A while ago I had the pleasure of traveling to Indonesian to shoot an ad campaign for a client. Traveling and photography are my two favorite things, so this was a great experience on a lot of levels. One of the biggest being that the cultural differences were so far from what we have here. The client I went over for is the #1 cigarette company in Indonesia (Gudang Garam), and the shoot was entirely fitness based with a slogan of “NEVER QUIT”. That would never happen in America. A cigarette company in the states would never do a fitness shoot, certainly not with that type of slogan. Smoking over there is just a way of life though, so nobody real thinks twice about it. Personally I’m not a smoker, but I tried one of the cigarettes and it was kind of enjoyable. Not like the harsh cigarettes we have here. They are more flavored and easy to smoke. Probably like a clove if I were to compare it to anything. I’ll be posting some of the actual images from the shoot later on, but below are a couple things I pulled off the internet of my images in the wild around Indonesia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I've had a lot of love for Europe for a long time, and even more after completing this recent trip to Austria. Don't get me wrong, I love America and have a lot of pride for this country. But every time I visit Europe, I find myself saying "they have it figured out over here". There just seems to be a whole lot less bullshit, and the people have a much more relaxed outlook on life. Walk around Vienna, take a couple rides on the U-Bahn, and tell me you're not somewhat embarrassed of how disgusting most of America is? You'd have a hard time finding a piece of garbage on the street in Vienna. And the subway platforms are almost clean enough to eat off of. Sort of a double edged sword, as the grit in America is a lot of what I'm drawn into photographically. Still though, our biggest and most popular cities (NYC+LA) are fucking filthy. Trash everywhere.
As is any trip worth remembering, this one was an adventure. Traveling in all forms will teach you valuable lessons whether you realize it immediately or not. We flew on Air Berlin which was our first mistake, as we later found out that they are bankrupt. I'm not a genius, but maybe if they had working WIFI on the flight for people to purchase, they could turn over a few extra euros? That's just one bullet point I'd throw in if asked to make a power point presentation. Not that I really care, but you don't see British Air having problems with their WIFI! We made it to Salzburg fine, but our luggage, not so much. The whole system of trying to get your bags located was prehistoric, but finally after 7+ days, they were back in our hands. Again, not the end of the world. Although most people would probably disagree with you. We weren't necessarily that upset about not having our bags as we were thinking about having to replace everything that was in them. During the trip it sucks taking time and money to go buy the necessaries, but something you just shut up and do. Deal with it and make the most of your trip. The biggest lesson we learned after dealing with Air Berlin's bullshit for 7+ days, is that there really is no reason to ever check a bag again. How much stuff do you really need on a trip? Not much. There now is no question that everything we could possibly need can fit in a backpack and you're one given piece of carry-on luggage. Think about all the times you've packed for a trip and never end up using half of what you stuffed in there? That's almost every trip that every human being on the planet has ever taken. Let's not even discuss the photography equipment that I take on a trip. If you just focus on the necessaries, it works in just your carry on. Couple t-shirts, socks, boxers, jeans, shorts, sandals/bathing suit(seasonal), and a nice shirt or two for dinner are the basics. On top of that, all you need is a warm layer, a shell raincoat (just incase), and your toiletries. A great pair of sneakers are key, but those are already on your feet. Add on a nice pair of shoes if you really need them. We always stay in Airbnb's or VRBO's, which often have washing machines, so doing laundry isn't any issue. Even when they don't, wash your laundry in the sink. It's easy, just takes a little bit of thinking. Checking luggage is out. All it does is slow you down.
As you can see from our route on the map, we covered a lot of ground. One of the phenomanal things about Europe is how easy it is to travel between countries. Almost without slowing down at the "border" we took little side trips into Hungary and Slovenia. Anyway, good times over there. Will be posting more on this soon. For now, go do yourself a favor and throw out that huge old suitcase sitting in your closet.
