Saturday, September 29, 2012


Manny, San Francisco, CA near Union Square, September, 26, 2012.

Nothing really shocks me these days. Perhaps I have been desensitized over the years seeing so much evil and so much grotesque imagery in the press and in entertainment. In trying to create shocking imagery, I decided to avoid the obvious traps of sex and gore. Too easy. Since shocking is so subjective, I don’t think I could have the temerity to claim to have created a shocking image. The first thing I thought of was the cover for the Jane’s Addiction album “Nothing's Shocking”, the two naked siamese twins with their hair on fire. Interesting that since then, their lead singer Perry Farrell has given up trying to be shocking. Joining the mainstream by forming the Lollapalooza festival and endorsing 
Nothings's Shocking, Jane's Addiction

I looked through my David Lachapelle book with its portrayals of Jesus in modern day with gangs and card players, naked porn stars and women deformed by plastic surgery. Somehow, looking back, it all looks rather anodyne and desperate, but I gobbled it up.

I thought about what shocks me. Materialism. Homelessness. Callousness for our fellow man. Lack of connection between humans amidst such a crowded world. I can see all these things at Union Square in San Francisco. Panhandlers in wheel chairs, filthy clothes and hand painted signs beg for help amongst the riches of Neiman Marcus, Gucci and Chanel. I decided to connect with these people. I realized I needed their help to communicate my shock at their plight. So I asked them, “Can you help me?” Not one hesitated to say yes. I told them I was taking photos and would like to hire them to pose for me for $5. They were magnificent in helping, volunteering their information and posing as they were instructed. Shockingly, a connection was made instantly. I hope these photos are shocking in their honesty and the humanness of these people in our midst, so often ignored as we march by with thousands of dollars of merchandise in our bags. 

All these photos were taken near Union Square, San Francisco, CA on September 26, 2012.
Elmo, San Francisco, CAS near Union Square.
Harvey Redd, San Francisco, CAS near Union Square.

Latrice H, San Francisco, CA near Union Square.

Phillip Collins, San Francisco, CA near Union Square.

Silent, San Francisco, CA near Union Square.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Losing Connie

Losing someone is one of the most profound experiences we can have. The person goes from being a familiar part of our life to a stranger, sometimes almost over night. The nascent anticipation of a fully-realized life together, the alacrity with which you spend time together, degrades to something aberrant and lost. We may see them in our sleep. We imagine them but cannot touch them. They pull farther away until they are gone. They dissolve into a cacophony of light, both in our life and in our subconscious imagination. 

These photos were taken without looking through the camera. I actually enjoy this technique and have employed it often. One gets tired of the perfectly framed, the eye-level perspective. I love photographing from the ground on small children and animals. Or from high above with my arms extended. So I was pretty sure what I would get when I clicked the shutter. Rule of thirds is out the window, but the unusual framing is refreshing.

I shot into the sun. I wanted these photos to appear more as imaginings than literal images. I used slow shutter speeds on some to show movement. A soft focus was intended. The sequencing is intentional. Her face appears clearly in the early photos. Not at all later. She gets farther from the camera, as she is lost. I learned to let the narrative happen. Start with a vague concept and let the story evolve. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fashion Show Flash Mob

Joanna, Sam, Tiana and Gaby trek up Valencia street toward Ritual Coffee.

I've never flash mobbed. I had been to a fashion show or two. So when Raven texted me saying “Are we on for tomorrow?”, I was a bit perplexed. She explained that the designer Ilanio, who designs avant-garde fashion, was throwing a fashion show at three locations in flash-mob style. I was intrigued. Ilanio had designed playa-wear for Burning Man and this swimwear show promised to be bright and colorful.  I was also interested in how the people would react. I got in place at the second location, Ritual Coffee in San Francisco on Valencia street. This is the hippest fourth generation coffee shop in the hippest area of San Francisco.
Raven Le Faye parades through Ritual Coffee
The hip-hop dancers lead the ladies out.

I heard a commotion and saw the hip-hop dancers leading six colorfully clad models up the street. Heads were definitely turning, but usually with bemused smiles rather than disgust. There was Raven, fifth in the line looking amazing in a gelatinous magenta swimsuit with the biggest zipper I have ever seen. I might point out that Raven’s hair is also magenta. That is not a wig.
Gaby, Raven and Jamila leave Ritual and head up the street. 

The crowd in Ritual, barely flinched. One guy kept reading his phone and hardly looked up. But as the girls paraded through the store, turned around and left, there was a big applause. The only time anyone seemed annoyed was when traffic was blocked as the models crossed the street.
The only irritation was when traffic was blocked.

The next location was the wide-open Dolores Park a few blocks away. It was packed on this sunny Sunday. As the models trekked though the crowd, everyone got out their smart phones and snapped away. A few people danced to the music being played by Joel Zavella on his hand cart loaded with speakers. At one point the ladies stopped and preened in front of the San Francisco sky-line. Then the returned to the vans that had brought them, posed with some new fans, loaded up and took off.
The footwear was as bright as the swimwear.

Ilanio with his creatures and his creations.

Only in San Francisco could six lovely models, dressed so brightly and bizarrely be so easily accepted by the crowd. I love it here.
Raven shows off the largest zipper I have seen.