I’m Back… Really

July 29, 2009

I’m writing this post to let everyone know that I really haven’t been ignoring everyone for the last few weeks.  Well, I guess I have, but there’s a pretty good reason.

Three Wednesdays ago I had just wrapped up a great album design session with Alison and Josh and was ready to dive into more album designs.  When I returned to my desk there was a message on my phone from a number I didn’t recognize.  It was my Great Aunt telling me that my Grandmother was in intensive care at the hospital in Wilmington (2 hours away from me).  I closed and locked my office door, got in the car and drove to Wilmington.

I was on the road about an hour before I got in touch with Meridith to let her know what was going on.  I arrived at the hospital and they told me it would be an hour or so before I could see her, so I went out and bought clothes and toiletries enough for the next day or two.  I was at the hospital for the next few days and as Saturday approached My Grandmother was telling us that she wasn’t ready to get better, she was ready to go see my Grandfather.

Saturday came and I visited the hospital early that morning, said goodby to my Grandmother and left for my wedding in Raleigh.  I knew that would be the last time I would see her, but knowing that she was at peace gave me peace too.  about an hour after my wedding ended I received a text from my sister that she had passed.  My five year old son brought me a bottle of water and tissues just in case.  He’s cool.

The next week was filled with making arragements, receiving family and friends at the house and figuring out what to do with all of the food people brought.  The week after that was filled with putting out fires at work and trying to answer as many phone calls and emails as possible.

Now I’m on to this week and my sole mission is to destroy my to do list.  Crush it, beat it into submission and all that sort of thing.  I’m doing okay so far.  Hey, this blog post is on the list, so in just a minute I’ll be one more down and on to the big stuff.

Pumpkin Update

April 15, 2009

This will be the last pumpkin update until Halloween, but based on the last comment left on the previous post I wanted to show that even though this stuff might look a bit gross at first, it quickly changes to lush green-ness.  Here’s what it looks like this morning with nothing visible but the stem!

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I don’t typically write blog posts like this, but I just can’t keep it to myself.

I happened to be in a local camera shop last Friday looking for a camera part.  It was taking me a while to find what I was looking for and there were several other people being helped so I walked around a bit.  One of the customers was a lady who brought her camera in to have the sales person help her with the settings.  She explained that she had a photo shoot the next day and it was going to be in a dark place.  So I’m thinking OK, her kid is having a birthday party or something and she wants good snap shots, that’s cool.  Then she said the thing that made my blood go cold.  She said:  “The place is dark and the ceilings are high, and I’m sure I’ll have to get really close to the bride and groom during the ceremony so that they show up.”

Say what?  Can she be serious?  Is this for real?  As the sales guy explains what color settings she should use for good skin tones and that she could just point her flash and that “should be fine” (his words), I’m over there freaking out on the inside.  Knowing full well that this lady was going to leave her house the next day and go screw up someone’s wedding photos.

I kind of had to leave at that point.  I felt weird, like I was an accessory or witness to something bad that was about to go down.  Most of all though, I was completely offended that this person had such a casual attitude about the major event that she had been hired to photograph.  I felt bad for the bride and groom for about a minute until I realized that they hired her for some reason.  Maybe it was a good deal, maybe she’s a friend, maybe their standards are low, whatever the case, I’m sure they got what they paid for.

Then a few other things ran through my head that got me even more annoyed.

First of all, weddings don’t just come up all of the sudden.  No one calls you on a Thursday and says “hey our wedding is Saturday are you available?”  This person probably had months to work out her technical issues, shoot tests under similar lighting conditions and get it right, but she chose to think about it the day before the shoot.

Second, why would you go to the place that sold you the camera to get photography lessons?  Nothing against the sales people, they are cool people, but while they might know a fair amount about the equipment itself, they don’t shoot weddings for a living and can’t really speak to that experience.

Third, I know what we do is not rocket science, but it does take hard work, dedication and several years of experience before you’re even kind of good at it.  This mentality I see of getting a fancy camera, a template web site and being a wedding photographer in three easy steps is bringing me down.  We don’t compete with those people, so I’m not worried about that, but it’s sad to see the profession that you’ve poured your entire adult life into cheapened like that.

Fourth, can I even list a fourth? After three points it kind of seems like maybe there really is no point and that I’m just rambling.  So what’s the point of me ranting like this?  Well, it makes me feel a little better, and hopefully you are wiser than you were a few paragraphs ago, and if you are looking for a wedding photographer please interview the crap out of them to be sure they are competent before putting your wedding day in their hands.

I’m Back!

