Seattle, I am Headed Your Way

A true life scene in Seattle.

  • (My wife and I went to Seattle a few weeks back so she could interview for a job.  She was offered the job and we are moving in the next couple weeks!  I started writing this before we knew.)

What can I say about Seattle?  Firstly, it was remarkably cold.  The kind of cold where you have to go buy clothes and you tear up in the biting wind because six years in LA has made you cold-soft.  Also, you’d think it was a huge coffee city, but you’d be wrong.  I bought and subsequently threw away a ton of coffee because it was ditchbrewed char-water that I can only imagine was fair-traded with bridge trolls.  If you like Starbucks version of coffee you’re totally in luck because that whole Starbucks-on-every-corner is a thing there.  But if you like NUANCE and COMPLEXITY, it’s not going to be your jam.  

Also didn’t bring the right clothes for the weather.

I’m old enough that grunge was a real defining aspect of my musical development and looking around you can feel that hanging on a little bit, even in the face of Amazon and Microsoft.  It’s interesting that the polar opposites of hardcore computing and hardcore heroin use were existing in the same time, at the same place, each creating something lasting and meaningful.  I say that with no snark.  I’ve never done heroin but I’m a huge fan of the music.  Amazon Prime isn’t too shabby either.

60 miles of wiring, run by hand!

Speaking of computing…the Living Computers Museum was a total treat.  I got Virtual Reality-ed, toured the graveyard of computers past, and used a robot to put makeup on my face (see below).  Really fantastic as far as nerdy things like that go.  Would recommend, 10/10.

Green-eyed lady, lovely lady.

Also the Frye Museum was just mind blowing, specifically the salon style room that looked like…

I don’t think you can get the full experience here with this picture, but it was an immersive experience, overwhelming and and awe-inspiring.  Rare that we see art displayed like this in museums, but apparently this was how they were hung at the Frye Estate.  Even better, it’s free.  

Long story short, we are packing up and moving to Seattle in the next month.  Los Angeles is and has been amazing and I’m seriously sad to leave.  But, the next adventure awaits.  I’d love to hear from artists, models, etc in Seattle, as I won’t know anyone.  And I’d love to hear your suggestions as far as food, beer, things to do, etc.

chris (at) chrisfitzgerald (dot) com

Yea, But Who Cares? Rolling Stone and the iPhone7

(This is an edited and reprinted article I wrote a few months back and published on my other blog.)

It’s dangerous to romanticize the past too much because it alienates us from the newer generation, but I’ll start by saying that Rolling Stone Magazine was always a HUGE influence on me and my work.  It was extremely important in crafting the way I shoot portraits and it will forever remain that for me…a driving force in art, music and rebellion.  In a waterproof box in storage is the Kurt Cobain Death issue, among others, that I couldn’t bear to toss out.  It was back when RS was fat, thick, and lush, full of eye catching photographs and gorgeous, saturated tones.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a subscription to RS although I buy one for plane rides and the occasional political story.  Over the last six years in LA I’ve reached out to them 20 or so times to try to shoot for them.  (They politely ignored my requests)  But the magazine industry has melted into a strange amalgamation of pay walls, websites and throw away content at this point.  Culturally, we are less aware of what “good” media is, good writing, good photos, good research, etc. and we are way more concerned with how fast we can consume it.  The rate at which we consume doesn’t warrant all the effort we used to put into it.

And here’s the chicken or the egg: Magazines lost money to the internet so they paid less for content so the quality went down and now the magazines are low quality that no one wants to pay for.  I don’t pretend I know how to fix it, but I don’t think we are any closer than we were five years ago.  And I don’t think the iPhone 7 Plus helps us either.

I picked this up the doctor’s office a couple weeks back.  The first thing I noticed about this RS cover was how yellow it was.  That’s easy enough to fix.  The second thing I noticed was that her hands were cut off.  This is such a rookie composition mistake, but I understand maybe they cropped them for the cover.  Thirdly…other than the fact that Lourde is famous…who cares?  I mean, if you saw this and you weren’t a die hard Lourde fan, would you look twice?  What about this photo would make you want to purchase or even open this magazine?  And that’s kind of the crux of it.

Yea, great, the iPhone makes a good technical photo that you can reproduce.  But if the photo doesn’t push me or pull me, then who cares?  And what’s crazy is, Lourde is cool!  Lourde is someone who is so full of personality and opinions, not to mention, talent!  There would be a million ways to make this cover better which I won’t bore you with.  But here it is:

Anyone can make a photo.  Anyone can make a decent or even GREAT photo.  This photo on the cover of Rolling Stone is neither.

