Monday, December 22, 2008

the view from my room

at the Holiday Inn LAX, while it's undergoing renovation:

My son and I have tried to fly back to Portland for each of the past two days, but the flights were both canceled. Unless something changes, we're crossing our fingers that we can get out on the 24th via Phoenix.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Good old Rocky Top

When I was 13, about the time that that earlier photo of me freestylin' was taken, I was in a Junior High steel drum band known as "The Caribbean Drummers." It was the only steel drum band in Billings, Montana.

Because of this novelty, we were featured on the local evening news, and in an excruciatingly awkward moment, I attempted to "teach" a fumbling female newscaster how to play the introductory bass-line for our crowd-pleaser "Rocky Top." After she attempted, and failed, she made light of the situation and fumbled a transition to sports back at the camera. But within that six or seven seconds of transition, it wasn't clear to me exactly what it was that I was supposed to be doing? Looking at her? Looking at the camera? Looking at the drums?

By default, I subconsciously chose a hybrid of the three and looked downward, averting the camera, the drums, and her gaze, meaning I spent that entire period awkwardly staring at her breasts. Somewhere around here, there's a video tape. But I'm not going to go searching for it.

Since then, as I've previously posted, I feel like I've been perhaps a little extra self-conscious when faced with myself in a security camera, a reflection, or even a photograph. Is that really me? That being the case, it was with great trepidation that I took part in the video documentary portion of David Wright and Ethan Jones's "Pause to Begin". Well, today's the day that they've got the video podcast from our interview posted and fortunately, it's not nearly as embarrassing as I'd expected it to be.

It did seem though that there's some weirdness going on with the audio, but I wasn't sure if that was a technical glitch or could it possibly be the way I actually talk. Fortunately, I sent it to a friend and he reassures me, and testifies to you:

That is so weird. It is totally NOT your voice. It sounds like you've got an enormous aristocratic gourd attached to the bottom of your throat and your voice is sort of swirling around in there before it comes out of your mouth. How did they do that?

So, keep that in mind. Thanks Ethan. Thanks Dave.

UPDATE: My wife of thirteen years (yeah, really) just listened to it and thought that it was someone else talking. The audio's definitely been slowed a bit. Whew... I thought maybe that's what I really sound like.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Show and Tell

Lately, this here blog has taken a back seat to the one I've been running for Photolucida. But today, I've got something running over there that anyone could/should contribute to: a Halloween Show and Tell. If people seem to care, and so far they seem to, this Show and Tell might become a regular feature. Check it out here and send in your favorite Halloween-themed photo.

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Ten things I recently learned from this box of stuff I brought back from my grandmother's garage, now that she's in a nursing home"

are posted over on Will Steacy's blog today. Honored by the invitation... Thanks Will.

Will Steacy, Prom #2, New Orleans, 2006, a post-Katrina found photograph, from series "the Human Stain"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I know, I know, I'm not alone... we're all a little strapped right now, aren't we?

© Raimond Wouda, Ridderkerk II, 2003
from Lay Flat

Well, yesterday after I posted about my clearance sale (I think I've covered the plane ticket so far, but not the burritos yet), I received emails about two more things I'd love to put money toward, if I had any in hand:

Lay Flat, the new publication/brainchild of Shane Lavalette is soliciting donations to try to get their first issue, co-curated with Karly Wildenhaus, up & rolling. In full disclosure, I will have a picture in that issue, assuming it does eventually make it into print, but that's not really why I care. Shane has long been one of the most consistently thoughtful and prolific writers out there. He's building it up with smarts and sweat, folks. I mean, come on, he's got Tim Davis and Mike Mandel involved in this first issue. I tell you, I'd put money into his magazine, whether my work was in it or not.

The other temptation this week is the release of Ron Jude's Other Nature, at the New York Art Book Fair. Looks like he'll be signing books Sunday at 2 pm. Stick around til 4 and you can have Michel Gondry sign a book as well.

print sale update: hmm... I had to suspend the print sale. Thanks for those who expressed interest and/or support, but it ends up that the art market's a little more complicated than I'd like. I'll just have to stick with making pictures and stay out of the business of selling them myself...

hey wait, yet another print sale update: if you want to buy something, just contact me directly and we'll figure it out. There are many options. I heart my gallerist.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm on my waaay... A clearance sale!

