Sunday, November 25, 2007

going lo-fi

this photo of billy idol is actually one of the few of my punk rock images that i would call a fine art photo. there are so many fine art photography elements in it... the various reflections, the composition, the unguarded moment in which the subject was captured... and my favorite of all juxtapositional elements...a beautiful subject in gritty surroundings... the print itself is gorgeous... such beautiful tones, etc...

but when between susan arosteguy (the genius graphic designer who created the look of my tour materials) got a hold of the pix i would be using for posters, postcards and handbills, she took the pictures to even grittier levels... and when i sent this already deconstructed image to rosa guerrero, who organized the exhibit at sound exchange, she added to the vintage punk rock of it all by handwriting the show info on it....

and yet... i think the image of billy retains all its fine art qualities and i love seeing it juxtaposed with the hand written gig info and presented in a most high contrast, over-xeroxed way...

yes... punk rock imagery changed our visual palette for sure...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

black & white is better. i already KNEW that...

jack hat 3

i have been tweaking these photos i took last year of jack yarber for about the whole year.

jack was trying on different hats - it was in the evening - already dark outside, and he was doing his hat tricks in an interior hallway in his apartment...dimly lit, and of course, reflecting all the greens and yellows in the place, casting a pall on skin tones as if the lights were the deadly fluorescent variety. i have battled with those tones...and today, it hit me like 16 tons...that which i have known all my life...PICTURES ARE BETTER IN BLACK & WHITE.

with a little help from photoshop, i just eliminated the color, and instantly, i now love the pictures.

i hope jack does....

the hat trick set is posted on my portraits page, the female gaze.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

open all night stuff

i wish the prius wasn't parked in front of canter's and also the car behind it. then this image would have been timeless... with the neon lights totally sending the colors off into the land of 1970s kodak chemical tones...

but because of the hybrid car and the "they all look alike" model behind it, this photo is wearing the scarlet letter of being 21st century. too bad.

what i like about photos and certain photographers and cinematographers is when you can't tell when the photo was taken, and it doesn't matter. like tim burton's edward scissorhands.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

punk rock's inner circle?

i don't get out much anymore. really. i'll bet you think i jest, but seriously, i stay home plugged into my telephone (literally - with the headset!) and computer, talking to clients and also planning and organizing my upcoming photo tour.

however, last week, i ventured out in the hot hot heat to see my old, dear friends, the legendary british punk rock band, sham 69.

i don't go in too much for the live action photos anymore. i've shot at least 100,000 frames of guys with guitars. not that there's anything wrong with it - but anyone with a camera and some stamina can do it.

i prefer to capture a moment that resonates for me on a very intimate level.


dave parsons portrait
dave parsons looking like alain delon or jean-paul belmondo

not your standard portrait.

steve and ames
steve and ames, road crew guys for the dickies

i don't think i could actually do one.

but as the reviewer for the nashville scene wrote a couple years ago when my first punk turns 30 exhibit traveled, Kereakes' photographs, which are often (uncharacteristically) in color, have the informality of family photos - that is, if your family includes Dee Dee Ramone and Stiv Bators.

i liked that review.

punk rockers ARE my family....

the details and informal family photos of my day with sham 69 are at

Sunday, August 26, 2007

summer fruit

there is nothing so lovely as a tree.

on an overcast day, with the sky and the ground both shades of grey, these vibrant purple plums provide the signs of life.

Friday, August 17, 2007

yes, punk is 30

i've been dropping the hint for a couple years!

but i still get excited when photo researchers and editors find one from a MAJOR publication did today.

today (well, technically yesterday) was the anniversary of elvis's death. the king is dead; long live the king kind of thing.

google tells me that iggy pop is the king of punk rock. well, that certainly is a good thing and i do not disagree.

iggy pop 77

but did any royalty you know every look that good?

Monday, August 06, 2007

water, sort of...

the street offers a panoply of beautiful images. i love the manhole covers and other forged (as in foundry forging, of course) metal coverings.

i knew i couldn't be the only one who was into this. while living in nyc and working in brooklyn, i took a different route each day, and noticed that all the manhole covers said "city of new york, made in china," or "made in india" and started photographing them. they looked like tribal tattoos.

then on my travels, i went expressly looking for manhole covers of interest, and found they were everywhere!


it wasn't until i saw this grate warning me to "dump no waste" in cleveland that i was aware any city had taken so much consideration! in los angeles, such warnings are painted.

perhaps this is the reason why cleveland was so pro-active in protecting its water supply!

