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New Year Updates

New Year Updates

I meant to get this post out sooner, but with the start of the new year and some new projects I've already been grabbed by the snowball of momentum that is 2017!

First, let's recap... 

2016 was a big year for me in photography, beginning with the launch of this website and my first ever gallery exhibit at RAW:Hollywood Presents FUTURES. This gallery appearance marked what would turn out to be the first of many, and I was soon introduced to UCLA's Exchange Room Gallery with the "I AM" Group Art Show later that year. The year also brought a few meaningful collaborations with models I had worked with in the past, including the beautiful and talented Brianna and the soon to be muse for my Basquiat series, Renae.  

It was that very collaboration with Renae that lead to my first ever solo photography exhibit, Obnoxious Liberals: A Bodypaint Tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat which opened at the Exchange Room Gallery in LA to a packed audience.  And as if the year couldn't get any better, during the development of this Basquiat series I was contacted by TXTURE Magazine and invited to showcase selections from the series at their annual Miami Art Basel exhibit!  This was my first time ever even going to Art Basel, let alone exhibiting there, so to think all of this could happen within a year of printing my work for the first time was just incredible, and it left me very excited for what the future may hold.

In front of my Art Basel showcase with TXTURE Magazine founder Monifa Coffee

In front of my Art Basel showcase with TXTURE Magazine founder Monifa Coffee

Things to look forward to...

My solo exhibit at the Exchange Room Gallery will be closing soon, so if you haven't seen it yet now is the time! (Click Here for instructions on how to get there, and how to find it on UCLA's campus).  So what next?  Things continue to get better, as the next stop for a few of these pieces will be at the headquarters of Arsenic Magazine and at the Los Angeles Chocolate and Art Show! More details about those will be coming in the near future.

I'll have some more announcements coming very soon, including a new long-delayed music project that I'll be releasing within the next few weeks.  For those that don't know, though I don't highlight it on this site much I do from time to time produce music as well, for no reason other than "why not?"  You can check out some of my past instrumental albums on Bandcamp or stream the more recent stuff on Soundcloud. I've had a new project in development since early 2014 that I'll finally be pushing out, so be on the lookout for that.

I should also have some big film-related announcements in the near future as well. This is definitely looking like a good year, so keep your heads up and don't let any bright orange man-children ruin it for you!

Help Support My Journey to Art Basel

Help Support My Journey to Art Basel

The Obnoxious Liberals Series Is Coming To Miami!

I'm proud to announce that TXTURE Magazine has invited me to exhibit pieces from my Basquiat-Inspired Bodypaint Portrait Series "Obnoxious Liberals" this year at their annual Miami Art Basel event, #TheArtFactory!

Miami Art Basel is an annual international art fair in Miami Beach, seeing visitors in the tens of thousands as hundreds of galleries present works from countries and artists all over the world. The rest of Miami comes alive with art as well during this time, and TXTURE Magazine has teamed up with Art & Sol Studios in the heart of the Wynwood Arts District to put together an event on December 3rd to showcase new and emerging talents from across the US.  

I couldn't be happier to end this year with such an amazing honor, as it was only this past January that I exhibited prints of my work for the first time ever at the RAW:Hollywood showcase.

This Is Where I Need Your Help

In order to make my Miami exhibit the best it can be, I have started a Kickstarter campaign to raise a portion of the funds necessary to print and prepare this gallery.  Since the date is so close to last month's debut of the Obnoxious Liberals series at the Exchange Room Gallery, I'm having a bit of trouble covering these expenses myself while still in the red from my previous outing.

The Kickstarter campaign is essentially a fire-sale on prints, ranging from 4x6 tests all the way up to the 20x28 exhibition pieces I'd like to create for Miami.  Any donation of $10 or more receives an exclusive print in return, and 8x10s from the Obnoxious Liberals series can be had for as little $25.  Click Here to visit the Kickstarter to purchase your print and help me make my Art Basel exhibit one for the books!

Thank you!

