I’m currently training to get my ass kicked run the Salt Lake half marathon with my dad in a couple weeks. Today was my easy slow run. I am really not a big fan of running but I need to exercise because I drink a lot of beer and I hear that catches up with you around my age. In an effort to entertain myself on todays run. I put my cell phone camera on double exposure mode and made a series of random pictures. Here they are. A long with my GPS tracked route of my run.
shooting a photo of a stranger in a blizzard at 12:45 am on your birthday
It’s funny how life hands you things sometimes. I was on my way back from bowling with my roommate/bff nick niehart and david williams (both esteemed musicians but terrible bowlers) and I was thinking to myself “I haven’t shot a photo of a total stranger in a while”. By a while I mean like a week or so but the other day I sat down and tried to think about what parts of photography really get me juiced up and the number one thing I kept coming back to was this weird human interaction that goes on when I photograph a total stranger. It’s like a fastpass to some sort of weird intimacy that you can’t get any other way. It’s a awkward beautiful thing and I have learned to embrace it.
When I first started shooting photos I was always terrified of walking up to somebody and ask them if I could shoot a photo of them. It’s something you never really get used to but if you do it over and over it gets easier and it is always rewarding. Anyways, I digress. We roll up to our house at 12:30 or so in a total winter wonderland and it is totally silent save for the occasional snowplow in the distance and the dripping sound of the wet spring snow falling off of every surface, running in to the gutters. All the trees are feeling the strain of the heavy spring snow and drooping low so I go get my camera and start to shoot some photos of the scenery and I hear the quiet scraping of a snow shovel a few houses down. I walk down that way, pretending to shoot photos of the trees trying to feel out the situation. Would this person be weirded out if I approach them for a portrait in the middle of the night? Hell, it seemed weird to me. it was a strange scene.
As I got closer I saw a lady who looked to be in her 50’s really struggling to clear the sloppy slush out of her driveway. I felt guilty for wanting to photograph her so I offered to help. Her name was Gayle and I am really glad I offered to help because it turns out she has chronic fatigue and fibromialgia (sp?). She asked me how the hell I was shooting photos in the dark and I tried to explain the technology to her. I asked her if I could take a portrait of her and she argued with me for a minute but then finally consented. I shot for about 10 minutes and she was really posing a lot and it was hard to get an honest moment out of it. I have two pictures shown here and thats about all that were honest (and in focus). I don’t even care that her eyes are closed in the full body one, it seems a bit more true than all the others. Somehow in the conversation, it came up that it was my birthday now that it was after midnight and she sang me happy birthday and gave me a big hug. It’s funny because it was such a weird interaction on paper (weird 25 year old watching older lady shoveling snow at 1am in a totally silent neighborhood, photographs her, gets sung to and hugged) but it was a really nice interaction and even if they portraits aren’t particularly good (it was really dark, cut me some slack) I am glad I continue to force interaction with human beings through these weird devices that take pictures.
I have decided to call my “transitioning from a bachelor to married man” project “standards of living”. Here is an update in which I show three views of Josh sleeping in the living room (where he sleeps all the time). In one you may note that he is wearing a leopard snuggie sleeping upright in a chair. This is a common occurrence. I also show two views of Levi smoking in the backyard and one unflattering picture of Nick’s face through a window. enjoy.
I have a natural aversion to anything touristy or kitschy. I have always felt like these things somehow cheapen the experience. Like they are perversions of the original landscape or place. Not authentic things, just the lowest common denominator boiled down for the masses to digest and crap out.Sometimes I take my hatred of tourism too far. I am the guy who didn’t want to go on a safari while I was in Africa, just out of principal ( I did, and it was awesome).
Montana is a cursed place for me. I have gone up there two years in a row to work on a project documenting the issue of the last wild bison being hazed and slaughtered and the struggle that ensues between environmental activists and the government every may. Long story short, two years ago when I went up there two of my three cameras broke and this year, immediately upon reaching the “city limits” of West Yellowstone, my car decided to blow up. I hitched a ride out to the Buffalo Field Campaign headquarters and tried to forget about it and just shot for a 4 or 5 days before I tried to get it fixed. When I returned to the town to get it fixed, I needed to stay there for a few days while we were waiting for parts to come in or out and I literally had NOTHING to do. I didn’t feel like anything in the town fit in to the narrative of the story so I wasn’t really photographing seriously. Instead, I just wandered shooting photos of the souvenir shops and tourist traps. Looking at these photos now, I think they actually are a cohesive edit on their own. It is almost laughable the way they advertise their wildlife on a t-shirt next to a switch blade while at the very same time the government, is essentially engaged in a campaign to exterminate the Bison not 15 miles down the road. Anyways, enough of my cynicism, some of these photos are actually kind of funny.
finally working my way through last years Montana take. The whole trip was such a debacle that I just couldn’t bring myself to edit it. This one is from a while back but more to come soon. Also a new website is on its way.
For the last five or six years of my life I have generally had a “non traditional” living situation. When I moved to Salt Lake City for college at the age of 19 my only concern was snowboarding and occasionally going to class. Naturally then, this took precedent over that thing many people refer to as a “standard of living”. Lucky for me, I found a group of guys who subsequently became my best friends that pretty much felt the same way about life. We had a house that had 9 dudes in a three bedroom house. Our rent was insanely cheap (like 150 bucks or something). It was perfect. It allowed all of us to work as little as possible and shred as much as possible. Well fast forward a few years and nothing much has changed, although I don’t really snowboard anymore. Photography took the place of snowboarding and in order to be able to afford to make a run at becoming a professional photographer, my living situation has stayed largely the same. When I lived in NYC last year, it was the only time I have had my own room in the last 5 years. Pretty crazy.
In June I am getting married to my amazing girlfriend of 4 years. It has had me thinking about the transitions that I am going to go through. Not any of that emotional or relational crap, but just purely practical transitions. I mean have you ever seen 7 dudes in a 4 bedroom house? I can imagine it is a hell of a lot different than living with a woman. I am excited about the future with Dani but I am definitely going to miss the camaraderie and shenanigans. I have decided to spend the next 6 months documenting the last three months living like an animal and the first 3 months of married life. I don’t really have a project title yet but I am sure it will hash itself out. I will be posting sporadic updates here with snippets from life at the Danger Manger (our house name). At the end of the project, I will coalesce everything down into a tighter edit and put it up. The goal of the first part of this project is to really document the fun, weird, smelly, bizarre existence that happens with 7 guys live together. It’s a beautiful thing.
WARNING: SOME OF THESE IMAGES MAY BE SLIGHTLY OFFENSIVE TO YOU IF YOU ARE MY MOM. THERE IS ALSO SOME SLIGHT MALE NUDITY BUT NOTHING FULL FRONTAL OR ANYTHING
the danger manger
discovering penisland.com is neither a pen island or a penisland. disappointed.
toilet bowl detail
just for the record, this bathroom was cleaned almost immediately after taking this photograph.
One of my photographic goals this year is to always have a camera with me. To that end, I dug up my old olympus XA2 and have been trying to keep it in my coat pocket. My main obstacle has been keeping film in the damn thing. These photos are from a particularly snowy commute last week.