Dracula's hiding place

across the street from carnegie hall, dracula could slip quietly from the symphony into the gutter and hide from the sunlight. that would be a gotham dracula, of course.


Friday, August 03, 2007


its a word i made up. a noun with verb qualities.

"i go out walking after midnight..." and i go out walking at sunrise too. to catch the light.

i've been collecting images from my walks. its just odd stuff. but i like it.

it was in 1973 or so when my friend bill heiden, a wonderful photographer, and friend told me that you only needed a single roll of film to get all the great shots at a concert. well - we were teenagers then, and it was one of those grand statements that you make out of nowhere. a fact you made up because you could. but the idea of limitations and self-imposed restrictions rings true for me to this day.

available light is all i use. there was a time i used the flash - for actual photojournalism assignments or hopeful placements (and i was successful at this). but as you know, using a flash results in a flat image more often than not. i'm not talking about controlled lighting - i'm talking about that thing on your hotshoe.

available light on the other hand makes the game exciting.
here are some shots from twilight time... dawn and dusk.

sunrise yuccas 2
daybreak over my backyard

bird houses at daybreak plus 5 minutes

these beautiful birdhouses are no longer there. the man who owns that house tore down his fence and covered the drive way with a wide swath of cement, making me think he's bought a boat and made a parking space for it. he still has those and dozens more brightly colored bird houses hanging on the wall in his garage. dare i ask him if i can photograph that wall?

3 calla lilies

flowers have long been a favorite subject for me. this was shot at daybreak as well and the photo looks so much better to me than the flowers, which were oozing with snail trails.

the whole purpose of my 6AM walking adventure was to photograph the union 76 ball before it was taken down.

76 ball vertical

that is gone now, too. where would our memories be without photographs?
there are more images from my 6AM photo adventure at pedestrianation.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

no trespassing

if you think for one moment that i would obey this directive, then you don't know me. intrepid photographer. the hidden treasures on a late summer afternoon were pretty cool and quite worth trespassing.

urban CORN! lots of fruit trees, cactus, all in a city setting.

city? not quite.

welcome to the wine ghetto on california's central coast.

i have always loved that contradiction in terms - contradiction in california at least - of "wine" and "ghetto." sure "ghettoes" have winos, but here, we are talking about a kind of non-glamorous place where some very fine, fine wine is made. no touristy visiting the vineyard for tastings or anything like that...

yeah, california has napa for that. but i always liked sonoma better.

and those of us who hail from further south on the central coast have our own secret vineyards and vintners. from santa cruz all the way down to santa barbara, we have the same coastal fog, we have the same temperate climes (except for paso robles, with excellent wine yet hot hot heat), we have a few different grapes and different soil. we have lots of oak down here and our chardonnay is sublime. we have tons of fruit trees, making our syrah sublime, too (sorry, none of that aussie "shiraz" pronunciation around here, ok? petite syrah. c'est un mot grenouilleuse. froggie. french word). we have a marked LACK of pretension, however. no hard-to-get-into restaurants. nothing like that. yet.

old ford
no, it would not be california without palm trees.
i loved that you couldn't tell what year it was based on the cars!

i like old cars. they are quite photogenic. later, walking up the road, i spied this big ugly RV with a row of what appeared to be corn. i'm not sure if it is corn, or just looks like corn, but i'm calling it corn!

corn rv
um... i'm not sure if this qualifies for the "ghetto" part of "wine ghetto." but its doing a good job of fulfilling a certain.... class aspect? or novelty. i saw plenty of this corn stuff, though! so much that it made me grab the camera.

more urban corn

this is an example of what i spied through a hole in the fence next to the house pictured above. cactus and corn! we are in the southwest, its far west as the actual coastline.

i love the way the iron bar across the top of their wooden fence has rusted. the color is gorgeous. and the fence, with its charcoal grey wood, its painted white and painted red wood panels all serve to highlight the green of the cactus.

who knows if the residents of this odd place realize what a photogenic home they have.

this cactus was peeking over the same fence.

drive way

i was walking up the hill when i saw this distressed property.

the drive way 2

just on the other side of the no trespassing sign was this inviting empty drive.

another beautiful piece of rust

urban corn row

lo and behold, if you keep walking, you will find that there is more urban corn!

urban corn

Saturday, July 14, 2007

yes, we look for photo opportunites

when sid vicious died in 1979, the one who told me about his passing was stiv bators.

