“I do not desire to have a point of view anymore, but to just to be an observer with a camera.”
I have no intention, I have no goal, and I am not searching for anything or waiting for anything to happen anymore. I have learned and gotten the joke of life, that there is no right moment. One is not better than any other another. Every moment is the same, cause every moment is a gift called life. If you look at the photos I am making now, they just are.”
“My brain is always thinking about ideas and always wanting to create.” is how photographer Brian Pescador introduces himself to us. We are just in love with his great images, that are filled with so much youthful life and beautiful memories taken from interesting angles that make you feel like you are not just holding a photograph but observing the scene on the edge of the scenery. Besides finding out a more about his photographic path, Brian opened up to us about dealing with mental illness, talking about his own experiences as well as giving helpful tips and hope to everyone going through this as well. ” I really hope if someone out there who is dealing with depression or a mental illness or is down or whatever, can read what I have been through and know that they are not alone. They have not been the first person to have ever felt that way before. They can find help if they want it bad enough, but they have to want it badly. They just have to know to never give up hope and that life is too special and that they are special too. They just have to want to get better and they will. The same process that I went through in getting my life back and finding balance is the same process I am doing for wanting to become a great photographer. I want it so badly, and I want to become a great photographer. Besides finding balance in my mind, I want to see how far I go and how great I can be. If there is one thing I know I am really great at doing, is making beautiful photos and all I want to do is share my gift and talents with the world. If anyone ever wanted to talk with me about photography , or cameras, or how I got my life back together, or barbering or life questions, I’m never too busy for anyone.”
Hey Brian, when did you first pick up a camera?
I can remember the exact moment I picked up a camera for the first time and where I was. When I was 7 years old, I did not understand why I did it at the time, but I shoplifted a Kodak Disposable Camera from a grocery store. I was so scared to do it, but I had to have it. I was scared my mom would say no if I asked her, so I looked over my shoulders and quickly grabbed it and put it in my hoodie sweater pocket. I remember how I felt the whole time that I was in the store. I was so freaked out, but I kept calm and I was so focused on walking out of the store without anyone knowing. That was the moment, when I first new that I loved cameras. On the way home from the store, I told my mom to stop the car, because I had seen something on the street. I got out of the car, and I went out and pulled the camera out from my jacket, and I pretended to pick it up from the street. I told her that I had found it, and that’s how I got it into the house so my parents wouldn’t know that I had stolen it. It just stayed in my sock dresser drawer for many years, but I never shot it. I always felt so scared to shoot it or to tell anyone how I had gotten it. It was my secret from the world. That’s when I first picked up a camera and knew that I loved them.
Most of your work is very colourful, dreamy and youthful. What are your influences?
I have been taking photos for as long as I can remember. My influences have changed over the years. I was 9 years old when my older cousin Angela showed me Bruce Weber’s photography, in an Abercrombie and Fitch Quarterly. I compare it to like remembering the first time you ever heard The Beatles or when you truly saw what the power of a camera could do. I was so young and I loved his work so much. Over the years, I have had so many different photography heroes. I’ll never forget when my brother Paul came home from college at USC and he showed me Gregory Crewdson’s book Twilight. He also showed me a Jeff Wall book. I got to work for Mary Ellen Mark and see how she photographs people. That was such a special opportunity. She had so much compassion for whoever she put in front of her camera. I think that made such a huge impact on me. When I was in my 2nd term at Art Center College of Design, I had an amazing opportunity to hear and see Annie Leibovitz come and speak. She was incredible and she was so kind to talk to our department and class. Going to Art Center totally influenced and shaped how I make images today. I learned from so many great students and so many great teachers. I met my former professor, mentor, and friend Paul Jasmin in 2006. He has been probably one of my biggest influences and photography heroes. He showed me so many photographers that I had never heard of and he taught me about seeing the world. In 2012, I tried to intern for Ryan McGinley. I went to his studio and, I showed my book. I met with his studio manager, but I never met with Ryan. His studio is so beautiful, and it so inspiring. Over the years my influences have changed, but I have been so lucky to see and be exposed to such great photographers and images.
