Starbucks: 7th & Park : Long Beach

Eric and I met today for another minute:72. It’s been a while since we’ve both been busy with our businesses. But we finally got back together to challenge ourselves once again.

We grabbed the top paper in the rack and had to move a couple sections to get to a 7th page without an ad. Finally landing in the sports section, the second word on that page was: players.

Simple enough. Those who play a game or instrument. Or those who are skilled at manipulating others. Looking around us, there were options – lots of sporting locations: baseball, golf, tennis and lawn bowling. We thought of different angles to take – shooting actual players of a game or even the equipment they use that implies there are players there.

As we approached the local baseball field, there was nobody there. No players, only little gaps in the fence to see where players compete. Not much to see there. Next up were the tennis courts… again nobody to be seen. But a gate was open and Eric shot a few photos of some tennis balls in a ball machine. We ere hoping our luck would change at the lawn bowling greens.

As we approached the lawn bowling greens there was nobody at the first ones we came across. Could this also be a bust?

We continued to another and then another still where we finally found a handful of people playing lawn bowling. We went into the gate and sat on the perimeter benches and took a few photos. The lady who runs the greens approached and we explained our project. She was more than accommodating and even invited me to try my hand at lawn bowling. Not as easy as it looks, yet it was a lot of fun.

As I bowled, Eric grabbed some images of the experience. Our favorite image is actually an image of the players who are partially blocked by an object in the foreground. You still know they’re there, but what’s plainly visible are their lawn bowling balls focusing on the act of playing.

minute:72 : players


09:35 am
Starbucks: Main St.: Huntington Beach

Another trip to Main St in Huntington Beach and another overcast beach morning. There were plenty of people on the street and even more huddled in side the corner-situated Starbucks. Eric and I grabbed a coffee and our inspiration word for the day: blunts.

We punched in the word “blunts” into our smartphones and found a few meanings:
1: a marijuana filled cigar.  2: having an edge that is not sharp.  3: abrupt in speech or manner.

After discussing our strategy, we figured that we probably won’t find a marijuana cigar anywhere in the next hour. Next idea was to shoot things that weren’t sharp, or if we could interpret it differently – out of focus.

That was it: a whole shoot that’s out of focus. Sounded pretty crazy and it would be a huge commitment to end up with a bunch of blurry photos. Quickly Eric shot a photo of a palm tree that yielded a pretty cool blurred graphic. So we figured we’d go for it.

Off we went in search for some more graphically interesting images that would look good blurred: high contrast, interesting angles and shapes. We came across some other things that might be an interesting composition if it was to be in focus, but they didn’t say “blunts” and so we kept with our original plan.

Heading down to the beach we shot many images – some that you could tell what they were and others that you couldn’t. About 45 minutes into our shoot we came across a few men in suits sitting in chairs near the beach. It was kind of a peculiar sight judging how they were dressed. But what was even more interesting was how 2 of the men were acting. Their standoffish body language spoke volumes toward another man who had crashed their well-dressed sit in. This find made us switch gears a little and tighten our focus to capture what we thought was a perfect example of 2 men acting out our inspiration word.

For the rest of our shoot we kept the focus and came across some other interesting images, some saying “blunt” in their own way and some just interesting in their own right. Many of these became some worthy seconds which can be found here.

black and white street photography


Starbucks: Pine Ave : Long Beach

Today we decided to take minute:72 downtown Long Beach. We just felt that there’s more happening downtown and that we would be able to capture more life and action. After finding parking on the street we walked to the Starbucks on Pine Ave, grabbed some coffee and our inspiration word.

Our inspiration today: capture an image that represents: targets.

We were excited to receive a word like “targets”. It’s pretty specific as to what it means, which will give us something to aim for. Targets refers to something that’s the subject of an attack, or a mark at which someone fires or aims. Typically concentric circles or crosshairs are used when marking something that is targeted.

It looks like anything we aim the camera at will be a target, but we hoped to find something that either looked like a target or something that was targeting something else in some way. We had our work cut out for us, be we figured if we looked around enough, we’d be able to find something that represented the word “targets” well.

