Congratulations to the HTC team on the launch (today April 12, 2016) of their new flagship phone, the HTC 10. The HTC 10 is much anticipated and is noted in many preliminary lists of the best smart phones in 2016. The 10 is a great phone for mobile photographers. With our short time with the devices, we have been able to generate the first images from the phone online. If you follow the #HTC10 #PowerOf10 hashtags on social media you will find other cities as well. This is just three of our photographers representing their cities.
Each photographer was provided some time to get acquainted with the device, the Android Marshmallow OS, and of course the camera, to show their part of the country for the #HTC10 #PowerOf10 @HTC release. Dutch was the first to work with HTC on behalf of Grryo with the HTC One A9, and his amazing work continues with the 10 as he represents New York City and surrounding areas. Bradcomes from the green wooded north, the Pacific Northwest, to be exact, and shows you a few images from the Emerald City. He also got to use the One A9 and provided a tutorial for mobile photographers using HTC devices. View the tutorials here Part 1/ Part 2/ Part 3. David brings to the Power of 10 campaign, beautiful imagery from the city by the bay, San Francisco. It is his first time using an Android device and we asked him his thoughts:
“This is my first time using an Android phone. I can honestly say that I like it. I’m sold on its ease of use and camera functions. Feels very comfortable in the hand when holding it. I wanted to show photos that were representative of the great city of San Francisco. Show off the iconic places that people recognize, showcase her beauty.”
Please leave comments regarding the HTC 10 and/or the images shown. The photographers and the HTC team will do their best in answering any questions and responding to your comments.
HTC 10 Camera Specs: Main Camera/ 12MP Ultra Pixel 2 w/ OIS, 1.55 UM, F 1.8, Laser Focus – Front Camera/ 5MP w/ OIS, F 1.8
Fleshed out – singed onto
cresting waves and backs of turtles
Wenatchee and Kalakala
Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, and Chief Sealth
like San Pedro, Jerome, and New York City
The metaphor upon wings
she took on as her shield
her heart beats lashed out
onto the unlikely
canvases of skin.
Elders have traveled these waters for centuries.
Elders have danced with the Seattle skyline for centuries/
The little children chasing their shadows upon the history
of the districts they will soon inherit
her pulse is deafening
she is an adjective of life.
A simple description left to complete the imaginations of her children
she writes them out, pen to pad, screaming lead onto sidewalk heavens
scribbled and etched
And these waters have cracks on the crevices she said
Canvasses of poetry wrote life she said
From each smile to every fallen tear, i watched them fight for peace
That first time
And it was beautiful
Shouts shuddered the unhidden blanks of space
even reaching the darkest of memories
Fondled each thought into circulation
she became the word
and I was unsure of the bullet each noun and verb
she had committed too
And she shouldn’t have anything to worry about
Because of her
We will always just listen
She spit spat drip drops of justice that rewrote bible hymnals and amended bylaws
She said “They will run this world with just their innocence
They will run this world with just their poetry”
And we claimed our existence in this infinite time continuum
While the walls were tagged heavily with FAT markers and spray cans that
they told us not play with
And the irony is we didn’t listen.
She told us not to
So we poets became the voice of unheard and forgotten ancestors
Scriptures that were embedded in the thralls of history
In the hallways of our rich and native stories
She helped us give composition to the faceless movement thru poetry
Independence not vengeance she said
Monstrous redemption not silence she said
Fingers strewn tightly grasping the earth,
Sweat, embossed upon the backs of those who left, and came back
Whose tear drenched, blood drenched linen are
Written gloriously upon mother earth
Its salty texture it became
The texture you feel off of an immigrants sun-scarred skin
The texture you feel when wiping your eyes of the tears she said not to shed
You can be whatever you want she said
And we are because of you.
And we are because of you, i shout this believing in our beauty, the undying love for shedding leaves in hopes to become something even more beautiful so this change we held in for centuries fearful of letting it be known that it was destiny’s calling to release these
Reach out, share truth, believe
You are, it is, redeem
Be it, be that, teach me
Teach you, teach me,
Teach you, be free
So together we beat words into equations
Matrices turn matriarch
Matriarch live equality
She sent shudders down our spine
With each breath she gave
She loved thoroughly without anything less than pure conviction
And hindsight lessons of
Love and hate of
Heart and mind of
Meaning and shallow aesthetics
You see she fought off of the bones of history
You see she fought off of wanting and needing truth
You see she became the truth once given the chance
So together let us
notice the roots off of the trees, gnarled, exposed to the elements, and watch as it
hugs deeply sincerely,
as we all cling for dear life,
grabbing hope and love
and the blue and green earth, our beautiful earth
we will always remain struggling and fighting to stay alive
while we wait for
Rest in Power Yuri.
*For Yuri Kochiyama, May 19, 1921 – June 1, 2014
Yuri Kochiyama was born Mary Yuriko Nakahara in 1921 and raised in San Pedro, California, in a small working-class neighborhood. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, the life of Yuri’s family took a turn for the worse. Her father, a first-generation Japanese immigrant, was arrested by the FBI. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 9066 ordering the removal of persons of Japanese descent from “strategic areas,” Yuri and her family were sent to an internment camp in Jerome, Arkansas. Due to these events, Yuri started seeing the parallels between the treatment of African Americans in Jim Crow South and the incarceration of Japanese Americans in remote internment camps during World War II. Subsequently she decided to devote her life to struggles against racial injustice.
In 1946, Yuri married Bill Kochiyama, a veteran of the 442nd Regiment. The couple moved to New York City where her political activism would flourish. They had two girls and four boys; most of them would become actively involved in black liberation struggles, the anti-war movement, and the Asian-American movement. In 1960 the family moved to a low-income housing project in Harlem. Yuri and her family invited many civil rights activists, such as the Freedom Riders, to their home gatherings. They also became members of the Harlem Parents Committee, a grassroots organization fighting for safer streets and integrated education. In 1963, Yuri met Malcolm X and they cultivated a friendship that would strongly influence Yuri’s political career. Yuri had been listening to Malcolm’s speech when he was assassinated while speaking to the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) members. Yuri’s keen interest in equality and justice led her to work for the sake of political prisoners in the U.S. and other parts of the world in her later years. Yuri was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for her tireless struggles against imperialism and racism.
Yuri Kochiyama died on June 1, 2014 in Berkeley, California. She was 93. (Blackpast.org)
As a member of Grryo, I frequently look through the hashtags of #wearejuxt #mobilephotography and now #grryo on all the social networks. First I find it interesting to see what people would share on these tags and secondly its a great way to meet creatives who share commonalities through mobile photography. The new Grryo tag already has over a 1000 photos in a few days and I totally gravitated to a handful of photos that were posted on Instagram by Matthew. I wasn’t the only one as that same day, Anna (who is also an editor of Grryo) hit him up for an interview. Needless to say, Matthew’s work is amazing and great and all things awesome and we wanted to share with our readers this storyteller from Toronto!
BP: BP MW: Matthew Wylie
BP:Tell us where you are from. Tell us about your family. Tell us about your non-photo inspirations (other artists, books, etc.).
MW: I’m from Texas, where I spent most of my life. My blood family is there as well, but I have been living and teaching in Canada for the last seven years. My professional background is in literature and writing, and, since I was a young kid, I have always been very drawn to stories, words, and art in general. In terms of artists most important to me? – Nabokov, Kafka, and Borges. The enchantment that each of those writers can place on words, symbols, and the story itself has always been magical to me. So, that general aesthetic definitely influences my work. And of course Rainer Maria Rilke, his “Letters to a Young Poet,” – this work has always been such an important influence on how I approach the world and my art. The line “if your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches” is particularly inspiring to me and I certainly use this as a constant motivation to find, see, document, or create the beauty and mystery that’s out there, every day.
“The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill the heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” – Albert Camus This photo was taken in Toronto, where I live. It was shot during the very difficult and long winter we had this year, with about 6 months of bleak, blistering cold days. I was on my way to the market when I noticed this massive billboard with the hand and I saw the subject approaching. Her body movement, her face – it just all embodied what I think we were all feeling about the winter and, despite its brutal nature, she was braving it. It was such a testament of the human spirit and I was immediately reminded of Camus’ quote on Sisyphus (see “The Myth of Sisyphus”) regarding the idea of finding meaning in the struggle, of forging our own authentic meaning, despite the absurdity and harshness of our daily lives. Meaning is not out there to be found. It exists within ourselves, as Camus intimated, and I feel like this photo illustrates that tenet.
“This will never end because I want more.” – Fever Ray Taken in Toronto near a playground where I work and pass by daily. The boy was playing with a stick as if it were a gun with his peers and I was able to walk past and capture one from the hip that. While it took a bit of editing, it ended up working and conveying this mad, beautiful sense of energy, maybe even angst (?). The audacious look on his face reminded me of the lyric from one of my favourite bands, Fever Ray. I love the coupling of the mood with the song – again, the creative exchange, at least for me, lends itself to other mediums and this one was musical in nature.
BP: How’d you start in photography and what brought you into the realm of street photography?
