“I drifted into photography like one drifts into prostitution. First I did it to please myself, then I did it to please my friends, and eventually I did it for the money.” Philippe Halsman

Model, Dana 2007

I love that above quote as much as I love the author’s work. It so truthfully fits my dilemma. Things have definitely been different around here. Challenges abound, which is not uncommon with transitions. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Part of that has simply been due to time flying by without realizing how fast. Part has been due to my inability to edit photos because of some software issues. But then there’s also been things going on that just make you not feel like writing. Looking the horrific tragedy in Haiti, for example. You hurt for people like that. But even in my own community, unemployment abounds still for Las Vegas. I lost my job when it was about 13% unemployment in the city. Trust me, it hasn’t improved. People are hurting. 

City Center opened up last month, before Christmas. I got to visit the place the day before it opened and got some great artistic architectural shots. Its a magical place. I wish I could see into the future a year down the road, however. It will prove interesting to see exactly how City Center will affect an ailing city. The plans for City Center were in place long before the bottom fell out of the economy in Vegas. I was surprised they still went ahead with the project. Hotels on the Strip have already slashed prices to fill as much vacancy as possible, yet CC will add another 12,000 or so hotel rooms to the mix. All the restaurants and retail outlets on the Strip can’t be happy either. All of these casinos have retail outlets. The more notable Forum (at Caesars) and the Fashion Show Mall aren’t that old. CC has added about another 500,000 more square feet of retail outlets that they’ve added. Up to this point, MGM -Mirage has had hiring freezes and laid off a good chunk of the management team, as of August of 2007. That’s exactly how I got wooed and then dumped. I moved here in June with the expectations of an excellent job following my graduation from college. They were impressed with my GPA and the fact that I was earning two Master degrees…a MBA and a MS in Telecommunications. And in the 3 weeks it took for me to finish school, clear out my apartment, load up a moving truck (towing my car), and then drive the 28 hours to get here, all hiring had ceased. Then MGM-Mirage laid off 400 mid-level managers. CC just hired another 12,000. So how long will they be able to keep them all?

Photography hasn’t been a bed or roses either. I struggle with the fact that I’ve never really wanted to make money with my photo talents. Sure, its been cool doing a few things on the side that people have been willing to pay for, but I didn’t truly want to depend on it for a job. I just like doing what I do whether it sells or not.  Right now, everybody’s got a camera, but that doesn’t mean I sell myself cheap. But I don’t mind the competition. Competition is good. I’ve always felt that way and I’ve always believed I’ve been up to the challenge to be a great, not just good, competitor. I’m good at what I do. I care about my art and I’m great when it comes to working with people. So, I’ll get it done. That, I’m sure of. I’ve got a few things in mind that I believe can allow me to create the art that I love, yet do so in service to others. I read in a book once that the richest man in the world is the one who is a servant to the most people. What an excellent concept…Help yourself through helping others. (U.L. expect a call…)

Dana contacted me recently to say hello and ask how I was doing. She’s the model accompanying this post and she is a most astonishing character…fascinating to the nth degree. She was one of the last models I worked with while still in grad school shooting film. There were two models in particular who were god-sends to me and she was one of them. I say that because she was indeed an immediate answer to prayer. I had just finished my year-end final photo project for school and had a desire to do one last project just for the sake of shooting with no pressure or endless hours in the darkroom. Up to this point, with so little time left in the semester, I didn’t think I could find a model on such short notice and still have time to shoot. I woke up with that prayer on my lips. I went to my office (as a grad assistant, I had my own office) and between the time I left my apartment and walked through the campus, I received an email from a girl who had heard about me and asked if it were possible to do a shoot with me. 

She wanted some tastefully artistic photographs for her boyfriend who was going away for a while. A former pageant queen who loves the outdoors, THIS my friends is proof there is a God. Dana is a lover of life, nature, and is not afraid to get dirty. I love that she’s got my buddy, the sometimes scruffy outdoorsman, Jacob by her side. You can see pics of them in the mountains, deep in snow, or paddling down the river in a canoe, or camping out and living off the land. Jacob’s got it like that and Dana’s a straight up mountain girl. You gotta love ’em. But yeah, I miss shooting Dana. Our work was short and sweet back when I was still just learning to press the shutter. I’d like to see what I could do with her now. She doesn’t belong in a studio. I need another shot in the mountains and out there in the wild green/white/blue yonder! Who knows, maybe I’ll get up there in the mountains with them at some point, or maybe we could hike the Appalachian Trail with a couple more models, (Hi Elizabeth. Hi Katherine!). Grizzly Jacob would be the perfect guide for something like that. Like I said…Who knows?

And while I’m at it, Congrats to St. Merrique for making the cover of Nude Magazine. Oh how I wish I could have gotten to work with her a few months ago when she was here. Yeah, I’m thinking her fees just went through the roof.