Born a bit too Late...

I often feel I'm about a hundred and fifty years too late. I have a fascination with the mid 1800's, the time of enlightenment, Thoreau, scientific awakening, natural discovery and John Muir. Like most people I have idols, but mine are a bit different. Hesse, Thoreau, Feynman, Whitman, Abbey and John Muir, that most enlightened Scottish individual and his deep rooted need to wander the landscape, sketching its patterns and observing its wonders. I can relate. One of my favorite stories he wrote is of a little hike he took up Tenya Canyon in Yosemite Valley. It's a notoriously dangerous hike; exposed granite slabs, slippery descents, multiple rappels, class 4 scrambles. It's on my list. Today one needs permits, maps, fancy rope, the proper timing, etc, but with Muir all that was needed was a loaf of half-eaten bread and a journal. After entering Yosemite Valley he headed straight on towards the East end and Tenya Canyon. Traversing the lower section of the hike, littered with huge boulders and fast water he started the upper sections and took a nasty fall that knocked him cold and nearly took his life, cursing his feet telling them "that is what you get by intercourse with stupid town stairs, and dead pavement". Rather than retreat, he pressed on promising to "..guide my humbled body over the highest precipices and the most intricate and nerve-trying places.." Feeling confident that the last of the town-fog and been shaken from both head and feet he slept on a smooth granite boulder, munching stale bread and writing in his journal by the bright moonlight. To wander freely throughout that untouched beauty of place, sketching, noting seems to me as close to perfection as I guess there can be. 


Obsession with Reality

What is this photographic obsession with reality.  Don't reproduce what was there, show me what you felt.


The Pursuit of Knowable Excellence

One of my favorite photographic publications is a little known magazine called Lenswork.  It focuses solely on ideas rather than the technicals of photography.  Its editor, Brooks Jensen, does an outstanding job of selecting a myriad of portfolios to showcase each issue.  In the beginning of each publication he adds an editors note, which typically talks on a creative aspect within the medium of photography.  The lastest issue, #88, he expounded on an interesting idea I never fully embraced before, at least not from this perspective.  Excellence.  More specifically what is your personal approach to it.  Is it in the subtle play of print tones, the subject matter, the coverage or final presentation.  If the image content is the excellence than a carefully crafted physical print may be a moot point for you.  On the other hand, if beautiful tonality, rich in interplay is important than the final print is the pinnacle of your excellence.  It's a refreshing way to look at an unknown artists work.  Rather than ask yourself if you like an artists work, understand it or agree with it, ask yourself what's the artists definition of excellence.  Looking inward, my initial response to my own pursuit of excellence lies in showing you a feeling about yourself through my work.  Literal accuracy, coverage, even place doesn't really matter.  My aim is to have you feel the quiet of desert, the chill of night or some unknown memory that only you have that is drawn out through one of my images.  After my initial response though I find myself adding little things that I feel add to my pursuit of excellence.  A well exposed negative, two portfolio quality images on a single roll of 120, well crafted print tonalities, sharp image scans, excellence in technical execution, knowing exactly how an image was shot.  I guess I have a few definitions for myself, but I've never liked single responses anyway.  What's your pursuit(s) of excellence?
...go shoot an image, it's fun.


Beautiful Kitchen

Interior project I photographed last week:
Location: Sunset Neighborhood San Francisco.
Architect: Steve Justrich
Stylist: Caitlin Morgenrath


The Journey

For me the journey's the thing.  No, I'm talking about the eclectic eighties band, although I do love them as well.  I'm talking about the old adage of means versus the end, of destination versus the journey, and I dearly love the latter.  I'm a deep process person.  I find far more enjoyment in the doing than the achieving.  I've done a myriad of projects over the years and most now sit idly, but during I was consumed with the process.  In photography it is the act of photographing that drives me.  Of course you might say, but it's not that uncommon for photographers to find more enjoyment in the final outcome, the hung print or published magazine.  I could almost care less.  I want to be out shooting, wandering, observing.  When I was younger I had a recurring adventure I would play out on our property.  We had these rotting old stumps, cut old growth, that stood eight to ten feet high.  Being a space nut for as long as I can remember (The Right Stuff was the first movie I remember seeing in the theater) these stumps naturally became spaceships.  But rather than focus on the numerous adventure that this ship could take me on I spent more time building it, perfecting it.  I'm not entirely sure I had full blown adventure at all, I just liked redesigning my ship.  I had to have just the right designed engine, battery compartment and instrument panel.  When you make a declarative statement about yourself it's fun to examine how that thing has culminated in your being.  Two of my deep desires are to walk the length of the Pacific Crest Trail and to sail around the world, both of which are pure journey's at heart.  Books I adore are usually about self-discovery through a journey, either physical or artistic, or both.  Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse being my favorite novel.  If you haven't read it, do, it's beautiful.  Thanks for listening.