Patagonia Lunch Break for The Washington Post

Patagonia employees in Ventura California
You think your work environment is unhealthy? Well, then, it probably is. Might I suggest pointing your employer to the workplace practices over at Patagonia. And if the boss bites on that, maybe point him or her to Patagonia’s 1% For the Planet campaign, or heck, even just the company’s policy of corporate responsibility. I mean, c’mon, don’t they look happy working for someone doing the right thing? Did I mention they have a chef preparing delicious healthy family style meals every day (with a vegetarian option!). Check out the Washington Post story here.
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A Fevered Dream

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Soul searching pulled me West. Once here, the desert snuck in through the back door of the recesses of my mind, where imagination reins, subservient only to an unflinching curiosity. The desert piqued this curiosity, and planted a seed that required no water to grow.

She beckons me like a cruel beautiful lover, burning with passion, malicious with scorn, impossible to comprehend, harder to leave. Her voice speaks in two tongues, one soft sensual and raspy, shrouded in a worldly magic, the other a shrieking battle cry, embodying everything that is war and death.

This burnt earthen expanse, defined by absence, desirous of nothing, disguised in endless irreproachable void, yet demanding exploration.

I heeded the call West in hopes of finding a place to belong. I journey into the desert not for answers or belonging, but to experience for myself and tell a tale, a fictitious tale of my own creation. For non-fiction has no place in the search for magic, and the attempt to explain the pull to this unforgiving land. No, for this journey, facts would be fruitless. So, while my tool remains as documentation through glass and emulsion, my story is one of fiction.

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Snoop Lion + Trinidad James

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On a recent social media shoot for Adidas, I had the pleasure of photographing the infamous and incomparable Snoop Dogg, aka., Snoop Lion, aka., Tha Doggfather, aka., Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. of Long Beach as well as the up-and-coming, All-Gold-Everything, Trinidad James, aka., Nicholas Williams of my home town and the Capital of the South, ATL.
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The Education Beat

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I had a stretch where I found myself on the education beat for clients like The Wall Street Journal and Education Week among others. Pretty much any photojournalist has spent some amount of time dealing with the horror of classroom overhead lighting. I used to dread such shoots, but I’ve grown a fondness for them. It simply makes you have to be a bit more creative, try to see a bit harder, stay a bit longer. It’s a creative exercise really. But more than that, it’s a time I get to witness the true beauty of craft when a teacher really knows how to reach their kids. Their ability to act as educator, wrangler, friend, disciplinarian, confidant and inspiration all in one, and many time simultaneously. They are the ones really raising our next generation, and molding the future of our very existence. They never cease to impress me, and I beg the forgiveness of all the wonderful educators I gave so much trouble in my youth. My eyes were not fully open yet, but thanks to them for setting me on the path to wake up. So, if you’re with me still, go hug a teacher.

P.S., While shooting in the classroom might be a challenge, I looooooove shooting recess. Like fish in a barrel.

To read the Education Week story on Common-Core Curriculum, click here. To read The Wall Street Journal story on tumultuous times for young teachers, click here.
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Social Media Marketing for The Wall Street Journal

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In this life of duality I lead between my commercial personae of Brinson + Banks, and my personal documentary work, I had a strange day where I went from putting together a bid for a social media ad campaign to documenting another photographer shooting one. As I weighed the matter on both sides, I was reminded what a carefree joy it is sometimes as a documentary photographer to just be there and float around, and let happen what may. This as opposed to the concept, planning and prep that goes into the other side. As I begin to spend more time in the world of concept, planning, and crew, I’ve grown quite fond of the entire process and the collaboration and ability to exert such control over the final product. But for me, the balance comes when I have the good fortune to do both. To read the story, click here.
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Davinci Science for Education Week

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There are few schools I have stepped foot in that built more respect in my in a short period of time than the Da Vinci public charter school system has. After visiting the Da Vinci Innovation Academy there was a high bar set, and Da Vinci Science did not disappoint. They are not places that have all the best resources and facilities necessarily, but they posses something more intangible that money cannot buy. They are places that manage to foster creativity and to lead students to a place that they want to learn and push themselves instead of forcing an education down their throat. It’s kind of like the old line, if you build it, they will come. If you create the right environment, they will learn. To read the story, click here.
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Davinci Innovation Academy for Education Week

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I was interviewed for the Education Week blog about this shoot, and since I don’t think I can say it any better, I’ll borrow from my own words.

Lately my wife and I have been pushing each other to make more out of each assignment. To never look at any job or subject matter as lesser than another. As a documentarian and artist, I think that’s how we get lazy and stale. We allow ourselves to make excuses for our own mediocrity.

That said, for me photography is as much about a feeling as it is reality. Whether it be my own personal state of mind at the time, or an energy the subject or place exudes. For me, this place exuded a special feeling. It certainly didn’t come from me as I had injured my back the day before, and was feeling way less than 100 percent. The school could be looked at as a handful of tin buildings strung together with chain length fence and unfinished projects. What I saw was a place that had love and care put into every little crack and crevasse. Classroom walls covered with the art of students, hand-painted murals outside by school parents, a chicken coupe, musical instruments, and hand-made climbing wall, and even a tent-like structure serving as the art room. Where some might see a messy corner, you only had to look a little further to find a student-run redesign project in progress. To me it was a space and teaching style that fostered the right kind of attitude and learning in young minds, and that was echoed with the bright polite students I met. Sometimes it’s not grandiosity and money that makes a place special.

I’ve been in small towns in mexico in cinderblock courtyard restaurants with a better feeling than a five-star restaurant in LA. One of my most memorable assignments was spent in a tiny white room with nothing but a piano and a singer/song writer creating a new work all day. Some of my favorite music images I’ve produced were shot in a basement in the suburbs. All that to reinforce the idea that we have to allow ourselves to be open to seeing more than what is there on first glance.

To read the story by Sarah D. Sparks, click here.
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Cannabis Cup for The Washington Post

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I could say that I’ve never been around so much pot smoke in my life, but I’ve spent a lot of studio time photographing rappers, so that would simply be a lie. As I wandered my way through the relatively pleasant crowd, I couldn’t help but compare that to a mentality that would undoubtedly be present if it were a festival dedicated to booze instead of marijuana. It certainly seems like a SAFER alternative to me that most logical NORML people could wrap their heads around. Maybe not though, it’s not as though the sate of California alone would stand to gain $1,400,000,000 in state revenue from the taxation and regulation of marijuana. But then again, what do I know. Read the in-depth story by Marc Fisher here, and you be the judge.
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