IC View Magazine – The Birthday Boys


I recently had a great experience working with Ithaca College and their Creative Director, Kris Miller, to help create a unique visual aesthetic for the school’s quarterly magazine (which happens to be distributed to throngs of grads entrenched in the entertainment field all over the world).  Our subjects were the up-and-coming sketch comic troupe, The Birthday Boys (www.thebirthdayboys.com).  Six of the seven members were graduates of Ithaca College and had formed their relationships all the way back in their days at the school.  Hailing professionally from the famed Upright Citizens Brigade, this group of phenomenally talented sketch-comedians built their reputation on Funny or Die among other popular online video sources.  The showcase of their creative, over-the-top satires on entertainment/pop culture landed them a 10 episode order of a sketch comedy show on IFC (Portlandia) which will debut this October.

Tasked with shooting a conceptual narrative for the cover & lead-in, including portraits of a seven-person comic troupe certainly presented logistical and technical challenges.  However, the collaborative juices were flowing from all who were involved and each creative challenge met a logical and ultimately, expressive solution.

Shot amidst their writing process for the first season of the show, we set out to create a hyper-realistic, whimsical view of the literal “eat/drink/breathe” and tireless exchange of ideas within their “Writer’s Room”.    We aimed to create a comic strip vibe and allowed the members of the troupe (Chris VanArtsdalen, Mike Mitchell, Dave Ferguson, Jefferson Dutton, Mike Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, and Matt Kowalick) to improvise their own narrative within their highly blocked surroundings.  These creative ingredients formed the visual recipe culminating with the fashioning of their “Big Idea” while bleeding both color and laughter into the night.


By peteambrose

Illa J Album Artwork

Oldy but goody…what started as a gig for AOL turned into a chance to fashion and shoot the album cover art for Delicious Vinyl’s Illa J on both his EP “We Here” and his LP “Yancey Boys”.  Click on the photos for links to the original photos.

ILLA J front FINAL with stickerAilla_j_wehere

By peteambrose

Website (Re)Launch


If you are stopping by the blog today, please check out the website: http://www.peteambrose.com — Offering images in brand new genres such as Architecture, Landscape Design, Product, Accessories, and Food, there is a world of new work to check out.  2013 has been the most successful year yet for the business and things continue to look great on the horizon.

In the coming days and months, the blog will see new posts — ranging from personal updates, article posts, photographer/exhibit reviews to IPhone photos giving you a (moderately) steady diet of info regarding Pete Ambrose Photography.  Feel free to stop by often, but more importantly check out all the new work at the site.  ONWARD AND UPWARD.

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Like me at http://facebook.com/peteambrosephoto

Go Broncos!

By peteambrose

Good Morning

It’s been some time since my fingerprints last met a keyboard in effort to explain the mixology of light and theme born from my saturated, yet scattered brain.  To that end, I’d always felt compelled, if not obligated, to explain in full HD the subsequent fruition of photographic imagery.  Aiming to blend harsh social critique of the medium under the guise of faux self-deprecation and holier-than-thou artistry, I was on a mission to re-invent any and every commercial construct using really, really big words.

Naiveté?  Maybe.  Arrogance?  Meh.  Innocence?  Fuck you!  Idealism?  Guilty.

Since I finished my “this was supposed to make my career” project, “Goodwill Fashion” a handful of things transpired that began the process of opening my mind to a newfound artistic and commercial maturity.

1)      72 rejections:  When I came out with the images, I was pretty much the only one celebrating the work, especially after the aforementioned number of rejections from various photo agencies, reminding me that I possessed a “Nobody, no money” status.  Yes, 72.

2)      Who really wants a piece of me?:  I had no idea who would actually want to use my images to sell their products.  This, admittedly, is still a process as a “tweener tog” (photographer whose work isn’t easily defined), but knowing the importance of that discernment has proven vital.  Obvi-duh to most normal people.  Foreign language to most artists.

3)      The Ralph’s rule:  Sometimes it’s funny how long it takes for the basics of survival to light a fire beneath one’s behind.   It’s become high time for photography to put food on the table.  It doesn’t have to be from Whole Foods, but it can’t be from the 99 Cent store, either.

4)      The silly know-it-all in me is non-negotiable: I do, still, enjoy and understand the importance of self-leveling through self-deprecation.  It tempers the Kanye.

Having not been the first time I’ve worked myself to the bone in a self-prescribed, “boon or bust” scenario to launch my dreams into reality, it should not have come as a surprise that nothing happened when the Goodwill Fashion countdown reached zero.

The pleasant surprise was that I could not have asked for a more beneficial result.

This doesn’t taste like Amoxicillin (Remember how good that stuff was?), but it’ll do the trick

Since then, I’ve undergone two lengthy marketing and re-branding hiatuses and another “roll up your sleeve” year of work for little compensation.  I saw a website come and go, projects enlarge, retract and specify in scope.  I formalized a baby company and brought on my longtime collaborator, Jess Jaworski, as a partner, to help create the actual formation of the brand and the vision it would bring to my clients.  The silence was nothing more than a brilliantly intoxicating realism taking hold.  I’d already been launching my dreams into reality in a way that only I could.  Every image I’ve ever shot is built upon the foundation of my own brand of stubborn perseverance.

I never had a leg up, nor would I ever admit to needing one.  We all have to dig the same hole in this world.  Some people are given a bull dozer.  I was given a shovel.  It just means harder work, a lengthier trial-by-fire, and ultimate soul satisfaction throughout the process and upon completion.  In the last two years, despite the continual maturation of my work, my ego and reality had to take its medicine (bitter face w/tongue protruding).

The razor sharp determination born out of that elixir was fate taking a knee and offering it up as that added boost I’d never been afforded.