“I also learned that if you are going to do something, you have to be happy doing it and you have to have so much passion for what you do.”
What camera do you use?
I have used so many different cameras over the years. I am an analog photographer, I only shoot film. At the moment I shoot with a black Mamiya 7 with a 65mm lens , Rolleiflex 2.8 , Yashica T4 , and a 4×5 Crown Graphic w / a Schneider 210 Lens.
Do you take your camera everywhere with you?
Yes. My Camera and I are one.
And how do you reset to be creative?
I wouldn’t say that I really reset to be creative. I have never stopped. I kinda just keep on making images. That’s all I really think about. I just play.
What, besides photography draws your interest?
After I graduated from Art Center College of Design in 2012 with a BFA in Photography + Imaging, I moved back home to the desert in Palm Springs, CA USA and I went to Barber School. I wanted to keep on shooting and growing as a photographer and not really think about trying to find photo work. My plan was just to work at a barber shop like 5 days a week and shoot for myself the other 2, so I went to Barber School and I got my license and I tried to work at a few shops out here in the desert. My plan did not work out, because all I could think about was making photos. If the day was really beautiful and nice outside, I’d want to be outside with my camera taking photos and not be cutting hair or doing shaves. Looking back now, I’m so glad I did become a barber. I became best friends with my Barber School teacher and I learned how to talk to strangers. I also learned that if you are going to do something, you have to be happy doing it and you have to have so much passion for what you do. I still cut hair every once in a while as a hobby, and I learned how to use a straight razor on myself. Honestly though, I really just eat, breathe, and sleep thinking about making photos.
“If you are not nervous or you do not take chances with your camera, you might be taking the same safe photo that you have been taking for awhile.”
Words to live by?
The best quote I have ever heard about describing passion, comes from my all time favorite movie, Point Break ( the original one ). The scene where Bodhi is talking about The 50 Year Storm in Bells Beach Australia, as the biggest waves in the world. He says this quote about purpose and his passion. Bodhi says , “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It’s not tragic to die doing what you love “. I think about that sometimes, when I’m scared to go up to someone on the street to ask them if I can take their photo or reach out to a magazine or buy a camera, buy some film, buy a really great photo book, or make some prints when I have no money. If you are not nervous or you do not take chances with your camera, you might be taking the same safe photo that you have been taking for awhile.
There are these other words I always think about sometimes about the company you keep. My best friend Steve had this friend named Nick, who died a few years back. He kinda reminded me of River Phoenix’s character in the movie Stand By Me. He was young, but an old soul. He was older than us and kinda just gave us these little words of wisdom every once in awhile. This one time we all went out camping and he taught us how to take mushrooms. That was the first time I ever did that. I took photos at the same time when I was on them. I’m not going to describe the trip, but I’ll never forget what Nick said to us all after that super heavy night. That morning we all got up, and he just looked at us and said , ” If you want to swore like an eagle, you can’t hang with the turkeys “. I think about that. It’s so important to be around people that are a positive influence on your life and support you.
The last words I live by are from my father’s. When I was really young my dad taught me about Buddhism. I remember being about five years old when he read me the book Siddhartha. I still remember the life lessons my dad was trying to teach me at such a young age. He was trying to get me to reach and find enlightenment as soon as I could in life. He would do things or exercises that most Zen Masters would do with their students. I didn’t know that was what he was trying to do. Years later, I would finally understand what my dad meant when he told me when people asked him what Zen Buddhism was like. He would say , ” Zen Buddhism is just like any other normal regular life, but just about 10 percent removed from that “. It took me over 25 years from the time my dad first sat me down and read to me and told me about The Buddha to finally understand what he meant by that all these years.
What’s the last great book you read?
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison
Any questions we should have asked you?
