Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Copy Stand and The Man

We were out in town again yesterday. A few people recognized us and that was cool. Shooting downtown tomorrow again and then move somewhere else.

We were parked in front of a building with columns when a security guard came out (top photo).

The Guard "You can't take a picture of this building"
Me "Of course we can"
The Guard"You need a permit"
Me"We are in America"
Guard"No we are not"
I take the picture above.
Me"Yes we are"
Guard"Do you have a business card?

She walks back in the building and out comes her boss. A taller male version of her. If you saw them at the Mall you could have sworn they were married.

Boss Guard"You can't take a picture this building"
Me."why not?
Boss Guard "Security"
Me "what does that mean?"
Boss Guard Peering into the truck."Are you with a company?"
Boss Guard."Do you have a business card"
Me "No"
He walks to the front of the truck and asks the driver/my assistant for her business card. She says has none.

Boss guard walking away."Next time have a business card"

Friday, June 15, 2007

Glossary Term #1

We were in Sacramento all day yesterday. 103 degrees literally ankle deep in pigeon droppings in an old factory. No air-conditioning -no electricity. It was so GREAT!!

Which leads us to our first term in our Glossary : Cockrocking.

When one or more photographers get together the conversation will quickly turn to an exaggerated description of the difficulties overcome in a recent job. Like roosters strutting around the farm yard. Extra points are given if a level of indifference can be shown, the client can be made out as the villain in the story, or one of these phrases can be worked into the conversation: "helicopter, motor-home or I almost died." It does not matter if the job is photographing a war, a huge ad campaign or bar mitzvah. The cockrocking principle remains the same.

I was at a party of a local rep and when one of her photographers walked in from shooting a job. He knows no one in the room, yet before he has made it to the drink table he has managed to mention multiple rain machines, closing of streets and catering. He has hit for the cycle and we all stand in awe.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Eating with the ultra rich and then killing their rabbits

I have been following Paris Hilton's tale of woe way too closely. My plate is pretty full but still manage to keep current with all that is going on with her.

I photographed her grandfather last summer for a story on the richest Americans. He has a 1/4 million acre ranch 100 miles south east of Reno. He offered to send a plane for us in Reno but I declined saying the drive would be nice. We got lost and every-time we called the ranch for directions someone else answered the phone and had no idea how to explain how to get to the property. We finally made it to his compound and out he comes wearing a Member's Only jacket with a tomato stain on it. He needed help walking but managed to come looking for us in his helicopter when we were late.

After the shoot he invited us to stay for dinner. We sat at a table of 20 with Baron at the head . They sat us as far from him as we could be but still be at the same table. One of his son's sat directly across from us. Throughout the conversation the son kept interjecting that Paris would not be coming and that he had not seen his niece in some time. Nobody had asked about her but we got the feeling that she was all that people wanted to talk about and he was just used to launching a preemptive strike on the topic. Like when you have some wound in the middle of forehead and you know people are going to ask you about it.

After some time the conversation turned to gambling. My assiststant mentioned that he didn't really like to gamble and would always quit when he lost 400 or 500. We talked the pros and cons of different casino games and then the son interjected,"400 thousand right? You quit after you have lost 400 grand." No 400 dollars" my assistant corrected him. The son got very cold and hardly spoke to us the rest the night. He assumed we were like the other 20 men at the table and leaders of some industry or a whale flown in from one of the casinos for a boondoggle.

As soon as we hit the dirt road on the way out of the ranch we say them. Thousands and thousands of rabbits drawn to the light of our rented SUV and then diving out of the way at the last minute when they see the trouble they were in. For the first few miles I tried to swerve to avoid them and then I realized we had a long drive ahead of us and stepped on the gas. Miraculously we did not hit a single bunny. For 10 miles we drove 70 miles an hour on this dirt road and finally saw the paved road ahead. Then, of course, we heard the faint yelp and felt the slight bump in the right front tire.

