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Photography

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!

Travel Notice: Miami

Travel Notice: Miami

Obnoxious Liberals will soon make its Miami debut!  I'll be there from December 1st through the 5th, booking shoots along the way.  Let's make some art!

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 I've Decided To Take Printing Into My Own Hands

So I've Decided To Take Printing Into My Own Hands

Because Why Not Print More While Spending Less?

A typical development & low-res scan package from a photo lab ranges anywhere from about $10 to $25 per roll depending on where you go.  I'd typically spend about $13 at my lab.  Add that to the cost of a roll of film, like my personal favorite Portra 800, and it's safe to say it cost me roughly $25 every time I wanted to shoot a roll of film to share with the world.  Now mind you, the scans included in this cost only provided enough resolution to display on the web.  For a truly high resolution scan needed for printing large formats, I'd be looking at anywhere between $5 to $25 PER NEGATIVE depending on just how much enlarging I'd need.  

All that covers is just getting my photos ready to make prints, never mind the printing itself.  At a fine art photo lab I'd be looking at anywhere from $50 to $100 per final print, never mind the costs of testing color profiles and paper stocks.  When it's all said and done I'd easily be looking at a few thousand in expenses to print enough work for my upcoming solo exhibit.  Now don't get me wrong, quality prints from a fine art lab are certainly worth it, but until people start shelling out thousands of dollars for my prints (give it time), these costs just weren't gonna cut it.  I am a starving artist after all, I barely clear a few thousand in annual income... 

So as I've moved into the printing era of my photographic endeavors, and now working on my third (and possibly also forth) gallery exhibit of the year, it became clear that it was time I took printing into my own hands.  And with the successful test run of my digital printing method and print sale, I've decided to do just that.  Thanks to an impeccably-timed rebate, I've recently invested in a large format digital printer from Canon (full review coming soon).

This seemed to make the most sense from a business perspective as well.  As much as people tell me they like my photos, it's hard to like something enough to spend upwards of $200 a piece on it (lookin' at you, Tinder dates, hope you like Ramen), so I'll be the first to admit that the darkroom pricing options currently in my Print Store just aren't for everybody. And since I've officially reached the limit of how many pieces of furniture and/or photographic equipment I can reasonably fit into a studio apartment, my home darkroom project is going to have to wait a few years.  

NowPrinting!

Still, it makes sense to offer a more economical solution for people who truly enjoy my work and would like to own a piece of it.  Especially considering that the majority of my audience are other film photographers, and we all know how broke we are.   But with that out of the way, there's still the other elephant in the room, in that scanning high res is fcking expensive.  How do we solve this problem?  Well, that's a good question for another time.  (Hint: I'm bought a scanner too).  For now, I've got some learning to do, as digital printing opens up a whole new science of photography that I have only just begun to scratch the surface of.

I Guess It's Time To Switch To Instax

I Guess It's Time To Switch To Instax

You may or may not have noticed I happen to be particularly fond of film.  The whole civil rights thing aside, I think I would have really enjoyed growing up in the golden years of film photography rather than trying to play catch up to the past like I am today.  With the recent discontinuation of Fuji Pack Film, another piece of the art form seems to be meeting its extinction.  Unless Impossible Project picks it up, this will soon mean the end of the line for Polaroid Type 100 cameras altogether.  

It reminds me of when I was first getting into film photography myself, only to come to the realization that I had missed the opportunity to ever use Kodachrome by several years.  For me, the film vs. digital argument was never one about which was better or more cost effective.  It's always been a creative choice.  If film disappears, you're not just losing a less convenient way of doing the same thing a digital camera can do much quicker and easier, you're losing an entire medium of artistic expression.  "Why shoot film when you can just use VSCO?" is like saying, "Why bother with oil paints when you've got Adobe Illustrator and 3D printers?"  One medium of art doesn't simply replace the other just because the end product of each might be similar or one more cost effective in the long run.  They are two completely different types of artistic expression.

However, this doesn't mean that any new or similar innovations that take the place of dying technologies are any less of an art form, or should be viewed with any lesser regard than what came before them.  Which brings me to Fuji Instax.  Anytime you hear somebody say they're shooting "Polaroid cameras" today, what they're probably talking about is Fujifilm's line of Instax cameras.  While they're not actually Polaroid cameras (Polaroid was a brand, not a technology, think Kleenex), they are the most consistent, reliable, and cost-effective method of shooting instant film today.