Vengeance! On…well…nothing

Now I am back and here to speak again.  I’m not angry that I’m 30 and not David LaChapelle.  Rather, I’m liberated that I’m only 30 and own a deep, unique and diverse body of work that will truly be introduced to the world for the first time, and more importantly, the right way – with humility.  I’m no longer going to speak for my work, but rather sell it.  I am not going to conform for commodity but rather identify the commodity I can paint in a unique light.  I’ll continue to aim to break ground conceptually but never under the assumption that the ground I break is anywhere other than within my own aesthetic.  I’ll relentlessly push myself to improve and adapt, but under no circumstances try to be what I am not.

In the past year, I’ve branched out to narrative still life (“The Human Wake” “Civil Assemblage”, darker forms of tableaux (“Manifold MacGuffin”) and cerebral perspectives on fashion through compositional technique and journalistic circumstance (“Zonal Virtuosa” and “Chic Amongst Reality”).  I feel at peace with my portfolio, its accessibility and the direction of the work going forward.

Despite that, I feel more challenged than ever before and, quite frankly, if life has taught me one thing, it’s that challenge brings the very best out of me.   It gives this photographer perfect focus.

2012 is a little more than half way in the books, but it has already been marked as the truest beginning of my mission to create my own establishment and stop whining about the current one.  My focus is on sustaining the means for my ever evolving vision for years to come – to take pictures forever, to be happy.  I’ll always have an opinion and I’ll always have an idea on how best to express it.  The medium will change as will I; however, my time-honored tradition of “Damn the Man!” will be better signified and often personified by my images alone and not my saber-rattling rants or coarsely articulated “blogs”.

Of course, I’ll always be willing, able and motivated to talk about the work, but I believe my imagery already explains, confuses, inspires, and promotes an array of thoughtful conversation and debate in and of itself.

I’m good at saying sorry.  Seriously, ask my girlfriend.

There is no untapped frontier in photography, but that does not lesson the ability to capture, create and mold light in new ways.  This will always be an innate challenge I present to myself.

I apologize if this entry, after nearly two years of silence, is uninspiring.  I freely admit this was (nearly) my utter intention.  Mea culpa and lack of raw-raw aside, the new intent is for brevity and simple truth about my ongoing aesthetic evolution to reign supreme in this blog.  That’s not to say I’m not proud of the words from my past.  I still think some of that stuff is the bee’s knees from a rebellious and idealistic, young artist.  The difference is that I can now look back on the first five years of my journey, the archive of words, and see the seeds of strength – the intestinal fortitude (whether latent or developed), being planted.  The road that now lay ahead to ultimate success and establishment within my field will be as arduous as any I have traveled.  I’ve come equipped to walk this treacherous mile with a flame-thrower of genuine resilience and a pacifier of ever-sculpting, professional prudence.  The curious enthusiast of my work can read about its formation in my past, but the stout believer needn’t look any further than what they see.

Everybody needs a little Kanye to attain success – the absence of self-doubt, an impenetrable force-field of ego.  Well, here is mine:  “Welcome to Graduation.  Good Morning.”  From that, I formally invite “the scene” to watch this unknown artist emerge upon it.

By peteambrose

The New Social Presence

Is this Even a Blog by Pete Ambrose

In the coming days, the official website (www.peteambrose.com) will be re-launched with a bold facelift and new design ushering in the debut of four new fashion/beauty series (“Manifold MacGuffin”, “Chic Amongst Reality”, “Zonal Virtuosa” and “Levity”), my first foray into narrative still life (“The Human Wake”, “The Product Imperative”, “Civil Assemblage” and “Waste-Culture”), a new textural fine art series (“Harmonious Wear”) as well as new additions in to existing series (such as “The Middle-Class Starlet”, “Aged Angels”, “Assumed Continuum”,  “Structural Familiarity” and musician tableaux).

The website will feature a clean and accessible presentation of the work as well as a refreshed and renamed portfolio distribution that better categorizes my work and aesthetic style.  Image titles will also be available for all that apply.  Nearly one out of every three photos on the website will be brand new with the remaining content making up for about 50% of what was on the old site.

The re-launch also is the beginning of a new effort for my fledgling business to make its presence known in the social media outlets such as Facebook (www.facebook.com/peteambrosephoto) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/peteambrose).  In an effort to expand my business and connect with other artists both established and up and coming, I’ve joined the Talent Creative (www.talentcreative.com/peteambrose).

My business and reputation was once built upon my old MySpace page long ago, which is, of course, currently an utter ghost town (www.myspace.com/peteambrosephotography).  I’ll also continue to use my model mayhem page (www.modelmayhem.com/peteambrosephotography) exclusively to work with up and coming talent for personal projects and aesthetic experimentation only.

What should you take away from this blog besides a tease and a bunch of links?  Well, you should be relieved that I’ve decided to join modern civilization.  Hopefully it’s not too late for utter, world cyber domination to get some “likes”, hashtags and other social thing-a-ma-jigs.

Each weekday going forward (Monday-Friday) after the launch, a “photo of the day” will be tweeted and posted on Facebook for friends and followers to take in, comment upon and enjoy.  I will also offer more off-the-cuff tweets and posts to remind the world that I have a pulse and a questionable sense of humor at best.  Joy.

The Rebel Blog will be updated more often and will focus on concise statements about my creative aesthetic and a more personable stream of conscious; allowing friends and followers an opportunity to understand my process, who I am and the evolving goals for the work in the coming weeks, months and years to come.

Time to start trending. #Change.

