Category Archives: Overwhelmed

Defying Gravity

Last night at work one of the young kids with whom I co-manage at the UPS center, bought me one of those energy drinks, which he seems to be addicted to because he seems to consume them like water. Much to my surprise it was a greater boost than I imagined and I was wide awake working into the wee hours of the morning feeling like I had somehow defied gravity and was floating along into the night on a miraculous high. When I finally did go to bed, completely exhausted, I crashed and had a hard time getting up this morning. I had a family portrait scheduled fairly early, so I knew I had to get up and get things cleaned up and set up for the shoot, hence the tardiness of today’s posting. The wonder of it all was that somehow, I am not sure if it was the drink or just something kicked in, but I was having a blast last night back to working on photography. There was something utterly peaceful and productive working into the middle of the night, completely undisturbed.

Sometimes when I work on the same thing constantly I become immune to the process and often just push to get through it. But, last night I began to see things from a different perspective. The images I have been muddling through for the past year, seem to have a new meaning. I began to look at the process with a new fascination and became caught up in what I was working on with such detail. Obtaining perfection became the focus. I loved this feeling and was satisfied with my re-connection to the work. As I crawled into bed I realized what I had not felt it in a long time. Yesterday I was utterly frustrated and I beginning to see how hard I am pushing, and how that push is causing a separation from myself and my ideas, no longer able to recognize what brought me to this process from the beginning. I fear losing the organic nature that makes what I do interesting in the first place.

There is a wondrous moment at the end of the first act in the musical “Wicked”, where Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) finally comes to terms with her difference and begins to recognize her given talents and turns against all reason to do what she feels is right in her heart. She musters all the powers within herself to take to a broom and suddenly fly into the air hovering above the stage singing about Defying Gravity.

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

Those lyrics echo through my mind today as they seemed more poignant than ever, for I realize I have shared the same dream and passion with my views of the world and need to create what I am creating, especially here in a place like Montana.

I’m through accepting limits
‘Cuz someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down

I can now see why those drinks can become so damn addictive.

Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz from the musical WICKED

Falling into a morning slump

Woke up this morning not wanting to get out of bed at all, feeling a bit discouraged and beaten down. I am afraid this Naked Man Project is getting the best of me. Taking the break from the weekend only seems to have made it worse, because I have lost the momentum and it’s one of those projects that have so many facets that weave in and out of itself, that it is becoming hard to tell exactly where you are at times. I have been writing so much for the site and then to write for the blog, my fingers often feel like jelly as I make so many mistakes. I am working afternoons at UPS this week, which totally prevents me from getting much done. There was guy sick last night so it was like banging my head against the wall and I had to work late. I get home and Bob, one of my kitties is having such an asthma attack I think he’s going to fall over. I know the inevitable is coming for him, that his lungs will eventually collapse and we will have to put him to sleep, so it just ripped my heart out to see him going through this. Writing a daily blog also takes its toll, and sometimes a lot more energy than you would imagine, especially for us non-writer types.

I finally got out of bed, ground some fresh coffee, and texted Glenn, still working in North Dakota with barely any cell services saying. “I am missing the best part of myself, you.” The phone instantly rang and it was Glenn, which is highly unusual. He asked if I was all right. So apparently I don’t send him enough nice texts, that when I do he recognizes something is wrong. I said yes, just having a bad morning and that I was missing him terribly.

I debated if I should go out into the garden today and just lose myself outside, but decided to jump on the computer to get caught up in some of the back log of work I have been accumulating since putting so much of my focus into this website. It has been the season of Senior Portraits, for some reason I have had more than usual and they have all hit the last couple of weeks. So I began to work through them. They were all so interesting and fun. I forget how much fun I actually have just creating images. Senior Portraits in particular are so much fun. The kids are at such an interesting age where you really get to tap into their dreams and get to become a part of their often-quirky worlds for a short while. What a great time of our lives, lack of commitments, hanging with our friends, involved with things we are truly passionate about, aspiring to greatness. Suddenly it dawns on me, perhaps I really haven’t outgrown that stage, and perhaps that’s why I have such a good time working with them. I always interview everyone I shoot before hand to try to see life from their perspective and how they see themselves and relate to their worlds and then tailor the shoot specifically to them. There is no formula for me, I am an original through and through. Delighting in these images actually pulled me out my slump for the day as I see what a wonderful process my work and life have become. Prospects of working on the website suddenly seems much brighter.

“End of the Relaionship” series

So “The Postcard from the Edge” fundraiser in New York seems to have been a huge hit. Another photographer named Steven Rosen selected my postcard and sent me a message. “It’s such a lovely image, but I have to say I was saddened when I found out the title. I was drawn to the shot because the two men seemed so in love. There were loads of images of beautiful men both alone and engaged in all sorts of sex acts, but your shot was the only one that seemed to have any real emotional content. Knowing that the relationship was ending casts a bit of a pall over the image for me, but it’s still very beautiful.” There was a huge response to my posting “Postcards from the Edge” so I thought I would follow it up with my journal entry from the photo shoot and another image from that series.

