A month ago I stepped into the odd world of Curiosities, a vintage store in Dallas, Texas. Speckled throughout the collection of taxidermy and early 1900’s medical supplies (DIY liver transplant, anyone?) were porcelain dolls. They hung out like mini bouncers ready to follow you around each corner. The collection of stuff was meticulously random, like a Jackson Pollock painting but instead of throwing paint on canvas, they dumped vintage photographs and porcelain knick-knacks. Here are some of the characters I found:
Category Archives: Special
When you grow up like I did, staying up late into the AMs playing video games and watching music videos on
Youtube, you start to redefine what night time actually is. For some, like my mom and perhaps the rest of the sane
world, night time is somewhere around an hour after sunset and about 9pm. For me, night time settles in at about
There’s something about crossing into the AM that just changes things. The air smells different — like smoking
firewood from a nearby campfire — trees turn into ominous, black silhouettes and anyone you see jogging by
or taking a night stroll feels immediately dangerous and suspicious. But that’s just what the darkness does. So
naturally, exploring and adventuring around this time gets even more fun as the mundane things of everyday
suddenly turn obscure, waiting for you to uncover them.
Fascinated by bright lights at night, one night I drove over to the construction site where they are currently
building the new San Francisco 49ers football stadium in Santa Clara. Tripod mounted with my Polaroid
Automatic Land Camera 360, I stood outside the chain linked fence and scoped out possible shots. After two
or three, I saw a security guard emerge from a parked car. He looked at me. And I looked at him. We nodded
to each other, and he walked towards me.
Asking what I was up to, I showed him my camera. He seemed interested but to my great surprise, he didn’t seem
to care that I was up this late taking pictures, nor did he care that I was standing around in a raggedy shirt, short
shorts and a mismatching bath robe. After talking about my camera, we discussed for an hour about everything:
work, school, finding a job, and even football, despite the fact that I know very little about it.
I wanted to take a picture of him at the time but unfortunately, I only had color film which was ISO 100 so I knew
I had to return and see him again to have another midnight chat. So I did. I came back the following week, same day
and around the same time, and there he was again. His name is Raman and he’s a college student who works the
graveyard shift as a security guard while attending classes in the day time. He’s currently studying computer science.
These are some of our conversations:
Me: Do you have to stay up the entire time?
Raman: Yea, but you get used to it, ya know?
Me: Do you drink coffee or something or what? How do you stay up the whole time?
Raman: The first time, you do. I like drank hella red bulls n shit, but after you get used to it and it’s nothing. I just
watch movies and shows n shit while I’m waiting.
Me: Your boss is cool about it?
Raman: Yea, he knows wassup.
Me: Yea, I mean, it’s not like there’s a whole lot going on so it should be understandable.
Me: Do you eat anything while you’re here?
Raman: Nah, we don’t get a lunch.
Me: FORREALS?! Why not?
Raman: We have to be on the watch the whole time so we can’t leave. But we can bring food if we want. I just don’t
eat. I’m trying to bulk up though.
Me: Yea? Been working out?
Raman: Yea man, but it’s hard because I barely get any sleep, and you know how your muscles grow over night n
Me: Yea, yea, my girlfriend used to work at Vitamin Shoppe so she knew all about that stuff
(talking about his annoying ex-coworker)
Raman: Yea dude, he was a fuckin bitch.
Me: How so?
Raman: One time, I thought I was running late so I called my boss and was like “Yo, I’m on my way but I’ll be
there in like five minutes.” So I drive up and just as I’m about to park my car, my coworker is standing there with his
watch and complains to my boss about me being one minute late. I’m like, forreals?
Me: What did your boss do?
Raman: He had to give me a warning. It’s part of his job though, ya know?
Raman: Some of these construction workers make like, $80,000 a year.
Me: Damn! That’s hella crazy! But I mean, they’re doing incredibly physical work. And it’s also very dangerous
Raman: Yea, exactly. They be hanging on this wire thing hella high up in the air while they’re welding shit. I’m
like, awww, fuck that!
Me: haha! Yea man, its almost like, shit, if I can make that kind of money, why go to school?
