Posts Tagged ‘Duke Kahanamoku’

Respect for the Subject

Friday, February 17th, 2012
Home Base

Home Base

Respect narrowly defined, is examined here in this Wiki link.

One of the key elements for a creative in a study of any sort, is respect of subject. But here is the twist. One has to respect one’s self first. If that aspect is not nailed to the floor of a soul, the oft times hidden elements of a subject, may never reveal themselves to an artist.

Perspective

Perspective

But once those things do become apparent, it is self knowledge that allows for us to pick accurate lanes whereby we may expose, illuminate, and from where I stand as a human being, elevate our chosen subject, for all the world to see. It is in our own self discovery that there lies great success in communicating people, places and things that frequently, are so special and precious, a more casual observer, in this hectic, ” rush to see what lies over the horizon, modern contemporary culture”, would completely miss otherwise.

JOY

Joy

So how does this tenet come to abide within us? How do we learn to walk in respect, while still getting our probing and often intrusive job done? Easy really. You put SELF, last.

For those of you who know me or my life and work very intimately, you get that I have complete disdain for selfishness, especially within the realm of basic Commercial Photography. I truly believe what we do to be simple. So if that is the case, we ought never to be on stage. But ALWAYS out of sight. Our job is about servitude.

Chumash Maiden

Chumash Maiden

I learned something very important working in Motion Picture as a set stills photographer. Always stay out of the talent’s eye line. Of course, that is easier for me, being 5’5″. I dress for the background we shoot in. Blimp my camera, or use longer lenses if it is possible for me to stay out of the set’s staging area. I just follow the DP, and the shooting script.  I do my job. Document. Iconize the peak moments of a scene. Simple really. For some people.

When I came into Photography and Film making, I had a conversation with Editor Jeff Divine after he had given me my first cover. At the time, I had closed my rather high profile Company and stepped out of both Radio and Television Broadcast work, having just turned down the opportunity to be a co host on a Nationally Syndicated talk show. I was done being looked at. So I figured, what better place to hide than behind the camera?

Blossom

Blossom

Jeff knew what I was working towards. I confided to him that I disliked the attention I had received from the latest cover shot, and like a distressed and somewhat selfish child of a budding imaging creative, I complained. “You know Jeff, I only chose Photography because I reckoned that I could become anonymous. I just wanted it to be about someone else finally, and not be at the head of everything” Jeff looked at me and with that soft smile of his, shook his head and said “It is going to be far worse than anything else before in your life David. What were you thinking?”

Well he was sort of right. But just sort of. I doubled down on my efforts to remain anonymous. I even went into stock Photography production in signing a contract with burgeoning Commercial giant Corbis Images, where I figured that surely in a stable of great names, alive and dead, whose work was being pushed to the fore, I could just disappear. But all that did was raise the bar.

Having been a competitive athlete and businessman, I found myself just slowly one upping my colleagues. And they liked that. In fact, I think we all shoved each other along. Great names in stills and motion picture imaging. People who I had read of and whose  works I had admired all my life.

But in being around those great creatives, I noticed something about them. They NEVER let it be about THEM. They walked in respect, for themselves and as a result, elevated the myriad of subjects which comprised their daily lives. I will never forget the day that Steve Davis, Corbis VP, looked a bunch of us in the eyes in a meeting, and said something which changed my perspective permanently. “You all have the opportunity to chose anything in the world to shoot and communicate. We will even help you do it. There is nothing or anyone that is off limits. However, choose very carefully, because your choices will become what you are.

I have thought about that meeting often over the years. It is pretty amazing what I get to film, and who I get to live with on a daily basis, and what the world reveals to me.

But none of it would ever have meant a thing really, were it not for respect.

I read something recently, said by Duke Kahanamoku about himself. It resonated for me.

“Out of the water, I am nothing. ”

As creatives, we all need to realize that aside from what we examine and build, that without the flow and respect which comes from an intimate understanding regarding the nature of our subject(s), ALL of our work is nothing. It should be something. But more than that, what we do should elevate our subjects, and motivate, and propel all forward.

Creativity is Love is Creation.

Go do that.

Respect.

Watch what happens.

That is your job. It is life to a Creative.

