Archive for March, 2010

Model Models

Thursday, March 25th, 2010
House of the Waves

House of the Waves

Recently, NYC based production company Silent Crow was in Ventura. Two writers with the company happened to have connected with Donna Von Hoesslin of Betty B and learning a little bit about her female inspired Eco Fashion line. They came up with an idea.

Producer Matt Bennett showed up to do a little bit of discovery work, and honed a reality show concept that deviated from the norm, in that it endeavors to look at the personalities and lives of the women in both my and Donna’s lives. Silent Crow named the show Bonafide.

Donna and I have long exchanged working relationships with people who we see as unique, and able to be involved in both the editorial market, and branding process, both for the model as a product, and for Betty B’s unique, ethics based, Fashion accessories line. The Betty Blog is here.

What Matt discovered is that each one of these women is a story unto themselves. Tricky thing to formuate a show upon. I just saw the teaser reel that Silent Crow Produced, and that I contributed footage and stills to. I think they get it. Not an easy thing to do, getting something that is a world unto itself.

Hailey and Sierra Partridge are two of the girls who were not involved in the show pitch per se. Recently a potential new supporter of theirs, Tonic, asked to use a couple images of the girls for branding purposes on their website.

What ensued for me, was a look through the girl’s files that began with a shoot for Betty B in Santa Cruz when they were about 16. Images from that first shoot went into a multitude of publications. Donna had simply shown me a cold pitch the twins had sent in and asked; “What do you think?”

“Duhhh yea”, was my first response. “Beautiful twins, athletes, and self motivated? What is the question?”

Sierra, Winnie, Hailey

Sierra, Winnie, Hailey

But what I discovered in the course of my years traveling and shooting with these young women, was something special. Having a rough go as life started for them, (They were basically born blind) the two daughters of Santa Cruz waterman Rym Partridge, and his wife Winnie, a career flight attendant, weathered the waters of Nor Cal, the alpha male environment of Santa Cruz, and tutelage of their Dad (Think gnarly. Better than you, better than me), to become waterwomen.



As they engage college, they have had a high bar for life and ethics set for them by the family, which has a history of not only strong nurture, but strict ethical and moral compass headings. Rym’s stories of outback charity work which began in the poor parts of Hawaii, and has taken him all over the world (he is a Dentist by trade), set a certain level of expectation for the young ladies.

Rym riding Rym's Reef. 65 years old.

Rym riding Rym’s Reef. 65 years old.

Then there is Donna, and the incredibly competitive group of women who are the core of Betty B’s brand identity. Not an easy act to join, as each person is an entity unto themselves. They are sort of the anti team. But then again, surfing is an anti sport: a renegade, self oriented, lifestyle.

I find it interesting, as I look back on the thousands of images that the girls and I have produced, that I never saw two lanky blond beauties, I only saw sentient, kind people, who happened to be great athletes, and a certain potential. Shadow of their parents.

Betty B, Hobie Sports, K 38 Rescue, Oneill Intl, Ocean Minded, and countless editors, have supported and published this work. It gets pretty entertaining when certain fashion magazines come up with “great ideas”,  then use the girls in them, right down to my art direction items, like the Red Ford Bronco we used in one of our Hobie shoots. (Hey I have a great idea)  There is a reason for me hanging with who I do. I have a low tolerance for insincerity, and a penchant for authenticity. Real is valuable, and life is far better than fiction ever could be.

This edit illustrates a best case example of why I tend to to keep my subjects with me over time. The work becomes vital.  We learn. We have fun. And authenticity? Well, they are the real deal. This is all them. I just pose suggestions which my career and vision allow for. If someone will not push the edge of their comfort zone continually, they will really learn to hate me in short order. But if they do have that desire, what an adventure occurs.

Model models for me, as they are the anti models: they are real.

Another one of Donna’s talented women, is singer songwriter Zuri Star. She has this to say. “You Don’t Know Me”

“Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what people think you’ve got.” ~Sophia Loren

The following gallery is a cross section of some of our work together. Click on any of the images for a larger view.


Sunday, March 21st, 2010
Matillija Spring

Matillija Spring

I was cameraless this week. It was great. Sort of. Okay, maybe not completely cameraless. I still had four 35mm stills film bodies, three mini DV cameras, and five high speed film motion cameras, all sitting on the shelf, along with the water housings for those. But I loaned my Canon 5DM2 system out and sold my Rebel T1i, in preparation for buying the new RebelT2i. (Wow, that Rebel was so new it had only seen 3000 frames before the new one was released.)

Canon (along with Apple) has been blowing my mind the past few years. We spoke, they obviously listened.  The application of technology and digital imaging, has created the ability to produce massive amounts of content. But this creates some big questions:

Where does that content go? What makes yours special? Does your content meet that unspoken, and often unseen bar of international standards?

A career is a function of time. Effort is applied and what comes out these days, is useable digital content-data. You can convert that pliable data into a variety of projects in short order.