Raman: I know, right? Make hella bank.
Raman: So what kinda camera is that?
Me: It’s an old Polaroid film camera from the 1960’s.
Raman: That’s sick yo. Does it take hella nice pictures or what?
Me: It does. The thing that I also like about film is that it’s more permanent. You really only get one shot to
get it right. So you cherish your photos more and they’re more meaningful and sentimental.
Raman: Yea, I remember in 2nd grade our teacher had one of those old polaroid cameras and she took a
picture of me, and I think I still have it somewhere in one of my binders or something, haha.
Raman: Yea man, that’s pretty sick
The friendship that Raman and I shared was an interesting one. He’s a sports guy, I’m an artsy nerd. He’s into
computer science while I do communication studies. In a sad way, in our every day life we probably would
never hang out together. But in this instance, we did. Like a stray cat finding a caged dog behind a chain link
fence, that grid of metal served as this physical and symbolic representation of our separate worlds. Worlds
that normally do not collide. Worlds where, had it been daylight, we might not even recognize each other. And by
the mysterious powers of the darkness of night, we shared an intimate yet comforting conversation for just those
Goodnight Raman, and good luck in all your endeavors.
I‘ll say it now: working at a job that isn’t your career fucking sucks. I mean, how many of us actually work at a job
that we love? Aside from being the official taste tester for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, there really isn’t a job in the
world that caters to every single need you have. As an aspiring artist working in retail, the monotony of selling
handbags and rubber flip-flops can bore the neurons out of your brain. So when Geraldine (aka, Gigi, aka G²) –
a 30-something, 5’2-ish, aspiring fashion designer – was hired at our location, we immediately bonded over our
shared longing for a future in art.
As Dr. Evil as it may seem, I’m somewhat of an emotional brick wall. I hardly cry, my heart skips a beat when
children are being yelled at by their parents in public, and I also give zero fucks when I lose a friend. Friends?
Whateves, yo! I’ll just find a new one on 4CHAN! But as today marks Gigi’s last day, a part of me (and all of us at
work) has seemed to dwindle down like a fire without a wick. Why, you ask? Well, when you work with a group of
all women, you get somewhat of a shitstorm when it comes to drama. She said, she said, and all of this bullcrap
gets thrown around like condiments in a food fight. At some point, everyone has been irritated by everyone –
but not Gigi.
Gigi was sort of the neutral party. She never started shit with anyone nor did she care to be involved. I respect
that. She was always an immensely chipper person and even though she was only in her early 30’s, she felt sort
of like our grandma – emotionally relaxed and always willing to share a great conversation. If we weren’t talking
about food and the types of food we wish we could be eating on our incoming lunch break, we discussed art,
fashion, gossip at work, and other random topics. But she was also real, with real problems and real concerns.
Interlaced beneath the cotton threads of her happy disposition were the linings of guy problems, struggles with
family issues, and the mystery of her future in the fashion biz. I mean she had some Maury Povich stuff goin on
and naturally, I found myself as her unofficial therapist – advising and guiding her on things such as “that man is
a LIAR!” or “MAN UP! Ask him out!” Conversely, she helped me learn to relax more at work. She taught me
how to turn my inner TiVo on and put things in slow motion. To stop, take my time, and let the job do itself.
She was excellent at it.
I won’t bore you any longer with my individual stories and inside jokes but I will say this: despite my brick wall
of a heart, I truly found myself saddened when she left our store. A good, moral, and real person had left our
family at work. The world just doesn’t make people like her anymore. People who seem to endure so much in
life yet they continue to thrive and smile through it all. Both of us may have bigger dreams and aspirations
beyond the tasks of folding clothes and ringing up needy customers, so perhaps, by chance, the art world will
harmonize and in the future, we will meet again at the corporate art department.
Till then, my good friend.
*This was a song that we all used to lip sync and dance to during work*
Why am I so dumb? I can’t believe I forgot to blog about this video. For the shoot,
I actually drove out to San Francisco (an hour drive), spent hours in the studio
doing video, and a couple hours in front of the screen snipping video clips to make
this awesome creation. But hey! Think of it as my present to you. This is the latest
fashion video that I’ve done, and boy oh boy is it swell. So check it out while drinking
hot chocolate, or simply enjoy within the comfort of your empty room while wearing
absolutely nothing at all.
