My fascination with windows began when at the mature age of 6 I took my trusty Daisy Red Rider BB gun and took aim at the neighbors large glass window, gently squeezed the trigger as my cousin taught me and fired. I heard a very distinctive and sharp ‘crack’ when that little copper ball hit the window and to my amazement put a hole through the neighbor’s window pane. I never expected that something so small could penetrate something so large.
Despite the panic that ensued, I wanted to see my handiwork, so climbed over the low fence I had used as my rifle support and began to examine the spider like crack and small hole I had created. And just as suddenly as the BB hit the glass, my neighbor grabbed me by the collar and marched me to my Mom to explain what I had done.
Regardless of the punishment that followed, my fascination with windows followed me into adulthood, but without the BB gun. I noticed that whenever I sat on a train, in a cafe or anywhere that magic transparent plane existed it was as if I was invisible to the rest of the world and what transpired around me was mine to view in complete privacy.
As a photographer I was completely mesmerized by an image Jodi Cobb created of a young woman in a London cafe looking out toward a busy street at dusk. Her expression, her posture and the reflection of the activity around her helped me realize that we all seem to feel as if our own existence and feelings are hidden as well as protected behind a transparent plane. Perhaps a window allows us to forget that our feelings and thoughts are exposed to the world. Expressions become authentic when we allow the public masks we wear to melt away as we observe the world around us. I often think that watching our worlds through glass is our very own personal ultimate reality show.
It was these events that inspired me to begin a multiyear long series of images I call Moments of Transparency. The images I present in this series were primarily taken in my hometown of San Francisco. Always driven to replicate Ms. Cobb’s exquisite moment I am often found looking towards window panes hoping that in an instant I too will be able to capture a moment of unguarded authenticity.
I cannot recall any photographer who entered the profession before enjoying the craft as a hobby. I am certainly no different. But as a commercial photographer I’ve come to realize how important personal work is in order to maintain one’s perspective in the world of imagery.
I am fortunate to have clients who allow my views to season the concepts for which they hire me to shoot. Yet in order to maintain my own creativity personal work is vital. This musing is not just about the photographic process, but about how life plays an important role in how I arrive at the personal projects I undertake.
The imagery I present in this musing were taken today, December 1, 2011 yet my journey to this moment started years ago. And for those of you who like to ‘jump ahead’ I am NOT referring to the years it took me to make an image. No, instead I wanted to give an abbreviated summary of how I arrived at today.
Back in 2005 I met the parent of one of my daughter’s friends, Leigh Toldi – a fine art painter. Over time we forged a friendship sharing a mutual bond of raising teenage children. As the years passed and our children became adults we maintained our friendship which transitioned from parenting to art. Leigh taught me much about texture and keeping an open mind as I began my focused journey in photography. As I moved into the world of commercial photography I still maintained my personal blog, yet have a limited amount of time to capture personal work. Leigh continues to visit my personal site, yet only comments on my personal work, even though I find myself posting some commercial stuff there simply to have new content. I always appreciate her private notes to me when one of those pieces strike her fancy.
Last year during a dinner party she held at her home I was introduced to Rob Browne, the sculptor who appears in this musing. Rob and I began talking about sculpture, photography and art in general. Later he contacted me about a potential joint project. After he had visited a local performance gym he was motivated to sculpt an aerialist, but wanted to know if I would be interested in photographing the art form so that he could have reference materials from which to work. I agreed, but due to scheduling conflicts we were never able to make a connection with the performing artist.
Then during a commercial assignment I was hired to photograph a performance by a silk aerialist, Bianca Sapetto. After capturing her performance I knew immediately that the subject Rob and I had discussed had appeared before me, completely by chance. Through my partner Tracy we contacted Bianca and asked if we could meet her for tea to discuss a project. On a sunny San Francisco afternoon, we met at the Ferry Building and presented our idea. During our discussion we learned that Bianca had begun her journey to her art form in an old grove of oak trees in Topanga Canyon. Once her performance schedule was completed, we agreed to meet her in Los Angeles and do an on location shoot of her in Topanga Canyon where she began her aerial art. The form you see Rob sculpting is one of the images taken of Bianca in Topanga Canyon. Our plan is to chronicle the creation of Rob’s sculpture of her until completion.
What is most important about this musing is not the sculpture or the photography, but the journey which led me here. I am blessed to lead a life where I am surrounded by creative individuals from many different art forms, music, performance, dance and fine art. Having had a lifetime of experience in the corporate world, it’s cathartic to now travel through a world where contrived hierarchy is replaced by authentic collaboration, where profit is replaced by the pursuit of expression. Certainly there are the realities of mortgages, utilities and food, but when profit is not the ‘end game’ the fabric of my life has changed. Today three statements stay with me each day – 1. “Mark a whole world happens out there while we sit in our offices that we’ll never be a part of.” - Ron a former boss 2. ”People don’t get into the arts to make money, they are there because they love the expression.” - Melissa WolfKlain 3.“Son, no one will give you anything, so do what you love. I’m just hoping it’s engineering!” - My father
So what I’ve found late in life is this, by letting go serendipity found me. I sincerely hope that it finds you.
To be continued….
Progress on the project as of December 9 2011. Rob adds detail and depth to the sculpture by working by a single light at night. In this manner he is able to easily see the texture he adds layer by layer.
Almost everything one reads, hears or views in today’s world is filled with fear and dread. The American economy is in a state not seen in many decades. Our new President is faced with a daunting tasks amid thousands of workers losing the very jobs they depend upon to feed themselves and their families. Financial institutions are looking toward the Feds for the equivalent of corporate welfare.
But amid the gloom of today’s times, I can say with much enthusiasm that if we all look beyond our own troubles, we can find elements of life that are truly joyful and important. Recently I asked a local San Francisco community center if I could volunteer to run a four week after school photography program. This is my second week of the project and it is truly the highlight of my week. The enthusiasm of the children is absolutely infectious in a way that is difficult to describe. Since my own children are grown, I sorely miss those moments of utter innocent joy and fascination with new discoveries.Read More»
Yes, I know that it has been quite some time since I’ve written a Musing, but come on, give me a break! Tracy and I have been shooting quite a bit of theater lately and we have been assembling a book for a friend whose wedding we recently shot.
But most important, I have been working on two new projects, one of which I just started, The Bubble Project. You see, I have been enamored with soap bubbles since I was a toddler. And even at my advanced age I still play with those simple yet so complex bubbles that come out of a plastic bottle with its little plastic wand. In my mind it’s pure magic. When most are indulging in their favorite mind altering beverage or something stronger, you can find me out on the porch blowing bubbles. Well, sometimes I blow them, but lately I have indulged in two bubble machines, much to the chagrin of my two grown children. Both of my kids work during the summer at a locally owned and operated toy store. So naturally, I get their discount whenever I need to buy a toy!
But that monetary discount does come at a price. Each time I go to the store, I invariably walk around the bubble toys, of which they have an unbelievable selection. And each time I am found loitering around that aisle, my kids yell from behind the counter, “Dad, you have enough bubble stuff!” I’m sure the regular patrons of that store turn to see if I’m an eighty seven year old man suffering from dementia. Instead they see a well preserved man simply grinning at the thought of more bubble stuff.Read More»