It would appear that driving cross country then flying to India has become a thing for me? Last month was another crazy one as far as travel/shooting (commercial and personal) goes. Let's see if I can get this right? It started with a flight up to Omaha and a drive to Sioux Falls for a concert that was a must see for Emily. So we spent a couple days there, then drove back to Omaha and flew back to San Diego. I slept at home for the night, then started a week long cross country drive to the east coast. Dropped Mojo off at my mother's house in up-state NY, then drove down to Brooklyn where my Hoops images were on display at an NBA event. Afterwards, drove back up to my mothers for the night, then drove to Boston the next day for a flight out to India. Spent 3 days shooting in India, then hopped a quick flight over to Sri Lanka for 3 days of exploring/personal shooting. Back to India for another 3 days of shooting before flying to Boston. Drove to New Hampshire to shoot for my barbershop project, then up to my mothers to get Mojo where I spent the night before driving back down to meet Emily in Boston. We spent the night there, then met my family on Cape Cod for our annual trip. Spent 6 days there, then another week driving/shooting back to San Diego. Hell of a month. I love the road. Still trying to figure out if I'm happy with the outcome, but will be posting updates on it all soon.
The miles are really starting to rack up this year already. Only took about 8 months to hit 25k on my new truck. Good times. Should be sharing images soon.
Recently completed what I would have to consider my largest collective journey to date. It started last month with a road trip from San Diego to New York. From NYC I traveled to India and did a lot of exploring in Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. After returning, I then did another cross country road trip from New York back to San Diego. Not even sure what the total mileage is on all that, but each leg was a great time, and I did a lot of shooting for a number of different reasons.. As always, more to come on that.....
This trip had been a long time in the making. It was just a matter of getting the schedules of three different people in three different cities, to match. Luckily it did, because the Lost Coast in northern California is top notch. I left San Diego and drove north to pick up a friend in LA. From there we continued on up to Morro Bay, where we stayed overnight to take advantage of a breakfast spot I had been previously very impressed with (my first time there they threw down a solid eggs benedict). Only this time, not so much. Oh well. Afterward, we kept driving north with a stop in Gilroy for some garlic ice cream and lots of dried fruit for the hike. Next stop was SFO to pick up the final piece of our trio, who flew in from Denver, and was lucky to get through security. Pressed for time, we booked it up to Shelter Cove, which is a small and very remote town about 5 hours north of San Francisco. Didn't get there till about midnight, and decided to just sleep on the beach to be ready for the 7am shuttle. Which takes you about two hours north or south, depending on which section of the trail you want to hike. And it's a not a smooth two hours, so it won't be a portion of the trip you enjoy, but whatever. That all goes away when you get dropped off at the trail head (beach). Right away, you can tell that you're in for a good time. Some people bang it out in a day. Others take their time, which in my opinion, is the only way to do it. Otherwise you miss out on some incredible camping. We were lucky enough to find some places where there was nobody around for miles. Literally. You'll also miss out on the opportunity to harvest fresh mussels at low tide, which happened to be early in the mornings for us. So we had mussels every morning for breakfast. Yup. There isn't a ton of elevation gain, as most of the "trail" is on the beach. But that doesn't make it any easier. You'll be hiking on anything from fine sand, to large boulders, with only small sections of actual packed trail. A couple things to be careful of, are the tides, and water sources. There are definitely some places to get stuck at high tide. And if that happens, you can get seriously screwed. Just don't be an idiot though. Bring a good map, check the tide charts, and you'll fine. There are plenty of things to do if you need to wait out the tide. Napping included. You'll see plenty of dead things along the way. We sure did. And it's bear country, so be aware. We hiked for a few hundred yards along fresh bear tracks. You can see in the last couple pictures what they did to the beached whale. No good. I know people have done this hike with their dogs. And I really wanted to bring mine, but am glad I didn't. The sand along the coast is brutal. Even walking on it in bare feet isn't fun. If you are going to bring your dog, make sure they wear booties. This won't be the longest hike you overdo, but it's very unique, especially for the U.S. The terrain and scenery is constantly changing, so you never get bored. At one point, my buddy actually found human remains. Full on skull and bones. We later reported it to the Ranger, who told us that the area is an ancient indian burial ground. So there's that.
Life in rural Kansas works a bit differently then it does in most other places. A fascinating place to explore.