January 17, 2009

So I just spent the last week in Phoenix and had a blast.  Got to see lots of old friends and make some new ones too.  Along the way I took advantage of the ability to upload photos taken with my phone to my facebook page.  That way I could keep my 5 yr old Will up to date on my travels and share some of the cool stuff I saw along the way.  It blows my mind how far technology has come and all the great stuff we can do instantly now.

Below are a few of the images from my phone.  I don’t believe in taking my fancy camera to photo conventions because it’s… well, weird to me; but I pass no judgment on others, it’s all good.

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This desert is NOT a place you would want to run around blindfolded.  Nearly everything around will make you yell if you come in to contact with it.

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The resort had a camp fire area where each night guests could make smores and keep warm by the fire.  The sky was perfectly clear and filled with stars.  We could also hear Coyotes howling in the distance.

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…What are the benefits of  “all natural light” photography?

I want to preface the rest of what I’m about to say with the fact that I am not pointing fingers at any specific people, it’s just that I have seen this used as a marketing angle for years now and I still don’t get it.  Light is light, and it’s an absolutely essential ingredient in any and every photograph ever created.  So what would be the appeal of “natural” light, and why would a photographer label themselves as such?

Is natural light healthier?  Other businesses are touting the benefits of their products using all natural ingredients, things that are organic, or made from renewable sources.  Things that make you feel good when you buy them because a big man did not have to cut down a poor defenseless tree and it was never tested on fuzzy bunnies.  Does that apply to light?

Is natural light great because it’s ‘natural‘ and will make the subject look natural?  Would that version of natural be before or after a few rounds of photoshop?

I’m all for being an “available” light photographer.  I have been one of those for 16 years now.  That means using any and every available light source that will assist you in rocking out the type of image you are going for.  Natural, artificial, home made, whatever!  I can’t imagine limiting myself to one type or style of lighting or light source.  I can’t imagine giving up control over my final image to the whims of nature.

What are the parameters of natural light?  Is a candle flame natural, or is it just the sun we’re talking about?  What if the sun is not playing well that day?  What if your subject wants to be in a windowless office or at night, are you completely F@$%#d if that happens?

OK, I’m done.  Climbing slowly down off my box of soap and going back to work.

New Year, New Goals

January 1, 2009

You know you’ve done it too.  You’ve made this big long list of ways to be better, badder, happier, hotter, calmer, more efficient, sophisticated, educated and perfecticated. At peace with yourself and the world and all is well.

One of my goals for this year is to post at least one image or more every single day.  These will be more personal images from my daily life and travels.  The thing is, I won’t be posting the images here on the blog.  This blog is all about my work life and just a little bit about my other life.  So if you are interested in keeping up with the daily images you will need to be my friend.  On facebook that is.  Just look me up and we can be friends it’s pretty easy.

This is an image taken at lunch today, and I posted two others in addition.  Even though this project will be consist of personal images, I don’t see myself posting pictures of the kids much.  It’s more likely to be an interesting design or texture, or the way the light hits an object that will spark my interest.  It’s really intended to be a year long study in visual design with a homework assignment every day.  I hope you will join in and enjoy!

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Oh, My Eyes!

December 9, 2008

I bet you won’t see an image like this on other photo blogs. This is an image of my optic nerve. (freaky huh?)

I am happy to report that my eyes are healthy and happy and apparently this image proves that. It’s a photograph of the back of my eye where all of the real work happens for vision. To me it looks like some freaky Sci-Fi creature that would be hooked up to a computer running a space station, but that’s just me.

I figured I have spared everyone ultrasound images and other personal stuff in the past, why not show something that’s both fascinating and a little icky looking at the same time.  See the bright spot on the right?  That’s the actual optic nerve and (according to the doc) it’s supposed to look just like that.  I took her word for it.

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It’s Groovy, I Can Dig It

December 7, 2008

Meridith and her siblings decided to do something a bit different for their dad this year for Christmas.  Way back in the day, before any of us were thought of yet, Meridith’s dad was a DJ at a Wilmington radio station.  He has several of the old reel to reel tapes of a few of his and other broadcasts so Meridith thought it would be cool to sneak them out of the house, get them converted to a format that can be used now, and see what was on them.

We received the package last night and listened to the CDs while we made dinner.  The reels had no dates on them so we had no idea what year, but as we listened, we heard the announcer say:  “It’s Wenesday, July 18th 1973, sunny and 80 degrees in Wilmington, here’s Three Dog Night.” (now imagine that with 1970s DJ inflection)  This was a good six months before either Meridith or I had been born so It was a blast to hear the commercials for all of the places that we never knew existed.  The commercials were by far the best.  Lots of commercials for tire places and bars or “recreation lounges” as they were called.

