Archive for July, 2009

Organic Reprisal

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Awash on Bali

Awash on Bali

We leave the troubled shores of the US soon, for the exotic environs of Indonesia where Donna Von Hoesslin’s creative muse lies, on the Isle of Bali. We are a tightly knit crew, who all will donate time and our own efforts in a collaborative endeavor to contribute to something that matters, and in the process, create something beautiful and compelling.

The excursion will be a little different than Donna’s usual solo pilgrimage to her mecca of creativity and harmonic bliss. This time she brings along a group of young women whose names have become synonymous with her Ventura based fashion accessory company, Betty Belts-Betty B.

The group will experience the process of design and symbiosis that occurs between US and Balinese culture through the sustainable philosophy of Donna’s eco based product line.

Taking an ensemble of beautiful, talented young women, and throwing them into the chaos, mayhem and exotic allure that is this ancient Hindu based culture, will launch the crew on a voyage of discovery, designed to acquaint the uninitiated with what really goes on behind the scenes in developing the humanitarian ethics of this unique company, whose product line is emblazoned with the names of an extensive collection of powerful and talented women.

Myself, and film makers Aaron Marcellino, and Jason Wolcott will take the viewer on a richly textured, exotic and visceral look at Balinese culture, that examines the impact one woman’s personal vision can have on two very separate worlds as we produce a film, magazine feature work, and art.

So off to Bali we go soon, where we will get to spend time with David Booth (see one of his projects here), whose East Bali Poverty Project transforms the world by educating one child at a time, one village at a time, in the remote communities of Bali. David changes the world through his vision of implementing sustainable solutions. We are blessed that he has invited us to contribute.

Mary Osborne, Jeanette Ortiz, Hailey and Sierra Partridge are physically very attractive women. But having traveled and trained with them, even doing Ocean Rescue and operations training with Shawn Alladio of K38 Rescue, I have seen them demonstrate their prodigiously considerable skills in the most stressful environments imaginable.

What the four bring to any creative and ambitious project’s table is so far beyond modeling, surfing or any of the action sport related activities that they are experts in. I would go anywhere with them and rely on them to watch over me. There are not many people in the world that I would entrust myself to. But I do them.

Seth Godin here on taking initiative.

Though I do not know exactly the nature of what will happen, I do know this, that a lot of love heads from our little corner of the world, in this unique visit to a land and people who are remarkable. We will see, and listen, and hear.

I love this. It is so this endeavor. As my friend Drew Kampion has suggested, regarding what we will produce: “Get weird”. We are about to. But then we already are. Why else would we go? Oh yea, that’s right: love.

I have tools

I have tools

Mary, Jeanette, Hailey, Sierra and Shawn ORT Graduation

Mary, Jeanette, Hailey, Sierra and Shawn ORT Graduation

Donna's Road Vision

Donna's Road Vision

Jeanette and Adam: ZDesert Shoot

Jeanette and Adam: ZDesert Shoot

Hailey, Sierra and Gidget for Hobie Swim

Hailey, Sierra and Gidget for Hobie Swim

Mary: Mexico: 40's pinup shoot

Mary: Mexico: 40's pinup shoot

Hailey in Stewart and Brown for Betty B

Hailey in Stewart and Brown for Betty B

Jeanette: Ventura Dawn

Jeanette: Ventura Dawn

Mary: For Patagonia

Mary: For Patagonia

Donna Von Hoesslin: Global Sensibilities

Donna Von Hoesslin: Global Sensibilities

The Chase

Sunday, July 26th, 2009
Siren's Serenade

Siren's Serenade

Surfing is not a sport. Not in any conventional sense. It falls into the genre of life’s laundry list of activities,¬† better described as a life style. So broad in scope, it permeates all facets of a participant’s cognitive and subconscious thought processes, to the extent that you are surfing, even when not actually riding a wave.

One of the reasons for this life style moniker is The Chase. This facet of surfing dictates that the participants be die hard, or more accurately: die never, optimists. Finding waves, developing technique,  expanding performance range, and increasing the difficulty level of ocean conditions in which a surfer feels comfy, impregnates every nook and cranny of an ocean imbued life. So when not actually eying the hook, as cool, blue-green, salty deliciousness pulls at your arms, and  the shoreward rush lifts your board aloft,  you are still surfing.

