Architectural photography is not my strong suit, but I have some familiarity with the artform. One of the most important aspects of architecture (or cooking, synchronized swimming, sculpture etc) is an overall intentionality and purpose in the design. I feel like those aspects have been lost in the wave of sub/urban sprawl, a glut of self-storage facilities and forgettable big-box architecture that fulfills only the most basic of structural requirements. I began exploring these ideas photographically not only in and around LA, but in Nashville and Memphis as well. The following series tries to capture the feeling of sub/urban malaise, the oppression of a walled-in life, and the overall melancholy of living in the midst of disposable architecture.
The title Flat World came about after noticing that my cellphone camera flattens space and distance at times, so absurdly, that it takes away any sense of depth at all, creating a flat, one dimensional image. Click any photo to take you to the collection.
I’ve been sloppy about my posts lately. This summer is BANGING, and I would never complain about how great it’s been, but it leaves little time for the fun stuff, like writing long-winded opinion pieces on current events and pop culture. Hopefully we can revisit some of that long-winded ranting soon.
Here’s a few pictures of Caroline from a recent shoot.
Click any photo to see more. See you guys soon!
Got a chance to work with Courtney for a shoot with Denim Refinery about a month ago and we hit it off so well I drug her into the woods and made her try on lots of different outfits. It’s just how I show my affection.
You guys be safe over the 4th. Buuuuuut, if you’re not into that idea, I’m dying to shoot a good Roman Candle war on the beach in Santa Monica. Get in touch.
The Rope/Water/Latex Zine featuring Rivi Madison is on sale this week for only $2.00 per digital copy. You can’t even park for $2, and I guarantee this is more enjoyable. Click the link below to check it out.
So a while ago there was a series of unflattering photos going around the webz of Beyonce from the Superbowl performance. I’m not going to post any because undoubtedly you’ve seen at least one of them and then some iteration again with some meme-type words over the top. Her PR firm then asked everyone to take down the photos because of the unflattering nature of said photos, at which point the entirety of the internet LOL’ed in unison.
Beyonce, not to be defeated, denies all access to photographers on tour except the Beyonce-sanctioned-robot-photo-taker-whose-CF-cards-are-confiscated-after-every-show, thusly preventing the previous debacle. Here are some words from my head.
The Cult Of Celebrity Is Biased Against Women. (Duh.)
Love her or hate her, Beyonce is an accomplished entertainer and pretty much a freaking athlete on stage. Michael Jordan made a crazy face every time he got close to the basketball goal and they took that face and plastered it all over posters and t-shirts and whatever else. The photos border on sexist (maybe totally sexist) but either way, they were a low blow.
You Have To Learn To Laugh At Yourself
The internet forgives. And if it doesn’t, it forgets pretty easily because something else will capture the attention of the hive-mind in the next 20 minutes or so. How NOT to respond is to make a big fucking deal about it by asking the interent to remove pictures of you making funny faces. Having your PR company do it is even worse because it removes the humanity from your situation and not only do you look like you can’t take a joke, you look like an ashole who can’t take a joke, thus painting a HUGE target on your back. The internet hates assholes.
The Price You Pay For Being Royalty
When you’re bros with the president, get to go to Cuba even though it’s illegal, take private jets to Paris with Gwyneth Paltrow and make milllllllllions of dollars every year, you’re going to take some shit. You get to live like a queen but you also have to do all that in front of the all-seeing public eye. It sucks, but you signed up for it.
You Don’t Want To See How Stuff Is Made
You don’t want to watch them make your food in a commercial kitchen, you don’t want to be at a slaughter house before your steak gets to the restaurant, you don’t want to see how much Photoshop goes into every ad, you don’t want know that most songs on the radio are completely auto-tuned and created from a program that predetermines what songs will most likely resonate with the public. (TRUE STORY.) Beyonce has to make weird faces on the way to making sexy faces. Gotta break eggs to make omelet. Her act is supposed to be realized as a whole, not 1/500th of a second at a time and realistically each and every one of makes dumbass faces all the time doing way less cool things than performing at the Superbowl.
Because when you get to a certain point in your celeb-dom, you lose all fucking sight of what it’s like to be a real person who has real people around them to tell them when they are making really stupid decisions, Beyonce will not allow any photographers on her tour except for her one sanctioned eunuch photographer wearing a shock collar and a leash. So in essence Beyonce created two more incidents involving her photos instead of just riding out the meme-wave and graciously taking a little ribbing. (#2 when she let out the PR attack dogs, and #3 when she banned photographers) Thusly, bringing those photos around to public consciousness to cycle through two more times! Just leave it alone! Quit picking at it, it’ll go away by itself!
