Category Archives: portraits

Back in the saddle…

| currently listening to: Divine Invasion, Trans Am, Liberation, 2004 | LINK

the photography:

It’s been exactly 3 years, 3 months, and 1 day since I left my position as Staff Photographer and Staff Photo Editor at Cars.com. A lot has happened in that amount of time. I will try to list them briefly here in no particular order:

– Archibald (Archie) Brian Fitzsimmons Merritt was born
– I’ve helped launch 4 new vehicles for Subaru of America while traveling to Iceland & England
– My photography helped launch a ton of Sharpie Products since 2012
– Hefty and Reynolds Consumer Products have used my lifestyle photography extensively
– I shot multiple photographs that were included in Doug Sohn’s Hot Doug’s The Book
– I’ve discovered less hair on my head and more gray hairs within the amount that is left

I guess it could be worse.

I started this blog as an outlet years ago to broadcast the work I was creating that did not have a place to live. It was a landing for any photo projects, fine art, and non-Cars.com photography that I started and wanted to show off. I named it “I am a working artist…” because I wanted to relate to people that being an artist in the real world meant that many times your creativity needed to take a back seat to your production and technical expertise.

Unless, of course, that you are being bankrolled. That would be awesome.

I strive to reopen this part of my career. This blog will once again stand as a creative outlet, a portal, a creative abyss, a photo dump…

Make art. Make Art. Make. ART.

the music:

TRANS AM.
I have followed this band’s career since the late 90’s when two musician friend’s introduced them to me during my last few years of college. The bass, guitar, synth, drums, midi-triggers attack of this three piece intrigued me to no end. I have always want to make as much noise as possible with other musicians in the same way that these three friends do it. Sebastian is also one of the best drummers I have ever seen. Period.

This is the man behind Ken Block’s Blockhead logo: Huck Gee

IMG_0086

Almost every racing fan and avid Jalopnik reader under the age of 37 knows who Ken Block is. Oh… you mean Ken Block the DC Shoe brand creator, GoPro slinger, Tire Slaying Hoonigan, and Gymkhana master? Yeah, I’ve heard of him. But do you know the man behind one of motorsport’s most recognizable logos? He’s just a man. A man they call Huck Gee.

IMG_0063

IMG_0090


Funny thing is, if you’re a toy collector who frequents stores such as KidRobot and Rotofugi and you collect modern art, then you already know Huck from his work with KidRobot’s Dunny’s (standardized vinyl bunny toy designs that start life as matte black and are painted by various artists). What you might not know is that Huck’s 2007 8″ Dunny titled “Hello my name is” now sits in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and he has consigned several projects for Christie’s Auction House. You may not know his name but Huck’s work is so sought after, his new pieces sell out quicker than Springsteen at Wrigley. Not bad for a graffiti artist from South Central Los Angeles.

IMG_0039

IMG_0035

IMG_0055

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Huck is first, and foremost, a fine artist and designer who has a serious car problem. Born in England, Mark (Huck) Gee, emigrated to Los Angeles with his family at the age of six when his father, a transmission rebuilder, capitalized on a lucrative opportunity to start his own transmission garage here in the states. Huck’s father was an amateur rally driver back in the UK who’s hobbies included rebuilding Porsche shells in the garage on the weekends. Surprisingly, Huck didn’t catch the car bug until he was well into his mid/late twenties.

IMG_1440

These days, Huck can’t stop his addiction to cars. A Subaru enthusiast to the core, Huck time attacks his heavily modified Alpine White 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. These modifications could be listed but you’d be scrolling for a while. He’s owned 4 Subies: 2 bug eye WRX’s, his current STI, and a Forrester that he has eyes on converting to an STI. A fair amount of the work is done by Huck’s friends over at LIC Motorsports in Lovato, CA. Subaru wrenchers might recognize their name as LIC Motorsports was the first Subaru shop to complete an RS to WRX engine conversion. Excellent friends to have.

IMG_9998

IMG_9978

IMG_0020

Enough about Huck, let’s talk about his art. Blockhead came about as Huck was tapped to initially design the entire car wrap:

“We planned on doing a play on my own iconic Skullhead character for Ken’s logo and car wrap. Tying in his name just made sense. It was originally going to be plastered down the side of his STi but about 90% of the way through the project it was brought to my attention that No Fear energy drink had a giant skull on the side of their X-Games car which meant my wrap design got scrapped. We still managed to keep the logo, thankfully.”

And then Block changed teams. So the final wrap?
Ended up on a (gasp) Ford.
Block had this to say about working with Huck:

“The skull logo that Huck designed for me has been amazing. Between using it on my cars and incorporating it into my gear with DC, the overall reception has been extremely positive. Fans love it, I love it and my other sponsors like it as well, because it’s now so readily identified as my mark thanks to how much I’ve used it these past few years. They know that if they incorporate it into things they’re doing that relate to me, fans will instantly recognize it.”

So next time you take a look at a piece of art, a car, a toy, a logo… Always remember that there are hundreds of man hours that went into making it look awesome and there is always a creative person (and most likely a creative team) behind it, from idea creation to the refinement and all the way to the final execution. Huck may not drive like Ken but he’s getting there. No worries. His design work, creativity, and personality are off the charts.

Although Huck doesn’t have any large car projects on his design radar (except for a few LIC Motorsports race car wraps), he loves to dream about driving. Maybe in the near future, Huck can list “having-my-work-embossed-on-the-top-of-the-brake-lever-of-a-WRC-championship-car” to his list of accomplishments. Your move Ken…

IMG_0094

IMG_0096

Full disclosure? I spent about 10 hours with Huck last summer at his studio in San Francisco. The fine people at Subaru supplied us with a brand new 2013 Subaru BRZ to show off and Huck and I made sure the kids over at LIC Motorsports got a good look at it. Lucky for me, the trip coincided with the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance outside of Monterey, CA which means… well… Gobs of pretty photos.

5_idmphotovehicular039

4_idmphotovehicular002

GOPR2275

Here’s a video of Huck driving Thunderhill shortly after I met him in 104 degree weather. Diehard indeed.


world leaders and me.

| currently listening to: Better than Blue, Goner, Rock ‘N’ Roll Never Forgets, 2008 | LINK

the photography:

this past week i found myself placed smack dab in the middle of a scenario i never thought i would ever find myself. i pinched myself awake and realized that in a room filled with people i was forced to choose between photographing a dozen world leaders/celebrities or standing there starstruck and slack jawed like some rube who had just wandered out of the corn field. well… i decided to do the professional thing. i took photos. gobs of them. then i sat there and stammered like a blithering idiot.

these photos were taken while working for the Chrysler Group LLC at the 2012 World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. i spent two days covering famous leaders, actors, and activists. it was, easily, one of the most rewarding assignments of my career. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Jackson Browne, Sean Penn, Petra Nemcova, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, Jody Williams, Richie Daley, Muhammed Yunus, and many others passed in front of my lens and within arms length. calling it surreal would be a gross understatement.

but beyond the glitz and glamour, the famous people and the metal detectors, i walked away from the assignment with a feeling i hadn’t felt in a long time. after listening to everyone speak about making a difference in the world i realized that i haven’t done a damn thing for my community in a long long time. it is truly humbling to sit and listen to complete strangers talk about how to change the world and then present you with solid proof that it can be done. and not just ‘change the world’ in that awesome pre-game speech by your high school football coach. i mean ‘change the world’ but tearing down that Berlin wall ‘change the world’. it was a sobering experience to say the least.

enjoy the photos. my favorite is the stand alone shot of Jody Williams and her pink shoes. she was one of the nicest people i have ever met. and a Vermonter to boot. awesome. also, Jimmy Carter’s hands. they are incredibly telling.

i am still in awe that i was given the opportunity to take them. the entire week was so moving that it’s time to pay it all forward, time to give back, time to do something for someone else. get ready chicago, consider me motivated.

the music:

Goner. what can i say about one of my favorite bands? well… i am biased. i did design their third record cover and i did donate to the recording of their upcoming release via a kickstarter project thread.

BUT THAT BEING SAID… they really are one of the best bands that you have never heard of. pop sensibilities via keyboard, accordion, bass, and drums – no guitars (well ok, there are a couple of tracks here and there with 6 strings on them but not really…). harmonizing vocals, incredibly heavy rhythms, and glorious choruses keep these north carolinians on the edge of what makes indie rock / college radio relevant. they make you tap your toes and sing along. joyously.

love it.

tractor parade

| currently listening to: Go Ahead, The Rosebuds, Loud Planes Fly Low, 2011 | LINK

the photography:

i grew up in a small town not unlike many small towns across rural america. Charlotte, Vermont is a shrinking farming community that has morphed into a rural suburb of Vermont’s largest metropolitan area. Charlotte is a sleepy town with an interesting population that is made up of old school Vermonters, long-term transplants, and flat landers who have recently found themselves living next to the 13th largest lake in the US.

Charlotte is interestingly divided into two distinct groups of people; those who shop at Marble’s Store (Eastside) and those who shop at the Old Brick Store (Westside). It’s not a bicoastal ‘Rap Battle’ but more of a quick determination of what side of the local K-8 elementary/middle school you live on. Does this representation of the locals cause a rift in the population? Not really. But it does lead to some interesting bus routes once you get to high school.

As a child of the eastside growing up, Marble’s Store was my Mecca. Less than 1/4 mile down a rather big hill was the key to my summer as a young adult. I could meet my east side friends there, buy a candy bar, a Mountain Dew in a glass bottle, pick up the paper for my old man, and be ready for the adventure of biking to whomever’s house was designated for the whiffle ball game that day. It was a meeting place and a place of great comfort to those of us who looked at Marble’s Store as the center of town. It was as if Marble’s was placed on this earth to be the VFW for anyone between the ages of 10-14 complete with cheap beer, movie rentals, and various animals, animated townspeople, and local legends floating around at all times. Obviously we only took advantage of the cheap beer later on in our lives but you get the picture.

Two weeks ago marked the 11th straight year that Marble’s has been the home of the Charlotte Tractor parade. What started out as a gathering the first year when a dozen tractors paraded outside of the store in the fall of 2000, has blossomed into the fall assembly of the year for the town with more than 130 tractors prancing down the street.

A small petting zoo, food trucks, t-shirts, and plenty of people watching make the tractor parade the perfect stop for an 18 month old. This year Teddy began what I hope will be a long standing tradition of visiting Grammy and Squid (yes, my dad’s nickname is Squid) during October to see the locals and collectors from afar pull their tractors right through the center of my young adulthood and beyond. It truly feels great to pass on my childhood places and experiences to my son and to my wife. Charlotte, Vermont will always be home to me. and I love making it feel like home to them.

the music:

My goodness. I could talk about the Rosebuds for pages and pages. In the beginning, they were a jangling garage rock trio with melodies ripped more from Buddy Holly than the Ramones. These days their music is much more than Elvis Costello rave-ups and the band has expanded to cover more than just schoolyard relationships as they have grown. With five full length records and a smattering of singles, 7 inches, and one EP, the Rosebuds have solidified their place in modern Indie Rock Lore.

