Back Issue__ Hamburger Eyes for Ray Potes

June 07, 2010 | By

Ray Potes, Self-portrait.

Ray Potes of Hamburger Eyes, just released a shoe with Etnies and closed his biggest exhibition yet, Casual Abyss (sorry if you missed it). For this piece, he releases a collection of ten of his favorite photos (and one of his alien, Gray Gray). Photos can be seen throughout the interview. Enjoy!

Ray Potes in one of the coolest guys on the planet and it only takes about one night to figure this out. Or maybe because his alien Gray Gray told us, and he’s traveled around the galaxy so Gray Gray would know. Ray’s shy, humble and a dead cool guy who runs this amazing photo journal, but shrugs it off like, "I'm no big deal." It's really nice and refreshing.

Ray is one of the men behind Hamburger Eyes, a bi-annually published glossy black and white photo journal with equally as much visual beauty as cultural credibility. Growing up in Honolulu, Ray worked the graveyard shift at Kinkos where he would turn his recreational photography into zines. Hamburger Eyes is named after the word Ray and his pals used to describe the "come-fuck-me" look that girls give dudes. "In 2001 the first issue came out," said Ray. "The first four issues were Xeroxed, then I moved to S.F. and we switched up the printing."

And almost ten years later, Hamburger Eyes isn't just a magazine, the headquarters are a epicenter of photography (they actually refer to it as the "Photo Epicenter"), which includes a gallery, full service dark room, studio space and store. Hamburger Eyes is a hot bed of  activity, resting on Lilac St. in the Mission District of SF—a neighborhood famous for birthing artists of all kinds.

Besides being an amazing photographer and running a successful photo journal, Ray is just one of those guys who is, for a lack of a better word, cool. He's polite, humble and kind of shy, but the dude is a genuine weirdo. Ray used to play bass in The Bees Knees and in the flesh, he looks like a bratty skate punk swimming in man clothes. He's nerdy yet poised. He mumbles and giggles a lot, but it's clear that the cogs in his brain are churning between every childlike joke. His most prized possession is a toy alien named Gray Gray who sits in the Photo Epicenter on a foam throne. I learned quickly that Gray Gray and Ray Ray go hand in hand.

How was working the graveyard at Kinkos?

It was cool. I loved it. Sometimes, I think if I stayed there maybe I would be manager or some shit.

I think you’re happier doing Hamburger Eyes. Why did you decide to move to SF?

A lot of my friends and family already lived here, also I tried to live here before and it wasn't working out so I thought I better try it again.

Have you always been into photography?

Yeah, my dad was into it. He gave me one of his cameras [a Minolta] when I was 12 years old. I didn’t get way into it until I was 18. But when I was 16 he bought me a Nikon that I still use.

Tell me about the concept behind Hamburger Eyes.

"The continuing Story of Life on Earth." I stole that from a National Geographic ad. [Laughs.]

For you, what makes a great photograph?

I think if it can tell some kind of story right away, the 1000 words thing, you know?

By the way, sorry to do this to you when you are hungover.

[Laughs.] Are my answers sucking? If you've ever seen any of my other interviews, this one is going good actually.

Okay, good. What have you been up to lately?

I just got a video camera and don’t care about anything else right now. I think it's weirding the homies out. [It's] a little HD and it goes underwater. I haven't been filming anything in particular, just learning all the softwares and workflow and audio stuff. I did some green screen yesterday and I have a couple ideas for movies that are on deck.

What goes in the Hamburger Eyes office besides Gray Gray and late night partying?

[Laughs.] Well, we got an X-Box now so lots of that [laughs] and cable, so lots of NBA. We also got a Midi Keyboard and green screen. We're screen-printing some new shirts that are coming out soon. I'm setting it up so I don't ever have to leave [the Photo Epicenter]. Like I said, we are just wrapping up a show, so we were printing loco style for a while.

What do you think about the art scene in SF?

Pretty cool. I think we could not do Hamburger Eyes in any other city, that's for sure. We're spoiled here.

How so?

Well, I can only speak from the photography industry side of things, but it’s a small city so it was kinda easy to meet photographers and get resourceful right away. Also, there's a huge photo history here, so a photo audience for our kind of photography was already built in.

Who contributes to Hamburger Eyes?

It started off as friends and colleagues and then friends of friends and colleagues of colleagues. Now we have it open with all the information on our site so now we get photos from all over the planet.

Where did Gray Gray come from?

Gray Gray came from a binary star system called Zeta-reticuli. He crashed here 4 million years ago. His birthday is coming up.

Whoa, party time! How does it feel to have a successful photography magazine?

[Laughs] It's successful? Someone tell my bill collectors.

Culturally.

No, it's awesome.

Gray Gray.

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