I would have probably answered mostly anything else you would have asked me to the best of my ability. This month in May is Mental Health Awareness Month around the world. I have been interviewed many times like the questions you have asked me in this interview. Camera type questions and where I draw my inspiration from. I have never been asked about my experiences with being diagnosed Bipolar 1 Disorder since back in 2009, and how I got to being in remission today. I have never shared in an interview about all the years of trauma that I have been through from my first manic episode to all the years of depression, side effects, ptsd and medication side effects, and how the mental institution hospitals have affected my photography and how it has changed how I see the world. I have never talked about any of these things in any of my interviews before. If anyone was ever interested, I’d love to share my story from how everything first started to how I got my life back together. I think I could help people out there reading my interview by giving them hope if they are just starting out or who have lost hope that their lives would never get better. I have learned coping skills and the relationships between creativity and the arts and mental illness. Having gone through this has totally shaped me as a photographer and my career and as a person. Photography has saved my life. I have been taking photos for so long, but I am not a very well known photographer. I have like under 300 followers on instagram . There is no way you would have known this about me, unless you had read a tiny little bit of an interview that I did years back where I kinda mention it for just a bit.
“The world is at such a weird place right now. Children are afraid to go to school. That is such a scary thing to be happening. Something has to change and I think the only way that is going to happen is if people start understanding the cause of and early signs of mental illness. We need to start talking about it and figure out what to do.”
What do you mean with “I have learned coping skills and the relationships between creativity and the arts and mental illness” Can you explain?
From the time I first woke up in a mental hospital in 2009, and I went to my first group all the way till all these years later attending many support groups, I have heard people talk about coping skills. I was so far gone when it all started, but the first one I ever really remember was, ” Never Give Up Hope “. I go to and belong to NAMI ( National Alliance on Mental Illness ). They have a support group for people with mental illnesses and their families. When you go to a meeting they have two meetings going on at once. One side is for the peers with a mental illness, which is run by someone who has life experiences dealing with a mental illness. The other side is for friends and family members who have a loved one who has the mental illness or knows of someone with one. Many times on the family side, there are families who are just starting out dealing with a loved one who has had a recent crisis or they are there to try and understand what is going on with their loved one. They are in the dark, scared, and worried about what to do for them. They are so confused because they have never dealt with a mental illness in their family and they do not know how to be there for them. They need to learn how to be there for them, how to talk with them , and how to find resources that will help both them and their loved one.
When you go to these meetings they talk about different coping skills. The purpose of them are to help you to deal with what you are going through. They focus on the now and how we are dealing with the mental illness. They talk about coping skills when people are dealing with anxiety, depression, and even stress. The main thing that they always talk about in both meetings is to ” Never give up hope “. Honestly Christine, if you or anyone of your readers reads one thing or takes away one thing of what I say is that I have learned so many coping skills over the years. Some have worked for me and some have not. The reason I can be sitting here on my computer this morning, after all these years and I am able to write to you about what I have been through is that I have hope that maybe by sharing my experiences of having a mental illness, might be able to help someone out there or their family member or friend who has a mental illness, is because I never gave up hope.
“People don’t take care of themselves many times, when they know they should. An artist’s work is more important to them then their own life. Art is their life. They have purpose and passion and this can turn someone nuts if they are not careful.”
