Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I am Thankful for

What am I thankful for?

Simply lots. But in no particular order:

- my siblings. Though I'm sure I drive them nuts & they periodically drive me nuts, I'd rather have them than not.

- my parents. Though it can be rough at times, I'm grateful that when the chips are down I can depend on them if need be.

- my subjects. Their participation in some of my crazy ideas allow me to participate in my craft & allow me to give my unique vision to the world.

- my brushes w/ the law. As someone who has gotten numerous speeding tickets & cops questioning why I'm tramping around dilapidated buildings, none have ever gone so far as to put me behind bars for long periods of time. Maybe its because they were nice or I managed to slither my way out somehow but I'm not really sure which not that I'm going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

- my community. Not to loud. Not to crazy. Enough activities to keep me occupied when I come out of my hole. Close enough to travel places when I want. Not for everyone but it works for me. The autumns make it all worth while.

- my life. No matter how crappy I THINK my life is, I'm grateful in knowing there's always someone out there that's worth off than me. That brightens my spirits knowing I'm not as bad as them (in that perverse sorta way).


This is Shannon indulging me in my love of working in forgotten spaces. The costume is her idea.

I'm tentatively calling this, "Searching for the Last Post-Apocalyptic Trick."


Feel free to comment or opine or critique, if you so desire. Just act like adults & leave a name when doing so.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pocahontas Meets the Ridiculous

I encourage my subjects to suggest ideas no matter how crazy or ridiculous they are. Because I'm quite nutty in my sensibilities.

Maybe I was dropped as a child. Well, in fairness no, I probably wasn't. However it wouldn't at all surprise me if it stems from me eating Play-doh as a kid or whacking myself in the head one to many times w/ a Matchbox car or eating paint chips or something. Yes, I was THAT kind of child.

During my most recent visit w/ Samantha, her fiancee Ryan had this idea involving a feather, a piece of twine, & a leaf. Somehow w/ just that alone, I had this vibe that me & him would get along just fine.

Stuck for specific ideas but always playing w/ relationship dynamics, I gave them a reverse Pocahontas storyline. The age old savage meets civilized man (or in this case woman), savage threatens man, man civilizes savage, man & savage fall in love. Its quite Victorian minded if I do say so myself, though that theme has been around since well before Babylonia. I just let them run w/ it & see where it took us.

I'm choosing this shot because I really like their body language.


Feel free to opine, comment, criticize so long as one can be a civil adult. As well as leaving at least a first name so I know who's commenting. :-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Friends, Boyfriends, & Escorts, Oh My!

The topic of whether one of my subjects is allowed to bring a friend, boyfriend, or escort for their own comfort level, periodically arises from prospective applicants.


1. This can be a touchy subject for a variety of reasons. But here are my own personal guidelines, they are welcome to come so long as:

- they bring something to do, like a book or homework or something. My shoots are NO WHERE near as exciting as America's Next Top Model. They are often downright dull unless the person is directly involved & has something at stake in them.

- they aren't distracting for either of us. Rarely happens but I've had models trip out because THEY think their BF is subconsciously judging them while he watched. I'm not sure why they insisted on bringing them to the shoot in such instances but that's neither here nor there.

- they be willing to help if needed.

- their actions, good or bad, are ultimately a reflection on you. If they bail at the last minute & you have "no one else to come", its a reflection on you. Likewise if they assist in being aiding us by holding a reflector.


2. Though I'm laid back & almost don't care (if it makes the prospect more comfortable, having someone along is fine by me), it can be an issue for other people. Their concerns may run something like this:

- equipment theft or liability issues

- what kind of personality will the friend have? Intimidating? Outgoing? Controlling? Unrealistic? Open minded? Inquisitive? They often won't know until gameday.

- limited space in the location/studio itself

- the friend's view about the shoot. Some people view it as a workplace. Their argument is is that you wouldn't take your friend to the doctor's when you get a physical or to the dentist to fill a cavity or to the day job? Why would you bring it to a shoot?

- We photographers are just as at risk "of something happening" as you models are. For all we know, you might be coming in hungover (I've had that happen once, she was sent home before she stepped in the door) or high.

- No one is allowed on set unless they're actively involved in some way. The theory is is that since they have nothing at stake, they're not going to care about getting good results.

I may not necessarily agree w/ everything stated in the above but its a viewpoint worth looking at.