The Chase requires a level of mastery in life skills that make the average rocket scientist’s skill set look rather short. Surfing involves a subconscious management of the variables.¬† The surfer develops an ability to put them self in a precise place and instant of time, that will occur, somewhere in the future. Being good at this requires¬† prescience, self knowledge, study and faith.

Yes, faith. Possibly one of the most miss understood terms in the Western world, it is often mistaken for hope. That gaffe can be an expensive one. Simply put, Faith is when one possesses a knowledge and in turn a confidence that cannot be swayed by anything. Not wind, wave, danger, death. It is when one knows in their heart of hearts what will occur.  It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. It positions you on the cosmic GPS.  Surfers have faith.

Great surfers exhibit faith when they show up at the right beach,  on the correct tide, with perfect wind and weather and have the best swell for the break pouring in. They paddle out, place themselves in the saddle, turn and glide into that chronological apex and moment of truth called the takeoff.  My photography career was not made by my ability as a Photographer, but by my exhibition of Faith which continually places me at various points in time to experience the take off. The Chase fulfilled, ad infinitum.

Some day it will place me in the precise cross hairs for a more grand take off. I have Faith. I know this.

This week had started out with the rumor of a swell arriving from out of the distant Southern Hemisphere.¬† On the Southern ice cap, a storm had howled out into the ocean and made it’s way past the reaches of New Zealand, where in what we call the “swell window” for the Northern Hemisphere, it generated a significant energy pulse.

When that pulse hits California beaches, the waves come to shore in sets that mirror the storm’s wind gusts. The better events have long periods of flat water, with sets containing a lot of waves in them when they arrive. This creates issues for the un initiated, who may have been lured to the ocean by News reports based on what surfers call the “rumor mill”. They see flat water and think: “Oh someone has made a mistake.” They had been unwittingly set up for a lemming call of sorts. It is sad hearing the news of their struggle or death later, that the news media had helped to create.

In surf culture some  surf forecasting concerns have a history of  crying wolf, that has grown legendary among the faithful. This process keeps lifeguards in business. It also fans The Chase, among the faithless.

This last swell forecast, was accompanied by news hysteria, doing what they do: fan fear and hysteria. (White shark sighting, dangerous waves coming) This caused my voice and e mail to fill with questions about what headed our way. Funny thing fear, it is energetically diametrically opposed to creativity.

My answer was : “I did not look at the storm or do the forecast, so I do not know. But the shark, that is sort of typical. They are always there.” I was faithless on the swell. I simply had no knowledge. But when I saw the swell begin to show on the near shore Southern California weather buoys, hope dawned, that something could happen.

After three successive days of lackluster waves, in spite of a decent pulse on the buoys, I began to think that maybe this was another failed event. But then things changed. I have a large number of indicators which I learned to examine in a lifetime of engaging The Chase and approximately 12 years of freelance swell and weather forecasting, that saw me mis-cast approximately  five percent of the time in my ocean history. So I am generally faith full when I head out.

So I set out under a set of variables that I remember gave me one of my first large usage surfing images which occurred in year two of my mentorship by Surfing magazine’s Larry “Flame Moore”. In my hand was the same focal length lens I had used then, but in modern form, the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS and the revolutionary¬† 5D Mark 2.

Standing in the exact same spot as that first image occured, now 12 years older, I mimed the crabs which scuttled about the rocks in which I lingered, and stalked what I KNEW was going to occur. A few surfers which I had called, showed up as well.

Danny Moa, had hopped out into the lineup which was foreign to him, and caught two waves before the intimidation the break creates, sent him scampering to shore. All before what I knew would happen could occur. The other two surfers, well they had no faith either. This image above is a moment foretold captured. Faith knows where to stand, how to proceed and allows us to capture and not just chase, our vision.

Have Faith. Play that card. Start now.

I love U2. They have a habit of telling you just what you need to know in their music. But it requires faith to hear it.

Seth Godin writes about the application of Faith for business.