One of the defining moments of my life would have to be when I decided, at the age of thirteen, to sell my Motley Crue ticket two days before their "Theater of Pain" tour came through town. It's not that I didn't love the Crue. In fact, I had decorated my bedroom with a pentagram of Christmas lights that very year. But in the midst of my adolescent soul-searching, I developed an odd sense of self-sufficiency and responsibility. The week before the concert, the anticipated highlight of the school year, the rear brake broke on my bike. Not only was it my sole mode of transportation, but freestylin' was my other love at the time. The cost of the replacement brake was $16. The ticket was $18.

At the time, I comforted myself with the smug satisfaction of martyrdom. Unlike my irresponsible head-banging friends, I felt that I understood the necessity of suffering and that, in a sense, my sacrifice made me more responsible and mature than they were. Yes, they all experienced that amazing tour where Tommy Lee and his entire drum kit spun completely upside down, but I lived by my own means. Kind of like Rambo.

me, Billings, Montana, 1986

Today, when I look back, I can recognize the arrogance in my thinking and how really, what I should have done, was just figured out a way to do both. I don't remember the going rate for shoveling snow or mowing lawns (primarily because I never pursued them), but I bet I could have covered all my expenses over the course of a weekend or two. Truth is, while I don't necessarily feel the same passion for the Crue today, I do wish that I would have seen that show. Money comes along regularly, but an opportunity like that...

So here I am, 23 years later and I can't help but recognize that I'm in a similar situation. This week, the registration's past-due on one car, the gate latch and the transmission are broken on the other, the heating oil gets delivered tomorrow, and the property tax bill just came a couple days ago. But what also came in the midst of this financial turmoil, was the most significant Crue-like temptation I could possibly imagine: an email notifying me of this: an opportunity to have a day long portfolio review session with 11 other people and Alec Soth for $135. Well, the other complication of course is that it's in San Francisco.

Long story short, I didn't think, I just pulled out the Visa and signed up. Now I just need to figure out a way to pay for/justify the trip. Yesterday, while cleaning out the shop, I couldn't help but think that maybe I need to have a clearance sale.

Impressed with the direct online sales of folks like Will and Liz, I'm going to follow their lead. Ultimately, my goal is simply to make enough to justify this trip that I'm determined to make anyway.

So, here's the deal, and really, please share with whomever:

print sale update: hmm... I had to suspend the print sale. Thanks for those who expressed interest and/or support, but it ends up that the art market's a little more complicated than I'd like. I'll just have to stick with making pictures and stay out of the business of selling them myself...

hey wait, yet another print sale update: if you want to buy something, just contact me directly and we'll figure it out. There are many options. I heart my gallerist.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

call & response

What well-known photograph did I have in mind when making this picture? Would anyone besides this small group of photo geeks ever pick up on the reference? Actually, will anyone within this small group of photo geeks even pick up the reference? Maybe that just makes it a dumb picture?

There should be more contests in the blogosphere, shouldn't there? Forget those postcard books (though I've still got some if you're interested), I'll mail an 8x10 pigment print of practically any picture of your choice to whoever is the first to identify the "source" I had in mind.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

role play

google image search results for "role playing"

By far the most significant reason my blog's slowed down so much in recent months has been this. First, it was this and now it's this and this. I'm not alone in this situation either. I can think of many of us who hold dual roles as Photographer / Administrator, Photographer / Publisher, Photographer / Editor, Photographer / Critic, etc. Even those of us who bear the burden of blogging wear find ourselves wearing two distinctly different hats at times.

Many interesting questions come of the situation, but I'm afraid that my other lives have me too fried to articulate them at the moment and it's not all that fun when it's one-sided either. Maybe I should have other people enter the conversation? Maybe a group blog'd be better? Kind of like a photo version of the View. Please, chime in.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

the desktop test

my desktop this morning, courtesy Justin James Reed

Collect pictures into that source folder for your desktop and have it set to refresh every time you come out of sleep. If you find yourself tidying up so you can let the picture breathe alone, there in the center, it's probably a good sign that you love that picture or that it's got naked parts in it. If it does have naked parts in it, be careful on the airplane. Hey Justin, this is one of my favorite desktop pictures these days. Interested in talking about a print swap?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Elias Hansen installing work by Elias Hansen and Oscar Tuazon, Cooley Gallery, Reed College, 08.30.08

if you're around, please come to this opening. i'm supposed to design a cocktail, but that might mean PBR. i want something brown and layered, but with a garnish that can function as a visual rupture. any suggestions?

suddenly: where we live now — is a book, a set of exhibitions, and a series of public events beginning in Portland, Ore., this fall, and transpiring in various places around the world.

