Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Divine’

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.

 

Fifty Waves to Leave Your Lover For

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
Donna

Donna

I live in a place many consider to be California’s Gold Coast. The term conjures up images of glassy warm Winter days, and crisp blue green lines which  swell and pitch into morning light, flashing golden with a brilliance that is breathtaking and addicting as it sets an emotional hook in one’s soul.

Dolphins reflecting dawn on glistening lean muscular bodies are syncopating rhythmic reflections which dart into the pull of northwest groundswells and burst into amber flecked projectiles as energy and joy erupt in the life pulse of a distant storm,  that ebbs on the shores of this place. Their high pitched chatter and surging  wakes, massage my senses as the pod passes. A pedestrian’s view this most definitely is not. I will never tire of it. The serenade is otherworldly.

I swim manically. It is what I do. The season for taking best advantage of the unique geography and potential lighting conditions on the Gold Coast exists for maybe 4 months of the calendar year, as swell, sun angle and weather converge to create what is possibly the best natural studio in the world.

In the last 12 years of swimming each day, I have acquired maybe 20,000 wave images that made the grade and  I kept. The women in my life, well, they were hard to pull away from at O dark thirty when excitement roused me with its irresistible reveille. It is black outside and the wind chill near freezing, as air temperature cuts atmospheric haze and focuses the morning into crystalline brilliant clarity.

But I am not the first to be so plucked from warm bed and body, though I may be the most prolific. Nor will my passion, be mine alone.

Kudos to  Doc Ball, Leroy Grannis, Bruce Brown, Craig Peterson, Woody Woodworth, Scott Preiss, Greg Huglin, George Greeenough, Jeff Divine,  Alby Falzon, Mike Moir, Guy Motil, Dale Kobetich, Peter Crawford, Jack McCoy, Don King, Larry Haynes,  Flame, Aaron, Art, Sakamoto, Scott Aichner, Sean Davey, Vince Cavataio, Warren Bolster, Yuri and to everyone who everyone that goes down to the sea with a camera. They all share something transformative with us. The world can be a tough place. We will never see enough beauty or drink enough elixer from nature to transform this blue ball into the oasis it could be. But at least they tried.

Here is a great documentary done by Gregory Schell called The Far Shore. See it if you get the chance. The story documents the travels of two unique characters I had the pleasure of meeting at a slide show many years ago at Dan Johnson’s house in Santa Barbara. Just when I thought that I was getting good, one of them sent me an image just like mine, done 25 years prior. Got to love colleagues. They keep us in check. Their tone became Surfer Magazine and presaged surf travel as it exists today.

This was a fun gallery to put together. I am as humbled by my predecessors as I am by my subject. The ocean gives your heart scale.

To the newest “Best in the world”: Good luck. You will need it, swim lots, share what you see, live and learn. Seth Godin has this to say.

Here is a music piece by composer Mark Mancina, from the film August Rush. Maybe open it in a separate window and play it while you toggle through. It is a brilliant one. I have read that it took him over a year to write it.  I hope that he never stops either.

Here are fifty waves to leave a lover for. Click on the images for the back story and to enlarge them. Oh and thanks to Jason Murray, one of my editors at Surfer Magazine who pioneered this gallery concept in one of the most popular spreads that Surfer ever produced.

This was fun. I think I will do my Wiamea shorebreak and Keiki images next. (Kidding, sort of)

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

Blur

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
Adam Gray-Hayward

Adam Gray-Hayward

Remember what it was like as a child, where in your grassy yard on a Summer’s day, you held arms outstretched, tilted head back and whirled around in circles? The scenery would whiz by in an increasing blur. A fun thing to do, as you examined play options.

The whirling activity sort of is my life this beautiful spring day, with birds singing outside as the morning expands.

I am looking at a lot of things right now. One interesting piece was just sent to us by Elmar Von Hoesslin (Donna’s ex husband)  and is a creative look at his Berlin based company. I liked Elmar from the moment I met him, as he and Donna had traveled through California and stopped in to visit. This video says a lot about why. Curiously, the subjects AND the length are similar to the film that Donna and I are creating for Intuit which is titled Passages.

In addition to working on my girlfriend’s film, I have been deep in study for a project. I use books for reference. I love books and own a LOT. There is no substitute for them in the digital realm. Books require an investment in time, money and physical space. They have weight. They require a commitment that digital content examined on the computer does not. You cannot press enter or delete. They have an analog form. Sort of in the same manner as our physical bodies do. Probably why I like em.

In front of me is a book entitled Toni Frissell, Photographs 1933-1967. Toni’s work was so very diverse that I believe she would be thrown out of most Art and Photography schools today, which encourage an aspiring professional to focus on one thing. Fashion, Journalism, Portraiture, Art and yes WATER! Toni shot it all, and did it so well that she will live forever in her imagery.

As I flipped the pages, my eyes fell upon a paragraph with yellow highlighted words (a study tool I learned in school) which I had applied maybe 12 years ago on the page. The paragraph reads:

1. Catch the subject at an instant of pleasure or emotion.

2. Know your subject’s interests beforehand (highlighted)…this so you can get him or her talking, even to the point of saying something provocative to the extent of outrageousness.

3. Click your camera at typewriter speed. Film is a cheap commodity.

4. Luck-the commodity that puts one at a crucial event and the chance is given a vital instant. (highlighted)

Below in my own hand I had written these words:

Preparation breeds foresight, foresight gives birth to opportunity.

In doing my research I found the seed which gave rise to the tree bearing the fruit of my own career and in looking through her imagery once more, I found my own self. It was shocking to me,  and caused a slowing down. The whirling scenery stilled and pulled into focus.  God I love books. You cannot press delete!

The project I am designing will invite a select group of subjects on to a friend’s estate where we will spend some time on a one of a kind property which has locations that are the photographic equivalent of gems in a crown. I will have an assistant or two, a small crew, wardrobe and the new Canon 5DM2 and new RebelT1i. We will also be shooting some motion picture. It could possibly be one of the more ambitious projects that I have endeavored to do. Time will tell as the process unfolds.

These sort of loosely scripted shoots have generally been looked at askance by some of my colleagues with the possible exception of Shawn Frederick whose challenge: “You think that you can do something better than anyone else? So do it!” always rings in my psyche. So I just do, and the images without fail end up being something that rewards both myself, subject and crew in multiple ways. It is sexy, exhilarating, adventurous, artistic, wearing, emotional, fun and well, REAL. But there is zero fiscal motivation for me. It costs in that way.  It can be terrifying as you are banking the recovery of the time and money of all involved in long term return. I don’t think the IRS likes em(my shoots) either.

The imagery below is a sampling of a few in the “Because I can” genre. Friends, colleagues, special people and moments.  Some have passed on but they live in the imagery. From Academy Award winners and famous covers, to simple snapshots.  Click on any of the images for the back story and a full view. There are fifty one here.  I have a lot more.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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