By peteambrose

Goodwill Fashion

The Foundation of my Unapology

It’s about change – my work, my voice and any legacy I wish to leave behind.  I am a fiercely competitive and opinionated creator – a harshly critical observer of visual and aesthetic pattern.  Once an image has glossed over my eyes, I generally don’t want to see it again, unless it’s done better or differently.  I am unaccepting of my own gestures which glide along the visual grooves of others.  I am a consistent and devout collaborator, but rely and require the same ferocity of voice from those I surround myself with.  Any potential team I lead is spiteful of reactive creation or playing the aesthetic odds.  They are unallowing of any dictation of visual policy that is conventional or simply misguides our effort to execute upon the precipice of originality.  It sounds as if I live in a land of snobbery, stubbornness, or simply not in any commercial reality.  However, all this thought process has ever taught me is that the only way to sustain the perfect union of art and commerce is to maintain a rigid fidelity to a consistent evolution or an uncompromised effort notto make a difference, but to make difference.

Couples Therapy

Fashion and photography are mediums which own an ever evolving complexity both in exhibition, trend and certainly within their own artistic and commercial marriage.  Both are cyclical mediums often predicated upon the successful reintroduction of a particular aspect of it’s own past and the relatively formal and aesthetic appreciation that gesture garners.  These two mediums have been like peanut butter and jelly for years, often complimenting the potential in each, while using their basic aesthetics to reshape and in many cases define pop culture.

However, in taking a contemporary glance at these two mediums I was struck with a sense of disease – a torrid mix of complacency, dependency, and a profound lack of depth.  It would be simple (and predictable) for me to rush and blame commerce’s effect as a mean to that end, but it runs much deeper than this.  It comes down to originality and more specifically the lack of effort to pursue it within both mediums.

Contemporary fashion has become too reliant on reproducing, refreshing or simply referencing styles and fads from the past.  While we all find it intriguing when a style or era of fashion becomes trendy again, it isn’t entirely adding anything new to the dialogue.  I’ve never shied away from reference and homage within my work, but when it becomes the foundation and not a complimentary aspect, then it has ceased to have a voice and my role as an image maker is no longer vital to the process.  No artist with any shred of integrity and self respect would accept this.  The creation and inspiration of fashion must still come from the contemporary world around us and must identify visually with the current culture of the world at hand.  The aesthetics still need to blend bold with subtlety but it must do so with a thoughtful application that goes beyond the avant-garde placement of a ruffle or the belt that ties together chaotic mess of your Yves St. Balenciaga McQueenish thing-a-ma-jig.

On the flip, photography has undergone a true renaissance with the advent of incredible digital technologies, most specifically software and techniques for creating worlds that otherwise do not exist to the naked eye.  It has allowed a world of novices to try their hand both behind the lens and certainly in front of it – making dreams and creative outlets accessible to all.  I love this, kind of.  However, the unfortunate aspect of this is the profound lack of technique, the rampant excess of technique and more importantly, the lack of creative, conceptual and aesthetic development to play with such technique.  The (digital) negative has been reduced simply to a necessary aspect of the entire post process.  Formal mistakes are becoming acceptable while creative subversion to high-end technical prowess is wholly taboo (remember how you identified with and understood all the themes from Star Wars but that nerd at blockbuster turned his pimpled nose up cause you couldn’t articulate the technical genius of Lucas’ early episodes – that nerd is running the show right now).   Some believe all the channel and lighting adjustments, the green screen effects and the painterly like digital worlds created are the future of the medium, but in fact, I firmly believe it signifies the end of the medium within the commercial world as a stand alone art form in and of itself.   It’s a mixed media artistic revolution, for better or worse, and in specific relation to graphic design and photo illustration.  Neither, does a photographer, nor a photograph, make.

If those are the symptoms that have become the staple of contemporary fashion photography then the prognosis and current status is as such.  The consumer now steadily digests imagery that is wholly repetitive in content, editorials that are void of an authentic, emotive quality or true narrative and visual aesthetics that emphasize success from those who have mastered their software tutorials rather than the creative and technical mastery their mediums afford from their own basic precipice for existence.

My Response

…is Goodwill Fashion.

“A Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time” – undeniably the greatest theme ever

In a fairly masochistic exercise, I financially fasted and placed clients aside to embark on a year long journey to create a body work that both identified and referenced the issues I’ve mentioned above.  However, I set out to do so in a way that emphasized my own thoughts on fashion and its fusion with photography without compromising the latent elements of both genres.  More importantly, I wanted to create a stand out artistic gesture that would solidify and synergize a commercially avant garde voice that takes fashion photography back to the future – an embrace of what can truly make the captured reality special.  With an unrelenting drive and phenomenally creative team, we aimed to bring to fruition fashion forward work from the discarded elements of each genre, laid to waist by contemporary practice, focusing entirely on the most basic, yet profound, way to convey universal truth submerged in the fashion editorial’s fully utilized potential.

The basic theme of Goodwill fashion is derived from ideas of post-modernism.  They are rooted in the quest to identify principles and practices that have been discarded in both mediums and make them fashionable again – not the way Duchamp would, the way Warhol did.  Most importantly, it’s the way in which the images editorialize and attempt to shed truth upon the underlying theme through multiple, yet subtle, metaphorical layers.  This body of work aims to dust off the past, reshape the potential for presentation using the mediums’ basic aesthetics, all in an effort to create a unique visual apparatus that breathes original life and narrative into mediums that have otherwise remained on contemporary auto-pilot.  To accomplish this, I put together a comprehensive structure of editorial and beauty based sub-series all unified by consistent strain of physical and thematic elements captured in a supporting light.

Proof that I didn’t sleep though all my Film Theory courses in College

The French coined the cinematic term “mis-en-scene” to categorize everything that was visually arranged within the frame.  It was my most important consideration with the Goodwill series.  What stories could I tell?  How would the images convey and sell at the same time?  How would I get my point across without being too heavy handed or derivative?  The most important aspect was creating a world that would otherwise thought to be created using the crutch of contemporary digital (in the case of photo) and high end trend (in the case of fashion).  The rub is that in doing so, all photo and fashion based elements must be formally grounded in the in-camera creation and adhere to a blatant dismissal of any contemporary practice through reference, whimsy and satire.

