ART, FILM, MUSIC

Here’s to two thousand more

Two years ago today, I launched a little project called VANDOCUMENT.

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I created it because Vancouver has a vibrant passionate arts scene – from theatre to visual art, from contemporary dance to music – and the amount of talent here is huge, the amount of fresh content being created is massive.

It deserved to be – it desperately needed to be – documented. To give the artists and galleries and festivals a record of what they’ve done.
To use as promotion.
To build their portfolios.
To help them continue to do what they love to do most.

And to connect Vancouverites with the best local emerging art. To show that there is SO much more happening than what is advertised at the VAG or coming to the Commodore.
To educate our city in it’s own creative culture.
To break down barriers and preconceptions.
To make our local art more approachable, more accessible.

So this is what we’ve been doing at VANDOC since May 10, 2013.

2 years on, this isn’t just my little project anymore. VANDOC is now a team of over fifty people (!): dozens of incredibly talented and dedicated writers, photographers, videographers, sound recorders, illustrators, dancers, designers, painters, editors, party organizers, social media pros, accountants, musicians, students, researchers.

2 years and hundreds of articles later, our collective ears are to the ground; we’re digging into the best and most exciting art created by Vancouver’s local and emerging artists.

Since the new year alone, we’ve published 29 original articles featuring the work of nearly 100 artists at 24 venues across the city. We tell these stores through gorgeous photo galleries, sensory-packed written reviews and interviews, video recaps, and even field audio recordings.

Some 2015 highlights:

  • We continued our relationship with SFU Woodward’s
  • and with VIVO Media Arts, documenting rad experimental events such as the Quiet City series
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  • We triple-teamed Centre A for a photo / video / written opus
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  • We helped launch a new artist interview podcast series called 8minuteswith
  • We documented some of the new Field House residencies, adding audio field recordings to our documentation tool kit along the way.
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  • Hello Kitty-bordered photos landed in our pages(!)
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  • and we set a precedence for discussing activist art and culture, with #KMFaces, video, in depth reporting and more
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We’re often asked if we need more contributors, since it seems we have a big team (which we do), but the door is always open:
If you dig art & want to help in connecting Vancouverites to our city’s art, and want to help in celebrating our city’s artists through documentation,
if you want to get your writing, photography, video, or voice published
if you want to expand your network of cool, involved, engaged, creative individuals,
say hi!
sayhi(at)vandocument.com

Here’s to our team of over 50 incredible, amazing, inspiring, talented, a wickedly fun contributors! Here’s to Vancouver’s artists! Here’s to all the supporters of the arts! To all the enablers of the arts – those of you who throw events and make it all happen! Happy Birthday!

Support art. Love yourself. Connect with the people around you.

Big love. Here’s to two thousand more brilliant years of arts documentation.
Ash

VANDOC’s channels
fcbk + twitter + vimeo + tumblr + soundcloud + instagram

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ART

VANDOCUMENT – District Dogs in the window

VANDOCUMENT – District Dogs in the window.

Letterpress & linocut business District Dogs gave me a shout out for photographing their live “Artist In The Window” at Bird On A Wire – huge thanks to this rad local creative business!!

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ART

The Great Beaver Mystery

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

With no artist statement and no work titles to go off, Kim Kennedy Austin‘s current show at Malaspina Printmakers on Granville Island, Vancouver, leaves a ton of room for gallery visitors’ curiosity and interpretation to roam.

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

And although you can gain some insight into Austin, her process, and how this current work has developed by reading Here and Elsewhere‘s recent interview with her , I quite enjoyed the lack of definitive persuasion by the artist.

I have been wondering why that beaver interests me so;

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

how I hope he escapes the clutches of that obviously dastardly Mad Trapper.

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

And, does the trapper use those infinite straw spheres to capture his game, or are they perhaps secret beaver escape pods..?

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

AJ runs until February 5th 2012.

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

Malaspina Printmakers is open:
Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 5pm
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays from 11am to 5pm

You’ll find it at:
1555 Duranleau Street, Granville Island, Vancouver BC Canada V6H 3S3

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

For more info, check out their site
malaspinaprintmakers.com
or call 604 688 1724
or email info(at)malaspinaprintmakers.com

Kim Kennedy Austin's show at Malaspina Printmakers

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MUSIC

Unknown Radio-Recorded Song Has Been Baffling Since 1993 – Can You Solve The Mystery?

The other day, my friend told me about a song, a mystery song actually, and I thought I’d share it with you. Can you solve the mystery?

Here is her description:
——————————————–

A quick recap of the background story:

I recorded this onto a cassette in March of 93.
I recorded it off of a Vancouver mainstream radio station: LG73, Z95.3, Rock 101, 92.9 (Bellingham) or 99.3 the Fox.
I heard it twice on the radio but managed to record it the second time I heard it.
The song was a studio recording, but the crappy quality’s from the stereo/cassette.
The song was played during regular day or evening hours.
This is not a bootleg.
This is not U2.
I thought it was U2 when I recorded it.
The lyrics don’t exist.
I don’t have Shazam but go ahead, give it a try. (ed. note: supposedly this has since been tried with Shazam, with no result)
Nardwuar doesn’t recognize it.
Buzz Bishop doesn’t recognize it.
George Stroumboulopoulos doesn’t recognize it.
All my music guru friends don’t recognize it.
It all drives everyone CRAZY because it sounds so familiar but nobody knows.
This song has been driving U2 fans around the world crazy because it sounds like Achtung Baby-era U2 but it’s not a U2 song. Every U2 song has been documented.
I was a die hard U2 fan. This is not U2.
If you can even make out the lyrics, the only Google searches bring up my failed attempts at trying to figure out this song (going back to the year 2000).
We have concluded that this must be an indie Vancouver-based band that had a fleeting moment of success, perhaps a demo record that got airtime twice, and I just managed to record it.

Help? 🙂

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To listen to the track, head to my Tumblr where I’ve posted the song.

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ART

Such A Bloody Good Time It Was Torture! (A Review of Howie Tsui’s Celestials Of Saltwater City at Centre A)

On this rare sunny afternoon in Vancouver BC, I tucked into Centre A on West Hastings. I had been meaning to see Howie Tsui‘s current exhibition, Celestials Of Saltwater City. It is described as “imagery from ancient Asian ghost stories to satirize the disturbing climate of fear in contemporary society.”

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I must’ve been carrying a rabbit’s foot, because it turns out today was the last day of the exhibit. I felt lucky because it would’ve been a shame to miss this.

