Sunday, June 26, 2011

Photography (Part One)

I miss photography, but I don’t know all the technical stuff. I never did. I know what I’ve learned through observing the photographers and cinematographers I enjoy. But, I am no Ansel Adams or Roger Deakins, and don’t always have the means (or know-how) to mess with aperture, or to light shots/scenes to their fullest potential. So, I focus primarily on shot composition. I don’t always hit the mark. Sometimes I do.

Sometimes I think I think a shot sucks only to find out later the shot was pretty good. Sometimes I think a shot is perfect and then I see it later and know it’s lousy.

Today my friend Katelyn over at Ninth & Bird asked me to assist her in a project. She made a few dresses from scratch and wanted me to take some pictures of her wearing them. We went to an alley behind her building, a few nearby shops, another alley, etc. We spent only a few hours taking pictures, trying different things (of course indulging in some obligatory shots). We brainstormed as we shot, using the environment around us to inspire poses and composition. We tried whatever came to mind. The camera we used only allowed us to do certain things. Selective focus was not an option.

We both have our own vision of things (we have learned as much at our day job, where we have recently begun collaborating on a video series), but we work really well together. Amazingly, she was very receptive to my advice, considering my complete lack of fashion knowledge (my fashion education is limited to seasons 1 & 2 of Project Runway), and we worked everything out as a team. She trusted me to take useable photographs. I trusted she knew what dresses were supposed to look like. After all, what the hell do I know about dresses? (But, I’m glad she didn’t wear a belt with the white dress, which I assume she’s saving for the next post.)

Not all the images are great. Some just missed the mark. But, here are some good ones. I'll probably add some more as Katelyn makes them available.

Click the composite below to see the the images at full size...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Things I've Come to Know

Almost two years ago I moved from South Jersey to Colorado.  In that time I’ve learned some things about what’s important in life, what to ignore, and how to live.  I still don’t have all the answers - and some of these may not even be true.  For now they feel right, so it’s a good start.


AVOID DRAMA

Drama has a way of sucking you in, because it’s interesting.  But, is also a side-effect of a boring, vapid existence.  Avoid it at all costs.  There is a fine line between asking for advice and talking about something that is only interesting because it’s confusing, painful or frustrating.  While these are typically elements of things we require advice on, they shouldn’t be the only reason to remain in a situation.

EXERCISE

Ride a bike.  Go to the gym.  Lift weights.  Do it often.  Do it until it is part of your routine.  It will change your life.

PAY ATTENTION

Get out of your own head, ignore your superficial wanting, and you’ll be able to see who your friends are, who deserves your love, and who makes you feel your best.  Do the best you can for them and they will appreciate it.

BE HONEST

This should go without saying.  But, there’s a level of honesty that goes beyond simply avoiding being a liar.  Be brutal without being cruel.  Say what you think.  Tell the people you care about when they are acting foolish and understand that they will scream at you for it.  Eventually they will apologize.  It will bring you closer.

LEARN TO GIVE GOOD ADVICE

By giving advice that is uninflected by your own issues and feelings you learn to be selfless and achieve a higher perspective. 

DON’T TALK ABOUT DOING THINGS; DO THINGS

If you have a project, no matter how small, finish it.  It will be rewarding.

LOVE

Pursue every passion – from projects, to that person whose look can knock you straight through a wall. Do it with unembarrassed abandon.  If you fail, do it again.  Learn from it.  If that person destroys you, so be it.  There will be others.

MAKE NO DECLARATIONS

Scarlet O’Hara declared she would never go hungry again because it was a poignant thing to do in the story.  It helped us understand her as a character.  Do not pigeonhole yourself with such nonsense.  Just live.  There is no need to swear off cars, or women, or banks, or a certain restaurant.  By doing this you trick yourself into thinking you know yourself.  But, that’s not the way.  Let your actions define you, not the things you’ve chosen to avoid.

IGNORE CRITICS

There are only a handful of people who can critique in a way that promotes learning and progress.  The rest are hacks who think writing has to do with using fancy words to craft long-winded sentences.  They may dazzle you with linguistic parlor tricks, but they’re just self-indulgent pricks trying to stand out in a crowd of other idiots with just as little to say.  Learn who to trust and the hell with the rest of them.  They’re useless.

