Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bill Eppridge in a Class By Himself

In my career I have been blessed with a few fortunate lucky right place, right time relationships. The first and foremost was attending the University of Missouri school of Journalism Workshop.  It really doesn’t get better than that. The second would be assisting W. Eugene Smith who taught me more about communications then anyone. Actually, he taught me more about many things but for the purpose of this we won’t go there. When asked to deliver a keynote speech at the NPPA, one of the people I thanked was Bill Eppridge. I would love to tell you that I know Bill well but as the truth be known, that’s just is not so. But here’s what I do know. Bill Eppridge has very few peers. He stands alone with his great talent.  He also has another quality that generally photographers don’t have. He’s an extremely humble about what he’s accomplished over the last few decades and he’s still a viable force to be dealt with. Bill invited me to his retrospective at the Fairfield Museum. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. This past Sunday I had a little time off and decided to go to Fairfield, Connecticut to see the show.  I thought I knew exactly what I was going to see. Boy, was I wrong. I had no idea the depth and scope of his work. Like many other photographers, we know about the positive RFK Photos, but the retrospective truly showed what an amazingly great talent he is. This is one of the few times I wish I was a great writer because there aren’t enough adjectives to express what an important body of work he has. Photographer Alfred Eisenstadt, once told me, he had maybe only a dozen fine photographs.  When I had the audacity to tell him, “no you have thousands of great photographs,” he smiled, clicked his heels and said, “one day you will understand.”

Thanks Bill for continuing to teach me the importance and power of a great still image.

Monday, July 11, 2011

paPA ArtSpace

About 10 years ago I had a amateur photographer ask me to accompany him to a framer's shop in a small town in PA. He had to pick up some large pieces. We pulled up to what appeared to be a huge Brooklyn New York Factory. Suffice to say it was overwhelming. We walked up a couple flights of stairs, I looked around and there was an awful lot of space. He returned home, I went back to the studio and figured I'd never see that space again and you know what I was right. I will never see that space again.

Yesterday my partner JoAnne and I took a ride to see paPA. As it turns out it's the same factory, whoops, no not the same! Both Ron & Yvonne Parker have taken a turn-of-the-century Silk Mill and made it into an absolutely magnificent gallery space. Oops not a gallery space but an ArtSpace. From ceiling to floor it's drop dead fabulous! It's drenched in beautiful available light and when the available light starts to diminish their spotlights take over. If it was empty and did not have one piece of artwork it would be amazing.  But once you add the eclectic artwork, you as the visitor take a voyage to a different time and place.

Both Ron & Yvonne are thinking way outside the box. They've subdivided their 33,000 square feet into three separate spaces and that's just the first floor.  You can envision an artist's loft in the second space which could house at least a dozen different artists all working at the same time. Actually upwards of 20 if they wanted to.The third space you could envision as an art space for music, poetry readings etc. You could put anything in there. Then there's a space, let's call it the boiler room that would make a perfect theatre for multi-media shows and films. The acoustics are really great. All of this on the first floor.  I will let Ron and Yvonne tell you about the rest. The outside area is large enough to put together anything from an outdoor concert to a open air art show similar to the shows in Greenwich Village. Granted it's not around the corner but it is more than well worth a visit.  I can't wait to see what it will look like next year. They'll probably utilize More's Law... They have a special opening next Saturday "Yvonne Parker and Friends" July 16

 Their website is  http://www.papa18473.com

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dylan Michael Moore: A Great Beginning

