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Specimen by Chow Martin

(Artist found thanks to septagonstudios)


Up Goer Five

Dispose Magazine

I recently discovered Dispose, a bi-weekly publication that gives people around the world a 27-exposure disposable camera with instructions to document one day in their lives. 

This is an awesome concept. The digital age has taught us that every moment can and should be documented and stored on our huge CF cards. We are preoccupied at the moment of capture with the pack-rat mentality of Getting It All, and reflection has to wait until post-production. It’s a strange development for photography that the narrative should be constructed after the fact. How strange that our stories should be by us experienced in retrospect, in the shape of contrast levels and color correct and curve adjustment.

Being given only 27 images, 27 chances to capture the feeling of a life in one day, forces us to think more deeply about the meaning of each moment. It slows down the process, removes the social media component, and makes the project more introspective. And we photographers get to relax a bit behind the lens and become a part of what we make in the moment of the making.

Pierre Pellegrini

Pierre Pellegrini's beautiful, dreamlike long exposure images. The precision and detail reminds me of Hengki Koentjoro. Great stuff.

Tin Types Vanity Shoot

Check out these phunky mavens:

Emmaly Wiederholt’s EPIC

Shots from a glorious day spent in Golden Gate Park one sun-dappled day. What you’re seeing below is Emmaly Wiederholt in her element. Emmaly is a San Francisco dance personality and a friend. Thanks for a great shoot, E!

FUSION with Rally.org

Last week I did a shoot with Rally.org, a start-up incubator with some serious flair and style. These are my shots at an event they hosted for KivaZip.org and CAN (Creative Activist Network). 

These days, photojournalism walks an erratic, pratfall tightwalk between art and advocacy, between exploring concept and affecting change. A friend of mine recently commented that many philanthropic organizations act like a rickshaw with a 500 horsepower engine - a lot of focus, money, and prestige barreling along with shaky moral and contextual guidance. Rally’s event last week was a good step in the right direction.

Why the Walkmen Just Blew My Mind

I expected the Chipotle Cultivate Festival might be either a crowded, corporate fairground (a la Coachella). I also dreaded it might be a sparsely populated tent city with desperate food reps calling out to skittish passers-by, a perception brought to you by a regrettable summer working at the Mall of America, grimacing out at an empty formica courtyard.

Instead, I found it to be a pretty pleasant environment. There were innovative “experience” kiosks to drive home issues of sustainability and natural foods, backed up by representatives from California farms. The branding was solid and effective, but unobtrusive. I was able to focus on the many small business in the Artisan Hall – 4505 Meats being the unchallenged favorite, followed by Handsome Coffee Roasters (L.A. sure does love those heraldic X-based logos) – without feeling like Chipotle was breathing down their our necks. A benevolent overlord, seated in a golden, locally-produced Burrito Bowl throne.

The music itself spanned a good range of genres. Grandiose folk from Matt Costa, the groovy falsetto soul of Mayer Hawthorne. Getting to see fellow Kenyon College alum Nicholas Petricca of Walk the Moon hounded by a mob of trilling, facepainted young ladies was pretty funny. The highlight, however, goes to the Walkmen.

I admit, I discovered them late in the game – January of this year. I had just arrived back in San Francisco after a month-long trip to the wintry Northwest and then New York City. It was sunny, 70, the smells of Eucalyptus and Monterey Cyprus suspended pervasive in crisp air. While I’m at it, let’s intensify the cliché: I was also falling in love and had just quit grad school after one stifling term. “Wake Up,” a triumphantly discordant song from their first album, propelled me along with new possibilities swirling in those first weeks.

Heaven, the Walkmen’s latest release, is a magnetically good listen. I found it especially perfect to accompany finding yourself free of commitments and full of feeling. Its an album with “a thousand affecting variations on contented hum,” to quote Pitchfork. But the music is laced by a latent, vibrating potentiality, something confidently more aleatory than quiet eternity.

From “Wake Up” to “Heaven,” a song from the album of the same name, 10 years and a lot of maturing passed for Hamilton Leithauser and the rest of the band. There’s a similar sort of soaring, bold entreaty going on in both songs, but in “Heaven,” the chord progression is sanguine and deftly, nimbly performed; less frenetic in pace and style, more languor. Their show on this particular afternoon was professional, self-assured, and, with the exception of when Leithauser got Too Stoked and knocked over the mic stand, flawless. At one point, he even spoke a few calm words about the onset of fatherhood and the settled life, as a girl in the front row with frosted dreads and a spliff hanging off her lip scoffed loudly. Assured indeed.

At the end, as the band fluidly drew out the last measures of the song into minutes, I had the strange and wonderful sensation of just setting out on my career, directly in front of another artist ascendant in his. I read a quote by G.K. Chesterson today: “Poetry is sane because it floats so easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion… To except everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” In making Heaven, the Walkmen haven’t reached a placid end, but rather an opened world into which to run, lope, unfalteringly.

Thanks to the Huffington Post for getting me that press pass. 

Sarah Ransohoff: Friend, Painter, Name-taker

My friend Sarah Ransohoff just painted a version of one of my photographs for me. It looks so great! 

Back in the summer of 2008, I drove down I-84 from Walla Walla to Portland most every weekend. It was an excellent, mind-expanding time, and this image has always represented those memories well. Thanks to Sarah for rendering it for me! Check out her Cargo Collective for more.

