Locations – Sabino Canyon in Tucson

Tuscon Feb 2015 (49 of 296)

Landscape is not my usual genre of choice for photography, but

1. the weather has been so spectacular,

2. I’ve got a bunch of gear to test out,

3. gas is currently cheap

4. and the vast majority of my students have such an interest in the AZ landscape.

This was shot in Tucson’s Sabino Canyon with the Fuji X-T1 in early February 2015.  Since I’ve been editing video I’m actually finding these landscape images useful in Adobe Premiere’s “layering” technique, where one can do double exposures in a video context.  Those double exposure videos are forthcoming, in the meantime, I’m having a blast just being outside, making these kinds of images in the kind of landscape and weather many east coast Americans would be envious of.

If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it!  For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.

What’s in my camera bag

A short video detailing my go-to gear in my backpack!  Made with the incredible Adobe Voice app on my iPad.  If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it!  For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.

TechShop Chandler – Art Making for the Maker Artist

Roughly a mile from my house in Chandler, Arizona, is the ASU Techshop.  It’s about a year old and chock full of machines that I had no idea how to work or what art I could make if I got my hands on them.  As a Christmas present to myself I bought a membership and signed up for a few classes, and those few weeks since have yielded some creative results.

DSCF9210

One of the new tools I’ve made use of is the Universal Laser Systems’ laser cutter.  It’s about as easy to use as any regular xerox machine except sometimes a fire starts in it.  Basically I can etch, engrave or cut a huge variety of materials using whatever designs I create.  There’s not much more than convert photos to a pure black-and-white design using “threshold” and “layers” in Photoshop, save as a PDF, import that into Corel Draw and that’s about it for prep.

My current favorite material is an acrylic plexiglass with a mirrored back.  It makes my images look like large Daguerreotypes.


DSCF9213

I’m also quite fond of this black acrylic.  This is my first etching on the laser cutter, converted to a vector drawing in Adobe Illustrator CC.  Check the video for the “making of” process…

The other tool I’ve been using non-stop is the 3D printer, the MakerBot Replicator 2.  I feel about this machine the way I felt the first time I could burn CDs, or the first time I saw Amazon’s commercial for a Kindle.  Last year I photographed a bunch of models “in the round” to make 3D models of them, and though the process of getting an interesting object out of those photos wasn’t as simple or satisfying as I thought it’d be- currently I have a bunch of half-heads in my Meshmixer folders- I have been making objects that are actually useful to me.  From Thingiverse I’ve created some GoPro mounts and a plastic pinhole camera…

DSCF0479

…still yet to be shot with yet!  If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it!  For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.

Maggie In Sedona

Sedona Jerome (343 of 564)This was shot February 8th of this year at Slide Rock State Park outside of Sedona, Arizona.  Maggie actually loves taking photos with dad, but over the years she’s understood that models can make money, so she’s begun charging me a dollar, 2 dollars, etc. for shooting.  She negotiates in this fashion:  “I hope I get two dollars for taking pictures with you.  And if you want to take any more it can be $3.”

If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it!  For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.

Book Excerpt: Finding Compelling Subject Matter Pt. 1

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming e-book on art photography.  The book will be released in July 2015, until then, enjoy this snippet!

—————————————————————————————-

One of the museum exhibits I went to this weekend featured platinum photo prints of a variety of subject matter, but a few of them were of gas stations.  The show was about the process- a finely tuned, costly printing process with unique materials- so the fact that it featured some of the most dull, surface subjects appeared secondary.

This particular case is an example of concept failing format.  The artist spends time and money on a process to present us with an image that shows us something we see everyday, and tells us nothing about it, except what a gas station looks like when shot and printed on platinum paper.

Should people shoot whatever they respond to, or make what art they have time to make on the side of actual work and family?  For sure!  But I’ve sat at tables, read the artist statements, heard the lectures where the gas station-or-equivalent photographers claim this is some big statement of the state of humanity and it so clearly is not.  Similar tales were told when I taught high school and the students were too lazy to leave their neighborhood or have an interest or opinion when photographing. It’s the Kevin Smithing of photography. Lazy, boring, no thought to craft, no attempt at decent production, no effort.

As art photographers, we have an obligation to think about our art and not just assume our daily lives are perfect creative fodder.  If it were that way, then we’d have more songs about folding laundry, people going to the bathroom all the time in movies, more tv shows about pumping gas and answering emails.  The bitter truth is the daily lives of most people are not that interesting.  Even the lives of, say, generals or astronauts or assassins may seem dull if approached with the most surface of qualities.  It’s when we have an opinion, or an exploratory curiosity, that we- the artists- have a Point of View.  And that POV is what generates content, and leads to the proper format for that content.