3. I also hear this statement on occasion:

"(You) should always bring someone with (you), because there are a lot people out there in this profession for all the wrong reason."

I often wince upon reading that.

Newsflash! There are people in it for the wrong reasons in ALL professions. A woman is 3 times more likely to "have something happen to them" (however that's defined) by someone they know than they are by a stranger. The "Photographer Rapes & Kills Blond Model" simply makes for a juicier headline & boosts ratings. Creepiness is hardly limited to ones profession or skill level.


4. Though there's a certain level of trust needed when one operates in the public eye, there are ways that one can reduce the risk of "something happening" (however defined).

Sometimes I think people fall on the "I need to bring a friend standpoint" because they just don't realize what else they can do. In no particular order, here are some suggestions:

- Have you actually talked to the person over the phone? Texting & email doesn't count because you cannot get a read on tonal inflection.

- Have you met the photographer in person? This is not always practical because of distance & free time but it sometimes can happen, particularly if you both are local. Body language reading can help in these cases.

- Have you told someone where you're going & who you're w/ & for how long? Have you also given the friend the photographer's contact name & number?

- Have you asked for references? At the very least, what was the photographer's reaction?

- Do you plan on doing periodic call-ins or texts (maybe during wardrobe or set changes?) to a trusted friend that everything is still alright?

- What kind of communication vibe are you getting? If you have questions, is the other person willing to explain things? Or like in emails, are things vague or terse?

- If you still wish to have someone come w/ you & the photographer is not comfortable w/ it, have you thought about having the friend as your driver, you being dropped off wherever (most likely w/ the photographer) & then allow them to use the vehicle to go chill somewhere locally or catch a movie while you shoot?

- Have you communicated clearly to the photographer what you will & won't do prior to the actual shoot? Have they actively acknowledged it in any meaningful way? Don't assume.

- Have you asked any questions?

- I've worked w/ models/subjects who say nothing when something is making them uncomfortable? Have you spoken up? I cannot speak for others but sometimes I become tunnel blind focusing on what I'm doing that I don't notice (for instance) the model is shaking from the cold.

Taking all this into account, does your Spidey Sense still tingle?

I'm not the type to think any one of these taken alone would raise an eyebrow. However collectively, a person may want to take a second look at the applicable answers, their context, & tone. Use your situational awareness vibe, evaluate, & act accordingly. No two instances are the same.


Below is Shylah & her fiancee, Brad, participating in my "Critique of the Unsatisfied Relationship" series. Please let me know if I've yet to explain both the origins & what I'm trying to specifically explore in this series. I'm constantly exploring the subtle nuisances w/ relationships.

Both their body languages feel appropriate for this entry.


Feel free to opine, critique, compliment, slam, whatever so long as you act like civil adults.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Congressman Coward Votes No on HR 3962

I've been following the debate over Universal Health Care trying to make sense of all the different options & form a half-way educated opinion, as I've written w/ my Sept 14, 2009 entry.

The Representative for NY's 20th district, Scott Murphy, voted "no" on HR 3962. In his press statement, he writes:

(1) "I firmly believe that health care reform is critical to strengthening our nation. However, in order to achieve this goal, we must address the fundamentally flawed system that has led to skyrocketing costs, bankrupt families and extremely profitable insurance companies. For these reasons, I voted no on H.R. 3962 tonight.

(2)“This bill makes a number of important reforms, which I wholeheartedly support including the elimination of the lifetime caps on insurance benefits and the pre-existing condition exclusion, invests in prevention and primary care, creates a health insurance exchange to force insurance companies to compete and offers a public option for people who want to get away from for-profit insurance companies."

Ok, he's trying to be for the little guy. I get that. Yet he turns around & says this:

(3) "I have consistently said that any bill that Congress passes must curb costs and keep health care affordable in the long term. During these difficult economic times, an unacceptably high price tag will stress our already overstretched federal budget and place even more burdens on our hard working individuals, families and small businesses. We need to fix the system now, and not put off the hard choices for another generation. Furthermore, I am deeply frustrated by the last minute addition of over $50 billion in taxes on the two largest private employers in the 20th District – medical device manufacturers and paper mills."

Emphasis mine.

(4) “As a small businessman, I am also concerned that H.R. 3962 falls short of making health insurance affordable for the small businesses of the 20th District; it fails to reform the fundamentally flawed incentives in the system, which continue to drive costs upward; and it fails to restrain the monopolistic practices of private insurers, which allow them to continue to increase premiums already weighing on families and small businesses."

