Tag Archives: Photography

Beauty &Taxes

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These are two things I have been working on this month and BOTH are surprisingly foreign to me.

The band spent all of the Winter months writing, rehearsing, performing and recording the Strength EP, which is due out May 2012.  The songs are hard, aggressive, thick, dynamic and lyrically pretty clearly about strength – my interpretation of strength – there were some ups+downs writing the material but no un-scalable brick walls.

Now Spring has come and I’m in the midst of writing some new material for the second EP titled Beauty.  I have come to realize, that I have NEVER written from a conceptual space like Beauty before.

It’s disorienting. Most of the material I have written is heavy and generally deals with issues we don’t wish to speak about (living beyond trauma, anger, depression, etc…).  But Beauty – well that’s something we seemingly engage with every day, and can’t stop talking about, particularly in a time of heavy media saturation – billboards, tv ads, magazine pull outs, facebook, etc…

The facebook element really intrigues me – in past we would look to magazines and other external media to draw comparisons and build our sense of Beauty worthiness and attractiveness – I feel that now we do this more so by stalking our friend’s pages and the pages of totally random seemingly happy + seemingly beautiful strangers.  We are very willing to take on the role of the advertiser by posting what we believe to be beautiful photos of ourselves to broadcast a particular notion we’d like to persuade an audience to believe. Simultaneously, we play role of  an audience who is willing to accept the potential deception of the seemingly wonderful scenarios portrayed in the photographs/posts of others.  We should recognize that with any medium there will be an inherent bias in the message – facebook photos are self-selected for us to look our best and to meet some standard (a standard that is quantified by the number of Likes). It’s an instantaneous model for the pursuit of crowd-sourcing a standard of our own Beauty.

But we all know that Beauty is far more than aesthetic. Many times when I think of Beauty I immediately think of love, or truth or justice or good or some other highly conceptual positive element. But I’m not entirely comfortable with that – again that’s too self-selecting, and things like being good or engaging with truth can be painful and difficult actions, but entirely necessary – can’t a painful truth be Beauty?

Can broken hearts be beautiful?

I’m trying to work from neither the aesthetic nor the emotional elements of Beauty. The definition that has really made the largest impact has been the phrase being in one’s hour.”  It’s the only one that’s really rung true in my mind as a place to start writing new material.  It I have LITTLE IDEA what this EP is going to sound like in the end….it’s a grand experiment this Beauty.

And as for Taxes.….well you see I was supposed to be doing that this afternoon – but decided to write to you instead…..if ever you feel really down and out about your Beauty (whatever that means to you), know that you are always and forever more beautiful than taxes will ever be.

Layers of Modesty Conceal the Glow

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Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there.

Out there – in the deep dark void that can be scary and mean and just not nice.  Sometimes out there is even better than you could have imagined.  I suppose you just can’t know.

This weekend I was hanging out with a great friend and were discussing (like we always do) the inertia that fear creates in our lives.  Every once in a while, fear is a truly important flag keeping us from being really hurt.  Most times it’s just in the way.

Who knew that one of the world’s most prolific street photographers never shared a single photograph during her lifetime and her brilliance was found out by accident through an auction of her belongings after her death (we found this story via TVGawker.com– once you get past the cliche announcer it gets pretty good):

Whether or not she was a brilliant photographer doesn’t even matter – look at how gorgeous her perspective is in the photographs!  So stunning – some of them are lovely stories in a single frame. But think about the hundreds of photographs that were ugly and awful – the shots that came between the beautiful ones.

You have to give yourself a shot no?  I mean – seriously – wouldn’t it be better to benefit from your efforts while you’re still alive – instead of waiting for someone else to acknowledge and benefit from your efforts once your dead?  (However, it’s obvious that Vivian Maier was an extremely private person and artist – but you have to wonder whether it was fear or privacy that drove her to keep her story for herself).

