November 30, 2005

Content & Cameraless

I was sitting home having just added ten new night images to my site when my friend called to invite me to a holiday party. The season has begun, I thought, as I went to get my camera and flash. Then I thought again. Maybe tonight I will go out without my camera. Maybe tonight I will just go see the night with my eyes alone. I have done this in the past by accident and always regretted it. Tonight, however, I was simply going to observe. No regrets. Fingers crossed.

The party started slowly and it was probably five to one in terms of women to men. Nothing to complain about, just unusual. I chit-chatted and smiled as always. I was comfortable and laughed when someone asked where my camera was. By now my friends simply expect to see my camera in-hand.

A good thirty to fifty percent of the folks had digital cameras and were either taking pictures of themselves with outstretched arms or having a friend take their picture. For ten minutes or so, it was as if everyone felt the need to take pictures. It reminded me of something I read about yawning being contagious. It was interesting to watch everyone else busy with their cameras and even more interesting to see the way people put on their camera face. Finally, it was fascinating to watch everyone chimping. I can watch that all night long and their ain't nothing wrong with it.

Clearly, people are amassing some impressive collections of themselves making the same faces, with the same ugly flash light, with their same bunch of friends. Everyone feels special in front of the camera, even their own. I love it. I don't get it, but I love it.

Take pictures of yourself.

November 27, 2005

Neuveau Nuit

I added ten new ones to the Night gallery of my site. Check 'em out if you've got a moment. They're from last Saturday night in Montréal hobnobbing with the well-heeled and stylish. I posted and wrote about one of the images earlier. Now you can see it with a little more context.

For anyone who cares, I think the club was called Time.

Take Pictures in French-speaking clubs.

November 26, 2005

Do Over

So later in the day I took a little more time looking though my photos and thought this diptych was more successful. I thought about simply replacing the earlier one but changed my mind. Instead, I'm posting what, with hindsight, seems like a better image. I like the way the line of the reveiw mirror lines up with the horizon and the spot of the setting sun mimcks the streetlights. Plus, how often do I get to post pretty pictures of sunsets?

It's all a work in progress. I'll share as I go.

Take Pictures.

November 25, 2005

On Vacation

I never cease to be amazed by air travel. I awoke at 5AM in a cold wet New York City and was on a Florida beach in time for lunch with my family. Trying to convey that photographically is a little hard but I made a little diptych anyway.

I'm on vacation down here with limited computer time and even less internet access. I just got a chance to look at these shots and forced 'em together just for fun.

Take Pictures.

November 23, 2005

U2 Phone Home

While back home in New York last Monday with my friends Anna and Aviva (whose names are the same backwards and forwards) I had the good fortune of scoring floor tickets to see U2 at Madison Square Garden. While there, I saw an abundance of camera phones and point-and-shoot digital cameras and I remembered the days when cameras weren't allowed into the venues like that. How things have changed. Now they seem more concerned about real weapons.

I would have loved to have taken my camera in to see Van Halen in 1984. I was in the third row, right in the middle, but only the likes of Neil Zlozower were allowed to shoot. I was so jealous of that guy.

So there I was surrounded by hundreds of U2 concert-going photographers shooting away with their camera phones. I asked Aviva if she had a phone on her camera. She did and I used it to great effect. Let me tell you, I made a masterpiece of light and shadow. If U2 ever does a live album, I've got the shot for them...all 640 by 480 pixels of it. It's genius. Look out Anton Corbign, I'm comin' for ya.

Let's just say, I probably shouldn't feel so bad. I probably still can't take my D2X with a 200mm lens into the Garden but at least now I understand why they let the other cameras in. They suck. Give 'em a few years however, and that probably won't be true. And to be fair, a few little point and shoots were pulling in some great shots.

Take pictures, just not with your camera phones.

November 20, 2005

Take A Picture

So I'm out at a club in the fine city of Montreal, pretty much minding my own business, when a woman comes up and asks if I'd take a picture of her underwear. Now when your business is night photography, you aren't just sitting around doing nothing. I was bopping around the club making pictures. I had my camera in hand. I'd been shooting for hours by the time this request came. I wasn't just another Joe with a camera phone. I'd been singled out. It happens.

Two seconds later she lifts her shirt and turns her back to me so I can snap the picture. The text of her underwear was not immediately legible through my lens but once I was done with the shot I see it says, "Take a picture, it lasts longer!" A whole mess of ill-formed questions come into my head. What is it about photography that so titillates the perverted mind? Why is the primary medium of my artistic expression so strangely acknowledged on a pair of panties? What the heck is that supposed to mean given that context? At what point should I stop wondering about these things and simply chalk it up as the way things are?

