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LAST 10 MINUTES print heading

LAST 10 MINUTES

“King! I have a joke for you”

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I photographed BB King a couple of weeks ago in Baltimore.  At the end of the shooting, he called me over, and as I kneeled next to his chair, he said, “That was the most enjoyable photo shoot I have ever done.”    He then said, “When you go home kiss Jackson for me.”

I had talked about my boys alot during the shooting, and told BB that he could kiss Jackson (my 5 year old) himself when he played Red Rocks in two weeks.

This past week, Stephie and I took Jackson and his grandmother Janet to Red Rocks.  First up was a visit in the fancy touring bus.    Jackson went right back to BB holding court in the back and gave him five.   “BB”, Jackson asked.   “Call him Mr. King” Stephie corrected.   “We are musicians” BB said, “there are no formalities.”    Then Jackson stood right in front of BB and said, “KING!  I have some jokes for you.”   Jackson then told the one about what do you call a woman in the middle of a tennis court?   Annette!   A couple of knock knock jokes.   We were all hysterical.   When I tried to politely slip out, BB asked us to stay longer.    He then whispered to me, “Do you see the way Jackson is standing there, poised and talking to me directly?    My mother died when I was 9 ½ and I never learned that.”

We then headed over to the stage.   This was Jackson’s first real concert.   We walked  up the ramps through the great backstage at Red Rocks where everyone from the Beatles to Sinatra to our friend Mac Miller walked the halls.   Got into our seats up front.  I had a pass to shoot after they cleared the other photographers out, and thought Jackson might  like being so close, so he joined me.   BB’s second song, “You Are My Sunshine” seemed like a very strange choice, but was so much fun since Jackson knew the lyrics.   On “The Thrill is Gone”, BB spotted Jackson in the audience.  From the stage he said, “There is my friend Jackson, we hung together before the show.”  He then reached in his pocket and tossed a pendant from the stage through the air, which Jackson caught (thanks to alot of Little League practice this summer).

Later, after the set, Jackson was showing his pendant to everyone and said, “I will never forget this night.”
If I was ever nervous for him starting kindergarten, it was all gone.   He will be fine.

08.23.13 Posted in Everything Is Connected, Photos, Something I Heard, Something I Saw, Something I Took

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When A Fire Starts to Burn – 4th of July, 2013

 

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The 4th of July is not the beginning or end of summer.   It is not really the middle either.  It is towards the end of real green.   It is warm days, cool nights and dry here in Colorado.  It is skies packed with more stars than the ipad app of the night.   It is pitching baseball after baseball after baseball until the balls finally start sailing over my head.

It is hard to work in summer.   The long days don’t define work and it is never really dark enough to sleep.   Deer rest by the bikes under the deck.  Corn silk is littered all around the grill.  Clothing is optional.

Generally on the 4th I sing George M. Cohan’s anthem to my boys, like my father did on the 4th ( although I think my father was thinking James Cagney’s version rather than the real Cohan.)     I remember holding Jackson under a huge flag in the park in  Maplewood teaching him the lyrics.

This morning I was thinking about the young firefighters in Arizona.  Everytime I read about someone dying – especially that young – I think, “that is all you get.”   They were strong soldiers fighting a fight I can understand – though in the next breath the news talked about the climate changing, and all of us are driving what is terrorizing the weather.

Always thinking about Woody Guthrie and Louis Armstrong on the 4th.   Louis because he claimed he was born on the 4th of July, 1900 (though probably not born that day I will give it to him anyway and listen to “Weatherbird” with awe – all that magic he made in that crazy duet with Earl Hines).

Woody Guthrie - the most patriotic american I ever knew.  We all have our gifts.  His was not being a great father or husband, but he shared a view of this country that was true and benevolent and inspired.   “This Land is Your Land” came on in the house this morning.  These lyrics stopped everything we were doing :

 

In the shadow of the steeple

I saw my people

At the relief office

I seen my people

As they stood there hungry

I stood there asking

Is this land made for you and me?

 

Nobody living can ever stop me

As I go walking that freedom highway

Nobody living can ever make me turn back

This land was made for you and me.

In Boulder we are eating like kings.  Farm to table. Organic.  Gluten free.

Food of the gods.  Until they start chewing for us, too – I am happy food is honored and respected and grown with such passion.   I wish everyone was able to sit at these tables.

In Lincoln, Nebraska this spring I went to a high school where they spoke 22 languages.  In LINCOLN, NEBRASKA!   The school was a miracle of a tight community with open hearts.  Unemployment was low, but many were working poor and could barely afford food.   The children were fed during the week at school, and then sent home for the weekend with knapsacks full of food to get them through the weekend.  There was no ridicule.  There was just a sense of people helping each other.   In the 4th grade class everyone was reading over 100 words a minute.   The bright strong eyes of the teacher taught as much as the books.

