I happened to be in LA a week or so back for about 24 hours.
It so happened that some friends of mine from Aloft Aerial Dance were in town doing some performances as part of their El Circo Cheapo Get Rich Slow Tour. So I, of course, wanted to stop by and take some photos. That’s where the performance images that will be appearing over the next week or two came from.
If you happen to be in Chicago I highly recommend you go see El Circo Cheapo. It’s worth the money, easy, and a really fun Friday night.
If you were at the party and haven’t gotten a link to the photos yet let me know and I’ll send it to you. And most people haven’t seen it because I’ve been bad about sending it out.
These are two panoramas I’ve done by Red Rock Canyon. This is what I do on vacation.
You can click, hold, and move the mouse to look around. It might take a minute for them to load, especially the first one, I didn’t spend much time optimizing them because I’m a bum like that.
I wish I could remember the number of times a photojournalist has told me to not focus on shooting for the office, for the paper and instead shoot what I want to shoot. I’m okay at this, not great, but okay.
So recently I acquired a phone with a camera and text messaging (my previous phone I bought around 99′ and at that point was fancy because it was digital. This new phone will hereafter be referred to as the “iWife”.) This has resulted in me texting all day long. It’s like swapping notes in class.
Somehow in the mix of all this I got to talking to a friend who lives in the desert these days about fall colors, and started sending photos taken with my iWife of fall colors, and now other random things, mostly with greenery. Reminders of leaves.
The funny thing is about this, I tend to like more of the photos I take with my iWife than with my other cameras. There is something about doing it for someone, doing it for fun, doing it for myself which makes it more rewarding.
At first when I made those images I didn’t put much work into them, point the iWife and push the button. As I’ve done it more I’ve started putting more effort into the images, why make a crappy image when I don’t have to? Why isn’t this photo for a friend as important as any other photo? Why isn’t it more important?
It’s fun. It’s really out of my norm. It’s not the kind of camera I like. It doesn’t give me the control I like. No shutter speed, no ISO, no white balance, no place for me to decide, for me to decide anything and while that encourages laziness, there is no reason I need to be lazy about the images. No room to crop later. Just shoot it, and send it right from the phone. Imperfect everytime and the better for it.
Now, mind you, the photos don’t have to fit a story or purpose like my stuff for the paper so they tend to be more “pretty pictures”. They tend to be images that will mean something to me and my friend, nothing more, but in that, I think they mean more than a lot of the other images I make.
Kind of sad that all my work can’t mean as much, but I’m proud that some of it does.
My current long-term project may be very serious in nature, and have very serious moments, more serious than I like to think about, it has it’s levity as well. It was Valentine’s Day, I had two beautiful women telling me that I have to wear this and that accessory. Who am I to deny two beautiful, wonderful, joyous women? Not to mention, all the ladies at facility I was at, and there were many, were flirting with me all day long. (I did dress like this all day, and I did fight them, a little, about putting it on in the first place, but their beauty over-powered me.)
Did a freelance job tonight, shooting a speaker at a podium. It ran a half hour long, so that was all I did, for an hour. Whatever, they’re paying for me to be there, I’ll be there and shoot what I can. Then the speaker’s laptop battery started to die, he gave up on it. The computer went to the screen saver. Really, after an hour of photographing a guy talk (though his talk was quite interesting, it was on education. Did you know that shortly the country with the most English speakers will be China?) I just couldn’t pass up a giant lady bug behind him.
It’s the little jokes in life that make me happy. Attack of the Giant Lady Bugs!!! Quick, get the Sixty-foot Woman!!!
On a separate note, I’m not a fan of guides to being creative. I don’t think they really exist, but their are things which can help. Anyway, this list I thought was good fodder for thought. I agree with most of it.
Otherwise, these are just because….
As a side note, from earlier in the evening. I photographed the instructor of a course on unlearning Indian stereotypes (his terminology, not mine) and developing a respect for Indian culture (which he liked to point out, didn’t exist, just as European culture doesn’t exist). I don’t think he was such a big fan of my Mohawk (faux-hawk). He dodged the question when I asked him if it was insensitive and culturally offensive, though Wikipedia seems to feel it’s fine.
