Feature: Bryan Banducci

Feature: Bryan Banducci

Feature, Uncategorized

Bryan Banducci knows what he is doing. Bay area born & educated, now based in Brooklyn, he knows how to tow the line between personal work, skate photography, & commercial work. He some how flows between styles with ease, with a consistent aesthetic pervading. Skate kids, strangers, & beautiful landscapes scatter his work & almost form mini narratives a la day in the life.

You should also check out his zine LOSING/ FEELING put out by the dudes over at A Love Token. We haven’t seen a copy in person but from the preview on his website, it looks exactly like a zine should. A time span of photographs to convey an overall emotion, grainy & out of focus, crisp perfect vast landscapes all smashed together to tell the story of a time & a place.


Please find more of Bryan Banducci’s work on his website. 

New Year, New Books

New Year, New Books

Books, New Zine, News, Petty Thieves, Shop, Uncategorized

We are excited to announce 3 new titles.

This first is our newest group endeavor, PETTY THIEVES FOUR: COAST TO COAST.

Petty Thieves Four
Petty Thieves Four

Featuring 42 photographers photographing what Coast To Coast means to them.

This will be released at the LA Art Book Fair, January 28th- February 2nd, but it can be pre-ordered now. (Pre- orders will not ship until February 5th.)

This project will also be a more long term projection show, but we are still working out the details, with more news to come soon.

We are also super excited to announce another new zine, “Dear Old Man of the Edgelands,” a joint project by Mary Rothlisberger & Petty Thieves Three alum, Carson Davis Brown.

Dear Old Man of the Edgelands
Dear Old Man of the Edgelands

DEAR OLD MAN OF THE EDGELANDS is a study of one thousand miles together on old American highways in late summer. A travelogue of peaks and valleys, wide skies and short sentences, small details and big feelings. This is the story of where we were traveling from. We still don’t know where we are traveling to.

It can be pre-ordered here & previewed here.

Last but not least, our very own Nathaniel Grann has a new zine.

Sometime Blues + Witches Brew
Sometime Blues + Witches Brew

SOMETIME BLUES + WITCHES BREW is a collection of images and writing from the past year. Feeling stuck within self-assigned pressures, and a generic melancholic state, this zine is a homage to that never-ending nagging in the back of your head that tells you things could always be worse and to those short-lived moments you wish you had camera for.

It can be pre-ordered here & previewed here. 

Jon Stars: Charity Print


I consider Jon Stars a co-conspirator; a like minded photographer, a vagabond living where he can, & a continuous worker who never seems to stop photographing or sharing photos. Here is his latest venture, a photograph sale of legendary bmx rider Van Homan. I grew up worshipping Homan in the pages of ride & on Criminal Mischief, now Jon Stars has photographed him at his best. All proceeds go to the Athlete Recovery Fund. Please support all parties involved & get yourself a print.


Interview: Ricky Adam

Feature, Interview, Pictures, Spotlight, Travel, Uncategorized

Ricky Adam is one of those people that I love to find through the internet, because I knew him all along. I read a DIG BMX mag all thru my teens & even still today, the magazine Ricky has worked for a decade & a half. The photograph on the Refused album insert that is the photo I am trying to take any time I take pictures of a band, Ricky took that photo. The title of his new book “Destroying Everything… Seems Like The Only Option” is the title I’ve been trying to come up with for years.

After coming upon Ricky’s book at the ever amazing Quimbys in Chicago a few weeks ago & putting al these pieces together, I decided I had to know more about this person who already seemed like such a key piece to my life.

Empty Stretch: Age/ Location/ 3 favorite things in life.

Ricky Adams:
Feeling pretty old & getting older  – I grew up in a small costal town called Bangor in Northern Ireland which is about 10 miles outside of Belfast, but I’ve been living in Leeds U.K. On & off for the last 10+ years.
There’s no way I can narrow it down to just 3. Off the top of my head: good people, music, nice vegan food, photography, animals, coffee, fog, big trucks getting stuck in small streets, people sneezing in public.

ES: From my own experience & friends, it seems people involved in the bmx/ skate/ punk scene often just naturally find themselves behind a camera at some point. How did you find yourself start photographing?

