dinner club picnic

So, yesterday, when I finished scanning these and started looking at them, I got so excited about them I started texting them to everybody in them. Sort of forgot about the whole Instagram thing and just sent them out. Sorry, Edgar and Annie, for blowing up your phones. Then I remembered, and dutifully posted the top one.

I’m not sure why I’m so jazzed about these; it may be shooting with a real rangefinder is working for me, or it may be that shooting film agrees with me for some reason, but I suspect it’s neither of those, and mostly that I’m shooting candid portraits again. With the landscapes, with the street pictures, there’s no urgency; they’re pure exercises in form (the objectification and the problems therein are not lost on me; I have read books and written essays on the subject, but I digress). I suppose I shot those kinds of pictures because they were available to me, but I’m not sure it was actually a good direction. Portraits of people, that’s the ticket.

So, I’m gonna try to do that more. I spent a long time (the first 10 or so years I was taking pictures) hating on landscapes because I thought they were too easy, that exercises of form were beneath me. I don’t really think that any more; not because they’re harder than I thought, but because I’ve taken enough of them now and found it a good learning experience. A meditation, if you will. But portraiture feels really good, and so I’m gonna do some more. (of course the next set I have in the queue is all landscapes from Point Reyes, but there’s at least a good shot of my dad in it).

These photos are of the dinner club where we went to lake merrit and had I don’t even remember what, because I didn’t have any other camera, and I didn’t want to take a picture of my food with the film camera.

Posted by Matt on 2017-12-12 06:59:35 +0000

photos from the texas leica

These are all from last summer, June and July, when my mom was here, and not. I’d just gotten the Fuji, and was super excited to shoot with it. I put 10 or 12 rolls of film through it, and had them souped at a local lab, SF Photoworks. Then, because their scanning prices are just silly, I bought a scanner and started scanning them all in myself. I may have said this before, but I really like the images I get out of this camera. I really don’t like the process of scanning images. The epson software sucks and is slow; the film holders are fiddly and kinda shitty.

I’m not sure I’ll keep going in this vein. It’s possible. The newer cameras are a lot easier, which isn’t always a good thing. I see my primary job is to tell stories with the camera; take pictures that at least tell a little part of a story. Sometimes it’s just setting the mood; sometimes it’s something really explicit. Sometimes, it’s telling a joke. The determining factor in this work (among others) is paying attention to what’s happening. Sometimes, if the pictures are easy, I forget and just shoot a bunch without thinking, without knowing what I’m getting.

I feel kind of off when I’m doing this, and the main way to break out of it is to change what I’m doing. Change lenses, exposure modes, put my hat on backwards. Tricks and superstition, maybe, but also things that work to get my head back in the viewfinder. Anyway, the limitations of the camera, the fact that it only has 10 exposures on a roll, is fully manual, and large, and slow, actually help push the mental state. It’s like stretching before a run.

Posted by Matt on 2017-12-09 08:52:56 +0000

fat gold harvest

Two of my friends, Kathryn and Robin, just started an olive oil business this year, Fat Gold (peep that domain, yowsers). The farm is about 45 minutes east of town, in Sunol. It’s an area of rich rolling alluvium, with lots of small farms and other interesting things that there aren’t room for here in the city. Kathryn is a veteran of the olive oil industry as an award-winning miller. Robin is the author of 2.5 books (counting Scheme as a novella) and is his best self when slightly annoyed on an overloaded tractor.

So they’ve spent the last year working in the grove doing farm things and posting them on their instagram. The instagram feed is mostly Robin, so you get this great enthusiastic novice’s view of the whole enterprise, which has been good for me, a person that didn’t know anything about olives. It’s been interesting to follow along and see the process evolve as they get their footing.

Last weekend was the last harvest day, where a bunch of friends of Fat Gold gathered at the grove to harvest some olives and eat good food. While the amateurs worked at one end of the grove, professionals tackled the majority of the work at lightning speed. The amateurs’ process is simple: individual pickers have a belly bucket, and you kind of take a whole branch in one hand, and strip the olives off with the other, dumping them in the bucket. The professional method is basically to cover the ground under a tree in a mesh and shake off all the olives with sticks. It’s faster, but requires coordination and a lot more effort.

I helped with the harvest for about an hour, camera over my shoulder, but I sensed I wasn’t getting enough pictures, so I dropped off the bucket back by the barn and switched to just taking pictures, which was really enjoyable, the sort of work I’m made for. Which is to say, the participant observer; do some work, take some pictures, do some more work. I helped a bit with the gleaning, and certainly lifted my share of crates durning the weighing and transfer to the giant macrobins.

So this was last weekend, which is record time for me to get a blog post together these days. I can remember waking up with a hangover in someone else’s house and putting together a post, but that was almost a decade ago. As I was there to also photograph for my friends, I hustled and put together a loose edit for them. There is part of me that thinks of this as a client project, and not just personal documentary effort. It doesn’t make much difference in the way I work, but does affect the post-shooting timeline.

Posted by Matt on 2017-11-26 10:22:13 +0000

mom was here

apparently I forgot to post these? Anyway, my mom came to town to hang out for her birthday, which is also the week of the fourth of july. Good times.

More SFMOMA.

Posted by Matt on 2017-10-22 20:39:39 +0000