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The Blight – Photography by Neil Girling   

The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2017

July 9, 2010

International Man of Mystery

I depart for Europe in 17 hours! I’ve been hired to shoot a wedding in Venice, and am doing a quick stop in Prague first (to see the Sedlec Ossuary at Kutná Hora)

Where else should I go? I have a global Eurail pass and don’t return until the 21st of August (in time for Burning Man, naturally). Leave a suggestion.

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April 28, 2010

Birthday!

It’s my birthday this weekend! I thought I’d share my planned itinerary of shenanigans, were you so inclined to join me.

Friday night: Hubba Hubba Revue at the Uptown in Oakland! I work two jobs that day, and intend to unwind with the Bay Area’s finest burlesque show at one of my favorite Oakland bars. It’s right next to BART, for you west-bay car-less folk.

Then, Saturday 8pm until late, my friends down the road at the Vulcan are throwing a May Day celebration and fundraiser for their theater! See a venue most unique at one of the Bay Area’s finest underground locales, with acts including the Vau de Vire Society, Totter Tod, Gooferman, and the Hobo Gobbelins.

Come by my place starting at 5pm for pre-show cocktails. (Contact me directly for details).

Finally, on Sunday, we will drag our hungover selves to Antiques by the Bay at Alameda’s Naval Base, to sift through old relics looking for gems (like the Settee of Contention). It is our noble intention to arrive before noon, mimosas in hand.

Feel free to email, call or text at any point to find out what’s going on. I hope to see you at one of these!

April 12, 2010

Faith and the Muse

Monica Richards of Faith and the Muse

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to see, meet greet and pay homage to one of my favorite artists over the past ten years: Faith and the Muse, a skillful and mercurial melange of neo-folk, goth, darkwave and rock that is wholly unique.

Faith and the Muse at the DNA Lounge

Joined by Paul Mercer (The Changelings and solo) and the sinuous Serpentine Bellydance, they had the crowd’s rapt attention well into the night.

Lucretia of Serpentine and Paul Mercer on violin

You can see the whole gallery here.

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March 5, 2010

Lightning in a Bottle does not respect artists

As the Do Lab’s Lightning in a Bottle enters full promotional swing, I’ve received something of a rude shock: friend and fellow picture-taker (and digital rights advocate) Robert Kaye sends me a note. “Did they ask you permission to use your photos?” It turns out that the announcement the Do Lab made regarding tickets being on sale included a montage of photos, in which more than half a dozen of mine were featured, without permission and in violation of copyright law.

This is adding injury to insult to injury. Accompanying Vau de Vire Society in 2007, I shot the event itself and then, when contacted in March of 2008 (by Jenka Gurfinkel) I agreed to let them use my photographs (even providing high-resolution files) for promotional purposes, and asked for a comp ticket. I heard nothing. Two months pass and I  buy my own ticket and car pass (>$150). Then, the day before the event, I hear from Jenka: she asks if I’ve heard from the publicist, which I have not. I am offered the option to sell my own ticket–the day before I’m supposed to leave!–and take their comp, in exchange for shooting the event. Citing impossibility, I refuse.

Cut to November, and Jenka contacts me: “Once again, your images from LIB are dope,” and requests several high resolution files for her media kit. I explain to her that I’d be happy to provide them were they to reimburse me for my ticket purchase earlier that year (since, ultimately, there’s no difference were they to do so or have given me a comp in the first place).

Jenka refuses, and says, infuriatingly:

If the option of having your images available for publication is not something that is nterests [sic] to you, we will, of course, respect your wishes, and not use them. If you should change your mind, feel free to be in touch.

You know what? Fuck you.

You’re now using them in your email blast, and on your Facebook events page. This is insulting. Yes, you give credit in your email (sort of: you just link to my Flickr page) and there’s no credit at all (and my watermarks are half-cropped) on Facebook. But this isn’t about credit: You said you would not use them.

