Just a Little Fun

Here’s a brief interlude to your day.

In my last post, I showed you a few of my shots from Chicago.  Well, while I was there, I sank my teeth into a project I’m working on.  See, a photographer by the name of Chris Clor has been a substantial inspiration for the past number of year, his creative ideas for imagery aside, a driving factor in his work revolves around stitching together pieces of a picture to create something that simply couldn’t exist in real life.  Now, I don’t have an intention of trying to replicate his work (I have my own style).  One process he uses, however, is simply a good idea regardless of who you are.  Whether he is working on a specific image or just out shooting, Chris continually ads to his collection of pictures that could be, at some later date, used in a larger project.

As it was described to me back in the day by one of my first photo teachers, I tend to have a “cinematic style.”  That being said, I began looking for settings that had a kind of movie-like-still look to them.  Almost as if you could see the main character holding a conversation or looking for clues to a mystery in such a dark ally.

So, while I was in Chicago, I scoped out some fairly movie-esque scenes that could fit a subject shot at a later date.

– Jon

Here’s the first shot from the Chicago backgrounds:

And here are the pieces:

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Windy Travels Part 1.

As some of you may or may not know, I was busy being a tourist in Chicago until this past weekend (hence the lack of posts over the past couple weeks).
I, of course, took a picture or 2.  There’s been a bit of back and forth in my head about how to display them, especially since most of the shots fall more into my fine-art style rather than commercial.

But enough of the speculation.  Let’s break down the trip a bit.  You may say to yourself “Self, why won’t he just skip to the goods?”  Well, to that I say:  shock and awe.  No, not the tactical military scenario, but my reaction to a handful of things in Chicago that you, who may travel there, should certainly know about.

If you are avid travelers or simply have been to Chicago recently (I don’t get west  very much) you probably already know.  Back in 2008 or 9 or something, The city of Chicago sold rights to all the parking in the city to Standard Parking (effectively creating a monopoly).  While the city got a little over a billion smackers out of the deal, they now have to deal with astronomically high parking rates – to the tune of $20 or more for even 15 minutes of parking.  Oh, and did I mention that the contract is valid for 75 years?

Of course, as it happens, now that I’m back in Michigan, I came across a news article from yesterday, mentioning that the city will be auditing Standard parking to ensure responsible use of city funds.  In the meantime, there are a few little tricks to get around this catastrophe.  A number of people have suggested parking outside the city and taking in the bus.  I like this idea, but if you are on a schedule and have to park downtown, I happened upon 2 options that seemed reasonable:

1. Parking in Chinatown is a decent way to go.  The main lot is less than half the cost of parking downtown and it sits immediately under the “L.”

2. The Adler Planetarium is nestled in the museum campus right on the edge of the city and the road to the front door is lined with parking meters that cost a quarter of the price of parking in any structure.  The downside is that there is a VERY limited number of spaces.

I’ve still got a whole ton of other neat tips and tricks for you (Next post: the best hotel to stay at if you’re a visual artist).

For now, enjoy a selection of city shots from Cloud Gate to Chinatown and plenty in-between.

– Jon

The Way of the World

Much like birds and whatnot on National Geographic, people do things to attract attention or show off.  For the most part these things can be summed up in a word:

“Style”

Sometimes it’s clothing style, cosmetic style, artistic style, or personality style.  Many times, these days, it’s hairstyle.

Recently I did a photoshoot for a long time friend of mine, who happens to be a top-notch stylist.  By “top-notch,” I mean Redken Certified.    If you know what that means, you know how prestigious it is.

Anywho – she has had her styling fingers in many heads of hair and, as such, has developed her own unique style of cutting, feathering, trimming, coloring and other verbs that I don’t actually know.  The point is that she’s good and has something to show off.

 

That’s where the actual photography comes in.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Check it out.

However, the whole point about trends in style all filter down to the point of the whole post.
The Pack

Much like with wolves, if you don’t keep up, you fall behind to get eaten by crows and such…  OK, maybe not to that extent, but still – there are ramifications.  Really what I’m trying to say is “beauty is determined by the determiner.”  I know that sounds convoluted, but its just the case.  This model is beautiful.  She’s beautiful with the retouching and she’s beautiful without the retouching.  In fact, she’s flat-out hilarious (one of the most fun people I’ve worked with in quite some time.)    Just to drill home my point – she busted out the robot in the parking lot for the sake of a funny portrait.  Awesome.