MW: Oh, I’ve always taken photos – I’ve just never owned a good camera. Like, I would go through Kodak disposables weekly during high school, and then moved on to cheap, handheld digital cameras that just took horrible photos! I had a Polaroid that was fun in university, but the film cost too much for me to naturally produce. Visual imagery, especially photography, has always been special to me though. I could never draw or paint very well, but I could take pictures, so that was my visual medium. However, I didn’t get serious with my work until recently, like within the last year or so, when I got my first iPhone (the 4S). That totally changed everything for me. I now had this tool in my hand that could complement my vision and help me communicate the way I’ve always wanted to and knew that I could. What got me into street photography? I’m not entirely sure, really. I have always been drawn to artwork that is a bit raw, or . . . at least not traditional. So, I think that has something to do with it. Once I started exploring the genre and seeing what others have done with it, I just knew it was what I wanted to pursue. I don’t want to call myself a “street photographer” though. I think I just use the streets more than any other subject to tell my story, or to capture the type of images I am seeking to capture and convey to others.
“Symmetry is what we see at a glance.” – Pascal Taken in Paris, France. I adore this photo because it illustrates Lange’s quote (see above) but in a different manner. When I originally saw this photo on my phone, it didn’t look like much, but after seeing it on the larger screen, it itself up to me and I was just so swept away with what I didn’t initially see in the photo. This all speaks to a larger issue I think regarding the way technology, particularly viewing art in a variety of mediums, can change the way we appreciate the aesthetic qualities of a piece of art, especially a photo. For example, oftentimes, I (we) have taken a photo and, while it seems decent on the iPhone, is only mediocre when viewed on a larger screen. However, does that discount the original aesthetic moment we shared with our first viewing? Since these are primarily digital images we are dealing with, can we not speak of a multiplication of the same image, depending on the medium it is viewed in, e.g. iPhone, iPad, Desktop, a blown up piece for a gallery wall, the way we remember the image weeks later?
“Maybe all men got one big soul, and everybody’s a part of it—all faces of the same man, one big self. Everyone looking for salvation for himself. Each like a coal drawn from the fire.”- Malick Taken in Toronto. I have always been drawn to Terrence Malick’s films. They read like filmic tone poems and this capture / edit to me encapsulates a line from one of Malick’s best, The Thin Red Line. The irony that, for me, the act of going out in the streets is such a solitary endeavor, yet, that the final outcome can provide so much connection to others, either through social platforms or whatever, is just wondrous. To the wonder . . .
BP: Your photos are captivating, as you automatically think as a viewer, “what is the story here? What is the artist’s message?” Explain to us a process for you to achieve this connection to the viewer.
MW: Thank you for that! Well, to be honest, I am not sure it is something entirely, or even remotely, conscious. But I do think of it as an exercise in reading. In my writing courses, we often discuss the concept of reading images as texts, and learning to read well is essentially the same thing as learning to see well. The world is full of texts and subtexts and sub-subtexts – just layer after layer after layer – and these texts aren’t simply written, but visual as well. We read images as texts and we’re not even conscious that we’re doing so. We’re always reading – at least those of us who are looking. So when I am out on a walk through the streets, I am constantly looking for that text that my camera will capture and will, hopefully, be able to communicate something, even if it is a recognizable emotion, or a memory even. In terms of my connection with the viewer, I am, with all due respect, never thinking of the viewer. I am not thinking a lot, actually. Just scanning with my eyes the building blocks for the story, which could range from another actual human being to a shaft of light in an alleyway to the colours in a window reflection. Once I have these tools, then I think we can begin the sharing process. I guess . . . think of it as if I have read a story and want to retell it to you. This is what the photograph is. It’s a retelling of a visual I was witness to. Once I share it with you though, it’s no longer my narrative; it’s yours. And this is the beauty of storytelling, whether with the written words or with an image. The narrative is never static.
Series: Where are you going, where have you been?
Where are you going, where have you been? This was taken in Toronto in a neighbourhood that is primarily inhabited by Hasidic Jews. It is a difficult area to photograph in for various reasons: as a visible outsider, it is far less easy to be invisible, there is a heightened sensitivity on my part for what I am capturing and not capturing, and then this sort of strange, somewhat eerie feeling of unease portrayed in the body language of the community members themselves, partially due, I believe, to a series of anti-Semitic acts / violence that the neighbourhood experienced a few years ago. The area is also not very busy, so attempting to blend in is impossible– and thus eye contact is rarely made, subjects increase the pace of their walking compared to when in the heart of the city, etc. With this particular shot, I was about to turn in for the day when I noticed the boy approaching. I did what I do and he simply looked right at me and was the only person to make eye contact with me that day. After the shot, we continued to make eye contact until he rounded the corner of the building. The moment felt special – contact had been made and it was positive and felt mutual.
Where are you going, where have you been? Again, part of the series I spoke of earlier. This is dedicated to Saul Leiter, one of my favourite photographers and one whom I am only beginning to delve into thanks to a friend (Dan Cristea @konstruktivist) introducing me to his work. This is simply my attempt at seeing the world as Leiter did in his photos. If you don’t know his work, my God. LOOK! The woman in red later led to a short story I have begun writing about a girl who can swim through glass.
Where are you going, where have you been? Taken in Vienna, Austria. The North by Northeast departure of these two subjects just begs for a storyline, perhaps one of tragedy, but perhaps not without love? The man will assuredly die.
Where are you going, where have you been? Taken in Toronto. I have not finished with this photo yet…but she will most assuredly become a character in a story soon, or a poem. Her look is music to me, Chopin maybe , and she’s looking to leaving.
BP: Your series “Where are you going? Where have you been?” is an interesting one. Can you tell us more about it and your expectations of this series as you’ve listed it as one of you favorites? Altogether, do you feel you’ve accomplished your goals?
MW: Sure! So, this series basically centers on the relationship I explore between creative writing and photography. I will usually use the streets to inspire something in my writing, such as a character, a setting, a mood, or even conflict itself, if I’m lucky. Most of my photos feature human beings who are, usually, in movement and going from one place to another. I like to pose the question, once I’ve found an interesting moment or subject, of “Where are you going? Where have you been?” – and use these questions to lead towards some type of narrative, something tangibly poetic that I can fashion into a story: “Where are you going? Where have you been? Do you believe in God? In suicide? When you arrive at your destination, will you be greeted with a parcel, a bomb, a kiss on the lips?” – and on and on the process can go, depending on the actual shot I get. So far, it’s led to a few short stories or sketches and bits of poetry I have written, but nothing definitive, and I’m not really interested in that right now. The point is that I use this exercise as a way of shooting and a way of making the creative process between writing and photography both cyclical and reciprocal. One day, I will probably put together a handful of photos and texts that they inspired together in a formal portfolio, but I am not there yet.
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange While I have been taking photos for over 15 years, I never had a serious camera until I got my iPhone 4S. Since then, I began taking my photography and my approach much more seriously, simply because I had, for the first time, a tool that could compliment my creative vision. This Lange quote has always resonated with me because it’s just so true. Photographers and visual artists may be equally cursed in this way, but my, what a blessing it is to be able to see magic almost everywhere you look. . .
“Over” “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci
BP: Who are your photographic inspirations and why?
MW: Well, hm. That’s hard to answer. There’s quite a few photographers whose work I admire and adore, both living and dead, e.g. Bresson, Gordon Parks, Saul Leiter, Vivian Maier, Dan Cristea, Markus Anderson, Amy Leibrand. But I think in terms of inspiration, it is this whole, revolutionary concept of social photography that we are bearing witness to as we speak. I mean, we are witnessing the democratization of the visual arts in a way that simply has never been seen before. Sure, there are criticisms to be made about the infinite flux of images – I get that. But you can’t deny the beauty and hope in the fact that more people have access to art and to tools to create visual arts than ever before! Photography, film, visual images – these are not just the fields of the privileged or experts or well-educated anymore. Anyone with raw talent who can afford a phone canget out there and do some absolutely amazing things with these tools! And not just that, but they can discover and reach out to other artists so easily, like we are doing now – they can learn from others, so purposefully– and all through the same device that they are using to create with! Like, ####! I think it was Koci that called this a “golden age” of photography and there just may be something to that. I mean, to think that this genre, photography, the arts, visual narratives, is so accessible to so many people now and the dialogue has grown so exponentially in terms of sharing ideas and inspiration – I think we are witnessing what will most assuredly be remembered / studied as an era of visual art production like the world has never seen. That’s just incredible to me! I just hope we embrace it now and continue to evolve with it. Think about it, can you imagine being able to travel back to the 16th century and say, “You guys are in the f###in’ RENAISSANCE! Do you get what that will mean later?” – I want us to look at what we, as artists, are experiencing now and see it as something that is significant in terms of the evolution of art in our society, rather than just a trend. And to think we are doing so much of this together! All of this, I feel, is spawning some brilliantly creative pieces and artists, which, again, begs reflection: we have the chances of seeing not just a handful of great photographers a decade, but hundreds, maybe more! This is so beautiful to me! And people are creating, producing, and communicating so prolifically. This doesn’t mean that everything is brilliant and I get the argument that art could grow saturated as a result of the influx, but who wouldn’t rather have more artists than fewer? The argument that the influx makes art less special is absurd to me because what you’re really stating with that is “there’s really only a limited amount of beauty out there to produce, or, there’s really only a limited amount to say, etc.,” which is illogical! Beauty isn’t finite, and neither is art. And let’s not get caught up in being ‘original,’ because, really, what has that EVER meant? I believe in raw creativity, and contemporary photography, especially mobile photography, is so very exciting to be a part of and witness right now and I’m excited to see where it takes us next. Again, just the fact that more people have such a powerful artistic tool in their hands than ever before – that’s just so inspiring and promising to me!