I had an e mail tet a tet with photographer Brian Nevins this week about post production. Brian and I both share a bar that is similar for our work and subjects. “Hey Brian, how is your post production list looking?” Answer:“Oh hopeless. I just seem to keep getting further behind.” We cyber groaned in unison.

Right now, I have 7 stills shoots and 6 motion picture projects, in various stages of post production. More work is being thrown my way daily. I must be very careful, or I will find myself homeless with probably one of the most phenomenal collections of stills and motion imagery that I could ever imagine.

Why? Production is shifting. Usages are changing. Now, more than any time in History, publishing is having a demand to screen content placed upon it, that is heavier than ever. Everyone who owns a camera is a “photographer” and those voices, they all scream out “Look at me”, often without really knowing that, um, maybe you may not want to do that.

Of course some get through on occasion, by virtue of salesmanship and persistence. You can see some amazingly low bar crap go to print, web, TV, Theater or Gallery. But over all, the access to the market that the web affords and which shifts in demand have created, offers the potential to embarrass one’s self globally in a very short period of time. But what this also does, is make the truly great work stand out. A lot is on the line for publishers these days as many companies teeter. Edit staff can annihilate a publication’s value in a very short period of time.

The market is not stupid, though it can be naive. It self levels.

Authenticity, now more than ever, is the most valuable of commodities, along with content quality and validity.

Seth Godin writes here about the slush pile. That great pool of self spawned, unsolicited content. It is one of the better things I have read about being a creative, as it describes a bar, direction and potentiality measure, for content creators.

So back to my post production I go. 60 hours down this week, in front of the large 32” monitor I use. The surf was pumping. Offshore and warm. Spring has arrived overnight. Weird yet perfect for us, as this weather and swell combination combination rarely occurs this time of year. I got six calls to shoot the last few days, and wanted to.

“Sorry I loaned my cameras out” was my soft answer. Clickety clack goes the keyboard. “Save as” was selected in Photoshop about 1500 times and “Render” hit, in Final Cut, a lot. Whew. Life choices in the click of a mouse.

Here is a  piece of music which a close friend sent along. The message in it struck a deep chord with me. Southern Cross. If you read through the gallery descriptions, you may figure it out. It is descriptive of our lives, she and I. It may be said of many whose lives tie to the sea.  I cherish my friends.

The gallery below is illustrative of Spring, Diversity, and Authenticity. Click on the images for a larger view and description, if you like.

Earth Angel

Friday, March 5th, 2010


angel |ˈānjəl|
1. a spiritual being believed to act as an attendant, agent, or messenger of God.

“So let the Earth give testimony.”

I was raised in Santa Barbara. Most of my earliest and therefore strongest influences, were based on my native Hawaiian Culture’s perception of man’s place in the world, and the catch all of SB culture’s budding eco consciousness, and the science based tenets of our University and College.

But one of the most basic of principals, and something upon which my work is founded, came not from my social and cultural mores, it actually was planted in me at conception. No one really understands how life generates. For lack of any more accurate descriptive terminology, we call the impetus that creates life, the hand of God.

Man is unique in all that walks, swims and flies the Earth. He has a level of power to affect his environment. He is a minor architect fashioned in facsimile to a grand Architect. It is why we are so cognizant of beauty, and as our culture grows away from its native tribal roots, where we lived close to the land, this beauty can serve to bring our attention back to our primary essence. That is a very important aspect to having a healthy culture and society.

We reside in the most complex of systems. Recently, man has developed a computer that has exceeded the computational power of the human brain. We are capable of affecting Spaceship Earth either in a positive, or negative manner on a greater level than ever before in our history.

We parachute into this spinning, wonderous blue ball, and become someone.

Then we leave, small and great.  Each one of us has that in common.

The Earth was made for us. As a citizen of this place, residing in a country whose very Constitution recognizes the tenet of being under God, I have a great respect for our responsibility to reflect and nurture through stewardship, this amazing planet.

But here is the really great thing about this place: it goes on, whether we affect it positively or not. That is how God designed it. The Earth gives a living testimony to His Sovereignty.  Science bases much on the Law of Entropy, which is the progression of things towards disorder. Mankind is one of the only creatures that I am aware of, that can actually have some affect on Entropy, yet true affect is relatively minor, when put in a global scale, or geological timeline, for humanity.

But whether we choose to act as responsible passengers or not, the spaceship will arrive somewhere some day, with an entirely new crew.  So what is important to you? How do you fit in? What is your role?  In a season, there will be new flowers growing. Each a blossom unto itself.

Here is a link to a demo reel that I did awhile back. It is very illustrative of our Earth.

It pays to know who is in charge.  All the rest is just the short strokes.

U2 and Greenday: Getting it done. The saints are coming. And if that was not enough. Eno and U2 with One. Amazingly on point.

David Fortson of Loatree motivated this post. He is a catalyst for change and sustainable thinking.



Click on any of the images in the Gallery for a larger view. I did this edit as an Earthday Homage. It is a sliver of what I see, in any given moment, in my passage on this ship.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.