I was nicely surprised. I didn’t expect such involved paintings.

Initially the first thing you see appears to be an abstract mess of paint (with more time, it turns out to be one of Tsui’s recurring ghosts) on the wall, with huge piles of paper beneath.
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It all gets a lot better when you walk deeper into Centre A, around the front wall – Bam! A hanging shape with a death mask is centre stage. Underneath him are four floating possessed emperor’s lackeys, unsuccessfully carrying a cart or portable throne.
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I enjoyed what came next the most. A series of long paintings, some vertical,
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most horizontal,
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of a bizarre but engaging combo of old Asian ink paintings (including old homes, lakes, and mountains) with a madness of fantastical ghosts, spirits, demons, and animal-headed people in various states of elaborate torture or death.
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There is a strange way that Tsui makes his pieces move the viewer’s eyes. At a far distance, the paintings are almost indecipherable, you need to move closer to try to comprehend the individual parts.
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Then you see that although each inch of the paintings are not rendered in equally exquisite detail (a few areas are actually disappointingly unfinished),
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but where the detail occurs is in flesh and bodies; a disturbing sensuality.
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There was also a small room of projected art.
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I didn’t find this work as interesting, though it is intriguing why Tsui chose to create these lanterns. In his artist’s statement he says, “The use of magic lantern projectors and the utsushi-e medium is a natural extension of my interest in reviving archaic art forms and genres from East Asia.”

Also of interest: a video of Tsui painting and apparently burning the spirits onto the gallery walls, and a short documentary-type piece in which he explains how and why he came to the focus of this exhibit.

A shame I hadn’t seen this show earlier, I definitely would have promoted it. Not only were the series of paintings engaging, the effort they took to view resulted in a sense of satisfaction, time well spent. Be on the lookout for more from Howie Tsui !

Thank you Centre A for hosting this show and for being kind enough to let me take photos.

For my full set of photos, please visit my set of Celestials Of Saltwater City photos on Flickr.

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FILM, LITERATURE, MUSIC

2010 Wrap Up: The Year In Review (a look back at milestones, music, film, books, and more)

Hello, welcome, and Happy New Year!

I’m happy to bring in 2011 with my Wrap Up of 2010.

As with past years (see Wrap Ups for 2008 and 2009), I’m going to talk about important milestones that happened, list my favourite music, movies, and more, as well as outline my goals for the upcoming year.

I’m happy to note that all the photography in this Wrap Up is my own. If you’d like to see my gallery of photography, please visit flickr.com/formatnoauto.

What’s new this year? I’ve created the Wrap Up entirely within my WordPress blog, The Moment. I’ve also used Soundcloud to stream music and YouTube for videos! Hopefully you enjoy this new format.
Also, in my past Wrap Ups, all music and film choices had to be released the year I was reviewing. This year, I’ve loosened up. Favourites can be from any year. It seemed silly to neglect an excellent older film, for example, just because it wasn’t a new release. I’ll note what year everything is from in the title of each item.

Please let me know what you think by adding your comments at the bottom of this post.

Okay, without further delay, let’s get to it!

2010 MONTH BY MONTH

TOP PICKS FROM 2010

GOALS

Overall Highlights of 2010

Easily the most important thing to happen to me in 2010 was that I embraced my life as an artist fully and completely. I saw the big artist pool hundreds of feet in the distance and I jumped in. I drew, wrote, and shot more photos, with more determination, exploration, and consistency than I have in years.
Thanks to my hard work, I’m now regularly shooting live music all around Vancouver. My portfolio is growing, my skills are developing, and I’m having a freakin’ blast every show I shoot.

2010 MONTH BY MONTH

JANUARY

Amongst The Trees

I started the year with a fantastic hike up Lynn Peak with Geordie.
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Folk Night

Went to The Biltmore Cabaret to see Bowerbirds, a very talented and charming folk band, with Canadian East Coast darling Julie Doiron.

In The Pursuit Of Grunge

I renewed my passport for a train trip to Seattle with Bex, Geordie, and Quetta. The girls’ birthdays are late Jan/early Feb, so we went down to celebrate and to find grunge! We stayed at the Ace Hotel, and I discovered that Seattle is very scary in the early morning hours; I now understand where the angst that fueled grunge came from.
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FEBRUARY

Dropbox

Started Dropbox, a very easy way to move and share files.

Intense Delivery Unlike Any Hip Hop I’ve Seen Before Or Since

In huge anticipation since their canceled gig in 2009, Eyedea & Abilities played The Biltmore, and were intense, spot on, and brilliant.
One of my picks for Best Live Show of the Year.

Eyedea & Abilities at The Biltmore

Eyedea & Abilities taking a moment to connect with the crowd (taken with an iPhone 3G)

P.O.S. Finally!!

A week later, P.O.S. hit the Biltmore stage, and blew all the fans away with his flawless delivery and ferocious intensity.
Definitely deserves an award for one of the Best Live Shows of the Year.

P.O.S. at The Biltmore

P.O.S. all smiles (taken with an iPhone 3G)

The Winter What?

The Olympics came to Vancouver, I think. I didn’t really experience the Olympics, as I was working tons of overtime. Thousands of people poured through the streets of Yaletown while my coworkers and I slaved through the night on our computers. Not much of a party for us.
When I actually had time to see Califone at David Lam Park, the line of people trying to get in was wrapped around the park. It was going to take over an hour to get in. So we listened from outside the fences, then escaped Yaletown, running off to Gastown, where it didn’t feel like the city had blown up in population. It came, it went, and when it was done, I was relieved.

The Olympic flame in Yaletown

The Olympic flame passed through Yaletown, past my workplace

Girls, Dust Off Your Tuxes, Boys, Dust Off Your Dresses – It’s The People’s Prom!

The People’s Prom: even though it was on a Sunday, it was still a rager. This event, held every year on Valentine’s Day, has consistently been one of the best events of the year, for years.IMG_5935_PeopleProm2010_doTheElectricStreamerDance

Four Tet, I’ll Forget We Ever Met

Four Tet @ The Biltmore. I’ve loved this guy’s music for years, and I still admire him for what he creates. But as far as a live show? It was very disappointing. The guy pretty much pressed play on his ipod.

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MARCH

Ashley Balboa, For One Month

I trained at Sparta Boxing for one month. Nope, I didn’t get my ass kicked. I quit cuz it’s damn pricey! I love it and will continue when finances have a better flow to ’em.

