Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain

I went home to Ardmore, Oklahoma, for the holidays.  When I'm back, I always try to find a couple of people to shoot with.  I met up with a few this time and was able to make some images that I'm in love with.  

This is Dewayne in his 79' Caddy.

This is Dewayne in his 79' Caddy.

I remember the first time I saw Dewayne. It was about fifteen years ago at a gas station called Karry-Out-Korner, a known haven for drug dealers. He was sitting in one of the seventeen different Cadillacs that he's owned throughout his life. My friend Junebug (to appear later in this blog post) popped out of my car, ran over to Dewayne's gold Dayton-rimmed 1983 Cadillac limo, and handed him some money through the window. Dewayne quickly handed Junebug a couple of small bags. Junebug ran back to my car, hopped in, and threw several plastic bags in my lap. It wasn't drugs. Nope. It was some of the best homemade beef jerky that I've ever tasted.

Dewayne sitting on the steps of his old, now vacated, middle school.

Dewayne sitting on the steps of his old, now vacated, middle school.

Dewayne was shot in the back by the police in 1968, has had seven heart attacks, lost his son to a gunshot last year, and most recently had a small stroke.  He said "If I can make it through all that, shit I might as well start smokin' again"  After 30 years off tobacco Dewayne figures it's alright to have a cig here and there.  

Junebug, skinny legs and all.

Junebug, skinny legs and all.

Back to Junebug. If you look closely you will see a large 60 tattooed across Bug's adam's apple.  That is for Rollin' 60's Crips. It's one of the gangs in Ardmore.  You'll also notice that 'Fucc' on the back of his leg is spelled wrong. Crips spell words that have CK in them with CC because CK is an abbreviation that Bloods use for Crip Killa.

After spending time with Dewayne and Junebug, I spent some time with my mom. She really wanted to go look at this locally famous house on the Eastside of town. I won't describe any further, just check it out below and you'll understand.

The  McMahons  House.

The McMahons House.

So this very sweet 83 year old woman, Mrs. McMahon, has decorated her entire house by herself for the last 43 years.  She gets on the roof and hangs all the lights and ornaments.  Her husband takes it all down and organizes it for the following year, but she puts it all up!

The Queen of Christmas,  Mrs. McMahon

The Queen of Christmas, Mrs. McMahon

She saw my Mother and I across the street taking pictures so she invited us in for a little chocolate and conversation.  She said people always take pictures, but never get the entire house in the picture.  I was only taking pics with my iphone at the time. So I told her if she let me make a portrait of her then I would come back the next day with my camera.  The next day I came back and photographed the house and Mr. and Mrs. McMahon.

The McMahons

The McMahons

We spent the majority of that evening hanging with the McMahons.  I may not miss a lot about Ardmore, Oklahoma, but I certainly do miss the hospitality.  These people invited us in literally off the street without having any clue who we were and having no idea whether or not we were serial killers.  Luckily for them, we aren't serial killers. Luckily for us, we met the McMahons.  

Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait

Soooo yea...That is my hometown in a nutshell. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Isle of Coneys

One of my free days in NYC I made it out to Coney Island.  That place is something else.  It's like stepping into a time warp.  What time that would be, I am still unsure of.  If you have never been on a busy summer day, I strongly suggest you make a day of it.  You won't be disappointed. The colors and people are worth the trip alone.

NYC_030.jpg
Outside of the Freak Show

Outside of the Freak Show

Can't really have a Freak Show without a Nigerian Snake Charmer.

Can't really have a Freak Show without a Nigerian Snake Charmer.

The theme park.

The theme park.

Did I mention the hotdogs?

Did I mention the hotdogs?

Shot on a a Toyo 4x5 field camera

Shot on a a Toyo 4x5 field camera

This is 2 4x5 images stitched together.  The detail in this image is unbelievable. 

This is 2 4x5 images stitched together.  The detail in this image is unbelievable. 

