Monday, March 31, 2008

Eagle III

I went back a third time this weekend unable to let go of the idea that there is a picture here. 8x10 this time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I have been shooting 4x5 for a while and brought out the 8x10 to see how different it would look. Carrying the camera with lenses and holders was a huge pain in the ass and I wondered why I was wasting my time. I have gotten to the point with my 4x5 and a manbelt where shooting large format is almost as easy as 35mm.

I climbed down the side of a hill to shoot this bridge under construction. Two minutes before sunset it looked terrible and messy and I was sure I would get nothing. 15 minutes later it happened and like a curtain rising at the begining of an opera I got the light. The Misrach light I have been chasing. It seems like in that little window I could point the giant camera at anything and it would be beautiful.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I was excited when I first saw these toll booths on my way to Vallejo. How cool would it be to photograph a location like this totally devoid of people?

Apparently not that cool. I was disappointed when I saw the film. When I was there I imagined it would look surreal and mysterious. In reality it looked obvious and uninteresting. The success of the image was overly dependent on the object being photographed. That sounds ridiculous- let me explain.

I think this project (CCTWWWTB) works best when I am pointing the camera at places and spaces that are not inherently interesting. It is the choices that I make when I interact with the locations that adds meaning to the images. This is a double edged sword: On one hand the success of the project is not reliant on finding the most remarkable locations (think Iceland, Cuba, the moon) on the other hand I am always in danger of making images that are incredibly boring. My hope is that I will know how to tell the difference.

Bird Deux

I went back and reshot this bird. The first time I shot it-it looked good in black and white but kind of fell apart in color. Still not sure if I have it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Holy Trinity of Photo Careers: Editorial, Advertising and Art ....and a story

Is it possible? Is it like the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot, an urban myth? I want my cake and eat it too AND I want one of those free chocolates you get after desert at fancy restaurants.

We shot this guy for magazine in an alley in San Francisco. I found this location 15 years ago when I first moved to the city. My roommate worked in a restaurant on this street and I used to wait for him to get off work at the bar.

Years later after he moved away he called me to ask if I wanted to go out to dinner. My wife and I both liked him and had not seen him in a while so we heartily agreed. He and his girlfriend were traveling up and down the west coast on an eating and drinking bender. My friend is not destitute by any means but like all bachelors of a certain age is challenged in the money managing department. Needless to say we were a little surprised when he chose the only five star restaurant in San Francisco to meet. ( As I have recounted perviously on these pages when I was a bachelor I was working two jobs and making steady money but my wife, who was living on food stamps , was much more financially steady than I was.)

We had a terrible time at dinner. My friend's girlfriend (a surgeon as it turned out) was fantastically boring and brought along two equally uninteresting people. There were seven courses and a different wine with each course. We thought we were going to die and considered calling in bomb threat just to make the evening stop.

Finally the check the came and we recoiled from it as if it were on fire. We don't drink and had not signed up for this torture. My friend grabbed the check and I could see it was close to two thousand dollars . He opened his wallet under the table and said, "I got it" . I could see his wallet was completely empty. Not a lucky penny. Not even a library card.

His girlfriend protested and they went back and forth like that for a while. Eventually she of course won out and paid the check. I imagined this wrestling match repeated over and over from Spago's in LA to the French Laundry in the wine country- like a WWF pay per view event.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Standing outside

Vallejo, CA

While waiting for light in the morning my mind tends to wander. I worry how this new way of making pictures will work in the commercial world.

This weekend up in Vtown I imagined myself on the set of an ad shoot with this house or maybe the eagle as the subject of a giant campaign. It's cold and everyone is pissed we had to get up early and they are all hung over from drinking too much at dinner the night before. There is a motor home and breakfast and coffee.

I am standing with my back to the camera looking at the dawn sky wondering what kind of shadows we will get. The AD walks up to me.

AD:Hey when are you going to start shooting?
ME:I dunno maybe not at all. We'll see what the light looks like.
AD: Uhhh ok.

The AD goes back and approaches the account executive ,coffee in hand.

AE: What'd he say?
AD:He says its going great and he is going to nail it.
AE:Why is he not taking any pictures?
AD:Its part of his process
AE; Not taking pictures is part of his process of taking pictures.
AD Exactly
AE: You shittin me? What am I supposed to tell the client?
AD Hell if I know. That is why you drive the BMW and I drive a Honda

AE goes into the motor home.

Client: How is it going?
AE: Fabulous
Client When do we get to see something?
AE: Any minute...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Artist Statement

I hate most artist statements and have had to crank out a few recently and they all kind of suck.

Emily Nathan said this about my work and thought it was the closest expression of what I am trying to do:

"Your photographs leave your viewer standing in an empty crosswalk having forgotten what they left the house for. "

Up at 3.

I woke up at 3 this morning. The 2nd oldest kid was throwing up. I got her a bowl and turned on the coffee maker while in the kitchen. I tried to fall back asleep and listened to NPR. Three people talking about Global warming. The upshot: We are screwed. I fell asleep at 4 and then up and out of the house at 5:15 with a cup of too strong coffee.

I arrived at Mare Island in Vallejo at 5:50. I had scouted the location earlier in the week but had done a lousy job of it. The dry dock I had planned on shooting was totally enclosed by fencing. Again I was screwed. I wandered around scrambling to find something before the sun came up. I found a giant house on blocks and settled on that. Shot too much film on it until sunrise at 6:25. I figured if I couldn't get a quality image then I would at least burn through a bunch of holders and make it seem like I was doing something.

I drove around the island and came across this giant eagle in a case. Shot it like crazy until I found this angle. I wanted it to look like a snap shot. Everything I had shot of it up to that point made it look like I a was trying too hard. I may have come to it too late in the morning. The light is perfect for 15 minutes before sunrise and then most of the time it all falls apart. Milton Berle used to smoke five packs of cigarettes a day. He was a chain smoker but only liked the first couple puffs and then he would throw the cigarette away and light another one. Sometimes I feel that way:only using the best light and throwing the rest of the day away.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Discover Magazine

My Fan Base Grows By One


This was the response I got this morning from one NYC ad agency after I sent the html email above to a few thousand of my closest friends.

They tell us nobody looks at sourcebooks and they all chuck out the direct mail they get. They are too busy to meet with us and then are surprised when we bombard them with email.

Hey. I am just trying to winnow the list of people who love love love me.

Monday, March 3, 2008