Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category
We are goofing our way across the country, in our last week of life on a bus. It’s been a fun ride, mostly because of the people we have met, the passion we have encountered, and the incredibly warm welcome we have received from Seattle to NY to Grand Rapids to Atlanta to Albuquerque. We have taught, laughed, screwed up, thrown flashes in the air, logged over 11,000 miles (so far), and just in general, made light (ouch!) of everything. Just a bunch of bucketheads on a bus. Then, in the midst of a laugh, you get a note that’s like a quick snort of smelling salts. It clears the head, and removes the fog that sometimes descends after a bumpy night’s sleep in a rolling, two foot wide bed. It snaps you back to the wonderful reality of just how being involved in picture making on any level gets into the very marrow of your bones. If life is a patchwork quilt, photography can be the stitching.
From one of our attendees……
True Story about the day…
4 weeks ago the light of my life, business partner, and ongoing source of… umm… determination; was diagnosed with terminal, incurable, ultra rare, neuro-endocrine cancer. 2 weeks ago when we were meeting with the oncologist to discuss treatment, Eric informed his doctor that he refused to start any kind of treatment until after April 12th because he didn’t want to be ill for the date. I have been a follower of Strobist since I stumbled accross it a couple months after Strobist began. Eric has worshiped Joe McNally for years and we now own all his books. Off camera Nikon strobes is what brought us together. Between the 2 of us; the event of Joe and David finally coming to the Midwest to speak was a nearly religious experience.
So to Joe, thank you. I was the one with the snarky comment that you gave the disks to, it made me happy and it overjoyed Eric. We had already decided that we couldn’t afford the DVD’s. That was a gift with a double whammy that will make the trip to Indy so special for us for the time we have left together. I really can’t thank you enough or tell you how happy we were to be there. Neither of us are the kind to gush over celebrities and I NEVER write to them; but, thank you, thank you, thank you.
To David….. OMG I got to stand near DAVID HOBBY, the man made of light! And shake is hand! Seriously, it was funny sitting there listening to you and to have Eric lean over to me and say, “I understand why you think he’s so cool, he’s been hugely influential on every aspect of your photographic philosophy”.
Thank you all so much for a great day of laughter and light!
You get a note like that, and it is humbling, overwhelming, and motivating all at the same time. It makes you want to shoot better, teach better, and just be better. It makes you want to call your wife or husband. It makes you want to take more pictures of your kids. It reassures you that this lark we’re on has a good reverb. It reaffirms that as a shooter, it’s about being in the trenches, keeping your eye in the camera, pushing through the mistakes and the misgivings and the slumps. It’s about sharing knowledge, and pushing each other. Giving back is so much more important than pixels.
Kat and Eric…sending light your way…..more tk….
And all best for 2011! Blog will be back next week….
More, as they say, tk….
A couple of indispensable blogs were posted this week. First, John Loengard’s guest blog on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider.
This I would suggest as a must read for photographers and picture editors alike. Tremendous economic pressures over time have fractured and adversely affected the historic and important relationship good picture editors have with the photographers they employ. This post, and John’s well reasoned and direct advocacy for the role of the photog in the world of publications, is very well taken.
The other is up on Strobist.
Greg Heisler burst onto the magazine scene around 1980 or so, and single handedly changed magazine photography. I am not overstating the case. His singular sense of light and color impacted so thoroughly that just about every picture editor out there was lining their magazine up for pictures that looked like Greg’s. He had lots of imitators (myself included) who devoured his stuff, looking at catch lights to see where he put what kind of flashes, and wondering what gel pack had produced the vibrant color palette that attended his pix. I could stand at magazine rack and look at a display of a couple hundred mags, and pick out a Heisler cover.
I have worked with Rudy, and can thoroughly corroborate what Greg breezily refers to as the “moment of truth,” on this shoot. This cover was done of Rudy at his personal zenith, and when a public figure is at such a point, their handlers are like a very effective offensive line in football, blocking all charges. The behind the scenes negotiating just to get Rudy to top of the Rock must have been intense. Then, of course, once he gets there, is gonna go up on the edge of the roof? Rudy’s actually pretty cool about that stuff once you get him to the location. Pretty down to earth, or edge of the building type of guy.
The planning of the light is very cool to listen in on. So is the lesson that could be easily glossed over. Research. A week of going to the location at the exact time of day to determine the look and feel of the light. This was an intense collaboration between an extremely talented photog, a picture editor who did and said all the right things to get the subject on board, and a magazine willing to go the extra mile to get something done right. This was the correct mix of craft, obsession, funding and preparation.
This photo is memorable, and memorable isn’t easy. You generally don’t get memorable from a $50 stock pickup. Rudy was an icon at that moment in time, and thus demanded an appropriately iconic photographer. That combination is the reason we are still looking at this picture.
Working in Europe, under a giant umbrella of volcanic ash. No fly time now. Just as well. I’d rather drive just about anywhere than fly. Except home, of course. Gotta fly home, and pretty soon, so hoping for a wind shift, or maybe one of those movie special effects deals where all of sudden the volcano goes into reverse gear and sucks back down what it just threw up.
Working with Nikon Europe and a bunch of Annie’s extraordinary colleagues over here. What started small in Copenhagen 4 years ago has become a barnstorming tour, with stops in a various cities across Europe, particularly, this year, in Germany. Yasuo Baba, the manager of NPS Germany, and a complete, total force of nature, has put together a terrific itinerary that has us in Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, as well as 6 stops in Germany. Somehow, through his efforts, every place we show up, there’s ballerinas and body builders.
