Sex and the City

Has anyone seen Sex and the City yet?


And INXS makes an appearance! When Carrie is cleaning out her closet, she starts with a dress from the 80’s, so of course they put on music from the 80’s, and right on top of the CD player is INXS’ Kick. I wished they’d played that instead of Aerosmith’s Walk this Way, but still it was fun to see! And yeah, the one 80’s CD I had in my collection – pre-Rock Star was INXS – they’re the only band from that era that I was still listening to after all these years, and clearly I wasn’t alone in that! But post-Rock Star, and after way too many INXS concerts, it’s fun to think of Carrie as “one of my kind” – you know? If you love INXS, you’ll understand that reference!

But my favorite moment in the movie was when Miranda is agonizing over something, and Carrie tells her to stop thinking and to start feeling. That as a lawyer, she can argue both sides, so thinking is not the way to decide. Even non-lawyers can understand that. At some point she just needs to figure out how she feels and go with it. That scene just hit me hard. And true to form Miranda does think it to death – and she ends up with the pros and cons listed out on a yellow legal pad – but in one moment, she makes the decision based on a moment of intense feeling.

I’ve been agonizing over a couple of decisions lately. Who hasn’t done that? When the stakes are high – and even when they’re not – it’s hard to be flippant when it’s your life you’re making decisions about. And for most people, the path you choose is not always lit up and obvious. Sometimes you come to a fork and it can be hard to decide!

So Carrie’s speech about letting all the “thinking” go, and listening to what you’re feeling – well it spoke to me! I love when a movie does that! Movies take you away into another world, a world where you don’t live, and yet deposit you into that world and you get to live there for two hours. No other art form does that in such a full and complete way. Music can do it. Art can do it. Great writing can do it. But in a movie all those elements are combined – it’s art, music and storytelling – and it’s a full experience. And sometimes, in a really good movie, you get to take a little piece of it home with you. Maybe not Carrie’s Manolos, but could be a little bit of her advice came home with me…

Oh and maybe I can take a little bit of her music as well! Over the ending credits, the SATC theme song is layered with Fergie singing about shoes and shopping and what kind of girl she is. I liked it! I think I’m heading to iTunes to buy it, but if you want to listen to it, People Magazine has a free version on their site…,,20194808,00.html

Wild & Unexpected

Everything about today was unexpected, and yet wonderful. It started with the light.

Earlier in the week it was super hot and the light was bright and summery. Then yesterday it was a little cooler and the wind started to blow, and the light was softer. By this morning, the sky was completely gray, and it was almost chilly. Very odd. But the light wasn’t all that soft – instead it was the rare combination of dark and bright all at once – the light you get right before a thunderstorm.

I got a call about noon – about a magazine assignment – later in the day. A totally unexpected assignment.

And then the rain started to come down. And it was real rain, not a gentle shower, but big hard drops. The water swirled down the street in front of my studio, and pounded on my roof.

By mid-afternoon, the rain had stopped. The sky was still dark and ominous, and the light still had that dark/bright quality, but there were no more actual raindrops – which turned out to be a very good thing, considering much of my shoot took place outside.

I was shooting an artist – and his art – which is of course one of my favorite things to shoot – truly. For me, that’s a dream assignment, and it just fell into place today.

Oh, and the art? I was shooting one piece in particular – a massive piece about to be loaded onto a truck on it’s way to Iowa – which was yet another unexpected and fun little twist. Just last night I decided that I want to go to Keokuk Iowa next – for no reason other than they have great old houses there for super cheap. Every time I do a search on the web, I end up falling in love with a three story brick house built in 1895 in Keokuk, for $85,000. Or a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1910 and selling for $30,000 in Keokuk. It’s a little town in Southern Iowa, right on Mississippi River. I’ve been to both Saint Louis and Chicago in the last two years – and those are the two closest major cities – and I really liked both. So why not go to Keokuk? I did a little research on airports, and then on driving cross county – which actually sounded a lot more interesting. So I planned out a whole vacation to a little town in Iowa last night, and then today I go to photograph a piece of art, on it’s way to another town in Iowa, with a driver about to make that very drive. Just unexpected and twisty and fun.

