It began here.
Contradictions abound in street photography and there seems to be no “one way” to approach it, no less define it. From a content perspective, it's a contained narrative: a story, or the impression of one, captured within a single frame. From the photographer's standpoint, it's the epitome of "be quick, but don't hurry."
The ultimate contradiction is the question of intent, which can be hard to express in situations that can be delightfully random. Street photography captures the tension between things. Between subjects and their environments, the flash of an unexpected moment or the rhythm of something inherently static or ordinary. Those tensions are often revealed later, in the editing process, not at the moment the photo was captured—even though I “saw” the image instinctively through the viewfinder when I tripped the shutter. It's that trust thing. Over and over again.
The conversation is everything.
These began as chance encounters that became conversations that became so much more. Every one a glimpse into a world I knew nothing about. Like learning about the wistful inevitability of Bali’s fading ritual culture from the island’s most celebrated mask maker. Feeling the futility of a couple stuck in NOLA with big dreams and no money. A waitress taking a break after having to throw out an unruly patron. A Four Season’s bellman who stays close to his roots by being a Topeng performer. A school teacher’s rowdy Saturday night. These are gifts reflecting the generosity of some of the remarkable people I’ve met on my travels.
Lobospheres began out of a sense of wonder and amusement. Having tried (and failed) to photograph Pt. Lobos in a unique way, I looked down at the granite patterns at Weston Beach and made this photograph (left). I thought it was amusing, but filed it away and forgot about it.
A dozen years later, armed with my first digital camera, I returned to Weston Beach and again, looked down. It was a crisp, sparkling morning with an extremely low tide. As I scrambled over the slippery rocks, a chorus of faces and mythical creatures emerged. It was impossible to “unsee” them, so I began photographing them as “found portraits,” each unique, each etched forever in the rock that was the foundation of that storied beach. I’ve returned several times over the years and expected to see the same menagerie of figures and faces, but it was different each time.
Initially, the hard scrabble of Weston Beach was my equivalent of Minor White’s Oregon “Wall.” But more than an exercise to stretch my vision, it had become a kind of photographic synecdoche--parts standing for the whole, a microcosm standing for the wild expanse of one of the world’s most beautiful sites. Patterns like this exist in the trees and fields, in the broad palette of rocks and cliffs that define the park.
At the same time, I also realized that not only are these images ephemeral, but sadly, Pt. Lobos as we know it has an expiration date, as well. According to a 2017 article in Scientific American, Northern California‘s sea level could rise as much as seven feet by the turn of the century, all but decimating not only Weston Beach, but much of Pt. Lobos’ spectacular coastline. In the context of almost inevitable catastrophic climate change, Lobospheres has become my way to document the crazy micro-beauty of this natural treasure before it’s washed away. Ultimately, Lobospheres reminds us of what we take for granted and rarely take the time to really see or appreciate.
our sense of kindness, comity and community gradually have devolved into a snarling rage and a persistent state of dread. We’ve become a distrustful nation, seemingly always on edge. Each one of these photographs began as snapshot of a passenger moving down the aisle of a jetliner. More than portraits, this series of photos reveal the psychological baggage travelers bring along for the ride.
That's because, consciously or subconsciously, one of the most emotionally loaded moments of a trip is when people first get on a plane and try to find their seats. Even solo travelers rarely board a plane alone. They bring along their excitement and expectations. The anxieties and annoyances after enduring long lines and invasive TSA screenings. And since 911, a subliminal fear of impending tragedy.
Each image was revealed through an intricate process that included layers of digital painting. Shapes formed and spirits appeared, no two alike for any of the portraits -- although the background was as controlled and consistent as that of any studio. I think of these as captured auras, the surrounding fields of feelings that all of us unconsciously project and sense rather than actually see.
Perhaps it was naiveté
Or a case of denial and wishful thinking. But from the second we stepped into the searing humidity and choking smog of Hanoi, there was no way to experience Southeast Asia without it dredging up deep memories of different times.
Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have embraced tourism for about 20 years, which coincides with the first period of real peace in the region after literally centuries of continuous carnage. Economies are booming. Development is everywhere, moving so fast that neither the infrastructures nor the cultures can keep up with it.
There is color, cacophony, conspiracy and cabbage on every corner. Smiles are everywhere, especially when that $2 cab fare becomes a $15 romp around the city. Hands are always out, angles are always played and while there is no sense of physical danger, there is every sense that what you see is not what you get.