Images from the Women's March on Portland | January 21, 2017
Images from the Women's March on Portland | January 21, 2017
Images from the Women's March on Portland | January 21, 2017
Analog images from the second leg of our honeymoon- a road trip through Normandy.
Oct. 4-6, 2016.
Analog images from the first stop on our honeymoon: The City of Light.
Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2016.
Nothing is simple these days.
I went downtown with Syd tonight to watch our fellow citizens demonstrate their civic right to peacefully protest something they fear. I watched the vast majority fight tooth and nail to keep things positive. They reprimanded the masked protestor who tried to light the garbage can on fire. They chased away the hothead who throw a projectile at the police. But all it takes is ten bad seeds per thousand to shift the meaning of it all. The organizers tried to keep it peaceful, but peaceful isn't the reality right now.
No, nothing is simple these days.
When Donald shut the door to the presidential suite on the 44th floor, he breathed in deep and closed his eyes. He thought of the litter of agents in suits and dark glasses, who stood guard at every possible entry and exit to the hotel, the elevator, and the 44th floor, who were pledged to protect him in all things, who existed to extend and prolong his existence. And he thought of the growing crowd beyond the barricade down the street, his name pouring from their lips, protesters and advocates alike. And opening his eyes, Donald smiled.
As Donald teetered on the southwestern edge of his king-sized bed, he shook free his right leg, then his left, from the confines of his Brioni suit pants, and thought of the 47,341 adoring faces that had looked on and shouted their loyalties while he sermonized to them from three makeshift pulpits at three separate hangers in three different cities over the course of ten hours earlier that day.
When Donald stepped into the bathroom, he paused at the pair of gilt, pear-shaped rococo mirrors and stared at his naked, recently-tanned body, at his slightly protruding belly, his carefully coiffed hair, and his creased, septuagenarian skin. He refreshed his Twitter feed, just in time to see his latest tweet inch past 25K likes and 12K shares, placed his Samsung Galaxy tenderly on the calacatta marble counter, and disappeared into the warm steam of the walk-in shower.
After Donald had slipped into his silk pajamas and laid down on his plush, king-sized, pillow top mattress, he dimmed the overhead lights, refreshed his feed (26.5K likes, 16K shares), and flipped on the 65-inch television screen, which clung to the wall ten feet from the foot of his bed and now cast a soft blue glow over the room. As his eyes grew heavy, Donald watched himself shake hands in Reno, lead chants in Henderson, and disembark from his plane in Vegas, energetic and triumphant. As he skipped from channel to channel, he watched as the pundits discussed the hands that Donald vigorously shook in Reno, the raucous chants that Donald led in Henderson, and the suggestive swagger with which Donald disembarked his plane in Vegas. Having nestled comfortably under the eiderdown comforter, Donald tweeted, refreshed his feed three times, placed his phone on the pillow beside him, and closed his eyes.
Donald opens his eyes aboard a big and beautiful plane with endless isles and and endless rows of empty seats, flying through the billowing clouds, above a tall and dark and ancient mountain. Now suddenly the plane bursts through the clouds upon a majestic, golden plain! And below, an endless sea of men and women, cheering and misty-eyed, rapt and awed, rolling and rejoicing!
As the masses part, the plane touches down and is instantly enveloped by the multitudes! Donald exits the plane, energetic, smiling, magnanimous, and triumphant. He is lifted onto the shoulders of the crowd, a messiah riding high atop the heaving throng, and passed for countless miles as the crowd swells and shouts, every man, every woman straining just to touch his suit, his hand, his hair, to claim him, to know him fully, as they wish to be fully known by him. And Donald shouts and giggles and exhorts and salutes, until at last he is set down at the base of a big and beautiful wall, stretching as far as can be seen toward both horizons, towering up to the heavens. And with a gracious smile, Donald approaches the wall, as a piece of bright, beautiful, red ribbon descends from on high, flapping softly in the warm breeze.
And from the crowd appears a woman of unrivaled beauty, her nude body draped with superlative ribbons and white flowers. She places in Donald’s hands a big and beautiful pair of golden scissors. And he kisses her on the lips and dismisses her.
