#81 Balance with Brooks!


Color transparency film
4 x 5 in

2199 Market Street | San Francisco  from Investigation I

2199 Market Street | San Francisco

from Investigation I

4325 Ocean Blvd. | San Diego  from Investigation II

4325 Ocean Blvd. | San Diego

from Investigation II

565 Castro Street | San Francisco from Investigation II

565 Castro Street | San Francisco
from Investigation II

240 10th Street | San Francisco from Investigation III

240 10th Street | San Francisco
from Investigation III

1499 California Street | San Francisco from Investigation II

1499 California Street | San Francisco
from Investigation II

7101 International Boulevard | Oakland from Investigation II

7101 International Boulevard | Oakland
from Investigation II

Brooks Fletcher

Brooks Fletcher

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#68 Printing on Glass: Meet Fracture

Neomodern isn't the only company with a passion for getting images off your phone and onto your wall: Fracture is a growing business that has tapped into the challenges of printing on glass, in the tradition of Ansel Adams' and even the original Daguerreotypes, all photographic processes on glass.

We spoke with Herb Jones, CMO of Fracture, about their mission and process.

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ON THE WALL of Herb Jones

by Herb Jones, 2016

by Herb Jones, 2016


Rubin:                        Hey Suzanne.

Suzanne:                  Hey Rubin. How are you?

Rubin:                        I'm good. Um, dare I ask where you are?

Suzanne:                  Um, in the vicinity of San Francisco, but I'm not in our usual recording studio. It's a bit of a, an Improv studio today.

Rubin:                        Wow. I think, um, well that's our hallmark is that we--

Suzanne:                  literally taking our show on the road quite literally.

Rubin:                        Um, all right, well, cool. Suzanne [inaudible] I'd like to introduce to you Herb Jones. Herb, this is Suzanne. [Hi, Suzanne. Hi. Herb.] Herb is CMO... Herb is CMO at a company called Fracture and they, like Neomodern, um, really believe in printing stuff. So I thought we would bring on someone who's like at least like-minded. I don't have to argue with anyone.

Suzanne:                  The importance of printing your photos, getting them off of your phone and onto your wall. Um, I know, I think we're all believers. It is, it is wonderful to meet you here. What I'm actually familiar with your work, uh, commercials. I saw them and I remember telling Rubin, I'm like, have you heard about these guys? I was, I was at, this is great. So, uh, it's so exciting to have you on the show.

Herb:                          So cool. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

Rubin:                        Where are you today? Where her, where are you today?

Herb:                          I am in Sunny Florida and uh, it's a rather nice weather today. It should be working from outside someplace. Um,I don't know if you where we're located. We're located in Gainesville, Florida,

Rubin:                        Gainesville, Florida. I don't know if you know this, but I'm from Gainesville, Florida. What are the odds of that? That's the key. [Does have so much in common. ]That's awesome. I never know anybody from Florida. This is so cool. Um, have you been, are you from Gainesville?

Herb:                          I moved to Gainesville in, uh, 1996, um, to attend the University of Florida. (Oh, you're a gator) and I am a Gator. And so I, um, moved here in 96, graduated 99, uh, met the love of my life in 2000 while I was starting my first company. And, uh, just we fell in love with it and decided there was a place where we want to raise our family.

Rubin:                        Wow. Well, I, well I can certainly support that. I was raised in Gainesville. I was born, born there and went to Gainesville high school. Me and Tom Petty, you know, that's a long time ago. Well, okay. We didn't actually overlap, but he was like in our neighborhood. Yeah. One of the cooler things about Gainesville's that a Tom petty and the heartbreakers or from there and you. Yeah. So tell, tell us about fracture.

Herb:                          So tell you about fracture. So I'm not, so for clarity, um, I've been with fracture now. I joined fracture, uh, in September of 2013. So it's been a really fun rocket ride with fracture is a fun. Um, just a fracture is a very fun, um, lovable company that has, um, just an incredible mission. And that mission is we want to fight ephemera and get people to fall in love with the printed image and really focus on the moments in their lives that matter. Yes. And it is, yeah, I mean it is, it is something that over the past five and a half years, um, I've really taken like the core company beliefs and they just really resonate with me. I have four daughters. Um, so maybe that makes it more personal. I have a 12 year old, I have a nine year old and as of today, I twin eight year olds. Is that actually the birthday that we'll be in birthday mode later tonight. But I mean I have all these incredible life moments. Um, and so being part of the Fracture family over the past five years, it just really reinforced the need to like celebrate these moments and print out these special moments and put them on the walls and, and give them as gifts and remind people that this is what's really important.

Rubin:                        Well, I'm 100%, I'm 100% behind that philosophy. What makes fracture? Why fracture? What does that even, what does that mean? How does that fit in there? You know, so

Herb:                          So I wasnt around when they named the company, but the s the, the tail that I've been told, um, was that, um, essentially just take two words frame and picture and you mash them together, you get fracture. Of course, we get a lot of fun ribbing online, you know, the, uh, you know, I don't think a a month goes by on Twitter when somebody doesn't mention how it's an unfortunate name, but we laugh at it and we've had a lot of fun. We've had a lot of fun just engaging with all the people on social media that I think are realizing the same thing about just sort of that Ephemera that exists, you know, with social, Instagram, especially Facebook,

Rubin:                        don't you find that Instagram, the whole, the way that Instagram has both popularized photography in a certain kind of way and really crushed it at the same time. It's just the people that take a lot of pictures, but they're just, there's just nothing. It's just something that you do it, they don't, they're not designed to be kept or looked at.

Herb:                          Wow. There are gone in an instant. You have five likes and um, they're gone. Um, and that's unfortunate.

Rubin:                        And what do you do for, oh, sorry, one more. I'm just so, so you're printing, you're printing on glass, is that, that's right, right? Yeah.

Herb:                          Yeah. So a little bit about fracture. Um, we are a photo do core company and our first product, so to speak, and the product we really been honing and focusing on over the past 10 years. Now this, this is actually fractures tend to year is a printing your favorite photos directly to glass. Um, that it gives it a really, it's, it gives your photos and incredible effect. Um, and it's just a really more modern alternative like traditional framings are traditional canvases. Um, and so if your taste or more minimalist, um, we're, we're contemporary. Um, fractures might be a very good option for you.

Suzanne:                  Refresh. My memory isn't actually printing on glass, like part of the historic way of printing photographs. Isn't that what like Ansell Adams used to.

Rubin:                        Well he didn't print on glass. I mean there are negative, they're all old printing processes like to Garrett types and things like that that were done directly on glass. Um, you guys have invented some sort of a different process. It's not easy to put an image on glass. You need to do a lot of stuff. And so you must have figured out a way to make this work. It's not an easy thing. I mean I, you can just stick a piece of glass in your printer. You've got to do something right.

Herb:                          It's, it's required a lot of testing, um, a lot of, of attempting, you know, different iterations of the process and just really honing and honing over years and years and not only honing the process, um, because the process was pretty well in place when I came on board and the new challenge that I threw in, um, as chief marketing officer was trying to maintain that same level of quality and then scale. So, um, and I think that's what's been most impressive to me in my five and a half years is just seeing how production has been able to scale because I'm sure as you guys know, I mean we can't take prints and stock them on the shelves. We can stock raw product. But the real big challenge is the fact that we're a on demand manufacturing company. And for example, right now for mother's Day, um, it's unfortunate we have people that are coming to the site, they want to get their mom a gift and give it to her on the 13th, but, um, you know, despite the fact that our production capacity is increased significantly since I started, um, you know, our, our shipping dates right now are out to May 20th.

