25 October 2009


"Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first, the lesson afterward."

As interesting as the above quote is, there's a ring of truth in it that cannot be denied. So far, I have no idea how I am doing on my test, nor even how much longer it is. More still, I have no idea as to the lesson I am to learn or even if its one I CAN learn. In school, I did fairly well on exams. Even if I didn't study or prepare myself for them, I had a knack for knowing HOW to take tests, especially ones that were multiple choice. I learned to deduce the correct answer in most cases to at least earn a low "B". In the event where the answers took essay form, I learned to basically BS my way around for at least partial credit. It was the fill in the blank questions that usually got the better of me. Even then, I could answer some of the questions by continuing to read the following questions, hoping for a clue.

Where am I going with this? Good question, because I am not all so sure. My current challenges in a city with drastically high unemployment still remain. Yes, that's the more obvious and probably more pertinant situation that I most needs to resolve. However its the conundrum of my photographic art that has me slightly puzzled at the moment. I often meet potential models in my comings and goings of daily living. As I meet someone I may happen to be interested in shooting, I make no hesitations in introducing myself and asking. It just so happened that earlier this week, while at a Denny's restaurant, a young lady I spoke to about my work asked me what it was that I did with my art since I made no real effort to profit from it. Of course I explained that as any artist, my endeavors are to exhibit and share it. I explained that I did so on my web site and blog. She looked at me, as if to say, "That's it?". Or maybe I just read that into her pause, as she starred at me, waiting for more in my answer.
Another potential model even earlier than the last, asked if I was any good. With my chest thrown out and a slight smirk on my face, I tried to resist a prideful or boastful answer, so I kept it simple and said, "Of course." But then she asked, "Says who?" I found myself searching for an answer that wouldn't set myself up for a response like the one you get when someone says, "Beauty comes from within." To which the popular response is, "That's what ugly people say".

So how much creditablility does an artist need before he's officially "good"? Does that warrrant being famous and well-known? Then at what level do you achieve that? Does local cred count? How do you get famous in the nude art arena? How do you establish yourself as "good"? I know I like my own work, but then that's kind of like asking a mother if she thinks her child is a handsome or pretty. Is doing art for the sake of art not enough or are credentials necessary to validate your street cred? Who knows? These are just a few other things I have to figure out for myself. Now that I have time on my hands, I can contemplate these things.

15 October 2009

Scouting Nevada...Again!

"Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway."
-Webb Chiles 

Well, the job hunt continues. Gotta make rent, you know. But sometimes you gotta take a break. Granted, I took a week off from losing my job before I started back the job hunt, but these experiences can really get to you. So I had the opportunity to head back out on a scouting trip of Nevada again. Actually, I retraced my steps back in June of 08 when I headed up to Cathedral Gorge. With the exception of Delamar, I made all the same stops. You can read about my first endeavor on the lonely Hwy 93 HERE. Most of the images from that excursion were lost when my computer crashed not long after I returned and I hadn't backed up those shots. So my rusty can project...gone. I could have headed back in to Delamar where I got all those shots, but I'll save that one for another time.

This trip was a little different. I didn't take the same shots as I did on the last one. Some were similar, but I don't think I got one shot of Cathedral Gorge this time. It was a little more of an adventure to me this time around. Previous posts spoke of my climbing, scrambling and at one point, almost getting stuck on a mountain out in Red Rock. It was no different at Cathedral Gorge. There were some teenage kids that drove up and as they walked nearby, I asked them if any of them had a rope. I wanted to climb back down into the cave that Felix helped me explore on the last trip. None of them did, but they told me about another cave that I've got to go back and check out. I'm all about some spelunking. Anyway, a few of them started climbing the formations that make up Cathedral Gorge. One of them saw something that he thought was cool which prompted me to join him. Next thing you know, a few others come up and somehow, somebody gets the notion to see who can get to the top...all the way to the top...first.

There was that errant pause, that often proceeds the quick considerations that run through the mind when you are contemplating doing something stupid. It lasted only about 3.6 seconds at the most. Then there's that sudden burst of appendages reaching out in all directions as each of us tried to find the easiest and quickest path to the top. One chickened out first. Another got stuck in an impassible route. Me and another kid were like live action Spidermen as each of us reckelessly made our ascent. Twice, I hit a few spots that initially looked impassable, but my momentum simply forced me to jump to the next ledge before my mind could have the benefit of thought. "Thought", would have been an exercise in wisdom because at any time, the loose dirt and rock could either take away your footing or simply cave in under you. But at the same time, "thought" made you sacrifice speed. No way I was gonna let this kid beat me.