Some years ago Halle Berry won a Razzie for Worst Actress in Catwoman. So she got dressed up and took that stage to accept her award like a FUCKING BOSS. Laugh and the world laughs with you. And then loves you even more because you are ridiculously humble and awesome.
Been a pretty exciting and busy year so far. Knocked out a couple new year resolutions, but not nearly enough. I did deactivate my personal Facebook account (it only took me two anxious months) and I am a happier man because of it. More on that some other time.
One of my bigger hurdles was switching my website over to something with a little less Flash and adopting an entirely new format. This has been in the works for around 5 months now, I think as I’ve been slowing building it in the background and ironing the kinks out before going public. Two weeks ago I officially made the switch and am excited to be announcing the new site.
Side scroll kicks ass. No sloppy craptacular Flash loading BS. Tons more work. Tumblr integration. Lot’s of cool stuff on the backend that you guys don’t see but keeps it all running smoothly. (Not to mention, some more additions to the fashion photography, commercial photography and personal work sections.)
A good friend of mine was looking at my site on his phone and told me I was stuck in 2007. You’d think that something like flipping your website upside down wouldn’t be so emotional, but the truth is, I probably put in 12 combined days of straight-up thinking hours before reconfiguring. These things are always harder in your mind.
All the time I read about what a website is supposed to look like and how we can make it easier on art directors or art buyers when (if?) they look at our portfolios. I’ve talked to consultants and SEO experts and portfolio curators and everyone who thinks they know anything about websites (which is apparently anyone who uses a computer, BTW.) But this is the secret: MAKE THE WORK. PUT IT ONLINE. Really.
It’s never going to be perfect or ready or suit every single person. It could load before they hit the RETURN key and it will be too slow for some people. We are never going to be happy with it as artists because we are never happy with anything. Why would this be different?
For now though, I’m stoked that it’s NEW, above all else. See you guys soon.
Today on my way home I heard Talk of the Nation reporting on the new release of the video game BioShock: Infinite and I got so stoked to hear something from nerd culture get so thoroughly discussed on NPR. Prior to the story they kept running teasers about the interactive nature of the game and the plot/story of the game, leaving us with the cliff hanger “But is it art?”
I can’t roll my eyes hard enough. While I appreciate you taking a break from reporting on “real news” and crawling down from your ivory tower to report on something as frivolous and pedestrian as video games, do you think you could approach it with just a tiny bit of respect? Especially if you’re about to interview the creator of the video game.
The first part of the story describes what first person shooters are, punctuated again by the statement “Not exactly what people would call art.” I mean, let’s just discount that someone wrote the storyline, a script, hired actors, developed physics engines that power realistic physical reactions in space, and then a literal TEAM of artists rendered textures, people, weapons, environment and on and on. Let’s just gloss over all that and invent some sort of conversation on whether NPR thinks video games qualify as art.
Let me sum it up for you, Talk of the Nation: VIDEO GAMES DON’T NEED YOUR VALIDATION AND NEITHER DOES ART.
Way to kill this nerd boner, guys.
About a month ago I took a class and was asked to write about my high school experience as an assignment. I thought it might be an interesting addition to the blog. (Which, BTW, I know I’ve been neglecting.) I threw a few photos in too, for good measure. Oh, I reference pagers. Google it if you’re too young to remember. They were the size of VCRs and made out of wood and let people contact you remotely so you could call them back on a pay phone. Jesus, Google “pay phone” while you’re at it.
For most of my adult life and part of my teen years I tried to forget high school. There were no particularly awful experiences, I honestly feel like I had the normal experiences of being rejected by girls, acting awkward, smoking pot and wishing I was someplace different. It was always a place that I viewed as a necessary evil and a transition between being a child and being an adult. I knew these weren’t going to be my glory days and that I just needed to get through it.
In 10th grade I was friends with a kid named Eric Franklin Bartek who would not have been considered cool, ever, but he had a car which made him pretty popular. Eric knew he wasn’t very cool. He was almost 6ft tall, clumsy, and overweight. He desperately wanted to be a skater and a stoner, but only succeeded at the latter. Genuinely, he was a good person, but high school standards are largely unreachable and he was always trying to find the thing that would rocket him to teen stardom. Dealing drugs, skateboarding, carrying a gun, and acting a lot tougher than he was.