” . . . and I have not told half of what I saw.” – Marco Polo Taken in Toronto. This photo represents the inverse of the creative writing process that I spoke of earlier. For example, sometimes, I will take a photo and use it as a means to have me explore things I have read in the past. The ability to synthesize like this, between words, an image, and my memory, is quite interesting to me. I ended up with the Marco Polo quote and couldn’t stop thinking about it all night after the photo was taken. To think that Marco f###in’ Polo made such an utterance about the ‘discovery’ of a continent – and then to parallel that with the myriad of moments a photographer sees while out and about – and we only probably catch a fifth of what we see, for whatever reason. There is so much fucking beauty out there . . .
The Water’s Edge As Gabriel Garcia Marquez has taught us, sometimes light is like water. Sometimes, you tip tap into it, while at other times, you dive. Regardless, the pools are always there, wet, bright, and waiting for you. Please see his short story by the same name for advice on how to master the science of navigating on light.
BP: For new(er) street photographers, what advice do you have for them? Please provide any technical and artistic advice.
MW: Well, I am in no place to give advice, as I am still learning myself! But I can offer advice that I’ve either been given or just learned to give myself as I’m developing. So, shoot a lot! Shoot every day and learn from your mistakes, as well as others, even if by observation only. Study light and learn to make it work for you. Shoot for one month in the same hour of the day and do this for all of the day light hours, which should take you about a year. Dispel the myth that location is everything. Location is overrated. It’s about how you see, not where you are. Learn to see differently, and well. The stuff of good photographs – all that is out there! You just have to go find it, and you don’t need an expensive camera to do so. And I guess most of all, be confident in yourself and believe that you have something to say with your photos. Too many people have very little to really say about the world around them. Having so many tools to communicate now – that almost seems absurd, no?
* [REWIND] Originally published on We Are Juxt on September 7, 2012
Southern California is home away from home.
I took every opportunity to get out and shoot, especially the Streets of LA. It’s my first time to since finding how much I really like doing street. My son’s godmother (who is from LA) always told me I should shoot down there. That if I could get lost (metaphorically speaking) in Seattle when I go out to shoot, then LA will be totally crazy for me. Well my son’s godmother, this is for you!
I shot the streets. This time around I took down notes. Notes that helped me remember the moments I shared with folks when I talked to them, both strangers and family/friends and just my own thoughts and opinions – I wanted to make sure I caught the moments outside of the shots I took. I had the opportunity to walk one of Sam’s routes in DTLA with him. Sam is a street shooter who I totally respect. I got to see his process, his style. It’s great to see others at work. I was so caught up in watching him, that I only took a few shots and then my battery died. Earlier that day, I had shot the fashion district – specifically around Santee Alley. That in itself was a crazy ordeal. Santee Alley is a swap meet of sorts – used to be known to sell bootleg brands until it got broke down by the Feds. Rumor has it it is run by some international cartel. Not really hard to believe. I had a lady chase me down and call me out (I’ve never been called out before. She thought I was “filming/recording.” You just know they still trippin from the Fed raids). After this encounter, I noticed two guys following me and my cousin just about every where. It was nerve racking for sure. That’s definitely a “neighborhood block watch.” It was one of them stories I’m definitely going to share in another article. That one will be about some of the craziness of shooting street.
“The No-Music Ice Cream Man”
Sidenote: For all you street photography purists; only 2 of these photos was where I asked to take their shot. Can you guess which two?
I wanted to see what I could do in LA. Although time was REAL limited, I wanted to take some opportunities to capture what I saw and heard in the City of Angels. The light is real harsh mid-day. I wanted to try for those shots. All of these shots were taken either on Melrose, Venice Beach, Hollywood and Highland, or Downtown LA. All of them were taken between the times of 12-4 PM. The light is truly unforgiving during these times. I saw it as a huge challenge. I tried my best.
“Anyone able to take Spidey back to Burbank? Meet Hitch-hiking Spiderman.”
Hollywood and Highland. The famous Walk of Fame. Full of tourists. I MEAN FULL of tourists. It was overwhelming to be honest. We had just gotten back from visiting the “Wild Card Gym” owned by Freddie Roach, where Jamie Fox, Mark Wahlberg, and of course the pound for pound World Champion Manny Pacquiao train. Come out of the elevator from the parking structure and bam…OVERWHELMED by the tourists. Along with the tourists come the likes of Spiderman, Dora, Bumblebee, Samuel Jackson, Zorro…just a whole mess of people dressed up in these costumes for tourists to take pictures with…at a price. I tried to take a couple shots of these folks…one saying I owe money and the other (dammit all to hell it came out blurry) of Cat woman, flipping me off and calling me a whole mess of names with cuss words in the front. I even saw one of them “taking a break.” She looked nothing like a celebrity. My cousin whispers to me, “all the costumed folks are either homeless folks or drug addicts…you have to choose wisely to who you give money to.”
Ain’t that some shit.
This is not the Walk of Fame you see on the TV and movie screens. The removing of the masks and costumes is pretty indicative of the society we live. Without going into too much social commentary, we are all trying to live the good life, and some of us have to hide behind things in order for it to show some fruits of labor (shoot I’m in this bunch for sure).
“The Mannequin’s Mannequin”
“This photo is going to make you famous.” – Al, DTLA Street Musician
Downtown LA is rich with amazing architecture. Unused and abandoned, its a deserted land full of new highrises shadowing some great detailed old relics of the past. Forgotten to the Staples Center, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the new Cathedral, these buildings scream stories to those who try to listen and pay attention. I talked to a friend and his wife about it. They would tell me of stories of coming down with their parents, who owned a business in the area and even back then, remember being scared to come down after sundown. It wasn’t just the people in the area after dark, it was the buildings that shared its anger towards LA citizens.
“It was like the buildings, beautiful by way of architecture, turned into scary horror movie dwellings…the ones only the stupid people would want to break into.”
The city needs to replenish this area to make it vibrant again. DTLA is too beautiful to stay like it is. Who am I to say this though? It’s been this way for decades.
DTLA is where I really saw the parts where not too many tourists want to go. The “Skid Row” in DTLA is nothing to mess with. Sam recognized some of the homeless folks that he had taken portraits with and we took some photos of them. Again I was more enamored with Sam walking his streets. We came across a sidewalk with about 7-8 homeless folks. A couple of them singing songs. Sam approached them and a couple of them obliged with their photos being taken. The guitar player who was the more interesting of the bunch was real elusive. I didn’t want to push trying to snap his photo so I ended up talking to another man away from this bunch. He told me a couple of his stories despite not wanting his photo taken. He said these streets were hard, but since he’s lived on them his whole life just about (27 years) he didn’t really know any better. He just knows its hard because people like me tell him so.
“I’m still alive and thats really what counts don’t it man. I mean, it would be fucked up if you were out here taking photos of dead bodies and shit. I ain’t dead, by no means am I dead.”
“They know of each other, but don’t know each other”
Melrose Avenue was a typical spot for me. Boulevard for urban style and wear. It’s like the anti-thesis to Rodeo drive. I actually think its considered the Fairfax district. It’s supposed to be the alternative area. Reminds me a lot of Capitol Hill or the Ave in Seattle’s U-District. It’s the boutiques and the tattoo shops and other shops like this that give this street character. Street art lace the buildings and alleys that compliment the neighborhood persona. It was just OK for me. It wasn’t like I haven’t seen anything like it in any other major American city.
“Venice Beach 911”
Venice Beach. The infamous Venice Beach right?!? It was like I walked onto a movie set. Palm trees line out the beach horizon. Tourists and locals alike all in one spot. The latter trying its damndest to squeeze out a penny. Street performers, muscle builders, store vendors, tattoo shops, skate boarders, the basketball courts…all centered around the police station. I would say that the amount of police in Venice was based on a quota system for sure. Maybe 15-1, 20-1, general public to one police officer. Heavy concentration around the hustlers selling their hip hop CDs south of the basketball courts. Scene of “White Men Can’t Jump” and “American History X” plays in my head when I was walking through this part of the beach.
Many years ago when I had first come to Venice Beach, a friend of mine told me that there were days specified for when the “gangs” of LA would come out. For instance Saturday was the day the Bloods would come out. Sundays the Crips. It’s crazy to walk through and think of the under belly of places, like its a beach, really?!? There are designated “gang days.”
I think from the places I shot in LA, Venice Beach was the one that was like a playground feel for me (as far as shooting). It seemed that everyone really wanted to have their photo taken whether they knew it or not. It would seem that I was taking a candid shot and then afterwards walk away feeling like, “damn, did they know I was taking their photo?” It seemed like a show, a small amusement park at times. I actually heard a tourist tell his wife, “I think next we should go to the skateboarding area. I heard that they put on a great show over there.” His wife responds, “Sure but Muscle Beach is supposed to start with a few bodybuilders and I don’t want to miss that.”
My friend who told me about the “gang days” grew up in Venice Beach. She said this the epitomy of LA (at least to her). Los Angeles is a tourist trap, hiding all of its glory in smoke and mirrors. Sometimes you can tell its fake, other times it inspires you to become what you may think is real.
