My Boston Terrier (Pancake) loves the camera, and my friends love him, and we all love taking trips together. And I love Polaroid film, and my Fuji Fotorama camera, and perfect natural lighting. Going on vacation is always a great excuse for me to work on a creative side-project. Here's a series I did last year that combines all these things:
This series of Polaroid dog portraits was shot on the Fuji Fotorama with expired Polaroid 669 instant pack film.
Crunch-time is hitting the studio, and in order to clear my head a bit before diving in to a challenging and rewarding day of production I thought I'd spend a minute with a few favorite Polaroid images from this Summer.
I came across these portraits of my father tending to his bees while putting together a guest post for one of my favorite blogs-Dog Art Today. This guest blog post is all about my secret affair with my iPhone's "poladroid" app. I love it, I hate it, I feel conflicted about it. But then I stumble across my one true love- a dusty Polaroid Land Camera- and all is right again. Nothing comes close to the magic, the depth, and wordless honesty that the analog instant system can create.
When you photograph the things you love, with the tools you love, the only outcome will be something beautiful. So, here are a few portraits of my father, proudly tending to his bees. I was supposed to be helping, but instead I just tucked my pants into my socks, put my hood over my head, and tried to focus the darn camera through a huge mesh cape/hat thing. It was perfect.
So, I got stuck in Irene.
The devastation and long-term effects of Hurricane Irene on various parts of New England are truly heartbreaking. People lost their homes, roads are completely out, historical buildings have been washed away, and entire farms are under water. It's terrible, and I hope the recovery initiative moves quickly and gets my fellow hearty New Englanders back on their feet soon.
I was lucky. The hurricane totally messed up all my New York plans, but we didn't see any damage thankfully. So instead of teaching my "Instant Dog Portrait Class" with The Impossible Project over the weekend (the entire city shut down for two whole days), I made a rain-date for free Polaroid dog portraits at a fun NY park after the storm. It was an incredibly perfect day, and we were swamped with people for about 6hrs straight. I was juggling 2 cameras, running with the good spots of gorgeous open shade, making use of a quick 30 second window to bond with each dog and dog owner, and blowing through film (both medium format b/w and some incredibly rare Polaroid instant film). Every single person that stopped by walked away with a signed original Polaroid portrait of their dog. It's hard to impress a New Yorker, but we had no problem making people smile and feel special when we handed over a warm-toned Polaroid of their beloved beasts. It was such a fun, long shoot.
My good friends Anne and Dave (the head honchos of The Impossible Project in New York) travelled all the way down from SOHO, showed up like little photo genies, and handed me 3 packs of my favorite Polaroid film. Then they both stuck around, helped load film, peel polaroids, talk to dog owners, make sure I was developing correctly, and nerd out with me about my process. Oh, and take some awesome photos of the original Polaroids I was pulling, as well as some behind-the-scenes stuff.
What an incredible day! My week in New York was a pleasant reminder that I can work hard, push through any challenge, and still remain inspired and excited to do my photographic work. Getting to work side-by-side with my favorite studio partner (The Impossible Project), while doing what I do best (feeling cretively inspired by animal companions) was the perfect way to end a productive and fun month on the East Coast. I'll be back again in the Fall for more clients, events, and Polaroid shoots.
A new favorite image from my ongoing Instant Dog Portrait series with The Impossible Project's PZ600 instant film.
I'll be teaching a CLASS with The Impossible Project on Aug 28, 2011 at their famed New York gallery space. If you've got a soul at all- you'll be moved by The Impossible Project's creative drive, fearless exploration of instant photographic processes, and gorgeous new generation instant films (that all work with your old Polaroid cameras). It's exciting to see instant film come back to life, and I'm excited to talk to my New York students about these new films, how to get perfect exposures, and how to work with a live dog model.
