A few months ago I listened to a presentation by David Allen Harvey, who I have the utmost respect for as a photographer. He's one of those guys who has been doing things his way all along. One of the things he said during the presentation was that "you need to live with images for a while" or something to that point. That comment has been running around in my head ever since. For as long as I can remember, I've been making photographers of certain things and not really known why other than because I was drawn to that thing. More importantly, I didn't know what I was going to do with the images. Then I "lived with then for a while", and started to understand which images were good, which ones were totally worthless, but most of all how they work as a body of images. I've been nonchalantly shooting images related to fishing and the ocean for a few years now. Just here and there during free time or on trips to foreign places. Most of those images you will never see because they suck or because they don't fit with a theme. That doesn't matter though. What's important is that I kept shooting those images, which lead me to discover that I enjoyed the subject, and later on developed a body of work. I don't by any means think that it's complete, but it's a great start, and I'll continue shooting this subject matter indefinitely. Aside from being a lot of fun, the hope is that the work leads to commercial clients like all my other personal projects. Sometimes I feel like I work in reverse. Most people actively shoot things for clients and use that work to get other clients. I create images for myself because I love doing it, and trust that it will lead likeminded clients to me.
Finished up another bit of international travel with my fist trip to the continent of Africa. We went to South Africa specifically, which the northerners call "Africa Light". They seem to think that if you've only been to South Africa, then you really haven't been to Africa. Sort of a funny thing to hear. Either way it's a beautiful country. More to come....
We had the release party last Sunday for my new book "Barbershops of America - Then and Now". The day was many things, but the word that comes to mind the most is humbling. There were a couple hundred people in attendance, with barbers that flew in from New Hampshire, New York, Indian, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, and Texas. That in itself makes me extremely grateful, knowing that the barber community trusts in me enough to do something like that. I'm also thankful to have been the perfect excuse to bring together so many people that support each other but have never actually met. Social media has connected them via the internet. The party though, gave them the opportunity to actually hang out. Barbers for the most part are characters, so it was fun to see so many of them in one place just hanging out and drinking beer. It seems from the response that everyone is really pumped about the book, which is all that I can ask. This project has been going on for 5+ years, and was/is an enormous amount of fun. When I look at the final product there are some things that really chap my ass and keep me up at night. Not sure there is any way around that unfortunately? In this kid of profession, or whatever you want to call it, there will always be those things that you want to change or improve. When I really think about the book though, it was made for barbers. So to have them embrace it is all the payoff I need. Next up, Barbershops of the World???
5 more days until the release party and it's shaping up to be a great one. The power of social media has really helped to spread the word, and the response has been humbling. Barbers from all over the country are flying in to attend which is cool on a lot of levels. Mostly because I'm excited for all of them to meet for the first time, while drinking beer and talking about the profession that they love. If you're around, come on down to Pig Barber in Costa Mesa. We're gonna have a blast and there will be a lot of treats being raffled off from Uppercut Deluxe, Irving Barber Co, Andis Clippers, and cold brew will be flowing courtesy of House Beer.
I'm of the completely biased opinion that San Diego is the best place to live in America. Not that it's a stretch, but it's still biased. One of the things that comes along with living in such a beautiful place is tons of year round visitors who all seem to make the same pictures. Let's be honest, San Diego is a really easy place to photograph. Go to just about any landscape gallery in the country and you're sure to see a big framed image of Antelope Canyon (AZ), Horseshoe Bend(AZ), and Scripps Pier among many other overly shot landmarks. A long time ago I realized that I have almost no desire to photograph the landmarks. What's the point? They've all been shot a million times over. And I'm certainly not a landscape photographer, so I won't be making any money from the shots. I still think it's important to photograph the place you live though. So over the past couple years, I've slowly developed a body of images made in various parts of San Diego. You're not going to see any images of Scripps Pier or Lajolla Cove in this gallery, but they are still interesting in my opinion. And images that I feel are representative of San Diego.
Thought this project was going to be done about a year ago, but I suppose that's just how it goes? Either way I'm really excited that the second barbershop book is finally on it's way. For anyone not familiar with the project, I initially spent 3 years (on and off) traveling to all 50 states with Mojo, documenting the old and quickly disappearing American barbershop. At the end of it all, that group of images was published into a book. Then about a year and half ago I started the project again. The whole time still documenting old school shops, but also photographing the "next generation" of shops that I feel are doing things the right way. So this second book is essentially an extension of the first. A lot of the images from the first book are also in this one, but completely re-edited, and with a proper trimming of the fat. The printing is also better than the first book, and I think the addition of all the new shops shows an incredible contrast of where the barber industry has grown to. I'm proud of the book and excited for people to see it. The barber industry has been very welcoming of me, so I hope that the book is something they feel does them right.
