Thursday, December 13, 2007

meet Mary

This is Mary....a lady i met yesterday while photographing her church group's weekly food pantry distribution to needy families...i couldn't believe she is going on 87 years old! i got to the parish hall early to shoot them filling the grocery bags (since typically the people getting the bags don't want to be photographed), but they were all done, set out and ready to go...the volunteers, all senior citizens, were sitting around 2 large tables drinking coffee and playing penny (well, also nickel and dime) poker...they offered to deal me in, but i didn't bring in my wallet, so i said i'd just watch - i haven't played poker in so long, i would have LOVED to play with them, but i think they probably would have ended up with all my loose change! minutes before they would open the doors to the large line of people that was spilling around the side of the building, Mary says, "it's about time for the BIG game" more penny ante - this time you ponied up with a quarter!
so, toward the end of the distribution time, i'd kind of shot as much of the handing out of bags and found my mind/eye wondering toward making a still life picture (a feature of our paper that is a photo & quote instead of regular caption, and usually more off-beat images)...Mary was standing near the doorway, and there was just something about her against that sparse wall, framed between the old outlet and non-working light switch panel, that grabbed my was funny, because she kept trying to move out of my way (i guess she thought maybe i wanted to get a picture of, um, the outlet?), but then she kind of ignored me and just happened to glance up, and that was it...maybe not some earth-shatteringly cool picture, but i like, the quote i put with it is...

"Uncertainty and mystery are the energies of life. Don't let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity."
-- R.I. Fitzhenry

Thursday, December 6, 2007

your neighbor

meet Mr. Bressler...the wasp nest collector
he also collects old tools, which hang on the walls and from the ceiling of his very large workshop
what i learned is how the wasps & hornets make the papery hives - they chew on rotten bark, mixing it with their saliva, then spit it out, & that's what makes the nest material...
so here i've thought some ancient society developed paper-making, and the bees, et al, have been doing it all along!
nature proves it's one step ahead of us yet again

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

day in the life of photojournalism

the crazy life of newspapers...just got done putting in my a.m. assignment, shot on deadline, and our spot news reporter comes over - after 2 hours, fire crews are still battling a housefire, and no one can find the owner, they believe he is we should go check it out just in case it turns into a fatal. As soon as I walk up to the house, a guy asks me who I am, then tells me I have no reason to be there and can't take pictures. "My dad's in there, and you have no business taking pictures here...I better not see any pictures in the paper." Even though I've been to numerous fires and dealt with people really NOT wanting me there doing what I do, I felt at a total loss...all I could do was tell him that I was sorry about his father, but I almost felt as though I shouldn't shoot, although I knew I'd have to. I just tried to be discreet and stay out of his way....later he came over after he saw me taking pictures, and then he was REALLY upset...."I told you not to take any pictures, and you are. That's my f***** dad in there and you're f**** taking pictures?!!!" I'm not sure what would have happened if his family hadn't literally stepped in and pushed him back away from me. Needless to say, I felt like an ass. Even though (amazingly) his family were telling him that I'm just doing my job, and I know that I'm just doing my job, it was still a really tough situation, and trying to make any images of the family consoling one another was clearly out of the question at that point. You know, sometimes it just isn't worth it - why add to their stress by trying for THAT picture....not to mention the fact that his son most likely would have tried to kick my ass for real over that one. Anyway, this is what's left of the entrance to the home....I think fires are among the most tragic and disturbing events that a family can endure, but there is something, purely visually, about the aftermath of a structure fire, especially with the water, ice and snow, that I find really I am off to make a portrait of a man who collects wasp's nests
what a crazy job this is!!