Working off the clock, out of the office and after hours.

Join APA LA in celebrating the winners of the annual Off The Clock curated exhibition of personal photography. Each year photographers from around the world submit their best, most creative personal images to be curated by an industry luminary. This year the very talented and esteemed curator, Elizabeth Avedon selected six of my images for this inspiring exhibition of one hundred images. Please come and be inspired at this free one-night only reception and exhibition Saturday, April 29, 7-10pm at Santa Monica Art Studios, Hanger Gallery South, 3026 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405. RSVP at www.apa-la.org  

Making-of an image.

I was thrilled to work on the marketing imagery for this year's Newport Beach Film Festival, with RPA Los Angeles. I also wanted to make a video documenting how the image came together. I started by shooting the vast landscape around the Salton Sea, which although barren, is the largest body of water in California. The rest of the image came together in my studio in a fish tank and Photoshop. Thank you Johny Long for the props and Julian Jones for the music. NBFF, Orange County's largest entertainment event, will start this Thursday the 20th and goes until the 27th of April. It will bring 350 films to over 50,000 film fans. Thank you RPA.

Three Day Walk revisited.

My wife Anne recently visited London. She went on a Sunday stroll with our newborn granddaughter and her “big sister” Jerry, a Springer Spaniel, to Hampstead Heath.  She said it felt as if the whole lot of London was there, most of them with their children and dogs. Hampstead Heath is a large, ancient London park, which is also one of the highest points in the city. A beautiful, wonderfully preserved paradise which quiets the often chaotic bustle of London.  

When walking down one of the paths Anne remembered an image I took a couple of decades ago in that very spot, for a series we called "Three Day Walk." With the series we wanted to pay tribute to London, our onetime home. We walked from Bromley in the south, to Highgate in the north, over the course of three days while shooting the Spring's bloom in black and white. After we returned to Finland Anne turned the photos into a book.

“The book grew out of our longing to re-experience and cherish the excitement, cultural pluralism, and unmistakable English tradition, which flows through the all of London. We were lucky enough to live inside of it for some years, and it will stay with us, and within these photos forever”.

The new generation stares out with hopeful eyes.

We laugh at an official joke.

It is 3.30 in the afternoon.

The mother and the child never stop rushing.

Charrington's offer wines and cocktails.

Circus promo has left the printer.

Ladies and gentlemans, boys and girls and everything between and beyond.  Step right up, and then, even closer. Come on in and join the circus.  This beautiful piece of promotion is out and being sent worldwide within the advertising community.  Thank you Anne for the design, Tomi for the cover logo, Adele and Julian for the copy. Color Incorporated in Burbank with their personal attention and dedication to the job led to the perfect printing result.

Five days alongside the circus.

As a photographer, you always feel a little more aware of your surroundings than other people. After all, your livelihood depends on your eyes, on seeing things that other’s don’t. But it’s easy to forget that no matter how aware you are, everyone eventually becomes numb to their daily environment. That’s why traveling outside your comfort zone is so important to longevity in this industry, it keeps your eyes fresh, not just on the road but when you come back home. And traveling doesn’t necessarily mean somewhere far either, it could be another neighborhood, a different block, a quick hike, or yes, biking through Cambodia.

I’ve been thinking about comfort zones and new perspectives ever since I moved to the foot of Mt. San Jacinto, which towers above Coachella Valley in California. Every day something new catches my eye, or my ear, it’s been an invigorating experience. And those experiences are what really keep my art alive, keep me passionate about doing what I do. Case in point; earlier this year I was driving in Yucca Valley, on my way to Joshua Tree when I noticed some circus trucks in an open field. I could see the beginnings of a tent under construction, workers hurrying to-and-fro in the crisp morning air.

I parked and walked over to the campground, where I eventually struck up a conversation with the owner of the Ramos Bros. Circus, Oliver. He recognized my accent and as it turned out, he had traveled all over Scandinavia years before, as part of another circus. That coincidence provided an opportunity to ask if it would be okay for me to take some pictures of the circus, and perhaps because of that connection, he acquiesced. I came back with my wife the next night, just to take in the show as an audience member. One of the things that really caught my eye was how the imperfections really added to the rustic charm of the entire operation; this wasn’t Barnum & Bailey, and it was better for it. It seemed like everyone on the staff performed several different roles in the course of a night; ticket taker one minute, leading show horses the next, fire-eating tomorrow. All of this only added to the warmth and intimacy of the experience.