“The Dodgers Fan”
My friend, Chris, told me, “It’s like the Dodgers, right…either you love them or you hate them…if you love them, you are ride or die…you hate them, you can’t wait to see them falter…Los Angeles is exactly like the Dodgers. Actually the Dodgers is exactly like Los Angeles.” This coming from someone who was born and raised in Los Angeles.
Really it was fun to shoot down there. Possibilities were endless for a photographer. The City of Angels does not disappoint for sure.
So hopefully ya’ll enjoy the photos and enjoy my memory notetaking ramblings below.
It’s this love hate relationship.
Boulevards seperate fast cars and money from street vendors and bootleg DVD’s.
It’s the beauty of America.
Gangsters who are classless, nameless, raceless, and faceless.
Their names can be Aniston or Acevedo. Chavez or Clooney. Kardashian or Kortajarena.
Their addiction can be money.
“We all love ice cream”
The freeways are the veins; ill-thrust between pockets of countries that carry us – flush inside the ugliness of Pre-Americana and Post-New World Order.
405 to San Diego. I-5 to the Valley. Sunset sleep walkers searching for the next fix – on life, love, and hate.
We walk by them everyday with ticker tape parades and news channel slogans.
Homicide rates up, unemployment rates up, heat index up.
Human consumption up, human compassion down.
“So a hair stylist, his dog, and a photographer walk into a bar”
We became them in another life. I saw myself in the reflection of the window and I disappeared.
It’s the Maserati blazing down the 101; bobbin and weavin past us. Blonde hair, hands raised, celebrating nothing but the gas prices spent on their 6 digit whip.
It’s the Toyota Previa; full to the top with boxes of tourist paraphernalia; slang at the corners of the fashion district, hands raised, celebrating nothing but the chance to haggle down; stealing milk and bread from hungry children’s mouths.
I saw the real citizen. Ugly with dislike for Obama and Romney. 4 for $4 sunglasses, tipped at the point of the nose, slip middle finger – disdain for anything other than Los Angeles. Now I understand the love for the Dodgers and the Lakers. They represent the golden ticket. It’s the stars in their eyes.
I can hear them when they wake up in the morning and tell themselves, “I’m gonna make it someday.”
“Hats and Agua”
It’s her love for being in this dirty moment. His want to get that hit passed his costume uniform standing on the stars of Hollywood as a fire truck sits in wait for the next heart attack. It’s chance to give a show to the masses. That Hollywood sign up on the hills hides their addiction real well.
I saw the real citizen. Louis Vutton and Deja Vu sellin’ the same shit to all of us. It ain’t about the backroads, it’s about the quick slant to get the fuck out.
Cat woman by day, stripper by night.
Spider man by day, dealer by night.
Seek the shade, the sun is unforgiving. It’s light will show us the truth and noone wants to hear it. Don’t go downtown in the dark. You may not come out. It’s been dead there for years. Those people been dead there for years.
There was an earthquake the other day in Beverly Hills. It gave the Kardashians type folks a chance to get out to the hood. Ryan Seacrest has another idea for a reality show. It’s him looking at himself in the mirror. It’s pretty fucking dramatic. and real.
It will probably only last one season. The networks don’t want this kind of shit. Leave it to the indie studios. They aren’t in it for the money.
If they do it’s real low so watch you’re back.
“Live for Now”
“The Modern Day Samurai”
The homeless become landscapes and structures. Step over them, or around them. They are mute because when they do choose to have a voice, it ain’t loud enough for anyone to hear.
What you doing man with that camera phone? This ain’t some child porn shit right? It’s not, then take a shot of my good side.
Play me a song again.
Dance man, Dance.
Some angels here choose not to fly anymore, others are always flying above us, they just don’t know where to land.
“Meditations and Lines”
I pieced as best as I could the thoughts and lines I wrote down. I didn’t want to make each line a caption for a photo as I think all the captions could work for any particular photo. I hope ya’ll dig it.
SHOUTOUT to the LA Folks/ Shooters. Next time hopefully we will shoot together.
Members of the Legion of Boom Enters the Loudest Stadium in the World; DeShawn Shead #35, Kam Chancellor #31, Richard Sherman #25
On the Sidelines with the Seattle Seahawks and the Nokia Lumia 1020 by BP
I have had the opportunity to shoot both college and professional football with my smart phone – the Nokia Lumia 1020.
I’ve had to re-read that opening sentence a few times just for it to sink in. It’s crazy talk to say that I have been able to cover a PAC-12 college football game much less also cover an NFL professional team with all access press credentials.
Oh the places that we can let these phones take us.
12s: Cheering on the Greatest Team in Franchise History
My Football Story
I have been a football fan and fanatic since I was 4 years old. I remember my first football given to me by my dad before he went out to sea for the Navy. It was a San Diego Superchargers football. I loved that thing and carried it everywhere. At the age of 6 I fell in love with the Miami Dolphins. I loved watching Dan Marino make plays by throwing to Mark Clayton or Mark Duper – the “Marks Brothers.” From kindergarten to 8th grade, my best friend and I would play school ball everyday, whether on the school playground or the neighborhood street or running across to the high school football field. I played in high school and played shortly in college until blowing out my knee literally in the first few weeks of the season. I never played organized ball again.
I still remain a fan.
I’ve lived in the Seattle area since 1987. Steve Largent, Curt Warner, Jacob Green, Kenny Easley, Matt Hasselbeck, Marcus Trufant, Lofa Tatupu, and Walter Jones were my new heroes of the gridiron. I fell in love with the Seahawk logo, incorporating the native american culture in an appropriate way. I was a fan even during the 2-14 season (1992), a fan during the last 13-3 season (2005) and a FANATIC this season.
I am a part of the 12s. My 5 year old son is a part of the 12s.
Although he doesn’t understand the game fully, the excitement that he sees from me enables him to participate by showing his own enthusiasm. After the Seahawks lost to the Arizona Cardinals, I was a grumpy wreck. I came home and there he was in his Hawks gear; wearing his Marshawn Lynch jersey and carrying his Seahawk football. He came up to me, gave me a hug and a Hi-5 and said, “Dad, don’t worry. The team won’t let you down again. It’s only one game.”
As a father, this is what football has become.
My childhood is now shared with his childhood. Our love for the game makes watching it that much more beautiful.
Football is a family affair
In order to shoot the game of football with your smart phone you really have to prepare yourself for the game. Whether it is taking photographs of your child playing flag or peewees, high school football, college or professional level, you have to understand the flow of the game. By knowing the flow and paying attention to the direction of the game you’ll be able to stay ahead of a very fast moving game. I position myself according to the flow.
When the team is on offense, I position myself in between the team and the end zone. The game play will be coming towards you and you get a chance to capture not only the action, but the players. If you’re able to get a shot of a players face, you’re working towards a really good photo. On offense you should know that the quarterback is going to do a few things; hand off the ball to the runningback, throw the ball to a receiver, take it himself for a run, or get pummeled by the defense.
Jon Ryan #9 and Stephen Haushka #4 are Special Teams Heroes
When the team is on defense, I stay behind the defense. The other team’s offense will force the defense to react and your photos should reflect that. Much like on offense, you’re going to look for certain things; they are going to tackle, intercept, or cause/recover a fumble. You’re the person to try and capture those things.
The game doesn’t just consist of following the actual game. The game is nothing without the storylines. The fans, the interaction of coaches and players with fans, the cheerleaders, the mascots; all of these things make up the game of football. Because a smart phone has some limitations and you’re just not going to be able to get great action shots close up, this component is crucial for folks to be able to capture the game of football. Tell the story of the game, the players, and the fans, and you’ll accomplish telling a great story of the great game of football.
Taima the Hawk: Taima leads the team onto the field every home game!
Football and the 1020
Make sure to bring gear to support you throughout the time of the game. I brought with me a couple battery chargers one of which being the Nokia cameragrip. The cameragrip is crucial because it has the attachment for putting the phone on a tripod or in this case a monopod. I always have my monopod with me. Like all cameras, camera shake can make or break a photo. The 1020 has great stabilization but having a monopod helps in diminishing the chances of camera shake and blur in your photos.
I used the native Nokia camera app for these photos. The manual controls for this app are great and I’ll show you photos along with the settings I used to capture the photos.
*Note: The 1020 saves in RAW format. The Nokia .DNG files respond really well in post process.
Sports photography can be done with mobile phones
The manual settings that I used for shooting the play on the field are; white balance, ISO, and shutter speed.
All of the above are variables and are inter-related since changing one requires changing at least one of the other two and, in some cases, all. Since trying to deal with these variables is very confusing its best to choose one as a “constant”, leaving only a few of the variables more manageable. I suggest setting an ISO and then not touching it unless absolutely necessary. I went with 1/400 since it was an overcast day. Raising the ISO on your camera will allow you to shoot at a higher shutter speed, giving you a better chance of getting the perfect shot – which for me was freezing the action. The higher I went with the ISO, the more noise the camera captured. I want to diminish the amount of blur but not compromise the shot with a bunch of noise. 1/400 was perfect for me.
The light sources in Century Link Stadium change at every view and angle. The looming artificial light from the stadium and the natural light from the sun and clouds made it difficult to capture the true colors on the field with a smart phone. The 1020 helps in making it easier for the photographer to get the best color and true whites from the sidelines. I set my WB on the cloudy setting. It seemed to keep the natural whites and colors that I saw away from the lens.