The key to their success? I mean beyond the fact that Ivan Rosebud has a voice that will melt even the staunchest hipster… The key lies within the relationship of the two leaders of the band, Ivan and Kelly. Once married, now divorced, their adult lives have been played out over lyrics, during live shows, and worn on their sleeves.

Their newest record is a collection of statements that ring like questions. Statements to each other, to their fans, to their individual futures, to their collective future as a band, and to no one in particular. Go buy it. It’s beautiful. The audience is not questioning them as a creative entity. We know that they will go on.

moving photography, stylish

| currently listening to: Anchored, Starlight Conspiracy, Sounds Like A Silver Holler, 1996 | LINK

the photography:
so recently i have been broadening my photographic horizons. it’s hard working in an industry (automotive) where you don’t the opportunity to work with a bevy of different scenarios/models/makeup arrays/fashion styles. a car, is in fact at the end of the day, just a car. rubber, glass, and steel. and after four years of photographing over 546 cars in the office (not counting the endless number of cars at auto shows etc) it’s good to find something else to aim your lens at.

now if i were to start blabbing on about an interesting niche in the photographic world it would most definitely be ‘fashion photography’. sigh. these guys have all the fun. beautiful models, amazing and expensive lighting rigs, top notch sets, wads of cash falling out of their pockets, etc… life is good for the fashion photographer. so why not give it a shot?

this exact opportunity arose in the form of my friend Katie Fazio. Katie has started a great little business venture as a personal stylist and as a strong voice for those who are interested in their own personal fashion. her blog can be found here: Katie Keeps it Simple. the above photos were taken on a sunny day in downtown Chicago at Katie’s request so that she could blog about her outfit. i took the opportunity to add my own ‘naturally lit’ style to Katie’s fashion blog and to be honest, i think it works. of course, there will be plenty more opportunities to capture what Katie is wearing so i’ll blog more when i do. and if ever given a budget to pull it off, i would create a seriously bad-ass 18 page spread in Vogue complete with 42 bikini clad background dancers, a tiger, and at least one candle opera all set on top of the Taj Mahal.

but for now, i’m intrigued to take more fashion-forward photos.

the music:
Starlight Conspiracy were one of those bands when i was growing up that changed how i looked at music. up until around the time i was 14 or so, music was just a companion to what i was doing. it wasn’t just white noise but it wasn’t a soundtrack yet to my emotional ups and downs. and it wasn’t music’s fault. i was young and interested in whatever everyone else was listening to. i hadn’t let music in.

and somewhere around 14 i heard (not in any particular order) bands like Fugazi, Morphine, Nirvana, Uncle Tupelo, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Tool, Graham Parsons, Rage Against the Machine, and Billy Bragg. Out of my car went all the generic hippie jam crap that i was listening to at the time and in flooded the rawk, the soul-searching, and moving.

when i was 18 i went to the record release show for alternative local darlings/shoegazing heros Starlight Conspiracy’s ‘Sounds like silver holler’. it was one of the most kick-ass shows i had ever been to. they ripped through 10-12 songs before announcing that this would be their last tune. immediately, guitarist Denny Donovan (Drowningman, Slush, 5 Seconds Expired) decided to hang upside down from the rafters using only his feet. bassist Shawn Flanigan followed suit and decided to pry the bass strings off of his Rickenbacker with a drum stick. drummer Brad Searles crashed and banged his way through the song keeping the beat and beating his sticks to splinters. and the ever shy, ever cute (my first real rock girl crush) singer Jan Tofferi stood by the side of the stage and watched the carnage from afar.

it was amazing. i was moved. life changed. live music was never the same. in a good way.

seeing old friends

| currently listening to: Governor’s Daughter, The Rosebuds, Compulation: Volume One (Pox World Empire), 2003 | LINK

the photography:
so last night i had the privilege to see some of my favorite musicians perform on one of the biggest stages in Chicago (other than Lallapolooza). The Rosebuds and Bon Iver rocked my world at the Chicago Theater last night and I was lucky enough to be invited to hang out with the bands before they went onstage. Humblebrag aside, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, the leading peeps in The Rosebuds, are old friends of mine and as their careers have blossomed, I have been lucky enough to witness their journey.

back in 2003, my friend Bumbalo (everyone should have a friend named Bumbalo) called to see if i would like to see the band with whom he was touring with and their subsequent headliners, Superchunk. ‘The Rosebuds’? i said… sure, why not. do you need a place to stay while in Boston? and so began a friendship that has lasted a number of different apartments, at least 40+ concerts (as in i’ve seen them that many times), four different states, some design and photo work (i designed the insert to The Rosebuds debut release on vinyl and i shot the photo they used on their first EP band photo), marriages, kids, divorces, playing as the live band at my surprise birthday party, living in the same city, working in the same comedy troupe, and through their numerous drummers (i remember at least 6 of them…).

and almost 10 years down the line, my relationship with Ivan and Kelly had culminated into an amazing opportunity to see them play in front of 3,500 excited concertgoers. and it was fucking epic. i brought along my 5D and my trusty 28mm wide angle lens. I wasn’t there to take concert photos and i didn’t really want to document the whole show for publication. i was there to listen and to watch and to enjoy the music. photos are for work sometimes. the pics posted here are the few that i had the chance to snap.

and did i mention that Bon Iver was the headliner? i met justin vernon about 5 years ago when he toured through our old art space out in Cicero, IL (documented in this post: Mr. Vernon ) with his first band, DeYarmond Edison. if there is any individual out there in the art world who deserves the success that Bon Iver is currently having it is justin. he couldn’t be a nicer dude. did i mention it’s great to catch up with old friends yet? it is indeed.

the show? outstanding. the crowd? amazing. the bands? couldn’t have been nicer, better musicians, or more earnest. highlights? seeing Daniel Hart for the first time in a while (also a former player of The Fort and a great dude who plays with St. vincent from time to time…), meeting MARTTTTYYYY (The Rosebuds doggie…), and catching up and telling funny stories from our former lives. OH… and also… it was great to see some old friends doing what they love doing and making it big. much love.

the lasting impression of the night? just before The Rosebuds took to the stage, Ivan leaned in and told me ‘You know man? you’ve got my dream job’ (referring to working in the auto industry, photographing cars). i looked out over the sea of guitars (Bon Iver tours with like a gazillion) and all of those faces in the crowd and said, ‘Ivan, i’m pretty sure you’ve got mine.’

the music:
The Rosebuds sound has evolved from the jangled garage rock of their early years to that of strong indie pop rockers. along the way they have released a number of records, ep’s, and they’ve added songs to various compilations. this tune, off of the Pox World Empire comp titled Compulation Vol. 1, the sound of North Carolina, is one of my favorite Rosebuds tunes. every time i hear, i mumble the chorus for the entire day…

maybe art can sell.

and it keeps me going. ivan’s voice is golden, his guitar playing is driving, the drumming is classic bubblegum pop, and kelly’s keyboards and shouts keep the band and audience going throughout this raveup that could have been recorded during the early 60’s. it’s classic Rosebuds and it’s guaranteed that if i’m in the audience at one of their shows, i will first ask Ivan first for ‘more leg kicks’, then i will demand that they play this tune.

someday i’ll get them to do it again…

50 Portraits – 39

| currently listening to: Slack Motherfucker, Superchunk, s/t, 1990 | LINK

the photography:
Portrait #39 is anna

anna is one of those few art school attendees who is living the dream. born and raised in the midwest, anna is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute and even though her career is just taking off, she has already designed for some big names including Ecko, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and Target.

while many teenagers enter art school with dreams of a career in the creative sector, very few actually stick around to see their dream job materialize. anna has been lucky enough to embody the rare combination of hard work, determination, and creative talent… did i mention that she’s talented? but it’s not just talent alone that allows her to run her own clothing design company. while many of us in the creative world struggle with carving out our own space, anna seems to do it effortlessly. am i jealous? of course.

one of the most unique things i learned while hanging out with anna is that she has found a way to stay connected to the community. by finding and utilizing local vendors, (that’s right, all of anna’s clothes are made in chicago) she’s supporting the local economy. that is truly refreshing to hear. in fact, i think more people in the manufacturing world should follow suit.

so how does someone who comes out of art school make it in the real world? how do you move from the creative academic bubble and keep your artistic integrity intact? how do you find a job and keep your eyes on the prize without needing the constant praise and codling that comes from being in school?

from my own experience, you need some realistic goals, a touch of luck, a whole lot of talent, and an intrinsic work ethic that won’t throw the towel in no matter how good quitting sounds. anna has all of these things in spades. some people squeak by on piles of family cash or on their own insane talents (only to implode later under the stress of ONLY being talented). anna is one of the few artists i’ve met who is not only incredibly gifted but who is happy to create AND to work hard to stay afloat. all of this (waves arms around studio wildly) will pay off one day. and that day is coming soon for anna.

please check out her handy work which is located here: Annahovet.com
please check out her collections which are located here: Anna Hovet Collections
if you are interested in ordering, click here: Anna Hovet Shop

the music:
ok, so i’m missing Pitchforkmedia’s Festival this weekend. but you know what? i’m not that into a lot of the newer bands that they are supporting these days. do i want to see Guided by Voices again? sure… Neko Case? i’m always down for a Neko set. but do i want to see these bands again with a gigantic crowd, blistering heat, and bad sound? not really. big let downs? i would love to see Fleet Foxes for the first time and see one of my favorite bands, Superchunk, for the twentieth time. but hey… i guess i’ll have to listen to Superchunk on my headphones in the Denver International Airport instead. oh well.

I once met Mac from Superchunk/Merge records before a show in Boston. my friends were on tour with them and they introduced me to him. i’m pretty sure i said something like

‘you got me through high school’

and then ran away like a school girl giggling at the boy she likes.

so i got that going for me. which is cool.

