Sunday, December 27, 2009

.: post graduation :.

well, i have finished my thesis, and i am now down with school, with an mfa in commercial photography. but what now? that is the seemingly huge question that lingers in my mind every day. i feel that moment of panic rush over me for a brief second, as i am currently unemployed and have to make ends meet. but as i work every day on my brand i realized this is a never ending process. i have a list of the next steps - make a self promo, email advertising agencies, email photographers on the apa to try and find assisting jobs, email studios, email galleries. i am working hard to stay on this path without letting myself get distracted. i keep having large dollar signs flash in my head reminding me of my looming school loans. it is inevitable. as an artist, we hear it all the time while in school, that 90% of artists fail because of bad business sense. i will not let that be me. i will continue shooting and emailing, and somehow in the middle of that i may have to get a part-time job to pay my bills. my friends have said that it takes about a year post-graduation to build clients. i am expecting it to take me that long as well, but i am hoping it happens sooner. best of luck abby. make a schedule every day. stick to it. be disciplined. be determined.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

.: haight space :.

this is my thesis, which i got a full pass this past thursday. so i guess i am now graduated, no longer a professional student. just professional. the last few years have been complicated, interesting, rewarding, frustrating and full of colorful trials and errors. i feel so many emotions running through my blood. i must sharpen my business skills and figure it all out. i must continue this creative energy and not let myself get consumed by life's hardships. i must keep a clear head. i must exercise to feel good. i must eat healthy foods. i must trust my instincts. i must believe.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

in the limelight

gary salter

i really LOVE this guy's work. it has a pretty commercial look, which is not something that i am overly attracted to, but his images are just awsome. his subjects are more fringe society, not the 'model' look that most photographers are attracted to. there are images of bikers, old women, prison mates in witty and humorous poses. his images activate the viewer to really love these characters and their personalities. his images also incorporate groups of people, which can be very tricky in photography. the more people there are in a scene, the more difficult the lighting becomes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

.: rain :.

there is something hauntingly beautiful about the rain. it is instant, colorless, wild, comforting, fleeting. i transcended my clear vision to one of blur, the happy accident when rain hits lens. i embraced this moment, and this is the result.

Monday, November 16, 2009

.: spiritualee :.

here is another new image. i shot him for my haight space project, and in fact i have a lot of new images to post for that project but am still editing. spiritualee is a fixture of the haight ashbury, one of those people who you would hope to get the opportunity to photograph. he has amazing style and a strong presence behind the camera. i think i posted other images of him in older posts, but i am completely in love with this one. this image projects spiritualee (his musician name) in so many ways. is it the feather, the braids? the coyote resting upon his head? or is it just the intensity of his expression? we had a lot of fun shooting together, as we always have. i find it especially stimulating to photograph him in his own space because i feel the true character of spiritualee comes out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

.: converse mock ad :.

these are two mock ads i made for one of my classes. he product was converse, and the idea is to sell the product. da. that's what advertising photography is! i really loved this assignment because it really made me have to think on this level, and this is a definitely a direction that i want to go with some of my work.

Monday, October 19, 2009

.: for we will travel :.

we buy these tickets
to fly on a plane
over oceans and seas
over land and humanity
and we laugh like children
full of zest
on our way to a city
of dreams
to immerse our
united states
of america
in the mystical
city of tokyo
i say under my breath
to assure it is real
as we walk
the shinjiku steets
my heart beats
in a land
to us so foreign
we struggle to speak
but one language
remains true
a collective desire
to be a fan
to love a band
that is radioheadu
and through them
i am him
he is her
she is me
i am you

this is a stop motion movie that i made of my boyfriend and my trip from san francisco to tokyo to see radiohead. it is approximately 5000 frames.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

.: it's a gmail life :.