We Are Juxt has many tutorials in using the Lumia 1020.
I suggest perusing these tutorials here for more details on maximizing manual settings for your perfect shot.
The Pile Up: As you can see from the shot, I was pretty close to the action. These guys were literally 8-10 feet away. The action was so quick that if any of the players continued to run through, I would’ve been a casualty.
Shutter Speed: 1/904s, ISO: ISO400, White Balance: Cloudy
Marshawn Lynch #24: This is another shot that was close to the action. The incompleted pass almost sent the ball towards my head. Luckily it didn’t and luckily Beast Mode didn’t run me over.
Shutter Speed: 1/490s, ISO: ISO400, White Balance: Cloudy
Russell Wilson #3: The amazing Mr. Wilson is known for running around defenses. Although this wasn’t a scoring run, he stifled the defense with moves like this all game.
Shutter Speed: 1/257s, ISO: ISO400, White Balance: Cloudy
The Final Score
It was an honor to be able to document so many great events this past year. From MTV’s Video Music Awards Red Carpet to the Seattle Seahawks, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be able to cover these events with my camera phone. My friends, Daniel Hour (formerly of University of Washington Athletics), Jordan Stead (Seattle PI photojournalist), and John Lok (Seattle Times photojournalist) have both supported me and the community of mobile photographers in Seattle. They understand that photography is about telling a story and people can do it with their camera phones as well as their big cameras.
12s: Scaring the Opposing Offense, Energizing our Amazing Defense
Again, “Oh the places that we can let these phones take us.”
In just a few days, the Seattle Seahawks will be playing in the biggest game of the year; the Super Bowl. For this “final score”, I wanted to wish them a great game and to come back home to Seattle the champions that the city, this region and its citizens (as well as all the 12s around the world) know they are.
*UPDATE (February 2, 2014): THE Seattle Seahawks are World Champions! The “Final Score” was 43-8!
Football is not just about gladiators, it’s about brotherhood.
“The mobile photography and arts community is life in Technicolor. I hold all these little frozen moments in time in my hand every day. I get to experience the thrill of discovery, the pain of loss, or the joy on a child’s face as if I was there. This community of artists pushes me in ways I’ve never been pushed. To create, to capture, to evoke emotion. But also to tell my story. To share my own victories and defeats, to be open and bare on a regular basis. Our lives are a beautiful, living creature and because of mobile photography I am intertwined with people I will never meet face to face.” – Anna Cox, a mother and an artist from Central Kentucky. You can see her on Instagram and EyeEm as @starklifephoto.
The community of mobile photography has broadened how we communicate with one another. Our interests are now shared with an increasing amount of people, followers or audience (however you choose to define it). Our reach to others has been extended on a global scale while our interactions have evolved on an emotional scale. We are able to build relationships, based on support and our common ground.
We are now part of a world in which mobile technology touches almost every aspect of our lives. Innovative, connected devices have fostered a community of “creatives” who learn, teach and consume the art of mobile photography. The idea of connectivity is centered in the here and now, helping us interact with people impulsively and instantaneously.
In June of 1997, Philippe Kahn invented the camera phone as we all know it. The premise for this invention for him – to document and share with family and friends the birth of his daughter – also marked the beginning of the mobile photography community.
“I think from the beginning, the mobile phone camera was created as a way to share immediate, ‘disposable’ images with close friends. I don’t think anyone really planned for the App Store and for a bunch of stubborn photographers — professional and non — to consistently create these really outstanding pieces of art. It wasn’t that photography was new. I think a big part of iPhoneography’s early success was that it was the first camera of decent to good quality that was always with you. It was the first good camera that could photograph a scene without really affecting the subject much. Above all, the iPhone was and still is a very personal camera.” – Marty Yawnick, freelance graphic designer from Dallas/Fort Worth, and the editor for Life in LoFi
This burgeoning community has been enthusiastic about sharing their work from the start, first through small, individual blogs and the innovative (at the time) Flickr share site. The creativity they exhibited with their camera phones was amazing. There were many people creating stunning images, curating their art on these accounts and building relationships with like-minded creatives. They began to develop the core functions of the mobile photography community: sharing, engaging and consuming images. From inception, it was about the art, but more importantly about the camaraderie surrounding the art.
Enter social photo-sharing platforms Instagram and EyeEm, and the doors to this small but growing community were opened to the rest of the world. Sharing became instantaneous, and the community discovered a new addiction to engaging and consuming photographs. Images were uploaded at an astronomical rate. What once was a slow process of downloading to a desktop, then posting onto a web-based site, became shoot and share immediately. The community began to broaden. There were a million stories being told.
“Within the rapidly growing community of mobile photography, amateurs and professionals alike, from around the globe, document, share and relate. These communities foster friendships, engender support and facilitate their members to push the boundaries of what mobile photography can be as well as what it can hope to accomplish.” –Matt Coch is a New York-based photographer who goes by the moniker Brooklyn Theory.
Exploring the meaning of ‘community’
Community means a “unified body of individuals,” says Merriam-Webster. It connotes inclusion and similar beliefs within a collective context. We find ourselves identifying as part of the mobile photography/iPhoneography/Droidography/ Windography community.
“The most important thing to me is seeing happiness and emotion in a picture. I have missed a lot of that since my mom died. When I met my husband, I started to see the happiness again. And then my son and daughter were born. But when I discovered photography especially with them, I just try to capture moments. Whether they are happy or sad. Or mad. Whatever emotion it may be. Nothing means more to me than my family.” – Melanie de Krasselis a mother from Los Angeles, California. She found photography through her iPhone and her favorite subject matter are her children.
Community is actually individual-specific, with an individual at the center. You, me and everyone else: we each have our own community.
At first blush, this may sound like a modern, individualistic, self-centered definition of community. For one thing, with this understanding comes the new understanding (for me anyway) that every individual I interact with today is the living, breathing center of their own community. This makes everyone significantly more connected, influential and powerful than they appear (and often know) in their individual forms. Every individual is the center of their own community.
“When I became involved with iPhoneography in February 2010, the community was active, smaller and more ‘underground.’ Then, Instagram hit, and then a lot of the activity moved there–away from Flickr, but it’s really hard to say. I know I noticed changes in traffic patterns for where people were spending their time as informally measured by comments, not just image sharing. Also, as Instagram became popular, more people were coming to Facebook to share photos. This was a big shift.” – Star Rush is a documentary and street photographer, writer, and educator from Seattle, WA.
We are living in a time when most of us are so flooded with imagery and information as individuals that we have no idea which end is up many days. This can cause us to over-rely on the published ideas of distant experts and to undervalue those we’re directly connected to as well as our individual selves. Sure there are technical aspects that we can learn from others. Sure there are new discoveries that can help us hone our craft. In the context of community, we all have a stake and a contribution to make.
We are so much more than we can know we are or be as individuals. Community wraps us in the surprise and delight we need to laugh, play, relax and to come to know more of our whole, true, beautiful selves. This hasn’t changed since the word community was first spoken, because this doesn’t need to change.
I think that’s why community persists and why it will continue to persist, despite our precarious piles of individual fears.
“The mobile photography community, to me, has become an essential part of my creative process. I don’t know where I’d be as an artist if there wasn’t one, I’ve learned so much from others I’ve met along the way in this game that has helped mold me into the photographer I am. It’s really cool to have found so many people who share the same interest through a cell phone app, kind of crazy when you think about it and how far the technology has come. I’m curious to see where all this will take us in the next few years, we’re already off to a good start and I’m honored and proud to be a part of it.” – Mike Hill, mobile photographer originally from New Orleans, Louisana.
Community is who we are. It’s why we last. It’s always with us, like the found, smooth and treasured stones in my jacket pockets that show up to surprise and delight me again and again.
My stones have names. Your stones have names.
These stones provide us friendship, mentorship and inspiration. They provide us a glimpse of humanity through a technological window.
We develop these relationships on behalf of a community that loves to create, learn, share and connect. We are touched by all these stones on the basic human level. I hold mine close to me, in my pocket, and get excited when they share with me the joys, the heartache, and the humor of their daily lives.
How can I even quantify how they participate in my definition of community?
That’s just how we roll.
“The community and the sharing are key answers in my idea of being ‘connected’ worldwide. You grow your passion looking at a billion of photographs everyday, and that is the biggest silent, hidden change for me. More ideas, more interactions, more self-confidence. Your passion grows. Your addiction to the ‘art’ grows. Your ‘eye’ begins to see what was hidden before.” –Alessio Castaldo, late and great photographer amd original Juxter from San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy. He was an advocate for mobile photography and was co-founder of The Minimals, which seeks the use of fundamentals in the mobile genre.
*”Mobile photography: Built on community” was originally posted on DPR Connect on November 21, 2012
A choice that is made on the cusp of who we are, what we do, and how comfortable we are in our own skin. When was the last time you felt the sun on your forehead? The last time you felt serenity in the reflection, the still mirrors that surround us. When was the last time you felt wanted? When was the last time you chose to be seen?
You see an abandoned building, an abandoned soul is only abandoned when it has been chosen to be. Empty eyes are mistaken for being unoccupied.
That is the beauty of being invisible.
