So. I've got these really amazing cameras I'd like to put to use. An 8x10 view camera, a 4x5 view camera, and a 4x5 Crown Graphic press camera. I have some really cool Polaroid Type 55 P/N and some of the brand new NEW55 instant 4x5 film. Along with my digital kit, these film cameras produce some of the most amazing film negatives ever. The size alone is worth the price of admission.
My idea is to create an ongoing project of portraits of real people doing real things. Not something photoshopped. Not fake. Not smoothed or fixed to perfection. I strongly believe that beauty comes from imperfection. Consider that our faces aren't symmetrical. When you split and mirror a face so that it is symmetrical, it doesn't look quite normal. We know we feel we have a best side. True or not, my hope is to create an image you'll love and feel best represents who you are. One that you'd be proud to show others. If you want something photoshopped to perfection, we can do that, too. It takes time and costs by the hour.
In Heinlein's classic, Stranger in a Strange Land, Valentine Michael Smith says something to the extent that Jubal Harshaw's face is beautiful because of the history engraved upon it. Our wrinkles, scars, and crooked smiles add value to our appearance. This is what I want to capture.
The cost is free to the first five people who respond to this blog. Once we've worked together, I hope you'll like my work enough to recommend me to your friends.
Additionally, I'm seeking models for a fashion project a' la Paolo Roversi, an Italian photographer. I'd describe what I'd like to do as Creepy Vintage (Thanks, Taurean!) Look him up and let me know if you're interested in participating in this project. Bonus points is you know of a really good location with deteriorating walls with peeling paint and distressed wooden floors. Long, flowing dresses are a bonus as well.
Either comment or inbox me via Facebook or Twitter.
Thanks in advance for your interest and ideas!
So, this past weekend, I had the privilege of photographing a number of people from the neighborhood and beyond. I renewed past friendships and made new ones with neighbors old and new as well as some unexpected surprises along the way. I met people who liked my art and agreed to stand in front of a white background for me so I could snap a photograph or two (and sometimes five!). As much as I love portraits, I've never been good at making the time to collaborate with people. Sunday Off Central 2015 was my excuse to make it happen and my first real foray into photo-boothing. For a first outing, I feel pretty successful. I have to thank a few people, though, who helped make it a success. My lovely wife, Susan, for always supporting my ideas and art-makings and loving me even though I'm a pain in the butt! Thanks, Baby! To my neighbor, Tim. You're the man! You are always supportive and you were there with the tent/canopy early in the morning helping me put things together and encouraging me along the way when you could've been sleeping or enjoying the morning. To my friends and neighbors on Vernon: You're the best! Thank you for standing and letting me take pictures of you. For indulging my oddity and for making our move to Midtown successful and amazing. And to the readers taking a few minutes to peruse this blog--I really appreciate it. You never know when life's gonna change or go the other way. The fact you take time to read someone's words you don't know well or at all says you're alright in my book. Thank you, kindly!
Until next time...
Block party portrait gallery.
So I've decided to give the photo booth thing a try. This coming Sunday, I'll be set up in front of my house with my camera taking pictures (making portraits) of whomever wants. To my music friends, if you've ever wanted portraits with your band and/or instruments, now's the time. Friends and family, if you want simple pics with your kiddos or significant others, come on by. (see below for event details)
These won't be snapshots or candids although there will be elements of each. My goal is a artistic portrait against a white background. It will be black and white. (Digital, so you can have a color one if you want.)
Once I've made the image, I'll process and post to my website later in the day. You'll have access to free downloads of your portrait(s) as well as an opportunity to purchase prints.
My hope is a series of Block Party portraits that could lead to an exhibition of my work sometime down the road. Also, I have a workshop coming up with a photographer I greatly admire and I'd like to have some images to share for a portfolio review.
Email me at ebrien01 at gmail or PM through facebook me if you'd like to know more.
Thanks in advance!
