Posted by: mcshanphoto | 31/01/2011

Puerto Vallarta in black and white – seascapes

The last of my Mexico photos.  All Holga 120, All Ilford HP5:

PV Seascape 1

PV Seascape 2

PV Seascape 3

PV Seascape 4

Posted by: mcshanphoto | 24/01/2011

Puerto Vallarta in Black and White – City Scenes

Some of my black and white shots from Puerto Vallarta – All Holga 120, All Ilford HP5:

PV Door 1

PV Sun behind the steeple

PV Alley

PV Door 2

Posted by: mcshanphoto | 17/01/2011

Puerto Vallarta in Color

Photos from my recent trip to Puerto Vallarta over New Years.  Black and white to come….

PV Piñata

Holga 120, Kodak Portra 400NC


PV Banderas Bay

Holga 120, Kodak Portra 400NC


PV Sunset

Nikon F100, Velvia 50


PV puerta azul

Nikon F100, Velvia 50

Posted by: mcshanphoto | 12/01/2011

Peace and Love and Other Sh**

(c) Cathy Altman

My cousin Cathy sent me the above photo she took on a recent trip to Tel Aviv over the holidays. What I love about this graffiti is its total irreverence, especially because sometimes I get so caught up at this time of the year with reflecting on the past year and setting my intentions for the coming year that it’s easy to forget about ‘the other shit.’

I spent the first week or so of 2011 doing a detox after spending 5 wonderful days in Mexico (much gratitude to some wonderful, generous friends) where I ate and drank very well.   I also signed up for Yoga Journal’s 21 Day yoga challenge, which isn’t too difficult for me since I have a regular practice. I know though the start of the new year can’t be all about abstinence, detox, and penance for my holiday excesses – it’s also about letting go and having fun.  My dear friend Clare said it best on her FB update: the yoga challenge is a challenge, but it’s not a resolution.  Her resolution is about drinking more and general debauchery (said with a wink, of course).  To me that’s exactly what that graffiti in the photo is expressing as well.  Yes, we want peace in the world, love for all beings – and ourselves – but at some point we need to be a little more relaxed and embrace all that other shit.  Whatever that other shit means to you.  I know I’m looking forward to my first Mexican coffee (kahlua and coffee) once I’m done shedding my remnants of 2010.

Posted by: mcshanphoto | 20/12/2010

Rain, rain…thanks for making me productive

It’s been raining for the past 4 days here in Los Angeles – non stop – which is a pretty unusual occurrence for us.   This kind of weather always makes me a bit nostalgic for Ireland, so I got myself a cup of tea (Barry’s of course) and got to work scanning some of the photos I did in the west of Ireland. The first two shots were taken at Burrishoole Friary near Newport in County Mayo, which is an amazing place to photograph. Sláinte!

Posted by: mcshanphoto | 27/11/2010

“Bates” Motel

"Bates" Motel

Originally uploaded by mcshan

There’s an old sleazy motel that’s been in the process of being renovated/torn down for forever, that’s caught the attention of some great street artists. This is only one shot, but I’ve gone back to do some photos in color.

Posted by: mcshanphoto | 15/11/2010

For those about to rock..and photograph

Yesterday I decided to take a walk down memory lane and headed over to one of my favorite bookstores in Los Angeles, Skylight Books.  I went because photographer Ann Summa has a new book out, The Beautiful and the Damned, of photographs of the LA punk scene (1978-1984). It was edited – and includes an introduction – by Kristine McKenna who was a long time music writer for the LA Times, amongst others.  Both ladies were there to share photographs and memories.

While I was too young to appreciate the LA punk scene, I do remember reading some of Kristine McKenna’s writing as I started to take an interest in music –  and certainly saw plenty of punk rockers running around Hollywood.  It’s Ann Summa’s photographs though that really capture the essence and energy of the performers and performances.  It’s hard to believe that so many of those people – and venues – aren’t with us anymore.