The veins of the city are full of us. The sheep. The people. The babies, burnt souls, knocked up round and lonely. Invisible.
They continue, we continue, to move in hopes of being invisible. Often we hope that we do not lock eyes with passers by. I don’t necessarily want to know how you are because I don’t want you to know how I am. I’m not that interesting. My day is not that interesting. My wish is to be invisible like the buildings. Let me disappear like the stories written in notebooks of the writers who fold them in half and put them in their back pockets. Maybe, just maybe, they read these stories to ears not deafened to train tracks, honking horns of cab drivers and ambulance sirens.
We can be that if we choose.
Where do you lie in the river? When it is quiet? When it is raging?
Where do you hide yourself when the abandoned buildings are silent with voices of stories longing to be heard. There is a voice. You can help write the story.
If you choose.
*This prose was written as a collaboration between Alessio and myself over time. We both always wondered what it was like when the art and images we love so much are shared to the world. Does the image truly elicit what we would like to have? Does the story, the 1000 words, actually get translated during this time of “followers” “likes” and “seeking fame”? It is important to showcase the image and not the image of ourselves. We’ve both always felt that way. He always felt that way. He always asked me if it was important for me to hit x amount of likes and followers. He always asked me how important each shot was for what I wanted to portray. He always asked me to see if I ever straddled the line of seeking fame or loving my art.
I let myself marinate in those questions. Where do you live in all of this? Do you straddle? What is your choice?
Video: Windows Phone, Nokia Lumia 920 (View in HD)
A little over one year later, I have had the opportunity to witness two major events demanding the return of an NBA team, wait, the return of our beloved Supersonics to the Emerald City.
The City of Seattle has been without an NBA team since 2008.
Sonicsgate, which is one of the strongest forces in the city, brought together the community one last time in 2013 before the NBA Board of Governors votes on the relocation back to Seattle on Wednesday, May 15, 2013.
This is the city’s last rallying call until we find out their decision. Chris Hansen and his band of millionaire superheroes have been lobbying and putting up millions of dollars to show the NBA how serious they are, we are, in having our beloved 41 year legacy return. A night hosted by Shawn Kemp and Tilson with music from some of the city’s best hip hop, cameos from major politicians, and even more importantly, hundreds of Sonics fans came together to celebrate the accomplishments of Sonicsgate, Chris Hansen, and the voices of our city.
On a day historically set for peaceful protests for International Workers Solidarity around the world, Istanbul and Seattle becomes violent.
In 2012, the city of Seattle was caught off guard by anarchists. The city vowed to be ready in 2013. The media announced the city’s preparedness days before May Day with interviews and statements from the chief of police and the mayor, “We respect the right to peacefully assemble, but we will be ready for any lawbreakers.” The day of began with media blitzes and vans and trucks and of course the police on foot, horse, and automobile. Above flew the helicoptors, I even read a tweet that said, “If you want to find the anarchists, the helicoptors will lead you right to them.”
The day started out calmly and peacefully. The second and last protest dubbed the anti-capitolist protest by Occupy Seattle groups turned for the worst…but not as “bad” as 2012. There were 8 cops injured and multiple arrests led to another May Day to go down in the books as violent. Flashbombs and tear gas from the cops; fireworks, rocks, and metal pipes from the protestors. I can’t help to feel like the buildup/ hype is what led to the ending of May Day 2013. This year seemed to be not about purpose and mission but of response and reaction. The immigrant reform rally seemed as beautiful as ever. Reaching its 13th year even. Sad to think that it was not the headline but instead, “Seattle May Day goes violent…again.”
This day is for equality and justice. Not for grandstanding and media ratings. Just saying!
Folklore and legendsare usually traditional stories popularly regarded as the telling of historical events. When in the form of myths, they often involve some form of the supernatural. They have been with us for thousands of years and, because of this, folklore and legends form the basis of many religious beliefs, value systems, and the way we perceive our place in the world and our interaction with other animals. Humans have long revered whales and other animals in legends. For thousands of years they have been aligned with the gods, mythologized, and celebrated in art.
It appears though in many popular legends that the great whales were not necessarily held in such high regard as the other mythological animals. Whales were typically described as monsters of the sea, their great size to be feared by all. Oppian (A.D. 180) told of the hunt of a whale; its monstrous size and unapproachable limbs a terrible sight to behold. In biblical times, the story of Jonah and the whale was well known, and it is popular even today. The story tells of Jonah who fled from the Lord by boat to Tarshish. When the ship was underway, the Lord caused a great storm. In fear of their lives, Jonah asked the mariners to cast him into the sea so the Lord would again make the sea calm and spare the mariners lives. Once Jonah was in the sea, however, the Lord prepared a “great fish” to swallow him. He was in the belly of the whale for 3 days and 3 nights where he prayed and vowed salvation to the Lord. Upon his vow the Lord spoke to the whale and it vomited Jonah onto dry land and spared his life. Although today we know that it is unlikely that this event truly occurred, the story displayed the power of the Lord and what He was capable of doing to those who defied Him.
We’ve all been in Jonah’s sandals. We’ve all had a scary task to set before us, a heavy task with potentially frightening responsibilities placed on our shoulders. When we turn away from these responsibilities (knowing what we should do, yet refusing) it churns up massive emotional upheaval. We become swallowed ourselves in an emotional quagmire. We stew in our emotional soup, until we reach a boiling point. We all struggle with emotional buildup over choices we need to make, or even those choices we cannot bear to execute. Some of us, after days and nights of stewing within the womb of the soul, finally emerge (spit from the whale, so to speak) with renewed determination and a rekindling of faith. Others of us return to the emotional abyss until we can process our fears and indecision into a more refined state of being.
In his 1851 novel “Moby Dick,” Herman Melville described a white sperm whale of uncommon magnitude, capable of great ferocity, cunning, and malice. Melville’s novel summarized the fears of Yankee whalers that the tables would be turned and the whale would become the attacker.
Not all folklore portrays whales as fearsome beasts. Maori folklore of the Ngati Porou people tells of their ancestors being carried safely across the Pacific to New Zealand on the back of a whale. The Ngai Tahu people consider the sperm whales off the coast of the South Island as taonga (treasures). If a whale strands, prayers are said in order to return its spirit to Tangaroa, the Maori god of the sea. After this, the lower jawbone is removed for ceremonial carving and placement on the marae (the tribes’ traditional meeting grounds). Think “Whale Rider.”
The north Alaska Inuit people have for over 1000 years relied on whale products for their survival. As with many traditional hunting societies, ceremonies accompany the hunt that assures good luck, and many hunters take charms or amulets to ensure their luck and safety. Some believe the skull of the dead whale must be returned to the sea in order to assure the immortality and reincarnation of the whale, thereby protecting the future hunting success.
Whales are associated with compassion and solitude, and knowledge of both life and death. They are also associated with unbridled creativity. The exhalation through the blowhole symbolizes the freeing of one’s own creative energies. Sound is also a creative force of life. Whales use sonar and echo-location, linking them to the tutelage of direction and response to feedback. Though whales are symbolic of free use of creativity, they are also teachers of how to use creative energies more conservatively.
The whale may facilitate emotional clarity, and help us navigate through the often ambiguous and confusing seas of emotion. Whales themselves are incredibly nurturing; we see this in how they raise their young as well as their close-knit connection to others in their community herds or pods. Whales have a natural affinity for helping, especially promoting well-being within their community. People who are attracted to the whale often feel devoted to a greater cause, and although they may struggle with their own personal emotions, they tend to naturally conjure healing powers towards others in emotional trauma. Navigating the emotional waters with the whale by your side will afford guidance and clarity say many of these stories.
Whales ask us to embrace the unknown, and that’s precisely why they are so connected to the emotional depths of the oceans. To be sure, our current circumstances are born from an emotional womb. In other words, our reality is intrinsically connected to our thought and our emotional choices. It can be frustrating and confusing to track down the emotional origin of the stuff that’s manifested in our lives, and the whale can help us understand, on a deeper level, the actions that have caused unrest in our daily life.
In many sects of Native wisdom, the whale is symbolic of the beginning, the creation of all life on earth as we know it. They aren’t the only ones. Countless cultures around the globe associate themes of creation, birth and rebirth with the whale.
This Whale. The day Jen and I met this whale we were both brought together by tumultuous times in our lives. It was also the day of the Boston Marathon bombings. Actually it was within an hour of the bombings. We both had felt the sorrow and confusion on the global level, and on the individual level, we were left questioning life events. For me, many questions rushed me. I was lost on many issues. The “Whys” and “How Comes” met this whale as we walked the 100 yards to meet him. It was surreal. Hundreds of people flocked to get a glimpse of this magnificent animal over the span of 3 days (remember Jonah’s story?). Our time with him was relatively short (max 30 minutes). I felt that short time brought feelings of “Everything is going to be alright.” No answers, but the feeling of “You don’t need to know the answers right now” took hold and ultimately calmed me.
It was a healing moment as were amongst others who sought to pay homage to this poor whale whose life was taken by some sort of destiny. We touched the whale and found some sort of solace in its intense circumstance. Did we reach emotional clarity? Certainly not, but I argue that our friendship and whatever personal search that brought us together that day, found a quick moment of humility. It was our time to share with one another the lives, the deaths, and the changes that surrounded our own personal story.
The Unraveling of a Billionaire by BP and Victoria
Let us set the stage.
