Tag Archives: Anthony N. Chandler

End of an Era: This Blog Ends Here

While speaking at the 2014 CITE Conference about the way that blogging has changed my writing style, how this blog has reached over 100,000 views all over the world, and what topics I have written about, I realized that now was the time to end the blog. Maybe it is that I have changed, maybe it is that the theme of If Not Now, When? has become removed from where my life is: I fulfilled the expectations of doing whatever I wanted over these past five years, and I have translated that into an amazing life in an amazing world. My reality is that the now is constantly in play, and I have the momentum to continue to the end without looking ahead or behind.

For this final entry I wanted to write a summative piece; I have avoided writing for the past two weeks to ensure that what I wrote was strong. In the end, I decided to reflect on the people who I have met in the past two years, and who changed what I knew to be true. Each one is a creative genius, an artist, connects deeply with my photographic work, and is an inspiration to work with. First…Graeme Cameron of Base Camp X.

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I met Graeme through a series of random events. Over two years I have shot about 200 images for him. His tools are beautiful, rugged, and connect to an inspirational narrative. I now own four axes, two canoe paddles and a few lethal, zombie-worthy knives, and I am always impressed by what he pulls out of his bag at each photo session. This week had me photographing his new series of Wendigo Blades, a slingshot, and a few clothing items. These new blades, especially the middle size, are prime examples of tools that not only make sense to own, but also feel like an extension of your body. The work I do for Graeme is personal, and money never changes hands; some work is simply worth the doing.

Darren EedensDarren Eedens

When I began going to to hear music two years ago, we came across a local banjo picker at Cameron House whose music became the soundtrack of our lives. Darren Eedens has since become a friend and continual inspiration. I seem to recall taking a few shots at a show at Cameron House, and then at Lee’s Palace. I never tire of the songs “Waiting For the Freeze”, “Darlin'”, and Footprints in the Snow”. Darren’s music inspired me to pick up my guitar again for the first time in years. I ended up writing and recording an album about my life over an intense three month period. I began going to hear music at local bars even when I was exhausted from work. I found the music in life again. I found myself in the places between a pint of beer and a steel string guitar.

Paderno Nature Pan

The third person who altered my being is the most important. She is the person I am going to marry. She is the person who awakened me from a deep slumber. She is the most talented, adventurous, and kind individual that I have met. Our life is full of joy and challenges, but the balance keeps us moving forward together, and I know that I have found the love of my life. She keeps me in the now. I care little about the past now, and the future is not as important as what we do in the present together. We move into our new house in July, and I am happy. What does this have to do with the photograph of me dragging a sled?

I chose this photograph because she took it, and it represents a full circle coming around in the past year when I took a similar photograph of her with Paderno’s first Nature Pan. That photograph was widely published, and represents the highest point of my success in commercial photography. Our life is filled with passion and art; I need for nothing while I have her by my side.

Anthony N. Chandler

So here we are. While I continue to work as an educator, photographer and writer, I do so now because the work offers artistic and personal opportunities. While I continue to travel the world widely with a summer trip to Bangalore and Paris, I have a deeper desire to stay close to home and America. Instead of writing for this blog, I want to turn my talents over to a novel that I began two years ago. In it, I bring the mythical sirens to life in magical world beneath the one we all know too well. The idea of writing a longer, fictional piece feels like a logical progression. Thus ends If Not Now, When?  and the rest of my life’s story begins now.

“Teach me to hear the mermaids singing…”

~John Donne

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Kiriko Made: The Post-Industrial Bespoke Movement

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In a world where consumer goods are meant to be opiate for the masses, and shopping is a sport to numb the pain of daily life, a new movement has risen from the ash and garbage that fill the streets: Oregon Industrial. Perhaps it would sound better as Bespoke Industrial or Artisanal Industrial Mercantile? Regardless, there is a higher end, post-hipster movement that seems to have originated in Portland, of all places. The premise is that Gen Y and those whose talents are no longer appreciated have abandoned the lure of tech internships that may eventually lead to a low salary in ten years. Citizens have walked away from the idea that New York, Toronto, Washington and Los Angeles are the only places on earth to purchase property (or, rather, rent at suicidal monthly rates). Comrades have chosen Portland as a place to come together, take back the heavy-duty sewing machine, wipe off the grease from abandoned motors, and start crafting authentic, low-production goods for people who appreciate materials that were de rigeur before plastic became our mantra.