If I was a writer I would see the rabbits as a metaphor in this story.This blog would be like one of those opaque poems my 14 year old has to read. Maybe Baron is the rabbit trying to avoid the bright light of his coming mortality. Or maybe Paris is the bunny getting burned by thes searing light of her celebrity. Or maybe the son is the bunny darting in and out of the light cast by his father. Or maybe we are the rabbits all drawn to the light. Most are safe but a few of us end up as stew.

Fam 4

Forbes cover

Figured out that Fresnel light.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Copy Stand Redux

Yestedray was a pretty fruitful day.

Providence, CA

Sometimes you get an unearned gift.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Now its getting strange

I came across this photograph of me photographing a woman for my project on the street while she was photographing me. Strange.

Photographers like nothing better than to take pictures of each other. Walk into any photo dept in any newspaper in the country you will see the walls plastered with images of photographers goofing for the camera. Gone are pictures of fires, riots and war, instead you are likely to find a shot of Gary the old timer on the toilet.

While in college a friend of mine actually talked his professor into giving him credit for a semester long project documenting a ritual called, "White Trash Thursday". He lived in a trailer off campus and with Deliverance playing on the VCR in the background we would all get drunk and photograph each other. This all culminated in him presenting his 'work" to the faculty.

The professors were not great and we all thought the classes were a joke. The extraordinary thing about school was being around a group of people who , for the first time in my life , cared about pictures as much as I did.

We critiqued each other's work, encouraged each other and took turns dating the same handful of female photo students. Every now and then an outsider would come into our group. We had a redheaded roommate for one semester from a farm town in Southern Indiana named Nelson. One night I walked past his room and saw him sleeping on a mat on the floor with his arm over his twin brother Neal who in turn had his arm on their younger brother Ned. Three of them lined up like cordwood.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Now the Work Starts

I am at the point in this project where the big questions have been answered and all that is left to do is take the pictures. This feels shockingly like work and I am not looking forward to spending many hours in the back of that flatbed truck while people yell at me.

I think I have one succesful photograph and four hlaf photographs. Unfortunently this does not had up to three final images.

Is it alive?

That was the question Lisette Modell asked her student Sean Kernan. He was a teacher of mine and explained that the most important question you can ask about a photograph is:"Is it alive?"

The photograph above is not particularly in focus nor are my kid's clothes perfect but it does seem convey an emotion. Jen Small (art buyer and new friend) said after reviewing my work that some of the photographs were so lit and produced that I had managed to beat all the life out it.

When I was in college studying photography an editor came to town to speak and do portfolio reviews. She looked at my work and was super critical. I was devastated and spent an entire season (spring I think) refusing to sleep in my bed instead silently protesting the critique by sleeping on the coach. Needless to say I was being overly dramatic ( i was 20 years old ) and did not endear myself to my roommates.

At 38 years old I still have much to learn and far to go. I cling to the story of the tortoise and the hare rooting myself horse for the little reptile.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Don't Believe the Hype

I was never much of an assistant. I only did it a handful of times and my wife points out that I was over eager and too anxious to please. Apparently I made photographers nervous. There was one guy I worked for a couple times and I was always worried that he would hire someone else.

I ran into him one day at the photo store and asked him how he was and if he had been working. He turned to me and said "I work all the time" and walked away. Panicked, I ran to the lab where he kept his film log book to see when the last time he had processed film. The last entry was six months before and it was in my own handwriting. I was releived and confused at the same time. Thank god he hadn't used another assistant but why had he lied to me? What is it about this business that requires us to constantly beat our chests and always put on an air being incredibly successful at all times? They say the first casualty of war is the truth. That probably holds true for commercial photography.

In that vain here are some of my favorite posts from Rep's blog. Please send me more if you come across any. Names changed to keep people from hating me.

"Bill Johns unique vision and intense creativity has awarded him with incredible projects."

"Steve conitues to shoot constantly. We are excited to work with them:it is a great agency!"

"John Smith's ceaseless shooting schedule takes him all over the world."

"Mark is always busy! If he is not shooting he is traveling the globe for a cause.Very noble and kind of Mark I must say."