Saturday, December 29, 2012

Vacation in Silicon Valley, 12/2012

Christmas vacation is a long one.
My boys had recently watched the made for TV movie "Pirates Of Silicon Valley" and the time just seemed ripe for this journey.

A friend tipped me off to the idea that this local vacation would be cheap and easy during the week after Xmas...the week that everyone is looking for a change of pace.
Hotel rooms are cheap, the streets are quiet, pools are heated and access to corporate front lawns is pretty easy breezy. And don't think we were the only fanboys lined up to shoot these snapshots...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, circa 1977, circa 2012

This song was a staple on classic rock radio where I grew up in upstate New York. I loved it from the first time I heard it, and still love it today. 1977 and with the exception of the lyric that mentions the 70's television show The Six Million Dollar Man ( don't bring my brother a Steve Austin outfit...) it sounds like it could have been written and recorded today.

Ray Davies' tale of economic disparity between the classes in England had a serious message wrapped up with a sense of humor. The intelligence is all in the lyrics: the story is told through the eyes of a guy who played Santa for a low level fund-raising job that references the Salvation Army Santa:

But the last time I played father christmas
I stood outside a department store
A gang of kids came over and mugged me
And knocked my reindeer to the floor

They said:
Father christmas, give us some money
Don't mess around with those silly toys.
Well beat you up if you don't hand it over
We want your bread so don't make us annoyed
Give all the toys to the little rich boys

So I'm loving the song, cranking it up for my kids this week. Reliving my time of discovering this song, seeing them discover it too. We all laugh and rock out! They love the street hooligan antics and the reference to the toys, the wants and needs of the classes.

Then of course, the world has turned.
They grab on to the last line. That line always really had been so boyishly funny, but a total buzz kill in the wake of current events:

But give my daddy a job cause he needs one
Hes got lots of mouths to feed
But if you've got one, I'll have a machine gun
So I can scare all the kids down the street

So sorry...but this stuff is still raw. And really you can't have one without the other.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Catherine Wagner : Frankenstein Revisited

We had the good fortune to spend the day with artist Catherine Wagner earlier this summer. It was an arranged visit, with the writer, myself and Sz. I had admired her work for ever- she really was always able to achieve the anthropological author-less distance in her photographs that I never could figure out. They were always very perceptive with a keen understanding of the power of details. But the masterful stroke her work carried was this kind of invisibility. You never really got a clue on the artist by looking at the photographs. They almost seemed to have been created by a simple data collecting machine.

We all exchange introductions and then the conversation moves rapidly.Wagner's brain works fast. Lots of long term projects and we really are riffing from brand new work to older work to new proposals that are out on the horizon. Lots of ideas branching out like a tree: one idea leads to another idea that then opened the door to this chance occurence that led to the creation of this whole new project. And here we are! One story that stuck with me and isn't fading at all references a project from 2003. It was a great example of how all our experiences feed our art. It's our job to be open and make the connections.

In a casual way she explains how she was randomly offered a trip to the Arctic Circle and essentially refused it, writing it off as being more trouble than it was worth. At the same time she was re-reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Wagner makes the connection she never really made before and decides to make this trip. In her words:

Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (The Modern Prometheus) opens with a series of letters written by Arctic explorer Robert Walton, who was engaged in a personal quest to expand the boundaries of the known world. It is Walton who first encounters Victor Frankenstein in the Arctic, desperately searching for the monster he has created. The explorer becomes the only person to hear Victor Frankenstein’s strange and tragic tale.

With this literary/scientific storytelling running in her head, she accepted the trip to Arctic Circle.
Trilogy: Reflections on Frankenstein, the Arctic Circle and the History of Science is the resulting work. See it here.