However, people that look to style mags demand a more “commercial” level of beauty, and so the process of retouching begins.
Now, I know what you’re saying (or at least should be):  “Jon!  Didn’t you write a post a few months back about not doing this exact thing if at all possible?”

Well, yes.  Yes I did.  But in the same breath as condemnation, I will always stand straight up and say I will break my own rules to help my friends succeed.  Also, I like paying my bills… well not… I… YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!
So yes.  I am conflicted and my brain doesn’t quite know which side of the fence to come down on… So I sure wouldn’t mind some opinions.  There’s a comment box down there somewhere…
But, because I know you’re looking for it, here’s the before and after:

– Jon

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Danger Time.

Back in the day, when I first began my educational journey into photography, I met two people about a week apart.  Ashley Lawler and I became “significant others” and have remained that way for the better part of half a decade.  Carl Amyoni and I have remained very close friends and instigators of each others’ bad habits for a similar time frame.

Now – this is all nice and nostalgic, but personal relationships aside, we also make up a trio of photographic entertainment.

In the early stages of our acquaintance, we decided to start a series we initially called the “Canadian Olympics.”  It would consist of ham-hocked trials, regular risk of personal injury, and a lot of plaid.  In the end it will probably be a series of images of people doing incredibly stupid things.

As is the case with too may things these days, the concept fell through and all we were left with was a series of “promo shots” and one very elaborate and flame-filled take on the luge.

Recently, I have been wrapping up a series of time-sucking endeavors and can see a gleaming orb of free time rising on the eastern horizon.

Furthermore – I feel that if I stick this in the world-wide-web, it will prompt people to bother me about new pictures.

YES YOU!  I AM RELYING ON YOU TO PESTER ME FOR WORK.

In the meantime – enjoy this blast from the past with a special guest appearance by my cousin, Mike Strong.

– Jon

Cosmetics Shmosmetics

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a project in the works that may or may not have involved assorted non-makeup like materials in place of actual cosmetics.

Well here’s the project.  But first – let me dig through a few minutes of back-story.

I was given an assignment to “create a project.”  … … OK – for all of you non-art people out there, let me lay this out.  When someone essentially says “Do something,” it’s a problem.   See, no many project ideas you have tucked away for a rainy day, that level of challenge instantly negates any of your previous concepts.  What they’re really saying is, “So, you think you’re creative, huh?  Think you got a head on them shoulders?  Fine.  Bring it.  Show me what you got.  It better be MIND-BLOWING.”

This invariably leads to panic attacks and a violent barrage of second guessing yourself.

But that is all leading up to the real point…. This dude –>   Caleb Charland.  He takes (what I like to refer to as) “pictures of science.”  Whether it’s actually science or just looks “sciencey”is irrelevant.  The point is that he inspired me to make things.  Things like catapults and dead-falls.

Then I thought, “What could I use such harmful devices for that would be photographically interesting?”  AH HA!   —-   Splattering my friends and acquaintances with assorted food and art mediums.

So it began.

But after a few days of though i realized that things I could fling really only came in lumpy, liquidy, flakey, or powdery consistencies and that I would quickly run out of delivery methods.  So, I racked my brain further.

That’s when I went to Rite Aid to get something (probably razors or soap or something).  BUT!  While I was there, I couldn’t help but notice the 5-foot tall posters of seductive looking ladies flashing their mascara-ridden lashes at me.

Then it just clicked in my head like a bad-idea shotgun chambering a round of inappropriate.

People flip through “Cosmo” and see models making ridiculous faces then say to themselves “if I use that makeup, I could look equally as stupid.”  OK, they probably don’t say that, but it’s sort of the unconscious process that goes on.

I got to thinking, what would happen if I got people to slather their visages with Alphabet Soup, corn starch, or pizza toppings?  Would marinara be the new black in next summer’s line up?

No.  Probably not…   But I still got people to do it.

That’s gotta count for something.

Here you go.

– J

on

Ride ‘Em

It’s Labor Day weekend.  I ate a burger that was larger than what should have been able to fit in my stomach.  I drank beer…

And I went to a rodeo.

I feel excessively American right now.

All and all it was certainly a unique experience.  The rodeo circuit is a culture I was, up until now, completely unfamiliar with.  There we speed races, bronco ridin’, calf wranglin’, and bucking bull riding’.  The craft services pretty much paired with a local festival or fair.

