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Photo: Napper

I’ve included this action pose for your viewing pleasure. I’m doing PRECISELY what I tell people never to do…….CHIMP.

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the details:

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Advice: The Portfolio Review

Okay, this past weekend I reviewed portfolios for a few hours at an event in Los Angeles. I hadn’t done this in over a year. Overall, the experience was better than expected, although I didn’t think about the event until I was walking in the door. I was on vacation the week prior, so my mind was elsewhere.

Several things happened, and I overheard several more. Wanted to share these things with you just in case you were planning on showing work at some point in the future.

Advice begins here:

1. Edit your work. You HAVE to understand how important this is. This is, in some ways, as important as the work itself.
2. Limit what you show. Do NOT show 100 images. Show 10-15 and they better be good.
3. KNOW why you are there. Be prepared for being asked why you are showing work, why you want to be a photographer.
4. Bring a notepad. Good reviewers are going to give you homework.
5. Think twice about showing work on laptops and iPads. This work is simply NOT considered in the same way as prints.
6. Don’t dread printing, embrace it. Printing is your final chance to put your mark on your work.
7. DO NOT SHOW YOUR WORK ON AN iPHONE. Yes, people were doing this. I heard other reviewers say “Are you kidding me?” when a phone was brought out.
8. If you copied someone, admit it. Don’t act like you created something original then act like you don’t know who you copied it from.
9. Ask questions. Do NOT talk the entire time. The reviewer will be wondering “Why are you here if you have all the answers?”
10. You can be serious but have a sense of humor at the same time. This is much appreciated.
11. You better have some references. If I ask who inspires you and you can’t name a SINGLE person it tells me you are self absorbed.
12. Bring “regulation” size portfolios. Bigger is not better.
13. Thank the reviewer.
14. Send a follow up email.
15. Leave a card or promo piece.
16. Justify what you are showing. Be able to defend your work while not being defensive.
17. Not everyone is going to like you or your work. This is TOTALLY OKAY.
18. Enjoy the moment. This is what it’s all about.
19. “I don’t know,” is not an answer that will win you a lot of respect or confidence.
20. Have a second body of work in reserve.
22. If you show work to ten different people you are going to get ten different stories. If you have good instincts, trust those and move on.

Okay, start there. Have fun with this process. Make great work. Be positive and progressive and things will be just fine. And finally, you don’t need to be a photographer to be a photographer. This industry isn’t as fun as it used to be. The key is making YOUR work. It will be the only thing you are left with so make it count.

Journal Entry: Discourse, August 2014

How does someone really make a difference?

I honestly don’t know. At least anymore. Do one thing? Do it well and hope that others follow along? What I find challenging today is the lack of allowable discourse. If you mention something the Canadians do, or the crafty Europeans, one of the responses you get here is “Well then why don’t you go live there?” Questioning the way things are has become “anti” and frowned up.

Let us look no further than online photography. I don’t look at work online, and I’m dangerously, dangerously close to not looking at ANYTHING online outside of my immediate requirements of email and work related issues. That’s it. My departure from social has had a profound influence on me, and this influence grows stronger and stronger each day. The vast majority of online discourse is predictable and catered to the overwhelmingly positive. You know the favorite kisses, “Amazing,” “Incredible, “Awesome snap.” Etc., Etc. This isn’t discourse. The news is embarrassing. One real story buried under celebrity, the outlandish and the tricks to feed the insatiable advertising machine. We are bought, sold and traded on a daily basis.

I’m in the Texas Hill Country today, my final day here, and this trip has been a strong one. Where I sit now, looking out a picture window, I see little to no influence of modern man. Five acres. I’m sitting in one small space on five acres of land owned by my bloodline. The cabin is hand built, fortress like and yet it is under constant attack by the forces of nature. Rain, wind, relentless sun and an absolute army of the insect and animal world. Yesterday a scorpion in the shower. Brown recluse under the desk I sit at now. And just this morning, outside as the sun peaked over the Twin Sisters, I see deer, raccoon, squirrel, white wing dove, vulture, hawk, bull snake, fire ant, chickens, feral cats and an abundance of song birds. Last night mosquitos and clicker bugs bombarded my waiting carcass.

There is no chance in winning this war. It’s evident we are the visiting species. Yet a few scant miles away the Earthmovers do their best to enslave this wild beast, and they do it in the most shortsighted, ignorant, arrogant way. Just do it and do it quickly. The new road is already showing signs of fray. The traffic has already overwhelmed the “upgrades.” “Progress” is made as the horizon is painted with identical rooftops, all needed to be air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter. The three foot wall of Earth has been replaced by the six inch wall of toxicity. (Our neighbor’s house was lined with toxic insulation. I know because I walked it as it was being built. Right there on the warning label.)