Sometimes I think I can't cram anything else into my schedule- between a full calendar of Fine Art Dog photography clients, teaching more photography seminars than I've ever taught before, and travelling back and forth between SF/LA/NY, my Summer is pretty busy. But I love being busy. I thrive off of it. I think it has something to do with my genes, coming from a family of very hard working people who have made careers for themselves through a whole lot of dedication and long hours. Ok, so none of them are kooky artists who wear jeans to work and have tattoos and play with dogs all day. But still.
As exciting as it is to be busy and have new clients coming through the studio door, I still need to find time to be creative and inspired. This weekend's work trip to LA was a great opportunity to get a little personal creative time in. I love driving. I love long road trips through the middle of nowhere. A 10-day road trip is what brought me to California, and along the way I probably shot through 25 packs of instant film because I was so inspired by everything I saw through the windshield. Driving to LA for work is just as inspiring, heading down the 5 for half a day. This time I brought along one of my favorite Land Cameras (the Super Shooter), and some old expired Polaroid 690 film. Nothing in this world brings me a greater sense of immense joy than holding a Polaroid camera up to my face and creating instant images. When the inspiration in your head becomes a tangible photograph- that is pure magic. And that inspiration keeps me fueled through all the work I do with my clients.
Here's what I created this weekend somewhere between SF and LA, on I5:
I always feel blessed that I can continue being true to my roots as an artist, and maintain momentum as a business. I've never sacrificed my style or loyalty to analog photography, and now more than ever I am seeing this dedication being returned to me. And it's pretty exciting.
I've got a lot of instant projects on the horizon: The Impossible Dog Portrait seminar with The Impossible Project in New York on May 25th, my Instant Doggie Photobooth which I'll be travelling with this summer on Cape Cod/New York/etc, and my continuing Instant Dog Portrait series with the incredible PZ600 instant film from the Impossible Project. In order to center myself a bit and prepare for all these huge upcoming instant projects, I decided to spend an afternoon in the studio with 2 of my favorite subjects and a few favorite instant cameras. For this special afternoon I decided to pull one of my last rare packs of original stock Polaroid film from my vegetbale drawer (I have 2, so don't worry. I eat my veggies). This pack (Polaroid Chocolate film) was given to me by The Impossible Project over a year ago, when we first started getting to know each other. I had mentioned my instense love for Polaroid, my love for dogs, and my curiosity of Lady Gaga becoming the Creative Director fo the newly revamped Polaroid corporation. As a creative challenge, a very nice lady at The Impossible Project NY headquarters sent me 2 rare packs of Polaroid film- for me to create some wacky Lady Gaga dog portraits. What a silly idea. A few weeks later Doggie Gaga had taken over the world. But I never ended up using the film The Impossible Project sent me - they had sent me a sepia and chocolate toned film- which I had never used before (I decided last minute to go with the dreamy T669, which I knew like the back of my hand). I stored those 2 packs in my fridge for the past year, and pulled them out last night. And was TOTALLY blown away.
I feel so luck to be able to continue my work, and take my intense love for instant photography into this world of modern photography. If you want to learn more about upcoming classes, just click the "CLASSES/TRAVEL" button under "CONTACT"
I can't believe a year has already gone by. Can you?
Exactly one year ago today I was in the studio with a group of my close friends, sewing and taping and glueing and getting drooled on by some of my favorite dogs in the city. Pulling Polaroids and flashing strobes and laughing and pushing myself to be truly creative. What had begun as sort of a 'creative dare' had become a fully deveopled, living and breathing project. I love a good challenge, and I also love finding excuses to bring together ecclectic sources of inspiration. The Doggie Gaga Project was really just a reason to surround myself with talented, creative, and smart people who inspire me- and create something cooperatively. And that is exactly what we did.
The success of The Doggie Gaga Project can be attributed to many things. People like to talk about the great timing we had, the unique ideas, the artistry, etc. I like to attribute it to these things:
Anne and Dave at The Impossible Project, Craig, Meg, Zona, Summer, Kyl, Tina, Connor, Val, Rebecca + Rebecca, Alex, Nicole, Diana, Carolyn, Ana, Terra, Bert, Kelly, Booker, Gunther, Pancake, X-dog, Kiku, Bob, Jackson, and Jennings.
