Monday, April 28, 2008

Backflash: Hawai'i

As soon as it got warm my mind has been set into what I call, "Maui-mode". Its this feeling I get at this time of the year when I feel like warm air fill the city, I start wearing the summer clothes, and I jump on a plane to Maui. I'm not going this year but my mind is wrapped into that mentality, so I decided to post some of my favorite shots from my last visit.
Sometimes when I really don't want to be here I just project these surroundings into my head, all of a sudden the concrete melts to sand, the roads into sea, and the city air into sea breeze.

Friday, April 25, 2008



Throughout all of our lives we work to achieve goals. A career is our ultimatium of goals in that we ulitilize our youthful age to investigate, indulge, and transcend into careers. By spending as much as half a lifetime to find this career demonstrates an energy or passion for something. In order to live with ourselves in the situation of working, there must be some reward to all of this struggle and progress. Some find reward in the process, some find it by the income received, and some find it at the end of the day, feeling satisfaction of achievement.
By focusing on the environment of the workplace I create a portrait that balances atmosphere and persona equally. This process is achieved by minimizing the presence of the individual in frame so that there is just enough to form a portrait.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Once light exposes on emulsion the image is captured, taken from its never-ending narrative and is now subjected to a different context. Like Walter Benjamin’s theory of the authenticity and optical unconscious, the captured light of a place can be taken and put anywhere, from the cathedral to the exhibition. The authenticity of an image is altered in photography by the means of reproduction, and has become even more questionable in a digital era. When Jeff Wall started his Street series, he set out to reproduce the everyday “real” only to critique on what is real in photography. The empirical value of a photograph has become an artifact to the new perception of photography. Today we see an image and we analyze its significance, placing meaning into symbolic, indexical, and iconic terms in order to understand what the image is saying to us.
In Literally, I set out to altered what the eye sees when I am exploring different genres in art photography. From the landscape to the portrait, reduced to blurred images furthering the gap from the real to the representational. By using an iconic representations the blurred images provoke an understanding of what the image could be, leading to an endless scheme of possibilities. The authenticity is hidden behind a thick layer of shallowness. This practice is what the photographer does, taking light and alternating it by use of the optical unconscious and the mechanism of the camera. The narrative is born from taking the light outside of its origins. The blurred image can be a few things and never just one. There’s something hidden behind a screen of unadjusted optics, like seen in The Hidden Nature series by Virginia Mak, creating a mystery of blurred features and hallways. By using text I format the subjectivity of the images, identifying what something is freely since the context is further altered from the original. Like John Hilliard, the use of text serves as a tool for narrative, where the image lacks in clarity makes up with text thus making the text more important that the actual image. Text holds the power to change one single image into several possibilities like Hilliard’s Cause of Death photograph, where he chopped one single image four times and used different text to narrate each one. By adding different objectives to the text for each photograph like, ‘insert imagination’, to a narrative photograph separate one photographic genre to another by saying, ‘insert an environmental statement’, for a landscape photograph.
The process of the aesthetics will be completely analog, using darkroom techniques such as dodging using vinyl letters over plexiglass. The images will be originally sharp but pulled from focus from the original detail of the negatives. The series will project a look that now appears as "Photoshoped", but are works of labor to preserve the indexical quality of the image.

This series is currently in progress, moving from darkroom to installation-based text work where the text is interacting with the environment it is describing, graffiti-like. Further reference: Lisa Hecht.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Continuing The Dissection Series with a Documentary Aspect

Young Married Couple (Aggression) 2008 c-print 30x40
Sisters (Aggression) 2008 c-print 30x40

Dissection Of…
There is as much diversity in how one person is related to another person as there are emotions that exist between two people. These relationships vary from daughters to mothers, brothers to brothers, sisters to sisters, husbands and wives, and onwards, each of them having different complexities in emotions that exist within each one and all of them. With Dissection Of, these relationship and the emotions that come with them are dissected into the universal language of the body. By composing three different photographs to form two sets of complete bodies I am focusing on the individual expression faces make compared to what hands express down to the body language of how we stand. The emotions captured are the result of a comfort that exist when two people are in their natural surrounding, the home, and are left in front of the camera until they are just natural selves.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Talk Show

