30 April, 2009

Blurb 5x8 Format Books

Okay, a DP I am not, so still learning this little device, but wanted to post and see what happens. These 5x8 books are fantastic, and have been well received at every event I have done. They are a blast to make and cheap to produce.

Watching myself on this I have a feeling of horror, and a small dose of Mr. Rodgers. Hopefully I will get over this. Otherwise, I'll be looking for a stand in.


Sometimes a guy comes on a motorcycle and takes your wife away. Sometimes he comes back with her. Glad I kept my helmet.

28 April, 2009

Just Hangin

So I volunteered today, most of the day, over at the somewhat local darkroom. I planned on printing a little, just playing around with split toning, which I THINK I have an idea how to do. There was only one other person there, someone printing paper negatives, which is a very cool process.

But, an amigo came down from LA and we just sat around talking for most of the day. It was like a vacation in some ways. It was actually really nice to not do anything other than talk. We mostly talked about photography. What a surprise. About the business, about marketing, but also about something that I have been thinking a lot about lately.

Do you have to BE a photographer to BE a photographer. I think we were both in agreement that you don't have to be a photographer to be a photographer. In fact, we both know people are who making great work who don't work as photographers, and in some ways, these folks are making better work, and more work, than those we know who are working as photographers. In fact, I met someone last year, who works as a chef, who in the past year has made three new bodies of work, one from overseas, and has even made all his own prints, both color and black and white. I wish I could say that, even for ONE body of work.

You see when you "become" a photographer, a real one, there are many things that accompany this transition, and many of them do nothing but lead you away from actually taking pictures. Marketing, advertising, billing, setting up your business, permitting, follow up, packaging, etc, etc. Before long, the most successful you get, the less time you spend in the field making pictures. Or, the other options is to start hiring people to do much of this, which is a valid option. But what I see happen, most of the time, is suddenly not only is the business farmed out, but so is the edit, the design of the work, etc, and then you become a production line of predictable work. Now for some people, those who come to photography from the marketing or advertising world, and who are totally happy just shooting commercial work, then this is great. But for me, there are too many different kinds of work I want to do.

It is very difficult to find a balance. But, the only thing that remains is the work, and if you don't lose track of that, then you can succeed.

We are both Leica geeks, so I wanted to post this photo of what two Leica users, or really what most photographers do who happen to both have gear with them, which is yak about it. My friend has had this same camera for 29 years. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN PEOPLE. MY FRIEND HAS HAD THIS CAMERA FOR 29 YEARS. AND STILL USES IT. In a day of 18 month life spans for cameras, this is a remarkable thing, even for Leica users.

Oddly enough, both of us have shot many different systems over the years, but both believe our best work was done with these cameras.

However, and this leads me back to my first point about being a photographer. I think the best documentary work I have ever done came during a time when I had a full time job. I was still working in the photography field, but not working as a photographer. In fact, I couldn't work as a photographer, it was written in to my contract. And, the only cameras I owned during this time was Leica rangefinder.

So, when I went out to make pictures, it was the only equipment I had, AND, when I went out to shoot, I only shot my work, my projects, in my style. Four and a half years of this.

Just so you know, many of us photographers shoot one kind of work as our commercial work, with the goal of using the income to finance another style of work. This has been a very common method of photographer survival since the beginning of the medium. In fact, most of the legends in photography did this at one time or another.

But, I think, this is happening, successfully, less and less. As the industry changes so does the reality of working this way.

Now, most of the "good" photographers I know are either doing NOTHING but their work, or are working outside the industry, but yet still doing their projects on the side.

I think this is true because it is harder now to be a photographer. I think the job requires far more marketing, advertising, and the computer takes so much of our daily life. There are exceptions to this rule, but most exceptions come with exceptions.

But, even in the midst of frustration there are moments of clarity and happiness that extend far beyond the norms, such as when the guy stocking the vending machine comes over with two broken bars of chocolate and says, "Hey, these are broken, so I can't put them in the machine, but they are for you."

