I love making portraits of other artists. True, a portrait of anyone is a wonderful mystery waiting to be unlocked, but I always have an extra sense of excitement before I make a portrait of an artist. I think it is because they are often willing to experiment and collaborate, and are more willing to be patient while I exact my desire for perfection and exploration. Louie Gong was no exception.
Louie Gong is an artist, activist and educator, among other things. His heritage is Nooksack/Chinese/French/Scottish, so he brings a really unique perspective to his work, along with a modern sense of style. His murals are incredible. When I first saw his work, it felt somewhat familiar in the sense that there is a fair amount of Native American art here in the Pacific Northwest. But very quickly you realize that something is different about this piece: a modern sensibility that at the same time still feels authentic to its roots. Then I start to see the Chinese influence which seems so subtle at first glance. It’s quite brilliant.
Louie just opened a really cool new store here in Seattle called Eighth Generation. I want the blanket he is wearing, which he also designed. Christmas wishlist… If you aren’t in the Seattle area, fear not, they have a great online store as well.
I photographed Dan Savage for the March 28, 2011 issue of Time Magazine. Dan is a sex columnist (Savage Love), and the founder of the It Gets Better YouTube campaign supporting bullied gay teens. Thank you to Marie Tobias at Time for working with me on this assignment. It was a lot of fun to think through the lighting for a Black-and-White portrait for a change. There aren’t many assignments for B&W these days, and it really does take a different lighting approach than working with color. This is my favorite image, as well as the one running in the magazine.
Imagine rows and rows of boxes piled up to the ceiling at your local Costco. The boxes are matte black with bold white writing and a robot looking face on the front with beady red eyes. Maybe something like the Terminator, but more kid friendly. Suburban moms in California and Arizona are lining up to be the first on the block to own a personal laser mosquito zapper. Jacqueline from Rancho Cucamonga places her new mosquito zapper in the over-sized orange cart, next to her new cooler with a built in iPod dock, and the ten pound bag of chicken strips. She can already imagine the warm summer nights by the pool, free of mosquitoes. I envisioned the situation for these early adopters to unfold much like the Cornballer as seen on Arrested Development. Kids running around the yard with laser burn marks all over their bodies, hair on fire. You worried about your kids running with scissors? Forget about it. You’ve got a military robot with lasers in your back yard.
That was the scenario that popped into my head after hearing the words laser mosquito zapper, but as I found out more about the assignment, I discovered it was not the next ridiculous consumer item at your local big box store. 3ric Johanson and a team of really bright minds actually came up with this idea and made it into a reality with the goal of wiping out malaria. With a mandate from Bill Gates to think differently about finding a solution to prevent malaria from spreading, the Photonic Fence was born. The technical description of how it works is a little above my pay grade, but by recognizing the size, speed, sound, and speed and insect beats its wings, the Photonic Fence can differentiate between bees, flies, and even male or female mosquitoes. Only female mosquitoes bite and carry the parasite causing malaria, so only the females need to be terminated.
3ric works at Intellectual Ventures, which is a research lab in Bellevue, Washington. In addition to the Photonic Fence, they are working on some pretty amazing projects including a super-thermos to transport vaccines, and a system to weaken hurricanes. While taking a tour of the lab with 3ric, he explained the reason Intellectual Ventures is so different from other labs is they are encouraged to experiment and push the boundaries of what is currently being done. Failure is not something they are afraid of, and they have the luxury of pushing the boundaries because they have investors behind them. Because this type of work is so expensive, however, other labs often don’t have investors willing to take on this kind of risk.
Make is a really cool magazine, and if you get excited about DIY projects, I would recommend subscribing. You can also find out more about the Photonic Fence and Intellectual Ventures at this page. I was really encouraged to see some of the top minds working on projects with the single goal of making the world a better place for people who don’t share many of the luxuries we so often take for granted.
I’ll leave you with a super slow-motion video of mosquitoes getting blasted by a laser. Enjoy.
I photographed Nicholas Kaiser of Saturna Capital for SmartMoney and this is the picture that ran in the January issue. It also happens to be my favorite picture from the shoot. How often does that happen!? Nick is the fund manager for Amana Funds (AMANX). The management of Amana is based on Islamic principals which means no pork, no alcohol and no financials, eliminating companies like Costco due to sales of wine and beer. While these principals are limiting, Nick has managed to bring in a five-year average annual return of 8.3%. Not bad in this economy.
The assets of Amana are $920 million and the expenses are $132 per $10,000. That’s insane! How can I keep my expenses that low? Seriously. I’m asking…
Anyway. No big story about the shoot, but I just really like this picture.