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30
Jun

Con Man

Posted by / Filed under Personal Work

Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz.

Identity is an interesting thing.  We dress and decorate ourselves to convey a message to others, communicating to them with intentionality or not  “this is what I want you to think about who I am.”  What is interesting about this, though, is that most people don’t interpret our message the way we intend.  Our identity and the opinions of others are inextricably linked together, for better or worse. Our identity forms opinions.  Others opinions mold and form our identity.   
Identity is something I have been thinking about a lot over the last several years as I try to understand more about myself, and how I view others.  In 2015, I created a portrait series called Members Only, where I styled 13 people to look exactly the same.  Once I finished that series, I wanted to explore multiple identities in a single person, and wondered what was the extent of the range of a single human face.   In a portrait, visually, how much can one person change?  With that, I give you Con Man.

Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz by John Keatley.

Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz by John Keatley.

Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz by John Keatley.

Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz by John Keatley.

Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz by John Keatley.

Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz by John Keatley.

Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz by John Keatley.

Howard Cogitz is one of the most prolific American con men of the 20th century.  His first known con was in 1958 while running a fake real estate development company in Florida.  At best count, he walked away with over 3 million dollars from nearly 16 individuals and families.

In 1963 he spread out, with known ties to Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco.  It seems he may have primarily lived in Florida under many different aliases, which indicates he may have originally been from there.  His main game was to create fake corporations in the real estate business and offer investment opportunities to people beginning to think about retirement.  His work can be traced from 1958 to 1971 when all signs of him vanished.  He was never caught or arrested, although there is record of him receiving a traffic ticket for speeding in Los Angeles during 1964 under the name Charles Barber.


Below are some behind the scenes pictures for those of you who like to see how things are made.  A very big thank you to Jennifer Popochock, Alexis Steinman, Brian Kirk, Viktor Fejes, Duffy De Armas, my wife Nichelle, and Peter Hanson.  Behind the scenes pictures by Peter Hanson.  I feel like this is just the start of something pretty exciting.

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23
Sep

Members Only Club

Posted by / Filed under Personal Work

I have always been fascinated by faces.  Throughout my career, faces are what I gravitate toward.  But there have been many voices, external and internal, telling me to pull back and show more than just a face.  “You can’t just shoot portraits” the voices said.  I have experienced different periods of time where I have moved away from portraits, or at least tried to.  My general curiosities as an artist have taken me in other directions at times also, not to just make this all about a mental struggle.  I have explored environmental editorial portraiture, conceptual advertising (which I do enjoy), and many other types of photography.  Trying these other kinds of photography have allowed me to figure out what I don’t want to do, and at the same time hone my passion for the things I do want to do.  In that sense, I do not regret these periods of exploration.  If anything, this process has given me even more freedom and confidence to do what I want to do now.  This is the first time in my career that I finally feel like I have figured it out, so to speak.  I have rediscovered what I am most passionate about and what I must do, create the portraits that fill my head day and night.  I am filled with a whole new sense of excitement and creativity that I have never experienced before.  This project means so much to me, and I am excited where it is already leading me as an artist.

Thank you to my good friends, Cal, Ian, and the entire Wexley School For Girls family.

Hair and Makeup by Jennifer Popochock and Nancy Leonardi
Styling by Alexis Steniman
Retouching by Viktor Fejes
Digital Tech Lonnie Webb

13
Dec

The Rider

Posted by / Filed under Personal Work

The Rider by photographer John Keatley.

It didn’t take long for the humans to panic.  Government had been spiraling out of control for 60 years, fueled by greed and corporate corruption.  Mankind had finally taken all it could from the earth, until the earth had nothing left to give.  The humans had long embraced the idea, live for today and take what you want.  The cries of those who recognized the consequences of such behavior were left to the minority and written off as crazy.  Men had convinced themselves they were invincible.  Once the Nelson Report came out, and Amazon’s infrastructure collapsed, people began hoarding resources and grabbing all they could for themselves.  Telecommunications were quickly shut down, and in less than 18 months, the US population had been cut by over 75 percent.  Riots, fires, murder, starvation and sickness spread with very little resistance.

As life has always demonstrated, sometimes it takes the loss of one thing to gain another.  Ironic and painful as it was, it took man’s near destruction of the earth to bring about a new relationship between man and animal as it was in the beginning of time.

The Rider has not survived in the new world these past 5 years because of his strength, or because of things taken.  He has survived because of relationships.  Primarily a relationship with his bear and with nature.  These things, which were seen as weak and useless before, have now become what is held most precious in the dark days.

13
Apr

Now For Something Completely Different

Posted by / Filed under Personal Work, Blog

Surprised to see something other than stylized portraits?  From the beginning, the goal with this ongoing personal series was to create something completely different from my portrait work.  Last fall, I decided I wanted to push myself to create something outside of my comfort zone.  I would prefer to let these images stand on their own without adding a story or context to them, but I also realize it is important to talk about one’s work.  If not the meaning, at least the process.  I have attempted to explain these to a few close friends, and the best explanation I have come up with so far is that this good idea evolved from several really bad ideas.  What this means is I began with an idea and talked about it for a little while and really wrestled with the concept and how it would read.  The first few concepts never really sat right with me, but thinking and talking about them with others eventually led to what you see here.  Even after I began shooting, the concept continued to evolve.  I worked with a great post production studio called Gigantic Squid, and collaborated with Ian Goode on the final look and feel of everything.  This really has been an experiment and exploration of a different type of photography.  As much as I pulled away from my portrait work in this process, I came to realize just how important the human element is to me in my work.  I learned how to respond to what I was shooting and adapted my approach as the images came to life.  That is not something I get to experience when working on an ad campaign which has to be planned out completely before shooting.  So far, this project has taken me across Washington and Northern California, and I am planning a couple more out of state trips in the months to come.  I have learned so much from this experience and I am excited to see how this continues to evolve and shape me as an artist.

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