January 20, 2017 – Monsoon In Arizona

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Sometimes you just get lucky.

While living in Bisbee, Arizona, up on the hilltop on High Road (an appropriate name for a road in a town known for it’s debauchery and drinking and weed smoking), I sat on the wrap-around deck and looked across the canyon toward ‘B Hill.’ I was home sick with strep throat, and a monsoon storm rolled through town, dumping rain and lighting on our scenic little corner of the cosmos. I set up my tripod and started snapping at the rainbow, thinking it might be a fun image for our liberal little town.

Bisbee is know for it’s raucous gay pride weekend, it’s open and accepting politics, it’s unique character. The first microbrewery in the entire state of Arizona was opened in Bisbee, and Bisbee was the first municipality in the state to legalize gay marriage – a symbolic victory, of course, as these marriages were only considered valid within the city limits at that time.

A rainbow over Bisbee seemed like it’d be a fun picture, naturally.

But then I captured this, and I was awe-struck. I’ve never been a storm chaser or a lightning photographer, but the composition was so astonishing and accidental, I absolutely had to share it. I hope you enjoy.

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January 19, 2017 – Waterfront

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I’ve often said that with certain types of photography all you have to do is let nature do the hard work. We have all the necessary technology to document the beautiful moments – all one has to do is open their eyes, recognize that the moment is occurring, and use their tools to document it. Sure, it’s a simplistic view, but it isn’t far from the truth. Most photographers are witnesses with useful tools. When we aren’t creating tableaux – constructing scenes with actors and makeup and wardrobe and artificial light – we are witnesses doing little else than capturing happenstance moments.

This was one of those moments. It’s a scene that hundreds of people walk by every single day, and I don’t doubt that many of them take pause, look across the water, and appreciate the view. I don’t doubt that this exact photograph has been made several times over. But this image is mine. It was a great day, walking down the streets of a strange town.

What I have noticed, as a photographer, is that my best moments, almost always, are experienced alone.

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January 18, 2017 – Pixel Art and Cross Stitch

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It may come as a surprise to those that know me, but I actually have always had an affinity for cross-stitch. Recently, I took up the craft after a fifteen-year hiatus. I was introduced to this in a middle-school Home Economics class, and I even made an elaborate composition of a pheasant in flight for my father (who is a hunting enthusiast) for Christmas.

What I hadn’t considered, until very recently, is that cross-stitch is essentially the analogue version of pixel art. I began making pixel art in the early 1990s when I received a Super Nintendo for Christmas. Along with the console, my parents gave me a cartridge of Mario Paint, a game which allows the user to make stamps in a pixel-grid. This appealed to my meticulous – some might say obsessive compulsive – nature.

The image above depicts the trio of character from ‘The Big Lebowski,’ one of my favorite cult films. I’ve been making lots of patterns and decided to open an online shop to display and sell my pixel art and cross-stitch patterns. I hope you check it out.

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January 17, 2017 – Red White Blue

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This is an abandoned image from a series I wanted to make called “Compositions In Red, White, And Blue.” The conceit was simple enough – I wanted to find objects and textures in various states of decay that, as the name indicates, carry the colors of our national flag. The implicit message in the series is the death of the so-called American Dream.

I wanted to make sure that I approached the project from a minimalist and abstract perspective because I wasn’t entirely concerned with the series being purely political. The political message was always intended to be implied; I also wanted the images to be aesthetically satisfying to look at and work as stand-alone pieces.

I really like this composition, and and hope that you do, too.

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January 16, 2017 – Snow Field

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What better way to embrace the winter than by making photographs and artwork that celebrate it? We’re in that stretch of winter where things often start to really slow down; I know a lot of people who dread the upcoming February storms. I left the Midwest to escape the cold, but whenever I return I feel as though I have a much deeper appreciation for the natural beauty of the Plains States, as flat and sparse as the landscapes often are.

We always take a little bit of our home town with us when we leave.

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January 15, 2017 – Rusted Car

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Today’s image – like most of them – is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, it’s photography, right?

Usually – but hey, not necessarily always – it’s almost always obvious what a photographic image is actually of. Even a brickwork of primary-colored Mondrian tiles is imbued with subtext and pregnant with meaning. So why not a portrait of a rusted heap, rotting in the desert like a disposed of beer can baking under the sun?

But it isn’t my job to tell anybody how they’re supposed to feel about an image like this. Much of my work, I’ve been told, carries with it, or conveys, a certain ambivalence. This isn’t even halfway close to true. I compose my images carefully, but I’m not concerned, at least not at all times, with being explicit with personal meanings. Ambiguity allows for different experiences, and I think that ambiguity can be a very powerful tool when creating artwork – especially photographic artwork, which is often disregarded as an easy, unimportant happenstance that occurs between the photographer and whatever happens to fall before his or her camera lens.

I am drawn to textures, contrasts, and colors. And I love the camera’s ability to take everyday objects and completely re-frame them. We all know what a car is – wheels and a seat, a hood and door-handles. But when we encounter cars in our day-to-day lives, we’re always taking in the whole thing. It’s a familiar object and, because of its familiarity, it’s easy to disregard. But when you look at the details, the scratches, the design of the body, the wear on the upholstery, the scuffs on the tires, something else emerges. I wouldn’t want to give that ‘something’ a name, really, but the camera has given me, if nobody else that looks at my photographs, the ability to recognize absolutely insane beauty in the unutterably mundane.

In a world filled with cars – to an almost sickening degree – I was walking down the road and saw the age and rust on this particular vehicle, and I was drawn to it. So…I dunno. Do with that anecdote what you will.

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January 14, 2017 – The Hilltop Cross

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Today I stumbled across an old photo, taken during the first few months I had lived in Bisbee, Arizona. It’s a mile-high historic town where one of the largest copper mining operations in the world existed. On a, 80 story hilltop overlooking the canyons the comprise most of the town is a makeshift shrine, evidently constructed by a single individual, who hauled mortar and supplies up the trail to the top of the hill, one small load at a time.

The folks that live in town have added to the shrine their own little flourishes. Candles, prayer flags, and sculptures have slowly accumulated, and the cross at the top of the hill kind of belongs to the whole community now. Even in the tumult of my last few months in Bisbee, with a flagging relationship and commensurate flagging reputation among some hostile locals, I always found peace hiking up into the hills to look at the view and be alone with my thoughts.

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