Back from the Big Apple

Ok, well that was a trip.  I thought I would have loads to post on the blog, well actually I do, I just didn't have anytime to do it.  Ms. Leibovitz put me to work and never let up.  It had to be one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life.  I learned more in the last four months about photography than I have during my entire stint in school.  As I mentioned back in June I would have lots of stories, and I do, but again because of non-disclosure agreements I can't really discuss any of it.  If you ever meet me in person than maybe I could share just a little.  I spent a lot of time shooting film in NYC.  Actually, I spent all of my spare time shooting film, which was pretty new to me.  A few of my friends there are very experienced with it so I was able to figure out just about anything I needed. As New York is probably one of the best places out there for street photography that is what I spent most of my time doing. I shot mostly everything on a Mamiya 645 Pro TL.

A view from Brooklyn of Manhattan.

A view from Brooklyn of Manhattan.

James having fried chicken for lunch.

James having fried chicken for lunch.

It was such a pleasure and a challenge to shoot on film this summer.  I get 15 exposures on the 645 on 120mm film.  After developing we are looking at just a little less than a dollar per shot.  When you press that shutter you better mean it.  

Dinner in Little Italy.

Dinner in Little Italy.

A morning in Harlem.

A morning in Harlem.

It is funny how much my views and appreciation of the images change when shot on film.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am paying for every image.  I actually take the time to really make the image and also review the image.  When shooting digital I can take 15 images in one second.  It makes me care less about the images because it is so little effort to create them.  And sure I can make my digital images look just like these, but there is just something special to me about them when actually shot on film.  For example, the image above was from a morning walking around Harlem and I vividly remember standing in this spot waiting for the perfect subject to come up the stairs and when she did I knew it was time to press the shutter.  If I had shot this digitally I might not have taken the time to review the image and all of its attractive qualities.

The New Whitney Museum

The New Whitney Museum

A couple who obviously partied to hard the previous night. 

A couple who obviously partied to hard the previous night. 

I will be posting a lot of street photography and some portraits taken on film on the blog and my instagram for those who are interested in seeing more of it.  For now I hope you enjoy these images.

 

A viewing deck at the New Whitney Museum.

A viewing deck at the New Whitney Museum.

Waitin' on the train.

Waitin' on the train.

My friend Ian Hoogenboom.

My friend Ian Hoogenboom.

A typical saturday on the roof.

A typical saturday on the roof.

Bushwick Brooklyn

It has been about two months since the last time I have blogged.  It's certainly not because I didn't want to. I finished my X semester of school in April which involved spending a very large amount of time on my final project, GOLD IS THE NEW BLACK, which can be seen as a gallery on my site (which you are already on if you are reading this).  It took a lot of focus and a great team to make it all come together.  That is not necessarily what this post is about.   

This is Charliesheena or at least that is what she told me her name is :)

This is Charliesheena or at least that is what she told me her name is :)

I was offered an internship with Annie Leibovitz in New York City. Everyday is filled with excitement and LOTS of hard work.  Of course I'm still making time to produce my own work as well.  I'm working in the West Village/Chelsea and living in Bushwick Brooklyn.  The people living in this neighborhood have style like I cannot explain with words.  That is why I will do so with pictures. Stay tuned.
 

This is Malik. He is from London and his style was on point, to say the least.

This is Malik. He is from London and his style was on point, to say the least.

I met so many incredible people up on the roof that day.  People say New Yorkers are stand-offish or rude.  I couldn't disagree more.  This has been the most welcoming city I've ever lived in.
 

Mr. Brandon Shane Harris

Mr. Brandon Shane Harris

This incredibly nice fella's name is Mass

This incredibly nice fella's name is Mass

Well, as I mentioned before, you can pack a lot of people on our roof, probably more than it can hold. I think we were approaching max capacity until the lovely NYPD showed up.  They actually were incredibly professional and friendly, treating each and every person with respect.  I have a great appreciation for the way the situation was handled! And the party was almost over anyway.

Malik again!

Malik again!

So this is how my first few weeks have been in Brooklyn.  Unfortunately, I'm not at liberty to discuss much of what goes on at the internship with Annie Leibovitz. There will be plenty of great stories to share some day, but for now I will stick to sharing my own.

The Aftermath!

The Aftermath!


