It’s All Jeff’s Fault

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It’s all Jeff’s fault.

Why am I sitting here pondering my fate, future and fortune? Why are my friends doing the same? “That was all I needed, just Duane last night and Eileen this morning,” a friend said. “I’m changing things, I’m getting my life out of a box.” Why? Because Jeff put all these people together. It’s his fault.

The Palm Springs Photo Festival 2014 is over. It is. Over, done, final, complete and we have all moved on. Or have we? You see this isn’t a “photography event.” Don’t think trade show or geek fest. Think image. Think ACTUAL photography and the meaning behind why people do it and what it means to us as record, history or simply entertainment. These “little” gatherings are rare indeed, especially in an era of technology and over-interaction where nobody can seem to put their phone down long enough to actually find real purpose and real meaning, but during the festival they do, and they did.

Everyone was there. There was Duane, Frank, Greg and even a Gregory. There was Ian and Brian and Elena. There was a Tim and a Todd. There was Fletcher and Stanley was there too, and these were just the ones who came to share what they knew. You wonder why they did this? Because of Jeff. It’s his fault. He’s a strange bird this Dunas character. I sat in the audience, night after night, as the words and pictures flooded out, personal things, and private things and astounding things, things that branded even the longest running of those of us who have looked at life through little squares and rectangles, and I wondered “Do people really know what this is?” “Do they know how special this is?”
I wanted to blurt out my feelings and castigate anyone who even thought of leaving early. Like looking out over open prairie while the songbirds sing, knowing that the land has been sold to developers. You better pay attention now because you just never know if you will ever see or experience this again.

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I was there to work, to give information, to listen and to respond. Things I normally do, regardless of where I am, but more focused perhaps. Intense. Creatives are needy. They need time, critical thought and sounding boards. That’s just the way it is. The energy comes and goes, gets sucked out of you and then replaced by the words or images searing through your retinas or gently floating through your ears. “Your life is THE event,” we are told. Clearly, but thank you for reminding me.

“Who did you talk to?” she asked. How dare you even ask? Everyone. How can I even begin to remember. But here goes. Kelly, Michael, Tony, Brendan, Justin, Kari, Dan, Laura, Anthony, Douglass, Alexa, Randy, Michelle, Chris, Leah, Matt, another Chris, Greg, Valentino, Ray, Jesse, Sean, Dan, Tara, Susan, Matt, Cain, another Jeff, Mac, Peter, Andrew, Casey, Mike, Michael, Teru, Daniel, Ken, Sherri, Sue, Anna, Christa, David, Sonja, Holly, Jennifer, Miriam, Norman, Dina, Carolyn, Allegra, and Mary, and I’m not even social. I went to sleep early. Jeff’s fault.


There was also the soul thing. Ya, that. That thing you think is just babble until you are staring at it and no matter which way you look you can’t see around. Ya, that. I learned, after twenty-five years that cameras have souls too. Mine does, or doesn’t in some cases. A switch. A spotlight shined at me. “Hey, dipshit, what are you doing?” “Stop doing it and get back to doing what you do.” Ya, I had that moment too, because of Jeff. And it wasn’t just me. What’s even better than having these moments is watching others have them. They do things like climb over four rows of seats in a really nice theatre just to tell you about something they figured out. They leave untold numbers of messages on your phone, or they lurk in the shadows near your hotel room and when you walk by they hiss and whisper, “Hey, wanna know what happened to me?” Creative breakthroughs needs to be shared, to be taken off the chest and released. It happens. It really does.

You want to know the truth? What came from all this? The consistent thread? Do your work. NOTHING else. You simply don’t have time to screw around. Want to be the one on that stage? Quit pretending, a photographic life isn’t a masquerade ball, it’s a police lineup but the only police lineup where you want to be the one picked out, and to do that you gotta find your particular visual crime. “Have you seen good work?” I asked. “Yes, but I often times have to wade through the work they think I want to see before we get to who they really are,” he answered. There, I just saved you months of work and therapy sessions. Just go figure it out and put it on paper. Then bring it back and show it to us. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Ya, I still blame Dunas. This post, the thoughts in my head and the direction I will take with my first step on this Sunday morning. The residue is there, like SPF 80 sunscreen. You KNOW it won’t come off easy.

The Mastermind


For those of you who don’t know, the end of March, beginning of April ushers in the fourth year of The Palm Springs Photo Festival Connect 09. I’ve been in the photo industry for a long while, and have attended just about every event out there, from festival to tradeshow. There are newer, international festivals I’ve not yet attended, but as far as the US is concerned PSPF is the best event going.

Regardless if you are a photographer or not, if you have interest in making pictures, looking at pictures, this is the event to attend.

The mastermind of this great stage is LA-based photographer Jeff Dunas, seen in the attached image.

Jeff knows more about photography than anyone I know, and I’m not talking about the nuts and bolts, which he does know in great depth, but I’m talking history, styles, books, prints, printing, collecting, etc, etc. There is no aspect of imaging that he isn’t in tune with, which is very rare in this photo-world.

One minute he is mixing his own chemistry, toning and creating master prints, real, silver-based prints, and the next he is shooting tethered digital on an ad campaign or celebrity shoot. It doesn’t matter what, or how, he just does it.

But enough of the unauthorized biography.

Back to the festival. Jeff, due to his history in the photography world, knows people, a lot of people, including the legends. He really does, and not only does he know them, but there is a mutual respect, which consequently is what, I think, is the foundation of the entire PSPF.

This year’s lineup is one you have to see to believe. Workshops, symposiums, lectures, reviews, shows, projections, panels, interviews, parties and an atmosphere that is unrivaled. This is a real festival. If you need a dose of tech to quell your inner geek, you can get it. But if you need more of a intellectual study of the nuance of fine-art, well guess what, you can get that too. And, everything in between.

You could literally go, never say a word to anyone and still have a great time. Where else can you do that? Okay maybe the DMV, but that is it.

So, turn off the TV, get off the couch, put down the doughnuts and register people. If my threats aren’t enough to motivate you, then how about a small taste of the lineup……

Larry Fink, Steve McCurry, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Keith Carter, Frank Okenfels, Jay Dusard, Greg Gorman, Juergen Nogai….

These are JUST a few of the workshops people! Oh, and this was just brought to my attention…..Duane Michals is coming too, just by the way…in addition…Duane Michals people.

It’s time to saddle up and head toward the springs.