An overview of some of my favorite Individual photos from editorial and commercial commissions over the past few years.
Pretty self explanatory, collection of images of people from commercial and editorial commissions.
Pretty self explanatory, collection of images of places from commercial and editorial commissions.
For The Collective Quarterly.
We showed up to the busted town of Ballarat, population 1. A laissez-faire sign greets visitors: “THIS IS A FREE ZONE TAKE ANY KIND OF PHOTOS YOU WANT. CAMP PARTY MAKE MOVIES ETC NO HARM NOBODY CARES. LEARN NOTHEN SETTING IN YOUR CAR.”
The place has one unofficial resident: its caretaker, Rocky Novak. He grew up mining for gold in Surprise Canyon with his father, strategically setting out nail strips to deter curious off-roaders from discovering their cache.
We drank a lot of moonshine on Rocky's front porch. His buddy, moonshine Robby, told grim and sobering stories from Veitnam while watching US fighter jets illegally practicing strafing runs over private homes and property, all a backdrop to Charles Manson's busted pickup truck sitting on the front "lawn."
“I’ll be making moonshine until the day I die,” he says, addressing the feds in defiance. “If you’re gonna put me in jail, let’s get fuckin’ busy and quit talkin’. Listen, cocksucker, I was sittin’ on a barstool when you drafted me, and I’m still sittin’ on one.”
So, yeah: Robbie is mad at the government. And he has no intention of paying taxes or accepting its assistance
Such is Ballarat.
For The Collective Quarterly.
Inside an anarchist utopia of paradise horticulture
As a young man, he spent three years working for the Peace Corps in a tribal society in Borneo. The experience challenged his value system. “People lived so simply in contrast to how we live, and they weren’t necessarily less happy or healthy,” he explains. “It was interesting to see a society where they just did everything: they didn’t go to a guy for repairs. They built their houses; they grew their food; they did the whole shot.”
Afterward, he completed a brief stint at an academic bookstore in Detroit before abandoning the city entirely and following friends to the Pisgah region. In 1972, he took several hundred dollars and zero experience and invested it all in a few acres of woodland on a mountainside northeast of Asheville, where he aimed to grow native and exotic plants for food, medicine, and craft.
He describes Mountain Gardens as an “anarchist garden community,” where there are numerous responsibilities, from constructing shelter to beekeeping—and from cultivating fruits, herbs, and vegetables to food preservation. A rotating cast of a dozen adults might be present at a given time, and as Hollis writes on his website, “whatever they need is provided, including help (apprentices), guidance (elders), tools, materials, and texts.”
In 1992, Hollis published a 2,500-word manifesto on Paradise Gardening, outlining his effort to build an ecosystem both human and botanical. He concludes the essay with a stanza from a poem—Robert Frost’s “Build Soil”:
You see the beauty of my proposal is / It needn’t wait on general revolution / I bid you to a one-man revolution / The only revolution that is coming.
Excerpt from Seth Putnam's story
For The Collective Quarterly
Rejecting our cultural caricature of the godforsaken desert By Kim Stringfellow.
Kim Stringfellow is an artist, educator and independent curator based in Joshua Tree, CA. Her work bridges cultural geography, public practice and experimental documentary into creative, socially engaged transmedia experiences. She is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow and the 2012 recipient of the Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence.
While on our year long Airstream tour of the US, I worked with Kim to produce imagery throughout the Mojave that illustrated an essay she wrote about John C. Van Dyke's book The Desert: Further Studies in Natural Appearances, and how it continues to shape popular oppinion on the Desert. A few hundred rolls of film later, here is a small vignette.
