March 31, 2010

A tad soggy...

Side of bus, ad and passengers.

Today was just shitty. No other word for it. Yet even with this torrential wind and rain I met a friend for lunch, went to four thrift stores, drank Starbucks coffee, walked around for hours and managed to take a few fun snaps. Then I was happy to get on that cramped (yet warm) subway and read my book, Into the Wild.

March 30, 2010

Rain and t-shirts

Again, the saddest face in the world.
I had lunch with my lovely friend Iris yesterday at Lupe's. Who doesn't love Lupe's? Nothing better than huevos rancheros with a cafe con leche at the end. Nothing better!

I went to T.J. Maxx after lunch to return the Calvin Klein and Joseph Abboud t-shirts I bought over the weekend. Anyway, I can't find white t-shirts that fit. Calvins go down to my knees, Abbouds go down to my belt line (too short). Both were size large. There's no consistency in sizes. It's getting to be an annoying quest. Last week I tried Costco's brand (Kirkland). Also went down to my mid thigh. Yesterday I bought some Hanes. Have to take those back as well. They're too thin. This is getting a bit crazy.

I walked for miles yesterday in the rain. Leaving Kmart on 34th street I snapped a few photos of the Empire State Building and the New Yorker in the rain.... I never get tired of that sight.

On the t-shirt search I spotted this very zombie-like group of "Porch Greeters" at Kmart. Who buys this crap?

March 29, 2010

Dogs, egos and one big buncha ass.

This little dog was waiting for his owner. He looked so sad. A few minutes later I talked to his owner and he said the dog was completely blind. What a sad little face.

A woman stood just inside the door paying for something while the dog stood outside... both obeying the sign.

The opposites: one an egomaniac, power-broker type with no environmental consciousness and the other his polar opposite... or, a woman. On 73rd Street, Upper West Side.

So you walk into a store and say, "I need me some jeans. What size? 54 hips, 26 inseam." Notice in the second snap I got caught "shootin dat ass." Coulda been crushed to death.

March 27, 2010

Bus Boredom

I spent last Monday afternoon on a bus coming back to the city. I sat in the second seat back from the front. I tried to sit in the very front seat (to the right of the driver) but the ceiling was leaking and there was a constant annoying drip coming down. If the seat next to you is empty it can be a pleasant though boring traveling experience. If you're on a crowded bus sitting next to a 19-year-old jabbering on the phone it can be as horrific as any Chinese torture ever concocted. Luckily leaving on a Monday afternoon makes for a fairly sparse crowd. I've taken the bus a hundred times (you're welcome, Vamoose) and each time I've taken a pad of paper and a pen expecting to copy all of the 600 Post-Its I've accumulated. But, as always, once the bus pulls away I realize that actually writing on a bus is almost impossible. Your handwriting looks like you've suffered a massive stroke. A total waste of time. Same with an airplane. You can't write on a plane. I've tried a hundred times. So, after I've read The New Yorker cover to cover and consumed a pound of nut mix, I pull out the trusty Fuji camera and start aiming at things. I set the ASA (ISO) very high and turn the shutter "click" sound off so no one around me will know if I'm actually taking pictures. Looking around, I liked the trees and the overcast skies out my window along the New Jersey Turnpike and, pressing the lens against the glass, I took some snaps as we went by at 60 mph (otherwise you'd see the reflection of the lens in the photo). They remind me of Todd Hido's blurry images of trees. Well, except mine are shot on a little 6 meg camera and don't cost $9K. Anyway, these are the window snaps. The last photo is the stoplight on 35th and 9th shot through the windshield as we pulled into the city.

March 24, 2010

Trip to Virginia

I went to Virginia last weekend for a few reasons. First, my sister was having a party to celebrate her new life as a single (recently divorced), available person. She had the party in the clubhouse of her condo and other than having enough food and drink to feed 10 times the 26 people who showed up, it was a great time. My great friend Mike Ault played guitar while legendary Al Williams played sax and flute. Sis had many of her old friends there as well as our whole family. No fights broke out, no arguments ensued and nobody got pissed. Everyone seemed to have a good time. I tried to play photographer but the room was a bit dark and I really don't like shooting "events". I always feel like my flash is an intrusion. Afterwards, we all cleaned up the post-party mess and had a nice family gathering until 2:00am. It was really nice getting everyone together. A rarity these days.