Over 72 hours without another human being being seen at all. 4 days, 3 nights, over 40 miles hiked, over 100lbs in equipment and supplies carried roughly 8 miles in, and 75lbs or so carried out. 8 miles from the next human being, 8 miles of rock, river, mud, roots and nature letting me be alone.
No clocks, no time but the movement of the sun. A life about simplicity, survival, and independence from the world, from it’s pressures and cares.
Just a man alone with his thoughts. The same thoughts largely as when I went, but by the time I left, peaceful, calm and content, not angst or nervous energy, just peace. Indulgent.
Sitting on Bloody Bear Paw Rock, reading, playing harmonica (or at least learning), watching Hurricane Crick flow then retiring to the fire. Nothing amazing, just a little fire, but it feels good to make a fire from nothing more than wood pulled off the ground and the lighter in your pocket (Hey, I ain’t McGyver here. I believe in being properly equipped, or at least trying.)
Maybe I don’t need to learn anymore about how to get by on my own, I’m pretty good at it already, but it feels good, powerful, manly, (but manly is such a loaded word that it’s wrong,) to live life on my own on a more primal level.
More thoughts to come, more images to come. These are, at best, a rough start, and not the creme, not the creme by any means, but merely a humble beginning.
So tonight I was faced with the question that man (or woman) has asked since the start of time, now that I’ve had an enjoyable Friday evening (also known as grocery shopping and a movie on my tv after work was done) what should I do, and I just happen to have “fun hair” happening and a small mountain of photo equipment handy? (Everything about this entry, I should say, is about laughing at me and how it is totally allowed.)
I should also state here, Lexi is a Goddess, officially. She is now Lexi the Great and Everlasting Goddess of Hair. (BTW – I know I need to get my highlights done, and I know it’s ridiculous that I know this.)
Some day I’m going to go on about the difference between fun and happy and their minimalist relationship many days. Some day I’m also going to get a life and not hang out on Friday nights taking wacky self-portraits, but that day is not today. And I had a lot of fun and am damn happy.
And if you think this is bad, there’s another 100 or so of these that are even weirder. Which raises the question, what does a man with a small mountain of photo equipment do on a Saturday night? (And welcome to how you become legally married to do what you do.) Also, I’m replacing all my various profile photos with the one above I think, to hell with reality I say. To hell with it.
This blog used to once involve matters of journalism and photography. Oh well.
BTW – I’m going to randomly start mentioning teas because….I feel like it. Wen Shan Bao Zhong, absolutely excellent. The second steeping of it is absolutely delicious, delicious. Not to mention it’s from Formosa, and who calls it Formosa anymore, well except for the Chinese? On the other hand, I doubt drink 36 ounces of right before bed is wise. It doesn’t have much caffeine in it as far as I can tell, but that’s a lot of liquid.
In this case, I’m good with the world. It’s really just about having fun.
Simple story, I went to get my hair done today. I used to be a long hair (down to my ass) and a hair cut lasted 30 seconds and I moved on. Now, I get my hair done. I tell my stylist what I want, which is either, “Make me look good” or “Make women want me,” and let her go town.
This currently involves a whole host of things being done to my not of which I’m sure I understand. I understand one thing, when she’s done my hair looks good. Today when she got done for fun and demonstration she put my hair up in Mohawk kind of thing. I left it in, I’m leaving it in, and I’m going to learn how to put it in. (Also to be fair, this image is from about 5 hours after she did the Mohawk much of that spent driving with the windows open at high speed.)
It’s great. It’s just a total break from reality. It’s fun, it’s different, it’s probably inappropriate for work, but really, who cares?
Anyhow, Lexi rocks. And in a blatant plug, Beauty Skool Dropout, 773.661.0310. If this time follows past precedent, women will be running their hands through my hair for the next 2 months.
And as such, life is good.
This is one of those “corners” in Chicago that almost always has that feel. It’s at the intersection of Damen, North, and Milwaukee in the heart of Wicker Park.