Rubin:                        Oh Wow. So they've already as they haven't, if they hear about this, there's too late for mother's Day for these guys.

Herb:                          Absolutely. Um, you know, there's gift cards as an option, but at the end of the day, um,

Suzanne:                  as fast as the chief marketer though, I want to make it funny. Happy.

Rubin:                        How much, what's your throughput like? How many can you make in a day? A lot. Really?

Herb:                          Well, I mean, I mean the throughput is actually very, very high. Um, you know, we, I, I don't want to give you a specific number because it's really a function of, of a manufacturing unit that we use to standardize across all different sizes. So we are through, we look at it from a manufacturing unit unit would really make any difference to anybody, but the throughputs increased I'd say by a power of 10 are the past few years. Wow. So, wow.

Suzanne:                  How has your own photography changed since you've worked at fracture? Since now you get to see all these pictures that other people are making, kind of come through the system and, you know, get shipped off to go on their walls. How has, how has your photography changed?

Herb:                          You know, that is a fabulous question because, um, I, you know, I like many people, you know, you know, the my primary, you know, my primary photography was Oh, you know, my smartphone. Um, and it just what you have, you know, when, you know, when you're in the moment, when that special moment happens, you grab whatever you have in most of the time. That's something that's in my pocket. Um, and as a parent of, of little children, um, I was always packing all this extra gear, you know, diapers and everything else, you know, that you need for little kids, you know, and food. And so what I ended up doing, um, probably about a year after I joined fracture, um, and really wanting to hone my own personal craft is I bought a four thirds microwatt and Olympus four thirds micro with, uh, with the prime lens too. I was trying to go back and basically serious. Yeah, yeah. Am I zoom is my feet and, and I absolutely loved shooting with that thing. Um, most of the fracture prints, I have it hanging up in my house. I've taken with that Olympus. It's a fabulous little camp.

Rubin:                        I mean, the phone cameras are really getting better. I mean, when you guys started, they must've been really crappy 10 years ago. You couldn't really get a decent print out of a smartphone, but now they're like, like Lika's they're amazing. So I mean the microphone thirds is great, but your phone could kind of do it right? Yeah, yeah.

Herb:                          Yeah. And I still, I have plenty of prints on my phone, but I'll tell you and that nothing, nothing compares to just having an amazing lens. Now that being said, um, for father's Day, uh, my ask is the anamorphic lens from moment to moment. Camera Lenses. Have you seen those oh moments. Great.

Rubin:                        Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. We've been talking to, to moment as well. It's like, I like those guys. They got some really, oh yeah. Yeah.

Herb:                          They make awesome products. So hopefully for father's Day I get that little nice little moment set up.

Rubin:                        Did you take pictures before, like before you got into the picture business, would you say you were a photographer? Did you take a lot of pictures?

Herb:                          No, I was a marketer. I can't, I came at it from a digital marketing perspective. Um, I, I took lots of pictures, but you know, my photography Iq is so low, so low. I, I would hate to call myself a photographer on any level because I understand how much goes into the craft now. He still scratching the surface.

Rubin:                        Do you guys have to do any, so when people send in their pictures to get them put on glass, is there something special you do? Image why, I mean, I know this, it's a complex process to get in or to adhere it to the glass. But um, in prepress or whatever you'd call it, pre production, do you need to change the contrast or the color? Sacha, is there something you do to make it more look better on the glass?

Herb:                          Not really. Um, it's just naturally, yeah, we, we have a 60 day happiness guarantee. No questions asked. We will make your image right if you don't like it for any reason. Um, and I, you know, oftentimes we're addressing image quality issues because somebody had an old black and white, you know, and it was torn or ripped. And it was crinkled, but it was the only picture they have at the great grandfather or something like that. And they want to get that printed on fracture. And so we, we, we ended up doing a lot of consultation and we, and we can even, you know, take that image and put it in Photoshop and do everything we can for the client. But it's really a point where, you know, the customer asks for it. Um, we don't really volunteer those level of services because we have, you know, we have customers all across the spectrum. You know, we have, you know, the 80 year old grandma and this is the only picture she has of her dad, you know, and you know, maybe she's even trying to send us the hard copy of that. And then all the way down to like professional photographers, you know, major influencers, you know, and we have people that, you know, they absolutely, they, they, they would be horrified if they found out we did any kind of preproduction touchups to their images. You know, they have their colors perfect and they know exactly what they want. So it's really a point where that when the customer asks for help than be cage,

Suzanne:                  is there an image that you've printed, um, on fracture that you, you knew you really liked going into it, but that when you actually saw it printed, um, that kind of made you gasp or made you just really, really excited to hang it on your wall?

Herb:                          Yes. Um, I can actually look over my shoulder and see the hanging right by my front door and it is how can we see it? I could, I could actually take you down there if you want it to say. Um, but um, yeah, let me do that really quick. I'll show you. Um, and we actually use this print in a mother's Day ad probably four years ago. Um, I'll just run you down really quick.

Rubin:                        It'd be cool to get a still image of it at some point cause we can show that cause not everyone's going to watch. We're, we're not gonna show the video.

Herb:                          Okay. Yeah. I'll say I'll show you. There's an image that very quickly, um, so right behind my, my in here, let's see this image right here on the beach. This is my wow. But this is my lovely wife and my now nine year old daughter. She was pretty teeny tiny at the time, then on the beach and so cute. She was probably three years older when we, um, when we did the, um, yeah, she's probably two or three years older than, than at image when we did the mother's Day shoot. So we actually had her holding it and giving it like she was giving it to. Huh. And that was a pretty fabulous one. Yeah.

Rubin:                        Did a professional take that or did you take that or how did that come from?

Herb:                          I took that with the Atlantis.

Rubin:                        Oh, you do like that camera. It's a good camera. Yeah.

Suzanne:                  So great. I mean just like the rhythm of their bodies and how your daughter is like kind of kicking up her foot and then the, yeah, like ribbon of water is almost like reaching out to her hand and then with your wife's body position, it's, it is a great photo. Great Movement. And then, um, just so meaningful to you that it's two, two of your favorite people in the world.

Rubin:                        Do you, do you find any, um, uh, group more tuned into what you're doing? Like, is it better for senior? I know, I know that ultimately you have a wide audience, but, um, our kids, the dominant group, is it seniors? Is it, like, what can you characterize who like is into this the most?