And the multitudes grow silent in awe and anticipation.
And Donald raises the big and beautiful scissors and opens the gleaming blades around the ribbon, like a lion’s jaws around its tamer’s head. He stops, turns his head, and stares magnanimously into the countless faces overflowing with gratitude, admiration, and love. So much love! And with a great and mighty movement of his arms he snaps the scissors with every ounce of strength in his body. And blade strikes ribbon.
When Donald awoke, he was alone and sweating in his king-sized bed in the presidential suite on the 44th floor. He stared first at the flickering blue light on the ceiling above his king-sized bed as he felt his heart beating wildly in his chest, and then at the muted TV and the latest poll numbers. He checked the time. He’d been asleep for all of two hours. There was work to do.
Donald rolled over and stared at the Samsung Galaxy glowing softly on the pillow beside him. He picked it up, refreshed his feed (new post: 12K likes, 3K shares), and started typing, his fingers rapidly pecking, lashing out, time and again, at the glowing, listless screen.
In my last chat with my grandmother, a couple months before she passed away, we were talking about my father’s passing, my family, and the nature of grief. She said, “Human empathy begins when you experience death, when you understand, as you get older, that everyone you meet is grieving in some way”. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was one of those statements that gave words to a feeling that I had felt since I was child, but hadn’t been able to find the right combination of words to express. And last week, when I flew out to Hudson, CO, for her burial and memorial, I thought a lot about that old feeling and her words.
I watched as my uncles and aunts all experienced a second formative loss in under two years. I felt a gnawing, relentless sense that another part of my father’s story, and consequently my family’s story, had vanished and was now irretrievable. And I watched, at the burial ceremony, as my cousins’ children, ranging from under a year to just shy of eight years old, watched the expressions of their parents and grandparents, listened to the hymns, and took in, for the first time, one of life’s inevitable and highly codified traditions. They were silent and perplexed and unknowing. They seemed to mimic the rolling waves of somberness, laughter, sorrow, and joy. And as I watched them, my grandmother’s words were on my mind.
After the ceremony, we returned to my uncle and aunt’s stunning 20-acre property, sitting on the wind-swept Colorado plains at the foot of the Rockies. The adults drank coffee, swapped stories, socialized and prepared, each in their own way, for the coming day’s memorial service at my grandmother’s church in Denver. And the kids ran carefree and wild, with boundless energy. They had seen a glimpse of grief through the foggy glass of childhood, but were now fully liberated by an insatiable lust for the most primitive joys of life: laughter, self-expression, community, exercise, and family.
The last year and a half have been hard, overwhelmingly so at times, for my family and I. I just miss my dad so much. There’s at least one or two times a day where I see or hear something that makes me reach for my phone to shoot a text or share an article with him. I look at Sydney and my brother, regularly, and realize how vastly and permanently the landscape of my life could change in the beating of a heart. I’ve laid in bed, half-awake, my mind spinning with the words of C.S. Lewis: “No one ever told me that grief so felt like fear”. And I’ve fought the urge to bury myself alive in one of the truths that lies at the heart of my grandmother’s words: that everyone is grieving and, when they’re not, you can bet your bottom dollar that grief is waiting just around the bend. There is pain, there is sorrow, there is grief, and there is suffering in this world. It is in the air we breathe. It is all around us, all of the time, as good as we are at ignoring it, at repressing it, and shutting it out. It is as undeniable as it eternal. And despite the comfort of our friends, family, and loved ones, we live alone unto ourselves, solitary witnesses to our own vast, swirling, infinitely complex inner lives.
But that is only part of the truth that undergirds her words, and to deny it, to get lost in it would be to deny the fullness and validity of life. There is a deep and earnest beauty imbedded in the very heart of this world, in this grief, and in this mutual understanding of loss that binds us and that defines just what it means to be human. We are fellow sailors, bound together by love and loss, sailing on a ship that whips through space at 19 miles per second. We are here and we are alive. And it is now and that is enough.
There will be grief, but there will beauty. There will be loss, but there will be love. There will be suffering, but there will be joy. There will be death, but there is life.