Obnoxious Liberals: Opening Night Reception

Obnoxious Liberals: Opening Night Reception

Opening Night at the Exchange Room Gallery

This past Saturday my Basquiat-inspired bodypaint portrait series Obnoxious Liberals debuted at the Exchange Room Gallery of Il Tramezzino UCLA.  Check out some highlights from the night below:

All photos courtesy of ERG's own Antonio Renoj.

View the Obnoxious Liberals series online here, and visit the Print Store to pickup your copy today!

The Time Has Finally Come For My First Solo Photography Exhibit!

The Time Has Finally Come For My First Solo Photography Exhibit!

A few months back I shared a little insight into the creative process of developing the concept that would soon become my first ever solo photography exhibit, a collection of abstract bodyscape portraits inspired by the neo-expressionist paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Now after five months of shooting, Obnoxious Liberals: A Bodypaint Tribute To Jean-Michel Basquiat will open on October 15th, 2016 at the Exchange Room Gallery of Il Tramezzino UCLA!

Come enjoy the Opening Night Reception on October 15th at 7pm, featuring live art and entertainment with music from DJ Santana of TruthSeekers Radio 90.7 KPFK, a live bodypainting session, guest photographic work from Sahmia Ase, and live spoken word performances, with free food and drinks courtesy of Il Tramezzino Italian Restaurant and free beer courtesy of Golden Road Brewing!

Attendance is FREE for all ages!  (Must be 21+ to drink).  RSVP on Facebook and visit ExchangeRoomGallery.com for more info! 

The Exchange Room Gallery is located at 110 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, California 90095

See below for parking details:

Parking Structure 4 is located at:  221 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095

Parking Structure 4 is located at: 221 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095

So Now What?

So Now What?

Finding New Motivation

If you haven't noticed, I really haven't been shooting much this year.  Even everything I've posted on Instagram so far was work I completed last year, save for a few previews and tests.  Call it a lack of inspiration, lack of funds, lack of motivation, or all of the above.  On Instagram, I like to switch back and forth between posting street and portraiture, colour and black & white, 35mm and medium format, etc. as a way of keeping the curated gallery aesthetic of the page intact.  So after finishing my medium format color portrait series, the next logical step in the progression was to go back to black & white street.  Only I didn't have any black & white street left to post, meaning I'd need to go out and shoot some more.  Yet for whatever reason, I just didn't.  In retrospect, I guess I don't find Los Angeles to be that inspiring of a place for street photography, but it was more than just that.

At the beginning of the year I knew I wanted to get something different out of my work in 2016.  Shooting is a lot of fun, but is that it?  I've been dreading the day I actually sit down to add up all of film-photography related expenses from 2014 and 2015 only to come to find I'm several thousand dollars invested in a hobby that at the end of the day is just that, a hobby. (Hopefully it's not that bad, but I ain't lying when I say #StayBrokeShootFilm).  At the end of the day, I do go through an unnecessarily large amount of trouble and expense to manually expose film, lab develop and scan negatives, transfer everything to a computer, color-correct often mediocre lab scans (a result of unsupervised batch-scanning), sort them, and finally transfer them to my phone, all so that my photos can find their final resting place on Instagram amongst memes, selfies, what people are eating for breakfast, and the small and dedicated niche of other film photographers who typically reside in Europe and Asia.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Instagram for being the sole reason for my gallery debut in January, but I just don't think it's truly the best place for the kind of work I want to make (ridiculous censorship included).  And I do love displaying my work at these gallery shows, but let's be honest, people go to group art shows to support their friends and have fun, not to buy art.  I get the feeling this isn't a sustainable business model.