Herb:                          Yeah, so that, I mean, that's a great question. Um, and it's hard to nail down who we appeal to the most, but I can tell you, um, I, I think the images that we see the most frequently, um, obviously lots of life milestone moments. Um, lots of babies, lots of pictures of kids. Um, lots of pictures of family gatherings and that and you know, tons of pets, tons of pets. Um, gosh, I mean, dogs really make fractured, go to the point where we have our, our office dog Raja, who's in there everyday with this. Um, and at the same time, you know, we just see, I'd say ballpark say maybe 15 to 20% of the images we see you have a dog in. I'm at some point. Um, we have cat lovers too, but dogs. Yeah. Dogs. Just interesting on the special where photographers have dogs, I guess funny correlation. It's just uh, um, I mean really like I would say like these middle aged families and I think it's because they've reached more milestone moments in their life. So you know, you know, you think about who you want to appeal to and you want to think about who has the most milestone moments they're starting to stack up. And young couples, you know, maybe they bought their first house, you know, you know, there's going to be a need there, you know, baby wedding anniversaries, special moments with family. And then, you know, as you get older, you know, as you get maybe get to my age or older, you start looking at it printing or Framing other things in memorial. Um, you know, parents that have passed away or grandparents that have passed away, um, you know, then you start getting into graduations and kids leaving the house and then they're getting married and they're having no kids. And so all of a sudden you've got a flurry of, you know, grandparents, you know, that we're printing pictures of kids and their own special moment. So, so it's, uh, it's a, it's a pretty interesting sort of big monstrous demographic we appeal to, but I think probably that core is like the youngest families, the younger families.

Rubin:                        Are there any kinds of pictures that reproduce better on glass and others? Um, or is it like too black and white work as well as like color? I Dunno. Is it just the, the, because of the substrate being shiny, I wonder if that lends itself to certain photography just really being advantageous in that medium.

Herb:                          Um, so I would, I s the p personal preference, right? I mean, um, I love pictures with a lot of bright color, bright, vivid color. Um, I love the nature of photography, that I see, um, and we just have some incredibly gifted photographers. It send stuff through, um, you know, stuff that absolutely inspires me as a photographer. Like, you know, just wow, I never would have thought of like approaching that shot from that angle or you know, wow. That macro lens right there work so well, you know, uh, I mean to the point where sometimes I'm even trying to look up the epic's data and try to understand more about like what their settings where we are getting the shot. Um, black and whites look amazing. Um, and I don't know if that's just the frameless appearance, um, but I've seen some black and white shots that are just incredibly moving, um, portraits. Um, just, yeah, I mean,

Rubin:                        and then, I mean, it's funny. I mean, so neomodern art, my company, uh, we have the same fundamental belief, the how important it is for people to get things off of their phone, out of the cloud and into some sort of physical, tangible form for, for us, it's funny because we only were like in the same way that you really have crushed specialized and how to get it on glass and make it look amazing in that format. We specialize in paper. You know, I, it, it seems old school, but, um, there's something about, for me, the tactile nature of holding the physical print that I like. So it's interesting to me that we have this different, uh, execution feeling, you know, feelings about that, but really the same underlying, um, passion for the printed image. I think that's cool. I don't know. I just, that's me.

Suzanne:                  Yeah. Yeah. I agree with that. I would, I would even my further that question I've heard, what would you say is, for you, what is the most important thing to get people's pictures off their phone and onto their wall? What do you mean? Of course, like most, uh, what's the most important reason that you see? Why, why do you think people should really get away from this, that a femoral fleeting image and, and commit to it and get to see it all the time?

Rubin:                        Because it's certainly convenient in, in a digital format. I mean, we, we can embrace that. It really takes, mix it frictionless for sharing an image in a lot of ways and posting it on social media and all that. But yeah. How do you describe getting it off the phone? Like why is that so important?

Herb:                          Um, well, I mean, been research that's been done that really illustrates the like savoring, like those special moments and printing things is good for you from a health perspective. Um, I think one of the most inspirational, I think one of those inspirational interviews we've done for our blog as we interviewed a guy, and I believe he's a priest. Um, I could be wrong, but he, um, he was battling cancer and he did, he took it upon himself. He made the decision to just surround himself with like, like images that he absolutely loved. And I don't think they were only family members or special life moments. I think they were just generally just images that brought him joy and, and he decided to make that a part of his, just his environment there and to help him. But for me, uh, I mean life is short. I mean, and I think the older you get, the more you realize that, you know, there's going to be some people that you're spending quality time with today that you don't have any guarantee they're going to be with you tomorrow. Um, you know, I lost my mom in 2011 and, you know, one of the big regrets that I have is, is that I don't have more images of her. Um, and I spend a lot of time there at the end. While she, she, she, she, uh, struggle with brain cancer for about a year and I took some pictures of it then, but I wish I had pictures, you know, for years before that. I wish it had been more of a focal point for me. Um, lost my father when I was 16 years old and I have some great images of him, but I wish I had more. Um, so I'm, I'm constantly emphasizing that to my girls. I'm like, one day you guys are going to love all these images that we constantly take and you guys will be able to go through these images and be able to really walk through a lot of details that you're, that you're just gonna Forget.

Rubin:                        I also would add that, you know, you don't want to give your kids 100,000 digital files in a cloud somewhere. It's like to let you go through that and pick out the ones that you think that they would want to have or keep or that they would want to do it while you're alive. You to go through some of that process. Um, I don't know. It just seems to me part of, part of the process, you know, going through and picking out the pictures that are good that you want to be the, the classic family shots.

Herb:                          Yeah. I mean a a 64 gig memory card, that's, that's a couple years to go through a review of just for us. So that definitely makes a lot of sense.

Rubin:                        Um, so where's fractured going? Like what's your vision over the next bunch of years?

Herb:                          Um, good question. Good question. So in a very tangible way, um, we actually just got the keys to a brand new facility, um, uh, brand new carbon neutral facility, hearing her in Alachua, Florida, which is the town just, just adjacent to Gainesville. And um, we're actually in the process of moving in there now. So that's pretty exciting for me is, is the marketer and has been really charged with helping grow the company. You know, being able to get us to a point where we literally just have to move into a much larger facility. You know, this is a box that I've been wanting to check off for a long time, but I mean we, we have a product roadmap we've created and we want to find ways to get beyond glass and offer people other products, but innovative products. I mean we want to find a way to get people products. So even if a glass print that's going to hang on your wall isn't Your Cup of tea or it's not your specific use case, maybe you prefer frames or you maybe prefer canvases. We want to find other types of products to get out there and offer you. So there's going to be some pretty tremendous growth in the future. Both with our current line. Um, we'll be able to offer, we're, we're in the process of working on different aspect ratios. Currently we only offer four by three in square prints right now. And how large, how large can they go? Um, our largest size right now I believe is 26 inches at the, at the maximum dementia.

Rubin:                        Yeah, that's pretty, that's a, that's fair. It's not a lot of people's pictures can get that big.

Herb:                          No, you're exactly right. So I apologize. Um, because you were to four, three aspect ratio, it doesn't come out that like nice clean numbers, right? Like, I mean, but when we, when we started offering to buy three is we'll start offering poster size 24 by 36. Um, but currently are lots of sizes, 21, six, 21.6 by 28, eight guys and our a square. It's, it's decent size, uh, for sure.

Rubin:                        Um, I find people do that. Is that a common, I mean, what are most, what's the size that most people see their stuff at?

Herb:                          So that is a, that is a pretty common size. I mean, the price alone is what, you know, tends to, uh, you know, take it down a notch in terms of overall sales. Um, our largest square print is 23 by 23. Um, but especially due to seasonality and the fact that I ballpark at least half of our orders are gifts. Um, the smaller sizes tend to dominate our, our smallest rectangle, which is, you know, essentially a five by seven. It's 4.8 by 6.4 inches. Um, that's our most popular product.

