Jake and I met through email. He saw some stuff I shot for a mutual friend of ours and wanted to shoot, so his publicist reached out. I was completely down. His publicist and I came up with a few shoot ideas. And then she put me directly in touch with Jake to go over details. Jake had just wrapped filming American Sniper, so he said he looked like a GI Joe. Everything I’d always seen Jake in was super clean. I loved the idea of doing something different and a little dirty. So, I told him I had a few ideas but it depended on how adventurous he was feeling. We could do, blah blah blah (great ideas, but safe options), OR, “Have you ever heard of the Salton Sea?” I had this whole idea for white t-shirts and jeans and super stripped down edgy adventure shoot. “But it’s about 4 hours away. And it’s going to be 115 degrees so it’s your call.” He didn’t hesitate, “Let’s adventure.”
These are my favorite shoots. No fuss. No people. Just us. Me and a human jumping in my jeep and adventuring somewhere and creating an experience together. There’s nothing like getting to know a person like shaking hands and immediately taking a road trip. Especially to a place like the Salton Sea, which really does feel like you are leaving your world behind. There’s a lot of freedom in that.
We got out to there and were immediately hit with a wave of heat. I mean, you can say, “at least it’s not humid,” but once you pass 115 it doesn’t really matter, does it? We just started laughing because we were obviously crazy. We began exploring the abandoned houses along the shore. The first image below is one of my favorite images ever. There’s so much life in it, but I also know why Jake’s laughing, because it’s so hot that sweat is dripping in both of our eyes and neither of us can see. Not a joke.
There is something beautifully innocent about Jake, to me. Jake’s an artist. Like me. He feels things deeply. And he wants to create and be free. There’s a very sensitive and vulnerable energy around that. An energy that I want to protect and also bring out by creating an environment that’s safe to do so. At one point, Jake was sitting at the edge of this old dock by the water, in pants and a t-shirt, and he just looks at me and says, “This just doesn’t feel right. It might sound really strange, but I think I should just be in my underwear right now.” I laughed. “Wait, have you seen my website?”
So Jake stood there in black boxer briefs and a white t-shirt and he just looked at me from the water, so completely open and vulnerable. It’s one of my favorite moments. No matter where I take people and what I think they might need or want, my shoots always come back to one thing – connection. People stripped to their rawest parts –no glam or clothing to hide behind – and we see each other.