Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How the Deadliest Warrior Made Me A Better Photographer

Jesse James, old west outlaw and anti-hero relived brought me back to just making art the way I wanted to.  Let me start with there used to be this fantastic, wild, television show.  Deadliest Warrior, that I like imagine was thought up to settle drunken debates over who could best who in a battle royale of historic proportions.   The show tested historical weapons, judging there accuracy and the damage that could be done to determine who would win these hypothetical match ups.

This match up was my favorite, Al Capone Gang versus the Jesse James Gang.   They had this fantastic team representing for the James Gang.  Demonstrating all the bad-ass qualities of Jesse James was Joey Dillon.  This dude was awesome.   The confidence of John Wayne, the talent of so many gun-men that came before him, a wealth of knowledge, and a great sense of humor to boot.  I was hell bent on photographing him.

I looked him up, say he was performing at the Autry Western Heritage Museum in a week.  I stuck around after his show, a unique blend of jaw-dropping gun skills and comedy.  I felt like a kid, this guy was super cool and I was gonna get to meet him.   We started chatting, turns out, we lived in the same town.
Joey Dillon's show
Such happy, grateful guy, shaking hands, signing autographs, taking pictures.  He would stay until every little cowboy and girl got to have a little of his time.
Even stuck around for this weirdo (me).

Photographing Joey from the first shot was so easy and natural.  He just goes to "work" if you could call it that.  Pulling off tricks that surely would land me in the emergency room with a broken foot and a concussion.  He makes it look so easy,  gun spinning and tricking while casually carrying on conversation about music, cars, history.  I had to let my brain catch up more than once.   I could ask him to change things up, try from a different side, angle, anything, and he'd just roll into it like nothing.   Really I hardly had to direct him.  This allowed me to have more freedom in my own way of creating.   There weren't any no's or insecurities about how he was being photographed.  Having mostly photographed women for so many years this was so new, and so refreshing. He just trusted me and my own talents.  Photos from our shoot that day:

I made this fun composite from a photo that day and a western set photo I had.  I made a few Joey Dillon lunch boxes with this artwork, they were really fun. 

Driving back after the shoot, Joey singing along to the Avett Brothers, in his own happy world, I remember thinking, "this is so cool, and changes so much."  That one shoot made such a difference in my own confidence and comfort as an artist and I am forever grateful for this crazy gun spinning cowboy, that is now like a brother to me.  Since that shoot, I have grown so much as an artist.  It's always great to work with Joey, be it the shoots we set up, his shows, or his garage Rocketshoes Vintage Garage.   Some of previous work:

I've worked with Joey many times since then, and will again when I can catch him.  He's a busy guy between being a favorite Hollywood Gun Coach and performing his own show across the country.   Busy, but still spends much of his time with his beautiful wife and two precious kids.  He really is living the American Dream.

We got to shoot a little video this last go round, you can check it out as well as other videos by Joey at Joey Rocketshoes Dillon on YouTube

Some photos from our last shoot:

If ya like what you see, you should really join his Facebook fan page, where you can view more photos and videos that we have shot together on the Joey Dillon Gunslinger Facebook page

Want to see Joey on Deadliest Warrior?  Click Here

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lisa at Last! Pueblo 2014

Once, was not enough.  I had really wanted to photograph Lisa in 2013 in Pueblo, timing, shyness, whatever the reason, it didn't happen.   Turns out the road would be calling our names again, back to Pueblo last month.

It begins.

Early on a saturday I headed out, Burbank to Denver.  I had a view of smoke coming off the North end of the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River? and clouds coming in over the Rockies.

Denver Airport,…you are just too creepy.  I understand that the message of this work is global peace and unity, however, if you are leaving the airport, you view the work in the order of peace THEN destruction and fear.  This pair of murals, the demon pony outside (not pictured) which has it's own niceties, and the swirling conspiracy theories about aliens and underground government tunnels,…creepy.

Onward with urgency to the beauty and adventure please!

We got into town, of course hit Bingo Burger again, then settled into the hotel with a lovely view of historic downtown Pueblo and a beautiful cloudy sky. 

We really enjoyed these painted signs that also had vintage electric signs on them.  We had an evening of checking out Pueblo's legendary pubs,  each one rich with it's own beautiful history.  Ending the evening with live music.  GOOD live music, they even played the washboards. I love this town.

The next morning we were off to a Bluegrass festival.  These bluegrass musicians travel in style!

A band warming up under some trees, such a nice moment. 

Later on stage. 

And this fella really layin' it down on mandolin.

There was also a horse event going on right next to the Bluegrass festival.

We were a little more interested in seeing the precious horses hanging out outside the arena than the actual horse event. 

After the events, we journeyed around Pueblo looking for some good locations for our shoot.  Sometimes when you get lost, you find yourself. 

We had dreamt of having pepper fields to shoot in, but it's too early in the season. However, we found some pretty pepper field-upstaging spots.  Lisa and I have a love for locomotives, so what better than to start with a nearly 500 ton growling, heavy, dark beast of a machine.  Lisa, so tiny and delicate in comparison to her co-star, although, just as strong. 

Off to our second location during the dream hour, a natural preserve that I easily could have stayed overnight.  It was so beautiful.  Once again, Lisa showing her strength and beauty.  We wanted to get shots on top of this mesa, she made her way up with steady pace despite having arrived this trip in a ankle brace from a sprain. 

And the last shot (below), too dark to work with, but it was fun for the two of us with the moon in the background.  When I was taking this photo, this exact photo, my right forearm would feel the nasty pain of a biting insect that was on a mission to take me down.  I love bugs, a lot…I'm not sure what they've got against me. 

A very beautiful evening, beautiful photo shoot with a beautiful woman. 

The next day, we were saying our goodbyes to Colorado, and taking a small detour to at least get to drive through the Garden of the Gods.  I can't wait to come back here.  

We stopped at the park's visitor center to get a little bite to eat.  During which, my little bite on my arm was going nuclear, burning up despite having an ice pack on it, itchy to the max, and I began feeling increasingly ill.  "Does it look weird?"  At least I had the comfort of knowing thanks to food allergies, I now travel with an epipen.

Rolling away from the park with the radio on, en route to the airport, more gorgeous land. 

Home.  One "minor emergency" trip to the doctor, antibiotics every 6 hours for a few days, every homeopathic remedy available and I was back to almost normal.  It looked like my arm was broken.  I think this bug had an ironic sense of humor, biting me in the balloon, causing much inflammation.  I'm glad I can laugh about it now!

Another splendid trip to Pueblo, Colorado with someone I truly enjoy being around.  Beautiful art, and hell bent bugs.  I will take every second of it all over again.  Take the good with 'less good', just keep that positive attitude and there are no bad days.