Suzanne:                  Hmm. Do I wanted to ask you a question? Um, before it was something that made me think of, um, just where you talked about the priest and, and printing for health and then your kids in their memories. I just, I'm reading the whole brain child right now and it's talking about the importance of sort of reliving memories with your kids as, as they happen to revisit things that are great memories and also things that aren't, but the idea is to kind of, it helps them develop to have these memories that you, that are discussed and brought up more than once. And so I've never put it together before, but I love the idea that actually that's what photos are on walls there. They're actually tools to help your children build better memories a better sense of, you know, storytelling in a better sense of, um, kind of creating their own story and capturing it.

Herb:                          That's awesome. For both our la yeah, I just dropped out in the chat, but that's an old blog post we did. Um, I'm pretty put this can make you a happier person. Oh, awesome. And uh, yeah, trying to get that message out there. That's really interesting. The whole brain child you said?

Suzanne:                  Yeah. It's the whole brain child by Daniel Siegel,

Rubin:                        the link. Um, if we talk about it and I might put the link in the podcast notes so people can check that out. That sounds good.

Suzanne:                  Yes. Yeah. I feel so much about photography right now. Um, or at least the mentality I'm trying to get away from is take a picture or record it. I did it, I was there and move on. And it's almost like it's like I checked the box instead of actually enjoying the shading these moments. And so when I print them, I do get this moment. I do, I get to relive those moments and they become even more meaningful. So I, I, I love, I hope anyone else that is trying to help tell that story too. I think it is so important to sort of see your work and that it can evolve, that you don't have to just print something once you, some print other things and the wall can change and grow as your children age and as you know, as your family continues to grow. Yeah.

Herb:                          It's funny. Um, I try to take down fractures of, you know, I have prints in our hallway, like a running down her hallway of, of, of my daughters when they were younger and replace them with newer prints and um, they don't want me to don't like they like four years ago, three years ago or two years. Like they like seeing the younger version, they'd like remembering that moment. And I, and I love that that's something that's being instilled in them. You know, at a young age, you know, it reminds me,

Rubin:                        um, a lot of people when they come in to neomodern and the question is like, is this picture good enough? I have a bunch of these and there's a, there's always debate about it. And for a long time I used to think our work was to help people figure out which picture was the iconic picture, the best picture. And now after doing it for awhile, it's really, it goes the other way. Choosing a picture, any picture makes it the iconic picture. It's not like it's a, it starts out that we're trying to identify which one is great. I, it's often just pick one and by virtue of choosing it and putting it on your wall, it becomes iconic. And that's what the experience experiences. You can't take it down. It's become this emblem of our childhood or that trip. Even though there's a dozen other pictures that becomes the one. But that's it. That's a better proposition in a weird way then trying to labor yourself with figuring out which is the greatest picture here and it's not good enough in some way cause just printing it will make it good enough.

Herb:                          Yeah, that that is, I, I, I absolutely loved that. That's something we struggle with so much. I mean that's what we hear from customers all the time. We hear, we hear from people all the time and say, oh I love fracture. You guys were awesome. And you know, my first question is, you know, well how'd you hear about us? You know, as a marketer I want to be attribution. And secondly it's like, oh well you know, have you printed anything yet? Oh No, I'm still looking for that perfect image. You know, I've looked in to flip that on its head and basically say the perfect image will be the way of what you, what you choose. Right, right. Yup. I mean that's, that's an interesting way to look at the challenge, but it is a very real challenge.

Rubin:                        I mean very well for us, I would say that is the single barrier to entry, which is, God, this is amazing. How do I pick which one, which is one of the

Herb:                          reasons why we have this as a concierge thing. Because we would say just upload 10, like let's look at them with you. That's brilliant. When I saw that on your site, I was like, that is so brilliant because you're helping overcome that first giant hurdle. Yeah. You know, and they just don't feel confident. And I think part of that is, you know, Instagram and social media and you have this fake version of people's lives and yeah, people will like, you know, I, I have a friend, she has a daughter who's 17 years old and we took them, um, we took them someplace up in North Carolina up in the mountains. And just, I mean, there was a whole period of time, you know, there's probably like 10 minutes when she's like just taking pictures of her daughter and a whole variety of different poses and then they went through them and then got the perfect one. Okay, I'm putting this on Instagram and I'm like, wow. Like you could have just sat here for 10 minutes and enjoyed this majestic view. What'd you do? All that work for something. It's got to go on Instagram and like 30 seconds later and nobody's going to see it or care about it. Right, right, right. But whether it's fracture or whether it, any other brands, um, I would just really stress, and this is something that I, I love seeing with younger generations is just be thoughtful about the things that you buy. Um, be thoughtful about the companies you buy from and make sure that there are companies that are actually really trying to do good in the world. Um, and we're not just contributing to a lot of the, the challenges that we have as a planet at a larger scale. I think one of the, what are the beliefs and values that has grown on me the most with fractured, was just being, being a good steward of the earth, being a good earth citizen. We're a carbon neutral company and that's really difficult. I mean it's, it's really difficult to do. Um, as a manufacturer you have to jump through a lot of hoops and we're, and we're looking at every aspect of the manufacturing process of our offices in general and trying to be as thoughtful as possible and trying to reduce our carbon footprint and then we offset whatever's left.

Rubin:                        Wow. Nice job. Nice job. Herb. Thank you for joining us and I'm so excited that you're in Gainesville. I'll come visit you and I'm visiting my mom next time. Again, it's that bias. Um, our show is the coordinator and produced in San Francisco and partially Gainesville. Go to neomodern.com/podcast to get show notes, see photos, post comments. Please leave reviews and ratings on iTunes and to get to subscribe from you, telling your friends and spreading the word. If you know someone who might get something from us that in thank you to Mitchell Foreman for our theme music and all of you for hanging out with us. We appreciate your attention and we hope we've given you some things to think about. Until next time.


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#64 The Power of Scale, meet Bryant Austin, Photographic Artist

Bryant Austin, “ Minke Whale Composite Portrait I - Detail”  (2009)

Bryant Austin, “Minke Whale Composite Portrait I - Detail” (2009)

“I don’t even create any more, I connect… I connect to Earth’s reality. And to myself.”

— Bryant Austin

BRYANT AUSTIN’S ARTIST STATEMENT: I am mostly known for creating life-size photographs of whales, with an emphasis on the inquisitive expressions of their eyes. A process that encompassed twelve years of my life to create fourteen life-size whale portraits. Everything I create expresses an awareness that all photographs taken throughout history, are the cosmos taking a self-portrait. It is this feeling of connectedness that I seek to convey through every photograph.

Bryant Austin, “ Humpback Whale Mother and Calf II  (2005)

Bryant Austin, “Humpback Whale Mother and Calf II (2005)

My new work reveals the sun’s surface in vivid detail, as viewed through Earth’s varied atmospheric states. Dramatic landscape elements anchor the experience to challenge our perceptions of reality and our place within an infinite void. The process is complex and often requires the use of three telescopes equipped with infrared cameras and a monochrome video camera with scientific filters. This equipment is often backpacked in the Sierras to capture Sun/Earth interactions that occur only a few moments each year.

Following my father’s death in 2015 and a near death experience of my own a few months later, I felt compelled to explore the oneness I felt with whales through other subjects. My creative journey revealed an avenue for deeper connection to the cosmos, personal transcendence, and peace of mind.

