Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The best birthday present ever

What more could a dad ask for than a painting of a bird by his 2 1/2 year old? Thank you Nugget!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Some killer landscape work found on Conscientous from Georg Kuettinger. They are very clearly composites that are nicely balanced and beautifully composed, without being cheesy. These images propose some interesting ideas about geography and the interplay and interdependence of natural and manmade elements. A few of my faves:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Pile

I hate the Pile. And I'm pretty sure the Pile hates me. The Pile is a living, breathing organism. The Pile is made of: Credit card bills. Paid invoices from assistants, retouchers, reps, stylists, and producers. Notes on how to make a good looking book with Blurb. Fedex airbills. Sourcebook guidelines. Sourcebook deadlines. Parking tickets. Proof prints. Unsigned model releases. Blank cards to be written to Art Directors and Photo Editors. Receipts from B+H. Contracts from magazines that I don't really want to sign. Ideas for personal projects that I need to develop. A neglected sketchbook. Invoices from unpaid jobs. Check stubs from partially paid jobs. Reminders to pay the people from the partially paid jobs. Lots of things that need to be dealt with at some point.

The Pile is an annoying reminder that I am not alone in my office, but that I am still responsible for pretty much everything. I wish I could train the Pile to take care of itself. That would be nice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

ESPN shoot with Denver Bronco Eddie Royal

Just finished this shoot for ESPN Magazine, for a story about athletic tape. Apparently Eddie Royal, a wide receiver for the Broncos, was caught in practice writing patterns on the athletic tape on his wrists. It's not allowed, but he was eager to impress, and got busted.

The shoot was in a back room at the Broncos' training compound, where they shoot TV interviews, and other in-house stuff. Eddie was super cool, even when I proposed the photo editor's idea to have him mummified in athletic tape, while writing on his wrist. In the end, ESPN went with a more straightforward image, which I thought looked nice:

All people are different in front of the camera. Some are comfortable, and really get into it, but for different reasons. The best subjects are the ones that are having fun, and are very into doing something creative, just for the sake of having fun. Others are more into promoting themselves, or may realize that the exposure may help their image, or business. Which is good too, but can lead to a conflict of interest if my idea doesn't jive with theirs.'

Pro athletes, on the other hand, are tough to predict. A lot of it just comes down to their personality. Are they just a cool person that is ok with giving up some time, or are they the busy pro with the crammed schedule that can't be bothered? You never know until they are standing in front of the camera.

Fortunately, Eddie Royal is the former, and was a pleasure to work with, although the shoot stretched past the allotted 45 minutes we had, and he started to get impatient. He wasn't that into the mummy/tape shot, and I can't blame him. He's a young guy in a league that is all about image, and it's going to be hard for him to look cool while wrapped head to toe in athletic tape like the victim of a humiliating locker room prank.

Anyway, thanks to Eddie for putting up with me. Here are the alternate selects that didn't run:

Building furniture is hard

I built a dresser for my new daughter. It took me forever. And I have new respect for anyone that builds things for a living.

As with anything, if you don't lay down a good foundation, and plan well, you are setting yourself up for a world of setbacks and frustrations that will do you in.

Thanks to Marc Hunter for use of his shop, and for playing Sensei!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Analog will never get old

Finally got around to watching the Michel Gondry DVD, which has been out for a while. Most of what he shoots is so beautiful because he does everything the hard way: by hand, one shot, or even one frame at a time.

There will never be a way to recreate something that is made by hand. The little screw ups and subtleties that add texture and depth are distinctly human -- and that's what makes it beautiful.

Gondry's Button to Button Video for the White Stripes is a great example of analog handicraft on a large scale. I could watch this over and over.
There is also a short article that talks about the production here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More Bad Public Art

Again, at DIA. Who paid for this heinous print? And more importantly, why?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting over the hill with Lance

I've been completely sucked into watching the Tour De France this year, and have especially enjoyed watching Mr. Armstrong take a shot at an 8th Tour win. Not that I am a rabid Lance fan, but we are the same age (37) and it's interesting to see how he fares in a field of riders 10 years younger. Most of these guys were pimply-faced high school kids watching the Tour on TV when Lance was dominating it. Now they (Contador, Schleck) are pushing Lance harder than he's ever been pushed, and Lance is learning the hard way that he doesn't have what he used to have.

In a way, Lance is riding not just for himself, his team, and for all the cancer patients in the world, but for all of us older folks that get out of bed in the morning with a few more aches and pains than we had in our 20's.

He is the first one to admit this, which makes me sad. It has to be very painful for him to realize that he's lost his edge, and is coming to terms with the end of his career. It's got to be difficult when the abilities that took you to the top begin to fade, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Here is a post race interview with Lance. You can tell how hard it is for him to talk about it.

It's interesting to think about how age affects careers. When you are a professional athlete, there's not much you can do about age and its effect. If you're not as fast, you have to play a little smarter. Eventually you'll be too slow, and will have to give it up.