Indonesian Dream

Indonesian Dream

 

As an aside. Each one of the images in this blogpost is an abject lesson on Respect and has a great story behind it. Feel free to ask me about any of them some time. You may be surprised at what you learn.

USCG K 38 Rescue boat operator class

USCG K 38 Rescue boat operator class

Aloha oe.

 

Ethics in Environmentalism, Citizenship and Stewardship

Monday, October 25th, 2010
A New Wave to Wipe You Out

A New Wave to Wipe You Out

A new wave is breaking.

There has been a lot of change afoot for me, and there were a few things I had been avoiding acting on.  Those subjects called for much research and thought. They have been on my plate repeatedly lately.

In one circumstance, I had to take a close look at an environmental group which some friends had created many years ago, for the purpose of preserving beach and ocean access. The group, Surfrider Foundation, has done an amazing amount of good work, and I have assisted it by various means, since its inception in the mid 80s.

The past several years have seen me sort of look the other way, (after I was politely ignored) in pointing out what I thought to be some rather serious misdeeds. I won’t get into those, because that is unfair.  I simply disagreed with the circumstances and events, which I was cognizant of having occurred.

After much consideration (months) I penned a manifesto of sorts and circulated it amongst my friends and colleagues, which may make me “the enemy” in their eyes. I dislike hurting people. So I tend to be very slow to act on some things. But that tenet (distaste for inflicting harm) just came back and forced me to do and say something. Many of these people are life long friends and confidants. I wanted, no, needed, to be clear.

Surfrider has joined with a Govt agency (NOAA)  and implemented actions which I see as completely opposite of those it started out with.

Here are two separate links from SR’s websites. They explain in the organization’s own words, a bit more regarding a current trend they are engaged in.

In fact, this is being endorsed by the President. Here is the link.

It reads as something good. It is not. If you believe it is, then you may want to consider that both the MMS and EPA (Govt agencies) were in charge of regulating the drilling projects on the Gulf Coast. I am assuming you now know the part they played in contributing to the disaster, and assisting in it, with the implementation of massive usage of Corexit. Some call it the “crime of the century”.

I disagree with assisting in this. On every level. Hence this blog. The ocean is something I take very personally, as I do regarding my obligations to my friends.

Keep in mind that I was right there when this group started, and have supported them in various ways throughout the years. That is a lot of support, and a lot of years.

I realized,  what has been quietly eating at my insides, is that what I do requires me to listen to everybody. When, as a result of listening, a situation arises that forces me to actually DO something, I am no longer a Photographer or Journalist. I have become something else. It is very uncomfortable for me, and I hate how it makes me feel. But to say and do nothing instead, is amoral when one believes a wrong is being committed against innocents. What is being acted on now by our Government, and being promoted by the Environmental Community, will alter the rights and freedoms of all future generations of ocean users.

Often, change and ethics shifts occur in the merest of increments, and one does not realize the ship has actually turned around and is heading the wrong way.

After many years of  informal efforts to input the process, I have found that the group is determined to keep people out of the ocean. Something I want no part of, in any way.

They believe it is for the good of the ocean. It may be.

Below is an excerpt from the manifesto which I sent to my editors, close friends and colleagues in August of 2010.

“My position basically, is that I want no Government regulation of my access to the Ocean or any of my activities in it, when those activities are already thoughtful, informed and benign, long term.

I believe that if you think Government is here to help the environment, that you are seriously misinformed. If you look closely at the recent episode in the Gulf, it points at exactly what one needs to realize: The system is not working. When something is broken, you do not give it more responsibility, weight and money. You stop.

As someone who has worked with the regulatory control system in the development of laws and regulations for industry in California, I think that this entire movement, to place a relatively healthy ocean under increased lockdown to the public, is a sham. It is regulating and controlling the wrong thing: YOU.

When organizations such as Surfrider were formed, it was written into the charter that they existed to preserve beach and ocean access. Someone may have rewritten the charter, as SR is now not only endorsing the MLPA, but has worked with NOAA to implement public access sanctions behind the scenes. One need only look as far as the banning of PWC’s in the Monterey Bay Santuary.