Frankenstein IV, 2003. Lambda print, 60" x 48" by Catherine Wagner
Why are we writing about this now?
My job that day really wasn't to hear all about Wagner's art and get inspired. It was to create a solid portrait of her. Photographing any artist is a challenge. Now photographing an artist you are already intimidated by...well it is almost impossible. The first attempt really seemed to be a ship that was sinking fast...and once that starts it is very hard to recover. In the end we found a quiet place where we could seem to connect, and that ended up being our portrait, above. I wanted her intelligence and strength to come through. And Catherine most likely just wanted to look decent. I think we got it in that portrait. Eventually I found that color that brought it to life with the help of The Color Shop...and here we are, most likely the last work oriented post of 2012.
Rock on.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mothers, Children, & The Big Black Box

What a difference a week makes.
The New York Times addressed the tragedy at Sandy Hook with a simple powerful design decision : a black box of ink, white type on black, listing the names and ages of all who lost their lives that day.
For me, these tragedies seem to take three days to sink in. I hear about it, it's just a news item, I kind of pay attention to it, but it's far away. After three days, the emotional stuff hits. Maya Lin, who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. has admitted in interviews that the memorial was designed to make people cry upon viewing it. When you see the memorial, stand in front of it, it really does work. The page of the NYT's did that for me. The simplicity, the structure, the sheer quantity of names, it all brought those emotions to the forefront. I got hit by them all this weekend.
At the same time, I was editing a story I shot for TIME early last year. An overseas client was interested in the story and asked me to put together a new edit. Digging into the work in the wake of the tragedy was powerful and changed the shape of the project. This simple story that we shot on that day, about Erica Cain, a dedicated mother juggling 3 young kids was just something I looked at with a new sense of importance. Below are the images I put together for this story.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Mother Of All Cookbooks : Mindful and Intentional Eating by Lisa Mitchell

Cupcake made and eaten and photographed by Eli Archibald

Black Friday Redux:

One of the ways we are spreading the love this season is with the cookbook anthology Mindful and Intentional Eating by friend forever Lisa Mitchell, photography by Sarah Matozzi and Callie Mitchell. We got our hands on the book around Thanksgiving and Eli busted out recipes from it with no hesitation.
Below is Luscious Lemon Cupcakes with Rasberry Glaze - a super healthy, super food dessert that leaves you feeling good and not cracked out. And these recipes are easy. This is real food, good protein and still the kids love it.

 Support the indy press! Buy this book. Find it HERE.
Photograph by Sarah Matozzi / from Mindful and Intentional Eating

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Xmas Schwag, 2012

I don't know why I felt compelled to crank out so much Xmas stuff this year, cuz really I hate this holiday! But it is a good excuse to say thanks to those who we all play the art and commerce game with all year long. Gratitude is always timely.

But this year we have the top tier, the middle tier, the exclusive print runs, and the mass mailing.

Then of course a shot of the empty Santa seat on an early morning visit to the mall. Photographers making a living there too...just a reminder.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wilson Archibald 12/11/2012

Gentle Sneaky Rowdy Slithering

In the grass, in the mud.

Drawing a perfect slingshot.

To scale, fully functioning.

You have the engineer's brain that I don't have, your mom doesn't have, ahh...but your grandparents have.

Thank them. It will serve you.

All these reasons, we celebrate you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mitchell Baker / Mozilla

A client reached out early yesterday morning searching for this diptych of Mitchell Baker of Mozilla.
Originally I wasn't very crazy about the seemed too lit and too much about the hair construction and not about the person. It kind of stuck in my mind this week as I dug it up, and I realized it's kind of a cousin to the recent Forbes Magazine cover of Jack Dorsey, design wise, so I thought I'd share. 
Wednesday morning...signing off....

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Fisher King / On Earth Magazine

Well, it's kind of a complicated story.

No quick elevator pitch. First we have Humboldt County in Norther California, and all that that stands for. Then we have the Hoopa Indian Reservation, we have crops of marijuana and we have this sneaky slinky character known as The Fisher. Add in the iconic Christian symbolism and cross-like telemetry equipment. At the center of it all is Mourad Gabriel, a wildlife biologist based in the area. His work is important and crosses over all of these elements...and back again.

Spent a great two days up in Arcata with Mourad and Mark Higley, the wildlife biologist of the Hoopa Tribe. Very generous with their time and knowledge as we waited and waited to catch The Fisher. And we caught one.

See the images in all their full color splendor HERE.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Black Friday Revisited & Documented

So happy to have a collector reach out last week to aquire Elijah In A Fairy Tale, 2008. Curiously enough, the payment came through on Black Friday.

I jumped up on the table to snap a photograph of the print before shipping it out.

That moment of course was documented as well.