To Raze the Walls I've Constructed: The B Sides

In July 2015 I flew out of Boston to Seattle, rented a car and proceeded to drive straight down the pacific coast. Over the next 12 days, I shot my way down the western seaboard.

_MG_1324-Edit.jpg
Seems shorter on paper....

Seems shorter on paper....

The reasons for the journey were varied. The trip would serve as the second half of what would be my masters thesis, and as an experience that would push me far, far, far, out of my comfort zone. 14 images from this process made their way into the final project; I shot a little over 2000.

That's 36 rolls of 120, all shot in 6x7.

That's 36 rolls of 120, all shot in 6x7.

I have not shared any of these "b-sides" or any of the journal I kept during this process. This is the story of those 12 days, and 2700 miles.

On Montreal (the city, not the band).

Camera phones have come a very long way. So much so that they can go toe to toe with the best point and shoots out there. I've become to rely more and more on my iPhone 7+ for everyday use. I can't carry the 5D everywhere, because it's big, bulky, and plays hell with my constantly shitty shoulder. 

So when me and my oldest friends were heading to Montreal for a bachelors weekend, I decided to leave the DSLR at home. I learned a few things that weekend.

1. Montreal is a gorgeous city. Like super gorgeous. From the European architecture of Old Montreal, to the amazing street art that runs up and down St. Catherine's, the beauty is nigh overwhelming.

2. Everyone in Montreal was super nice. As a lifelong asshole Bostonian, this confused and delighted me.

3. Lightroom mobile and Apples DNG Raw API are stupid powerful. Combine them with a little luck, great light, and a half decent eye, and you can make something really beautiful.

Josephine and Verona chic.

Josephine is a fellow Shakespeare aficionado. She was fresh off a trip abroad, and actually paid a visit to the historical Juliet's tomb. Suffice to say she was feeling that vibe, and it's always fun to play with poetry. She slayed this concept and I can't wait to see where she goes next. I only hope she will let me continue to be a part of translating the great words and works into beautiful images. 

For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow on a raven’s back.
Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
— Romeo and Juliet; Act 3, Scene 2

On Jessica, and the mutual benefits of collaboration

My first interaction with Jess was through Instagram. I was 9 months out of grad school and hadn't picked up my camera in months. I'm a temperamental person at the best of times but when I'm not making things it gets way worse. I had always been a street shooter; lines, space, and geometry always seemed more appealing than people. I knew to grow as a photographer I would to eventually explore portraiture. Breaking out of a comfort zone is often a good way to break through creative malaise. First thing I needed though was a model. I had noticed this one girl constantly popping up on my Instagram feed. She was everywhere and her photos seemed to have... something. They had the feeling of movement even in a still shot. She was open and out there with the concepts she was working with. And her eyes weren't flat, they seemed to teem with emotion. So I shot her a message, asked for a rate and waited to hear back.

And get back to me she did, with I response I didn't quite expect. Jess looked at my website, more specifically she looked at my thesis. My thesis project used photography to examine how I coped with the trauma of previous abuse, and Jess disclosed to me that her work was all about doing the very same thing. It wasn't about using nudity for likes, or just expressing the beauty of the female form for its beauty alone. She was reclaiming something she felt was lost. She was starting on a path that I have been on for years.

That realization, the acknowledgement of shared experience, was the start of it. Working with, and becoming friends with Jessica has brought me such joy. Despite all that she has endured she is still a burst of sunshine, which is a nice counterpoint to my "cynical northeasterness". I'm also honored to be able to help someone who survived trauma like I survived and who has used art to explore and heal.

She has pushed me out of my comfort zone, because her's seemingly has no limits. She pushes me to be on my game, because that's what she demands. Jess is intense, and unafraid to act on a moment of inspiration no matter how out there it may seem to a spectator. This has presented her with a few challenges. People don't know what to make of her, and those qualities that I find so endearing kinda scare them off. She asked me how to handle this, and I told her to "Collaborate, but don't compromise. You aren't doing this all for them, you're doing it for you".

Keep on keeping on girl. You're about a year out from going full performance art anyway.

Going through the archives...

I have a really bad habit. I aggregate photos, but I never do anything with them. I let them sit in the digital ether, discarded and unused. Recent events have forced my life into a new perspective and I'm seeking to incite and ignite change. So, I'm digging thorough the aggregated muck, throwing the shit out, and posting and sharing that which I think is good. 

Hopefully you will too.

 

From the fall.

Forays into Long Exposure.

My recent experiments with long exposure photography. There is still more to come!