Eagles preseason and a new season of GOT has me PUMPED.

Meet Joy.

Meet Joy.

She is a dear friend of mine that wrote a letter that shook me. I can only try to understand how this must feel but most importantly I owe joy and this letter a ton of respect.

It's titled  "To the son I do not want to have". The title alone is a punch. What got me the most is her honesty. This past year, I've educated myself about African American history. At 27 I finally learned about the details of Selma. Twenty-Seven. Of course I knew of Dr. King and Malcom X but there is nothing stimulating about knowing a man's name. There's no truth in the spark notes.  Cramming 245+ years of slavery into one multiple choice test is not enough. I can't help but challenge the school systems and ask why we don't take more time to learn about Jim Crow and how slavery came to be. Maybe teachers think there is enough of that but I sure as hell don't.  As an adult white male, I've chosen to use my privilege to be active and exchange my tickets from spectator to participant.  I am not posting this to spark a debate. There is no point in telling a person of any color that the pain they feel is wrong. Let anyone whom feels hurt breathe and tell their story. I am posting this to honor how Joy and I'm sure many black woman feel. Love and honest communication is how we can heal together. Thank you for being honest Joy. 

If I can confess in my most earnest truth, I’ve never seen myself having children. Sure I’ve been curious about what physical features my offspring would have, but I believe motherhood is a very special task that every woman does not have to take on in order to become a nurturer. Yet, I’ve always said that if I found the right man to co-parent I would openly consider it.

I’ve thought about what I’d name you, what I would want your little fashion style to be. What music I’d play for you as you grew inside of me (I settled on Frankie Beverly, Prince and Pearl Bailey). What I would tell you the first time you came home and asked me why someone called you a nigger. A darkie or tarbaby. How I would look into your sweet eyes and tell you that this world that I brought you into doesn’t value your skin, mind or heart as much as their own. How I would explain that your life expectancy would most likely be cut short if you “act your color”.

Of course I’d try to send you to the “best” schools. I might even promote assimilation just as an extra precaution. Yet, when you walk out of your home, before you open your mouth, you will be seen as a threat. People will want to harm you because they won’t take the time to understand you. I would willingly give my life for you, but the truth is son mine isn’t worth much more to them than yours.

So then, I’ve decided not to put you through this. I’ve decided to let you remain in my head where you can grow up and become a strong, kind and loving individual. Where your dreams will come true because you worked really hard for them. Where I can have grandchildren who will be raised by their father because he hasn’t been mistakenly gunned down by cops.

I love you so much that I will chose to let you stay an idea. A thought. A dream. I will not subject you to a world that does not honor the life that you are. This, my precious son, is now the greatest gift I can give you.
— Joy Brunson

Scott: What called for you to write this letter to your unborn son? 

Joy: I wrote “To the son I do not want to have… a letter” out of frustration from the Ferguson shooting indictment. Although, this was not the first time that I’ve felt this way. I remember growing up in Liberty City, Miami Florida and seeing my father’s life threatened by police officers because he looked like the “right black guy”. I was in the car with him at the time and it was one of the first moments I realized that my strong father was seen as prey to the big bad wolves of law enforcement.

During my lifetime I have seen countless unarmed Black American men and women’s lives being taken from them because of blatant racism. Since 1999 over 76 deaths of African American men and women have been directly caused by police malpractice and brutality. Including those of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sheneque Proctor, Eric Garner,  Rumain Brisbon, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith, Jordan Baker,  Jonathan Ferrell and Shantel Davis. Black bodies that were once bought and paid for at a third of the price of an animal are now being returned in garbage bags filled with blood and bones .

I wrote that piece, because to me it would seem selfish to bring a child into this world. To be Black in America is to accept the baggage that comes with our soiled history. We are a proud people, we are a strong people, but we are still a very hurting people. We wear masks to hide our pain and smiles to distract from our tears.

Should I have a son one day, I am not light hearted about the extra steps required to raise a man of color in this world. I would see it as an honor, but I will be in constant fear of what now seems to be an inevitable tragedy. 


Meet Ashley

This image was Ashley’s first time sitting in her beloved comet since her accident that easily could of taken her life 13 months ago. But it didn’t - instead the car protected her. Like a good friend would do, it took the beating for her. Before the accident, even before the Comet came into her life, Ashley was going through a rough patch in her life. Like we all do when we experience pain, we search for joy in any form. In Ashley’s case, she found her therapy in a beautiful blue comet. I'm sure all my gear-head friends know there’s a special bond between human and machine. A car can be far more than just a frame and parts. There's a blood line. There's thought and genius behind it's design. Anything can be a sponge for energy, especially where we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Memories are created and then absorbed. Her car became her shelter and care-giver. There is a bond of trust that communicates between Ashley and her Blue Comet. 

As Ashley opened the garage you could feel a shift in energy. A lot like the feeling when you come home to your dog after being gone for a few hours. There was a clear channel between the two and no one would be able to deny that. 

Ashley told me her story over email. She said she was lucky that she somehow she walked away from the wreck with only a few bruises. That ‘somehow’ is something that caught my attention. I asked Ashley what she meant by ‘the car saved her life’ (Read our dialogue below). 

It's my opinion when you get into any life threatening situation like Ashley's, you were meant to live or meant to move on. From hearing Ashley's story and seeing there connection - luck had nothing to do with this. Ashley believes the comet saved her. I do too and I believe she was more than lucky.  In my opinion, Its easy to credit life to luck when we don't truly understand the circumstance. We may feel gratitude for the second chance at life, but we are never lucky. There is a undeniable design I think we refuse to honor when we claim luck to life or death. 