this is a project that i just started called "my gmail life". i got the inspiration from the emoticons that bombard our every day life. i am really interested in the way technology is changing us as human beings and i thought this was appropriate for our generation. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

in the limelight

the pen story 

a stop motion movie of 60k images, 9k prints. wow. shooting a stop motion is no easy task. putting it together is no easy task either. the music and story in this piece pulls at you, makes you watch it further, fills your heart with nostalgia of growing up, falling in love. it makes the riding a bike seem so perfect, so tranquil. could that person be me? that is what they want you to think when you watch it. i love that the entire story is told from the inside of someone's house, as if the house is the holder of these moments of time. 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

.: on the corner :.

this is a project that i started yesterday and hope to continue over the next few weeks. the spot that i chose is a bit on the bright side, even with the reflector the lighting seems a bit harsh. I had a difficult time finding an open place to put the moving studio that wasn't full of shadows. there are a few technical issues that i would like to correct the next time around, but here goes for now. i do really like the emotional impact that i got from these people. they are random. the concept was conceived from the moveable studio created by richard avedon in his americana portraits. i do not know these people. i had to use my supernatural powers as a photographer to illuminate the character of each person.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

.: and here i am again :.

well, it has been quite a while since i have posted to blogger. it was not at all intentional. just life taking over in serious places. god, i make that sound like i had a heart attack or something. of course not. only, i got so busy with my thesis that i forgot for a second all of my own personal endeavors. i think that happens to people sometimes. 

i want to now post a story that i wrote a while back. i get different responses it so it. i hope you take the time to read it, for it is one of great emotion. it is about the struggle to be an artist and peace and madness at the same time. some of you may understand, some of you may not. but i hope you enjoy.

Well, this is where I start. Is it a beginning? I could start with the uncanny day my mother popped me out, that day being Christmas. Imagine that. I have the same birthday as Jesus. But I don't think I want to start there, because a lot of mistakes have been made since that day. I want to start with a day that I remember. 
My days somehow run into each other. I wake up, usually sometime after 9 a.m. (yes, I am a late riser), feed my cat, check my email (even though I never receive anything of importance, of substance, from a friend, I mean), rub my eyes, clean the tile counter in the kitchen with a dirty sponge, slip on my Uggs to keep my feet warm (our apartment is FREEZING in the morning), yawn, sniff and blow my nose. The usual, you know?

This day is somehow different. This is the day a friend lent us a car. Imagine that. A car. The us I refer to is my boyfriend and I. We live together in a one-bedroom flat in San Francisco, in Haight Ashbury actually. We live a block away from the once Janis Joplin house. I walk by it almost every day and imagine Janis, Jimi and Bob sitting on the porch, strumming an acoustic. That was the 60s. Now it is a children's center. Somehow drug use and alcoholism lends itself to community activism. Imagine that. Today we call off work even though we aren't sick. My boss whines.

"Not today, Layla. Not today. Sal and Tobin already called in sick. I am here by myself."
"But I am sick," I say. "What do you want me to do?" I hang up the phone and turn it off. I don't call back. 
We decide to take a road trip down South. Eric, my boyfriend practically yells through excitement.
"Fuck it, let's drive all the way to L.A." 
"No," I say. "Too much money. Let's just drive. Then hopefully when the sun sets, we will be at a beach so I can take a photo."

We drive through the park to the expansive horizon of cars, beach, ocean and surfers. Stark noon light hits the white sand and reflects off of the foaming waves as we turn onto Highway 1. I can't seem to suppress the smile that I feel stretched across my face. Is this happiness or is it California? I laugh out loud and Eric turns to me. I can see his beaming eyes.

"What?" he says, but he knows already. We continue down Highway 1 to Fort Funsten. We decide to get out and survey this novel location. We walk through a small field to a path, where a sign loudly reads 'JUMP WITH CAUTION'. I feel alarmed at first, but realize by the photos that it meant not to jump to death, but rather by hang-glider. We continue to the Fort and lean on the railing that hangs over the beach. It seems almost a mile to the waves and those walking along the water move like ants. A strange loss of reality grips me at this moment because of the depth perception that I feel while looking over such a steep precipice. For some reason, the events on the beach seem separate from my existence, like I am looking through a peephole. I begin to feel dizzy and then tell Eric I want to go. Our mint green Volkswagon GI glistens in the parking lot as we walk out. I shoot small video clips on the road and laugh through the breezes of salt and fish. The car sings the lyrics of Modest Mouse and I stare to the sky as the sun captures the movement through the treetops. The air through the window feels chilly, but the heat of the sun keeps us warm. 