About 7 years ago, I walked into Gleason's gym on a very hot August day. The 3 rings were filled with boxers. 2 rings had 4 or 5 people in each one of them going through different protocols. There were 2 young men in a full-blown sparring session. I didn't know either one of them. I walked over towards the red corner and started to recalibrate my white balance. A gentleman came over, drank some water, looked at me, and said, "If I have one loss, my career will be over and I'll be back to being an electrician". He was sweating profusely, he had beautiful intense eyes, and under his 2-day beard, a great smile. Little did I know then that James Moore was going to be the focal point for my film In This Corner. Why, you may ask? Because I didn't go to Gleason's to shoot a feature documentary, but rather a 15-minute teaching vignette on JoAnne Kalish's action photography DVD. I'm pretty sure anyone who knows me has heard me say that the first rule of photojournalism/documentary films is never become friends with the protagonists. That is not your job. Your job is to record what they do in the most honest and sincere way with no prejudice and no rooting for a winner. I will share a quote with you from Cliff Edom. (Cliff Edom is the father of modern photojournalism and was, and in some ways, still is, the backbone of the University of Missouri School of Journalism photo workshop).

"Show truth with a camera. Ideally, truth is a matter of personal integrity. In no circumstances will a posed or a fake photograph be tolerated."
     ~Clifton C. Edom

Sunday June 26 2011, I will remember vividly. That's the day that I shut down the Lady Liberty ferry for approximately 55 minutes and later that day I attended James and Leanne Moore son's christening. And he was christened with a beautiful name. Dylan Michael Moore. You just have to love the name Dylan Michael. At this point, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that I have all the respect in the world for event photographers. It's not something that I know how to do properly or particularly like doing. So please enjoy some of the snapshots of the christening party.
©Dylan Michael

I think I bent one of the rules.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life After September 11th

Suffice to say as you travel through life, a myriad of things are going to change. In the 60's, they changed radically but not that quickly. In the 70's, they skipped along, but again there wasn't that much urgency. In the 80's, I think we fell asleep - I'm not sure. Most of it was a blur. Hmm... could have something to do with - oh, never mind. Then along came the 90's and I don't know who it was, maybe it was 3, 4, or 5 people from silicon valley that decided to inject our eyes, ears, and noses with the most advanced super-amphetamines that were available. We all took off on a light speed adventure with no brakes. Well, here we are in 2011 and every once in a while I feel like I'm on the world's largest Mercedes Grand Touring Bus, alone, sitting in the last large seat by the lavatory and the bus is made of paper mache. I can't see the driver,  but we're on the Monte Carlo Formula One Street Circuit. I'm not wearing a seatbelt, and am being bounced up, down, left, and right like a cue ball in a maze with zero control. Right about now many of you are wondering, where the hell is he going? Hey guys, I ask myself that at least 20 or 30 times a day.
Sunday was a normal workshop day. I went to sleep the night before at 10PM, got up at 4AM, was on the road by 6AM, got to Battery Park at 7:30AM, met with the group at 8AM, tickets by 8:30AM. I remember one of the last things I said was "Let's try and stay together until we get to Liberty Island." I was 6 people behind John and there were 3 or 4 people of age between him and I. So, I made an executive decision not to be a bull in the china shop and wait my turn. As I approached the security line, I darted right to get behind John. A security gentleman, approximately 5 feet tall, said to me "GO ON THIS LINE!" I said, "Sir, my class...". He said "I'm not going to tell you again, go on this line." I went on the line. Approximately 7 of the 8 lines were moving rapidly. My line didn't move a millimeter in 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, I should mention to you that I had no jewelry shoes or belt on, no wallet, no cellphone, no camera, & no keys on me. For all intensive purposes, I was naked but clothed. My wallet was open to a laminated card to inform security that I had 2 titanium hips. The card was issued by the New York Hospital for Special Surgery. When I finally arrived to go through my screening, I asked the young lady to look at the card she said "No, we don't have to." I also carry a letter with large type from the Doctor for security checks concerning my hips and offered it to her and she said "No, we don't need to look at that either. Just go through the screening." I said that the machine was going to go crazy. She insisted I move to the duct-tape mark on the floor, which I did. 