Silverton Mountain in Colorado is unlike any other place you can ski/ride in the U.S. Think of it as the exact opposite of Vail. First of all, just getting there is a commitment, as it's about a 6.5 hour drive from Denver. The last part of the drive titled "The Million Dollar Highway" is about as much fun as you can have on a mountain pass. Switchback after switchback, with very few if any guardrails, and long steep drops off the side. The town itself is the kind of place you can see having gun fights in the street back in the day. That kind of town. Drive about 15 minutes out the back of town, and there is a parking lot. Next to the parking lot is a trailer with skis/snowboards piled on it. Next to that is a 2 person chairlift and a yurt for a lodge. That's it. No bougie villages with people wearing fur boots while sipping on a Hot Toddy. Just friendly people that want to ride. And all those people are earning there turns, because that 2 seater lift only goes 3/4 of the way up. From there, your guide leads you on a hike up ardigeline to the place he chooses for you to drop in. And did I mention that they are only open Friday-Sunday? Which means the snow piles up all week, so you're always getting fresh turns. On top of that, the guides section off the mountain, to keep things fresh for the next two days. The terrain is steep and technical. And fun. If you're a serious skier, you should get to Silverton. I loved it so much and wasn't even in great skiing shape when we were there. It was only my second day riding for the year, and I was just finishing up a month long cross-country road trip. Hell of a cap, but definitely wish I was in better shape. Either way, it was a great time, and I can't wait to go back in March. Did a little bit of shooting while I was there too. Hard not to. On day two, the light was so good, I didn't have a choose. It was partly cloudy, so the sun was peaking in and out of clouds. Creating some surreal conditions. Silverton rocks.
I just got back from a month long coast to coast road trip (8,027 miles). Obviously it was a great time. I was lucky to see a lot of friends/family, as well as some new parts of the country that I haven't previously seen. For a while now I've been saying that I'm pathetically behind on blog updates. The amount of unpublished material I have is going back about a year now. So one of my New Years resolutions should be to take care of that. After all, if they aren't published anywhere, then they don't really exist? Stay tuned.
I've got so much content to post, and trying desperately to catch up on it. I keep cruising over these images, and thought I'd get them out of the way. Gotta love Utah. The more I road trip, the more it seems like there are states that want to give you good stuff. And others that really make you earn it. Utah is one that seems very giving to me. Not sure if I get lucky or what, but I always seem to come out of there happy. This day didn't see a lot of shooting because I was in kind of a rush driving back from Colorado with Emily who had to work. Still though, the few times the camera came out, it was a success. I love this type of shooting.
Hard to have a bad time sailing to Catalina Island. In fact, it seems impossible to have a bad time there, period. It's a special place. If you've never been, change that. Summer time is great because it's bumping with people. And winter is just as good, when it's quiet and sleepy. Either way you win. We were out there last month, and spent just about the whole time in the water looking for fish.
The more time you spend in Yosemite, the more you think it's an artificial world. An enormous movies set with perfect views around every corner. Send a chimp into Yosemite with a camera, and he'll come out with cool pictures. On this last visit, we spent the better part of a day hiking up to Glacier Point. And my only regret is that we didn't camp up there. It would have been all ours. This time of year the road is closed, so the only way up is to hike. Which cuts out the majority of tourists. Next time I guess? Either way, it was an awesome hike. All of the images below were made on the fly. Just snapping while Emily was hiking. Nothing staged. I got some cool stuff, but looking through them makes me want to go back and actually set up a few shots. Maybe even with some strobes. Although the light in Yosemite is pretty hard to beat. See for yourself....
On New Years Day, I was driving through upstate New York on my way back to San Diego. And found myself close enough to Niagra Falls that I shouldn't pass it up. Why not? Had never been there before, and figured it was a good time to cross it off the list? My expectations weren't that high, as I sort of expected it just to be a tourist trap. And it was definitely that, but it also couldn't have been more impressive. I had heard that the place to see it is from the Canada side, which I did. The power was amazing. As you walk in, you're eye level with the huge river of water that takes the turn into the falls. Then you keep walking, and you're right at the end of the falls where everything drops. And it's almost impossible to wrap your head around how big it is and how much water is flowing over the falls as any given moment. A very cool thing to see. If you ever find yourself in that area, put in the extra effort to stop in. Depending on the time and day of the week, crossing the border is not bad at all. Well worth it.