50 Portraits – 38

| currently listening to: Learo, You’re a Hole, Archers of Loaf, Icky Mettle, 1994 | LINK

the photography:
Portrait #38 is tony

i can’t remember who approached whom in my online relationship with tony. we both decided that it was either in reference to early SST bands or Archers of Loaf but we both agree that our shared love of music, culture, and aesthetics (photography and graphic design at the top of the list) has made us, at the very least, compadres. so i thought to myself, why not meet tony in person (IRL for those of you following at home)?

when i first looked up tony’s photography on the interwebs (Don’t Explode) i was grabbed by his attention to detail and the honesty presented in his portraits. my goodness tony can get to the point quickly with his photos. most of his subjects will lay out their life story for you with one deep look into their eyes. tony captures these moments with great precision while giving taking an off-the-cuff relaxed ‘studio-less’ style. it’s no coincidence that he’s quite an accomplished art director and his love of symmetry, colors, patterns, and composition play a large role in his photography.

because tony’s camera work focuses on two niche groups; portraits and skateboarding, i feel that i have found a kindred spirit. many artists these days spread themselves too thin artistically and they forget to practice their craft and focus on the subjects that they love. in trying to make a buck, lots of photographers accept mediocre results in the pursuit of being able to photograph everything for their clients. all of the kind things i said above about tony’s portraiture can also be said about his skateboarding photos as they are world class. you can feel the passion in his work because he is photographing the places he’s been, the people that he surrounds himself with, and the activities that he loves. even if you are not familiar with the subject matter, you can tell when someone truly owns their work.

music and culture can bring people together from all walks of life and tony and i just happened to meet at the end of a gorgeous spring day in chicago. we walked around the Ravenswood corridor right about the time that the light falls off the horizon and the world is left in a soft indirect glow. because we love the same music, because we make art that appeals to us, and because we are sticklers for doing it right the first time, tony and i get along smashingly. i hope that this mutual admiration continues and i seriously can’t wait to buy his first skateboarding coffee table book that encompasses photographs of everything that the modern skating lifestyle has to offer. hats off.

check out some of tony’s design and art direction work at Wellborn Clothing (they are currently undergoing some maintenance) and keep looking for his name in places like Thrasher, TransWorld Skateboarding, and keep an eye out for him up at the Wilson Skate Park this summer. he’ll be the guy with the fisheye 15mm who’s in the right place at the right time.

the music:
before eric bachmann was the leader of indie folk rockers Crooked Fingers, he was the tall front man for the lesser known Archers of Loaf. sprung from the depths of the fertile rock soil in Ashville, NC, these four dudes let us know what punk/indie rock guitar interplay could sound like. witty lyrics, odd finger picked guitar noises, and rabid fans made them underground heroes. speaking of underground, Archers are probably known for 2 famous phrases that they coined in their lyrics: 1. The underground is over crowded (written to show that the tube in London was packed) 2. She’s an indie rocker and nothing’s gonna stop her (written about a sassy riot grrrrl for sure).

if you haven’t heard the Archers before, it’s probably time you heard what all the fuss is about. go out and buy Icky Mettle and Vee Vee. you will be happy that you did (regardless of what Pitchforkmedia says…).

‘you’re a nervous brand of metal, i’m a solid state’.

50 Portraits – 37

| currently listening to: Puke + Cry, Dinosaur Jr, Green Mind, 1991 | LINK

the photography:
Portrait #37 is melanie (riley)

since i started this project i have yet to meet a subject who i had so much in common with. granted we are the same age, we have similar interests, she married a hockey player (i play hockey), and we both like dogs and beer. but there is something comforting about the ohio-ans i know. i can’t put my finger on it but i feel like people my age from ohio and people my age from vermont have some weird bond. did g.i. joe cartoons run at the same time in both TV markets and did we all just fall all over ourselves when watching ‘you can’t do that on television’? i just don’t know. the problem arises when we look back at the 80’s and wonder what all the fuss was about. our time was the 90’s.

and melanie embodies exactly what i love about our generation. she carries with her more than a few shades of punk attitude, she’s a lover of great beer, a shepherd of lost puppies, and she dishes more sharp whit than chuck klosterman. oh, and did i mention she’s a roller girl? all and all, she’s a completely unique and snarky experience that can be summed up by her roller girl name, Riley Coyote.

melanie’s output via her tumblr page and her blogspot account can read like a looney tunes episode. all that’s missing is the Acme Brand missile tied with rope to her back (she’s already wearing roller skates dummy). her unique humor, potty mouth, and personality really shine when dealing with pop culture, the arts, design, fashion, and life. she’s the type of online writer i love to love. humorously graphic non-sequitor’s coupled with riffs on linked images and pop cultural beheadings. she writes the way i think. i can’t get enough.

as i trudge on towards collecting 50 subjects for this project, i realize that i am finding more and more people who i can relate to. not just on a personal level but also on an artistic level. as this project drags on, the newest subjects can flip through the archives and see what i am trying to accomplish. this whole darned thing started out as an exercise in stretching my wings as a professional and it has slowly turned into the best party guest list i could have dreamt up. thanks for watching.

and thanks to melanie and david for the hospitality, the beer, the chips and guac, and the insight into their world for a couple of hours. cheers.

PS. you are truly the only people i know in the city of chicago who have a feeder specifically for the squirrels.
PSS. and melanie, you should totally get an Acme tattoo. i’mjustsaying.

the music:
j. mascis is a force of nature. as the college radio friendly indie kids were knee deep in the pixies and DIY ex-hardcore bands, j. snuck in the back door by offering up this mainstream record filled with guitar heroics and heavy drums. this record single handedly opened up my mind to what was coming down the pipe. i liked pearl jam, and i liked nirvana but i didn’t like dinosaur jr. it was grungy, it was dirty, it was loud, and it was heavy. but it wasn’t grunge. and it wasn’t from seattle. shows you what i knew when i first heard them.

it took me more than a year of owning this record to truly enjoy it. dinosaur jr have always been a bit of a shipwreck as j. is not known for being able to hold onto his personal relationships. and honestly, i felt that our relationship (music provider, music listener) had been up and down more than once or twice through the years.

and c’mon, j. can’t sing in tune to save his life. it’s as if his voice is hitting next to the right notes and hitting the right notes at the same time. and that’s what makes him unique. oh, and his bombastic ‘LOUDER THAN SHIT’ guitar playing and his heavy handed drumming that make this record undeniable. it still finds it’s way onto my stereo fairly regularly. you should really listen to it. there are a number of great songs here but the aptly named ‘puke+ cry’ is on my list of favorite songs from the early 90’s.

portraits, cars, where i wanna go

| currently listening to: Fiery Crash, Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
this past week i spread my wings. not only was i asked to put in a bid for a commercial job via an ad agency for a national campaign but i also saw one of my photos published in Bust Magazine. well skin me alive and call me luggage, that’s a couple of steps in the right direction…

so what is my right direction? my professional goals include at least 3 very different subject matters. professional direction #1) i want to shoot editorial content for print/online (story based portraits, lifestyle, fashion, etc. in the vein of Mark Seliger). professional direction #2) i want to shoot automobiles for print/online magazines (old, new, editorial, pinups, models, calendars, you name it i’ll shoot it – as long as there’s a car in the frame). if you haven’t seen my first big step into the classic car photography arena, please check out my site: http://shinyside.net. it truly is a labor of love and it’s where i want my creative juices to take me. #3) run my own studio that shoots fashion photography. i mean… what photographer in their right mind wouldn’t want to do that?! lights, models, action.

on top of my directional aspirations, i want, nay, i need to take the time to go to get my masters in fine arts. my professional goals do not inhibit this from happening but rather they allow me the time to get back into the studio to study what i love. i can’t think of a better way to spend 2 years of my life. dive in, get dirty, create, and produce. sigh… applications for fall 2012 are due in winter 2012. time to get cracking. but hey… it can wait too.

so where does this put me? i would be really excited to start shooting editorial assignments for magazines or fashion models with bright lights tomorrow (but realistically that’s not gonna happen). i love the idea of following a subject in their own element, taking photos of them at home, at their favorite bar, getting into their routines, their rhythms, their daily lives… i love the idea of becoming a fly on the wall, making relationships, printing images in magazines, and moving on to the next subject. these ideas inspire me.

so what does this all have to do with these images? well… while looking through my hard drive to find more photos to pitch to the ad agency, i stumbled upon a bunch of random shots. these just happen to be the ones that jumped out at me.

speaking of jumping… in the future, if given the chance to tell a story with my photos, i’m gonna jump all over it. JUMP ALL OVER IT. this is a turning point for me in my career, not just as a photographer on the move but as a human who is clearly setting his sights on a goal and my god, you really should get out of my way lest you get trampled. oh… and i bought a new iPad2. so you know, i’m really on the move now…

don’t get me wrong, i love my current job but these are future aspirations, goals to strive for, bars to reach. we all need something to believe in. i believe Poison taught me that…

the music:
if i were to pass away today and my wife was forced to marry someone, i think she would choose Andrew Bird. and it’s not because his music is so amazing (because it is) or that he’s such a good looking dude (because he totally is) or that because he plays most shows without shoes on (because he does)… it’s because he’s all of these things wrapped up in a shaggy haircut and a vintage suit with a shy demeanor and a perfect chin.

did i mention that his music is phenomenal? i first saw Andrew play the Intonation Festival (Pitchfork Fest before it was called Pitchfork Fest) and he was truly an incredible musician to watch. andrew mixes live guitar, xylophone, and world class violin with looped sounds of all three that he creates on the spot. not to mention that he has some of the classiest speaker systems on the planet to back him up.

if you get a chance, buy all of his music and see him live as much as possible. he’s my generation’s best musician. and my wife really crushes on him. hard.

DeYarmond Edison

| currently listening to: Bones, DeYarmond Edison, Silent Signs, 2002 | LINK

the photography:
while most of us were sitting comfortably in our various living spaces last night, somewhere down in austin, texas at the SXSW music convention, one of the best bands of the last 15 years was reuniting. and to be completely honest, these guys never really broke up. they may have stopped touring as DeYarmond Edison back in 2005 but really, they’ve stayed close friends ever since and have even shared in each other’s success.

Now let’s start at the beginning. I moved from Raleigh, NC to Chicago, IL in the dead of winter at the end of 2004. Within two weeks of moving to the midwest, I was up and running at a new gig designing pen packaging at uni-ball. Within a few months, four dudes from Eau Claire, WI moved into Raleigh, NC to set up shop as indie heroes. We essentially swapped living arrangements. I feel like a Karma high five happened somewhere in Kentucky as we crossed paths. It would not be the last time.

That band was DeYarmond Edison and before the end of their second year in Raleigh, they broke up. Justin moved back to Eau Claire and recorded his seminal work as Bon Iver. and the rest of the guys ventured on as Megafaun. It was a beautiful yet heart wrenching dissolve of a band that had so much promise, an incredible stage show, an amazing catalog of tunes, and enough touring gear to make a symphony wince.