We left the Starbucks and started down Pine Ave. We were immediately met by the loud noise of construction from across the street. We saw workers jackhammering some concrete and decided to see if they’d let us shoot them using the concrete for their target practice.

The closer we got, the noise became more deafening and we could see pieces of concrete flying everywhere. Once we got closer, the workers stopped and looked nervous not knowing why we wanted to photograph them. We explained that were were just artists who wanted to get some photos of them jackhammering. They welcomed us to get close. Once we got closer, we noticed that the pattern on the ground contained circles and lines forming corsshairs – perfect for our inspiration. Eric used a wide angle lens and got in real close, capturing all the dust and action of the jackhammer targeting the concrete in a relentless attack.

We kept shooting and found many other ideas and objects to shoot – from birds to cars and buildings to people. But none was more fitting than the jackhammer.

We ended the shoot with a Periscope broadcast wrapping up our shoot.

minute:72 : targets



minute:72 : pull

Starbucks: PCH: Sunset Beach

We came back to where it all began: the Starbucks in Sunset Beach. But the deja vu kicked in when we retrieved our word for the next 72 minutes – in. What? We’ve done that before and loved the image we got from it. We never anticipated that this would happen, so we had to make a new rule right there on the spot – should we get a word we’ve already done, we have to move to the 7th page of the paper’s next section and get the 2nd word on that page. The new word for today – pull.

Eric and I sat and brainstormed about the word. We knew what it was but we knew we would have to see if there was anything to it that we weren’t seeing at first.

Exerting force on something typically by moving them toward the origin of the force. To cancel or withdraw. To damage a muscle by strain.

Well, nothing more than what we thought, so we talked a bit more and decided to take off up Pacific Coast Hwy to see what we could associate with the word pull in a unique way. As we headed north, there were 2 older people waking toward us and the man was pulling a wheeled suitcase. I told Eric he needed to shoot him. After all, we could actually get someone in the act of pulling. Eric sat down on the side of the walk and tried to act nonchalant about capturing the people without them noticing. He was able to get one shot, our second of the day.

We had over an hour and a couple hundred photos to go, so we searched some more. We headed toward the ocean in search of capturing the ocean coming toward and getting pulled back away from the shore. We captured plants getting pulled toward the sun. Signs telling people how to open the door. We pulled a cover to reveal a portion of an old car. Things said pull all around us but we knew we would have to edit things to figure out the best way we could show the word.

When editing, we saw something more in the photo of the pedestrians. Was the man doing the pulling or was he the one being pulled?


Starbucks: 7th & Park: Long Beach

Once again we meet at Starbucks to exercise our creativity. It’s a typical June morning in Long Beach. The sun is starting to peek out from behind the clouds and it’s starting to look like it’s going to be a nice day. We grab a coffee and the top paper in the rack and get our word. The second word on the seventh page today is “spar”.

spar: to make the motions of attack as in boxing, especially as a part of training. to box, especially with light blows. a dispute.

This is going to be interesting – so unexpected. We brainstormed to see if we could take this in another direction or if we could reinterpret the word spar using what we had around us. We noticed the way cars in the street seemed to attack each other from different directions but never colliding – another possible take on “spar”. Some of the angles and compositions were interesting, but it seemed too much of a stretch to us. We had to figure out another approach that just worked at first glance for this word.

I remembered that there was a small boxing gym, DG Boxing,  up the street from where we were, so I checked my GPS and found it was only a little more than a mile. We’ve walked that far on past shoots, so we figured we’d call and see if they’d let us shoot there. We tried to call but there was no answer. We hope they’re open, because that’s probably going to be our best bet for this shoot, and if they’re not maybe we’ll find something along the way that might work.

