Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On Display

The rest of the photo staff and I attended a little photo gallery opening reception tonight. The local little theater has a small art gallery in their building, and they invited our staff to display some of our work. I wasn't that excited about the showing at first, but it was actually kind of neat. It was also very flattering to hear the positive responses from the people who attended.

Here are the four photos I had on display:

If you want to own this piece of history (from a local immigration rally this past summer) it will set you back $350. I didn't realize our work would be for sale. My first question was, who gets the money? I'm not completely sure about the answer, but I know its not me.

This Michael Zamora original is a steal at $250. I don't know who assigned the value of the photos, but it would have been interesting to be a part of that conversation.

Another $350 masterpiece. I was kind of surprised this photo made it on display. I like it, but I don't really know what regular people would think about it. I was also surprised that after looking around a bit, $350 wasn't the highest value. Some, like a fellow photographers fishing photo, were marked at $450.

And this work is priceless. Literally. NCAA rules prevent us from selling images of college athletes, so it was marked as not for sale.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Elderly Care

Some photos I shot last week about caring for elderly family members ran as the Sunday center piece today. I was kind of surprised what and how they ran, so I'll post what I would have run here.

Actually I'm pretty sure I know why they didn't run this photo, It really doesn't have much to do with anything, but I love it. I thought her expression and framing were nice. And not to brag, but how perfect is that lighting? Flash Master, I say.

They did run this photo, but they cropped down close on the subjects and made it a square. As a general rule I hate square photos (they're just not aesthetically pleasing). I was really into shooting wide and taking a stepping back at this assignment. It gives it more of a quiet, fly on the wall look, I think, like I wasn't even there. Although maybe the extra room around the subjects is more distracting than informative in this photo. I don't know.

And finally some telephoto action with a side remote light I shot while the reporter was doing the interview. This was actually the lead photo in the paper today, but here it is without the headline filling up the dead space in my photo.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Stuff

I had a few days off for Thanksgiving, so I went down to the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas to visit my parents and see the hundreds of other members of my extended family. I had every intention of shooting a lot in the valley to post to my blog, but laziness and about 10 pounds of turkey got in my way.

My family has a sort of chilling effect on my photographer. I don't know if I'm just embarrassed to shoot around them or feel like I'm showing off or what, but I hate taking pictures around them. Good thing I live thousands of miles away or I'd be out of a job.
This is Grandma Zamora, shot at a little gathering at a cousins house the day I arrived. It was more awkward to take then I thought, but at this point in the evening I had some beer and BBQ in me and felt brave enough to break out the camera.

The only other time I really shot much was when my mom and sister were preparing the Thanksgiving meal. Oddly enough, the two of them started a food scrapbook. Every time they make a new dish or try out a recipe, they take pictures and catalogue it for their scrapbook. At some point (I don't remember if I was designated or volunteered) I ended up taking the pictures for their scrapbook.

Of course I couldn't just take normal pictures, so I broke out the flashes.

I set two on remote, putting one on top of the fridge and one on top of the TV, both bouncing light off the ceiling when I fired my mom's point and shoot digital camera. Here's a little light test above. And the secret to my sister's "homemade" gravy is revealed at left.

So I'm heading home Saturday and will be back to work Sunday. I won't be heading home for Christmas, but I think I ate enough turkey and pumpkin pie to sustain me for the rest of the holiday season.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Look How They Shine For You

Sometimes these music/photo hybrid posts just write themselves...

Yellow.mp3 by Coldplay

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Damien and Football (or Unpleasant Surprises)

Let's just get this over with. I bought the new Damien Rice CD, "9," on Tuesday with very high expectations. I planned to post my thoughts on the CD that day and share some of the awesome songs I found. But there was a problem: I didn't really love the CD. So I've been dragging my feet the last few days, hoping that if I spent a little more time with the CD I would love it. I think it has a lot to do with me not being into this type of slow, sorrowful music right now.

Don't get me wrong, "9" isn't that bad. I do like the CD, and Damien Rice fans will definitely find something on the disc to enjoy. Some of it is just beautiful, reveling in Damien's typical heartfelt misery. But some of it is just there, offering nothing new or interesting and sometimes lyrically disappointing. If you are interested in Damien Rice, I highly recommend his first CD, "O." It is still his best and most ambitious work to date.