Just give it a try! That’s what everyone keeps telling me.  A wise man once said- inertia’s a bitch.  The tortoise in me is moving one step at a time.  But I have to keep moving.  I have a ton of entrepreneurial friends whom I really admire – they just do stuff! Even if they’re not quite sure what it is they’re doing….they are willing to give it a try.

Also, you have to do the stuff you’re not so great at over and over again, until you get really good at it.  As a musician, at first I always found recording to be really scary – I mean it’s going to be recorded forever!  But then, after recording little by little, it’s now easy-peasy!  But currently, shows are really scary, but they’re exhilarating too! A great show can really make you feel like you are a part of a story – or – that you would like to share your story. I’ll be doing my best going out there and doing these scary things – feel free to join me- it’s nice to have company when you’re scared.  😉

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Sing Bandana Singh performs Thursday January 13th at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina Ave. Toronto).  Doors at 7pm.  Performance at 7:30pm  $10.  19+.
Music: http://myspace.com/singbandanasingh
Twitter: http://twitter.com/bandbandana
A Heroic Entertainment Production.

Discipline, Determination and other dreadful words that start with the letter D

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Art is exhausting.

Let me tell you – art is exhausting.

 

 

To be an artist you need to think and feel with intense emotion and dedication and then translate your heart and soul to the average non-artist who is too preoccupied with why your art doesn’t make sense – they think about the works instead of experiencing the works.

Do you know why, so many people fantasize but never actually become artists? Because it’s damn scary that’s why! We don’t idolize cocaine fueled rockstars,  famously suicidal painters or happily hedonistic hip hop artists because of their celebrity and scandalous lifestyles (at least not in the beginning); we idolize them because they have balls.  They get up there and they command, not demand respect.  They have presence, they have sexual charm, they have courage.

But without discipline and drive and determination (oh my!) artists can implode and ironically by being so open, so giving, so vulnerable – by being the very things they need to be in order to fulfill the sense of esteem and meaning in their lives – they lose themselves.

Artists need incredible discipline and self restraint balanced with freedom of self expression and experimentation.  This is no easy task.  To make things more interesting, many artists have supplementary jobs (what the non-artist would refer to as a “day job” although we artists do work, in the afternoon, mid morning, evenings and even wee morning hours as well).  Attempt to do all of this mentally and emotionally fulfilling/draining work and work a full time job at the same time – it can be an energy sucker.

Quil4 has done a lovely job of having a single post every month – I’m trying to get back on the 1 post every 2 weeks band wagon.  It’s not the frequency of the activity – it’s the persistence and doggedness of seeing something through.

I’ve been working on a 5 song – a  5 song EP for 2 years now – I’m almost done….so close! But the closer you get to completing it you start to wonder – what the hell am I doing?!  Why has this taken so long? What is the point again?  That’s when determination kicks in and the questions morph into: Why have I pushed through for so long? What compels me to continue forward? What is the next step?  Artists – we need to have that discipline, that determination, that drive:  whether a project takes two days, or twenty years as long as you complete it and do so with some intention – you will find success.  Now granted – there is of course the little business voice in the background also saying – so….2 years eh….at some point you’ll want to see a return on your investment and possibly start generating some revenue from your works specifically in the hopes of becoming independent of your supplementary job. Well – duh – of course silly.  Seeing a project through to completion also means being flexible – it’s taken me 2 years to get to where I am because I didn’t want to be sitting in a pool of debt to see my works come to life.  A rational decision – balanced by the experimentation and freedom of the works themselves.

Everyone is working hard these days regardless of what they do.  But if you think your artist friends are just dreaming madly into the night sky – hopefully you’ll think twice about that and possibly offer them a cupcake and some tea. Be kind to your artist friends! And Artists – be kind to yourselves! Remember – every little step helps -every blurry photo – every wrong note – every writer’s block – with every mistake, you learn –  with every mistake you are moving forward.