The Warhols Dandily Redeemed

style=”list-style: none; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 14px; margin-left: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Georgia, Century, Times, serif; font-size: 15px; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 21px;”>Until this weekend, when I saw the Dandy Warhols play at the Fillmore, I had a really hard time liking them.

A few years back, I watched the documentary Dig!, directed by Ondi Timoner. It chronicles the growth and divergence of two alt-rock bands, the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. They came of age in the late 90s, as grunge began fade and the Indie scene started to form. Together they helped to create what is now called the neo-psychedelic genre, mixing elements of 1960s rock and roll with the growing electronica movement.

Ostensibly, it is a comparison of the Dandys’ decision to sign with a major record label and BJM’s commitment to a music “revolution” free The Man’s involvement. Though the film keeps the tension between artistic purity and commercial success a theme throughout, it is mostly a gratuitous, somewhat fictionalized account of BJM frontman Anton Newcombe’s erratic, noxious behavior. The Dandys’ lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor narrates, his piecemeal, haughty drawl dubbed over images of Newcombe assaulting band members onstage and stalking his former friends. At one point, Newcombe is shown roller-skating into a venue at which the Dandys are playing in a Soviet fur hat and leisure suit, vaguely spitting threats. Hipster violence! Hilarity ensues. Juxtapose that with shots of the Dandys playing to a massive crowd at the Glastonbury Festival, and we have drama. You have to admire Timoner’s plotcraft; we all enjoy watching someone combust into a cloud of excess.

In all the focus on the absurdities of both, what struck me most was how much the Dandys hewed to the Epic Rivalry motif. Yes, they became successful, headlining at sold-out festivals in Europe and making several overproduced music videos with David LaChapelle. (Definitely set aside time to watch the video for "Not if You Were the Last Junkie on Earth."Clown makeup! Glam-hair! Babes in syringe suits! Sultry eye contact! Pastel!). Yes, Taylor-Taylor was jealous of Newcombe’s tortured genius thing, and Newcombe vibrates insanely between the two poles of recognition-envy and contempt.

However, this was the nascent Indie scene. This wasn’t the media-fueled bad blood between Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose, or the Nas and Jay-Z feud. Members from both camps periodically invoked the rivalry between Oasis and Blur (remember that one time when Noel Gallagher told a reporter he wanted Damon Albarn to “catch AIDS and die?”), or the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Both bands strove to emulate UK greats like Spiritualized and the Stones, with the Dandys tending more towards Bowie, and BJM exuding a vaguely more “We All Live in a Yellow Submarine” kind of vibe. But neither had the mega-star visibility to either eclipse their influences or truly live out their delusions.

Suffice to say, the Dandys come across as deluded slaves to fame. So when I saw them play this past weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to find them neither aloof nor decadent, their prismatic sound intact. The show was part of a celebration tour for the 13th anniversary of their album Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, to accompany a remastered release.

The Dandys made Thirteen Tales shortly before their ascent to European fame, before they renovated a party warehouse in Portland they named the Odditorium in which to debauch, and before they staged a shoot in the aftermath of a grim BJM blowout party, to pose among the very real ruins of someone else’s health and dignity, and to dust themselves with a bit of that risk and verve.

Thirteen Tales draws its sound from nearly every tributary of rock. There’s the grungy, groundswell synth distortion in “Nietzche” and “Horse Pill,” interrupted by folky twang in “Country Leaver”; the meditative choral harmonies in “Sleep” and the sweeping psychedelica in “Mohammed”; and of course the brilliantly catchy “Bohemian Like You,” pregnant with that particular kind of earworm that only a pop hit can instill. Thirteen Talesis raucous and eclectic and terrific. It’s self-conscious without the sneer that came later, catchy and wild without mythologizing. Taylor-Taylor screams “I just wanna get off” into the microphone and we all know it’s unabashedly true. He just wants to be famous.

The show I saw had a “mission accomplished” feel to it. They played well, energetically and candidly. I had the distinct impression that it was being savored. I took a shot of drummer Brent DeBoer with his eyes closed, mouth open, suspended in anticipation of the coming drop. Formerly doe-eyed keyboardist Zia McCabe writhed around onstage, caught up in the energy of the room. A distinctly middle-aged, no longer effete Courtney Taylor-Taylor didn’t try to steal the show.

I left the show feeling a bit of hope for my co-millennials. All told, my generation has no right to pronounce judgment on the Dandys. With a bit of luck — though we may spend a decade or so casually dropping the name of our tech startup, or demurring to eat dandelion greens unless they are certifiably local or wearing bomber jackets while propagating our succulents in our urban alley apartment — we may eventually achieve some of the grace and ease the Dandys showed last night.

Sarah Ransohoff: Can’t stop Won’t stop

She done it agin, this time with one of my pictures of those titillating Tin Types.

Rabbit-hole over to her Cargo Collective or her Tumblr for more of the goodie.  

Sarah Ransohoff: Friend, Painter, Name-taker

My friend Sarah Ransohoff just painted a version of one of my photographs for me. It looks so great! 

Back in the summer of 2008, I drove down I-84 from Walla Walla to Portland most every weekend. It was an excellent, mind-expanding time, and this image has always represented those memories well. Thanks to Sarah for rendering it for me! Check out her Cargo Collective for more.


Chris Berens


Chris Berens


Christian Aslund