Smogranch is moving……

Hey Everyone,

SMOGRANCH IS MOVING TO SHIFTER

I’m giving notice. Not a thirty-day notice mind you, more like immediate, fleeing the country with NSA on my heels notice. Only I’m not fleeing. Just consolidating. I’m going to start posting my Smogranch stories on my Shifter.media site under the “Read” Category. I can’t just sit here and play on the dolphin all day. I’ve got work to do. Same stories, same style, just in one location instead of two. Shifter will be undergoing changes in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that. I’m sure you will all be anxiously awaiting….okay, probably not. Get your asses over there people!

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An Outlet I’ve so Needed

You know me by now. I simmer.

As I write this my leg twitches and my mind races about the things I’ve been exposed to. Just in the past half day here at the Blurb office. I’m an interloper. “Why are you here,” people ask. “Ah, it’s hard to explain.” My journal sits near my left hand, slowly filling with what I need to get out, but filling FAR slower than ever before. At one point in my life what flowed on these pages was very much about volume. Violent quivers of things I just needed to rid myself of. But now things are different. Short, choppy blocks of notes more than prose. But they FEEL like they might be okay. Or good even. I really don’t know.
Recently a friend asked “Hey, do you know about Hi?” Minutes later I was signed up and “sketching.” This is free form, raw, literary expression and something I’ve never had before. Different from this blog. A community, described as “real-time” and I feel it.
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You see writing for me, real writing, the thing I do alone in the dark, has always been intensely private, veiled under the suspicion it only made sense to me. Maybe not. A few years ago I wrote something in the middle of the night, a piece about a drive by shooting. I made it up. The shooting actually happened, but I fabricated what I felt was really going down. I sent it to a friend who sent it to an editor and BOOM it was printed. Everywhere. “Have you written anything like this before?” the editor asked. “I have bins in my garage filled with hundreds of books of this material.” Not saying it’s all good, but I’m saying it’s there.

I’m not sure how I use Hi is how it was originally intended. I think for many it’s about making a mobile image and then sharing a thought. But as all of you know, I’m a film photographer, so I don’t use shoot digital unless I have no other choice, and I don’t make images with my phone. I dream of visiting Tokyo with processing tanks and a scanner and spending my late nights in the dark, the room periodically flooded by the slow burn of a scanner moving across silver grain. So, for me this site is about reflections. I have twenty-five-years of images, themed, stand alone and random. With each comes memory and experience and this is what I’m attempting to share.

Also, Hi is very much about community. So is Smogranch, but historically Smogranch has been photo-centric. Hi is also about imagery, but it’s the wordy part that I find most intriguing. Both for personal and professional reasons I’m spending far less time with photographers and far more with authors, so finding these folks scattered around the world, or in my hometown, has been illuminating.

So now I’m thinking. A lot. What does this really mean? Nothing? Everything? This word thing is in my blood. Gramps was full-time, full-on for thirty years. I have a sinking and painful suspicion my life is going to change. Stay tuned for the fallout. And those of you so inclined you should check out this site.

New Site: Oh Ya, I’m a Photographer Again.

It has been three years since I actually had a photography website. During this period, when people would ask about where they could see my images online, I would say “I don’t have any images online.” The looks I received were PRICELESS. “How can you be a photographer and not have images online?” they would ask. “I don’t work as a photographer, so I really don’t need a website,” I would reply. Then came the process of my friends and family saying “Wait, no he IS a photographer,” then defending my cult status as “photographer,” “not a photographer,” etc. Personally, I think this is entertaining and because it speaks to the IDEA of being a photographer, not the realities. For me it was simple. If I made my living with photography, I’m a photographer. If I don’t, I’m not.

When people ask me what I do I respond,“I work for Blurb.” Normally, the response is “Oh we love Blurb, I made a book about….” This is what is so great about this company. We provide an outlet for stories, and that is one damn cool thing. However, that is not what this post is about. This post is about my new site, and the new reality that, once again, I AM a photographer.
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It was official. A phone call. “Does this sound appealing to you?” Ten seconds ticked by…..“YES, this sounds incredible actually, like a dream scenario.” So here we are people. I’m in the game once again. Please alert the media. I know for some of you this idea of being or not being a photographer is puzzling or maddening, but for me it’s very real, and it has a significant impact on things like behavior, ethics, quality standards not to mention the idea of building an archive, which for me has always been a critical driving force behind me picking up a camera in the first place.

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I am now photographing for one client, Blurb. The idea is simple. I photograph people living creative, artistic lives. We’ve noticed some threads, some consistencies with these folks, and we are fascinated by their workspaces, their lives, their habits and their process. My goal is to shoot classic reportage essays with the idea being the work could be used in a variety of forms, from print to web and anything in between. This is a celebratory mission. The creative life is under siege, whether you be in music, art or photography, but there is something urgent about those who choose this path. It’s like your blood type. You can’t change it. You were born with this need and your life is about expanding upon it.

I can’t share any of the new work yet. It’s under wraps in private galleries, and will be until it runs in it’s native form. There will be new outlets designed and created to showcase this work, and other work that features similar missives. The site you see here is simply a public face.

I realized very quickly that I needed a new site, but not just a site to showcase images. I’m not really going to be showcasing them myself anyway. I needed a TOOL more than just a website. Photoshelter baby. I had used their services before, and literally within minutes I was up and running once again. I quickly found myself having to make a decision I hadn’t thought about in years. Because the new work will be private my homepage was entirely blank. I thought “I should put up some public work so at least it looks like a real site.” My mind raced back to the old me, “Well, I’ll put up a bunch of stories.” And then the idea of culling and editing began to sink in and knew I didn’t have it in me.

But more importantly I realized something else. A LOT has changed in three years. I studied my own online habits and thought back to a recent visit to photographer sites. These were really solid shooters and I didn’t give them much time. Three, four, five clicks maybe. So instead of uploading hundreds of images I made a decision to load just twenty-five total. My mindset is “If you can’t figure out who I am in these twenty-five then either I suck or you aren’t paying attention.” I also uploaded images I would have never uploaded before because they weren’t of a certain ilk. Images like this and this.
Remember, behind each image on this site is an in depth essay of twenty to fifty images.

Many photographers today are at the mercy of industry bottlenecks who need or want to quickly pigeonhole someone so they can mentally categorize them for current or future work. “That is the guy who shoots square urban landscapes.” “That is the woman who shoots lit portraits of animals,” or “That is the person who shoots protests.” I don’t have to deal with any of this anymore and I can now upload pretty much anything I want to upload. Am I a landscape photographer? No. Do I normally find intense satisfaction in stalking wildlife? No, but I like these images, and now I can put them up without risking an unwelcomed categorization. Who knows, in the future if I get bored with this, I might add more, but for now I thought, “Keep it clean and simple.”

For those of you wondering about the “photographer, not a photographer” thing just remember this is MY way of dealing with this. There is a HUGE difference between doing work on your work and doing work for a client. Secondarily, there is a significant dialogue that needs to take place regarding how the work will get done, get delivered, get archived, etc. With these conversations and arrangements comes a situation that constantly hangs in the balance of work vs. client. I won’t go into the details but these conversations are still ongoing and are actually laying the foundation for the future of the campaign. The balance is how I feel I need to work compared to what the client, in this case Blurb, needs or wants.

These “Creative Dispatches” will occupy a significant portion of my life, and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do these. In many ways this is the dream scenario, it really is. I have been encouraged to make the work I want to make in any way I see fit. I have both professional and personal goals with these shoots, but I frankly need to brush the dust off and get my head around thinking like a photographer once again. The adventure begins.