L'Image du Jour

  • Red Hook | 07.28.14

    Red Hook | 07.28.14

    I asked Langhorne Slim to be a part of Heartworn Highways Revisited long after I'd begun filming. 

    He was sitting backstage at Carnegie Hall, preparing to open for John McCauley. John was the first musician I approached about Heartworn and he had agreed to introduce me to other members of his community in Nashville to focus on in the film. I had already met Langhorne (aka: Sean) a few years back while shooting a we music series with Ice Cream Man. His song "Back to the Wild" remains lodged firmly in my brain, far moreso than most of the others I'd shot. 

    If I could return to when I was a child, I'd forget what I learned and go back to the wild. 

    Sean remembered me. He was just about to move to Nashville and would "love to be a part of your film." The day we shot was overcast and a bit rainy. Sean was new to town, didn't really know many people (yet). I offered to introduce him to Jonny Fritz. The next year, Sean would be touring with Jonny's fiddle player, Josh Hedley. 

    I love all the musicians who participated in my film. Their songs speak to me, and as people, they've all embraced and supported me. But I wouldn't call any of them to tell them big news in my life - except for Sean. We broke the third wall and became brothers over 10 days last winter when I invited him to join me in Utah for a small event at Sundance and then Summit. We shared a room. We shared stories of life. He got me talking about Jennifer Jackson (everybody is). We shared a strong passion for dried mangos. Ah, bromance. 

    This image was captured at Buddy's Room in Red Hook, Brooklyn - a place my one and only other soul brother from another mother, Tom Paul, owns. Sean and I drove home from Newport together that day, and I found him a place to stay. The light was right. Sean suggested the song. Here he is tuning up as the sun fell to a perfect angle on the horizon outside the third story window, the Statue of Liberty in its direct path. 

    Click here for the performance that ensued moments later.

  • Newport, RI | 07.26.14

    Newport, RI | 07.26.14

    Backstage is still alive. 

    Many of my musician friends who play in famous bands no longer drink. Or smoke. Or hook up with random girls. They eat kale and do yoga. Not all. But some bordering on many. 

    So it feels kinda, well, good when I find myself in the backstage of a concert where some good ole rock 'n roll attitude is happening. No, I've never seen anybody throw a couch out of a fith floor hotel window, nor am I hoping to. And watching exhausted, road-weary musicians plow their face with powdered energy doesn't exactly make me pump my fists. 

    Somewhere in between kale and coke is the backstage at Newport Blues during the annual three-day Deer Tick run at Newport Folk. It's the place all the stars end up, many gracing the stage in stellar collaborations. But for sure, you'll find a bevy of badasses having a truly good time in the back room. Jackson Brown, Jim James, Connor Oberst... 

    I was standing with JP Harris, the man with the beard and badass bent, who really is the sweetest dude who always laughs first and truly loves PBR and cigarettes. He offered me a swig of $1.99 Ginger Flavored Brandy, which I found it funny he was holding considering there was free Patron 5 feet behind him. But that's JP, and this image to me captures the American Gothic of Newport backstage. 

  • Havana | 03.06.12

    Havana | 03.06.12

    "I love people. Because you just never know."

    This was how a conversation started today between me and Mr. James Glen, a case worker in Berkeley who brought one of his clients into Quest Diagnostics to get her blood work done. Today was my first face-to-face with Covered California (aka: Obamacare). Started with a standard, yet somewhat cold, reception from a doctor who treated me more like a number than a person. I met James after being told I had to go elsewhere for blood work, and upon arrival at said location, was told I needed to wait about 45 minutes. I didn't expect a doctor's appointment would take all morning. Felt like stealing candy from a baby just to see her cry. No, I didn't. But I was edgy. 

    And then I heard James, talking to this sweet old lady who may have been crazy (speaking loud, twitching), or may have been the most sane one there, myself included. For after complimenting James' degenerate looking client on her beautiful blue eyes, she started talking to James about how she's still "doing poetry." They knew each other, and seemed genuinely fond of each other. I got the feeling these two were fond of everyone. She says, "for a long time, I wanted to die. I took a whole bunch of pills and as I was moving towards the white light, I heard a voice say 'Come back, sweetie. Everything is gonna be alright.' And it has been ever since."

    My mood changed.

