Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dry(?) Run 09 27 09

Photo: No, it's not garbage, it's a studio on the move! Tsirkus gear, appropriately waterproofed awaits its return to Philadelphia on the Chinatown bus.

The mobility of the vintage portrait studio has been on my mind quite a bit these last few weeks. Trying to move the equipment through the New York City Subway system on the last jaunt to Gowanus back in August drove home the idea that I have to think light, modular, and easy-to-handle. Oh! and add one more adjective: waterproof! You can't tell what weather may do suddenly.

I have abandoned using a single heavy trunk as in shoots past and now have a trusty (and water resistant) Craftsman tool bin to hold the camera, film holders and film. ($19.95 at Kmart). The tripods and stands perch atop that and are wrapped up and bungied as a unit. They then are bungied to the small, foldable hand truck I use. Additionally, there is room to bungie-on one or more small bags that hold the miscellaneous equipment and supplies, including lunch. Everything comes apart pretty easily to take on the bus or get down a flight of killer steps.

The Jazz Age Lawn Party shoot on Governors Island was supposed to have been today, but the weather had been touch and go. (It's now 3pm in Philly and the Sun is out!) I knew that any notification of a last-minute cancellation was likely going to happen after I was already in transit. When I got off the bus and was all raring to head for South Ferry, I checked in and yes, the event had been nixed. Even though I did a 180 and headed right back to Philly, it was a good opportunity to shake down the new arrangement for moving the gear and it worked pretty well. Everything stayed dry and I got a chance to catch up on some badly needed sleep since the bus invariably sends me to dreamland. Hopefully, the rescheduled Oct. 4 date will be dryer.

RA Friedman, Principal Photographer

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Roamin' Holiday...What A Long Strange Trip It's Been...

…But Marvelous! Photos here!

The Accordion Pool Party was a spectacular success, a Pittsburgh first and new territory for Tsirkus wherein the vintage studio traveled by bus, plane, truck and shoe leather over 500 miles for its maiden long-distance engagement. I do believe the crowd was truly ensorselled.

Never have I watched the weather so closely. This was an outside shoot with no canopy or overhead protection. There was just a twenty percent chance of rain, but it was very grey and overcast and I thought the sky was going to open up any minute to literally and figuratively wash the whole project out. Things remained rain-free and the diffuse lighting conditions were perfect for photography and didn’t dampen the ebullient spirits of all involved. I had fantastic help from Robin A. and the very talented multi-media artist Isabella Ferrari who was my right-hand man during this jaunt.

Susan Englert, a Pittsburgh artist, and member of the Tsirkus crew co-coordinated the event with Deb Knox. What’s next? I expect to see more from these cutting-edge creators, much more.

Special thanks to the Pittsburgh/Lawrenceville contingent: Susan, Charles, Robin, Carol, Deb, Larry R., and the whole APP event crew.

RA Friedman, Principal Photographer

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Annual Report, Appended.

The year going from August 31, 2008 to August 31, 2009 saw the project, known as Tsirkus Fotografika expanded greatly with shoots not only in Philadelphia, but also New York City. Tsirkus did seven public shoots for a total of 123 impromptu photographic collaborations. These images can be seen in he gallery section of

While our tax year has yet to close, to date, between income generated by the public shoots and donations, the project is roughly at a break even. The total amount given to various charities and artistic projects that sponsored Tsirikus’ presence over the August to August time period is $366. We have been very successful in fulfilling our mission to both provide a “draw” and a creative activity for our sponsors’ events as well as helping them to raise badly needed cash. Sponsors include the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, City Kitties Cat Rescue, The Franklin Inn Club (Philadelphia), and the Jazz Age Lawn Party.

The satisfaction level of our sponsors has been extremely high with repeat shoots scheduled with many. The new fiscal year looks even busier and livelier. September has three public shoots booked including one in Pittsburgh and one on Governor’s Island in NYC. October has two shoots already scheduled with more likely.

In March, Tsirkus’ principal photographer, RA Friedman was awarded a $20,000 project grant from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program as part of its Journeys South initiative. Friedman’s work in developing Tsirkus as well as much help from Tsirkus associates was largely responsible for the success of the proposal that was submitted. Working with the residents of South Philadelphia, the endeavor will hopefully dovetail with the Tsirkus project and provide Friedman with additional creative time.

In February, Tsirkus partnered with Frank Siciliano of Steamed Punk to fabricate the first projector for a planned magic lantern show. Modifications are complete including a 45 cubic foot-per-minute cooling fan and a one kilowatt light source attached to a modified circa 1920 Keystone “Model C” projector that has been named “Baby Boris.” Baby Boris can be seen on the Tsirkus home page. A second, identical projector body was recently purchased on e-Bay and once modified will complete the pair needed to conduct a show of oversize projected images.

Tsirkus also got a brand new look with a website designed by Jenna Hannum who did the project pro-bono. The beautiful site, most importantly, has taken Tsirkus from an ad-hoc, rag-tag operation to one that has a professional presence. Traffic has been steady and is conservatively 100 visitors a week with many spending a few minutes looking around. Additionally, Susan Englert, an artist from Pittsburgh donated a large chunk of time and expertise to create lively informational cards that we now hand out at events, as a way of further networking.

Draw downs to the account were for the second projector, approximately $81 and for equipment and liability insurance for six months, approximately $90.00. All other expenses such as film, travel, assistant honorariums, and incidentals have come from the funds generated by the shoots themselves where each itinerant portrait sells for $10.00. Approximately $145 still remains in the account which will go for yearly liability insurance due in Oct.

Funding exclusive of donations: $801

Professional Fees: $145

Film: $110

Transportation $ 84

Other, est. $ 500

RA Friedman, Principal Photographer

Tsirkus Fotografika

“Lit from Within”