New and exotic landscapes soon!

Just a quick update that I have some exciting new work soon to be online. I was fortunate to take a pack full of gear into the remote Scottish highlands and spend several days shooting their incredibly unique landscapes. It was my first time shooting mirrorless (I'm in love with the A7RII), and a return to some medium format fun with my RZ67 and Holga. At this point I basically live in Lightroom and hope to share the work soon. We're also currently in production on this year's Christmas card, so plenty of projects going on. All of that combined with the fact that my coffee cup is currently empty is the reason why this post is so short. Thanks for all your continued interest and support!

-John

The Scotland gear. Images soon!

 

 

Callison Wedding

It's no secret: I don't often shoot weddings. The gear required, the amount of stress, the heavy post-production workload all combine into a field that well-deserves their large invoices, but isn't really my cup of tea.

But when my old friend and mentor Bill Callison called and told me his wedding photog had dropped out at the last minute, of course I jumped up. Luckily my friend Chris Voelz was also in the area and and available to lend his amazing camera skills to the event. (Hire him for your shoot immediately!) It was an incredibly beautiful day and I was honored to be a part of it. Below are some of my favorite shots from both myself and Chris' work.


2014 Christmas Photo Madness

It's that magic time of year where the internet rallies around my funny, weird holiday photo, causing it to go viral and subsequently embarrass my mom. We had an amazing reaction to 2013's, so I was definitely worried about topping it this year.

Not only did we top it, but we blew it out of the water. I'm so thrilled with the image we created and the response has been mind-blowing. Before I get into specifics I have to thank some folks. This photo would’ve been nothing more than a dumb idea scribbled in a notebook if it were not for the unending work, motivation, and vast talents of my filmmaking friends Daniel SkubalWilliam Cabral, and Wes Cummins. These guys are seriously amazing. Go watch their stuff, hire them to work on your stuff, and never regret anything else in your life. Additionally the amazing Santa portrait was done by illustrator Veronica LaPage of LaPage Studios. Beyond her amazing commercial work, she’s constantly posting really cool designs and sketches on her page that even warm my dark, cynical heart when they show up in my feed. Definitely another person to like and hire!

This team is far more than crew or collaborators—this is as much their image as it is mine!

In the end, we topped r/Funny and peaked at #2 overall on Reddit, which is our main content aggregator for distribution. While the images spread to several websites, we received write ups from some bigger US sites including Ashton Kutcher's aplus.com, Elite Daily, and Mental_Floss, while Stern in Germany also ran the images for a second time.

Turning to numbers, last year we did roughly 1.2 million hits, and our goal this year was 1.5. I honestly wasn't sure we'd hit it because the internet is insanely fickle. After a week of being online, this year's card did just over 3.3 million hits, which is mind boggling to me. To put it in perspective, more people saw my image in a week than visited MoMA in the entire 2011 season. All told at this point, just where I host the images, the entire series has a cumulative count of over 34 million views. 

I'm eternally grateful to all the people who donate so much time, effort, and energy to this little project that started from a random email back in 2008, but I'm most thankful that I have a year to figure out how we're going to top this:


Davis Orton Gallery- Honorable Mention

A quick update here. The Davis Orton Gallery recently put out a call to showcase portfolios of documentary photography. While I wasn't one of the two chosen, the work I'm doing in Oakwood Heights, Michigan did receive an honorary mention.

I'm flattered to be among these photographers and the important work they're doing all around the world. You can check out some of the images on their Upcoming page.

I've recently concluded my ten months of shooting in Oakwood Heights and hope to have the images out in the next few weeks!

 

Tapped In cover for @DeadHomers

Just a quick update on a project I recently finished. I'm lucky to be friends with a few people on the crew of The Simpsons website Dead Homer Society. The guy I know best over there is my friend who goes by the moniker "Charlie Sweatpants." A few years ago Charlie wrote a short book entitled Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead.

Charlie recently approached me to help him come up with a cover for his latest eBook. The final version is below, but make sure to head over to Dead Homers so you can read what it's all about!

 

Sacrifice Zone Update

Greetings from Oakwood Heights, MI: Come for the "green space" and stay because your eyes are burning!

After spending 6 months photographing this town, I've finally moved the project onto the "Photo Series" page. I've just added a couple new photos to the album and should have a few more going up this week. It's been a very interesting project so far, and thoroughly different from anything else I've ever shot. I plan on visiting through the summer before wrapping things up. So check back often to see new work and hear my adventurous tales of being chased down the public streets of Detroit by oil company security

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Visual Narrative

If you find yourself in the great white North of Minneapolis during March or April, stop by the MPLS Photo Center and see one of my pieces in their exhibition, "The Visual Narrative." There's no static url for the show, so I've included a screenshot with some details below (click for a fullsize version.) You can also check out MPLS Photo Center's website.

 

 

Headshots for Jon Hancuff

I was on the road last weekend performing comedy in the middle of a blizzard with two of my favorite guys: Mat Alano-Martin and Jon Hancuff. On Saturday, Jon asked if we could kill some of the downtime in the hotel by popping off a few headshots for him. Headshots for actors are easy: make their face seem natural and their character professional and approachable. Comics are a whole different beast because you have to do the same, while also projecting an energy that represents their comedic voice. Needless to say, photographing Jon in a Red Roof Inn during a polar vortex was really fun. Below are my two favorites. You can follow Jon on twitter here.

