So I'm starting a new series that plays off my "crowd surfing" work I do for Myspace. Basically I'll be asking people who I interact with, some questions that lets you get into their head, and I'll be pairing that along with a fun portrait I've taken of them.
So first off I'll introduce you to my friend Flip Cassidy. He's a photographer from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles California. You can find his work here. I met Flip in the mid-00s through random friends of mine. He was more of a background player in my life before I moved to San Francisco. Since I've come back to Southern California, he's been a bit more active and we've gotten to know each other and work together on a number of occasions.
He's been a great running buddy when it comes to photography, and more recently, he, myself and Calvin Alagot have started meshing well, and I kinda dubbed us as "3 Flips Photography," with Calvin and I being Filipino, and Flip being named Flip. In any case, here's my entry with Mr. Cassidy.
G: So I basically told the world above that you're a photographer. But how did you get into it?
F: I started by making absurd short films with my friends Chris and Jeff in high school. I was into shooting and editing video for a good several years before I clicked with the idea of still photography. I can mark the day - July 24, 2004. (A) day out on a desert road trip with my first point-and-shoot when i realized I really had something there. That's the day I became a photographer.
G: Seeing as how you're a photographer, it's probably safe to assume you're more of a creative type than someone who just goes with the flow. What's the most creative thing you've... um... well.. created?
F: Than the "flow" of society and as a person, yes. I feel like my creative process is pretty organic and "with the flow" though. I find that a lot of people that have seen my work but haven't actually shot with me before praise my "ideas" without knowing that most of those happen between my arrival at where we're shooting and the first shutter click. Which is something I've intentionally cultivated this year especially - that ability to basically show up somewhere blind and within minutes know what part of the location carries the most potential, and the best angles to shoot and light it from. But to answer the latter part of your question, perhaps the most creative thing I've ever created has been my TV wall in East Jesus. Out of anything in any medium I've ever done, that's the one thing that's had the clearest vision out the gate, the most meticulously planned creative/build process, and most true to my head result.
G: What's the biggest hurdle you've had to deal with and overcome when it comes to your work?
F: The "being successful at it" part. I've stuck my fingers in pretty much every corner of art you possibly can, and out of all of those, even above music - have I felt the greatest balance of "I love doing this", "I'm good at this" and "I could be doing this for a living". I've never lived up to my own standards for myself in any regard, so add [the] level of business to the equation, and you've got a guy who's taken years to finally be able to ask people to shell out what his time and skill are worth. Everything else is just on-the-fly problem solving, and I love that stuff partially because so much of it comes naturally to me.
There's so little left to figure out (at least in context of whatever my current skill level is) that it's usually more fun than stressful. That's why I love learning more and leveling up so much. I think I'd enjoy the process a lot less without that minority percentage of guess work.
That stuff is the spice. That's why I keep having to learn new levels of potential. When I feel like I've learned too much of what I've aimed to learn, I need to go learn more of what more I can learn. The constant more and the constant learning are small hurdles. The confidence is the big one.
G: Where is the place you like to go to in order to reflect on what you want your work to look like, mentally?
F: This I'll have to answer in two parts:
In a mental sense, I like to delve into what it takes to make high quality, successful commercial photography with a good creative edge to it. I love absorbing the great work other photographers are doing every day of this crazy new world we live in. If I can be confident in one thing, it's that I've developed a solid style in the 10+ years I've been shooting that even if I try to emulate what's selling, it's still going to go through that filter and still come out mine. I'm hugely inspired by Richard Avedon's portraiture - the man just had a way. Now that we're in this age of digital overload, it's really easy to see what's popular, what's selling, what's expected from someone who wants to call themselves a professional. I'm constantly looking at great work online that all kind of blurs together in my head to where I can't tell you whose work it was, but the sum of all that mental input gives me a bar to shoot for.
The physical and geographic place I go is always the desert. Usually East Jesus specifically. There's something amazing that happens when I go out there in the almost lawless and pop-cultureless landscape of Slab City. It's so much easier to have these visceral, unplugged human experiences out there. You're not being bombarded by all this trivial crap our culture is obsessed with. You're not being bombarded with advertisements in every corner of your immediate physical world. That's what keeps the soul behind my creative brain sharp.
G: Well, we've had a very deep conversation so far, so let's release the seriousness of this and end it on a simple one: Who would you give your left arm for to photograph or work with and why (living or dead)?
F: That's easy, and not just because I'm right handed. Tom Waits. Not one other human on this earth, with the possible exception of Hunter S. Thompson has shaped my own life through their own living and life's work. I've always described Tom as "a man, a myth, an adjective and a way of life". And how could you not want to photograph someone with so much character in their weathered but incredibly vibrant face? Bottom line, he's a hero. Not only did he influence me musically, but through the way he tells and has lived his stories, I get one big takeaway that's shaped the way I try to look at everything in life - when you've got a means of expression, everywhere you go and everything you feel along the way (even if you're driving heartbroken through texas almost out of gas and cigarettes) has the potential to be turned into something beautiful when it's documented well enough.