    They called that woman in for her blood work, leaving me to smile awkwardly at James. I quickly broke the silence, telling him that I couldn't help but listening. James smiled and continued to blow me away with his calm tone, and experienced understanding about the flaws of our system. We talked about health care in Canada and why things are so broken here. Greed. He wasn't angry, nor preaching. He didn't blame anyone. He just spoke like somebody I'd want to listen to for a lot longer. 

    I didn't take a picture of James Glen. I don't even know if this is how you spell his name. The image above is of a man I met on the street in Havana, Cuba, while shooting there a few years back with street artist, JR. We were looking specifically for older people with faces that told a story. The project is called Wrinkles of the City. I don't know this man's name, but he was seemingly crazy. When we met him, he was standing on a street corner collecting plastic bags. Many hours later, he was still there, doing the same. He told us his story, in Spanish. I could only understand his tone, and his sadness. 

    You just never know.  

  • Las Vegas | 03.11.12

    Las Vegas | 03.11.12

    Music is a language you don't need to speak to understand. 

    I once found myself sitting in a car in Italy with my cousin Brett and three Italians who didn't speak a lick of English. They were having their own conversation... until "Killing in the Name Of" came on the radio and we all connected by yelling "Fuck you I won't do you tell me!" Ah, music. 

    But that story actually doesn't illustrate my earlier point. For it's not about lyrics, but the feeling. And as I write this, I realize that these Italians may not even know what "I won't do you tell me" means. They just felt the energy, which allowed us all to connect. 

    I've been shooting the band 311 since 1999. Brett and Evan turned me onto their album "Music," which became one of those records I just couldn't stop listenting to. When I finally saw them in concert, I was moved not just by the energy of the songs, but the circular energy between the band and audience. Call and response, jumping up and down the beat in unison... And despite a few mosh pits breaking out, the overall vibe was positivity. Unity. Familia. All words you can see tattooed on any given fan. 

    This moment was captured on 311's very own bi-annual holiday - 311 Day. Tim Mahoney may be known to most as the lead guitarist of a reggae/rap/rock band. But from the day I heard Tim break out "Tennessee Jed" during soundcheck, I knew his roots run deep. 

  • Kapa'au, HI | 01.03.13

    Kapa'au, HI | 01.03.13

    If pictures speak a thousand words, why am I speechless?

    She chose the jacket. I chose the frame. The good Lord chose the weather and the waving wheat. 

    I've had this image living on my desktop for nearly two years. It's more than the subject, her look. Peek-a-boo. I see you. 

    I don't believe in perfect. But I do believe that sometimes the forces all align. I didn't choose the blue jacket or the weather. Or the pose. I set the ISO, the frame rate, and pulled the trigger. 

  • San Francisco | 10.12.14

    San Francisco | 10.12.14

    The Blue Angels.

    Sounded like a band to me. I've shot The Black Angels, and they're pretty good. The Blue Angels... oh wow. I just moved to the Bay Area last year. Michelle has been going with her family to see the air show put on by the daring F/A-18 Hornet pilots who break the sound barrier hurling themselves across the sky directly at each other in perfect precision. I was "interested" to see it, but while watching, I felt the same awe as the 10 year old boys surrounding me. 

    Where did they go? And then... BWWOOOOOOOSH. The sky erupts and everyone jumps as 4 Angels play peek-a-boo with the crowd gathered below and dazzle like a Grucci fireworks display, lighting up the daytime sky. 

    Some say it's just saber rattling and a not-so-masked recruiting tool for the US Navy. If the crowd was any indication, I don't think I'll be seeing any of the same faces at the Treasure Island Music Festival tomorrow. To me, this was more in line with Cirque Du Soleil than Be All You Can Be. Dedication. Daring. Practice. Execution. Proof that Art and War sometimes collide. 

  • Arusha | 01.10.10

    Arusha | 01.10.10

    The people were happy. And smart. 

    After countless images on American TV depicting Africans as emaciated, half-alive, unsmiling somewhat humans, it was somewhat surprising to see them in person as, well, people. They were poor. Some didn't wear shoes, likely because they didn't own shoes. But they could talk policies of George Bush in perfect English at 10 years old. While cracking jokes and selling you bracelets. And you feel swindled, but happily so, and you support them. Because as one such 10-year-old told me, "it costs $100 per year to send me to school." Was I swindled by giving him $5 for a bracelet. I don't know. I like the bracelet and he made me smile. 