Fundraiser At Rhizome

If you haven’t visited Rhizome Cafe, you should. It’s a restaurant/cafe with great food and a comfortable atmosphere. And they hold live music events, one at which the mega talented Bex played at, as part of a showcase of artists raising money for the North Shore Women’s Center.

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APRIL

Those Creatures From Star Wars

I went to the Island to help shear 40 alpacas!! It was fun, actually, except when they’re distressed and spew alien green vomit everywhere.

Bionic Man

One of my big goals for 2010 was to get eye surgery, correcting the need to wear glasses or contacts on my -5.50 eyes. I did my research and went under the laser at London Eye Centre in New Westminster. They are very professional and if you or anyone you know are considering getting laser surgery, I highly recommend London Eye Centre. Let me know if you do; there is a discounted referral rate.IMG_6476_contactsLastWk_day5

Shameful, What Blind Greed Causes

The disastrous oil spill in Gulf. Read my thoughts here.

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MAY

A Break From 9-5 M-F

I went part time at work. I had been working fulltime for ShowMakers Productions for 3 1/2 years and needed some time to work on my own art, my own creativity, in order to honour myself as an artist. My boss is very supportive and accommodating, and while I have increased my hours since September, the few months of the summer were incredibly fulfilling and productive. A big creative kick in the butt.

Tweet!

Running with that creative kick in the butt, I got over my initial disinterest in Twitter, realizing it could be a fantastic information sharing and networking tool. And I’m very glad a did – I actually have Twitter to thank for facilitating the beginning of my live music photography passion!
Feel free to check out my Twitter page and follow me. I try to post relevant and interesting things, not gossip or idle chit chat.

Web Help

Although I’ve been taking a break from making brand new websites (due to the time needed), I always enjoy helping friends get a handle on their HTML and CSS. One such dude I was lucky to work with is Vancouver super illustrator and musician Chris von Szombathy. We rejigged and simplified his site. Take a look here!

Goonies

There were some protests against the proposed gutting and redesign of Grandview Park on Commercial Drive. As part of the community-gathering, the childhood classic film Goonies was played on a screen in the park after dusk. Laying on the ground was chilly, but it was fun. When I was a kid, I definitely didn’t notice how hilariously crude the kids were to each other.

Night Shooter

Cory and I went on an evening East Van photoshoot. It’s very rare that I take the time out for long exposures and tripods. This was a ton of fun.
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Sasquatch At The Gorge!

With Bex and Kirby, I went to my first ever Sasquatch Music Fest at the Gorge in Washington. It was AMAZING. I saw some fantastic acts (Massive Attack, Caribou, LCD Soundsystem…). Actually, Caribou and Massive Attack both deserve awards for some of the Best Live Shows of the Year.
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JUNE

Graduation Celebration

My brainiac girlfriend graduated with super honours from Vancouver Island University. Congrats Bex!
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Compact Discs Go The Way Of Rotary Phones

I had a yard sale. Mostly sold off tons of musical Compact Discs. Although now that I’m trying to figure out the best way to back up all of my photos, music, and data, I realize that Compact Discs are a great archive.
On that note, how do YOU back up your important files, now that everything is digital? Do you burn DVDs? Backup to external drives? Upload to a cloud server? Let me know. I can’t back up enough hard drives to relieve my fear that I’ll lose everything one day.

Fantasyland

Animalopolis and Crow Toes Quarterly @ Ayden Gallery.
This was a wonderful night. My friend Chris Millin, since we graduated from Langara’s Publishing program in 2006, has been successfully running an innovative children’s magazine (online and in print) called Crow Toes Quarterly. He’s teamed with some very talented illustrators, notably Kristian Adam. They created a world called Animalopolis and celebrated the launch of a special limited edition issue of CTQ with a gallery show at Ayden Gallery. Huge turnout. I heard all the art and issues sold. Congrats!
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Full Sound

I hooked an Airport Express into my stereo so can play iTunes throughout my apartment, instead of through tinny laptop speakers. It’s pretty awesome, except for the temperamental yard sale stereo, which will shut off if you don’t turn it’s knobs in just the right way 😉

Car Free Set Up

After enjoying the annual Car Free Fest on Commercial Drive for many summers, I thought it was time to give back and volunteer. I helped set up early on the Sunday morning, but unfortunately the weather was cold and cloudy this year, so I it was the first year I didn’t stick around. Ironic!

Who Knew Raking Sand Would Be So Much Fun, So Rewarding?

I also volunteered to help internationally successful artist Jim Denevan create his newest piece – a giant temporary sand drawing at Spanish Banks as part of the Vancouver Biennale. The final piece is featured on the home page of his site here. You should also read my blog entry about the experience here. It was a blast!
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My First W2 Experience

I attended The Cheaper Show at W2, the arts wing of the new Woodwards building downtown. This piece by Jeff Hamada was one of my favourites.
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Football

World Cup soccer! Commercial Drive has been my home and favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver for a decade; the every-four-years World Cup just adds to the fun and flavour as everyone comes out to watch the games.
It was also a treat to be visited by an old friend from Ontario at that time, who happens to be a huge soccer fan. Great to see ya, Chris!

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JULY

Sounds Of Summer

In July, Bex performed as part of the Shore 104.3 Sounds of Summer Block Party. Afterward, Jenny, Bex and I soaked up the summer sun, relaxing at water’s edge of David Lam Park in Yaletown.

I Discover Photographing Live Music

After connecting with Shawn Conner (who runs Guttersnipe), he assigned me to shoot Kid Sister @ Fortune Sound Club.
This is the beginning of a wonderful working friendship. By the end of the year, I shot over 20 shows (almost 40 bands!), amassing a great portfolio, a ton of experience, huge improvement in technical skill, and more super fun memories than I could’ve dreamed for. HUGE shout out to you, Shawn!
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I must note: Kid Sister’s public image is all gloss and fancy getups, but when she performs live, she’s the real deal. No fancy anything, just a great voice, spot on delivery, and jumpin’ dancin’ infectious high energy. She gets my vote for one of the Best Live Shows of the Year!
Also, this was my first time at Fortune Sound Club, and after a couple other visits, it has become one of my favourite venues in the city. Everyone at Fortune, from the bouncers to the bar staff, are all solid, cool people. If you haven’t checked out this gem tucked away in Vancouver’s Chinatown, do yourself a favour in 2011 and get down there. Cuz once you’re inside, you’ll have no choice but to get down and shake your fine thang. The place is happenin’!