Here is another revealing link to a piece published by the San Luis Chapter of Surfrider. I am going to point out here, that they agree with surf rescue usage of PWC’s , but as this rule is applied in real life, the rescue community is NOT allowed to train or practice anywhere in the Santuary nor will be.  So the liability for the people behind the legislation should someone die as a result, is rather high. I will not bother to point out every one of a huge number of inaccuracies in the document as arguing is pointless at this time. I am done trying to push the square peg of reason into the round hole of prejudice and prurient interest

Modern Day OutlawModern Day Outlaw

It is my position that the current path in implementation of the MPLA and other future acts, are going to violate all of our Constitutional Rights, and in the long run take away the freedoms many of you have enjoyed as an ocean going clan.

As a native, and as an American, I urge you, fellow leaders of your own groups and tribes, to do your own research and make up your own minds on the correct course of action for your groups and your families. That you study and not blindly follow, is the only way any of this will ever change.”

What Aloha Actually Says

What Aloha Actually Says

The Kumulipo. The reason this Hawaiian will not surrender his Ocean.

Here is the historic background to the Kumilipo.

If you think Government agencies like the MMS and EPA are efficient and good representatives of your group,  great,  fall in. I do not see it that way, based on my experiences in industry, as a waterman, a member of the Rescue Community, and a conscientious, sentient human being.

I cannot, in good conscience, endorse something I believe to be wrong on so many levels.

I believe we are at the edge of the dawn of a new era, and that it looks like more low benefit to high cost modus, which may cost future generations access to the beaches and oceans. Benefits? Yes there are some. Just not for you.

My answer is a simple “no”.

Below is a gallery of every day ocean activities. I endeavored to inject some History in the edit.  Some of these may become “illegal” soon. Some already are, in places where the MLPA has been implemented.

I anticipate Civil Rights violation lawsuits to arise. Dawn of a new age, where you will need legal representation to enforce your “inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Do those words sound familiar?

Every Ocean user and American needs to read this carefully. You will be stunned. I was. This is in it and is a reference to what tyranny our forefathers fled in coming to America. I was stunned.  There it was. History repeating.

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

Does that describe something familiar?

Agenda 21. What we see is possibly attributable to this.

The Story of STUFF. Informative enlightenment, in an entertaining albeit alarming story.

This is how we fix things. A related blog post by Seth Godin



What is Surfing: Fifty Views

Thursday, June 18th, 2009
The Chant

The Chant

Each day lately, begins with me wading though the e mail file. Today I opened a newsletter from an organization which I support, by lending them usage of some of my images. The subject header was “International Surfing Day”.  A “Cool, we have our own day”  impulse when I pressed the “read” icon, rapidly transitioned to less than kind  post read thoughts.

The newsletter yielded the cyber floor to a new surf magazine editor from Orange County who I had never heard of, and who communicated his chronologically and geologically biased adolescent view of what Surfing is.

But it occurred to me, that maybe Surfing could be many unique things to a diverse cross section of humanity. It is something equally valid to an  OC based ex pro surfer, as well as a neophyte hick from Wisconsin. Each holds a view that could be considered authentic, when taken in the context of a more grand perspective of the sport.

But what is Surfing?  I mean at it’s core? In his youthful myopia the editor had innocently posed that question for me, even if my first response had been indignation.

So here goes. Fifty views of what Surfing is.

One: Surfing is old.  Surfing is actually not a young sport. It’s youth is only in relation to it’s existence in Western culture, where when compared to other sports, its age being within this century, it is relatively young. Surfing is ancient. It was part of the animistic religion of Polynesian culture, and when taken in it’s full context,  had several cultural purposes in addition to it’s spiritual parallels.

It was integral to the maintenance of an oligarchal social Caste system. Wave riding was used as a means of demonstrating skill, the end purpose being to establish dominance within the tribe and of course to that end, it was a means of courtship. When a woman chose to ride a wave with a man who had demonstrated his mastery, she in effect selected him as a sexual partner ( the Polynesians were polyamourous) and it was on, shortly thereafter. There you had it. The first surf contest, and the prize. One can see why Calvinist and Mormon Missionaries discouraged the pastime so fervently.