Dear Fashion Gods,
I come to you for a helping hand…
I come for warmth and protection…
I‘m not one for speeches (since they’re quite a drag)
… But I look up to you…
… And I pray…
… That you will enjoy the next few posts I will be publishing soon <3
Some of you may disagree with me, but I get the feeling that some of this jewelry was inspired by steampunk.
This fashion show was the bastard child of steampunk, Roman Warriors, and early 1900’s Cinema.
Or something like that :)
Steampunk fashion… hmm… I think I have a new source of inspiration ;)
Some of you might be asking yourself right now “What the shit?! I thought this was a fashion blog? Why
the hell are you covering hip-hop events?! Ranier, you goddamn sellout!”
Ummm, yeaaa…. about that.
I‘ve actually been attending Battlefest for many many years. How many many? This many: IX. But in
all my years at Battlefest, I’ve never taken the time to observe the outfits and styles of the “hip-hop
community.” I mean, what the hell is hip-hop fashion anyways? To kick-start this blog, I present to you:
“I need your tank tops, your high tops, and your sunglasses….”
Urban Terminator, watch out! It’s… uhhhh…..what’s that guy’s name again? OH YEA! It’s: Mumm-Ra!
Damn homie, someone dun blew up yo hair!
That reminds me: one of the things that I noticed about hip-hop style is that, when it comes to outfits, most
of these kids wear pretty normal stuff. Nothing too crazy, or too creative. That’s on a entire outfit, but the
real creativity is seen on their accessories and color choices.
“No, Mom, it’s not what you think! I’m just looking at uhhh…..uhhhh… it’s FASHION! YEA! It’s this new
eco-friendly collection from the designer named…uhhh…LEO PARD! Yea, that’s it!”
Immaturity aside, I thought this group really went for the jugular. Instead of creating crazy costumes,
they just put all the ladies in matching outfits, but different bras. Truth be told, I actually liked some of
the prints on the bras.
Ya see? This is what I like to see. It’s simple, it works on her, and it just looks
And the winner for best dressed dance group goes toooo…….. Funksters!
But of course. I mean, they are based in San Francisco, so it’s almost a given
that they’d be stylish. And now, for the winner of best dressed couple….
The way I see it, if you’re gonna color your hair, ya might as well go all out – like this chick. Doesn’t her hair
remind you of a dreamsicle? It’s so cool! What do you think, Mr. Boyfriend?… Mr. Boyfriend?
Apparently, Mr. Boyfriend was not impressed. But hey! No worries! Now that
they’re on my blog, they’ll be famous! Awww, aren’t they just the cutest
little urban-hip-hop-fashionable-yet-kinda-famous couple? Come on guys,
group hug! ^0^
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the show. Not the show itself (which is always amazing), but rather,
the styles. The problem is that, when it comes to being fashionable, you sometimes run the risk of being
So what will it be? Wear the ugly sweats that are easy to move around in, or rock the vintage jeans that
suffocate your man bits? Hopefully next year gets better (fashionably), but sometimes, ya gotta
understand what you’re there for: dancing – not fashion. Until next time, dear Battlefest.
Many Moons Ago, On The Set Of My First Shoot
Necia: Hey Ranier
Necia: I’m updating my website and I was wondering if you could do some
headshots for me.
And that my friends, was pretty much the entire conversation. There really
wasn’t any convincing left because honestly, I love doing shoots. But from the
description, it seemed as if Necia wanted regular headshots. Hell, I was even
concerned that she wanted such regularity that they were borderline mugshots.
But as always, I had to put my spin on it.
One of the things that I loved about this shoot was how organic it came about.
Sure, there was some posing involved but it never came to the point where I
was monopolizing her entire body movements, telling her which pinky to
stick up. I just spewed out general directions, and she churned out greatness.
