Saturday, August 28, 2010

Honey-Catcher Take Two

A few things became very clear to me doing a long shooting session today with super hero and friend Toto modeling. My clunky Mamiya RB67 is fine for tabletop work, but for anything that involves people there is just not enough flexibility. I like to be able to move around the subject. Also, I realize that I'm so ready to go digital. I need to find an affordable digital camera that can perform like a true medium format film camera. Today I shot each scenario on film AND digital.

I have several shots I'm working on or sketching that involve people coming up, including this honey-catcher shot, and I'm trying to figure out how to handle it. It looks like I'll need to include the human face, which for me is problematic. I've been thinking a lot about how to approach this and I haven't come up with any clear answers. So I'm experimenting.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photography Portfolio Fatigue

I've been seeing a lot of photographer's books, as usual. There are some themes I keep seeing repeated. Everyone seems to have convention photos: rabbit lovers conventions, furry costume people conventions, porn conventions, big women conventions, super hero conventions, etc. These images are usually presented as portraits, but rarely are convincing. Another theme I see in many books is nighttime urban landscapes. These always look good, but anyone can do them well. It is kind of hard to go wrong with an empty parking lot lit at night. But what can be done with these photos? And what do they tell me about the skills of the photographer? Not much.

This week I was struggling to find the right photographer for a choice but complicated assignment in the Bay Area. This shoot requires a window of time, so I can't fly someone to LA and pay them to hang around all week until conditions are right. I have a strong and reliable group I use regularly in the Bay Area, but I wanted to try someone new. I did in the end find someone, but it is kind of amazing to me how limited the supply of experienced commercial photographers is in the Bay Area. Los Angeles is fairly bursting at the seams, as is NYC. But San Francisco, no. See photo above of Randi looking at my file of photographers for the USA. You will see how fat the folders are for NYC. I have THREE folders of photographers in NYC. Two for LA, and one for everyplace else.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Training at K Pool

I'm swimming in a race from Manhattan to Brooklyn on September 11th with my brother and his fiance. As the date rapidly approaches the reasons why this seemed like a good idea are becoming increasingly obscure. Nonetheless, paperwork is required, so I decided to have my time clocked by a lifeguard at my favorite pool in NYC, Kosciusko Pool. This Olympic sized outdoor pool is in storied Bed-Sty, about 20 minutes on foot from my house. My time was a very respectable 23:48 for one mile. I was very pleased, especially because I have not been training. I was also happy to be swimming in the cold, with the dark clouds overhead. Of course I had the place to myself as it had been raining most of the day.

Today I went back for another rainy day swim after work. I found the women's locker room was filled with NY Parks and Recreation staffers smoking and playing cards at big table. After I announced that I did in fact need to change into my bathing suit the men were kicked out. On deck, the lifeguards were larking about, riding bikes and wrestling. According to my lifeguard, I was the third swimmer who was there all day. When I returned to the locker room after my swim I had to bust up the party a second time, the male staffers had to be booted again. I didn't stay in the water long because I had forgotten my swim cap and all my body heat simply escaped. I found myself getting progressively colder no matter how fast or how much butterfly I swam. When I got out I was chilled to the bone, and now I'm wrapped with blankets up to my chin. Maybe there's a reason people don't usually swim in the rain.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hot Honey Drip

OK, I've been on holiday. That's why the blog has been so quiet. Is an explanation really necessary for checking out in August? I hope not.

I shot this the week before leaving for Nova Scotia. This is a test- I really need a model to do the final shot for me- but it is one of those things that I feel bad asking someone to do: "I know you agreed to model for me- now could you lay on the floor and catch hot honey in your mouth?" It sounds like a preposterous proposition, and I guess it is. The honey needs to be hot because it flows more reliably when heated, and it does not taste good. I have to figure out a way to light it so the flow of honey shows up better.

I wonder how much of this theatre of real life is a part of the work, sometimes I think it might be more important than I realize.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Milk on Stairs

Shot this a few weeks back during one of the crazy heat waves. House smelled like sour milk for days despite intense clean up efforts. After shooting this I decided I needed to make the milk and cup closer up in the frame, and tried various other set-ups, but never got anything I liked better than this one. So maybe I'll keep it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Cleaning up my studio the other weekend I found a slew of old polaroid test shots. This one is practically ancient- I made it when I was 18 or 19 years old, and working towards my BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. This image shows me that I have been looking at some of the same ideas and concepts for a long time. Expressions of weight and lightness still captivate me. Also in this photo is the notion of traces, things left behind. And also perhaps entrapment..
Will I ever tire of these themes? Am I really getting better at expressing these concepts, or is my execution simply more refined? Maybe less refinement is better.. I do like the rawness of these early images.