The shoot went well, and shortly after I got home the rain began again, and then thunder, and bright flashes of lighting. I’ve actually never heard thunder that loud before – I think the roof of my studio emphasizes the sound of the rain – which is great! But I’m not sure why the thunder also seemed louder? Just wild wild weather today!

Nothing that I had planned happened today, but what did happen was better. Sometimes the unexpected is more fun!

I also did a little bit of shooting on the side. I spotted an adobe house with the most amazing weeds growing up to the tin roof, and with the dark sky and crazy light, it was more than I could resist…

Tin Roof on an Adobe House // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Prickly Plant // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Weeds in Fallbrook

Weeds in Fallbrook

Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, California

When I lived in downtown Riverside in 1999, one of my neighbors mentioned that if you walked up our street – Ninth Street – you could walk all the way up Mount Rubidoux. And she told me they held Easter Services there. But I never actually walked the two blocks up to the entrance – I drove by it – but never made the walk.

Mount Rubidoux

The plaque in the gate at the entrance to the park. Frank Miller was the owner of the Mission Inn during it’s heydey – he took the Inn from a local boarding house, to a world-class hotel with eclectic architecture that hosted all the U.S. Presidents of the day. Mount Rubidoux was another one of his projects – he bought it with investors, planted vegetation, erected the cross, and then sold the plots at it’s base for houses. In other words, it was a housing development!

I didn’t climb all the way to the top today – I only went about half-way up – but I found some beautiful things to shoot!

Pale Pink Bogenvia

Just some bogenvia – but it’s one of my favorite versions – it’s pale cream or almost white with pale pink edges. It’s the most delicate looking of all the varieties of bogenvia.

Pale Pink Bogenvia

More pale pink bogenvia.

Bright Orange Bogenvia

This image just blows me away. I knew it was special as I shot it, but I like it even better now. The circle, the way the leaves glow, the soft light, the natural vignetting, the extremely shallow depth of field. It’s just beautiful.

Orange that turns to Pale Pink Bogenvia

This is my other favorite variety of bogenvia – pale orange that turns to pale pink on the edges. The image is fairly basic, but the flowers are magnificent!

Wonderful purples and greens

And this image was the second time that magic struck today. Look at the wonderful purples and greens in the blurred background. It’s amazing. I took half-a-dozen shots of this branch, and all the shots had that wonderful magical mess happening in the background.

white tree with no leaves, gorgeous rust stained rocks, and wildflowers

This was the image that I came to Mount Rubidoux to make. I was in love with the wonderful blue sky – thanks to the Northeast wind and 100° temperature today. And the white tree with no leaves, and the gorgeous rust stained rocks, and the wildflowers – it’s exactly what I envisioned and the best representational image for the day. Hot, bright blue, and beautiful!

Grape vines or ivy vines

Grape vines, or ivy vines – I’m not sure – but whatever it was, it was interesting. And with the sun directly behind, I liked it even better.

Wind Whipped Weeds

And then my very favorite image of the day, of the week, and maybe of the whole month. So simple and so flippin’ beautiful. The wind was blowing hard, and these weeds were whipping around, in a dance. The whole series is beautiful, but this one frame is the ONE. My favorite…

And I’ll finish this post with a couple of vintage postcards showing Mount Rubidoux.

This postcard was made sometime before 1920 – notice the cars parked below. The park was created right after the turn of the century, and the first Easter services were held in 1909, with 100 people attending. Generally acknowledged as the oldest large outdoor Easter service in the United States, the idea spread to other areas, and soon sunrise Easter services were happening all across the nation. In 1926, 20,000 people attended the Mount Rubidoux Easter Sunrise Service.