Just crossed into Austria. Gonna be a while before we hit Ljubljana. Darkness closing in. Domen and Rene up front sharing the driving. Young guys, they are, somewhat oddly, into 80’s music. Dire Straits through the speakers. Annie eating gummi bears.
People across the board have been wonderful at the various stops. Meeting photogs from the commercial world, newspaper guys, wedding shooters, you name it. Playing with light and shooting stuff. Talking gear, the language we all understand.
Years ago, my first foray out of the US sent me to England. I was a student, and my photography professor, Fred Demarest, urged me to come over and mix chemistry for the Syracuse London photo program. I got 9 free graduate credits, and 5 pounds a week.
I jumped on it. Got myself a cold water flat with a shower down the hall in Parsons Green, south of the Thames, for six pounds fifty a week. Ran the lab, shot stuff at Speakers’ Corner, looked at lots of pictures. Went to the London Royal Photographic Society, where they had a show of Gene Smith’s work. Went back six or seven times.
Ate at the original, and at that time, the only, Hard Rock CafÃ©. Played basketball for a semi-pro team called London Amber. Had a blast. Starting five was a crazy Ozzie, me, and some terrific English blokes, one of whom was a chauffeur during the day. For a road trip, he could stuff the whole team into his massive limo. Played some pretty basic gyms, lacking, uh, amenities. Jesus, that car stank after a game.
Went to sea. Wandered up to Lowestoft, the eastmost tip of England, and signed onto to a fishing trawler named the Boston Shackleton for a two week stint in the North Sea. In November. On board, they called me “Hank the Yank” and made fun of the fact I had to hang on to stand up. Couple of them piped down a bit after I climbed the mast, which most of the crew wouldn’t do. Fun up there, a seaborne roller coaster, complete with salt spray.
Nighttime on the the Dogger, as some fishermen liked to call the North Sea, is particularly, deeply black. The wheelhouse was like a cocoon. Outside the sea circled the boat like a powerful snake, waves coiling and uncoiling. Wind sharp as a thrown knife. Inside, the glow of instruments, and the smell of strong tea.
Thirty five years and nearly 60 countries later, still at sea. Still love staring at darkness, slipping by. Still love the uncertainty of photography. Still love the fact that it kicks my ass. Nowadays, love knowing that all those millions of pixels, hot wired for color and speed, are still blind without the eye of a shooter pointing them the right way. Still love that my imagination precludes the possibility that I will ever grow up.
Still love the passport stamps, and the fact that each one means a connection made, a culture observed. Lessons learned. People met. Bridges, however temporary and fragile, made. Never get tired of the sound of a shutter. Never tire of nights like these, especially now that I share them with Annie. Here in the dark, asleep now, listening to her breathe.
Ljubljana still couple hours away. It’s okay. They can drive slower if they want. More tk….
Hot Shoe Diaries was the number one reader’s pick for the arts and photography category on Amazon for 2009.
Pretty cool. I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback from folks who really enjoyed the book and I thank everyone for the kind words that have been sent my way. Very appreciative of the support, and thanks for letting Amazon know about it!
It’s been an interesting week. There was the good news about the book, and then Lynn, my studio manager for 18 years, was going back and forth with a major multi-national who had a check for us, but had the wrong address listed. It batted around the GPO in NYC for a bit, and was returned, so thankfully, they called and got it all adjusted properly and re-sent it. (As far as Lynn’s longevity with me is concerned, rest assured I am extremely appreciative. I just called Rome, and tried to put her name on the list for beatification as a saint. They asked, well, has she performed any miracles? I said, “Are you kidding me? We’re still in business!” The line went dead. Maybe I shoulda emailed?)
We anxiously awaited the check. This could be it! What a great week! First the Amazon rating, and now, a check! The one that puts us over the top! No more worries! Livin’ large. Next trip to LA, book me the Walter Iooss memorial suite at Shutters on the Beach!
It showed up, and frankly, it was disappointing.
Eighty two cents? Jeez. Undaunted, I went into a convenience store and walked up to the very nice lady at the counter and asked if there was anything in the store I could buy for .82 cents.
She looked at me hard, and didn’t even have to say, “Are ya stupid, or just plain crazy?”
I assured her I was not, and that I knew it was a little weird, but my budget limit was eighty two cents.
She tried to be helpful, but was having a hard time thinking of stuff. I suggested a box of Tic Tacs but no way. Tic Tacs are like, around $1.55 most places, except Kennedy Airport, where they are $17.26. The little boxes generally have 36 individual tic tacs, which makes them about 4.3 cents per, so I could have converted my check into 19 of those minty little guys, but they don’t sell them individually.
Newspaper? Not even close. Refrigerator magnet? I got the look again. I got outta the store, lest I discovered hassling the clerk early in the morning might lead me to discover eighty two cents could possibly purchase a big noise and a used shotgun shell.
But hey, things are okay. I just got notification from Delta that I’m in the million miler club. Million miles, just on Delta. Sheesh. Evidence, perhaps, of a life gone wrong? Dunno. But it worked out this morning. On a non-refundable coach class ticket, I got an upgrade to first! Way cool. I was thinking on it, you know, anticipating the delights of the first class cabin. Eggs Benedict? A Mimosa? Pigs in a blanket? A foot rub? An exclusive first ever in the air viewing of “This Is It”?
Breakfast. Oh, well. More tk….