Cloudless sky

Nothing but the sky above today. No clouds. See the vastness of the blue sky clearly or suspect that you will soon die of thirst? This city has changed so much over the years but I still love the hell out of this sky whether shooting the basketball or getting chased by the mutants of commerce. Mega-son recently wanted me to relay my experiences in this city from when I was his age through a few years down the line.


For one, the sky was brown most of the time. Secondly, kids were outside playing under that brown sky all summer. You could not go inside aside for lunch or evacuation (but more often, stay outside to water the tree). My cousins and I lived at the museums down near USC – but the bastards would never give us a key. My Northern friends from school were Guatemalan and Laotian and we would charge people to park their cars in abandoned lots so they could walk to the football games at the Coliseum. Woe be unto the mofo who thought they could stiff us because “it’s not your lot”. The fee was cheaper than the repercussions. (I didn’t tell him that part)

In a way, I had forgotten about all the little hustles that we all did. No lemonade stands. Now I have all this technology that remembers all the phone numbers for me, reminds me of birthdays of ingrates, and I’m certain that I saw an app dedicated to scratching my left testicle. The purity of the hustle has been broadsided by the superstructure of snark – riddled coneheads and the vacuous grasp of the technological programming. I’m cyborg now and fresh out of wd40.

All is not lost, pilgrim. The nano-bot small pox laden cell phone has not totally corrupted my vision. I do not reminisce for stage 3 smog alerts and police helicopters hovering over my roof for hours on end. I’m not a nostalgic cat so it takes external requests for me to sift through the archives. My original hustle just has to mind meld with the things I’ve learned over recent years. I admit I find it a bit of a struggle to relate to many of the newer faces that I’ve come across. Rather, they don’t seem to feel the need to relate to me. My job is to create on a level where people are moved one way or another. Germane output isn’t going to make an impact. With that,  the responsibility is all mine.

At the canon shop, Tim Tadder was talking about finding the thing that is unique to you and running with it. That’s how his hustle brought him the work it did.

I’ve driven 50 miles typing this between stops and now I’m being musically tortured.  So with the smoothness of broken glass, I’m cutting this post now.

APA Portfolio Review 10/2013

Earlier this month at Tchiat-Day’s Playa del Rey location APA had the 2nd of its yearly portfolio reviews. I think there were 9 reviewers (maybe seven) from a decent cross section of the commercial field with one editorial and a fine art person. I go because I’m a volunteer and it’s one of the best ways to get me out of the house to meet these people. I don’t believe that I travel in the same circles where I would casually run into any of these people and you know a direct cold call is a likely candidate for voice mail.

This event seems less hectic than most of the other reviews given the organization and the calm environment of tbwa. At least, this is what I overheard. Admittedly, I was armed with fatigue from the prior day’s documentary shoot that ran long and a knowledge that I didn’t want anyone’s critique. I tried to get the reviewers to talk mostly about themselves since I know enough about me. For the most part there was enough give and take. I do have to admit to the humor of being the constant anomaly is wearing thin.

Kevin Steele was there again (one of my favorite action photographers) and it’s always interesting for me to see the far more established cats like him there. He knew all of the reviewers already so he was there for a refresh. That’s a reminder to those who think they can drop the mic after the first verse: the beat goes on.

Given that Heidi & Anthony had to leave early, Cesar (the other volunteer) and I packed up the joint then split. On the drive back to the laboratory I pondered the place between futility and progression. One of the reviewers said length of time that you’ve been shooting doesn’t matter and I’ve seen that to be true. How you pursue your opportunities while generating imagery that moves your target is paramount.

And that is part of the conflict for me in my lifelong battle of intrinsic reward versus get gigs. I had one reviewer earlier (who I had met in the past but didn’t have this time) in passing ask me the question similar to asking an actor “what restaurant do you work at?” It wasn’t meant that way but it was. That’s what a lot of entrenched people think given photography’s democratization in these transitional times.

This week I’ve been working on spec commercials, composites and data mining. Maybe next week I’ll take that lady’s order. Maybe next week she’ll be taking mine.


