Letting go…

IMG_7481-2

This image represents a milestone for me and my photography. Not because it is life-altering. Not because it is innovative. Not because it is exotic. Not because it is cutting edge. Not because it was shot with the latest and greatest equipment that cost more than my house (it was shot on my iPhone). Obviously, it is exceedingly NOT any of the above. This image changed the way I view the world and my photography for one simple reason: IT IS REAL. It is a real moment that translates to real emotion. It is a real spring evening with gorgeous, natural light. It is a real moment of friendly competition and wanderlust between my sons Ashton and Blake. And it is really great as an artist to be able to accept something that simply speaks to my heart and soul, regardless of its marketability or what it immediately says about my brand. Yes, I’ve certainly captured REAL before, but I think the real that you’ve seen has always gone through some sort of “ABP Quality Control”, making sure that the viewing public would approve in relation to what falls in line with what they’ve come to expect from a “professional”.

Just now, nearly six years into my career as a full time professional, I am finally, finally learning how to let go. I am finally embracing imperfection. I am finally not concerned about the box I’ve put myself in as a photographer. Don’t get me wrong–I like the box. I’m proud of the box. I worked hard as hell to build that box. That box is my brand, and I will always occupy that space, but finally I am not afraid to get outside of that comfortable, perfectly-within-my-control space.

I am ok if an image is not tack sharp. I’m ok if an image doesn’t cause one’s jaw to drop out of wonder and amazement. I’m ok if I’ve got blown highlights. I’m ok if it doesn’t adhere perfectly to all of the photographic rules by which I’ve abided for so long. And I can tell you that it feels fantastic. Not that I was ever burdened by my brand, but there’s a huge part of me now that feels lighter and more expressive.

For the first time ever I’ve put up a personal gallery on my website. Some of this imagery looks like me. Some of it is pretty and falls precisely in line with what you know me to be as a photographer. Some of it is slightly commercially cliche. Some of it feels like it would be more at home in a family photo album. Some of it looks completely random. Some of it has nothing do to with anything, and I’m totally ok with it. All of it, however,  holds weight with me in some way, shape or form, and finally, I’m not afraid to represent it simply due to that weight alone.

As many of you no doubt do, I have terrabytes of images that have yet to see the light of day simply because they have not fallen within that mold of the brand that I have created. There’s probably some of you reading this post right now with a fair amount of apathy. And really–that’s ok. I don’t expect you to feel the weight of this moment, because it likely seems somewhat insignificant and trivial if you’ve never been here. And I can understand how, from the outside, it’s just another blog post from another photographer that thinks the creative world revolves around him. But really, that’s not it at all. This is as much a journal entry as a blog post, and if you’re here, I appreciate you sharing in this moment!

Don’t worry. I’m still here. I still love sunrise and sunset and storm light and three-dimensional compositions and bold color and the rule of thirds and…you get the point. I’m not entering some strange mid-life hipster stage (though you’d better believe I’d grow me a waxable mustache if I could), nor am I abandoning all of that upon which I’ve built my brand to this point. But finally, I’m not afraid to appear less than perfect. And no, I’m not that delusional–I know what I’ve put out there to this point has been far from perfect, but that was aways my goal. No longer am I concerned with that–I simply want to be more than trying to be perfect. And I’ve finally figured out how…

 

 

Santa Monica (and time to reflect)…

Santa Monica Pier and Ferris Wheel with Seagulls.

Santa Monica Pier and Ferris Wheel with Seagulls.

It’s a quiet Sunday here in the 801, which gives me a moment for pause and reflection upon some of the past 45 days or so of shooting. It’s been a busy and productive couple of months–weeks that I will be able to look back on in 30 years with fondness…

This is a subtle, sleeper image that just happens to be one of my favorites from the past couple of weeks of work. It was the very first evening of a week-long shoot for Manfrotto, and I was simply hoping for a moment of serendipity.

At the time, I didn’t know I had captured it at all, let alone been fortunate to have clicked the shutter at the moment when a couple of seagulls were placed just perfectly in my frame…one near, one far…just out of alignment, but close enough to feel connected. Sure, I could recreate a moment like this in post, but to know that it occurred in reality is so much more gratifying…

This image evokes emotion, and for me, that is what makes it a keeper. It’s a moment that we have all lived, or would all like to experience at some point in our lives. It’s that care-free feeling that accompanies a salty breeze at the ocean’s doorstep. It’s the nostalgia that takes us back to a simpler time, when ferris wheels were far more important than interest rates and elections.

This image is about a state of being, as much as it is about the good state of California. It is about leaving the present for a moment, and traveling backwards or forwards…into lightness and frivolity.

Strive to capture images that evoke emotion. They are the reason so many of us turn to imagery for release.