My past few purchases have not been inexpensive, nor have they been simple. Toronto is far from the Pacific West, which means that USPS has become a pusher for my material needs. First it was a key fob and Leica-style camera strap from Tanner Goods. Then came a straight razor strop from horse hide arrived from Bison,  a suit bag from Seattle-based Filson, and a mint green, leather knife roll from Butcher and Baker. Before I knew it I found myself surrounded by beautiful materials that made me feel more connected to the items I used. They key idea is that I use all of these items in an almost religious manner. I appreciate the feel of the strop; the look of the simple key fob as it rests in my hand or dangles from the ignition of my Ducati Monster.  My desire to use an item often means that I must take the time to pack my clothes for a trip in lieu of rolling them into a ball, and I need to spend ten minutes sharpening my straight razor on the strop before I even get to the bathroom sink for shaving. I have become mindful and present. I am in the moment as the material serves as a catalyst for an intellectual slowing down of my time. Time has become precious.

Kiriko Two

Yesterday’s post brought me two scarfs and a pocket square from Portland-based Kiriko. I came across a few of their pieces in a small shop in Nashville’s 12 South area. The deep indigo colours and Japanese fabrics caught my attention immediately. Since travelling to Japan a few years ago, I realize the unique tension in fabric and foreign colour palette that are signature to Japan. A week ago I came across a Boro-style scarf online and fell in love with the contrasting indigo/floral pattern. I ordered the scarf which is made from Japanese heirloom fabrics, a Kimono striped scarf and a deep indigo pocket square. Within a few days all arrived in uniquely gorgeous packaging, and I now had items that I know will be with me through a great many made adventures, adding points of style to what can be a bleak world.

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There may have also been an impulse need to purchase a NATO-style watchband from Worn&Wound, a purveyor and reviewer of watch ephemera. You see, Old Sport, I inherited more than my fair share of beat up, broken down watches from my father upon his death this past summer. I never wear a watch. I hate having things on my wrists. I care little what the time is. But…this black strap sang a siren song: rebuild the watch the Chinese restaurant owner gave your father when he was a young boy. Mystery surrounds this watch, and it is a relic of my father’s imagination that I remember since my own birth.

It has no intrinsic value in the metals or craftsmanship. The watch must be hand-wound on a daily basis. I am still unsure whether it will even keep time. The point is that I have chosen to take a piece back from the landfill, ignore that my iPhone keeps perfect time, and live within a different reality as the Horween-produced leather strap hugs a piece of metal tightly to my wrist that once belonged to men I  should have known better. Perhaps it serves as a talisman to make sure I know those who follow me better than those who came before.

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My day starts, and will end, with an espresso and slice of molten chocolate cake inspired by our dinner at Montreal’s Joe Beef this past weekend.  My version uses up the wide variety of aging chocolate that filled my cupboard, blooming and losing its sheen. I would like to think that the French pan adds more beauty to the cake, than the skillet ours was served in at the restaurant. The flavours are dead on, the texture is perfect…now if I only had a soft serve ice cream machine that could spit out perfect peppermint-infused dollops of ice milk, then I would be king.

Coming to Terms With Gatsby: The Poor Boy Done Good, or What Have I Become?

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.” ~ The Great Gatsby

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The world we live in is constantly moving; we are expected to keep up, to push harder, and remain on top of change. As celebrities like Philip Seymour-Hoffman kill themselves, Justin Bieber gets arrested for childish stunts and drinking cough syrup, and Bob Dylan lip-syncs a bad Chrysler commercial, I have to ask myself just what our lives are about in 2014. What can anyone hope to accomplish in an era when an overnight war can occur in EVE Online that costs the loss of virtual starships worth $500,000 in real-world money? What is the real anymore, anyways, anywhere?

June will find me in Bangalore, India. I will be participating in a Leader’s Quest workshop wherein participants will explore what it means to live in one of this planet’s most poverty-stricken, yet forward moving countries. We will examine not only the business relationships between corporations and people on the ground, but also attempt to gain an understanding of that that all means to an increasingly global world; a world where corporations are empire, governments are filled with clowns like Rob Ford, and people are left to either climb the ladder or fall off into the abyss. We can join forces with the corporation that best suits our personal aspirations, so that we may rise more quickly and reach the 1% before we are too old, too tired, too dead.

