Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So in case you missed it, Tuesday morning held a lunar eclipse that just so happened to coincide with the first day of winter. This combination hasn't occured in around 400 years. I went out to Valley Forge Park with a couple of friends to watch the event. Two hours, three police vehicles, and one park ranger later, I was freezing cold with numbness in my legs from pointing my camear almost straight up at the sky. Oh, I also managed to get a couple of nice shots while I was there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Updates have fallen a bit to the wayside over the past few weeks with all the work I've been up to. First was running the [very] successful Haunted Mansion over at the Upper Main Line YMCA. Between the night of scares and the more child-friendly Halloween Festival on the next day, we managed to raise more than $10,000 that will assist parents in sending their kids to summer camp! It's truly amazing to think that scaring children can actually help them out.

Some of my photos I took of the night were put up on Pumpkinrot, which is a pretty awesome resource for people looking for inspiration on how to haunt your...well, pretty much whatever you want.

I also did an additional promo photoshoot for the Upper Merion Township Library and the Enchanted Library they [i.e. my girlfriend/part-time assistant] run over there. Their target is a younger crowd, so the photo is much less foreboding than my previous endeavors for the Y.

Also, finally had a story run last month on two men who have high hopes of bringing an aviation museum to the next level. I shot this way back in the beginning of September, but really liked the way the turned out. I think there's some soccer stuff back there, as well as some shots from a pretty tight up-and-coming band from the UK. I'll also share thought's on my time with some guy Michael Phelps who is apparently famous for swimming, or something along those lines.

What it all boils down to is that I've got a lot of catching up to do, but I'll be sure to have everything posted in good time...sort of.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sometimes, you should judge a book by its cover.

Six years ago, I started working at the Upper Main Line YMCA as a camp counselor. Since then, I've chaperoned middle school dances, dressed like a pirate, and built "haunted  mines" that are scary enough to make children (and a number of adults) scream. One of the biggest events that I work on is the Haunted Mansion fundraiser we do every year to raise money to help families pay for camp (last year brought in more than $5,800).

History Lesson: The Y is based around the three-story Cassatt mansion, which is more than 100 years old. It was built by J. Gardner Cassatt, financier and brother of impressionist painter Mary Cassatt.

The other function I've helped to fill at the Y is photographer in-residence...kind of. Last year, I did a promotional photoshoot making ghosts for our "Bedlam in Berwyn" theme. This year, it's "Witches of Easttown", so I had to come up with a concept to show that. Our story is of a young girl named Molly who's family moved from New England to run away from a dark past, only to find more problems in their new town.

Shooting this, I had a couple extra pairs of hands, which is good when you're working in the woods after sunset. The end result tells the story of our dark and brooding pro/antagonist, eerily reading in the dark, with shadowy characters lurking behind her in the dark. Sounds like teenage angst to me.

More photos after the break.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Last week, I ordered some new equipment and am still dying for a chance to really use it. That chance will actually come tomorrow when I do a promotional shoot for the Upper Main Line Y and their amazing Haunted Mansion (full disclosure: I work for UMLY and help plan the mansion...that's how I know how awesome it will be.) I have work from last years promotional shoot and event that I will definitely have to put up sometime soon. Long story short, if you have kids 10+ AND live in the Philly area, come out. If you DON'T have kids AND live in the Philly area, then you should still come out. I'll get more into that when I actually put the new photos up.

Now that we're back from my rambling (arguably, it's all rambling,) I've wanted to expand on my lighting options, so I bought a second SB-600 speedlight, as well as a set of stands and 33" umbrellas. It's kind of a mix between what you'd find recommended on Strobist and what you'd hear from Joe McNally. I already have one SB-600, so purchasing a second and continuing to work using Nikon's wireless CLS seemed like a good place to spend the money. That I ordered from B&H, along with the cheapest umbrella's money can buy.

