Half and half

On the same day as I made the portrait of Magnolia, the kids and I stopped at the Hammer for a little Saturday culture.  I wanted to see the Radical Women exhibit and I think the kids wanted to go to the book store and then maybe take a hot chocolate at the cafe which for a parent of three is total win-win.  

The exhibit was good, angst ridden for sure but it was good.  Ester and Ella both saw pieces they liked and of course Elliot could have given a shit less that we were there.  He just wanted to go have a hot chocolate.  He voiced his objection in ever single gallery in the museum by finding the closest bench and pretending to sleep on it.  If there were multiple benches in the room, he would try out each and every one of them in turn–lying down, pretending to sleep for a minute or two, waiting until I wasn’t looking and moving to the next.  Rinse and repeat.  I have pictures of Elliot pretending to sleep in maybe every museum I’ve ever taken him to.  Shit, I should make a book.   

It’s frustrating at times having a 15 year-old who has the capacity of a 3 year old and the temper of a 90 year old Italian.   It’s often very frustrating, but when it comes to this particular annoyance, pretending to sleep in art museums, I’ve seen enough adults do it to not give a rat’s ass about Elliot pretending to do it.  After a while even the girls were tired of radical women and their radical paintings and sketches sculptures and angst-ridden vhs tapes from 1978 where they continuously lick a frozen popsicle down to the stick in extreme close-up looping for hours,  so they went to sit down where Elliot had made his latest bed, lying face-down, arms folded under his head and his feet dangling off the end of the bench.  

I realized I needed a break too, so I joined them.  I spied a tiny bit of space on the bench and wedged myself between the girls.  That’s when I saw the pair of legs in the image, bifurcated at the thigh, wondering through a white space with no uppper-body–half human and half art.  It’s an interesting framing that I would never have seen if it weren’t for the silent protests of my miserable, art hating son, so way to go man.  It was totally worth every irritated stare from every childless patron at the museum that day.   

“Half and half” was shot on my Mamiiya 6MF at 50mm on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 800 at the Icon.  


(This is) Magnolia and her jacket

The kids and I were walking back from the Hammer when I saw this lovely young lady sitting on a stoop waiting for a Taxi.  She was looking at something on her phone and smiling with this big beautiful smile.  Then I noticed her jacket and my mind just flashed.  I swear I had one just like it when I was a kid–not like you needed one in New Orleans but I absolutely remember wearing a red one just like it this one time my parents decided to fly us up to visit my pop’s family in Detroit around Christmas time.  I think I was maybe 10.  My parents put my brother, sister and me on a plane, sans parent and away we went.  It was the first time I remember flying and it was mind-blowing.  The attendants checked in on us a couple times and brought us orange juice and peanuts but for the most part it was just the three of us, faces glued to the window for all 4 hours of the trip.

I remember seeing clouds like that for the first time.  Remember feeling so empowered and excited to be making the trip with my brother and sister.  Remember how crazed we were to finally see a huge dump of snow–more collateral damage of a NOLA upbringing was the distinct lack of snow.  We maybe got a flurry every decade or so but nothing like you would get in Detroit and we were jacked up to a million to run around in it.  

I remember putting on the jacket over a pair of matching red overalls covering my black snow boots.  I slid my red, mitten covered fists through the sleeves, zipped-up and barreled out the door and into the snow.  My brother followed immediately after me and last came my sister who could only move in small jerky gestures.  She was like the little brother in “A Christmas Story” or any episode of the Simpsons where Maggie has to wear overalls.   I was so proud of my red jacket, I remember.  I thought I looked like a real Michigan winter dude, just give me a mountain and a sled and I would conquer that shit.    

So I pass this girl and all this flashes through my mind.  I’m half way to the car when I stop dead in my tracks and head back to where she’s sitting.  She looks up from her phone and I introduce myself.  I tell her my name and ask her if I can make a portrait of her.  Turns out her name is Magnolia.  She asks why and I bumble through my usual explanation of how I make street portraits from time to time and how they’re usually candid but sometimes I’ll ask permission first.  I show her my Insta account so she can see I’m not a creep.  I tell her how much I love her smile and that I love her jacket and I can see I’ve winning her over.  Meanwhile my kids are looking-on and laughing like crazy people–their old man is making a fool of himself right before their very eyes.  Magnolia says she would love to have her picture taken and I make two portraits of her right then, sitting on the stoop in that vintage jacket and that incredible smile.  

This is Magnolia and her Jacket, shot on Kodak Tri-X 400, +1 on my Mamiya 6mf, processed by the lovely folks at the Icon. 

At the end of the day

I love the sunsets here in Santa Monica and I don’t get out as often as I wish to shoot in that glorious light.  During the summer it’s a bit easier since sunset comes just late enough that I can make it out in time after work, but this time of year I’m lucky if I catch it during the week at all.  Tonight would have been one of the most dramatic sunsets to shoot for a long, long time.  It’s been cloudy here and our typical blue skies have been cloaked in enormous, cotton-ball, storm clouds; dark and grey and foreboding.  I wish I could have taken a couple cameras down to the boardwalk and shot for an hour.  Right at the horizon there was a strip of blue that turned purple then pink then red and yellow and orange all at the same time.   The rest of the sky was a thick fluffy blanket, slowly rippling through the dusk like someone was making your bed with you still in it.  It was glorious and I hope that tomorrow will be just as cloudy and that maybe, oh maybe I can sneak out of work a bit early and shoot. 

I might even shoot some color.  It’s interesting but lately I feel myself being drawn to color… I fault Gruyaert and Webb and their beautiful books for distracting me from my beloved monochrome images.  In fact I just got a new two volume monograph from Gruyaert (signed !!!) called “West, East.” Or is it “East, West?” Regardless it’s gorgeous.  It’s not the “Suffering of Light” but it’s incredible.  Speaking of “Suffering of Light,” I was pouring over it for a couple hours one night last week and I think it warped my brain.  I went out the next day and bought a shit-ton of Portra 400/800 like a man possessed.  

That’s how much it effects me.  Plan is to head down to K-Town, park and walk towards DTLA on Wilshire or maybe Beverly while shooting the shit out of everything.  There are all of these incredible swaths of color down that way.  I always these gorgeous red walls with blue trim at carwashes or green markets with yellow doors and patrons coming and going and always while just driving around.  In the end I just want to hop out of my car and shoot.  In fact I did that more than once this weekend.  Stopped at a red light, I see something that will make a beautiful color image, jump out, shoot, almost get run over… 

All that color nonsense aside, I’ve decided to post a small series of monochrome images that I made at sunset on the beach.  These were from sunnier days where the shadows ran long and low for days.  They work better as a series than singles and it’s just as well–I fear they might have hit the cutting room floor had they not.  All of the images were made in Santa Monica or Venice except for “Curious boys” which I made in Laguna.

All were made using my Leica M7/35mm Summicron on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 800 at the Icon.  

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