We had the good fortune of connecting with ok pebbs and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi ok, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Without risk, I don’t think I’d be anywhere close to where I am today. I owe much of the progress I’ve made in my career and life in general to uncalculated [stupid] risks I’ve taken. I grew up in a small town, where everyone went to college, got married, or worked at a factory. It was actually the area Trent Reznor came from. The bars opened at 0700 (7:00 AM) to cater to Reznor HVAC overnight workers. And while cooking professionally was more the career that chose me vs. the career I chose, I used it as my escape mechanism, literally and figuratively. I was able to work and interview at places that I couldn’t imagine affording to eat at. So, logically: I spent my twenties sleeping on floors and couches, straining relationships with my parents, relatives, and friends, and drinking myself to sleep. Every step outside the nest, the comfort zone has been a risk. With that, though, I can at least say I’ve “been places.” I’m going to refrain from doing the millennial thing of mentioning where I’ve lived/worked. And while cooking was never intended as my career, it’s been an excellent character-building exercise. And with my current pursuit of photography/videography. It’s all a huge financial risk. Frankly, I look at it as a hobby turned obsession. I’m not looking for any huge payouts or eventual ROI, nor does the idea of being a traditional “professional photographer” appeal to me. (By traditional, at this point, I’m referring to the photographers that post oversaturated, grained to death, garbage with clipped colors/poreless skin and shill presets on Instagram.) I pursue it for my own reasons with my own approach in a very “Que Sera, Sera/Wabi-Sabi” fashion. So with that, there’s huge risk. There’s a “success formula” right there; I just don’t care. Talk to me once this pandemic blows over; hopefully, I’m not dead/in-jail.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a photographer. And f#ck do I hate being called that. It’s like asking a French person what their job is. <i>Yeah, I’m a photographer, but that’s not all that I am.</i> Professional Photographers are probably one of the worst communities to involve yourself in, I can imagine it only being second to the “influencer” tribe. For the most part I often find them to be incorrigible human beings, from whining about clients to comparing dick sizes with other photographers and just being shite in general. “Nouveau riche” would be how I would describe the current state of contemporary photography. We’re currently in a golden age of photography/videography and arts in general and I understand the practicality of “building passive income” and all that jazz, but I find the term “professional” in conjunction with “photographer” to be somewhat limiting and demeaning. You can basically read this as: “I love photography and taking photos, but struggle with the business/marketing aspects.” I guess what separates me from other photographers is that I don’t give a hoot. I post whole albums, I barely cull. I’ll output thousands of photos a week, in different variations/sizes. I’m okay with being just “OK.” I work with an extreme sense of urgency for fear of death or dementia. To me, done and posted is better than something finalized a “few months” later, besides I keep all my RAWs/digital negatives. At the end of the day, I look at myself as an archivist. I’m simply trying to capture life as it happens around me, and insert myself in places/with people where things are happening. I aim to be accessible, and affordable, rather than some boutique/fine-art photographer. I wanna be the guy that turns some random person on Thumbtack’s neice’s birthday party, or a family reunion serving hotdogs and hamburgers into a full-blown photography production for under $100. It’s not a matter of knowing “my worth,” I analyze my “competition” every day, I outwork/outproduce them by large margins, its a matter of who I want to serve, and that’s everyday people.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Geez, how big is their budget? Assuming they’re not living off of peanut butter and ketchup packets, we’d probably still just go to the restaurants where I know someone that works there. A cook’s tour so to speak. Spago, Providence, n-naka, Rose, kato, Destroyer, Petit Trois, tartine, Maple Block Meat Co., ANIMAL, and Broken Spanish would have all been great picks pre-pandemic. Now I’d probably just take them down to the taco stand on Brooks/Lincoln. Actually, that’d be my first choice, the others would be on the assumption we’re not dining based on a cook’s budget. And frankly, I mostly eat at ma/pop hole-in-the-wall kinda shops. I’ve spent the last 16 years trapped in stainless steel boxes without windows. If they’re looking for great hiking destinations or cultural immersion, I’m probably not the best choice of a tour guide. I don’t think I’ve ever successfully “hung out” anywhere, I have to be doing something or going somewhere at all times.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Parents/Grandparents had a great influence on my character and work ethic, and they’ve been supportive in more ways than I could ever ask. Outside of that, I’m eternally thankful to my teachers, the one’s that stand out were my second-grade teacher: Ms. (Regina) Rivetti; elementary art school: Mr. Shubert; middle-school art: Mrs. Yesko; high-school history: Mr. Bruce Irvin; high-school history: Mr. Robert Haggart; high-school chem: Mr. Samsa. I was kind of a dickhead, and I was going through some stuff, so I’m glad everyone put up with me. Most of the kitchens in my hometown were a far-cry from where any young cook would aspire to work. I watched a lot of Iron Chef (Japan). Chef Sakai, Masaharu Morimoto, Guy Fieri, Gordon Ramsey, Alton Brown, Anthony Bourdain, and Robert Irvine had the most influence over my television habits as well as setting standards to work toward as a cook. I got to sharpen knives for Gordon recently, pretty stoked on that! I’m also super-thankful to Jason Neroni. I came to his restaurant, in a super burnt-out state. From previously working 80-100 hour weeks making, waaay less hourly than any rational cook would ever agree to. I spent three years off and on at the Rose Venice, and it gave me time to recuperate and just “cook.” It was cooking in a brigade like I had always envisioned it, but simultaneously it was also more family-like than most of the kitchens I’d ever worked in. The Rose Venice has become an LA institution, and it where I’ve formed connections that will last a lifetime and met a lot of the people I’m working with currently. I guess I can shout out the crews I’m running with now. Love these Aguas Locas @aguas_locas_la (@pablo__me & @morris.la)–they like my photography, which is coo. And Kirsten Shaw @kirstynshaw for @theverybestcookie, I cut chocolate and take pictures for her sometimes, she’s a real go-getter.
photo 1: model Kennth martin photo3: model https://www.theverybestcookieinthewholewideworld.com/ photo4: model aguas locas https://www.instagram.com/aguas_locas_la/ photo5: model https://www.instagram.com/jp_thecook/ photo6: model https://www.instagram.com/chefmikerose/ photo7: model https://www.instagram.com/conniesum/ photo8: model https://www.instagram.com/loganpomsky/