I found myself this morning trying to figure out what makes something or someone ‘cool’. Cool is laid-back and relaxed, but still edgy, interesting, and exciting. Cool is achieving success without (the appearance of) trying. Cool is what so many of us fail to pull off as we try to direct the waves with futility rather than become more efficient, knowledgeable sailors.

That’s why James Dean and Miles Davis are cool. They’re the near-literal definition of cool. Movie and music legends that- did those guys try? Did they even work for it? (Answer: you bet your ass they did.)

But you’d never see either of those cats break a sweat. Show me the photo of Miles Davis sweating. Or a famous shot of James Dean working hard — at anything.

Here’s James leaning against a beautiful car. Here’s James leaning against a fence on this otherwise gorgeous LA afternoon, having a smoke.

Pretty cool.

Cool is easy-going, simple, approachable — but amazing. Innate talent. IT. The guy in high school who just got all the girls because, well, he was fuckin’ cool.

I wanted to hang out with that guy. I’m sure I wanted to be that guy.

Nice people are cool; nothing seems to bother them. People who don’t complain, show up on time, and get the job done are cool. Charisma is often very cool.

People who respect you, your value, your time, your talents — are cool. People who help you along the way aren’t just cool; they’re guardian angels.

This is a process where cool transitions into authenticity, vulnerability, bonding, trust, and family.

I work pretty hard to come off as cool, but at times have to yield myself to life’s circumstances. See: losing your cool. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better about that, but I slip from time to time. It’s why initial impressions might be the easiest to make, and why getting to know a person over time makes you understand and identify what is truly beneath the curtain.

Make no mistake, every Oz has its wizard — the voice inside our heads (imposter syndrome) desperately trying to convince us we must constantly pull the switches faster or face irreparable failure.

Don’t let that voice get to you.

It’s Friday. It’ll be a great day.

Just play it cool, man. Real cool.

The Grace & Virtue of Adversity

For a good chunk of my life, I have struggled to come to terms with the fact that I have a chronic illness. This disease will probably keep me from having a ‘normal’, unrestricted diet ever again, may incapacitate me for months at a time, and will likely cause chronic intermittent pain for the rest of my life. Pretty unfortunate…. Read More

Nostalgic STS


I don’t think we’d spoken for a couple weeks but there was a shuttle launch soon. I asked if you would drive to Coco Beach with me. You agreed. It was one of my happiest times, arriving at my friends house just in time to drink wine smoke weed and sprint toward the beach at sunset as the rocket tore… Read More

R & D


Some small part of me has known from a young age I was probably unfit for 9-5 work and other people telling me what to do (or at least how I needed to get something done). It was clear I was going to have to short-circuit this situation somehow. Even when I was failing, I felt this odd guilt of… Read More

Finding Religion Through Crohn’s Disease, a $99 DNA Test, and Funny, Kind Strangers

This summer was, overall, absolutely brutal for me. That’s me having some raw honesty on the case here. I’ve already written about that a little bit, trying to codify my thoughts while I was severely ill from my most recent (and first, in four years) bout with Crohn’s disease. I spent the last four years successfully managing my disease with… Read More

The Failing of Modern Photography Education


This article originally appeared here and was republished on here. At some early point in my 4-year stint as a film student at the University of Miami, in Florida, an advisor explained I’d have to dual-major in a field outside the school of communications. This seemed a perfectly reasonable request of the school to make; after all, the advisor said,… Read More

Chasing 5 Pointz


This article was originally published on here. I first heard about 5 Pointz in a Wall Street Journal article in the summer of 2011. The article detailed the recent attempts by the owner to knock what had become an internationally-reknown street art mecca down, and build high-rise condominiums. As a panoramic photographer, the idea of a wrap-around locking dock… Read More

Shooting a Massive Gigapixel Panorama of the Manhattan Skyline


This article originally appeared here and was republished on here. I focus on a relatively obscure (though rapidly becoming more popular) area of photography called gigapixel-resolution photography. I use a robotic panoramic mount to capture tens if not hundreds of images of the same location and then stitch the images together to create a single massive photograph. I’ve combined this… Read More