September 10, 2008, 7 pm, 4th floor deck at Milepost 5: cocktails; visual art; and, Colin Beattie discussing Greater Beaverton, including Guatemala and the Sonoran Desert. Photographs by Shawn Records; sound installation by Michael McManus; projects by Gary Wiseman and Mike Merrill; artists in attendance.

Free of charge, Milepost 5, 900 NE 81st Avenue, two blocks from the MAX at 82nd. inquiries
suddenly is:

Thomas Sieverts • Saskia Sassen • Fritz Haeg • Karl Marx • Shawn Records • Lisa Robertson • Zoe Crosher • Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College • Center for Urban Pedagogy, NY • Frank Heath • Pacific Northwest College of Art • Rob Slifkin • Sam Lohmann • Hadley+Maxwell • Sergio Pastor • Molly Dilworth • UO Architecture • Castillo/Corrales, Paris • Michael McManus • Yi-Fu Tuan • Alexandra Harmon • Aaron Betsky • Oscar Tuazon • Storm Tharp • Coll Thrush • Nico Wright • Fernand Braudel • Rem Koolhaas • Pomona College Museum of Art • James Glisson • Mostlandian Citizens Junior Ambassador and Katy Asher • Michael Damm • Alison Shotz • Diana George • Mike Merrill • Weiden + Kennedy • Athens West • Paige Saez • Milepost 5 • Eric Fredericksen • Anselm Hook • The Zwischenspiel Puppet Opera Company • Rebecca McGrew • Beaverton Creek Village Mall • Gary Wiseman • Colin Beattie • Kenneth Mroczek • Storefront for Art and Architecture,NY • Danielle Dutton • Marc Joseph Berg • the back room • Matthew Stadler • Stephanie Snyder • and others…

baby steps

Todd Deutsch from Chasing the Family Drift

Yesterday I had the good fortune of hearing Todd Deutsch talk about his work, past and present, in conjunction with his current show Chasing the Family Drift, that's up at Blue Sky. I've been smitten with Todd's work for a good long while now and it was great to hear him talk about it and see how that discussion compared to the BS I've come up with every semester in class. So, now that a full 18 hours have passed, the talking points that stick:

• a photo a day: interesting how Todd described the structure of the Family Days project (that of making one photograph for each day) as working well for making the work, but not necessarily for presenting & editing the work. As I've gone on about before, I think far too often we draw these lines in a somewhat arbitrary or pseudo-sociological fashion, based on a particular subject matter or geographic location. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In this case, I think it makes sense because it comes back to the first-person, but yeah, once you're shooting, the pictures have a mind of their own and it's probably best to let the photographs inform one another rather than the calendar or a map. Of course, of course, there are always exceptions...

• the big picture: at some point early on in the talk, the question of truth came out as being a guiding force in Todd's practice. Which photos more honestly described his family life? Thank you Todd for bringing it back to the obvious. I hope that doesn't sound sarcastic because I'm not being sarcastic at all. Seriously, this is the fundamental question, isn't it?

• weiner-talk: like some other children I know, it ends up that Todd's sons have penises. That being the case, said penises are often present and noted within the course of day to day family life and, on occasion, find their way into a photograph or two. Todd was the first to bring up that question and leave it at that- what do you do with a photograph predominantly featuring your child's nether regions? In the search for truth/honesty within the family, it seems like it has to be acknowledged. My children spend a good portion of their days absentmindedly pulling themselves around while they go about their lives. Part security blanket, part leash... could there be a more potent symbol of childhood innocence?

For that reason alone, I'd argue that yes, the photographs must be made. But Todd's talk brought up another important aspect of this issue- that while a photograph of his son playing video games in his underwear at the age of 10 might not bother the boy, that same photograph, if seen by a girl in his class, might actually affect his day to day life. That's the sign of a good parent right there, isn't it? Looking out for their child, farther than the child might be able to see for his or her self.

So, what's the answer? Well, showing the images in question within the context of a slideshow where the question & the issues of trust, respect, etc. take center stage is a pretty great solution. It adds a new dimension to the artist's talk and makes it something more than a quiet formal rehash of someone's website.

That's not to judge others who freely show it all. I love Tierney Gearon's work, for example, but we've all just got to figure it out for ourselves. I can tell you that I've got a few family pictures that I'd love to use, but can't, simply because they make my family uncomfortable. I guess until I'm prepared to post pictures of my own business (don't worry, I'm not about to go there), I can't ask it of them.