The Talk Show is a little series I started soon after The Polaroid Family Tree. The same camera and lighting is used, even the same couch, but is done with two people talking to someone off-camera. By capturing a moment in-between conversation, where an anonymous person is talking to these pairing of people, the expressions of these individuals speaks of what the speakers is saying. At the same time, their expression tells the viewer what they are thinking in response to the speaker. The pairing of female and male plays on talk show or game show themes where couples are the contestants. These contestants are presented on a screen for a whole nation of anonymous people watch them, who is speaking to them is off-camera as the broadcast camera comes in for their couple shot.

Side note: If you noticed the change from Photo-Ma-Graphy Daily to Photo-Ma-Graphy Tri-Weekly, this just means now three times a week this blog will be updated, for now, Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Sunday. This just gives me more time to work on presentation of each one better.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Abandoned Island Series

The beautiful landscape of Hawai'i is never seen with its scars. With its perfect temperature, perfect waves in the winter, palm trees, and beautiful beaches, these cars are hidden behind the mask of beauty.
One of my first conceptual projects, which first started in 2005 when I first visited the Hawai'ian island of Maui. I had come across all these abandoned cars and found their juxposition with the beautiful Hawai'ian landscape intriguing. Two years later I had gathered enough funds to go back and spend an entire month there to collect images of these cars. I talked to locals and researched news articles to find out their history. These cars are the product of a scrap metal factory not meeting the environmental stardards of Maui County, and so these cars are abandoned by their local owners in diverse locations throughout the island. Each seem to have a history and I found through the medium of black and white photography they would appear more errie in placement, like the last reminds of a civilization. Also, I find there's something about the monochrome of tropical landscape, like taking a facial expression away from a portrait of a model only to see with greater clarity her body expression.
The photograph that started it all in 2005.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fragments of Myself

The hiss of the record plays on, slow riffs from Jim O’Rourke, Hawai’ian vibes and drunken yesterdays all sink in. Alone in a room with droplets cracking the window. Lazy days are now everything, I’ll sleep again. I’ll wake and do it all over again.
A month of no work, a month away from everything, and I’ll just sleep, walk, swim, and breath sea air in. I’ll drift away, sink my hands into sand, and make my way to the sea.

Each photograph I take is a fragment of my memories, each one triggers a different part of me. Some memories are forgotten, some are thrown away, but these will remain close and remind me of that month away on an island in the sun.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lost and Found

Lost and found in the past. The things we once lost are found underneath the piles of our everyday. The mess is cleared away and things just seem simpler without the clutter and complexities you’ve become. When I have a hard time with the new practices I do as a photographer I look back and see where I came from. The simple candid shots of my past are who I am, every imperfection is my character that separates me from the rest. The faces I capture are different from anyone else’s, even if they themselves have photographed those faces.
It is how we perceive the world that changes what we see with our camera. And the focus of the camera is not through the lens but through the photographer’s vision. One takes the world away from its context and into another.

These are the lost memories I have forgotten…
The lost roll before it became as complex as it is now,
Without the clutter, the mess is cleared away.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Back In Da Day

When my friend, Justin, came up to me with an idea about bringing back the eighties I never would've thought of these images. I was thinking, some neon, a boombox, and a flat-top to finish it off. But, I should've taken into consideration on who was asking me for this favor, Justin, is stuck in the eighties, or atleast the early nineties. I didn't know what I was in for until he brought this garbage bag full of clothes, which were mostly his, to the studio. The shoot went on for about two hours, Hayden, the model, decided to do the "hammer dance", which almost made me pee my pants considering it was almost the real thing. And finally, we ended with a bang with confetti.