And, if you aren't a total pig..........my friend........you can save half the bar and pass it along to the woman working at the reception desk, prolonging the joy created by free chocolate.

That's all for today.

Poem from Mom "Vortex"


the river meanders
moving you slowly
the way you are
not changing a thing
you walked away
to determine a path
to unhook the world
that held you
in its pattern so long
cutting equal squares
of monotony
arranged in rows
of bored sameness
you walked away
and its ok
some come to see
how it would be
alone in the vortex
in the river

27 April, 2009

26 April, 2009

Photo Advice from Mom

On deer in the headlights, maybe you need to rethink your wardrobe and smile when you meet folks. A suit and tie and briefcase would shootdown the stereotypical image of a photographer.You would be the only one who is not in a shirt and leather jacket that are both oozing careless casual disreguarding the importance of the dress code. What would be wong with a photographer showing up in an Armani? No vest with pockets, looking prosperous and smiling because he is happy in his flash. Identify your struggle, put your plans on the ironing board and jump without a parachute and maybe just maybe you will land with a photo finish. The ride will be a glide to your never before seen side. Your lurking secret still unknown to you will follow each film you put in your camera. Your Midas touch will make its mark. The Minor picture will be born. Danielized. Advice from mom.

Reflections of a Pasadena Street

How many times have we done this? Reflections are the drug of the photo world. So easy. Such a cliche, but damn is it difficult to NOT shoot them.

Personally, I love them. l don't care if they are a cliche. I love cliches. Now, if I would have just tilted the frame it would have been much better. Right? Right?

There isn't much going on in Pasadena, at least in terms of a busy, complex street life, so perhaps this reflections makes it a little more than it is.

What I was trying to do was get whatever was INSIDE the building to show through on my reflection, to add a third level of depth.

It worked and it didn't work. That's photography.

25 April, 2009

Photographer Chronicles Volume One: Michael Napper

Okay, this is a maiden voyage here people. The idea of these will be photographers and their books, under one minute in length. I mean come on, how much time does a person have in a given day, beyond say....one minute.

The first victim is my amigo Michael Napper. I will revisit with Mr. Napper upon my further learning of this little production method, but for those of you looking for inspiration, or those of you looking to collect work, I didn't want to waste a second in getting this video up.

I was trying to figure out how best to describe Michael, and I think the easiest label to apply is "artist." I know, I know, the baggage that comes with that word, but hang on there people and let me explain. He paints, makes pictures, sketches, works with wood, metal, glue, blood, paper and everything other imaginable thing.

In my house alone, I have one of his photos, three paintings and one mixed media piece. You getting my drift here. Art is not a passion, a hobby, it is simply his life.

He is also a book maker. Most of his books, at least those I have seen, are his journals, which are so good they make me insanely jealous. I'm not really into crime, but I would probably steal one if he left it out. Just saying.

Anyway, we were able to hang out for a few minutes yesterday, in the ghostly grounds of what once was Highland Grounds, and I got him to take a minute, literally, and talk to me about this one particular book.


Deer in the Headlights

This is my normal look when approached. Nice huh?

24 April, 2009

A Musical Day

Okay, so when I get up and the day begins, it goes about like this.

All Pandora Radio, through my laptop, which has better speakers than my tower.

"Flamenco Sketches." for at least the first few hours.

Then on to "Steel Pulse Radio" which has refreshed my mind in terms of the islands and the relaxation this music provides. I need it. The photo-world is now a major battleground, so stress and rejection are just part of the norm. Not that it hasn't been this way for my entire career, but when everyone is talking about it, or writing about it.................it makes it worse...........

Then, "Moby Radio," to finish out the day. I love it. Picks me up. Slams me down. Picks me up again.

Dan heart Pandora.


