whiskerino flashback:: inspiration comes from the weirdest places

If you’ve known me for awhile, then you’ll remember me having mentioned this awhile back. If not, let me introduce you to one of the weirdest things I was ever a part of: WHISKERINO.

Whiskerino was an event of sorts that happened every 2 years. The originating concept was kind of like ‘no-shave-november’ on steroids… a couple of creative dudes in Nashville decided to promote creativity and beard growth by starting an online beard growing competition. The rules for ‘members’ of the online community were simple:

#1: shave your facial hair on november 1st
      #2: don’t shave (or preferably, even trim) again until February 28th. 
      #3: post daily pictures of yourself and your ‘progress’.                                                                                                                              

      #4: post the photos, comment on others, enjoy the community!

whiskerino nov 16

I started working at starbucks in Joplin in 2007, a few years after the thing had first started rolling. Somebody brought the website to the attention of the barista brotherhood, and now you know why every male that worked at the 4th street starbucks during that 4 months looked like a hobo….

There were members of the online community in Nashville, Joplin, California, the UK, Australia, and beyond. At the end of the ‘growing and showing’ time there was a big party in Nashville, with over 300 attendees.

(see if you can find me. I don’t think I have yet…)

So why was this a thing?

What made it fun?

Why did people even take part in such a ridiculous idea?

Two things…

Community and creativity. And these two things are never strangers to each other…

whiskerino nov 25

Any time you can set up a (no-pressure) community for creative folks, you are also fostering creativity. The setup of the website- with (healthy) competition, some loose deadlines, and a simple element of goofy fun- was the perfect recipe for getting a lot of folks to do something unique and original. Even if it was silly.

I still have fond memories (2009 was the final whiskerino, as it had outgrown its’ creators and was becoming a monster to admin). It got me outside of my box, and solidly gave me my first thoughts about creating a cohesive series of images. That kind of thinking and experimenting later led to projects like ‘cold brewed‘ and the current photonovel I’m working on.

There’s still so much to be learned from this ridiculous little exercise of growing a beard and snapping pictures of it.

Sometimes, as an artist, you have to stop taking yourself so seriously. Remember why creating is FUN (when you let it be). And be intentional about community, whatever the reason for its’ forming.

I’ve including a few images from my whiskerino series here, from 5 years ago in 2009, when I decided I’d just take a picture with my (then) 1 year old son each day. I thought I could hold that up for about a week… but it went all 4 months. 🙂

whiskerino dec 05 whiskerino dec 10
whiskerino Dec 23 whiskerino Dec 19 whiskerino dec 16whiskerino Dec 31nov 2whiskerino dec 02whiskerino Feb 08 whiskerino Feb 16 whiskerino Feb 18


You can see the whole 4 months’ worth of photos here.

After the jump (just click ‘continue reading’) is a brief series featuring film noir and robots (and the accompanying captions). Hope you enjoy seeing these shots and my sons’ very chubby little cheeks from back then…

Continue reading

9art:: 2014/15

Hey, interweb-land. It’s been a good month since I’ve posted a thing… and some of you are still heaving your sighs of relief in response to the silence.

I’m not going to spend a super long time reflecting on 2014. Here’s a rundown, for those who are curious what’s up with me:

– The first 2/3ds of the year was fairly quiet and fairly slow. Summer was paaaaaiiiiiiinfully slow, in fact. Photography is always unpredictable I suppose, especially when you’re shifting the direction of your business (in my case, taking less weddings/families and pursuing more commercial work). And sometimes, you  need a slow season to figure out where the heck you are in LIFE. Talked (and sometimes yelled) to God a lot. Examined myself as an artist. Came out a lot better for the time.

I also read this book. It helped a lot:

-Then Fall hit. BAM!! 180!!! Busiest season I’ve ever had (I think). Up til’ Christmas week I was scrambling to wrap up editing, deliver orders, and plan for a major project. Exhausting, but certainly a blessing. And, my firstborn started kindergarten… whoa. (he loves, it BTW).

joplin missouri springfield mo family photographer 9art photography_0007

-2 weeks before Christmas, my camera was stolen. An added layer of scrambling to get a new one in place & wrestle with insurance companies. I won half that battle….one company was nice (and payed 1/2), the other wasn’t. Ah well, close enough. While I don’t appreciate the circumstances, I DO have a brand spankin’ new nikon D810- which features 3x the megapixel count, better performance, and, I’m scared to say, really decent video capability. (I say ‘scared’ bc I’m afraid of the obsession that’s going to begin when I really start playing with MOVING pictures).


-Christmas break was a fantastic reprieve, from everything. Christmas is fun all over again when you have kiddos, so that’s always great.


Best of all, my wife and I escaped for a few days for our TEN YEAR anniversary. Good grief, I suddenly feel old. I’m so thankful for a caring wife that would put up with me and my erratic personality & business for that long. Fortunately, God came up with someone as weird as I am…


-January third marked PHOTONOVEL time. For those who haven’t heard- funding was finally approved in september for a  long-talked-about project that would creatively reunite my good friend Lance Schuabert & I (my co-conspirator for ‘cold brewed’). The project was produced by our friend Carrie Puffinbarger for the Joplin Convention & Visitors’ Bureau– it’s a new story told in words (Lance) and pictures (me). It’s all shot in Joplin, and features a fun ‘faction’ weave of real & imaginary characters, actual history and fictional story lines that work through past and present.

Maybe the whole thing was just an excuse for Lance & I to dress up with legit Civil War re-enactors… we’ll never tell.


Lance came in from Brooklyn, NY (his new home as of last summer) and we began shooting on Jan third, wrapping up on Jan 17th. I’ve never put in more packed hours of shooting as I did in that time frame, with a huge list of locations, a shooting script, hired actors, makeup artists, prop lists and many other characteristics of a full-on film production (just without the ‘film’ part). It was exhausting, but also a reminder that this is the scope of the kind of projects I want to keep doing.




There’s still quite a bit of work to be done on it- and, no, you won’t be able to see it any sooner than a few months from now- but I really think it’s going to be worth the wait.  In the meanwhile, if you never did, you can check out cold brewed (that last project we did) HERE.  Or, keep up on the facebook page with all the weird outtakes (such as the ones above).


– Now is a time of quieting back down (I’m safe and sound, back in my usual seat in the local coffee shop), wrapping up the last few shoots for the photonovel project, and planning for the new year. I think it’s going to be a great one.

Stay tuned for posts in coming weeks… I’ll be sharing some things I didn’t have a chance to show you all late last year. Til next time!