Killing two birds with one trip... I also did some photos of Mike Ault for an upcoming CD he's producing. We took a trip Sunday out towards Leesburg on Evergreen Mills Road to shoot him with his guitar and amps in a large field of golden grass. Unfortunately it's spring... not as much golden grass as I was hoping for. It was overcast, the wind was blowing about 30 mph and Mike isn't all that crazy about having his picture taken. Oh, he's photogenic enough but he gets a tad stiff when I aim a camera at him. Hey, I totally understand, I hate having my picture taken. I generally feel pretty young and vibrant until I see a snapshot of myself. Then I stare at the photo and think,"Who is that middle-aged guy?" The big ugly slap of reality. Anyway, Mike was a trooper and sat there plinking away on his guitar while I snapped away. I'm sure the residents of Leesburg, Virginia, driving by wondered what the hell we were doing out in this field with strobes going off.

March 18, 2010

A clean bum and a pretty day.

Last night I was going to my favorite eatery in the world (right now). The Hummus Place on 74th and Amsterdam...and amster-Damn is it good! Anyhoo, as I was waiting for a table I noticed this homeless guy sitting there huddled up and begging for money (see above). When no one was around he got up, walked over to a wrapper lying on the sidewalk, picked it up and took it to the trashcan. I walked over to him and handed him a few bucks... He smiled and said "God bless you brother".

I went thrift store shopping yesterday in Brooklyn with my friend Todd, the KING of all thrifters (he really is). We walked around and I snapped some shots having found no thrift bargains. What a beautiful spring day to be out and about.

Crazy shadow on top of a building..just seconds later it disappeared.

This old Dominican guy was drunk and just laid down next to the trash and took a little snooze in the spring sunshine. The police came and called an ambulance. He was fine... That's why my health insurance is $400 a month. Our tax dollars at work!

March 16, 2010

Little hands & my seminar

Walking down 10th Street the other day I noticed these little handprints in the sidewalk. I've seen them a hundred times but never stopped to shoot them until I noticed the late afternoon bluish light reflecting in the water pooling inside the prints. As I raised my camera an older gentleman walking by stopped and said,"Those kids are in college now."

Today I spoke at a seminar at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square. I did the same thing last year, invited by my friend Leah Bailey. It was sponsored by SPD, The Society of Publication Designers. I spoke to a fairly large group of college students who were graphic art and photography majors. My part was to discuss what and how to take a photograph for publication and the possible obstacles one might encounter. I put up a slide show of some jobs that were especially challenging regarding lighting and the amount of time I had with my subject. I spoke on how to get a good shot in a very short time. I also covered my choices of camera equipment, lighting choices and how to achieve certain effects like shallow depth of field to blur the background. Other speakers included a woman from Glamour and another from Popular Mechanics. It was an interesting experience and I got a few laughs. Afterwards I fielded questions and spoke to the students who had more questions. All in all a pretty cool day.
Tomorrow I'm shooting still life all day. It'll be a long one. Lots to do.

March 15, 2010

Rock on big guy!

I was riding home from the studio on the subway the other night, sitting there in my own little world, eyes closed, headphones on, big goofy grin on my face, totally zoned out. Mick Jagger's (solo effort) "Wired All Night" (a fast paced foot stomper) was blaring. Suddenly I opened my eyes and saw this heavy-set guy sitting across from me with his eyes closed tapping his foot in the same time as I was. Was it possible that he was also listening to the same Mick Jagger tune? No, that's impossible. Though I couldn't hear him, this guy was singing like he was on stage at Madison Square Garden. It still sort of freaked me out that he was tapping at the same time as I was. I didn't turn my iPod down partly because I was in my little musical zone and partly because I didn't want to hear him singing.
I couldn't stop glancing back and forth between his bottom teeth, half of which were missing, and his large belly. It was like the buttons were holding back a great dam of flesh... ready to burst at any given moment. I reached in my bag, took out my little point-&-shoot, put it up against my face like I was listening to it and took a few snaps. Which probably looked pretty stupid to anyone watching me. I was scared he might see me taking his picture and charge me like a bull. One never knows. Stealth photography is hard.
I've had a few great weeks of working. I shot images for a fashion book for Fairchild Books week before last. Cute models in white bikinis in a big cool studio with a good crew. Last week I shot a few thousand images for a book for Simon & Schuster, also fashion. That crew was amazing. We shot over 130 gigs (a shitload of frames). The whole shoot was close to perfect. Great crew, beautiful models, good food and a nice big studio. When it all comes together like that it makes me feel so grateful that I have the fortune of doing something I love and then miraculously someone hands me a check at the end of it. There's truly nothing better on earth.

