Friday, August 24, 2007


let me start out by saying that this was one of the best possible assignments i've seen come across the desk at this paper.

so even though i wasn't on this weekend, i couldn't pass up the chance to photograph lucha libre mexicana, right here in stockton. first time for stockton, first time for me.

keeping this post short... hell, it's lucha libre. the pictures tell the story.

the famous incognito.

lucha is a tiring sport to watch.

plus a link to the multimedia piece i helped out on.

...and now enlow can get off my ass about posting these photos.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


the ability to sleep has evaded me so much lately.

maybe it's the night shift. or maybe it's the constant melody of car alarms and neighbors screaming.

either way, i can't close my eyes for more than a couple hours a night.

and i don't know if it's the lack of sleep making me lethargic at work, or the constant anxiety that i can't seem to make a good photograph on assignment that keeps me in this creative slump. every day, every situation, i pick up that photo request at work, grab my camera, and my stomach clenches up. i smoke a cigarette, waste as much time as possible, and at the last second i race to the assignment, hoping i haven't missed anything, but secretly wishing i have just so i won't have to shoot. even for the most visual, simple shoots, it scares me stupid.

on friday, the only assignment i had was a car show in north stockton. easy enough. three hours of people hanging out, looking at colorful cars in the sunset. i mean, i couldn't ask for an easier gig, right? so i took a deep breath, smoked, paced back and forth outside the office, then sped north on the freeway. i parked a few blocks away so that i could walk and hopefully gain some composure. or at least grow some balls.

i get there, and it's perfect. golden light, families walking around in the street, kids with bright colored balloons. and still, my hands are shaking. i walk quickly through the rows of cars, hoping no one notices me as i fumble with the camera. don't look at me. don't smile at me. don't make eye contact.

so i start with a simple task: just take pictures of the cars themselves. don't worry about the people. the people will come later. look at the colors, the textures.

i take some snaps.

ok, that wasn't so bad.

i take a few more.

alright, let's work some reflections. let's find some bright colors. let's shoot some interesting shapes.

think abstract.

after about an hour, i realize the sun is setting. fast. shit. shit shit shit. i need at least one good photo that can run in the paper, and they're not gonna like this abstract shape crap. gotta find some people. gotta get my shit together.

deep breath.

and then it's fine. i walk around nervously, take some photos. "excuse me, hi, i work for the paper, can i get your name for a photo caption?"

"sure! of course! did you get a photo of my car?"

wow, people are actually stoked that i got their photo for the paper.

this never happens.

i gain some confidence. this isn't so bad. snap snap snap snap. name, car, hometown, why are you here. jot it all down with a red pen, tuck the notes in a safe place.

half-hour until the end of the car show. an hour until deadline.

i walk the few blocks back to my car. slow deep breath in. exhale.

and after all that, the photos run on an inside page in black and white. even so, it wasn't a waste. at least for a short time, i could take some pictures.

and i think for five minutes, i managed to keep my hands from shaking, my heart from racing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Let’s be honest: blogging stresses the hell out of me.


Because it forces me to confront some – if not all – the thoughts that run through my head at any given moment.

Then again, I think I get stressed out about a lot of little shit anyway, so it’s really not surprising that something meant to be used as a release for all the stuff that bounces around my brain and drives me crazy in itself becomes a source for more crazy.


baseball tonight.
i know it can be slow to start, but if you're actually playing the game i would think you'd want to make it seem like you're paying attention.

some seriously slow pitching. seriously. i'm not that fast on the shutter, even with the motor drive.

this group of kids was at a baseball game I was shooting tonight, sitting right behind me with one dad acting as chaperone. The dad was trying to get the kids to learn the game.

“Look guys, watch what they’re doing. Ok, when there’s a player on first and one at bat, where do you think they’re going to throw the ball?”

So I’m listening in as I wait for some sort of action to happen when a player for the home team comes up to the plate. Two foul hits, both going straight up and behind him, into the crowd. When he hits the third in a row, I hear one of the kids yell behind me.

“look daddy! He hit a backwards homerun! That’s good! That’s good…. Right?”

I almost dropped my camera from laughing so hard.
Then, I swear I heard the next batter, upon striking out, return to the dugout yelling, “fuck! Fuck! Fuckin’ stupid calls!” and the winner… “That’s why I hate white people!”

