Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

The Chesebrough Farm Tradition

Every year we go to Chesebrough Farm to pick out a few pumpkins and it’s always a good time. We went a couple of weeks ago and Coral and Elliott picked out some favorites. I feel like every time I go there I am surprised with how many different types/varieties of pumpkins there are.

They have a lot of fun photo opportunities set up around the farm, but we skipped all of them except for the big pyramid of pumpkins at the top of the post. I guess none of else felt like being Instagram models that day.

The farm is located at 790 Moss Lane in Templeton and is open 10am – 6pm every day in October. If you need to grab some pumpkins in the next couple of days now is your chance.

See ya!
– Jeff

Digital Art Sunday: Bugs Bunny Appropriation

About a year ago I messed around a little with making some appropriation art. There’s something about it that doesn’t totally sit well with me, which is weird because there is a lot of appropriation art that I do like. It just makes sense that if I like some of it then I should make some of my own. Why not put my own spin on appropriating popular images? Because, let’s face it, there is a lot of questionable appropriations out there. I certainly wouldn’t be able to single handedly ruin the art form. I don’t really have to dig too deep to realize why appropriating makes me a little queasy. Simply put, it’s just low hanging fruit. There are so many artists, especially on Instagram, who seem to have made an entire career out of painting other peoples images. Some of them do it in a clever way with their own unique twist and others are straight up knock offs. The outsiders perspective (mine, at least) is that all of them are laughing all the way to the bank.

Quick interruption, shouldn’t the phrase “laughing all the way to the bank” be phasing out by now? To get with the times we need to start saying, “laughing all the way to Venmo” or “laughing all the way to Square” or “laughing all the way to PayPal”. Ok, moving on…

And it makes sense that some artists have made appropriating a career. It’s the same reason there are so many remakes/reboots in the movie industry. The path has been paved. Why risk making something new that nobody knows about and attempt to make that new thing popular? It’s so much easier to take something that is already popular with a built in fanbase and just remake that. Like I said, it makes me a little queasy, it’s low hanging fruit, and in way it sort of lacks integrity. After I drew my first appropriation piece (my take on Jiminy Cricket) it took me about three months before I posted it on Instagram. Before that I only showed it to maybe three people. The people I showed it to were supportive of it, which was nice, but I still waited awhile before posting it online for the whole internet to see. I finally got over my apprehension because I realized I’m the only one thinking this much about it, meaning nobody cares. And at the end of the day, making art is fun and if I enjoy the process of making something that’s the important part for me. If the outcome is a success that’s just a bonus. Also, what I did wasn’t a straight up knock off. I added my own style to the original source, which, in the world of appropriation art, is taking something that exists and making it your own. That’s a big difference compared to the artists out there taking something that exists and copying it. I tried my best not to do that.

I could go on and on about this topic, but I’ll stop for now and file it away for another time. Anyway, I posted this Bugs Bunny piece on Instagram back in May and all I wrote for the caption was, “What’s up, Doc?” and now I’ll expand on that. I grew up watching Bugs Bunny. I know a lot of people my age did, but I was really into it. I even had that Looney Toons book with the real life animation cell in it. That totally fascinated me. I had no idea how cartoons were made and when I saw that animation cell in the book it was pretty mind blowing. What I’m trying to say is that I chose Bugs Bunny to appropriate because he really meant a lot to me and I’ve been a true Bugs fan for as long as I can remember. This wasn’t just a mindless decision based on the fact that Bugs Bunny is popular.

I have yet to make an actual painting appropriating a popular character from our culture and I’m not sure if or when I will. For now, since I’m sticking to the digital realm with my appropriation art, I thought it would be fun to throw the characters into my own photos. Here’s the original photo that I used for the Bugs Bunny piece.

I took this photo in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park earlier this year. It might seem random, but to me it makes perfect sense for Bugs Bunny.

I’m curious what your thoughts are about appropriation art. Not just mine, but the art form in general. Let me know.

Hope you had a fantastic weekend.

– Jeff

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Want to see more?
Check out Jiminy Cricket. I chose him as my first one because he’s not only a cool looking character, but the shape of his head was perfect for the faces I paint.
And also Fred Flinstone. I chose him because I watched the Flinstones when I was a kid and I mistakenly thought Fred’s head was also the perfect shape for the faces I paint. It turned out super ugly, so I hope you get a good laugh at it.