I am alive today, because I never gave up hope. There were so many times when I wanted to call it quits and give up, but I never did. Whether it was from when I was so depressed and suicidal or when I was so out of my mind and manic. What was even worse was when I would be going through rapid cycling. That is when you literally go from manic to depressed from moment to moment, or even from second to second. Like when you go through this you can’t tell the difference between up and down. Your mind is on a rollercoaster. You lose touch with reality. You are for no better of a word, insane. You always have heard the saying , ” What goes up, must come down “. There is no better way of a saying for someone who has bipolar than that. If I would be really excited, I would start having racing thoughts, I would get many ideas, I would spend a bunch of money, I would call people on the phone in weird hours of the night, I would have huge giant plans, I would set many goals, I would be so happy and excited, and I would have so much energy. I knew what would come next. Like I just said, “What goes up , must come down “. I would drop. My mood would change, I would feel so guilty of what I had done in my relationships, friendships, colleagues, classmates, or anything else. It didn’t even have to be with others, my mood would change so fast sometimes. I would have to expect that I would eventually come down. When I went down, is when I would become so depressed. I would even get to the point of feeling suicidal. I have never tried it, but I did hold a knife to my stomach one time, just to see what it would feel like when I was so down. I can’t remember which time I went to the hospital because of this. Anyway, I am sure you know what being depressed is. That was me. Ups and downs for many years years. Some days better than others, but I never gave up hope that my life would get better. Guess what? It did. Slowly it got better. I just took it one step at a time. Depression hits everyone in different ways but, over the years there would be times, like when I’d be in the shower and boom it would hit me! I would just start crying, or like when I was at Disneyland and I would have to leave early because I’d get super paranoid. Learning how to cope with what I was going trough from moment to moment, week to week, year by year slowly, is why I am still here. I never gave up hope. Never knowing how I would ever feel from moment to moment, was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
The relationships between creativity and the arts and mental illness has been around forever. What has not been around for very long are the amazing new resources and programs for people who have a mental illness. It also very much depends on which county you live in. There are other factors why some people have access to mental health care and others do not. It doesn’t matter if you do or do not have access to mental care as much as you are willing to try and get help. I have met people who it took years for them to do what their doctors told them to do. It might take them going to jail a few times or a drug overdose, or something to shock them into believing that they need help. Their family can want and beg for them to get better, but if they do not want to get better, they will not. Some people make it and some do not. Some do horrible things to others and themselves because of it. Many times people do not know what they are going through and do not know that they have a mental illness. There are so many different reasons why some people get better from a mental illness and others do not. You have to want to get better more than anything you ever wanted in your life. You also have to really know that no matter how bad it gets in your life, you can get better. You just have to believe that recovery is possible.
What I mean by relationships between creativity and the arts and mental illness is that I have gone through it. I did what so many artists were not able to do. By that, I mean I lived and survived. I am alive today when there were so many times I shouldn’t have been. I survived everything I went through with my mental illness and now I can talk about how I did it. The world will get to see my art and my photography because I made it and survived. I can talk about how I did it now, and hope I can help others do the same.
Artists are different than most other people and everyone knows that. Some can go to their studio and work for a certain number of hours, take meetings, have shows, concerts, make movies, create and live a normal life totally then turn it off. There are others who for whatever reason their art drives them mad. They might have a mental illness and they don’t take care of themselves, fame, money, power, drugs, success, no success, they don’t take care of themselves. Probably the first time in history when people made cave paintings, there were some people who their art drove them mad. It’s just a fact. For example, there were times in my own personal life before everything happened that I made choices like deciding whether I wanted this super freaking expensive art, fashion magazine, or do I want to have a meal for the next few days. I’m sure you know which one I picked, right? The magazine of course. People don’t take care of themselves many times, when they know they should. An artist’s work is more important to them then their own life. Art is their life. They have purpose and passion and this can turn someone nuts if they are not careful.
Could you image how the world would be so different, if we did not lose so many talented people before their time was up? What would the world be like if Kurt Cobain, Elliott Smith, Amy Winehouse, Diane Arbus, Francesca Woodman, Bradley Nowell, Prince, Robin Williams had lived and survived? Van Gogh cut his own ear, I mean there are so many more we could talk about. The world has lost many of our greatest minds and they could have created so much more if only they had lived. They had so much to offer and what killed them is what kills so many great artists. They suffered so much pain in their mind and were not able to come out of such a dark place in their life. I did what so many great artists and people could not do, and that is to be able to tell my story. I also hope to be able to help others who are in a really dark place in their lives. I can now tell them how I did it, and how I continue to make my own art for myself and the world. The world is at such a weird place right now. Children are afraid to go to school. That is such a scary thing to be happening. Something has to change and I think the only way that is going to happen is if people start understanding the cause of and early signs of mental illness. We need to start talking about it and figure out what to do. Something has to change and people need to be able to get the help they need, just like I did. I was and I am very lucky to have gotten the support from people who cared so much about me. I wanted to live so badly and to able to be normal again.
