daryl sabara

I love shooting people in the ocean. Much to the panic of some of my makeup artist friends (sorry Leya) who I regularly send into feinting spells as I splash around with 20k in gear in the water, jumping over waves, to get the shot. It’s almost always fine…almost.

I asked Daryl, “Ocean or lake. What feels like home?” He didn’t know why I was asking, he just answered back, “Ocean, definitely ocean.” “Ok, cool. I’m throwing you in the ocean for our shoot.” We drove out to Malibu absurdly early for a Sunday. It was perfectly moody – June gloom was in full effect. We ran around the beach for a little bit, playing on rocks and kicking sand. But I knew the goal was water and that’s where the shots were going to be. Sometimes, for me, the first half of a shoot is about getting someone comfortable with the idea of me having a camera in my hands. Then it’s a part of me and they see right past it and we can really create.

At one point, I put the camera down, “Ready to get wet?” Daryl came alive. He went running into the ocean and never looked back. He was so game for an experience. Something different happens to each person thrown into water in clothes. For Daryl, he became intensely present. He was completely at home in the water and used it. I’ve shot a lot of people in the ocean – it’s a very common reaction to be shocked by the the environment – waves hit you, it’s cold, everything in the water is uncertain. Hilarious faces are pretty common when you’re shooting in an environment like that. But that never happened with Daryl. He became a part of his surroundings and made it work for him. He used that uncertainty and channeled those parts of himself. I love these photos. There’s something dark and playful about them.   

tommy sadoski

Tommy and I knew of each other for a while before we actually met. Then we decided to do a shoot together. He said his hero was Joe Strummer, which lit my brain on fire. How could we not do an ode to 1970’s punk? I borrowed a friends ’68 Camaro told Tommy to bring his black leather jacket and we headed south of DTLA to an old train yard switching station.

It was the most fun day – both of us were channeling our inner punk rock kids. We played in cars and on train tracks and didn’t give a fuck. It’s very freeing to not to. It’s something I usually try and bring out of people in every shoot, I want people to feel free, but there was an added element of leather and Social D and dirt to this shoot that was so fun. There was something pure about what we were doing. Tommy wasn’t playing a punk for the purposes of our shoot. He was letting me see that 17 year old punk kid he had been growing up in Texas, giving me permission to shoot that guy.

We were almost done shooting, when I realized I had an old American flag in my car. It was my grandfathers from WWII. Obviously we had to shoot with that. Tommy flung the flag over his shoulders and started walking down the train tracks. We were shooting about 3 minutes when Tommy looks at me and said, “Cop.” I was thinking we were all like, “Yeah, Damn the Man!” So into the shot. But, “No, really Catie, cop.” I looked over and there was an officer, PISSED, who just yells at us to get the hell over there. Apparently we broke like 7 different laws – they actually stopped train traffic for us. And here I thought those tracks were abandoned. Oops. But I was standing there, completely convinced that was it, my ass is going to jail. I’ve never been more convinced in my life I was going to have to make that call to my Dad, who I think, honestly, would be torn between pride, because his daughter might be a badass? (daughter crosses fingers) And disapproval because, irresponsible and, “how much money is this going to cost me?”

But as I stood there, scared because I honestly didn’t have any money for bail, I took in the scene. Here Tommy and I stood in these rail yards, that could exists in any time, Tommy, dressed like a total punk, with a beat up old American Flag over his shoulder, and a cop who is about to arrest us. The picture was so on point. And I honestly weighed my options – if I slowly backed up and fired one single shot to capture this, what are the odds I WON’T end up in jail? Zero. I should have done it. Maybe I could have done my time on Orange is the New Black.