Claassen’s Radiator Service

I love that this place exists.

– Jeff

Wishful Thinking

I call this photo “Wishful Thinking” for obvious reasons. What’s not obvious and is something I will never know, is what is that man thinking. It’s been years, probably 20 plus, since I squeezed myself into a wetsuit and I don’t remember it being fun or easy to do. Going through all that trouble just to paddle out onto a flat ocean hardly seems worth the effort. Of course, I’m going on the assumption that homeboy wanted to ride some sick waves. Then again, maybe he just appreciates a leisurely float on the flat water. I mean, he basically has the entire beach to himself, which is pretty cool.

Maybe there is something to learn here. Something like we need to teach ourselves to unplug from time to time and to consciously appreciate nature.

Or maybe we just need to accept things as they are and call this guy a dumbass. I mean, seriously, why didn’t he check the surf report?

Make The Thing: A Rainy Night Photo Adventure

A couple of nights ago I closed the shop late (9:30pm) and then stayed after hours to work on some paintings. Time just drifted by, as it often does when you’re having fun, and all of a sudden it was 1:40am. I packed up my stuff to go home, where I planned to annihilate a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles (because that’s healthy right before you go to bed), maybe watch a couple YouTube videos (or 13), and then pass out on the Tempurpedic. But then I went outside and it was raining.

The streets were empty and it filled me with that opportunistic energy that you have to do something with. If you let the chance pass you by you’ll be struck with a bad case of the FOMO (fear of missing out) and that’s no bueno. You can’t just pass out in a Cocoa Pebble coma when the streets are empty, rains coming down, and the stillness of the town makes everything beautiful. So, photo adventure! I wasn’t really ready to go home anyway.

Inspiration in the middle of the night is a funny thing. It can be very similar to those genius million dollar ideas you have as you’re taking the last swig directly from the second bottle of Rosé. The next day your million dollar idea seems, realistically, more like a $3 idea.

And there is nothing wrong with that, really. I’ve dedicated my life to making things, good or bad, in the pursuit of having something to show for my time on this Earth. It really is about the journey (making things), not the destination. I always like making the thing more than I like the thing itself.

Do yourself a favor next time you have the urge to make something and just make it. That’s the fun part. It doesn’t matter if the outcome totally sucks. You’re not doing it to make a masterpiece. You’re doing it because something inside you is telling you to. So, if it strikes your fancy to drive around town for an hour in the middle of the night to take photos in the rain, by golly, do it. Just try to be done before your lady calls you wondering where the fuck you are at 2:30am.

See ya!
– Jeff

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Keep this journey going by following on the IG: @jeffclaassen.
Watch some videos.
Start an art collection!

Somebody Get This Kid A Camera

So, it’s probably around 12:30am. Evelyn and I are sitting across from each other at the kitchen table. She’s on her phone doing whatever 15 year old girls do. I’m on my computer looking through video clips trying to figure out what to post next on YouTube. Evy sees my camera on the table and starts messing around with it. Being a Canon T5i it’s slightly more complicated than the camera she is used to on her phone. She’s pushing buttons and messing around with the flip screen and then tells me to look up. SNAP! She takes a photo of me. Just one single photo. No setting up or adjusting the light or anything. Just a simple push of the shutter button. After inspecting the monitor she says, “It sort of looks like one of those portraits.” I can only assume she meant it looked like a fancy, or possibly artsy, portrait. One that you might pay a photographer to do. Here it is. Totally unedited. No photoshopping. No filters. Completely spontaneous. Straight from the horses mouth.

I really don’t feel biased because it’s a photo of me or because my 15 year old daughter took it, but I think it’s a pretty good portrait. But who am I? Let’s get mom’s thoughts. After all, she’s the real photographer in the family. Here’s what Coral had to say.

“My first thought was – I love the lighting. I love how warm it is against the contrast of your black hoodie and the dark kitchen behind you. I also think it’s funny that you two are night owls together, and it’s kind of a quick glimpse into your relationship with her. You’re not scolding her to go to bed – or annoyed by her being up at nearly 1am… you’re just letting her mess around with an expensive camera, and do something creative in the middle of the night – because that’s normal for you. I also like how comfortable you look. You can’t get a portrait like that in a professional setting, or with a stranger.”