Developed in the early 90s under an agreement with Polaroid, they took over the instant film market share when Kodak ceased production on instant film cameras and Polaroid went under.  Today, they're one of two companies (along with Impossible) still producing and innovating instant cameras and film.  When I started shooting instant film, I went with early Polaroid 100 series cameras (and FP-100C / 3000B film) and a Polaroid SX-70, mainly because I really wanted to experience the classic technology the way someone would have if they were growing up in the film era.  Now, with the rising costs and eventual extinction of the leftover pack film due to its discontinuation, it's finally time for me to switch to Instax.  

Truthfully, I'm kind of excited about it.  I've had my eye on some Instax cameras for quite some time, and have been eager for a more reliable and sustainable instant film solution when shooting in various lighting conditions.  So for me, it's time to embrace this evolved art form, and likely confuse the hell out of everyone when I insist on calling the cameras Instax and not Polaroid.  After all, if you wipe your nose on a paper towel, you may have accomplished the same goal, but you haven't used a Kleenex.  So I'll be happily joining the ranks of Instax users in the near future once I, you know, get a job... 

Speaking of, have you visited the Print Store lately?

Two Year Anniversary and Print Sale!

Two Year Anniversary and Print Sale!

I can't believe it's only been two years since I've been shooting film exclusively, because it certainly feels like it's been a lot longer when you start adding up receipts...  But anyway, in celebration of this anniversary, I'm happy to introduce a new and more affordable digital printing method for those of you interested in purchasing prints at a lower price point.  And I mean significantly lower!

We'll begin with a limited run (only 10 of each size) print series of my favorite photos from my first ever roll of black & white film, developed exactly two years ago today. I've selected the following six images from my first time exploring Venice, CA to feature in this promotion.

Prints are available in sizes up to 13"x19" at pricing starting as low as $25. As an added bonus, anyone who purchases a Gelatin Silver or Chromogenic darkroom print, or anyone who has purchased one since the site launched is eligible for a FREE numbered print from this series!  

If this sale goes well, I'll be adding this printing method permanently as an option for almost all of my photos available for printing.

Visit the Print Store today to order!

$100 Photo Sessions

$100 Photo Sessions

One Roll, One Look, One Hour

In keeping with this year's theme of simplicity and affordability, I'm once again offering $100 photo sessions for those looking for a quick and easy shoot with great results.  For $100, I'll shoot one look on one roll, Color or Black & White, on location or in studio. You'll receive at least 10 portfolio-worthy pictures in low-resolution scans (optimized for use on the web) at the completion of the shoot, once film is developed.  One additional look/roll/hour can be added for just $50.

Here are some of my past clients who've taken advantage of this offer:

Book your photo sessions now by signing up here!

Blog Redesign

Blog Redesign

Introducing My New Blog Homepage

When I first launched this site in January, the one thing I still felt significantly lacking was the design of the blog page.  The blog template used here doesn't provide any form of sidebar navigation, meaning there was no good way to quickly navigate posts, it wasn't very intuitive to differentiate one post from another, and it was almost impossible to notice that there was even more than one page of posts at any given time.  And if one thing was for certain, I didn't spend three days uploading my entire history-in-pictures as a film photographer in the form of two years worth of back-dated blog posts for nothing.  (What?  I gotta post em somewhere.)  So eventually something had to give.

Fortunately I was able to find a way to build a new (read: actual) blog homepage within the current template, as changing templates just for better blog features would've proved to be too counterproductive (read: pain in the ass) and hosting a blog elsewhere would essentially defeat the purpose of this site.  Luckily, spending four years working for a webhost was good for something, in that it's allotted me the technical wherewithal to make the most of customization in template-based site design, while having forgotten virtually everything else.  Go figure.  So today I'm proud to launch my new and improved Blog Homepage!

Now With Actual Working Search-Bar & Navigation Options!

Give it a try!

Give it a try!

The new homepage includes a marquee of recent posts, a wall of featured content from over the years, and several choices for navigating through all of the posts.  Use the monthly archives, post calendar, tag/category cloud, or fully functional search bar to find what you're looking for.

I hope this makes it easier to get some use out of this blog, as I intend to keep filling it with interesting content about my various photographic exploits, progress made as a writer/director in the LA film industry, gear reviews, event updates, and much more. Plus, I promised myself I'd write everyday, and blogging is a lot easier than screenwriting.  Enjoy!

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...

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!