Shadows and legs

I made this image on a Sunday a while back.  AM and I had just picked up the girls in Century City and were headed to the Farmer’s Market in Beverly Hills for some fresh produce and then to the library so Ester could take-out a few books.  The library, police station, city hall and courthouse in Beverly Hills are all connected and part of this strange, deco inspired compound that sits right on the edge of Santa Monica Blvd, subdividing the shopping mecca of Rodeo and it’s associated side streets from the residential areas.  I’ve heard that the folks of BH were more than just a little inspired by the city hall in Pasadena which has got to be one of the most picturesque government buildings I have ever seen.  In fact it’s long overdo for a visit and shooting session.  Elliot loves to take the gold line so I guess I know what I’m doing next weekend.  

But I digress, after the famers market we cut through the parking lot and over to the library where the sun was shinning down through these open partitions in the corridor casting deep, lovely shadows all over the place.  The rest of the fam went inside while I stayed for a moment to take it in.  I loved how the shadows and light cut through the corridor, bifurcating the entire frame with concentric perfection.  All that was missing were my subjects.  Then I saw a pair of legs pop-out from seemingly nowhere, a few meters away towards the middle of the corridor.  I fumbled with my camera for only a second but as soon as I had it up to my eye the legs were gone, tucked behind a pillar.  So I waited.  

And waited and waited.  A woman came out the front door, rolling a large metal cart in front of her but still the legs didn’t reappear.  The woman passed where the legs had popped-out, made a straight line for the book drop, opened a compartment in the wall and started loading the cart with books but still no legs.  I was so focused on finding the legs that I didn’t notice a man exiting the library until he had blocked my view of the corridor.  I knew I was going to miss those damn legs.  I knew they were going to pop out again while this guy was blocking my view.  But they didn’t.  

The woman loading the cart must have loaded everything there was to load as she was now heading back towards me.  She passed the departing man and they didn’t share a glance.  I decided this was my image–the cart lady and her books in shadow with the man framed in a sunbeam, so I raised the camera, framed and clicked.  A few weeks later when the negatives had been processed and I was standing at the big light table at the Icon checking the negs with a loupe, I noticed something that made me smile.  There in my frame, off to the side were those damn legs.   

Shot on my Leica M7 using a 35 Summicron with an amber filter on Kodak Tri-X, pushed +1 at the Icon. 


Metroreflex and other nearest misses

Here’s another batch of images that were all about to hit the edit room floor.  They span the course of the last few years with the earliest being in September of 2015 and the the latest being last month.  The reason I decided to save these from editorial purgatory was that I finally sat down and painstakingly read through Andre D. Wagner’s first monograph, “Here for the Ride.”  

The book chronicles people as they commute on the New York transit system as seen through the eyes of a fellow commuter.  The initial run was 750 copies and I stayed up all night to get my hands on number 23.  All of the images originate on black and white film which is perfect.  He does all of his own processing/printing and I think I read somewhere that he’s shooting up to 10 rolls a day, 7 days a week which has to make him one of the most prolific film-based photographers our there.  I’m really on fire if I shoot 4 rolls of 35 in a single day.  I can’t imagine shooting 10 and then processing all of that material.  It’s mind blowing.   

Beyond the technical aspects of the work and process the images themselves are incredible–these beautiful little dramas unfolding on the train.  There’s a richness and a humanity to his subjects that is real and candid and lovely.  He connects you to his fellow commuters in a way that conveys a certain intimacy–as if you’ve been invited to look behind the curtain of their life and everything is laid bare.  The work is bar-none some of the best street and doco work out there, partially because it’s so current but also because it feels so timeless.  

With that in mind here’s my micro-tribute to one of the most interesting and dynamic photographers out there today.  Mr. Wagner, I severely doubt you’ll ever read this but on the off chance that you do, well done sir.  You’re an inspiration and I really can’t wait to see what you do next.  

All images shot on my Leica M7 at 35mm on Kodak Tri-X pushed to 800 at the Icon.   

An Ending

The image says a lot but not the whole story.  Since the early days of scientific exploration, coinciding with European imperialism, we white people have done whatever we deemed nessecary at the time to further our empires and our fortunes.  We have always perpetrated these crimes of progress off the backs of those too unfortunate to realize they were being enslaved.  We’ve lied, cheated and stolen in the name of advancement.  We’ve committed genocide in the name of science.  We’ve enslaved generation after generation in the name of economic growth.  We’ve devised systems to enslave races in perpetual ignorance and poverty. We’ve perpetuated false, fear based stereo-types, we enact hate-crimes, we deny it all.  

But as horrible as we white folk have been to the races around the world, it is nothing compared to what we men have made you women endure since the dawn of time.  What’s worse is that man’s treatment of women transcends race; transcends socio-economic background; transcends religion or region.  Men treat women like shit and they do it as Christians or as Muslims, or Hindu or white or African American or Japanese or Swedish or poor or rich or as vanilla middle class.  In fact, men’s equally shitty treatment of women may possibly be the single unifying thread that binds all races and religions together and not just in this era but throughout all time.  That’s right.  The single unifying belief in all of humanity might just be the oppression of women.    

It’s hard not to think about it right now.  Everyday more and more women come forward with accusations about men in power having committed an ever increasing array of pretty horrible shit.  You have your Weinsteins and Cosbys and Ratners and Louie CKs—you even have the president of the United States and all of these deviants have a line of accusers so long that it’s hard to imagine these guys having any time left for anything other than whipping out their cocks and acting like sexual predators.  And these are just the famous, well-to-do folks.  What if you’re just below poverty line and looking for a job and the guy at the grocery store, while interviewing you, whips out his cock and says if you really want this job, you’ll get to work now?  Who are you going to tell?  What’s your recourse?  

It’s hard not to be ashamed.  I’m a racial oppressor by birthright, shamed by the acts of those in my family and others, years back, but not so many years back that I shouldn’t be paying reparations in one form or another.  But I’m also an oppressor of women by birthright, shamed by those who say that they love all races and creeds but keep women firmly under their boot.  Men who rape and hurt women.   Who threaten them and make them think that they are weak and feeble.  But ultimately it’s we men who are weak and ill-suited for the power we’ve stolen from women.  Our strong beautiful daughters and wives and mothers are our superior in every way.  They’re better adapted at reasoning, conjecture, structure and survival.  They give birth.  They feed us at their breast.  They lovingly guide us into the world and how do we repay them?  

So when I saw Ester standing behind this piece at the Hammer, I felt conflicted.  Yes, we need to truly embrace that we believe all men are created equally imperfect and deserve the same opportunities and inalienable rights as our liberalism ideals dictate.  We should be viewed as a single race, known only as humanity and we should be brothers in arms.  But this applies to all men and all women.  We men need to put an end to the single biggest act of systemic hate ever known and finally show unconditional love and respect to all women of this world for they are more than our equals.  We owe them our lives and they owe us nothing.

“An end” shot on my Mamiya6MF at 50mm on Kodak Tri-X film pushed to 800 at the Icon.

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