RA: Photography for me is something that started out purely as a hobby. I rode bikes, skated & all my friends were into punk. The things I photographed were a direct response to that, and a catalyst for picking up a camera in the first place.
I’ve ridden BMX bikes since I was 12 years old. 26 years on and I still ride, and not in a midlife crisis sort of way either. It just feels right, it’s always felt right. Same goes for taking pictures.
I quickly realised that photography was something that I could do pretty well. It fitted in with my lifestyle. I liked the immediacy of it & it was fun, so I stuck at it. I’ve often felt a bit of a disconnect in social situations and having a camera helped with this.
After some time I began to take it more seriously and started to document certain aspects of the Northern Irish punk scene, as well as other things that I thought were worth documenting. At the time no one else was taking photos at gigs, so in a way I felt a sort of responsibility to do so.

ES: You recently had your book “Destroying Everything” released. What was that process like for you? Did you have any previous experience with books/ zines. How was the book design/ editing process overall?

RA: Putting together ‘Destroying Everything’ was a totally liberating experience.
About a year ago I was looking through my archive of photos and realised that I had lots of images that bore a resemblance to one another. It was a strange process. A lot of the photos were taken some time ago. As individual pictures they felt a bit disconnected, but when I edited them down and put them side by side they morphed into a really powerful set of images.
After that initial realisation I felt compelled to turn it into a book and put it out there.
Maybe it’s my own paranoia, but since the book’s come out I’ve noticed that certain people seem disappointed when they meet me in person. It’s happened a few times. It seems people expect me to be a loose canon, or something.
I was at a show recently and some kid asked me where Ricky Adam was. I told him it was me and he laughed. He said “ha ha, Ricky Adam’s a gnarly fucker!” He didn’t believe me! And that sort of thing has happened more than once…
I find it funny that a selection of pictures can alter a person’s perception of someone so radically.
As for previous experience with print: I have worked as a photographer & Co. editor at DIG BMX magazine for the last 16+ years so I did have experience with editing and print, which helped hugely. I also made a few punk zines in my teens as well.
I’ve always loved print: books, magazines, etc.
I’ve always been a collector of things which is another reason why I got into photography.
I did all of the design myself. It’s fairly basic but I wanted it to look ‘punk’, and I think I’ve achieved that. It works in context with the photos. As for editing, I started off with over 1000+ photos and ended up with 104. I had some help with this. You really need another perspective after looking at the same photos over and over. There were a few photos I really liked that got pulled. But that’s how it is with editing, you have to be ruthless.

ES: I’ve noticed a love for the midwestern United States in your photos, what is it that you like about that region? What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been too?

RA: Well, as often is the case it started out with a girl – About 10 years ago I dated a girl from Minneapolis and ended up going there a lot over the 5 years or so that we were together.
It was a great experience.
Coming from Ireland the Midwest was an exciting, frozen foreign land.
Minneapolis, or if you prefer ‘Ice City’ has a nice atmosphere about it. I haven’t been back for years but I sometimes get quite nostalgic about the place: Harsh winters, Extreme Noise records, Seward cafe, thrift stores, quirky Midwest things.

ES: What is your photographic process? Digital/ film?

RA: The way I work is kinda haphazard and often out of compulsion. I tend to only photograph things that genuinely interest me. I’ve found that’s the way to get the best results – from photographing things that I find inspiring.
There are some projects I have done that are solely focused on one particular subject/theme. But usually I’ll take photos here & there, which over time I eventually edit down into different sets.
I like how projects organically form out of the tangle of images. This fermenting over time approach works for me.
I shoot both film & digital. I shot film for years (pre digital) – A lot of my favourite photos were shot on film. I find myself using a lot more digital these days. It’s more cost effective, faster and better for the environment.
Ultimately, as long as I get the pictures that I want it doesn’t matter to me what format they were shot on.

ES: What is your favorite subject to photograph?

RA: Over the last lot of years I have focused a lot on youth sub-culture. I also particularly love documentary/street photography. I’d say that over 90% of my photos have people in them.

ES: Who are your photographic/ life influences?

RA: For the first few years taking photos I knew nothing about other photographers. What prompted me to pick up a camera were the bands & creative people who I hung out with. But as I got more & more into photography I started discovering amazing photographers such as Eugene Richards, Robert Frank, and Larry Clark.
The D.I.Y. punk scene influenced me in a big way. When I was around 17 I started going to gigs in Belfast. I’d see people playing in bands, and running & organising gigs, without the help of promoters or any other outside help.
Bands from all over the world would show up, play a gig, then stay at someone’s house.
Being around this sort of environment was inspiring and pushed me to be creative in ways that I hadn’t thought possible before. It was a turning point for me.
I learned to play drums and ended up in a few bands which over time led me to photography.

ES: What keeps you photographing?

RA: I’m an obsessively curious person, and out of that curiosity comes a desire and appreciation to look, listen and absorb.