"Come on," I say. "Say something funny. What should I write about?" I ask. "Damn, look at that. It's a huge cliff," Eric says. I look over at the cliff and the beach beyond and then think of the small building we had just left behind called "English Pub". How good a Guinness would be on the beach in California. 

I moved to California for school. I enjoy the beaches and mountains, and the idea that I can snowboard and surf in the same day. Graduate school seemed the appropriate outlet for a girl who had too much talent and too little money.

My life here swims laps over the tainted years in Pennsylvania. I do not speak of child abuse or alcoholism or suicide, I speak of a tarnished relationship with my father. Somehow California became my simple life. The sound of the waves and the physical distance between the two states calmed me.

We pass signs that say "drifting sand" along a trail where a woman and a horse lazily walk. The speed of the car stops the horseback rider as a photograph would.  Days like this make me human again. Despite gas prices as high as $3.07 (damn California), we forge on with a powerful sense of freedom. Heart of Gold, by the talented Neil Young, resonates with the excitement of the moment. We finally reach Santa Cruz, and the boardwalk feels plastic against the plush seascape we had passed that afternoon. From a distance, the ferris wheel sits still as stone. The streets remain empty and it seems as if the town exists only because of the few volleyball players on the beach. I see the blood pumping through their veins as they jump toward the sky to spike the ball. Is this what they do in Santa Cruz? Play volleyball and eat ice cream? 

I lean against a pole and wish I could enjoy the same lifestyle. Though I know the residents of Santa Cruz don't actually eat ice cream or play volleyball as a career, it seems appropriate to imagine this in my head for a few moments. It would be delightful, spending days on this warm beach, enjoying the sand in my toes and the power of volleyball to whip me into shape. But at the end of the day, these players go home to jobs, as I will tomorrow. 

We park the car and head toward the boardwalk. I take photos of the tops of palm trees against the sky. The boardwalk looks completely empty, and then I realize that it is the off-season. The sun begins to move past 2:00 above the horizon, and by 3:00, I will have missed my sunset. 

"You know what?" I say. "Let's get out of here. I really want to be on a smaller beach when the sun sets." 

Eric stares at me, nodding his head okay. We jump into the car. I buckle my seatbelt and chew on some Macadamia nuts. How exciting. I feel suddenly that we are chasing the sun to Monterey. I am not sure why I am counting on the end of the day so urgently except for the making of my final photograph. There is something about the last moments of daylight in photography. It is a brick of time between dusk and sunset where the sky resonates purple when translated to film. It is magically beautiful and sedating. I smile at the idea of recording the last moments of this day. On the way to Monterey, we pass silhouettes of tractors and artichoke plants harvesting. For a while, we wonder what crop spans the acreage before us until we spot (actually, let me rephrase), almost run into, a huge red sign stating "ARTICHOKES NOW GROWING!" Sunlight reflects from small patches of water dispersed over the land, reaffirming that we are still close to the ocean. Shadows fall across the road as we arrive in Monterey. 

I am totally relaxed except for the grumbling in my stomach. The sun sleeps over the bay and the clouds reflect pink off of the flat, calm water. I grab my tripod from the car and set it up. I shoot a sailboat. It feels less dramatic to me than anticipated, as if there should have been a burst of fireworks as I press the shutter. 

Maybe my life revolves around this moment, this instant moment of satisfaction followed by a letdown. Maybe my father and I could have understood each other if I had remained an editor. At least I was making salary and benefits. At least my job had a title in the workforce like his title of doctor. At least I was working for a huge corporation. At least I could get a raise. Eric ushers me to the crab house. I walk to different spots and shoot the last light of the day. 