February 9, 2010

Edwardian Ball writeup at Coilhouse

I wrote a small piece on the Edwardian Ball for my friends over at Coilhouse.  Go take a look and stay a while; their blog is a collection of dark and lovely things.

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January 25, 2010

The Tenth Annual Edwardian Ball

Lee Evil and Dougy Gyro in his Nautilus Kit at the Edwardian Ball Saturday

Considered the crown jewel of San Francisco underground events, the Tenth Annual Edwardian Ball took place this past weekend, and again the decadent Regency Ballroom was overrun with droves of dandies and belles in their finest. View the whole gallery here.

January 5, 2010

Two Thousand Nine — A Year in Review

As the new year has come around, I thought I’d again bring you some of the past year’s highlights (see the post from last year). Two-thousand Nine was marked by two major changes for me: the first, that I actually got enough room for a full studio; and the second, more subtle but much more far-reaching, that I have adjusted my focus to higher quality over quantity (both in events attended and pictures taken). I’m no longer going to three shows a week and taking a million photos; rather, I’ll attend two and shoot a few score. So without further blather, here are my favorites from 2009 —

(Every image can be clicked to enlarge)

Jill Tracy for Constellation Magazine
Jill Tracy for Constellation Magazine
It seems fitting to start with one of my last images of the year, this portrait of the beautiful and talented Jill Tracy; after all, I’ve had a whole year to hone my craft, and I’ve hardly been sitting idle… Jill and I have been speaking of doing a photoshoot for years, and I’m quite pleased with the results which will grace the cover of Constellation Magazine, shot at her apartment in San Francisco. You may find some of her magnificently malevolent work at her website, JillTracy.com

Savannah, Raven.
Savannah, Raven
This photo of Dreamtime Circus performers Raven and Savannah marks the first official studio shot I ever took; the white of their makeup and costumes, provided by them, was a happy coincidence.

Quaintrelle Designs
Calamity Lulu, Quaintrelle Designs
It’s a serendipitous thing indeed to have as a partner someone as beautiful and talented as miss Calamity Lulu (who made everything you see in this Tudor gown), who now runs a costume and fashion line called Quaintrelle.

Eva for Quaintrelle
Eva, Quaintrelle Designs
Following the thread of both studio work — still a relatively foreign concept to me — and costume design is this photo of Eva, where the outfit and assistance directing comes again from Lulu.

Jenny Atomik
Jenny Atomik atop the Sunshine Biscuits factory
Jenny Atomik and Mike Estee came to my studio for a photoshoot, and it was only appropriate to use the architecture and neighborhood as a setting and backdrop.

HUMANWINE poster
HUMANWINE poster/flyer shot for show promotion
Visiting from Boston, I had the distinct pleasure of befriending M@ and Holly of HUMANWINE, whose music I’ve enjoyed for years. The concept and editing for this photo were done by M@ for an upcoming show in Boston. Go listen to their music here.

The Man burns, Burning Man 2009
The Man burns at Burning Man 2009, shot from a boom lift
Watching the burn from a boom lift — the best seat in the house — was an incredible (and fortuitous) honor. The story of how I managed to get up there was one of luck and timing, to be told another day. Thanks again to Cameragirl, Andy, and Gadget.

The DPW of Burning Man 2009 group photo
The DPW of 2009
This motley crew is responsible for the building of all the infrastructure of Black Rock City not provided by the participants themselves: the generators, the roads, the trash fence, heavy machinery (for setting up art, etc.), building the Man and Center Camp: the list goes on. But they also stick around after the event is over to clean up the detritus left by 50,000 people who, though good at policing their own trash, are by no means perfect. This image is a composite of seven photographs shot in quick succession with little to no direction from me (I just flipped ’em off to get the official DPW “salute”).