I’ve been intrigued by the relationship between words and images since I started exploring photography. This intrigue has usually taken the form of short self-penned musings or poems or quotes/lyrics that serve as a captions for images I’ve made. The inspirational and relational trigger for a specific quote or piece of writing is usually vague, even to myself, and the interplay between the two is often oblique. I’ve come to view this pairing of words and images as a sort of self-administered Rorschach test. As I edit the image, my mind flutters between thoughts and quotes and inspiration until it lands on something that sticks.
Lately I’ve wanted to explore this inspirational interplay on an interpersonal level. So I recently asked an immensely talented poet, my good friend Justin Cox, to collaborate on a little creative project with me. The rules were simple: I would create five new images and send them to Justin. He would write a short poem to accompany each image. Then, he would pen five original poems and send them my way. And I would create five images inspired by each of the poems.
We’re now at the halfway point of our project. Last month, I walked around SE Portland, shot a single roll of film on my Hasselblad, and sent five of the twelve edited exposures to Justin. All of the images, in retrospect, were bound together as fragmented glimpses of urban alienation and its relationship with the ever-evolving language of technology. I would have expected, in return, some sort of Delillo-esque commentary on the price of the pace of our information systems, of the weight and psychic ramifications of technological advancement. But what I received back from Justin were poignant, intensely personal, and gut-wrenchingly beautiful vignettes that explored the intimate nature of human connection. I read them over and over again. The characters, set in narrative pairs, strive desperately to connect with their beloved, whether with their lover or sibling. It reads as an inverse extrapolation from the detached, urban theme of the images, but complimentary in a haunting and timeless way.
We decided to title this first half of the collaboration “I Whisper Terlingua”, a line from one of the poems, in which the narrator agonizes over the lingering absence of her lover, until his eventual return, when “ghosts dance on the wind and then the stillness and the silence is complete”. I’ve spent time analyzing the ink of this Rorschach experiment and attempting to decipher the conscious and unconscious lines of interpersonal inspiration between the images and the words, and have eventually just resigned myself to revel in the beautiful ambiguity of it all. And I hope you will as well. I’m certainly looking forward to finding the final five poems in my inbox sometime soon. But until then, here’s the first half of our collaboration, “I Whisper Terlingua”…
Manila feels at times, simultaneously, like a post-apocalyptic New York, a Latin-infused Bangkok, and a less topographically diverse Rio de Janeiro (there are no elegant beaches gently caressing the ghettos). It is sprawling and diverse and economically stratified, with most of the stratification falling on the extreme lower end of the scale.
And the years of colonialism (Spanish, American) seem to have taken a toll on the cultural identity of the city. Almost all of the signs and advertisements are in English, not Tagalog, and it takes genuine legwork to find an authentic Filipino restaurant with traditional Filipino cuisine, while Spanish, Korean, and American establishments abound. Both in Manila and its extremities, American pop music dominates the musical landscape. One of the main modes of public transportation, Jeepneys, are decorous, Mad Max-ish, modified contraptions created from the bones of American military jeeps left in Manila after the Second World War. It is a melting pot that seems to have boiled over long ago, leaving a thick, seething, almost impermeable crust over a deep, rich, native cultural identity.
And while wading through this thick, seething crust, it is impossible not to see the confounding cultural impact of America's imperialist economic influence throughout the city. There's a 7-11 on every other corner, and no shortage of Subways, Pizza Huts, Hilton's, or MacDonald's.
And it's impossible not to remember that this is the nation we chose to experiment on. This is the petri dish where we cultured and grew our neo-imperialist foreign policies. This is where we discovered that American culture, not American military power is the single most dominant weapon in our national arsenal. This is the nation we conquered and then released, under the guise of democratic freedom, with the intent of economic domination through finance, business, and pop culture.
Photography, at its best, is an exploration into the essence of a thing. Photography, at its worst, is false advertising.
What do you see in this image? How do you imagine the scene just outside the frame? What do you feel? And, most importantly, what do you want to feel?
