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Portraiture

Luna at the Arsenic House

Luna at the Arsenic House

A LONG TIME COMING

A good friend of mine, the talented singer, music producer, and model Luna, finally made it out to LA recently.   We've been talking about working together since our Florida days many years ago but never made it happen for one reason or another.  So on her first trip to LA, we certainly had to capitalize on the real estate...

My good friends over at Arsenic let us use their house / HQ for the shoot, and the rest was history.

And the moral of the story... good things come to those who eat their veggies.  Enjoy the rest of the shoot below!

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

How Ideas Are Born

How Ideas Are Born

or... The Unexpected Virtue of Ignoring Your Bank Account

(Note: This is a continuation of yesterday's blog post, So Now What. Be sure to read that one first, and subscribe for more!)

So having said that, I also understand that sometimes you just need to suck it up and shoot something.  I mean, you're a photographer aren't you?  So shoot something.  Luckily for me, two models who I had previously worked with in 2014 and 2015 (Brianna and Renae respectively) reached out to collaborate again this year, which certainly helped get the creative juices flowing since my inspiration for street photography seemingly took a vacation. 

With Brianna, we came up with a dream-sequence concept based on the ideas I'd explore thematically in my screenplays, and combined them with a lingerie shoot.  Because, why not?  And we absolutely loved the result.  This didn't solve the whole financial issue however, but luckily I was able to book a few timely shoots in Tampa right after, so proceeds from those went directly into getting this shoot developed.  But sometimes such a lucky break doesn't come in time, and you're stuck going into yet more debt to feed that insatiable film habit.  So then what happens when the next opportunity of creative expression comes around?  Well, that's when you suck it up and shoot, because you never know what you might get out of it.

The Birth of the Basquiat Bodyscape Series

If you'll remember my shoot with Renae last year, we ended up doing a body paint series since she herself was a painter.  (Whenever I shoot portraits, I try to find subtle ways of incorporating some aspect of the subject's personality into the environment or mood of the photos.  And sometimes they aren't that subtle).  That was my first time using paint for a photoshoot, and the results were incredible.  We were both really happy with the shoot and had already begun brainstorming for our next collaboration.  

The conversation carried over into this year, naturally after I had decided to take a hiatus, and we again settled on something using paint, but this time we'd shoot the concept in a pool (read: bathtub) of colored water.  Which to me, sounded like the perfect way to end our last shoot.  Imagine seeing the paint spatter dissolving off of Renae and becoming part of a deep blue pool of water.  But I didn't want to do (read: pay for) exactly the same thing twice.  Film costs add up pretty quickly for us starving artists, so if I was going to shoot again I'd definitely need to get something entirely new out of it.

Then, I had an epiphany, or maybe I just heard the right Jay-Z song at the right time, but for some reason I thought of Basquiat's Obnoxious Liberals... 

The name, the color combination, the theme and the social message combined with the state our society is in currently, Renae's personality, all of it just seemed to click.  As soon as I saw it, I knew that was it, that was our shoot.  And so we began...  Because why not?

I reinterpreted Basquiat's work as a portrait-orientation body painting on Renae.  And while I don't consider myself a painter, what I may lack in technical prowess of the medium, I certainly make up for in pattern recognition and hand-eye coordination.  The result, well, you tell me...

(Photos of the full shoot coming soon!)

But it didn't stop there.  Upon shooting this series, once Renae got into the water and the painting began to dissolve, I had yet another epiphany.  There was something else hidden in these photos, a style and composition technique I've yet to experiment with at all as a photographer: the bodyscape.  Bodyscape photography typically involves photographing the human body as if it were a landscape, or focusing on the contours of the human figure or one particular body part.  So the more I shot the more I started to look at composition much differently, and it was in this process that the true purpose of this shoot began to take shape.