"I'm hungry. Can we please go?" He looks at my camera and rolls his eyes. "Okay, just one more shot," I say.
"That's what you always say, and it's never just one more shot," he retorts before turning and walking toward the restaurant door. Okay, okay, I mutter to myself. I throw the tripod back into the trunk and run to catch up with him. 

We sit at a small table and watch the pink clouds disappear over the hillside. Hundreds of sailboats line the harbor through the window next to us. It feels quite romantic and subtle. The sun sets on the earth and rises on us.

We order whole crab and calamari. I like the idea of eating buttery crab with my fingers. I tell the waitress that we are excited to have calamari in Monterey Bay, as it is well known, and she blurts out that this is a local's place. We look around and see middle-aged couples looking mostly like tourists.  "Local's place," grunts Eric under his breath. 

I go to the women's restroom. Tacked on the wall above the toilet is a wooden fish with measurements such as seen on a ruler. In white letters through the center, it reads "size does matter". I laugh and wonder if a similar fish sits above the toilet in the men's restroom. 

As we munch on calamari, we overhear the waitress say, 
"I've been around these parts since '64." Eric hails her to our table. "Did you go to the festival?" he asks, referring to the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, where Jimi Hendrix smashed and burnt his Fender (Eric loves Jimi).
The waitress shakes her head no and laughs. 
"Nooo. I thought they would be 'round forever, and then they just died," she says. We sit staring at her not knowing what exactly to say. She picks up the empty plates and leaves. We look at each other and Eric shakes his head again.
"Local's place," he mutters. At least she still laughs through all these years, I think. She is content at being a waitress in Monterey Bay. After all, she does live by the ocean.

"I'm going back the way we came," says Eric as we step into the car. It is funny to think about going back. We drive in this circle, which we call the California coast, and now it is dark. I breathe and relax. The food in my stomach nourishes me. And I do not hear the buzz of underground trains. I do not watch as a streetwalker spits on my tennis shoe. No dirty fingers or track marks, nor the stench of piss at the doorstep of my workplace. I do not hear my cat scream to me about how she wants to get laid as she goes through heat. No more screaming to myself in my head that I am thirty and still broke. After all, we did pack lunches to save money. 

I left Pennsylvania without a career. Or at least, not one that suited my father. I quit my editor job to be a waitress. I hated the buzzing of the fluorescent lights in the newsroom on the thirtieth floor. And the twenty-ninth floor. It is strange as I look back now, and the lights are what I remember to hate the most. I am sure there were other things to hate at that job, but not the people nor the constant looming deadlines. Perhaps I hated my boss or the smell of the building. But what stuck with me the most was the sadness in Emme's eyes, because she knew after twelve years at the company, she would never leave. She would arrive at eight a.m. every day, have a one-hour lunch break, take a few phone calls, count many numbers, file much paperwork, and then leave again at six or six-thirty sometimes. Or even seven. But she never smiled or laughed, her back slumped over slightly from sitting in a poorly cushioned desk chair everyday, and she always carried a pen behind her ear. Emme was the newspaper's accountant. 

She sat in the cubicle two down from me, the one in the corner, It did not face any windows, so she did not see natural light much during the day. We had lunch together sometimes, at a small Thai restaurant a few blocks away. Usually we both got chicken curry. 

I read and reported about gold and silver every day. It was a commodities paper, one of great importance to individuals who tracked their riches on the New York Stock Exchange. But they already had money to track. I had only a dream.

So I left. I put my two weeks in and bounced. I had saved a small amount of money, but not enough to support myself for long. Eventually, I had to move home, much to the dismay of my father. He never understood why I left that job and he never agreed with it. Somehow my title of oldest daughter no longer stood for something. My family dynamic had changed, and I felt as if I didn't understand it. I picked up a camera and took it into the Pennsylvania woods to be alone. To cure myself. I began to do this almost very day. The remote silence of the trees against the click of my camera shutter grew familiar to me. I waited tables and made pretty good money, enough to find my own apartment and pay for it. 