Naturally, when you’re messing around with a new camera you have to take at least one selfie.

What can I say, this girl has skills. Also, somebody get this kid a camera!

Oh wait, we’re the parents. That’s probably our job.

Thanks for looking!
– Jeff

NYC Travelogue Day One: Dance Club In The Sky, Thai Food, Citi Bike And A Selfie With Elmo

I’ve been home from my NYC trip for ten days. That means I’ve been home longer than I was gone and I am finally getting around to editing my photos. I have a lot of video too that I would love to make a little movie out of, but I cringe at the thought of video editing. Let’s get started, shall we? Day one is mostly a travel day, but I sort of had a pre-travel night. I hit the road for Los Angeles around 8pm the night before my flight. My good friends, Justin and Cassidy, let me park my car at their house while I was gone and Justin even woke up at 5:30 in the morning to drive me to the airport. That’s a friend, people. With a boarding time of 7am I avoided an insane line at security. I’m not one that travels regularly, but I’ve heard people can be in these lines for over an hour or more and I got through in about 12 minutes.

Unfortunately, I was “randomly selected” for an anal cavity search. Just kidding, but a TSA dude did “randomly select” me to rub a cloth on my hand that he then took to his little booth and held under a light. I’m sure that my wearing dark glasses and a hoodie probably had nothing to do with it. I must have passed because I was able to avoid all unwanted searches of any of my body parts. Thanks, TSA!

This digital boarding pass made me feel super fancy, as if I’m the only bloke on the planet with an iPhone. For some reason airport personnel are not allowed to touch your phone, so I had to wave my phone under the little laser to get scanned, which means I did half of their job for them and didn’t even get paid for it. I would have gladly accepted a free upgrade to first class. Hint hint, Virgin America. When it came to booking a flight my first thought was Jet Blue. No good reason why except that I had flown with them once before and it was fine, but then I came across Virgin and thought it would be awesome to fly in something that looked like a nightclub.

And I was right, it was awesome. There were pole dancers and midgets doing magic tricks. It was amazing. Slightly less amazing was the in-air internet.

I have now since learned that if you “buy before you fly” you can get the 24 hour pass for $16, which is way better, but I’m not totally sure I can justify that since you can’t stream Netflix with the service. On the other hand, is not being on the internet for five or six hours really something to be concerned about? I was totally happy to sit back in my leather seat, relax and read without any interruptions. When you have a four year old reading a book is utterly impossible during the hours they are awake. I guess this is a good time to mention that this was a solo trip. Yes, Coral stayed home and took care of three kids while I went gallivanting around the big city. She’s awesome. Thanks, honey! She also got me this New York themed book to read on the plane.

I guess free meals on planes are a thing of the past.

This Chicken Sandwich looked pretty tasty, but I saved my $9. Also, $4 for Chex Mix…yikes. On the plus side, I was able to drink all the ginger ale I wanted for free, which was great. I’m a sucker for ginger.

Tracking the flight is always fun. There was a bunch of stuff you could do on the touchscreen, like rent movies, listen to music and even join a chatroom with other passengers. I started a chat and nobody responded for the entire flight, so as much fun as it sounded I remained alone and friendless in the sky. Here are a couple of mandatory “look at me, I’m in a plane and you’re not!” photos.

It’s always nice to land without exploding.

I did not make any plans on how to get from JFK to my hotel, so once I got off the plane I had to wing it. I trusted that the city would take care of me and it did. There is a plethora of options that don’t require any pre-booking. Subway, taxi, Uber and my personal favorite, helicopter. Yeah, for about $1000 you can catch a helicopter into Manhattan. How baller is that? Once I walked out of the airport I saw a sign for a shuttle that was only $16. Like I said, I don’t travel much, so the idea of a shuttle hadn’t even crossed my mind. When I saw Uber was going to cost something in the $60+ range I couldn’t get on that shuttle fast enough. Thanks for the awesome deal, GoAir Link! I ended up using them to get back to the airport too and that was cool because they came right to my hotel. For the drive into the city they have set drop off spots, which worked fine for me because my only luggage was a backpack. I hopped off the shuttle, found a Citi Bike and rode to my hotel.

