Behind the Scenes: Blurb Life

Working for Blurb is an interesting way to spend the day. There is no “typical,” and most days are a high-speed obstacle course of images, words, publications and nonstop communication. It’s fantastic actually. I typically find myself in the San Francisco office a few times a month. Lunch breaks are fast, short and caloric, but sometimes the urge to make something overwhelms us and we venture out for short but intense creative conflict. On this day it was Kent and I. Kent is an artist, designer, writer and photographer. He’s also a stylish little creature. I went with Leica and he went with SX-70. I shot him, he shot me.

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Workshop Photography: The Picture Package

Over the past few weeks I’ve been having conversations with several of the people I’m working with on my upcoming workshops. I’ve also had a conversation or two with people who are taking the workshops. The energy associated with a class like this is creatively intense. People, staff and students alike, want to maximize their time. One of the ways I like to do this when I’m taking a workshop or working on a project is by thinking in terms of the picture package, a half dozen or so related images that tell a small story. Add all the picture packages together and you have a larger theme. This theme can then translate into a book, a multimedia package, etc.

The picture package allows you to feel small successes as the time, or workshop, progresses. If I look at my current New Mexico project, I have completed picture packages on the Spaceport, the UFO Festival, White Sands, etc. I could do an entire project on any ONE of these topics, but my goal is a broader look at a larger idea. So, I create packages.

So have a look and listen and see if this helps.

Personally I'm Glad It's Gone

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Ignore these images, they suck.

A few months ago, when Polaroid died a horrible death for perhaps the last time, I read an article about the demise of this legendary photographic entity.

I normally wouldn’t read an article like this, probably because I find these topics depressing and subjects that have been covered to death. Our news cycle is like a binge eater at the Sizzler buffet, voracious and nearly unstoppable.

But in this case, I’m glad I did read this thing. What got me wasn’t the demise of Polaroid, which is a bummer, but what got me was some “digitally inclined” chap they interviewed about the demise of Polaroid.

In short, this person, more or less said, “Good, I’m glad it’s dead, people should be using digital anyway.”

I just wanted to say how much I agreed with this messenger of all things digital. I mean how could anyone like Polaroid? Or what we are left with Fujiroid?

An instant picture? Bad. Clearly.

Unless it’s a digital instant picture, then I can see that being just fine.

And getting a tiny print that looks incredible, I detest that too.

The only tiny, instant prints I like require me to download, sit at a computer, buy ink and paper, and run through countless drop down menus. I LOVE doing this. So much fun, and after twenty five years of the world’s most expensive R&D, CLEARLY better than that lousy Polaroid crap.

I’m also glad I never have to look at those sensational journal books what were made from these small prints, you know the ones in glass cases at the gallery shows. All those famous photographers, who for decades kept log books of all their shoots, findings, snapshots, castings, etc, I’m SO glad all that is gone. I mean who wants to look at that stuff? Who wants a history of what we’ve done? The history I dream about is filled with racks of hard drives and links to “online galleries” which we all know by now are the ONLY way to look at work, especially on small monitors with slow connections, that way we can take our time.

My final point is that although I’m truly gleeful that the “Evil Roid” is now gone, I’m sure glad someone scanned those infamous Polaroid borders, because it sure has saved me a lot of post-processing time when I’m faking my digital images to LOOK like the dreaded Polaroid. So glad we don’t have to deal with this stuff anymore. Enough already.

I’m sure glad these “digitally inclined” are watching out for our best interests and are pioneering the way in copying the old school ways with all things new. I think we are all better for it and our robust and vibrant industry is proof of their genius.

Now, as soon as I upgrade about forty pieces of electronic equipment in my office I can get back out there and start shooting.

Wish me luck!

Polaroid from El Mirage


This baby was taken a long time ago, on El Mirage Dry Lake. I was shooting and traveling on my motorcycle with 4×5 Crown Graphic, and Polaroid Type 55, a unique beast of a film that is no longer with us. For you geeks who think you can fake this look by scanning the border and applying your digital file to the middle, think again. It wasn’t just the border, it was the lens and falloff of the camera that also made this look.

Not to mention the tones and feel of the “roid.” It was a grand thing. You can still get this film, in limited quantities, and for a much higher price than what was originally intended for this product. There are rumors of someone buying the machines of Polaroid and reviving this once great entity, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

This was a fun way of working. Slowly. Methodical. One sheet at a time, packing and unpacking the bike. Spending time with people. talking, telling stories, hearing stories. You can’t do a drive by with a 4×5.

I used to shoot portraits, and commercial jobs with this camera until parts and pieces of it began to break off and fall at the feet of the client. “Ah, something just fell out of your camera,” they would say. “Oh ya, I don’t need that anymore,” I would answer as I quickly tried to distract them.

I really miss this damn thing. A friend just made me a 4×5 pinhole, which I have yet to use, but I will in the coming days.