The simple pleasure in the pain of being of alive

With Hoon Trash at Logan's Pub - SCOTT FRASER / UNITED PHOTO PRESS

Words from a song. A song that inspires me as a person as well as an artist. A song that connected an entire group of Victoria BC artists. From punk musicians to painters to fire dancers to photographers. We saw it all, lived it hard and real and left a mark behind - our mark. Mind you, we didn’t mean to and I don’t think most of us are even sure we really have. That is until I talk with those who’ve have come up on their own the hard way and I hear them talk about the “people who inspire them as artists" and I think "wait a second, I know all those people - their talking about us”.

The early 90’s to early 2003 would be the “golden years”. I guess most would have called us punk/metalheads, but that wouldn’t be accurate. Every genre of music was represented (and played) by the crowd. Golden is not what any of us would have called it (hell at times comes way closer). Music, live music - playing it, supporting it, promoting it, producing it, jamming - that was what brought us all together. That and a punk from the streets I would come to call my Brother and watch go through hell, heaven, hell, heaven only to die far to young (36). This punk was a pure artist in every sense of the word. The way he lived was/is art. A true original who would touch all of us in different ways, and as we would come to discover after his death, touch so many other people’s lives. He was a living legend. He was the guy the toughest, baddest ol’ skool punks in bands (in BIG bands) would point to and say “He’s punk - he’s the REAL thing!”

Most importantly he was a best friend with whom we shared the roller-coaster that were our lives for over ten years. For a number of us from that era, he was a best friend. He was always there for you when you needed a friend and we in turn took our turns being there for him. He’s the only person I ever knowingly let shoot up in my bathroom (he fought a long and hard battle and did finally beat heron - cancer however finally got him). He left behind a daughter the same age as my youngest daughter. He left behind a woman who had become his best friend and whom he loved with all that he was. He left behind a band that’s still going strong. And he left behind lessons for those of us willing to take a look at the hard ugly truth of what it means to be an artist.


Jay lived his life brutally open, transparent and by default honest. You either loved him, or hated him for it. Ever watch the movie Hard Core Logo, the lead character Joe Dick, we still think Bruce ripped off Jay and Jay’s life. Just saying. Art was all he knew and all he could do and he did it well. It wasn’t for everyone and that was perfectly okay with Jay. Jay was a drummer, (also played guitar, bass, and sung), but he also wrote, would sketch/draw and yes, we’d hang out together while I shot. He would give me brutal feedback. Kick me in the teeth honest of what he felt I was doing/thinking wrong on shots. (most of this was back in the film era BTW). But all you had to do was ask him for a rational and he’d give it - and odds are, he would be right behind his critique. He was a friend the ex-wife hated and Maddy liked. 

Jay taught me what it really meant to be an artist. His life and the price he paid for his art. A cost that 99.9% of sane people would never pay. But he never sold out. Not even when it meant his life. And say what you about about Mr. Brown, but no one who knew him will ever deny that fact. There were other’s who didn’t make it out alive. A few of “those” may be alive, but the damage done was too much in the end, the price too high. Friends, lovers and supporters were lost along the way, and we did loose some amazing artists as well on the journey. I sit and find myself asking, “how much am I willing to pay? Haven’t I paid enough already? “. I look to the movie Searching for Sugarman (the song Cause by Rodriguez) and I think to myself, “too much”. But is it? 

My life-long friends look to me and tell me “only you could/can do it”. Not sure how to take that one to be honest. But I know they are there for me. Other friends tell me, “took you long enough, but great to have you here”. And I sincerely appreciate that. Re-connecting with old mentors and peers has also been a pleasure. But the cost has been high to date, I can’t deny that. Far more, on so many more levels than I ever expected (or counted on). I’d love to tell you I’m single by choice, but I gave up on dating. Very few women who are not artists or industry related are strong enough to get involved with an artist turning full-time professional. The first twelve months pretty much insures you have no real social life. So far the second twelve seem to be on par with the first. Money, what the fuck is that? Doing this as a single-parent, I seriously even find myself asking me WTF are you thinking?

But then I wasn’t doing this to get rich or get laid. If either and/or both happen - then great (who the hell am I to say no?) 

I shoot because I have a drive to do so. So even when my studio gear isn’t with me, I’m still going to use my goto glass on my backup body. It’s not the camera after all. It’s what I see with my eye that I’m trying to capture a still of to show the rest of you. Hell, I don’t even know if 50% of you actually see what I see. Again, not the point. For myself getting to here has been a journey that took a lifetime to happen for me to be able to look back and finally put all the pieces together and go, “Now I see”. It also took loosing everything I had including my belief system to get “what I had” and why I was in fact so grateful. But most of all it took people who loved me who cared enough to tell me to “go professional” and know what that would really cost but who would still say “do it” because they believed in me so much and knew me so well that they wanted to see me make it through to the other side. 

I shoot because even after all I have lived through and experienced, my camera is still my goto thing I seek out when I hurt. The greatest pain I lived through in my life, it was my camera and shooting still-life that got me through it and kept me sane. Out of 18 months of pain I refined my skills at trying to pull emotion from a still object. For the first time in my life I finally fell in love with still-life art. And now when I look back and think about that event, and that era of my life, I remember it was a camera she gave me as a “first gift” ( a Nikon SLR ). And I smile.

I shoot because Jay would say to me, “Scott, fuck you. Ya it sucked that shit happened to you. Fuck me, it happened to me as well, remember? But it’s who you are right now, and everything that has happened SINCE then, and those cool fuckin’ moments you’ve had since. Our stupid fucking adventures. Man, that’s what you think about when you want to shoot something with emotion. Fuck that pain bullshit, that’s some prima-donna poser bullshit. Be you, right here, right now. That moment on a surfboard or a BMX when it’s perfect. Capture those moments and how THEY feel because, Bro, most people aren’t ever going to have the balls to actually live that much, so capture them a taste they can see”.

So, that’s why I shoot. For Me. For You. For my Brother.

Moneyshot - Lines in the Sand