Other Creative Outlets
(Chrome's Photo Clinic)

It's important to have multiple outlets for your creativity. Expressing yourself in one medium is great, and will lead to good work. But if you want to push your creative limits, you've got to try something new every once in a while.

Chrome Industries had a photo clinic last saturday. #StreetsOfChrome was a project calling for anyone willing to do some street photography. Brushing the dust of my camera, swapping the lens for one I've never used before, I headed down to the Seattle Chrome hub.

Logan did a great job hosting us street shooters. Giving us some tips and tricks, as well as showing his work and eye for street photography. The shots he showed were dreamy- surreal, yet so close to what real actual life is. Most of the photos we encounter are staged, set up, done a hundred times, and photoshopped in post. Shooting on the fly, with one chance to get your shot, and no post process, really opens your eye to what life is on a day to day existence. 

We paired off and ran the streets of Seattle. A group of 4 of us, who hardly use a camera this way, running around trying to take pictures of strangers. It was a sight to see. We scared a few people off, got confronted by a few people too. But all told, most either didn't notice or didn't mind. Seattle is passive like that.

One of the first things I was getting wrong was my composition. I didn't want to hold the camera to my face, but rather I was shooting form the hip in an effort to be more discrete (plus I'm pretty sure I've heard thats a photography secret right?). Well without your eye on the camera, ligning up the shot was tough. Often I'd get a great shot but just completely off-kilter.  

 

Once I got the confidence to bring the camera to my eye, I was able to compose my shots much better. Pro tip: Get the composition right, before you get your subject. If you frame your shot right, you can just wait until someone presents themselves in front of your camera. 

Staging your photo like this is great if you have an interesting backdrop. But the great thing about street photography is that it captures real life in real time. Waiting for something to present itself directly in front of your camera often at times doesn't cut it. While walking around Pike's Place Market, an elevator full of girls all with matching jackets came out and starting taking selfies everywhere. Quickly and instinctively ,we all grabbed our cameras knowing that their photo-op, was out photo-op too.

Somehow, the lighting, focus, composition, foreground and background all came together to make this one of my favorite shots from the day. The geometric diagonal beam breaks up the image and gives it something interesting. The 3 girls are all in different poses, yet they all feel like 3 variations of the same person. Even the girl on the right, whom you can't see what she's doing, you can almost feel the phone in her hand on the other side of her.  

During the course of this shoot, I couldn't help but feel like I was being super observant. Over analyzing every person's facial expression, looking for the next slice of life that I could capture. But sometimes opportunity and irony present themselves to you so blatantly that you might over look it. I snapped a shot of this guy crossing the street with a huge sign about Jesus, not realizing the name of the store that he was standing in front of. 

It was only after I shot this did I realize the All Saint's sign directly behind him. Once you open yourself up to seeing the hidden connection between people and places, you'll start to see things like this all over the place.

After the shoot, we all came back to the Chrome hub for some much needed beer. We threw our shots up on the big screen and had a quick chat and critique about the experience. Everyone was super thrilled about going out and shooting, we all got some great shots. I got to see how other people think and work in the field of street photography. 

After trying something radically different from what I'm used to, I felt like my eyes were strained. Like working out from a long day at the gym. But also, I'm seeing things differently. Light and shadow seem different - colors and composition seem to be making themselves more pronounced - people in places suddenly all seem like they have a full life waiting to be explored. 

That night I grabbed some beer with some friends. Upon leaving, I threw my camera back for a quick goodbye snap. I think I'll be shooting a lot more often.

Time Out New York Magazine Cover

Time Out New York's senior designer reached out to me and asked that I design their next issues cover. This project was particularly interesting. Having just moved from New York to a new city, I wanted to continue my connection out there. When I heard the headline they wanted illustrated, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity: "Be Here Now"

Once the project was completed and the magazine was on the stands, I was overwhelmed by photos and texts and tweets and tagged photos, all of my friends and family holding my magazine. All my New Yorkers were wishing that I would "Be Here Now." The phrase couldn't have been more fitting.

This project was just one of many ways that I stay true to my New York roots.

To see the rest of the project, including sketches and behind the scenes, check the work out here.

As I Age

So I ended up spray painting a little mural for the city of Seattle.