But before they broke up, they put on one great tour that just happened to have a stop in Chicago at the artist space I was running with a good friend out in Cicero, IL called The Fort. What an amazing show. Emotional Joystick and Collections of Colonies of Bees opened and brought the crowd of 50 people to their knees before DeYarmond took the “stage” (the spot under the string lights…). Old Styles’s were toasted, songs were sung, and friendships were solidified. Todd the mannequin was introduced and held aloft (he was subsequently dropped on Wincek mid keyboard jam from a height of no less than 7 feet). It was a magical time and a magical place. People peed off the side of the building as cans were thrown through the gaping hole in the roof, and some group of kids drove all the way from Eau Claire to see four dudes sing their songs. I’ll never forget it.

So when I see that DeYarmond got back together last night, I raised a glass and toasted their success (BTW, Video can be found here: DeYarmond at SXSW). There couldn’t be a nicer group of guys on the planet and I hope they stick around and make more music for us to enjoy. The photos are from a photo booth I had set up in the corner of our space during the dhow at The Fort. This is a snapshot of one of the best live music nights of my life that peeked with a hardcore/screamo rendition of Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’. I wish i had video of that… Enjoy.

Also, I used to design rock posters… so I threw in four of my DeYarmond Edison posters for posterity.

the music:
while The Hold Steady carry the ‘The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle,’ Bruce Springsteen torch, DeYarmond Edison occupy the music lexicon as ‘Nebraska’ era flag wavers. Tight knit harmonies, beautiful acoustic melodies, and Justin Vernon’s honest, needy, and strained voice bring the songs home. Their music is as comfortable as The Band with lyrics as honest as Springsteen, and all within a genre as americana and folk as a banjo. Find their music. Listen to it. You’ll be happy you did.

suggested/related listening: Bon Iver, Megafaun, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Gayngs, The Rosebuds, The Bowerbirds, Volcano Choir.

mexico

| currently listening to: Light Rail Coyote, Sleater-Kinney, One Beat, 2002 | LINK

the photography:
so we snuck down to mexico recently with a group of friends. all-inclusive travel is something new to me so i really did not know what to expect. amazingly? i loved it. now i’m not a “let’s go sit by the pool for 8 hours and drink foofy drinks till we need a nap” type of guy but as i learned rather quickly, i can be persuaded. the weather was perfect, our friends were great, and the wedding was amazingly beautiful. it’s always fun to meet new people, reconnect with good friends, and just be relaxed and happy.

one of the best parts of the trip was the wedding. it was gorgeous. a beautiful setting with wonderful people and the perfect weather. i hate to say it but i’m not always a happy camper when i’m behind the camera at weddings. don’t get me wrong, i’ll do it graciously for strangers (or friends of friends) but when you know the entire wedding party and many of the guests, the dance floor becomes a minefield of aunts who feel the need to pull on your sleeve to let you know that you should be photographing their 11 year old who is doing something remotely funny somewhere NOT near the bride or groom. it can be really really hard. thankfully i was just an innocent bystander for these nuptials. which also means that i also took the photos that i wanted to take. which is fun.

without any bad sun burns and without falling on my face from the tequila, the only downside came the morning we left when i got sick. throwing up in the Cancun airport is nothing new. in fact, i’m pretty sure i wasn’t the only one in the bathroom partaking in the ritual, known to my brother and myself as, ‘shouting for huey’ (just try not to laugh by adding the name ‘huey’ while making vomiting noises, it’s tough). flying with a stomach bug is really not fun but nothing could ruin the rest and relaxation that comes from not having a schedule for six days and five nights. did i miss my son? more than anything in the world. but you know what? he had a blast entertaining his grandparents with all of his squawks and walking abilities. quality family time indeed. i’m thinking we could try to do something like this once a year as it does a body good.

the music:
there is something amazing about sleater-kinney. there is a lot going into the music of this outfit: inter-band relationships, the pacific northwest, straight love lives, ridiculous breakups, gay love lives, the rise and fall of grunge, riot grrrrl power, anti-stupid, punk rawk, and DIY ethics all siphoned through two distinct voices, two distinct guitars, and one heavy-ass drummer (in style, not IRL). it’s epic, truly epic.

and through it all, they made some great records. and hats off to them for going out on top. they saved their best record for last and they took an incredible stage show and made their impression lasting. sure they’ll probably do a reunion tour in five years but i, for one, will buy tickets. because they were that good. suggested listening: the entire catalog. this song is one of my personal faves.

unique portraits

| currently listening to: Radar Gun, The Bottle Rockets, Brooklyn Side, 1995 | LINK

the photography:
taking photographs is a process. i don’t think anyone would argue with me on that point. and it’s process that is constantly evolving. i can boil it down each portrait session i have worked on to the simple dialogue between subject and photographer. as the photographer, i engage the subject on many levels and rely on my personality, my body language, and my conversation to create the right environment for the subject to feel any number of emotions that i want them to evoke. the more photos i take, the more i refine these conversations so that i can (essentially) get the subject to feel the emotion i want them to feel for the final picture. nine times out of ten i want my subjects to feel relaxed and calm but every now and then i aim for sexy and seductive, angry and sad, mad and unhappy. it all depends on why i’m taking the photo in the first place.

lots of times, great photos are the karmic explosion known as ‘dumb luck’. but hey, as a photographer, you had to be in the right place, at the right time, with your camera to your eye, AND with your finger on the shutter. it’s never really cut and dry but you can give yourself the best advantage by knowing how/where/and when those moments are going to be captured.

the more photographs i take, the more i learn about myself and my personality. looking back throuhg my nearly ten years of getting paid to take photographs, the more people i meet and shoot, the more i catch a glimpse of how i act and react to strangers and friends alike. each portrait sitting is a lesson in manipulation and control, in creating a sense of comfort or a sense of uneasiness depending on what reaction you are looking for from your subject. if you know what outcome you want to achieve, then you should always be ready to set the subject in motion to get there. sometimes, it’s a strange ride.

each shoot is a learning experience. i’m not the photographer who blows through 15 head shots in a day so my favorite question to ask myself after a shoot is, ‘what would you have done differently?’. to be completely honest? i answer that question a dozen different ways every time. ‘i could have asked the subject to move slightly this way’ or ‘i could have chosen a different lighting technique’ or ‘i could have dropped my point of view about three inches to hide that gigantic forehead’. bottom line: photography is a business where i will never be completely satisfied with every shoot. i AM a perfectionist in my head but i MUST BE a realist in my output. the client wants it one way, their budget allows for it to be a different way, and it’s raining out, so make it work (thanks Tim Gunn…). as long as everyone is happy with the final outcome, i have done my job and i can lay to rest the over-amped OCD voice in my head. or i can at least drown it in beer.

the music:
when i was 17 years old i couldn’t decide if i wanted to be in Uncle Tupelo or The Bottle Rockets. it was a toss up between the band that would define the great mid-90’s movement known as ‘Y’all-ternative’ (Uncle Tupelo) and just another band from the St. Louis bar scene that kicked total ass (The Bottle Rockets). amazingly, i never got into either as Uncle Tupelo famously imploded and, well, The Bottle Rockets are still an amazing bar band from St. Louis. but my goodness does this song rip. 15+ years into their career, the Rockets still get up there and extend their brand of midwest grit to our ears. love it. bob yer head. raise a shot of jack. enjoy.

50 Portraits – 36

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 57mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/6400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

| currently listening to: Modest Mouse, Ohio, This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, 1996 | LINK

the photography:

Portrait #36 is brad

well well well. post-child 50 portraits project post? don’t mind if i do… brad is the brains/brawn/style behind one of chicago’s best local websites, Windy Citizen. Windy Citizen is a news site that asks for readers to link to their favorite or most interesting stories and post them for other readers to rate. the higher the stories rate, the closer they are to the top of the page with the highest rated story on top. sometime late last year, i was lucky enough to have this very blog (blog.idmphotography.com) be chosen by a reader to be posted on Windy. it was an honor and a privilege to have readers fight for my words and photos to be at the top of the page. power to the readers!

earlier in the week, brad had contacted me about taking some head shots for him to use professionally. the silly thing is my interactions with brad started back with theresa who had mentioned that brad would be perfect for the 50 Portraits Project. i can’t remember if we emailed and things fell through or what but alas, he is here, finally, and he is standing and being counted. so to brad’s name (not this brad), i attach the #36. and i also set him up with some sweet hi-res pics that he can distribute when needed.

since brad and i were already in the photographing mood and had spent a few minutes smiling and clicking off head shots respectively, i decided to fuss around with my own method of shooting portraits. for if anything, this project exists for me to broaden my horizons and to explore new ideas, methods, and styles. so here’s my take on the photos:

a. i injected my own framing into the shots i took (as i have trained myself to do, ie. my own style) but instead of publishing just one image from a set of 5 or 6 example photos of said framing, i published almost all of the images in order. the biggest example of this being the last 6 photographs, shot in succession within a couple of seconds as a garbage truck rolled by.

b. it was about time someone took some black and whites around here. since it was such a blindingly bright day, i figured what the hell, let’s lose the color and crank the contrast. i think it worked quite well considering the subject, the color of outfit, the shadows and highlights, and most of all, the urban terrain with it’s bricks and concrete and metal.

c. i didn’t edit myself as strongly as i have in the past. there are two (count them… 2!!!!) out of focus images in this set. this is coming from a guy who is so infuriatingly anal and technical about how he uses his gear that it’s unfathomable to use such a wasted piece(s) on such a pristine set of images. but hey, i took a chill pill and look where it got me. these blurred images work artistically with what i was trying to accomplish, which was to create a coherent and expressive set of images of brad. maybe someday i’ll turn the camera around and take a vertical image… but don’t cross your fingers.

the first two images were taken with the 24-70mm f2.8L as we were working on professional head shots for brad. the rest were taken with the 28mm f1.8. all images were shot with the Canon 5DMKII

the music:

modest mouse is one of those indie rock bands that has been around forever. they started small and ended up getting huge. but you know what? their small records with all of the blips and scrapes and out of tune guitars are what i love about modest mouse. the high-gloss mega records they make now? they’re pretty decent. but they lack the authenticity of their early work. when i first saw issac brock in person he was skinny, drunk, and worn out from being on the road for eight months straight with the same three guys in their cramped econoline van. five years later? he was still drunk, but now he was well fed (read a bit pudgy), he was smiling, and you could tell that he was happy to be traveling across the country on his pair of tour buses with his numerous roadies and his six band mates.

i’m not putting issac down for making a living at his art. in no way am i doing that. i applaud him for all that he has rightfully earned. but as even issac knows, the sense of urgency in his playing the guitar, the gut-wrenching heartache that drove his lyrics, and the bombastic personality that led to public band implosions have all but been replaced by personal happiness and leisure. brock is not the first to stumble upon feeling good about themselves after spending so much of their artistic careers feeling shitty. it is why, when artists like the shins, modest mouse, the promise ring, when these bands wear their hearts on their sleeves as twenty-somethings, people can relate to them. fans were there man… they felt that pain in person, in the front row, in the pit. but ten years later, when you try to write happy music about happy times with happy sounding instruments, your early fan base is gonna cry foul. not because you sold out, but because the very thing that hit home with so many of your contemporaries has suddenly been erased for you as an artist. but your fans? they still burn for your misfortunes. they still cry for your breakups. and they still want to get in fights with you at the bar. because when you’re unhappy issac brock, we all can relate to you.