I’m not the only one. Others I know look around and ask “Why?” But none of us know what to do, what step to take. Do you take a stand? Maybe. When you take a stand you are often times labeled, pinned, accused of being “revolutionary,” a “kook,” or something worse. Anti-American? Questioning is now subversive. In Orange County a man yells at me in the parking lot of the market because I rode the 2 miles from my house on my bike to shop. “You shouldn’t be on that thing,” he says to me, shaking with rage. Why? Was he stuck in traffic on the way to the same market? Has the bike become a lightning rod? Or do we have a growing, underlying anger emerging from what is clearly a dead end street of human “evolution?”

I see many underlying issues, but the one I find most troubling is greed. Look no further than our current wars, the financial collapse, the auto industry lawsuits, real estate bubbles, etc., etc. Greed. Plain and simple. Driving the daily engine to acquire. You question this and suddenly you are “anti-progress,” or “against competition.” The cover ups, the bail outs, the leaks of atrocity. They are endless, and the media makes sure we are good and scared while being good and burned out on all things that matter.

Drugged. That is how I would describe this, or us. We are straight trippin. So we medicate with media. We medicate with television. We medicate with the internet. We seem to know everything and nothing at the same time. I’ve written a lot about attention span, something I find wildly interesting. “You should write multiple posts per day.” “You need listicles.” All words of advice about blogging. Forget the truth. Forget how you really feel. Do what you need to do to gain, to get and to promote. Man, I’m so over this mentality. How many of my photographer friends live dual lives? The online, professional life and then the real one they wake up to each day. They pretend, the clients pretend and the awkward imbalance continues while EVERYONE whispers behind closed doors.

The truth hurts, but it’s a good sting, like eating ginger, or wasabi when it goes up your nose. We don’t need much. We really don’t. I have too much. I’m guilty of some of the things I complain about, and my mind wanders like a felon on furlough at the Playboy Mansion. I’m not centered. I have no real answer. But with each passing day my mind gets closer to making a stand.

Meaning. Yes, okay, I’ll do it. “What is the meaning of all this?” Yes, I just asked that question. What is the meaning of life? Is it building another strip mall because you own a concrete company and that’s what you do? Is it covering the Gaza Conflict? Is it joining a monastery and attempting to find peace? No idea. Perhaps we aren’t supposed to know.

Journal Entry: S. Texas August 2014

Duramax dreams
this place would be difficult for me now
after all that has transpired
the squint, effortless after a while
dust devil with the condor above
nature untouched by modern man
footprints below but pavers can be heard on the wind
they are coming
you have two choices
or take to what you can’t see, what your instinct tells
is out there
and run with it
bark, feather, bone and all that remains is the dust
the cycle continues
my little tribe is on the precipice, something we all know is coming
but we are still unprepared
nothing we can do to change the odds
life just runs, powerstroke
pistons rise and fall, rise and fall
hammering as the clock betrays any chance of changing course
drop the main sail, hoist the jib
hold that rudder like it’s made of gold
stay the course
but it gets more and more difficult
when you know you can’t pretend, what alternative ending awaits
the fateful decision you promised you would never make but
know you will surrender to
the buildup is just about more than I can take
hints here and there, more hints
you hope they are misunderstood, something you can apologize for later
whispers, tilt that new brim down a notch and don’t move
wind swirls a chop pattern as the line unwinds above your head,
down your arm and into the wild green
there is nothing to do now but wait


Spent the last week at the Blurb mothership in San Francisco. I drove up so that I could take the machine with me. Glad I did. Still fighting Lyme which means every single day is a guessing game. I think I’m going to ride and then reality hits and I end up staring at the bike, but this past weekend I was up for it. Rode about 60 miles over two days. Slowly. When I say “slowly” I mean never maxing out or hammering to the point I’m going to blow up, which is precisely the way I would ride pre-Lyme. I would hammer, implode, then see how long it took to recover. Then I would do it again. That’s how I built up my routine and my stamina. Now, I can barely remember those days. I have almost no strength in my legs, which frankly is a combination of lack of exercise, nine-months of antibiotics and the actual disease. I’m also on a very strict diet. No sugar, gluten, alcohol or dairy. I’m down to 158 pounds. In some ways this entire debacle has been a good thing. My life is changed forever, and in some strange ways, for the better.
Over the past nine months I’ve been asked about Lyme on a near daily basis. I don’t like talking about it, and I don’t visit Lyme websites. They are too terrifying. I’m lucky. Very lucky. I have insurance, which works with a small part of my Lyme experience, the rest is out of pocket. I wanted to write about the bike, and I will, but I just wanted to add a bullet point list of strangeness associated with being a Lyme patient.

