Tuesday, July 27, 2010

 This photo needs no expiation it is what it is. The stories are told if you look in his eyes. Francesco Siqueiros is a master printer. He makes lithographs with this crazy old machine. As soon as my friend Lauren Moore told me about Francesco I knew I had to shoot him. I started doing this process because it is a hand crafted art form. He also has make art with his hands. The difference is he has been doing it for 20 years. I was  impressed and inspired at the same time. While I was setting up to shoot him he just keep on working he told me just to stop him when I wanted to shoot. I look over at his apron it was all dirty for his work. I looked down at my pants and they were all dirty from the collodion process. I imagined that I was his apprentice and we were working together. This photo is perfect in so many ways I think it worked out this way because of the energy that was in the room.

If you are interested in finding out more about Francesco Siqueiros here is his info.

 El Nopal Press publishes fine arts prints and lithographs addressing social issues relevant to the cross-border dialog between Los Angeles and Mexico City artists.
El Nopal Press at 5th St.
109 W 5th St.
Los Angeles, Ca. 90013
By appointment only

web site: http://elnopalpress.com/
Location:5 and main st LA,Ca
Photo: Francesco Siqueiros

Monday, July 26, 2010

wet Plate Collodion a learning experiences

Miss collodion came in to my life out of know were it was like she sought me out. I fell for her form the moment I laid my eyes on her. I had no idea that she was going to open something up in side of me that had been close for many years. Photography as an art form was where I started then it became a job. Life just happened and all of a sudden every thing I loved was taken for me.  I felt like a thief had visited me in the night. Years wet by and I had all this free space in my heart waiting for something to fill it up. I also had the fear that it would happen again so I built these walls to protect my self. I don’t know how it’s possible she just showed up smashed straight through all of the walls entering my heart. It brought be right back to where I started and it made me feel so good. It felt like when I was in high school and had my first crush on a girl. I have heard the collodion process referred to as a woman. I also think of it that way. When ever some thing goes wrong it is never her fault and it is my job to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it. She is not going to tell you what’s wrong ether. That brings me to this image. I just mixed up a new batch of chemical and I was all excited to try them out. I call my friend Sarah to see if I could shoot a portrait of her to test them out. I shot the first photo of Sarah and as soon as I developed it I knew something was wrong. I wanted it to work out so bad I never anticipated how I was going to feel when it didn’t. My initial reaction was disappointment. How could she let me down? I figured well try again so I did. The same things happen again. As I was looking at the flaws I never stopped to see the beautiful thing that had happened. This is the image that I was about to right off as a mistake. This one turned out to be my favorite one after all.

My main focus was on making it work the way I had seen it work for others. I figured it was my turn to have it work out for me. I wasn’t going to give up on her even though I want to. I mixed something up real quick and bam it worked! I shoot some more photos and I thought I was in the clear. I was so happy for that short time I thought it was going to all work out. I shot another photo and she went right back to her old ways. I was devastated. So I just called it quits. I thought to my self there is no reason to keep beating my self up over something that was not working. After a few days of thinking about what went wrong I realize this was not a total loss some thing amazing happened. I had taken a chance on something new and that was a big step for me. I didn’t stay where it was safe I put my self out there. She gave me the ability to feel again and I'm so grate full for that. My conclusion is I might need to try some new chemical or maybe the old ones will work out only time will tell. For now I'm going to move just move forward searching for the right chemistry. 

Location: 9 stories above Los Angeles   
Photo: Sarah Emmons (double click to enlarge image)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wet Plate Collodion Bobby and Carolyn

I often say my photos are about me and there is rarely a time when I shoot something just for the sake of taking a photo. I had my camera set up on the corner of 5th and Main, shooting photos of the buildings and this couple caught my eye. I watched them for hours as I collected my images and absorbed the area. Later in the day my good friend Tait Hawes showed up to check out the wet plate process. Tait is an Art Director over at Vans and we have forged a super solid friendship over the past couple of years working together. He is easily one of the most talented Art Director I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Now that Tait was  around I wanted to shoot some of my favorite stock (people); but after shooting inanimate objects and kind of just working some stuff out in my head, I found myself a little timid. I told Tait I wanted to shoot the couple across the street and with no hesitation he was leading the charge, helping me set up this shot with Bobby and Carolyn Williams. Sometimes you get by with a little help from your friends.  Thanks Homie.

