Some Iphone photos from my most recent trip to Japan.
Golden sunsets, abandoned train stations refit to be art galleries, passionate people excited about life, and rolls upon rolls of film. Who could ask for anything more?
Cable Cars streaking down wet railways, moments after some light rainfall - San Francisco 2014 - - Fujichrome Provia 400x — Bronica ETRSI - Ahsah
A wave of hills decorated in a series of ephemeral streaking light presents true meaning to the word photogenic. We all see scenes worth capturing every day. But why then do we run away from them in search of creative refuge somewhere else? Why is it so difficult for some of us to stay inspired to create images in a place that has become familiar?
It’s not often that I am out in the world without a camera. A device that we often forget is magic without a retelling of it’s powers. A device that can instantly paint a picture. Without oils, without charcoal, without ink, but with that of which, paints the skies, creates clarity in darkness, and makes our world the most aesthetically pleasing.
One difference between the medium of painting and photography is in how the canvases begin and what is used to paint. One begins blank, completely devoid of any life and then oils or ink is added. The other begins a bit more complex and is painted with light. However, what painters do is add to nothingness, while photographers subtract from everything. With that said, as much as we seasoned photographers try to over marginalize the skills it takes for us to create the images we do, it would be wrong to state that anybody couldn’t learn what we do in a short period of time. Especially with today’s tech and wealth of online tutorials. What that means is photography today is less about technical ability, and more about finding your own visual voice, your own way of using light, and your own way of subtraction. Anyone can learn how to properly expose a sunset, but who will open our eyes to see in new ways?
Now the question was why is it so difficult for some of us to stay inspired to create images in a place that has become familiar. They say the first way to solve a problem is to identify it’s source. After a lot of time I’ve found my greatest enemy and the source of all of my own photographic blocks is Assumption. We assume there is no picture, we assume it won’t be worth it, and worst of all we assume we’ve seen it all.
Now and again I lose interest in some ongoing project and the creative spark that once ignited my passion for image making completely dissipates. Is it because I’ve seen every facet of my city at all times of the day? Of course not. That is impossible. The world is such a rich place that there are always subjects and always worthy images. As image makers it’s our jobs to use our own visual identities to subtract the fluff in order to put the way we see our worlds in focus. Allowing assumption to keep us in bed, on the couch, or staring at a computer is like slowly pricking ourselves with needles doused in paralytics.
To reinvigorate my creativity in photography and soothe this ongoing problem of assumption, I begin by challenging myself to photograph things I don’t immediately find pleasing. Sometimes it’s an environment and other times it’s the fleeting glow of a cable car that’s been photographed a million times. Sometimes I don’t want to touch my camera, but photography is a major part of my and our lives. It’s an alternative to speaking with our mouths or finding the right words to write on paper. It’s an outlet, it’s a record, it’s therapeutic and it’s a way of life. If we never allow assumption the opportunity build it’s wall, we will always be able to find excitement in the the familiar and take that first initial step out of our homes and into the world.
Local Artist Spencer Keeton Cunningham put together this documentary style video with interviews and footage of the late artist, street photographer, and friend, Shawn Whisenant. Shawn passed away late last week and Book & Job Gallery will be holding a memorial in his honor tomorrow night at 7pm.
Our friend Shawn Whisenant (Green Hat) passed away this last week. The epitome of an artist and exceptional in a myriad of mediums. Shawn regularly graced the art world with eyes that were succinct in revealing the beauty of a life spent committed to one’s passions.
The last time I spoke with Shawn, he was buried inside Book & Job Gallery painting a sign. Maybe to earn a few dollars for processing film or maybe for printing a new Zine of his. I really don’t know. What I do know is that we spoke at length about San Francisco’s changing landscape and what that meant to us. Me saying it might be time to move on, while Shawn remained adamant in his love and desire to stay, regardless of the constantly growing hurdles.
That indomitable will and ingenuity for creation, despite the odds, despite the news, made Shawn Whisenant the quiet inspiration he was and still is to every one he came in contact with. I only wish we could have given him the credit he truly deserved while he was still with us.
Who knows if these words will ever reach you, but I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say, we will miss your eye, your creativity, your insight, and your smile. Thanks for being here. RIP Shawn
*On Wednesday March 8th at 7PM, please come and celebrate Shawn’s life and work at Book & Job Gallery at 838 Geary st. San Francisco, CA 94109. You are encouraged to bring any prints, zines, or photographs to share. However, the most important thing is to bring yourself.*
I’m an SF dude who does not work in the tech industry. With that said, I have no issues with tech companies or their employees. Sure, the google buses crowd up some roads, they in some manner have forced a lot of lower income families out of homes they’ve lived in for 20+ years and everybody has a general hate for google glasses. But, hey it’s not all negative. Things are a lot cleaner now, there are more bike lanes, and the city is generally safer in parts that they weren’t before.
The thing is, if you read the news, you’d think all we talk about is tech and how they’re ruining the cultural landscape of our stolen land. Aside from the occasional ambiguous bar talk fluff, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are a few great companies that have started within the last couple of years and are striving due to the minds of the leadership and the hard work of their employees.
One of those companies is TCB COURIER. Established in 2009, they deliver any and everything you could want on bicycles at any time, day or night. It’s an incredibly odd and reliable service. It’s also one I’m happy to endorse and use as a conversation combo breaker in light of all the incessant tech talk.
Seriously, let’s talk about something else.
PS: The guys pictured are both great photographers.
happy to be alone
My name is Arthur aka. Ahsah. I’ve been a longstanding admirer of all of the consistently awesome work everyone here at FFC puts up. Today, I am honored, pleased and a little nervous to announce my induction onto the team. I’m hyped to start sharing my work with you, so I’ll just get right into it.
The images posted above are from a recent moonlit excursion through and up some random buildings on Market.