even though i have a mortgage, a child, a wife, a dog, a car, and a 2.5 car garage, i still relate to the traveling musician who stuffs their entire life into a beat up mini-van. don’t get me wrong, modest mouse has payed their dues. i just like the music they made while doing so, much better than their new stuff.

this song is a great ode to Ohio. ohi-o-o-o-o-o-so.

looking back at my 20’s in polaroids part 2

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

| currently listening to: Black History Month, Death From Above 1979, You’re a Woman I’m a Machine, 2004 | LINK

the photography:
so polaroid is making a come back huh? awesome. as some of you may know, i collect antique cameras and i own a 4×5 portrait camera. maybe it’s time to spend some more money and make some new memories for my 30’s so teddy can see what kind of household he was born into. my guess is that he’s gonna be pretty non-plussed about how chill we have become. let’s replace the keg tossing contests and bad shiny green short sleeved shirt for a hoodie and a glass of bourbon on the back porch all while sporting a baby bjorn cuddling mister you-know-who. life moves pretty quick sometimes…

more polaroids, more memories. as i look through these it’s hard to not be overcome with my own emotions. jon gilmour, my old roommate, is pictured in many of these. jon (or J-Boy as his father called him or Gilly Gally as some of us were known to utter) passed away 4 years ago. you should check out jongilmour.org if you get a chance. jon was one of those one-in-a-million personalities. and i don’t use that phrase lightly. it still stings to know that i will never run into him at my college reunion or see him at some random zoo with Teddy. i will never be able to say, “hey Tedkins, you see that man over there? the one with the gibbon wrapped around his body? that’s my friend john. we’ve been friends for ages. he’s in a video game, how cool is that”. that sorta shit hits hard.

but that’s the thing about memories and (what i will now mis-name) historical images; you will always have you positive and negative. holy crap, is that some cat’s ass? how did that get in here?

again, the images above are full of people i know, people i knew, and silly things. including one cat’s ass. sorry about that. i hope i burned that green lamé shirt… enjoy.

the music:
death from above 1979 came and went. like a ship in the night, if you blinked, you missed them. if you ever saw them live, you never forgot. is that drummer not wearing a shirt? is it only two of them? is that dude gonna play bass AND keyboards? that drummer is singing? there’s only TWO OF THEM? where is all that sound coming from?

one of my favorite live music photographs happened when i was watching DFA 1979, it is on my website located here. click on the third thumbnail from the left, second one down. that’s right, i’m gonna make you work for it.

drums and bass and amplifiers. dirty distortion. love it.

looking back at my 20’s in polaroids part 1

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

| currently listening to: Ruins, Aloha, Home Acres, 2010 | LINK

the photography:
for a few years in the late 90’s and early 00’s, besides shooting b/w and color film for school, i spent much of my time toting around a polaroid instant film camera that i bought for $19.95 at an upstate new york CVS. the height of my polaroid fetish can be pinpointed some time around 2002 when the house that lived in was perfectly suited for a polaroid wall. one such wall was created in the kitchen. every photo i (we, as guests often snagged the camera) took went up on that wall and some word or phrase was written on the photo in Sharpie about what was happening, who was there, wtf, etc… in hindsight, we should never have written on those polaroids. said wall can be seen in some of these images. someday i’ll scan those in as well… but for now, here are the clean ones. at least the first part of them.

as teddy marches forward into life, i am struck by how his new experiences drum up my old ones. nostalgia creeps up in many forms and sometimes it’s fun to go back and see where you’ve been so that you can make some choices in where you will be going.

each of these images is a documented memory linked to something in my life. and looking through them makes me happy to know that teddy will be given the opportunity to make his own set of memories. i am floored and humbled by that idea.

i just hope that when teddy is old enough to document his life, he doesn’t waste as much money as i did on cigarettes and polaroid film… holy crap. what i would buy today…EDIT: ok ok ok… the photos were well worth the cash. i should have stopped smoking 5 years before i did. Teddy, if you’re reading this, spend money on film and beer, not on cigarettes and 3 card monte.

the images above are full of people i know, people i knew, people who are not alive anymore, old girlfriends, old co-workers, old friends, random strangers, binge drinking, music playing, too many self portraits, too much shaky picture taking, poor focus, scratches, road trips, parties, random people who my wife was friends with before i knew my wife, musicians, a couple of airplanes, a cat, a dog, halloween (in general), thanksgiving, a couple of kegs, poker night, roommates, roommates friends, neighbors, fire, one boob grab, an infamous red wall, friends ex-girlfriends, raleigh north carolina, boston massachusetts, saratoga springs new york, bartenders, bar owners, bad haircuts, bad outfits, and three nipples of the male variety.

the music:
ok ok ok… i know… Aloha is the same band i talked about last post… but they are that good. for real. this record is unstoppable.

this is the last song on the record. the chorus is:

waiting for the get-away car that never came.

college graduation v7.4.1.2

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 40mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 40mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 58mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 35mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f8.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f6.3 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 47mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 40mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 40mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/2500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 82mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Respect, Otis Redding, Respect 7″ Single, 1965, | LINK

the photography:
i am currently hanging out in my parents dining room amidst the tap-tap-tapping of my wife on my mother’s old white iMac laptop. it’s a fitting scene for a snowy and flipping freezing afternoon in February. the high for today? looking at a whopping 8 degrees above zero. oh crap. days like this prove that mittens are not just for second graders.

we are in vermont to celebrate my sister-in-law’s graduation from college. graduation from college is a special occasion that i have celebrated with friends and family at least a dozen times (only once for myself) and i am always amazed by the jubilation, awe, and just plain “scared shitless” emotions that make the entire day so energized and full of smiles. now if only you could repeat this feeling of accomplishment later on in your life when you could use a little pick-me-up to get you through the doldrums (also known as your “20’s”). i think half the reason so many people go to graduate school is to feel that sense of accomplishment again. i know that if i could celebrate my college graduation over and over and over, i would. even if i had to listen to “i’ve got you babe” every morning for the rest of my life.

as an 18 year old entering the doors of academia, i distinctly remember that college was going to prepare me for the business world that lay ahead of me as an adult. i honestly thought that college was going to prepare me for a career path or at the very least, give me the smallest inkling of what i wanted to do. in fact, college did not do this. in fact, college prepared me with the social tools to be able to STOMACH the business world (not how to navigate it). for these social preparations, i am extremely grateful for my experiences during my four years of school. i just wish that during my senior year one of my professors had taken me aside and reassured me that while i would be trying to navigate this vast and very very serious business world that i would be shipwrecked and marooned at least four times.

for if i had known this, i would not have felt so down upon myself when i was working 50 hours a week and feeling so very alone and unhappy with where i was headed. professional loneliness (for a lack of a better term) is never pointed out as a possibility within the halls of academia. it’s not even mentioned. i think it should be mandatory and embraced. when i left the academic bubble, all i got was a “here’s the alumni network” and a peppy “enjoy your first job!”. strong words to make you feel important and dearly missed but these words hold little water when you resumé lists “Bakery Delivery Driver – six months”, “Freelance newspaper advertisement designer – 2 months”, and (my personal favorite) “Band photographer – 1 band”.

oh well… it’s not planting the flag on the top of the mountain that defines us… it’s the climb. right? right?

photos are with the 5DMKII and my EF 24-105mm f/4.0L USM. i want to say it one more time but it was silly cold outside… 8 degrees yo. sunny, but c’mon. 8 degrees!!!

the music:
whenever i get to hang out at my parents house, people are always chatting. the conversation topics range dynamically from the government (the vermont state secessionist movement is currently high on the list), artists (local photographers are my fave), books (my mom is the head of the board of trustees at the local public library), and the obligatory where-are-they-now-Champlain-Valley-Union-High-School-class-of-1996 check-in. it’s always fun to chew the fat and music is also always on the tip of my father’s tongue when the conversation turns boring. the CD players in the living room and in the cars are always loaded with something fun and exciting. my father’s newest kick? punk rock music with an irish twist. you heard it here first.

edd’s current favorite records:

The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash

Flogging Molly – Swagger

The Dropkick Murphy’s – Blackout

what the what? that’s right… my dad is listening to the Murphy’s. amazing. the man who introduced me to Tom Waits has come full circle and instead of scatting off the quick witted “Step Right Up” he serenades the bar world of broads with “Kiss Me I’m Shit Faced”.

i couldn’t be prouder. but right now i’m kicking back and listening to the original (which i was totally unaware of BTW) Respect by Otis. my friend poor-white-trashley would be proud. hit it otis. hit it.

taking over at lunch, flickr style

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Ball and a Biscuit, The White Stripes, Elephant 2003, | LINK

the photography:
another day, another Flickr meet-up. sigh. i will never get tired of meeting and chatting with this interesting group filled with interesting people, who are all interested in the same sorta stuff i am. there is nothing better for the soul than meeting like minded people and eating crepes. hallelujah!

this is my second time having lunch with this crew and it’s really been fun getting to know people and their work. sometimes when i get some free time while i’m sitting at the computer, i’ll peruse various pages of their photography and catch up with what the peeps have been up and who’s talking to who and who’s photographing who. it’s a great visual representation of what these photographers are doing and what they are finding artistically interesting.

i could look at photos all day long. the act of photo browsing is pretty wonderful and if i didn’t spend so much time editing my own photos, i would spend all day flipping through photos. here are 5 (.5) reasons why i find looking through photographs (specifically) on Flickr so cathartic and ediucational:

1. i really enjoy seeing what other people are doing with their cameras and their free time. these particular searches sometimes end in fits of jealousy but at the very least, looking through photos of someplace i want to be invigorates me and gets me out the door with my camera strapped to my shoulder and a granola bar in my pocket.

2. i get to see where my fellow contemporary photographers (professional and amateur alike) in the city of chicago are finding the gritty gritty. i like the gritty gritty and so do a lot of the people i follow on Flickr. urban decay is gorgeous. say that five times fast… gritty gritty… it just sounds dirty. now picture tom waits saying it… awesome.

3. i love to see how different photographers take portraits. from the kid on the street shooting strangers with his new DSLR to the woman who photographs herself and her husband on the train with a point a shoot, portraits come in all shapes and sizes, and colors. i love checking out what people will do while having their picture taken. i also love where people decide to take portraits. i take notes on the stuff i like about other people’s portraits and i try to remember to reproduce certain bits and pieces when i create my own work.