The image captures a very strong connection. This project I am shooting in Downtown Los Angeles is all about connections. The message is that we are all connected in one-way or another. When I observed Bobby and Carolyn they reminded me of my grandparents; (who were together for over 65 years). They stuck together through thick and thin. These days I feel like people just give up on things, especially commitments. If it doesn’t shake out the way we want, we figure we’ll just go out and find something new. This bothers me because I find most of the connections I make with girls end up this way. I guess I’ve been searching for a Bonnie to match my Clyde (a Carolyn for my Bobby). You look at this couple and can see there’s been some hardships; but no matter what they are going to stick it out. This is what unconditional love looks like to me. This is what I seek in my life.

Photo: Bobby and Carolyn Williams (click image to enlarge)
Location: 5th and Main

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wet Plate Collodion Department of Transportation

So after having a couple real lucky chance encounters with subjects on Los Angeles Street, I had some downtime and decided to grab a quick streetscape. I set up the camera and was in the darkroom preparing the plate while rapping with James about wanting to shoot more blue collar when he’s all “dude come out here you’re not gonna believe this”. I re-emerged with a wet plate and look out on the street to see a city bus had pulled up and the driver was getting out like she had an appointment to get her picture taken. I walk out to the street, meet Dora, ask her if she’d stand still for a photo, turn the camera, load the ready cartridge and snap the plate. Unreal.

Dora is a genuinely good natured person and she's very kind. She is just the kind of person you’d want to interact with everyday if you were on her route. Luckily she had to hold up her bus till other lines went by so she could pick up the stragglers and she just happened to pull up right to me. Dora see’s thousands of faces everyday, has plenty of stories/smiles to share and she’s really into photography. It turns out her son is pretty talented. Though I’m not really at liberty to get into details: If you live in LA you have definitely seen his work. 

Location: Los Angeles Street
Photo: Dora (click image to enlarge)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wet Plate Collodion God works in mysterious ways

Robert is a man I met on Los Angeles Street. I thought we crossed paths so I could shoot a photo of him I had no idea that this was going to be a monumental moment in my life that I would never forget.

After I shot the photo we started talking. Robert told me all these amazing stories about where he had been and the jobs he had worked. I started wondering how someone so intelligent could end up living in skid row. I never asked why or how. I just let him talk and I listened. He went on to tell me that one of his vertebrae was replaced and he was recovering from knee surgery.  Walking was what he did for physical therapy. There was also something wrong with his feet and ankles, he told me it got so bad that he almost died. At that point he tried to go see a doctor but with no car he had to walk. After walking for miles in excruciating pain, he reached a point where he could not go on. He laid down in the street and started praying. He told God he could not go on and to just take him then. A Police officer drove by and told him he could not lay in the street and never asked if there was a problem.  Robert related the fact he couldn’t move and there was something wrong with him. The Officer informed him there was a clinic a few blocks down and directed him to go there. Again Robert prayed. An inner strength was summoned in his battered body and willed him to get up. He did not look at the awful situation as a negative; but as a sign that God walked with him and he was not alone in his moments of adversity. I don’t know where the strength to stand up and endure came from; but he made it. When he finally got to the clinic it was not yet open. He ended up waiting for another two hours to see a Doctor, but such is life. As I listened to this gentleman tell his story, I started to ponder my own life. There was a time when I reached that same exact point. After attending 9 funerals in 5 years and losing the most important people in my life; I went into the total collapse of an alcohol fueled drug binge. The holes inside of me were so big that I was doing anything I could to numb the pain, even if it meant filling the voids with darkness. When I found myself lying in the street, I too told God that I could not take anymore and prayed for a final silence. I made it through that night and I have been sober for almost for years.  I know a lot of people reach this point, but to meet a complete stranger and connect on this level was deeply profound. We ended our emotional journey with Robert grasping my hands and telling me he wanted to say a prayer.
So here I am, standing on a sidewalk in skid row, holding hands with a man I had never met; praying.
That is the moment that I will never forget. God works in mysterious ways.

Friday, July 16, 2010

wet Plate Collodion hings that others pass by

Shooting in the street of Los Angles and not being able to speak Spanish is a major problem for me. The good news is I have a friend Chris Sanchez that is from Mexico City. I invited Chris along so he could talk to people for me. The lady in this photo did not speak any English. I asked him if he would talk with her and see if she would shoot a photo with me. At first she said no but Chris did not give up. He started talking to her about Mexico City and after 20 minutes  she agreed . I think even if I could of spoke to her I don’t think she would of done it. I don’t think I could of got her to trust me. While I was shooting her Chris keep chatting with here. She told him that some one had asked  her for a photo with her food truck before. When she agreed the photographer brought out a naked girl to shoot on her truck. I think the lady felt like that was very disrespect full. I know I think it is. The way I see it is this beautiful lady and her food truck is the real shot any way. I all ways try to find the beauty in the things that others pass by. There is one more thing can some one please teach me Spanish? Haha.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wet Plate Collodion my favorite photos of all time