Shiva’s Fury

Attended a fundraiser for Sven, who was raising money for his journey to India to live at an ashram at the end of 2010. Afterwards, Bex and I cycled to Wreck for an overnight stay.
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Music On The Beach

On a gloriously hot and sunny night, one of the first of the summer, I shot Jon & Roy and Dan Mangan as they performed outdoors at English Bay in Vancouver. Dan Mangan received a lot of attention in 2010 for his album Nice, Nice, Very Nice, earning a Polaris Prize nomination. At his live shows he is incredibly charismatic, proving he’s got the whole package.
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First Nations

I attended the Surge Festival of Urban Digital Culture at W2.
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AUGUST

Shambles

Shambhala. What should have been a fun summer getaway turned into a stressful disappointment. To get the full story, read my blog post here.
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This Is East Van

I submitted photos to the This Is East Van project. A real cool community project, the creators asked for photos that show East Vancouver in all it’s wonderful forms: people, places, events, anything, in order to assemble and publish a book. I was elated – 2 of my photos were selected!! The book should be published soon…
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Walkabout

I went on walkabout for a week, taking buses, ferries, and even the VIA Rail (which is quite run down, I’m sad to say) stopping at Quadra Island and Victoria. Thank you so much for your hospitality Troy and Tracey!
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Hot Springs

A quick little trip to Hot Springs Cove with Bex, Dan, and Naoko. On the return trip, rather than take the (1.5hr) ferry, we flew (only 20 minutes!) from Nanaimo. Feels pretty super deluxe VIP, let me tell you.
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Tattooed Hands

I saw this photo in an issue of Popular Photography and I couldn’t resist: I had to draw it.
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SEPTEMBER

The National, Minus Peter Mansbridge

In September, shooting live music caught fire and didn’t simmer until the xmas season.
First, I shot The National @ Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. This was a pretty big deal – The National are internationally successful and their new album received glowing reviews.
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Mr. Nice, His True Origins, Rendered The Format No Auto Way

I found a copy of Mr. Nice in a pile of giveaways outside an East Van house, and it inspired me to draw the cover. Strangely, my interpretation has a little Norm Macdonald and Daniel Day-Lewis in it.
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Hot Panda: How Can You Not Love A Band With That Name?

I shot my first of many shows at The Biltmore Cabaret. The people running this place are doing a fantastic job of bring a wide range of quality shows to East Van: everything from folk to hip hop to metal to art shows. Heck, a couple years ago I attended a political candidate speed dating night in which the candidates for Vancouver’s election went from table to table answering the public’s questions. Informative and fun.
My first show was a jam packed night of three bands: Christina Martin (honest lyrics, hugely talented), Hot Panda (high energy, a new favourite) and Cuff The Duke.
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First DLSR

After pushing my beloved Canon G9 to it’s limit (it’s a high end point&shoot, it can only do so much in the low light, high action environments of live music venues), I bought my first every digital SLR, a Nikon D90! It’s been an absolute gem.
(A big shout out to Allan Bergman for lending lenses until I could sort out my own!)

Lilith Fair, These Gals Were Almost There

The very same day that I bought the D90, I was invited to shoot a group of female performers who were all finalists as upcoming musicians for Lilith Fair. The night was at The Railway Club, a wonderful place to shoot, thanks to big bright lights and a gorgeous red backdrop.
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Dancing DJ

Shortly thereafter, I returned to Fortune to shoot dj/producer of the moment Flying Lotus! He showed the appreciative crowd that not only is his work praised by critics, he’s also a charismatic performer.
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Still Delivers Like A Champ

Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5 fame) arrived at The Biltmore and proved that his delivery is as top notch as ever. Hip hop outfit The Lytics opened.
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Live And Learn

My biggest “learn the hard way” shoot of the year goes to Distance @ Astoria. Invited by Ben Ulis (aka Self Evident), I brought my excellent-in-low-light 35mm f1.8 lens, but even it couldn’t compete with the near pitch black darkness of The Astoria. The lesson? Although the rule is typically “no flash” when shooting live music, in some cases it’s absolutely necessary.
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More Intensity In Three Songs Than Most Bands Could Muster In A Whole Show

Just before the end of September, I was given the green light to shoot Arcade Fire! Not only was this my first stadium show (at the PNE), it was a chance to see one of the greatest indie bands in the world up close and personal!
There’s a rule in live music photography: Shoot the first 3 songs only. In some smaller venues, they don’t mind if you shoot more, but in any larger venue, such as the PNE, the photographers are ushered into the pit just before the show, and are ushered out as soon as the 3rd song is finished. This was the case at Arcade Fire, but I have to say: I was so satisfied by those three mega-intense songs that I cycled home absolutely beaming with happiness. Arcade Fire @ the PNE easily receives an award for one of the Best Live Shows of the Year.
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OCTOBER

Elation, Blues Rock Style

Less than a week after shooting Arcade Fire, I got the shoot The Black Keys @ the Orpheum. As you can probably guess, this was the best week of the entire year. I love Arcade Fire, but I absolutely adore The Black Keys. I had seen them before. I knew their live show was smoking. What I didn’t know is that the Orpheum doesn’t put in a pit for photographers, so we had no choice but to get in the madness of the frenzied sold out crowd. It was a tough shoot, but I loved every second of it. The Black Keys receive an award for one of the Best Live Shows of the Year.
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A Friend Realizes His Dream

After almost 2 years of planning, saving money, and preparing his truck, my good friend Neil left on his surf trip. He’s taking a year to travel the entire Pacific coast to learn how to surf. Before he left, I helped set up his blog – The Greenhorn Surf Diaries. He updates it often, and he’s a helluva funnier guy than me. You should check it out at greenhornsurf.wordpress.com. I also created some videos of Neil describing his truck, rooftop tent, and gear before he took off on the trip. They’re posted on YouTube here.

Beyond Yo Gabba Gabba

I shot Salteens, Colleen & Paul, and The Wind Whistles @ Biltmore.
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The Real Deal, Not Just A YouTube Flash In The Pan

Die Antwoord, the zef internet sensation of 2010, came to The Commodore Ballroom. I was super stoked for this one – it was my 1st time shooting at The Commodore, which is easily one of the best live venues in Vancouver. I was also stoked to see Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek in the flesh. Any question as to their legitimacy was quickly dispelled – they know how to put on a mighty good show.
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A Giant Loss

Eyedea, the MC from Eyedea & Abilities, who I had just seen in February, dies. I wrote my thoughts and a drawing here. RIP Eyedea.