As we walked, we kept brainstorming and looking for another option that represented spar. But it wasn’t looking too good. We got closer to DG Boxing and had already eaten up  about a half hour of our 72 minutes. Fingers crossed, we turned the corner into the small center in which it was located. They’re open! We knew there was hope. We went in and looked around, but there was only one person working out. We couldn’t have a spar with only 1 person. So we talked to DG himself and told him what we were up to and he said that he had another guy who just went out for a run and would be back in 5-10 minutes. It was going to have to work. About 30 minutes for a photo shoot… no problem. We work best under pressure any way.

The second sparring partner returned and got all geared up. Let the sparring begin! We had never shot boxers before so we had to figure out the best angles given the tight quarters. We got right in the ring and followed the boxers around as they sparred. Even shot them from outside the ropes from multiple angles. Feeling really comfortable with our boxers, Eric got brave and had them punch into the camera. Because of the intensity of their workout, one of the boxers even got a little too close and punched Eric in the lens. Who says he’s not dedicated to his craft.

We shot right up until the final bell, going many rounds with the boxers. And even got some great stills that captured the fatigue that comes with their workout. But after all was said and done, one photo captured the word spar to us. It was only a split second, but it captured this training the best. The moment of impact:

spar: minute:72


buttoned-down: minute:7205:10:13
01:13 pm
Starbucks: Main St.: Huntington Beach

Eric and I met at lunchtime today on Main Street in Huntington Beach. We figured that with the sun out, there should be lots of people out and about with plenty of options to shoot whatever our inspiration word might be for the day. Eric showed up a couple minutes before me and as soon as I arrived, we didn’t even grab a drink or bite to eat. We hit the newspaper stand and got our word.

Buttoned-down. That’s it. It seemed pretty straight-forward. It’s a term we have heard countless times, but we still had to look it up to make sure we were thinking along the correct lines. The ends of a garment fastened down with buttons. Conservative. Conventional. Unimaginative.

Great. Now that we sit and think about this one, we are totally in the wrong place. The amount of people barely dressed and looking to express themselves at any chance far outweighs the conservative type. So we took off down the street in search of something that might catch our eye.

As we walked toward the beach, we thought of any way we could twist this so that we could make it work. One idea was to take a photo of someone from the butt on down. But the word was buttoned-down, not button down. Oh well, it was an idea and it could have worked really well with all of the colorful people surrounding us.

We took plenty of interesting shots, but none really said buttoned-down to us. As we walked back up the street, we got pretty worried that we might not be successful today. So we sat down on a planter box in some shade and just hoped that someone who looked buttoned-down would pass. Not very interesting, but we also realized that we couldn’t have a winner every time. That was the idea – we had to put our work out there win or lose.

Just then, 3 bikers who looked the opposite of buttoned-down stopped and started talking right next to us. We observed them in their reflection across the sidewalk from us and realized that it would be the perfect juxtaposition for someone who was conservative to be set against. We could then only hope that they stay there long enough for whoever that person was to pass. It was our final chance, for we only had about 15 minutes remaining.

We sat there for almost 10 minutes. The 3 bikers talking all the time. And just long enough for that one very conservative-looking, buttoned-down old-timer to pass and even stare us down as we snapped his photo. The contrast between him and the bikers in the window’s reflection emphasized his disapproving conservative attitude all that much more.


employees: minute:72

12:35 pm
Starbucks: Newport Blvd & 17th: Costa Mesa

Today we set out to meet at lunch again. This time at a Starbucks in Costa Mesa. I arrived first and sat outside to wait for Eric. At a nearby table there was a member of the Starbucks staff interviewing someone for a barista position. As I waited, I couldn’t help but overhear the interviewee give his answers. His demeanor was upbeat as he told the employer about his life and made it sound like he would love his job if he was to be hired – all to present himself in the best light possible, of course.

Eric arrived about 5 minutes later. We went into the Starbucks and got a bite to eat, a coffee and checked the top newspaper in the rack. Our word today is “employees”.

I immediately thought of the job interview taking place in front of the store, but just as quickly ruled that out for how awkward that would be for them and us to shoot – plus it was only a potential employee.

