Friday, August 26, 2011

Downward Dawg?

Last week I took pictures for my friend/ teacher's website. Carmen Fitzgibbon is yogini who teaches at Yoga Works Studios in Los Angeles. I met Carmen about ten years ago when I was practicing yoga on a regular basis at Yoga Works. Before she made the decision to dedicate herself to the teaching and practicing yoga she worked as a stylist, one time working with me on a shoot. Since I am no longer living in central L.A. I am, unfortunately, not taking as many yoga classes. It's of not just my opinion that the best yoga teachers and practitioners are located in Los Angeles. I didn't know that I had been spoiled by the quality of teaching in L.A. until I've looked into classes near where I live.

Yoga is like so many other auxiliary businesses manifested in Los Angeles by the entertainment industry. I would dare to guess that more than 50% of the yoga teachers in Los Angeles were one time aspiring actors. I don't mention that to be critical of them, their life paths, and certainly not yoga. I state this belief to give reason to why the concentration of quality yoga in Los Angeles is so great. Actors are always seeking ways to enhance their physical, emotional, and spiritual selves, and practicing yoga is an encompassing pursuit that improves one's mind, body, and soul. If I'm eating properly, limiting my alcohol consumption, and practicing yoga 3 times a week I am at my best.

Photographing Carmen performing a variety of asanas was an enjoyable and inspiring project. The challenge was to optimally position my camera to make her poses look technically perfect. This was a challenge because as Carmen says, she is an alignment junkie. There are a variety of yoga practices from Hatha to Bikrams, the one that Carmen comes from is Iyengar where posture and position are paramount, and workout and sweating are secondary. Every serious yogi at one time or another practices a form of Iyengar to technically improve their poses and complete their practice.

Viewing the images with Carmen after the shoot reminded me of my own pursuit of perfection with photography. What appeared to me to be a perfect pose, Carmen would point out that her big toe was not touching the ground, a no no. Overall Carmen was happy with the work, however; the next time she has photographs taken of her poses she wants another Iyengar alignment junkie on set to make sure her poses are text book. In the meantime this out of shape yogi is inspired to get his butt back in class.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Pleasant Occasion

Last Saturday Sydney and I drove south on I-5 to the opening reception gala of The Art of Photography Show in San Diego. I was honored to have "Louise" selected by the curator of the show, Anne Lyden the Associate Curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum. 15,444 images were submitted by artists from 72 different countries and only 109 images were selected. So, it was quite the honor to be represented in this prestigious show. It was also fun to meet and mingle with some of the image makers. Obviously not all could come, but I was able to get about 30 of those artists who did attend to scribble their autograph next to their work in the catalog. It was good to see my new friend and inspiration Jesse Rieser. Our work has appeared together in about 3 different shows this year. They had an artists only reception an hour before the doors were open to the public, so it was fun to sip on the free bubbly and look at some stunning work. I had a chance to speak with Anne during the reception, and she remembered me from a review I had with her at Palm Springs Photography Festival 2010. She congratulated me on my selection and hard work, and told me my follow-ups made it easier for her to include me in her selection. As has been said by Aline Smithson numerous times: it's about hard work, persistence, and consistency. Truer words are rarely spoken.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A return to Paris

It looks like I'll be having a show of a work from both Lakewood: Portraits of a Sacred American Suburb and Au Bout de la Ligne (ABDLL) in Paris this October. The details are still being worked out, but it looks as if the vernisage (opening night) will be the Thursday (Jeudi) the 13th. You're all welcome. The other day in beginning initial preparation for the show I went through my images from ABDLL again and came upon some photographs that had missed the prior cuts. I find that it takes approximately six months before I can objectively look at an image, and even then until I print it out and see how works at least 12"x12" I do not know if it's a keeper. The monitor can fool you. I save my heart until I see the print. Then and only then will I allow myself to fall in love. But photographs can sometimes be like that girl you ignored in high school only to see her again a few years later when she's blossomed. And like some photographs I've always thought that those that bloom last bloom best. Anyway enough about romance and blossoming here are few aged images from the archives. Of course I'm just dating them again, I will not get serious until I make a test print. However, you're opinions are indeed welcome. Cheers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A long bike ride

Last Friday as I do nearly once a week I went into to L.A. to drop off and pick-up film at A&I. If I have the time and not the need to carry anything large I'll ride my bike. From my home I pedal about 3 miles to the Del Amo station L.A. Metro Blue line. With my bike I hop on the northbound train towards downtown L.A. to 7th & Metro stop; there I transfer to the red line toward North Hollywood. I exit at Vermont and Santa Monica Blvd,; from there I hop back on my bike and head west on Santa Monica Blvd. another 3 miles to West Hollywood. Normally when I am finished with my errands I return as I came. However, last Friday I was feeling rambunctious, and on a whim I decided to make the entire 27 mile ride back home on bike. At a quarter till 4:oo pm I set off south on La Brea Avenue. Many who have not ridden bikes as long as I have fear traffic. I'm not implying I wouldn't be safer if I was driving like any normal person in the comfort of my car, but bike riders with experience know how to make car traffic aware of their presence. In fact Friday afternoon rush hour traffic is the best time to ride a bike in Los Angeles. Actually rush hour is an inaccurate description of traffic during the periods when working folk are on their way to or from work. It should be renamed snail hour, because L.A. traffic from 3-7 in the afternoon is merely creeping along. So not only am I unconcerned by the possibility of being injured by a car traveling at 5 miles an hour, I'm able to speed past most past most of them. At Washington Blvd with the wind at my back I headed east. L.A. traffic in the afternoon is usually heavy eastbound, but that wasn't the case, and to my surprise Washington Blvd. was free of potholes with plenty of room for me to ride comfortably between the parked cars and traffic. I remained on Washington Blvd through Korea town to downtown where I eventually was riding parallel and next to the Blue Line Train from whence I came. As does the train I turned south on Long Beach Avenue where all L.A.'s recycled scrap metal appears to reside.

So why am I writing about bike riding on a photography blog. That's an excellent question, and here's your answer. Riding my bike home allowed me to see parts and locations of L.A. I had never witnessed. If you have a taste for urban grit as I do it was a visual smörgåshbord. Heading south between the 110 and 710 freeways through south central cites Huntington Park, Walnut Park, South Gate, and Lynwood while I reposed at red lights I experienced a plethora of L.A. culture. My rear was soar and my muscles were tiring, yet the vibrance L.A.s vast multi-culture energized my pumping legs. I smiled at anyone who looked at me. Of course most people in L.A. think that a stranger over 20 riding a bike a bit kooky the return looks I received were a tad wary.

The best part of this trip was seeing all the wonderful possibilities for photographs. There's a project there. Perhaps it could be called "By Bike in L.A.." Now if can just find a way to rig my 4x5 and tri-pod to my bike. Dale's Donuts was merely taken with a Canon G-12.