4. it’ always fun to see how people set out to do photography projects. i personally have spent almost a year working on my own 50 portraits project. best stuff on Flickr? self-portrait projects. especially the 365 self-portraits (1 a day for a year). there is nothing better than looking through hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of photos of the same person to see how the photographer (and the subject) changes it up (to beat the monotony) or keeps the shot the same especially when said person is on their 8th year of taking one photo of themselves every day (that doesn’t actually happen but you get the idea). so much interesting work being done here… lots of great ideas and plenty of bad ideas too. it’s a virtual how-to and how-not-to in one set.

5. and finally, i just love reading people’s comments and thoughts about photographs. sure, it’s easy to leave the essential “Great shot!” or “Sweet!” or “First!” but i love it when people start to converse in photographic terms with meaning and insight. it’s great feedback not only for the photographer at hand but it’s also great for readers to converse in the conversation as well. fun (and sometimes humiliating but mostly fun!).

Special Reason (or reason #5.5). every now and then you get to see something truly exceptional, emotionally driving, and knock your socks off fantastic. then you copy down everything you like about the photograph and you try to grow out of your photographer’s shell and make your next female model drop the top of her dress just a little lower, you ask your next male model to make that dark sinister face a little more believable and disgusting, and you push your boundaries of comfort as a photographer to make yourself and your art, that much more productive. sigh…

if you look closely, you’ll notice the photos are with the new Canon 5D MKII body and my same old 28mm. a rather splendid combo if you ask me…

the music:
this record has been listed on almost everyone’s “end of the century” essential-to-own record list which, to be completely honest, has become a boring way to wave your i’m-just-as-meaningful-to-america-as-lester-bangs-male-phallus about to see who has the biggest one (the winner of that contest = no one, you all lose). this particular white stripes record deserves all the credit it receives, don’t get me wrong as i tend to rant when prodded with a stick, i’m just upset that making a definitive list is the only way to prance about and posture your “manhood” in the music press. that’s right, i’m looking at you pitchforkmedia… lame.

the white stripes have always been known to take traditional blues and push the boundaries. ball and a biscuit is their ode to the old timers and the forefathers. it’s also jack whites homage to the screaming distortion pedal and tube amplification. in the beginning, this song just fingerpicks midlevel hum hum and reverb that builds to a squeeling, pedal stomping, guitar olympics that could just as easily define white’s guitar playing style if only we could imbed MP3 files into the dictionary. the fact that meg actually keeps time (i mean really truly actually keeps a standard 4/4 beat) throughout the entire song is not lost on me. the lyrics are old world, the guitar sounds are all jack white, and the drums are meg’s best slowed-pace-bohnam bass drum and snare. i love this song. love it.

flynn avenue, burlington, vermont

Exposure: 1/13 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Green Doors, Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot, s/t, 2009, | LINK

the photography:
so this thanksgiving 2009 was much like any of my previous thanksgivings, it was mobbed with nephews, 4 generations of merritts, good food, great company, talk of babies, two different sit down dinners, and 1 happy dog waiting for us at home at the end of all the hub-bub. as i look back on thanksgiving ought-9, i see it as the end of a chapter in my life as it was the last thanksgiving for both my wife and i as a couple. the 2010 thanksgiving will mark our first as a trio. as baby merritt’s due date gets closer there will be lots of chapters closing and new ones starting. it feels absolutely wonderful. lots of “firsts” on the horizon, lots of ’em.

but more about this years thanksgiving in a later post!

PHOTO WALKING WITH A FRIEND: after traveling through 4 states already in 2 days, we finally arrived home at my parents house for 72 hours of some much needed r and r. i decided to take the opportunity to sneak out on a photo jaunt with an old friend who just happens to be a great street photographer whether he is in his hometown of burlington or roaming and clicking the streets of his former hood, san francisco. trevor is known on the interwebs as @roamandclick on the twitter and his personal photo website Roam and Click is quite fantastic. trevor also is a flickr-ite and can be found here under the moniker, [ bones ] : Flickr

i reconnected with trevor via facebook after 10 or so years of not seeing each other. he was heading into chicago and wondered if i would be up for a drink. since it was st. patrick’s day, i figured, what the hell. this was four years ago and we have kept in touch ever since. we’ve had our ups and downs as individuals but the connection trevor and i share is focused (pun intended) primarily on our love of two things: photography and urban decay. AND we both grew up in the same small town with the same group of 100 kids and we’ve both since travelled the world and seen the sights. last saturday we decided to tackle photos and urban decay. it was a blast. for the record, trevor is a Nikon guy. not that there’s anything wrong with that…

the photos are from just off of flynn avenue, in burlington, vermont. locals should know this area as the first magic hat brewery was located just around the corner. as usual, the lens is the trusted 28mm f1.8 and we hit the train tracks at the perfect golden hour of dusk. it was breezy and cool but not yet winter. you could smell the wood stoves in the air but you didn’t need a scarf. perfect weather for some photo walking with old friends. salt sheds, railroads, trucks, and dirty old buildings were provided by the city of burlington and it’s inhabitants. sigh.

the music:
lowell is a guy i grew up with who is making the scene in new england as what northern country twang means. he’s a heart-on-sleeve songwriter who delivers his brand of northcountry alt rock with a voice of gold and a cracking back up band containing some of burlington’s finest musicians. it’s a recipe made in “Wilco” fan heaven. go and check them out if you can and if they come to the midwest, you’ll see me in the front row.

THREE SIDE NOTES: i once worked for lowell’s dad as a house painter, lowell and i played high school lacrosse together, and his punk band in high school once opened for my ska band in (redundantly) high school. fact.

Portrait Photography

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 54mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F9.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 75mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 +1 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 34mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 43mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: F1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 48mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Bobcaygeon, The Tragically Hip, Phantom Power, 1998, | LINK

the photography:
in these post-film photography years, actors, writers, artists, musicians, businessmen, professionals, public speakers, chefs, and anyone who does something (almost any job me thinks) for a living will inevitably need a professional photograph of their face. with the death of film and the price of quality digital cameras at an all-time low, the need for a head shot is easily remedied. someone you know, somewhere, owns a digital SLR camera and remarkably, you will be able to exchange very little money in return documentation of your person from your belly button to the top of your head.

now i’m not putting down amateur photographers for wanting a piece of the professional pie, hell, i started out doing exactly that. in fact, you must start somewhere and practice makes perfect in this world when it comes to a trade. and there is very little that is new when it comes to portraits. for years and years, people have been documenting themselves for future generations to ogle at and revere over drinks and food. in 1809, you sat for a painter for hours (maybe even days) at a time. in 1909, you held yourself still for 15 seconds or more without blinking so a photographer could capture your image in silver and chemicals.

these portraits are the new proof of life, the artifact to be found by future generations, the art on the wall of a collapsing building on fire. portrait photographs are the new form of existence past death. in 60 years, these photos are the pages that will be thumbed through and purchased at thrift stores and second hand marts across the country; your headshot, your portrait, your memory, your legacy.

but that’s already happening now, right? you go into a thrift store and you can find a dozen old photographs in broken frames, of family members, lost grand parents, and posing great great grandmas in their ugly 1930’s sweaters. but what happens with our generation? you know what they are gonna find? that’s right. our facebook photos. wasted snapshots of how many tequila shots you took on your 27th birthday and hazy moments where your friend captured you checking out that girl’s bosom at that party back in 07. oh yeah. that’s what people will find when we go. oh lord i hope that’s not all they find. let’s make sure we leave our ancestors some good photos no? your grand children might thank us. go get your photo taken by someone, for serious’s sake. and don’t put bunny ears up. don’t wear a shitty sweater. go and make these few shots count. you can save the stupid photos and poses for your next wedding reception.

photos are of two writers, one filmmaker, two actors, two musicians, one new father, and one rather fantastic chef. i love portraits. i love trying to tell a story. i love feeling emotion from people i don’t know. i could study faces for hours. and sometimes i do just that.

the music:
“went to your house this morning, it was a little after nine, could have been the willie nelson, could have been the wine”. gordon downie is known more for his edie brickell meets joe cocker style of spastic dancing than he is for his intriguing and incredibly legible lyrics. downie supposedly has a photographic memory when it comes to conversations and quotes. his lyrics tell incredible stories because of the snippets he remembers from life. we try to create dialogue with our work, he reaches back and reproduces it. no wonder their songs sound so familiar. i really have the biggest love for this band. they are one of the pop-ier bands to grace my catalog but they deserve it. no pulling indie-cred punches here, these guys are canadian and way older than me. listen to them if you like your rock to be rolling with stories to be told and as many hockey references as possible.

grand teton indeed

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f13.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 32mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 45mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: utter fucking silence. when was the last time that happened? | LINK

the photography:
i am a huge fan of traveling to places you have never been. i enjoy making the journey, landing in a foreign airport, traveling around by taxi (or rental car) and running into the unexpected. well i’ve been to wyoming before but i have never been to jackson. flying into the jackson airport, you literally touch down on the runway as if you were being placed directly in the length of the valley between the mightiest of tetons and his nearest relatives. it’s breathtaking. truly. every time i visit some place new that i visually fall in love with (aesthetically on par with almost every huge landscape in alaska, arizona, and china that i have visited), i start to look at real estate signs and ask questions about the culture. jackson is no different. the only problem with this region? tourists. it’s fun being one. but growing up in vermont taught me two things; 1) real vermonters don’t vacation in new jersey and 2) leaf-peeping tourists can suck it.

photos are with the trusty 28mm f1.8 fixed and my dynamic 24mm-105mm f4. we rode a tram up the length of Rendezvous Mountain which is the largest peak attached to the Jackson Hole Ski Resort. more to come when i visit the rest of the area. hope the kids in chicago are enjoying lalla-pall-ooooooza and all that heat. it’s like 60 and sunny here. weird weather. or better yet, EXTREME…

the music:
i try not to curse when i type. if you’ve met me, you know that i curse a bit here and there but only within polite company. last night, i couldn’t sleep because it was too quiet. living in an urban sprawl of sound and noise (although some would categorize my music as neither ZING!) makes sleeping in a rural setting (and if you looked at the photos, you know what rural means in wyoming) very difficult. since growing up in the woods, i have assimilated to the urban streets and i now need car horns, dog barks, box fans, and airplanes to make my night peaceful. oh well. as depeche mode once said, enjoy the silence…

pitchfork festival, not just another outdoor party in the chicago summer

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Over It, Dinosaur Jr., Farm, 2009 | LINK

the photography:
it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. i have quoted that statement so many times it now just flows from my mouth without the slightest touch of irony or snark. these days, when i get together with my best friends for a weekend of crazy, i’m pretty sure i actually mean it. two weekends ago, the pitchforkmedia music festival was in chicago for three nights of fun, music, art, crowds, and above all, drinking- festival style. what a great excuse for three of my groomsmen to float into town for some down home festival loving. and friends in a band who were playing showed up to boot. it was great. with said band, came some VIP passes. wow. you know what makes a great festival even greater? free beer. friday night, after a great noshing on lots of pork (thanks Publican, you rule. i will be back), i endured one of my “Top 10” going out on the town nights. needless to say, saturday hurt. the photos are from running around the festival grounds and from getting ready in my TV room. count the number of Sparks wrist bands that show up and make sure you look around in each photo, sometimes the best moments are happening outside of what you’re looking at. thanks again to the Bowerbirds, you guys are amazing. shot with the fixed 28mm f1.8. nice.