As you reach the top, it's actually not the top. Its just another plateau. There was more to climb. It reminded me of the Yamahs, back in Korea, which are what we called the mountain ranges that had staggered plateaus. From our vantage point, we couldn't see the top. All we could see was the next plateau which was a few hundred feet deep and hid the next summit. So just when we've thought we've finally reached the top, the next climb is revealed. That gets discouraging after a while. But anyway, I beat the kid. He talked smack initially, so I threw it into his face that he let a 40-year old man kick his ass. Needless to say, I am certain he didn't need to soak in a hot tub later that night like I did. Getting down was the tricky part, so I let him lead me back down. It was not a bad day at all. I don't know why I act like such a kid when it comes to this sort of thing, but when its in you, you gotta let it out somehow.

Its good to get away from the city. I like being out in nature. Passing through Caliente this time, I got to talk with a lady who was born and raised there, Roz, along with her daughter who lives here in Vegas, Dawn. I was intrigued that the city (or town, as it were) even existed. I can see why it was there back in the mining days, but why its still there today was a mystery to me. You can't get a cell phone signal with AT&T or Verizon. There is no Wal-Mart and the closest fast food joint is an hour an a half away. Roz explained that the place sort of grows on you and you get used to it. Crime is low and its a great place to raise kids. They still have all the amenities of a regular city. Not sure about a movie theater, but they do have a park, schools, police, firemen, and a hospital equipped with a medevac helicopter. They feel its an excellent place to retire. Dawn gets bored there too easily, she says, so I guess its not for everybody. I'll be visiting there again at some point. I gotta check out that cave those kids told me about.

By the way, did you notice the logo on the truck's trailer!?!?

07 October 2009

The Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth

Everybody Loves Calvin and Hobbes... I thought this one was appropriate.

Franz Nieto, Piercing Expert

Martha, Piercing Expert

I mentioned to you all about last weekend's excursion into the mountains. What I saved until today about this past weekend was my invitation to the Tattoo Expo 2009, dubbed "The Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth". I think it lived up to it's billing. Granted, there was a Photoshop convention going on at the same time...I went Friday afternoon. However the Tat Expo was the bigger deal for me. It kicked off at the Mandalay Bay and had an enormorous turnout. As soon as you walk in you hear the loud buzz of tattoo guns, but as you acclaimate, you cease to hear them. There were so many artists there with a labyrinth of booths and stations set up to give anyone their heart's content. I need to give a special big thanks to Martha and Tattoo & Company piercing expert, Franz Nieto. Talk about some awesome folks with big hearts. Martha had some of the first dermal achors that I had ever seen. I think I'd seen them before but mistook them for bars.

Esther Hanuka

Do you remember the T-Mobile commercial where a series of accountants are getting the door slammed in their faces for trying to talk to families about saving money on their cell phone plans; but then Catherine Zeta-Jones walks up to do the same thing and immediately gets this one guy's undivided attention? Well, that's what it was like when I got to meet Esther Hanuka, aka Queen Esther, who is probably the prettiest thing on the planet wearing skin art, and let her talk to me about tattoo magazines. I'm telling you, I was within arms reach of the woman and I still wasn't believing how gorgeous she is. As many nude woman as I photograph, you'd think I'd be fairly comfortable around women and I tell you she gave me a case of the dry mouth. However, she quickly put me at ease, with how cool she is. She's not standoffish at all, as some hot mods get a reputation for. I'm pretty quick on discerning people's demeanor and at no time did I get the impression that she's stuck up or maybe too good for us regular folk. We talked for more than a minute and, in fact, she talked to me about how gorgeously beautiful Vikki Blows is, as if she weren't just as fabulous herself. (She even promised to let Vikki know I want to shoot her, next time she see's her!) But then again, I can be honest. When I walked away from her table of tattoo magazines, I wasn't thinking about Ms. Blows. Esther is a fabulously gorgeous woman, but I was mainly impressed with simply how awesomely cool she is. And besides, she's got a beautiful name.

All in all, I enjoyed myself at the Tattoo Expo. I just finished editing several of the pics I shot that day. You can find about 20 more shots of them on my web site, Photo Anthems.com. One thing that I didn't expect was to be able to take my camera in there. I brought no flash, diffuser...and only the 50mm prime. I figured if I went in with a bigger lens, that I'd get stopped at the door or something. Had several instances where a nice zoom would have made the difference. I figured I'd get to go back on the next day, and bring the bigger gear, but then that was when I got stuck up on that mountain. I was too tired to go afterwards and the knee was just starting to ache by the time I got home. Lesson learned.I'll def know next time.

