The very nature of photography is slicing time. Photographs are based on exposure to light, be it film or sensor and usually lasting only a fraction of a second. But in that unique moment, magic is made, never to be repeated, for seasons change, expressions are different, and nothing is static. It’s just a click, but one of endless boundaries and imagination, pausing time, and never to be captured again.
November 21, 2008, 10:44:13 am - Somewhere Between the Coast & Home, California
The fun part about digging through the archives is rediscovering old photos that have not been processed and long forgotten. What captured my attention, this time, is the strange blue cast. I have no idea how it got there. I could understand if the photo was taken in very early morning, but it was nearly 11 am, albeit in mid-fall. So, rather than do color correction, I stayed with the blue which seemed to create a more dramatic mood, maybe of despair. The lighter background provides a hint of hope, metaphorically speaking. It's good to revisit old work, for our perspective and vision are always changing.
December 12, 2008, 10:29:05 am, San Juan Bautista, California
I quickly scrolled through my archives to find a weak image. Part of the purpose of this site is to share insights into my work. So far, all the photos posted are ones I like and why not, they are easier to talk about. However, we can learn from weak images as well, such as this one. It's been done to ad nauseam. We are seduced by the perspective, patterns, and lighting, but it's still a cliche. And, it suffers from over processing. It may have been the time I discovered HDR. I posted this photo as a reminder of what to avoid. We tend to photograph familiar things and too often we are dictated to by our subconscious that house millions of images. When we are about to capture a scene, a moment, we should always pause and ask why this subject, this moment, and what we are trying to convey. If the answer is because it looks familiar, forget the shot and move on.
Somewhere in Mexico
This image was taken several years ago when I was experimenting with infrared film. I'm not one to embrace the medium. Most IR photos look like...IR photos, especially landscapes. I tried to "tone down" the IR look. Anyway, I still like the image. It feels peaceful. I'm intrigued by what appears to be an entrance to a cave, just right of the rocks, adding to the mystical value of the scene. There are some images that, over time, continue to captivate our interest, even if we are not able to fully articulate the reason. This image is one of them.
March 20, 2007, 7:51:10 am - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Sometimes images pop up out of nowhere and not always at a convenient time. This scene is from the lobby of a small hotel in Mexico. I had only had seconds to take the photo. At the moment, I wasn't sure what attracted me to the images. It became clear when I began to process the photo and rediscovered its value. I like the confusion, not knowing if the scene behind the counter is real or a painting. I also like its balance and colors. It serves as a reminder to always be aware of your visual surroundings and not hesitate to take the shot. Our first perceptions are usually good. They often come from our subconscious, a place that stores our life experiences.
December 11, 2016, 5:33:12 pm - Las Vegas, Nevada
Sometimes I push the envelope by making images confusing, disjointed, but with a trace of familiarity. I hope each viewer can find some interest in such images and open up their senses to make their own assessment, i.e. to pause and think for a moment. If their conclusion is one of criticism, then I have succeeded in my purpose. All art should cause us to have a conversation.
October 23, 2013, 2:49:02 am - Redwood City, California
It was one of those times when I found myself photographing downtown Redwood City, a city of 87,000 souls, during the witching hour. I don't remember seeing anyone during my shoot, which made it a perfect time to capture the solitude and somber side of this normal busy place. The table and chair were there, just exactly like in the picture. I thought they added to the lonely nature of the scene. It is interesting how many of us think we need to travel great distances to capture unique images. All we need to do is to look closer to what's in our backyards.
April 5, 2015, 6:04:56 & 6:05:48 am, Mission District, San Francisco
A close friend has called into question, the ethics of these photos. I clearly see his point. Is it exploitative, taking advantage of a poor soul, being disrespectful? The answer, I believe, lies in the intent and audience. My purpose was to create empathy and to show how dreadful addictions can be. I have no audience. But if I did, it would be part of a body of work to show this tragic side of humanity, not to pity, but to empathize and hopefully help such people.
March 8, 2016, 1:10:16 pm - Haddart Park, California
Because I like to explore images, I lean toward "busy" in my work. At first glance, minimalistic images can have instant appeal. But at second glance, there is not much more to see (IMHO). And landscapes, combined with my busy preference, can teeter on complete confusion. Landscapes by nature are chaotic. The challenge is to isolate part of a scene to bring order and relevance. I believe I took this image to the breaking point. However, I feel there is a sense of order and balance - as if there is a conversation amongst the trees.
