Monday, October 26, 2009

Perhaps a bit too Steamy?

OK: Photos here:

Photo to the right: G.D. Falksen, writer and arbiter
of all things Steampunk.

An absolutely amazing day of shooting, as anticipated, at Brooklyn Indie Market. Like last year we had rain, but no wind, but what rain! I mean it was like the monsoon season on a tropical isle. I was not able to leave until about 8:30 a full hour and half after the event let out. I'm willing to get wet, but not soaked and I had to make my way down to Fourth Avenue and Union St. to the N train, which is about six long blocks.

Liz from helped with the shoot and was a fabulous right-hand, setting up shots, engaging the crowd, and helping me field-prep the nasty goopy "Fujiroid" remains for their return trip to Philadelphia. The humid weather worked to advantage with the negatives since they ended up drying very slowly at first and then once in the lower humidity of my cousin's place, they dessicated with very little chemical "noise," thus requiring little retouching. The drying process is, I'm starting to believe, the deactivation of the chemical reagent. Once dry, the surface is inert and can be washed under running water. You can't do that when wet; it will remove the image.

I'm getting good at getting the gear up and down the subway stairs too. I was pleasantly surprised, that a number of people offered to help me even though I really was not having much trouble--mostly just making a din as the cart hit the stair risers. It left me neither sore nor out of breath. Primarily it was the long day on Saturday, getting up at around 3AM after going to sleep at 11 and then the long day that tested my mettle. Rather than shlep all the gear back to Philly only to have to do it all again in a week, I left most of it in a safe spot in NYC after carefully pulling it all apart, cleaning everything (especially the power cords that were wet and caked with mud--Liz gets bonus points for getting them into plastic bags without so much as a sigh.) and taking a mental inventory of supplies. I really need a closet somewhere near downtown Brooklyn where I can leave a second tripod, set of lights and backdrop holder; a package about the size of a regular college dorm trunk. Any takers?

RA Friedman, Principle Photographer

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Project for the Year:

In addition to the MuralArts/Pew funded project it has become clear I need to focus and get a new major work or works out the door in the next year. The public shoots have been in high gear, but the art presentation part of the project has felt stalled to me.

I recently made a list that I may keep to thirty-three things. It is called "Everything you ever wanted to know about being an artist. (And we're gonna tell you, though you probably don't want to know) " It's serious, but it's also humorous too and I think the photography will be very engaging.

The plan, and these things do change, is to make the slides on regular 35mm glass-mounted slides and then have conversions made later to the giant 3.25" x 4" slides that go with Boris.

I will be looking for models, though this is a shoestring operation, so TFCD and TFP will be the business of the day.


RA Friedman, Principal Photographer

Saturday, October 10, 2009

10 09 09 "Selling It"

I have to admit, I was a bit put off by the idea of coming up with "snappy" verbiage as Larisa Fuchs of Gemini and Scorpio requested, but I gave it my best shot none-the-less. I'm learning more and more that marketing and spin DOES matter. I tend to like, accurate, low key, intellectual descriptions of things, but my guess is that if you are going to pitch what you do to someone planning a night out on the town, that's not gonna work.

Now I just need to figure out how I'm gonna shoot a twelve-hour party!

"RA Friedman's Tsirkus Fotografika is art, fantasy, time travel and alchemical wizardry. Tsirkus reinvents the modern portrait invoking the spirit of the itinerant tintype artists of old while mixing in retro-futurism à la Jules Verne and a bit of Dr. Caligari-esque mystery. It's instant art made on real silver film, an experience of collaborative creation, an encounter with the dark and perilous science of photography, and a chance to swim in the fiery waters of mad genius! All this is topped off by a sitting fee that belongs in the 19th century."

"A real bringing forth of fantasy vibes."
- Edward Pramuk, Artist

"Steampunk Photography!"
-Egophobia Magazine, Romania

"Friedman's frozen photos have the look of splashy oxidation — sometimes sexy and wasted, sometimes gloriously wretched, always stately."
-Philadelphia City Paper

RA Friedman, Principal Photographer

Monday, October 5, 2009

Back from The Island. 10/05/09

Images here! Just click me!

I'm still waiting for the negatives to completely dry from the Jazz-Age Lawn Party on Governors Island yesterday. It was like a late summer day yesterday: sunny, not too hot, a very light breeze. In a word, perfect. What a contrast to last weekend.

This is just the first batch. There are additional images waiting for my attention, but it is 2pm and I've been klagging along since 7am.

I did the whole round trip via the Chinatown bus and then walked to and from the ferry that goes out o the island. The heavy (guessing around 75+ lbs) equipment package set up and broke down just fine and traveled over the bumpy city streets with ease. The K-mart folding "Magna Cart" is getting a little wonky, so probably a good idea to upgrade soon to something made for the abuse professional shooters dish out.

Getting on and off the bus was the biggest effort and I had to forgo the first one back to Philly since it was so full. I was even able to take back all the wet negatives by taping two on a sheet of heavy paper and "tubing" them. This is definitely getting down to a, if not a science, a methodology. And while w'ere at it, I think I've discovered the near-perfect vegan lunch for the road: coconut curry made with potatoes, yam, carrot and spinach. It keeps beautifully, is delicious, pleasantly fills you up for hours, and is extremely nutritious without making you feel heavy. It also digests really easy. A small container of nuts, a bottle of water, a Larabar or two, and I'm set.

The only bugbear was the light that seemed to change from minute to minute, making it hard to get a fix on what the exposure should be. Instant film is pretty unforgiving. It's either spot on or it looks off. The negatives, on the other hand are often great even when the positives look bad. I'm seriously considering investing in a spot-meter to take readings off of peoples' faces. One of my first two sitters needed four shots to get anything even close to correct. They were good sports and I didn't charge them. I suspect the auto stop-down on the Graflex wasn't working quite right at first and was sticking. You have to really push the plunger down to make sure it engages. I'm learning.

Lea assisted and was fantastic working with the sitters to get a great shot. She has a natural ability to get people to experiment in front of the lens, which is the essence of what the whole Tsirkus project is about.

"Business" was a little slow since all agreed, including Eileen who is one of the event organizers, that I was a bit far away from the action, that being the bandstand. Next year the plan is to be in the thick of things. People really DO need to see you and they often won't walk fifty feet to check something out. What's the old shtick? "Location, location, location..." I'm also going to look into a canopy to help moderate the sun, similar to what we did at Flag Fest. It's also good rain insurance.

I also met some cool photographers, Don Spiro, an ex-Philadelphia, and John Margolis, who is a documentary shooter working around NY. I had previously talked to him a few months ago concerning large-format work. There was even a Bush Pressman and a Speed Graphic (both old school 4x5 cameras) looming about taking photos of the hurly-burly. I hope those people post their shots. John was shooting with an old Rollei, one of my favorite cameras.

Let me just comment at this juncture that I believe it's important not to worry about anyone stepping on your territory. First of all, there is no "territory." My feeling is I actually hope someone is crazy enough to devote their time and energy to doing something similar to this project! I tell people whatever they want to know. I don't believe in trade secrets. Also, trying to control what other people do is a big waste of time. I'd rather be shooting and shmoozing.

RA Friedman, Principal Photographer