This creative practice has led me to feel that the disconnection we experience - from one another, from nature, and the universe - is an illusion. Closer to home, this awareness has challenged me to explore ways to deconstruct the divisions we create between subjects found in nature and contemporary photography.


Bryant Austin, Sperm Whale Composite II (2011)   8 X 36 feet

Bryant Austin, Sperm Whale Composite II (2011)

8 X 36 feet

Bryant Austin, “I'm Here”   Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2016)

Bryant Austin, “I'm Here”

Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2016)

Bryant Austin, “Precession Study - Panel II”   Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2017)

Bryant Austin, “Precession Study - Panel II”

Cathedral Spires and Sun, Yosemite (2017)

RUBIN NOTE: I was thinking of Peter Beard, not Nick Brandt, when I was recalling African images of Africa and dead animals. The following is about Nick Brandt:

Nick Brandt, Lion in shaft of light, Maasai Mara (2012)

Nick Brandt, Lion in shaft of light, Maasai Mara (2012)

In December of 2000, Nick Brandt was in East Africa directing a music video for Michael Jackson. When the shooting for the video was complete, Brandt took some time off and visited some of the wildlife preserves. He took along a medium format camera and began to photograph the animals he saw from the car. Now, six years later, Brandt is out of the music video business. He devotes himself full time to photographing the animals of Africa.

Brandt’s approach to his work is unique…perhaps because he was never trained as a still photographer. Although he take photographs of wildlife, he is not really a wildlife photographer. He’s not interested in documenting the actual lives of real animals in the wild. Instead he creates romanticized images of animals in an equally romanticized setting. https://www.utata.org/sundaysalon/nick-brandt/




Bryant Austin, A Mother Listens, (2006)

Bryant Austin, A Mother Listens, (2006)

Clyde Butcher, INDIAN KEY 6 Everglades National Park, FL (1997)

Clyde Butcher, INDIAN KEY 6 Everglades National Park, FL (1997)


Rubin:                        Hey Suzanne. Hey Rubin. How are you? Good. I'm, I'm uh, I thought we could check, check before we start, but I'm not, I don't want to Chit Chat actually had to the business. I'm the, I keep telling you like I think we should talk before the shows get going and then I'm the, yeah, it's my, I'm the PR. I am usually, I'm the problem and this is what it looks like.

Suzanne:                  It's cool. And we can, we can just jump right in. I'm also excited. Uh, Bryant is here today. Okay. You want to, you've met him before, right?

Rubin:                        I have. We'll, okay. So, okay, so everybody, this is Bryant Austin. I just want to tell a little story. Bryant, welcome to the show. Thank you. Thanks for having me. So I don't know, I haven't really heard your version of this. So I'll tell my version and let's see how they fit together a little bit. And I could be, maybe I'm completely made this up, but my recollection was many years ago, maybe nine years ago or eight years ago, I met someone who had a gallery in Carmel and she and I were hanging out and at some point she said, I want to show you somebody work that I think you'll like, cause I know you love photography. And I looked at this, I looked at one of your photographs and my jaw hit the floor. I couldn't believe she explained this. She explained what you were doing to me. And at the time I was going to these conferences in Carmel and I guess, I don't know if you lived in Carmel or maybe she was in Carmel, but I invited, I showed the pictures to the people from the conference of the Eg conference and everyone was like, that guy's awesome. And, and then one day I was at the conference in there you were and that's how I met you was at the club. Thank you. Is that, wow. Did I make that up?

Bryant:                       No, that, that sounds right. Yeah. And I really appreciate that you connected me with EG because I met a lot of great people there and uh, some people that took my work to new levels. So thank you.

Rubin:                        Well, the, I, I, I have to say for people who are, who don't know your work, the pictures that I saw that just were jaw dropping, again, stop me if this, if I'm remembering this in a dream, but it was a life size photograph, a lifesize photograph of a whale. And Yeah, I have the whale was the size of my head and I'd never seen anything like this. A life size photo. And you know, if you take a picture of a whale, you're going to distort it. But it was undistorted what was I looking at? What was that?

Bryant:                       Yeah, those are life sized portraits, you know, there their portraits, uh, emphasizing the eye and uh, the varied expressions in the eye. Um, and those portraits are roughly four by six feet to six by 10 feet. Oh. And that's the first thing I always do when I'm with a whale is, uh, to see if I can get the portrait of the eye and the surrounding head if that's the first thing you do when you see a whale. Yeah. Well, no, I mean the, for a second, I hope for it and I, I'm very careful to hopefully achieve and if the well spends more time with me, that's when I started to think about doing the whole body. And, and so that's when I'll start photographing their body and five foot wide sections going up and down and then making this really massive composite, highly detailed composite of their body. They're done this done with a medium format camera. [inaudible]

Rubin:                        are they holding still for this? Did they know what you're doing or what?

Bryant:                       I do that there. It's both. So most of the time I stay still and, and if you're, if you're by yourself in the ocean floating alone, they're more likely to come up to a new way for them to come up to you. Because if you swim up to them, they, they most likely leave. And so you have to really just wait. And when they come up to you, they can come up to you for four minutes to five hours. And I've had both. Wow. And, um, so generally I do let them swim by my camera, so they'll make multiple passes and then I'll just take pictures as they move by my lens. And they're generally like five or six feet, six feet see outer limit. It's really four or five feet that really gets the detail, gets the color and the tones because you can't use artificial light. What? Excuse me, wait, sorry.

Rubin:                        The photography or the whales. I mean, were you a diver and you thought I should take pictures of these or were you a photographer thinking, I think I should get in the water? Yes.

Bryant:                       Yeah, it is. That's a long story. I was a kid just completely out of touch with my truth and it took years to peel back all the layers and then, and my truth, I realize, you know, um, I was a painter most of my childhood and it burned me out. I wasn't satisfied. And then I realized photography is my medium. And the other layer that slowly got peeled out back was that I'm really connected to the ocean in a big way. And, and in particular whales. Wow. Yeah. This is just waking up to your truth and just feeling that resonance, you know? I was like, wow, okay. Yeah, this is, it's pretty obvious. This is my purpose and my truth, you know, connection with these animals.

Rubin:                        So, how did that project, is it, that's the eye of the whale project? Is that what you call that?

Bryant:                       No, no. Well, yeah, I mean, I, I, you know, even though I don't, I haven't done it for a couple of years now, it's always been our practice to me and uh, yeah, I don't know what it's called. You know, it's just a, it's just a practice. It's a way to connect, uh, with nature in a way to connect with yourself and really just blur, blur the lines. You know,

Suzanne:                  I heard a, uh, um, a talk that you had given or an interview that you've given and you were saying it's, it's 15 to 30 photographs her per whale and it takes months just to composite the images, but it takes months to build a computer that can process the amount of, uh, kind of data to make these images possible. Can you talk about that? That amazes me that you have to make your tools.