Tell us about everything first started. What are the main causes of your Bipolar Disorder?
My being bipolar was not caused by anything. I mean some people say that trauma to the head can cause it. I have had concussions before from playing sports in high school, but I don’t think that is why I am bipolar. When I now look back on my life and when I was very young, there were signs that I would be this way later in life. I would have fits and tantrums often. There were times, where I’d be kinda off a bit. I did not get diagnosed till I was 24. They say girls get diagnosed younger than guys. For some guys it can be in their early 20’s. What they also say is that it can take 7 – 10 years to get balanced on the right medications. It took me 8 years to get balanced. I am now on my 9th year from when everything first happened. There are a few different types of Bipolar Disorder. The one I have is called Bipolar 1 Disorder. That means you have had at least one Manic episode in your life. Some people who have bipolar never get manic. Bipolar Disorder is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I do not get enough serotonin and dopamine in my brain. I’m not sure what it is for other people. I had to be on medications for many years and my life depended on them. I always thought that I would always have to be on meds. Please understand this is still so new to me, to not be on any meds. Last week on Friday, my psychiatrist took me off the last of my meds, because I have finally become balanced after all these years. I’m not saying that I will never have to be back on them again, because I do not know. I’m also not giving your readers medical advice, this is just what I am going through. I’m saying that my brain has found balance finally. Last year I started doing so well that my doctor started to slowly lower my meds, to see how I would do. It has taken a year to do this. I was in partial remission then and I am in early remission now. In one year I will be in full remission. Medications take time and therapy takes time. It’s such a process to recover and find balance. It’s not something that happens overnight. I have had so many side effects from all the different medications I was on as well. What I did was, I documented what I was going through and I would talk with my doctor, when they needed to be changed. After all these years, I am so shocked that I am not taking anything. I still see my therapist and I go to support groups . I have had all the side effects you can think of: loss of hair, have gained so much weight over the years, have had blood in my stool, have had my hands shaking, had loss of vision, had low erection & high erection, had depression, and so many other effects as well. I would go through it all over again to be where I am today.
Ok so here is how everything first started. I am not going to write about the hospital experiences. That would take me over a year to write. At some point I do want to write a book about my story, in hopes that it could help others and so I can reflect on everything I have been through. I have so many stories from all the 6 times I have been in a mental hospital. I did sleep in the padded room and I have seen what most of society will never see how humans can behave in their lives. The only thing I will tell you about it, so you might be able to understand all the crazy stuff I have seen is this. In my second time going to a mental hospital I was so out of it and I was so far gone. The first night I had been checked in, and I went to art therapy group time. I was playing Uno. By playing, I mean I had cards in front of me, but I was so knocked out on meds. I was sitting in front of this young girl at a table, and all of a sudden she grabs the safety scissors and breaks them or something, then she starts stabbing herself in the stomach over and over again right in front of me. I watched her the whole time do it and bleed all over herself and get taken down by the nurse staff and workers . It did not even phase me what she was doing, because I was so far gone and out of it. I just looked at her as she was doing it, but I couldn’t do anything. They took her away, and I never saw her again . I’ll never forget that time or forget the sounds she was making as she was screaming and crying as she was doing it. I couldn’t do anything and I just watched her the whole time. There were so many crazy things like that, I have seen in a mental hospital that I can never forget.
“I am alive today, because I never gave up hope. There were so many times when I wanted to call it quits and give up, but I never did. Never knowing how I would ever feel from moment to moment, was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.”
And how did you get better?