ES: Any current projects you’re working on or we should keep an eye out for?

RA: There will be a 2nd (extended) edition of ‘Destroying Everything’ coming out some time in 2013. So, I’ll be busy with that and more than likely doing shows here & there to tie in with the book.
Over the last few years I’ve been documenting a bunch of punker friends who have been squatting in random houses. It’s not completely finished yet, but it’s getting there. I’m really excited about it, but I won’t be showing it until it’s 100% finished. Please find more of Ricky Adam’s photographs on his website & do yourself a favor & get a copy of “Destroy Everything… Seems Like The Only Option.”


Happy New Year!


We hope everyone had a wonderful 2011 and that you’re all as excited as we are for 2012. We have some major projects in the works at the moment, including an awesome collaborative book project which the three of us at Empty Stretch and nine very rad people are all photographing tomorrow. Check out our tumblr all New Year’s day and see updates from a few of us as we go out and explore the new year.

But most of all, we’d just like to say THANK YOU. With out all the love and support we’d probably would have moved on from this old thing long ago. So as a way to say thank you, you can expect 2012 to be a huge year for Empty Stretch as we push forward new endeavors and step-up our publishing output tenfold. Zines, books, shows, drinking, parties, road trips, rock-n-roll(?) and more drinking are all on the agenda and we hope to bring you along.

Eat, drink and be merry!


Silent Auction


The silent auction has been extended thru til Sunday evening at 5. If you are not able to make it to our Gallery 31 show at the Corcoran, you can visit our flickr site & see all of the images. Any questions please email, emptystretch@gmail.com


Constructed Text, Constructed Image


In thinking about my senior thesis next year, I’d love to combine text and image in a single piece. Throughout my own photography, photographing vernacular text has always played a big role. The artist statements attached to my works go hand in hand and play off one another. I’m very interested in photographers inflicting their own hand (literally) to their pieces, or asking a participant to inscribe directly on the photographic surface. It’s easier than ever to apply text and image in one entity in the digital age, but one problem photographers must face is how pertinent and important it is to the overall work. I’ve compiled a few photographers that do just that: some old standbys and a few newly found image-makers.

Lewis Koch
Ni Haifeng
Matt Siber
Lorna Simpson
Ken Lum
John Baldessari
Jim Goldberg
Jeff Wolin
Duane Michals
David Shrigley
Gillian Wearing

Know some that I missed? Please let me know!

Topeka Holy


Well college is over & now I’m off. I have been staying on my dads boat catching up on sleep & packing my bags & cleaning out. As per usual, I’m drawn to work thats about leaving/finding, so this week I present the work of Chris Berntsen, Scott G. Toepfer, & David Michael Kennedy.

Chris Bernsten is one of those photographers whose work is equal parts inspirational & aggravating. Inspirational in the sense that his photos make me want to go out & explore & keep shooting, & aggravating because I feel like I will never be able to capture the emotional breadth they cover & the intimacy he offers the viewer into his life of wander. He so perfectly captures the endlessness of the open road as well as the need to leave when home. From landscapes of places unknown to emotionally charged portraits his democracy among image making is unparalleled.

Chris Berntsen
Chris Berntsen
Chris Berntsen
Chris Berntsen
Chris Berntsen
Chris Berntsen

Scott G. Toepfer is a photographer/ filmmaker from Los Angeles. His work is one thats hard to describe. He has done commercial work, but it seems more like he would have taken those photos anyway. There is a stillness that surrounds his work & a genuine sincerity. His most recent project, It’s Better In The Wind, is work based around that of the next frontier & doing what you need to do what you want in your life. Originally started as a short run photo book & is now taking life in the form of a short film.

Scott Toepfer fts It's Better In The Wind
Scott Toepfer fts It's Better In The Wind
Scott Toepfer fts It's Better In The Wind
Scott Toepfer fts It's Better In The Wind
Scott Toepfer fts It's Better In The Wind
Scott Toepfer fts It's Better In The Wind

Last is the work of David Michael Kennedy. A long time photographer, who I found out shot the cover photo on Springsteen’s “Nebraska”, Kennedy like many people was disillusioned with what had become America. He set out in an airstream, with his girlfriend, dog, & a handmade 4×5 to rediscover what he thought to be a lost America. He set out with little direction & decided to let chance play a heavy hand in the travels. Processing all the film in a converted darkroom in his airstream, he created an amazing document of an America that still exists.