To celebrate the official One Year Anniversary of The Doggie Gaga Project, I've put together a video of never-before-seen footage of our first shoot, as well as a bunch of my favorite clippings and images. I hope you all enjoy looking at these as much as I do. It's a great marker for my career as a photographer, but more importantly has been an incredible lesson in staying true to your creative vision, pushing the limits, and allowing yourself to be an artist.
And a few of my favorite 'behind the scenes' shots, by two of my favorite San Francisco portrait and lifestyle photographers: Meg Messina and Christine Zona:
To celebrate a very exciting, exhausting, and succesful first 1/6th of 2011, I decided to take Monday off, throw the dog in the car, throw a million cameras in the daypack, 3 types of film, snacks for me, snacks for dog, water for me, water for dog, doggie bowl, 27 layers for me, 1 layer for dog- and head to my favorite secret hide-out spot in the Bay Area. A chilly, brisk hike up a small mountain always helps clear my head. I love hiking where Pancake can be off-leash. The feeling of him following me, never worrying we'll be out of synch, makes me feel so connected to him. It's a wonderful feeling.
I pulled out two of my favorite Polaroid cameras that have been collecting dust (a 600 model, and one of my many Spectras) and tried out the last of my very very very very expired Polaroid film. Unfortunately, it was all so old and dried that nothing really came out. So I resorted to Ye Olde iPhone 4 - which I love to hate- bc it's poladroid app (fake polaroids, for all you non-nerds out there) is actually pretty awesome.
There's always some amazing graffitti up here. It's like someone knew we were coming.
Perspective can be so exhilerating and beautiful.
This light got me so jazzed!! The iPhone doesn't really do it justice, but I was buzzing with photo-nerd excitement, juggling all 3 cameras to capture this dreamy winter shade.
My very very secret stash of original Polaroid T-669 film is quickly dissapearing. My cameras keep eating it. In order to make it last longer, I've hidden expired packs of this revered film in easily-forgotten places: the back of my vegetable drawer, under files in my file cabinet, inside boxes in my trunk, sealed in bags in my equipment closet...... but still it dissapears.
This weekend I'll be printing reproductions of some of my all-time favorite T-669 prints, done in the studio with my trusty Horseman field camera and instant Polaroid back (the same set-up I used for The Doggie Gaga Project). 669 film is a living, breathing organism- making each pack completely unique. Especially if it is expired. The colors swing, the chemistry swirls, the edges bubble. It's a mystery each time, and a very special joy. After years of using this film, and thousands of images shot, I still get giddy when I peel back the chemistry to reveal the instant print.
Here is the series I will be working on this weekend (both will be enlarged to 11x14inches, printed on fiber-based digital museo paper, and done in a limited series of 2):
I recently returned from a whirl-wind tour of the East Coast (my stomping grounds). I spent a week in New York City, schmoozing various galleries and animal rescue groups. Had a great meeting with my good friends at The Impossible Project. Bought my first fully custom suit (a modern black cut with red pinstripe lining!!) from Alabaster and Chess. Then I zipped over to Boston for a meeting with one of my favorite Boston galleries, Gallery Kayafas. Schmoozed some of the best dog stores in GBA (that's Greater Boston Area, to you left-coasters), and finally landed on Cape Cod for a few days of R&R.
Cape Cod in the winter is a magical place. It is very cold. And very desolate. And very, very beautiful. There is no other place in the world more inspiring to me than Cape Cod. Maybe it is because I grew up spending time out there, worked summers in a hot Cape Cod restaurant for many years, rode my skateboard through Provincetown during the summers. It makes me want to wake up early every day and put a camera up to my face until the sun disappears. It's also where I bought my very first Polaroid Land Camera (of which I now own..... 25?), and thus began a serious obsession with photography. It brings me back to that innocent need to create analog images that still drives my work today.
I don't show my personal work much these days, since I am kept very busy with my Fine Art dog portraiture. But it's certainly a special treat to get to share another unique side of my photography. Here are a few favorite Polaroids from my trip: