Posts Tagged ‘photography careers’

Pick a Lane

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Salud Carbajal

Salud Carbajal


In life and in our Western Cultural assessment of what will inevitably amount to a rather short term existence on this blue ball, we are constantly encouraged by the status quo, to “pick a lane” for ourselves. Or at least, this was the method employed till this latest socio-economic meltdown. The concept was to attend school, move in to a field that would best suit our fiscal goals, and supply the road to our own future happiness. Each day, you were to¬† arrive at that job, and park right between the lines. Never vary that. Or face severe retribution from the system.

A lot has  changed. I will look at that a bit in the coming months.

The image above was shot a week or so ago in Santa Barbara at the Courthouse, and is my contribution to a collection of digital assets to be used in the re election campaign of Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara County Supervisor. I also shot some work for Doreen Farr and her Supervisorial campaign as well.

Speaking with them both, confirmed research done when I had vetted the job by doing some online checking and making a couple phone calls prior to taking the gig, which was with my friend and colleague Rob Dafoe, who I am a creative partner with. I found Doreen and Salud to be passionate, respectful, educated people, who possessed a compassion for their community.

Tough gig, the narrow lane of local political office. The job description itself, demands that you stay between the lines of Govt authority, yet still have daily contact with your constituency. This creates a choice. You embrace the relationship, or build a wall, a lane so to speak, and stay there. Each position has benefit, as well as risk. It really is a service position, that of local Govt Office. It was great to meet two servants and in turn serve them with my ability as an image maker.

I chose my lane in life a long time ago when I decided what I would serve. The reality is that everyone must serve something. Service begins in the heart. One does well to attend to the heart first. Out of it will come the issues of your life.

As we begin a look at this, I recall my early education in Photography. Conventional wisdom stated that you select a subject and become that. A Nature Photographer, Photojournalist, Wedding Photographer, Surf Photographer, whatever, and you parked between the lines and were that, which brought in your income. Understandable, that Philosophy. But knowing where it led, I never followed the tiny golden thread into any of those boxes. To do so always seemed flat out stupid to me. (Think rabbit in a box trap)

That is because I came to serve.

Go in to a box, and this limits both who you serve, and the ability of your own soul to thrive and grow.

As I erased the lines which defined my own existence, constantly eschewing becoming niched and parked, I learned something pretty special. Limits are all about fear. Placing them, staying within them, acknowledging other’s rules for our own existence, may make for a somewhat stable cultural environment for the moment, but I have rarely seen them bring anyone any real happiness or sense of satisfaction.

Say you were to lose all today. Where would you be?

Look down. You are standing there. In your own space.

Erase the lines.


Don’t do it to others, don’t allow that restriction to be placed upon you.

Here is a link to a blogpost from Seth Godin which contains his new online version of “Stop Stealing Dreams“, a piece on modern education that everyone who wants a wide lane through life should read!

In the course of an Eight day period (which I am in the midst of right now) I am shooting and filming subjects that range from below sea level to the mountains. If I had ever bought in to the conventional wisdom surrounding my craft and trade, well then, you would likely have not much interest in my common material.

But since my choice was to erase my lines as a Creative early on, I am able to bring forward the most remarkable aspects of Creation. I am continually in awe. Even when sitting in a crew van, waiting to meet two dedicated Santa Barbara County Supervisors.

The following gallery of images are from projects I had in front of me THIS WEEK. Obviously the folks who want to call me a Surf Photographer may have missed the mark when they for whatever reason, wanted to put me in their box.

Some of them are for this cool new project. The Solitary Exposure Collective, which I am building with my colleague, Larry Beard.

Here is the link to my work in it, which grows in scope monthly. Eventually, much of it will be available via Commercial license. What Larry and I have done, is build the foundations for an art collection that is a new type of agency. Right now you can buy art and have it delivered to your door ready to hang. Or just glance through the open collection and maybe get inspired to redraw the lines in your own life. We would like that. It makes us all better.

Click on any of the images for a full view or to toggle through as a slide show.



Situational Ethics Anyone?

Friday, May 15th, 2009
Decisions Decisions

Decisions Decisions

I received a note from a¬† colleague the other day. Sean Davey was asking me to weigh in on a photographer’s forum in Oz called Photographers United.

The subject was poaching, which is shooting another photographer’s subjects while they are in the midst of building¬† images mid shoot. I had a bit to say, and Sean had gotten me thinking about a few things in an exchange of e mails.