On Sunday May 6th, we'll be having a book release party at the notorious Eagle+Pig Barbershop in Costa Mesa, CA (Orange County). We've got some great people behind the project with sponsorships from Uppercut Deluxe, Andis Clippers, Irving Barber Company, and House Beer. It's sure to be a great time with tons of raffles, so come hang out, check out the book, drink some beer, and talk to some cool barbers.
Was back out on the road earlier this month. This time it was up to Canada for a snowboarding trip with a stop in Beaverton for a meeting with Nike. More on that later. About 2 years ago I realized that snowboarding is the only that will take the camera out of my hands. During any other activity I'm happy to watch from the sidelines just so I can shoot. On snowboarding trips though, the camera unfortunately spends too much time in the bag. I'm alright with that. A weird thing happens on those trips though, because the itch still needs to be scratched. I can't not shoot for any extended amount of time or I turn into a prick. Especially on the road because you see images everywhere, which are hard to pass up. So I start looking for images in other places. Thus the reason for a completely random mash-up of images in this blogpost.
Completely forgot to post last week about my gallery show for the Hoops Project in LA during All-Star weekend. Oops. It will be up there at Fathom gallery all month if you still want to check it out. Also have another show at Culture Brewing in Encinitas for Barbershops of America starting next week.The book won't be ready for about a month, but I'll be showing a bunch of limited edition prints. Come on out to Culture and enjoy a beer.
Last month I watched an on-line talk given by a photographer that I very much respect. He dished out a lot of great information, and briefly mentioned something about another photographer that he very much respected. The remark was about a book that photographer was about to publish, and the speaker said "I already know what it looks like". He hadn't seen the book, or any of the images, but was referring to the fact that the photographer was very predictable. And that stuck with me. He also didn't mean any disrespect at all, was just stating a fact. After thinking about it for a while, I realized how important it is to constantly be charging ahead in different directions. That's something I've always believed, but it was cool to hear from his perspective. As a photographer, you'll always have your "bread and butter", but it's boring to rest on that. Branch out and try new things. Develop portfolios in areas that your audience is expecting. Challenge yourself even if it means failing miserably for a while. In the long term, I believe that's the only way to make it.
Last month I did another cross-country trip from San Diego to as far as Plymouth, Massachusetts. Time on the road was shorter than I initially planned for, but it's always great. Shot a lot of images that are probably a lot different my norm, and people might not connect with them right away, but whatever. Some of them are certainly winners. I enjoy looking at them, and can see this stuff developing into a much larger portfolio. My main objective on this trip was to wrap up shooting on the barbershop project. So all of this "America" stuff was on the side, but I love it, and am always eager for more.
This is # 2. Was much smaller and much quicker, but certainly no less fun. Didn't do as much shooting on this one, which is normally what happens when a snowboard is involved. That seems to be the only thing that will take the camera out of my hand.
Behind on this as usual, but have a lot to post about. Couple road trips in the books since the last time I was here. Below is the first one that took place from mid-December 2017 to mid-January 2018.
Just a reminder that I'm having a show at Fathom Gallery tonight after the Kobe jersey retirement ceremony at Staples Center. I'll have a bunch of limited edition prints on display, along with some 1/1 signed Kobe game jerseys by a group of really talented street artists. Hope to see you all there!
Fathom Gallery: 110 East 9th St. Suite CL002, Los Angeles, CA 90079
More Crossfit. An itch for me that will never be scratched enough.
On 12/18/17 the Los Angeles Lakers will be retiring Kobe Bryant's jersey at the Staples Center. If you're around for it, or just live in LA, come by Fathom Gallery afterward. I'll be showing some signed limited edition hoops prints. Alongside my prints will be a bunch of signed one of a kind Kobe jerseys that have been made in art pieces by a number of extremely talented street artists. Hope to see you there!!
Fathom Gallery. 12/18/17. 9pm-12am. - 110 E 9th St, Suite CL002, Los Angeles, CA 90079
These images were made a few weeks ago during a trip to Indonesia, and won't be in the show, but wanted to post some updated images anyway. For more, check out my HOOPS gallery.
