Heart of a Dog

Yesterday, Charlotte and I saw the musician and visual artist, Laurie Andersson’s latest film, “Heart of a Dog”.

In a way this is a tribute to her late dog, Lolabelle. But even if you’re not a dog lover, this is still a relevant film about relationships and how we deal with them when new perspectives arise. If you are a dog lover, you will truly enjoy her film.

“Heart of a Dog” is certainly an art movie without a traditional plot or storyline. Yet you still leave the theater feeling completely content and enthused. Laurie’s amazing voice and her thoughtful narrative, beautiful music and visual abstractions conjure some really interesting and provocative thoughts – ranging from post 911 America to the ultimate question, are dogs actually capable of creating listenable Christmas music?

Perhaps I’m injecting stuff that’s going on in my own life right now, but I made quite a few interesting tie-ins with Laurie Andersson’s thoughts.

Laurie Andersson’s life partner, the late Lou Reed, is present only with a song during the film’s final credits. Which made me wonder if it was either too painful for her to include both of her now passed companion Lolabelle and Lou Reed in the same film or if we can expect yet another tribute in the future.

Leica Q

Leica

Inevitably, I will own a Leica. It’s a process – mostly of identifying the tools that fit your creative needs and abilities and then accepting that everything else is, for lack of a better word, excessive.

It’s a cliché, but less is usually more. That’s no small statement coming from an American.

I’ve never shot with a Leica. Not a single frame. In fact, I don’t think one has ever been in my hands. Not even a consumer camera which the legendary German optics company co-produces with Panasonic.

A few years ago, I visited a Leica showroom in Bangkok and was really impressed by how beautiful the store’s design was. Let’s face it, retail space is usually a less than pleasant experience, regardless of what part of the world you’re at.

The amount of thoughtfulness that had gone into the showroom’s layout, choice of materials and how the cameras were displayed – each carefully placed in a square, wooden shelf and perfectly lit above by a small, aptly positioned, recessed spotlight – was, well, seductive. Just like at an Apple store, there was an irresistible level of visual draw . I just had to walk in and soak up the aesthetic experience.

As strange as it may seem today – as I’ve never used one – sooner or later, I still know I’ll feel extremely liberated when the only camera I bring to an assignment or on a trip is a Leica. And because of that iconic red dot on the camera’s front side, perhaps the client would still feel reasonably relaxed about my ability to reliably deliver the goods.

I can see a Q being my first Leica and the initial step along this inevitable path.

Kockum Fritid

Kockum Fritid

My images from one of last year’s (2015) huge photo projects has just been published. Kockum Fritid – an all-encompassing sports facility not far from where my studio is and near our condo – just launched their new website. I shot roughly 90% of the photos and had an inspiring time while documenting the various workout classes and a whole bunch of other sports activities.

Toughest activity to photograph? The hockey players. Partially because of the insane amount of colors in the arena and partially due to the cold temperature and slippery working conditions in which I had to try and track fast-moving players as they flew by me. I ain’t no hockey photographer, for sure. Still feel that I got a few inspiring images of which will be used both on their web site and as part of a slideshow on digital signage displays at the entrance.

Easiest were certainly the assignments when I’d hired dedicated models. like during shoots in the gym, squash hall, badminton and swimming pool.

Visit the new site here:

Take a look at the entire collection here.

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor: Höst

I have no pictures for this post. Why? Because I didn’t take any. And more importantly, this about a review just published on TripAdvisor about our unlucky visit to one of Scandinavia’s more reputable restaurants; Copenhagen’s Höst.

Höst needs to hear our complaint and to take action so that other guests don’t fall into the same pitfall.

I’ve been a relatively regular contributor to TripAdvisor for quite a few years now. I feel the site offers folks a reasonably good opportunity to research and shine some light to whether a hotel, restaurant or tourist attraction is worthy their time and money.

You can’t trust everything on TripAdvisor (or, any other similar forum for that matter) and they certainly have their share of scam artists and contributors trying to game the system.

But if you read enough reviews, you’ll soon find that there are a great deal of honest folks spending time writing reviews that are well-meant – even if there not always well-written.

Here’s my review of Höst.

Dude Hawaii Hanalei Bay

The Original Dude

I met this fella near Turtle Cove northwest of Hanalei Beach on Kauai, Hawaii – a day or two before 2015 came to an end.

After an acid induced epiphany about the meaninglessness of working, he’d left all his earthly possessions in the Bay Area (S.F.) and bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii – carrying nothing more than what fit in a small backpack. He’d been living like a vagabond on the island more or less since arriving, back in 1975. A few shy of 75, he told me that in recent years, a monthly social security check afforded him a rented a room near Hanalei Bay and food from a local general store.

Don’t remember if he introduced himself, but after listening to a more or less coherent synoptic version of his life’s story, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of him. Not that I thought of it at the moment, but in retrospect, the old guy reminded me of a character from the classic Python film, Life of Brian.

