Sep 30, 2010

Salton Sea

Isolated, desolate, and hauntingly beautiful, the Salton Sea is a place like no other. Once a tourist hot spot, remnants of a distant past still cling to the shores of this accidental oasis. With an uncertain future projects like the restoration of the North Shore Yacht Club show potential. For now, it remains a place to reminisce, to explore. It's a photographer's paradise.

Sep 28, 2010

Exploring Hollywood Blvd.

Over chipped pavement shadowed by golden facades, the palm tree lined streets of Hollywood Boulevard are brimming with activity. In a dream world driven by the promise of opportunity and stardom, the vendors of this dizzying street harp on about star homes, movie tours, and even their own work. It's lavish and seedy, exhilarating and perhaps even a bit sad.

The Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards, is kitty corner to dingy tourist shops, posh retail outlets, make-shift museums, and chain restaurants. I love it for the same reason I love Las Vegas. It's an illusion that strives to bridge the gap between the homeless guy on the corner and the international celebrity that lives in the hills. The chances of seeing a real star amongst the impersonators is slim, yet still the continuous camera flashes dictate that everyone is invested in the scene.

A small time independent filmmaker like me is quickly lost in fantasy. As a kid this seemed believable, attainable, and even desirable. It might as well be a movie set now. Hollywood Boulevard is an amazing place that allows you to get lost in a flurry of movie gossip and entertainment euphoria, but it's also just symbolism on steroids. A fun ride for an afternoon, you can't help but feel like a commodity in such a tourist saturated locale.

I marvel at the Oscar statue knock-offs and amounts of people taking pictures of sidewalks, myself included. Hollywood Boulevard inadvertently forces you to consider all those who haven't made it while touring a walk of fame that lists those who have. Who are some of these stars anyway? The juxtaposition makes me appreciate my day to day editing for it's lack of glamour.

Another busload of tourists is unloaded in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre as we head into Madame Tussuad's to take our pictures with wax. It's just another day in Hollywood.

For more, check out the footage I shot of Hollywood Blvd. in 2004 and my complete photo set from 2010. 

Sep 27, 2010

North Shore Yacht Club: Before & After

For those who have been interested in my Salton Sea posts I thought I'd share a couple of images that I shot of the North Shore Yacht Club. The before image is from August 2009 and the after image is from September 2010. You can see just how much work had to be done, and how much has changed in a relatively short time. You can check out the original promotional video below to see what this place once was.

Vintage Salton Sea Postcards

These original (now vintage) Salton Sea postcards were purchased while exploring some of these abandoned landscapes in Southern California. The postcards include scenes of the North Shore Yacht Club, North Shore Marina, Salton Sea State Park, and the North Shore Motel. While these areas were eventually abandoned, the Salton Sea has seen some recent improvement. That said, these postcards reflect a bygone area when the Salton Sea was booming. 

vintage salton sea postcards

vintage salton sea postcards
vintage salton sea postcards

vintage salton sea postcards

Sep 22, 2010

Is Blogging Dead?

A tried and true topic, part of an ongoing debate for years, and now something that I'm beginning to question personally - is blogging dead? With an over-saturated Internet creating traffic slumps for the average blogger, you have to wonder if something is changing or if popularity is killing the forum? Even established YouTubers who have sites of their own don't get near the traffic to their personal blogs as their typical videos do. What gives?

I've been reading about how to improve my blog since I first created it, and it that time it seems like there have been waves of change. Traffic exchanges I've used have seen their peaks and fizzled out. I've jumped on networking and link sharing bandwagons and hav
e now seen 90% of those expire. I've contributed to other blogs, commented on relevant posts, and tried to get involved in forums that I knew would introduce me to like minded people. Although all of these strategies paid off at one time or another, they all took a lot of work and most of them didn't last.

Is blogging dead? No. As long as people, like myself, are still interested in doing it they'll be around and some of those blogs will thrive. My Internet success is minor, and it's relative to what I wanted to accomplish with it in th
e first place. I'm not trying to make money online or feed my ego too much, I just wanted a way to build credibility for my work and impress potential festivals and employers. In this respect, I can say that I've been living up to my goal. Whether my blog has 1000 or 100000 views doesn't matter much as long as I'm connecting with people who help broaden my creative experience - either by interacting, sharing feedback, or offering work.

I think commitment provides the real lesson and reward. Blogging gives the average person a chance to connect with strangers around the world. There are
a lot of people with shifty motives, but I find if you're genuine and upfront about what you're trying to do you'll often find your target demographic naturally; those people just like you who are trying to connect, be inspired, get informed, etc. Blogs die by choice or an inability to adapt - not because people aren't interested anymore.

Keep your blogs alive folks! Create because you love to and that passion will pay dividends in readership.

Sep 20, 2010

Pacific Coast Highway California

After the California road trip last year I guess I was feeling a bit exhausted carrying my giant video camera around. As nice as it is, it's hardly travel sized. So after the thousands of miles traveled, this clip from the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur is the only footage I shot on the entire trip - less than 2 minutes long. No worries though, I made up for all this with nearly 1500 photographs which will go towards a brand new photo book in the same style as last years. More to come on this.

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway itself is something that everyone should probably have on their bucket list. The winding roads hug the cliffs of the California coastline and take you from rocky beaches to expansive vistas from above. We were driving north from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and preferably if you were headed south you'd have a better view for more of the trip. Thankfully, there were plenty of places to stop, take pictures, and just enjoy the view.

While there won't be a huge onslaught of new road trip edits like there were last year, I am planning on doing a more elaborate edit with all of the 2009 footage very soon. Stay tuned for brief photo journals from the California road trip coming soon also! It's good to be back!

See two versions of the video below (with different song choices for each) and a video of my complete photo set from the PCH.

Sep 2, 2010

So, California?

As seemingly random as the question was, in July I was half joking when I proposed the idea of returning to Indio, CA again. Last year Dave and I had a whirlwind week driving down to California and back and happened to enjoy it so much that it never really seemed out of the question that we could potentially go again. Did I expect to return a year later? No. But admittedly having a friend who was just as eager to expand on last years road trip made it easy to set things in motion.

This summer has seen some dramatic changes. While I've maintained both of the jobs I had last year, my responsibilities (or the expectations at least) have changed considerably. I spent much of the last three months working full time with contract work in addition to that. I'm amazed that a single year has allowed me to significantly transform professionally, gain financial independence, and upgrade on numerous fronts (place, car, etc.). The post-university daze that I spoke of last year in regard to the Indio trip is completely irrelevant now - If 2009 was about picking myself up, in 2010 I dusted myself off.

Returning to California now, and doing it with the same enthusiasm and energy as last year only proves that I'm still capable of doing what I really want to. I don't have to feel guilty about work, I don't have to worry about the money, and I can actually let my mind rest as I'm taking this temporary detour. I was always afraid when I saw university coming to a close that it would mean the end to my actual independence. The truth is, I don't think we ever lose that, but a lot of people are just willing to surrender it too easily.

When you're looking for a series of experiences, and not just a holiday, it's like banking on the fact that the memories you create will pay dividends years and years down the road. Right now that road ahead looks pretty good . . . so, California?

Here's a summary of the footage I shot last year.