I want to dispel a few things and shine a light on others.

1. It’s global. Truly global. The CDC has convinced Americans it’s an East Coast thing but it’s not.
2. Over half the people who have it, including me, never had a bite or rash.
3. A significant number of people who have it have never been in the woods. They are CITY dwellers who live near wooded areas.
4. One antibiotic for treatment is not enough. You need three. (Gov of NY just made this kosher)
5. The American medical world wants NOTHING to do with Lyme patients regardless of what they say publically.
6. Six doctors have blown me off or flat out refused to even TALK about Lyme.
7. A standard blood test is useless to test for Lyme but used as a legal basecovering by many medical orgs.(Including my current insurance.)
8. There is mixed information in regard to transmission, person to person. I was told to “take precautions.”
9. There are somewhere between 3-10 million new cases per year.
10. Everyone gets diagnosed with MS, Lupus, Parkinsons, chronic fatigue, polyneuropathy, restless leg, etc, etc, etc. This goes ON and ON.
11. There are stories of the US military weaponizing the bacteria post WWII and the bacteria “getting out,” so to speak. Hence the coverup like coverage.
12. It is BY FAR the worst thing I’ve ever had, and I’ve had meningitis, Epstein Bar, Giardia, Mono, kidney stones, etc. Lyme is relentless.
13. Most people seem to spend about 2-10 years being misdiagnosed. NO EXAGGERATION.
14. I had a nurse tell me if the medical facility I was in knew I had Lyme they would “ask me to leave the facility.”
15. I just had my insurance company tell me I had to prove I had it before they would talk to me, but refused to look at my lab results. I was told they circulated a memo that said not to deal with Lyme patients. My doc said “They are blowing you off.”

This is a MINOR glimpse into the madness. You wont’ believe anything I say until you are in the middle of it. I didn’t.

Okay, back to the bike. Added rear rack. Went with the Salsa rack due to the extreme width required. Tubus doesn’t make ANYTHING to fit this thing. I had originally planned to buy a titanium rack, based on the shape of my old racks which are pretty worn, but ended up with the Salsa. Love the water bottle mounts on the front forks. I’ve also got a third, larger bottle down below, which gets nice and grimy from the front tire spray. Use with caution. I might also mount a bottle on the top of the stem at some point. Remember my kidney stones? Ya well the last one they had to GO UP AND GET, and yes, that is as bad as it sounds. What could be worse? Funny you should ask. I’ll tell you. When they get the stone they leave a stent in place. And then they go get that little bad boy….with NO anesthetic. NONE. I had flashbacks for weeks. No joke. So water is my new best friend. Love it. Can’t get enough.
I loaned this bike to a friend for a quick spin and his one word response was “effortless.” It is. I’ve ridden 60 miles many times, but never with such ease. I rode trail, bike path, gravel, singletrack, parking lots, pavement, over curbs and wood, etc., etc. So comfortable. Quicker than you would imagine on the road and smoother than you would imagine over the rough stuff. Titanium is as good as I thought it would be. Also, I spent the entire 60 miles on the large sprocket. This thing is geared for the mountains but still has enough for a nice, long, sustained road ride.
The only thing I’m really ready for is new tires. These are Racing Ralph’s, but I need a touring tire. I’m thinking Continental Travel Contact or the Schwalbe Mondial.
The bulk of my miles will be on pavement or dirt road. I’ve got a mountain bike for New Mexican singletrack, but this thing will do everything else. I flatted on Sunday and was amazed at how soft the tires were. A shard of glass cut about a 1/4 inch slice in the tire and did the same to the tube. I’ve run the Marathon tires in the past and a piece of glass like that would have never come close to puncturing. In fact, I never flatted with the Marathon tires. Ever. And have only flatted with my Gator Skins once in about 3000 miles. I did put a set on my wife’s bike and she flatted about ten feet from the driveway then looked at me like “You idiot, what did you do to my bike……no get over here and change this for me.”

In short this is the most fun I’ve had on a bike, and this includes flashing back to my middle school BMX glory. Crossovers over the double jumps, running over another kid who everyone despise and having the crowd cheer me for doing it. Yes, the Salsa is even better. More fun. So I find myself bidding my time. Waiting to get healthy and staring at a lot of maps.

Go ride.