Which brings me to Gatsby….

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F. Scott’s Fizgerald’s literary character, Jay Gatsby, is one of my favourite examples of how we can strive to become a person different from the rest while keeping our eyes on what we are really in the game for. Perhaps you are in it for $100 bills (like Jay-Z asserts in his rap on the recent movie soundtrack) or just maybe you seek a love like Daisy. Regardless of the reason for cloaking your intentions, selling your soul, pandering your time to the gods of business, we each make a decision to become someone else. The best of us know when to either walk away or go all in; the rest of us are left on the highway strewn with the bodies of forgotten singers, politicians and actors.

So when you read about poor Justin Bieber or question Miley’s tongue to twist movements, or even reflect on why Indian call-centre workers leave the countryside to sit in cramped rooms for 17 hour shifts only to spend their money on Cristal and shiny objects at the nearby dance club, think about yourself. What have you sold? What have you done lately that meant more than the consumption of things you do not need?

For my own part…I still love Gatsby. I can always imagine myself one day owning a lavish mansion like the one I am standing in front of in New Orlean’s Garden District (Anne Rice’s former home). I can imagine owning a closet full of beautiful shirts on perfect hangers with space to breathe. I can hear the roar of my Porsche 911’s engine as I sink into the leather seats. I taste the finest Californian Cabernet Sauvignon next to my Kansas City porterhouse in New York City. I feel the weight of my silver rings as I strum the perfect G chord in Madison Square Garden where I play a few covers with Jack White the Third to close the show. I may only ever imagine such luxuries, but then, as Lorde asserts, I will always be “driving Cadillacs in my dreams.” Dreams are what keep us human, and make us better than greedy animals at the trough. Gatbsy had dreams, and so do I.

The imagination is what gets us through the mindless meetings, the drive-thru waits, the subway car that never comes and the random salesperson chatter when you just want to see what is new and now. What does Gatsby teach us? Why to never surrender your imagination, Old Sport. Never give in, never give up, never, ever give way.

Studio Photography and Cookware Products

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Work is never dull when you love what you do. I may not always be enthusiastic to begin a photography session when turnaround times are short and my day job is hectic, but I never forget how fortunate I am to be a working photographer with regular clients who offer me a wide variety of challenges. The latest selection of products had me working three nights to capture white backgrounds for a catalogue, a collection of four hero shots for product boxes, and a follow-up to last year’s highly successful NatureTrust Pan campaign. Despite a few moments of frustration with a jammed camera and fitting products into the frame, I feel like this series continues to show my best work to date; cookies, bundt cake, spiral veggies and a sausage based meatloaf all made it from my oven into the image frame.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 9.30.55 AMFor this session I solely used my Hasselblad 501 CM with a  CFV 16 digital back. As a studio camera, this combination gives me an amazingly smooth depth of field,  and dynamic range compared to my Canon dslr. The tough part is that it does take time to set up the shot in a square frame, especially larger items such as the cookie pan. A large part of my set-up involved choosing the right focal length for my lens; for these four products I moved between the Hasselblad CFi 80mm and the Cfi 120mm lenses. I may have also used a CB 60mm lens, but I forget exactly which shot it was used on. Overall, it was a few days well spent, especially when it comes to paying the costs for our upcoming adventure from Nashville to Memphis to New Orleans. During that time I expect to shoot with the Hasselblad, but am not sure if the back will use film or digital. The CFV is pretty terrible without full light, but on the SWC body it may deliver a unique collection landscape and places.

The Mockingbird Session: Photography For Darren Eedens

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Getting down to business is difficult for the best of us; making a solid living in any business these days is starting to sound like a country song: “can’t pay my bills, no food for my table, hope you got a way forward cause I just ain’t able.” Fortunately, I am quite able to take care of the tasks required to make a go of it in the big city. I have been able to forge a superb career as an educator at one of the best schools in Canada so the bills do get paid on a regular basis. It never hurts that I also work hard towards becoming a better photographer just in case those bills slip out of control due to unforeseen circumstances. Photography is my art form that I could fall back on in times of need.