The Production paradox

I've recently started a crowd funding campaign, using the site gofundme.com as my platform.  This is my first experience with crowd funding.  I think it's going well so far and I'm excited see the final outcome.  The photography world can be such a challenge, particularly due to the high costs of production.  So many people out there have the skills to create amazing imagery if they had disposable income and a hard working team.  The catch-22 is that without images that are, or look, highly produced it's very difficult to find someone willing to fund your production.  It's really somewhat of a paradox.  And I'm simply speaking of the cost of production. This doesn't even account for the cost of all the technical equipment required.  I believe it was Erik Almas that said something to the effect of "Don't spend your money on new lenses and toys, spend it on shoots."  This is so true.  You can rent everything you need for shoots pretty cheaply, especially as a student.  Who cares how many nice lenses you own. If your not producing amazing work with them, then who cares.  Personally I own a single lens, a Canon 50mm f/1.2.  That's because I've spent every penny I've earned on producing bigger and better shoots, not buying equipment.  I rent all the equipment I need for every shoot.  

The cost of this image equals a  Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 . 

The cost of this image equals a Zeiss 85mm f/1.4

In any case, the point is that images cost a lot of money to create and if you already have high quality production images, someone, somewhere will pay you to create more.  And If you don't, they won't. Recently I came up with a project that, for a student, needs a lot of money to be created.  That's why I am using crowd funding.  If you want to make amazing images then you have to be resourceful.  I asked friends and family to help make my dreams come true.  It's not begging or charity, its just asking for help to get your career off the ground.  You'll see below in my campaign that I'm offering incentives for donations.  Not only do the donors get a sense of gratification, but they're also given a piece of the project -- which I'm expecting to be worth millions one day.

That concludes what I have to say about crowd funding and creating funding for your own projects.  I found someone who says it a little bit better than I do. Below I have shared a link to Amanda Palmer's TedTalk about "The Art of Asking".  If you have the time and are interested in alternative careers that require creative approaches to achieve success I suggest you give it a look.

A Look Inside

I am currently working on a personal project that I have been planning for a long time.  I was lucky enough to have some extra help last week and was able to get some behind the scenes footage of the shoot. If you like the music go check out BEDROCKK and my blog post about him below. And stay tuned for more behind the scenes and imagery from the shoot!

Visionaire

Twice a year an event occurs known as Antiques Week in and around the very small town of Roundtop, Texas.  My mother and I just refer to the event as Roundtop.  I'm not sure if this is true or not, but it is said to be the largest antique show in the world.  When describing how extensive the selection of antiques is I like to say, "just name it and they have it". I really mean this.  It is unbelievable what you can find there.  These are not your normal antiques. Of course normal antiques are available. You know normal as in stuff you see at grandma's house.  The abnormal is what makes Roundtop really an awesome, in the literal sense of the word, place to go.  My mother has been going twice a year for 20 years, staying for a week at a time.  I was born and raised being dragged in and out of every antique and vintage store on this side of the Mississippi. Probably the other side too.   I always resisted going to Roundtop. I finally went when I was 25. I've been back several times since and will continue to go every time I get a chance. 

This is the Tijuana Taxi that sits outside of one my Mother's stores. I call it a roadside attraction. She calls it a boutique. In fact she calls it   Cloverleaf Boutique  .

This is the Tijuana Taxi that sits outside of one my Mother's stores. I call it a roadside attraction. She calls it a boutique. In fact she calls it Cloverleaf Boutique.

All of these these items my mother has purchased during Antiques Week.  Of  course this is just a sample. She fills an entire semi trailer twice a year and brings it home.  This particular ice cream cone pretty much filled a semi trailer itself standing at a towering 20 feet tall!!!   

All of these these items my mother has purchased during Antiques Week.  Of  course this is just a sample. She fills an entire semi trailer twice a year and brings it home.  This particular ice cream cone pretty much filled a semi trailer itself standing at a towering 20 feet tall!!!

