Crew is a client I’ve worked with for a few years and they approached me about a cozy feeling lookbook for Fall/Winter. We rented a cool loft in DTLA and shot the following looks for the gift guide and catalog.
Shooting two models is always a challenge, and then shooting two models who have such different skin tones is also something to think about, especially during the post process. But overall I was happy that these came out warm, and inviting.
It’s dangerous to romanticize the past too much because it alienates us from the newer generation but I’ll start by say that Rolling Stone Magazine was always a HUGE influence on me and my work. It was extremely important in helping craft 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, large, 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. 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 you have to crop 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 things 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.
If you’re ever feeling good about your art you should email a bunch of galleries and websites for submissions and as the deafening silence weighs on you and the days tick by, you’ll gradually incorporate the indifference back into your life in such a way as to not feel so good.
We got a new dog around 6 weeks ago and every time I open I open my phone I’m absolutely shocked at how many photos you can take of an animal. Holy shit! I’m like one of those people who can’t stop photographing their pet. Yuck. So here’s some more photos, She’s become kind of a studio dog…spoiled, full of shit, ordering people around and taking all the credit, adding “art director” to her resume….
And my personal fave…
Just for fun, take a bunch of photo gear with you into the bathroom at a restaurant that you took your visiting family to and see what kind of questions you get when you come back! Good times.
Junnnktank and I have had a solid relationship for a few years now and Matt has a great eye for models and photographers that he curates into a great website. This week he featured my work with Jess. Go shout hello at him when you get a chance. NSFW, for all you babies.
If you’ve hung out with me for more than 5 minutes, you know nothing I do is OSHA approved. I won’t risk your life unnecessarily but I’m not going to go around taping every cord to the ground and throwing up WATCH YOUR STEP signs. In the pursuit of danger, I’ve documented the subtle ballet of unkempt cords in the studio. Safety first. Or, whenever.
I think I’m over Instagram. The algorithm has really screwed me in the sense that so many fewer people see my work that it doesn’t really feel worth it anymore. The idea of IG has bothered me for a while, it’s fast food for your eyes and the pressure of having to have content every single day means that the content is often lukewarm at best. It’s not the way I want to see photographs, and not the way I want people to see my work. The experienced is cheapened. How do you guys feel about the new Instagram experience? I’d love to hear from other artists who are struggling with it as well.
Here’s a short of Jesslyn shot with stop motion. Really cool to work with this model and have her be patient with a new process. Hope you enjoy.
I don’t know what fashion is. I don’t know what portraits are. People stand in front of my camera and I try to make sense of it. They try to make sense of it. It’s such a perverse equation: to point at a person and say “be the most genuine version of you, right now, and I’ll balance technology and art and try to represent that in two dimensions.” Sometimes that pans out and sometimes it doesn’t.
People talk about magic in photography all the time, if that exists, it’s creating that moment, briefly, and recognizing it as fleeting.
Raven and I met through the editor of SodaPop Magazine, when she answered a casting call from the magazine. She’d never shot in a studio before, and previously, she’d only worked with friends. New models can go either way, but I was really excited about her openness to the camera and her willingness to take direction and push her own levels of experience.
I’ve worked with Jen for years now in the model/photographer capacity and I’ve always really respected her creativity and her willingness to push her boundaries, my boundaries, and commit to new ideas. On our first shoot she had some studio lighting drawings lying around her apartment because she’d just begun to draw. Now, a bunch of years later she’s come out with some really thoughtful work that I wanted to share.
I purchased a print a few days ago and it’s in the mail as we speak. Check out her work and more importantly, support the art your friends and colleagues make. You’re contributing not only to their rent, utilities, school, etc, but also the emotional health of creatives. It’s bigger than just a print, trust me!