Below are a few images from what turned out to be a moderate to strong swell. It was three energy pulses actually, but in reading the telemetry from all three swell sources, I found a little Faith. Doesn’t take much. Someone great once said it could be as large as a mustard seed. They were right. The prospective faithful are Danny Moa and Lars and Hans Rathje, who I met while helping film the wonderful story Goofyfoot, by Jeff McElroy .

puup5105puu-5104

Faith

Faith

Perception

Perception

Chase

Chase

Power Surge

Power Surge

Lars: Hope

Lars: Hope

Hans: Faith

Hans: Faith

Lars, Hans: Hope Deferred

Peace

Peace

Project Cupcake

Friday, July 17th, 2009

puu-4891

What started out as a Facebook discussion on my friend West Cooke’s mad cooking skills, and his hidden away restaurant, Cooke’s Smokehouse (A couple blocks away from the location of one of my old surf shops) got a little out of hand. Funny what can inspire us to create something special. It is remarkable what can arise in both cause and affect via inspiration.

A few of us had been joking around online. Kat Merrick, Jim Scolari, Jim Rice, West, the usual multifaceted blend of community that is the town we all refer to fondly as Ventucky, our land of eclectic madness by the sea. Jim and his wife, Donna and I, wound up at Cooke’s one evening for my first visit, where we were treated to a pretty amazing, albeit calorie rich example of fire grilled meats, Hefeweizen on tap, and assorted goodies that the memory of is making me hungry, in spite of just having had breakfast.

At the end of our repast, someone mentioned cupcakes. We were full, but I remember thinking: What the heck, its only a cupcake,  and ordered two, which we shared. Those cupcakes were unlike anything I have ever experienced or tasted. They exemplified an obvious flair for creativity and generosity  in what would as a rule, be a mediocre at best, stab at the art of baking.

Those cupcakes said a lot to me about how our lives could work and what a world could be, if we found enthusiasm and creativity in our little segment of a daily existence that at times, for even the most creatively inspired, can wax mundane. We all go through it in family, work, sports, art: that “what is the point?” query.

Here is the point. When we engage our endeavors with creativity, and flair, and have it matter to us, it will make a difference somewhere down the line and matter to others. One never knows what results will spring from your diligence and attention to what is right in front of you in your life, at this exact instant.

So I went by Cooke’s after the Facebook reparte, and the promise of a cupcake from West. I picked up two very stunning pineapple upside down beauties, glistening with a pineapple reduction glaze. West had zero idea what I was up to.

Now the last time I really shot food, was quite awhile ago. The shots, for another pal of mine, wound up in a display at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. He is a great chef, and cook as well. But I had been hired to shoot some menu items for the restaurant.  The images developed legs of their own, and found a home that I would never have imagined.

I have had multiple works show in museums around the world, and not a one of those instances was by design. Some curator happened to notice a burst of inspiration that had I had been standing around holding a camera of some sort for. I simply documented the event. It serves to illustrate what can happen when you choose to engage a task alight with the realization that it should, and could, be done well. So you personalize the effort.

I took the confections home having thought about the subject, and inspired, shot cupcakes. Even had a little joke with my editor at Surfer, Jean Paul Van Swae about it (You won’t believe what I am doing JP!). The short of it is this, West’s passion for his business and love for his community birthed¬† something new, and my own homage to the source of my inspiration.

That is how we all ought to be, inspired by one another. I am constantly amazed by the bright lights in my life, and am convinced that without their illumination, contributions, enthusiasm and participation, that the world around me would be pretty freaking dark.

A young photographer, who in spite of his low key demeanor has always impressed me with his quiet inner confidence and steady rising glow, is Kyle Sparkes. His latest blog illustrates a vital aspect of the creative process in a very personal way.

Here is a great example of creativity and flair produced by TKO Media. Thanks to Al Grizwold for pointing it out. I grin at just the thought of it.

Seth Godin has an amazing ability to locate me, and you, in his daily blog. Here is what he has to say regarding cupcakes.

Think that you have nothing special to bring to the table? This quirky music video may convince you otherwise.

Go ahead, do it. I know you are stuffed.  But you will enjoy the results, and so will everybody else.

Have a bite.

puu-4932puu-4896puu-4899puu-4890puu-4912


Voice

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Lone Voice
Lone Voice

Extreme athlete Garrett MacNamara has been visiting, and we are working on a few projects. He sat next to me as I rapidly did a search for a print file that a client had requested. In ten minutes this is what I pulled out of one of this season’s file folders. I doubt many, if any eyes have seen them or hearts heard the songs these images sing. In my files they are nothing particularly unusual. So does the fact that many people do not know they exist matter? What about the other thousand or so similars? Oh, and I did NOT find the darned one that I was looking for.