I was unicycling home from work and saw this woman spray painting some stencil work. She told me the mural was for senior citizens in the area to draw on the chalkboard and write what they would want to do as they grow up. I asked her to take some pictures of her work. After shooting around with her, I learned that this was her first time working on a wall or doing any sort of lettering.

Her stencil was ripping and she was behind on the project due tomorrow. She is 3 1/2 months pregnant and needed to finish the wall, as well as hang decorations in the park. Did I mention she ran of spray paint too?

I ran home got my paint, markers, ruler, measuring tape, and the rest of my supplies. I spent 2 hours painting this mural for her on the fly for free.

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I was happy to give back to an artist in need, and to give back to my city, and to give back to the senior citizens in my area. Also, I got paid in free spray paint!

UPDATE

Once I was done painting and installing the mural, a passerby came up to me and said that she worked at a nursing home that would love to have something similar. They wanted to do 6 movable chalkboards, and to have it at their senior citizens annual block party. I couldn't say no.

While I painted the boards, I decided to attach a go pro to my marker. 

We decided to switch things up a bit. We added more quotes to allow for people to answer different types of questions. Rather than just, "As I Age...", now we would have boards like, "My Favorite..." and "I Remember..."

Tools of the trade.

I've had a lot of people ask me about what tools I use so I figured I'd share this bit. This is my case that I have on me everyday. It has every tool I need. It's important to dial in your accessories so that you aren't carrying a hundred different pens, Here is my dialed in portable office.

From left:

Pigment liners 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7mm from Staedtler

★★★★★✩

Pigment liners are great. They give you a smooth, non bleeding consistent line weight. The black is very similar to sharpie and is great for outlining / touching up areas. The tips are super strong, and in my experience, outlast a micron of the same size. They do smear a bit so wait until they dry and settle in before going over it.

 

Low Center of Gravity Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm from Muji

★★★★★

Having a great pencil is crucial. Everyone has a different pencil preference. The Low Center of Gravity pencil from Muji is super sturdy, and makes curves flow naturally. The rigid grip never slips while drawing. 

 

Eraser Shield from Staedtler

★★★✩✩

I picked this up just to experiment with and now I find myself using it on the daily. The main issue with erasing is that you need to cover a larger area than what you intend on erasing. There are two solutions: either use a mechanical eraser with batteries, or use an eraser shield. This guy covers the areas you want to protect, giving you a crisp and clean edge. Also, there are 3 line weights in there allowing fro consistent strokes, (great for mastering mono-weight script!) However, I never found a use for the dozen same size circles, or the curves cut into the piece. And due to the nature of an eraser shield, the piece is very thin and easily bent out of whack.

 

Acrylic Folding Ruler from Muji

★★★★★

Carrying a full size ruler is problematic for obvious reasons. Muji makes an amazing folding ruler which opens up to a full 12". The joint connection is super smooth, and when drawing or tracing with it, is invisible and impossible to feel. Lines don't have a bump like when using other folding rulers. Also, dotted 1" apart in the center of the ruler, are perforated holes. This allows the ruler to double as a circle compass, making this ruler twice as useful!

 

Black fine point marker from Sharpie

★★★★✩

I almost exclusively work in black and white. This makes it easier for me for a variety of reasons, one of them being I don't need to cary a hundred colored markers on me. Sharpies are cheap, quick, fast acting, bold, and rarely bleed. The color matches up well with the Staedtler pigment liner. These are great for filling in areas but don't expect to master brush lettering with them.

 

Eraser from Staedtler

★★★✩✩

I cary 2 erasers and usually have a 3rd and 4th one on me. A good eraser is the most crucial tool to have. When getting an eraser, just make sure you get one that will physically pick up the lead off the paper, rather than push it around.

 

Dot Grid A4+ Master Notebook from Leuchtturm1917

★★★★★

Friends call me a slave to the dot grid. If that's true, then I'm happily a slave to the Dot Grid A4+ Master from Leuchhturm1917. They make premium notebooks with great details like having a pocket folder embedded on the back cover, perforated detachable sheets, and an elastic closure band to keep your book closed when needed. I've sworn by them before and will be using their notebooks again and again. 

What's in your bag?