he and sid were friends. in fact, whenever i was in the company of the two of them, it seemed to me that although sid was a member of the more famous and more notorious sex pistols, he was still quite a big fan of stiv's and the dead boys. others who knew sid would tell you that sid was also the world's biggest sex pistols fan. sid loved rock n roll and the people who made it. i think he was always a bit surprised that he was in the sex pistols for each and every day that he was in the band. sid used to hang on to stiv's every word and move with a sort of puppy dog like devotion, the same way he admired johnny rotten in the earlier days of their relationship in the band.

stiv loved the attention and the adulation. who wouldn't? but it is for all these reasons that i suspect it was stiv who painted this tribute to sid on the billboard for the big hollywood movie, heaven can wait, starring warren beatty and julie christie.

i was sitting around at home when stiv phoned and excitedly told me that there was a spray paint tribute to sid on the prominently placed billboard on sunset blvd., near the trendy chateau marmont. this was a photo opportunity that stiv wanted in on. so, i picked him up at his tropicana bungalow and, camera in hand, fired off a roll of film.

creem used the photo (without stiv in it) as the centerpiece of their sid vicious obituary. when i finally met creem's photo editor charlie auringer in person a few months later, he told me that the combination of "heaven can wait" with the "sid vicious r.i.p." was just great photojournalism. i thank stiv everyday for his keen eye for these things.

Sex Pistols

when hanging with the two of them - stiv and sid, i was regaled with sex pistols war stories such as the time that a texas cowboy called sid a "faggot" and sid promptly stabbed himself in the palm to show just how manly he was. in reality, sid seemed to be a pretty shy guy, but he loved to tell that story to anyone who would listen. its an example of the two distinctly different sides of his personality - not quite jekyll and hyde, but definitely, one side shy and quiet, the other side outrageous and prone to violent outbursts. i remember stiv and sid talked about music they liked and bands they had seen and girls they knew in common. they talked about solo projects they wanted to do. stiv told sid about the pre-punk days of cleveland rock n roll and sid was all ears. above all else, i will always think of sid as a big music fan, much more than as a musician.

those guys were no different than the guys i always hung out with, and still hang out with.

that sid was not such a competent musician is really irrelevant and totally beside the fact that he is a great anti-hero hero. its nearly a fairy tale that a band's great fan gets to join that band. what kid brandishing a guitar in his bedroom or garage doesn't dream of the same thing? his cover of "my way" - frank sinatra's signature song - is so appropriate to sid's life, as a young man and as a punk rocker, and ultimately a youth culture icon. he did, indeed do it his regrets.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

mirror moves

i completely forgot about having taken this picture of pleasant...she and i took so many. this was taken back in 1978 when we were hanging out with the mumps as they made their "muscle boys/rock n roll this" single in los angeles.

photos in mirrors present both amazing possibilities and a load of challenges. but i think the upsides definitely outweigh the downsides.

shooting in a mirror suddenly gives the image a whole new layer of meaning, not to mention light - both reflected and refracted.

there are the up and downsides of the photographer being caught in the image. while the alfred hitchcock in each of us may find this appealing, it grounds the photograph as a photograph. on the other hand...the viewer sees the image being made, and that act is immortalized together with the vision of the photographer, and she becomes the viewed as well as the viewer.

in this photo, taken backstage at the whisky a go go, you can see not only the subjects, clem burke and john browner - but you can see my flash, you can see another photographer snapping the guy sitting next to browner, and in the mirror, above clem's head, you can see the reflection of jeffrey lee pierce.

moments later, i turned around and took a sweet portrait of him, before the trials and tribulations of being jeffrey lee pierce of the gun club kicked in. despite what all his friends and i have said about him, i do believe that particular image is the true mirror image of jeffrey lee pierce.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

shakespeare, he's in the alley

this is an alley off western avenue in the logan square - bucktown/wicker park section of chicago. i discovered the alley while i was looking for a place to park, naturally.

even in may, chicago was already hot, sticky and humid when this photo was taken in 2006.

this particular trip to chicago was to go to the final horizontal action blackout. i'd been to chicago twice previously in 2006 to visit family - both times in the winter, in january, and late february/early march. i have to wonder when exactly is the weather nice in chicago. probably like ny, there's a small window in the spring and again in the fall when its too lovely for words.

i love that there's a street called "shakespeare avenue."
western avenue, the main drag off which this part of shakespeare is found, is one of the longest streets in the united states - 23.5 miles in length. i used it as a main thoroughfare commuting between my cousins houses on either side of chicago. it also moves constantly, unlike the freeways.