I would like to note that I only did photography for this, the stylist and brains behind this was Justin Apperley.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I've done my fair share of exploration as a photographer, I've gotten dirty, hell I even spent 12 hours in a torned down building filled with God-knows-what. When I decided to go explore a normal building that people still work in, and that leave their lights on at night, I was a little freaked out. Being all alone in this building expecting there to be someone at every turn was nerve-racking. I would've felt much more secure in a dark building just before I know no one's around to stop me from being there. And the deeper I traveled the weirder it got. In the basement there appeared to be a nuclear reactor, some sort of vault, and all the noises that go along with that sort of stuff. From there I traveled even deeper until I got to the source of all the noise and heat, the boiler room. This was the most interesting part of my exploration of this place and was thankful I still had a good amount of film left. I haven't really been exloring since but I'll always remember the time I went into this place.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Galveston, TX

Some of my most rememorable and favorited photography came from my visits to Galveston, TX. In highschool, my friends and I would take the trek down from Houston to Galveston almost every chance we had, it was our retreat from suburbia and in a way, paradise unknown.

On some nights we would randomly decide to pack up and head down to the beach. Later on some of us started surfing here, and even after surfing Maui (during Maui's surf off-season) Galveston is my favorite place to surf just because the waves, even on harsh days seemed gentle. This place smells of sodium in the back of my nose, the crew, and some of my best memories of life in Texas.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Self-Portrait or How To Visually Describe Yourself In One Single Image

When my prof asked me to describe a part of myself that no one really knows about me I had the greatest struggle as a conceptual photographer. I thought of a series of concepts that described a part of me but never felt rightful in describing who I truly am. I felt the challenge behind this assignment, atleast, to me, was that I had been given the opportunity to express a shade of myself to people that was never seen. In the end after my fifth concept and on my third shoot for the assignment I did a reset. Whenever I go through a hard process in photography I completely change my attitude, I drop what I thought I knew and accept the change that is necessary to accomplish an obstacle. This in turn forms an adaptation, which led me to my final image. One's self to the rest, a voice without voice, and a mask without mask.

The after image that is only seen by the eyes but the original image left for the mind to imagine.

And the words that go along with the image.

Mask Without Mask

In the morning I awake, a different person sits there at the edge of the bed. The person who was asleep is gone.
All day and everyday I paint the picture that meets the eye. The hi's and bye's, the smiles and lies.
Inside the story of George continues.
In far off planes, in a desert of though another narrative continues, away from eyes, away from words.
There in the night I retire my mask, alone and empty of the day I write these very words.
All the structures and forms fade before the sun,
going. going. going. gone.
Until I am no longer the mask.
A secret even after told is another life,
A life of imagination, of theory, of perception.
It is something I can't quite say,
Something not ready yet.

The illusion is not how to disappear but it is the magic of reappearing,
Everyday and every night,
Mask without Mask.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Toes In: Fashion Photography

Last summer I decided my newest advancement into photography would be flash-based portrait lighting. Using a Canon 580ez flash with an umbrella and wireless trigger I strapped a kit with my Canon 20d and went out anywhere shooting who ever came my way. My friend Jonny came up to me asking to get some headshots done, and he is a good friend of mine, so of course I did it, plus he has an awesome rooftop to shoot on.
Once the school year started up again I got into the studios a lot more, using the blackline Speedotrons in the cyclorama studio. It took me a fair amount of experimenting to finally come to what I enjoy for what type of fashion shot, this one being softbox with umbrella.
Later when I felt more comfortable with flash, knowing where it falls and lighting ratios I started to minimalize. By using one head I was able to make this dramatic effect with the shapes of the model's body and add to the bizarre subjectivity.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chris' With Masks