the music:
dinosaur jr. kick butt. i have been listenign to them, pretty much non-stop, since i was in the 8th grade. it’s one of those bands that are so instantly recognizable and oh so gosh darned love-able and warm and fuzzy, and above all else, loud. this new CD with the original lineup of Murph, J. Mascis, and Lou Barlow, is their first output as the original lineup, in decades. i love it. it’s 1994 all over again. bring the fuzz boxes, the marshall stacks, and shimmy yer butt. i said shimmy!

freelance portraits

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 35mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 63mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 65mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 43mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 51mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 45mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 42mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 40mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 55mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 55mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Your Old Love is Dead, Stars, Set Yourself on Fire, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
i have been filling in my days making ends meet with various freelance jobs from here and there. the largest of these projects is a bit of work that i am doing with the MFA creative writing department at Columbia College in chicago. i’ve been taking portraits of various contributors for the student run Fictionary magazine. it’s a great opportunity to take portraits of people i have never met before and it’s a great opportunity for me to hone my art direction as I need to put all of the portrait-ees into places and positions from scratch. each of the writers and editors that i have met have been so relaxed and pleasant about the entire process that i wish the rest of the client side of the world would be so kind. the only real guideline that was set before i started was that the images be in black and white. so i’ve been playing a bit with trying to find some really diverse natural (and unnatural) places to shoot. it’s been fun. up next? more portraits. enjoy.

the music:
i absolutely love watching and listening to bands that have fun when they make music on cd and in a live setting. montreal’s Stars fit so nicely into both of those categories. ever since i heard their breakout first record, heart, these kids from canada have been killing it abroad and slowly gaining fans in america. it helps that they are indeed a part of the greater collection of canadian artists known as the “broken social scene”. those crazy socialists in canada actually give money to their artists because it’s a way to progress as a society. society, socialists, communists? while you sit on your hands and try to make a case against socialist tendancies, i’m moving to montreal to get paid to make stuff…

playing with the boys

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Wouldn’t It Be Nice, The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, 1966 | LINK

the photography:
hanging out this weekend in vermont couldn’t be any sweeter. my twin nephews are here as are my brother and sister-in-law. it’s a good old down home family get-together. we spent the day running around burlington. amazingly we ran into friends from high school, friends from college, and one random friend from chicago who just happened to be rolling around downtown. spending time at my parents house means lots of lounging on the rug in the living room, lots of watching/talking hockey, lots of talking about kids i went to high school with, and much chewing of the fat. it’s pretty awesome. photos are of the boys. they are damn cute. the first one is titled “shit patrol”. the rest are untitled.

the music:
the beach boys remind me of sitting in my parents living room listening to my dad’s vast collection of vinyl records. we had all of the hits of the 50’s, 0’s, and early 70’s and i would spin them left and right and make my mom dance with me. it was an awesome time. besides tim hardin and bob dylan, the beach boys were number 1.

tweeting

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2500 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: .8 sec – Aperture: F6.3 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mmL f/2.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: nothing. i have my headphones on without music playing. 2009 | LINK

the photography:
so i just started tweeting. i know what you’re going to say, “jeez ian, what a johnny-come-lately. you only started ’cause oprah was doing it”. well, in all honesty, it’s a great way to meet people who might enjoy my photography. and also, it’s a great way to chat with peeps i know across the country. and my wife has been trying to get me to join for something close to a year so… consider it done. you can hit me up at @IDMPhoto if you are so inclined. photos are from brooklyn, some subway station (thanks leigh for being patient), a restaurant cocktail shoot, and brooklyn again (not in that order). this week marks my second trip up to road america and i’m excited to test out some new cars on the track. it will be nice to race around in the smaller cars with powerful engines. it makes me feel much safer than rolling with the big dogs. i’ll post some shots when i get the chance. until then, drive safe.

the music:
um, you should click on the link next to the “currently listening to”. mac book + me + coffee = a goofy looking guy in a cardigan and an 18 year old Pearl Jam shirt.

for trevor

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 73mm
Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: A New England, Billy Bragg, Life’s a Riot with Spy Vs Spy, 1983 | LINK

the photography:
i had a chance to sit down and chat with another photographer here in chicago about all of our likes and dislikes of the current state of the photography world. our long list of things we chatted about sounds a lot like overheard conversations from beneath a porch at an old people’s home. almost every sentence started with, “kids these days” and finished with “and then you know what he did? he asked if i had ever used film before…” it was fun to blabber on about storage needs (filled last week), digital shortcomings (can’t push and pull, sucks in low light, easy to ruin files, etc.), film’s pains (waiting, hours in the darkroom, silver poisoning, etc), and the cost of crappier products made of plastic and not metal (all camera gear on the market today). but we both agreed that photography will improve and digress like it always has with new equipment and new ways to adjust photos. like the ebb and flow of the tides, we just have to deal with it. and i’m really ok with that! it’s just fun to chew the fat with someone who has been through the same experiences. the four verticals today are from the archives. my grandfather, dirty windows, a foot, and wires are all fun subjects. i also took some much needed advice from bones and i added the camera information back underneath each photo so you can now know the specifics of each shot. ah, the digital world meets traditional film techniques. some things never change.

the music:
billy bragg is one of the most meaningful and under appreciated songwriters in all of musical history. i hold his canon higher than dylan. bragg slips in there amongst the soul giants and great reggae musicians, right above the clash and right below fugazi. this record was originally released with 7 songs, a play time of almost 16 minutes, and it played on 45 rpm as opposed to 33 rpm. it’s fast, witty, poignant, pensive, and straight up bad-ass. a man, his telecaster, and his fender reverb amplifier. that’s it. billy carries the torch of woody guthrie with pride. bragg gets better with age although he has slowed down his torrid pace of anger towards facists. now that bush is out of office, he might have to stop touring and retire in spain. who knows. this is the first real song that i learned to play solo and i belt it out whenever i get on stage.

four from before

| currently listening to: Someday My Prince Will Come, Miles Davis, Someday My Prince Will Come, 1961 | LINK

the photography:
today has been a long day. we spent most of last night listening to the party that our tenants downstairs were throwing. i didn’t fully fall asleep until well after 5 am this morning. it was bad news. but it was nothing a good home cooked meal couldn’t fix. eggs, bacon, waffles, coffee, orange juice, and a citrus fruit cup. divine. no photos today due to the awkward stress that sleep deprivation plays on my head and my hand eye coordination. i trudged through the files and found these four photos from various times in my career. i don’t know why i threw in the photo of the guitar. the photo itself is nothing to write home about but there is something special about the homemade box light that i made out of 2×4’s and fluorescent tubes. it about 2.5 feet wide and tall and had a mounting bracket on the bottom so i could stick it to a light stand and shoot through it. you can see it’s effects on the eyes in the first photo posted. with today’s ability to adjust your white balance to meet any light, these lights become cheap alternatives to expensive strobe driven ring lamps. the 50 portraits will continue this week. some volunteers have sprung up along the way. i am really excited to dive even deeper into the process. expect to see some unexpected things come out of this. if anything, shooting 50 different people is pulling me out of my comfort zone and making me think hard about what’s coming next. and who…

the music:
this recording is the last record miles did with coltrane. it’s not one the most highly touted records, though it is one of my favorites. people always point to kind of blue and in a silent way but i am quite sure that this record bests them both. amazingly orchestrated and superbly recorded, this record is smoother than anything before and since. it also reminds me of my dad and i playing records while my mom would be working in the kitchen. i love that the bass and trumpet are centered in the mix (left to right, stereo sound) the piano is pushed right and the drums and saxophone all left. it’s an amazing listen on headphones. it transports you.

eddie and sarah’s

| currently listening to: Tiny Island, Leo Kotke, Greenhouse, 1972 | LINK

the photography:
most nights i come home from a long day at work and i feed and walk the dog. after he chomps down his nightly meal, we head out on (depending on the weather) a fantastic voyage that leads us past barking dogs, crazy ladies on porches, and right past one rather weird church. it is a ritual of ours to soak in all of the local sites and for him to relieve himself. me, i just bask in the glow of his charming swagger, his puppy-ish good looks, and his knack for scaring the crap out of sheepish dog owners who think he’s tough. it’s cathartic and wonderful and i do it every day i am home. i look forward to our time together and today was no exception. we are like a couple of school kids on the way home from a long day of art class and gym. we always take the long way home and he loves to stop and sniff the dirt. it’s great.

when i got married a couple of years ago my friends came out to the far northeastern part of the country to support me on my big day. i returned the favor for some good friends a year or so later. we traveled down to north carolina to witness something really special. i grabbed a ton of candid shots from the crowd. it is really fun to go to weddings when you know you are not on the clock. this wedding in particular had it all, perfect weather, a perfect crowd, a great ceremony, and it was a fantastic spot. awesome indeed.

the music:
i love leo kotke. he may not be the only musician that my father and i agree on but he is probably the only living musician that we love for the same reasons. also, he’s one of the few performers that my father, my brother and i have seen independently of each other. this song shows off not only his virtuosity as a musician but also his pipes as a singer (a rarity). it’s a truly beautiful song.

little baby erik

| currently listening to: Big Poppa, Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die, 1994 | LINK

the photography:
i am pretty jealous of my friend Bones. he spent the weekend rolling around the mountains of stratton, vermont, taking pictures of the 27th Annual U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships. that bum… i think i am more jealous because he is spending the winter back in our home state of vermont. it’s amazingly gorgeous. and during this long mid-west winter, i have missed the green mountains more than i thought i ever would. it just so happens that it’s also a fantastic place to spend the days taking photographs. sigh.

but i digress… cath and i spent a wonderful day with our friends who just welcomed (six months ago) a baby boy. we decided that six months is the perfect age for which to celebrate your first photo shoot. erik kept asking for craft services and his mom kept calling someone in wardrobe on her cell phone and yelling at them to bring more bibs. it was, in one word, spectacular. brats and drinks followed. what a great sunday night. soon we’ll be grilling on the back porch watching the el go by.