23 April, 2009

Poem from Mom: "Not If I Can Help It"

"Not If I Can Help It"

an old friend ask me
now that you are old
are you happy with your life so far
I said I wasn't sure
they ask if I was happy now
I said I think so
they ask what do you
still want to do
I said I didn't know for sure
they ask if I had
any regrets
I said I didn't think so
they ask if I had figured out
the real meaning of life
I said no
they ask me if grandchildren
were easier than your own kids
I said yes
they ask why I didn't
color my gray hair
I said why would I do that
they ask if I had had
any surgery
to make me look younger
I said no because
it would take too much
they said don't you know
gray hair and wrinkles
will make you look old
I said I am old
I ask them if they were afraid
to get old and if they thought
their lives would not be good
anymore if they had
gray hair and wrinkles
I ask them what they would lose
if they just let
nature take its course
I ask them why they can't
just be what they are
isn't it more important
to look after what you
look like on the inside
they ask if that is what
I had learned from life
I said I guess so
they ask if I wanted
to live to be one hundred
I said not if I
can help it


"Some of your best work is looking down," the person said. A respected person.

Is this a good thing?

Or is this bad?

Down is safe. Down never goes away, rarely changes, and is always there. I like down.

Am I a pessimist? Instead of looking up I look down? Are my eyes averted?

Is there a peace about the lower spaces? Places? It is where we leave our traces?

22 April, 2009

Self Portrait

Me in the bathroom at the Palm Springs Art Museum. I'm thinking this could be a trend for me, shooting self-portraits in the bathroom. Haven't seen anything on this before.

21 April, 2009

Why Me?

Something funny happened today. I was somewhere, doing something, and ran into another photographer. In case you haven't noticed, our economy isn't that great at the moment. Oh, you knew that? Sorry. Just checking.

Well, I hear from a lot of other photographers, from all over the world actually, and most of those I speak with today are not doing that well. Things are slow. Business is down. Jobs are not coming as frequently, and the email/phone life lines are fraying near the edges.

This person I ran into shared the same reality. Things were slow. "Nobody is working."

I told him that there were people working, but that something interesting was happening.

The people who are still working are those photographers who know how to say "no."

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Those people who will do any job that comes along, in any style demanded," I said, "Those people are dying on the vine." "They are dying because there are too many of them, and they have no distinctive style, so if they fight for a decent rate they lose the job because they have nothing of value to offer."

I firmly believe if you are a good photographer, and you offer something that the "digital body, 24-70, on camera flash" photographer doesn't offer, you will find work. BUT, BUT, BUT, you have to be willing to say "NO" when a bad job comes along.

The moment you cave, the moment you compromise your objective, it is over. Even if you "win" in the short term by securing a shoot, in the long term not only will you lose, but you make it far more difficult for other photographers to survive.

And, by taking these puny jobs, you are, chances are, not creating any memorable images, and are not getting better as a photographer. In essence you are falling into a trap of mediocrity where thousands already live.

I was asked a party on Sunday about losing my online archive due to the host company going out of business. "What are you going to do?" I was asked. "Well, I'm going to start over," I answered. "But, I'm going to do it very differently this time," I added. You see, I lost tens of thousands of images online. I still have them, just not online, so I lost my immediate access to them. I'm going to do this archive thing again, but this time, instead of 30,000 images, it will be closer to 3,000. And, they will all be of a certain look and feel.

You see, I know what I want to do as a photographer. I know what my best work is, and I know what kind of picture I NEED to make from here on out.

The best photographers I know, ALL OF THEM, have a immediately recognizable style. Immediately. How many of us can say that? How many of us allow the client to dictate the details? How many allow ourselves to enter the great vanilla dreamland of middle ground when it comes to our images? How many of us live lives of quiet, photographic desperation because we are not doing what we KNOW we should be doing?

My guess. A lot of us.

Well, time to change people. Ain't no time like now.

But don't fret. Instead, imagine the endless possibilities. Imagine the freedom. Imagine picking up a camera, your camera, and shooting your pictures. This is the way it should be.