Eric would meet our little group of skaters at the mall where we would have been shooting ice though straws at old ladies and generally being assholes. We’d pile in his car, sometimes comically, sitting in each other’s laps, crammed into the back of his hatchback even. We insisted in smoking cigarettes in these conditions, inevitably burning one another with dropped cherries. Triple Six Mafia was more than often our soundtrack and in 1994 they were the world’s first underground Satanic rap group. We thought we were terrifying, and in retrospect, we were, but probably not for the reasons we imagined.
Some nights we’d find an empty parking lot to skate, or we’d go with Eric to pick up or sell whatever drugs he was holding. Other nights were just about sitting in Perkin’s Restaurant eating hash browns and smoking, saying “fuck” too loudly hoping someone would kick us out. Some nights we’d try to find girls to hang out with which was more often than not an exercise in futility. One fortuitous night Eric got a page from someone asking if he could give some girls a ride. His car was maxed out, but he agreed anyway and we stopped to collect two classmates that needed to get home. I knew Bekka and Ashley from class but not exceptionally well. But as they got in the car Ashley climbed in my lap, put her arms around me and we drove off. I put my arms around her, not necessarily as a romantic gesture, but because there wasn’t much of an option otherwise. We held each other for the entire ride as her face gently pushed into my neck and her hands casually rubbed my shoulders. As we pulled up to her house she detached herself from the tangle of our limbs and held my gaze as she got out of the car. I remember reaching out through the window to touch her hand as we said goodbye. I fell in love a little bit that night although I believe I was the only one. Ashley and I never spoke about it and our paths didn’t ever really cross again.
That was the embodiment of high school though, for me. Late nights in Memphis doing things that would have given my parents heart attacks, driving around with guns and drugs like we were such badasses, when we were stupid and childish at best. Often I wonder how we all managed to get out alive, relatively unscathed, despite our every attempt to the contrary.
As I was trying to remember high school it occurred to me that going back and describing yourself as a nerd or awkward is kind of en vogue, especially for people who’ve reached a certain level of fame and beauty. Everyone loves a story with humble beginnings. The fact is, though, that high school was awkward for nearly everyone because there was just no other way to be in high school. It’s not a place you can succeed because all the decks are stacked against you. If you’re too smart, you’re a nerd. If you’re too stupid, you’ll never amount to anything. The pressures of being the popular kid are just as painful and real as the pressures of being the lonely outcast. In many ways it’s a shame to pile that stress on a child, placing the burden of their future on the tumultuous years prior to 18 under the guise of success. We all deserve a round of applause for surviving.
Julia and I met a few months ago as she was branching out into stand-up comedy. She was truly kicking ass as a comedian and wanted a few photos to go with her new website. We spent an afternoon shooting a few concepts and the below shot was my favorite. I got a chance to harass her with questions afterwards and this is what she said:
Basics: Name, where you live, how long you’ve been doing comedy…
My name is Julia Rotino. I live in Long Beach, CA, because I want to be a LA resident but not deal with the traffic. I’ve been doing improv, acting, and stand up for the past few years. I’m one of those “found my passion later in life” people.
What brought you to standup?
Probably a combination of narcissism mixed with a social conscious. Also, it’s a great way for me to get on stage without having to audition.
What’s your writing process? Do you have a routine that you fall into?
When I observe or have an idea about something that is amusing, I think, “I should write this down.” Half the time I don’t and the idea flies away into the ether. On the occasions where I do jot down my thoughts, I will mull the idea over for many weeks to figure out why it’s funny. If I can somehow come up with a series of sentences that turn it into a joke, I usually test it on my husband. And if he says it is crap, I will perform it because, chances are, it might be good.
Is it cheesy if I say my parents? They are not professional comedians but they have been making people laugh for many years. But since you probably don’t know them, I’ll say that I love the story-telling powers of Mike Birbiglia. I admire the ease with which Louis C.K. makes you feel like you are having a (very funny) conversation with him. I would mention some female comics but I am way too jealous of their success.
Why comedy, as opposed to making a comic book, writing for movies, or being a serial killer?
I love that comedy can make people think without realizing they are thinking. If you go to a dark indie film, you understand that you are there to analyze your current opinion on drug addiction or terrorists or on drug addicted terrorists. However, comedy is a much more subtle way to say something impactful and potentially get someone to ease up on their bigotry. I love making people realize that there are so many stupid things that we spend a ton of energy worrying about needlessly, like gay marriage, for example. I just never realized until I started writing that my humor was going to make people a little uncomfortable. The hope is that you can get someone out of his or her comfort zone and maybe just turn them into a kinder person for even a second. Or you might just get a bigot to laugh, which is a tough thing to do.