Humility, Humanity

I suffered an incredibly brutal flu. It laid me out for a week.

Raging Foals

I recovered just in time to shoot Foals @ Venue. This show was outstanding, mostly due to the fact that I was expecting a shoe gazing performance. But they brought buckets of intensity, and were thanked by a mob of fans who rushed the stage at the end.
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Railtown Walkaround

Cory and I explored some of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods, from Hastings Sunrise to Railtown, through our cameras. Afterward, I disassembled and reassembled one of my favourites from that day.
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A Nation Of Heat In October

My girlfriend and I went to see Joe Pug @ The Media Club. This was one of the only shows I didn’t shoot in the 2nd half of 2010. I was able to enjoy Joe Pug’s guitar, heartfelt lyrics and brilliantly growly voice, but at times, my hands felt empty.

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NOVEMBER

Gorillaz!

In early November, I was treated to another big time show: Gorillaz @ Rogers Arena. Animated characters on a gigantic screen, Damon Albarn running around non-stop hugging his fellow performers, including Bobby freakin’ Womack! Do I need to say more?
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He Wore An East Van Pin

I shot Lyrics Born @ Biltmore. I was especially impressed by opener Rakaa, a member of Dilated Peoples. This night, he held it well on his own.
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Almost The Full Crew

I returned to the Biltmore to shoot Doomtree, a hip hop supergroup consisting of (personal fave) P.O.S. and 6 other talents from Minneapolis.
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Softy José González Rocks Out

José González‘s band, Junip, played Venue in support of their new album. If you like González’s solo work, but are in the mood for something louder, check out Junip. Good stuff. A fantastic opener, too: Sharon Van Etten.
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MegaHurtz MegaAwesome MegaMadness

Next was a seriously HUGE event at W2. A Red Bull event called MegaHurtz, it was touted as “a massive installation of High-Voltage A/V” and it didn’t disappoint. The sold out crowd dressed to impress, then danced and sweat and lost themselves in the excellent array of spectacle by the dozen acts on two simultaneous stages. Massive! It introduced me to some new favourites including Black Milk and Mix Hell.
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Robyn & Diamond Rings: Separated At Birth?

In one weekend, I shot two electro snyth pop acts.
At Venue, international superstar Robyn gave the sold out crowd every bit of positivity and energy they could’ve asked for, and at The Biltmore, Canadian up and comer Diamond Rings commanded the stage in eye makeup, a jean jacket, and silver tights. But it wasn’t all theatrics – his songs are clever and catchy, his delivery is true.
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My 1st Full Season At Cypress Gets Started Early

Snowboarding season started early and I took advantage by hitting Cypress three times in the first week! I’ve had some brilliant days with fellow riders Kirby, Geordie, and Julian. Bex even took lessons, hopefully she’ll catch the bug too..?
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A Sit Down Evening At The Biltmore

I shot a very mellow evening as Al Tuck and Jason Collett brought their folk songwriting to The Biltmore.
This was the 1st show I shot for Scene In The Dark.
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Big Mouth Sings Dance Pop

Michael Angelakos, lead singer for Passion Pit, brought his high pitched voice and mic swinging to the Vogue. Excellent, high energy pop music. A lot of fun to shoot.
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DECEMBER

Canadian Blues Rock

I started December by shooting 3 excellent Canadian blues rock bands @ Venue: Grady, The Motor League, and The British Columbians. Great photo ops, especially of high energy Motor League throwin’ down rock star poses throughout their set.
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Leonard Cohen

I received an early birthday present on December 2nd, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to photograph Leonard Cohen @ Rogers Arena. The photographers were only permitted to shoot the first song, but I have to say, that one song was unbelievable. There’s something hypnotically powerful about that man – his smile, his swagger, his voice.
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My Birthday!

I celebrated my 35th birthday with a potluck at my apartment packed with friends.

New Format No Auto Business Cards

I designed and printed new business cards, highlighting my new passion as a live music photographer. Shots of Arcade Fire, Die Antwoord, and Gorillaz grace the front side.
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Metal! Raaarrrr!!!

I shot a metal show at the Biltmore. There was a full lineup, but due to miscommunication at the ticket booth, I only caught the last two bands: Haggatha and Bison BC. It was awesome madness.
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Video, Sound, Dance, Monologues

I shot a variety of performances as part of SquareWaves Fest @ Blim. I loved witnessing the talents of these interdisciplinary artists in such a quiet, intimate environment.
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Experimental Vids

I went to a night of very cool experimental vids, collectively called Altered States at Little Mountain Gallery. You can read my poetic response here.

The Tricky Kid

I capped off the year by shooting a legend in his own right, the original trip hop master Tricky. He performed @ Venue in almost complete darkness, and for half the songs he was at the rear of the stage, his back to the audience. This is typical Tricky stage antics, but it makes for tough shooting conditions. When he came alive, though, he really came alive, pumping his fists in the air or inviting the audience to rush the stage.
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Koalas DJ, Didja Know?

I saw Kid Koala @ Biltmore. This wasn’t an assignment; I didn’t have my camera. I wish I had, though – he was actually dressed in a head-to-toe koala costume (he said he lost a bet), and openers Run With The Heard were highly entertaining, sporting a variety of styles with high energy throughout. I loved it when a couple band members left the stage to join the crowd and literally add energy to the audience.

Xmas

I stayed in Vancouver for Xmas and was taken care of by many kind, giving friends (thanks Kirby, Dave, Erica, Lucy, and everyone else who took me in and fed me and made Xmas 2010 a hit!). On Boxing Day, we drove out to Coquitlam to soothe our bodies at JJ spa – unbelievably refreshing and invigorating.

New Year’s Eve

The rain stayed in the clouds so Bex and I could cycle all over the city, stopping in at a variety of parties. Dancing, laughing, visiting friends, what more could one ask for on NYE?

Original 2011 Calendar!

I created a desk calendar for friends and family featuring some of my favourite drawings and photos of the year. And they’re not all of live music! I’m selling these by donation. If you’d like an original Ash Tanasiychuk work of art to treasure throughout 2011, let me know.
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BEST STUFF I HEARD IN 2010

The Black Keys Brothers (2010)

Brothers by The Black KeysIn an outstanding year of music, Brothers is my favourite album of 2010. The Black Keys, easily one of my favourite bands, outdo themselves by releasing their sixth killer album in a row. They’ve even tried some new tricks (Dan Auerbach sings falsetto!) and pulled them off with aplomb.