March 8, 2010

The routine

This is not a commercial: I don't have much structure or routine in my life but I do love getting up in the morning and making a big cup of Goya decaf in my French press. That, and a couple of pieces of good raisin bread (Vermont bread company) toasted with a little bit of honey and I'm happy as a clam. And, although the closest Starbucks is 20+ blocks away, I'd probably still drink this even if there was one right around the corner. I love Goya. At $3.99, it's a bargain.

Some street snaps

I took one of the photos I snapped from the tram last week and zoomed in really close. It became pixelated like one of Thomas Ruff's photos (whose work I'm not fond of). Interesting abstract I think.

Skinny legged New York hipsters in love.

Walking up Lafayette Street yesterday I saw this homeless guy sleeping. His sign says he's a "Viet-Nam" vet. Then it says "I have proof for the person who keeps saying 'You ain't no vet.' Bet me $1000, I need the money." Yes, he does.

March 7, 2010

Shadows & sky

Note: Click on image to see the white birds and a jet's condensation trail.

Today was sunny and beautiful. I walked for miles in a giant circle. I walked through the West Village, then Tribeca and into Chinatown. Went to a gallery show called "Krappy Kamera" at Soho Photo which was cool. Most photos taken with cheap plastic toy cameras. I zigzagged up through Soho, into Noho and finally hopped an A train home on West 4th. And, to make a great day even better...the A train went express (wasn't supposed to because of track work).
I like to take photos of the shadows the buildings cast on one another in the late afternoon. The deeply saturated colors of that last hour of light. These are some of the snaps.

March 5, 2010

CRUMB--A brush with genius

Today I had a great time working for Fairchild Books. We were shooting in a nice studio down on 18th street and Broadway. Fun crew, good models, great catering, great space and a nice day rate made the day nearly perfect. At 5:00pm I walked over to Adorama with some of the crew and bought 4 new compact flash cards because my new 21 meg camera eats up memory cards like crazy. After Adorama I remembered that there was an R. Crumb opening on 19th street from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. I called some of my fellow scavengers Ron & Todd to see if they wanted to join me. Todd accepted, Ron declined having just started dinner. Aside from being a true genius and a what I consider a national treasure, Robert Crumb has a huge fan base and I anticipated an opening of his might be a bit crowded. We got there around 7:10 and happily breezed right into the large gallery. I immediately scoured the room for any site of the lanky, eccentric artist I had seen so many times before in the great documentary Crumb as well as countless photos. And there he was.... grey haired and skinny, bearded and disheveled, Robert Crumb, in the flesh. I noticed that they were selling his book towards the entrance and immediately rushed over to buy a copy. I asked the girl standing in front of the wall of books, "How much?" She said "$27.22, tax included." "Do you think he'll sign it?" "I don't know, maybe not, he might be done signing." I took my chances and plopped down $27.22 in exact change and made my way through the crowd. He was closely talking to a few people surrounded by a huddle of adoring nerds like myself. With his head down and almost cowering, I could barely hear what he was saying. But, I did notice he was signing things. I moved into what seemed like some sort of a line to his left. I pulled out my trusty point and shoot and snapped a few frames. Finally after a few minutes I was standing next to him. "Can you make it out to Stephen?" I handed him my book. He looked at me and smiled and said "With a v or a---" before he finished I interrupted him and said "with a p-h" He took a long time writing my name in a slow, exact way. Then he smiled as he handed back my book and I said "Thanks so much." Suddenly another adoring nerd stepped between us, opening his book to the first page.