Wading through the slushy mire that is this current political climate as a photographer desperate for creative expression and acceptance

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Surely I’m not alone.

The current political climate is overwhelming if not crushing at times. Since about March of last year, I’ve found myself in a state of desperate need to express myself artistically, but failing because I keep reaching to check the pulse of what’s happening in my country.

Instead of designing a new photo or video project, I’m surfing websites obsessing over political bullshit that maybe I shouldn’t. This obsession is becoming a distraction.

I’m particularly pointing to the idea that I’m not doing personal projects. The guilt from not doing these projects presents itself as an overwhelming sense of personal failure. When I compare myself to other artists being productive, I suffocate from the vomit in the back of my throat.

After thinking about it a bit, I feel like I need to adjust my views. I’ve been doing some side work that I am proud of. But sometimes as an artist, I focus more on what the negative rather than what’s positive.

For this post, I’m focusing on something positive. 🙂

My recent work includes some portraits of different musicians. They are convenient in the sense that I don’t really set them up. I have to show up to photograph the artist. But it’s up to me on how I present the work.

I’ll post three different photos, taken with the exact same light setup, but my approach to each image varied. See below.

The first image is of a singer/songwriter named Kevin Garrett. He’s super talented. For as long as I can remember (I’m talking back in my teens), I’ve loved SNL portraits, and so often, the images are multiple versions of the same portrait or portraits from a sitting.

I tend to see multiplicity in people. They have a depth of character and so often I question how one image can represent a multilayered personality. I did a portrait of my niece several years ago that hangs in my brother’s home. It shows her in five different poses standing in her back yard. I’m a bit proud of that work for whatever reason aside it seems to reflect my aesthetic in a distant way.

The second image is of a band called the Orwells. These guys are young, balls-to-the-wall artists. I think they’re amazing. And photographing them with a bit of nuance is tough. I dove down at one point doing the sitting with a 20mm lens and grabbed this one. I feel like it’s rock-n-roll and it’s them, kinda bad ass and larger than life as they peer down from their artistic pedestal.

And finally there’s a portrait of an artist named Phoebe Ryan. She’s a singer songwriter who blew me away with her personality and vocal ability. These photo shoots are done directly next to the artist greenroom of a music TV station. While I setup, I can banter a bit with bands. Or I can just sit there, and listen in on their conversations or their warmups. Phoebe was warming up before her performance and when she realized I was sitting within earshot, she apologized and asked if I wanted her to close the door between us. “No, not at all!” I said. “I’m loving listening to your warmups.”

I took about 8 or 9 frames of her, but each one showed this fun-loving personality and infectious smile and laugh. Artists are sometimes assholes. Phoebe couldn’t have been the farthest thing from asshole. I loved every second of our short time together.

Enjoy these portraits!

Orwells performs at JBTV Music Television on February 8, 2017

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