“The weird solitude, the great silence, the grim desolation, are the very things with which every desert wanderer eventually falls in love. You think that strange perhaps? Well, the beauty of the ugly was sometime a paradox, but to-day people admit its truth; and the grandeur of the desolate is just paradoxical, yet the desert gives it proof.” —John C. Van Dyke, The Desert, 1901
For The Collective Quarterly
“I’m an Indian cowboy,” Seth Fenner says, explaining his heritage. “Your past is what makes you who you are. Your future is just where you’re going. Who I am started before I was even born.” On horseback next to Fenner sits his grandfather Truman “Many Horses” Hall. In January, he was inducted into the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame for his legendary line of spirited bucking broncos: steeds with names like Eruption, Cowboy Cadillac, and Rodeo Moose.
He will be 75 soon, and he speaks in a low, almost inaudible whisper. He’s a man of many nicknames; his mother first called him Mouse, “not because I was small but because I’d eat the center hole out of bread.” Later, when he showed a knack for horsemanship, his relatives gave him the Indian name, which belonged to his great-grandfather. Some day, he’ll pass it on to another.
Fenner and Many Horses’ shared identity began when cowboys brought cattle from Texas to Montana in the 1800s. As they passed by the reservation, the Blackfeet and Cowboys found commonality and began trading and marrying. The Halls married into the family of a Blackfoot chief whose equestrian holdings outnumbered the rest of the members of his tribe combined. Together, the two families became cowboy Indians, which partially helped keep the Blackfeet line alive.
“The Blackfeet were down to about 300 people left in the 1870s,” Many Horses says, explaining that once they were separated from buffalo and confined to the reservation, they began to starve. “Now we’re up to 18,000. I guess we’re good breeders.”
When the Blackfeet talk about horses, it’s as if the very idea of the animal doesn’t make sense. They call it “ponokamita,” a fusion of their words for elk (ponoka) and dog (imita). It’s an attempt to describe an animal that to them defies description: strong as an elk, tame as a dog.
Excerpt from story by Seth J. Putnam
For YETI Coolers
Goodfield has been working as a hunting guide, ranch hand and horse handler in the Santa Barbara area for decades—a true cowboy who blazes his own trail outside the modern world. He rides, ropes, and packs as a way of life.
I met YETI Ambassador and Farm League director Chris Malloy (who is good friends with Goodfield) when we were in California shooting Topa Topa for The Collective Quarterly. He told us about the quiet cowboy with hands the size of tennis rackets, who is the perfect combination of cowboy, rancher, and surfer. We were so happy to get a second chance to be involved with the story.
I went along to document the journey as the film was being made. Malloy and the Farm League team joined Goodfield on a pack trip deep into the backcountry of California's Central Coast—with filmmaker Kellen Keene capturing footage of the two friends as they made their way across the rugged landscape.
On first glance, it may seem like an unlikely friendship between a surfer and a cowboy, but their shared appreciation for the land and a respect for simple, hard work is a common thread. Here's the backstory of how it came together.
For The Collective Quarterly
On the water with the men and women who hunt Homarus americanus
For the fishermen of Stonington, lobster fishing has become exactly that. But it didn’t always used to be this way. A fusion of the Old English word loppe (spider) and the Latin locusta (you guessed it: locust), the creepy-crawly insects of the sea were once considered to be unfit for human consumption. And it probably didn’t help that the creatures were long thought to be immortal if not for predators.
When the Europeans arrived in what is now Maine, they noted that the crustaceans washed ashore in piles 2 feet tall. The sea bugs were so ubiquitous and disgusting that early settlers used them as crop fertilizer. As recently as the 1800s, lobster was fed to prisoners and indentured servants so often that the latter began to stipulate in their contracts that they didn’t have to eat the atrocity more than twice a week. By the 1900s, lobster could be found canned in the supermarket and was nearly five times cheaper per pound than baked beans. It was a perfect candidate for cat food. Contrast that to the modern era, where lobster tails now go for upwards of $27.98 a pound on a given day in Chicago.
Opinions differ as to why lobster became so popular; it could have been the crustaceans’ eventual scarcity or the discovery that they taste better when they’re cooked alive and at lighter weights. And their reputation was undoubtedly bolstered by the advent of the railroad, which offered the ability to export them to landlocked states, where folks were unaware of the bugs’ baggage.