So this year I decided, you know what, I'm gonna scale back.  I don't want to have ten rolls of film to develop at the end of every month, and I don't want to crowd-fund anytime I need to print anything because I'd have no money left to create display pieces otherwise.  I was going to simplify, shoot exclusively black & film street photography using a single camera and lens combo for the rest of the year, and continue working to build my audience of fellow film photographers on Instagram by providing quality content of my own and engaging with theirs.  Meanwhile, as if on cue, the Facebook-owned Instagram adopted the Facebook model of aggregated news feed posts, meaning people would no longer be able to log into Instagram and see all the photos I posted in chronological order by just scrolling down their timelines.  Instead, now some mysterious Facebook-esque "news feed optimization algorithm" will determine which of my updates my followers get to see and when.  What that meant for me was, now a significantly smaller percentage of my followers would ever even see my work, and if they did, they'd see it in the manner, time, and order (if at all) that Instagram dictated.  And that's, for lack of better terms, fckin stupid.

If you know anything about me as a filmmaker, you'll know the Kubrick in me has a real problem giving up control over the presentation and viewing conditions and of my work.  It's for this exact reason that my short film To Police probably won't ever be released in full online.  If you wanted to see it, you needed to come to the theater to see it.  The second I put it on Youtube, the second people are watching it on their iPhones from the toilet, and I just don't think that's how a film about the shooting of a teenager by a police officer should be viewed.  But I digress...

So now what?  I even tested this new Instagram algorithm, and found that if I posted the exact same (crowd favorite) photograph now that I did a year ago I should expect about 200 less Likes.  Which doesn't sound like much, until you consider that a year ago I had roughly 5,000 less followers that I do now.  I had to more than double my follower count just to be able to reach only 200 less people.  And for me, Likes aren't so much about social validation as they are about engaging with a core audience of fellow photographers, filmmakers, and enthusiasts who actually do appreciate my work, so I do find visibility to be very important.  Particularly when this is the very same audience I intended to reach with the launch of this website in order to convert Instagram followers to Subscribers and Subscribers to Print Owners.  Because at the end of the day, the only way I was going to be able to keep shooting at the rate that I was would be if print sales could cover my expenses.  Now, with a significantly smaller percentage of people even aware that I have a website where I sell printsI get the feeling this isn't a sustainable business model.  

(I also found that charging darkroom prices might not be the best way to start out, so you'll be happy to know I am currently researching alternative, affordable print methods without compromising quality.  More on that next week).

Which brings me to today.  I'm now two group art exhibits in when it dawns on me that, like everything else in life, skill and merit are absolutely trumped by proximity and relationships.  Whether or not my photography is good enough to be hanging on the walls of true art galleries actually has absolutely nothing to do with who I know that could actually get my work into true art galleries.  And this is an important distinction for any up and coming photographer to make nowadays.  Sometimes your success as a photographer has absolutely nothing to do with what your photos look like.  So, let's just say I've found my next door, and have given my foot its next target.  I may not be shooting much at the moment, but what I am doing is laying the foundation for my first ever solo photography exhibit.  I've found some interested parties as a direct result of networking at the I AM Group Show, so hopefully I'll be able to make a fortuitous announcement in the very near future.  From there, it'll be time to move into permanent galleries.  

All in due time, all in due time...

First Test of the Nimslo 3D Camera

First Test of the Nimslo 3D Camera

Do These Count As Motion Pictures?

At last week's I AM Group Art Show, I got a chance to test out my new-to-me Nimslo camera.  This was a "3D" camera introduced in 1980 as a way of shooting 3D images that could be viewed without glasses through a technology called Lenticular printing.  Think of old school trading cards that have moving images on them if you moved the card back and forth to view it from different angels.  Lenticular printing isn't around anymore, but these cameras were built to use traditional 35mm film, meaning they're still perfectly good cameras.  They work but firing the shutters of 4 lenses at the same time, to capture four of the same image across the span of two 35mm negatives.  These days, you can scan those negatives into Photoshop and create mini "3D" moving pictures by layering them all on top of each other and creating animations that alternate between the visible layers.

I tested it out at the gallery opening during David Vines' performance and got some pretty cool results...