When comparing paragraphs 1 & 3 this begs the question, who is Congressman Murphy really for? Is he for the people who put him in power by a mere 1465 (out of over 161,000 cast) or is he simply out to protect his benefactors that give him his $$ w/ state sanctioned bribes?

It'd be one thing if he voted against it because the current plan fines people for not having health insurance or that it basically neuters the public option (all legitimate grievances). However in paragraph 3, he's against the provisions that raise taxes on the industries in his district. Let's back up for a minute. During his special election, he was perfectly fine using tax payer dollars for handouts to private industries (even after they demonstrated in screwing up their own finances) but when it rolls around for them to put back into the system, its an outrage. I guess it shows where his priorities are.

If you also take a look at paragraphs 2, he lists all the ways it attempts to fix the very problems he's concerned w/ yet flips flops on why the current bill isn't good (paragraph 4). This would've been less confusing had they appeared in two separate statements (as opposed to just the one). Or maybe they're just playing the old "if you can't dazzle them w/ brilliance, bewilder them w/ BS."

His "no" vote begs the question, what has he actually done to help align the bill w/ his beliefs? Did he propose any amendments to address his concerns? Has he given a floor speech? If not, then what exactly has he been doing since he took the oath of office? Its not like Congress has had much else on its agenda.

Murphy's Health Care position reinforces the notion of being a typical politician w/ no firm beliefs. He makes his decision by licking his finger & putting it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. Murphy votes against the Stupack Amendment (as reported by PlanetAlbany), a provision disallowing federal funds to pay for abortions in the reform package. He wants it both ways. He pays lip-service to appease the pro-abortion segment yet votes against measures that directly effects his own campaign contributors.

His "I need to study the issue" mantra (as he said countless times when asked about the Federal Bailouts to both the auto, bank, & insurance industries) may have served him well during his special election this past spring, yet conveniently is in favor of it when its outcome is already assured. The "I need to study the issue" doesn't carry the same weight or slack when you've been studying it for the last 6 months. This isn't like the national budget where they cram God only knows how many pieces of legislation in less than a 48-hour period (if that).

I used to be one to scoff whenever pundits said, "So & so's vote is going to come back & haunt him come reelection." The American voter has an incredibly short memory. But w/ instances like this, I understand where they're coming from. To paraphrase Musing of a Fairly Young Contrarian, "If a candidate cannot even be bothered to hold a core set of beliefs, why should I obligated to vote for him?"

Mr Murphy take a lesson from your fellow Congressman like Rep. Thomas Perriello (D-Va.), Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), Rep. Steve Driehous (D-Ohio) and Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), all vulnerable freshman. "Grow a pair & actually stand for something."


This is another shot of Government Center when I was visiting Boston this past summer. (I'm using the clickable thumbnail version because its a little to wide)


Feel free to opine, criticize, whatever so long as said views are expressed in a civilized manner.

Monday, November 9, 2009

the Massachusetts Coast

I have many topics I've been wanting to discuss lately but haven't figured out a coherently way to put them into words. Actually, that's not entirely true. I have put them into words, I'm working on a way that senses for the readers.

In a completely unrelated topic...

When I work, my aim is to get my subjects to subconsciously drop their everyday armor. This often takes the form of us simply chatting. Other times, I'll ask questions that get them to open up about whatever.

Hearing Jenny discuss her life was endearing. She had such zest in how she described her family life, her home, her kids, her neighborhood, among many other things. It turns out, her husband has North Country NY roots as well as being college buddies to my own city councilman. Small world considering Jenny's based in the Southeastern Massachusetts coast.

My shoot w/ her is another of those laid back chat, shoot, chat, break, get munchies, shoot some more, get under shelter because of the crappy weather, rinse, recycle, repeat.

I'm picking this shot below because it allows me to tell an anecdotes:


The above was taken on the MA coast in Jenny's region. A few seconds before it was taken, she is shouting (barely audible over the crashing waves) warning me of an incoming tide. I wasn't worried (& told her so) in the hopes I was able to get the shot I was looking for, specifically having the waves crash in the foreground w/ her in it. I got the shot I was looking for & my lower body was drenched in the process.

It was worth it & yes, I had the foresight to bring flip-flops & a change of pants during that trip.


Feel free to comment, opine, criticize if you so desire. All I ask is that you keep it civil.