Raboffs Silver Surfers California

Silver Surfers

While rigging a black backdrop in the studio today – for a shoot tomorrow – I stumbled onto the latest release from Prince, “HITnRUN Phase 2“, published last year. Maybe his funkiest album since, “Sign o’ the Times”. Really diggin’ it. At his best, Prince is as gifted a lyricist as he is a virtuous guitarist.

Now and then I’ve been working on new entries to my growing gallery of “Silver Surfers” and yesterday, I finally got around to publishing them on santamonicaimages.com – which I’ve admittedly neglected for quite some time.

Freedom Tower, New York City

RE-BUILD, RE-DESIGN, RE-LAUNCH, OH MY!

I’ve had a web presence since 1999 – using first the jlrmedia.com domain and a few years later, www.raboff.com as my digital homestead and showroom for my work. I hand-coded my first site and produced several versions using Flash and Shockwave (authoring tools produced back then by, Macromedia). In 2006, ten years ago, I started blogging using the flexible WordPress platform.

I mention this to you, dear visitor, only in passing as my new website has already been launched – without much fanfare or ado. When completed, this will be – by a long stretch – the most comprehensive version of www.raboff.com so far. As I don’t participate in the social cesspool of Facebook or any other social media, this will continue to be the go-to place to catch up with my latest work, travels and blog posts.

Venice surfer

FILTERING MY KING SIZE ARCHIVE

Slowly going through and choosing which photos to save from over a thousand high resolution images shot during three weeks of traveling. Tedious but satisfying work. It’s a selection process that takes place over a series of days – sometimes weeks.

Basically, I have three criteria to define if a photo survives or is forever cast deep down in the digital abyss.

Firstly, I ask myself if the image emits anything emotionally on an artistic level. Secondly, I think about its historical value – is it a time stamp that represents a significant moment in my life? Lastly, I look at the photo to see if there could be some monetary value, either as a standalone print, part of a collage or as an addition to my micro/macro stock portfolio.

Over the years, I’ve fine-tuned this process so that it usually only takes me a few seconds to filter an image. The shot above? It hit all three of my criteria – sometimes, a blurry subject has just the right focus.

Venice Beach

WHERE DID THE COLORS GO?

This is one of my last shots from Venice Beach. I took it just a few days ago, after a 3 hour surf session just to the left of these rocks in what is called, Backwater.

Now that I’m back in Scandinavia, it’s ever so gloomy. I seem to consistently negate how important color is to my well-being. After so many years, one would think that I’d be used to this grey and distressful, colorless environment. I don’t think I ever will. Today’s weather is what I’ve for years referred to as “classic DDR” – essentially, when the sky and sea are seamlessly joined and everything looks more or less lifeless. Erich Honecker is surely smiling from wherever Marxists go after they dematerialize.

Sad to hear about David Bowie. He was almost a generation older than me, but I certainly connected with his music during the early 1980s. Saw him live in concert once at Ullevi in Göteborg during the Let’s Dance tour. I think it was 1983.

According to an old NPR interview I listened to this morning, David Bowie enjoyed more of the creative process – writing music, drumming up events, designing alter egos – than he did standing on a stage performing the same songs over and over again. One tends to think of all musicians and performers as being pathologically extroverted and manic about wowing their audience to keep their egos afloat. The interview shone some well-needed light on this convention.

LAX Airport

FROM A DIRE HOTEL ROOM AT LAX

Kastrup – Los Angeles – Hawaii – Los Angeles – San Francisco – Los Angeles – Las Vegas – Los Angeles.

Arrived earlier today at LAX after a short but somewhat bumpy ride on a Southwest Boeing 737 from the neighboring state of Nevada where I partook in meetings at the massive CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas.

I’m not a gambler in the sense that I play poker, Lotto or any other game of chance where the odds are inherently  low. But at the airport, mostly to kill some time prior to my flight, I actually sat down, inserted a twenty into one of hundreds of slot machines and on my very last dollar, won $75. Perhaps a sign that during 2016, I may need to roll the dice more often…

I’ve been to the consistently idiosyncratic Las Vegas several times, but never experienced a trade show there. And certainly not one as sprawling or intense as CES. On some anthropological level, it was certainly interesting to experience first hand one of the world’s largest trade shows and all the folks that participate in such a spectacle, i.e. upper echelon executives, sales reps (in various stages of exhaustion), presenters trying to lure visitors into their booths with loud music and young female hosts in hot pants, sparkly skirts and towering high heels.

Stayed once again at Mandalay Bay at the head of the Strip. This time with a nondescript view of the resort’s closed, but nonetheless gigantic pool. If you stay there, make sure to stay high up and ask for windows towards Luxor and the Strip.

Sadly, I did not get a chance to ask someone at the front desk of Cesar’s Palace if it was the real Cesar’s Palace.

It’s soon time to return to the Swedish winter’s meteorological doldrums after many weeks with mostly sunshine, balmy weather and lots of surfing. Charlotte and Elle are home already, hopefully recovering from the horrid trans-continental, multi-timezone induced jetlag and ever so slowly sliding into everyday life.

As per usual, I’ve worked far more than I had anticipated. It’s still so hard to relax and let myself go numb and forget about work. When you enjoy what you do as much as I do, it feels darn close to being a curse.