I have an abiding respect and admiration for some of my colleagues. They understand the bar of ethics involved in building a career and interestingly enough, it is their work which generally is what winds up inspiring me in my own.  Ethics are possibly the single most important line item one can learn in a life, let alone a career, because your choices determine your path and your path defines who you become, and ultimately, what you are.

One day early in my career, I was beach side pre dawn. Setting up, I already had telephoto mounted on tripod and had camera in hand, 20-35 lens and strobe attached for some reason. I had heard an odd noise from the highway about 100 yards behind me, and turned around just in time to see a jeep type vehicle rocket off the freeway, fly through the air, into a fence, and land in some trees a scant 25 yards away.

I sprinted over to the crash and camera still in hand (with the perfect set up for the shot), I saw a woman in a nurses uniform, unconscious and bleeding. I clearly remember the moment. It proved in time, to have been a definitive one. I put my camera down.

Checking her vitals, and freeing her seat belt, I had rendered simple aid and dialed 911 at a nearby pay phone. When E.R. got there, I left. (Fortunately my tele was still where I had left it.) She wound up being okay. Having worked the night shift, she had fallen asleep at the wheel on her way home.  One VERY lucky lady.

That choice set the path for my life which allowed me all manner of rare opportunity as a photographer. For me, people come first. Shot second. That ethos has caused a tenet of trust to form. In effect a client or subject can trust me with whatever, because they come first. This says a lot about the type of imagery I am willing to produce especially for models, performers and high profile athletes whose imagery determines their market value. If the image does not enhance the client, it does not go public.

Another time, I was along for a week end of shooting in LA with some high profile entertainment people who I would be hanging with. My ethics allowed me to not have the appearance of being a PHOTOGRAPHER. That can be critical at times. I have NEVER wanted to be a “famous rockstar photographer” and feel that people who do that, are sorta the antithesis of what I want my life to be. I actually have a scorn for certain of them, as in their marketing they make our simple craft out to be something it really is not. (How else does one justify a 75k per day rate?) Typically I do not find a lot of inspiration through their work.

The short of that weekend is this, I had a wonderful time and wound up with a very famous singer and her equally famous actor boyfriend.  I stood right behind and with them  in front of the entire press corp, who unloaded on them all at once. My simple few frames showed the couple in silhouette, holding hands, and an incredibly poignant moment in front of the strobe barrage. They later told me that the public had never seen them together before. You would have seen the other shooters view from behind the velvet rope on the cover of People etc. I just hung on to mine and gave them a copy. I never want to, or will be behind the rope.  If I need to be, I should not be shooting the subject. It is not who I am.

I am a first person POV shooter. That is my modus. Runway? Forget about it. Paparazzi? Never. I could not do it. It takes me down a road that would make me BE that car wreck there on the beach. It all comes right back to that moment. Oh and the other images from that long weekend wound up being a who’s who of the entertainment industry. I do not think I ever showed them to too many people actually. But they were in my book for a short while. Just because it was what I was filming that period. (That is how subjects wind up in a career shooter’s book.)

I received entry into a world that one does not just walk into. You need to be invited. That was the road I went down, and it was the right one for me. I never go where I am not invited nor where I feel I am to prostitute my personal values. This was illustrated to me once more in the recent fires. I just got a sweet e mail from my friend Tracy Lehr, who is an Emmy winning journalist. This is what she wrote: “I like that you didn’t want to shoot the city that you love burning. That says a lot”.¬† But that is just me. Sometimes not taking the shot is the best statement one can make on a subject. I have seen that illustrated by many of my colleagues who not so coincidentally, are all at the top of their field.

Here is a fantastic little video about choices and creativity in the middle of this National Bike Week. It will give you a smile for sure.

You can also view a video about one of Brian Nevin’s projects here.¬† A great example of path finding via ethics in a garbage dump in South America. It is a heart warming story.

For a shocking look at what is going on with some people  in fashion, whose moral compass points WAY south click here.

The following images are me too. I hate being shot. Some of these were produced by request from one of my favorite Editors and publishers, Clay Feeter. This should be the last time EVER I put myself in my own post. If you select and press print, they make great dartboard bulls eyes though! Illustrative images obviously.

Me Shooting Zuri Star photo Daniel Huber

Me Shooting Zuri Star photo Daniel Huber

My favorite level of intrusion while working.

My favorite level of intrusion while working.

Donna and I cruising Chinatown, SF

Donna and I cruising Chinatown, SF



© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.