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Back in the Swing of Things…

Well it happened again…I have let far too much time go by without shooting, so in trying to get back to a regular shooting schedule I have these photos to offer.  I have started tutoring a student, Max, and took him to one of my favorite spots in all of Washington DC to take pictures, the Hirshhorn.  Always interesting backgrounds and plenty of people.

Dwarf or child? Who knows?

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One of my favorite spots is the lower section of thr Hirshhorn where they always have some random video playing on a giant projector screen…

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This installation will have to be revisited, but I do like what came out of a few minutes of people watching.

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Art or did the cleaning crew just get really lazy?

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Then a quick stop by the American History Museum.

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Favorite “one” of the day; this is three frames put together.

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Hopefully this is the start of my blogging getting back to some sort of a regular schedule.  Until next time…

Starlight Children’s Foundation…

From time to time I stop and think about what it will be like to have children, it completely stresses me out. I worry about everything. Will I have any girls? If so, how much will a pony farm cost? How do you nurture something you love more than yourself without over doing it? Will they be rebels? Will they be half as accident prone as I was growing up? Then the one question that creeps in briefly before I quickly dismiss it, will they be healthy? I can’t imagine the added stress that comes with having a sick child. Everyone is effected parents, siblings, and most of all the sick child.

This weekend I was able to work with an amazing group, Starlight Children’s Foundation. What they do, “When a child is diagnosed with a serious illness, the day-to-day joys of childhood take a back seat to the rigors of treatment and hospitalization. For nearly 30 years, Starlight Children’s Foundation has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for children around the globe with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and life-altering injuries by providing entertainment, education and family activities that help them cope with the pain, fear and isolation of prolonged illness.”

Face painting was the first stop.

Finally getting to see the work of the face painter.

At times the mesh from the bounce castle was the only thing separating this volunteer from the most adorable mauling of his life.

After bouncing for a while, Miss Teen Virginia stopped by for a visit.  Clearly a princess is not complete without a REAL crown, and Miss Teen Virginia was a more than willing to let the girls try on her crown.

Everyone wanted their time with Miss Teen Virginia.

Some wanted the crown, but not Spiderman.  He knew what he wanted. Notice him above taking position to make his move, eyes locked on target.

The AMAZING Jonathan was up next.

It was easy to see how much fun the kids were having, but these events are also needed breaks for the parents.  Here two dads help the AMAZING Jonathan get on his extremely tall unicycle.

The reaction of the crowd is great, but one person was less than impressed.  I like your style Spiderman.

There was dancing. The dance floor was ruled by a stern but fair Queen.  She kept everyone in order.

I can’t really stress how much people flipped for the bounce castle…(Side note: one of the hardest places I have ever tried to light/shoot in.)

I’m pretty sure that if her handler hadn’t been there Miss Teen Virginia would have been in that bounce castle with the rest of us, crown or no crown.

Towards the end of the night a group of girls were choreographing a dance, and I noticed this one little girl struggling with her balloon.

From this exchange came my favorite photo of the night.  Here, after my offering of help, she contemplates whether or not she wants me to fix her balloon.

The night ended with a few last photos to remind them of better things other than hospitals and medicine.

If you would like to donate to please look at their website, www.starlight.org. You don’t have to just donate money, you can volunteer your time. The strength of all these families is truly both humbling and inspiring. I am thankful I had the opportunity to photograph this event, and I look forward to working with them more in the future.

Here is the whole group.

Más Ocupar…

 

These photos are from yesterday’s Occupy DC action at the offices’ of the US House of Representatives.     The protest had already started as I arrived, so I quickly made my way to the middle of the crowd.  Anyone who has seen some of my previous post might be sick of seeing my photos of people taking photos, but this is a little different because many of the Occupiers are now streaming live videos with chat as they protest. Tracesofjupiter:History in the making! #OccupyCongress #J17

After being outside the Occupiers moved into the Congressional offices.

Waiting for his fellow Occupiers…

After wandering the halls for a bit it was time to head back to the streets.  Apparently more people like V for Vendetta than I thought.  Who knew?

Some bus riders we fans of the protest unfolding around them; some just wanted to get home.

Here a police officer found himself outnumbered and surrounded. There were no injuries and for the most part everyone behaved themselves on both sides of the Law.

The following photos are from around the Capital building, where the crowd went after marching.

My favorite of the day…

After eating food and rehydrating the crowd went to the Supreme Court, then on to the White House.

Until next time…

Insert Quarter to Begin…

This weekend over 6,000 people headed to the National Harbor to take part in the annual event known as Mag Fest.  Mag Fest is a gathering of video gamers, tabletop players, movie buffs, and RPG’ers.  Mag Fest runs from Thursday to Sunday, 24 hours a day, nonstop.  Some might call them nerds or geeks, but I would just call them like-minded people enjoying what they like to do in their free time.