Prickly pear of the sea

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In preparation for my twilight years – when I will unceremoniously drop – and later, without rhyme or reason, unabashedly pick up the telling of a story again…I will now continue my tale about inspiration. (see last week’s post entitled The blue lizard…excellently crafted moment of self-promotion…check!).      

Picture it, Sicily 1931…OK…had a Golden Girls moment there for a sec. (twilight years and all, see)      

Inspiration, she’s a tricky bugger. The hunt, the capture, the grossly self-indulgent gloating afterwards is made effortless by the subject matter at times. When the world you inhabit is filled to the very brim with dazzling colours, shapes, jazz-hands! (hehe…figuratively speaking of course)…and yes critters…it is nigh on impossible to suffer a bout of photog-block (kinda like writer’s block…but it rhymes better).      

The first 18 + an additional 4 years later down the road of my life were spent in paradise. At my doorstep I had at my disposal, a veritable cornucopia of fauna and flora…jewel-hued sugar birds (humming birds) performed aerial stunts outside my diningroom window over breakfast, whales splashed and whooshed plumes of air and spray into the star-filled sky, lulling me to sleep at night. Following their own mysterious and at times inconvenient schedule, the baboons would descend upon our garden, leaping from the tall, peaked roof in reckless abandon into the fig tree’s laden branches…sending my dog into an indignantly undignified and futile frenzy.      

What's purple and yellow and potters around on millions of suckers for feet?

 

My playground was dotted with sea anemones, nodding in rockpools like agreeable crayola flowers, and spiny starfish and punk rock sea urchins decorated every nook and cranny of the fertile and salty seascape.  The sky was huge and deeply blue, the waves resounding and frothy white.      

Parading on a rock ledge, the urchins gleam like predatory brooches

 

Gosh – notice the past tense up there?? To reassure you…it is all still there…this rose-tinted Utopia of my youth…I am the one in past-tense (no…not dead and blogging from beyond the grave…just across an ocean).      

So…whenever I have the occasion to make my much-anticipated pilgrimage back to the homeland…I capture even the most pedestrian detail of life. I suspect my folks reckon my brain has been irredeemably addled by lack of clean sea air and an over abundance of snow and smelly city…as in years gone by, I would never have gone sprinting for my camera bag at a sighting of a green grasshopper on the patio. I would simply have greeted him politely and implored my late, great cat to kindly refrain from making a snack of the poor fellow.      

Gorgeously green grasshopper graces...patio? Crap...lost it at the end there

 

I see you!

 

Now, today I make my home in an equally majestic place…but decidedly more subdued in terms of its local critteridge (nice…rather proud of that mangled word-ly creation). Few things come spiny or bright purple (of their own volition) in the animal kingdom here. But, to my delight…the birds dress up like Michael Jackson – sporting red shoulder patches! The hornets resemble sharp corner chevrons on the road (am I speaking foreigner again?…many apologies), and the larger beasts sport comically bulbous noses and outsized furry tiaras on their proud heads.      

The fact is though – as in a family with two offspring – one being the loud-mouth clown who dances a lively jig on the furniture of an evening, and the other being the nice sprog who vacuums its own room and thanks you for the clean clothes – the clown gets the attention.      

Therefore, the task at hand is: Look harder, be open to the possibilities, and sprint like the blazes for the camera bag when the MJ birdies parade across the lawn! And the dastardly snow and frost…is made beautifully ethereal and oh so photogenic by the rays of the rising sun.      

The autumn sun burns the frost away, leaving bedazzled blades in its warming wake

 

Project of the week pour moi…with a spot of luck I will furnish you with delightful captures of aforementioned feathered pop-star impersonators and any manner of lovely things.

Innocuous beach chair

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Aaah, now…already a promise broken (one I made to myself). Thought was…this blogging endeavour being so pleasurably diverting – surely nothing would impede me from polluting this space with excessive amounts of thoughts and ideas – ramblings so numerous that they’d barely be worthy of sharing. Alas, last week happened…with nary a word contributed by yours truly.

