Meeno Peluce, Photographer


Cool Tools Show 212: Meeno Peluce

Our guest this week is Meeno Peluce. Meeno grew up as a successful child actor in Hollywood, and his kid sister is Soleil Moon Frye of Punky Brewster fame. He then moved behind the camera and has spent his life photographing and filming the world around him, from the burning ghats in Varanasi to the luminous landscapes of Tinseltown. He’s a proud Papa and ask him his profession, and he’ll tell you he’s a Meeno, and all that might entail. He gave himself the name when he was two in Nepal. It’s been an adventure of individualism and a constant search for personal experience ever since. You can find him on Instagram @meeno_the_man.

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Show notes:

Leica M10
Leica is a brilliant still camera because of its ethos, because of the way it is machined and designed and implemented. The M Series is a rangefinder camera, meaning when you look through it you don’t look through the lens. There is none of that beautiful syrup of shallow depth of field that you get from an SLR camera. When you look through the corner of the rangefinder, it doesn’t really look any different than it does with your eye to the natural world around you. Thus, you don’t necessarily pick up the camera to find the image. You find the image by walking around with your eyes open. When you see, “There’s my image”, you pick the camera, quickly frame it and focus it and nail it. This kind of ethos of paying attention to life with this kind of camera is fantastic because it goes all the way back to some of my heroes, guys like Cartier-Bresson, who walked the Earth taking photos. The implementation of this camera has not changed since then. You can still screw his lenses onto this camera and it would still work the same way. The only difference is, of course, they’ve swapped out celluloid for silicon. There’s a chip in there now, it’s a digital camera, but it still works in a very analog fashion when you want it to. The camera itself is beautiful. You can have it around your neck at all times. It’s a conversational piece.

iPad Pro 11
The iPad Pro is interesting because I recently got it because I was doing a thing where I was meeting with a bunch of people showing off my portfolio. Instead of dragging in printed portfolios, I was going to bring in my portfolios on the screen. I really didn’t think that this machine was going to find any other kind of place in my life other than this use, because I’ve owned other iPads that essentially just languished because I use my phone. I have learned to love this machine in the past few months because it becomes part of my daily creative ritual. With the camera it’s brilliant because I shoot the camera over into the Leica app. It brings the photos right in. It is a much more satisfying place to perceive your photos and to fool around with them a little than on your little phone. Then, I can upload them right to my Instagram, right to my Tumblr, and again, the act of daily publishing, which I find so satisfying, is there. I’m edified by that. They have this interesting product you can put on the screen so that when you have this new Apple Pencil that comes with it, it feels more like writing on paper, which is called Paperlike.

Open G Tuning and Riffs in the Key of Keith Richards
Open G tuning means you can play every Rolling Stone song properly, and the edification that comes with being able to strum The Stones’ songs is gigantic. I’ve got all these beautiful guitars. I’ve always just kind of yammered away at them, but now, with the ability to really learn to play better, and of course synaptically, my head is just stronger and more learnable than ever. So normally when you tune the guitar, it’s tuned to a certain set of notes such that when you put your fingers down in different formations you make chords. Open tuning is you actually tune the notes to one of those chords so that if you strum it with no fingers, you make that chord. Open G tuning, is you strum it, it’s a G. That is Keith Richards’ chord. So many Stones songs are in the key of G because of that open tuning. There’s a kid who’s like a better looking younger version of me out there who’s got a great one called Riffs in the Key of Keith Richards. It’s a fabulous intro to open G tuning.

My watch that my father left me
I really get the appreciation of tools from my Dad because it was something he appreciated. We found a commonality to appreciate things. When I would explain to him things about my cameras and all of my dreams, he would love to listen to that. As he kind of got sicker and older, we did a lot of hanging out and a lot of just chatting about these things and we would geek out together about this stuff. One of the things that I would do when sitting there at his little table talking is I would prepare myself for his eventual demise by looking at his arm, and on his arm was this beautiful watch that he’d had for a long time. I would think, “One day that watch will be mine and all I’ll have to do to get it is give up a father.” You know, just kind of like work out in my head with some equanimity this notion that this is an impermanent thing this thing called life, and not to be too upset by that. Just to enjoy this now. We get near my birthday one year and my Dad says to me, “Hey, I’d love to buy you a watch for your birthday.” We pick a day and we go over to this little jewelers that he liked to go to. My daughter noticed in the case this red-faced watch that just yelled out at you because of this amazing red face on it. She points that out and my Dad says, “Oh, this is great because, look, this is the same watch that I’ve got.” It’s the watch that he wears but a certain numbered edition one that’s done with this special red face. He’s like, “Well, let’s get you this.” When I see the price, I think, “God, no. Don’t spend that kind of money on a watch. That’s crazy.” I felt too bad about the kind of cost it was. I said, “Let’s go buy a lens that’s something that would be a lot cheaper.” We went over to Samy’s and I got this cool lens that I still use today, but he kept thinking about that watch. The Friday before he was gone, I took him out. He got a haircut, he got spruced up. He had a date with his girlfriend. We hung out all day. We did our palling around that we had gotten so good at there in those last few years. We left on beautiful terms and he went off, he had his date. The day after that was Easter and I called him up to wish him Happy Easter. He didn’t answer. I figured, “Well, he must be off with his girlfriend.” The next morning I call him up to see how he’s doing. He doesn’t answer. I think, “Well, he must be in the crapper.” I call him up again. “Well, maybe he’s in the shower now.” When I called the third time, I start getting a sinking feeling. I’m on my way to a shoot but I tell my assistant, “Look, we’re diverting. We got to make a stop here for a minute.” As we pull up to his house, the Monday paper is sitting on top of the Sunday paper and my heart just sinks. The front door is bolted. My key won’t work. I’ve got to break in through the back window. I go upstairs and there he is. He’s gone. He’s beside the bed and the end table is holding him up, and his arm is kind of up in this gesture of victory above. It was a beautiful way to find him, all things considered. I had to take his last portrait. It was funny. He would have loved it because he was still well-coiffed. He still smelled good from the barbing I’d taken him out for. Because he was kind of propped up, his head propped up on the bedside table, his double chin was pushed back. He just looked young and handsome and proud and just in this gentle repose with this one arm up in victory. On the bedside table beside him was the watch with the red face. He had gone out the day before on his date with his girlfriend and he had gotten himself the watch. Like if I wasn’t going to let him get it for me, he’d get it for himself so he could leave it to me. Whenever people remark, because it’s a real eye-catcher and it’s all my wrist all the time, and when people go, “Oh, that’s a beautiful watch”, I say, “Well, there’s a hell of a story behind it.”


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