We are the creatives. We are the image makers, and with that comes inherent power, a power to persuade, a power to influence and a power to educate.

When we fall short, when we settle, we let ourselves down, and everyone else.

Making this jump is all about education. It's about working together, as equals, and not from a position of desperation, but rather a position of passion and desire.

The Annenberg Space

These pictures were done by a new friend, Jose from Portugal, whom I hope to meet again one day, hopefully on the streets of Lisbon or in the countryside where he lives.

The character with me is Damon, but I'm not sure what we are doing. It appears like an odd dance, but trust me, we weren't dancing. Not that we are opposed to dancing.

It was actually cold that night, very unlike the 102 degree day we had yesterday.

Behind us is the new Annenberg Space for Photography for those we haven't seen it yet, and a few minutes after these images were taken the space held their first group projection.

It is really worth while to take a peak at this place. They have many new ideas and concepts in terms of the exhibition space.

So you can hear what Damon had to say at: PHOTOINDUCED

And you can see more about the Annenberg space here: ANNENBERG

20 April, 2009

Poem from Mom "Too"


it is quiet
so quiet
under water
bubbles going up
out of your nose and mouth
bursting on the surface
what do they tell
who will hear
in no particular order

let the sun go
leave action alone
draw deeply
work your line
post no bail
a scorpion sleeps
under a rock
in the dark
he has found
his place to park
be still and see
how the sun follows
itself so you can see

13 April, 2009

Something So Small

It's amazing that something so small could be so pricey, important,etc.

If you saw the physical size of the things I traded to get this little item you would laugh. In physical mass, I came out way behind.

I was packing up today, for an upcoming shoot, and had a full bag of stuff, film, bodies, lenses, etc, and I grabbed this last. I thought, "Geez, how nice would it be to go out with two of these and nothing else.

I wouldn't need to pack. There would be no more large bags. There would be no more back pain.

It got me to thinkin...........and when I end up thinkin.......I end up making some changes.

What I also like with this baby is that it requires no computer, no software, no firmware, no upgrades, no power converters, no portable hard drives, nothing.

You just need a bag of film and something to aim the camera at.

What is interesting is I am now seeing a fairly sizable push-back in regards to digital imaging. Not that there will be a large return to film, but I think we have been at the digital game long enough that A LOT of photographer are realizing that digital may or may not be what they were bargaining for, and yet another day spent in post production, FOR FREE, isn't the dream life they envisioned when digital came along with the whispers of "the best thing ever."

I'm pleased by the number of young photographers who are shooting film. They are versed in digital, but use what is best suited for a job. My generation were told digital was the only solution, and now we are seeing the chinks in that armor.

I think the idea of speed being the most important aspect of our work is quickly wearing off. Speed got us where we are today, instant gratification and an overwhelming need to meddle and control every pixel haven't really done us any favors. We now see hundreds of thousands of images, seconds after they are taken, but most are not anything to remember. And hey, I'm guilty of doing the same thing.

So now I have my Leica again. Biggest gear mistake I ever made was selling this stuff. In reality a limiting style of camera, but for what it is good for, there is nothing better.

And for those of you who don't know. This little camera comes with it an entire cargo load of historical baggage. The Leica signifies many, many things. History? An age gone by? Perhaps, but it also represents some of the most famous images in history, including the 2008 Picture of the Year. There is something about these little things that have always sparked debate. These cameras are also collected items, so you have an entire set of buyers who never actually use the camera, but instead buy and sell them like other commodities. These are referred to as "The doctor/lawyer crowd."

And to further complicate matters, other photographers, working photographers, buy them and don't really ever get to know this camera, a camera that takes a while to get to know, and thus end up wearing them more as jewelry than a working tool.

I read somewhere recently, about a photographer in Iraq, being somewhat perturbed by the "artist with a Leica" passing through Baghdad, making jealous those who are saddled with massive amounts of digital imaging equipment.