Coconut Skins.mp3 from the CD 9
Grey Room.mp3 from the CD 9

Now, onto today's photo post. I had today's posting all planned out. I covered an away University of Arkansas football game today, which means I got to ride the phat corporate jet to Starkville, Miss. We fly in and out the same day, rock-star style, and I was going to post some pics from the ride. Sadly, when I got to the stadium, I reformatted all the cards in my camera before I download the photos to my laptop. Booo.

I'm not a huge fan of head coach Houston Nutt, but I liked the expression on his face after his team got the win to clinch a spot in the SEC Championships. If you concentrate on the photo, you can almost hear his thoughts:

"It was so worth selling my soul to the Devil for this winning season..."

I didn't shoot my best Saturday. I had decent action art, but nothing that was really important to the game. Here's an example:

I was all over this guy as he nabbed this interception. The interception didn't amount to much since it happened near the end.

And when he swooped in and intercepted this ball earlier in the game, I was so there too. But after a penalty the interception was overturned. Grrr.

So of course on the interception that counted (the one he turned around for a touchdown) I dropped the ball. There he is about to catch the interception in the background on the top photo. In the bottom photo, there he is breaking away with the interception, partially blocked by some ass standing across the line on the field.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Becoming An American

I loved this assignment.

I've never been to a naturalization ceremony. I expected it to be boring, and it kind of was, but what made it for me was how excited some of these people were to become U.S. citizens. I particularly liked the old Mexican men. They had this proud, respectable kind of vibe, and they were so pleased with themselves for what they had accomplished. They kind of reminded me of my dad, or how I like to think about my dad, at least.

( Creepy )

The actual swearing in/oath was kind of boring. Or I just shot it badly. Before the ceremony I scoped out this French woman on the left. She seemed to be really thrilled beforehand, excitedly conversing with a family member seated across the aisle to her left. She wasn't as excited when the oath came around, but I was already slightly enamored with her by then so I shot her from every angle anyway.

Monday, November 13, 2006


A few things from the weekend shift.

This weekend I was really trying to think about framing, and getting people lined up around graphically pleasing elements. These first two are actually test shots I made while waiting for the real photo to happen. I ended up liking both of these better than the "real" photos.

This was the scene from the downtown square, all done up and ready for the holiday season. There was a charity walk coming through, and I thought this would be a nice way to frame them as they paraded through downtown.

This is from a veterans memorial. I had difficulty with this one. It was later in the afternoon when I arrived, and the few people who did show up didn't want their pictures taken. No one said anything about their shadow, I guess. I wish this person had been better defined. Its more of a profile as she passed by talking on her cell phone. And I was the one being disrespectful?

And the only good thing about last month's time change is that the great late-afternoon light comes an hour earlier. I thought these two images had nice light.

A girl pulling the leaves out of her hair between baggings.

And a skateboard trick right into some nice highlights.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Almost There

The other day I was assigned to shoot a picture of kids at the park for a story. It was actually a nice autumn day. Leaves falling, great afternoon light, and when I walked into the park I thought, "there is a fantastic photo to be had here today." This is as close as I got to fantastic yesterday.

And here I was just trying to get something different from Friday night football. I love the big Mountie head.

By the way, it's almost here! The new Damien Rice CD comes out Tuesday, and I am more excited than I can say. If I were on top of things, I would have mentioned this nine days out since his CD is called "9." It is the second album from the Irish alt-folk singer. His first CD, "O," was a work of brilliance. Already I'm hearing his new CD isn't as good or focused as the first, but that isn't going to stop me from buying it Tuesday. If you are unfamiliar with Damien Rice or just need a fix until Tuesday, here are few songs to help you out.

Delicate.mp3 from the CD "O"
I think this song is just about perfect. Songs like Volcano (the lead single), Cannonball and The Blowers Daughter (featured in the movie "Closer") got so much more attention off of his debut album, but for me it's all about Delicate. One of my absolute favorite songs ever.

Unplayed Piano.mp3 available on iTunes
This was a benefit single he put out last year calling for the freedom of Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (those musicians and their random causes). It's actually an interesting story and a pretty good song as well.

9 Crimes.mp3 from the forthcoming CD "9"
A sampling of what's to come, this is the first song from his new CD. Lisa Hannigan, who joins Rice on many of his songs, leads off this track.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Shot The President!

With a camera of course. President Bush held a rally in Arkansas Monday to shake hands with the Arkansas gubernatorial candidate and tell people to vote Republican in Tuesday's Midterm election.