DO THE THINGS YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE DOING

Anyone can go to the gym, or write, or go for a walk when they want to.  Doing things that keep you healthy or sane or in practice of your passions when you don’t feel like it is what matters.

REMEMBER HOW OFTEN YOU GO THROUGH LIFE

You have one shot to live, breathe, experience, to do what is right for your loved ones, and to do what is right for yourself.  Money isn’t everything.  Time is.

ROLL THE DICE

Everything is scary: putting money on a horse race, asking someone to go out a second time, buying a new car, sharing a piece of music you wrote with the rest of the world, taking a big step with someone who makes you light up like a firefly.  These things put you on the line.  If you lose, you can get hurt badly.  But, remember: for as scary as they are, they are equally exciting.  If you don’t try, you’re just a person standing in the crowd wondering when you’re going to get your shot.  This is probably that moment.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nick (6.24.81 - 6.7.11)

With booze, drugs and a venomous wit, Nick raged against things we couldn’t see. Seemingly to spite his very breath, or perhaps to quash the pang of waking up, he continuously told life to go fuck itself. It was his trademark. The middle finger was his flag. He would use words like “cunt” and “twat” in a way that transcended simple vulgarity and created a clever dialect of cynical irony. Those that were offended didn’t know him at all. If you weren’t laughing, you were a stranger. Those that laughed were his friends and were privy to his loyalty and giant heart.

He was a handsome guy, intelligent and quick-witted, with a lot of potential. He was a guy over which gorgeous women fawned. But, these things are the least of the tragedy. The real tragedy is that it was no surprise. He knows dying makes him a bigger prick than he could have ever strived to be, and he’s laughing about it in whatever bar assholes go when they die (I assume it’s The Pearl). It was only a few months ago he lamented about how he was sick of watching his friends overdose and die, and questioned how many more times it would happen. Now he’s gone and done the same. It is two weeks before his 30th birthday party – an event he openly described as celebrating how amazing it is that he’s still alive. He loved irony.

But, for all his demons – whatever they were – he knew himself. He knew he was angry. He knew he could be spiteful, and he knew he acted irrationally and immaturely. He knew he was self-loathing and self-destructive. He embodied these things with no apologies. It is a conviction few have. With balance and patience maybe things would have been different – but then who would he have been?

He would sometimes introduce himself as “Dirt.” I hated it. Some would actually use that handle when addressing him in person and I hated them for it. He would call me “Jophrey.” Once, in earshot of Nick, someone else called me the same thing. Nick wasn’t having it. That was HIS name for me, and that’s how it was going to stay, and he made sure that the mistake was never made again. It was one of many warm moments we shared.

If you knew Nick, you knew Linus Lowery. But before we were a full band, it was just Nick and I in a little apartment in Pleasantville. Our recording sessions swung from motivated to lethargic to inspired. When he would get tired he would lie on the floor (and “play the floorgan,” as he put it). When he drummed he had a Guitar Player magazine propped up nearby so he could be inspired by the cover picture: Dimebag Darrell, shortly after his death. We would go back and forth, recording, smoking and sitting around. It wasn’t without some arguing, but Nick would probably say, “That’s part of being geniuses.” Eventually we had an EP and put together the rest of the band. We practiced and screamed at each other. We drank and played shows. We met women and made jokes about the filthy things we wanted to do with them, while slowly being driven mad by them. We loved hating everything. It was our most common ground outside of music.

Linus Lowery was an endeavor he was extremely proud of, and a project into which he put his entire heart and a lot of hope. If you saw him on stage, you saw him at his happiest: carefree, exciting, and banging away at the drums until taking his turn at the mic to sing Dennis Leary’s “Asshole.” For forty minutes a week (sometimes more if Nick got us multiple gigs) Nick would rage at his most happy, the demons unable to touch him.


*For those of us who knew him when, so passes Super Ball-Man: part hero, part villain, indiscriminately tea-bagging random people in their sleep.

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