The lead rodeo clown was a bit of a pleasant surprise – he actually had a comedy routine.  Furthermore, he was pretty funny.

This really all pales in comparison to the action.  I was expecting some flailing and danger and whatnot, but…   OK – here’s the lineup:

  • Steer wrestling:  These guys ride on their horse along side a steer, fly off the back of the horse, land on the steer, tackle it to the ground, tie it up…
  • Steer wranglin’:  One step better – the old rope and horn routine where they ride behind the steer and try to lasso it.  The dude got the steer, jumped off his horse, and body slammed a cow.  I know – that snuck up on you fast.  Let me recap so you can absorb it – HE BODY-SLAMMED A COW.
  • Bull riding:  Well you know what that is, but did you know you’re allowed to stand RIGHT next to the fence?  I had my camera INSIDE THE RING.  That didn’t count for much though because the second they opened the paddock, the rider got thrown and slammed between a 6 foot steel fence and half a ton of rampaging bull.

It was awesome.  I want to go again.  Here are some pictures.

– Jon

The Faces of Few Shades

I’ve got an idea for a project I’m going to be starting in a week or so.

So much of my time is taken up with design or marketing or contracted work that it’s hard for me to get around to personal projects.  Also, as hardly a single recent job has involved portraits, I’ve got the itch to shoot some people (No-not like that.  What’s wrong with you?)

The new idea that I’ve got kickin’ around involves faces, a considerable amount of mess, and exquisite lighting.  If you haven’t already heard the deatils, then you’ll just have to wait and see the results (come on – I’ve gotta keep a few secrets.)

But to wet your whistle, I went back through my image library and picked out a selection from some of my favorite shoots.  But to mix things up, I ran a bit of black & white reprocessing.

Whataya think?
– Jon

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Get the Delorean Ready

I try to be introspective on a regular basis. While I spend a respectable amount of time reviewing failures and successes I’ve had, it feels like I still critique outside situations more than I critique myself.

A few minutes ago Adam’s Facebook told me I need to go read his new post.  You should really read it, too.  Cash Cat is the bomb.

On a related note I have (sort of) a photographic memory – which would make sense.  When I tend to look back on prior experiences (even when something just happens that makes me think of previous endeavors) I have hardly an issue with bringing up a memory that directly pertains to my current situation.  Well, that’s not really true either.

More than consciously sorting through a lifetime of experiences, my brain takes the wheel and makes the decision about what’s important.  I guess it’s relate-able to a Google search.  When someone says “spill” my brain does a little sorting and settles on the time I left a clear glass of clear gelatin in the fridge.  Then it broke.

Side note: when cool liquid gelatin and shattered clear glass come in contact with the shelves of a fridge – that’s well below the solidification temperature of gelatin – it’s a bad thing.

But anyway… It’s sort of like my cerebellum processes a query, brings up the first page of results, and auto-picks what it feels is the most relevant.  My mouth sort of blurts out whatever it’s told.

So HERE’S where the photo stuff comes into play.

I would like to know what else I know, but don’t know I know it because my brain tells me I know other things.  Make sense?   Essentially, I want to think about a certain topic and (instead of settling on the first search result) dig a little deeper to see what else I can dredge up.

As a result, I’ll craft a picture or pictureS around whatever prior experience or previously learned knowledge I come up with.

Sound good?  Well, I need some help.  See – I can’t just think up a phrase or situation out of thin air.  My current situation (a laptop, white wall, air conditioner and a foot that fell asleep) are filling my dome with stimulus that will invariably lead to a certain thought.

So I need you to bring up topics or ideas.  They don’t even have to make sense.  Licorice puppies wearing glasses on Everest would be just fine, but now that I thought about it, the thought process won’t be unique.  You understand.

Fill my brain, people!

– Jon

That’s some tasty layout

I’ve been doing some photo, branding, design, organization – basically I’ve been acting as a marketing/ad agent for a local company.  These guys —–> Wonderland Lanes.

It’s a bowling center in Commerce, Michigan that’s about to relaunch their grille as a no-holds-barred rockin’ restaurant.

Maybe a couple months back, I dropped a sneek preview at some of the food photos.  Now, we’re in the midst of full-on advertisements.

Don’t drool on your keyboard – it’s bad for it.

– Jon