This area always has something happening, people moving.
I also just felt like posting a photo.
This is a handy dandy (at least for me) new bridge crossing the Des Plaines River from Forest Park to Maywood. It extends the starting point of the Illinois Prairie Path.
Very importantly, to me, it also means that bicyclists don’t have to try to bike down Madison, a death defying experience some days, to get to the path.
For the photographers out there, may I humbly suggest, get out of your cars. Cars are wonderful, but not for seeing the world. And if you’re going to be a photographer you need to see the world, and get out of the room on wheels that is your car, at least sometimes.
At some point during the spring, I always like to do a few assignments on my bike. I find I can do spring shots better that way. I can see the smaller details, express the feeling of the season better, be more open to the experience of spring because I’m feeling it, because I’m in it.
It’s not practical, working on a bike. Who wants to have 10k in equipment on a bicycle? But if the equipment isn’t capturing the images, why own it at all?
Anyhow, enough subject matter. I had a good day. I like that.
Getting “out of town” requires a bit of effort when you live in Chicago. First you’ve got to get at least sixty miles from downtown because the city itself stretches a long ways. Then you’ve usually got to drive at least another hour or so to get past the corn fields. Welcome to the Midwest.
My solution for getting “getting out of town,” when I’ve only got a short a while to do so. Northerly Island.
Northerly Island, isn’t really an island, and isn’t really north of much of anything, it’s pretty central. It is right off of downtown Chicago, it is pretty reasonably large, and has some relation to the plains that this area used to have. Though Northerly Island itself is a man-made island.
For anyone who played with Microsoft’s Flight Simulator it was the starting point of that game. It used to be known as Meigs Field. An airport off of downtown Chicago on Lake Michigan.
We’re going to ignore the fact that it was 70 degrees and somewhat sunny the other day, and that I felt like being outside.
It also makes an odd statement being a man made version of the nature that used to exist in this part of the country, while yet overlooking downtown Chicago. All the tall buildings being the first thing you see.
It also to me says something about what we, we as in Americans, have destroyed, reduced and otherwise left behind. It makes me want to get out of Chicago for a few days. Alas, that will have to wait till summer. And that’s fine, I’d prefer the nice weather. But for an afternoon hike I’ll take Northerly Island.
Also, if you want to buy either of this images as print, go here. There are also a couple more images available for purchase.
The question on it’s face is pretty simple. Work is what you do for money, play is what you do for fun. The problem is that in my case what I do for fun that is the most fun, is often identical to what I do to put food on my table.
Examples, this photo is from a multimedia story I did for the Wednesday Journal. I followed the production of a feature movie , “Love. Blood. Kryptonite.” that was written and largely done by local high school students. The story itself was totally self-generated. The audio was recorded and processed by me. In the end I was pretty happy with the piece, and fairly proud of it. But regardless of my good feelings, it was still definitely work, no way about that. When I was done with it all I wanted to do was collapse for week.
Now while I was working on the LBK piece for the paper I took “a week long weekend.” For this mini-vacation I flew out to Rhode Island and joined my friend Peter (aka George) while a group of his friends and cohorts worked on a play for a group they run called TENT.
My “job” during this production was to make a record of them working on it and to a more limited degree of the piece itself. Basically this involved shooting from 9am till 1am for four days straight, with a little bit of editing packed in the middle. The woman who was kind enough to house a few of us I didn’t even meet till the last day because we got back every night after she had gone to bed and left before she woke. We’re talking four straight 16 hour days.
The end result of this piece for TENT was also a mutlimedia slideshow.
This was the best vacation I had had in years. I came back recharged and feeling great. The problem I’m having is figuring out where the difference is between these two events. One is work, the other is not. Both we’re done because I wanted to. Yet, again, one was work, the other a vacation, and they both felt like that. But I “worked” more on the vacation.
This post doesn’t have an answer. It just has the question when is it work? When is it play? And what is essence of the difference? I don’t know. Some days I just wonder about this a lot.
It’s also a good problem to have I guess.