Would you believe that there are thousands of tourists standing on the beach just behind my camera, all jockeying, selfie sticks and tripods in hand, for the same perfect sunset shot? How would you possibly know that almost all of us, myself very much included, upon arriving at this unbelievably beautiful scene, after a frustrating day of traveling, were extremely disappointed, truly bummed by the overwhelming amounts of other tourists on the scene? That we were disappointed because all we saw were paradisiacal pictures like this beforehand, like the saturated, idyllic shots we all posted on our iPhones shortly after, all geotagged and hashtagged "Boracay", without any of the crowds or clutter, but with plenty of perfect sunsets, smiling faces, and turquoise waters?
In this digital age of instant gratification, are we fascinated by the sun setting over the tropical horizon? Or are we fascinated by the idea of others knowing that we are fascinated by the sun setting over the tropical horizon? Is this even close to the the truth, to the complexity of our daily human experience? Do we mention the clamoring, jostling crowds and the smell of piss and garbage in the interior streets? Do we mention the five-year-olds sleeping alone in the shadows of a 711 overflowing with wealthy tourists, with us, splurging on booze and candy and tobacco? Do we attempt to share the wide array of disappointments, uncertainties, and fear that riddle our lives? Are our feeds attempting to tell the whole story? And if not, why not? And if not, what are we trying to sell? And who exactly are we trying to sell it to? And why are we even trying to sell it in the first place?
Photography, at its best, is an exploration into the essence of a thing. Photography, at its worst, is false advertising.
Photos from the grassroots-organized "March for Bernie" event held at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland, OR on Jan. 23, 2016...
This past summer I returned to my grandparents hometown of Alta, IA, for the first time in almost a decade, and for the first time since I took up photography. I was struck immediately by the space and vastness of the land. When you’ve spent your whole life in cities and currently live in a 900 square-foot apartment, space is a precious commodity. But there’s no shortage of it in Alta or its surrounding municipalities in Buena Vista County. In town, the flag-draped, ranch-style homes sprawl onto fenceless yards and quiet streets. On the edge of town, soy and corn stretch endlessly towards the horizon, broken only by silos, barns, windmills, and windbreaks. The state roads undulate effortlessly through the fertile fields, without crease or intent.
And there is an innate, embedded sense of history that permeates and temporally dichotomizes both the landscape and the culture of the town. Old weed-bound tractors rest peacefully within throwing distance of half-million-dollar combines; the bones of old barns sit in the shadows of gleaming grain elevators; gleaming F-350's pull up to slowly-atrophying 100-year-old churches on Sunday morning. But there is no conflict in the contrast, only gentle and unassuming reminders of the past.
These were my initial impressions and jumping-off points for this little project. I fear that any additional words might narrow the visual narrative in unintended ways, so I leave you here, at the gates of Alta, the town of my mother's family, a town of less than 2,000 in the northwest corner of Iowa...
We weren't planning on getting engaged this weekend. I'd been looking at rings for the past week but hadn't found anything that fit within Syd's very vague "vintage" parameters. Two days previous, I'd been chatting with my mom on the phone, and said there wasn't any chance it was happening over Christmas. I hadn't found the right ring yet, and, anyways, I wasn't that cliche. I reassured her it would happen in 2016, but didn't have a time table.
On Christmas Eve, Syd and I had to run some typical last-minute, gift-related errands, but started off by stopping by a vintage shop to check out their ring selection (Syd and Kathi had scoped it out previously). We never made it to the rest of the errands.
We left with a ring, picked up some prosciutto (long story) and bubbly, and headed over to Armitage Bridge, a peaceful, riverside hangout on the edge of town that we'd frequented and taken pictures at on almost every trip we've taken down to Eugene over the past four years. We were giddy, almost dangerously light-headed, and, shortly thereafter, engaged.
So we hung out down by the river, drank champagne, ate prosciutto, laughed a lot, talked (after laughing some more) about how exactly we were going to break the news to Jed, Kathi, and Sam when we get back home from "shopping", and then used a couple rocks as tripods and took some grainy 35mm b&w photos on the Nikon f100 that I had brought along shopping for no particular reason.
It was a perfectly memorable, enjoyably comfortable, and appropriately spontaneous day for the both of us.
And in that vein, Syd and I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for the multitude of notes, comments, well-wishes, and congratulations over the past couple of days. It's humbling and invigorating, and we are so thankful for each and every one of you lovely humans and your part in our journey through this beautifully unpredictable life.