"You should be working," my father would say to me in the middle of dinner, as if I wasn't supporting myself already. He shook his head while he stuffed buttered carrots into his mouth. 

My father's black hair glistened beneath the hanging light that lit the table. I stared at the course salty grays that showed his age, but his eyes showed his fatigue. His appointments for patients began at seven a.m. sharp and often he worked twelve-hour days. He appreciated the healthy meal served to him by my mother every night when he finally made it home. 

"I have a job," I snapped back and then stamped my lips shut to negate an argument. This went on at dinner over a time period of several months. I only ate dinner with my parents once a week, but somehow my ungodly career misfortune always slipped through my father's teeth. 

"You put your mind to it and you can be anything you want," he'd say. "I did it." 
Each time he said 'I did it', I think about my birth. I was conceived out of love, as my parents did meet in sixth grade (my father gave my mother a homemade valentine of pink and red construction paper). I was born on Christmas, the same day as Jesus (maybe my father needed a reality check). My father applied for grants and scholarships and entered medical school (but that was the sixties, and I wonder perhaps if they let almost anyone into medical school at that time). And then come more children, my brothers and my sister. I grew up feeling tall, because for a long time, I could put my hand comfortably on my brother's head. But he grew up, and so did the others. We grew up. Then I stopped growing, and they kept growing. At least in my father's eyes.

There was never any glass throwing or screaming in my parents' household, only an eerie silence that I sometimes thought needed a bit of glass shattering. Someone should scream to my father that not everyone was like him. I am not a doctor, I am an artist. Live with it. 

I left Pennsylvania to become a famous photographer. I always say that because it is what my father would want. I entered school to polish my skills. I reached California and touched the sand. I cried. I laughed. I had my first paid photo shoot. I made a lot of money (which I of course quickly spent, but don't tell my father. Then he could really say 'I told you so'). 

We drive in silence and only respond to the quiet pulsing of 'Dark Side of the Moon'. The streetlights fly by in rhythm with the music. The city looms ahead. We arrive home, sleep, and alas, our day has reached its end. 

I am back on the bus on my way to work. The day of frolicking in the car is over. What is it about this life as I now experience it that my father once did? Perhaps it is the reality of reality. Reality reminds me that life is never easy. He used to say that too. He used to say a lot of things.

At my house, I feed my cat and check my email (you know, thinking I might get some email of importance, of substance). My email is empty. Only junk mail. But I don't fret. I'm okay.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

in the limelight

pink floyd: animals

yes, i have to say some things about this record. pink floyd has created an auditory explosion of guitar mixed with haunting animal sounds. there is something of an orchestral quality to this album that fixes tremendous emotional highs and lows on the listener. it is intensely quiet but loud at the same time. i love lying in bed and listening to this album. it is one of those for me. there is nothing like driving back from a long day of snowboarding in the colorado backcountry and listening to animals. there is nothing like sitting in the waist deep powder and enjoying it. there is nothing like having a dog trail you down the mountain, jumping and pouncing in the depths of the powder. there is nothing like purple skies. there is nothing like silence so crisp and empty. so innocent. so void of the constant noise and sounds that bombard your everyday life in the city. there is nothing like snow-covered trees. there is nothing like friends to sit on the top of a mountain with and not a single other person in sight. and then back to animals. there is nothing like the burn of leg muscles at the end of the day. there is nothing like taking your boots off. there is nothing like your next meal because you feel like you could eat a horse, though not literally. and there is nothing like the tired ride home with the barking of dogs and the oinking of pigs. if you know what i mean.

