John Stacks

"Don’t go chasing interesting people to shoot.  Chase interesting stories to shoot."

A fellow photographer told me that when I lost focus on the direction of my photography.  Thank you for leading me down the right path. 

Meet John Stacks.  He’s 70yrs old.  He’s a Vietnam vet.  Suffers from post traumatic stress.  Still has nightmares from witnessing a prisoner tortured and skinned alive inch by inch.  Has a family in Chicago.  A daughter that’s a doctor and a son that’s a lawyer.  For the past 20yrs, he’s made a living washing windows of passing cars on the corner of Del Mar Blvd and Pasadena Ave in Pasadena, CA.  He was once a school teacher.  He only has one arm.  Best 3hrs I’ve ever spent with someone in a long time. 

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Boston to Los Angeles

What do you do when you have nothing to lose?  That you consider it a favor if someone kills you???

Meet Don.  He’s 62 years old.  He was once an accountant for Lotus Development Company but got laid off when IBM took over.  One thing lead to another, he found himself living on the streets in Boston.  He tried making his way back but companies just weren’t interested in him because he was too old.  He was only 48 years old then.  With no family, he has nothing to lose. 

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The Journey

I started out in photography wanting to shoot exactly this; location/environmental portraiture with emphasis on lighting.  But for some reason, somewhere along the way, I stopped.  I started shooting a lot of natural light stuff.  Which I still do!  But about a couple of months ago, I started editing my work for the new year.  As I was going through photograph after photograph, I realized that I was no longer thrilled with any of them.  Well, with an exception of a few.  Anyway, majority of what I’ve shot within the last year or so, just seemed so bland, boring, and wasn’t exciting anymore.  They were nice but not exciting. 

I started going even deeper into my work.  Digging up stuff that I haven’t seen in awhile.  It was then I came across this photo that I shot of my old instructor at Art Center.  I remember he said, “You made me look so mean.”  He wasn’t mean at all.  “I just love serious portraits,” I told him.  Haha. 

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Anyway, I shot his portrait right before I left school several years ago and I STILL LOVE IT! 

So guess what???  I guess it is true; sometimes you do have to get lost to find your way back again. My journey was long and it almost left me on the brink of bankruptcy, but after a long struggle/detour, I have finally found my way back.  I am excited for the new year and needless to say, grateful for the journey. 

Below are some new images.  Exciting stuff coming soon!

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Thanksgiving 2013

Every year during Thanksgiving, I would head down to the mission in Downtown Los Angeles to take pictures of the festivities.  I love seeing the smiles on everyone.  Especially the kids.  But this year, I was a bit lazy and slept in a bit longer than usual and got to the event late.  For some reason, I thought it was an all day event but it actually was only up until noon.  Anyway, I usually just linger and document the event but after meeting John and Shawnaton earlier (see my previous posts), I actually wanted to hear their stories and write/blog about them along with their photographs this year.  BUT, stupid me was being lazy.  Very disappointed that I didn’t get the chance! 

By the way, these dogs scared me shitless.  I fell on my ass taking this photo!  They came out of nowhere charging and barking.  I swear to God, I thought they were going to break through.  Haha.  Some lady across the street laughed at me while I was getting up from my ass.  As I pushed myself up with my hands, I looked down and saw the syringe right next to me.  It freaked me out cause it was needless.  I seriously thought it poked me on my ass and it was stuck on me.  Thank goodness it wasn’t. 

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