the music:
there is nothing better than a six month old baby dancing to a (gulp) 15 year old club hit in an adidas jump suit. it was awesome. this song still holds some serious weight when it comes to the end of the gangster rapper as viable creative artist. these days it’s about nothing. back then, it was still about something.

four by five

| currently listening to: Move On Up, Curtis Mayfield, Curtis, 1970 | LINK

the photography:
lugging around a 10 pound camera can really add some wear and tear to your joints. i have no idea how the founding fathers of modern photography pushed and pulled their gear up steep mountains and though raging rivers. i just know that every now and again, i bust out the old standard sinar 4×5 and the tripod that i bought to hold it. it’s a great camera and with a little bit of patience and love, comes great photographs from it. here are some test shots i took with a polaroid back attached to it. even without the bonus of taut film, the polaroids come in nice and crisp when scanned. i love the chemical stains and the untrimmed edges. and nothing beats a nice clean large negative. nothing.

if this camera were a little lighter and film and processing costs were a little cheaper, this camera would get used every day.

the music:
there is nothing better in the world than curtis mayfield. one of the great guitarists of all time. unbeknownst to many, curtis honed the modern sound of funk guitar. he was a legend on many fronts. i love his music.

wedding photos

| currently listening to: Skinny Love, Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago, 2008 | LINK

the photography:
weddings are delicate matters that should be taken seriously. especially when you are the hired photographer. i enjoy photographing weddings. they are truly celebrations of family and friends and of each other. they are almost always full of personal and group outpourings of emotion. there is inevitably some gorgeous older lady in the corner who is crying her eyes out with tears of joy. it’s usually someone’s grandmother. weddings are perfect for portraits. they are also perfect for practicing your photojournalism skills.

the music:
man oh man… what can i say about justin vernon that hasn’t been said a thousand times in the indie press. i met justin 3 years ago when he was the front man for deyarmond edison. it was deyarmond’s last tour before they imploded and called it quits as a band. that night they played a show at the fort in front of something like 30 people. it was a special night indeed that will be a shiny moment in my personal history. justin spent the afternoon warming up by strumming my old 50’s harmony archtop in the corner singing softly to himself. sigh, swoon, sigh.

after the dishes are done

| currently listening to: New Hampshire, Matt Pond PA, Emblems, 2004 | LINK

the photography:
street photography to me is something that i enjoy doing more than any other kind of photography. as i have stated before, plop me in the middle of a city with a bus pass and my camera and i’m a pig in mud. here are some shots from around the loop and all the way out in logan square. the “effort” is not ironic. it’s the name of the skateboard company. these three photos were taken with my favorite two lens’, the bicycle and light in the parking garage were taken with a 24-70mm 2.8 zoom, and the skateboard pic was snapped with a 15mm fisheye. there’s something about a harsh florescent light bouncing off a parking garage cement floor that gives off the air of something sinister and creepy. i really like the ambience in that photo. the bicycle was chained across van buren from cal’s liquors just outside a taco shop.

it’s a great example of someone keeping an antique in tip top shape. i always wanted to stop whomever owned the bike just to ask them if the lamp worked. the paint job was in great shape too. the skateboarding shot is from a gray rainy day at the obelisk in logan square. james needed to get out of the house and i needed to not be in the fort for the day. it was a perfect stop before we went out to eat at el cid on milwaukee.

the music:
matt pond is from the same part of the country as i am and he’s the first singer songwriter that has captured the modern rural new england drive to live somewhere other than where you grew up. the pull of new york city and boston is so pleasing at 18 and by the time you’re 24, going home is all you can think about. it’s a gorgeous song about seeing family, laying in lakes, and relaxing. it’s what i want to do almost every day (if only someone would pay me to do so…).

negatives

| currently listening to: If You Can Hold Your Breath, Karate, s/t, 1996 | LINK

the photography:
sorting through old negatives is always a blast. i haven’t done it in a while but these couple of strips are from two very impressionable times in my life when i really wanted to be a budding photographer. the black and white shots are from my senior year in college when i was trying to impress my teacher by finding the prettiest girl i knew to look hot. it actually was pretty fun. we spent the afternoon in my living room with some very yellow, hot, and above all cheap(!) lighting from home depot before i decided that the photo shoot needed to be moved outside on the fire escape and on the roof. i got a B+ on the assignment. errica was a trooper. she’s done really well in new york as a musician. she’s friends with my wife.

the color photos are from my second incarnation as a budding photographer. i spent the better part of the three years after college taking classes at mass art, the only truly stand alone higher education public art school in the country. it was a fantastic couple of years. i had the best time using the school’s color lab, their 20″ x 24″ polaroid camera, and i met some crazy people in my art history class. i was working full time so my free time was spent taking evening classes. these photos are from my final piece for color photography III titled, “the artists i know: portraits”. it was a fruitless exhibit but a bunch of the photos stand the test of time. at least in my eyes. plus, it was a blast to work on.

the music:
what a ground breaking record karate’s s/t LP was. this music opened my eyes (more so than the pixies) to the local music scene in boston. i bought a used copy when i was a record dj in college and it really changed my idea of what independent music really was. it also fueled my love of the “post rock” sound.

karsh-ism

| currently listening to: How To Put It Down, Goner, Rock ‘N’ Roll Always Forgets, 2008 | LINK

the photography:
one of the sad technological losses in the race to deliver artistically (out of many many many sad technological losses in the race to deliver artistically) is the death of black and white film photography. i know that black and white isn’t “dead” per se but how many people are still holding the “i still shoot film” flag? very few of you. i thank you for doing so. from the bottom of my heart. but let’s be honest, these days photography is a digital game. and thus, gone are the little intricacies of lighting, shooting, and printing black and white photos. now that you can adjust everything (and i mean darn near close to everything) in post production, we have lost the attention to detail while setting up a shot, setting up a light, and with setting up a model to fill out the perfect gray-scaled cheek. gone are the days of using contrast heavy/grainy film, dark gray makeup, and pushing 1600 iso film to 3200 iso. well, i miss it. i like the way that black and white looks on my monitor, and if i spend enough time and money, i like how it prints out on my printer.

but today’s digital systems have got nothing on yesterdays black and white film and the printing process that goes along with black and white film. i saw the new Yousuf Karsh exhibit at the Art Institute in chicago recently. the man knew his film, his lights, and above all, how to engage his subjects. i fear that newer photographers have very little patience for all of the above. deliberate faces, hard lighting, and beautifully intricate backgrounds defined a man who ran a working studio for 60 years. if you have yet to see it, please go and check it out. it’s worth every minute, every penny, every ounce of energy that it takes to get there and to enjoy it. while you’re there, i’m gonna try to bring back my B&W habits. they are a bit rusty.

the music:
i designed the cover for this record for the band Goner from raleigh nc. they are three guys making great art without the use of a guitar (ok, an acoustic shows up on at least one track here). you should take them for a test drive. the vocals, lyrics and music are gonna make you want to tap your feet in applause.

vertical portraits

| currently listening to: Satisfy My Mind, The Greenhornes, Dual Mono, 2002 | LINK

the photography:
spring has finally started it’s decent into the chicgaoland area and i for one am all for it. let their be green grass and let their be warmth. exciting times. here are four portraits for different reasons and from different perspectives. all vertical (mr. bones) and all color. b and white will happen soon, i promise. i think my favorite might be nathan’s hands. there’s something a little off kilter here, a story behind the photo that i can’t quite put my finger on. i like that it’s intriguing.

the music:
before there were the raconteurs, there were the greenhornes. great garage rock from city of cincinnati.

portraits in four; part three

| currently listening to: Fitz & Dizzyspells, Andrew Bird, Noble Beast, 2008 | LINK

this is part three of a three part series.

i have found that the best way for me to practice my photography is to experiment as much as possible. this means getting friends and family involved. after a comfy dinner party on a warm late summer night, we took over a back yard and set up some strobes and umbrellas. the photos that were produced from the first have of the shoot were pretty straight forward and rather plain. as my models were getting bored i decided that i would heed the advice of one of my mentors.

“when a subject starts to become mundane or boring, leave your lights where they are and move yourself to a side of the subject that you haven’t been photographing. hopefully when you’re there, you’ll find an angle or a view that will be exciting enough to keep the shoot going and will keep you (as the photographer) interested. once you loose your interest, your models will as well.”

so i walked around the other side of my models and discovered an entirely different perspective. suddenly the backyard, which was earlier being lit up by the strobes, disappeared to black and the hard lines of backlighting began to shape the photos. as the models turned their backs to the flashing lights, umbrellas, and soft boxes, their demeanor lightened and they relaxed. everyone had a blast and the photos that resulted from a change in perspective were the ones that i love the most. it’s all about putting the subjects into the right perspective.

to give you an idea of where the lights were set up, here is a wider shot.

the music: i am a huge fan of local chicago musician andrew bird but i feel like his new record is a little too “out there” for pop audiences to grasp. his last record was filled with uplifting pop gems that were disguised as intricate indie chamber pop. the record brought bird to edge of a national breakthrough. in contrast, the new record is so very esoteric in it’s music and in it’s lyrics. this makes it hard to understand at times as musical genre experimentation, lengthy words, and (for lack of a better word) noodling leave the listener wanting a standard song structure and for andrew to put the thesaurus down. cluttered is what i would call it. i like it. in fact i like it a lot. but i don’t think a lot of the record buying public will. Fitz & Dizzyspells is probably the best traditional single from the record. it’s really good. there’s a video for it, found here.

portraits in four; part two

| currently listening to: C-Lo, Proof, s/t, 2004 | LINK

this is part two of a three part series.

photographing other photographers can be a lot harder than you’d expect. many photographers know the small intricacies involved with handling/working with models but once the tables are turned, things can go awry quite quickly. my friend jay falls into the category of “one of those photographers who has no problem getting his picture taken”. in fact, sometimes i feel that jay might actually enjoy being in front of the camera. either way, these photos are great examples of backlit bright sun light versus the shade. Both light sources are the exact same (color temperature, angle, intensity, etc.) sun and these portraits were taken within a 10 minute period of each other on a cold afternoon of shopping in chicago while jay was visiting from north carolina. as you can see, the colors are much more vivid and the yellows jump off the screen with the backlit photos while the shade of the alleyway provides a blue/grey hue. these are four examples of training yourself to bring your camera everywhere and to shoot photos all the time because you never know when you’ll get some good looking shots or when you’ll walk into some unique lighting. thanks to jay on this one. his glasses were fantastic that day.

the music should be noted as a great band that should be taking the country by storm. this song is about one night that jay and the song’s writer spent with the late great chicago band, sweep the leg johnny. a tip of the cap to all those involved.