Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Political Debates: Snapchat and the loss of meaning

©Justin L. Stewart
What happens when the general public stops having faith in the political process?

Last night, thoughts like that bounced around in my head before, during, and after the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Stumbling through social media, the oddly common discussion of drinking games for watching the debates lay strewn throughout my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Posted in a Facebook comment.
A small sample of drinking games to apparently make debates worth watching.
I saw someone post a status of someone looking for a friend's place to watch the debate at (for the first time ever) with her son, not because she was interested in what either of the candidates would say, but because she was expecting it to be a trainwreck and thus, entertaining to watch. 

As the debate began, Snapchats with funny filters started popping up in my notifications on my cellphone and filling the Snapchat Stories section of my app. I got a couple chuckles in before becoming bored. Then I began to think about how I saw this happening all throughout the primary debates and how distracting of an action it was to take take one of these snaps during the debate. 

All these thoughts – the posts, the snaps, the memes, and everything else – started to merge in my head and weigh heavily on me. Was anyone actually watching the debate? Have we all become so jaded by politics and politicians' trained responses to questions that the political process has just become a dark joke that the everyman feels powerless in? Instead of focusing on what should be important discussions and debates surrounding our country's future, have we been relegated to make the best of what may feel like a powerless position by making drinking games and funny memes of politicians?

I don't know, but the thought is there. Along those lines, I made some snaps of my own last night for the purpose of making this post. I wanted people to think about why we're doing these things. Are they actually acts of frustration? Is this an action that makes the user feel more power, having made a person of power laughable through a photographic manipulation of their visage.

Here's a series of snaps I made last night with those thoughts in mind.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Birthday Tripping to Rosarito, Mexico (Baja California)

 Last month, I made a weekend trip down to Mexico with my girlfriend as a birthday present for her. Mexico is only a couple hours away (on a good traffic day) and neither of us had ever been before. We stayed at an AirBnB with Dmichael, a host who made us fresh salsa, guacamole, margaritas and amazing breakfasts with food grown in his garden. We also had a private beach below, which rarely saw any traffic but us (a far cry from LA's crowded sands).

One of the best parts of the trip was just being able to disconnect. Save for the internet at the house, we were without connection to the busy life back home and it felt good not to be absorbed by the internet and emails.

We also had amazing quesadillas, drowned in thick cheese. And gorgeous sunsets rivaling those we get here in LA.

Looking at this gallery now, it looks like I didn't even take a good picture of Chelsea. I promise I (probably) did, I just haven't developed the film yet. Still have a few frames to burn.

Here's a little bit of what that trip looked like. Thanks for lookin'.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Betsy (Betty) Ross Portrait Series

Here's the Betsy (Betty) Ross portrait series from Scituate, Massachusetts. I fell in love with a corner in a room of a house and I made people sit in that corner while I took colonial inspired portraits. Unfortunately, Betty Ross was remembered in my head as Betsy Ross, so that's what I kept chanting as I worked away (sorry Betty).

2016 is the year of the portrait for me, and this was a fun opportunity to work that idea. I was happy with what I came away with and had fun doing it. Wish I found more awesome corners like this one with a plethora of models at my disposal.

Here's to making more fun portraits like these.

Thanks for looking <3

Monday, June 27, 2016

June: Dipping a Toe in Two Oceans

I had the fortune of seeing a couple of my favorite people get married at the beginning of June. The same opportunity allowed me to dip my toes in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans within one week. AND, I finally set foot on the east coast for the first time, even catching a striped bass while in Massachusetts.

Escaping reality for a little bit is always nice, and seeing friends marry is always a happy occasion. Not pictured here is the incredible portrait session we had. I thought I'd save that for another post, so keep your eyes open for the upcoming "Betsy (Betty) Ross Series." It'll be something to remember.

As for this post, I've started using an embed option from my new website. Hopefully you think it's super cool and functional and give me a high-five for it next time we meet. Or it just works well. Anyways, hope you enjoyed the visual echo of early June in Massachusetts.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Making a Home in Los Angeles

My Instagram feed @justnlstewart
Following images ©Justin L. Stewart. Do not use without proper licensing.

Twenty-two days ago, I moved to Los Angeles. I wasn't sure what to expect from a city I'd never visited and only knew through films and television. It wasn't a city I ever really imagined I'd be in, save for that one time as a child as I begged my mom to take me to Hollywood so I could become a child actor (that kid in Home Alone 3 had no talent and I knew it).

Everything has been so much better than I had imagined. This is the second largest city in America, but plants are everywhere. Driving half an hour north, I can go for a hike. Driving 15 minutes west, I can touch the ocean. Driving a few hours south, I can go to Mexico. My apartment complex is full of friendly people. Every time I leave the house, something catches my eye that I have to photograph. 
I've spent half my time inside, redesigning my website after changing providers, but I've gotten to venture out a few times and am looking forward to wandering more streets.

Here are some shots from a couple of my early outings. Thanks for looking!

Red Rock Canyon

Santa Monica Pier

Friday, March 18, 2016

Missouri State Basketball Championship

My Instagram feed @justnlstewart
Following images ©Justin L. Stewart. Do not use without proper licensing.

Another week, another opportunity. This time I was able to shoot state basketball for a couple of newspapers. As I've said before, I'm not a huge sports fan and it's not really a passion of mine to photograph it, but it does lend itself to fun explorations photographic.

I don't feel like I did a good job of really getting something different this time out. I got sucked into getting good action shots and just fulfilling the papers' needs. I tried to get some better crowd stuff but couldn't quite figure it out. I kept looking around for stuff outside the action but things didn't seem to click this time.

Excited for more opportunities like this down the road. The more you shoot it, the more you're able to explore it and see it differently.

Thanks for giving it a look!