Listen to “Howlin’ For You”

LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening (2010)

This Is Happening by LCD SoundsystemLCD Soundsystem have put out some seriously wicked stuff over the years. This Is Happening is them at their peak – a solidly wicked album from sneaking-up-on-you beginning to bouncy celebratory end.

Listen to “Dance Yrself Clean” – after the first 3 minutes (which are very very quiet) expect to be blown away by one of my favourite tracks of the year.

Caribou Swim (2010)

Swim by CaribouWitnessing the progress of this Canadian gem has been fun. He’s blown away what anyone expected he was capable of when he started out. Although he won the Polaris Prize in 2008 for Andorra, Swim is Caribou realizing his full potential.

Listen to “Odessa”

Dan Auerbach Keep It Hid (2009)

Keep It Hid by Dan AuerbachThe singer/guitarist for The Black Keys releases a solo album. What can I say? My life’s a helluva lot better since I discovered this man, his guitar, his lyrics, his voice.

Listen to “Goin’ Home”

DJ Shadow Remix Project (2010)

The DJ Shadow Remix ProjectDJ Shadow has created some sick tracks over the years, providing ample inspiration for other sound mixers. The Remix Project is a public competition put on by the man himself, hand picking his faves and publishing them with his stamp of approval. Grab it as a free download from DJ Shadow’s site here.

Listen to The Remix Project Teaser, doing a mad mash through all 19 tracks!

Flying Lotus Cosmogramma (2010)

Cosmogramma by Flying LotusIf you’re in the mood for unpredictable electronica with beats, Flying Lotus is your man.

Listen to “Computer Face//Pure Being”

Clubroot II – MMX (2010)

II-MMX by ClubrootEpic progress from his debut LP, II – MMX pulls you into a supernatural fantasy world from the very first note and doesn’t let go, cradling you in its soothing arms, against a heavy bass heartbeat.

Listen to “Closure”

Connections (2009)

Connections by scape artistsThis was a nice find. ~scape, the label of one of my all-time favourite minimal electronic artists, Pole, released a compilation in 2009. It’s full of bleepin’ gems.

Listen to “Poison / Remedy” by Pinch Meets Pavel Ambiont

Broken Bells Broken Bells (2010)

Broken Bells by Broken BellsThat Dangermouse – he gets me every time. I thought I didn’t like this album at first. Then the production wizardry of Dangermouse caught me, lured me, then ate me and I spent much of the year swimming in his Broken Bells belly.

Listen to “Vaporize”

Gnarls Barkley St. Elsewhere (2006)

St. Elsewhere by Gnarls BarkleyCee-Lo reminds me of Eyedea in how he is very raw and honest in his lyrics, singing about suicidal thoughts, for example. Yet with his soulful voice and Dangermouse’s space funk rhythms, Gnarls Barkley albums move along with an illusion of airy lightness. Especially in bangers like “The Last Time.”
Listen to “The Last Time”

Grizzly Bear Veckatimest (2009)

Veckatimest by Grizzly BearWhile some genres (hip hop, I’m looking at you) insist on staying stagnant, the indie rock scene is bursting with energy and invention. Grizzly Bear has a vocal style that runs just shy of putting me off, and an instrumental depth and growth that I love.

Listen to “While You Wait For The Others”

Harmonic 313 When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence (2009)

When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence by Harmonic 313A totally random find at the library, this album could accompany Daft Punk as the new Tron album.

Listen to “Cyclotron”

Massive Attack Heligoland (2010)

Heligoland by Massive AttackAlthough there are a couple duds (“Flat Of The Blade” – ugh), this is a magical return to form for Massive Attack (yet not an attempt to cling to the past, here they are moving forward), especially if you hear the deluxe version of the album, which is packed with a ton of excellent remixes.

Listen to “Atlas Air” – wait for the gut-drop at 5:34

Beck Modern Guilt (2008)

Modern Guilt by BeckContinuing my Dangermouse love-in, this is now my favourite Beck album because, listen after listen, I hear more incredible things embedded deeply in the tracks. Dangermouse knows I get bored easily, so he hides gems in there for my ears to discover on return visits.

Listen to “Chemtrails,” an excellent song, but I especially like the guitar freak out at the end

M.I.A. /\/\/\Y/\ (2010)

/\/\/\Y/\ by M.I.A.I know a lot of people are slagging M.I.A. for this album, which is definitely not as listenable as her previous efforts. But damn it, you gotta give her credit for not resting on past and proven successes. This is an album of experimentation, and it makes me very excited for her next release, after she’s developed these ideas and sounds a little more. After all, Roots Manuva needed to release Awfully Deep (his worst record) to make way for Slime & Reason (his strongest).
Listen to “Born Free”

The Roots How I Got Over (2010)

How I Got Over by The RootsRap and hip hop haven’t advanced much in recent years. But The Roots have always had their own style that transcends any specific genre, so even though they may not have broken any rules with their 2010 release, their sound is still more invigorating and full of soul than their competitors.
Listen to “How I Got Over”

Wolf Parade Expo 86 (2010)

Expo 86 by Wolf ParadeTheir first album, Apologies To The Queen Mary, is one of my favourites of all time. So with each new LP, I crave another Queen Mary, and am initially disappointed. But once I let go of that unreasonable desire, I discover that Wolf Parade is a band of true artists: continually challenging themselves, on the quest for new sounds, to not repeat themselves. I have huge respect for that.
Listen to “In The Direction Of The Moon”

Yeasayer Live at Ancienne Belgique (2010)

Live At Ancienne Belgique by YeasayerReleased on Xmas Day, Yeasayer offered this gift to their fans (“name your price & download” – check it out here), a recording of a recent show in Brussels. I liked their first LP for it’s quirky sounds, high energy, and sometimes honest, sometimes weird poetic lyrics, but I haven’t heard their second LP yet. This awesome live recording really makes me want to hear that second album now. And to see them live!
Listen to “Wait For Summer”

You Don’t Know: Ninja Cuts (2008)

You Don't Know: Ninja CutsA Ninja Tune compilation setting out to prove “you don’t know” everything about this music label, but this 3-disc set pretty much clarifies that Ninja Tune makes Ninja Cuts tunes and that ain’t a bad thing. This is a super solid collection of music.

