The boy in the bubble and other nearest misses

After yesterdays seriousness, I wanted to go the opposite way today.  When I first started shooting those first 10,000 pictures that were supposed to be my worst and which preceded the next 10,000 which were arguably just as bad, I absolutely used to work exclusively in series.   At the end of a shooting day there tended to be one or two shots that I really felt were standout and the bones of the story (if in those early days I actually had one) but were in turn complimented by a series of images that I was pleased with but that weren’t as strong.  Basically rudimentary editing.  I would lump the two together in a series of maybe 10-15 images which to me felt largely cohesive and beautiful and thereby in my mind, complete.  Feet up on the table, pour a glass of wine, shit knocked out of the park.

As I became more focused on drilling down the work to a couple glory shots that were super cohesive and that could be neatly filed into smaller even more concise narratives, more and more of my good-but-not-great-picks hit the edit room floor.  As I write this, I’m scanning a handful of rolls fresh from the lab and I’m seeing images that I really like (and am bothering to scan) but that I also doubt will make the final cut.    Based on this revelation there may be a good chance that your third 10,000 photos also suck and that HCB was a fucking liar who secretly worked for Kodak. 


So dear reader, tonight I’ve decided to post a few outtakes from my photographic musings.  Images that I liked but I worry will never see the light of day if I don’t do this right now.  These are all from the Santa Monica Pier and the Venice Boardwalk and I do hope you enjoy them.  

“The boy in the bubble” and others, shot on the the Mamiya 6MF with a 50mm lens on Kodak Tri-X 400 film pushed +1 at the Icon.  


I don’t know how long they had been drifting apart.  It could have started last week or last year or last time they really talked.  But it had happened at some point and all that really matters is that it would have happened no matter what they did.  I think the first time I met them it was clear as day–two people talking passed each other; two people looking past each other into the soul of a person that just wasn’t there.  

I heard from a mutual friend that he was staying at work late so he could avoid going home and having dinner with her.  My wife heard that she was meeting some guy at the wine bar after work while he was working late.  It seemed to me it was only a matter of time before it all just crumbled.  The strange part was that I couldn’t imagine either of them actually giving a shit that it was over.  Sure there would be yelling and tears and shitty hurtful things said, but in my mind, while all the faux-emotional shrapnel was miming the destruction of everything they pretended to hold dear, they would pass right through the other like the ghosts they were–massless, half-empty/half-depleated husks of lovers.  

So when I heard they were taking a trip together, you know, ‘taking some time to patch things up” I couldn’t help but wonder.  I pictured them on the airplane, both on their phones, constantly checking their Instagram so they can avoid talking to each other.  Or in the hotel room, letting out a deep sigh while she fakes a headache to avoid sex and he checks her phone for texts while she’s in the bathroom.  I imagined them at the theme park, riding the rides secretly wishing they could just get off.  Get off of the rides.  Get off of each other.  Get off. 

Estranged shot on my Leica M7 with a Summicron 35 on Kodak Tri-X 400 and pushed to 800 at the Icon.  

Hairway to Steven

I made a couple of these images while we were in San Fransisco at SFMOMA.  The staircase itself, with the light beam that cuts through the staircase is divine.  For the others I camped out and waited for the right person to walk down or up and I tried to get the exact moment I was after.  It’s what we in the business call a “Fishing expedition” and it works just like it sounds.  There’s another version of this picture that I tend to prefer–I even posted it in my [Muse]ums series but I keep coming back to this image.   I’m drawn to it partially because of the aesthetic but mainly because of it’s origin story which happens to be how I found the staircase to begin with.  

The astute and well read among you may know that I have a son named Elliot who has a very, very short attention span combined with a love for exploring and little concern for consequences.  He’s also not terribly interested in fine art unlike his old man but he is, after all, only fifteen so one can hardly blame him.  We were finally at SFMOMA for the first time since this particular trip to the bay area was predicated by the fact that I would get a chance to finally to visit a museum that has constantly seemed to allude me on every trip I’ve even made to San Fransisco.  AM was excited, the girls placated me (after researching the location and finding the cafe’s pastry menu) but Elliot was determined to be miserable. 

Within a half hour he was disappearing into other galleries without saying anything searching for an exit.  He pulled the same trick at least three or four times on the first floor and then equally many on the second.  We would be looking at a few paintings or a photographs and then he just wasn’t there.  When he wasn’t disappearing he would find the closest bench where you could sit and examine the art, and proceed to take a nap.  Sometimes he would combine the two.  First running away, then finding a bench.  There’s photographic evidence I swear.  

On one of his later elopements, I couldn’t seem to find him anywhere in any of the galleries on that particular floor so I ran out into the hall.  I saw the entry way to a staircase that I hadn’t seen earlier and darted inside.  

It was heavenly.  I’ve never seen light play like that in a stairwell before, with the beam slicing through the staircase and then bouncing around all of that geometric perfection.  I was awestruck.  And of course there, climbing this stairway to heaven was my son.  His long sweaty surfer hair flopping around as he took the steps, one at a time, in a last ditch effort to escape insufferable boredom brought at the hands of his family and of the unholy fine art of SFMOMA. 

Hairway to Steven shot on my Leica M7 on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed a stop at the Icon.    

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