Now whip it

Into shape

Shape it up

Get straight

Go forward

Move ahead

Try to detect it

It’s not too late

To whip it

Whip it good

Dance Dance  Revolution was a crowd favorite.

Must keep gaming…..

What looks like a normal racing simulator…

Was in a minivan.

On top of all the gaming there were concerts where bands played songs from popular video games.

The biggest concert was the band, Earthbound Papas.  Popular because band member, Nobuo Uematsu is the composer for all the Final Fantasy video games. The Final Fantasy video game series has sold over 100 million copies, so it is kind of a big deal.

And still more gaming…

On my way to grab a bite to eat one night I saw this family eatting dinner. Not very exciting I know.  What grabbed my attention was that they were all watching TV instead of talking to one another.

I will end with one of my favorite photos from the weekend.

Jay Maisel.

It isn’t often that you are given the chance to spend several days with one of your heros, but in the middle of December I was fortunate enough to get that chance. I had the amazing opportunity to spend time with one of the most talented, highest earning, well respected, and just plain great guys, Jay Maisel.

I first heard about Jay through the director of the photography program I attended in Washington DC, Chris Alvanas. Chris would always talk about the salon groups Jay would take part of in New York City. When Chris would talk about Jay it was as if he was describing some mythic photographic creature. After seeing his work I was hooked; regurgitating the stories I had heard from Chris about Jay to anyone that wanted to listen to them. Jay is a master of both available light and his understanding/implementation of color. So for a photographer like myself that only likes to shoot with available light and in color it was inevitable that he would become one of my heros.

The workshop began with a questioner. One of the questions was, “What do you hope to gain from this workshop?” I answered, “Inspiration.” It seemed like a logical answer at the time, now in hindsight I realize that I couldn’t have ever known what I would gain from my few days with Jay. I will return to this thought in a moment.

One of the best things about the workshop was that it was held in Jay’s house. Calling Jay’s house a house is a bit of a stretch. He lives in a 6 story, 35,000-square-foot bank building that was built at the turn of the 20th century. The building itself is amazing, but what’s inside is so much better.

It only makes sense to keep all his negatives and prints in his climate controlled bank vault.

Two floors are used primarily as gallery space.  These are just a few photos of some of his work on display.

Jay studied painting and graphic design at Cooper Union and Yale, and the next floor showed how his studies continue on today.

Colors and shapes that excite him are everywhere.

 I will build this in my house one day.

Inspiration. That’s was the best I could come up with? What a total cliché. Of course I would be inspired. It didn’t hit me until the end of the workshop that I really understood what it was I wanted from his workshop. I wanted validation and hope. I have spent a lot of time with many different photographers, but Jay was the first one that I have ever met that is always shooting. He is always shooting because he always has his camera with him. I pride myself on always having my camera with me, but Jay humiliates me in comparison.

It is easy to build someone up in your head, more often than not they are never as great as you imagine they will be. Somehow after seeing how Jay still loves photography gave me this feeling of validation. It gave me hope that I will still love photography as much now as when I’m 80. It has taken me almost a month to write this all because I still can’t express how 5 days with Jay Maisel has undoubtedly changed my outlook on my life as a photographer. Maybe in a few more weeks I’ll be able to better express myself.

  Here are some of the photos from the workshop.  Thanks to my Mother for making it all possible.  

Headed home… until next time.

Lets Get This Party Started…

Balance.  It is a constant exercise. Whether it is finding time for friends between work, the right jacket to wear on a day that is cold but not that cold, or, more importantly for me, the visual balance of elements in a photograph.  Balance is what we are all trying to find daily in our lives.  This post isn’t about the first two situations, but it is the first post of many about trying to visually balance a photograph.  Well at least it is about the elements of balance I think about when I’m making photographs and then editing photographs.

How I go from this…

…to this.

I’m using the word balance in a metaphysical sense; really I’m talking about the execution of compositional techniques.  Points of interest, the visual weight they all hold, and how to accentuate elements of a photograph through various methods.  Over the next few months my goal is to break down some of my photographs, possibly some more famous works, in order to help others, and myself, to be able to speak more intelligently about a piece of “art.”  To try to broaden the collective lexicon when describing art further than just, “I like it because…well I just do.”

By simplifying the contents of my photos, using bright dayglow colors, franticly drawn zigzag lines, pompous use of polysyllabic words,  and some humor I hope to get more people excited to think and talk about composition.  So if you like AWESOME diagrams like this than you’re in luck because that’s where I’m going with this series of post.

So stay tuned, because next week we will begin our visual journey.