 At this point, I should say something - I don't deal well with indiscriminate power authority but, I do have the utmost respect for my fellow human being - man or woman, especially in this type of work. I made a decision at this point to keep my big mouth shut and just say yes to everything. My class had now disappeared, somewhere on the 9 o'clock ferry, and I'm still in security. A gentleman called me forward, the machine went crazy, he asked me to go back and I did. The machine went crazy again and he asked me to repeat this a third time. I said I had a card to explain things. He said, "No, we don't need to see that." The machine went mashugana! He told me he was going to pat me down, I said fine. He patted me down approximately twice on the back and sides, and 3 times in the front and sides. At this point, he didn't understand why the left and the right side was going crazy on his meter. So I simply opened my pants and dropped them down to above my knees to show him I had nothing to hide. In retrospect, this probably wasn't the best idea I had on a Sunday morning. By the way, there's an expression- TMI. When I'm on a shoot, or location, I always wear my running shorts under my normal pants. And it's not uncommon for me, especially on a hot day, to take my trousers off and proceed the rest of the day with my running shorts on. I did not moon anyone. Now I'm thinking "Okay, another 10 seconds and I'm out of here." Boy, was I wrong! There were 4, 5, or 6 people huddled around the x-ray machine. The 4, 5, or 6 people then called 3 or 4 more people with different uniforms. They looked at the screen, got on the walkie-talkies oops! I guess they're radios. Several other people came in, also with different uniforms, all looking at the screen. The first 5 peeled off, the next 3 moved away, the new 3 looking at the screen and then 2 gentlemen came over to me and wanted to know what was in the tray. I said "A camera, my beret, a small black bag, an extra battery, a Power Bar, lens cleaning cloths, several wire ties, an electronic cable release, business cards, a 6-inch homemade monopod, a small Sartek video light, lifesavers, a film can with some potassium pills in it, and 4 Aleves. Last but not least, one red and one blue bandana." The police officer asked me "what else," and I told him that was it. He said "there had to be something else in there." I said "Not that I can remember- oh maybe some business cards and some small photo postcards". "What else?" he demanded. I said "Sir, that's it." I asked to make a suggestion and he said no. I mentioned that I would take everything out of my bag for visual inspection. He said, "No, don't tell me how to do my job." I said that I was sorry and didn't mean to tell him how to do his job, I was just trying to help. "I don't need any help from you. Stand  in the corner and don't say another word." Well, I stood in the corner and didn't say another word while 3 or 4 more people came in, now a total of about 30 plus. They cleared out everybody from the staging area, both left and right side. I was then asked to move to a holding spot about 50 yards away, which I did, accompanied by 2 police officers. Then, in came Rin-Tin-Tin. Rin-Tin-Tin is a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd. A beautiful dog, but unfortunately my guess is that he was over 11 years old. He could not jump up on the belt to smell my bag. They tried 4 or 5 times calling him up and then finally picked him up and put him on the belt. He went over to the X-Ray machine and smelled my bag. He turned and appeared to be perplexed. They put his nose back on the bag, and again he turned, as if to say, "Why am I here? There are no explosives". To be honest, I think 40 or 50 people were disappointed that I did not bring a b--- into the holding station for Liberty Island. I'm still 50 yards away from my wallet, accessories, and camera, and they decide to do a visual inspection. I asked the police officers if it would be okay, if I could go over to watch the inspection. They grudgingly said yes. They took everything out of everything! My potassium pills mixed in some some kind of lint - not good. They then questioned me on 4 items and wanted to know what they were. I held it up, showed them the name, and told them. "It's a Canon electronic cable release.""What's this?""That's a replacement battery for the camera and what is this? "It's a homemade mini-monopod that I use to insert into the base of the 1/4 twenty, which, I then showed him how I did it. They wanted to know what the pills were for and whether I had a prescription for them. I said no, they were over the counter stuff and it was potassium for cramping and Aleve if I got a headache. I said, "Are we done?" and they said "Not exactly." They said I had to go over to the X-Ray machine and show them what something was. They pointed to me where the b--- was. I asked if I could take a picture of the screen to show him how never to pack a bag, trying to be funny now being over 50 minutes into the ordeal. I threw everything together back into my bag, and he goes, "We need to fill out a report in main office." I asked if it was really necessary, and he said he needed to see my identification. I showed him my press card and he said that he needed something better than that, so I gave him my driver's license and went to his office.We filled out the forms and he asked me if he could he photocopy the inside of my bag. So, not thinking, I said "Sure" So, he laid everything on the photocopy machine - duh! You can't photocopy 3-D stuff. I suggested to photograph it. I took his iPhone and took a picture for him to send to his boss. Now, the ordeal is now over - but not exactly! The police officer said, "Have you ever done any TV shows?"  I said yes, and he said "are you a photographer?" At that point he asked if I would give his daughter some private lessons. I gave him one of my instructional DVD's and my phone number. He gave me his card and a free ticket to the top of Lady Liberty for my inconvenience. He put his hand out, I shook it, and he said that he was only doing his job. I said, "Yes, I understand". As I climbed to the second deck there were approximately, stretching around Castle Clinton.  