chicago is a fantastic world class city; it has everything you could possibly want in a city...including so much traffic. its worse than traffic in los angeles because los angeles is such a populous city, you expect the worst traffic. regardless, chicago is one of my favorite places in the USA.

my father was born there and just about all of my relatives from his side of the family still live there.

my grandfather owned a soda fountain/candy store on the south side when it was a big european immigrant neighborhood. a couple years ago, one of my cousins took me to the house where his dad (my uncle) and my dad grew up. well, actually, its an empty double lot on the corner of wentworth and 106. these days, the food purveyors in our family are in LA and own mcdonald's. postmodern greek diner people i guess. the men to the right are the stoes, who are my late aunt maria's brother and nephews. maria was married to my uncle pete, my father's brother. gus owned johnny's snack shop since 1971. it was at the corner of milwaukee and wabansia, just north of the big triangular intersection of north, damen and milwaukee. a hip and popular part of town these days, back when gus opened, it was not so hip.

but it was on a drive on western avenue all the way from the south side suburb of oak park to johnny's snack shop in logan square that i found shakespeare avenue.

on that may visit to chicago, my first night in town, i went to see demons claws at cal's. i know my way around the downtown area where cal's is. i often take the train into chicago and stay at another cousin's greektown condo. but this time, i was staying in the 'burbs, and was given freeway driving take the 55 to the 94, etc. well, there was a baseball game going and construction on the 94 and i got all turned around. i realized that western ran all the way up and down from every part of chicago i was going to be visiting and it became my thoroughfare of choice from that late night onwards.


finally, chicago has some great manhole covers. that is perhaps a topic for another whole post for another day...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

detroit streets pictoral

detroit detroit... they'll be dancing in the streets, right? detroit is rich, rich, rich in photo opportunities on the street! this photo, "no war" was taken in the winter of 2004 - february, i'm pretty sure. i was driving by and this guy was there and now you see him.

he's sitting in front of a building with the address 1515 broadway. i worked for many years in a building also numbered 1515 broadway - in NYC. that's where the mtv networks are headquartered. that's where whether you or i like it or not, i contributed some wacky things to the popular culture. some things i produced became visual shorthand for pop culture... and other things became all too ubiquitous shortcuts for television programmers. but hey - i did my job; did it well. i left a mark, like it or not.


this is the famous kerns clock. its on woodward ave., and i don't think the kerns store has been there for years, but their clock reigns supreme, performing an important function for all in the motor city.

Detroit Clock

here's another clock, its on broadway, not far from the "no war" bum at 1515. its nothing like the kerns clock, but i was in an horological mood that day.

detroit people mover tokens small

these tokens are for detroit's people mover. its a monorail that goes in a circle around a very small area downtown that goes from the renaissance center (GM headquarters) to greektown (casinos; tourist biz) and downtown (by tiger stadium and ford field). i ride it all the time, but rarely see detroiters on it... just other visitors. i think it may be a big mistake on some mayor's legacy. i like it. its odd. its like the monorail ride at disneyland. it goes in a circle, and if you're going somewhere along that circle, well, you're in luck!

when i go to detroit, i visit mostly hamtramck, and the people mover for sure does not go there! public transportation in detroit is kind of non existent. that's pretty much why i ride the people mover. its an anomaly.

hamtramck is home to sandy kramer shaw, pictured here, dancing at the belmont lounge. she cuts my hair better than anyone has ever cut my hair. i used to be able to afford to fly to detroit from NYC on a regular basis just for a hair cut. then northwest airlines got wise and hiked the rates for a round trip flight from $139 to over $200. no can do. sandy's salon is barberella, and you should let her cut your hair too.


sandy's salon has a beautiful palette of dark wood and fuschia curtains. fuschia and dark brown are the new red & black if you ask me! the hamtramck neighborhood that surrounds barberella is filled with duplex houses, two story side-by-side duplexes, lots of chain link fences and polish restaurants and shops galore. last year, i visited hamtramck on two occasions - one coincided with mardi gras polish style - pacski day. its what they do the day before lent begins... they carbo-load on these fabulous filled donuts. people line up around stores and bakeries for their bakers dozen. eugene found the best pacskis right at the end of one local shop's day. apricot filled. mmmm. the next 2006 visit took place in early june (for 666 day - and today is coincidentally 777 day). it was a hot dog eating trip...and a photo session hell. hell michigan, that is. photo report to come....