One of my favourite aspects of photography is that I am able to work with musicians. Music is a major force in my life, and I know how hard professional musicians have it in these days when bars seldom pay bands to play, and when the tip jar is filled at the mercy of a drunken audience. Musicians provide the soundtrack of our memories. My best memories have come from my past year of living in downtown Toronto, and many of my favourite soundtrack scenes have been scored by local banjo evangelist, Darren Eedens. Working on a new set of promo photographs with Eedens was last night’s business.

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Finding ways to shoot compelling portraits is always a challenge. The hard part is not physically taking the photo, but rather finding a way to convey the personality of the subject while still creating a mythical persona is the obstacle. Great photography takes elbow grease and a sense of humour.

For Darren’s session, I wanted to reflect the musician whose music brought me close to the love of my lifetime, while not being so personal that these shots could not be used for simple promo posters as he travels across Europe in the Spring. I needed a few shots where there is negative space that could be filled with text about a show, I needed a few up close portraits that could be used online or in a magazine, and I wanted a few 4×5 film shots for my portfolio and that would stand out from what millions of others in the business have in their kit.

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For my first few shots I simply wanted to make Darren feel comfortable with the camera. No small feat when one never knows what the other person is going to hope for, how he is going to dress, and whether photography sessions are old hat for the subject. These shots are good, usable and were generally easy to take technique-wise.

My second set were taken with the Hasselblad CFV 16 medium format back. As one can see from the smooth tones and photographic quality of the first shot, the CFV excels at portraits. I shot tethered to my Macbook Pro with an 80mm f.2.8 CFi lens, and was able to crank out one shot every three seconds with my Profoto D1 lights. It is the type of photograph that stands up against anything else in this genre. It has depth, the lines of the shirt and tattoos flow beautifully, and the eyes betray a million words of love gone wrong and riding the rails.

The third set was shot in 4×5 tim with my 1960s Linhof large format camera. I won’t have those developed until next week, but I expect them to be photographs on a whole other level. The best part of the night was a ten minute jam in the key of G with Eedens on banjo while I banged out a blues on my Martin guitar. The ProTools recording is absolutely beautiful, especially given that microphones were haphazardly set up and we had no plan to even play. Moments like that make work worth the effort.

I labelled last night the Mockingbird Sessions; mockingbirds mimic the songs of others in an attempt to find love. On our morning walk with the dogs we came across a pair outside of the studio, so the message was clear and fortuitous. All creatures sing for different reasons; some for love and others for money.

A Tale of Two Islands: Scanning the West Coast Trail and Weddings

 

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I have been missing in action. Since Thanksgiving the influenza has had me in a deadly grip. Four weeks is too long to be sick with anything when your body is in the best shape it has ever been in, but this year’s flu turned to walking pneumonia and then a sinus infection. Many of my favourite activities, such as writing,  had to be forsaken so that I could manage my daily work while still managing to spend quality time with my family and friends. I never underestimate how valuable my good health is, but it always shakes me a bit when a simple virus lays me on the floor for so long. But I digress…where was I? The West Coast Trail and my brother’s wedding photography is finally entering the scanning process, and the film negatives appear to be co-operating.

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The West Coast Trail will forever be an achievement for me. No boys scouts for me; I lasted four hours at the Army Cadet’s winter camp. Hiking 78km with a full pack of fifty pounds over a landscape that only hobbits and elves would find easy to cross, I found my feet and confirmed that this country has much to offer the brave and crazy. For this adventure I decide to shoot only Kodak 160 film in the back of my Hasselblad SWC camera. I knew that batteries and electronics would easily become corrupted by wet, damp weather, and that 7 days is a long time to be unable to charge a camera battery. I am not a landscape photographer, but I felt that with the 38mm medium format perspective that the Hasselbad offers I could certainly capture the memories that I wanted to keep safe when the aches and pains of hiking were long past.

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My brother’s wedding is a different beast on the opposite side of the country, Prince Edward Island. Why shoot with a Hasselblad 501CM there? Well…I forgot my battery charger for the Canon 1DmkIII, and that is not a situation any wedding photographer wants to find himself. Fortunately for us, my permanent partner was expertly wielding a second camera [a Canon 7D with a 50mm f.1.2 L lens], and I had two other cameras with me to capture as much as I could. The main photographs had to be shot on film, however, and these are the first two scans I have been able to complete since my health began to slowly return this week.