John Cervelli at Fourth of Juplaya
John Cervelli in the Black Rock Desert at Fourth of Juplaya
John and I went for a ride and a glass of wine after I finished a grueling two-day epic ordeal to get my blasted car out of the mud. The surface of the playa is treacherous: undisturbed, the dry lakebed turns from tan to white when there’s water beneath the surface as salt rises up from below; it’s subtle, and if you’re driving 25MPH and looking for a crossing over the railroad, you’ll quickly find yourself in the middle with a hard way out.

What my camera looked like after this year's Burning Man.
My camera post Burning Man
I am a very vocal proponent of relax and use your damned camera. This isn’t to say I go out of my way to damage my gear, but I don’t expend much effort to protect it, either: because everything you do to keep your gear safe is one more hindrance to taking a shot. And the harder you make it, the fewer pictures you’ll take. Many people refuse to bring their nice equipment out to Burning Man, safe guarding it at home instead (where it takes no pictures). Rather, they bring out cheap gear — and then, when it dies, use this as justification for not bringing out the good stuff. Counter intuitively, the high quality (and hopefully weathersealed) gear would have been just fine. It all boils down to this: did you buy the gear to sit on a shelf, or to take pictures?

Eva at the Edwardian Ball 2009
Eva at the Edwardian Ball
My favorite portrait from the four days of Edwardian Ball last year, this picture of Eva in her fantastic swimwear was hastily taken in the middle of the crowd in front of the stage. This year’s Edwardian Ball is rapidly approaching; do you have your costume yet?

Vau de Vire Society at Sunday Gorey Sunday Edwardian Ball 2009
Vau de Vire girls spin ’round the room
One of the most technically difficult (read: “lucky”) shots I took all year is this one of two Vau de Vire girls spinning around in big circles in an drastically underlit room in the upstairs lodge of the Regency Ballroom for Sunday’s Edwardian Ball.

Victor at the Fetish Ball
The fabulous Victor at Supperclub for the Marquis Fetish Ball
A frequent performer with Bad Unkl Sista, Victor can always be counted on for some of the finest costuming and makeup. This was just a quick snapshot on the stairs at Supperclub, where after plenty of contract wrangling, I was finally OK to shoot the Von Gutenburg/Marquis Fetish Ball.

Other than Burning Man, only three of the above images come from events, a marked departure from all of my previous years. I learned photography backward, diving headfirst into the chaos of parties and clubs and galas without ever meticulously working in a controlled environment; it just seemed the natural way to do things. These days, working in a studio is something of a double-edged sword: you have full control over everything, but it’s up to you to make it work.

2009 was great — here’s to 2010.

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November 11, 2009

Les Bal de Vampires and Dia de los Muertos

There are a number of new galleries for your perusal ~

Lauren at Le Bal des Vampires

Lauren the birthday girl in her red and cream cupcake dress

This past weekend saw Les Bal de Vampires, a  in Alameda by PEERS. See the gallery here.

Calamity Lulu at the Day of the Dead parade in San Francisco

The second day after Halloween is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The Mission District of San Francisco, having a very Latin American demographic, celebrates each year with a parade and altars honoring the dead. The gallery is here.

Also in the not-too-distant past:

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September 24, 2009

Studio with Jenny Atomik and Mike Estee

Jenny Atomik

Jenny Atomik

See the whole gallery here.

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September 11, 2009

Videos! Burning Man 2009

Perhaps in homage to this year’s theme, Evolution, I’ve extended my image-making repertoire to include things that move. Not the campy Photo-Flipbooks of ol’, but actual movies, with sound. Shot on Wee Camera (My Canon SD780), they’re nothing particularly fancy (coupled with the fact that I’m no videographer) these are here to serve as a documentary supplement to the photos in the gallery (at which you’ve already looked, yes?)

Without further ado, the first three (and the most exciting, assuredly) videos from my travels:

The Man Burns at Burning Man 2009


Raygun Gothic Rocketship Launch,  Burning Man 2009

Burn Night from a boom lift, Burning Man 2009

There are a few more of mine up on Vimeo, and I’ll add some more in the coming days (from the DPW Parade, the Balsa Man Regional Burn, and a few others). Enjoy!

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