Monday, July 19, 2010

Jazz Age Lawn Party 07/17 and 07/18/10

It seems as if the weather rarely cooperates for outside shoots, so one must be ready for just about anything. In this case it was extreme heat. On the second day, I drank approximately five liters of fluid (mostly just plain water). Luckily the shoot was on Governors Island, an oasis out in the middle of NY harbor that is about a twenty minute ferry ride from lower Manhattan. Being away from all the cars and the buildings helped a lot. There is also a cool ocean-like breeze.

I decided this time I absolutely had to something to mediate between me and the elements. I bought a very light dining fly at I. Goldberg for this trip. I did at least open the thing up before I left, but I was not able to set it up. When I got to Governors Island, I realized the design of the thing was just wrong. There was nothing to keep the support poles vertically attached to the top. It really needed an extra set of supports. So, I cut the shock cords and made two long poles and created a kind of improvised curved shell with one end securely staked to the ground. This also obviated the need for a backdrop and holder.

The second day, I really got things down adding some breasting lines as well. I was quite pleased at how clean it looked and it also provided a fair amount of sun protection for most of the day.

Both days of shooting were quite good. The first day was brisk, picking up in the late afternoon. Evelyn Kriete styled and assisted. G.D. Falksen also tagged along and helped with the finishing of the images. Sunday, I was on my own and it was slow up until the very end when a flurry of shooting rounded out the day. I made the 6:00 ferry and hit lower Manhattan with all my gear and a bag full of wet instant film negatives by about 6:20.

I then proceeded up to my cousin's place near 60th and Broadway over land. The whole rig was too large to even think about putting on the subway alone and the taxi fare for a 6.35 mile (I checked this on Mapquest) would have killed any profit I might have made; but moreover, I hate adding to the burning of fossil fuels if there is an alternative. It was decent day for summer and the temperature had dropped to a cool 86F, so I hoofed it. Foolishly, I just followed Broadway, going through some very dense areas: Soho, Union Square, Herald Square, Times Square and Columbus Circle. The whole trip took about two hours, which is about average for human locomotion--three miles per hour.

So many people out! Many tourists and I did my best to be tolerant of them slow-poking along. I also needed to be sure I didn't nail anyone in the shins with my wide load. I did surprising well. As I traveled, especially in the Times Square area, I saw so many artists on the street just trying to scrape out a few pennies. I imagined their workday--sitting there in the hellish heat, uninvited, in a largely uncontrolled and indifferent environment and probably having to scrounge for a badly needed bathroom and having to wait undue time for relief in the waiting line.

A cool apartment with my own room and bath was awaiting me the end of the day. Sometimes we don't realize how lucky and privileged we are. My cousin, who has become a kind of "angel" to my undertakings insisted I take a cab to the bus station on the final return, which I did, but I again went over the streets on the Philadelphia end, about two miles.

Portrait pics to follow in the next few days on

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Craig's Post and Reply

The Craig's Post:

"I am looking for a photographer (professional or not) that can teach me a thing or two. I have a nice DSLR camera and can work my way around it but there is much I still have to learn and I constantly have questions. I'm not looking to pay anyone for this but if you are someone that is eager to pass on some of your wisdom and come along side me to teach me a few things - I would greatly appreciate it. I have an eye for photography and I prefer outdoor photography but I really need to learn more about indoor photography so I don't shy away from opportunities to shoot indoors.

Hope to hear from you!"


The Reply:


Here are my thoughts:

Create a list of your questions, then research them for a week or two or three and see how many you can knock off your list. Most tech. information is out there
either in books or online. I've spent time in Barnes and Nobles just perusing what they have lapping up free knowledge. Also, a lot of camera shops, like Calumet will answer tech. questions.

Once you have a kind of "hot list"--those quandaries that nobody seems to have the answers to, post it! You might try the artist's forum on Craig's since there are a lot
of photographers in that pool. Pro's are generally amenable to answering something specific.

My guess is, you'll find the tough questions, nobody really has the answers to, or the answer varies from job to job or photographer to photographer. There is no "right" answer only what works for your own work. This is the difficult and also the exciting part about photography--there is no "royal road" and each photographer really has to find their own path, do their own experiments, and find out what works. It may be that to really answer these issues it may take years of work and practice. That is, they are just a starting point.

Ultimately, photography is really about dealing with yourself and your subject matter and how you position yourself in that mix. The really successful photographers have a strong bond with what they photograph, they know it intimately, perhaps are even obsessed. The photography is just a tool and often a lonely road that can be one of the most fulfilling experiences as well. Enjoy!