Since it happened Monday, the photo would end up on the front page of the paper on election day. The editors didn't want to give the Republican candidate any sort of advantage, so going in I knew they just wanted one shot. They wanted the president with the republican candidate for governor, and next to that would be a second photo of his Democratic contender from whatever event he was doing Monday. It seemed fair, but that meant everything else I shot would never see the light of day. So here are some out takes I like as well as some behind the scene photos.

This is the scene when I arrived. The rally was held in a big hanger at the airport so the president could minimize the amount of time he would actually have to spend in Arkansas. As you can see the media was way in the back.

Since we didn't get pool access, I got stuck on the risers with these people. It got kind of crowded because the writers all decided they couldn't see from their seats so they invaded the camera risers.

The media had to be in place about two hours before the president actually arrived, so I had a lot of down time. But there was plenty to see in the crowd.

There was something odd about seeing this portrait being waved around. As if this woman thought the president was the Pope or something. It really became odd later when people were practically body surfing their babies over the crowd just so they could touch the president when he walked by.

I thought this was interesting. A pair of soldiers watch the skies from the top of a trailer on the runway. I wonder if they were snipers. They looked all over the crowd before the plane arrived. At one point they were looking at me looking at them.

So the plane finally arrived, and of course the people went nuts. Air Force One is huge, by the way. I can't imagine why one person would need such a gigantic plane to cruise around the country in.

When he gets on stage he waved some more and shook some hands. I didn't anything great of the president greeting the candidate. They were always turned to the side or blocking each other awkwardly or something. I kind of expected the president to say a few words and then split. But once he started he just kept talking and talking.

And talking.

And talking.

And talking

And talking. And of course this is all useless to me. They didn't want a picture of the president. They wanted him and the Republican candidate together. So when he finally finishes talking, we get the money shot.

This is what ended up in today's paper.

It was quite an interesting day. It was my first time shooting the president, and I thought it was way cool. Some of the other photographers warned me that it would be a big pain. It took all day, you sat there doing nothing for hours, you get stuck in one spot while you briefly shoot the president, then have to fight the crowds out of there. So yeah, it was kind of a pain, but it was all part of the experience and I thought it was great.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Politics And The Like

It was an odd day today. I ended up going from one end of the political spectrum to the other.

I started out covering this peace rally, where demonstrators were calling for the end to the war and encouraging people to go and vote the Republicans out of congress.

I have to say, I had some very preconceived ideas of what I was going to see when I got there. I expected a bunch of aging hippies and idealistic college weirdos with too much time on their hands.

And there was some of that there, but when I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find out this guy was in charge. He was really nice, spoke articulately and he wore a tie. Yes, he was young and idealistic, which was slightly annoying, but he was much more normal than I expected him to be. It was kind of refreshing.

Then I went to the a Republican rally, where candidates had no problem embracing the current administration. This was the last stop on a local congressman's bus tour. When the reporter and I got to the site there was hardly anybody there. Then the bus rolled in, complete with its own entourage of supporters. All of sudden the place was full and everyone was screaming and cheering. It was kind of bizarre and amusing.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ultimate Cropping

I got up early this morning and shot an Ultimate tournament (most people call it ultimate frisbee, but the Frisbee people get upset when you use their trademark in the generic sense). I got this shot early so I got to leave early. Which was good because it was damn cold this morning.

I also shot a Veterans Day parade. I haven't hitched a ride and shot a parade from on top of a float for a long time, so I figured it was worth a go today.

The results were mixed. It was hard to edit because I had so many photos from that angle they all looked the same to me. The group was pretty rowdy before the parade, but they seemed to calm down a bit once the parade started. It wasn't because I was there either. They weren't shy around me. I sat in the back of their truck for about 20 minutes before we actually started moving, and they were joking with one another and telling me stories about themselves. They were great fun.

My real problem, though, was this guy. I loved the photo I shot of him at the time, but when I got back to the office I couldn't decide how to crop it, if at all. This is the original image. I liked that I shot it horizontal and I got in the sign. Once I got it on screen, however, I realized the sign was too hard to read, making it insignificant. So I just started cropping,

and cropping,

and cropping,

There were like four other variations, and I kind of hate them all now. One of the problems working weekends is there usually isn't another photographer or photo editor around to give me there opinion. In other words, no around to save me from myself.