For the photo-based elements such as locations, props, and lighting set-ups, the physical aim would be for them to work in unison to create surrealistic, cerebral and whimsical narratives, while disallowing the obvious elements of the surrounding reality to loose its dominating presence.  However, the most foundational decision involved the wardrobe.  I wanted to facilitate designs that met and supported both my taste and my aesthetic solutions to push the industry forward while pulling it back to its roots.

I hope I don’t get sued by a Goodwill Donation Center Near You.

One day I found myself driving in desperate search for the nearest Pinkberry (Yes, I was feening, no, I wasn’t high).  A wrong turn on Santa Monica in West Los Angeles swung me right by a Goodwill donation center and the proverbial, florescent spiral light bulb went on.  Without a commanding knowledge of what I’d actually find, and thankfully with wardrobe stylist, Jess Jaworski, in tow (wasn’t in the mood to go sift through female clothes in a Goodwill store by my lonesome) it was a risk, but what better place could I attain a commanding, affordable and thematic through line for the project than purchasing the entire wardrobe for the project at Goodwill donation centers.  You’re confused.  I’ll explain.

The concept of Goodwill stores is to collect discarded clothes from those generous souls who can to stay up with current trend, while providing affordable wear for those who, for lack of a better word, can’t.  When I took my wardrobe stylist out for our initial spree we were simply floored by all the incredible pieces we found that were cutting edge and with the right (re)arrangement would allow us an unabated palette of fashion that could stand on its feet without a reputable brand.  We found color from past eras that could enliven the current consistency of contemporary fashion’s oft drab palette, and most importantly a new arrangement with which to portray and re-deploy the cultural shifting power of the combined medium of fashion photography.  This through line led us through all of the bodies of work, including the subsequent beauty series.  Concepts, narratives, make-up, wardrobe and models were carefully planned and chosen.  All that was left was the execution of the individual sub-series:  The Reality, The Social Canvas, The Substantive Culture, The Domestic and The Iconic.

Now for The Well-Proportioned Arms, Legs and Torso forming the Overall Body of Work

The Reality

This sub-series undoubtedly lays the foundation for the rest of the project.  Single-model, straight photographic editorials bent on creating a world of surreal metaphor using object, apparel and location that couldn’t be more visceral or real.  Plays on literature, art, pop culture, religion, society, and images of female beauty are dipped in dark whimsy and blossom in full color, notwithstanding the surrounding neutral palettes and disjunctive textures.  The foundation for conceptual work brought forth with low cost, in-camera and on-set ingenuity is rolled out with this series of images that hint and tease the viewer with what is the acceptable emotional response.

The Social Canvas

This sub-series of mixed media diptychs aim to reinvent the potential for studio fashion photography on multiple levels.  A base concept is set out to be realized tackling universal sociological conflict that both stirs and dictates progress within society and fashion itself.  Set upon an incongruent canvas of complimentary design and pattern, the model is the artistically placed upon and contorted in an energetic and emotive pose.  She becomes only one aspect of the piece as she is surrounded by objects that support the overall theme and formal aesthetics of the canvas.  Creating the diptych is more of a snarky reference to the listless studio fashion editorials, further supported by the goodwill wardrobe adorning the model antithetically to its intended use, i.e. skirts become shirts, socks become skirts, pants become tops.  What is the intent of clothing’s use if to be nothing else but fashionable?

The Substantive Culture

The sole beauty sub-series aims to takes a new approach to the genre by relieving the core emphasis on cleanliness and flat light in favor of a colorfully lit, low key palette where the face becomes a new road map to the subjects’ essence through cultural reference and whimsical object simile.  Each concept’s cultural reference is rooted anywhere from a past, contemporary, to a fantastical era.  Keeping with the in-camera staple, all images where shot against a conventional white muslin/wall and the cross blend of the color from the lighting set-up creates the even effect of the supplemental color behind and the cross-harmony of the light on the models’ faces and eyes.  The application of the overall make-up design, executed flawlessly by our artist, Phoebe Markowitz, flows solely from the model’s staple and most attractive features, thus emphasizing her original beauty through a visually cerebral prism of color and texture.  Each design and set-up up took upwards of 2 ½ to 3 hours and we managed to rip the skin off only one model.  Yikes.

The Domestic

In this sub-series a multiple model, duel narrative blending the fine art tableaux with the commercial editorial was created.  Each photo tells two different, yet ambiguously adjoined narratives while aiming to capture both the domesticated consumer and their reality in the same frame as the visual representation of chic commerce and the sociological perception of perfection.  In English, we set a domestic couple against their commercial counterpart(s), in an attempt to recognize the day to day interactions and how they would be transcribed in the fashion editorial.  A broader statement is being made to the effect (or lack thereof) the fashion industry has on the average household.  Similar to the reality portion, metaphor and ambiguous references to many existing and defining aspects our society are blended within heightened cinematic color to create stand alone works that are simply a reverie of real.

The Iconic

The most complex and conceptually planned sub-series creates images that set out to reference some of the most iconic photographs from pop culture and history within one frame.  Each shot blends two or more different iconic photos as told by three to six models in a stand alone narrative, all while establishing a greater connection between the images that are juxtaposed through the “trivial” lens of high fashion.  Combining each image’s unique and defined story, thus reworking, reframing and re-emphasizing through a lens of “what is past, is prologue” gets to the very core of the artistic process in any medium, but certainly within the fashion and photographic medium.  The ultimate potential of the single image created from the mind and captured in reality was the goal with this sub-series.  Taking harsh, pre-existing, iconic photographs of famine, war, pop culture, excess, tribulation, upheaval and revolution are only the basic level of the re-contextualization set forth in the recreated imagery.  It’s the gesture of re-framing these very real moments within a world portrayed and defined as superficial and materialistic that intentionally instigates a profound misreading or general discomfort from the viewer’s first impression of culture or revealed society within the narrative.  It is exactly the trivial or kitschy on the surface that allows for the greater depth within the piece to shine through – the unified or conflicting themes, the sheer oddity of the stand alone narrative without reference – the unapologetic attempt to create the timeless visual ensemble from the past.  That is essence of why we observe – to take note of the world that surrounds and then adorn ourselves accordingly in an effort of pure, unfetterered self-expression.

