Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"There was a damn silly bird called a phoenix back before Christ, every few hundred years he built a pyre and burnt himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over, but we've got one damn thing the phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we've done for a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, someday we'll stop making the goddamn funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them." -Ray Bradbury

I could talk about the inherent symbolism in this picture, but I'm not going to. I will just say that I love this image. If you guys can figure out why I love it so much, high fives all around.

Photo courtesy of 8-year-old Reed (a.k.a.: Kite Master) whom I met on the beach last Friday... and yes, this is a photograph (ok, ok, John Beale, photo illustration...) and the bird is a kite.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

To date, my most recent shoot has been one of my absolute favorites. I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to be working with good people. This may seem like a keen statement from Captain Obvious, but in all seriousness, and based on previous experiences, it's not worth sacrificing any part of your art, or yourself to something that really isn't going to be all that good for you in the end. Despite what many people may say, you've got to make a business that is good for you. Yeah sure, I like money too, but if it comes with a clause of abandoning things that make you who you are, I say forget it. My business is one about people and their stories, which is why I am in love with this project.

Working with local (well, Pittsburgh... local isn't very helpful or descriptive coming from "Carmen Sandiego," as Bambi calls me) graphic designer and founder of Give and Take T-Shirts, Shea Mullen, was a complete pleasure. You can read about the general concept of Give and Take, provided in the above links, but I think it's very important to note Shea's focus on keeping the project close to home, despite its pending national popularity. Rather than using models, Shea chose people close to her who have been through or have had a relative go through some tough times, be it with cancer, epilepsy or MS- just to name a few.

Anyway, I spent four days with the most awesome models I have ever worked with. The shot above was from the final day of shooting in which 4 of 5 of Shea's nieces and nephews (ages 6-20somethingish) wore cancer shirts in support of their mom. I liked this shot as opposed to the ones that will eventually be used because it was just so perfectly candid. Not to mention the fact that Daniel (right) had me rolling in the grass with laughter with comments such as, "This isn't a charity for me to smile!" Quite witty for a little one.

On a closing note, and I think this is a rather appropriate time to state this: I love my job. I will share John Prine's sentiments in the line, "How the hell can a person go to work in the morning, come home in the evening and got nothin' to say." If I don't come home in the evening with a story, I haven't done my job.

Oh and last, but not least, which one of the boys pictured above do I have a bigger crush on?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"fine regional art"

I think this shot is fairly self-explanatory if you've ever visited Pittsburgh and though it was just a walk-by shot, I think it accomplishes its purpose.

But yes, we take our pierogies so seriously we make them run all over the city* AND we make art out of them!

*We all have our fingers crossed in hopes of a timely "Patahta" Pete comeback this season. Oliver Onion can kiss my butt.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

When it comes down to it, a band is only as interesting as its following and Spoon... has the following. Unfortunately, it was too dark for me to visually relay this to you, but just take my word for it.

It was kinda creepy for me, as I have never seen such a silently intense audience in my history of shows. Even creepier... they all looked the same in some combination of the following: Mod haircuts, boat shoes or mid-50s rock boots, blazers or some ridiculous plaid shirt, and my personal favorite... thick-rimmed black glasses... maybe prescription, maybe not.

On one level, I was weirded out and on another level, I thought it was totally cool.

(PS crazy colors due to production aperture, not post-prod software)

The White Rabbits definitely stole the show for me.

AND... most of them are basketball fans! Whooo would have guessed it?

I must say that Hamilton Leithauser of the Walkmen has quite an overwhelming stage presence to match his overwhelming name. I can't say that I like either very much, but you can't deny that he's certainly a performer, but perhaps not in a very appealing way. If you've never seen them live, imagine Bob Dylan in a three-piece suit, shouting, no, screeching words thoughtlessly arranged in desperate attempt at being recognized as some kind of an indie idol. Sound enticing? I didn't think so.

Did/does anyone listen to Dylan for his angelic voice? Yeah, not that I know of either. As one reviewer at Pitchfork writes, Leithauser "has apparently been studying up on the Bob Dylan guide to pronunciation (M Is for Mmphmblgmbn!)"

Haha. Quite accurate, if you ask me.

I know, Cho, I know, but music is fair game, despite art being subjective. We've been over this.

Yeah... this show was two weeks ago. I'm the worst.

(The walkmen... drummer and front man)

Monday, April 14, 2008

I know I'm a week late in rounding up my Virginia posts, but this last one is nothing less than great. As you can see, it has nothing to do with my photography, which is a bummer because it is better than all my VA photos combined.

Everyone knows how much I love exciting, quirky, awesome people, just doing their own thing, living in their own definition of reality. Well, I met the epitome of that in Reston, VA, in the wonderfully brilliant/insane, patented iconographer of the AOL running man.

Dino is amazingly talented in so many things from drawing icons to locating and reselling vintage mod furniture. There are countless Dino stories I can tell, just in meeting for a short amount of time. Example? About a year ago he gave up his cell phone in light of using pay phones all over the world, ending up in Mumbai as his unplanned, last pay phone call.

Anyway, the above is a screen shot of his attempt to auction off his AOL job for a dollar on eBay. Why do this, you ask? Well, he hated his job, but AOL couldn't fire him, because he was the one that created their entire look. He once even told a superior that he couldn't possibly make a deadline because he didn't live on the same space and time continuum that said boss did.

Neither one of these events got him fired.