We both had planned a street shoot the other day. The plan was to take a favorite route in the city – Pike Place Market through to Westlake, up and down Pike and Pine St. The light in the beginning of the day was great but by the time we got out to shoot, it had become more overcast. We both didn’t have our Mophie packs and we both started out with less than 100%, with V starting out with a whopping 23%. We monitored the batt levels and did the best we could.
V: If you’ve ever gone on an IG walk with me, you know I generally come unprepared with a low battery and decaffeinated. This day was certainly no different.
B: By the time V hit under 10% it was time to juice up. Note: If V’s phone didn’t need a charge, our story would’ve never happened, so we decided to hit the Starbucks, power up, and catch up.
V: While Brad was off being gentlemanly, purchasing our coffee, I sat at a table next to Bill. He glanced over at me with a warm smile. He complimented me on my chucks and said he wore the same ones when he was a youngster. We laughed about how styles just recycle themselves, but agreed my kicks were classics. I noticed his formal wear and how he seemed out of place in our “Keens and Northface” city, but I appreciated the fact that someone would get dressed in a full suit and go to a local coffee shop to simply work on his computer.
B: Before I sat down I saw Bill next to the table that V had been sitting at. He was real focused on his typing, tapping away at the keys, one finger at a time style. He also had a great hat and was dressed up real dapper like. I opened up ProCamera, focused, set exposure and took a couple shots. Figured I had to catch this scene. Thought this would be the end of it, not knowing that the conversation with Bill would give backstory to the photo. Initially V and I chatted it up and Bill paid no mine to us, nor us to him. At one point, he got up and asked us to watch his laptop and flip phone as he needed to go across the street. We did. We continued to chop it up and again paid no mine when he returned. I cracked a joke that I had used his minutes to call Uruguay (chuckle here, chuckle there) but for the most part that was it.
Meet J. William Oldenburg.
Bill started to pack up his things and on his way out he wished us a blessed day and before he got too far, BP asked him for his name.
“Bill, Bill Oldenburg.”
Little did we know that we was speaking to a billionaire. Well someone who used to be a billionaire.
Bill said, “Have you heard of the movie Sleepless in Seattle?” Of course we did. Tom Hanks. Meg Ryan. The house on Lake Union. “Well I was a part of the production crew of it. As a matter of fact, Tom is supposed to come here in a couple of weeks because we are looking to do another movie, except this time it’ll be based on my life.”
Bill proceeded to return to his seat. He had this sparkle in his eye. It could be that he was thinking, “Hmmm these are going to be easy prey for me to con.” or “Here’s a chance to be able to tell my story.”
His story led from Sleepless to Seattle, to the hat he was wearing. “This hat, this hat was given to me by my close friend, Frank Sinatra.” At first we laughed, thinking he was pulling our leg. But then he continued on with his story in great detail, genuinely and with a tenderness in his voice toward his “friend.” He then mentioned to us that Elizabeth Taylor so loved a necklace he had bought for his wife, and that he allowed a duplicate to be made as long as she promised not to wear it until his wife had first worn hers in public. He told us of a quote that his close friend, Katherine Hepburn had told him, “The most valuable antiques are old friends.” He told us of his big galas and having Wayne Newton sing at these events. He talked of his close friendship to Orson Wells.
Photo from Bill: (L) Orson Wells, (C) Bill Oldenburg, (R) Wayne Newton
He continued on, sharing about how in the early 1980’s he had purchased the USFL LA Express football team with whom they drafted Steve Young before making a deal to send the star to the San Francisco 49ers. He told us about being the only person in the world who was not afraid to challenge Donald Trump, even being quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying, “I’m used to winning, to nothing less than becoming the best,” he told Sports Illustrated. “Donald Trump can get all the press he wants, but when it comes to business, he can’t carry my socks.”
His stories were thoughtful and when he spoke of them he had a “reminiscing” tone about him.
However, it wasn’t just about the stars. He told us stories about his family too. He showed us a photograph of his daughter in her wedding gown, as she had recently been married in Seattle, and spoke highly of the groom. The photo was on his iPhone that his daughter had gifted him, though it was apparent that his flip phone and older laptop were already a challenge for him to use. He showed us quotes he wrote, showed us a paper printout of Lazarus, his dog who had recently passed away. He truly loved his family; four daughters and his wife and “soul mate,” Marla.
Clearly for him his world was big, but was nothing without his daughters and his wife. He went from working at a bank after high school and being a vacuum salesman to a real estate mogul, football team owner worth billions, to losing everything. His story is of rags to riches to rags.
Photo Credit: Victoria
V: It was fascinating to talk to someone who was so charismatic and seemed incredibly genuine. While he was sharing with us, I noticed his suit being nice, but that it desperately needed to be dry-cleaned. I remember trying to sort through that in my head, how could a billionaire’s shirt be anything but stark white and without wrinkles? I brushed it off, remembering he had “just moved into town and was still adjusting to the area,” so maybe he just hadn’t found time to get it taken care of. He mostly spoke to Brad, which I didn’t mind. BP tried to include me in the conversation, but it was very clear who Bill was aiming for. He offered us a photography gig during his next event, asking for our contact information to let us know more. If both of our parking times hadn’t expired, we probably would have sat and listened to his endless supply of star-studded stories and his grand future plans.
As Brad and I walked out of the store, we glanced at each other with somewhat skeptical grins. Had we just randomly met a billionaire who wanted us to stay in contact and possibly shoot for his next grand event? Weirder things have happened. We said our goodbyes and ran off to our cars, praying the parking attendant hadn’t found us yet.
Within several hours BP had already done his research and learned more about our dear friend Bill. He indeed had a fascinating story, though much sadder that the one he had painted for us. . I had mixed feelings about our encounter after I read the countless blogs and testimonies about a “cheat, con artist, liar and theif.” I didn’t want to believe it. He had gained much and lost much. Walking away, I am still glad we got to meet Bill. His story is his own, we all have made poor choices at times, and regardless of his path and mistakes, he is still holding on to a dream. If he does write that autobiography he spoke of, I will buy it in hopes that its a new chapter where he can build a new future, recognizing his past and learning from it.
B: I got so caught up afterwards trying to figure out this story. Is it real? Is it made up? Are we getting conned? We weren’t the only ones who had met Bill and have heard his stories (read the comments). Like V said, I was on fire, googling him and finding this and that. The stories were true of course omitting the federal charges, and lavish spending, and other business not to do’s that LOTS of folks did in the 1980’s. It felt like V and I was in his movie.
Then I realized I forgot about living and enjoying the moment. You know those stolen moments we had with this man. I’ve had many opportunities meeting people in passing. Strangers with amazing stories. Some believable, some not. It didn’t really matter. V and I got to share time with a nice man who wanted to share stories with us. Did he hurt us? No. He simply shared his story.
It made me think how often than not, we forget to sit down and listen (or read). The world we live in moves so fast. What’s news one day, is history the next. What’s trendy one day, is out of style the next. It moves fast. We forget sometimes how these little interactions can teach us a lesson or even better, help us remember the lessons we’ve learned. Now I’m not saying go find your “Bill.” What I am saying though, is remind yourself that every moment should be cherished. Every story you are told will have meaning even if not at that precise moment. Strangers, friends, family members…whomever will enter or leave your life for a reason. This time with V and Bill reminded me of that.
The title of this article is “The Unraveling of a Billionaire.” It’s an actual title from another article on our friend Bill. But the title sounds like the story is finished which like V, I think and hope that it isn’t.
Bill already titled his autobiography which I find is most fitting to end this article: “Not Ready To Land.”
He’s not done yet. He’s not ready to come down to earth. He wants to fly and continue to chase his dreams.
Bill, hats off to you friend.
“It’s such a shame to land with so much fuel left in my tanks”
“Life is a miracle, and the right to live is a gift. It is wrapped in a ribbon, woven with dreams, and whether you are very young or very old, life is filled with wonder and surprises.”
“I believe success is the culmination of winning, losing false starts, confusion, and the DETERMINATION to keep going anyway.”
– J. William Oldenburg
*Hint: Fast Forward to 20:00 min to see Bill and hear his keynote*
“We are not creating anything new – we are building on the work that has already been done for 500 years. We are not saying anything new – we are just carrying on the teachings of the people who came before us.“ – Roger Fernandez (RF), from the Klallam and Makah people
Idle No More rally in Seattle, WA
January 12, 2013
I have never been to a native ceremony. In a position now to be reporting on one seems foolish, almost dangerous. Perhaps this is also because I went expecting to be a part of something other then I was, as is often the case in my case. What I anticipated was a rally of sorts, a ragtag protest in the spirit of others I have participated in the past – demanding of you, chaotic and electric, people’s persona’s exaggerated by the experience of collective dissatisfaction. Indeed, the movement of Idle No More began in protest over a piece of legislation introduced in Canada called C-45 which calls for the opening of access to waterways in Canada including those qualified under treaties with First Nations people. Yet what I witnessed, and I use that word precisely, was so natural, seamless, and calm. In a word, they remembered. In a history of struggle that spans 500 years, there are bound to be many important actors. We remembered Chief Seattle and Chief Chetzmoka for their diplomatic contributions, and others like Vi Hilbert and Pearl Warren for support of Indian cultural development, and Crazy Horse and Geronimo for their firm stand against oppressive injustice. Together, these people were in the pivot points of native history and responded in ways that are worth remembering.