I found this cool artsy “boutique” hotel called The Pod. They have two places in New York. Pod 39 and Pod 51. I stayed at Pod 51 and it was great.

Hotel room selfie.

Next time I go to New York though, I’d like to stay somewhere in the West Village or Chelsea area. I kept finding myself in those neighborhoods so it would be cool to not have to bike 30+ blocks to get there. The hotel was awesome though. Super clean, free wi-fi, awesome little lobby/lounge area (with a foosball table) and even an outside patio that proved to be a great escape from the craziness of the city. Since I opted out of the $9 chicken sandwich on the plane I was sufficiently starving by the time I checked into The Pod and was so stoked to find a Thai restaurant just a few doors away called Sukhumvit 51.

Check out that Thai iced tea! It comes in a fancy ceramic mug! Fanciness and exclamation points aside I do not like drinking out of straws so, although the ceramic mug was a nice touch, it wasn’t for me. The food and Thai tea were incredibly delicious. I had the Pad See Ew with beef and loved it so much that I ate there two more times before I left town. The plan was that it would also be my last NYC meal, but I got sidetracked and missed out. And when I say “sidetracked” what I mean is that I fell asleep and woke up after they closed on my last night.

Anyway, after dinner and unpacking and all that stuff I ventured out. There was a Citi Bike station two blocks from The Pod and I had already signed up for a 7 day pass, so I chose bike riding as my main mode of transportation. Here’s the deal with Citi-Bike. A 7 day pass is $25. The bikes are available 24 hours a day. Every time you get a bike from a station it’s yours for 30 minutes. If you go over the time limit you get charged a couple bucks, but with 330 locations it’s usually pretty easy to return your bike to a station within the 30 minute time frame. There were plenty of times I would park a bike and then just unlock it again and keep cruising. The system makes you wait 2 minutes before you can take another bike, so you have to sit and wait, but it’s not that big a deal since people watching is so much fun. So, I biked around with no destination in mind and ended up in Times Square, where I saw one of the creepiest things that has ever creeped.

When I saw Elmo I knew Elliott (my 4 year old) would love this, which I’m sure is something Elmo hears all the time when he poses with tourists. He might hear it all the time, but since he didn’t appear to speak English he may not know what we’re saying.

Eventually, I made it back to The Pod where I took an extremely long shower and passed out.

Photo Shoot Sunday

James really wants to pursue acting as a career. Unfortunately, we don’t live in Los Angeles, but we’re going to do what we can to help him. Coral’s working on a website for him and wants to start submitting head shots to agencies. And if that means impromptu trips to The City Of Angeles, so be it. We hired our longtime photographer friend, Richard Fusillo for James’ photo shoot and I tagged along taking some of my own photos while keeping Elliott away from the action.

Elliott stole mom’s camera and took his own “behind the scenes” photo.

After walking around downtown SLO for a couple of hours we drove down to Shell Beach. I wasn’t around for all of the SLO locations they shot at because I was keeping Elliott busy strolling him through the rough and tough streets of SLO.

A RARE SIGHTING…Coral in front of a camera! She’s so cute. She’s also very demanding. I don’t know how she talked James into getting into the water. And not just walking a few steps in the water, but getting fully immersed.

He’s such a good sport. Or he’s just straight up loco en la cabeza. Probably a little of both.

We are so lame. Yes, this is a photo of Coral and Richard both taking photos of James. If only Evelyn was with us, she could have stood back and taken a photo of me taking a photo of Coral and Richard taking a photo.

Typing that last sentence made my brain hurt.

Elliott was not too excited to be on the beach today. Last time we took him to the beach he was running, tripped and landed face first in the sandy water while fully dressed in jeans, sweatshirt, socks and shoes. This was on New Year’s Day, so the water was pretty cold. Needless to say, I carried him almost the entire time we were at the beach today.

Homeboy’s getting heavy and I had to set him down from time to time so my arms wouldn’t fall out of their sockets. As soon as I set him down he would start reaching for me, yelling, “Catch!”, which in Elliott language means, “Pick me up, dude!”