We have talked about that school alot in the weeks since I was there.   The boys sent their lemonade stand money there.  I am sending these Woody Guthrie lyrics out there today for them.   In shadow of this magnificent land here in Colorado.  In the plains between the mountains.

We are turning off our screens, pulling over on the side of the road and feeling, for a moment, small and timeless under a bright blue sky bigger than the ocean.  We are holding each other and letting time stop, even for a brief moment.   We all get alittle more time,  which means we can sit still and live large and love each other even more….and not stop walking.

I am going to sandwich this post of July 4th reflection with a new song (When I A Fire Starts to Burn)  I heard yesterday from a band of brothers ( Guy and Howard Lawrence) in the UK.  Check out that video!

 

And a series of pictures from my family over the last couple of days.

Happy 4th all.

 

 

 

07.03.13 Posted in Everything Is Connected, Personal Work, Photos, Something I Heard, Something I Saw, Something I Thought, Something I Took

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The middle elevator at White Wave

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I worked with Unboundary on the annual report for White Wave in Colorado.   During two days of shooting thousands of pictures, I took about 5 frames of my son Asher drinking their chocolate milk.  This shot of Asher grabbed a full page in the report – and the center elevator at headquarters.

04.15.13 Posted in Everything Is Connected, Photos, Something I Took

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My first show in Boulder

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When I first arrived in Boulder last summer, I was determined to find the community that had eluded me in my adult life. I met with anyone who would see me, then asked to meet their friends. Christian Macy gave me a big hug. Scrib gave me a seat at the table. Erica O’ Grady gave me an even bigger hug (sorry Christian). Caffeinated Mornings invited me to share my work. Boulder Digital Works made me an artist in residence. Sina Simantob took me into the inner sanctum of the City Club and showed me a gallery I could inhabit. Eight months later, here we are.

I have taken pictures almost every day since the age of 7. Photography has taken me all over the world, and opened many doors. It has supported me, frustrated me, astonished me, all the while becoming a part of how I interact with everything.

My photographs are stories before they are photographs. They are exchanges with the subjects, exchanges about the feelings within us and between us. A zillion photographs are taken everyday, yet we are all still trying to capture what we are feeling. I have the same itch to get at that feeling that I had as a child.

This work was all born from the same heart in very different circumstances.

There is Sophia Loren who did her own hair and makeup and strapped on a leaf blower in Beverly Hills.

There is Ewan MacGregor on the set of Big Fish posing for an article on smoking for Maxim magazine.

There is the only posed picture of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates together. They were whispering the most competitive craziness to each other while smiling at me. The photo was featured on the cover of Fortune magazine and has since become an iconic moment.

There is Diane Sawyer who was not that comfortable taking pictures until I played a bootleg recording of Bruce Springsteen singing, “I would drive all night just to buy you some shoes” from a show we had seen the night before at Madison Square Garden.

There is my son Jackson indulging his father while a shark slithered by, and my son Asher owning the porch in Maplewood for that precious moment before it passed hands.

There is our cover boy, Claudio Carneiro, a performance artist via Cirque de Soleil now star of Brazilian SNL.

Then there is Glenn Beck shooting himself in the foot. Somehow I find myself Glenn Beck’s “communist” friend. It is a relationship based on the trust and friendship of two people who could not be further apart politically. Glenn had just called Obama a racist on the air, and I phoned him up and told him that what he said was insane, and he had just shot himself in the foot. Weeks later I took Glenn out in the desert and created that moment.

My photographs are based upon finding the place we are all connected. The camera is my rabbit in the hat. Even more now than ever. Ideas I never would have found without my camera. Here on the wall to share with you.

04.11.13 Posted in Personal Work, Photos, Something I Took

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Why I Love Atlanta

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Over three years ago, I did a grueling three day shoot in Atlanta.   I set up a couple of appointments for the day after the shoot – but was wasted.   So I met my friend Matt Rollins at his favorite lunch spot, Star Provisions, for an early lunch and decided just to roam around and cancel meeting anyone afterwards.

