“The moment that you feel that just possibly, you are walking down the street naked exposing too much of your heart and your mind … that’s the moment you maybe starting to get it right.” ”Sometimes life is hard… and when things get tough this is what you should do… Make Good Art”
- Neil Gaiman, University of the Arts 2012 Commencement Address
I may not make good art now, but I am definitely walking in the middle of the street exposed. Many of my friends and colleagues have watched me recently and been unable to recognize me. I have wondered too. I have heard the whispers behind my back… even when I am alone. What has happened to Bryan? Granted, he is usually a little socially awkward, but has he lost it? Well, yes. I had.
And I did not know how TO FIND IT. On Sunday while wandering through a bookstore, I found Neil Gaiman’s book about Making Good Art.… Read the rest
A year after I interviewed writers for my March 2010 Open Heart Insert Foot series, I began a similar project with photographers. The 2011 series had the “inspiring” (and misleading) title, March Portfolio and Social Media Project. While the interviews began in March 2011, they continued into mid-May 2011. By new technology standards, I marched slowly. Photographers had already moved away from print portfolios to online photo galleries. Flash was becoming outdated. SEO mattered. A lot. Everything was moving so fast. Facebook, Google, mobile, Twitter … well, maybe not Twitter (this was way back in March 2011). Oh, and the worst joke for photographers? We had to blog! That’s right. We were expected to write. A LOT!
Despite the crazy pace, I met some of the coolest people in the photography business. For this post, I am highlighting Denise Gamboa, the Director of Marketing at SmugMug, and Kathryn MacDonald the former Marketing & Development Manager at Livebooks.com.… Read the rest
Super Bowl Sunday is the one day that Americans forget we hate television commercials. Companies will pay at least 4 million dollars for each thirty second advertising spot during the game. If I understood marketing, I could explain why companies continue investing more money on Super Bowl ads each year, but I do not even know how to market my own photography business.
I am still looking for the right strategy. Perhaps I have a secret marketing plan that I am hiding from myself.
I often tell people that I am not a real photographer. I am not a fake photographer or a bad photographer, but I am an unusual photographer. When I renewed my passport last week and I listed my profession as “photographer,” I worried that someone at the Department of State would deny my application because they know how I work. For instance, last weekend during my photo shoot at the Collosi home, I played wiffle ball indoors with their son.… Read the rest
The last week, I have reconnected to my UC Santa Barbara past. In addition to visiting with a few former University of California Santa Barbara Gauchos, I attended the Cal-UCSB basketball game on the Berkeley campus. Before the game, the UCSB Alumni Association sponsored a Pre-Game reception. On Saturday, I also photographed the Tanner family. The adults graduated from UCSB and recently moved to Alameda with their two daughters.
Nicole is a managing partner of Viva Strategy, a communications consulting firm for non-profits and philanthropic organizations. I have always appreciated Nicole. She is smart, kind and considerate. In the past, I would have spent more time talking to her…
but now she has two wonderful kids.
I brought my camera and my two kids. Everyone played.
Nicole also has a husband who bakes bread and watches football. After my wife arrived, everyone had something to do. My wife talked to Richard about baking.… Read the rest
Six months ago, Alicia Stephens became a mother. This is her daughter and their first Christmas together.
I met Alicia when both of us worked for the Upward Bound Program at the University of San Francisco. Upward Bound is a government program that supports low income first generation college bound high school students. Recently, new non-profits have started replacing Upward Bound, but few programs, if any, have been more successful.
Alicia graduated from college with a STEM major (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). She advised students in the Upward Bound Math and Science Program. Alicia is still studying science, but I do not understand what she does. I am a technology and liberal arts person, so she may need to explain it.
I have included this slideshow of the day. There is even a photo of our friend Reginald Moore, one of the best college advisers I know. (He is also a competent photo assistant.)
Thank you for letting me into your lives.… Read the rest
A year and one day ago, I photographed Courtney Stout and Nick Maksimowicz in Carmel Valley, California. Their friends organized the wedding, rehearsal and reception. Courtney and Nick have good friends, and by the time I left the Monterey Peninsula, I felt that I had many more good friends too.