...where do we go from here?
how do we make the clear?...
model: @civilmaverick (www.civilmaverick.com)
I first shot with Shayna (@theavalanches_) a few months back. A short time later, I was shooting her galactic, Bowie-esque marching band, Love Bomb Go-Go, during their pre-WNBR and snagged a random shot of an adorable little dude with waist-length blonde riding on a man's shoulders through the crowd, watching the performance. It was instantly one of my the favorite images I've made this year. When I posted the photo a few days later, Shayna texted me a few moments later. The boy in the photo was her son.
This past week I finally got a chance to meet the little energetic adventurer that is Cypress Walker and witness the beauty of that mother-son bond between Shayna and her boy. We chased Cypress' energetic tornado through Cathedral Park and made some images in the process. Here are some of those images...
My brother and I were exploring some back roads on the way back to Portland from Bend last week when we stumbled upon a tumbleweed of a city just outside of Madras. There were a few blocks of dilapidated houses and an abandoned train depot strewn with the discombobulated corpses of old pickup trucks.
A quick google search provided some background...
Metolius, was an early 20th century servicing hub for the Oregon Trunk Railroad whose population had peaked at just over 1700 citizens in 1917. But the OTR's elimination of the Metolius servicing station coincided with the onset of the Great Depression, and the town's population dropped to just about 50 residents in 1945. And for the past 70 years, the town has floated in the ether of eastern Oregon agricultural life: experiencing a short-lived boom when engineers built an Deschutes-fed irrigation system to create swaths of farmland in Jefferson County, before gently subsiding to a population of ~700, as of the 2010 census.
We only stopped for a few moments, and I only made a few images in the boneyard along the tracks, but I've had Metolius on my mind since we got back. There was just this embedded forlorness in the abandoned landscape of the town, this pining for the past in the face of the present that captivated me. I plan on heading back soon for a more thorough exploration of the story of Metolius and its residents.
I met David Joseph Harr while doing some pinhole photography downtown this evening. He walked up with his guitar in tow, asked about the strange wooden box on the tripod ("Does it make video?"), played me an original song, and chatted with me for 20 minutes or so.
He knows he shouldn't be drinking and he's tried to stop, he said, but he does it anyway. He lost 11 guitars in 2014, mostly because he stashed them in alleys or up in trees when he was blackout drunk, and couldn'tremember where he put them when he woke up in the morning. This past week, he hitchhiked from San Jose to Sacramento, from Sacramento to Grant's Pass, and then, finally, from Grant's Pass to Portland.
He got in late last night (the car that picked him up bought him food and gave him some cash), got "wasted" and woke up without his guitar, yet again, without any recollection of where he'd stashed it. An hour later, a police officer stopped him, asked his name, and then returned his guitar to him. The universe is lining up for him these days, David said.
When I asked David if it was ok if I took a portrait of him with my f100, he insisted that I take a couple different shots with different poses ("Does this one take video?"), as long as I promised to email him the scans. I made a couple images, then David played me another song (this time a cover), shook my hand, and walked off into the soft blue evening light with his guitar, at least for now, in tow.
She had never heard the song. I had insisted she listen to it after a teary-eyed, ambitious talk about the illusory nature of ambition and success and love and life over a hops-forward IPA and something a little lighter and less inspiring. So there we sat, listening to Peggy's Lee's "Is That All There Is?" in my Yaris at 2:20 am on a dark street in southeast Portland.
"Is that all there is?
If that's all there is, my friends
then let's keep dancing.
Let's break out the booze
and have a ball,
if that's all there is..."
Peggy's voice oozed effortlessly through the speakers.
One of my hands was loose on the steering wheel, the other involuntarily flipping the iPhone in my left pocket. The mottled shadows of the elm above us created a trippy pattern on the Subaru parked in front of us and bled out into the depths of the darkness beyond.
I saw her face turn towards mine. I closed my eyes.
"Those are the kind of thoughts that'll either make or break ya, huh?"
The elm's shadows darted and flitted and pounced and dissipated in the silence.