I walked by a men’s shop in the same complex as Star, pressed my face against the front window, and saw a bunch of very well turned out salesmen throwing a football around the shop.  I had to walk in.  There was good vinyl playing.  A beautiful mix of well curated menswear – and a fine collection of shirts and suits they had designed for the shop.  The shirts were extra special – beautifully cut, great buttons, great fabrics.  I met the owner, Sid Mashburn who asked what I was doing in town (I think he knows everyone in Atlanta!).   I told him what I had shot, explained I was just wanting to wander – and had cancelled a meeting with the designer,  Stefan Kjartansson at Armchair Media. Sid did not approve.   He insisted, “Creatives do not skip meeting other creatives!”.   He explained, “I am friends with Stefan – you have to meet him.  I will drive you over to Armchair.”    So Sid drove me over, brought me in, introduced me, and I had my meeting. Everyone there was great. Loved sharing each other’s work.  Sid took off.  I flew home.

Last week, I was back in  Atlanta again for a big shoot I will show here in the next week or two (or for a sneak peek, come to my talk next week in Boulder at Caffeinated Mornings.)   Tuesday, the morning after my shoot, I was having coffee at Octane with Mason Poe.  Mason and I worked on a big healthcare shoot for Microsoft awhile back and have remained friends.  During our coffee (and the most insane doughnuts from Sublime Bakery that Mason insisted I try – under little protest), my other morning meetings got postponed.  I randomly asked Mason if he knew Stefan at Armchair.  Mason explained that Stephan was a good friend of his, and that Armchair was only a couple of blocks away.  I said I should call first.  Mason said, “Don’t call.  They will not have time for you. Just go.  I will show you the way.”  So I followed Mason and he dropped me in Armchair’s parking lot.

Are you still with me?   This was the hardest part.   Walking into a design firm UNANNOUNCED!  Just opening that door and walking in.  That was the key to all the good things that unfolded.  First thing I hear is Thelonius Monk playing – which instantly made me very happy I was there.   It was playing from the speakers on Stefan’s desk.  I said hello.  Probably stuttered a bit – but  was greeted with such a warm welcome, I was instantly so happy I had come by.   We caught up a bit, I went out to the car and brought in some new work to show.   I built an app from scratch to showcase the work live.  The app works like an origami unfolding – which was the perfect metaphor for the day.  After showing a bunch of videos to Stefan, Kenny Ferguson and some others, we were all craving Jeni’s Cherry Lambic.   I then mentioned another new design firm, Son and Son’s, to Stefan.  I had been there a month before to see my friend Rick Anwyl, but everyone else was gone.   Stefan said his fiancee worked there and we should drive over.   So I piled into Stefan’s sweet little mini – and we were off to Son & Son’s.

Son and Son’s was started by Wade Thompson, whom I have also worked with.  It is housed in a store front on Peachtree.   Again I walk in unannounced, but this time with Stefan.  That first 60 seconds at Son and Son’s is everything I love about Atlanta…and indeed my work life as a whole.   First you just feel this hotbed of creative juices bubbling under the sun pouring in.  All the walls peppered with ideas.   Leather handballs flying.  Products waiting to be led further down the road by, “visionary leaders and unreasonable people who are hell-bent on leading change.” Then, with the first moment of recognition – all hugs and great cheer.   Rick is there and you definitely want to poke around wherever Rick is digging in – from re-branding small towns in Alabama to hunting birds in my backyard. Wade is sporting his white streak and leading the charge – blowing out his dream of design.    The fashion designer Megan Huntz is deep into working on something I try not to disturb.  And again, totally spontaneously, I break out the new work and we all laugh and dream of Jeni’s ice cream sandwiches together.

Then it is off with Stefan to Sid Mashburn’s shop.  All the men are wearing beautiful leather shoes with no socks.   Matt Lambert is sporting what I would call “casual perfection.”   You cannot put your finger on it, you are not even sure if you can pull it off.  There is very low sales pressure at Sid’s because you want to own everything.   I try on the blue suede desert boots.  Ask about socks with those.   They want me to check out their new audio room with the peacock.

Stefan suggests his favorite canteen, Star Provisions.   We walk over through Ann Mashburn’s bright white shop, and Stefan orders the Prosciutto, Sweet Butter & Parmesan on Baguette.  I go for the shrimp sandwich.  We are right at that place where all the dreams of what our work can be is meeting our creative souls.   It is pouring out.  Sid was right three years ago.  You never skip an opportunity to meet another creative.

Then out of nowhere, Sid Mashburn appears and sits down with us.  It has all come full circle.  This day.  In Atlanta.  We talk like we have known each other forever.   We are all inspired in careers that feel like they are converging right in the middle of the picnic table we are sitting at.  All pushing as hard as we can effortlessly.   All talking in a language of discovery we all speak.

Soundtrack for this post:

Madcon – Beggin

and Thelonious Monk at Newport 1959

Video from Atlanta features Dan Cavey and Karen Smith

11.27.12 Posted in Something I Heard, Something I Saw, Something I Took

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