What I like goes beyond the size. I like how quiet this camera is. And, not this particular model, but many of their others don't even require a battery. No electronics needed. And, you can carry this thing all the time and not bother about it. How many times have I heard from pros and amateurs alike, "Well, I was leaving the house and I looked down at my big slr and realized I don't want to carry it around."

I knew someone who was robbed on a bus in Bolivia. He had a digital point and shoot and a Leica, and the gunman took one look at his Leica, tossed it aside, then stole his digital point and shoot.

You get where I'm going? It's just an old piece of metal. Nothing flashy.

This will be my fourth Leica. The first came around 1990, an M4P, probably the best one I ever had. No meter. Dropped onto a concrete floor, never missed a beat. Around the corner from where I sit right now, a framed piece hanging in my hallway. 1995 Guatemala, Nebaj, inside the house of a 80-year-old who had died the night before, a funeral. The lone foreigner in the house, one shot taken. Click. That was all that was needed. That same shot hangs 30x40 in a house in Phoenix, and another here in California.

My realization came when I began to look back on the work I have produced over the past ten years or so. Much of the best work was done with this camera. As I think about this, images tick by in my head, Salton Sea, Sicily, El Mirage, etc, etc.

And, even a portrait or two, and many weddings. Believe it or not, I used to shoot weddings with one camera, M6, and one lens, 35mm. No flash, and all black and white.

I think those weddings are some of the best work I ever did, back when the industry was more humane, more subdued, long before the 10,000 frame wedding day capture explosion that seems to be creeping more towards the norm of today.

I would shoot the film, process it myself, scan the negs, make 20 prints and that was it.

I'm thinking this could become a reality for me again.

Of course being a photographer, I'm never satisfied with my gear. So now that I have one Leica, I want two. And another lens. That's just the way it is.

An LA Day

Near Sunset Blvd.

12 April, 2009

A Morning Of Men

Okay ladies, for those of you who don't know, consider this post a public service announcement regarding us men. It doesn't matter if we are 36.5 pounds or 165 pounds. We are all the same.

We like stink.

We are guys. When we look at things like trees, yes we see green things and bark, but our inner DNA tells us we must climb, and not just the bottom notch, but to the top, and if it costs us a punctured lung or fractured femur the so be it. Clear a path.

Oh ya, that stick in the yard, that's not a stick, it's a bat, and look, I just found a red ball in the bushes. Guess what, game on. First pitch, HIGH and TIGHT, right near his melon. "But he's three and half!" Perfect, great time to learn, never dig in too deep. Uncle Dan has him down 0-2 and busts him again with a knuckleball! Lesson learned, swing at Uncle Dan's first pitch, it will be the best you see.

We move through this world with the idea that everyone else and everything else is behind us, trees, hygiene, other species.

The beach too. We just can't simply go to the beach. We need to wear the beach, to smell it, to have it in our hair and ears hours, days, weeks after the engagement. Bury us? Sure, why not. Bring it on. And next time deep the hole even deeper so I can barely breath.

And what do we do after we go to the beach? We eat Mexican food. Cause that is just what we do. Hats on backwards, finger popping, sit near the window, back to wall, and eat massive quantities of comida mexicana, that has our heart sagging and our central nervous system, well, frankly, nervous. And for good measure, we "accidentally" break a Tabasco bottle. "Wink, wink."

Want beans?

Ya, why not. "Your going to be in the car for five hours!" Really, make that a double serving. That car ride is just another challenge.

Men+stink+sloth+food=life. (Write this down.)

At some point in our lives, us men, we all looked at that evolutionary chart and said, "I think I wanna be that guy in the middle." You know the one, sloped shoulders, club in hand, the guy with the simple job; hunt/gather.

And yet despite all this we have a tender side. Bubbles. Ya okay, I'll blow a few just to appease the ladies. We don't really like bubbles, but know we are bound by sacred duties and this just happens to be one of these.

As night falls we find our fire and sit atop the highest hills, looking down on our lives with a clear sense of our place in the world, confident in the path ahead, but never losing track of the wariness of our prey.