04 October 2009

Check out Melissa on Univers d' Artistes

The interview for Melissa has been up on Univers d'Artistes for a few days now. This girl has been working constantly, but I am sure you can still get on her calendar if you contact her. You should go over to check it out. (Speaking of calendar, you can get her's here.) I think it went well. In fact, let me ask you to take a second to help her become the face of E.L.F. Cosmetics by voting for her on this link right here. You can vote every day in fact, so bookmark it and comeback as often as you can to give her your vote. I did it just now and it took me 4 seconds, so help out a model, why don't cha!

What you see here are the images we used for that post taken recently in the Vegas deserts. I've been out to that location twice since we shot looking for a specific geographic feature and have come up nil on both occasions. There is supposed to be a body of water out there up in the mountains and I see now way how one can reach it in 30 minutes from the location Melissa and I did our shot. I spent hours scrambling up rocks on the first attempt in one direction and got not even half way. Oddly enough I decided to come back down for two reasons. One it was getting dark, and two I had began to feel light-headed. I had forgotten to eat pretty much that whole day. I had forgotten to wear a hat as I usually do and I even forgot my watch. Things started getting black like tunnel vision so I sat down for a while, but as I got up, I was still dizzy. So I just passed out on a big flat rock for a spell and woke up to the sun almost down over the mountain. I guess losing a job can have that sudden effect of temporary stupidness.

The second trip, I took a different route. No trail this time. I just went straight up a canyon valley, scrambling over rocks. This time I think I was half way up before I decided to come back down. I tell you the distance is much farther than you think when you are looking up at it from below. The scrambling this time was a little tougher and once again, its about 5pm and it dawns on me that I hadn't eaten a thing all day. Fortunately, I never felt faint on this hike, even though it was more strenuous. I think I'd like to do it again if for no other reason then just the exhilaration of the climb, only without my backpack. Twice I lost footing because it threw me off balance and there were several spots where there were just inches of foot space along a ledge with a sheer drop-off. Going up was much easier than coming down, although coming down was faster. I was high enough to switch my phone over from 3G to the Edge network to still get a signal out. So I called Felix to let him know a reasonable proximity of where I was and that if he didn't hear back from me in 3 hours or so, to send somebody looking for me. I figured it might be wise to do so, since I was alone in a remote place. Sometimes, my knee can just give out without warning (from an accident while in the military).

I seldom discuss politics or religeon on this blog. However speaking of the military, I was reminded of an article I read today that just burns me on both ends. I recall seeing in the news a while back about an organization that stood outside the funerals of fallen soldiers and protested while the grieving parents and family tried to say good-bye to their son and pay their last respects.

"NASHVILLE, April 11, 2006 — As dozens of mourners streamed solemnly into church to bury Cpl. David A. Bass, a fresh-faced 20-year-old marine who was killed in Iraq on April 2, a small clutch of protesters stood across the street on Tuesday, celebrating his violent death.

"Thank God for Dead Soldiers," read one of their placards. "Thank God for I.E.D.'s," read another, a reference to the bombs used to kill service members in the war. [One even read, "God hates your tears".] To drive home their point — that God is killing soldiers to punish America for condoning homosexuality — members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., a tiny fundamentalist splinter group, kicked around an American flag and shouted, if someone approached, that the dead soldiers were rotting in hell." - New York Times

As a veteran myself, you have to understand, this pissed me off to no end. I am still amazed at the depravity of humanity. Just as it seems I can't be surprised anymore of how low mankind can get, another invention of hatred and evil is released upon society; and in the name of God, no less. I felt fairly confident that this was such a clear-cut case that it would not only be stopped but that the perpetrators would be penalized and the victims redeemed. Well, I was wrong:

Court Says GI Funeral Protests Legal, September 25, 2009, Baltimore Sun
"RICHMOND, Va. -- A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that a fundamentalist Kansas church's protest outside the funeral of a Westminster Marine killed in Iraq is protected speech and did not violate the privacy of the service member's family, reversing a lower court's $5 million award."

I don't always agree with the some of the reasons why we go to battle. As a soldier, I pledged to follow orders and defend this country and its interests and allies against enemies both foreign and domestic. We are a military with a civilian politician as Commander-in-Chief. It is not always a cut and dry decision when we deploy and the public may not always agree. I can understand that. Iraq is not popular. I can understand that. Soldiers on foreign ground done always solve a problem. I understand that. But to disgrace and disrespect the men and women, and their families, who are the ultimate servants of our country, who volunteer their lives to provide the freedoms all of you enjoy... I just don't understand why everyone in America is not coming to the defense of our fallen. Too many cases. Too many situations arise where our fallen are disrespected in order to get a story, express a radical opinion, or otherwise get attention and not enough is being done about it.

Damn. That went on more than I wanted. I'm done ranting.