What do you have a POV about?  Is it something social, personal, political?  What makes you get excited- in either a positive way or negative way- about a particular subject?  That’s what you should be shooting and presenting to the public.

Ansel Adams was passionate about natural landscapes and their preservation, so he delved deep and worked thankless years to create what is widely considered iconic imagery.  Ralph Eugene Meatyard had an interest for Zen philosophy and a working knowledge of optical illusions thanks to his employment as an optician- both of which were expressed in his photography.

Often it’s not easy for us to understand what we have a POV of, in our normal lives, much less our artistic lives.  Most people have a few political opinions- not necessarily good subject matter for photography- and hobbies.  We have jobs that may lend themselves to photography.  When I took up art photography in 1997 I was working in group homes and did portraits of the developmentally disabled clients with their guardians’ consent.  These were people I liked and knew personally who were part of a subculture and experience not typically seen by the average American.  I had unique access and a point of view, and though my shooting skills weren’t that great I can still look at that work and feel connected to it.

Fast forward to my early years in Arizona, where I made a bunch of trips to National Parks and shot scenery.  Although the experience was great, I had no POV, no insider access, to a subject that millions of people experienced each year.

During college I moved on to a subject that was new to a Midwestern kid like me, which was the phenomenon of roadside memorials.  They commemorate car crash victims and you see them all over Arizona, particularly near the Native American reservations.  It was a smaller scale subject matter than the natural beauty of the Southwest, so I shot these for a few months and for a class final presented a collection of color medium format memorial prints.  The work had no personal ties to me, as I didn’t know any of the people and had no real POV other than “car accidents (and the presumed drunk driving or texting associated) are bad.”  That is a POV, but it’s a completely surface POV.  Would there be anyone in the world who would argue car accidents are great?  Also, it’s a phenomenon I consider a “copy of someone else’s effort” aka “the Puff Daddy syndrome.”  We may see a mural that inspires us, but to merely take a few steps back, photograph that mural and present it as our art is lazy and thoughtless.

Let’s go back to our “gas station” example.  It is conceivable that material that grants easy access to most people and is intentionally dull subject matter could have an interesting take.  Though I’m not a fan- as evidenced by my earlier mocking of his work- filmmaker Kevin Smith definitely had a POV on what goes on inside a convenient store, and with his access and experience made the film “Clerks” while still working at the very same store featured within.

Would a portrait survey of store employees be interesting?  How about those employees pre- and post- makeover?

Would a time lapse of a “day in the life” of the store make for some interesting visuals?

Polaroids of the store with journalistic notes attached?

Fashion models or unique animals shot within the gas station environment?

If it’s a subject you, the artist, bring nothing to, then nothing will be added to the work you make and the audience will get nothing out of it.  Discover what interests you and even if the work isn’t immediately compelling, you’ll stick with it longer and find you have more to say.  The audience will look to you as a person with some secret information that they share in by virtue of looking at your work.

—————————————————

If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it!  For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.

Valentine’s Day Special – Baby Revisions

Maggie's Birth 072808_93-Edit

A photo contest for baby photography had me revising some of my images of my daughter Magdalena in her first few months.  These were shot in 2008, edited 2015.

Maggie's Birth 072808_94

This year I’m finally organizing my daughter’s photos into a cohesive set of images.  She’s just one of those people who seem suited for black and white, or at least my relationship with her seems suited for b+w, or maybe I go b+w since most of her clothes are ridiculously colored things that

Maggie's hand

If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it!  For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.

Inspiration + Influence: Frank Ockenfels 3

In late April I’ll be an attendee at the Palm Springs Photography Festival’s Frank Ockenfels workshop.  It’s 3.5 days spent with a master portrait photographer known for creating atmospheric images of celebrities that often incorporate mixed media elements and cinematic lighting.  Frank has shot covers for Rolling Stone going back to the late 80s, and done some of the more famous images of modern pop culture in the form of Breaking Bad and Walking Dead portraits.

Frank Ockenfels 3 "Walking Dead"Frank Ockenfels 3 “Walking Dead”

When registering for the workshop, it was a complete tossup between Dan Winters and Frank Ockenfels.  Dan’s workshop was $100 so I signed up for that, but a glitch on the PSPF site meant I was one of a few photographers overbooked for Dan- a month after my registration, I was informed I could get a refund or be transferred to another workshop with a discount.  Frank was kind enough to take another photographer into his by-then already-sold out course.

What’s the most inspiring about Frank?  Well, he’s one of the few photographers I’m aware of who has a mixed media artistic sensibility to simple portraits that look amazing on every level.  The images seem to reach out to another reality where positive could be negative, distortions imply emotions.

Frank Ockenfels 3
Frank Ockenfels 3