What amazes me about the photo above is not just the large number of people, but also the small number of cars – most of those people walked up, in their Easter Sunday clothes.

Historical postcard of Mount Rubidoux, 1947

And this is Mount Rubidoux in 1947 – still not much development in the valley below.

Edited to add: I went back to Mount Dubidoux in July of 2009 and made some gorgeous images of the bridge, the cross, and the valley below. They really are beautiful images, so you’re interested in Mount Rubidoux here’s the link!

Old Houses in Riverside

Craftsmen Houses in Riverside, California

I’ve had a thing for downtown Riverside for years. I’ve always loved little old houses, and streets with lots of old houses are just heaven for me. But I’d never seen so many old houses, in such good condition until I found Riverside.

In 1885, Riverside California had the highest per capita income of any city in the United States because of the orange groves. And a lot of the houses built in that era still exist – huge Victorians on tiny city lots, with no backyards, but big trees in front. The economy stayed strong into the next century, and the houses built reflected that – the Craftsmen Homes pictured above were probably built between 1900 and 1905. And a decade or so later, art deco bungalows started to appear. Nearly every house in the downtown area is charming and full of authentic period details – and the styles represented range from Victorians in the 1880’s through 1940’s modern.

But a funny thing happened after 1950. Riverside’s economy started to suffer, and the wealthier people started to move out of the downtown area. In downtown San Diego and Los Angeles lots of old houses were torn down in the 1950’s and 60’s – they were just old houses, and out of fashion, and the land was valuable, so the houses had to go. But in Riverside, the land was not in demand – so the houses stayed. And in many cases there was very little effort made to renovate or redecorate. The houses may have been old fashioned, and not as desirable, but they still made good homes for less wealthy families.

When I first discovered downtown Riverside, it was in 1995 at the very bottom of the market. Cute little Victorians that were completely authentic and totally untouched by misguided renovators were selling for very very little. I went to an auction and saw several go for less than $10,000 each – and they were livable homes.

That was the bottom. But the real estate boom of the early part of this decade changed everything. I spent six months living in the top story of a hundred-year-old house in 1998 and paid $450 a month in rent – it was great! And I looked at cute little bungalows selling for $90,000 and wondered where the $10,000 houses I’d seen three years before had gone? Then in 2005 I saw those same houses going for $350,000 and up. It was madness. But compared to Northern San Diego County, where the same house would go for $750,000, they were still a bargain.

The worst part for me though, is that all that money meant that almost all of those houses have had significant “improvements” made in the last ten years. Most people that like old houses, don’t reallllly like old houses – they want it to look old, but still have a modern kitchen and bathroom. Not me! I loved the original ceramic tile I had in one house, and the little drop leaf table. I love old plumbing fixtures, and doors that creak, and windows that let a draft in, around the edges. It makes me really sad to think about all those improvements.

The fact that Riverside suffered economically in the middle of the last century protected all those great old houses – and the fact that Riverside prospered more recently means that a lot of them have been gutted and renovated recently. It’s sad.

Even sadder is the fact that more old houses have been lost in the last two or three years, than in two or three decades before. There are way too many empty lots where old houses used to stand. They claim it’s progress, but it’s not even close to progress in my opinion – it’s short-sighted greed. And I remember those houses – they may be gone – but I remember.

I love Fallbrook, and it’s my home, but I also love downtown Riverside and the tree-lined streets and so many beautiful little houses. Streets like the one above call out to me…

Richard & Darlene

I did a really quick engagement session with Richard and Darlene back in March, and these images are from that session. They’re getting married in July!

Richard and Darlene

Richard and Darlene

Richard and Darlene

Richard and Darlene

Richard and Darlene

I think the last image is my favorite. Everything about it – the lines, the colors, the feeling – is just so romantic…

Lukas Rossi and Stars Down

Last Friday night I went to see a brand new band – Stars Down – featuring one of my favorite singers, Lukas Rossi. It was their very first show, and they opened for Berlin at Crash Mansion in Los Angeles. It was great! Lukas and his new bandmates play like they’ve been together forever – it was a totally polished performance. Plus, I just love seeing Lukas with a full band!