Day Three: Dynamite

"I'm putting something together," he says.

I'm not following.

"Go wake up Aunt Amy, she is waiting for you."

"I'm putting something together."

He collects an electronic thing, a headset and a book. I'm thinking he will McGyver this into a small plane, a lie detector or some other odd device.

He then needs a moment to sprint around in a circle for no particular reason. LIke heat value blowing off excess pressure. Maybe I can install a pressure value on his tiny, veal neck to make this easier.

I now see him flash by outside in his blue Batman outfit. The animals in the yard scatter for their own protection.

We wake Aunt Amy up. We sneak in, this he understands, but then he starts talking at full volume.

A quick pee and he is ready for more, for anything, for everything.

He has found the small stones in the yard, the same stones that EVERY kid loves for only kid reasons.

"I wanna go to the beach," he yells. "Sometimes I don't know." "Know what?" "I don't know."

"I going to be a fireman submarine." "What does that mean." "The fish can't see us, and when there is fire underwater, I will have a giant hose." "I'm just going to look out for the fishes."

Makes sense to me.

"Do you think they will offer you benefits or just a fat salary."

"I don't know."

He will probably refuse the pay. More of a humanitarian style endeavor.

If I listen carefully I can hear the air whining off of him at high speed. He will burn bright, then ease into a nice 5 hour nap on the ride home.

"Hey Knucklehead."

"Hey poop head."

"Hey knuckle sneeze head."

This is guy talk. Simple, yet direct. More complex than it seems.

"Poop sneezy head."

"No spitting!"

"I wanna watch Toy Story."

"I wanna watch Meet the Press, you wanna watch that?" Blank stare.

"Hi buffalo." "Hey buffalo head." "What are you digging for knuckleburger?" "

"Hey knuckleburger booger head."

Again, we dive deep into the complex history of male bonding, verbal dance.

Another eight hours of this and I will have to, once again, release him into the world. I will have to verbally spare with clients, my wife, my family, but it won't be the same. The nuances of 3.5 can't be faked.

"It's raining it, it's pouring, the old man is snoring."

Hey, let me teach you another one.

"There once was a man from Nantucket............"

11 April, 2009

Jim McHugh Show at Pacific Design Center

Jim McHugh is a cool guy. I met him years ago, in a situation I really had little business being a part of, and he was just cool right off the bat.
Jim shoots a lot. For profit yes, and big jobs, but also on his own. I can remember being out in Palm Springs one year and watched as he opened the back of his vehicle. Out rolled boxes of film, paper, polaroid refuse, and other photo garbage. It looked like a homeless photo person was living in this vehicle.
That little moment told me a lot about Jim. And now I know him a little better as we have spent a little more time around each other.
So, at the moment, he has a show at The Pacific Design Center in LA. It's a different show, "difficult to curate" in his own words. A blend of his personal polaroid work and portrait work.
If I was going to secretly take one piece, I would take the David Hockney portrait. I love it.

I can sum Jim up in another way. Say your at party, or opening, and he says to you, "Okay, I gotta go, I really gotta go this time."

A half hour later, he will still be there, talking photography, images, etc. It's in his blood.

These snaps are of his show in LA, and of Jim giving Herman Leonard a quick tour.

Annenberg Video

Okay, this is the maiden voyage with this video thing. This is my work showing at the Annenberg. Ya, I know, most people are talking and walking around.....it's cause the work was so dramatic they had to deal with it in tiny doses?

I realize now this is WAY too long. And, shaky. Sorry.

Day Two: Dynamite

So this morning we learned that Batman and Superman are not immune to fighting over rent money.

We also learned where coffee came from, and that under no circumstances does Dynamite require coffee in the morning.

"I'm not grown up yet," was his reason.

My reason is obvious from these photos.

We also learned Aunt Amy loves his little square feet and wants time to play with them. Just roll with it.

