Photo Challenge #4: John Jarvis

Somewhere in there... John Jarvis at the keyboard

So much for seven photos in seven days…

I’m really not sure how much to say about this one.

I said when I started posting this series last week that I was going to dig around for some files that had not previously seen the light of day.  This is one of those.

About two years ago I got a call to photograph a recording session for one of Nashville’s A-list players, who was making an album with some of the world’s also top, A-List players – most of whom I was not entirely familiar with though I probably should have been.

This is probably my favorite shot from the session… somewhere in there, the renown keyboard player John Jarvis is adding a melody to a track.

I got a lot of great photos of the sessions, but something went haywire.  I turned in the photos… and never heard from the client again.

Probably the less said about that… the better.

Photo Challenge #3
Put Down The Fucking Phone!


Continuing with the Facebook Photo Challenge…

I’m really not sure what to say about this one.  It was taken several years ago at the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville.

The attraction is is the Super Slide (or whatever it’s called).  You get a pad of canvas and slide down about 100 feet of undulating fiberglass.  Wheeee…. what fun!

I’m just guessing that this is a brother and sister duo.  Judging from the look on the little boy’s face, the ride was a blast.  But not, apparently enough fun for his sister to put her phone down long and actually enjoy the experience.

Such is the world we live in today.

We live in an invisible ocean of information.  We can find out anything in an instant.

And still we wind up with somebody like Trump…

Now excuse me while I go see if I’ve got any fresh notifications on Facebook…


Civilization? Ha!

How many napkins does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

We live in the most technologically advanced culture in the history of human civilization – Google, Gigabits, WiFi everywhere, cars that go 200mph ad planes that fly around the world – but this is what we have to do to keep a table from wobbling.


Photo Challenge #2:
“Pendennis from St. Mawes”

Pendennis from St. Mawes - May, 1976

For Day 2 of Ken Gray‘s Facebook 7-Day Photo Challenge, we’re reaching once more into the photo-wayback-machine.  This is one of the very first manifestations of my fascination (preoccupation?  obsession?) with medieval castles and abbeys

I made my first trip to the United Kingdom with my then-future-ex-wife Georja Skinner for five memorable weeks in the spring of 1976.  The tour covered almost the entire UK.

We started with a couple of days on the Isle of Sark in the  – a tiny refuged in the in the English Channel most notable for the nearly complete  absence of motorized vehicles.  Once in England proper we went as far west as Cornwall, north through the Cotswolds, Wales and the Lake District, and made it as far north as Edinburgh in Scotland.  Unfortunately our car was broken into outside of Edinburgh, and – in a demonstration of what international travel newbies we were – our passports were stolen.  We had to beat a hasty retreat back to the U.S. Embassy in London to secure temporary passports so that we could eventually fly home.

But I digress: the photo here was taken across the bay from the town of Falmouth on the south coast of Cornwall.

One either side of the mouth of Falmouth Bay are two fortresses built during the reign of Henry VIII to defend the English coast from invasion by the Spanish Armada. On the west side of the bay is Pendennis Castle; we spent a bit of time on the east side of the channel, at a nearly identical installation called St. Mawes Castle. While we were at St. Mawes, a spring storm rolled over the coast, and I captured the layers of clouds as they rolled past Pendennis with my Nikon F2, a 300mm lens and (I think) Ektachrome 400 film.

I have a print of this shot on the wall in my “library” (it’s just a small room with bookshelves, but I like the pretense of calling it “the Library”).  The print was made and framed back in 1976 – it’s the oldest photo of mine presently on display in the house.  I had it and several other photos from the era (like yesterday’s “Ground Strike“) scanned a few years back.  They’re all digital, now….

The image that appears at the top of this post has been “landscape” aspected to fit the way “featured images” are displayed in these posts.  Here’s the full “portrait”  aspected image, which shows many more layers in the clouds and sky:


Photo Challenge #1: “Ground Strike”

Ground Strike - July, 1973

Several weeks ago my friend and comrade-in-photo-arms Ken Gray sent me one of those “Facebook Photo Challenge” things.