Then the next night they threw a party for their families, friends and a few of their biggest fans at The Mint. I got to go because I know a few of his biggest fans, and they got me in – and I was really grateful, because it was a fun show! The images below are all from that night!

Stars Down

Lukas Rossi and Stars Down

Stars Down

Lou Dawson

Lukas Rossi at The Mint

Stars Down

You can see more of my images on RBL at:

Backstage at MTV’s Rock the Cradle

Lucy Walsh, backstage at MTV's Rock The Cradle.
Lucy Walsh, daughter of Joe Walsh, guitarist for the the Eagles.

Lucy Walsh, backstage at MTV's Rock The Cradle.
Lucy Walsh

Crosby Loggins backstage at MTV's Rock The Cradle.
Crosby Loggins, son of singer Kenny Loggins.

Dee Snider of Twister Sister, and father of Jesse Blaze Snider.

Lara Johnston backstage at MTV's Rock the Cradle.
Lara Johnston, daughter of Doobie Brothers’ singer Tom Johnston.

Rafael Moreira, lead guitarist in the House Band, backstage at MTV's Rock The Cradle.
Rafael Moreira, lead guitarist in the House Band.

Nate Morton, drummer in the House Band, backstage at MTV's Rock The Cradle.
Nate Morton, drummer in the House Band.

Jesse Blaze Snider and Dee Snider backstage at MTV's Rock The Cradle.
Jesse Blaze Snider and Dee Snider

Lucy Walsh

Lucy Walsh

Live taping of MTV's Rock The Cradle.

Nate Morton, drummer in the House Band, on set at MTV's Rock The Cradle.
Nate Morton

Chloe Lattanzi, Executive Producer David Goffin, Lucy Walsh, and Jesse Snider.
Chloe Lattanzi, Executive Producer David Goffin, Lucy Walsh, and Jesse Snider.

Chloe Lattanzi, on set at MTV's Rock The Cradle
Chloe Lattanzi, daughter of singer Olivia Newton-John and actor Matt Lattanzi.

MTV's Rock The Cradle

Rafael Moreira on the set of MTV's Rock The Cradle
Rafael Moreira

House Band on MTV's Rock The Cradle.

Matt Lattanzi, Suzette Snider, Dee Snider, Olivia Newton-John, and Kenny Loggins // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
The parents of the three finalists – Matt Lattanzi, Suzette Snider, Dee Snider, Olivia Newton-John, and Kenny Loggins.

Live taping of MTV's Rock The Cradle.

The finale of Rock the Cradle is this week – Thursday night at 10PM – and it’s live! The final three singers in the competition are Chloe Lattanzi, Crosby Loggins, and Jesse Blaze Snider – three VERY different performers – so it looks to be a really fun finale!

The images above are just the highlights, for the full photo essay go to:

And the discussion thread is here:

Catching up…

Bunch of little things to report today!

First one actually isn’t so little… I got to shoot backstage at MTV’s Rock the Cradle last night – and it was amazing! It’s going to take me a few days to process all the images, but I’ve posted a sneak preview on RBL, at:

Second, one of my images is being used on the poster for a show Marty Casey is doing in Cleveland at the Roc Bar on May 9th. If you’re anywhere in Ohio, or in a neighboring state, you should find a way to get there – he’s amazing live – and this will be an acoustic show in an intimate setting – it sounds like a great show!

Third, two of my images from the film festival were published in our local newspaper alongside a great article by Nathalie Taylor. It doesn’t appear to be online yet – just in the printed newspaper – but hopefully it will be soon.

And last but not least, I get to go to a concert tonight! It’s going to be a good weekend!

Edited to Add: Link to the Village News article…

Marty Casey | Ohio Poster