sexy cat

Musicians are often referred to as “cats”. One thing I hate about most cats is that they just don’t obey. They work with you on their own time and in their own way. They are uber independent. They could be straying out all night doing God knows what then show up out of nowhere ready to play at exactly the worst moment. And, when they do finally appear, they can be just fucking brilliant. This is enough to make a filmmaker want to swallow a razor blade.

With cargo van, track and dolly, cameras, lighting, and assistants in tow I called Sergio under the guise of how great and easy our casual shoot was going to be at about 10am. He sounded like a corpse. He was bleary from getting sucked into partying until 5am. And, of course, our rooftop location in the fashion district was teetering on unavailability. Perfect. This is where you roll with the punches and get what you get.

After feigning relaxation and waiting in Sergio’s loft while the appropriate inspirations were consumed and the guys got their shit together, I wrangled the cats and got them into the back of the van. I felt better when I heard the wafting notes from a flute make their way to the cab. No shoot, however, without greasy Chinese food at the Grand Central Market. As I forced jokes to keep the party bus rolling, I stressfully drove the oversized van up the multi-leveled parking structure. With each ascending level the ceiling got lower until the van’s antenna was scraping along letting me know the roof was about to be ripped open by concrete. No more jokes, my head exploded.

As civilians driving out of the lot looked up at me as if I were a GI on acid driving a fake assault vehicle, all I could think about was how much actual work we had in front of us. Sergio noticed and suggested a parking space next to where I had landed the van. It looked like a greased BB wouldn’t make it let alone the tank. Sergio offered his services assuring me that he could back the van in. Sure, why not? I’m insured, well, not for him driving the van, but what the fuck? He schooled me by backing the behemoth in with ease. He hopped out and floated toward the elevator playing his flute with finesse and style. What did I say about brilliant cats?

After pushing through the people infested market and eating blue ice cream on top of fat saturated noodles with low grade protein we were finally en route to our rooftop location. The fashion district in downtown LA on a weekend looks and feels like an ant farm being dowsed with gasoline. I saw this one coming. What I didn’t see coming was the elevator of the decrepit five-story building not working. My assistant, Arpee was a beautiful and talented artist who weighed in at about 110 pounds. Sergio’s friend, Eddie, another cool cat, couldn’t have weighed much more. I think if he were to stand behind Sergio (and Sergio is a scarecrow) he would disappear. I’m told Eddie has perfected the art of living while eating nothing. Then there was myself, Mr. Crossfit. All of us were looking at many hundreds of pounds of bulky equipment and track and several flights of narrow, creaky stairs.

In order to get to the top we had to pass through Think Tank Gallery on the third floor. This is where Sergio’s friends live and work who graciously granted us access to the roof. Desperate as I was to get setup, it was impossible not to take in the show going on at the time, 101 Vagina. I struggled like a bug between walls plastered with one photograph of a vagina after another. Billed with Ellen DeGeneres in mind, this show is self-described as “light and profound, cheeky and deep.” The artist proclaims that he just loves vaginas, and so do I. But at the time all I could do was sweat and hump gear and 200 pounds of sand bags through the multitude of vulvas on display.

We made it happen. Sergio, Eddie, and Arpee really put their heads down and worked hard getting all that junk up and down the stairs after the shoot was over. Without their willingness and great attitudes this would have been an epic fail. No divas in this crowd. With a little coconut water and some tangerines for craft service we created our hyper-lapse and track shots. And just as expected, Sergio looks as cool and as brilliant as the cat that he is.

Read the story.

Watch the final video.

the optimist

“There are no problems, only challenges.” 

I’m always looking for edgy, hard, funny, ironic, and explicit material to shoot. What better way is there to capture the quirky, angst ridden, sexy, and darker side of life than with a camera? But do I always have to shoot a car crash? Sometimes shooting a sunflower field is just as striking. The trick is to make it engaging.

What I didn’t realize when I set out to shoot Joyce was that I would be forced into happiness. There is literally no way to tell Joyce’s story without creating an uplifting piece. She simply will not allow for negative drama or angst to be a part of her experience. So, I got shoehorned into shooting something inspirational no matter what.

My 20 something year old assistants and I showed up early with gear, lists, schedule etc. And we forgot the coffee. Ouch. That was a big enough problem for me to want to push a pin through my eyeball. Shooting is often referred to as “problem solving.” Joyce’s perspective is, “There are no problems, only challenges.”

And yes, we got the coffee. (Joyce demanded it.)

Angling for a reaction with the question, “What do you think of the term Live Fast, Die Young?” I got nothing more than, “Well, I don’t live that way. But if makes someone happy then it’s all right.” Nice try on my part, but no dice. She was even hard pressed to find “The most negative experience she ever had.” It didn’t amount to much. Notice it’s not in the video.

What is in the video is just how remarkable Joyce’s energy and vitality is given her optimistic mind-set. It’s real, genuine, and infectious. I learned something and was lucky to have some of that positive energy rub off on me. I feel more energized than ever to shoot a bomb shelter, desperate hero, unlikely sex symbol or something.

See more films here.