I'm almost positive you will not be able to read the above, so if you've come this far in my post, you will have the luxury of enjoying its conceptual brilliance as well as its absurdity. You may also unfortunately notice the lack of a "Buy It Now" button, which I was sad to not see as well.

Heading: AOL JOB Graphic Art Designer Position America Online - (eBay item 110168540255 end time Sep-19-07 17:52:02 PDT)

Body: A prestigious Senior Designer JOB is yours now for pennies on the dollar and with no reserve. This is Big. This is up there with the Yahoos, the Googles, the Adobe Systems, and even those fancy start-ups in downtown San Francisco! Seriously. The upper **k plus bennies. I will even throw in all my personal belongings, and the 'cotchkeys' that I have collected over the years, basically everything within my pod walls that is not nailed down or chained. And with some "Sweet Sweetness" I could be coaxed into throwing in my Rossi 45R Burr Grinder, and my new Sacco Espresso Machine. And even set you up with some pretty cool co-workers, get you fit in nice.

I enjoyed my years in company, and just felt it was time to let her go out into the wild, perhaps someone out there will appreciate her as much as I did. I put a lot of time into this one and I hope it shows well.

'Strong to Very Strong' ability needed to maintain, achieve and keep this position and it does need quite a bit of attention. The usual Commercial Art needs like Illustration, Logo Development, Layout, Light animation and other stuff, you know, and of course the attention span for meetings, personal time management, project management and other things that are acrobatic for most artists.



Ps. Just put the dot com after the name. Good Luck.

^ (just an aside, is Dino's website which received a spike in in-flow during the two days it took AOL to realize the ad was up and to call eBay to take it down.)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

From DC to Fredericksburg to Manassas, my final stop en route back to Pittsburgh was Leesburg, VA. It was a quick stop as I had only one objective for this small, colonial town:

Peanut Soup.

I'm going to cut to the chase and just say that it tasted like milk-thinned Peter Pan peanut butter. I only say Peter Pan, because it has an odder consistency and more sweetness than the other brands and that was exactly this flavor. Why I thought it would be any different, I'm not sure, but I can't say that it was one of my favorite culinary endeavors. Nonetheless, it was worth a shot.

Imagine being one of 900 Confederate men patiently waiting for over 10,000 Union troops to come over this hill at Manassas.

(Shot taken from the old Stone House which served as a field hospital during both Bull Run Battles in 1861, then 1862.)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Isn't it always about slick rhythm and smooth chops?

For more information on this photo, please contact the photographer.

(My photo opportunities courtesy of Buckley and the guys at Apple Music in Fredericksburg, VA.)

Ok, so leg 2 of "Adventure DC" was in Fredericksburg, VA. Marble-sized hail kinda put the shooting day to rest, but to keep within the bounds of productivity, we moved our business meeting a few hours up and relocated it from an office setting to the friendly neighborhood pub. It seems that my "business meetings" since I've come home from Asia have been a lot more fun than what I remember prior. The killer thing too is that I am just as productive during as I ever was before, but it's the decisions my brain makes post-meeting that sometimes fall into the, "Oi" category... nothing regrettable, just logic-less.

This shot is a product of a post-meeting, logic-less wandering through Fredericksburg and a stop at the local pharmacy. Not bad night photography for a small town and a photographer who had been enjoying Bell's Two-Hearted Ale for a majority of the evening.... a favorite of hers in the hoppy category, might I add.

Monday, April 07, 2008

My "artsy freak" (name lovingly given in a Blitzkrieg-esque IM assault from America's #1 heckler) take on the escalators at the Dupont Metro station.

I could have flipped this reflection, but I kinda like it upside down. You don't see too much of anything being turned on its head these days, and I'm sorry Mr. Lincoln, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't think you mind breaking conventions though, so I hope you are okay with it.

By the way, you look great on my brand new pennies - ya still got it, Abe... just don't shave the beard.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Not my favorite monument, but a nice contrast.

This is a little known fact, but these pretty little things were actually to blame for the chaos in the pacific theater in WWII.

Ok, ok, just kidding, but that would be... interes...well, stupid. The real story about the cherry blossoms is that we banked about 3,000 from a dude named Yukio Ozaki, mayor of Tokyo, in 1912. It was a gift to strengthen the growing friendship between Japan and the United States, but as everyone knows, ended up being a fairly futile gesture in the buddies department, twenty-some years later.

However, the US did send Flowering Dogwoods to Japan in 1915 as a reciprocal gift, but this is where I'm thinkin' we had some problems. Nowhere in my 10-minute research could I find the number of trees sent to Japan. Hm. Maybe we short-changed the Japanese and THAT's where they said, hey, this sucks, maybe this Hitler guy isn't so bad... he has a lovely garden... and as I write this, I'm really hoping none of my former history professors read this, especially you, Jenkins.

Anyway, today, more than 3,700 cherry trees are planted around the Tidal Basin, bringing countless visitors to DC for the two weeks in late March and early April for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival - all because the Japanese wanted to be pals.

Yeah, I'm lame (^), but deal with it. I was quite happy with this shot. It's not that the colors are great, or that the composition is great, but that the content is great. That beside the point though, how can one not be happy with drive-by shots?

Since I already admitted to liking shiny things and occasionally wearing pink, I might as well say, that I can be a sap too. Luke, I'm sorry to shatter your illusion, buuuut it's too much work to deny it and don't get me wrong, I'll still kick your butt if it's necessary.