We both pee standing up. Got that out of the way.

And I think, from now on, the name, "Uncle Danno" has been engraved in little boy stone. That's me.

I can now hear "Cars" in the background, followed by giggles, cheers, laughing. The TV has the same effect on all of us.

I was actually thinking I was going to have a normal life today, get some work done this morning, clean off my one remaining computer, but I realize now just how unrealistic even THINKING this was.

"Do you know I needed ten hours of sleep after spending a day with you?" Aunt Amy said to Dynamite.

All she got was a grin in return.

Day two. Lock and load.

10 April, 2009

36.5 Pounds of Pure Dynamite

"Uncle Dan, what are you doing?"

"Looking at websites."


"So I can figure out how I can change mine."

"Uncle Dan, when you come to my house I'm going to give you all my money."

"Good, you should." "Uncle Dan needs every penny you have."

"Now, get over here and pull my finger."

Super Dynamite is making an appearance here in OC, and the house is alive with his stuff. Today I had a major battle with action figures and I taught him how Superman can throw a wicked right cross, upper cut combo that will put the joker on his butt every time.

I'm amazed at the energy required for kids. As you know I photograph kids all the time, but I tell ya, it's nothing like living with one of these miniature humans.

He is barking like a dog right now. "Calm down, calm down." More barking.

A little crying now.

Okay, he does have a super cool blue jumpsuit on.

More barking.

I'm about to pass out and he is just getting cranked up. More barking.

I'm sitting in the dark, alone, waiting for more barking.

This morning I woke up to his squeaky voice. Then suddenly he was sitting on me, showing me his turtle backpack, which I informed him would be a great way to smuggle something across international borders. Well he's small and nobody would suspect him.

Just doing my uncle duties of looking out for him, job security if you will. "Transportation" covers many things.

He is a nice little guy. He really is. He is so fragile, which is so interesting. And he's honest.

I took him to my tiny garden today and showed him where his beloved peas come from. He was a little uncertain at first, then he was like a locust consuming everything he could get his tiny fingers on, fingers that are perfect size for pulling peas from the pod. I thought I was going to have to spray him with the hose to keep him away from the peas.

Looking at him reminds me of when I was that size. Life was uphill at that point, so new, and so wide open. I might start hanging out with him and his friends, like at Chucky Cheese. I'm only 40, so I think I can blend in. Shouldn't be too obvious.

"Yo, Dynamite, you potty trained yet?" "Ya, me too." "Wanna see if they have any milk in this joint?"

It could happen.

Out With The Old, In With The New

So, I'm bag obsessed, like many photographers, and this is my new daily bag, which came to me via trade.

And, this is a pile of outgoing gear, on the trading block for new Leica lens, which I still don't have. My life is a mess.

09 April, 2009

Makes You Stop And Wonder

The work is not only iconic, it's incredibly well done. Is timeless the best way I can describe it? No, it doesn't really do it justice. Neither do these crumby, fake polaroids shot on my phone, but I'm asking a temporary forgiveness until I get my camera back, or camera going I should say.

Herman Leonard, 85, is a legend in the music business, and photography world for that matter, but I think the foundation of his success is the music. I'm not sure if he plays, or ever has, but his images of music are impossible to forget. Black and white, mostly medium to large format, and dripping with smoke and history, these pictures are forever a part of the world's collective knowledge of music. Sarah, Dizzy, Louis, Lena, Billie, and most importantly, Miles, all I need to mention.

Leonard began in the 40's when race was a dominant card, but somehow managed to connect, even when someone like Lena couldn't share a drink with him after the shoot because she could not sit in the general admission area due to her skin color.

Sitting and listening to Herman I am conflicted. I am in absolute awe of the ability to make these pictures, and the more you know about them, the more, if you know ANYTHING about photography, you realize were even more difficult than they look. Two, three, four sheets of 4x5 at a time, and that's it. Strobes hidden as they popped into life freezing time capsules as Herman hid backstage. But I am also sad because I know these days are gone, both in music and photography.