I often feel blessed or lucky to be allowed to document important moments. I rarely photograph want to photograph weddings, but weddings are important community events. People have often chased a dream since childhood hoping to find someone who they can trust. Weddings build families; families build communities.
When I edited the pictures, I listened to Kris&Alix, the same musicians who performed at the wedding. “…tired of reaching out, tired of all the doubt… ”
When I reviewed last year’s photos, I rejoiced watching Courtney’s friends help her prepare for the ceremony. I laughed again as eight women celebrated at the photo booth.… Read the rest
When I first met Anne Howard, I lived in Santa Barbara, California and attended Trinity Episcopal Church. She served as the Associate Rector and I sat in the back of the church. I would watch the Trinity families imagining the easy Sunday mornings when I could bring my future family to church. I left Santa Barbara before meeting my wife. I miss Trinity. Sometimes, I miss those easy Sunday mornings when children magically arrived at church and happily greeted their parents.
Last week, my daughter finally met Anne Howard in Berkeley, California outside Pacific School of Religion.
As the Executive Director of The Beatitudes Society, Anne mentores emerging church leaders across the country. This role seems a natural fit. Whenever I am near Anne, I realize that I am in a constant state of emerging. She is one of the few people who can mentor me, just by staring at me a certain way.… Read the rest
Today is the Feast Day of Francis of Assisi.
Saint Francis is associated with nature and animals. Next Sunday, many churches will bless animals during Sunday service. Dogs have become increasingly important for people with epilepsy and other illnesses. I referred to dog therapy in my latest featured blog post for the Epilepsy Foundation of America.
In the blog post, I also included photos from my last visit with my wonderful neurologist.
In other epilepsy therapy news, the Epilepsy Foundation and The Epilepsy Therapy Project announced a merger today.
Delayed by the sun…
The final two bouts of the WFTDA West Region Playoffs were postponed by an hour, because the sunlight interfered with the skaters’ ability to skate. Sporting events have been delayed and canceled for many weather related incidents, but I have never photographed one postponed by sunlight. When it happened Sunday, everyone was happy (and everybody was laughing), except for me. I love natural light and the players at the Craneway Pavillion in Richmond, California appeared regal.
When the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) postponed the final until 7:00, many photographers began using off camera strobes and on camera flashes repeatedly. Since I have photo-sensitivity, I am easily disturbed by strobe lights. The strobes bounced off Craneway’s tall windows, white walls and reflective derby surface adding to the strobe effect. Fortunately, I captured magical light before games.
I have yet to process several hundred game images from the weekend.
Edit Tuesday (I have noticed on my mobile device, my photo slideshow is difficult to access, so here is the link.)
Laura Robertson Gilbert has been my friend since our older children attended the same preschool. Laura is friendly and engaging. I always enjoy talking with her. When Laura asked if I would be available to photograph her for a new project, I was excited. At a minimum, I would be able to spend more time with Laura and learn about her professional background. During my visit, I brought my camera. These photos were taken during the final part of my visit.
Many people are uncomfortable having their photo taken. (I become self-conscious too.) Despite the discomfort, people are more likely to engage in authentic discussions when having their photo taken. Since I enjoy talking, I usually talk to people while I take photos. I find people interesting and hope that my pictures begin to capture Laura’s dynamic and natural personality.
This week I photographed the Mother of an Angel Friendship Network. It was the fourth consecutive summer visiting the support group. I have grown attached to these women. I have collected great memories and gained insight each visit.
Each year is different. This year felt more like a family reunion. We met at Woodward Park and somehow organized the group into photos. Everyone seemed to enjoy the sessions, but this would be oversimplifying the meaning of the support group. More photos to follow….
I want to smile more (maybe even laugh).
Earlier this month, I found the “Before I die” mural in downtown Reno. The Black Rock Arts Foundation installed two interactive murals in downtown Reno and I photographed one with my phone. This phrase was a variation of the question I have been asking myself on the eighth anniversary of my father’s death. “Now what?”
Eight years ago, my father died. He actually died on the 16th, but since I uploaded the photos three days ago, I have still been searching for the answer to the now what question. In the months before he took his life, I smiled often. My daughter was born six months before he died and she was a happy baby. I was a happy parent. After my father died, Death seemed to follow us. Sadness consumed our lives.