Listen to “Poison Dart (Featuring Warrior Queen)” by The Bug

Other Favourite Music

I realize I’ve limited myself by using Soundcloud to list my top picks of 2010 because not every artist is on Soundcloud. Here are some of those:

Coin Gutter Asthmatics Of Failure (2010)

Asthmatics Of Failure by Coin GutterMore sound noise inventive audioscape awesomeness from Coin Gutter. Listen to the album and/or buy it at No Type.

Eyedea & Abilities By The Throat (2009)

By The Throat by Eyedea & AbilitiesUnbelievably raw, honest, brave. This is the album of an artist baring his entire soul, hiding nothing. To listen to the album and/or buy it go to Rhymesayers.

The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights (2010)

Under Great White Northern Lights by The White StripesAn absolute must have, Under Great White Northern Lights delivers what we want from any live album: the experience of being there – screaming fans, band-audience interaction, singalongs, and HUGE sound from the band. Have a peek on The White Stripes official site.

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BEST STUFF I WATCHED IN 2010

Herb & Dorothy (2008)

An amazing little documentary I watched as part of the Visionaries: Art On Film series at VanCity Theatre. It’s about two art collectors, a very cute couple who, despite their small combined income, amass a huge collection of modern art. Charming and highly recommended.

The US vs John Lennon (2006)

Incredibly informative. I have a ton more respect for Lennon now that I am educated on how involved he was in the peace movement.

Primer (2004)

Incredibly unique. The science lingo script is written without concern for the audience, yet the genuine relationships keep you in. You need to know what’s going on, but by the end, I wasn’t sure what happened. Sort of a time travel movie, but not. Watch it.

Lords of Dogtown (2005)

A freakin’ excellent movie. Read my full review here.

JFK (1991)

“The assassination reduced the president to a transient official. His job, his assignment, is to speak as often as possible of this nation’s desire for peace while he acts as a business agent in the congress for the military and their hardware manufacturers.” A poignant quote from a powerful film.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

I was prepared to dislike this movie because I dislike musicals. But Sweeney Todd moves in such a way that the singing not only comes at fitting moments, it also seems unforced. It’s dark and highly enjoyable.

Monster (2003)

Heavy. Very heavy. Do not watch if you’re feeling fragile.

Valkyrie (2008)

Somehow I didn’t loathe Tom Cruise in this; somehow I was riveted even though the ending is not a surprise. If you’re in the mood for suspense, watch Valkyrie.

The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Deer Hunter is multiple movies in one: a Vietnam flick, a look into small town USA, a powerful representation of the reality and complexity of relationships.

Cinderella Man (2005)

Yeah it’s a little cheesy (it is a Ron Howard film afterall), but if you need to be inspired, Russell Crowe’s performance and his very believable relationship with Renée Zellweger will do it to you.

Trouble the Water (2008)

Unbelievable. You’ve heard how the Bush administration ignored everyone in New Orleans during the flood of 2005 caused by Hurricane Katrina – now see first hand proof.

Hotaru no haka (Grave Of The Fireflies) (1988)

I’ve never seen an animated film that achieves human movement and emotion quite like this. Forget CGI and 3D, Grave Of The Fireflies has it all beat.

Through A Blue Lens (1999)

No holds barred look at the drug life on the streets of downtown eastside (DTES) Vancouver. A group officers, who, as beats cops, know the DTES residents well, take it upon themselves to video record everything, in order to educate young people. A must see. Also watch the follow up, Tears For April.
The following is not just a trailer, it’s the full video (online through the National Film Board Of Canada).

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens (2008)

A couple things happened to me this year: my obsession with photography blew up (in a good way) and my interest in the lives of artists grew. What’s better than watching a movie about the life behind the scenes of one of the most successful artistic photographers of our time?

art:21 Art In The Twenty-First Century (2001-current)

Perfectly satisfying my need for behind the scenes experiences of the lives of artists, I discovered art:21 by picking up the 1st & 2nd season DVD at VPL. Read my blog entry about it here.
And watch this little intro clip to the episode with Matthew Barney

We Live In Public (2009)

The experiments that Josh Harris sets up could be seen as crazy but I really like how he blends art, technology and business without doing it purposefully.
A marvelous look at people creating a new reality, or a spin on reality. Whatever it was, it was actually a precursor to what we now see as normal.

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Philip Seymour Hoffman often plays a sad, hopeless character in his movies. If this annoys you, don’t watch this movie, because in Synecdoche, New York he is at his saddest and most hopeless.
But if you can get past that, this is a brilliant, unique vision of a person trying to figure out his life by creating a massive theatre production of his life. This may not be surprising if you’ve seen other Charlie Kaufman movies (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, etc).

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BEST STUFF I READ IN 2010

Sell & Re-Sell Your Photos: learn how to sell your pictures worldwide (2003) by Rohn Engh

Sell And Re-Sell Your Photos by Rohn Engh Although the most recent edition is from 2003, which means Engh’s discussions of the internet are basic, all his other tips and ideas are quite applicable, pertinent.

Preview the book at Google Books here.

Best Business Practices For Photographers (2009) by John Harrington

Best Business Practices For Photographers by John HarringtonPacked with practical business advice. Contracts, rates, insurance, accounting, copyright – yep, a lot of boring stuff. But Harrington writes with a voice of obvious experience, being to the point yet as brief as possible, so that I wasn’t bored to tears.

Preview the book at Amazon here.

Art in America

Art in America magazineI may be a visual artist and I may love to check out what other artists are creating. But I LOATHE art writing – all that higher-than-thou rigmarole that actually means nothing. Thankfully, Art in America is light on that and heavier on solid journalism, writing well researched articles on artists of all genres and their work.

Check out their online content here.

The Walrus

The Walrus magazineI remember the debut of The Walrus back in 2003, when I was working for the Vancouver Public Library. I thought the name was weird; that it was a sign the magazine wouldn’t last. Yet here we are seven years and a Magazine of the Year award later and The Walrus is publishing some of the most consistently relevant material you’ll find on the newsstand.

Check out their online content here.

Life Of Pi (2001) by Yann Martel

Life Of Pi by Yann MartelOne of those books everyone tells you to read, then when you get around to it, it’s underwhelming. That’s how I felt through most of Life Of Pi. Then something happened that never happens: the book gained strength at the end. The end actually saved this book, it pulled everything together wonderfully in an unforced, thought provoking manner.

Preview the book at Google Books here.

A Short History Of Progress (2004) by Ronald Wright

A Short History Of Progress by Ronald WrightSpeaking of books you’re recommended to read, I read A Short History Of Progress and had mixed feelings about it’s execution. Read my response to the book here.

