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


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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