 It was getting late in the day and I made a decision to push my portable dark room around the corner to see if I could shoot some homeless people that live in skid row. It was going to be a pretty big mission and I was not sure how the people that live on this street would react to me. All of a sudden this man in the photo walked up. I started talking with him and after 10 minutes I asked hi if he would shoot a photo with me. I ended up shooting one of my favorite photos of all time .My friends and this man ended up hanging out for a hr we all hung out like we were old friends. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He told us that he was pushing his cart around collecting bottles and cans and how bad is feet hurt. The crazy thing is he has casts on both legs could you imagine what that would be like? I was talking to my grandpa years ago about my problems. He told me if every one through their problems in the street and you could see what every ones were you would go and pick yours back up.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

kandee Johnson - Wet Plate Collodion photo shoot

 It seems that darkness has been casting it’s shadow over the world slowly, for a long time now. Each day we accept this because it’s just a little more than the day before. Over time it adds up to a significant amount which bring us to where we are today. In our pursuit for modern advancements we have compromised our morals. We live in a society where it is excepted that sex sells, negative advertising is the way we are sold products, negativity in the news, and headlines we see, night after night. This is the conversation that was sparked between Kandee and I during our photo shoot, we could’ve talked about this for hours. I was explaining to her the process I was using which is from the late 1800s. I explained to her that this style of photography is actually taking us backwards into the past 100 years. We then started talking about life in the same way. I look at Kandee as the light that shines in the darkness. Over this past year, her light has been spreading, and the amount of people following her is amazing. The people that are attracted to her share the same love in their hearts. It started as one small light that could be seen in the darkness, one by one a light was added like an L.E.D. panel. Kandee now has an army of people shining light, wired together by positive energy. I am so proud of you, Kandee. Keep this in mind next time bad things come your way: Insects and creatures that live in the dark are also drawn to the light. It’s like when you are camping and all the bugs surround your lantern. My point is no matter how annoying these things are we never turn off the light. The negative people are the bugs that will keep running into the lantern, until they self-destruct. . I have want to shoot Kandee with this wet plate collodion process for some time now. I’m glad our paths crossed again it made my day. I had Kandee hold this flower because it symbolized the beauty that she hold in her heart.

If you want to see what wet plate photography looks like here is a video of my friend Will Dunniway and company working with the wet plate process.

Monday, July 12, 2010

wet Plate Collodion The Downtown Pirate "Ricky"

 I look at the downtown Pirate as a historic piece of Downtown Los Angeles. He’s been here for many many years.  The pirate seams to be every were if you live in this area you know who he is.  He has a very color full personality every time I see him he make me laugh. Late at night I can her his distinctive Arrrrrr from my window. I feel like this is his way of letting us all know he’s still here holding down the street. The  Pirate is a very important part of this new project I have been working on. The basis of the project is connections. I feel like everyone in DTLA is connected in one way or another. He is the link between skid row and the redeveloped parts of Downtown LA. I shot him, as the Pirate my next step is to shoot him as Ricky. I have invited rick up to my place for time to time so i can get to know him better. There is so much more to him that most people don’t get to see. I plan to go to his place and show the other side of him that is hidden by the Pirate and the arrrrrrr’s. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

wet Plate Collodion brothers

 I love my camera! It seams to have this power that draws people in. I had it set up to shoot photos on Los Angeles st I was trying to figure out what I want to shoot. All of a sudden the man on the right in this photo came up to me. He started asking questions about the camera. I knew what my next question was for him was. He said yes it would be cool if you shoot a of photo of me. He explained to me that my brother and I are working on the elevator in the building and it just couldn’t interfere with our work. I was stoked I have all ways liked blue-collar workers. I want to shoot a book about them one day. I caught up with them right as they were leaving and took this one photo. After I developed it I noticed something very cool. They are brothers but one is way more laid back. The other is standing proud with every thing in order. I love how it shows the differences in personalities.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

