With 2008 growing colder by the day in the grave, it’s time to pay our last respects and take a quick look at the events that transpired during that time. It was a momentous year for me: I spent my first time ever without a plan, being homeless on a clown’s couch for two months whilst much rockstardom was had, until I got a call out of the blue and a job offer fell into my lap (after a technical phone screening and a grueling six-hour interview with some of the brightest engineers I’ve ever met). Some have said good riddance; I heard the same about 2007. Not so, here — 2007 was the year I hit my stride with photography, and saw extensive growth technically and in my relationships with performers, and ended with my graduation from University and my move to San Francisco (finally). 2008 continued the upward momentum, and every month it seems I can look back at the one prior and think, “Really? That’s the best I could do?”

The only fitting and proper (and believable) way I could discuss 2008 is through the use of photos. Briefly: in 2008 I shot 85 events spanning 104 days, totaling 45,000 photos. This summary contains one photograph per 1,000 images I took last year, with a brief vignette as to why I thought it pertinent or amusing. Everything is in chronological order. You can click here for the full gallery of images.

I ended 2007 and started 2008 I had the past several years, at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center with Anon Salon for Sea of Dreams. This year I was hired by Vau de Vire Society to work the show with them. I have something of a tradition of getting photos of myself in whatever mirror I can find, primarily through necessity: if I don’t get one, it’s likely no documentation will exist (people always forget to get pictures of meeee).

The Hot Couture fashion show marks the last event I’ll ever work for the Crucible as long as Michael Sturtz is running the show: on one occasion alone (at the Fire Arts Festival in 2007) he treated me more rudely than every other person at every other event I’ve ever worked has treated me (and that wasn’t the only event where it happened!). Other than him, I think the Crucible is great and does marvelous things for the community. I look forward to working with them again, either via a change in heart or a change in leadership.

Please see much, much more after the cut. (Really. I wrote a lot. At least skim the pictures?)

The darling Gravity Plays Favorites from St. Louis at Hubba Hubba Revue’s Creepshow Peepshow in January (Katrina the Red and Michelle); they’ve stolen every show I’ve seem them work. Violet Blue blogged one of my photos from this act.

This was my second Edwardian Ball. The photo on the left is being used for media publicity now, and I’m being brought in as the official photographer (do you have your tickets yet?). I’m very much looking forward to it this year.

February saw one of the greater moments in Vau de Vire rockstar history: a gig at the massive Superbowl party by 944 Magazine (which itself is actually more advertisement than content, and calling even that fluff content is being generous). But we were on the bill with some names like Velvet Revolver, Juliette and the Licks, Fallout Boy, Wyclef Jean, Paul Oakenfold, 50 Cent and Paris Hilton. It was an interesting experience, to be sure (watching people who paid at a minimum $750 a head (to be overcharged for drinks that the brands paid them to serve and to be force-fed further advertisements!) trying to start fights with each other). It’s a whole other world.

This is what happens when I return to the couch on which I’m crashing, where I’ve left my camera, only to find that my friends have gotten ahold of it and amused themselves in my absence. I love my friends. (The woman pictured above, whose name I won’t divulge, is a photographer too).

This is Fou Fou Ha. I love them. This photo was taken at the Sweetheart’s Ball at the now defunct (RIP) Xenodrome.

This is your humble narrator, the Ra$pa jelly, and the Ra$pa himself at the Burning Man Regional Summit (at which I was the official photographer). It was a great experience, not only in meeting so many interesting people from around the world, but dallying while “shooting” in each room in order to listen-in on the talks that were being given. Burning Man has learned a lot about how to throw events (obviously) and has much wisdom to impart; my modus operandi has always been to try to learn from other peoples’ mistakes — why make them yourself?

Pictured is Anastazia — Bad Unkl Sista — performing at Supperclub. The woman is amazing, and I love her dearly: one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, with the biggest heart and the most incredible array of characters as which she can perform, and switch in a heartbeat (and a mommy to boot).

Have you heard of Materialized? They’re pretty good. I shot some photos for them. (It’s Dave and Dale). This was a good exercise in a studio shoot with post-production in mind; that is, shooting to edit later. Usually I try to make the final image as I want it when I click the shutter. Here I took a picture with no lights but a projector shining on the two of them, and then immediately after a shot with powerful studio strobes and combined the two images in Photoshop. (And I did this whole shoot with naught more than an hour of sleep…)

There’s a story behind this, in case you hadn’t guessed. You see, Boenobo was asked by a Los Angeles clown, “are you going to perform at the party? You’re not on the bill.” “What party?” he responded. “… Oh.” You see, a certain LA producer thought to throw a Clowns vs. Pirates party in San Francisco without even telling Gooferman about it — and this certain LA producer has worked with them before! So we protested, with signs (Picket like a Scab! Don’t import clown labor! I’ll show you stupid!) and full clown makeup and regalia (naturally). Even though this certain LA producer was so generous as to offer us a handful of half-price tickets (gag) we ended up just walking in for free anyway. Sue of the LA Cirque Berzerk — pictured above — thought to show her support for us by declaring herself a scab. We love Sue.

This is Amy, the Lady LeBlanc, after a performance with Bad Unkl Sista at 111 Minna. I’m not sure she was thrilled with how it turned out (she looks rather, well, disheveled (tousled? mussed?)) but it’s an accurate portrayal of the behind-the-scenes side of performance — the “oh hi, I’m tired now.”

The Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, declared April 1st to be Gooferman Day (those jackass clowns). So they celebrated with an intimate show at Annie’s Social Club, and had these fantastic little chibi dolls in their likeness.

Less an artistic photo and more a record of a minor major moment (a major minor perhaps?) — this contraption, the Bad Unkl Blight Light 2000, was the diffuser I used to hide my flash and off-camera cable for my outfit for my performance with Bad Unkl Sista at Yuri’s Night — the first time I was ever on-stage as a performer (and truly embedded photographer, for I shot the whole thing through).

At the Exploratorium was 2nd Skin, a high-tech fashion show; here was one of the best Bad Unkl Sista performances I ever saw, with Ashley Knight (on left) singing opera and Rob and Amy on right amidst this fantastic scene. It was the first show I shot with my very shiny Carl Zeiss 24-70 2.8 (mmm) and the show after which I checked myself into the emergency room at SF General. Happy birthday to me.

A slight divergence from the usual, but I shot the little wine tour my company brought a number of us on in Napa Valley, partially because I wanted to, and partially to show them that no, I don’t -only- shoot crazy and odd things. Just mostly. (This gallery resulted in my site being the #1 Google result for my company’s name — oops.)

That’s it for tonight — I’ll post the other half tomorrow or Monday. I hope you’ve found some of the context interesting — I never end up writing as much as I would like. I’m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions — I feel one should strive towards constant, gradual improvement as opposed to trying to but once a year tackle too much, which only ends in failure (how long do those gym memberships last, people?). Thanks for reading and goodnight.

*** UPDATE ******
Here is part The Second.