Bryant:                       There's tears like in doing this work. I mean, it's highly experimental. It's never had been done before or since. So there's tiers, like, you know, and, and getting the computer as part of it, like having the processing power is that, so it's like, I'm okay, I'm in the field, uh, and I'm in the field for five weeks to three months. It's really expensive. Okay. Oh, I got something. You know, what happens if you're in the field for five weeks? You're lucky if you have one good encounter, you know, for, for five minutes or an hour. Okay. It's like, okay, what do I do with all this data now? All these photographs, um, I can't do anything with them. So no, I, cause the computer I had was from the last field season from two years earlier and I'm, I'm, you know, everything's getting bigger. And, uh, so yeah. Uh, I've, I've built three computers, uh, over time to tackle each one. And the last computer that was built, it was built just to make one photograph and it's measures eight by 36 feet. Uh, and that was completed in 2012. Uh, that was my last one. Um, I spent 12 years of my life to make 14 lifesize portraits. And that one was never printed. So, uh, you know, it's, everything I do is done to archival standards, so they'll last for hundreds of years. So future generations and kids can see what we may lose our lifetime. We're or may not, hopefully not, but I really want to solid record of what, what we're coexisting with right now. And uh, and that's when I decided to take a break because like, wow, I've spent, yeah, that was finished in 2012 and then for another three years I just tried to raise funding to print and mount it to a, to an archival standard, which is, you know, it's like 60 or $70,000 and then you've got a store it and transport it and find a venue for it. And it was just, yeah, it wasn't crazy anymore. And it was, that part of my mind was going, you know, atrophied.

Suzanne:                  How do you feel when you're in the water with just kind of waiting for a whale? Like is it meditative? Is it, yeah. Peaceful.

Bryant:                       No, no, it's very peaceful. Um, so there's a lot of surrender and it just comes naturally for me. Um, and like I said, I do work alone in the water so I can be, and 3000 fetal blue water. Um, my boat can be 800 feet away. Uh, and I'm just with whales, I'm floating, I'm at a distance where we can have a visual connection to each other, but that's it. And then I just wait and um, yeah, it is meditative. You, uh, I breathe up in a way a, I'm a free diver, so that's breath, hold, dive in. So I'll, uh, I don't generally dive with whales. They don't like it. They leave. So they're very sensitive and, but it's just a way to relax. So I'll saturate my blood, you know, to nearly a hundred percent o two and my heart rate, I can lower my heart rate through my breathing in the way I breathe. And yeah, it's just very relaxing very much in the moment.

Rubin:                        But you're holding a camera and you're, you are in hoping a whale comes around and sure you have to concentrate on the photography part as well as not, you know, dying cause you're holding your breath underwater.

Bryant:                       Oh yeah. The breath holds not, not, I don't do too much of that. Um, you know, I, I've been held by wells and, uh, almost taken down by a young, whale that just held me in his arm, his Pec fan, and I think he was about to take me to go see his mom and his mom came up next to us. And so, um, he let go of me. You have to be able to navigate those channels, you know, those things when they come up. Wow.

Rubin:                        Are you more comfortable? I was glancing, I've been going through your portfolio, your newer work, you're on the land that looks right safer. Is it still meditative? Is it the same kind of process? Yeah. So tell me about that. Excuse me. Project.

Bryant:                       Yeah. So it really, um, yeah, I had to take a break from whales just because, um, it's, it's just, um, yeah, it's a long story. I wouldn't even know where to begin. Like really that the ultimate thing issue was I could make it sustainable and, um, it, it, it Wa it was sent, you know, yeah. It was a long story. It wasn't sustainable. And I thought I can either just try to be a salesman and not take photographs for, you know, I did that for three years. Yeah. I can just keep doing that. Or I could just create and find a way to, to have a daily creative practice. And, uh, I made that decision. MMM. MMM. In 2015 so then the idea was, okay, yeah, wells will go pull you into the present moment. Um, the word will is meaningless. When you're with them. They're there, they have a presence. You feel their presence, their consciousness. It's all very evident and you know, you, you can, you know, they can bring you closer to an enlightened state where you just feel connected to everything and feel one with everything. Uh, it's, they can easily take you there, especially when you can just touch them and they're looking at you, their eyes moving and studying you. Huh. Um, but I always wanting to know, I mean it's available to us everyday. All of us everywhere. We don't need to be with a, whale five feet away. We could that, that same thing can, those emotions can be stirred from by a flower or a tree, uh, or, or the sun or the sky. And I thought, I just want to explore ways to evoke that same emotional state, uh, that I felt with the whales in everyday life. And, uh, so that sale. Um, well I'm sorry.

Rubin:                        So what did you do? Like, I mean I've seen some of your pictures, but maybe you could describe what you came to.

Bryant:                       Well, you know, it, it, um, it was a decision I made in an emergency room. Actually I had a close call with a medication. Um, uh, it just, my body just did not like it. And, uh, I just thought, you know, laying in the hospital bed, like, what am I doing? You know, and, uh, and I just came back to this idea of connecting every day. And you know, the, I, the idea is, you know, when you connect to the present moment, when you can create work that reminds us, our, our can connect us to the present moment, you realized that the cosmos is right here. And I just wanted to start exploring work that can connect us to that reality. Um, I'm not sure if I answered your question though.

Rubin:                        Not at all. Not even live in the slide. Well, I mean, I, what I've seen are they look like landscapes and then there are these almost scientifically amazing images of the site.

Bryant:                       Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rubin:                        What am I seeing?

Bryant:                       Um, yeah, that it started with the sun and the telescope and um, you know, like, you know how we have narratives in our head like that can keep the kind of hold us back. You know? And I think during that three years I wasn't taking photographs. I was so focused on the whales, getting back to the wells, getting, you know, really doing all this stuff. The narrative was I can't do anything else. Like it's whales and, and anything else I do is less. And, and there's a, in my mind almost created like a hierarchy, like wells are at the top of this hierarchy and they're not. And um, and uh, so I, I, you know, I'll just real quick just because it makes sense to explain this. I had, I was having Gi issues and the medication was to help the GI issues, but it sent me to the emergency room and the doctor said, you don't, if you take antidepressants that can help your GI issues. And I thought, I don't need the antidepressants, I'm fine. They're saying, you're fine, but your stomach and your intestines, they'll benefit from it because they have lots of serotonin receptors and like, okay, let's take him. And I was like, Lo and behold, I, where's my narrative? And it was just like, oh. And it was like, I was like, could be a child again. I could create, I could run out. I, you know, I had a telescope and the garage that my wife's parents gave to me as a gift for the Venus when Venus transited the son in 2012. I was just explore with this. You don't see where it goes. And it was just a giving myself a pass to play and explore things that have been with me since childhood. Um, and so yeah, it started with the sun and it started with a tree and it's very childlike and, and you know, honestly, it's very unoriginal, but we all like to align the moon and the sun behind things and the tree and this and that. And I just gave myself permission to do that and I wasn't prepared where it would take me. And, and I just, I was, I had no agenda. I'm not creating a body of work. I don't have an exhibition schedule. I'm not trying to do anything with it. I just want to see where it would take me. And it took me on a journey I wasn't prepared for. Um, it moves has moved me more than an all my time with whales. Oh really? Yeah. Connecting, starting with the son. I don't even know where to begin, but yeah. Um, there was a moment where I was photographing the sun rising behind a six foot Jeffrey pine on half dome that had been photographing for the last four years. I've photographed the tree from a two and a half miles away with a telescope. And right. The idea is like, oh this get the sun in the tree and that's cool. And then it's the things I would see beforehand. I would see the way the sun, you wouldn't see the sun, but you would see the way it would illuminate the tree and then the edge of the granite right out until it goes out of the frame and cause it telescopes roughly like 2000 millimeter magnification. And then you would see before the center merges, you'd see the insects flying the look like stars. They're like, this guy's black by the way, everything's black except for this, this drama unfolding, this micro world I'm seeing from two and half miles away. And then birds would fly over airplanes that fly over and they would flash the sun and look like comments just rocketing through the frame. And so you're just connecting to all these things. And it was a day like that with half dome and this Jeffrey Pine where I looked over my shoulder, I'm waiting for the sun and I don't use a watch. I just look over my shoulder and can see the shadow coming down behind me on the valley, on the wall. Um, and the shadow hit the valley floor. And we started moving towards me and I kept looking over my shoulder, shoulder, looking at the shadow. And in a, in a moment I looked over and I, I swear I could feel a presence in that shadow. It's like earth Earth's rotation is evident in that shadow approaching me. Wow. And I felt a presence and as a shadow came up to me and move past me, um, I, I, for that moment, I could feel the cosmos experiencing itself through me. And then a moment later, it was, I felt experienced itself through me until there was no longer a me. And, um, yeah, that happened last year and after three years of just following the sun and it's forever changed the way I create now. And I don't even create any more I connect to, to, you know, reality or reality, um, into myself. Um, but you're, yeah.