Ghost Trigger

You buy you buy you buy you buy you buy!!!!! As I type this, I’m hold right now with my least favorite web host of all time: Uno y Prime aka 1&1. Their control panel blows. Their quarterly-only payment system continues that tradition; AND I have spent too much time with billing, customer service, and technical support than a web savvy, hungry mofo like myself should have to do.

Now, I’m not brand loyal nor am I a fan of the hard sell nor the hidden fee. Still, people are conditioned to respond preemptively. Still, apparently I am people. Knowing this, I told myself to calm down before waiting on hold with Uno y Prime. The rep however did not make herself aware of her Pavlovian conditioning (or didn’t care) and proceeded to waste my f!!king time until she was taught a lesson in CSL (Comprehension as a Second Language). Upon that point, she recognized that her almighty company had screwed me over on the invoice and was forced to return my lunch money.

October was an odd month but with a lot of promise. They all have a lot of promise don’t they? However, I was getting bashed in the grille for a nice stretch of time and my reprieve was to be the web site review and portfolio review a week later. Both reviews were through APA. I’ve changed most of the branding last year to reflect my dry humor and acerbic humor.

Matthew Jordan Smith

The sample emailer was crafted to exhibit that to a panel include Matthew Jordan Smith, Tom Devine, and a big-wig Art Producer whose name I forget at the moment. I’ve met Tom and Matthew before so I made comments within stating that I challenge MJS for the Presidency of the Hair Club for Men. Tom, being an exceptionally even-keeled cat in all the times I’ve seen him, was challenged to a championship bout of thumb wrestling. APA L.A.’s site is down as I type this so let’s say I offered the Art Producer 15% off of pixie dust and moonbeams. As I had never met her before, I felt it safe to not be overly aggressive in the discount.

Good enough plan, bad execution. The art producer had that English accent/Simon Cowel kind of thing going on being playfully snappy and informative. Given my disdain for public speaking I was gearing myself up for a playful clash. First, my promo had never made it onto the projector. When she had come to me, my web site with all its known flaws and my weird ass pictures (relative to the 20 previously discussed ones) were out there naked with limited interactivity and little context. She asked me a question (“Why do you name your categories the way you do?”) and I responded in full, dead-pan jest, “Do you care?”

Ghost trigger. Lead balloon.

Children started screaming and mofos stopped, dropped and rolled looking for earthquake safety zones. Immediately, MJS jumped to the rescue. Now, I repeat: I’ve met MJS quite a few times but we don’t hang out drinking brews talking about cricket matches and practical teaching method of the pythagorean theorem to Andalusian toddlers. He needs to be reminded of my name so I’m not blaming him because as moderator he has to control the crowd so he goes on about not being overly sensitive about one’s work et al. Me, sensitive?! Man, do you know who you’re talking about? No. I could say he misunderstood my brand of comedy but the real thing is that I didn’t project it properly as I needed to adapt to the change of circumstances. That’s real.

While MJS’s warning of grace is going down I’m laughing to myself that anyone could think I was serious but that’s why I call it a ghost trigger. We all have done and observed things that can easily predispose us to various actions and reactions and it’s a constant threat especially if you’re somewhat on the fringes.

is someone’s arm up in here?

In a group setting, you’re more likely to get someone who gets butt hurt or defensive over every little thing so there’s a common denominator factor. That’s the responsibility of those engaging public aka ME. Whereas I would have laughed out loud even if I thought the person was serious, Matthew was as smooth as a moderator can be in laying down the law. When I first met him, I had commented about that to him in something else he had moderated. Anyhowaysit.

After the event, I -still dry as all hell- explained to the panelists that I wasn’t remotely serious. I don’t know if they believed me or not. It doesn’t really matter in any specific way aside from the heuristic reminder to continually think on your feet. I’m not always going to make the right call. And worst off, the emailer is totally useless to me as a viable joke as no one is ever going to see it. Well, maybe I’ll edit in a link later. I’ll come back to the portfolio review post next time.