When I was in college I remember going to the New Music Seminar in NYC as a photographer for my friend’s music magazine in Austin.  I had so much fun and loved photographing musicians and performers.  Unfortunately photographers at shows now are pretty much limited to 3 photos and then kicked out of the pit.  It’s a shame because cell phone photos and point/shoot digital cameras really don’t cut it.  Check out more of Ann’s photographs if you don’t agree.

Maybe I’ll have to scan in some of my New Music Seminar photographs now…

Posted by: mcshanphoto | 05/11/2010

Getting unstuck thanks to yoga

Once again I find myself trying to get out of a creative rut, having let other things in my life preoccupy me and suck out any creative juices I’ve entertained.  I finally picked up one of my cameras the other day so hopefully I will have some new work to develop and share.  What was it that finally motivated me?

I don’t always think about the association between my yoga practice and my photography, but there’s definitely a connection there in terms of letting myself be open – to experiences, to inspiration, to seeing something in a different light. Doing a heart-opening practice is the physical manifestation of also opening myself up mentally and emotionally. The yoga practice of Svadhyaya (one of the niyamas) translates to self-study or self-reflection.  As Rolf Gates says: a part of Svadhyaya is to be open to inspiration where you find it.

So was it any coincidence that I came upon Bindu Wiles’ blog post that featured some of her photographs of doors along with a quote that I loved.  I’ve always been attracted to doors, windows, archways, etc. and so I took to heart the quote that started: “Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.’

It was then I picked up my camera and gravitated back to those objects that have inspired me in the past.  Not sure what those photographs will look like, but the fact I got back to the work of creating can only be a good thing.

Posted by: mcshanphoto | 15/09/2010

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

I’m not sure who exactly came up with the above quote – even a search on the world wide web didn’t provide consensus on this one – but maybe that’s because those words have been uttered in many variations throughout the centuries.

Those of us on the creative path know how hard it is sometimes to acknowledge our creativity and share our work.  I’ve always admired – and am inspired by – those artists/creative individuals who listen to their own voice and don’t back away.  They’re not afraid of putting it out there and don’t necessarily care what others think.  They may be labeled iconoclasts, eccentrics, freaks…but regardless, in the end they stay true to their vision.  Sometimes they eventually are accepted by mainstream – and sometimes they aren’t appreciated until many years after they have passed away.

Once again I entered the International Photography Awards and said a little prayer as I hit the send button. This year’s entries spanned 103 countries worldwide with approximately 15,000 submissions.  That’s a lot of photos to sort through, and I feel humbled and honored that two of my photographs were given Honorable Mention in three different categories in the Non-Professional designation.

Fine Art : Landscape, Nature : Seasons

Special : Travel/Tourism

It would be easy to give into the fear and create work that no one else sees but ourselves, but then we’d be doing a dis-service to the rest of the creative world.  Take a deep breath and put it out there.

Posted by: mcshanphoto | 28/08/2010

One step back…

I haven’t had the time lately to go out and shoot new work – so much for keeping up with The August Break folks.  I’m also having one of those ‘crises’ that any creative soul has from time to time where I’m looking at my photos with a totally subjective eye and thinking: Do I like my work and do I care if anyone else does?  Time to take a deep breath and a step back.  When I hit these moments I like to look at some of my older work to see how I’ve grown and changed…and get re-inspired.

In 2001 I went on a photography workshop to the west of Ireland that hugely changed the way I saw (visually) and how I felt (in my heart). It was one of the first times in a long time I had an ‘a-ha’ moment as I ran around in the cold, windy, and often changeable weather (it was October) with my cameras and tripod.  It was also the first time I ever did night photography and I learned to love the adventure of long exposures. Looking at this work from a distance of almost 9 years I can see what objects and themes I was attracted to, and how I explored landscape/nature photography when I never was quite sure how long the sun would stay out.

From my very first night of long exposure photography

The site of my a-ha moment…

Seeing my older work always makes me look at my current work in a new light.  I may have to go back a little further, maybe to my first rolls of film….stay tuned.

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