Photo by Randy Johnson/RJ51photos
As a small child, I grew very fond of 110 cameras after winning one as part of a prize package in a beauty pageant.
The only photos of significance that stick out in my mind were attempted bootleg photos of The Monkees (taken of a poster), which I tried to sell to neighborhood kids (who had no idea who The Monkees were); and portraits of my friend Robby holding a popsicle, whose funny faces became more extreme with each frame advancement of the roll. Additionally, my cats and rabbits were the stars of many a portrait.
It wasn't until 1992 that I decided that I wanted to get serious with a camera.
My first photography outing was to Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, as part of a school trip. I took my parents Petri rangefinder camera (which I claimed from that day on) and snapped sepia-toned photos of dwelling ruins and petroglyphs.
Early on, my subject matter was primarily indigenous persons, as I pretty much grew up in the Navajo Nation. After a crash course in photography from someone who would later end up my boss, I arranged a portrait session with a local Diné boy and won several blue ribbons for that work.
I was lucky enough to land a photo editor job with a news company and spent most of my time in a darkroom. Digital photography was creeping in, and the art of printing photos was becoming a thing of the past. In came the slide and negative scanners-- which I thought was an amazing technological advantage. I didn't see what was coming shortly thereafter-- the near death of analog photography. More on that later...
I spent the 1990s and early 2000s juggling journalism (writing, assistant editor-ing, copy editing and photographing) with freelance photography. My subject of choice was skateboarding, So much that I later found myself in the Bay Area, which was the epicenter of the skateboard industry. Because I wasn't busy enough, I had a website and graphic design business, and volunteered with a local theater company as a makeup artist.
My life was 24-7 skateboarding. I worked for various local magazines and regularly had work published in magazines with a worldwide
Tim Upson, 199-something. Flagstaff, AZ
I remember the day it all changed for me. My boss came into my office space, excited about the company's newest purchase. It was a Kodak Digital Science camera. It had an all-plastic housing, with a small LCD screen and a rubbery eye piece around the viewfinder. This was going to save the company a ton of time and money! No more rolling film, or spending time in the dark room. No more money spent on photo chemicals and paper. This was now my trusty camera!
I hated it. There was anywhere from a 4-7 second delay after pressing the silicone-coated shutter
release (was it even called that any more?). The resolution couldn't compare to my negatives that I scanned using my trusty Nikon negative scanner. The photos were pixelated, devoid of any detail and
a sad shade of grey. It was not the least bit user friendly and it was impossible to adjust ISO, aperture, shutter speed or any other standard camera setting. It had a fixed flash which had to charge
between shots. It reminded me of a Polaroid, but at least the Polaroid didn't have that horrendous delay. It ate batteries like mad, and took days to download photos to the computer. Worst of all,
they expected me to take sports photos with it, which was virtually impossible. My cries of aggravation fell upon deaf ears. I was now living in the future, and it sucked ass.
Pretty soon, film and film developing was becoming scarce and I eased back on photography and focused on my computer and art skills. I found myself running several websites, which led me to working for Motorhead for a number of years. I also found myself on the other side of a lens, as a model.
I found my way back to photography because I started crafting jewelry, and was sick of hiring photographers to shoot model and product photos who didn't get the aesthetic I was going for. I always knew I could do a much better job. This led to fashion photography and lookbooks for not only myself, but others. I also found my way back to concert photography, which I hadn't done much of since the '90s.
As a long time collector of Mid Century furniture, fashion and art, I used my entire home as a studio which had a vast wardrobe, and focused on photography and styling with that vintage aesthetic. However, I relocated and ditched the studio (and a lot of the wardrobe), but frequently travel to the homes of my clients, and make use of local studios. These days, I prefer to shoot live events, and prefer working outdoors (I'm always on the hunt for unique locations).
I hope you enjoyed this delightful tale, as well as my portfolio.
I am now located in Southern California, in the Inland Empire and am available for bookings.
Client list (just a smidgen):
Voodoo Glow Skulls
Vixen by Micheline Pitt
Pinup Girl Clothing
Emily and the Blackouts
Glitter and the Moon
Pinup In A Pack
Dream Studio Guitars
Cathouse Hollywood/Riki Rachtman
Tattoo Life Magazine
BURRN! Magazine Japan
Aardshok Magazine Netherlands
Sweden Rock Magazine
Tattooed Time Bomb
Pink Bow City
Palm Springs Life
In Style Magazine