Needed an afternoon pick me up yesterday so took a walk to get a dirty chai. I picked a spot my wife recommended about a mile from the studio so I could log some time on the streets. Bold, graphic elements are what presented. Take some time this Labor Day weekend to explore what’s around you. Immerse yourself, be present. But most of all enjoy the 3 day holiday!
Like many large American cities over the last couple of decades San Diego’s downtown has seen a resurgence and revitalization. Most areas of downtown are now safe and “happening”. This was not always the case. Prior to the Padres building and relocating to PetCo Park the area was blighted and dangerous. That, along with many other revitalization projects has transformed downtown SD into a destination for tourists and locals alike. People actually live downtown now. There are numerous hi rise condos - a new concept for San Diego where sprawl has always been the name of the game . Downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is considered the Heart of San Diego. It’s teaming with restaurants, bars, clubs - hard not to be entertained. It’s a happening destination. The Gaslamp is often compared to New Orleans’ French Quarter. I’ve lived in both cities. The Gaslamp is no French Quarter. It doesn’t embrace it’s history the way they do in Louisiana. For that matter, it doesn’t have the history that the French Quarter does. But what little historical significance it has is whitewashed, as you often find in historic areas of California. There’s still enough happening downtown and in the Gaslamp to make it interesting and weird. Great place to explore with a camera, especially as the sun is going down.
More walking. More street photography. Stumbled on a bit of a transportation theme today.
How do you get around in the gig economy? E-bike? Scooter? Trolley? Or the quintessential Southern California ride, a Skateboard? Me? I’ve been walking. Slowing things down. Taking some time to observe what’s around me. What I’m seeing is a lot of people on the move. Moving fast. Lots of motion in all directions.
Ocean Beach, a small beach community in San Diego, CA is one of those unique beach communities in Southern California. Sadly, like so many other funky hideaways, it’s slowly being gentrified, with OBceans kicking and screaming the whole way. But when the sun goes down there’s still a a whole lotta flavor.
I’ve been walking a lot lately. I’m walking places I’d normally drive. I know, nobody walks anywhere in Southern California. I get the weird looks and double takes when people ask me how I got there and I say I walked. But it’s summer in Southern California The weather’s great and I’ve got a creative itch. I carry a camera. I’m looking to get back in touch with my roots. Every couple of years I need to scratch this itch. Back in school I carried a camera with me everywhere. I fancied myself quite the street photographer. I was inspired by the greats; Cartier-Brasson, William Klien, Walker Evans, and all the rest. So when I want a jolt of inspiration, I get back to my roots, I get back to the streets.
I’ve been in DC a couple of times this year. I love the city. There’s an intensity there. The politics, obviously. The young go-getters. The hustle. Even the weather. But there’s also a calm serenity grounded in the throngs of tourists who slow the pace to their own agenda. Set to a backdrop of intense security, these groups commingle and collide daily among our national treasures.
Who’s your farmer? Simple question, right? Not really….. I don’t know where 99% of the food I consume comes from. I mean, where it really comes from... So what does that mean for me? My family? The world?
I’ve embarked on a project exploring sustainable food - popularly know as Locally Sourced, Farm to Table or just plain Organic. For me it began years ago when I read Michael Pollan’s seminal book The Omnivores Dilemma. It planted a seed that’s been germinating ever since. Over the last several years I’ve visited organic farms and pastures. I’ve met and photographed dozens of hard working entrepreneurs looking to change the food system. They all have their reason’s for doing what they do: lifestyle, business opportunities, seeking social and environmental change. Whatever the reason, the one thing they have in common is they are producing food and products that are healthier for humans and the planet.
I believe there is an essential shift that needs to happen in order for us to break the cycle of faster and cheaper (read worse tasting and less healthy) food. You may not ultimately Know Your Farmer, but I hope to introduce you to some of the people that will change the way we produce and consume our food.
I had the pleasure of taking over the Wonderful Machine Instagram account for 3 days last week. I used the opportunity to feature some of my favorite and lesser known San Diego landmarks. I ended up posting about 36 images. Below are several of my favorites. To check out all the images visit the Wonderful Machine Instagram stream. To explore futher follow me on Instagram - @feriiiphoto
Saturday afternoon was the first screening of Gone Doggy Gone in San Diego. The turnout was light, but the crowd was warm and enthusiastic. Cinematographer Garrett O'Brien, Shaina Vorspan (who played Jill), Edward Winters (who played Devon), all joined Kasi and Brandon (and of course Laila) at the screening. The film looked great - sound was fantastic. I had only previewed it on my IPad so it was great to see it with a live audience on the big screen. Nothing beats the experience of watching a movie in a theater. It was nice to see it a second time in it's entirety. I picked up on a number of things I hadn't notice the first go around. I was starting to feel like an insider....Kate Conner (who played Kat) joined them after the screening. She was planning to be at the Q&A after the film, but Los Angeles to San Diego traffic is brutal on Saturdays. After a little down time in the VIP lounge and a quick dinner it was off to the Filmmakers Awards Show at the US Grant Hotel. The event is typical with various honors and awards to the best films of the festival. The US Grant's basement ballroom and the scripted format made for a much better show than in years past. There was a nice rhythm to the night that had been missing poolside at the Palomar. Even so, it was a big disappointment for the Gone Doggy Gone group. They were not included in any of the awards or recognitions. I think that ultimately surprised them. I'm sure the fact that they had a photographer following them around for 3 days had set them up for something big. I regret I may have contributed to their higher expectations. I too was disappointment they didn't win, but not surprised. I loved the film and thought it deserved recognition, but there were other filmmakers that seemed to be the darlings of the show. Still, Kasi and Brandon made a number of connections while they were at the festival. And they made a fantastic feature comedy, which is no small task.
Friday was pretty chill. Lots of down time. Brandon and Kasi dealt with the nagging issue of syncing up their movie with the theater's projection system. They had been less than successful getting that done on Thursday. They finally got with the projectionist at the Reading and were able to sort it out. It was also party night! Almost Famous party at the Tin Roof - mostly drinking, schmoozing, and playing life size Jenga....sorry, Tumbling Towers.
For the last few years I've gone Behind the Scenes at the San Diego Film Festival. This year, in order to keep it fresh, I decided to follow one of the filmmakers during their time at the festival. Festival producer Stephanie Inscoe gave me a couple of movies to screen ahead of time so I could see who might make for an interesting follow. I watched several films and wasn't too inspired until I saw Gone Doggy Gone. It's a small indie film by Kasi Brown and Brandon Walter. The premise is simple. A childless couple with a dog they love "too much" and what happens when that dog disappears. It's not an epic tale like the other films I watched tried to be. It's just a well crafted comedy written, directed, and starring Brown and Walter.
I knew through Stephanie that the 2 filmmakers would be in town for the festival. She also said many of the cast and crew would be in attendance. It sounded like a perfect fit. My first contact with the Gone Doggy Gone folks was a couple of hours prior to the Night of the Stars event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. So at the last minute I grabbed my cameras and met Kasi, Brandon and Laila (Kasi's real dog and co-star in the movie) at their hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. From there we headed out to La Jolla for their debut at the festival.
While they were not officially on the list of celebrities in attendance for the Red Carpet they made the most of it. After all that's what an adorable Yorkshire terrier is for, right. After a brief stint on the carpet they lined up with the rest of the VIPs and waited to enter the theater. And waited....