Category Archives: Pets

Elements Of Design

It’s so beautiful out already this morning; the leaves on my giant willow trees in the back yard are beginning to yellow and slowly falling creating a carpet of yellow along the ditch banks. I see the skies begin to clear with some patches of blue. If the sun comes out it’s going to create a brilliant glow that will radiate through out the house. This would be a perfect morning for some beautiful photographs, but I have no one lined up. Thor and I a have been putting so much time into the website that I we have neglected shooting anything new in the past couple of weeks. I am writing early today, even before coffee, because I want to get out and work on the yard today. I have the new deer fence about half way done on the other side of the house, so today’s goal is to get out and finish the fence and start thinking about how to design a gate. For those of you who know me, you know I don’t do anything simple and every element of my life is personally designed.

For those who have been to the studio you know exactly what I mean. The whole house is completely off center, with so many angles and pitches and textures. Everything is about function and has been created for a specific purpose. The pitch in the main room, where I shoot, was set up so that I would have beautiful natural light that would face to the north at a specific angle exposing the sky without ever allowing direct light into the actual room. With the vaulted ceilings, needing the height for lighting equipment to be raised on stands and booms, the whole pitch of the room had to be offset to thirds. See the rule of thirds I use for photography even plays into my design of the house. Because the pitch of the room is offset to the lesser third on the northern side, it creates that effect with the northern skylights. As I was designing the space, I hired a draftsman who could do the drawings of what I envisioned in my head. I defied his rules of logic and he kept moving the lines back to center. Then we hired a structural engineer who told us how to make it happen. The house is very unique and totally matches my personality. It has the balance and flow of a beautiful painting. I design from my heart and often defy what is logical, it becomes more about an expression of emotion and feelings the space evokes. My yard is becoming the same way. The fence is designed for the practical purpose of keeping the deer out, but allowing the small critters that inhabit the yard like my kitties a freedom and flexibility to move through it, and since one of them is deaf, a quick escape from dogs that come upon her unaware. The yard is small so it needs to have a feeling of being open and not restricted. The fence is becoming like these beautiful little trellises that I will also be able to plant and grow climbing flowering vines. And the rough-cut cedar gives it a weight and texture. This year was about creating a rough outline of the garden, next year will be about sculpting it. So since I have no models lined up for this beautiful Sunday morning I am heading out the garden to enjoy another fall day.

The Long Road Home

Glenn returns home tonight after working in North Dakota for the past six weeks. I am very excited to see him. It has been a terrible month of barely being able to communicate because there seems to be a lack of cell towers and he has had very poor internet service if any. This has been an annual job for him for the past couple of years to go and test the soil where the seed potatoes are grown to certify them for export to Canada. But it is good to have him home. I think sometimes it’s healthy for relationships to have long breaks from each other and always seems to realign where we are and how strong our relationship has grown on the past 14 years we have been together. It seems when you have been in a relationship with someone this long, some of the spark begins to fray around the edges and you begin to take each other for granted. He always does so much to keep me on target and focused. Taking care of a lot of the detail stuff like shopping and making sure we are fed. I am a person that is very project driven and have always got to have something I am working on at every moment of the day. I got a lot done while he was gone, though the website is not up yet it is nearing completion and I feel like I have created something extraordinary in his absence that he hasn’t even seen it yet. So I am totally jacked to see his reaction to the project. I was my goal to have the site up and running upon his return, but after about 3 weeks of technical difficulties we are in good shape.

Glenn is an adorable man, who is kind, quirky funny, like myself, and seems to be solid at the core. I have not written about him much because I had promised that I would not bring him into the process except on rare occasion, and out of respect wanted to protect his privacy, though he has been a huge component in my success and allowing me freedom and flexibility to get this dream up and out there this year. In all the years we have been together I cannot remember a single fight, barely an argument. We are the exact opposite of each other, and I think all the opposition somehow brings up together as a more stable whole. We are both of the same era and the same at our cores. We recognized this early and it’s what brought us together so closely in the beginning. I would say I used to think Glenn was the perfect Taoist. All knowing, all accepting, all giving, and all caring, a balance of all the great things in the world, yet completely unaware of it, not naming or even knowing the essence and harmony of his existence. He is somehow the embodiment of the Tao Te Ching without even knowing and possibly never even hearing of it. There is always harmony and balance that surrounds him all the time.

I have been through many relationships in my life, most of them quite tumultuous and often ending in a bitter sadness. It somehow feels to me with Glenn, he allows me to become my best and brings out the best I have to offer. I believe relationships are basically about ourselves and how we find balance with others whom we choose to share our lives. If we are not content with ourselves first, all becomes chaos and confusion and doubt. How we can become the best without fear, anxiety, or pressure? As a creative soul I learned this early. Thank you Glenn for allowing me to become the best I can possibly be and welcome home, the kitties and I have missed you.

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.

Did I miss the streetcar named Desire?

Last night I crossed over into a strange delirium of geekdom as I had visions of naked men dancing in my head and my sexual desire crossed into a strange cyber lala land that wasn’t of men with huge penises and small tight butts, but where people were ordinary and a beauty was recognized from within. I have a kid I work with at UPS, who is a total cyber geek, whom I completely adore and I now feel like I have crossed into his dimension of existence, and I have a greater understanding of where he’s coming from. Some friends had invited me out to a drag show and when I got off work last night, I sat at my computer and was suddenly sucked in. But, it all began to click last night, instead of fighting technology I was suddenly a part of it and things where suddenly happening. Oddly enough I didn’t work too late, but had added some major elements to the project that seemed effortless. I looked up and it was only 11:00 pm and I was shocked. Normally it has been 2 or 3 in the morning. I realized the web site had past the tipping point and had crossed to the other side as I shut it down and walked away.