    The textures of Arusha that I captured with my EP-1 and Nikon 50 portrait lens fashioned to 3/4 mount with a Voightlander apapter (TMI?) blew my mind when I saw them after coming home. I went full Asian tourist, pointing the camera everywhere, snapping at all shapes and sizes of building, people, strip of land... and eventually hippos and elephants! I'm honestly not even sure how this image came about. I remember that the place felt like it was a perpetual work in progress... wheelbarrows and loose construction going on everywhere. These two guys were on a roof, potentially working, potentially not. I like how they felt. 

  • Acton, MA | 10.31.12

    Acton, MA | 10.31.12

    My favorite season is Fall in the Northeast. 

    The weather turns crisp, the leaves burst with warm color. You put on a sweater and take a rejuvinating walk. Ahhhhhh. Now that I'm in California, it makes me just a little sad to think that I'm missing the fall feeling. 

    My cousin Brett lives in the suburbs of Boston with his Dutch wife, Nicole, and two little beasts, Alex and Max. Actually, they call me Cousin Beast, because I've pretty much been attacking them every time I've seen them since birth. They survive each "beasting" and now I have to start worrying as they get bigger. Those flailing limbs pack more punch. 

    I captured this moment almost two years ago, while visiting my cousin. Alex invited me to come see his school Halloween Parade. The only Halloween Parade I've ever been to had half naked devils riding a giant cupcake down 6th Ave. This one was a pleastant surprise. Alex went as a cop. Hmmmm, maybe his costume would have also worked on 6th Ave. 

  • Kathmandu | 03.27.14

    Kathmandu | 03.27.14

    I was introduced to him as Jovial Disaster. 

    Dan met him by responding to a hand-posted ad on a street about an orphanage needing "your help." Dan works for Google and was in Kathmandu before trekking to Mount Everest. Something about the ad caught Dan's attention, and so he called. 

    Jovial Disaster (oddly, not his real name, but what his friends call him) was a sweet, handsome young man who decided to start an orphanage with his retired military father in their family home on the outskirts of Kathmandu. He told us his story in the lobby of our hotel, where he came to meet us. It involved possibly being drugged and hallucinating and coming to a strong sense of reality, being called to help all these kids with nowhere to go. His English was impressive, his story compelling. And so a group of us negotiated cab rides, which took us down broken streets with no paving (as if there was once a plan to build a street that began but never finished), to an area of town (term used loosely) where a few houses stood in the midst of basically nothing. One of them was Jovial's.   

    About 20 children greeted us at the door. My cynical New York soul alarms were ringning. This was all part of the plan. These kids know what they're doing. They'll melt your heart so you'll give them money. Or maybe take them home. I let it go, and let these incredible kids win me over. There was something about them. A coolness - not cool as in having cold, hard souls. Cool, as in Miles Davis. Cool as in they seemed to be enjoying life despite living 8 to a room and sharing plates of basic nourishment. Cool as in knowing how to wear their clothes and hold their bodies. 

    I caught this moment after we all ate pizza together and Dan handed out these free sunglasses from a sponsor of his. They were stoked to get free glasses, wore them like the little rockstars they are. It occurred to me as I watched them grab the free swag with excited eyes, that I've seen Americans act the same way in the "VIP area" at music events. 

  • Pine Mountain Lake | 08.14.14

    Pine Mountain Lake | 08.14.14

    Hidden gems. A few still exist. Places that you can't believe more people don't know about, yet that fact only adds to the perfection.

    Michelle's family has been coming to Pine Mountain Lake for years. It's just past Groveland, CA - a place best know for forrest fires and being the last town on the way to Yosemite. I hear land is cheap, and the local economy is nonexistant. There's tourism, but no Hyatt, or even a Best Western. Just one creaky old hotel in town, next to the local market and pizza joint. It's down home. It's honest. And it's touched by the paintbrush of the heavens. 

    I've seen sunset in Hawaii. In Nepal. In Utah. In NYC during Manhattanhenge. I'll take a PML sunset over all. On any given night, odds are the sky will turn pink, then red, then purple, before cobalt blue. 

    I caught this image while drifting on a boat, the evening sharply silent. These birds swooped overhead in formation. As if nature wasn't already in perfect alignment.