Sunday Off Central 2015 in Midtown
Central and Vernon Avenue (Encanto Light Rail Station)
Between #63 and #64
Risk taking. The title says it all. Mostly. Several years ago my friend, Kathy, and I were talking about spontaneity. I wasn't very so she suggested planning my spontaneity. So, I began planning little outings and adventures that took me out of my comfort zone. Nothing too risky, really. Just a few travels here and there to loosen up the metaphorical bean bag chair I was stuck in. It was good practice.
So, here I am again. A few years down the road. I've worked in a few different places, doing a few different jobs--insurance coach, wedding photographer, and now educator. I love teaching! It's really amazing and fun. My students are fantastic and exciting to work with and never cease to amaze. Tomorrow begins the latest incarnation of my photography club with a new crop of creative pre-teens and teens and I hope they get as much joy from photography as I.
None of this sounds risky, does it? Nope. Easy stuff. Well. You're right. It is easy. Not the least bit risky, either. I have experience teaching and working with middle school students and photography.
So where's the risk? Mostly, it's this website and the store with prices I just added. I've thrown my name out into the world and have stated in no uncertain terms that I will make a photograph of you, your friends, your family, maybe even your dog (which would be cool), and I'll do a good job of it. Is it a career changing risk? Probably not. Will I get to meet new people and make new connections and make some good art to put out into the world? I sure hope so!
In the past year, I've met a number of creative individuals--painters, photographers, and musicians whose work I respect and love. I've had a few opportunities to make photographs of these people creating something new for the world. I've even gotten to sit in with one amazing group of musicians and dust off my little-used , and very rusty, skills as a cellist and play with them--adding to their collective art with a few small bits of my own. I'm very thankful for this and I hunger for more.
Hopefully, my creative juices will start to flow with the work and along the way, I'll create something I'm proud of.
Like one of the products in the store states: Got an idea for a photo? Let's make it happen.
Cheers and best wishes for a fantastic 2015!
Years ago I was younger. Yep! This is my obvious statement for the day. And no, it's not even 8PM, yet. As a youth growing up in small town Muskogee, Oklahoma, I had access to relatively limited music on the radio--sometimes it felt even more limited depending on whose radio it was! Mom and Dad listened to their favorites when we went for drives. Dad liked a mix of old school country and 60s and 70s rock. Not bad really. Mom liked show tunes, Barbara Streisand, and the Bee Gees. (Something I really didn't have an appreciation for until later). When I evolved an awareness of music in the late 70s and early 80s, my world began to expand. As a classically-trained cellist, I was doing a lot of thinking about classical music + whatever was on the radio on K107. K107 was a pop/rock station out of Tulsa. I wasn't in the know so to speak until later, so I thought whatever was being played on 106.9 (107) was happenin'. I heard similar music when I went roller skating--so it must've been pretty cool. I enjoyed the sounds of 80s band Duran Duran, Tulsa's own GAP Band, Blondie, and the Sugarhill Gang's Apache (Jam on it!). I had new girlfriend, Olivia Newton-John, telling me how to Get Physical (which only meant I needed to exercise) and Lionel Ritchie telling me Hello (or at least the sightless sculptor from the video.) As much as I have a fondness for these artists even now, I didn't know much of anything. Getting one's music back in the day was limited by not only geography and radio reception, but also, skating rinks and transportation (read: Mom's willingness to take me to K-Mart.