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Now

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This got me thinking.  I’m pretty sure that 20 years from now there will be some kids doing this same thing for those people whose wedding we are photographing right now and are getting a disk of images.  It’s a simple issue of technology getting better and smaller.  People just don’t use reel to reel players anymore.  In the same way, ten to twenty years from now people will be looking at CDs and DVDs and wondering how we ever got along.  At that point there will be companies that will help convert people’s histories of  music, video and photographs from the old formats to the new.

This is one reason that I am such a big proponent of creating great albums for our clients.  I can open a book that is 300 years old and as long as I understand the language, I can read it just the same as a book that is 50 years old or brand new.  There is no technology shift in opening a book, so even though most people won’t be able to use their wedding disc in 30 years unless they get it converted, their great grandkids will easily be able to crack open their wedding album and check out what they were like way back when.

I’m So Happy!

November 5, 2008

Last night as I was watching the election coverage I finally saw the moment I had been waiting to see for months.  I was so happy I nearly shed a tear.  First it was a commercial for Aleeve, then a Sonicare toothbrush, and then one for Golden Corral.  It was amazing, I finally had real commercials back on TV!!

Being that North Carolina has been such a “battleground state” we have had absolutely nothing lately but campaign ads.  All of our races both local and national have been aggressive; from the Senate to the Governor’s office and as of right now we still don’t know which presidential candidate won the state.  Campaigns fought hard here and the TV ads never stopped.

I personally think that part of our economic problem is that there were so many companies that could not get their commercials on air that many TV watchers were unaware that they could buy a car or order a pizza.  It just didn’t occur to them to go buy stuff because they didn’t see a commercial giving them the permission and suggestion to do so.

I don’t really watch very much television, but when I do I want my commercials predictable and mundane like I’m used to.  Neither I or anyone I know has ever been this interested in an election.  The passion, and sense of urgency energized us all, but most people I know agree that we are glad to see this election season put to bed.  We’ll do it all again soon enough.

Welcome to the 1920s

October 13, 2008

Last week was just funny and depressing on so many levels.  Since everyone has depressing issues of their own, I’ll only mention the funny ones,

I was teaching the last of my eight lighting workshops with the students at RCC.  They are getting ready to go on internship and I wanted to give them a challenge.  I had them tear a full page product ad of their choice from a magazine and reproduce it exactly.  Students always seem to think that this will be an easy task (even if they choose an easy subject) but when it comes down to getting it done they realize what a challenge it can be.

One student decided to replicate a beer ad.  It was a simple image of a glass bottle of beer with a pomegranate. I knew that because we were at a school that we would need to get the proper permission to bring the beer on campus and into the studio.  I told the student that it was their responsibility to do that, or he could substitute with a bottle of creme soda.  A little background: until a few months ago, Asheboro was a dry town, you couldn’t even buy beer or order it at a restaurant.  So what I thought would be a simple request turned into something much more elaborate and comical.

So the student tells me, “I just need to get premission from the school police officer and we’re good to go.”  The next thing I hear is that the student went out and bought a 6 bottle pack of the beer along with props and came back to school to locate the officer.  He found the officer, explained what they needed to do and that it was for an assignment, the officer confiscated the bags, told the student to have the instructor (that’s me) call him.

So I walk outside to see what’s going on.  About 20 feet to the left are the students talking about how bogus this whole ordeal is. Thirty or so feet to my right is the officer with three other “official” looking people talking among themselves and pointing at the bags and in our direction.  Then they begin walking our direction.  It was one of those slow motion kind of walks, heavy with authority, like in the movies when something’s about to “go down”.  At that point I was wishing he had bought that creme soda.

So they inform me that to do what we wanted to do required a form to be filled out. (easy enough) Problem was it was supposed to be filled out a week in advance and at this point the student could be charged with “possession of a controlled substance on campus”! (oops) They let the time period slide, and got us the form which had to be signed by the student to officially request the beer to be brought on campus, I had to sign it saying it was for a legitimate assignment, then the head of the department had to sign it (glad he was in his office that day).

Then they tell us that they will escort the bags into the studio with us, and once it goes in it cannot come out.  One of the requirements was that we call the officer by 4:00 to have him witness the student pour all 6 bottles down the drain. (we only needed the one for the shot)  After all of that craziness had passed, the shot was set up and the students proceeded to work on creating that image for the next four hours.

At 4:00 we put in the call for the officer to come by the kitchen in the studio so that he could varify that the bottles were never opened and could witness all that golden frothy grossness (I’m not a fan of way beer tastes) right down the drain.  I came to the realization that this must be a weird glimpse into what it may have been like 80 years ago.  I had been checking the stock market on my phone all day and watching it go down, down, the drain; and now I was watching “the man” making people pour good useable booze down the drain like they did during prohibition.

Weird how history repeats itself, if only for one afternoon.