David Michael Kennedy fts On The Road
David Michael Kennedy fts On The Road
David Michael Kennedy fts On The Road
David Michael Kennedy fts On The Road
David Michael Kennedy fts On The Road
David Michael Kennedy fts On The Road

Interview: Brad Westcott


Brad Westcott

Brad Westcott is one of those photographers that make me mad, not because of anything he says or does but because his photographs are just so good. There is a wonder & sincerity that footnotes every one of his photographs & puts you in the action of movement. After following his work for a while I decided to ask him a few questions. Thank you Brad for your time & please seek out more of his work.

Empty Stretch: Can you just start by telling me a little bit about yourself?
Age/ Where you’re based/ Things you like.

Brad Westcott: I’m 22 years old and currently reside in Tempe, Arizona.  I really enjoy taking photos, traveling, skateboarding, sending and receiving mail, making mixtapes, and I like to think I’m a connoisseur of fine foods.  But that’s just my opinion.

ES: How did you get into photography?

BW: I remember I went on some family vacations when I was really young, like 10 or 11 and I was always stoked on all the awesome skate spots and stuff I would see while on the road.  Eventually I obtained a disposable camera and realized I could take these moments home with me in one sense or another.  Fast forward a few years and I bought a shitty 35mm SLR to take on a skate trip to California.  I was instantly addicted once I got home and processed all the rolls from the trip.  It’s been an avalanche ever since.

Brad Westcott

Brad Westcott

ES: You often photograph train riding/ writing & skateboarding ,both of which are heavily steeped in traditions. How have the two affected you & your photographs?

BW: Wow, that’s a really great question.  There are a million parallels between riding trains and skateboarding.  I’ve been skateboarding since I was 10 years old and developed traits that are typical of someone who likes to cut corners.  Probably one of my favorite things about skateboarding is that you learn how to trespass “correctly” at a very young age.  When I first became interested in trains, it was inherent that I would be good at trespassing and successfully getting away with the mischievous aspect that goes along with riding trains.  Naturally I have my camera at my side during any type of activity, but with skateboarding and riding trains I definitely try to expose the type of scenes that gives insight into the culture and tradition. Sometimes it’s difficult to clarify something so rich in history through one single photograph, but I believe it’s possible to do and I like to think that some of my images have successfully captured the true nature of skateboarding and riding trains.

ES: Coming from history of skateboarding & trains does your photographic output reflect those backgrounds. i.e. zines, lo quality, more ephemera based material as opposed to lasting objects.

BW: Yeah, I would say my photographs definitely reflect the backgrounds of the things that I am interested in.  All of my images are heavily influenced by the zine culture and low quality methods that people use to project themselves out into the world.  The best way I can describe it is by putting my photographic process into perspective.  I almost always shoot with little point and shoot 35mm cameras that are bare bones, which makes photography and composition seem secondary and very subconscious.  I’m often times more aware and in tune with the actual experience than the image.  The final result is an image that is less indicative of photography and more about just capturing a fleeting moment of my life to share with others.

Brad Westcott

Brad Westcott

ES: There’s an old quote I found once that says “Would you rather be a photographer, or would you rather have photographed?” essentially asking “What matters to you most? The experience or the memories? “

BW: That’s a great quote.  I think it’s hard to say whether I enjoy the experience more, or the memories.  The present is a difficult thing to try and comprehend, but in regards to this question I think the experience matters the most to me because the present moments are the only things that truly matter to me, as fleeting as they may be.

ES: Favorite way to travel?

BW: I really love to travel in a van full of my friends on a skate trip.  I look forward to every opportunity to jump in a van (or Tahoe) full of friends and criss-cross the states skating different shit along the way.  Riding freight trains with friends is also another amazing way to travel.  Riding trains is a lot more stressful but in a good way.  It puts me in survival mode and really makes me more aware of the entire experience.  Since most everything is new and nothing is for certain, I am always at my sharpest point.  The best way I have found to travel is to try and go on trips that combine both riding trains and skateboarding. Flying is for the birds.

Brad Westcott

Brad Westcott

ES: From someone who travels a lot to another what makes you do it? Why do you keep going on changing places?

BW: Wanderlust.  I’ll trace my need to travel back to skateboarding.  When I began skateboarding at age 10 I was confined to my neighborhood and the general areas surrounding it.  Even though I was 10 years old I always longed to skate the spots downtown and outside my neighborhood.  Slowly but surely I started exploring the areas further and further outside my neighborhood, town, and state in hopes of finding new spots to skate.  It’s a natural progression. At 22, my motivation to travel is not much different.  I just want to keep seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things.

Check out more of Brad’s photos.