Daddy selfie. Fake smiling through the arm pain. Check out that ninja grip he has on my hoodie. He was making it very clear that there was no way I was setting him down again, which bummed me out because I really wanted to stack rocks. There were a couple of rock stacks where we were and they were beyond sad, standing at about 12 inches tall, if that. As soon as I saw them I was like, “I eat weak stacks like you for breakfast! I will murder you!” but I never got the chance to show off my skills thanks to Mr. Lead Butt Elliott.

Luckily, I managed to pawn him off on Coral for a couple of minutes. Not long enough to stack a pile of rocks, but long enough to get some of the feeling back in my arms.

Coral turned her phone away from James dunking himself in the freezing water long enough to catch Elliott and I heading back to the car.

When we got to the top of the stairs we ended up sitting on a bench to watch the sunset, which was quite spectacular.

And that’s how you spend a Sunday afternoon. I hope you all had a good weekend.

– Jeff

Elliott Attempts To Break Into Mission San Miguel

We took a little family outing to San Miguel today. I took A LOT of photos and videos of Elliott. I even got some more photos of Coral taking photos, but it’s all too overwhelming to edit them all tonight. I did like this one though, so I’m posting it as a preview to a future post. Keeping it short and sweet tonight.

Sweet dreams.
– Jeff

Photos Of Coral Taking Photos #1

I can see this becoming an ongoing series of mine. I have already amassed A LOT of photos of Coral taking photos. Some might consider it an unhealthy amount. Others might consider me a stalker. She is much more the photographer in the family than I am, which means she gets to use the fancy camera. Although, since investing in the GoPro I’ll have to admit I’m feeling pretty fancy lately.

Another thing I’ll have to admit is how cute she looks with a camera in her hand. I mean, Dang! She is one hot little cutie! One of the things about Coral that you might not know is that she transforms into a totally different person when she gets a camera in her hand. I’ve seen the transformation take place numerous times and it never gets boring to me. I love watching her work.

I’ve learned that once she’s in her element it is best to step back and let her do her thing. If you get in her way you get trampled, so be on the lookout.

These photos were all taken back in October after spending a day in Cambria. Highway 46 is a gorgeous drive from Paso Robles to Cambria. It can get pretty windy up there, but on a clear day you get a spectacular view of the Pacific and can even see Morro Rock off in the distance. If you find yourself on this drive I highly suggest stopping by Jack Creek Farm and trying one of their delicious Apple Cider Slushies. So good!

Coral doesn’t know I’m writing this and I might get in trouble for it, but oh well…I’m going to say it anyway. She is totally available for photography jobs. I know she won’t do a wedding, but she’s totally up for product shots, possibly some candid style portraits and of course, fashion photography. If you’re interested in hiring her contact her through one of her IG accounts or let me know and I’ll pass on the message.

Check her out on Instagram. She has two accounts at the moment. Her personal account with lots of photos of our kids and some other random stuff. Her professional account. Since May 2014 it is mostly photos of her deer series, which is totally worth checking out, but if you scroll down past May you will see some of her fashion photography.

Thanks for looking!
– Jeff

Elliott Loves Throwing Stuff

Elliott and I spend a lot of time in the car together. Not because we necessarily want to, but sometimes (most times) it is a lot easier than to take him into whatever store Coral and the kids are going into. Sometimes we just sit in the car and other times we’ll get out and walk around outside while waiting for the rest of the family to finish doing whatever it is they are doing.

We are in the Goodwill parking lot, which proves that kids can have fun practically anywhere. Especially when a pile of leaves are involved. He kicked and threw for I don’t know how long, but I can assure you it was a much more fun experience for everybody involved compared to taking him inside the store where he would undoubtedly throw an extremely loud screaming fit because we wouldn’t let him walk out of Goodwill with every Hot Wheel he could get his little hands on. This kid is obsessed with cars. Anyway…

Look at that face. I will take that level of excitement over an irrational screaming fit any day of the week.

Evelyn’s Grand Jete Over The Last Sunset Of 2014

Evelyn is obsessed with dancing. Here she is leaping over the last sunset of 2014 in Cayucos. She’s our tiny dancer. But she keeps getting bigger. She turned 13 last month. THIRTEEN. Anyway…

It was a beautiful sunset and a great way to end 2014.