The trick here is to find the right subjects to shoot in the right way, in order to really emphasize the separation between the foreground and background, and the subject's position in relation to both.  It'll certainly be fun to play around with, that's for sure.

I AM: Group Art Show

I AM: Group Art Show

ART . MUSIC . FOOD . FREE

What more could you ask for?

I'm proud to announce that my second official photography exhibit will be up and on display in The Exchange Room Gallery at the Il Tramezzino Italian restaurant at UCLA from April 23rd until July 31st!

The official gallery opening will begin at 7pm on the 23rd and feature live music from RnB singer/songwriter David Vines, DJ Santana from TruthSeekers Radio 90.7 KPFK, food and drinks provided by Il Tramezzino, a live installation painting by The Exchange Room Gallery's own Suzan Z, and the collective work of 16 visual artists!

This is a FREE event for ALL AGES!  So mark your calendars and get ready for a night of food, art and entertainment!

Except for parking.  Parking isn't free.  It's still in Los Angeles after all...

But everything else, yeah... Free.


PARKING AND LOCATION INFO

THE EXCHANGE ROOM GALLERY

UCLA ANDERSON SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT

110 Westwood Plaza F211

Los Angeles, CA 90095

In case you missed it, PARKING ISN'T FREE.

In case you missed it, PARKING ISN'T FREE.

Visit ExchangeRoomGallery.com for more info!

RAW:Hollywood Presents Futures

RAW:Hollywood Presents Futures

My First Photography Exhibit

"Instagram?  You mean the place where people take pictures of their food and put dramatic filters on their bathroom selfies?  Yeah, no thanks." - Corey Deshon, circa 2010

Okay, I'll admit it, I was never an early pioneer of the emerging social networking trends, despite studying Information Technology for nine years.  Even as of today, I don't have a Snapchat, I don't have a Vine, I'm still not really sure what Periscope is, I've retired from Facebook, and literally the only reason why my Twitter account exists is because I figured I might as well claim the name @CoreyDeshon, because who knows what I might need it for one day.  (I will say I am actively trying to use it now.  We'll see how that goes).

But Instagram, I must say,  has certainly pulled its weight.  I finally joined in 2014 after my shoot with Ama, who convinced me that it would be well worth it to promote my work.  After all, I was really only shooting because I loved it, so why market?  Well, this is why...

FuturesBanner

After a year and a half working up a pretty decent following (hoping to cross the 9k followers mark next month), my photos began getting some attention in places I'd never think to find them.  One of those such places was an event in San Diego, that if I remember correctly had something to do with women's empowerment.  I really have no idea what the event actually was, because they didn't exactly ask if they could use my photos.  But no harm done, as they did their due diligence by ensuring to credit my name as the photographer and link back to my Instagram.  And to be honest, I'm actually quite proud of this, since I do try to ensure that when photographing women, I do so in a way that is respectful, empowering, and unexploitative.  So for this event to receive my photos that way must mean I'm doing something right haha.  But anyway...

A few weeks after this event I get a call from one of the Showcase Directors of RAW Artists, inviting me to come display my work their upcoming showcase in Hollywood.  It turns out, someone saw my work at this event, traced the photo back to Instagram and eventually my old website, found my contact information, and asked if I'd want to exhibit.  And that, my friends, is why every photographer should have an Instagram.

Well, the RAW Showcase was tonight, and it was one of the best experiences I've had in my photographic journey to date.  Check out some photos below:

(RAW Showcase photos courtesy of Jeffrey SmallwoodFlip Cassidy, and Gil Riego).

Not only was this my first time ever exhibiting my work in print, but it was my first time ever printing photos as well.  (Read more about the series I chose to print in my interview with Pixel Magazine here).  Naturally, I chose to go with all darkroom printing methods, to ensure the heart of analogue still remained a key factor of my exhibit.  I can't wait to showcase again with RAW, and to continue printing my photos for display.  Making prints has been a long time coming for me, and this was certainly the jump start I needed to begin the new year strong.

Prints from the showcase and more are available for purchase now in the store!