Photo by Bryce Stevenson
“Si’ahl, who we call Seattle – leader of the Muckleshoot, Duwamish, and Suquamish people – he fought for his people everyday of his life.” – RF
It would be no surprise to say that 500-year-old campaigns such as this go through periods of lull. For the Irish, it took 500 years for the British to conquer them, and another 500 to kick them out (of sorts). But on a patchy blue Saturday afternoon with the air biting at our skin, natives representing tribes of the Pacific Northwest were hootin’ and cooin’ and lamenting and singing as they joined, in spirited empathy for what has become a dwelling of solidarity for aboriginal peoples globally, the movement of Idle No More.
In this campaign, this point of call, this ostensibly free expression of life and the sacredness of it, native people brought all of themselves to downtown Seattle. It was a day where much more was witnessed than transcribed, and I had a hard time understanding if natives were a community ever really idle at all. Notwithstanding the obvious references to its origins in Canada with Chief Spence, how did this expressive movement of solidarity translate halfway across the continent and still holding meaning for these people here? Was there a time that native people of this region were idle too and now stand, or was it more than that?
“Vi Hilbert from the Skagit people who fought for us in the cultural way all of her life.” – RF
For some, like a few elders I spoke with, today was just more of the same. “We have been doing this for centuries in our ceremonies, in our canoe journeys, in our celebration, our dancing, theatre. Every weekend there are gatherings, community gatherings, tribal gatherings, honoring the veterans of the foreign wars, honoring the elders, honoring the children. It’s a continuous thing. It doesn’t stop because of the clock. So this is just one of those many things.“
As I asked people again and again what of it, they could not exactly say themselves, and at times, I knew simply did not want to say – a community habit for honor and respect of which I cannot help but think of fondly.
But something was different and people knew it. “A lot of our people choose not to be apart of this outside world and the Idle No More [movement] showed us that there are no boundaries.”
Maybe it highlights the seasons that separate young and old, but the younger of the crowd were sure that here, something important is happening. Said Gyasi Ross, a young man from Blackfoot Nation: [people now know] “its ok to sing our songs, our traditional songs in public places. We don’t have to be ashamed, and have to put those into a corner, into a powwow circumstance to be Indian. We can be Indian anyplace we want.”
So it is different then, and still the same. Nothing new here, just now public and proud – a change that is ostensibly a statement to Indians themselves.
Photo by Bryce Stevenson
Gyasi, continued: “of course its important…it’s a gathering of natives, gathering of indigenous people to better our lot in life, to be proactive, to not play the victim stance, but instead taking control…taking control of messaging, informing the legislation, informing ourselves…it is kind of passing the torch, both symbolically and literally, from one generation of resistance to another.”
To Gyasi and others like him, days like this are becoming more familiar. It was a day of coming out of sorts. It was part celebration and part demand, of cultural potential and present existence. Here we are! the day went. Every moment choreographed to tell the world we will not stand by as our brothers and sisters are disrespected in Canada. “We have been struggling for 500 years and we will continue to struggle, so do not mistake us. We may have been dormant, on issues that matter to us, afraid to publicize ourselves, but now
a bunch of noisy Indians.”
You could feel the pride, and this is how I could start to nail down what is Idle No More.
“To stand up for that life is what I do” one community elder said, “Any time I can represent who I am and where I come from I am more than happy to be a part of that.”
This is Idle No More.
Or Idle Never Was,
Or Invisible No More,
Whatever it’s called, Idle No More was the acts themselves. It was the prayers and hope for Chief Spence on hunger strike in Canada. Idle No More was the poignancy that helped us forget the cold, as leaders from different peoples stood, spoke, encouraged, bringing the best of their small band of warriors to the benefit of the whole. Idle No More was the passion with which people sang songs that have been passed down for generations. Idle No More was the way in which people leaned into the collective pain of historical loss, present isolation, and somewhat obscurity that native peoples are in what is American society today.
Photo by Shauna Causey
“Bernie Whitebear from the Colville people who fought to make this place a good place for the native people here through our culture and our education” – RF
But Idle No More was especially about the earth people said. It is about all these other things, but it is mainly about the earth, since this is how it all began. The dark and soft underbelly of Idle No More. Hope and pain – they come in pairs. The earth sustains, but must be sustained, and that, is not happening.
“The message that I gave there is not only the body and soul who we are, but its also a culture, and our culture primarily in this country is the birds, the bees, and the trees, and as long as that is going on then we have a life here, but if we don’t pay attention to that as a human being then our life is cut pretty short. We waste our water, pollute our air, destroy our land, and eventually that ozone disappears then we don’t have much left. That’s what I mean stand up for who you are as a human being.”
While festive, there was a palpable fear among the crowd – optimism couched in nervousness of dropping the baton. That in this 500-year history of native struggle, that theirs would be the generation that was truly idle, that let the issues before them pass unchallenged, that did nothing and went nowhere except farther into the isolation of their reserved land. As much as Idle No More is a circling outward to the world to say, “see us and respect us,” it is also clear that our ceremony that day was like an AA meeting where people and community are replenished and reinvigorated so that they can carry on. When I asked Ross what he wanted to see going forward he said: “What I want to see with my community is to see my community doing exactly what we are doing.”
For broader American society, I have my doubts Idle No More will mean much. But to the native community that is replenishing itself, this day was a day to caste out demons of idleness, to reorient oneself and ones community. Given by the elders who told story after story, we all drank from the cup of our humanity and were reminded to stand tall and proud and to live fully. I have not been apart of something so sacred on a Saturday in as long as I can recall.
So I sat down on my porch last night for a good 15 minutes in the rain.
I thought to myself, Will this world be safe for my children to live in when the future comes?
No it will not, unless we fight for what we believe in. For our rights to take care of this land that our ancestors fought for and have died for. Our grandparents that have put their own lives on the line to protect the environment that we live in today. We are not only supporting one person or one country. We are fighting for a whole nation, a whole generation of children that will be taking our places 20 years from now.
This is a revolution.
What we stand up for right now will effect a lifetime of decisions that the next generations after us will come upon. They will learn the respect that we have for the trees in our backyards, the oceans, lakes, and rivers that we swim in. And most of all, they will learn how important it is to take care of what is taking care of them, Mother Earth.
Let us stand up and fight the same governments that took away our clean lands, clean waters, and clean air. For we will be teaching our children what our ancestors have taught us.
Fight for our land and our land will fight for us.
We will be IDLE NO MORE.
written by Chad Charlie, from the Ahousat First Nation on Vancouver Island, BC Canada
Photo by BP
Shauna CauseyTwitter / Instagram / Facebook
Shauna Causey has managed communications, community relations and social media strategy for companies, non-profits and elected officials. She’s worked for the Seattle Mariners, FOX, Fox Sports Net, Comcast and Nordstrom.
She was voted in the 100 Top Women in Seattle Tech by TechFlash and named one of Seattle’s 40 Under 40 by the Puget Sound Business Journal. Shauna serves on the board of directors for three nonprofits: Social Media Club Seattle, Leadership Tomorrow and Reel Grrls. She’s also ad advisor for Team Up For Nonprofits and Jolkona.
Bryce StevensonFacebook / Instagram
I am Bryce Stevenson, I was born and raised in Seattle, WA. I am an enrolled member of the Ninilchik tribe in Alaska, as well as descended from Gros Ventre (A’aninin) of Montana, and multiple other tribes in the Kenai Peninsula area of Alaska. I received my first (disposable) camera at age 9. Aho!
I’m just a guy from Seattle.
My name is Roger Fernandes. My native name is Kawasa. I’m a member of Lower Elwha Band of the Klallam Indians from the Port Angeles area of the state of Washington.
I was born and raised in the Seattle area. My mother moved to the city when she was a young woman and I was born in 1951 in Seattle. So I guess I’m what you would call an urban Indian, in some regards that makes life difficult in figuring out your native identity. In other regards it cam be seen as an asset. As when you do begin to look for your tribal identity it becomes a very focused search. That focused search led me to art and language and ceremony and story. So the past few years I’ve been telling Native American stories from this region for my own tribe as well as the tribes of the Puget Sound area.
Gyasi RossTwitter / Website
Gyasi Ross is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe and his family also comes from the Suquamish Tribe. He is a father, a writer, an entrepreneur and an attorney. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School, currently practices law representing tribes for Crowell Law Offices-Tribal Advocacy Group and is co-owner and Vice-President of Red Vinyl Records. His first book of short stories and poems, Don’t Know Much About Indians (but I wrote a book about us anyways) was published in August 2011 and is in its second printing. The book has made an impact in Indian Country and beyond and has received universally positive reviews. Gyasi is also a frequent contributor to Indian Country Today Media Network, and has contributed to other publications including The Seattle Times and The Huffington Post.
Chad Charlie Instagram / Facebook / Website
Canadian born and Seattle bred, Chad comes armed with a heavy-hitting style, fine-tailored to make your stomach hurt. Chad got his comedy career started in 2011working with well known comedians such as Elaine Miles and JR Redwater, much to his surprise for this great amateur he opened for Elaine Miles and JR Redwater, and will continue to work with JR Redwater. Chad has always been a character, always has a something funny to say he is one comic not to be missed.