Monday, March 23, 2009

.: westerfield nudes :.

well, what can i possibly say about these drawings, except for they are mine and they were done at the most fabulous art party in san francisco. we were invited to attend a drawing party at the famous westerfield house in alamo square (once the home of ken kesey). the rooms are each art pieces in themeslves, a monument to early 1900s interior design. a few of the rooms were lit with photographic lights where nude female models posed in '60s summer of luv style. i can't even put into words the experience as a whole without writing a short (perhaps i will someday), but i am posting my drawings from the night. i haven't drawn a picture in years, and when i first put the pencil to paper it felt a bit foreign to me. but the pieces starting falling into place once i began to really listen to the dj spinning psychadelic 60s tunes. in shorter words, i got totally into it. it was such a nice release to draw a picture. who woulda thunk it. art works in mysterious ways.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

in the limelight

david hockney

i was introduced to hockney while in school and have always since remembered his pieces. this series are his swimming pool paintings from 1967. they are my favorite. i particularly like his vision of the way water reflects the sunlight. it is so simple yet designed. the colors are striking and the concept so exemplifies the grandness of swimming in warm los angeles summer heat. sometimes when i look at these paintings i get a feeling of nostalgia, as if i am really there at that moment. perhaps "the swimming pool" brings back many positive childhood memories. i also enjoy the art deco feel of these images. they remind me of julius shulman's architecture shots of l.a. homes. if you have never seen them, stay tuned. i will post some at a later date.


in the limelight

mark chien

this is a photographer friend of mine who spent the course of three years at the academy of art along side of me. he is talented at lighting and especially talented at photoshop manipulation. i enjoy his concepts and ability to make the model so comfortable behind the camera. that is a huge challenge when shooting. once the technical issues are learned, such as lighting, then the next obstacle is creating a connection between the model and the camera. everyone has their own techniques as to how to engage the subject of the photograph. mark was a master at this. unfortunately, mark has moved back to taiwan to pursue his photographic career, but we will see him back in sf again, hopefully soon. he is missed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

tokyo, the other end of the world

this is a video of paranoid android that i took at the show at saitima super arena in tokyo on oct. 5, 2008

my boyfriend and i travelled across the great oceans, lands, by plane, by train, encompassed by a language so foreign to us but so natural to them. this place was tokyo. we went to see radiohead. we were those awkward tourists that you can probably imagine in your head right now. oh were we them. 

we stumbled along the electric streets entranced by the lights, the people, the landscape, the sushi, the history, the energy, the customs, the gracious japanese spirit. the visual stimulation felt while walking the city streets was a photographic journey in itself. 

but mostly i wanted to post this to give a shout out to the set list for the oct. 5 show, the real reason we went. there is something about radiohead that is so otherworldy and universal at the same time. our seating section must have been reserved for foreigners because we met people from all over the world. some were american, others from europe, australia. we met two americans who lived in guam, went out with them after the show, and later sang karaoke in the same exact karaoke room as scarlett johannson in the movie "lost in translation". how cool is that?   

00. Intro
01. 15 Step
02. Airbag
03. Just
04. There There
05. All I Need
06. Pyramid Song
07. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
08. The Gloaming
09. Myxomatosis
10. Faust Arp
11. Knives Out
12. Nude
13. Optimistic
14. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
15. Idioteque
16. Fake Plastic Trees
17. Bodysnatchers
18. Like Spinning Plates
19. Videotape
20. Paranoid Android
21. Reckoner
22. Everything In Its Right Place
23. Go Slowly
24. My Iron Lung
25. How to Disappear Completely

haight space

here are a few more images that i have been working on for my thesis. the name i have revealed in this post, so perhaps there is an understanding of where i live. one of the first photographer's i met in my life told me to shoot what i know best. i don't know if i quite understood what he meant at the time, but i do now. i am finding with this project that my attachment to my neighborhood has really changed the meaning of photography for me. the connection that i seem to have is deep and i am enjoying myself in this picture taking part of my life. 

the first is an image of a shoe taylor in my neighborhood named carlos. he runs a good business and is so friendly to the neighborhood people. it is a neighborhood with many skeletons in the closet, intense historical references, cosmic energy and artistic release. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

.: bang bang you're dead :.

this is an image i shot recently for my environmental portrait series. it is coming along slowly but surely. i have now narrowed the series down even more to my neighborhood. i am not going to name the neighborhood where i live in san francisco except to say that it is historically very famous. so this is my modern day interpretation. can you guess from the imagery? probably not at this moment, but there will be more to come. 

