Thursday, May 31, 2007
Whenever I see a parent yelling at a kid in a grocery store I always think to myself, "I would never do that." "That is so ugly" "What are they thinking?". Then invariably a week or a month later I find myself in line at the cash register or in the frozen food section screaming at one or more of my children to put that down/knock it off or else face the standard Rolodex of threats we use to get the kids to listen.
I entered a a series of images (The Villa Series) in the local APA show. I think of myself as someone with a national reach and thought for sure I would be a shoe-in. I had already been practicing the humble head nod I would you use as my peers offered congratulations.
Years before when I was just starting out I got a couple images in the same show. My wife and I went together and had a great time looking at all the images together and hopeful of the career I might have. Then a little man with a black beret and cape walks in with many of his minions. My wife asked who is That? I explained he was the local big time photographer. "You will never be like that!" she said. I assured her I didn't even have it in me.
Back to the present. Needless to say the APA only took one image from Villa series and I was livid. I told the poor guy at the APA if he didn't show the whole series then he couldn't show any of them. He explained invitations with my name had already gone out and it was too late to pull the image. He was way too nice about it.
I had become the little man in the beret and the ugly parent screaming at his kids.
So like a good insecure photographer looking for validation I went about scouring the country for a show that would accept the images. I found an APA chapter in southern california that was willing to take a couple of the images. Of course this did not have the intended effect of making me feel any better and just made me feel kind of small.
In a more perfect world knowing that I had created a body of work that I was proud of would be enough. I would not need to take my temperature in someone else's mouth to know how I am doing.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I just finished shooting a story on golfers who are 100 yerars old and still playing. I went to Chico, Palm Springs and Portland and with all three subjects I found them to be pretty similar. They each palyed at the same kind of run down course and all expected to be treated like royalty at the club. The drove their carts on the greens, failed to stop as other players were about to hit and barked out good natured orders to all around them. "Give me a cart, give me a club, I want a different jacket" rang out acoss little wooden sheds that served as pro shops at these clubs. I found it charming and endearing. Everyone at the clubs knew who they were and seemed happy to oblige.
The day after I graduated from college I jumped on a plane and flew to Sun City, Arizona to begin a documentary project on the largest retirement commiunity in the world. The plan was to spend a year photographing the seniors and then publish a book on the project. It was going to be like a cross between Robert Frank's The Americns and Bruce Davidoin's Subway. It was going to make my career. I would join Magnum and be huge.
I ended up renting a room from a 70 year old man who wore leather skin tight pants, had a house full of driftwood furniture
and smoked pot constantly. I got a job serving lunch at Olive Garden and quickly figured out what a terrible mistake I had made by coming to Arizona. I was 22 years old and the youngest person in a 20 mile radius by at least 40 years. I stopped taking pictures all together.
Then there were the bread baskets. At lunch at Olive Garden you could order a pasta dish for five bucks and get as much salad and warm breadsticks as you wanted. The seniors were lined up out the door when the doors opened at 1130. Back and forth I would to the kitchen to refil that damn basket. They wouldn't touch the pasta but would go to town on the free salad and bread. And right before they asked for the check they would order another round of bread and salad and then ask for foil to wrap up it all up to go. On a good day I would walk with $20 bucks in tips. Like the 100 year old golfers I photographed this week they wanted to be treated like kings and queens. They had seen it all, lived through it all and now was their turn to be taken care of.
20 years ago at the restaurant I found them to be cheap myopic and ungrateful. This week they were liberated and at the end of a long life finally did not care what other people thought about them.
Friday, May 25, 2007
I photographed this athlete using a light I saw Andrew Eccels demonstrate. It is a single source way high on a stand. Andrew used a bare head but I tried the Fresnel because I still am trying to figure out how to use it.
The subject was super easy going with a small entourage. When I shot LeBron he rolled 10 deep and Chris Rock must have had at least twice that many. John Kerry peeps came in waves and as the age of the handlers crept up you knew the Senator was not far away.
I have never liked photographing famous people. There are two approaches I have tried. One was to get real quiet and be steam rolled by the process. Then I feel more like the guy picking up the dry cleaning or some other invisible person.
There is that line from a country song. "I come on big when I am feeling small" I have done this as well. Made my personality as big as it can get to be sure to be noticed. This has led to a kind of out of body experience which made me feel a little cheap afterward.
Kerry was kind of a jerk. I had taken the silent but sincere approach and he smelled blood in the water and squished me like a bug. Talking to his staff or on his phone during the few minutes he sat for me and then was gone. While we were pre-lighting the shot and waiting to photograph him in his hotel room a waiter came in and set five course meal for Kerry to eat after he had gone down to the ballroom to make his speech. The waiter was excited because he thought he may be setting the table for the next president.
So while we are breaking down the lighting after the senator has gone down stairs my assistant and I look at each other and without saying a word we sit down and proceed to eat this huge meal intended for the "future president" . When we are done we quickly finish packing and get out of there as soon as we could and call housekeeping anonymously to
clear the room. It was not my proudest moment but can't say I regret it.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I shot these two women on two consecutive days. One was 102 and famous for hitting a hole in one. The other was chairman of the board of a huge company and was indicted for spying on reporters. Charges were later dropped. One was so full of life that I felt dead in comparison. The other felt like some one who would never be able to trust another human being again and was more like a wounded animal than anything else.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I busted out the old 8X10 and called from the backyard, "PhotoDay!!" and dragged the family outside.
This idea came out of a meeting with Art Buyer and over all really interesting person Jen Small. Within 10 minutes of meeting her she mentioned she knew Bruce Davidson and from then on it was all good.