It always strikes me as humorous when I look at modern day professional surfing for those reasons. (Yes, I knew about this when I surfed for a living) It cracked me up then, too. My ex wife used to comment about modern pro surfing and the lack of women in the boys club,and always alluded to it being a guise for latent homosexual urges. (Hey don’t shoot me, we divorced, remember?)

Two: Surfing is Educational. By forcing one to become intimately acquainted with the sea, surfing places you in harms way. I love Darwinism. Natural selection is the best thing in the world in its equanimity. In the ocean you either begin to catch on right away, or you scurry out of that liquid embrace with all the speed of that cat you tossed in your parents bathtub. It has an interesting affect, the sea. It piques your curiousity and challenges, which causes one to acquire and marshal all the diverse talents needed to be a surfer, or it scares you, and you leave. Flight or fight. Facing fear. Seeking knowledge. Knowledge and its sibling, Understanding, work together to erase fear. Surfing teaches that lesson well.

I love teaching people to surf. Love it. What I do is remove the mystery. I make the person understand that there is nothing that can hurt them, then I stay with them. I make catching those first waves simple using an old push from behind trick where you push the neophyte rider into the wave, but implement a modern twist where you hold on to both rails of the board and stabilize it, all the while giving any direction necessary. I am always calm in the ocean, so that is what I communicate. I start out using my ability as their crutch but eventually the new surfer realizes they have a grip on it all and off they go.  The loss of me as crutch is seldom noticed as they glide along on their own. It is a happy moment when that occurs.

All surfers love communicating surfing. For us it is the golden handshake that we know can transform and beautify a life and translates back into a better social fabric ultimately.  One of my favorite students was a cowboy. Within ten minutes of instruction, I was back on the beach and watched this guy who had never been in the ocean before stand up, ride a wave to the sand, pick up the board, walk to where I stood and say: “Hey that was easy”   “Umm never in the ocean before ever?” I had asked again.  “Nope, but I did race supercross for a long time, and the balance thing is sorta like that, so I just did what you told me. Easy.” This cowboy was a master of motion balance. His name is Jeff Sober and he ran an oil company and hailed from Wyoming. The memory still gives me a smile.

Three: Surfing is expression. It can mean a myriad number of things and conforms to each person and where they are in their lives. It relates to a person spirit, soul and body as it challenges on all three levels. You confront the unknown with each go out. You learn a new world. Your experience is entirely unique and grows more rewarding continually as the accumulation of experience and knowledge begets understanding and allows you to go further eternally. It is the ultimate Pavlovian response example. Good doggie, here is your treat. Or bad doggie, back to the beach with you. It’s methods are basal. It is infinitely expressive.

Four: Surfing is addicting. The exhilaration of the chase, the acquisition and the ride,  yet all that is left as the wave ebbs is the knowledge you are left with. To get more, you must paddle back out. So you do, because you thirst for it.

Five: Surfing is giving. It defines that basic principal of the universe, it gives health, wisdom, understanding, compassion, judgement.  Surfing gives.The most easy going people that I know, albeit the most driven in other ways, are the best surfers. They know who and what they are and how they got there.
I have met and hung with a lot of the best. They really are.

I recently read a great book on a superior waterman. It is here at Legendary Surfers. I find it funny that he and I were both born in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Tom Blake got it. Do you?

A great example of surfing and surfers giving back is Paul Jenkin. His new film trailer Watershed Revolution is here. . Paul gets it. His blog is here.

Six: Surfing is funny. One of the most eloquent expressions of indignation at the rape of a sport that I ever viewed was in the master actor Sean Penn’s sarcastic portrayal of the San Fernando Valley surfer in the cult classic film Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Sean, being from the Malibu- Santa Monica coast had grown up around surfing and had developed his character in the film to satirize all that irked him about the transient surf population which attempted to decide for him what was cool and what was out. His pot saturated idiotic innocent iconoclastic character, Jeff Spicoli, served for over a decade as popular mainstream cultures view of what a surfer was. The brilliance in this was not lost on real surfers. Something to be said for authenticity.

