work out there.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Ride = The Future

A friend picked up an obscure bike magazine on a recent trip to Europe. As soon as I picked it up I wanted to know everything about it. Every aspect of it -- printing, binding, layouts, design, writing, everything, is perfect, and reflects an attention to detail that is very rare on today's newsstand. Or as some people would say, "Bespoke."

I asked my friend -- "Where did you get this?" "What IS this?" "How are they doing this?"

What is "this?" It's The Ride Journal. And it is the future. Some believe that the only way for the printed piece to survive is for it to provide an experience that cannot be replicated online. That's exactly what is going on here. Sitting and reading the book, and holding it is a unique
experience. There is no way to digitally replicate this feeling.

Click here to download the 1st issue as a PDF (26MB) and read it online. Then find a way to get the printed version of the 2nd or 3rd issue (good luck!) and sit down with a pot of coffee in a comfy chair and consume the whole thing, cover to cover. Then think about which one tastes better. I know which one I'd rather eat.

Some samples of what's going on inside. And keep in mind these are all spreads or full pages:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Willam Lamson - Automatic Drawings

William Lamson uses wind, water, trees, a pencil, and some string to create beautiful automatic drawings. Video of how it works here.

He also did a great landscape / self-portrait series a while back,
here. These inspire me and make me laugh, thank you Mr. Lamson:

Photoshop before Photoshop

Once again, Rachel at APB has found the goods. An article and AMAZING slideshow on retouching and its role in some of the most iconic images in history.

People say that Photoshop has ruined the credibility of photography, but the examples below show that photos have been manipulated as long as the camera and paintbrush have coexisted. And while some people want to trust photos to be "true", and put 100% faith in them, ultimately we need to look at everything and decide for ourselves what it is we see.

Apparently Mr. Lincoln had some body image issues. Honest Abe?:
Stalin didn't like this guy on the right, or was just jealous of his sweet lapels. Whack!
Ulysses Grant wasn't feeling the original image, and the horse wrangler was late for the shoot, so he was forced to make a few changes:

Chairman Mao (right) didn't like this joker on the left either. Whack!
As David St. Hubbins said in Spinal Tap:

"I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that is what makes me more of a selective human than someone who doesn't believe anything."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thank you Kate Steciw

Rachel at APB turned me on to Kate Steciw's Friday Round Up, which is the best Friday thing ever. I love crappy paintings and hack photoshop jobs, especially when they make me laugh out loud. To sign up, just send an email to and include Friday Roundup in your subject line.

A few gems from this week:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Art & Copy - the movie

Circling back to where ideas for ads come from, and how some of them don't end up in the trash can: Article in the NYT about a new documentary about advertising called "Art & Copy", which includes some of the most dominant campaigns and creative minds of our time. Looks cool. In theaters this Friday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Promo time

It's that time again, to pick images to go into AtEdge. I always have a difficult time making these decisions. Maybe because it is so difficult to say all that I want to say with a single image.

I haven't had time to shoot an image expressly for this. Which is bad. But on the other hand, the editorial work has been really interesting lately, so I am happy with the work that has come from that side. A that I am considering:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Photo God / Feature for Esquire

A few months ago I got a phone call from PE Michael Norseng at Esquire. He wanted to know if I was free to shoot a portrait of Francis Ford Coppola. It was the first time that Esquire had called me. Um, yes? Who wouldn't want to shoot FFC at his Napa Vineyard? Esquire has a rich history in photography and design (George Lois Esquire covers now on display at the MOMA....), and I have always hoped to be a part of it. Yes Mike, I will drop everything and get to work on that immediately.

So.....I turned the job down. My wife and I were due to have our second child that week. There was just no way that I could safely commit to the shoot date. Which was a bummer. (The job part, not the having a kid part)

Oh well. Mr. Norseng understood, and said that he would call again.

Sure enough, a few months go by, and he calls again. My belief in a photo god is restored. This time it's to shoot a portrait of Dr. Warren Hern, one of the last living doctors that has the skills to perform complex late term abortions. The other abortion doc George Tiller had just been murdered, and Hern was next on the Pro-Lifers' hit list.

The shoot was insane. Between having no time to scout, Dr. Hern's busy schedule and intense personality, and the incredibly tense environment, made even more tense by six US Marshals partrolling the office (which is enclosed in bulletproof glass), I was starting to feel a bit panicky. I wanted to hit this one out of the park, and I could see these things working against me. Then Mr. Norseng calls to tell me that the story has been upgraded to a feature. Which was amazing, but had my head spinning a bit, since I had been thinking about shooting a single portrait.

In the end, I just took a deep breath and everything went well. We made an image of Dr. Hern as a prisoner in his own clinic (above) that ran as an opening spread in this months issue, some still lifes of the clinic, and another portrait of him at home. John Richardson also wrote a beautiful article that captures Dr. Hern perfectly. Many thanks to Justin Walker for all the great help on this one! Here are a few more from the shoot:

Monday, August 10, 2009

How did I get here?