Preview the book at Google Books here.

My Name Is Asher Lev (1972) by Chaim Potok

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim PotokEasily my favourite fiction of the year, this charming book tells the story of a young, artistically gifted Jewish boy who never loses his passion for painting even though everyone discourages him.
His description of lines, textures, and other things visual resonated deeply within me. Truth, beauty, self-identity, this was one of those books that perfectly fit into my life when I read it.

Preview the book at Amazon here.

Popular Photography

Popular Photography magazineJust because I’m a photographer doesn’t mean I instantly enjoy anything about cameras and taking pictures. There’s a lot of sub par material out there, hacked together in haste, trying to cash in on hobbyists and professionals alike.
But some content, such as that published in Popular Photography every month, is genuine, worthwhile, well researched, and well written. The whole range of photography is covered in every issue: gear, tips, interviews, and inspiring photos, listed with their ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. Immensely helpful.

Check out their online content here.

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RECAP OF GOALS FROM 2010

  • Laser Eyes: Hell yeah! So stoked I got this done.
  • Learn Piano: Nope. I have a keyboard and amp (thanks to Geordie and Bex), but I haven’t dedicated any time to this since early last year. I haven’t given up though! Piano is my favourite instrument and I will find time to learn one day.
  • Home Stereo System: Yep! Airport Express + garage sale stereo = tasty tunes throughout my apartment!
  • Summer Music Festival Tour: Nope. It wasn’t in the cards. Though I’m hoping this plan comes together very soon, perhaps this summer, most likely next? I’d love to tour as a festival photographer.
  • Travel to Australia: Nope. My mom, her partner and his son all flew from Alberta to see my brother and his family for the Xmas season, but I stayed in Vancouver.
    I could take this 2 ways: either I’ve learned that big plans won’t happen without early commitment, or I’ve learned that sometimes plans don’t come together because other things need to happen. Or both!
  • Push My Art Out: A big yes yes yes!!! Going part time last summer was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
  • Redesign and launch the new formatnoauto.com: Yep! I redesigned, built, and launched the new site in early 2010. Funny thing is, I’m going to redesign it again, this time incorporating the power of WordPress.org. Read on for more about this…

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GOALS FOR 2011

  • Redesign formatnoauto.com to professionally promote my photography.
    I’ve learned a ton from professional photographers such as Chase Jarvis and Todd Owyoung, especially how they promote themselves and their work on their sites. As much as I love the simplicity of my hand coded site, I’m now at the point where I want to utilize the power of PHP and all the dynamic capabilities it provides.
    My plan is to build with WordPress.org, which will grant my site the power of PHP, as well as incorporate the functionallity of blogging, archiving, an internal search engine, etc. If all goes well, I can use these new skills to build websites for others, giving people what they want: full functionality and editability. Two for the win!!
  • Become independently successful, wealthy, and famous as a photographer and artist. Easy right? I know this will take a ton of work and even more belief in myself, but I’m ready to take this leap. I’ve discovered a passion in shooting live music that’s unmatched by anything I’ve pursued before. I’m taking this as a bright sign that it’s true what they say, “do what you love and everything else will follow.”
    I intend to shoot things that make me happy, things that I’m interested in, that I have a passion for. Music, art, dance, theatre, etc – so if you or anyone you know would like their art photographed, let me know!
    Passion for life and creativity may not directly pay the bills, but by pursuing these things, I’m going to put myself into places where I will make money. I know it. (I have a project idea to shoot artists in Vancouver, write mini-bios about each artist, and post as a regular online magazine. If you’re interested, let me know)
  • I love dogs. Every time I’m around friends’ dogs, or dogs in the park, I love how they remind me of the simple pleasures in life: running around the outdoors, eating, sleeping, cuddling. So I’m going to volunteer to walk dogs for the SPCA and/or the Animal Shelter.
  • My overall intention for the year: to be honest. Stop holding back so as not to offend; stop saying things to make other people happy. Embrace conflict. Conflict encourages change. Strive for change, change is progress. In 2011, progress!!!

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Thank You And All The Best In 2011

To everyone that has read this, thank you.
May 2011 bring you good things: health, love, comfort, a sense of belonging, a belief in possibilities.
I compile, write, and publish my Wrap Up to take stock of my life, appreciate what I’ve done, and to share all of it with you. I would love to hear your comments, but if you say nothing, and just take what we have shared, then I am happy. That’s all we can do in this life is share with as much honesty and bravery as possible, encouraging peace, resisting violence and harm.

With love,
Ash
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Me and Tracey’s daughter, Maya, when I visited in the summer.
Tummies hungry! Pizza good!!

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ART, FILM, MUSIC

Little Dragon + Billygoat @ Fortune Sound Club Make For Inspiring Evening of Unique Art + Music

Now that the expected slump of the holiday season has passed, live music in Vancouver is kicking into high gear again. I shot my first show of 2011 tonight: Little Dragon + Billygoat @ Fortune Sound Club.

It was nice to return to Fortune. It’s where I shot my first professional show last year: Kid Sister, who was a wonderful surprise, a fantastic high energy performer. A blast to shoot; she really got me started off on the right foot!
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The show tonight was quite a treat.
One of the things I love about shooting live music is that I see performances I may not have, if I wasn’t assigned to shoot them. Tonight, for example, I knew about Little Dragon, and was excited to see their brand of synthy-poppy-electo dance stuff.

But I hadn’t heard about Billygoat until tonight, when I researched them in preparation for the shoot. Their music is very minimal, more emotion than noise, but it all makes sense when you watch their intricately created animations, because it is the visuals that are the centre of attention, the band is merely providing the score.
The animations are marvelous: hand created stop motion people and shapes and things, flat objects with shadows, layered in a way that made me want to touch them. It was a very inspiring show from this group from Portland.

Except for the bright animations from the projector, the show (both acts) was quite dark, which always makes for a challenging shoot.
But I tried something a bit different tonight – I lowered my shutter speed instead of raising my ISO. I found that high ISO’s will take in too much light, and when a performer is bathed in the dreaded red light (or blue or yellow, but red is definitely the worst), s/he drowns in it. Huge swatches of skin lose detail, they become big patches of flat colour. So I experimented with keeping the ISO low for detail, and pushed my shutter as slow as I could go and still avoid blur.

I’m moving the pics from my camera to my computer right now. I’ll post pics sometime tomorrow (Wed Jan 12).

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