in the limelight

Ted Warnell

this guy's work is super cool. i discovered him while browsing blogspot. this whole experience of blogging has become exciting because it is almost like getting a sneak peek into someone's psyche. though you don't know them, you know them. i think it is a very interesting platform. i realize when i read these blogs that there is so much artistic expression in the world, which i believe to be a necessary part of being. 

in any case, back to this amazing artist ted warnell. his blog is called 'poem by nari code poetry & other'. his blog page and his website are cryptic and difficult to understand but visually beautiful at the same time. he has made an artform from simple html coding. check it out in the above link.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

in the limelight

wolfgang jaiser & claus winder for 
radiohead's in rainbows video contest


i so love this video. it was put together by the german team wolfgang jaiser and claus winder for the radiohead video contest. the animation in it is so clean and but in a way somewhat psychedelic at the same time. also, since radiohead is my favorite band in the world, i am personally more attached to anything that involves their music. in fact, i am about to jump in a plane and head to mexico city for the shows this weekend. yeah, i only wish. (only wish i hadn't seen that $200 flight deal from sf to mexico in my inbox, just kidding...ha...ha...ha). or am i?  

Monday, March 9, 2009

.: suspended above thin air :.

this is a tryptic of a dancer i shot in the studio. she is a friend of mine in san francisco. her name is michele kitchen. i plan to photoshop her into cityscapes, but have not shot the right images to do so yet. but i wanted to post these because i really love the feeling that she is suspended in midair. the flexibility and grace of the ballerina is such a beautiful thing to me, perhaps because it seems so difficult. when i do finally find the ideal locations in which to photoshop her, i will post those as well. photoshop compositing is a complicated issue. the lighting and perspective must be exactly correct or the eye will subliminally understand that something is wrong.

in the limelight

birthe piontek

i recently discovered this photographer, birthe piontek. she was born in 1976, the same year as me. her work plays with the themes of the familiar and the strange, the vulnerability of youth and innocence. she was named one of the pdn (photo district news) top 30 in 2008. this is a prestigious nomination for a young rising photographer. she lives and works in vancouver, bc. 

i am attracted to the strange tension that i feel when looking at her work. she mixes portraits with still life images on her website, and though they are different subject matter, the emotional impact that the viewer gets is the same. also, i continue to look for photographers who shoot environmental portraits to reference in my own work. the environmental portrait is a tricky photograph to take because there are so many factors to take into consideration, many elements of design that must be considered. also, the lighting must look as authentic as possible in order for the image to maintain a context of the "real".

Monday, March 2, 2009

in the limelight


the next artist i want to talk about is banksy. he was born in bristol, but due to obscurity, it is not now known where he resides. he is the infamous and anonymous banksy, an artist known for his street artwork.  though he publicly stencils his compelling street art, he has never been seen or heard. no one knows his identity. this means he has never been caught, i am assuming. he even put up one of his pieces on the wall in a well-known museum in london, dressed in costume from head to toe, in broad daylight. he was caught on tape in full beard and mustache, hat, trench coat and sunglasses. the museum left his piece on the wall. banksy plays with controversial and political topics in his pieces, such as the one above: the blatant statement about the evolution of man from caveman to mcdonald's big mac and fries. he is a cool cat.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

in the limelight

julie blackmon

julie blackmon astonishes me with her design sense. she photographs her children in her body of work called 'domestic vacations'. the surreal quality of her images juxtaposes well the truth that centers around family life. in her artist statement, she compares her work to 'a jan steen household' which is a dutch proverb from the 17th century that refers to "a home in disarray, full of rowdy children an boisterous family gatherings" ( blackmon photographs the "stress, the chaos an the need to simultaneously escape and connect". Her images are incredibly visually engaging with close attention paid to figure in space and placement of props. she also incorporates photoshop manipulation to create a surrealism effect. her work really inspires me. 