Todd Deutsch, from the series Gamers

Saturday, September 6, 2008

a good friend poses the question

google image search results for "squawk"

"speaking of blogs, have you given up?"

Yes and no. I keep thinking that I'm five minutes away from my next blog post, but then something gets in the way. I kind of wonder if it's a seasonal thing for me. The weather's too nice still, but it'll get dark and gray soon. Perhaps it'll come back full force? In the meantime, I'm thinking of it as an extended hiatus in an attempt to rock more and squawk less. Everything's busy, but a good busy.

Say, in the event that I haven't been deleted from every google reader out there and someone will actually read this, I'm actually going to be in NYC next week. Bring on the recommendations so I can add them in to Google Earth. Photo and art recommendations yes, but not just photo stuff, what does one do in NYC with two boys, 6 and 11?

So far I've got Gray's Papaya and Michael Mazzeo's Gallery (hoping to make it to that opening on the 12th) on my personal to-do list and the Natural History Museum and a double decker bus tour for the kids. What else though? New York is kind of a tv place for me... I've been there a few times, but always pretty quick and busy. I'm really looking forward to seeing some things this time around.

Monday, July 14, 2008

i think it's a shame spiral

my favorite google image search result for "shame spiral"

all I know is that between the editorial jobs, the show I just went to, the show I need to print for, and working towards putting on these Reviews, I not only haven't posted lately, but I haven't even logged in and looked at my reader in at least a month. It's become a source of guilt and I just can't deal with it these days. Hope you're all well. Actually, I am. I may be busy, but it's all the kind of busy I want to be.

Do I seem older, perhaps more mature? I'm a year older as of yesterday.

I'm actually writing for a purpose though. Is there any chance that you're interested in attending the NW Reviews? We've got a lot of great reviewers coming to town and we just had a last minute cancellation meaning there might be an open spot. Let me know asap if you're interested.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

since i paid $6.95 for internet access, i should go ahead and do something with it before i catch my plane

more to come, but a few things I love about Chicago:

New Catalog

the fact that I ate deep-fried macaroni and cheese while sitting across the table from Paul D'Amato (Justin, I chose this one for you)

potato pancakes from Manny's

Brian, of course

Jason Lazarus

and the Git

oh, and I've got no time to properly attribute or link, but add Karsten Lund, and the other fine folks at MoCP, Amy Stein, the brown line, and crunchy french toast to the list and you've got a pretty good idea of how great my last couple days have been. even so, the best part is that I'm almost home... all these great people around have me really excited to get home and make some pictures.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

l.a. today, chicago tomorrow

Among the weirdest aspects of my current trip is that the rooftop where I hang out each morning affords this view of the plane hitting the building, over and over again, about every fifteen minutes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

it has been argued that the main distinction between humans and animals is self-awareness

In an odd twist on my previous post, I had a magazine I'd done an editorial job for request an urgent headshot to run on the contributors page. The problem though, is that I'm currently a single parent in a hotel room with limited light and no tripod... that's where one's kids come in to the rescue. I had the kids shoot numerous pictures of me this morning. Here's one with that rare combination of being semi-sharp and me not trying to tell them what to do. In fact, the head turn with angelic tilt upwards, something I've had subjects do on occasion, was Max's idea. I didn't send it to the magazine, but he's on to something. That something being to make me quit staring into the lens in such a stern fake way. I swear, they all read like I'm either really intense, or that I'm just trying to pretend that I'm not.

I think Aaron, in his comments on my previous post, is on to something. Maybe the best way to deal with it is to go back to the old school methods of reportage. More on this later...

Monday, June 16, 2008

my heroes have always stared out windows (oftentimes while smoking)

A good friend pointed out the other day that my blog really sucks lately. Yeah sure, I'll take that. Just awfully busy answering to tasks that have deadlines and/or pay. But, that said, all of a sudden here I find myself done with school for the summer (well, I still need to post grades), and down in Los Angeles for the next week. Not a lot of free time, but still, I'm going to try to build up a little blogmentum here. But that said, I just realized that I've got about twenty minutes and then have to leave for the day. I'm going to cut through the bullshit and get to the core…

Yesterday, after my breakfast partner left me at the hotel restaurant to finish my coffee, I had a long and awkward moment with myself. The hotel's mirrored walls left me in an empty restaurant, staring at my remarkably egg-shaped head. Though it wasn't exactly fully conscious, I realized that I kept picking up my coffee cup and staring out the window, while trying to peek back and watch myself doing so. Here it was, that awkward moment my subjects feel when I'm doing an editorial job, only I was there as both photographer and subject, confused in both roles, trying to figure out what the other wanted, painfully self-aware the entire time.