Rubin:                        But you're using the photographs as a vehicle or is it as a part of that connection? Yes. Yeah. Yeah.

Suzanne:                  I think the sharing the connection, I mean, it seems like you get to share your connection with the world because we get to see these moments in a way that the rest of us aren't even, our eyes aren't even open for.

Bryant:                       Yeah, I hope so. You know? Um, initially I thought, well, if I can just create every day, it's a way to get myself out there and, and maybe it's a way back to the whales, but it was kind of more of just a way back to yourself. You know, your true self.

Suzanne:                  Well, what's so interesting is that when you've taken the, like the creature on our planet, um, and given them this like this soul and this, this texture that is sort of unseen, unless you're really there. Um, and this, you talked about this before, but just this like calmness in their expression, in their eyes, and then you kind of have moved to now obviously these large, um, orb that is, you know, in our, in our solar system is true and you've added this level of like texture and edge that, that I've never seen before. I've, I've, I've really never seen these photographs that there, and I don't know if it's the, the addition of them being black and white that adds this almost like abstractness abstractness of the, the contrast and like this texture. It's how do you really compelling. Yeah.

Rubin:                        Yeah. There's texture in the sun. Yes. Where it's almost always blown out every picture of the sun that humans, it's going to be blown out and exposed for all. Now for the ground. And here you've, I dunno, through a series of unbelievable solar filters have brought out the texture in the Cronin would add or what did you call that? The Corolla.

Bryant:                       Chromosphere and, uh, the, the krona we can say during the eclipse. Then there's the chroma sphere and there's different layers of the sun's surface that you could see through different filters. And yeah, I use a hydrogen alpha filter. Um, son's been very quiet for the last year, so I haven't done any imaging on the solar surface since. Yeah. Yeah. But you get, you get really connected to the service cause you'll see the storms and the spots and they move each day that I set up an image, you'll see it. You'll notice that the spot over a little bit more and a little bit more of that, you know, that son spending too. And um, wow. An amateur can do this, can get a filter easily. Yeah. Easily. Yeah. You could get a filter for $100 for if you have a telephoto Lens. Um, like if you have a 500 millimeter, like I have a two to 500 millimeter Lens, a Nikon that I use for my Sony cameras and it works beautifully. I put a doubler on it and a solar filter and you can see the surface and beautiful detail. Just what? Yeah.

Rubin:                        And those are straight shots. Those ones I saw with half with half dome and the Sun.

Bryant:                       Oh yeah, that's, yeah, there sure. Through a huge long lens. Right. The ones that online, uh, that I have online, some like the one was half dome, that's just one telescope and a solar filter. But to get to get the surface of the sun get its detail, to get the dynamic range of an eliminated atmosphere. Like whether there's high humidity and you have like a, you know, you have something in the air to that reflects light that makes it white. You know, it's not quite clouds but it's, it's something forming. So you want to get that and then you want to get a foreground subjects in focus. So I uh, for awhile it was using three cameras, so I'd use two at the same time for the sun and the atmosphere and the foreground subjects, kidding. I guess focal, dynamic range and then that illuminated dynamic range I guess. And then for the surface of the sun, I would either image it separately before, after these events. And to get the surface detail, you use a monochrome video camera and the sensor is really small and you can only image about one eighth of the sun's surface at a time and you'd capture about 4,000 video frames and you do that takes about an hour and a half and then you run it through a program that picks out the sharpest frames and stacks them into a 16 bit print quality tiff. And then a program like Photoshop can render it seamlessly into a disc. And then I can't do this with my phone. Uh, you could actually probably probably be very original. I don't know if anyone has yet. We can modify your phone with a monochrome sensor, tick box and call it cultural. Right. And what,

Rubin:                        I'm curious what, I mean, it's clear what inspires you or they're photographers who inspire you, who got you to here that taught you something.

Bryant:                       There are photographers who inspire me now, like not, not when I was up and coming. I mean, like when I was up and coming when I was just trying to connect to myself and my passion and purpose, you know, uh, you know, I don't know if you've heard of Bob Talbot? Hmm. It, he photographs whales in the eighties and nineties. And he always showed me, um, what's possible if you, if you care about your subject and his wealth photography stands out, there's just no, there's no comparison. There's no equivalent. I'm very sensitive to atmosphere, see surface reflectivity states and, uh, and the behavior of the whale or dolphin. Um, and, you know, and then know Nick Brandt

Suzanne:                  famous collection is it? And like the name is familiar. I, I'd read an interview you gave, actually need mentioned him before, so I googled him. Oh, okay. It's like the, the Talbot Collection and Talbert collection. Yeah. You're, I think you're, yeah, that's it. Yeah. They're definitely iconic images like the eye Ruben, I think you'd, if you, um, if you look at them, they're, they're, they're, they're images you've definitely seen before. Okay. He was like, from the eighties and nineties. Is that right?

Bryant:                       Yeah. And he moved on into filmmaking. And I think he made a couple of imax films and no, I don't know what he's doing. You know, I've only met him a couple of times and uh, yeah, so, uh, that he's influential early, but like, you know, someone like Nick Brant really inspired me. Um, again, it's like, you know, if you really care about a subject photographing nature, uh, as an art form is really hard. Um, I mean obviously just to find, to, to capture it in a way that's original and compelling and then to get out in the world is really hard.

Rubin:                        Was Nick Brandt a conservationist? Um, I don't remember my thinking of his picture is there are always, for some reason there's dead animals in them. Is that my just imagination?

Bryant:                       He's, he has done most of this flash photography, but he also has these amazing, like you talk about like the life size portraits. He does, uh, portraits. He's, he has done portraits of animals like lions. Like he'll sit next to him, wild animals and Cheetahs and, and just wait for that moment. You know, when the, like what the one with the line where he's waiting for something to happen and the wind picks up and the sun comes out from a cloud and it just, if he's using a, um, you know, uh, portrait lens on a medium format camera and um,

Rubin:                        and the lion.

Bryant:                       Yeah. Yeah. And so he, he's an amazing photographer and he, uh, he's done good with it. You know, he started a foundation that protects these animals. They, they hire rangers that, you know, hunt down poachers and I've always admired that. Um, cool. Cool. Yeah, yeah.

