“Cerulean” came about in 1997 when I was sharing some images I had shot in Charleston, South Carolina earlier that year with an amazing woman who helps people self publish their books.
To give a little background here, I was living in Los Angeles and went to visit some family and friends I had back in Charleston. I graduated from The College of Charleston in 1994 and moved straight to LA. This trip would be the first time I would be back since I graduated, so I was excited to visit and see everyone.
Now when I left Charleston and went to LA, I thought that one day when I came back to visit I would be working in the movies. Well, to my surprise I was and also had started working with a couple of very high profile photographers to make money so that I could try for more movie opportunities. Before I went to Charleston, I called the Dean of Theatre and told him I would be visiting. He asked if I would talk to the Theatre Dept and tell them my experiences thus far. This surprised me, but I was very excited to share with everyone my “rollercoaster” ride thus far.
Now as I was packing, a buddy of mine was over at my place and he asked me what camera I was going to take. I told him I didn’t own a camera so I wasn’t going to take one. Now Trevor, my buddy, gave me a look of disgust and said he would lend me one of his old ones. Now Trevor was a “full-on” photo geek. His goal was to be a Professional Photographer and shoot people and fashion. Me personally, I just worked in Photography to make money. Never-ever thought of being a photographer or much less buying a “real” camera. I use to buy the ones in cardboard boxes that you turn in the whole thing for development.
If you are new to my style of writing, I tend to digress a lot and side track to sub stories and other stuff. I know it is not “proper” writing and there are shit loads of grammatical errors and so on…. But I talk to people. This is how I talk, so forgive the bad writing.
Ok, back to the story… So Trevor lends me his old “Rolle 2 ¼” camera. A classic piece of history and it still shoots awesome. I had a bunch of out of date film in my fridge so I packed a bunch of Fuji Velva and Provia. Due to my job, 1st Assistant and Associate Shooter for many Professional Photographers, I had heaps of old film that they would give me. Yeah, I know what you are thinking right now… He doesn’t own a camera, but has half a fridge of film… Yup. That’s me!
Going to fast forward now. 6 am Taxi. Airport. 7-hour flight. Drank a lot. Didn’t sleep. Cheap seats. Sat next to a hottie. Landed in 100% humidity and middle of summer. Got the rental car. Slowly remembered how to get to town. Made it in one piece. Just pulled up to my buddy’s house.
I get out of the car and my buddy Robbie walks out the door and give me a huge hug. What a great way to be welcomed back. Robbie and I spent the last year or so of my Charleston time hanging out and we became best mates. We meet at work as we both worked in a very fancy restaurant called Restaurant Million. This is how I paid for my college. Sorry, there I go again.
So Robbie and I hung out for a while which was great. Just like old times! Then it was time to go to the College and meet everyone. So I walked over to the Theatre Dept and talked with the Dean about what he had in mind.
Now my final year of University was very unique. I had been in College 7 years now (due to going to three different Colleges mind you) and I was literally sick of school and the bullshit that goes along with it. It wasn’t some “paid for vacation” like it was for most at my school. Charleston is a VERY wealthy place and these kids have BMW’s, Porches, Yachts, and planes to play with. Me? I had an old 1967 VW split window microbus that I had built from the ground up with my step dad- Ted (great guy by the way). If I didn’t work that night, I usually didn’t eat. And my daily spending money was about 1 US dollar. Chocolate milk was for lunch and rice and black-eyed peas for dinner if I had any money left.
Despite all that, I was top in my class and a straight A student. Because I was such a good student I approached the Dean of Theater one day and told him I needed out! It was my last semester but two of the courses I needed only happened in the Fall/ Winter semester. I told him I couldn’t wait and that I needed to get out and get working in the real world. So he and I came up with a plan. He told me that if I could get three of my professors to agree to handle “Tutorials of a given subject” that he would count them towards my needed credits so that I could graduate that May. Long story, short. I got the Tutorials approved and with out me knowing it, I created three new courses in our department. They were “Theatre vs. Film, Script writing Theory and Advanced lighting and Scenography”.
The reason I shared that is because when I talked with the Dean about what he wanted me to say to everyone, he told me that my Tutorials had become classes. That was pretty cool! So later that afternoon I spoke in front of about 300 students and shared my LA experiences and answered questions. It felt great to share and give hope to so many.
Now after a couple of days visiting family and friends, I pulled out the camera and went to a place that I use to study at. This is going to sound weird, but hold on. It was a cemetery. Yeah, I know… But it wasn’t scary or creepy. It was on the ocean and was one of the most beautiful places I had ever scene. It was a 15-minute drive from school and just another world. I use to drive my bus out there and study for exams because it was so peaceful. The whole place is perfectly manicured and some of the graves themselves are from the early 1800’s. Huge cargo ships go by and it was like city blocks just slowly and quietly went by you… Amazing…
The whole goal of bringing the camera was to capture the graveyard and its beauty. So I got there early in the morning. There was a lot of cloud cover, which added to the mood of the place. So I walked around for about 3 hours and just shot all kinds of stuff, at all kinds of angles. Felt so great not to be constrained, but to be free to see a moment and capture it. It was a great day out and I was so glad I had done this.
I said goodbye to everyone and headed back to LA. It was a great trip. The one thing I can say about LA is that every time I start to see the city lights, I get an explainable energy and excitement to be back. There is nothing like walking out the front door everyday and knowing that your life could change… That is LA to me.
So I get back and drop off the film at the lab. I did a test roll to see how they were looking. Got it back and something quite unexpected happened. Due to the over cast day and the fact that I was right on the ocean; everything had a “blue hue” to it. It was in the mid tones and shadows on everything. When I saw this I instantly thought of when we would shoot 35mm Polapan film. It is Polaroid instant film for 35mm cameras. Awesome stuff, but so delicate you can scratch it as you slide it out of the casing. The unique thing about Polapan is it is all colored in a weird Cyan/ Blue tone. Another words, it was so cool looking. So I did a bit of pushing and pulling to create some contrast and developed them all. It turned out great!
So a few months after that, I was approached by a family friend looking for images to put in a book about Haiku poetry. We talked and I sent here a few examples of the images and she liked them. So we worked together to create “Cerulean.” Which is the color of blue that all the images had in them. We decided to print the book in “blue and white” and the title stuck! Cerulean!
We published the book in 1998 and made around 2000 or so copies. It was a limited edition run and was a promotional tool for both of us. We were able to get them in a few private bookstores and shops in Arizona and California and they sold well.
A few years ago I had a box of them sent to me and I now use them as gifts.
One last interesting fact was that the year after I shot the grave yard Hurricane Hugo hit South Carolina and pretty much destroyed the whole grave yard. The book we made turns out to be now a piece of documented history on Charleston and it’s graveyards. I am so glad Trevor talked me into bringing a camera…
To view more images visit Locker14.com and goto Landscapes- Travel.
Thanks for your time and all the best.