Years and years ago Steve McCurry made an iconic photograph of the Sri Lanken stilt fisherman. At the time, it was a rich part of the countries culture, and a real way for the fisherman to earn a living while also providing for local residents. That was then. Fast forward X amount of years, and this beautiful trade has become nothing more that a tourist attraction. To the point that you can click on them on Google Maps. I didn't realize this before visiting, and very much wanted to see them all based on McCurry's photo. How ignorant of me. On this day, we pulled up to a beautiful beach where they are located, and were greeted by tourist buses filled with people waving their selfie sticks around. The worst part though, you can't even do this for free. If you want to take a picture, you have to pay a guy on the beach who almost acts like their agent. At the end of the day they divvy up the profits. Not sure what's more sad, the fact that hoards of idiot tourists ruin a beautiful scene with their selfie sticks, or that these guys don't even fish anymore? IF you can set all of that aside, it's still something to appreciate as a unique scene that you won't find anywhere else in the world. I tried to picture them 30+ years without the crowds just trying to earn a buck. It helped a little.
Forget everything I just said, because otherwise Sri Lanka is a great country. I really enjoyed it, and would have loved to spend more time there. A highlight for me was seeing how big the cricket culture is. Seems like everywhere we went there were pick-up games going on. Grass fields, dirt lots, concrete, doesn't matter. Sri Lankan's just want to play cricket.
About a year ago I developed a healthy obsession with photography books, and now have a small (and growing) collection that I try and comb through regularly. It's a calming thing to do, but it's also sort of a free education. Every time I look through another book, or back through an old one, I learn something new. Whether that's a new way of seeing, or whatever, it doesn't matter. Either way it has caused me to to enjoy shooting and looking for different kinds of images. I've always been of the opinion that not every image needs to be "epic". I fully understand why most people need to shoot that way, and why it sells, but there is a lot more to it than that. Simple images that show the viewer a slice of life or tell a story, are every bit as fun to make as one of the guy standing on top of Everest. The images below were taken on a couple walks around my neighborhood in San Diego and another in Los Angeles. They are simple, but I really like them, and will be making a lot more of them. The term "street photography" is getting pretty loose these days. Back in the day, if you were a street photographer, then you were wandering around NYC with a Leica. Now, these images would probably fit into that category. Looking at them, the style of shooting isn't much different from my America series. Just different subjects.
My America gallery of images is the one that gets the least attention and interest from people/clients. Which I find strange because sometimes I think it's my best stuff? Either way it's something I've been shooting for a long time, and will continue shooting forever. Lately I've been getting a lot of images request from clients for other bodies of work, which is always a gift because it forces you to go back through old hard drives, causing me to look at images I haven't seen in a long time. And whatever it is about time, that factor has made turned me on to images that I thought were worthless in the past. That might be a problem, but then again it might just be part of the process. Regardless, I'm happy to have stumbled upon these images that have been during road trips from as far back as 2011, and as recently as a few months ago. Can't wait to get back out on the road.
Can't ever see becoming sick of shooting CrossFit. It's too real, which means that it never gets boring. There is never a need to stage anything. You just let everything happen in front you and do your best to capture it. Real sweat. Not that from a spray bottle bullshit.
It's only been a year+ since this trip and I'm finally getting around to posting about it. Have been back several times since. Wonder how many other trips I have sitting on my hard drive? Jackson Hole is top notch. Really top notch. The more I go back, the better it is, and the amount of time we actually spend in town is less and less. Grand Teton National Park and everything else that surrounds town is phenomenal. The hiking, camping, fishing, etc, is so good. And on this particular trip we did all of that. Up the middle Teton to be exact. A very different type of backcountry climbing than I'm used to. So much of it is just huge boulder fields. Which means that you spend a lot of time going from rock to rock, or scrambling. Not my favorite style of hiking, but what an incredible trip. The Tetons have to be the most picturesque range in the USA. The way they rise up from the the valley floor is so dramatic. They look so massive from afar, and even bigger when you're right up close. Not sure how we got so lucky, but it was perfectly sunny at the summit without an ounce of wind. That can't happen too often? As I'm writing this it's snowing in Jackson Hole, and I can't wait to get back up there. The snowboarding there is so good. You'd have to put it up there as some of the best in the country, especially when you really get to know the mountain. This is the worst thing I've written in a while. Sorry.
Good times over in Austria. For whatever reason, I did the least amount of shooting on this trip compared to all other in the past. Travel always brings on great experiences no matter what. Perhaps the funniest and unexpected came out of the need for a bathroom. During a long drive, we stopped at a market in a small town to pee and get food for lunch. I couldn't find the bathroom and tried asking the two workers in the back. They obviously knew very little English, and had no idea what I was saying. After trying every word they might know, I moved onto the universal sign for a guy going to the bathroom, the actual motion of doing it. They instantly knew what I needed and showed me the way. When I came back out, one of the guys was still there and asked me with a very Austrian accent "Ver ah you from?" I replied simply with "California", to which he screamed "AAAAHHHHH, SCHWARZENEGGER!!!"