The whole thing was very spontaneous and I had to do a lot of adapting on the fly, but that’s also what made it fun. I remember standing in total darkness behind the curtains with some of the artists and thinking how the hell can I get anything captured with almost no light at all but it worked out. I went to almost every show they had in town.I would be sitting at home, planning on taking the night off but the thought of what I might be missing just kept nagging me, and the next thing you know, I’m halfway down Highway 62. I saw five shows over the week or so that they spent in town, each time trying to find a new angle or idea. One day I even went to the local Home Depot and rented the cherry picker so I was able to capture the whole tent from a different perspective.

I really want to thank the entire Ramos Bros. Circus for so graciously opening their doors to me and letting me spend some time in their world. 

The first time I went to see the show my wife and I were sitting in the front row. When the cannon went off and the man went flying over us I snapped a shot. I didn’t actually expect much when I looked at the back of the camera but somehow, I had nailed it. This is the photo that convinced me I needed to come back the next day. Everything that this project is about; wonder and spectacle alongside the rough-hewn DIY aesthetic of the circus and the hard-working people who make it go, all of that is in this picture. 

This was the Black Falcon's first performance and afterwards he seemed slightly disappointed by how it went, but as far as I could tell, the fans loved it. Kids and superheroes.

I wanted to try and find an elevated vantage point for some shots, but none of the neighboring buildings were high enough. I’ve used cranes before on commercial jobs and never had as much of a hassle renting one as I did on this job. I called a bunch of crane companies in the area but everything was booked, and pricey to boot. I actually ended up finding a cherry-picker at Home Depot, but you have to tow it yourself. Luckily, finding a vehicle with towing capacity is not that difficult at a circus and everyone there was happy to help. It was all worth it once I saw this shot though; the light fell perfectly, people were just starting to stream into the campground, and then those candy striped tents against the desert and that sky, you can’t ask for a better backdrop. 

This was a funny moment because all the dogs are waiting for that last dog to jump down but that dog has decided that there isn’t going to be any more jumping that night. The dog show was funny because something would always go a little bit off script. A couple dog’s wouldn’t be listening, or maybe one would run off to pee somewhere, it was all very imperfect but again, that was part of the charm. 

This guy is one of the veterans of this circus and like a lot of the people there, he wears a lot of hats in a day. When I saw him operating the spotlight, and all the amazingly diffused light leaking from it’s ventilation slats, I knew it would be a great picture. He is such an old hand, haha, he can see me but he never even acknowledged that I was shooting there, just fully locked in on his job. I shot this with only the available light too.

I took this backstage, before the Black Falcon’s first performance at the circus, so I think he was actually quite nervous. All the light is coming from a door that was momentarily propped open, which was almost the only way you could ever really see anything. The pony was already hitched up to that wagon, so I just asked him to sit down there while he waited to go on. I have to say that everyone involved was very helpful and indulged my presence and odd requests. I think it helps that I used a very low-key camera set up- specifically my Leica - which I think helps people just be natural in situations like this. It comes off as very amateurish and everyone just kinda let’s you do your thing instead of freezing up because you are holding a “fancy” camera.

 

 

First milestone reached.

Community came together.  Nearly 6000 signatures were collected in order to re-zone the Oswit Canyon as an Environmentallly Sensitive Area and to protect it from developers.  I did what I know best, took pictures to share and to my surprise even collected some signatures.  Thanks to all the volunteers, gatherers and signees.  Not many initiatives turn in almost double the amount signatures needed and 5 months before the deadline.  But despite of all this success, it is not over yet. 

Magic and Wonder of the Holiday Season at the Zoo.

My latest collaboration with M&C Saatchi LA and the San Diego Zoo, invite you to enjoy the larger than life centennial animal puppets of "The Journey," lit up aglow for the holidays in celebration of the Zoo's 100th birthday.  

Thank you for the Black and White honor.

Happy to share good news.  This image from my Instagram series Jumbo Rocks shot in Palm Springs was selected among the best in Fine Art Category from total of 7,556 entries at the 11th Annual Black and White Spider Awards.  The other two from the series and two images from my Circus series were among the nominees.  Congratulations to all the other winners and nominees!  You can find them here.