I got better because I had and still have such a desire to get better. I was so lucky to get on state disability and have such amazing care. I have had great doctors, and therapists. I also went to and still go to group therapy, and I always took my medications. Like I just said, it has only been since last week that I am no longer on any medications. I exercise and eat very healthy, I rest when I need to and I have become very self aware of how I am feeling. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to live a pretty much stress free lifestyle. I take photos everyday, work in my darkroom, and I am always looking at photos. One of the biggest things what really really helped me was that I quit drinking alcohol, and I stopped smoking weed. I have done other drugs before, but only a hand full of times. What I use to love so much was to drink amazing craft beer and well mostly other good types of beer too. I also loved to smoke weed everyday multiple times a day and always be high. By doing these things so much, I couldn’t get better. I can’t stand, and I get sick now thinking about or smelling the smell of weed. I also try not to think about how much money I wasted on weed for so many years. Alcohol and weed were quick fixes for me. If I was down and depressed, I’d go and smoke right away. I’d feel good for a few hours and then back to being depressed. For years, I never let my medications work or see what they were really doing. I was on a med for paranoia, and sometimes smoking weed would make me even more paranoid. My doctors tried to get me to stop and quit . That was one of the hardest things I ever did, was to become sober. I went 6 months sober first and I felt awesome. Then back to smoking and drinking again, then I was sober for 9 months, then for 4 months. It would always change. It was so hard to be around it at first , but now I don’t ever think about ever touching weed or alcohol again. I went to NA ( Narcotics Anonymous ) and AA ( Alcoholics Anonymous ) support groups a few times, but I am not an alcoholic and I am not a drug addict. It was so hard being there and they did not understand what I meant when I asked them how to quit. They just talked about doing the steps and getting a sponsor. I would be there at these meetings and people would talk about selling their bodies for drug money. I was like, umm.. ” I just wanted help to quit smoking weed and stop drinking “. I’m not an alcoholic. They couldn’t help me, so finally one day, I put all my pipes and lighters and papers in the trash can, and I got rid of my pot and I went cold turkey. That’s how I quit, and I have not had any alcohol nor smoked since than. I can tell you honestly that was one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. Like I said , I listened to and still listen to my doctors.
“It’s so important to be around people that are a positive influence on your life and support you.”
Last week when I saw my psychiatrist he told me after he took me off my last of the medications that I was on, that I might have to go back on them one day. If I need to that is fine, and we will just pick up where we last left off. He also said that I will see him in 2 months for the last time and that will be it, if I do not need any more medications and that I am also in early remission. He said that there would be no reason for me to keep seeing him. Next year May 25, 2019 I will be in full remission from my metal illness. He told me to keep seeing my therapist like I do regularly and to keep working hard and doing what I do. You have no idea how shocked I was to have heard these words after all these years and from everything I have been through. I always thought I would always have to be on medicine and that I would always have to see a psychiatrist. To be where I am today and to have finally become balanced, is something that I am most proud of ever doing in my life. The way I can describe being balanced now is something that I actually never knew what it felt like. I just never gave up hope that one day I would feel this way. Many people have written about the way I now feel. In Buddhism they describe the feeling I now have as Enlightenment, Zen, or Tao. In the Bible they talk about the concept of feeling Heaven On Earth. David Lynch talks about artists not having to suffer to make art, and so many people have talked about the feeling or state of mind that I now have after all these years of looking for it. Ever since I was so young and my Dad would read to me the book Siddhartha, I now finally feel after all these years that I have gone beyond. I have arrived, I have found the middle way, and I can’t describe to you exactly how it feels, I just observe the world and now I am finally at peace with myself, my mind and the world. I have peace of mind. The last thing I’ll say about this is that I have found that yoga, meditation, mindfulness, being in the moment, art, photography, food, fashion, design, film, creativity, etc., is the action, not the result. I don’t have to do any of that to feel the way I feel now. I walk around now and see the world like I have never seen it before. It’s so