I’m not a big Thanksgiving person.  I’m just not.  When I was a kid, the holiday felt like bullshit to me more often than not because I didn’t really get what I had to be thankful for.  I loved my family, but I was miserable most of the time after my parents got divorced. I didn’t eat turkey so I hated all the food except for the mashed potatoes.  The only thing that was nice about it was that I got a day or two off from school.  As I approached my teen years the whole concept started to feel even more rank.  You learn more about the systemic genocide of the native Americans and the whole concept of giving thanks feels so lopsided that just the thought of it started to make me feel ill.  Like you’re having a party at some guys house that you just slaughtered.   

Then I moved to Sweden and Thanksgiving wasn’t an issue anymore.  For almost 14 years or so I didn’t have to worry about this morally-corrupt, bullshit holiday and the whole thing slipped into memory almost for good.  Then we moved to Los Angeles and here it is, front and center again.  Some things have changed.  My family usually comes up from New Orleans which is lovely.  My mom and stepdad cook and I eat everything that gets put on the table now, but try to take it easy on the mashed potatoes.  I’m still thankful for the same things, my family siting atop that list but I’m also happy that I can provide for my them and that I’m able to be here for my children pretty much whenever they need me.  I’m thankful for my life, my small successes, for Anna Maria, for her patience and her love.    

Even all that still isn’t enough to close my eyes to the realities of our society and the gross injustices one can see on the daily.  When you see how poverty stricken so many people are in this city juxtaposed against the incredible wealth and excess of the upper echelon, it’s hard to feel like we as a nation are interested in doing anything other than lining the pockets of the rich capitalist corporations and those that run them.  We allow the market to succeed and grow while our own quality of life takes staggering hit after staggering hit all the while watching the wealth accumulate at the feet of those who could care less about society’s quality of life.  Capitalism is completely and utterly agnostic to humanity’s quality of life, it’s ability to be happy and whether or not it’s members lead successful productive lives with one single exception.  Capitalism needs us to consume and keep on consuming in order for it to grow and expand.  

It’s disgustingly ironic that Thanksgiving, a day when we’re supposed to genuinely focus on the aspects of our lives that we are truly thankful for–family and love and togetherness–is followed by a day we spend showing just how thankful we are at being slaves to capitalism and consume at the highest volumes of the entire year.  Happy Black Friday America! 

Are you thankful for anything dear reader?  I wonder if the guy in the picture is thankful for anything. 

LeicaM7, 35mm Cron, Kodak Tri-X +1 at the Icon.       

10 minutes

I rarely shoot just architecture anymore.  Somewhere along my photographic journey I was pulled towards images narrating a  human experience to art or architecture or the surrounding environment.  Architecture began serving a compositional role that is one component of the human experience as opposed to being the experience in it of itself.  I’m still drawn to stark lines, textures and contrasts, but those elements feel incomplete to me without a subject experiencing them first hand–to give them scale and grounding in the real world.  That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate people who create architectural images, it just means I seek a different balance in my own work.  Usually.

A few Saturday’s back, Ester and a few of her friends marched in the AIDS walk Downtown.  I was proud of her and of her friends.  I don’t want to sounds like the out-of-touch father but I didn’t realize that Ester was felt so strongly about showing her support for social issues like AIDS.  I was touched.  Surprised by touched.  

While we were waiting for her to meet us up at the car, I realized we were parked half a block from the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  The second I realized it, I immediately started feeling fidgety.   My camera bag was in the back and I reckoned I could get in at least 10 minutes before Ester showed-up so I jumped-out, grabbed my Mamiya and asked AM if she wouldn’t mind picking me in front of the Disney Concert Hall as soon as Ester finally showed.  

I crossed the street, walked half a block down to the back entrance and took the steps two at a time.  When I arrived at the garden there were images everywhere and in my haste to bail I hadn’t thought to take another roll with me–just the camera.  I started with a couple images of silhouetted trees and I got lucky.  There was a guy walking around back there shooting himself and I managed to catch him in one of my frames.  The other pictures were made purely as a testament and celebration of Gehry’s intimate understanding of light and form.  He was a genius and every time I have the pleasure to experience his work I feel humbled.    

Just as I shot out the last frame on the roll, AM called.  She and the kids had already looped around the block twice and hadn’t seen me.  I ran down the front steps, out into the street in front of the Concert Hall and jumped in the passenger seat feeling totally overwhelmed by 10 minutes spent basking in the intense glow of what could only be defined as greatness.

Shot on my Mamiya 6MF at 50mm on Kodak Tri-X 400 film, pushed to 800 at the Icon.    

Fuck you man

The story behind this image starts as a familiar one.  I’m out shooting downtown and something catches my eye. I quickly frame up and hit the shutter.  A few weeks later I look at the negatives and it either worked out or it didn’t.  Sometimes when I get the images back the images, the ones I was positive were going to be keepers turn out to be shitty and sometimes vice versa.  That’s jus the way it goes

There is however a rare third scenario when I make an image that I think is going to be good and it turns out to be amazing for completely different reasons than I ever expected.  The legs shot I wrote about a few days back is one of those rarities… this image is another.  When I made this I was facing away from the subway station, waiting for an interesting subject to approach.  When I saw this guy, all pissy, all grey with that bald head tearing his way towards the subway, I had only a split-second to spin 180 degrees to catch him heading towards the escalators.  I whipped around while framing him in the right third and then panned up slightly to come level.  In that split second of panning up my eye wasn’t on my subject, it was framing the background and then I hit the shutter.

So flash forward a few weeks and I’m at the Icon with the loupe and the light table checking out my shots.  I pan over to this shot and start laughing my ass-off.  This fucking guy gave me the finger.  What’s even funnier is that when I think back, I totally remember someone saying “Fuck you man!” Thing is though, there’s always someone screaming “fuck you” or “eat shit” or just howling at the top of their lungs so it totally didn’t register at the time.  

Anyway, I just want to say thank you Mr. Fuck-you-man–you made my fucking day.  Oh, and fuck you too buddy :)

Shot on my Mamiya 6MF on Kodak Tri-X film, pushed +1 by the Icon.    

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