Quietos Fratris: Roll #1, Frame #8.

I uploaded this a little while ago, but realized shortly afterward that I had jumped the gun and forgotten to retouch the dust marks off the film. So here it is again, sans distracting dust marks.

But while I was doing this it got me thinking about process, and the myriad of things we do as image makers to achieve a final image that satiates our thirsty mind's eye, that go unnoticed to the end viewer.

I think of all the untold secrets that my photographs have contained in them, that I don't care to ever discuss, and in this way I achieve a sense of intimacy with each and every one of them. Photography is a graceful relationship.

Color/Flare Study: Roll #1, Frame #25.

These early rolls of film (2010-2011) would lay the foundation to my understanding of controlled lens flare, and manipulation of colors while shooting. Although my creative process is inherently grounded in serendipity, over the years I've honed my secret technique. It's this constant struggle between wild unpredictability and controlled precision, failure and reward, that keeps me pushing myself in my craft, and keeps me humble.

Each one of my portraits has so many variables: double exposure, reflections, flares, colors, that can throw off the composition so easily, and because of this, I've come to the realization that each successful frame is truly a gift from an enigmatic wellspring that I don't fully comprehend, but try to tap into.

Strange Times

We are living through strange times–a time where people care more about their social currency than the caliber of their character.

Intelligence is discarded in exchange for "influence".

But what is needed is more love, empathy, and art–not likes, followers, and personal brands. We are not personal brands, we are people, people with legacies that need not be corporatized, but actualized.

These are strange times, strange times indeed.

In Due Course

She asked Me what I did for a living, a smug smirk fermenting underneath her bloated self-importance. To which I replied:

"If you were to pick out a piece of scrap wood from a lumber yard and bring it home, grow out your fingernails, and claw at it for a devoted length of time each day, eventually, you'll penetrate its hardness–leaving behind the visible marks of your knuckled-down strain. That's what I do–basically."

"What do you do?" I retorted.

"I'm a real estate agent," she replied.

Although she had accrued a comfortable living, it had become clear to the both of us that her entire life up to that point had been an undisclosed letdown. People spend their lives chasing wealth, status, security like a dog chasing its tail, but in their futile pursuit they lose sight of the truck barreling down the street toward them, apathetic in its course.

2nd Kings 2:23-24

From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

2nd Kings 2:23-24

Why Abuela Hates Cats

I called a chat line last night, and had phone sex with a woman suffering from a brain tumor.

In My defense, I was unaware of her mental disability, but as the phone seduction wore on it became apparent that I had unknowingly entered into a precarious moral dilemma. Frankly, it was unsettling, and there was a heavy sense of shame as I gently lead the call to its vulgar culmination, finishing inside the efficient toy My friend Blaire had brought Me back from her recent trip to Japan.

As I laid there in the dark, a pool of ejaculate congealing in the crater of My bellybutton, I contemplated what had just happened and rationalized My selfishness so that I could sleep easy. Sure I was a degenerate, but the guilt festered, like lingering mouth ulcers scattered across My bleeding gums–I had told her I needed to do something really quick and would be calling her back, knowing full well that I had no intention in ever doing so.

I set My phone on silent, and went to bed. In the morning, there were 27 missed calls, and 9 voicemails. I blocked her number, made My bed, and went to the kitchen to brew some coffee.

I ate breakfast with My Abuela, and she told Me a funny story about why she can't stand cats. When she was a little girl in El Salvador, a feral cat once snatched up her supper and made off with it–a chicken breast her mother had fixed especially for her, and 82 years later she's still griping over it–it was a cute story.

A Swing Set for My Batibat

One afternoon, I ventured out to My favorite papaya tree to pick some fleshy gems. On the climb down, I clumsily slipped and sprained My ankle on the landing. As I writhed, squirmed, and agonized about pitifully, I heard a taunting chuckle emanate from the mango tree beside Me.

"You stupid boy," she muttered.

Apparently, the Batibat that resided among it had awakened during the cacophony. It actually surprised Me, since she always ignored My existence–nevertheless, My anger seethed.

The following evening, I returned, not with an axe, but with a wooden board and some rope.

Many had tried to cut into her impenetrable exterior, but their efforts were in vain–I had other plans though.

She looked at Me with apathy, as she always had, while I got to work. Half an hour later I was swinging joyfully from her branches. You see, rather than inflict My vengeance in a direct, yet predictable blow, mine was more insidious, like a formless vapor that filled a confined space.

My retribution wouldn't be seen, only felt. I would use her for My own personal pleasure from now on, and there was nothing she could do about it.

A Secreted Smile From Overhead

"Get off the stage!" yelled the crowd.

"Let someone younger entertain us!" they demanded.

She was 20, and her presence over the years had become intolerable. I couldn't help but to secrete an oblique smile, as I watched the spectacle from the rafters, concealed in shadow.

Their fickleness and stupidity became the night's entertainment, and those of Us who chose not to sit among them relished in it.