Miner and Boy - Goldfield, Nevada
I saw this miner, earlier in the day, while photographing in Goldfield, Nevada and asked him if I could photograph him. He said, "later, meet me at the Sante Fe Saloon at 5 pm." When I arrived, the miner was thoroughly drunk. I took him outside and snapped a few 4x5s while this eager boy looked on and wanting to be part of the shoot. At the time, I had no intentions to include him in the picture, but I didn't want to be impolite. It wasn't until I saw the image appear in the darkroom did I realize how important the kid is to the image. There is a lesson here.
March 12, 2018, 8:55:43 pm - Guadalajara, Mexico
Evenings are a wonderful time to photograph the streets of Guadalajara. The image is a strong metaphor for a woman finding freedom, independence, and empowerment. The bars represent the past and the knife, in her months, shows toughness and resolve. The bench can mean waiting - waiting for this day where women find respect and equality.
January 1, 2016, 12:22:55 pm - Mission District, San Francisco
San Francisco's Mission District has some of the world's best murals, particularly along Balmy and Clarion Alleys. Each time I visit the area there are always changes in these modern-day frescos - never static. Some murals have lasted over time while others were short-lived. Faces are like magnets, grabbing my attention over most other subjects. This mural is about a mystical Goddess, looking down upon us mortals, protecting us as a mother would.
October 30, 2009, 10:46:55 pm - Mare Island, Vallejo, California
This image is another tribute to Robert Kato. Robert photographs an area countless times and over a long period of time, digging deeper into the essence of a place upon each visit. His work at Mare Island is sublime. Captured at night, Robert transforms the former Naval submarine station into a magical and mystical wonderland. This image is my interpretation of this ghostly place, showing just a memory of what was once a thriving military base.
October 26, 2008, 4:22:06 pm - S.F. Bay
San Francisco Bay is a treasure trove for visual artists. No one has captured the bay like Robert Kato. His work has been a major inspiration, especially when capturing the S.F. Bay. This image is about power, literally and figuratively. Much of the bay is dominated by these behemoth structures and presents a stark contrast to the beauty and serenity of the bay.
December 5, 2007, 11:16:18 am - Henry Coe State Park, S.F. Bay Area
Trees in winter, without their leaves, offer a more interesting perspective. And, those trees, by themselves, dominate their surroundings. The plants in the foreground seem to be engaged with the lone trees as if they are listening.
March 6, 2008, 12:24:07 pm - Stanford University
Standford has a wonderful cactus garden which I visit from time to time. There is something about the forms, shapes, patterns, and lighting that drew me to this image. The color palette was done in post. Landscapes can and should say more than just aesthetics. Otherwise, they are destined to the vast dark hole of mediocrity with no soul.
January 24, 2017, 7:01:18 pm - Hoi An, Vietnam
Nearing the end of his long work day, the street vendor is on his way home hoping for a few more sales. The image is a reminder of how hard Vietnamese people work to support their families. There is a sense of loneliness, almost a sadness, however, his face did not reflect that when he passed me. Vietnamese are by nature kind, helpful, and generally happy.
December 13, 2016, 3:13:23 pm - Las Vegas
As I was photographing in and around downtown Las Vegas, I kept coming across a muralist creating this wonderful large portrait in a back lot far away from the glitz and glamor of LV's Strip. I was fortunate to catch him mid-afternoon as he was finishing his masterpiece. There is a sense of power - power in the riveting portrait and power in the creative process. The face appears three-dimensional, as if alive, with its creator giving life to the two-dimensional painting. There are strong narratives awaiting unexpected viewers.
December 12, 2016, 11:05:33 am - Las Vegas
This is one of my favorite walls in Las Vegas when I was there in December 2016. Two years later, the wall has been painted over most likely by the owner who had no appreciation for the artwork - beauty is in the eye...sort of thing. That is the nature of murals and graffiti, ever-changing and sometimes with many contributors, like in this image. The outdoor portrait gallery I assume, are pictures of people who live in the area. The building is located in Las Vegas vastly changing Art District.
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