I think it's time for a rereading of Susan Sontag's On Photography. Maybe that little slogan, which no one should rightfully be seeing unless, as in my case, it's hoisted in front of you, is simply a pithy version of what Sontag was getting at when she wrote, "To take a photograph is to participate in another person's mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time's relentless melt." I think that's dead on but lacks some of the implied sexual overtones. It's something to ponder for sure.

On a more ridiculous note, the glass of champagne in her hand cost a whopping $25.00. My services were free.

Take pictures, think about it.

November 19, 2005

New Celebrity Portraits

I uploaded ten new celebrity portraits this morning. On the set yesterday I stole some time to organize and build the new page. Shooting is the easy part as I've said before. It's all the post-production necessities that make the day too short. It's good to be a one man band but if things proceed as I hope they do in 2006, I won't be for long. Fingers crossed.

I chose this little vertical shot of Brad Paisley just to see if it garners the same kind of response as Keith Urban. Somehow I don't think it will.

Take pictures.

November 14, 2005

Photo Contest

I just stumbled upon a nice simple photo contest that Photoworkshop.com and Adobe are holding. It's free and easy. Check it out. Winners get Photoshop CS2 and cash. Two of my favorite things.

Take pictures, enter contests.

Bigger and Better

I'm excited that AOL Music, one of my consistent clients, has redesigned its AOL Sessions feature using more and larger pictures. I feel like they've stepped it up to feel like a music magazine with a whole lot more. Bravo to the AOL designers.

One of the nicest things is that the main image maintains the 6x9 format that I see through my camera. While they are usually going to crop anyway, I can at least try to give them a perfect photo that doesn't need to be cropped. Previously, they used a more telegenic 3x4 format that always had me cropping in my mind's eye as I looked through the viewfinder. It feels like a small victory for those o f us who love the uncropped 35mm frame.

I've used a picture of Keith Urban here because that guy accounts for well over half the Google searches that bring people to my blog. I'm glad I made some good ones because people really like looking at pictures of that guy.

Take pictures.

November 13, 2005

New Night

I finally found the time to add some new Night images. Check them out on my site. The new stuff is found under "More Night," "Colorful Night" and "Random Night." There are 30 new ones in total.

All of the images were taken in San Antonio after spending the days shooting the 2006 Coyote Ugly Calendar. Sorry it took so long to get to them. I'm a tad overwhelmed with images lately. I still haven't gotten to my streetstudio Southeast Asia pix from last Winter.

Take pictures.

November 11, 2005

The Cult of Celebrity

Sad Nat Geo
You know as a culture we've reached a new low when National Geographic dives into the septic waters of celebrity obsession. They are touting the fact that they've hired Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx to go shoot in Thailand. Read all about it.

I feel bad for the truly hard working and talented photographers whose dream is to shoot for Nat Geo. It's like all the real models and actors who look aghast as Paris Hilton wipes out opportunities for them. Has National Geographic really reached the point where it needs to emulate the sycophantic mass media trash that litters the newsstands? How long before they do a story on the exotic mastication rituals of the Olsen sisters? Pathetic.

Get rich and famous, go to drug rehab, take pictures.

November 10, 2005

Tunnel Vision

Ansel Adams made a few of his most famous shots standing right here. It's an undeniably beautiful spot in Yosemite National Park where I just spent five days with my cousin and his family. Amazingly, it was around my tenth time there.

Since it was early November, the crowds were at a minimum and finding my favorite kind of shot of tourists making photographs was a little hard to come by. I'd have needed a few hours of hanging back and watching the snapshot ballet to get a really good one but with 3 children in tow, that wasn't an option this time. I like this shot but I'm sure there could have been lots of better ones had I had the time. Oh well, at least I posted something.

Take pictures.

November 02, 2005

Window Seat

I always get a window seat. That's a no-brainer. Wanna know a little secret? I almost always make a photo of the little latch on my tray-table and the "fasten your seat belt while seated" reminder. I'm not sure why exactly but you'd be surprised at the little difference among them. I especially like the ones in other languages. It's a little geeky but it's quintessential mundane. I could argue that those photos are an extension of my ongoing challenge to make decent airport photos. If you're in them enough, you can understand trying to make them interesting. Similarly, sitting in one place for a long time forces me to see things anew and yesterday was no exception.

I flew across the country and between much needed naps, gazed out the window and made a few shots. This diptych is made from the first two shots I took, literally, 0001 and 0002. I didn't do it on purpose but once I took them, I saw that they'd go well together. Not a masterpiece but worth sharing.

Take pictures with your seat back in an upright position.