Maggie + Leaf

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Magdalena shot near Payson, AZ

As Maggie gets older (almost 5) she is better at interpreting what I want in a photo. This took a dozen tries and it was mostly the light peppering through the trees that was the problem, not her expression.

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Etsy for Artists

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A monkey polaroid emulsion lift collage created in 2007

I have an Etsy store with the Wife, Vesna, called Jay Street Art Lab which features everything made in our house.  When the kids are old enough to make saleable artwork it’ll go up there as well.

With all sites, one has to work Etsy properly if one expects any sales, and that means:

1. making friends

2. advertising on other social networks

3. having the shop listed on the business card when we have tables at art fairs

4. photographing the merch multiple ways and having 5 photos

5. easy to understand bios, policies, etc.

6. reaching out to a potential audience and letting them know you exist

7. Having lots of stuff up, not just a couple choices

8. take as much customer guesswork/ decision making out of the equation by not offering variations or different sizes

9. make stuff people will want!

I used to look cross eyed at Etsy as much as people do Model Mayhem or other free-for-all sites where people show up expecting to get paid right away and then rant on message boards, disappointed when things turn out differently.  But there’s no substitute for hard work, and following the above guidelines is a good place to start.  Below is a sampling of the huge variety of stuff- crafts, mixed media pieces, photo prints, ceramic masks, figurines- from our shop:

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Harley Quinn clutch created by Vesna the Wife.
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Mosh Scream Queen shrinky dink made into an embellished necklace by Vesna the Wife.
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Aquaman clothespin doll, created by both me and Vesna the Wife.
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Mosh Scream Queen shrinky dink made into an embellished necklace by Vesna the Wife.
Actress Stephanie Danielson as bodypainted by artist Jamie Graden, who did the illustration after we printed this photo.
Actress Stephanie Danielson as bodypainted by artist Jamie Graden, who did the illustration after we printed this photo.
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MODOK mask made by me
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Captain America wall mask created by me

MM Foto Friends

As one photographs, one learns to appreciate the like-minded photography of others. Let’s go ahead and call those people our “peers.” Photographers who shoot models and share some tastes end up shooting a lot of the same models, even if they are in different states or countries, and sometimes that is how I end up getting to know them. In other cases I literally meet them first, then find out they are so-and-so photographer. Or we meet via chat room, or other social network. Regardless I felt like doing my “hiphop album shoutout” to the peeps making interesting images with models, and recommending these extraordinarily talented guys and gals to everyone:

Travis Haight
Nina Pak
Neil Snape
Matt Anderson
Jim Fury Hesterman
Jesse Paulk
Bitty Fotos
Martin Hazine
Sideshow Sito
Alien Life

Tasteful HDR

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Pano with no HDR

It took me a long time to warm up to HDR photography- I am in the camp of photographers who find a lot of those images tacky, unreal and overprocessed.  Sometime last year I started using Nik software’s HDR Pro Photoshop plugin, and mixing a tone-mapped image as a 30-60% layer on top of a “natural,” unprocessed image.  The final result shows some craft while staying believable and keeping true blacks.  These panos were shot at the Tonto Natural Bridge north of Payson, Arizona.

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Panorama with 50% HDR and 50% non-HDR image
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Full HDR panoramic

Cross-Media Concepts #1 – Medusa

“Cross Media Concepts” is my new category of post where I show how I obsess over a concept enough hat I do it more than one art outlet- as a photo and a song or a drawing or sculpture.  I visited the Salvador Dali Museum in Paris in 2011 and was surprised that he repeated his “hit” concepts like melting clocks in several paintings, sculptures, etc.  Then I started looking at other artists and it didn’t seem so unusual- our deep interests express themselves in multiple ways it seems.

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Angel My Darling as Medusa, bodypaint by Jamie Graden

One of my earliest interests was mythology, introduced to me by the film The Clash of The Titans.  The recently departed Ray Harryhausen’s model of Medusa has stayed with me as one of the most terrifying creatures on screen, who turned brave warriors to stone and shattered them with arrows.  I recently youtube’d the recent “Titans” remake’s Medusa scene and it was more like a Gap model in a video game cutscene, nothing terrifying whatsoever.

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My Medusa photo was a true collaboration with model Angel My Darling, bodypainter Jamie Graden and my wife Vesna.  Angel did her hair using rubber snakes and green spray I’d picked up from Wal-Mart, Jamie designed and executed the paint, and Vesna made a snakelike toga.  We caught a hapless passerby in the hall and turned him to stone.

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unfired Medusa mask sculpted June 2013

I recently made a Medusa clay mask and it’s likely I’ll work Medusa into a song or comic.  She’s a classic monster character and one of the most amazing designs in human history.

Stolen From Cinema

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Lacheln in Dan Richters’ alien wear, adapted from various “alien babe” sci fi films, with a dash of “E.T.” I haven’t seen the latter film in 15 years but I always think about it for some reason.

It’s so tempting to borrow liberally from movies. With high production values and highly trained cinematographers, movies are chockful of amazingly inspiring moments- and it doesn’t hurt that movies are the most popular form of art around. When we steal, we should steal big!

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Sierra Mckenzie with eye makeup similar to something Johnny Depp wore in the second Pirates of the Caribbean film.

I get many of my cues from films, and because the circumstances/ personalities/ players/ effects/ etc. are so different my images don’t look exactly like the original inspiration. I think the most boring cinema-influenced images are the ones that are a direct parroting of the movie.  Still- interesting visuals are interesting visuals, and it’s worth keeping a notepad alongside oneself when watching a good movie.

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A couple in a Kill Bill inspired shot.

Locations: Pillar Box Studios in LA

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Glass Olive in 2011, wardrobe by Runaway Couture, hair by Victoria Buge, makeup by Claudia Aguilera

I’ve shot in a few studios around LA but only one has the Mt. Rushmore of studio requirements:

1. a cool, helpful owner

2. a ton of sets

3. good lighting gear

4. affordable price

I’ve used Pillar Box 4 times now and I’m surprised by the versatility of the place.  The first shoot, in early 2011, made use of the various sets that leant themselves to gothic atmospheres.  I’d actually seen these sets frequently on various model images, so during visit two in Feb 2012, I actively avoided shooting those same areas, working a lot in the kitchen and with my own backdrop.  The studio owner, Sylva “Scar Hattington,” let us use her unique hat designs during the shoot and jumped in when she was intrigued by my goofy 4×5 Graphlex.

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model Alexandra Mathews wearing headdress by Bubbles and Frown, the company of designer/ studio owner Sylva “Scar” Hattington. Hair by Laura Buenrostro

Visit #3 was to shoot more of Scar and make use of the growing assortment of lights at the studio.  No actual concept of any sort, but when you put two creative people in the same space and have an hour all kinds of cool stuff can happen.

The most recent shoot was May 25th, with a local designer who I met at a gallery open a few months previous.

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Rivi Madison wearing Marcel Dejure jacket, hair by Laura Buenrostro
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Sophie Nova wearing Marcel Dejure jacket, hair by Laura Buenrostro