We sat down, ate and discussed what we were going to shoot for the next 72 minutes. As we talked about our options, we figured it would be most interesting to shoot different employees at different businesses – the similarities and differences when put side by side could be really interesting. We looked around us and the employees at the Starbucks seemed like an obvious starting point, but we thought that would also be awkward since we had been hanging out eating for the past 10 minutes or so with them watching us. So out we went in search of shooting other employees at businesses nearby.

The first place we stopped in was a wheel shop. All types of chromed-out wheels lined the walls which we thought would make for an interesting background. So we asked the girl behind the counter if we could shoot her in that environment. Although we thought it was a great idea, she didn’t think her boss would approve of it and he wasn’t there to ask. She politely declined. On to the next business.

As we entered a donut shop, the girl behind the counter was cheerful but full of questions when we asked to take her photo. We had to explain our minute:72 project and how we had about an hour to shoot as many employees as we could. To get her to accept being a part of it we told her that we would be back the next week and bring her a print of the photo we took. She posed for a few shots and we were on our way to the next business.

As we left we knew we were going to be met by lots of questions and hesitation by people so we both practiced our pitch. As we walked we came across a delivery man in his minivan who, when asked, didn’t hesitate and allowed us to take his photo. Maybe it wasn’t going to be all that bad.

The next few places we went into gave us more practice with our pitch. We were met with more hesitation, lots of questions, some people declining to be photographed, but also some others who liked the idea to be part of our project and accepted the job of being our models. As we went from business to business Eric and I realized that this project was forcing us to do things we didn’t expect and that we normally weren’t comfortable doing. In an everyday environment we would never go up to complete strangers and ask for something – what probably made us feel most uncomfortable was the fact that rejection occurred almost half of the time.

For those who did accept our proposition, we took a few photos of them as they were during that day of work, and in return we promised them we would be back the next week with a print to show our appreciation. What we captured was a group of employees in the middle of their day at work. Some were having a busy day, others a slow day. No matter what type of day they were having, we could tell that each of these people had a definite connection to their job and it came through as being a large part of themselves. For within these photos, their expressions, the different environments and their clothing probably told their story even better than if they had been sitting down being interviewed.


minute:72  :  singer

12:15 pm
Starbucks: Via Lido & Newport Blvd: Newport Beach

So we met in a different place – Newport Beach. And at a different time – lunch. The bright sun provided more warmth and shorter shadows than we had previously experienced. We thought a change of scenery and time might be good to keep things interesting. So we grabbed a sandwich and a coffee and checked the top paper in the rack – USA Today. Our word today is “singer”.

Eric and I sat down and brainstormed while we ate. Someone who sings. A Singer sewing machine. Birds. That was about it.

Being down near the boat docks and near a busy street didn’t really provide much in the way of any of these. So we turned to our iPhones and looked for any kind of antique or vintage shop that might repair clothing and might have a sewing machine. There was a vintage clothing store right across the street, so we went there to ask if they had a sewing machine. We didn’t get lucky.

So we thought that perhaps there might be a musician performing at the pier. It was our only hope and we figured it would be our best bet to capture “singer” in the next hour. With the pier .9 miles away, we quickly made our way. Along the sand all the way to the pier, we eyed people and asked ourselves if they could be used as a stand-in just in case there was no singer at the pier. Anyone could sing, right? But could they capture that image where you just know that’s what they do?

As we approached the base of the pier we could hear someone singing. We were in luck. At least we would have a subject. So we approached and surveyed the situation, listening to the music being created. He was pretty good and he played with passion. This was exactly what we were looking for.

We started a conversation with him and found out his name was Tim. And he was more than accommodating and didn’t mind us shooting him as he performed. Tim started up a nice rendition of the Beatles’ Come Together. He got up, walked around and felt every note he played as he moved and sang. Eric shot every angle as he belted out each word, capturing a singer.