Peggy's voice faded. I heard the soft click of the handle as the glow of the running lights rose soft and slow.
"I mean, don't you think so? Don't you think those are the kind of thoughts that'll either make or break ya?"
When I met up with Shayna Newsome (@theavalanches_) a few weeks ago to head out to our shooting location in the Gorge, it was our first time meeting and working together. But after about ten minutes of introductory conversation, we realized that not only were we both originally from Florida and not only had we both lived in Gainesville at the same time, but we shared a circle of friends and had likely met each other on multiple occasions. It was just one of those wildly improbable "small world" moments.
So we headed out to Wahclella Falls, gawked like true Floridians at the rugged beauty of the scene, and made some images together. Here a few from that beautiful afternoon...
I watched as the protestors stood at the edge of Colonel Summers Park, the starting point for Portland's version of the World Naked Bike Ride, megaphones to their mouths, spewing hate, and I wanted to feel disbelief. I mean, it always borders on the surreal when you come across humans so utterly consumed, so driven, so warped by hate, but it's become a common occurrence to come across this sort of thing at most large public gatherings, even in Portland. I was there when the Westboro Baptist Church showed up at the Rose Garden for a Blazer's game this past winter, and saw their children, no more than ten years old, wearing "God Hates Fags" t-shirts. When I was a student at University of Florida, it wasn't uncommon on campus to run into a bigot with a banner brandishing homophobic slurs and promising damnation. These fanatics may be societal outliers, but they're around with alarming frequency.
And the crowd at Colonel Summers seemed to know how to deal with the protestors at first. They took it in stride, with mockery and heckling and laughter. And then the pride flag came out.
And the protestors stomped and stood on that damp flag, that recent symbol of a large victory in a long and bloody and still-raging battle for basic legal equality for the LBGT community. And the tone of crowd changed instantly. Where the hate had been cartoonish and predictable before, it was now direct and unbelievably cruel and ugly. The heckling turned to shouting. The crowd pressed toward the protestors. The protestors smiled and laughed and incited and spit out more and more hate. This was what they had been waiting for the whole evening. A woman with "Ride bikes/Plant trees" painted on her bare back made an attempt to snatch the flag away, but had it wrestled away from her by the lead protestor. The crowd had retreated a bit and security had been called in, when an unclothed man on roller skates broke rank and headed straight for the back of the protestor with the flag.
They both hit the ground and security jumped in quickly, but somehow, in the midst of the melee, the man on skates emerged from the brawl holding the flag and yelling triumphantly, and skated off into the safety of the celebrating crowd. The protestors and security tried to follow, but were instantly walled off by the onlookers. The entirety of the occurrence was chill-inducing, beautiful and frightening. And confusing in a lot of ways for a lot of people.
I posted the image to Facebook a few hours after the event (it was later removed for violating Facebook's nudity restrictions), and instantly the arguments began raging in the thread beneath it. Some heaped praise on the man who captured the flag. Some scolded him for allowing himself to be foolishly bated into violence by the bigots. Some found rationally-questionable ways to tie this event into a larger narrative on patriotism, nudity, flag sanctity, and the moral decay of a once-great nation. A lot of people were talking, but very few were attempting to have even a mildly productive dialogue about the ethical complexities of such an incident.
There are no easy answers, and in events like this, even the right questions can be hard to identify. Almost everyone agrees that protestors who use hate-riddled rhetoric and provocative tactics are reprehensible. But when, if ever, is it permissible to insert physical force into the mix, even if against an opponent who champions bigotry and tramples symbols of freedom and equality? My entire life I've considered myself a proponent of non-violent protest (but I was also born a heterosexual, white male in a middle class family, so things have been pretty predictably easy for me as far as basic societal freedoms and rights thus far in my life), but when I saw the man on roller skates emerge from the scuffle with the flag, I instinctively felt a sense of pride and justice. And over the past couple of days, I've been grappling with just what that dichotomy means to me ethically.
The existence and moral rightness of gay rights in this country are now a simple and beautiful truth. But how we choose to move forward as a nation, how we choose to deal with and eventually phase out such intolerant and hateful bigotry, requires an intelligent, open dialogue between all of us. And it's high time we started that dialogue.