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What do I see in these photographs? The intangible mood and perspective that digital accuracy simply cannot reproduce. Four photographs taken with technology that will soon become lost as film dies a slow death with the demise of Kodak. Ironically, these four photographs will probably last far beyond the quickie selfies and iPhone captures that we all use to publicize our daily lives. I hold no qualms with the technology, but I know we seldom print or back-up our digital captures, but that I will be able to store these negatives safely for my own lifetime at least. Perhaps the standard by which I judge all of my personal work now is whether I would want to print my photographs for a funeral, an anniversary or an exhibition. On both of these islands hundreds, if not thousands of photographs were taking on the trail and at the wedding, but how many of them capture the actual spaces and moments as well as these? This is my work. I am proud of it.

 

Canoe Trip: Algonquin Park for Thanksgiving

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I have a wicked case of the flu. I am stuck in bed with three dogs and a large thermos of tea. Still, I did one thing this weekend that I have aspired to for the past fifteen years: canoed into Algonquin Park. Perhaps it was not a fifteen day expedition where I tested my wits and skills against bears, wolves and rabid geese; perhaps I gracefully fell out of a canoe, lowered my immune system in the rainy coldness until my body gave in to this flu, and I might have even secretly wished I was steps away from a Fairmont Hotel, but, in the end, I navigated my way through a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with those who I consider to be family now. All Thanksgiving Days should prove so exceptional.

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I am a Camping Princess. I have no shame in saying that I expect my food in the woods to taste better than in the city. I believe that there is value in slowing down instead of portaging my way to certain death so as to impress friends upon my return with stories of stupidity and risk. I get chills and need warm clothing made by Canada Goose, The North Face and Arc’Teryx to keep me warm, yet fashionable. Still…I take my time in the outdoors. I love following little beavers along in the canoe until we can get close enough to make eye contact. The smells of camping make me comfortable. I feel accomplished when I make it through a few logs with my Base Camp X Pathfinder axe, even if a saw is far more practical.

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Speaking of The North Face: my tent failed this weekend. Four years ago I purchased a new TNF Spectrum 23 tent from Europe Bound for motorcycle camping and our once a year educational Norval class trip. Total time in the tent: 25 days. My disappointment was palpable as the water poured in from a light shower on Sunday, and the seams gave way in a flaky mess. Perhaps I am naive for thinking that a fairly expensive tent should last a while when it is well taken care of, but shouldn’t it? I have read of others’ plights with The North Face and do not expect this to go well with their warranty department, as other campers clearly voice a strange stoic war cry about incompetence when others have complained online about TNF’s delamination issues and lack of long term durability. Comparisons to automobiles are stupidly made by “expert campers” who clearly are attempting to point out that “I have no problems, so you must be wrong” statements :  and no, my tent is not a car made by Ford, it should be more like a Ferrari, and I doubt they leak after 4 years and 250 miles.  So I will update people on how TNF replies to my warranty query, as I think that our world needs objects to last instead of being disposable.

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Highlights of the weekend included seeing all of the stars without city lights polluting the sky, canoeing for a hour on a silent lake beneath a half moon, and smoking my favourite pipe with Wild Cherry tobacco by the lake as the campfire warmed my aching body. The weekend’s food consisted of buttermilk pancakes, naturally smoked bacon, sausages, salmon, roasted potatoes, carrots and green beans and a rather tasty egg sandwich on German rye bread. We also fed on personal pizzas, s’mores and a few dried goods. It was beautiful when the sun was out and challenging when the rain came down on the second day.

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It is all too easy to pack it in when limbs become chilled, sleeping bags are soaked due to failed tents, and a fire seems impossible to make. However, I like to think that this Princess can keep going until solutions are found, and despite not feeling well, we were able to re-rig the tarp over the fire pit, start a fire from cedar shavings I kept in my smoking kit, and to end with a rather pleasant evening by the fire. Camping is not about sunshine and rainbows (although we had both), but rather it is about remembering what is important and giving thanks that our modern lives allow us to exist in the comfort of a big bed near hot water when Nature defeats us yet again. For my own part, it was a weekend to give thanks for, and it will be remembered for all of my years to come. Far better than shopping in the mall, eating at a chain-restaurant and living for a future day when you can do what you really want. If not now, when?