In Another Life, I was definitely a Football Coach who Gave Great Pep Talks

The impetus for change within any art and commerce marriage stems from the ability to take calculated risk.  With each passing year, originality naturally becomes more elusive (side note: what will run out first – oil or creative thought?), but I stress that as ideas form and are thus executed (and exhausted), it works in no one’s favor from either a business or an artistic perspective to re-create without depth.  The heart of Goodwill Fashion is, in its essence, an imploring of the artist’s better angels – the spirit not to derive, but to thrive in the challenge of change.  The voice of any brand is defined by what sets it apart, not by the conventional sheen and technical wizardry that validates its professional existence.  Why must the conventional commercial guidelines for fashion and beauty photography be followed? Why hire me if you just want me to create a “photo which looks like that photo”?  Cut the umbilical chord of acceptable technique and step out with spine.  Craft each image to solidify your own.  The essence of any photograph is never the visual content in and of itself, but is nestled rather in what the image evokes.  Fashion is the narrative art of adornment and self-expression.  To document and sell this requires nothing more than a clear and attractive articulation within the context of an image.  To enliven the audience and the consumer is the added flavor which lays in wait – what story can I tell that will entice a reaction that unfolds the pure aesthetic to reveal a deeper truth.  Sounds complex, but it really just means the creation of an excitable image.

The goal of Goodwill fashion was to do just that, but make it different. Each image was carefully crafted to in subversive parody, and glazed with a narrative quality aimed at emoting a rainbow of emotional color without revealing which hue was the directional force. Ambiguity is fashion photography’s greatest weapon.  It is never our right to know what is next or what is even in right front of us.  However, it is our obligation as artists and the image messengers of pop culture to define both.  If this is to be my life’s work consider this body of work an offer of goodwill, because I plan on defining my art form, without question or apology, for a very long time.

By peteambrose


“If I only had the time…”   I don’t prescribe to this, for as a card carrying member of the “authentic booked to the teeth club”, I know people can always make time if they want to and this social conundrum is not worth further artistic exploration (unless Roger Waters and David Gilmour were to collaborate with Tiesto and release “Dark Side of the Moon: The Remixes”).  In that case, check please.

“If I only realized…”  Now that is a much more applicable and quality life excuse that my work consistently aims to remedy.

It is true that their isn’t anything as consuming or that disallows a person from taking in the world that surrounds them than the consistent maintenance that their own life requires.  So many distractions, relationships and difficult decisions often cloud the mind and the eyes to connect in effort to recognize the unfathomable beauty that surrounds and sustains our vitality.  There is, of course, the awe-inspiring constructions and creations of man, our conscious expressions of color and form that make up the consistent knowledge of the world we know.  The Urban landscape is generally home for most and nature seeps through only in increments, and in doing so, rarely puts its best foot forward (see grass on lawn).  Even so, the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day does not promote moments of repose and allows even the more recognizably beautiful elements of nature to fall comfortably into obscurity.  As mentioned, I too live this busy life, but am a devout advocate of taking pause and looking closer or of corrective retina surgery that transforms one’s eyes into microscopes.

Time is short as we all note and I feel there is so much peace and solace to be found within all of our given senses if we would only indulge in what actually surrounds.  Nothing on this planet is banal – not a moment we experience and certainly not a sight we take in.  In my most recent fine art series, GeoVanity, the gesture is simply to capsulate that thought process in a series of images that capture haunting beauty in nature’s most basic elements that are passed by, stepped over, and often denied the full effect of their existence.  It is a mission to make one stop and recognize the complex life that abides in stillness and emotes through utter inanimatation.

I have always felt it chief amongst my responsibilities as an artist and as an image maker to carve through the mess of commonality and expectable capture to find the perspectives of the world around us that reveal what we wouldn’t otherwise see.  To me, objects register not with heightened color or texture but simply with a recognition and understanding of how light affects both and what is the latent content whether in shadow or highlight.  This, if anything, applies to experience, the same way a broker can make and educated prognosis on a stock.  However, the content and identification of the formal gesture can reach beyond the given experience of the image maker and provide my desired result of revelation.  Such is the case when I stumble across any reasonable idea for a body of work.

With GeoVanity, it was intensity of the subtle and still natural detail that overwhelmed my senses and scolded my eyes for not capturing some of earth’s most simplistic visual arrangements sooner.  The power of this recognition lies in big part to what did not make its way into the image.  The frame is the utter key to each and every piece within the series.  Though our own eyes view the world without boundary, we certainly view the world with focus.  Despite our periphery, we do form an imaginary frame and compose the world as we choose to see it with every passing glance.  I took this basic principle into consideration when determining what I wanted each landscape to reveal beyond the formal qualities that would be captured, and regardless of the setting, I found an excess of the proper décor to complete the body of work.  Whether sand, rock, water, or wood, the lines formed within the compositions are meant to dance around the frame with ferocity, the colors meant enliven and erase any passive thought about the true potential of nature’s spectrum.  Depth and spatial reference cease to exist as my intention was to create landscapes that are dressed in the illusion of aerial terrain or maintain content arrangement and texture similar to abstract works of art.  The tight rope I aimed to walk upon was disallowing the pieces to lose a clear recognition of the actual natural element being captured.  The further idea was to use the strongest lines or most dominating colors to act as the visual catalysts to tie the rest of the frame together in the most unpredictable manner. For example, if a spatter of green filled a lower portion of the frame, but dominated the visual presence of the compositions, I felt it was key to use the remaining space, negative or otherwise, to be supplemental with regards to color, and disjunctive with regards to depth of field.  The illusory qualities of the entire piece aim to create the ethereal aura that transforms and otherwise banal photograph into a still that portrays a glimpse into another world.