Now that I am back in the proverbial saddle – what to share? My first entry spoke of my artistic passions, and the longing I feel to spend my days positively reveling in my art – making figurative snow angels and sand castles with it – all the while earning some decent cash for my troubles!

This week, how about I try to unpack a related topic: Topics…subject matter…things if you will! If you do perchance recall my first entry, you’d know that I am a photog. What we essentially do – after stripping out the artistry of controlling aperture, shutterspeed, ISO, composition and timing – is record things in a moment in time. What to shoot seldom seems a problem (on that later)…what to share is the tougher nut to crack at present.

You see, the most readily available subject matter remains my extended family with our rampaging horde of sproglets. The wee ones know…when FStop10 visits…you either make tracks, or you relent to the incessant snapping and blithely proceed with the serious business of eating cake, swimming or standing on your head. Some of my best work features a certain 4-year old.

The dilemma – do I share those images here? I have encountered a few exceptionally fascinating bloggers that use the space to not only discuss their families, but to showcase their very lives in prose and images on the internet. Is that for me…mmm, yet to decide.

So…while I wrestle that thought into submission…here is a perfectly innocuous chair!

Perhaps it would be prudent to continue to share images that I made, that do not include people. A challenge, you say?!  I heartily accept. For my next trick…

Thoughts?

A baboon on the roof

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It would be a crying shame to veer completely off the engaging and relevant train of thought sparked by my illustrious fellow floggers (first time bloggers…just trying the word…I know, I am ignoring the “t”…but it just doesn’t fit!…now I am wondering if it sounds rude, mmm).

So I won’t…veer off that is. I like ellipses…you will get to know that about me…

Anyhoo…career choices and all the various considerations that go along with that topic occupy my addled mind daily. Like John Malkovich, my brain has a 9th and a half floor (in my case this is where the slightly off thoughts go to procreate). And though my anxiety does not take the form of a walrus (fabulous imagery inkling7)…it does do an admirable job of turning my plump and shiny creative drive into a raucously deflating whoopee cushion, taunting me with self-doubt and derision! Is my art good enough? Can I monetize my passion? Which one of my lovingly fostered obsessions is most marketable. (the one I can charge the most for, of course!) Oy!

Luckily for me, the clear winner in that dubious contest is an abiding, lifelong preoccupation of mine. (I will expand on my beginnings in a later post) I am almost afraid of admitting what it is…as every man and his dog claims the same pastime as their own. Somehow the proliferation of this art form makes it difficult to admit to doing it – for fear of being lumped into some mediocre, pedestrian, meh group of blahness. I make images…with an SLR…I am a photographer.  (and yep…my name, if you know about aperture, is kind of messed up…there is no fstop 10 – it just sort of happened, OK!)

It isn’t my day job…yet? (I am so excited…I have successfully pulled Sachin and inkling7’s musings into my first contribution. Holy, preamble!

So, to clearly state my humble intentions – due to my walrus (© inkling7)/whoopee cushion conundrum – I would love to use this space to share my art…with you. Instinct kicks in and I feel compelled to blurt out an excuse about not being a pro, or utter “I know I am probably not worthy, but!” That would do a disservice not only to me, but to the bravery of my co-conspirators (gave up on the word floggers…it definitely sounds dirty!).

In our midst here we have the brave and inspiring muso (who puts the B in our blog at the very least!), an undercover creative writer (who I am yet to meet, but am confident is a genuine mensch) and our courageously thoughtful (yes I know it is another word for brave…but inkling7 is that too!) writer and philosopher and all round tremendous individual. And photog (me) makes 4.

My first share: An image I am rather pleased with. I took this with my 70-300mm lens, from across the road. He was sitting on my neighbour’s roof…surrounded by his marauding troop. These guys raid the gardens and kitchens of any house in their path. Their only there for the snacks though…no one usually gets hurt. (unless an idiotic human makes the wrong move)

Guarding the troop is tiring work – and my choppers can be pretty threatening!

My thanks…