Feeling comfortable that we accomplished what we set out to do, we dropped some money in his case, thanked him for his performance and headed back to our original location with a few minutes to spare.


minute:72  :  police

8:30 am
Starbucks: Magnolia & Atlanta: Huntington Beach

Today we ventured out to a location that we hadn’t ever been to before today – a Starbucks in Huntington Beach off the beaten path. The only things around are a post office, a park, some random stores and the backsides of some neighborhood tracts.

We got our coffees and pulled out the paper I brought from home (still wrapped in the plastic – I didn’t peek at the word for the day although Eric still accused me of it.) Our word was “police”.

Police – as a noun, members of a force that enforces laws – or as a verb, to keep in order by means of police.

There were no police in sight, so we brainstormed on ways that laws were enforced when the police weren’t around. Perhaps we could do something that would bring the police here… nah, we were committed, but didn’t want to be committed. Road signs – they bring order to streets when police aren’t around – a little stretch, but it was all we had, so we took to the street and shot the street signs and other road markings that enforced the rules of the road.

As we were walking around Eric spotted a sign for Sweet O Donuts. Perfect! It could be another avenue to explore – maybe a cop will be in there, or perhaps we could just riff off of the fact that cops love donuts (or so the legend goes.) Sweet O, here we come!

As we entered Sweet O, there was nobody in there except for the woman behind the counter. So we explained that we wanted to shoot some donuts for a project and asked what donuts the police were most fond of. Apparently, she said it didn’t matter, as long as it’s a donut. So we ordered up a couple sprinkled donuts because of the color they provided, as well as a traditional glazed donut. She served them up on a bright green plate with some jagged-edged tissue that just might make the composition more interesting.

So we shot some beautiful images of donuts. From all angles. With coffee. Lit from behind. Shallow depth of field. We covered it all. But it seemed that it needed some sort of human element to bring in the police theme. It was time to introduce a model.

The shoot got more fun as I started to pose as if I were the police in plain clothes sitting down to my daily treat. But as we shot, we found that it needed more story infused into the shot. So what we introduced was a situation where someone was doing something wrong – and from the point of view of someone catching them in the act. We wanted to tell it all within one image, but also introduce a way to show a before and after.

The scene: A donut shop.
Props: Plate of 3 donuts as seen in the camera’s screen on the table.
The Act: Man grabs one of the donuts and takes a bite, only to be caught in the middle of the action. A look of surprise and guilt as he is caught red-handed.


8:30 am
Starbucks: PCH & Ximeno: Long Beach

Another cold morning in Long Beach – or as cold as it can be for Long Beach. A couple cups of coffee are just what we need to get us going. Eric and I met and did our usual download of how things are going and what kind of projects we were working on. And again we both agreed that this is one project that we both look forward to – something that we can rely on to be different every time and something that always surprises us.

Once our coffee came up we checked our word for the day, took a seat outside and started our timer. Out inspiration for today is “changes”.

Upon discussing different ways we could show changes through things that undergo a physical change like a leaf to the different cars that were being modified at the Pep Boys next door we decided that since the word was changes and not change, we had to show multiple things happening at once. What better way to show this than through a series of photos?

Then we had a minor debate. This was one thing we never thought to put a restriction on – can we do video? Or should we stick to still photos that represented the word? Since we wanted to try and keep this a photography project, we decided that we could only take still images. But if we stitched the separate images together into one final piece then a stop-motion animation could qualify.

It was decided. Now on to the project because time is ticking:

So, what is around us that is changing before our eyes? The intersection was changing constantly, the wind was changing the position of the palms across the street. But those things weren’t good enough we felt, so we resulted to walking around to see what was changing around us.

Construction. That was it! There was an apartment building around the corner that was under construction. It was being renovated and the scaffolding against its side created an interesting pattern with all the bars and shadows. But aside from the changes that the building was going through, we also observed the changes that were occurring right there on the scaffolding as the workers were constantly moving from one place to another during their work.

So we framed the camera on an area of the building and documented the changes that occurred during the next hour – click by click:
People changing positions. Windows opening and closing. Raking shadows slowly shifting position. And ultimately the building undergoing its biggest change since it was first built.