This moment brings up one or two incomplete thoughts that I'd love to just throw out for discussion:

• band photography: is there a way to photograph a group of painfully self-aware 20 somethings in their hipster finest and not have it reek? Please, let's talk about band photography- show/share. My favorite band photo of all time is the inside jungle hippie photo from an old Three Dog Night album, but I can't find it online. I just remember it had a pregnant woman and a watermelon in it and, in a sense, is somewhat reminiscent of Justine Kurland's contemporary work.

• I recently came across something where a curator said that they did not want to see "disaffected young people staring into space." The phrase has stuck ever since… I think it's certainly one of those contemporary clich├ęs, but again, one that I lean toward defending. By keeping the gesture ambiguous, don't we (photographers), create a sort of space for projection? I don't know, it's a hard line to tread. Maybe overused because it's so effective?

Hmm, we'll come back to this. Gotta run.
Robert Frank, the Americans

Anton Corbjin from the film Closer

Justine Kurland

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Dearest Darling,

yet more google image searching... forgiveness

I know, I know, our relationship's a little out of balance lately. I feel like we really need to have a talk. Early on, when we were just getting to know one another, we fueled each other. You certainly excited and inspired me, and hopefully, at least occasionally, I did the same for you. But lately, work (in its varied forms) has just got me wiped out, I'm not getting any exercise, I'm eating all this shitty food (don't tell my wife, but I've gone to Taco Bell at least 3 times in the past 2 weeks), and in terms of this, our relationship, I realize that I've become a taker and not a giver. Don't think that I don't know that it's been little more than the occasional foul joke and witty photo-related banter, but I know that if I can't give you what you need, you'll go find it elsewhere. I promise, I'll try again. Soon. It'll get better, I promise.

In the meantime, and I know it's asking a lot to ask for more help when I give you so little these days, but still if you can find a spark of what we used to have...
for the life of me I can't figure out how the hell to copy multiple layers in Photoshop and paste them in place within another document as an Action.

As a gesture of how much I appreciate your tips, and how much you mean to me, I'd love to send you a copy of Michael Bishop's incredibly popular postcard book Michael Bishop's Views of the NYS Barge Canal. I remember how much you liked it.


p.s. Thanks Liz, Mel, Jacinda (& Kelli & Betsy), I'm still working on my plans, but hope to book it all tomorrow.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Say, if you were going to be in Chicago at the end of July and had secured a little faculty development money to cover your hotel costs, where would you stay that would be convenient for drunkenly walking home from the MOCP? And what else, besides trying to arrange a drink with Brian, Todd, and Amy would you do while you're there? Other than a few airport layovers and a quick drive through, I've never spent any time there. Hoping to book my ticket today or tomorrow.

Reading this in the DART newsletter the other day almost made me choke on my eggs:

really exciting...

if i didn't have fifteen other things i need to deal with today

i'd follow my nose from here, an image i discovered yesterday while trying to find the phone number of my neighborhood grocery store:

read the comments on the flickr page.

Of course, that lead me to here, a slightly more academic (Arty) conversation about Gursky's picture.

Jorg's got a nice one here.

But of course, it's the auction price that draws attention, isn't it?

But I think this one's my favorite.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

among my many fears, i occasionally wonder what i might do if i were to lose my eyesight (or my trampoline?)

Paul Strand, 1916

And when that question/fear does arise, I try to assure myself that to a certain extent something similar could be done with sound. But of course, without seeing what's going on, it'd certainly be harder to anticipate when to press the button wouldn't it? Thus I guess I'd need to walk the earth constantly recording everything around me and then editing the juicy bits of interest after the fact.

The one-sided conversation from a 24? year old woman I overheard at school yesterday while standing at the coffee vending machine, waiting for my cup to fill:

Yeah, I've got two kids, 1 and 3.

Yeah, we met with a lawyer and he was all 'You've got to go through marriage counseling,' but I was all like "Fuck that" so last night, my husband and I sat down all calm and quiet and just talked to each other like this and decided that we could do it ourselves, fill out all the paperwork and negotiate everything together. It was easy. He gets the Playstation and I get the Wii. I mean, he wants the trampoline too, but I don't care about that. I mean, I can get another trampoline.