I appreciate that RS needs ad money to survive and I appreciate that Apple thought this was a good marketing move, but are we so enamoured with the tech that we lost the art?  I think the answer is yes.  Portrait mode is slick, and I use the hell out of the slow motion feature on my Galaxy, but I know that making art is bigger than the tools that help you make them.  And art, photography, music, movies, magazines, are ALL suffering now because the the tools are so readily available but the motive, the message, the feeling, the blood, sweat, effort, love, hate desire…it’s just not there like it used to be.  (Not to mention the money…)

Full disclosure, Rolling Stone never hired me which I didn’t get too butthurt about.  Photographers who take above average photos with lots of opinions about things, shit, man, we are EVERYWHERE.  Personally, though, I hope we can pull out of this “content-for-contents’-sake” thing and get back to making art that has teeth.

Fixing Your Overexposed Problem Areas

I’m not a real dialed in, gear-headed, exacting type photographer.  I’m more of a by-any-means-let’s-get-this-done-artsy-fartsy-feelings-and-whatnot type of photographer. There’s basically two kinds of us: the scientists and the artists.  Can you guess which one I am?  I have a camera and I know how it works.  It’s the best camera because it’s the one in my hand.  I’m kind of the same with Photoshop.  I love it because I learned on it.  It’s based on layers, and since I’m a visual artist that works with my hands, I understand it.  Lightroom is cool and I shoot tethered into it when a client demands it.  But when it comes to your hardcore editing and RAW action, give me Photoshop any day.

Today I was sitting in the dark in my underwear in my apartment editing some recent corporate shots I did for a friend’s company and ran across this aesthetic issue with overexposure.  Lighting the interior on the fly and then shooting towards a giant window onto a patio really tested my skill with balancing light sources and you could pretty roundly say that I failed.  In a real production I would have had the time to dial in the shot but this was a one-light, run and gun type of photoshoot, so it was more about getting the feel of the shot and then worrying about the details later.  Plus, these were small, web-only kind of shots.  Not making excuses!  Just setting up the situation.

Here’s a short, punk rock, cut and paste, sloppy, and sweaty way to fix a spot in your photo that’s overexposed.  It’s not a pixel-by-pixel, perfect tutorial on retouching, but that’s ok, because I’m not that kind of photographer and you probably aren’t either if you read this far.  Most photos are used for the web these days so there’s not a ton of reason to go balls deep when retouching.  Sure, nationwide ad campaign, yeah, son!  Get on it and go hard in the paint.  Better yet, just hire a real retouching pro to do it for you.  You get back out there and find more work and keep shooting.  Those jobs are the ones we all want.  While you’re waiting for Adidas to call, though, you’d better be shooting your headshots and buddy’s wedding.  

This is the first of hopefully more of these kind of videos that will show you some shortcuts in Photoshop, provide a quick tutorial, maybe some humor along with it (don’t bet on the last one).  I hope you enjoy.  

Memphis, in Photos

A cool thing about this blog is that this is literally my THIRD TIME WRITING THIS because for some unknown reason I keep effing deleting it by navigating forward or backwards.  That being said…Los Angeles was gorgeous, warm, and sunny in the beginning of February so I thought I’d fly to Memphis and help my dad move where it was 39 degrees and sleeting wet nonsense.  Also, an important fact is that there is a ton of new cool craft brews in Memphis and I think they all have about 3% alcohol in them.  

This is a photo of my brother and me.  I kept those bangs for another 15 years or so, but Jeremy still has this haircut, even today.

My dad had more ties than anyone would possibly need.  Here’s two of the better ones.  I don’t own 1) a suit or 2) a tie.  True story.  I moved to LA so I’d never have to wear either.  Formal wear in LA is your *nice* Tom’s and not a tank top.  But these ties…holy crap.  There was a banker’s box full of them.  It bears mentioning that I haven’t seen my dad wear a tie since 2010.

The Whole Foods had four kinds of mac and cheese on the hot bar.  I don’t really have a lot else to say about that.  This level of jealousy can’t really be put into words.

Lastly, I took this at the airport on the way back home.  You know I love a good, dreary, depressing landscape.  I used to call these my Flat World images because of the way cell phone camera’s kind of flatten space.  I still think that’s a good name for them.  And if you like sadsack photos, you should go check out Sad Bathrooms.  

A week later I went to Seattle, so come back for that soonish.

Bandaids, Unflinching

If a little bandaid goo is going to set you off, today’s post is not for you.  But as an artist, I’m always looking for those moments where the offputting becomes interesting, compelling, or even gorgeous.  

I haven’t done a lot with macro photography in my career until recently shooting jewelry in a studio setting.  It’s such a fantastic tool for things like faceted jewels or chain links, but it’s also incredibly unforgiving.  Any flaw, blemish, scuff, fingerprint…you’re going to see it.  I think that’s the very thing I like about it, and aiming it at something like a used bandaid.  It’s unflinching in its honesty.

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