I rededicated myself to being the best father possible. I fail often and I try hard.… Read the rest
Four years ago today, I completed my Master’s Degree in Educational Technology. I submitted my research project and final thesis on August 8, 2008 to coincide with the twenty year anniversary of Marshal McLuhan‘s book “Laws of Media: The New Science.” McLuhan was a popular media or technology critic in the 1960′s.
His arguments are still relevant.
“Today the business of business is becoming the constant invention of new business.” Marshall McLuhan
In the last four years, Facebook has gone public. Twitter is no longer a joke. Skype has become a verb… with a smart phone application. Steve Jobs died and the iPad was born. Instagram became a thing. My kids play with technology and adults use FourSquare.
How did this happen? How did it happen so easily?
In the rush to create new business, education is often an afterthought. Google recently released Curriculum: Understanding YouTube and Digital Citizenship.… Read the rest
Napa seems far away from Oakland. Napa Valley is not really part of the Bay Area, but Napa is closer to Oakland than other Bay Area cities. If traffic is light, I can make it to Napa in about an hour. On Friday, I went to Napa to spend the night with my wife. We worked during the day and visited downtown Napa on Friday and Saturday.
I have been experimenting with my new cell phone camera. At the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, I photographed an interesting French antique at Heritage Culinary Artifacts. I returned the next day with my real camera, but the piece was being packed for a new buyer. The blackberry photo was also taken with my Android cell phone.
The Oxbow Public Market hosts a Saturday Farmers’ Market. My wife and I found some of the most colorful food, flowers and farmers. On Friday, we ate an amazing lunch at one of the restaurants.… Read the rest
I attended UCSB and lived in Santa Barbara for twelve years. Two weeks ago, I returned with my daughter to meet many of my good friends. I wanted her to meet the people who shaped me and to learn how to create community. We visited my old school and my old church. My daughter met my old friends. It was one of my all-time favorite weekends.
I planned the trip around Sarah Fenstermaker’s farewell party. Sarah was the Women’s Studies Chair when I became UCSB’s first male Women’s Studies major. She is leaving Santa Barbara for Ann Arbor where she will direct the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender. When Sara and I first discussed my becoming a Women’s Studies major, I do not think we realized what I was giving up. I also did not realize the life-long relationships I would gain and that my own daughter would meet Sarah’s daughter.… Read the rest
About three years ago, I changed my diet. I forgot how much I enjoyed restaurants until my recent visit to Washington, D.C. when I ate at Vapiano three times. The last two times I photographed the chefs.
In 2011, during a family visit to Washington, DC, my wife and two children found Vapiano. My kids still remember it. When I visited this year for a late dinner, the atmosphere was more energetic. Perhaps the “European lifestyle” encourages families and young adults to enjoy the same restaurant. I love the healthy food, happy chefs and open light.
Light is important.
Kenny has been shining shoes in downtown San Francisco for more than thirty years.
Famous Wayne Shoe Shine is “world famous.” Famous Wayne lives across the San Francisco Bay in Oakland, California and commutes into the city. I had my shoes shined during a Society for Photographic Education conference. The SPE national conference was in San Francisco this year, but I did not travel far to attend. I live in Oakland, the same town as Famous Wayne.
Tomorrow I am flying to Seattle, Washington for the Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Assocation national conference. I will present a new workshop about photo stories with Dave LaBelle. I might use slideshow photos I took of Famous Wayne to generate conversation.
How do you read a photo? What photo is the best first image for the story? Where does the story start?
Where does this story end? What images are missing?… Read the rest
Just as I am about to lose faith, I meet someone like Tyrone.
I am in the Washington, D.C. Metro area for the 2012 National Walk for Epilepsy. Yesterday, I flew into Baltimore Washington International Airport. I spent the night in Baltimore and took the MARC train this morning from Baltimore’s Penn Station to Union Station. Since I visited Baltimore last year, Penn Station celebrated its 100 year anniversary.
While I was photographing Jonathan Borofsky’s Male/Female aluminum sculpture in front of the train depot, a homeless man approached me. We both saw an opportunity.