wet Plate Collodion Fire Works/dodger statium

 The fire works on 4th of July have always fascinated me. I think we can all agree that the Independence Day firework displays are some of our fondest child hood memories. 
I watched the fire works on the 4th and it got me thinking about if it were possible to shoot fire works with this wet plate process?  I figured i’d have to wait in till next year. So I went to get a coffee with my homie james and he mentioned they were having a fire works at dodger stadium because the dodgers were on the road for the 4th. It was already late in the day but we decided we should give it a try.  We quickly loaded the car and drove over to scout locations. On the way over we stoped by home depot to grab some stuff to shoot at night (like flashlights!) and I started realizing this was going to be a challenging shoot. 
After traversing Elysian Park every which way, we set on a location that we had to push the cart down this dirt road for a ½ mile to get to. Now well past the point of no return, lacking a few essentials like sweatshirts, james set upon rigging one of my trays with epoxy while I set up the chemicals and  mentally prepared to deal with the cops, kids, soccer balls, cholos or whatever else was headed our way.   I shot a test and realized my collodion was jacked. It poured like elmer’s glue and my heart sank. 

 I tried to fix it and it got worse.

 I tried to fix it and it got worse. I found a spare bottle with enough for maybe two shots so we decided to wait till the light fell completely off. The hours drew on slowly as the temperature dipped and the wind picked up. We anxiously awaited the end of the game as our hands went numb and the threat of park rangers evicting us empty handed loomed. Finally the dodger’s get dealt with and the fire works are eminent. James is pressing me to get a plate ready but I know my timing has to be perfect to catch two plates. It’s time to do work and everything gets a little frantic. I pour the collodion and realize that I might not even have enough for this plate. Knowing this is my only shot I come out of the darkroom with my cartridge loaded and a certain intensity. With the camera locked and loaded I awaited the first explosion. As the sky began to light up I opened the shutter and and left it in the hands of my grueling preparation. The fire works were not being launched from where we expected but it looked like it was gonna frame even better. Then I notice I haven’t pulled the dark slide on the film back. I jump to fix the shutter, pull the dark slide, wait for my moment and re-open the shutter. When I felt I captured enough I closed the shutter, let the show end and then re-opened to let the city burn into the plate. The lights of the stadium started to re-fire as I closed the shutter for the last time and I was pretty sure I just killed it. James held a flashlight I rigged with a red gel over my shoulder in the darkroom as I poured the developer and realized the plate had been scratched by the dark slide. I pushed through without emotion and got it out and in the fix. James crouched eagerly over the plate in the fixer with a flashlight as I walked away and noticed some park police had pulled in. I again sprang into action and started cleaning up all the chemicals I wasn’t really sure the cops were gonna be cool with, as I heard james yell out “I think the plate might be scratched but I can’t tell!” I already knew. As I labored through all the mess, hassling ass cops and thick dodger traffic; I was crushed. Seven hours of grinding, my body aching from exposure, my assistant beat to shit and one of the most beautiful photo’s I have ever taken irreparably marred by a stupid mistake that left a big white scratch over my downtown skyline. 
 This is photography. This is why it feels so good when things line up.

Location: Dodger Stadium Los Angeles,Ca

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wet Plate Collodion Lauren Graham

 When I opened the bay door to the loading dock behind my building thousands of photos emerged. I had been shooting out of the front side of the PE lofts where I live. I just was not felling it. It didn’t feel like los angles too me. From my loft I can look down onto Los Angeles st  it is amazing. Since the day I moved in I wanted to shoot on this street. A year ago I brought my digital camera down to this street to shoot and didn’t get very good results. I think I just looked like some yuppie trying to exploit people. Yesterday I set up my dark room up on the loading dock that opens up to LA st. The people on the streets accepted it. That camera draws a lot of attention and people just want to get their photo taken by her.

I called my new neighbor Lauren up to see if wanted to shoot at my new studio (Los Angeles st). We ended up getting some beautiful photos. This is going to be where you can find me for the month. I’m so stoked on it. Now that this door has opened I’m going to focus my camera on the people of LA st.

Lauren has a tattoo on her heart that says, “trust for sale”. I was very fascinated by it. I had to get a photo of it.  We started talking about how we wanted to shoot it. I thought it would look funny with her braw on because of where it was placed. I felt like the message had to be a felling of being exposed and vulnerable. So I just asked and she said ya lets do this. We shot here straight up on the street in the daylight.  It needed to be raw and gritty. So I used all my old chemicals and let the wind blow the dirt from the city on to the plate before I exposed it. Its not every day someone is willing to expose their soul for a photo let alone to the world.  She is one of the coolest girls I know. Thank you for these photos.
I did quite get what I was looking for with this image so I stopped shooting after this photo. I need to rethink this one. I am going to try to reshoot this at some point. As far as this image goes I love it.
Photo: Lauren Graham
Location: Los Angeles St LA,Ca