Archive for February, 2012
For a town of 15,000, Greenfield has an artsy scene that rivals places with more ethnic and economic diversity. Despite the absence of chi chi colleges offering arenas, crowds or financing, Catherine Ohlman drew a crowd to a little tea/coffee house on Main Street. We listened to her throaty sounds, heard the political message and danced in the aisles. Most of the crowd looked aged and very happy, nonetheless. Just a great Friday Night date night.
I was trying a case in the Southern District. Judge Miner, whom I knew from New York Law School, the local law school on Worth and Church from which we both were graduated, somehow found himself in the public elevator with me, one of his clerks, and a very out of control pro se litigant. The guy didn’t know Judge Miner’s lofty position in the building. He was ranting about one injustice after another, focusing his anger on the system and judges in particular. Judge Miner turned to me and said, “Mr. Duckman, you represent them and then I listen to them.” A very human judge.
Talked about the science, math and practice of video digital capture on DSLR. Added in videos from SNL, which you cannot be sure many in the audience watch, or if they do, it cannot be back to the time of Chevy Chase, along with a rap about the state of the equipment and technology. Seriously competent, and he sent us to Hurlbut and Laforet, giants in the field. Not arrogant or flashy, USC film school, at the top of his game and promoting his craft.
Out of my comfort zone, here at HIP. Not comfortable with the lines, light and narrative. Paul changed the direction of photography, not a destination to which I aspire, by seeing tonality in the shapes of the modern world. Got to see it, before I can mess with it.
So, the dude, who was a Heisler assistant, comes to Hallmark to encourage, educate and show off. Right before setting off on his own, he gained some degree of acceptance by having a President Bush remember his name, if not his dress and demeanor. He is energy, fun and the craft of photography. But best, for us aimers and constructors, focuses on his single minded direction to build a business. “I may not be the best photographer, but I am the best marketer.” And noone thinks he just showed up at the White House, accidentally leaving his attitude and knowledge of the dress code behind.
I started this project, allowing someone whose image I wanted to capture to shoot me. A while ago, I asked a fellow photographer to exchange cameras, leaving me with but another of collections I have not been back to.
Fascinating way you see how you look in your own camera, with your own lens facing you and theirs facing them. Another variation enabled me to gain the confidence of sitters, especially kids, with the assistance of a tethered monitor when I gave them a shutter release and asked them to take their own image or mine displayed their face or the image they shot. If I could give to them, as if they were photographers, they could give to me.
So Bryant Gumble needed some extra kick which led Monte to let him shoot Monte’s image; I would have asked Bryant to shoot a self portrait, but I am me, more interested in how I look when the shutter snaps that how I look when I snap the shutter. Hard to imagine, with Bryant’s experience before the camera, why he wasn’t into the shoot or how it resolved itself. I’d like to talk with both about the shoot, and test Mr. Gumble about his memory of talking about me on “Today.” Then I’d shoot his image.
Cannot summarize the presentation, except that it didn’t have a piss break. He talked about deductions, additions, and the friendship of the shot. Not sure he described the roles that all the people on the periphery serve, although he respects all, he doesn’t pay them all. Cannot criticize him for this because all it seems to be the norm for the business; take advantage of the plethora of young and eager creators during a time of economic downturn, hoping you can teach them enough to enlarge the greater community of photographers while you pursue your own dream.
Nothing stops him. He learns of that he isn’t in on the bid for a shot; he puts his own production together to get back into the game. Hired by Molsons to shoot hockey, he challenges the goallie. Not my kind of shooter, yet, he objectifies and personifies, looking for the electricity of the moment without involvement. Lots of people helped define his style and promote his career, though it be hard to understand whom they are and what they offered. He seems so much a product of himself.
And he spends a ton of money promoting himself, the creativeness of which had to be added to the all of our notes (flash drives containing his videofied portfolio, along with contact info), trips to visit prospective clients (whose needs he has researched) and a string of parties. His personal files show friends and food that he eats. Like to see the idiots acting stupid and the sushi.
Me and him just met. I look forward to the next contact. He brings excitement to his shoots and his craft. He takes chances, going into areas where he doesn’t have a lot of experience with the culture, shooting sports he doesn’t follow and partying with employees/interns/friends/clients, encouraging them to see his kid side. He doesn’t fall prey to star envy or think he is one, which allows him to play with his subjects, letting them do their thing on their time and earn his living doing his, on his.
They had a look of beauty worthy of a tourist site featuring butterflies. But dressed in black, they reaked of NYC. Tourists sometimes ask to have their pictures taken. I shot mine and theirs, though because they needed to move on with their shoot, time was of the essence; not even enough space to grab my reflector.
I gave a card. Told them I went to Hallmark which they never heard of. Asked what they were doing here, “we are on a shoot; we blog.” Too bad, because I could use them as models for one of my assignments. They looked gorgeous, if you know what I mean, and I don’t have all that much experience with glam, style or big city attitude.
One said they would be back. She asked if I would send her a file if I took a seminal photo; hard to do under pressure.
Just straight photography, dudes. I be ready when you come back. Have you ever been to Turners Falls?
Left alone on the streets of Amhearst MA to shoot. Found some people whose faces fit well in my camera.
More than just portrait, wedding and editorial promoted at Hallmark. Matt came to talk about photojournalism. Admitting he doesn’t know all the tricks, he offered that the skills Hallmark develops would make a shooter capable of working a news assignment. “You cannot be a jerk; you have to be on time; and you have to get the shot (sometimes differently than all the others).
Self-made and self taught, he earned a place in the White House Press Corps. Sometimes, though he arrived mostly on time, he got a place that let him make s shot few others saw. Lots of opportunities at stages ringed by flags and private engagements where he lacked access didn’t dissuade him. But a need to build a family in an area where he was more in control and had easier access to family to do child care brought him back to the Greenfield/Turners Falls area. Lots to say for quality of life.
So, he lives in the area and does freelance for AP, NYT, Boston Globe and some international wire services. Money comes from the bread and butter wedding shoots and who knows what else. Knowing the strains that war correspondents and those chronicling environmental and health issues can bring, it is unlikely he will hit the road and leave his family. He has control of his life, a position devoutely to be wished, but who knows for how long he will work the local beat and whom he will help or whom he will become.
NYT has an image of a photo op in the oval office, an event that Matt no longer attends. Not a lot of time to think about your shots or distinguish yourself, nor a lot of opportunity to witness an unscripted event. After all, they just sit and smile.
Jack Reznicki came to Hallmark to lecture on the business of photogaphy. After distibuting a “Photographer’s Survival Manual,” he talked about the photographer’s responsibility to his craft: respect the rights of others, keep good records and don’t give away your work. To survive and thrive, you have to register your work and send out accurate, detailed invoices, promptly. I ain’t pushing the text for him, but after a quick read I can say it provides a useful guide for protecting the photographer/artist in the digital age.