**Reaches for tablet and selects 80s playlist on Google All Access. Song one: Foreigner's I want to know what love is. Yep! K107 all the way! (And I STILL remember the words)
Fast Forward to high school. I'm in the band. I'm in the orchestra. I'm playing at the university down the road in the symphony. Lots of classical and marching band music. I was in the percussion section, so that's kinda' cool, right? Kinda'? Maybe a little. I was pretty nerdy. Still am if I'm honest, but it doesn't bother me anymore...much. My musical influences are less about roller skating and more about school buses. School buses? Away games with the high school band and the whim of he/she who controls the boom box. 1986 and Bon Jovi's rocking big hair while Living on a Prayer. I still get all misty when thinking about yelling the chorus with the other band nerds on the way to a game. It was kind of a big deal. A busload of kids dressed in green and white band uniforms screaming at the top of their lungs to the words of a favorite song--there's nothing quite like it. And then, rewinding and playing it again...and again. And again. Yep. Good times! We didn't mind that Bon Jovi was in the process of being overplayed, not by the radio, but by us. We loved it!
***This 80s mix is really doing for me! (George Michael Faith) I'm I just nostalgic or was this music really great?! Tina Turner? Wow! Good stuff.
So...high school. Good friends I still have and music I still love. Damn those that say the 80s suck. They don't know. They weren't there. And if they were, well...so be it. They're entitled to the own INFORMED opinion.
What does any of this have to do with a music store? I just reread what I've written and realize that I've not gotten to that yet. Background. It's all background.
So, at the end of my senior year, I'd been accepted by the only college I'd applied to and had been awarded a music scholarship. I also got a job. Working at Soundworld. Soundworld is one of Muskogee's oldest music stores. It's outlasted big box stores and other start ups that sought to control the music and electronics market in town. It helped that Ernie, the owner, had a loyal following and did more than just music. When I began my tenure at Soundworld in 1988, he was renting both vhs and beta tapes. Remember Beta? Or VHS for that matter? (It's okay if you're a younger reader. As a teacher of 7th graders, I often make references to past technology and am met with blank stares. A few kids get it, and it's good when they do, but I'm officially on the cusp of being outta touch with my students. Gotta fix that later!) Soundworld was cool! The world of music opened to me in a way it hadn't before. Jim Chastain, our tech, perhaps is more responsible for opening these musical doors than any other during this time. I would walk by his work area and something I'd not heard before would be playing through his Bose 301s. Often, it would be something I felt like I should recognize and when I'd ask, I'd be rewarded with something from my mental list of artists that I figured I should know even though I didn't. Pink Floyd was a regular. Thomas Dolby made multiple appearances through my five year tenure. But then there were the Narada Artists. Not Narada Michael Walden who you should know if you don't! Narada music consisted of a number of new age artists before New Age evolved into something rarely admitted to. Musicians like David Arkenstone and Keiko Matsui (who I get to open for later in life while playing with a band in Dallas). These artists were bring something to the table that was unknown to me. Along with Arkenstone and Matsui, Yanni was getting started. Remember, this was Yanni before Linda Evans and huge stadium-filling performances. This was experimental Yanni with electronic goodness at his fingertips. Also in Jim's rotation was Vangelis. Wow. Yep! That Chariots of Fire guy. Vangelis is so much more that Chariots. Give a listen with an open mind. Jim widened the scope of my listening. Not only did he listen to a wider variety of music than I, he was a high fidelity guy. We used to have movie parties at his house with his front projection (literally, a projector) big screen, Bose stereo, and two pairs of 901s. TWO PAIRS!!!!! This was the 80s. No one I knew had anything like it! I was intrigued and fascinated. Good music and loud music and clear music and did I mention loud music? For a teenager it was heaven. And I was in the know. Thank you, Jim Chastain. You were one of the first adults outside of my own family to make me look at music differently. I am forever in you debt and I pray your heaven is full of music!
Fujifilm X-E1 Mirror
By Brien from Phoenix, AZ on 7/1/2014
4out of 5
Pros: Great Resolution, Good in Low Light, Small / Compact, Large Clear LCD, Easy to Use
Best Uses: Wildlife photos, Macro Photography, Indoors/Low Light, Still life, Travel, Portraiture, Family Photos
Describe Yourself: Semi-Pro Photographer
SO far so good with the X-E1. I've been wanting to try it for about a year and finally had the opportunity to get one. Right away I noticed how much smaller it was than my DSLRs. The X-E1's noticeably lighter as well. Even with the 18-55, it feels much light than what I was used to. I worried that it would feel too light, but I've adapted to it nicely and now wonder why I didn't get one sooner.