I was thinking this morning about how I got to where I am right now. People ask when / how I started or if I went to art school, and there are short answers -- I guess this would be a longer one:

1986 Mom gives me her old Minlota SLR with a sweet macrame camera strap.
1987 My first gig as photographer for HS newspaper The Arrowhead
1989 Went to college. Studied Business, Pre-Med, got a degree in Philosophy, took lots of art classes.
1995 Intern / Employee at F-Stock Photo Agency in Ketchum, ID.
1995 First photo sold to Powder Magazine for $50.
1995 Photo intern at Powder Magazine, San Juan Capistrano, CA.
1996 Employee at Mountain Stock, Tahoe City, CA.
1996 - 1998 First Assistant to David Stoecklein
1998 Moved from Ketchum to San Francicso
1998 - 2003 A whole lot of freelance photo assisting for the likes of: Terry Husebye (that's me on the home page!), Dan Escobar, David Maisel, Hunter Freeman, and a bunch of other shooters that came and went. Also studied Art Direction, Copywriting, Architecture, Graphic Design, and Photography at various times at SFAI, Art Center, and CCAC (now CCA). Spent lots of time at the MOMA bookstore, attending APA events.
2003 I go out on my own. Shooting tiny editorial, misc. freebies. Still assisting a bit to fill in the gaps.
2004 things start to work. Shooting small editorial and occasional tiny advertising.
2005 things are working. Shooting editorial and occasional advertising.
2006 things are working better. Shooting fun editorial and more advertising. Sign with rep Marianne Campbell.
2007 things are working well. Shooting really fun editorial and advertising.
2008 things are still working well, then in June things drop off a cliff.
2009 things are picking up again, love my editorial clients, still focused on getting more fun advertising jobs.

So in 23 years of having a camera in my hands, and working towards being a photographer, what have I learned? A few that come to mind:

There are no shortcuts.
It takes time to build a career.
There is no right way to do it, everyone has their own approach.
Looking at (all kinds of) art helps.
All art (photos included) is 100% subjective.
There is no substitute for time spent shooting.
I still feel like I am just getting started.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Toxic / Richter / Maisel / Gowin

Every time I fly into SFO I look out the window at the mutant ponds of whoknowswhat on the approach from the south. The lines and colors make beautiful abstractions, as they are framed by the oval window. (Why are plane windows so small and low anyway?)

I love watching the paintings shift and flow by as we descend slowly over the bay.These landscapes remind me of Gerhard Richter paintings:

It also reminds me of David Maisel. He has been photographing aerial landscapes on many levels and has a beautiful body of work. Some of my faves:

Mr. Maisel got his photographic start as an undergrad at Princeton, where he studied under Emmett Gowin, who did a few aerial projects of his own.

Mr. Gowin also shot this image, one of my all time favorites:

Which inspired me in the front yard the other day, thank you Mr. Gowin:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

inPholio -- Euro Flavor

I'm not sure how I ended up on the InPholio mailing list, and to be honest I don't really know who they are, or what they do, other than that they are somewhere overseas. But I like the picures that they send me. Clever, beautiful, funny, and all with a Euro sensibility that I love. Some faves from the last email:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

spilled milk / toilet paper

Got stuck in traffic this weekend, there was a milk truck that had flipped over on the freeway, which caused a massive backup. The scene of the accident was pretty bizarre, a mashed up tanker on its side, with a haz-mat crew scurrying around, trying to figure out what 50,000 gallons of spilled milk actually means.

Afterwards, we stopped at Safeway to grab a bite to eat. I was feeling beat down, and wandered slowly through the aisles, while the resident "sandwich artist" put together my chicken club on foccacia.

Then I saw this:
I've never really paid much attention to the photos that line the miles of aisles of product at a big store. But this time it was different -- I felt like Jim Carrey in the Truman Show when he finally realizes that the joke is on him. Does everyone know how crazy the world is?

There is someone on this planet (my guess is that it was the "client") that came up with the idea to shoot a puppy playing with a roll of Cottonelle toilet paper. What are they trying to say? Do puppies wipe their asses with Cottonelle? Or is the TP soft like a puppy? If so, should one just wipe their ass with a puppy instead? What would that feel like? Which part of the puppy would one use?

Then there is an Art Director out there that has to sketch up this "concept" and suffer through countless excruciating meetings while the details are hashed out: How "soft" should the puppy look? How much paper is left on the roll? Oh, and make sure the paper cover's the puppy's balls!

Then there is a photographer somewhere out there that shot this picture. As well as a retoucher that made the puppy and the TP just perfect. And they were probably paid very handsomely to make this unbelievable image.

All in the name of big, dumb advertising, that looks dumb and treats people like dummies.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Just lost a very cool job to Zach Gold.

Which is good, I guess, because it was Zach Gold. And bad, because, well, it was a very cool job, and I lost it to Zach Gold.