As much as the body of work operates from the thematic perspective of indentifying the moment within the larger scope, it is facilitated by formal qualities that even surprised me when I set out to create it.  The photographs revealed the potential to capture colors that the naked eye cannot.  Hidden within shadow and coming to be as a result of nature’s course, the most incredible hues and color arrangements revealed themselves throughout the works – the harmonious, but definitive warm palettes of the wooded pieces, the complimentary and bold palettes on the sediment, the tonal malleability of water and the subsequent saturation from what the sun and given location would allow.  I found a complexity and unpredictability of texture sometimes that would emphasize itself without a shallow depth of field.  In other instances it was exactly the choice of focus that would allow for the proper amount of intimacy from either near or a far within the images chosen structure.

The actual process of identifying a proper sect of the landscape to feature was quite simple and not unlike the normal method for which I choose subject matter to compose in any genre I shoot.  There must be a skeletal structure which invites a purely aesthetic, or quite simply, a gut pleasure.  This has nothing to do with texture or color but simply the formal way in which the lines dictate the eyes movement throughout the frame.  The next step for me was to understand the physical content I was capturing, the best distance to represent it at and what I could gain or lose in consideration of light and how broad the my focal range should be.  The last two considerations are the dual catalysts that often stand out as the most striking elements within the body of work – the color and the texture.  Color is not defined in its saturation, nor its absence, but it remains an aspect of any art form that lends importance through its relative harmony or disharmony with the surrounding tones.  Often color is overlooked or misrecognized and I think that couldn’t be clearer within this body of work.  Vibrant reds, blues and yellows exist in varied tones within what most would assume to be the drab and monochromatic palette that nature offers.  I found this not only to exist upon the obvious reflection in sand on the beach, but to find bold colors that stood out and clarified their presence in the less obvious realms of sediment and bark.  Texture, in my opinion, is the factor that truly differentiates the body of work from piece to piece.  The ability to feel these works was a crucial consideration as the spatial ambiguity and overall sensory experience relies on the viewer’s ability to engage and feel the coarse ridges, sharp edges, and silky streams that would brush against their hands and feet.

The name GeoVanity is born out of an attempt to bring irony to an otherwise humble body of work.  While the content is bold, textured and colorful at first glance, it certainly goes beyond the expectation of what defines the reality of what is captured.  It was vital that these small pieces of life and earth had a chance to expound upon their own beauty with grace, but more importantly, with spot lit attitude.  This is a chance for earth to be in vogue and for the neglected to bask in the glamorous attention a photo affords.  It is the very vanity that I aimed to capture which I’m hopeful will push viewers to take pause and slow down.  If it’s not to take in the world around them, then it’s to spend the rest of their life in seconds and aim to commit otherwise forgotten moments yet to be experienced in formation of a more comprehensive encyclopedia of their own existence.  These images don’t speak about the past and despite their dream-like quality, don’t aim to conjure up the existential and expressionistic undertones laden within similar modern works of art.  These photos are about now.  Sense of smell is a powerful ally of memory, but sense of sight is undoubtedly the stalwart of experience.  I want these images to promote the power of the present through revelation.  There is too much in life to get caught up in and never enough to get caught up with.  GeoVanity is my vision of the earth, and that vision says everything is worth a closer look.

By peteambrose

A Visual Mission

Change.  It’s a word that consistently haunts as much as it defines my work.  However thorough the visual concept or breathtaking the candid capture, it’s an idea that’s both of utmost significance to the medium and to the ever-growing gap between originality and reproduction.

I’ve been thrust into many visual worlds, while riding on the coat tails of my expression of choice. No other medium is exhibited with such volume.  It’s an unfiltered art, allowing the talentless to stand with the talent in equal dimension to both the medium’s benefit and detriment.  Centered within my own world is the insatiable drive to define my vision and let no other’s vision define me.

This is what photography is to me:

Texture, color, light, form, emotion, intelligence, inquisitive,  investigative, surreal, truth whimsical, reality, expression at it’s naked core, opposition to fiction, profound supporter of culturally superficial beauty, snobby contemporary art, and commercially viable humility.

Art is a complex gesture of truth defined by many aesthetic genres of expression.  To me photography offers a simple palette, but an endless well of attainable emotional depth:

Aperture, shutter speed, the ability to understand light and color, the ability to compose a visual symphony that is structurally thoughtful and unique to the individual eye.

I used to define my mission within the medium to capture the world differently, to exhibit, accept, and play with the variance the base aesthetics the camera and lens have to offer.  Things for me have changed a tick since I set out.  Influence has dwindled into confidence of personal gesture.  Rejection of convention has turned into a will to create it, defy it, then create it again.  Fashion and glamour are silly, cyclical forms of photography which generally choke originality in pandering to specific demographics.  Candid, social depth in documentary work can enact candid, social change.  Fine Art photography is a window into core of the human condition – it’s about the conscious and subconscious emotion, desire and despair displayed within an unexpected composition.  I shoot all of these, my way, without apologies, though neurotically cognizant of when my images slip into replication, displaying shallow, depthless…nothing.

The Mission Statement

I aim to impart a social context and position within my work, to continue to satire and parody current practices I disagree with, to enliven and embrace the aesthetics of texture and color in photographs, the opportunity to further capture the essence of the people I photograph, the ideas that shape who we all are and who we will be down the road.  I have set forth on a mission of potent visual truth…no more, no less.   A shutter click called as it’s seen, an artistic gesture molded from a state of humanity and photography in the present for preservation of the future.