How does aging translate into photography? I've been at this since I was 16, and I'm still learning. Some things get easier, like lighting, understanding gear, previsualizing images, working on set with crews, and coordinating productions. But one thing that never gets easier is the need to reinvent myself, and to continue moving into and exploring new territory. It's always hard to keep pushing forward, leaving the old images behind, and pushing forward towards new ones.

As I get older and the up + comers get younger, I see the images they create and am inspired to continue this journey, knowing that the years I've spent shooting are something that I will always have. Photography needs youth, it is the fuel that stokes many spontaneous creative fires.

But as photographers we can thank our lucky stars that success isn't dependent upon the size of our quads, or our lung capacities. As long as we keep our minds sharp, and keep moving forward, we can keep climbing the mountain with the young guns. Once we get lazy and stop pedaling, we get dropped off the back.

There is still hope for Lance in the next few stages, and it may be a bit too early to discount the reservoir of "pissed off old man strength" that he is probably waiting to channel at just the right time. I'll be watching for it....

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sun Wakes Up + Carlos Serrao

On the way back from NY on a very early flight I had the pleasure of watching the sunrise from the terminal gate with my 2 1/2 year old daughter. Her concept of how the sun works is pretty awesome - at night the sun "goes to sleep " and in the morning it "wakes up". The sunrise was beautiful, although we had to board the plane before the sun actually broke the horizon. The moments before it does are more beautiful anyway.

Sitting there on the floor with her in my lap, I saw it differently than before. Because this was a new experience for her, it was a new one for me. And we sat there silently, or at least as silently as you can with a very curious 2 year old in your lap, watching the sky slowly change through oranges and pinks and yellows.

I tried to imagine what it was like for her - attempting to grasp the concept of the sun getting out of bed, having its diapers changed, putting on clothes, then jumping up over the horizon and into the sky.

The lights from inside the terminal were reflecting in the floor to ceiling windows, and created a kind of abstract beauty that I thought captured the moment so perfectly:

I have a feeling that these are the moments that parents remember. The ones where you both learn something new together. I know that this one will be with me forever.

Then I was reminded of a killer shot that I saw in Wired last month, by superstar Carlos Serrao. A shot of Teller (from Penn + Teller) reflected in a window overlooking Las Vegas. Right now this is my favorite portrait of the year. The only bummer about it is that I didn't shoot it. Nice work Mr. Serrao!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back from NY, catching up

Just got back from a week back east, went to CT for a bit, then into NY for some meetings, and to see some art. The city was nice and cool, which was nice. NY can be brutally hot in July.

Met with Meghan Hurley at Fast Company, who confirmed that Dan Winters actually does deliver a single print for each job he shoots. No edit, no real choice from the photo editor -- just an envelope from Dan with a single, beautifully crafted print. Apparently he is the only one that can get away with this. I think it's awesome and something to aspire to.

Also met with Lauren Winfield at Fortune Magazine. She has a very cool wall in her office where she hangs images that she likes, or has worked on. I thought this one, shot by none other than helicopter happy Vincent Laforet, was pretty cool:

Didn't have much luck with the ad meetings -- too many people were out of town in Nantucket, Hamptons, anywhere but steamy hot NY. Which was fine, since I'll be back in NY in October.

Checked out the Avedon show at the ICP, about 200 of his fashion images. Avedon consistently blows my mind, it's still hard to imagine how far he was ahead of his time. One image that is permanently burned into my brain is of a woman looking out from inside a car in the rain. I can't find it anywhere online, otherwise I would post it here. The old Harpers Bazaar covers and layouts were really nice to see. This one is insanely beautiful as well, and was great to see up close:

I went to the ICP bookstore afterwards, which has a deep, deep selection, and spent a while browsing. I used to be able to spend entire afternoons in bookstores like this, just going from shelf to shelf, wokring my way through thousands of images, trying to absorb as much as I possibly could. Now I find myself just standing there, looking at the spines of the books, reading the titles. Every once in a while I grab a book, but never spend too much time with it -- just kind of flip through it quickly.

Why this is? I still love photography as much as I ever have. Maybe it's because I think that there is limited storage space in my brain, and I don't want to clutter it with too many images. Kind of like sitting down at a restaurant and ordering everything on the menu, or cramming a million pieces of furniture into an apartment. I guess I am more selective now -- and try to consume only images that have the depth and complexity that I aspire to. It also seems like there are more photography books than ever before, which is great, but I wonder if the quality of the work has increased along with the quantity? It doesn't seem like it.

I spent some time looking at Eggleston, who is one of my faves. Which is funny -- I keep going back to his books over and over, year after year, and I only actually own one (Los Alamos). Still haven't spent enough time with Robert Frank yet, either.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Jia Zhangke at the World Park

Just read this article by Evan Osnos on Chinese Director Jia Zhangke in the May 11th issue of The New Yorker. He shot a movie at the Beijing World Park in 2004, where I shot in May of 2008. I found this trailer online, and look forward to seeing the film.

Before I left for China I looked everywhere for information on the World Park, which appeared in Colors Magazine a while back, and I found nothing - maybe the Chinese government was blocking me, who knows....