But it didn't stop there.  It was only the above two compositions that lead me to the true revelation of style made here.  I'll save those photos for another time, because what's important is what happened next.  Now, this is where the "just suck it up and shoot it" came into play, because one week after I shoot this with Renae, I had my second exhibit opening at the Exchange Room Gallery at UCLA.  It was through this show that the potential of a solo gallery for my work became clear, so when I pitched the idea of "blending Basquiat-inspired abstract body painting with bodyscape-style portraiture, creating photos where skin, water, and paint become indistinguishable from one another," lets just say it was received with more than subtle enthusiasm.

The moral of the story is, some investments are worth it.  Never forget that one of the most positively influential and life-changing things you can do while on this planet is invest in yourself.  Remember the analogy of the guy pulled over on the side of the road?  It wasn't until he got out and started pushing his own car that other people stopped to help.  Now if anybody needs me, I've got a gallery exhibit to design.

Brianna: A Dreamscape (Prologue)

Brianna: A Dreamscape (Prologue)

Blending Realities

The subjects of my screenplays and the subjects of my photography don't often intersect as much as I thought they would, considering that it was screenwriting that reignited my love for photography to begin with.  I suppose going into photography with no real goal other than to photograph whatever I wanted at the time might have something to do with that, yet one medium will still often act as a catalyst for the other in some way.  This time however, I found a rare crossroads between the two, which came in the form of interaction with one's own subconscious explored thematically throughout the narrative.

This came about after reflecting on many of the scripts I'd written in the past, trying to find unintentional common themes between them as a way of better understanding my own narrative voice.  What I found was that just about everything I'd written was some form of introspective personal drama, with elements of the inner-consciousness of characters manifesting as physical elements of the story in some way.  In To Police, we watch the aftermath of a police shooting unfold by exploring the lead character's own memory.  In the upcoming Shine, the lead character has a conversation with his own subconscious which has manifested in the form of his father.  This idea kept appearing in my work, so the next logical phase was to embrace it and find a way to bring it into my photography as well.  "How?" you might ask.  Well, with lingerie of course.

In my second collaboration with the lovely Brianna, we decided to try something new and come up with a way to blend a traditional lingerie shoot with this concept of personal introspection.  So what did we come up with?  Two distinct narratives being explored via two distinct types of film.  The first narrative is told in Colour, and follows the story of a young woman who returns to her hotel room and enters into a hyper-realistic lucid dream.  The second narrative is told in Black & White, and is the dream itself, where the character's thoughts and emotions begin to take on a physical form as she explores the depths of her fantasy.  

This was such a fun concept to shoot, and has given me a lot to think about in exploring similar themes with my photography in the future.  As always, Brianna was wonderful to work with and did an excellent job as the lead character in this play of pictures.  

For the full series, see below...

THE DREAMSCAPE

Renae

Renae

For Colored Girls

The beautiful, talented, and beautifully talented Renae is a painter and model in North Hollywood, so it was only fitting that our collaboration feature paint.  I've been wanting to try a concept like this for quite some time, and Renae turned out to be the perfect canvas.

 For Colored Girls, 2015 - Pentax 67

For Colored Girls, 2015 - Pentax 67

This photo won me /r/analog's Photographer of the Week, so I already knew we were off to a good start!

There will certainly be more to come between Renae and I, stay tuned for 2016...

Luwam

Luwam

Part Woman, Part Wind

This weekend I collaborated with the beautiful and talented Luwam Mikael for a shoot in Downtown Los Angeles, a collaboration born entirely out of Instagram.  And what a collaboration it was...

 Luwam, DTLA 2015, Pentax 67

Luwam, DTLA 2015, Pentax 67

Braelynn

Braelynn

No Housewives Here

 Braelynn, 2015, Pentax 67

Braelynn, 2015, Pentax 67

Keeping the shoots coming strong in 2015 with my latest collaborator, Braelynn Taylor!  Another Instagram connect made this happen.  We got together in Central LA this weekend so I could put a few more miles on my new favorite beast, the Pentax 67. 

Canon AE-1:

Pentax 67:

Easy to tell how it quickly became my favorite camera.