October 25, 2009
A great Sunday morning lying around the studio sipping coffee, listening to Dexter Gordon blow the sax, and catching up with myself through my journal.  Color begins to fill the sky though windows above my bed and create a beautiful blue glow on the textured walls surrounding me. It’s been forever since I had such a great morning. This morning I am filled with wonder, confidence, and longing. I am finally feeling peace and in touch with the space.   I am loving what I have created here. What an inspiration. Last night I had a gay couple over to work on some nude couples images. We all worked together to fixed a really great dinner of Paella, had a couple of bottles of Pinot Noir and chatted.  We took and break and work on some of the most beautiful images I think I have ever captured. The first set of images was of them in the shower entwined in each others bodies. After dinner we moved into the studio and did some extraordinary images of them lying on a bed. It stirred such a longing in my soul to watch these two extraordinarily beautiful men captivated by the other. Their bodies moving, twisted, entangled, arousing and igniting sheer sensual pleasure, writhing, rubbing, caressing, tender, passion, deeply gazing into the others eyes, responding to the others soul, colliding, giving, receiving, touching, fondling, tasting the others flesh, totally in tune and turned on by the others tenderness, excitement and pleasure. I was overwhelmed and in awe of the beauty of the love and passion exploding before me. It made me realize what an extraordinary life I have had and all the experiences I have been a part of. To photograph this was one of the highlights of my existence. I recalled these moments within myself when I was that age and consumed by such passions; and now to be this age and able to step back, connect to these desires and record these feelings once again. I was caught in a hypnotic trance of reliving my own passions igniting as if I become a part of their flesh and passions exuding before me. This was the way I approached sex!  How have I gotten so far away from it. Modern sex seems to be only about fucking. Modern pornography is only about fucking. Is this all we know or learn. Is an orgasm the ultimate goal and do we miss all the sensuality that leads up to and in between. Sex was never really about the actually climax for me, it was always about the building of pleasure, giving and receiving. I was flooded with old memories, thoughts, and impressions of my own experiences with these passions igniting from my past. I suddenly felt a stronger connection to Glenn and all that he means to me. Once they had left I called him and almost burst into tears still overwhelmed by my experience. I guess that’s what a great artist is, someone who delves, explores and then expresses all those emotions within his medium. It becomes my inward connection to how I present and express my feeling toward my subjects.

Fear Of What I See In The Mirror

Somehow, today, I feel I have completely lost touch with who I am and where I am going with this project. I have spent the past couple of days researching and trying to figure out how a blog actually works. What it needs to have, how to expand it, and how to make it grow. I am finding it’s all way too overwhelming to think about and plan. Have I already been derailed from my concept by the very means needed to capture the concept? It’s perplexing, confusing and downright distracting. I have so many thoughts in the head. It’s swimming with ideas of what I want and need to say. Suddenly there are a lot’s of eyes with their focus on me, responding, recognizing things in myself I have never been aware were ever present. I feel like there is now an expectation. The bar has been raised and as I began to write today become paralyzed, gripped by terror, almost frozen unable to move. Can I live up to the remarkable things others see within me? I have always heard fear is a great motivating factor to get things done, so I guess it’s worth exploring.

When I look in the mirror who it is that I really see? I have never been much of one to admire myself. As a child I was awkward, gangly, and very uncoordinated. I didn’t have many friends and totally lacked any semblance of self-esteem. My retreat was to create a world of my own, a world where I could create something remarkable beyond myself. It’s taken years to get past those painful remembrances of self-loathing and isolation. Of being able to trust in myself  and recognize I was really worthy of any kind of talent. Growing up in a rural sate like Montana, creativity was completely misunderstood because it wasn’t in the norm. It was a non-sustainable hobby that was more often discouraged as sentimental or emotional. Athletics were the suitable substitute to suppress sentiment and emotion; you could work out your aggression on an opponent. My family really didn’t get me. I was that creative black sheep. Though I was involved with plays they never once came to see what I was involved in. I just learned to adapt and was persistent to fulfill my driving desire to create. I never was never quite sure what, but knew I needed to create something, anything as long as it revealed my hidden self and let me express myself.

When I become an adult and began to explore my sexuality, I suddenly found a place where I was accepted, where I did belong. It was exciting and intense and filled with wonder, beauty and mystery. The raw sensual self was allowed to emerge and celebrate the release of all kinds of emotions: love, beauty, seduction and passion. My body was not as disjointed and awkward as I had been lead to believe. Yet I could not see these remarkable qualities within myself. I guess, have always been filled with self-doubt. Through photography, this exploration of myself and working to revealing others I am coming to terms with my own self-image. Why has it taken me all of my life to get to this place of feeling safe and comfortable with my own identity? There are still a few residual temporal insecurities that emerge when I look in that mirror and see a man approaching middle age. Self-portraits have always been a difficult thing for me to create. I have such a different image of my self then what appears in the image. I look deeply into them and ask myself: is that really me? Self-portraits become an agonizing search for who we really are. So many people come into my studio fearful or afraid of what they might discover.  Yet I am a master of discovering and seeing all those remarkable qualities in others, why do I have such difficulty seeing it within myself?

To strip away ourselves and really look at who we are is very unnerving. For some reason when we look in the mirror, all we seem to see is a reflection of our flaws, our imperfections, things we don’t like about ourselves, yet I know if we look deep enough there is a discernible beauty buried deep within all of us. Photography becomes a mirror, and in that mirror of art we can see the most remarkable things.