MLK Dedication…

 

Will write some thoughts tonight, but wanted to post these photos of the Martin Lurther King Jr. Memorial dedication.

 

 

 

 

Called that one…

After showing a picture of this protester to illustrate how the media pays more attention to the “…most radical, unpalatable, and loudest…” I see this on CNN:


What?!?! No Pepper Spray…

After checking my watch for the eleventh time I knew it was going to be close.  11:28…11:29 getting closer to the entrance to the Hart Senate Office building.  As I walk in the building I can instantly hear the chanting.  I hurried to empty my pockets, put my cameras on the conveyer belt to the x-ray machine, and get waved through the metal detector.  Just as I got my camera ready a banner cascaded down from the fourth floor.

I hadn’t been able to sleep so I decided to go down to Freedom Plaza to try to get some photos that juxtaposed the Occupancy memebers with the “suits” heading into their offices.  That didn’t happen, but I did get to sit and listen to the General Assembly meeting for the Occupancy.  From that meeting I found out about the Hart Senate Building protest and the 11:30 start time.  I got on the Metro, hurried back to my apartment to get the equipment I needed to cover the event.

It was a frenzy of camera flashes, Senate workers stopping to see the commotion, and police officers trying to maintain order.  Protesters were on every level of the building.

After the initial onslaught of nonviolent meandering the Protesters met with Police to come to terms with what would be allowed if the Protesters wanted to continue their demonstration and avoid arrest.

There were no fire hoses, pepper spray, or German shepherds; only a few arrests for what I gather was noncompliance.

I must admit, I didn’t think I would want to cover anymore of the Occupy DC movement, but after the event yesterday I might have to reconsider.

Occupy Wall Street…

Last Tuesday I was sitting in my apartment looking at CNN; I saw a headline about the Occupy Wall Street protest, so like any normal person I hopped on a train at 4 am to go see the protest for myself.  I don’t know why I thought New Yorkers might protest differently than Washingtonians, but I did.

With only an hour of sleep I headed to Wall Street to see the revolution that was taking place; turns out it was less Che Guevara and more chai tea.

Like the rest of the photographers and cameramen I started circling around the protesters like a hungry shark waiting for the photo feeding frenzy.

It was going to take a few minutes for my nose to acclimate to the patchouli musk; while I waited I noticed the major fault in this protest that would seal its fate like the many protest I had covered in Washington.  There, wading through the sleeping bags, was a correspondent for CNN.  She wasn’t looking for a well-spoken, well-dressed leader of the Occupancy, but rather the cliché “I’m not another cog in the murder machine,”  self professed hippie.

From my years of civil disobedience in New England preparatory school I know that nothing can hurt your cause more than an uninformed person speaking on behalf of your group.  That is exactly what was taking place.  The newscasters were honing in on the most radical, unpalatable, and loudest people to interview for the rest of the world to associate with the Wall Street Occupancy.  These were also the people that the photographers were taking pictures of because these “protesters” were always walking in front of anyone with a camera in order to get their picture taken so everyone could see the witty signs the had written that morning.  People like this guy:

Or this woman that ranted for hours about how it was unfair that she would have to pay back her eighty-nine thousand dollars in student loans. ($89,000 for all you visual learners out there.)

The longer I sat there with my cameras the more I felt like I was an accomplice to all these people that just wanted airtime and were not the intelligible folks that were pushing for some types of reforms on Wall Street/Big Business.  All of the people getting airtime seemed like hilarious caricatures from the Daily Show and that was why I knew this protest was/is going to have an uphill battle to gain any sort of support from the silent majority that is most of America.

Being the glutton for punishment I am I decided I would walk down to Freedom Plaza to see how DC was handling the Wall Street Occupancy.  Like the New York Occupancy, the Washingtonians did not disappoint with its showing of shirtless occupants fighting the power.  And like New York, the media was all too happy to interview the exact people they shouldn’t.

This would turn the protest into an event for tourist to come photograph in order to show their friends the radicals that were fighting Wall Street in DC.

And of course there were teenagers fighting the Bourgeois decadence with their witty signs.  All I could hear while I took this picture was my father’s voice telling me how, “immature” it is to use vulgarity to try to get your point across.  I have to agree with him.

I found the whole Occupancy to be analogous to the person that always complains about where you have made reservations for dinner, but doesn’t offer any other viable option to TGIFridays.  All they know is they don’t want to eat there, but they are unwilling to offer something better.  Do there need to be reforms in our economic system?  Absolutely.  But until the movement can start to resonate with everyday Americans nothing will come from these types of protests.  Until that day comes I will continue to try to capture images I’m happy with while I wait for an intelligible alternative of the status quo.