Intimate is SO rare these days, a development of our own fabrication, and now we pay the consequences of short attention spans, everything rushed and on deadline, creating a shallowness that forces our mind to drift and our eyes to look away.

I'm conflicted because Herman is so good, so nice and there will be not be another.

I made many, many notes of this event, which I had planned to share, but someone saved us from this translation. In the audience were relatives of Miles Davis, and friends of Miles, one of whom stood up and said, "I was friends with Miles, and Herman, you were special to him." There isn't anything I can say better than that, so if you haven't had a chance to see Herman's work, I urge you to do so.

I should also mention Leonard was not alone on this day, but was speaking with Brian Cross, who goes by the name B+, another LA based photographer, but someone who originates from Ireland. Brian, soft spoken and modest, had the difficult task of following Leonard. B+ has spent the better part of the last ten years, perhaps more, shooting and living in the world of Hip Hop, and like Leonard has an intimacy with his associates that doesn't come along every day.

The adjacent studio at the Pacific Design center held B+'s show, which was a fluid, active presentation, that to me was subtle in print size, but proved to me one simple thing...he is a photographer and not a showman. Many of Brian's images are simple, quiet moments, as opposed to huge, lit, large crew, overdone music pictures that we are so fond of assigning these days. Through his images you could tell that B+ was a guy you would love to hang out with, someone that had one version of himself, not one public and one private. It also showed me that he also has a camera all the time, not just when he is on assignment, and that is something I really respect.

I'll leave you with a quote from Brian, who said when asked, "What would life be without photography?"

"That isn't an option," he said.

08 April, 2009

Poem from Mom "Preacher Preacher"

Preacher Preacher

preacher preacher
standing before me
quoting scriptures
with certainty
someones words
held in fallen
centuries of change
this tells me you know
the scriptures
tell me the rest
of the story
how to live
inside the fence
of the ten commandments
how to forgive
dastardly deeds
that tore at your soul
like cold hands
ringing out
a hot wet sponge
how to find your way
in a world
so far off track
it shakes from its depth
and devours its surface
show me how to
move the stone
and get back to the one
whose words you
so easily speak
denying the time
on the dim road of truth
tell me preacher
if you can

07 April, 2009

Where Will It Live?

Home from the framers. Where will it live? With what other images? In what light? I think I will let this one sit for a while. I have a feeling it will alert me to where it wants to live.

You might think this is crazy, but think about this. So last week, two computers died at my house. I rebuilt one, and now the screen flickers like mad. I am at post office and my iphone locks up. I restart and get a warning label, in French.

I think the global void is telling me something. So, I get a mechanical camera, film reels for processing, and pick up a used enlarger.

I hear ya world. I really do.

05 April, 2009

The Morning After

Post Palm Springs Photo Festival.

The silence is overwhelming, even that silence that rages in my head. The festival is over and there is a sadness. You can live another life during this event. You can let the walls down, forget about the tangy reality of the life of a photographer and just allow your brain to turn on the swivel.

The day after we are still in town. The wind blows at 70 mph, the air filled with debris, our ears with sand. It feels good to just sit and listen, to not talk, to not think, to try and remember the tidbits, those moments that you say to yourself, as they happen, I should never forget this time, this place.

Coming down from this trip is like a winding road leaving the altiplano, spiraling slowly from the great peaks down into the lowlands. In the rearview you can see the great landscape as it pulls you to return. It's not that the cities and lowlands are not without their charm, but there is a magic in the mountains, same with this event.

Poem from Mom "Downtown"


for the wealthy
just bought a loft
in an old warehouse
for 450 thousand
with a swimming pool
on the roof and
a view of the city
am able to walk anywhere
in this renewed area
of shops and restaurants
safe and sound
you can still buy
comfort and convenience
in downtown
your success the walls
that surround you
isolating you
from the reality
of what you will find
if you go just
across the tracts