January 31, 2007

Sleeping in Airports

This has nothing to do with photography per se but since I'm technically on my way to Oaxaca, Mexico to shoot, it falls within basic working parameters.

To save the client money (a non-profit) I slept in the Houston Airport last night. I wasn't sure exactly where to sleep so I poked some keywords into Google and stumbled into SleepingInAirports.net. Fantastic!

Thanks to their advice I had a perfectly good night's sleep in the Chapel in Terminal C. I slept for about 6 hours on a nice padded pew and would have gotten another hour or so when a guy with a vacuum cleaner arrived.

Take pictures and sleep well.

January 24, 2007

Site Update

I made some additions to my site. People and Places/Things have a dozen new spreads each. While it's not entirely new if you read the blog, it's a new context. And even then, there's some never before seen stuff in there too.

Also, more on the fight. It turns out that the reason for the fight was one of the kids tore up a Polaroid of the other. Photography was at the center of the whole debacle. We deal in a powerful medium.

Take pictures.

January 21, 2007

Fight Photos

Every once in a while a great photo opportunity presents itself. Yesterday, while working in a Buenos Aires slum, a fist fight broke out on set among resident teenagers. The drama didn't last long and it didn't really interfere with our work but I kept an eye on the kids involved while we continued our work. It soon became obvious that the issue had yet to be resolved sufficiently and that there was going to be a more formal settling of the dispute.

Like kids all over the world, they were going to meet in the schoolyard at a given time and see who's who. When I saw what was going down I left the set , changed some settings on my camera and entered the scene. It was a little field amidst the ramshackle dwellings. I was called over by one of the kids and asked to take their picture. They posed for my camera. All smiles. That mood changed when his opponent showed up swinging. At first they didn't want to fight in front of me but that sentiment soon faded with the encouragement of those around.

I simply positioned myself the way a boxing referee might observe and let them go at it. It was not my place to stop anything and I absolutely privileged making photographs above any dispute resolution. I have no regrets. Fights are not the easiest thing to capture and my radar is always tuned in for such an opportunity. I am happy with the results and the two combatants were no worse for wear when the fighting stopped with exhausted handshakes.

Sharing the photos later, people on the set were surprised at just how close I had gotten to the action. I couldn't imagine otherwise.

I quickly converted them to black and white but they are equally interesting in color. The restricted palate just seems more appropriate and it reminds me a great street fight photograph I've seen before. I think it was by Dave Heath. (btw, his work is phenomenal).

Finally, I am concerned about these photographs and their use more than any I've made in recent memory. I am concerned about them being "stolen" by folks and used or shared without proper credit and more importantly, appropriate context. I debated even posting them here but as a compromise I made them extremely small and littered it with my trademark stamp. Hopefully folks will respect that. It could be just paranoia but I am proud of these images and I'd rather preserve their value than contribute irresponsibly to some internet equivalent of a voyeur freak-show. You know how it is out there.

Take pictures, block your face.

January 19, 2007

Las Malvinas

I'm in Buenos Aires shooting a Gatorade ad and yesterday we shot in a grammar school gym. Walking around after a lunch of Meat, Fish and Chicken, I noticed that every classroom had a map of the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) somewhere prominently displayed. I thought it was interesting that this disputed territory would get such premiere billing. So much so that actual maps of mainland Argentina weren't to be found.

I made this one shot my desktop background and uploaded it to Flickr larger than normal if anyone else cares to do the same. It's just a nice simple full-frame mundane shot that contrasts with the heated passions that arise from the mere utterance of "the Falkland Islands" twenty five years after the war. It may make a better square but until I get home, I can't make the mundane diptych I have in mind.

Take pictures.

Teddy Bear

I have been working long days and without consistent internet access. Lots to share, just no time.

Here's a little composite I made of a friend's daughter's teddy bear. It reminded me of my brother's bear growing up. Beat to shreds but filled with heart.

Take pictures.

