January 27, 2016


Music | Intergalactic by Beastie Boys

I've been shooting more 8x10 recently than ever before. Along with the idea that the more we know, the more we know nothing, I've taken to bowing down and shooting this large format like a true beginner. I had a shoot yesterday with the Burke and James and while going through the motions, I felt like I had to move double time to catch up on my ignorance. I am sure my collaborators there at the time would agree. I've noticed most of the time I shoot 8x10, I am not relaxed and hence, I probably miss a lot what this particular experience is trying to say.

Gotta break it down and learn to breathe!

It Never Ends...

Music | Blue Friday by Kenny Dorham

The more you know, the more you know you have so much to learn... I just heard that earlier today at the café. How true, how true... Photography has been an intimate part of me for more than half my life. Lots of time, knowledge, mistakes... Adventures, more knowledge, not just technical, but the life lessons that have come along the way as well. I can say from the deepest part of my heart, it is a craft that I know more than most people. Some of that knowledge is automatic, like loading a Hasselblad film back, or putting a 30 year old light meter in my hand and know exactly how to use it like I was using it yesterday. Innate knowledge learned through repetition.

As I move thru the years and hopefully more profoundly with photography, on occasion I have epiphanies. I have learned we exploit what we know because we know by this time we do it well. I also have figured out that it is easy to rest on laurels and stay on the same course if I am not careful. I have been fortunate enough to move thru a diverse array of processes and technologies. I know it is easy to get caught up in the technical, forgoing for whatever reason not pushing forward artistically.

I have moved from my early days working with film, then digital, then shifting back to film, and now processes from the mid 1800's, going in the opposite direction of the modern. 4x5, 8x10, antiquated processes, hands on. Those are merely tools, a way to a final image. It has taken me all these years to get to where I am, and I am only now thinking of not the process, but the image. I've gotten good at conveying the obvious, but now comes the hard part... Convey ideas in between the lines...

Sometimes I feel like all the time that has passed, I should be there and not here. It is relative, and these years did do good in teaching me we move at our own speed and the lessons come when they do. All this knowledge and so far to go...

January 22, 2016

I'm Only Happy when it Rains

Music | 6 Underground by Sneaker Pimps

I started a late night print run, wanting to get a nice print to gift to Epson, who has for the 4th year in a row donated ink and paper. This year, I shot 39 portraits over 2 days during the Roosevelt High School Freedom Fighters Event, where the Freshman class prepare, interview, write about and publish their own book about their experiences with the Freedom Fighters, who are championing the causes of Social Justice. A traveling exhibition also accompany the student's efforts. I've got about 3 weeks to print and frame those 39 portraits for display at the reception and then presented to each of the Freedom Fighters who were apart of this years festivities.

This gesture to Epson is to thank them for making my part much more special than just having images on screen. The framed prints as gifts to the participants has become tradition and I feel only more honored to be able to make substance these images to put out into the world.

After more than 5 weeks of inactivity because of major printer issues, I finally got it working proper and was able to make a few positive test runs. Epson is about great printers, colour and black and white. Each year I make a print to give them as a small token of my appreciation. In the past, the framed prints were black and white. Having recently shot with Françoise Weeks, creating quite a few stunning colour images, I had this one in mind. A few last minute test runs and one head clean, a beautiful print rolled out, stamped, signed then framed. I will with great pride hand over this image and feel I gave back something of rare beauty...

As I write about this evening, it clicks in at 1:11 a.m. While cleaning the glass and positioning the print in the mat, I felt a sense of euphoria. While the world sleeps, I'm down in the basement in my work space creating art. I know I am a lucky soul to be able to do what I get to do. I have much to appreciate...

January 10, 2016

If I were a Woman...

Music | Le Chat du Café Des Artiste by Charlotte Gainsbourg

I would be a better Photographer...

Sarah Moon

It lights me up to watch this video of Sarah Moon's images, hearing her words. I feel a direct connection, and yet, feel so disconnected.

January 06, 2016

Muscle Memory

Music | Three on Two (Live) by Fred Anderson

It has been years since I processed roll film. I remember back at Loop Jr. College, where I took my first photography class with Ms. Jensen, she had us learn to load our film on to the more difficult stainless steel reels and tanks. I think her thought was, plastic was for amateurs! I always appreciated that as when I started to work as an apprentice to professional photographers, I fit right into any darkroom I encountered. I cannot fathom the thought of how many rolls of film I have processed, but of course as the digital technology took over, my exercise in developing film increasingly lessoned to nothing for years! Only on the rare occasions after 1999 where I wanted to entertain the past did I shoot a roll of 35mm or 120 film.

A little less than a year ago, I purchased a 1958 Yashica Mat LM. Dara started the roll over the summer, but never finished shooting it. Having the desire to shoot with that camera, I finished off the roll earlier today and processed this evening. I was surprised at how without much thought, how I separated the paper and film from the 120 roll. With just a minor hesitation, I slipped the paper end of the film onto the clip of the reel and with an ever so gentle bend, started to wind the film onto the reel. Several thousand times I went through those exact same motions. It was as if I was put back into the late 80's in either my own darkroom or of a photographer who I freelanced for to process film shot from a Hasselblad, Canon or Nikon...

Ms. Jensen taught me well...

...and I am sure would be proud

January 04, 2016


Music | Headlock by Imogen Heap

I get so much joy out of processing film. It is a time when I am in the moment, especially pulling the big 8x10 neg out of the tank for the first time, and always having that sigh of relief of seeing image.

It is the closest thing for me to be a magician. Turning a blank sheet of film into a view-able object. After doing this for over 30 years, I'm still amazed at the various analogue photographic processes.

My hands still linger of fixer and my skin is dry as a desert. There are containers to wash and clean and dry, put away the chemicals, put away the equipment used. My negatives are still wet, so I distract time doing something else... Right now on the computer, writing about the process... Still wet.

Patience is mandatory, the process is slow, tedious and exact. Chemicals must be mixed, poured and timed. I'm not only a magician, but a chemist and dancer as well.

It is the time between that I think I love so much. That period where you are forced to wait. Time passes and if you aren't distracting yourself with something else, your mind goes to a place where things can fall in, epiphanies, ideas, and often, things out of left field where you say to yourself, wtf?

Time to check the film again...
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