Did he really just say that? Ha.

Best part is I think most people think he’s white.

All in all, a good day at the ballgame. Too bad when the paper finally decides to do a feature on the pitcher [who is the only one standing in awesome, dramatic golden light at the beginning of the game], the sun starts to set earlier, so when the game starts, he, too, is in darkness after the first 3 minutes.
I guess that’s life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

ticking time bomb.

life is a constant shift of ups and downs. for everything you feel you accomplish, there is something to knock you back down to size; and for every tragic mistake or downfall there is something to pull you out of it again.

it's a matter of the positive moments outweighing in value the breakdowns.

right now, i've hit another breakdown, and no amount of cigarettes or alcohol will make it go away.

i've found, for myself, for now, the best way to pull out of it is to keep looking forward to when things will inevitably get better. at least, i hope.

one picture at a time, one awkward attempt at an art frame for ME, not for my paper.

so yesterday, i photographed volleyball and soccer practice. nothing like dodging balls hit by awkward teenagers who are just learning how to coordinate their hands and minds.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

who needs a v-card when you're 21?

nothing provides better situations for photographs than a 21-year-old's big birthday. i might not be far past that age myself, but nothing makes you feel older than being at a party with college students that gets busted by the cops barely past midnight... and being hidden in a room with some friends, lights out, whispering so the cops won't catch you as they're kicking people out of the house.

but it was good times, right?

of course.

we got to welcome alex welsh to the wonderful world of legalized boozing. the only instructions i had for the night: 1) take pictures of everyone, and 2) don't give alex too many drinks because his stomach won't allow him to throw up, so he might die and you don't want that on your hands.

easy enough.
you made it this far, kid. at least we don't have to sneak you into any more bars.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

snaps and hookers.

photography is a bit like prostitution.

the people who pay for photography are not unlike the people who pay for sex. you go that extra mile when you don't have a friend who will do it for free, or you're so desperate, you'll pay anything.

i mean, why pay for something you can get for free?

this came up in a conversation with a co-worker about a new online publication our paper is doing, a one-stop roundup of music and entertainment in the area. not the prostitution part, but paying for photographs. with a new, purely online publication, a big issue has been how to come up with revenue to keep it afloat. across the board, ad revenues for web are down, so they're thinking "outside the box". since we do artist profiles and bios, and i'm going to have to shoot a lot of the portraits, one idea that came out was to give the photos to the artist to use to promote his or herself.

sounds harmless enough, but looking at it a little longer i realized this is bad news.

why? because as a freelancer in town, i get jobs to photograph shows and portraits for bands, which i can charge my own fee for. it gives value to the product i give the artist. and a lot of freelancers do the same thing. it's how photographers earn a living. so yes, it's an undercut to me personally, but worse, it upsets the value system for all photographers when people find professionals to do work for them for free all the time.

so in effect, if this publication were to give away our written bios and professional portraits to every artist (100 to 200 people just to start) to use to promote themselves in press kits, album covers, press releases, web sites, etc etc., then what happens to those writers, photographers, promoters, PR people who make livings on providing these valuable services to those musicians?

they get nothing.

and not that it's a bad idea to help people out. but you can't do everything at a cost to you when you're in a business like this. if you do that, you won't be taking pictures for long... you'll be putting in double-shifts at the coffee shop or the restaurant to make rent.

so photographers, get some compensation for your work, let it keep that value for the people you photograph.

and ladies, remember to get paid.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


at what point do you separate life and photography? where do you draw the line?

i've had nothing but trouble lately trying to figure out how to keep the emotion in my life from spilling over into my professional, photographic endeavors. my life and the lives i photograph are distinct, separate. but a friend recently told me that sometimes you need to use your photography to explore the emotions in your daily life, the situations that you need to force yourself to confront in a way you never would have otherwise.

a catharsis, of sorts.

photograph what you feel. show the things you care about.

shooting what i feel has been a challenge. shooting what i love is even more of a challenge. so, i started by photographing my family. family is a word with troubling connotations for me. it is a dirty secret, something you are forced to live with. family, blood, is supposedly thicker than water, but the family you choose for yourself - the people you surround yourself with - son mas gruesas que sangre.

this is the family i have made for myself, the family that does not judge, the family that loves me simply because we are struggling together. this family is my life and is becoming my catharsis.