If you’re on Facebook (and if you aren’t, bless you child, however have you managed that?) and you know any photographers (wait, isn’t everybody on Facebook a photographer??) then you are probably familiar with the breed.   It’s one of those (ummm…. pernicious?) viral things where somebody gets a challenge, has to post a photo every day for seven days, and then is supposed to extend the challenge to another poor soul who is then expected to follow suit – ad infinitum, ad nauseum…

The net effect is: lots more free content for Zuckerberg & Co….

I have rather dreaded  that such a “challenge” would finally arrive in my notifications.  When it did I promised Ken I would comply, but was vague about when exactly.

Now, I guess…

In preparation for this endeavor, I have begun scouring through all of my photos… all, I dunno, nearly half-a-million files on several terabytes of hard drives.  My thought is that rather than just pulling out my “best” photos, I’d dredge out some that are personal faves for one reason or another that have not previously seen the “digital light of day” – which is to say, I’ve never posted ’em on Facebook before.

With that in mind I started going back to some of the very first photos I ever made, when I first started shooting photos – back in, like, the 1970s.

The photo at the top of this post is one of those images.  If memory serves me (a questionable proposition these days), it was shot in the summer of 1973.  I had recently graduated from a ‘branch campus’ of Antioch College,  in the middle of Maryland, and had gotten a Konica 35mm SLR – my first camera with a built in light meter – as a graduation gift.

I was still living in Columbia, Maryland, and stood outside my apartment during a thunderstorm…

This image of a single lightning bolt stretching  to the ground from the thunderheads was captured on Ektachrome film, ASA (that was what we called it before “ISO”) 400… I remember the shot was handheld but have no idea what the camera settings were.  I just held the camera to my eye during the storm and fired away – and, of course, since it was film, had no idea what I’d captured until I got the film back several days later.

It wasn’t too long after this was lightning bolt was shot that I packed everything I owned into the back of a VW Squareback and headed out to Hollywood to ‘seek my fortune’ in the TeeVee business.  I never did find my fortune there… but that’s another story for another time.  First I gotta decide which photo to post tomorrow…

#TMITM #6 : Dueling Elephants Foretell
The Demise of the Two-Party System


#TMITM, for those of you who haven’t caught on yet, is the acronym for “The Medium Is The Message.”

One of my primary theses over the past several years has been that the advent of the Internet foretells the demise of the two-party duopoly.

For starters, remember: there is nothing constitutionally sacred about a two-party system. It is just the effluent of political convenience that has evolved and persisted since the emergence of the Federalist (for the Constitution) and the Anti-Federalists (for the Articles of Confederation) in the 1780s.

For different reasons, both print and electronic broadcasting reinforced the dominance of two political parties for 200+ years. But the Internet reverses all the primary forces of nature imposed by those media.  It is not your father’s media environment any more.  Nor your grandfather’s.  Nor his grandfather’s…

Print and broadcasting are organized around single points-of-origin and multiple points-of-reception; for every transmitter there are countless receivers. The Internet introduces parity between origin and reception. In the digital era every receiver is also a transmitter. This parity gives ultimately an engenders an infinite number channels through which previously “fringe” perspectives can gain considerable traction.

We have seen countless manifestations of this trend over the past 15 years.  We could argue that it first appeared with Howard Dean’s Internet-driven campaign in 2004 and rose  to a level of dominance with Obama’s digital organization in 2008.  Here in 2016, Bernie Sanders’ $27-a-pop campaign came within a few hundred pledged delegates of toppling the whole house of cards.

I contend that what we are now witnessing is the inevitable fracturing of political discourse that is empowered by an infinite number of communication channels. The Medium is The Message.