The wonderful thing about portraits is that, if done right, you can see an
entire landscape of who your subject is. You can pin-point certain emotions,
certain expressions, and various tones of their personality, all hidden
underneath. What are they like? Are they heart-broken? Madly in love?
Or are they simply a young, fragile soul, still blossoming at every corner?
What’s impressive was that, as we were shooting in downtown San Francisco,
we couldn’t go ten minutes without someone throwing compliments at her,
left and right. From “You look gorgeous, by the way” to “DAYUM, work IT!”
But hey! I can’t blame em! She did indeed work it – and she looks so elegant
and refined. She possesses the kind of beauty that only comes from classic
stars: Rita Hayworth, Julie London, and Billie Holiday. She has a look that
makes you say “Now that is a Woman.”
Hailing from New York, Necia started doing make-up out of pure interest.
As one job lead to the next, she managed to work on T.V shows, fashion
runways, and just about every kind of production you can think of.
Wanting a change in scenery, she moved to San Francisco in the hopes of
finding new business. Unfortunately, the fashion biz in San Francisco ain’t
as boomin as New York. But no worries! She’s a very talented woman who
we will see much more of in the near future. But if you can’t wait, feel free
to contact her for business by visiting her website yourself ;)
Over the past six years I have been a part 20 or so photoshoots. Now,
by “photoshoot” I actually mean my friend and I, in a park, with his mom’s
digital camera (on full Auto), trying to take pictures of me doing model-like
poses. These weren’t even amateur photoshoots, but rather, two kids
taking pictures for their Myspace profiles.
Even though I’ve spent a decent amount of time behind the camera, I’ve
never had the opportunity to work with real models, in real designer
clothes, with real hair and makeup. So when my designer, Justin Jamison,
and I decided to collaborate on a shoot, I was completely over the moon.
I mean come on! This was it! This was my big breakthrough! My debut as an
aspiring editorial fashion photographer! In order to prepare, I spent days
looking through Vogue editorials, trying to figure out what made their
pictures so great. Why were their photos so distinct, so amazing, and so right?
The initial plan was simple: we photograph 4 outfits outside The
Contemporary Jewish Museum, and we finish in less than 2 hours.
Bada-bing-bada-BOOM! Done and done! But as the shoot came closer and
closer, giant obstacles started to rise from the ground.
First off, instead of shooting 4 outfits in 2 hours, I had to shoot 10 outfits in the same time frame. Mission
Impossible or Mission HELLA Impossible? PFFT! Whatever, bro! I have my external flash with me, so even
if it gets dark, I’ll light up that building like a Christmas tree, so we’re good to go! With my camera in hand,
I fired off like I was Rambo shooting down a helicopter *SNAP-SNAP-SNAP-SNAP*
But then I realized something that would change the entire shoot: the
building we planned on shooting at was a total black-hole. In other words,
the building wasn’t reflecting light from my external flash, instead,
it was sucking it in. What this meant was that now, I couldn’t rely on my flash
to light the building, I actually had to work faster than the sun was moving.
To make matters worse, a security guard came over and stopped our shooting, claiming that the Museum
managers prohibited our photography, even though they approved us the day before. This set us back
another 30-45 minutes. *tick-tock-tick-tock*
“The Models are getting cold!”
“My ride is coming soon.”
“The sun is going down!”
“We still have 2 more outfits!”
It was insane. I was moving around back and fourth like a line cook in a
busy restaurant, trying to cook dishes quickly while still maintaining quality.
I was moving around so much I felt like I was doing a session of P90X!
At the end of the shoot, my mind and body was completely empty. Not only did I go 8 hours without food,
but my ass cheeks started hurt, and my eyeballs felt like they were gonna jump out of my head.
As I look back at the shoot, I think about all of the set-backs we had, and
then I looked at the final shots… and ya know what? It turned out pretty
damn good. I mean, I have quite a ways to go before I get on Mario
Testino’s level, but with time and experience, I’m confident I’ll get there.
In a way, I’m glad all of that happened. The screw ups inspire me to become
perfect; to improve and hone my craft. But most importantly, this
photoshoot taught me to never dwell on current obstacles, but instead,
push them outside the window, and keep shooting.