January 16, 2007

A Fifty Second Peek

Yesterday my friend Matias shot a little bit of video while I was working on the beach. He's no filmmaker, as is obvious from the footage, but it gives a little glimpse into the location and the general vibe for my Punta del Este efforts. I edited it down to some of the more usable bits and by total coincidence the two folks pictured in yesterday's entry are in the video.

I don't normally hold stuff in my hand while shooting but otherwise, there I am acting as coat hanger and picture holder. I had printed out a few examples of my streetstudio work to show folks. The woman had been holding and looking at one of them as she stepped into the space. I took that from her first and then, as you can see in the video, I asked her to take her jacket off and it ended up draped over my arm.

This also marks my You Tube debut. I may be a little late to the party but I'm a still-photographer after all.

Take pictures.

January 15, 2007

Blanco Y Negro

A late start and some more wind issues limited my time on Bikini Beach but a few images stand out. I played for the second day in a row with the full frame. Instead of shooting with the 11x14 or 4x5 crop in mind, I shot trying to make perfectly good portraits in the 35mm frame. I'm not sure I like it but it's been a good exercise in composition.

I also feel like the whole model release thing is a pain in the arse. While most people are happy enough to sign it, without a crew of folks helping me, it's an added logistical challenge that I don't really need. Going forward, especially by myself, it's going to take some real persuasion to make it part of my standard operating procedure. Plus, having hundreds of dollars on set is nerve-wracking.

I converted these two portraits into black and white using the channel mixer as usual. I can't quite figure out why some images work so much better in color versus black and white. This isn't a new issue for me or anyone else but the digital world makes this an interesting post-production choice. While I try to shoot with color or monochrome in mind, sitting around editing these images can easily lead one into tempting Photoshop terrain. It did tonight for me anyway.

Take Pictures.

Snap Previews

I added Snap Preview Anywhere™ to my blog. I'm not sure I like it but a friend of mine works for them and I thought I'd give it a try. Does anyone find it annoying? Tollerable? Cool? I don't really navigate around or read my blog once I post but the few times I have lately it's been a bit jarring. Perhaps just becasue I'm not used to it. We'll see. I'll give it some more time and decide if it should stay or go.

January 14, 2007

Streetstudio Punta Del Este 2007

I have no luck shooting with my streetstudio in Punta Del Este. Last year was rainy and windy and I only had about an hour of halfway reasonable time on the beach. This time, wind was again my bane. Luckily, with the help of my Argentine friends, I was able to set up in a slightly protected area on the main street of La Barra in the shadow of a Fredo Ice Cream shop. Good foot traffic made for a decent few hours of shooting. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

It was the first time I paid people to sign my release. I came armed with a pack of dollar bills that I thought might change the vide from one of artistic endeavor to commercial exploitation but I'm happy to report it was the same old same old. People posed with the same curious enthusiasm to which I'm accustomed.

Take Pictures blowin' in the wind.

January 10, 2007

Would You Look at That

My friend Rob sent me a little screen shot from Apple's new iPhone promo material because one of the photos reminded him of mine. He's right! That's my shot on the right and the iPhone on the left.

And can I say how happy I am that there isn't a camera in this first version of the iPhone. It's a photo album but it doesn't take pictures. It's like Steve Jobs and I agree that if you want to take pictures, use a camera, not a phone. That said, my rep tells me some National Geographic photographer made a cross-country trip and published a book of his cell phone snaps. Go figure.

Cheers from Buenos AIres.

Take Pictures.

January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

I spent New Years Eve with friends in DC who had Univision tuned in for the ball drop. Within seconds of the New Year beginning they were showing a happy couple kissing in Times Square. In the enamored guy's hand was a point and shoot camera and he was taking pictures of himself while still kissing. So a TV camera was shooting a guy shooting himself kissing a girl. I thought that was very auspicious.

Cameras are absolutely everywhere and we all have the ability to document/portray our world as we experience it. So let's do that, shall we? Let's do it well. And let's do it thoughtfully.

Happy New Year.

Take pictures kissing.