What’s in your pocket right now?
Nothing. I spend a majority of my existence in yoga pants. They are just so damn comfortable.
I hear you’re quite the karaoke star…Give us your top three go-to karaoke songs.
In my twenties, I spent years crafting my stunning rendition of Four Non Blondes “What’s Up?”. I could croon “hey yea yea ey ey” with conviction that would bring a tear to your eye. When I first started dating my husband, I asked him if he could guess my karaoke song, failing to hide the pride in my voice at my edgy choice. He shrugged and said, “ugh, I hope it’s not that ‘What’s going on’ one…the song that every girl does at karaoke.” Now failing to hide the disappointment in my voice, I replied, “Oh yeah um…that song’s cool. But I have a lot of others I do.” So now I have tried to expand my repertoire and love to perform “Time After Time”, “Nothing Compares 2 U”, and the incredibly original, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”
Describe your comedy style using only the names of celebrities that have gone to rehab or who have been arrested.
Sean Young, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Urban, Courtney Love…because Young Strawberry Urban Love would make a great comedy album title.
Secret super power?
I suck at this answer. And surprisingly, I get asked this question frequently. I put so much pressure on myself to answer it with some witty response. The truth is that I would want the power of teleportation, mostly because I hate driving. Think of all the time you could save if you didn’t have to drive anywhere. And the savings on gas! Okay, not the funniest of responses, but seriously practical.
Write a craiglist ad for a missed connection for yourself.
Funny lady- I saw you do standup at The Comedy Store. You were wearing a dress. I laughed so loud at your jokes. I think you heard me because you smiled. After the show I told you I liked your joke about cancer and you said thanks. You liked me too because you said I should come to your next show. But I forgot your name. If you remember me reply with the show date and what I was wearing.
How do we follow you/get in touch with you?
My website http://www.juliarotino.com has videos of my standup, photography by the fabulous Chris Fitzgerald, and an upcoming daily blog. As soon as I think of some stuff to say, it will be really interesting!
You can also follow me on Twitter @juliarotino and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Julia-Rotino/240065926119603?fref=ts).
And please check out my YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtmoDsaWEZ5cZp3fA_aW0QQ?feature=mhee. One of my videos already has 63 views. You could be the 64th!
The first time I tied someone up for a photo it was a disaster. She was someone I’d been working with for a while and often humored me with my photo-requests, and she was truly kind about the whole thing, despite my utter and obvious lack of grace. I’d bought the wrong kind of rope. I had no real plan going in. I didn’t move quickly enough and she patiently tolerated every fumble and misstep. And often, that’s the way of the first shoot with a new idea. The first model sometimes gets the short end of the stick while I work out all the kinks.
A year and a half later, I’ve photographed 20 or so models for the bondage series and I have a much clearer vision of what I’m trying to say. Trust is an ongoing theme in my work, and I found the idea of allowing oneself to be restricted in that way a huge act of confidence on the part of the one being tied. It seemed almost empowering to be willing to be imprisoned in that way, and more so to be photographed in the act. I wanted to make photos that talked about trust, choice, and how sometimes we choose our own prisons.
The bondage series led to latex, a world with which I was largely unfamiliar. The constrictive aspect interested me though, and as a person who has literally had to re-teach himself how to breathe, being wrapped and bound in that way evoked a sense of curiosity and panic.
Lastly, the water theme combined bondage with baptism, cleansing, and to some extent, learning to breathe in stops and starts. And again, trust as a central theme. In so many ways we are ultimately the key-masters to our own shackles. The shackles that we willingly step into every morning are the most interesting to me, and the means by which we seek our own rebirth.
Rivi Madison and I met not long after I moved to LA. We emailed back and forth about the bondage shoot for a few weeks and then shot it in a friend’s studio. Since then, despite the lunacy of my ideas, she’s remained quite unflappable. This series, obviously, would have been impossible without her, as she found a voice in every scenario and brought this series to life.
I’ve published this in e-format for the time being on MagCloud, and am limiting the purchases of this edition to 100 copies. (The option is there to buy a print copy, but my intention is to distribute this as an e-zine only at this point.)
Click any photo to be taken to the site for a short preview. Probably not suitable for your mom or anyone under 18, and definitely NSFW.
Please feel free to share this post, and I hope you enjoy the zine.
2013 is going to be rad!