I guess this is the price we pay for September 11. (See below a recreation of the so called bomb in my bag)

TIME Magazine Assignment

I had a half hour off the other day. Decided to just look through some of my old TIME magazine and Sports Illustrated assignments and I stumbled across this photo that I did for them to celebrate the opening of Giant Stadium. I was totally blown away when I heard they were going to build a new stadium. It seems like yesterday they just built a new stadium. Of course, a businessman friend of mine explained that it's all about the super boxes and the Fortune 500. Well, considering my only interest is between the goal line and the goal line, a super box just doesn't do it for me. If TIME asks me to go and shoot the new one, it's gonna take me a little longer to get to the birds' eye perch.  See you at the game!
Joe D.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monochromatic? I don't think so!

Whatever level you are as a photographer, we all should have one thing in common. We should constantly be looking and looking. And after we look, we should be able to see. As I was rushing to the D-Train in Brooklyn, I saw something you don't see very often- a pay phone! I stopped, I picked the camera up, and I make 3 quick frames. 2 vertical, one horizontal. 135 f/2 Singh-Ray High-Intensity. Half a stop overexposed. It may not be an antique, but it'll probably be a buggy whip by the time I go to the dark room in the sky. Oops! I mean the light room in the sky! To all the ships at sea, keep your eyes wide open. Start to see the photograph and then record it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Frame Grab

I'm not quite sure that the Lumiere brothers are not rolling around in their graves right now. Rapidly followed by W. Gene Smith and Gordon Parks. The more I know about this medium the less I know. If I'm running at 100 MPH forward, I'm probably in reverse. But, I promise myself I'll try to keep up. This photograph is pretty amazing. Enjoy!
Following blog post by Vincent LaForet.


What camera did I use to make this still picture?

Go ahead and guess what camera was used to make this photograph in the comments above.    It was made with a new camera that many photographers have not yet heard of… I suggest you click on the image above to see it at full resolution (and make sure you zoom in to 100%) Some of you will guess right away and already know about it…   Others will be astonished when I reveal what camera shot this photograph.    It’s a camera that has the potential to change things – radically.__________________________________________________________________________________________
ANSWER: This image is actually a FRAME GRAB.   It was not shot with a STILL camera but with the RED EPIC M digital cinema camera at 96 frames per second. For the techies:  The image was made with a Zeiss Compact Prime 25mm f 2.9 ,  natural light,  at  T 2.9 , 1/200th of a second at 800 ASA in RED’s RAW R3D format – a RAW format similar to aCR2 or NEF (for Canon and Nikon users respectively.)  
The camera’s "cinema" resolution is 5K – more than five times the resolution of your HD Television (see chart below)…     Other than a quick color correction – no enhancement whatsoever has been made to this image. Perhaps just as importantly : there were 95 other frames that were shot EACH SECOND that I rolled on the camera… 95 other shots to choose from… shot handheld on a moving subject – not posed.