As recommended on the Strobist blog, I ordered the stands (Lumopro 8') and the umbrella/flash mounts (also Lumopro) from Midwest Photo Exchange, When compared to shopping for a brand like Manfrotto, going with the Lumopro was much cheaper (good for those who are recently/soon-to-be graduating...also known as unemployed.) They're pretty lightweight and just a little wobbly where the sections connect if fully extended, but easily get the job done and don't feel cheap. That might seem like a contradiction, but I plan on doing most (see: all) of my shooting on location, since I don't have a personal studio. So by following the math, Less Weight + Saved Money = Portable Lighting Goodness.

There are a lot of other posts I've got backed up, so be ready for shots from the Black Panthers as well as my first ride-along.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So the Daily News just ran a feature on the state of the honey industry last Thursday.  While hugely popular in the US, domestic production has gone down. I was asked to go out and shoot a local couple with their own hive. When I received this assignment a while back, the thought of a frantic Chris Farley waving his hands wildly at a fake bee attack crossed my mind. It stayed there as Suzanne Matlock and her husband Norman donned protective gear, even as they assured me I would be fine. Being the fearful fearless photojournalist that I am, I steeled up, gripped my camera, and shot away.  The actual scenario was much more docile than I built it up to be, as the bees seemed more interested in tending to their own business than bother with me.

Suzanne examines a bee-covered slat to check on honey production.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I recently saw another photojournalist post a link to this article on EPUK by British agency director Neil Burgess urging that it's time to take "photojournalism off life-support."

I've heard a lot of talk from some of the older people in the industry who think that photojournalism is going the way of Old Yeller. And I guess it would seem that way compared to the state of things maybe 20 years ago. But I still don't believe we've reached morgue-levels just yet.

Citing as just one example of the demise of the photojournalist, Burgess notes that of the seven British-based photographers that won at this year's "World Press Photo" competition, none of them worked for British news organizations. I think it's a bad move to use any photo competition as a measurement for the success of the industry. While prizes and recognition are sought after by any professional, that shouldn't be the driving force for good work.

There should be no shame in taking a grant or pursuing a project through an NGO, as Burgess seems to suggest. The essence of photojournalism is accurately telling the stories of lives and conditions to educate people, regardless of who you're working for. If anything, I think it shows that photojournalism is surviving, even if in a different form.

And it's true that many (most?) of the photo positions available at major news outlets have dried up. Nobody knows that better than the average recent photo-j college grad...except for maybe the mass of great journalists who have lost their jobs due to deep cutbacks over the years. But we all need to find a way to adapt, not give up all together.

And then there's this comment: "Looking at all news and current affairs these days it’s so obvious that what you are seeing or reading is regurgitated information fed to the news organisation by someone else’s press department."

I must be either blind or stupid, because last I checked, Pulitzer's were still being handed out for in-depth investigative journalism. While that's not photography, Burgess opens it up by saying that writer's are the next to fall.

I can imagine a world where an automated "Google News Processor" can instantly take press releases, rewrite them for publication, and publish to the web without the need for a human being. But I don't think it will ever come to that, because there will always be a need for journalists to examine our global society, asking the questions that push us to do better.

Instead, I think what's more accurate to say is that photojournalism (and print journalism in general) has become less profitable than it once was. But to say that college students should give up on the profession and find a job somewhere else is unfair. With an attitude like that, photojournalism will without a doubt pass into history. Times are tough. Extremely tough. But from where I'm sitting, the sky doesn't look like it's falling just yet.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I've been diligently working on getting my website up and running at full capacity for a week now, and it's looking pretty good, if I don't say so myself. However, it certainly hasn't been without it's frustrations. Designing a layout in Photoshop is one thing, but getting it functional and on-line is another. Just getting the navigation bar to resize properly across all browsers and OS was a huge victory. Trying to integrate my blogger account seamlessly has been another huge pain. I've done some web design before, and would by no means consider myself a master, but that's why Al Gore invented Google. It's been a great resource to find solutions to problems other people have already encountered and solved.