beautiful. I was always searching and looking for the next photo, and waiting for the right moment to click the shutter. I used to write about the decisive moment as being such an important part of how I made photographs. I’m telling you right now, I was so wrong. I have taken hundreds of thousands of photos, so many rolls of film year after year. I was always looking and waiting for something. I was in a rat race of never finding what I was looking for. I could not fill the emptiness and I was always so dissatisfied. The feeling of peace that I now have anyone can find, if they just observe without even trying. I used to shoot a roll of 35mm film and get 1 maybe 2 good photos. I’d shoot like 4 4×5 sheets of film and get 1 shot, and a roll of 10 or 12 medium format shots and I would get 1 or 2 good ones. Today I am now shooting 100% after all these years. My photos are not good or bad anymore. There is not one great photo and all the rest are a waste or less important. I do not even edit out or choose the best ones anymore. I make them all. There is no best photos anymore for me and I am not trying to look for them or make them. Every time I push the shutter or take a photo is a gift that I have given myself. My photos have always reflected how I felt in that moment. I have always tried and put how I was feeling into my photos. They were always self portraits and now I have no point of view. I do not desire to have a point of view anymore, but to just to be an observer with a camera. I have no intention, I have no goal, and I am not searching for anything or waiting for anything to happen anymore. I have learned and gotten the joke of life, that there is no right moment. One is not better than any other another. Every moment is the same, cause every moment is a gift called life. If you look at the photos I am making now, they just are.
So you told you have under 300 followers on instagram. According to newer reports personal social media usage leads to negative effects, both on efficiency and well-being. Do you agree with that?
I have never spent anytime reviewing what people say about social media honestly, except for the recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica stories and the Russian hacking trying to influence the United States election in 2016 on the internet. As far as efficiency goes, I am totally feeling the effects on my well-being. I have never been so distracted in my life. I just got an iPhone like 4 months ago. I had one in 2011 for a few months and it drove me nuts. I was totally manic during that time and I got my iPhone one day and threw it at the wall, and I tried to break it. It did not even scratch it when it hit the wall, so I stomped on it over and over again and completely destroyed it. I have always had a basic flip phone, so I went back to using that till like a few months ago. I don’t think its just the phone or social media though that is distracting me. There is so many images, videos, and news stories now out there and it’s all so addictive. For so many years I would spend 12 to 15 hours or more everyday in my dark room and in a color darkroom just printing photos. I did that for years and years. Everyday, I’d wake up and go shoot, process, print, and mount photos . Everyday, I would make so much work. I was so focused and hungry to make images. I still make a crazy amount of work, but not like how I use to do. For the past few years I started watching like 5 or 6 hours a day of MSNBC during all the election campaign stuff , and now I am totally obsessed with breaking news. It’s so crazy what is going on in the world. I follow it all so closely and it blows my mind what is going on every day now. It’s not just news and social media, I also love Netlix. Last month I watched all 3 seasons of that show Love, like in 2 days straight. Also I just got the MoviePass a few months back. They just changed it recently, but you use to be able to see movies more than once. I saw Black Panther like 5 times in the theaters. Now I usually shoot in the mornings when the light is so beautiful, do other photo things in the morning and then I go to the movie theaters everyday around noon when the light is not good. Then I’ll shoot in the afternoon and watch the news the rest of the night. I’ve been totally feeling guilty for not being so focused these days. Photographer Bill Cunningham used to talk about the importance of educating the eye. He used to go to Paris Fashion Week to do that. Being so distracted and looking at so many things these days, is how I am justifying that waste of time to myself. I’m just not sure how following Kanye’s new Tweets for a week, or closely following the relationship status of Eminem and Nicki Minaj is, or watching videos of Chris Hemsworth Singing, ” Wrecking Ball ” with his kids while his dog jumps on him is educating the eye. My feet and legs used to hurt everyday from standing in the darkroom printing all day for years, now it’s my thumb from scrolling up and down and my eyes from staring at the screen on my phone. So for sure yeah, I totally agree that social media has its negative effects on my well-being.
