The first thing I did this past Wednesday (after meditating) was to go onto the East Bay Express's website and look for their new weekly issue. It was not easy to find but I was elated to see the title, "A Love Letter to Concrete," an article for which I photographed, on the cover. FINALLY! And I was even happier to see my work featured as the sexy centerfold.
It takes teamwork to be sexy. I had the help of two talented teammates: Matt Davis and Teri Foglia. My friend Matt reached out in early November last year to see if I might be interested in photographing some "brutalist architecture in the Bay Area?" Our first meeting as a tentative team was a couple weeks later where I met Teri, our brutiful raw concrete evangelist. Matt pitched the idea to EBX and we got approval in mid-December, cementing together our team for the project for better or for worse, for brutal and raw.
Over the next few weeks, Matt and Teri did the research and writing for the article. I also did my own research over the holidays, which included binge-ing on the brilliant Jonathan Meades's two hour homage to this style of edifice: Bunkers, Brutalism, and Bloodymindedness - Concrete Poetry (Part 1 and Part 2). Armed with my notion of concrete poetry, I scouted our list of sites with the enchanting company of Teri as my Brutalist tour guide. I then spent two days photographing 11 brutalist sites on both sides of the Bay, which was a brutally fun experience. (Architectural photography is not as easy as it seems. It was a lot of setting up outdoors, mostly on tripod, in the cold, getting the right angle and framing and then waiting for the right moment to take the photo - people/cars in the shot or clear of the shot. But not a lot of moving around, which meant, not much blood flow to my fingers and hands so they definitely froze. It's hard to work with gloves on.) Then a few more days culling the photos, selecting, and editing the photos.
We submitted our story in mid-January but its publication date kept getting pushed back with all the other news going on nationally and locally. Meanwhile, I was impatiently posting outtakes that I loved from the shoot on my Instagram account. Do you blame me? This was my first editorial gig, so I was especially eager to see it published.
I originally submitted 7 photos of buildings on both sides of the Bay. The editor and art director requested one more, specifically of an East Bay BART station; the photo of the Fruitvale station is the one that was added. 3 of the original set were used in the article - all East Bay sites. I've included all 7 + 1 below in their raw concrete glory.
Working with Matt and Teri was tons of cement fun. Also, I kinda fell in love with Balboa Park BART station in photographing it. I had never paid it much attention. I certainly appreciated other BART stations like Glen Park, but being present with and really observing all its concrete monstrosity made me realize how much I'd taken it for granted. I loved learning more about brutalist architecture, visiting specific examples in the Bay Area, and getting my first taste of editorial photography, which, in contrast to commercial photography, typically gives the photographer more freedom and creative license with the process and products and often on a lower budget. Trade offs!
If you're interested in a tour of the Brutal Bay Area sites, visit www.brutiful.website and e-mail Matt :) Lastly and most importantly - many, many thanks to East Bay Express for publishing our work and to the various contacts at each of these sites for their insight into and allowing us access to these post-modern concrete brutes.