Suzanne:                  We have an expression wait to make it great. And I feel like you absolutely encapsulate that.

Bryant:                       It's, yeah, the one thing that I do, um, it is, uh, the for, I think for me to be able to see, to, to, to conceive what I do is like, I have to constantly emotionally decouple from all the financial influences and pressures to create work. And when I can remove that pressure and decouple from it, I see like I can all of a sudden it's like, you know, veil is lifted and, and, um, um, yeah. So I, I think that's really helps. Specially with a whale photography.

Rubin:                        You're really the antithesis of a commercial photographer. I'm sorry to say. You're, you're completely not trying to make, I mean, you're not out there doing this. Sounds terrible, doesn't it? It's hard to be an artist, right?

Bryant:                       It's hard. Yeah. Yeah. But it's so important, you know, and what you can, how you can, what you can connect, you know, what you can share with humanity. Things are so important that, that we can't see, you know, and uh, yeah.

Suzanne:                  Is there any place that I just, I'm so drawn to and just kind of almost in disbelief that you've made these amazing, um, portraits of, of whales one to one. Is there any place that we can go that we can see them? see, yes. Portraits.

Bryant:                       Um, the, I have, um, smaller portraits and smaller photographs on display. Uh, uh, Cape Cod at the focus gallery. Uh, that's the only gallery showing my well photography and it's shown you around.

Rubin:                        Wow. Okay. We'll put a link down to, so people who are on these phones of queue, can you get over there? Um, I see a behind you, a couple pictures, something we'd like to ask. Everyone who comes on the show is sure to for, to pick to describe two photographs that are on your wall right now in your home, one that you took and one that you did not take that photo.

Bryant:                       Okay. Yeah. Um, I can share this one right here behind me. Sure. Um, so I mentioned I spent 14 years to make 12 or no, 12 years to make 14 lifesize portraits. This is my only photograph above water of a whale. It's a well tail out of the water. It's entitled, a mother listens and it's a mother doing just that, most likely listening for other whales. And um, you know, it was a moment where I was completely stripped down emotionally, financially, everything. Um, I had left my job, cashed out, my retirement, sold everything I owned, um, and you know, my boat, everything, my car and I had tried for years to photograph whales in the tradition of Bob Talbot above water on Laura Bay, you know, with my own boat and a team of volunteers and all that. And here I am like trying to make a life size portrait and the whale is sticking her tail out of the water for 20 minutes and just tell us slowly spinning three 60 around me. And so I spent about three minutes with that vote with her above water trying to make this photo and I made it and you know it's this weird like you know, I sold my bowl but yet I'm floating alone in the ocean with us. Well making an above water photograph, you know like literally the, what is Ami is all I own. This camera, I have a laptop back on land but that's pretty much it. It's like just completely stripped down. And then I put that photograph away. I never thought about it. That was done in 2006 and I just focused on the portraits and I'm Cindy Bellino who owns the focus gallery, reached out to me in 2013 to say I'll represent your work if you really set photograph. And the thing that blows me away is that that photograph has sustained me for the last, you know, six years. Oh wait, it's sold out. We released it, um, in three different sizes in additions of 20, and there's only like two prince left. And that has allowed me to, yeah, just go all over and explore this new body of work and just keep going. So, so grateful to her. Yeah. Is that a, is that an archival print? Is that like a print behind you? Oh yeah. Yeah. That's one of the last prints that I have. It's not, not, not releasing it to the public, but, um, it'll probably stay with the body of work that I have that goes to museums. That's great. Then a beautiful storage. No, thank you. Yeah. Okay. And then when you didn't take, yeah, there's one right here. I don't shut, I show you, or if you could send us [inaudible]. I'd like to like you to post them if it's okay to, yeah, of course. But what's on your wall? Well, my wife Cheryl, um, really spent her formative years in, in the everglades. She's a planacologist. And um, before we met, she really grew attached to a photographer named Clyde butcher. His work is black and white as well, you know, landscape of the everglades of Florida nature, but he's very sensitive to atmosphere as well. And um, you know, and um, you know, it works with these giant view cameras and I'm really an amazing photographer, so we have a little one of his, um, uh, on our wall and I'll, I'll share a picture of that with you. And um, yeah, Cheryl has a bunch of his photographs. Oh. And it's just nice that his aesthetic is similar to mine in the way we connect with nature.

Suzanne:                  You said that you have a daily, um, photography practice. What does that entail? What do you do?

Bryant:                       Um, I don't know if I take pictures every day. I try to, um, definitely when I'm inspired, but um, you know, I just, especially when the sun's out, I can really just, I can just walk outside. And, and connect with earth's spin. It's rotation just by just sitting with the shadow and it looks static, but you just sit there and watch it move across asphalt across the cracks, things going out of the cracks. You just see the shadow move and it's like, and you start to wonder like, can anybody see this? Um, and then you look okay, so you see your head, you see the shadow cast over your head and you know, the sun is right there. So, um, you can, you know, I'm just talking about my driveway where I live. Um, I'll see a shadow of a branch and I'll go walk up to that shadow of the branch and tell my head is in the shadow. And then I just look over my shoulder and the branch is illuminated on both sides. You don't see this anymore. And then you see, you'll see insects and spider webs moving around and um, it's infinite. That's what I realized in, um, when, when I mentioned that moment earlier, when I felt the cosmos experience itself through me, it changed the way I see. And, um, it's changed the way I connect at, you know, um, yeah. So it's like you're connecting to the infinite and, and connects you to impossibilities that are infinite. So it's overwhelming. So I find that I had to put a governor on it or I don't take pictures cause it's too overwhelming. So I try to go out in small doses and go outside and um, yeah.

Rubin:                        You know, I, I talk sometimes in the show about the modulating force that a camera is that sometimes the energy oh yeah. In front of you is so to two great to experience directly whether it's sometimes it's love or sexual, sometimes it's personal but or a war happening and it's violent. But the camera transduces that in a way. And it's, and again I'm hearing you describe this, this sensitivity to something out there that's almost too much to experience in the camera. Is it opportunity to translate that into something we can kind of understand? Yeah, absolutely. Cool.

Suzanne:                  One last question. We like to ask all our guests, but if you could describe your photo in one word or sorry, your photography in one word, what word would you use?

Bryant:                       Oh, one word. You can hyphenate. Yeah, we're flexible. Is a self portrait. Um, hyphenated. Is that self portrait? Yeah. Wow. And, and yeah, that's beautiful and beautiful. This self is the illusion.

Bryant:                       I'll buy that. Okay. Brian, thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming and joining us. You bring such a different perspective for people getting into photography. We've talked to commercial people, we talked to artists and educators and you're a perfect kind of another point, another point of view that I think will really be inspiring for people.

Bryant:                       Oh, well thank you and I look forward to putting your podcasts on on my long trips. Say somebody in the coming months.

Suzanne:                  Yeah, thanks. Yeah, absolutely. Well first and foremost, thank you to Brian. I think just talking to you has made me feel calmer and somehow more at peace with the world and I feel, I feel like that's the thing I struggle with in my photography is just is waiting and being patient. And so thank you so much. It was a really, really, really lovely chatting with you.

Closing:                     .


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