“Being so distracted and looking at so many things these days, is how I am justifying that waste of time to myself. I’m just not sure how following Kanye’s new Tweets for a week, or closely following the relationship status of Eminem and Nicki Minaj is, or watching videos of Chris Hemsworth Singing, ” Wrecking Ball ” with his kids while his dog jumps on him is educating the eye.”
How much time are you spending on instagram and co? And what do you think is the future of social media?
I spend and waste so much time on instagram, because it’s all so new to me. I never really liked it before and this is my third account I have ever had. I deleted the other 2 accounts I had, because I just couldn’t get into instagram. I did not like it at first years back when I was first got on it in 2011. I just got back on it a few months ago when I just got an iPhone.
I think the future of social media will change, because everything always changes. That’s what life does. Communication between human beings has always changed and always will. We do this and grow and evolve from the results of technology, innovation, world and environmental events and social design and art movements around the world. I mean just look how far we have come and evolved from Ancient Egyptian wall carvings, to Chinese Woodblock prints, the invention of paper, The Gutenberg Press Bible, and movable type, the telephone, the typewriter, the computer, the internet, smart phones, social media, the average person and non designer are now able to recognize Helvetica typeface, people are now so aware of images and videos, etc. We are always moving forward in one way or another. I’ve been posting and sharing my photos on the internet for most of my life. I was doing it on an early form of a blog when I was really young, then when I was in my early teens my friends and I were on LiveJournal and we were on Myspace way before so many of the other kids at our school. We were always going to see bands and live music and taking photos and we would posted them and we would write about it on the internet. That’s just what we did back then. Then came Flickr like in 2004 and Facebook was around that time. Then, what was really weird was like when parents started using social media, it was not special anymore because it was just something that everyone was doing. I remember being at Art Center like in one of my first few terms, and my portrait lighting teacher gave us this assignment where we had to take a portrait with our cellphones. You would not believe how outraged and shocked everyone was at that time. So many of my other classmates and I were like , ” Why would anyone ever want to take a quality or real photo of someone with their phone ?” I think this was like in 2006.
“As technology and the way communications around the world changes over time there is always going to be a response, an outrage, a support, and a feeling of wanting something real. People will always look to the past for a feeling of peace from a simpler time and a warm feeling of nostalgia. They are looking for a feeling or wanting something they feel is more authentic.”
What is going on now with social media kind of like and reminds me of A Turn-of-the-Century Response to the Industrialization Expansion and the Arts and Crafts Movement. You see it with all the new filters on instagram and smartphones which try and look like disposable camera film. The date is on the side of the image and it has washed out colors. That’s why a lot of people are now getting into film cameras. They want the feeling of something real. Young people are shooting Fujifilm Instax , vinyl records are still being made and sold. As technology and the way communications around the world changes over time there is always going to be a response, an outrage, a support, and a feeling of wanting something real. People will always look to the past for a feeling of peace from a simpler time and a warm feeling of nostalgia. They are looking for a feeling or wanting something they feel is more authentic. My Dad is stuck in the 60’s and 70’s still till today. He is an old hippie and still smokes pot everyday. He still loves and listens to Bob Dylan, reads books on Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell. His hair is long and grey and he still wears a bandana. He will never leave his youth. Me, I still love thinking about Saturday morning cartoons every once in a while from the 90’s and I also feel so lucky to have been born at a time when there were no smart phones. The world was a little bigger and there was more mystery and adventure. I do not hold on to the past like my dad does, or how so many people now are getting into film. I have always shot film and I always will. This is not because it brings me back to another time, but because that is what photography is to me. I wish photography was required in school now, just like English and Math and Science. I can’t tell you how to do Algebra after all these years, but I can show you how to use a light meter and which color profiles to use, if my prints are too magenta or cyan, and I can make a photograph that will make your mouth water from all the different colors or tones.