Simple and easy
By Brien from Phoenix, AZ on 7/1/2014
5out of 5
Pros: Lightweight, Compact, Good Protection, Durable
Best Uses: Travel, Daily Transport, Storage
Describe Yourself: Semi-pro Photographer
I got the Adorama Slinger Holster case bundled with my Fuji X-E1. After carrying a larger bag of Nikon gear for years, this little bag looked a little funny. I took all the bundled gear that came with my new camera and easily placed it in the bag with the X-E1+18-55mm mounted+battery charger+3 extra batteries+SD case (Thin, and holds six SD cards)+ a Nikon 50mm f1.4 with an adaptor+usb card reader and usb cable.
I just returned from Santa Fe, yesterday. While there I stumbled into a bar with my wife to watch a little of the World Cup game between the US and Portugal. The bar had seen a lot of living. Evangelo's felt good like an old leather chair or a favorite coffee cup. We sat at the bar--an old, wooden one showing the age of the place. Behind the bar were several small framed family pictures, a stuffed armadillo holding a beer, and an antique cash register. On the wall was a famous photograph by W. Eugene Smith of a World War II soldier. The same photograph that had graced the covers of history books and commemorative stamps. The photo was of Sergeant Angelo Klonis, the original owner of the bar. There's lots of information about him online, so I won't repeat it here. Smith's photograph of Klonis hung high on the wall and large---a framed 16x20 at least not including the larger frame. As soon as I noticed the photograph, I looked up the name because I recognized that it must've been taken by an important photographer. This led to discussion with my wife. We looked around the place and noticed other interesting and curious hints. The man behind the bar that had served up our beers was present in more than a couple of pictures and one included Jeff Bridges. (Along with the title of the film, Crazy Heart.) Unknowingly, we'd stumbled into a fairly well-known bar famous for hosting the film Crazy Heart, but more so, being the bar owned and operated by Sgt. Angelo Klonis, an icon of World War II, and now operated by his son, Nick. Nick grew up playing soccer and could've been famous except for the injury that ended his career. Nick can be seen in a poster behind the drum set. We both agreed that this was a real treasure of our short weekend together in Santa Fe and look forward to returning.
I've been spending time listening to local musicians (friends) lately. I've also been revisiting music from an earlier time that really got me going. Among these, The Lovelost is a local band formed by Ixchel Del Castillo and Frank Ippolito. I've had the pleasure of hearing them a few times now and I'm happy to report that these guys are fantastic and really nice! Earlier in the week, I got to hear them at the Lost Leaf over in Roosevelt Row (RoRo) just south of Midtown Phoenix. The Lost Leaf is a fantastic place to grab a drink with friends and listen to a little music. Good times, for sure. For those interested in an indie rock sound with a multicultural twist, The Lovelost is a band you should give a listen.
Lovelost Youtube page
Nick White of Whiskey Kiss, a local rockabilly band, tunes up for the Birthday Bash at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix. The bash celebrated the birthdays of Nick, his wife Niki, vocalist of Whiskey Kiss, the drummer for Pat Roberts and the Heymakers, and a couple of other local musicians. I was lucky enough to have a piece of the chocolate cake being passed around and I have to say that it was the perfect dessert to the music-filled evening.
Other bands enjoyed thus far include The Nix and Dolores at Last Exit Live.
Coming up: Toad the Wet Sprocket at the Marquee and Jesca Hoop at the Rhythm Room
Gonna be a good year!
Follow the link to gallery images from these shows.
I recently drove to Oklahoma and Texas to see friends and family. Although it was a short trip, it was good to be home even for a little while and have some time to share.
A View from the Road gallery
Creating, teaching, drinking coffee.