I do not forge, I create.  I embrace flaw, understanding its significance in recognizing how it endears us to the human condition and how it enables us to part the sea of commercial beauty.  Allure is a subtle emotion and only equipped to be captured by the focused eye perceptibly nestled within the focused lens.  Tapping into the subconscious alone to produce visual masturbatory results can only yield a purely aesthetic reaction.  I choose to use my brain.  I choose to plan, to conceptualize, to think.

I choose to apply and summon a visual unity of thought and creation.  In 1,000 lifetimes could never sit down and gloss that over.

I’ve rolled up my sleeves and am no stranger to a hard day’s work.  More so, I have no doubt that all of those days will snowball and create an intimate legacy, if only for myself and my loved ones – for perspective never needed validation, just the will to dispel vision’s inertia.

If you are a model, photographer, artist, sylist, buyer, seller, curator, appreciator, guru or impresario and what I’ve entailed above offends your senses or reeks of silly idealism in a world dominated by commerce, I implore you to turn away…

Turn away now.

If you’re in…follow me.  Let’s Change Shit.

By peteambrose

Truth to Light

Out of light comes truth. It allows us to tap into our deepest imagination and reveal the world’s surreal emotional hues.  Visual potential is dictated by what the formal aspects of a photograph can emote and executed through the intense spirit of the information made available to the viewer’s eye.  Photography is about capture, a framed eulogy of moments ever-present, but immortalized through the everlasting.  Most importantly, it’s a facility for which to transfer, transport, and access individual sentiment within each and every soul who takes in the reality it displays.  I explore, observe, create…light.  The summation is my aesthetic attempt to bring light to truth and my conceptual attempt to bring truth to light – blending layered meaning, focused statements rearing opinion and allowing opinion to rear itself.

No previous series I’ve worked on has allowed me the opportunity to explore the extraordinary visual potential of the straight photograph as much as this series.  I remind you of the straight photograph…the captured image as is, produced by the camera – no digital alterations other than simple color and contrast correction.  Reactive make-up/paint, light and wardrobe were used as the aesthetic drive to bring these images to life.  Using those devices, along with the technical allotments and limitations of the straight photograph, the goal was to create works of Art rooted in the modern movement, grown out of contemporary glamour and dipped into a colorful world of surrealistic expressionism.  The designs, angles and artificial light ask the viewer to challenge their own emotional digestion of the visually antagonizing images, their perspective within the medium as a whole, and the photograph itself as a stand alone work.

Art allows for existence to be categorized by alternate explanations – where scientific holes exist, its creation fills those voids, both emotionally and subconsciously.  I don’t want the viewer merely to bask in the images’ formal aesthetics, but to derive a wide range of emotional relevance to their own experience of ecstasy, fear, melancholy, passion, pain, power, sensuality – the organic chemistry produced from Art’s solidifying synergy of tangible expression, technical prowess, and inexpressible visual sensation.

These images are meant to breath, pulsate, and bloom – to reinvent their own context for which they exist and were created each time they are looked upon and each time they are ignored.

In the greater scheme of the project, it’s meant to be a utter rejection of the contemporary conventional reliance, a sign of faith to the human mind, to the camera – a technical and stylistic tip of the cap to Adams, Arbus, Lange, Weston, Mann, Eggleston, Wall, Ritts, Sherman, Goldin and the other masters…all of whom ventured fearlessly into a hurricane of conceptual risk, a majority rule of rejection against their visual grain.  What reigned supreme was the confidence they possessed in their own vision, their own ability to see above and beyond the “industry standard”.  They loyally wore their respective cameras (ironically many were defective and technically deficient ranging in format from 35 mm to 8 x 10) as the defining symbol of their talent, and a reminder of why they were influential – why they were great.  To me photography is a piece of clay.  I didn’t sign up to be molded, but rather to mold, to honor the medium with utmost deference for what came before and what can still be after today.

The base techniques of the project were set forth upon this rejection and the realization for the visual potential of what could literally lie in front of us waiting to be captured.  The lights used were highly unconventional to the medium or any other for that matter, mainly because of their high unpredictability and immeasurability with regards to exposure.  I’ve always been a fan of texture.  Some photos should be smooth and some you should feel the grain of the work, like visual brail, without ever running your hand across the image.  I shot at a high ISO to contradict the otherwise smooth and surreal results – break away from any emotional gloss, creating an aesthetic struggle similar to the complexities of the human mind.  We used make-up that was supplemental to the light, and of course wasn’t really make-up at all but rather a form of paint.  The application of such was meant to be unpredictable, haunting, breeding shape and form atop human shape and form, and alas, atop human emotion.  The chemical reaction created where the paint met the light allowed one of the most important aspects in all model-based photography to be eradicated – the eyes.  Lost are the windows to the soul, the indicators of emotion, and the guide to why the rest of the picture exists in exhibition at all.  This forced the models to emote on an equal plane with the paint and surrounding backgrounds, but furthermore, it provoked emotional revelation through body language, gesture, arms, hands, lips, and furrowed eye brows.  The results alone display a clear delineation of communication from the subtlest and often overlooked supplements to our visual cortex.

By peteambrose

Life in the Death of Fashion

In the midst of a world where popular trend dictates visual policy, fabrics and image have ultimately become the decisive judgment and stereotypical link to a person’s soul and how it’s sold.  Fashion literal has replaced fashion in the broader metaphorical scope of how it relates to the sociological evolution from person to person and, ironically, when the pendulum of one swings, the other follows.  Beyond fashion’s ability to define gender, social status, and a figure within clothes, it’s lost its ability to be a catalyst for change.  Fashion isn’t just the fabric we wear, it’s the fabric we use to evolve – to open the door to new ideas, to persuade a closed mind to try on something different to open up and find a new way with which to cloth life.  Fashion needs to regain its ability to emote, and I’m not talking about clothes.  I’m talking about cultivating a culture which today’s Avedon, tommorow’s Balenciaga – the undiscovered Yves St. Laurent dreaming design, may flourish and nurture a new bond and for fine art, fashion and commerce.