It comes as no surprise then to see Thomas Friedman – a major proponent of the mainstream media – advocating the formation of a new political party  to counter the unhinged lunacy of today’s Republican Party:

I know so many thoughtful conservatives who know it matters. One of them has got to start the N.R.P. — New Republican Party — a center-right party liberated from all the Trump birthers, the Sarah Palins, the Grover Norquists, the Sean Hannitys, the Rush Limbaughs, the gun lobby, the oil lobby and every other narrow-interest group, a party that redefines a principled conservatism. Raise your money for it on the internet. If Bernie Sanders can, you can.

Notice how the decentralized, distributed power of the Internet lies at the very heart of that argument.

In the  splintering of the Republican Party, I suspect we will unleash the even greater likelihood for a multi-party system of governance by fluid coalitions – all made possible by the myriad and largely unexplored functions of digital communications.

Be careful what you wish for, Tom Friedman.


Kira Small: You phoenixed the shit outta that…

"Yeah, you phoenixed the shit outta that, girl."

Monday night I was present for one of the most outstanding shows of the year – the release concert for Kira Small’s “3 AM” CD.

The CD is all about the demise of Kira’s first marriage and the salvation of her soul in the wake of those devastating events.

And, as fate would have it, but the time she got her CD about the breakup out into the world, she’d already recovered her spirt, found new love, and gone through the whole cycle of betrothal and remarriage.  Now, ironically, she’s left to sing about stuff that happened to her like two years ago.

Music and art are like that.

I was gonna say “here, listen to the CD…” but near as I can tell she’s withheld it from Spotify.  I guess you can find it on iTunes

Bonnie Bishop Brings Down The House

@bonniebishopforrockstar brings the house down - and lends new meaning to the expression "never give up" - as she celebrates the release of her new album "Ain't Who I Was."

…and lends new meaning to the expression “never give up” as she celebrates the release of her new album “Ain’t Who I Was” at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville this past Sunday night.

The photo above is one that I WiFi transferred from my camera to my phone while I was still at the venue and uploaded to Instagram. Now I see it ain’t all that sharp.  Sometimes li’dat, as we used to say in Hawaii...

I’ll have more to say about Bonnie’s album (and the inspiring story behind it) next week. In the meantime, here are some more photos from the show, and you can listen to the album via Spotify:

Nashville Scene Cover Story & Photos:
My Weekend At The Races

The cover of the Nashville Scene - May 26, 2016

A few weeks ago I reported that I’d spent several days at the Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama with my friend Craig Havighurst, who was working on a feature story for the Nashville Scene about Josef Newgarden – a Nashville-area native who is rising rapidly through the ranks of Indy-type race car drivers.   Craig had invited me along for the weekend of the Grand Prix of Alabama  provide the photo coverage for his story.

I can finally share the article, which was released today to coincide with this coming Sunday’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.  When the race starts, Josef will be in the front row, having qualified just a few hundreds of a second behind the pole-sitter.

Craig Havighurst reporting from the Fuzzy's Vodka Racing Team paddock at the Barber Motorsports Park

Craig Havighurst reporting from the Fuzzy’s Vodka Racing Team paddock at the Barber Motorsports Park

Even if you have negligible interest in auto-racing,  Craig’s article is entirely worth reading.  His eye for detail and ability to convey his enthusiasm for this muscular merger of men and machines comes through in a finally crafted narrative.  For example:

In race trim, Newgarden’s car, No. 21, sports a handsome white-and-gold livery, but on this day of preparation, its carbon-fiber skin and elaborate wing structures are resting as detached parts on bespoke racks. Revealed are the hoses and wires of the car’s respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems, clinging vine-like to a turbocharged V6 engine. With its tires off, the car looks like a robot insect sent through a wormhole to menace humanity.

Would that I could show you some of the photos of what he’s described here but alas: some frames I  shot of the inner workings of Josef’s car had to be deleted from my memory card, lest they inadvertently reveal some trade secrets to the competition.

What I can do is share this slideshow of all the photos that I submitted to the Nashville Scene, not all of which appear in the article.

This was a long but very exciting four days, and now that the final result is in print (gotta by five copies for my mother…) it’s great to see how well it all turned out.

It was a real privilege to work on this with Craig.  Thanks, Buddy.