The fact that I'm starting with prior template (through Photoshelter) has been both a help and a hindrance, as I've had to interpret all the CSS. It's like trying to read someone else's handwriting, but once you under what you're looking at, most of the hard work is done.

Aside from all the design, I still need to get more of my portfolio online, which is helping semi-daily, so keep checking back in the Photography section.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Here's a couple of photos from work yesterday:

Firefighters battle not only flames, but the day's heat, as they work to
put out a four alarm fire in temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. The
blaze erupted at a warehouse located on 34th and Indiana.

Philadelphia City Hall, Nortwest tunnel

Thursday, April 1, 2010

José M. Avilés works at the Walnut Street Theatre in their education department, helping children and adults develop their skills as actors. Learn more about what José does for the theatre and how growing up in North Philadelphia shaped him:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

A lot of time can be spent getting from Point A to Point B, not looking much past the pavement beneath our feet. Here's a quick guide of Philadelphia from A to Z that will have you looking up:

View Philly A-Z in a larger map

"A" is for Philadelphia Museum of Art

"B" is for The Philadelphia Bourse

"C" is for Comcast Center

"D" is for Dragon

"E" is for Philadelphia Electric Company

"F" is for the Free Library of Philadelphia

"G" is for the Gayborhood (if you don't know, that's what the section is called)

"H" is for the Divine Lorraine Hotel

"I" is for the Philadelphia Inquirer

"J" is for Philadelphia Museum of American Jewish History

"K" is for Kimmel Center

"L" is for the eL

"M" is for Murals

"N" is for the Navy Shipyard

"O" is for Old City Hall

"P" is for Arch Street Presbyterian Church

"Q" is for the Q Lounge

"R" is for Rodin Museum

"S" is for Suburban Station

"T" is for Masonic Temple

"U" is for University of the Arts

"V" is for El Vez

"W" is for William Penn

"X" is for WXPN

"Y" is for Gershman YM&YWHA

"Z" is for Garden Zoological Society

Monday, February 8, 2010

My aim was to show the city as its workers begin gearing up for a day at work. Starting out right from the banks of the Delaware River, I worked my way west along Walnut Street until I reached the Schuylkill River about two miles away. What was easily the most difficult part of this shoot was the cold weather. I thought I had dressed warm enough, but as my 2 1/2 hour trek continued, the cold seeped in, making it more difficult to focus. Were I to do it again, I would: 1. Shoot differently and 2. wait til Spring. You can follow my focus from the few cars that went down the [mostly] empty street at 7:30 in the morning, to the numerous pedestrians who went about the start of their day as the street begins to fill and I move closer to the core of the city.

View Walnut Street in a larger map

Past the end of Walnut, looking East across the Delaware River.

Walnut and Front, looking west.

Walnut and Second, looking east.

Walnut and Third, looking northwest.

Walnut and Fourth, looking west.

Walnut and Fifth, looking north.

Walnut and Sixth, looking south.

Walnut and Seventh, looking north.

Walnut and Eighth, looking southeast.

Walnut and Ninth, looking northwest.

Walnut and Tenth, looking south.

Walnut and Eleventh, looking northwest.

Walnut and Twelfth, looking northwest.

Walnut and Thirteenth, looking north.

Walnut and Juniper, looking north.

Beneath Broad and Walnut, looking north.

Walnut and Fifteenth, looking north.

Walnut and Sixteenth, looking north.

Walnut and Seventeenth, looking north.

Walnut and Eighteenth, looking southheast.

Walnut and Nineteenth, looking south.

Walnut and Twentieth, looking south.

Walnut and Twenty-First, looking south.

Walnut and Twenty-Second, looking west.

Walnut and Twenty-Third, looking east.

Walnut and Twenty-Fourth, looking north.

Walnut, above Schuylkill River Trail, looking southeast.
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