Friday, February 20, 2009

in the limelight

lone catalysts

okay i am going to give a shout out because these guys just rock! they are from the 'burgh (for all of you out there who know what i mean) and the songs vibe with colorful beats and strong lyrics. two guys, j-rawls and j-sands formed the group in the '90s and now have a loyal fan base in europe and japan. rawls on the meaning of the name the 'lone catalysts' :

"At the time, we thought that there weren't many cats, at least in our area, trying to do it the way we were trying to do it. it's that raw hip-hop." ( 

i remember the first time i heard this band. i found out about them from a good friend of mine, went to the tiny eclectic record store on east carson st. in oakland and bought it. i played it in my car that day, and then literally played it nonstop for two weeks. there is something in the intention in the words and the references to pittsburgh that had me hooked. the album 'hip hop' can be pretty hard to find in regular record stores. i ended up having to buy it again recently online. and guess what i bought? a record of mp3s. no more cds. only mp3s. or lps (my fav). i could get back into the discussion of my love of listening to lps again, so i will stop here. in any case, check this band out if you like underground, conscious, and intelligent hip-hop. it is worth the time and effort! they also collaborate with talib kweli on a song, but i am not going to say which one. listen for yourself.

.: solitude :.

 i am for some reason fascinated with dead flowers. there is something oddly beautiful about what happens to a flower once it dies. the mold takes over and spreads across the drooping petals like crystals. when the light hits the it a certain way, the flower transforms from and symbol of death to this object of color and mysticism. it is as if all flowers could look like this in another world and it would be considered beautiful. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

.: expand your creativity :.

these are a few tips that i read in communication arts magazine recently that i thought apply to my blog, since it centers around art and creativity.

these are things you can do to "wake yourself up", meaning spark your creative juices...

1. take a class in something new
2. crack jokes, especially wordplay
3. keep a notebook
4. visit museums regularly
5. give yourself empty time, nothing to do
6. allow boredom
7. go to a bar you have never been to, in a part of town you never visit, order something you never drink, pull out a piece of paper, look around and write for 45 minutes. (this was the author's favorite tip. it is mine as well.)

in the limelight

oren lavie

i am completely in love with this video. it is a stop motion movie, meaning still photographs stitched together to make a moving picture. it is a lot of work, considering that a 3.5  minute video could be up to 5000 images or so. i am attracted to the jagged feel that a stop motion picture has vs. regular video. oren lavie is a songwriter and director originally from tel aviv, israel. on his myspace page, he describes himself as someone who likes "to create dreamy visuals from realistic elements, [and] he enjoys squeezing big worlds into small places". this is a really interesting conceptual vision and it makes so much sense, considering that he showed an trulu emotional story without ever moving the camera away from the bed.

in the limelight

jeff wall

dead troops talk (a vision after an ambush of 
a red army patrol, near moqor, afghanistan, winter 1986)

this image is a particularly good example of wall's attention to detail because this is a staged war scene. 

milk, 1984

a sudden gust of wind (after hokusai) 1993

this is one of my most favorite pieces of his. it was the first image that i saw when i starting out as a photography student and it has suck with me. 

after "invisible man" by ralph ellison, the prologue

jeff wall is an influential photographer of the 20th century. his works grace the walls of the sf and ny momas. his work is very preconceived, planned and staged. certain images offer a glimpse into the complicated production such as after "invisible man" by ralph ellison, the prologue, where wall constructs "the basement room where ellison's unnamed black narrator inhabits a shabby, cluttered self-contained world exposed under a ceiling full of hundreds of bare light bulbs sucking power illegally from the municipal grid". (

other images are not as complicated, such as milk, 1984. in wall's own words, "the explosion of milk from its container takes a shape which is not really describable or characterizable, but which provokes many associations. a natural form, with its unpredictable contours, is an expression of infinitesimal metamorphoses of quality".  the splash of milk was just as intentional as the hanging of hundreds of light bulbs. that is what i love about his work, the intent. as well as the intellectual process behind each piece. 

i have seen some of his pieces at the sf moma and they are incredibly beautiful large format color photography pieces. i find myself staring at jeff wall's work for long periods of time so that i can really take in every detail.