 

The people I have met in this tiny little Texas town are endlessly successful in very nontraditional ways.  Some of the most boldly creative and hardworking people I have ever seen roll out for Antiques Week. I have made some great friends there that always inspire me. My friends Amy and Jolie Sykes a.k.a The Junk Gypsies have always made me feel at home during the show.  These two lovely ladies started selling a few t-shirts in their booth about 15 years ago and now have created a Roundtop Empire which eventually led to their very own reality show on HGTV.  Another "sort of" friend is Mr. Bud Royer owner of Royer's Roundtop Cafe. Those are just a few of the interesting people you might meet at the event, but the list goes on for days. I suggest you take a trip out to Austin, Tx during Antiques week and take the 60 mile drive out to Roundtop. Give it a try for yourself. Be sure to book your room about a year in advance. There are only about 100 rooms or so available in the area for the 200,000 plus visitors in attendance each session.  

Dive into Round Top and have a look for yourself.

Dive into Round Top and have a look for yourself.

As you might imagine, going to the same place twice a year for twenty years leads to lots o' friends in that place.  A friend of my mother, Donna Parker allowed us to stay on her property known as the No. 3.  This roughly 3 acre property is adorned with some of the most unique decorations I have ever seen, or a least some of my favorites.  There are farm animals everywhere. Sheep, goats, rabbits...except none of them are real. They're statues placed on the property as if they were actually alive.  There is a 10 foot tall Faberge Egg in the middle of the pond.  A 40 ft in-diameter corn crib, need I say more. The list could go on forever of weird shit you couldn't really imagine without seeing it.   One more thing, there is a library and it has some of the coolest books that I never knew existed.  One collection in particular is known as Visionaire. Visionaire is a publication company that quarterly produces art multiples.  It has been around since 1991 and is said to be the most expensive subscription that there is.  When I saw these publications I was blown away.   They are some of the most well put together collections of art out there.  One of them looks like something from space. I believe it issue #29 Woman. You have to press a button to open it.  Please keep in mind these are books. You have to press a fucking button to open it! I love it. Their creativity never ceases to amaze. I just knew I had to had to have at least one of these issues some day. Recently I received the THE BIBLE ISSUE #28 as a gift from my mother, which happens to be my favorite issue I have seen.  It is filled with images from Mario Testino, David LaChapelle and so many others.  If you are looking for inspiration Visionaire is the place to get it; at least for myself anyway. 

My copy of The Bible Issue #28 of Visionaire

My copy of The Bible Issue #28 of Visionaire

I won't show the the book open because it would lose its mystery.  I want you to go out and find your own inspiration.  Ill never forget the day I opened my first LaChapelle book.  That's when I knew photography was IT for me!

A few of my LaChapelle books. I find myself opening these once every other day or so just when I need a spark in my creativity.

A few of my LaChapelle books. I find myself opening these once every other day or so just when I need a spark in my creativity.

So whatever it is you're interested in, I suggest you find the best or who you decide is the best to you and immerse yourself in their work. I don't care if it's antiques, carpentry, architecture, it really doesn't matter because there will always be someone that knows more than you do and the goal is to figure out why and one day be that guy or gal to someone else! Good luck out there!

Just one more so you can see the gold edged pages

Just one more so you can see the gold edged pages

BEDROCKK

About 2 years ago I heard this song that I really liked called "Eclipse Philosophy" by Bedrockk.  I looked everywhere for this song, but couldn't find it anywhere.  Of course I eventually found it.  I liked the song so much I made a no budget music video for it and sent it to Bedrockk.  He liked it, maybe not as much as I did, but he liked it nonetheless.  I told him I was moving out to California and if he was anywhere out west then maybe we could link up and make some pictures or videos.  Coincidentally he had also just moved out to California and was psyched to do some work together. Anyway, that was about a year ago and we have since became friends and last weekend we finished our 3rd shoot together.  

As I have developed as an image maker so has our friendship, allowing us to make better pictures together.  This last shoot was by far our most successful and I just wanted to share a few images from it!

We also made some pictures outside.

And I guess this post wouldn't be complete without showing the video I made for Eclipse Philosophy.  Keep in mind that this was a NO BUDGET kinda production here.

Checkout some of Bedrockk's fresh beats below