I took the kitties for a nice long walk under the beautiful starry sky, feeling the warmth from the day still in the air as my mind and body become overwhelmed with a great sense of satisfaction. I went to bed early and as I lay there, I laughed at how much I have changed this year and how far I have come and how I have crossed over into a side of myself that I have not felt in a decade. Sex used to make me feel this great. It seems when I hit my forties, the sexual side of myself had begun to shut down. I know guys my age who are still totally engaging in sex, all the time. Why has it all shut off for me? Mostly I think because I had the most ruckus youth and lived that prime to its fullest. I was mostly ruled by my dick from the mid twenties to those forties. I stayed in a long unhealthy relationship for almost eight years because the sex was so extraordinary, and then it took two years to get away from it because we were still having sex even after we separated. Everything became about sex and having sex, so I definitely get it.

Mapplethorpe photographed the people he had sex with and you can often see that personal connection to those subjects and their trust to allow him into places that would otherwise be forbidden. I somehow wished I had found Mapplethorpe earlier and gotten into photography during the prime of my sexual desire and could have recorded all I have experienced. Now as an older man I can only vicariously live that through my imagery and the experiences I write about. It’s like now I am on a different kind of ride, equally as exciting and intoxicating. But it feels like the last 10 years I somehow got off the streetcar at the wrong stop and ended up in a different and strange new place. The past ten years, psychologically, felt as if I had been spiraling into an unknown oblivion finally reaching the bottom at the beginning of this year as I hit the pit of despair witnessing the passing of my prime moving into middle age, rapidly approaching fifty.

Today I stand on the rampart of something extraordinary. Yet it’s an extraordinariness that I have always known and somehow felt was present. Perhaps it is all the sex, fear, anxiety, insecurities and anger that masks and keeps the true nature of our selves hidden so we can’t see it. And I have to question this morning where would I be today if perhaps I had not made this leap and come on the journey of this year. My desire has changed and so have I. I take delight in that thought and that maybe that streetcar, though still functional, just transports us to new neighborhoods, perhaps we just need to get off and explore.

Relying on the Kindness of Strangers

I have a black old mangy three-legged cat that hobbles through my back yard each day looking for scraps. When I try to befriend it, in the garden, it runs away, afraid of human interaction. I don’t know where it lives or even where it comes from, but every time I see it I feel a strong connection to it.

I have two other cats that I have taken in as strays and nursed back to health. They almost look identical, mostly black with white beards from their mouths to their bellies. Kitty came first, when we were doing the construction of the studio, she was constantly at the site, climbing on everything. She is deaf and we never named her because it seemed pointless giving her a name if she could not recognize it. The fact that she can’t hear has some how gives her a boisterous voice that can become annoying when you are trying to sleep. She was a thin, boney thing with droopy eyes and the studio has now become her domain. Bob came by about a year later; he is named such for his missing tail, and walks oddly because of it. He is mute, and when he tries to speak, only a pathetic thin squeak emits from his mouth. He has recently been diagnosed with asthma and we have three options: we can either put him on steroids which will completely alter his personality or get him a kitty inhaler that is outrageously expensive, or allow him to live naturally with his lungs becoming restricted and eventually suffocating. He too came to us emaciated wearing a purple collar that was ratted around his neck and big curious eyes that made him look like he had just come from a circus. Glenn walks them each night through the neighborhood, allowing them and us to explore their worlds, which they enjoy immensely, and now seem to demand, when it gets dark.

I digress and what I was trying to get to was that I have always had a thing for strays. When I was bartender at a hot gay club in Washington DC, in the late eighties, after work on my way home I would often pick up the young male hustlers and take them home. Not for sex, but random acts of kindness often washing their cloths, letting them shower, and feeding them. They somehow always seemed to remind me of my home in Montana and these little acts of kindness went a long way and I was always rewarded, by the dropping of their street attitude as they allowed me into their private personal worlds. They would tell me the stories of their plight leading them to this point in their existence. It was a world I understood and identified with, the desperation and destitute they often felt. Several years earlier when I was in Dallas, at the end of my first relationship, without a job, I too had relied on the kindness of strangers for my own survival, so to speak, so could relate to them and many of them were from places like Montana. My friends where horrified that I would allow these strangers into the house, dismissing them as the underbelly of the world. Then again, it’s part of my Montana nature to be compassionate and look out for others.

I think it is one of the greatest skills I possess is my ability to communicate with anyone. I see in the work I create that experience and exposure allows me very easily to cut to the core and strip away all the grime with which most people surround themselves. This is the true nature of what I do and why I got into photography in the first place. I sometimes forget this and it feels lately have gotten so far from in my process. I am beginning to line subjects up to begin shooting in the next couple of weeks. I now see this is the core of what I need to get back to in my work. All of this talk of creating shows or exposing my work to a broader audience has distracted me, as I recognize I have grown a bit distant from my process. As I am beginning to build this web site I see this is the real essence of what I do and have been doing all along. I think many people in Montana now fear me for my bold and honest approach. As it feels it’s becoming harder to find those subjects willing to reveal themselves.