 

 

Vintage Blogs for The Guardian

My friend Katie Rogers asked me to dig into my old high school LiveJournal for The Guardian's awesome Vintage Blog project. You can check out the interactive piece from the tweets below. (No I won't link to the Livejournal.)

 

More Oakwood

The work on my Oakwood Heights, MI: Sacrifice Zone series is coming along nicely, even though Marathon security is not a fan of me photographing from public streets! Check out the gallery here for new images!

oakwood heights logo.jpg

Imagined Realities

If you happen to find yourself in Vermont in February or March, one of my pieces will be in the Imagined Realities show at PhotoPlace Gallery. I was selected as one of 40 total pieces from over 2,000 submissions, so it's quite an honor! You can read more about the show and gallery on their website.

 

Christmas time and the internet loves me for 90 seconds

It's been an insane afternoon. I put up the new Christmas card and hit #1 on all of Reddit. Also there's a full run on Buzzfeed.  

I could not have gotten this photo done without the amazing help of Will Cabral and Wes Cummins. I had an idea and these guys jumped in and took it to the entirely next level. They were more than crew and more than collaborators—this is as much their image as it is mine. In addition, it could not have happened without Ben Konowitz. I pitched him over text message and he was immediately on board, supporting us 100% of the way, in front of the camera in the red hat, and behind the camera getting our amazing extras and location. Ben is also a comic and owns part of the Drop Comedy Club. You should check them out. (I'm there 1/31-2/1.)

Mailing

If you want to get one in the mail, shoot me your address: JohnCessnaXMasCards@gmail.com

I'm still sort of shaking. This has been so much fun and I'm really glad people dig the shot!

Oakwood Heights, MI: Sacrifice Zone

As I warm up to do some new tableau work, I'm also working on a new series set in Oakwood Heights, MI. I first heard about the area from a "Toxic Tour" put on the UM School of Public Health, where I currently work. You can see one picture, along with part of my artist statement below. Head on over to the full gallery to see the pieces I've currently finished. It's an absolutely fascinating story and landscape that I can't wait to continually revisit.

"In the summer of 2010, the Detroit Free Press released a multi-part story highlighting life in Oakwood Heights, Michigan’s most polluted zip code. A report from the University of Michigan found that the average Toxic Burden Score measuring air pollution in the state was 56. Oakwood Heights was 2,576. In short, the air being breathed by the Oakwood Height’s residents was almost 46 times more polluted than the rest of the state." 

Rangefinder fun with the Yashica Lynx 14E

(the Yashica Lynx14E alongside my face and my beveled bathroom mirror)

I've worked with a lot of cameras, both still and video, but I've never had the opportunity to shoot rangefinder. So in an effort to expand my shooting skillset, while maintaining my film-based practice, I picked up a Yashica Lynx14E. It's a fantastic rangefinder from the 60s with a built in f/1.4 lens. It's a beast, but it's also definitely beautiful and still shoots like a champ. 

I'm also experimenting with some newer lines of film that weren't available the last time I shot analog. So here are a few pictures from the Yashica that are admittedly boring, but this first roll was mostly to test the focus patch, leaf shutter, light meter, etc. It's also a touch grainy because I really wanted Kodak Portra and my local shop only had 800. I could've ordered some lower ISO from Amazon, but I wanted to support my local camera store and you should to!

More work on the way! 

-John

Mike O'Keefe's "Wherever They'll Have Me"

One of the big advantages to working in standup comedy is meeting ridiculously creative, talented people who want to collaborate. I'm constantly in contact with people who've written scripts, have film ideas, want to do photo series, etc. 

One such instance has been this collaboration with Chicago comedian Mike O'Keefe. I recently photographed the cover for Mike's upcoming comedy EP, "Wherever They'll Have Me." He's a ridiculously funny guy and I can't wait to hear the album. Checkout the cover I shot below and head over to his site for album details.

 

Letters from the Field

I'm excited to premiere a new small series I've been casually working on for the last year, or so.

I wanted to find a way to continue exploring the skeletal narratives from my tableau, but found that the move from Indiana to Ann Arbor was making it difficult to get out and shoot on location. Letters from the Field is the answer to that.

Set 15 years after a global pandemic, Letters from the Field takes a small look into the correspondence of one family as they cope with daily life in this fictional world. The messages are small and personal, but important to each person. The physical style, popping colors, and tone of the text all blends together to create a cast of characters that I hope you'll all love.

Right now there's only five entries, but I plan to continue to add more as time goes by. I hope you enjoy it!

"Never Forget How Famous I Am"

My history with standup comedy is no mystery, but I've never really incorporated it into my artwork before. When a friend broughtThe Sketchbook Project to my attention, it seemed like a great place for the two worlds to meet. 

This new piece, "Never Forget How Famous I Am", is a collection of real stories from venues I've performed comedy in over the last 2 years. The major thing I've learned in that time is how inorganic comedy actually is. In an effort to remove that 'showbiz' allure from the piece, I took a new media approach to documenting the spaces and used the most unbiased lens I could think of: Google Maps. 

So I hope you enjoy this new work online, and if you live in one of the cities where the tour stops, I hope you can see it in person!