Somewhere between homage and redefining an iconic image I found myself taking my favorite photographs and recreating them in my own style. Like David Hilliard with my recent, "Tests" of my room mates in their rooms to my recreation of Albert Watson's Monkeys With Masks.
The original concept for Chris' With Masks was the focus on facial expression and I wanted to label each facial expression with its scientific term, like a person smiling matched with the text, Zygomaticus Major, or a frown matched with, Currugator Supercilii. These terms are rarely heard but are the result of scientific studying of the psychology of man. These expressions transcend culture and race because they are human behavior, an instinctual response. Albert Watson took a couple of monkeys from the New York Zoo into a studio and had them act themselves but with masks over their faces and pants over their legs. Watson was trying to personify these monkeys with similarities between Man and Animal. So when I thought of this image when I was thinking of studying facial expression I thought of how Watson presented his "Monkeys With Masks" photograph. So I had my room mate reinact each expression from the original "Monkeys With Masks" to bridge the gap between Man and Animal. Three hours later and two rolls of t-max we had all the images done in no time leaving me with a couple of weeks to recreate the piece in an analog form. This was a lot harder than I had thought it would be, and though lighting Chris similarly as Watson's piece was fairly easy, the analog post-production I challenged over to pay proper homage to Watson. In the end I recreated it digitally and boy was it a big sucka, at 1.8 gbs and big enough for a billboard.
Even to this day I find it fascinating on how similar these monkeys are to a human specimen.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Polaroid Family Tree

This school year was my venture into a lot of different techniques and forms of photography. One of the forms of photography I got into for the first time was Polaroid. I was never too big on them until I got my current camera, Crown Graflex. Because the Graflex is a 4x5 camera you can put anything that fits within 4x5inches, from my 6x6-6x12 back to a Polaroid 669 back. With full control over how my polaroids are exposured, and with the lovely birthday present of all types of 699 from Erin Seaman I am now doing polaroids all the time.
Immediately after working out the kinks, I started a collection of polaroids I now call, "The Polaroid Family Tree". I set up a little home studio, positioning my flash umbrella rig just right, adjust focus, and turn off the lights, and flash. I try to get folks who are usuals at my place and there's a good amount since I live with four others.

The collection is currently at 26 and growing. The images, and the medium itself, feel very personal to me since I don't have to bring them in to get developed, they're right there in front of me in the intimacy of my room. The people I photograph represent an adopted family I have in Toronto since I live far-far away from my folks, and my sisters are half a country away themselves.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Waiting For ...

I don't get to travel much but when I do I clock a fair amount of time in airports. I'm not the most social person when traveling, so I end up being a silence listener, and in this case, a listen watcher. I sit down and wonder where people are going, who they're seeing, and sometimes I hope that person is traveling my way so I feel we have something now to talk about. That is almost never the case, but I tend to wonder the possibilities when I'm waiting for 4 hours for that flight out of LAX.
These images were taken in May 2007 when I took the 16+ hour trek to see my folks in Maui. There's something about airports that seem so futuristic and at the same time, foreign and cold, maybe its all the air conditioning. But I think its because you're in a city and you never get to really experience it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Continuing with my interest in multiple parallel images I started to do these "tests" to see how the eye reads these images. By shifting focus on the main interest just like how you would in any photograph, the series of images work better as a whole. I think of this approach as an expansion of the context of one image. By having parallel images accompany the same realm as the first one the presence of addition images gives a broader scope. So instead of just having that time and place represented in one image there's a fuller perspective of the overall nature of the scene captured.
The two images above are test I've done in one room that capture a complete 360 angle. The second image is closer to how I want the style to be approached, it is based more of the impression I have for each portion of the room.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I've become addicted to dissecting my photographs into segments for individual visual consumption. This was my first time doing what I now called, "Paneling", where an image expands into multiple panels. This image was shot in 6x12cm format and printed on to three 16x20in pieces of paper. I also overlap at the edge of each panel so that the single panel feels separated from the overall piece as a whole. This technique works opposite to film editing technique of editing sequences with multiple angles (i.g. a person grabs a book and begins to open the book for a few frames, the next angle will show the book open wider than we had last seen it in the previous angle.)

Dissection Of...

The relationships shared between two people can form both tension and comfort in accordance to the situation. Dissection Of... is a series I started off creating a fake couple going through the struggles of any relationship. The use of multiple images is to contain each part of the body to further dissect the body language that each portion of the body creates. These images are test shots and taken from the contact sheet. The final piece is being shot right now and is currently halfway done. Instead of fake relationships I am documenting real relationships varying from married couples to siblings to offspring to parent.