Miraim-Webster defines “Fashion” as such:

1 a: the make or form of something barchaic : kind, sort

2 a: a distinctive or peculiar and often habitual manner or way < SPAN sour his after will,>fashion, tell you — Shakespeare> b: mode of action or operation < SPAN orderly an in>fashion>

3 a: a prevailing custom, usage, or style b (1): the prevailing style (as in dress) during a particular time (2): a garment in such a style < the SPAN latest wears>fashions> c: social standing or prominence especially as signalized by dress or conduct < SPAN of women and>fashion>

It’s odd that the above eerily echoes my internal mission statement for my work (see blog Visual Mission), but that is the idea, a continuous comment on a listless fashion: Fashion – using the definition of the word: fashion.  Am I trying to sell some Gucci floss? Some D&Gesus? Maybe some Ver-silly-uninspired-sace-shit?  Am I displaying haute-couture dresses made out of bread ala Jean Paul Gautier? Nah…just metaphorically finding life within a commercial realm that literally and figuratively have become a clusterfuck of morose, surrealistic images where models have become mannequin’s, fashion has been reduced to entitled fabric – where the photograph seems to only compliment the hair and make-up and countless hours of post-production; where artistry has dissolved into suds of repetitive creation, vapid facial expressions and backgrounds, snobby gestures of resource and little of substance.

(Now a repose from the overly-serious tone this artist’s statement has maintained up to this point).

The Make or Form of Something

The idea quite simply was to fashion something new…fine art can be as asinine and dramatic as contemporary fashion, so why not re-introduce the two, high-maintenance, drama queens to each other in an attempt to re-certify each’s creative license.  The added layer which is meant to be evoked are the formal qualities of expression and posture, the details which tell a story beyond the wardrobe or lack there of.  The idea is to persuade through art and to form social if not commercial change.  Can fashion be about anything other than the exterior elements on the model?

In my opinion, fashion was never about the clothes, it was about the attitude that wore them.

A Distinctive or Peculiar and often Habitual Manner or Way

Fashion implements social and cultural change because analogous to the mode of human evolution, what survives, stands out.  The fashion to survive is often the fashion which endures little opposition after its ascension.  Yet throughout history, fashion has faced some form of mutiny within itself for the nature of trend requires change…if even just for what we wear and far below how we conduct that code of creation.  Yet the habit contemporary trend has lead us to is one in which the changes in fashion are relegated to primitive substance (clothes) – the art that presents this substance (photography) seems to have flat lined.  When fashion photography’s guidelines became rules, when that medium dedicated itself to maintaining the standards of one another, the fashion underneath ceased to have a vessel for true change.  Every year commercial imagery seems to absorb into one lineage or status quo, similar to the corporate structure overarching the “safe” creative decisions passed down to the photographer.  True creation is shelved in favor of being “sellable”, which passes down to the aspiring fashion photographer, who stunts and desensitizes his or her aesthetic growth because Photoshop can create the perfect lie and enhance inexperience through technical wizardry – making her shoot look like the pros do.

Many photographers would argue with me…that the new realms of technology and the “inspired” leadership of many haute-couture and high end labels love the push the envelope of chic expression.  As costs go up the marketing demographic becomes smaller catering only to those who can afford – oft the aesthetically acute, but thematically retarded.  Who has the will to change the course?  The revolution has started with rash of start up “Indie” avant garde magazines aiming to bring back the original aesthetic of the medium.  I’m on board and/am want/willing to take the wheel.  Anything is marketable, it requires critical thought to sell change from the ground up through social and visual influence and fashion is the closest commercial photographic relative to fine art.  Most of all, it requires the time to roll up the sleeves and dig, to break ground…to find life…

A Prevailing Custom, Usage, or Style

Hidden beneath the visual context, wardrobe choices, even the models throughout the body of work, is a satire of custom and the attempt to assert style.  I want the viewers to feel obligated to relate, if nothing else to a composition of rejection, through the rocks, trees, pavement, graffiti, sea, forest and urban realities that access both our universal subconscious visual penchants.  By no means do I think I will inspire the current fashion hierarchy to accept my view, but I want it to be one voice in the process that can embalm the standard – allowing for the birth of an overall acceptance to a broader range of imagery and not an advertising structure solely adherent to marketing principles set forth, void of allowance for more than one monochromatic hue within a vast spectrum of visual potential.

To prevail, the fashion community must allow for a new style to reduce the medium to the taken photograph, free from constraint, and not the oppressed, produced expression…to emphasize the everyday beauty – flaw in skin, human emotion, reverie and desire.

In all honesty this body of work might as well blow…but regardless of what the verdict may be, it’s an attempt to try out a new light – a blind date with un-expectation.  It was spawned, if nothing else, so a future generation of innovators can continually know it’s okay to experiment with the persuasion of pop culture, to allow and emphasize photographs in a portfolio that don’t strike you like the bite of a cobra, but rather overwhelm you as the venom of depth informs and satisfies your soul over time.  We can create a prevailing custom sheltered from the contemporary laziness and desensitized critical minds beyond their attention’s deficit, and away from eyes equipped only to react to what they know looks like an Armani campaign.  I took a violent stab into the ground with my shovel in an attempt to rediscover the wealth of the never-ending treasure of originality.

It may be wholly ineffective as a gesture, but again, at least I took a stab.

By peteambrose