I probably over share. Sometimes this is a character flaw, but other times, I meet people with stories they want to share. Tyronne needed money, but he probably wanted me to take his photo even more. He wasn’t begging for attention, but he appreciated the interaction. He appreciated the food and change too.
This is not the most interesting part of the story, because I meet interesting people every day.… Read the rest
I have two little kids. My kids have friends. Their friends have birthday parties.
For a few years, I attended birthday parties nearly every weekend. I often brought my camera. One of my son’s friends, Vivian, has had three parties at three different East Bay birthday party hot spots.
Each year, she wore the same shirt.
Vivian changed a little each year. Some of the parents changed too. You can see the photos of parents and children here.
On Sunday, I photographed the Leon family. During Alice and Rich Leon’s 35 year marriage, the couple has created a wonderful family. Alice and Rich have two daughters and a few grandchildren. All three generations were at the house for the photo session. Alice wanted to reproduce a family photo taken about twenty years ago in the same room.
When I returned home and viewed the photos, I was amazed that nearly every photo was excellent. I did very little as a photographer. I mostly sat in one place and watched an amazing family.
I was more impressed by the Leon family than my own ability as a photographer. I am a competent photographer. I could become a much better family man.
Alice Ross Leon contacted me, because her family might not have many more family photo shoots. At some level, we all know that our days are limited, but some people know this more than others.… Read the rest
When I was a child, I loved the snow… or at least I loved the idea of snow. Once my ears froze, I wanted to play a different sport. I was afraid. I was afraid of failure and falling. I did not understand ski culture, even though I realized that many of my friends enjoyed skiing. Every four years, I watched the Olympics and imagined that I would “Ski the Peak.”
My children are creating different memories. On Presidents’ Day, our family visited China Peak. (We purchased a special lesson and lift ticket plan, so they children received lessons before snow boarding.) My five year old son was fearless. His older cousins and eight year old sister were successful. I was both proud and envious… but more proud.
Last week, my family visited “Pigasus.” Pigasus is Brenda Morgan’s horse ranch in Auberry, California. In November, I photographed Brenda and the ranch. (The ranch is not named PEGasus.) On Presidents’ Day weekend, we visited again.
Brenda also instructs local 4H students. When I was in high school, I never participated in 4H. Farming was out in the country. (The country was only a few miles away.) Agriculture has changed a great deal since I was a child. It is comforting to know that people still connect with animals.
For those of us who live in the Bay Area, this foothill retreat was both relaxing and affordable. We have priced other horse riding lessons closer to Oakland, and the cost is not the same. Perhaps the service is just as good, but we hope that Brenda starts a summer camp.
Early this morning, my wife and I were reminiscing about our early parenting days. We remembered our first night at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, California. Our tiny daughter screamed for hours. We finally allowed a nurse to take Emily so that we could rest. The next two weeks were just as exhausting… except we did not have a nurse to help us sleep.
I hope my wife and I are able to reminisce about today too. My daughter’s voice still exceeds her size. She is also opinionated. Loud and opinionated. We like her that way.
The photo gallery is a collection of photos from her eighth year. I am often asked by friends and family for recent photos of my children, and I usually respond that I will upload newer photos soon…. Well, I am finally posting some more recent photos. These photos will probably make their way around the world to our family in South America, Europe, and all regions of North America.… Read the rest
When I was an undergraduate Women’s Studies major at UC Santa Barbara, I often questioned if imagery reflected or reinforced stereotypes. As a school teacher, I always searched for positive diverse images for my students. Later, when I worked for Brooks Institute, one of the world’s premiere photography colleges, I learned about the technical problems of creating diverse imagery. I will discuss my lessons below.
As part of a fundraiser for Melrose Leadership Academy, some of my images are being displayed at Farley’s East Coffee shop in downtown Oakland. (The shared name is coincidental. Who knew someone would choose Farley for a business name?) When selecting images to display, I intentionally chose photos that demonstrated the school’s commitment to diversity. Besides being a Spanish bilingual dual immersion public school in Oakland, California, half of the students are native Spanish speakers. The school values people from different backgrounds and cultures.… Read the rest