Here's a bit of our conversation.

Ashley: Yes I honestly believe the car did save my life. Although it is twisted up beyond repair, nothing shattered. Somehow the car stayed intact surrounding and protecting me from getting injured something I cannot say would have been the case in modern vehicles. Although there were zero safety features in a 1964 Mercury Comet I always felt safe because I was basically driving a steel boat. 

Ashley: The fact that my convertible flipped over and I was able to walk away with a few bruises gave me an entirely renewed perspective on life in general. I was given a second chance. I have tried to take every amazing opportunity that comes my way and worry less about things that are out of my control. Not every day on this earth can be a good one but I've learned that is so important to look for silver linings and find beauty in every situation. Experience, learn and grow. Life is truly a gift and the idea of "what if" can haunt us. The accident, as cliche as it sounds, has taught me to stop holding onto the past and live in the now because we never now when our time will come. I want to believe old Eleanor has a beautiful spirit. The car always had a certain presence, it was truly a show stopper. Maybe is it was the electric blue paint and glowing white interior but it was always noticed. Even now every time I go to see the car I get chills knowing my old friend is watching out for me. 

Scott: Can you relate a human-human relationship to human-car relationship?

Ashley: I've been told when you meet your soul mate you just know that is the person you're meant to spend forever with. The day I first saw the Comet I was immediately connected to it. My smile was the biggest, my eyes would shine the brightest and I was the happiest driving that car for five years. Although an object, such as a car, obviously can't return feelings as another person can it did bring out the best version of me as a soul mate would. People find their one person I was lucky to find my car. 

Scott: What do you believe your purpose in life is?

Ashley: I believe we are all here for a reason. We all have a purpose. I haven't entirely figured my out but for right now mine is to be a loyal friend, daughter, aunt and sister who always tries to bring light to every situation. Being a gracious honest person has been my purpose. I love to make people smile and bring a little bit of sunshine to their day. 

Scott: The car is currently sitting in this garage, why are you keeping it? Do you have plans for it?

Ashley: I'm planning on building a house in the next year. When that time comes I would like to do a beach mural on one of the main walls and mount half the car on it. The other pieces will be made into furniture. In some way the car will always be with me in various art forms and I will never have to say goodbye.

I sat Ashley in her car for the photograph not knowing it was her first time sitting in her car after the accident. That was 13 months ago.  Somewhere between the cold metal is a place for Ashley to keep her memories warm. It's important we all find that place. Man and machine aren't so far apart when you truly look at what they are. They are a creative design - like us. They are an example of thought put into action by us. I guess that's why it's so easy to love them.

Stay human. Love the machine. 





Vision for Humanity (Part 1)

I've had the pleasure to do a couple of portrait jobs now with an organization here in Los Angeles called Vision to Learn. They offer free eye exams to children with families with lower income. Then after a few weeks they give the kids a free pair of glasses. 

Glasses have never been a financial concern for me or my family - and thankfully for that. It actually never crossed my mind how expensive eye care can be. There was one short story that sticks with me. A young girl in elementary school told us she refused to get glasses because of her families financial situation. She told them there were more important things for them to be spending their money on. She went on with impaired vision until they discovered Vision to Learn. It really disturbed me to see a child having financial burdens on their mind at such a young age. Although its a reality for many families I wish it wasn't a concern for any child.

I titled this post Vision for Humanity for a reason. Because of my recent experiences working with organizations such as Vision to Learn and shows like On Begley Street and My Last Days (Soul Pancake) - I'm inspired to be focusing majority of my work on philanthropy organizations and movements. I started this change not just with my career but in my personal life. I find it important to sit in silence in the morning - in meditation - and visualize my vision for Humanity. I do this by meditating and then taking 15-20 minutes to write down what I can do today to reach this vision. These are the questions I now ask myself when researching work or making personal decisions. 

  • What good can I do today?
  • Does it align with my core values?
  • Will it cause me to grow as a person? 
  • Do I need help from a higher power? 
  • Is there good in this dream or project for others? 
  • How does it serve others? 
  • What good have I done today? ( at night)

That is what works for me but I wanted to share this with others. My vision is to live in a world that is focused on giving more than taking. The more we give the more we receive. It's a universal law I believe in. I believe in silence. I believe in meditation and through my meditation I fully believe in humanity.

I'll be posting a few 'Vision' posts so stick around to read more :)

Here are a few images I took from the past couple of shoots with Vision To learn.

Breaking Babe

I've been getting this comparison lately that I look a lot like Aaron Paul. Being a new fan of Breaking Bad (on season 2 as you read this) I had to roll with this comparison for Halloween. However my girlfriend and I wanted to take this a step further and go as a couple. So naturally - She grew out her goatee for the last 9 months to make this a reality. This is love ladies and gentleman. If you want to see photos of Jesse Pinkman and Walter White kissing throughout the night I can hook you up. 



Website Launch Sale!!

Hello friends!

I'm excited to announce the launch of my new site. It's about time and it feels great.

I'm offering a 50% discount for a limited time on single person portraits. There is no limit to the amount of 'looks' but stays within the time frame purchased. Check the prices below and contact me if you're in Southern California (Los Angeles) to schedule an session. I always include re-touching and color correction with my rate with unlimited images within the session. 

1 hr Session  - $50.00 (Usually $100.00)

2 hr Session - $100.00 ( Usually $200.00)

3 hr Session  - $200.00 (Usually $400.00)

Please contact me if interested in more than 3 hrs to work out a rate. Travel costs may also be added to the final cost.

Thank you for your support and love.  This offer will stand until September 25th 2013.