What makes something or someone great? What difference does it really make? Any at all? Well maybe.  A great voice inspires, cajoles and brings along it’s audience. An artist is only placed at the front of the hall by  audience request. So is voice without audience valid? Of course it is. Determining worth is all a matter of scale and the ability and willingness of the artist and audience to interact.

To me a great image defines it’s artist. The portrait of Winston  Churchill, shot after his voice had galvanized the will of the free world, that was and continues to be, “great”.  Whose was greater?  There are several.

“As far as I am concerned, taking photographs is a means of understanding which cannot be separated from other means of visual expression. It is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one’s own originality. It is a way of life.”Henri Cartier-Bresson

Someone great will transform that lone voice in the wilderness into an arrangement that turns the members of the audience into part of the performance. One pulsing, resonant chorale that rises and falls in chromatic timbre. It is what happens when we choose to participate.

I want in. It does not matter to me which part of the hall I am to sit in.

Brian Eno and Nitin Sawhney are at the front of the room today with Prophecy.

As is usual for me lately, Seth Godin was a catalyst. So was my friend Kylie Oliver who posed the question today.  Then there is Catherine Howard, whose love of the sea motivated me.  Great voices. Sitting down now.

Garrett MacNamara
Garrett MacNamara

puu-0320puu-4080puu-4082puu-4085puu-4089puu-4094puu-4103puu-4104puu-4133puu-4506puu-4642puu-4680puu-4687puu-4645puu-4682-2puu-4699puu-6940-2puu-6964-2puu-7631puu-8899puu-8925puu-9251puu-9252puushafn0277

Crazy Is

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
Crazy co-incidence

Crazy co-incidence

as crazy does. But sometimes it is really all just a part of the ebb and flow of the creative process.

What appears to be madness on the surface or at the least,  just  a bad idea, is often the seed of something quite remarkable. I have learned to always have my ear to the wind. The song it sings may carry that which I seek.

My friend Kara Block, who is about to receive her Master of Fine Arts degree from Brooks Institute, had stopped by for a visit and to contribute to the planning of an expedition that BettyB, (Donna Von Hoesslin’s company) is making to Bali where Mary Osborne, The Partridge Twins, Jeanette Ortiz and possibly a few others will immerse themselves in Balinese culture and the process of “design through contribution” that Betty B espouses.

My phone rang several times as we chatted. Sean Tully, another MFA candidate at Cal Arts and one of my regular subjects was calling. He was trying to motivate me to pull out of my busy work day and come shoot some surfing. Now I need another great surf image like the proverbial hole in the head. But I listened anyway.

I realized that between what Kara was chatting about, and Sean saying, there was another voice emerging. It suddenly hit me.  So I closed my MacPro laptop, packed my long lens kit, Canon 5D mark2, and invited Kara to come along.  When we had turned on to the 101 freeway Sean called yet again.

An hour later, Kara and I stood on a windy beach in North LA county and Toolbox as we  call him, was paddling out into a deepening evening.  Golden streaks of light began to lace the lengthening shadows of days end on the Malibu coast. The peacefulness was shattered by the somewhat raucous voice of what appeared to be a crazy man, who walking up behind us, spurted a few questions and then proposed a shot. Kara with her back to him smiled at me. I smiled back.  It is a tack which frequently masks what I am thinking from view. I was listening to the man.

The image above was one of my first shots and exactly what he said that we should shoot. A young brown pelican gliding amongst the surfers. I did not see it. I did not plan it. I simply listened to what appeared to be a crazy old man and his rant and tacitly agreed to looking for what is hard to catch: “Yea man that would be great”. With my agreement he had left. I turned around, looked through the lens and the above frame is what I shot.

That is how my life works. It is why I listen. It is how we can be conduits of something wonderful to our world.

Just listen.

The images in this gallery are tribute to the great voices in my life. A beautiful slice of creative fruit dripping with the golden honey of several bright lights. The greatest of which, was the crazy man. Instruments in the symphony of our lives.

Evening flight

Evening flight

puu-4738puu-4742puu-4754puu-4756puu-4759puu-4763puu-4764puu-4768puu-4771puu-4773

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

home