 

don't call it a scarf

Cowboy Dave is not only a true wrangler, but also an actor and a model and a very forceful tour guide indeed.

One does not experience the real Montana (or get pictures) without eating testicles cut right in front of you from a baby cow then immediately cooked on a charcoal grill. (They taste like fluffy, fatty hamburger). 

Nor was I to escape the authentic, good time experience of building a cabin in the middle of nowhere at high elevation.

I was assured that models and contacts galore would be found at what turned out to be a drunken square dance that almost ended in a brawl. Quick tip — never refer to a cowboy’s neck ware as a scarf. It’s not a scarf; it’s a wild rag. I learned the hard way so you don’t have to. Oh, and if you happen to have a pair of vintage Iron Maiden Vans that you think are totally cool, leave them at home.

See the full Photo Story here.

View the Image Gallery here.

crazy smurf

I approached Brent with my ideas for a film that included an artsy tracking shot of him in an environment and finding a location for smashing a car beyond all recognition. You might think that a guy like Brent would get nervous, excitable, or vocal about being filmed like this. He was as calm and placid as a totem pole. Beyond the faint wisp of a smile, the smoldering coals packed deeply behind his eyes burned with quiet anticipation. In the Hilltop Diner, with a photomural of Mt. Shuksan framing him from behind, as if laying down a royal flush, he said, “You came to the right guy.” Judging by Brent’s calm and intense demeanor, I believed him.

Brent just happened to have two cars ready and available just for the purpose of smashing. One of them was to be the designated “dummy” car. The other had water running through the oil line. I know more about origami than I do about engines. But even I realized we were going car shopping. Let the Craig’s List haggling begin.

$500 is the going price for a complete piece of junk that may or may not run. So when I found a willing seller for a car that would barely make it across town for $275 I knew I had scored big. I paid cash. Brent signed the registration, did a doughnut in the parking lot, loaded the car on his tow truck, and drove off. You know you trust someone when you buy him a car and walk away.

Brent’s wife, Michele was also extremely helpful. She put me in touch with her father, a retired police officer, who suggested that I let the cops know we were going to smash a car in an open area next to the freeway. Just in case a passerby took our stunt as for real and freaked out. I was scared to death we would get shut down. I called the day of the shoot and downplayed the crash as a fake crash. Also, Michele was studying to become a registered nurse, in part to be there for Brent after derbies and roll over contests for when he got hurt. I was feeling better all ready.

The cars arrived as mock-ups of real demolition derby vehicles. Brent worked hard to gut, prepare, and paint them. The dirt field was frozen solid from a dip of temperature into the teens. By noon we were swimming in mud. All the angles were considered. The cars had been expertly positioned. Brent, calm as a cucumber, suited up, strapped in, gave a thumbs up and put the hammer down. The wailing of the un-muffled engine broke the sky, cameras were rolling, lights were burning, and my hands were on my head.

Weeks and months of prep gone in one violent second. Perfect.

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derby days

Smoke bombs, trophies, and medical props in hand, I showed up at Richard’s farm.

I couldn’t count the number of vehicles. I’ll guess 20 ranging from demolition cars to brand new heavy-duty pickups to tow trucks. On top of that there were several beautiful horses, German shepherds, planted crops of trees, gorgeous barns, and people of all ages getting ready for the show. My task was simple, get portraits and hopefully a couple of solid set up shots…

Then Brent showed up. If this guy were not at the center of roll over car and demolition derby mayhem he would be the next star on a more intense version of Duck Dynasty. This guy carries the demeanor of Clint Eastwood in front of the camera and right on into the dirt track with his battering ram of a truck.

See the full Photo Story here.

View the Image Gallery here.

Watch the Video here.

published in international contemporary masters, vol. VII

I'm proud to be featured as a Premium Artist in this beautiful collection of contemporary art.

I submit for various contests and exhibitions throughout the year, so when I received this book I was thrilled to be a part of it. It’s beautifully printed and has the weight and feel of a quality art book.

The artists represented here are just amazing. I especially like seeing a variety of mediums from artists all over the world.

got tooth?

Raising her upper lip in a toothy smile, she pointed out a jewel fixed permanently to one of her upper front incisors.

She informed me that she uses teeth in her work because of a recent accident she had flying over the handlebars of a bicycle and eating a curbside sandwich. 

I always want to work with the most talented people I can find. So naturally, I approached Julia about styling a photo shoot in studio. I had a few ideas, but none of them were really our ideas. And I wanted Julia’s creative machine and styling experience in my photographs. So the spit balling began. Obviously, I loved what Julia did with her Oral project. Ultimately we landed on another of Julia’s creations; perfume. Julia’s perspective is that perfume is “a work of ephemeral sculpture”. Hmmmm… perfume as sculpture… how to turn that one into a two dimensional image?

See the full Photo Story here.

View the Image Gallery here.

 

expanded to the pacific northwest

After enjoying years of endless sunny days in LA, I made my way up the Pacific coast to Portland, Seattle and the northernmost part of Washington State.

People are different here. Laid back, quirky, and beer loving.

I'm looking forward to a stellar year enjoying the sights, sounds, great outdoors and creative community of the Pacific Northwest as I expand my business in this region.