What the performance said was that surfers are idiots. They need to be medicated. They are hedonistic thrill seekers with no future. Sean being a brilliant student of his craft and a surfer,  had manipulated popular culture in his portrayal. Okay dude, cmon down to the beach, I am an idiot and I rock. It’s a funny baiting of popular culture. We all know how it ends when someone does come down to the beach. The education begins rather promptly. To me Sean is surfing and is likely still laughing. The uninitiated to this day still use the expletive “Dude” when attempting to communicate an understanding of surfing and popular culture.  Yes surfing is funny. So particularly are surfers.  If you want to see real practical jokes just hang with a surfer, or watch Sean Penn in that film. It is just who we are.

Seven: Surfing is brilliant. The light it shines on where you are in your life and what is important and it’s ability to reset and restore a person’s defaults thereby bringing them back to an equable place is genius. All you PC users should relate. System locks up? Turn it off. Then back on. It is the last ditch line of defense and can get you back in the game.

Eight: Surfing is smart. It encourages the ability to think laterally and come up with creative solutions. One of the first questions being: “How can I order my life so that I can stay near the ocean?” has given birth to the action sports industry, and countless successful small businesses. You would be surprised at who surfs, or is in some way forever married to the ocean by virtue of having at some point embraced the activity. A great example of lateral thinking as related to marketing is here by the folks from Rusty.

Nine: Surfing is eternal. It explains flow and the cyclical nature of life and ourselves. It speaks to the inner man of who and what we are and comforts us in the communication of the knowledge of our destination.

Ten: Surfing is bliss. Ask any surfer what his most amazing moment was and he will tell you about a wave. Look at them. You can see it in their eyes.
Bliss.

Eleven: Surfing is Understanding. It leads you to a higher intellectual and moral ground.

Twelve: Surfing is harmony. You understand harmonics and music after a while listening to an aqueous symphony. Popular culture is frequently steered by music. It is one of the fundamental occupations of tribal culture.

Thirteen: Surfing is color. Color indicates an energy signature. You really learn about what color temperature means as a photographer. But surfers see colors that the human eye, film and digital technology have the most difficult time expressing.

The remaining 37 views illustrate the old adage of a picture being worth a thousand words. Here are 37,000 words and an infinite number of emotions. When it comes right down to it, surfing is love.

The Bible of the sport these days is The Surfers Journal

What the US did in acquiring Hawaii is here It is educational in a painful way, but explains a lot about the cost of modern surfing.

Here is what surfing is to some lads in Ireland. Approximately 30 minutes of beauty: The Powers of Three from Relentless Films

My girlfriend Donna gets it. Here is an online video where she explains how a female surfer can contribute to social change through surfing and business. What do Holly Beck, Mary Osborne, Shawn Alladio, the Partridge twins, Zuri Star, Jeanette Ortiz, Asia Carpenter, and young Vanina Walsh all have in common? Betty B, Donna Von Hoesslin, the ocean.

U2 gets it. One love, one tribe, one world, one end.  An aqueous melody is here.

Seth Godin had this to say about mediocrity and boy does it apply to this post! I think that it is the issue which truly got my dander up in the first place. I am passionate about this sport my ancestors gave us. I have a low tolerance for mediocrity in it’s leaders. I am not mediocre, you are likely not either. Our leaders should be better than us.  Seth’s assessment is brilliant.

Click on any of the images within the gallery for a back story. The edit was done in ten minutes and signifies what surfing is to me, a hick from Milwaukee Wisconsin who just happens to have native blood in his veins and surfs.

Aloha

Aloha

Kawika

Kawika

Ikaika Kalama

Ikaika Kalama

Mary Osborne, Bliss

Mary Osborne, Bliss

Dan Moore, Challenge

Dan Moore, Challenge

Brendan White, Golden Carpet Ride

Brendan White, Golden Carpet Ride

Solitude in the Pulse

Solitude in the Pulse

Dane Reynolds, Phenom

Dane Reynolds, Phenom

Santa Ana Evening

Santa Ana Evening

Shane Dorian

Shane Dorian

Sean Tully, Homage

Sean Tully, Homage

Keith Malloy

Keith Malloy

Dino Ching Memorial

Dino Ching Memorial

Guy Quesada

Guy Quesada

The Boys and Jericho at Malibu

The Boys and Jericho at Malibu

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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