This is where I work, my family's restaurant in my hometown of Santa Maria, CA. We're known for our burgers and unrelenting sarcasm. Aside from when I embark on various trips, I can be found here every day of the week (closed Sundays).
As honest a self-portrait as I can make right now, looking tired, a bit unsure of the future, but good-natured and ready for whatever lies ahead. Oh yeah, and I think clown noses are silly, always keeping one in my pocket. Yeah, I'm kinda weird.
I am very close with many of my models, but I have only chosen two to represent here. First is Kari, whom I credit as my first "official" model, though I had shot countless women before. She was the first woman willing to try any creative, outlandish idea I could come up with. From a chocolate outfit to swimming pools to abusing corn dogs, there is nothing this girl won't attempt to indulge in. Sweet, goofy, and passionate, she will talk a mile a minute. Since I rarely get to see her now, I just sit back and always enjoy the ride. Here is a day last year that she said, "I don't know, whatever you wanna do."
My other, equally loved favorite model is Laura, who I actually met through Kari. They were both fun, energetic dancers at the local community college and thankfully trusted me right away. I have seen Laura go from a geeky Star Wars loving tomboy to a grown woman, full of confidence and wisdom, all while retaining a capacity for joy and laughter that few possess. Both she and Kari are the little sisters I never had.
My life is somewhat uncomplicated, so I was unsure of what else to show that "told my story". The best way to understand my day-to-day life is to view the contents of my pockets. From a young age I had a fascination for comic book characters who had utility belts, carrying everything they might need for any occasion at all times. Here is all I need to achieve a variety of goals:
-Eye drops because my eyes are bad. I think itís God's little joke to give a visual artist bad eyes from birth.
-My wallet, because I'm an adult. Duh. Inside can be found money, business cards, postcard stamps, and various forms of real and phony ID cards.
-A few Altoids, because you never know when you'll get a temporary case of halitosis.
-The keys to my vehicle, symbol of travel, freedom, diligence and responsibility.
-My phone, the symbol of connection with the world. I chose not to show many friends in these photos, mainly because all of my closest friends live several hours away or on the other side of the country. This device makes it possible to share lives, which is pretty amazing for something that can fit in your pocket.
-Lastly, the infamous clown nose. I've never had an opinion of clowns one way or the other, finding them neither particularly funny nor scary. Still, years ago I randomly came across a clown nose and began using it as an unofficial prop. Soon it became a trusty way to break the ice with people, and now it has almost become a trademark. Yikes.
Any photo list of my life would be remiss if not representing the open road. It is the eternal search for what is over the next horizon, hoping to find the answer to Dan Eldon's question "What's the difference between being lost and exploring?" It is a symbol of exhaustion, independence, and self-reliance. Taken in South Dakota this past June, this is less than a mile from the Badlands. I can't begin to accurately log how many miles I've driven in my lifetime, but it might be a bit more than you. I'm not bragging, I'm just sayin'...
I agreed to shoot a friend of a friend's pregnancy photos having made a small name for myself in that genre last year. On a whim I threw out this idea of "Snow White and the Seven Paternity Tests." I doubted whether I could pull it off, what with the location and nine peoples' schedules and costumes to organize myself. I continue to be amazed by how well it finally turned out.
During the past administration I had very strong opinions of dissent about the direction our country was headed, so I made a series of work called "The New Americans. Topics ranged from health care to family values and basic notions of American strength and ignorance. Reaction to this shot has caused a wide variety of interest, from being displayed in a prominent lawyer's home in Texas to helping to keep me detained at the US/Canadian border. The power of art is still impressive.
"Thoughts You Won't Admit To." My first big photo series, made even more important because it was the first time I had Kari and Laura work with me together. Years before I picked up a camera professionally, I experienced a complicated romantic break-up as we all have and had this concept for conveying the feelings we bear but never share. Only after getting to a point of comfort with the notion of photography did I pull out the idea again. There are a dozen or so images in this series, and though we shot it back in 2006, I still get e-mails every week from people saying how much they relate to it. Makes it all worthwhile.