27 January 2010

With Respect to .MOSA

"I believe all artists, if they are not lying to themselves, must believe that the best part of their work, or even their life, is in front of them. To look only to the past and to say ‘those were the best years, when I was young’ is to say that in the future there is nothing."  - Jan Saudek

I know I want to make some changes to this blog, but I'm not exactly sure just what that will be. Not so much in content, but rather in its overall look, feel, and appearance. Its been this same format since it began, pretty much and I'll soon be on my 3rd year of trying regale you with my musings. I think it is indeed time for a change. Part of it will be looking at some new Blogger formats, but I want to make sure I know what I'm doing before I go altering HTML code too much. I've done a subtle code adjustments on this blog, but nothing that really gets your attention, analogous to getting a hair cut and telling the barber, "Just a little off the top, please." Its also good that people have found my blog again. My numbers dropped off significantly after I changed the URL for Photo Anthems. Visitors dropped off below that of my website around this past October, but now, my blog has twice the viewership of my website again. That's about what it was before I made the change. 

I bought a small Wacom4 Intuos graphic tablet a few months back and I gotta say, its pretty good. Its still taking some getting used to however, but its changing the way I do my edits. I waffled back and forth on the small 4x6 vs. medium 6x9 and finally settled on the small. For one, there was a huge price difference between the two, something like $140. To me the added features just didn't justify. At the most, I could see an additional $50 - $75...maybe. But not $140. I also think I like the size. Had the medium been cheaper, I think I may have jumped on it, but the small is okay. The smaller version takes up less room in my work space and its much more portable. The total dimensions is 8x12, so when I say 4x6, I am referring to the actual area available for pen use for editing. Its still way different from using the mouse and you still have to keep the keyboard handy for adding text in your edits. It has a nice sleek black design and very ergonomic, built for both the right-handed and lefties. The biggest advantage the medium has over the small is the illuminated ExpressKeys and wheel. I still have to play with it at times, to recall what ExpressKeys my alt or control functions are on. Any of these tabs can be programmed to any function you wish which is cool for customizations. I like that. So if you get the small, be prepared to have a label-maker handy for a while. It also took me a while to remember I had it. When not in use, I store it behind the monitor. Several times I'd start on on edit and get 5 layers deep before I remembered I should be using my stylus rather than the mouse. So like I said, it takes some getting used to. 

Elizabeth, Darkroom manip

The Sensual 7 Seconds blog, run by Karl from somewhere near San Fran details some of his escapades while he's away in Rome. I first saw U.L. post about his trip and when you visit his blog, you get greeted with some excellent travel photos that leave me in envy. One shot in particular that I was most inclined to had nothing to do with the art deco, architecture, or Italian landscape. Rather it was of an Italian couple walking hand in hand in the rain as seen from behind. I like that shot. I need to get back on the road myself. Since my visit to NY last August, I had made several plans to visit spots of interest around the US, but.....that was when I was gainfully employed. So well done, Karl. 

Another blog of interest is one that I've been following and REALLY appreciate is One Pix Art headed by the famous .mosa out of Cali. (His Blog & deviantArt profile). I had been following his work every since I saw a shot of his done with the venerable Goovacious K. My jaw dropped and all I could do was star at it. For me, he has a style that fascinates me in the way of Jan Saudek, the Czeck photog. When I first switched over to digital only a few years ago, I was hesitant to do so because I respected the artistic craftsmanship that came with film. At the time, unless you were a graphic designer, using a computer to manipulate shots just usurped the craft from the trade. One of my influences was .mosa who demonstrated that craftsmanship did not have to be a trade-off in the digital art. I made a recent comment on his blog that I had been following his work but had yet to at least say hello and give the man his props. I've even taught my own kids to give credit to those who have some impact or influence on them. So let me take some of my own medicine. Here's to .mosa! Much props, my brotha... And you know he's a good man because he likes Miles Davis. 

22 January 2010

An Inconvenient Quote...

“I drifted into photography like one drifts into prostitution. First I did it to please myself, then I did it to please my friends, and eventually I did it for the money.” Philippe Halsman

Model, Dana 2007

I love that above quote as much as I love the author's work. It so truthfully fits my dilemma. Things have definitely been different around here. Challenges abound, which is not uncommon with transitions. It's been a while since I've posted. Part of that has simply been due to time flying by without realizing how fast. Part has been due to my inability to edit photos because of some software issues. But then there's also been things going on that just make you not feel like writing. Looking the horrific tragedy in Haiti, for example. You hurt for people like that. But even in my own community, unemployment abounds still for Las Vegas. I lost my job when it was about 13% unemployment in the city. Trust me, it hasn't improved. People are hurting. 

City Center opened up last month, before Christmas. I got to visit the place the day before it opened and got some great artistic architectural shots. Its a magical place. I wish I could see into the future a year down the road, however. It will prove interesting to see exactly how City Center will affect an ailing city. The plans for City Center were in place long before the bottom fell out of the economy in Vegas. I was surprised they still went ahead with the project. Hotels on the Strip have already slashed prices to fill as much vacancy as possible, yet CC will add another 12,000 or so hotel rooms to the mix. All the restaurants and retail outlets on the Strip can't be happy either. All of these casinos have retail outlets. The more notable Forum (at Caesars) and the Fashion Show Mall aren't that old. CC has added about another 500,000 more square feet of retail outlets that they've added. Up to this point, MGM -Mirage has had hiring freezes and laid off a good chunk of the management team, as of August of 2007. That's exactly how I got wooed and then dumped. I moved here in June with the expectations of an excellent job following my graduation from college. They were impressed with my GPA and the fact that I was earning two Master degrees...a MBA and a MS in Telecommunications. And in the 3 weeks it took for me to finish school, clear out my apartment, load up a moving truck (towing my car), and then drive the 28 hours to get here, all hiring had ceased. Then MGM-Mirage laid off 400 mid-level managers. CC just hired another 12,000. So how long will they be able to keep them all?

Photography hasn't been a bed or roses either. I struggle with the fact that I've never really wanted to make money with my photo talents. Sure, its been cool doing a few things on the side that people have been willing to pay for, but I didn't truly want to depend on it for a job. I just like doing what I do whether it sells or not.  Right now, everybody's got a camera, but that doesn't mean I sell myself cheap. But I don't mind the competition. Competition is good. I've always felt that way and I've always believed I've been up to the challenge to be a great, not just good, competitor. I'm good at what I do. I care about my art and I'm great when it comes to working with people. So, I'll get it done. That, I'm sure of. I've got a few things in mind that I believe can allow me to create the art that I love, yet do so in service to others. I read in a book once that the richest man in the world is the one who is a servant to the most people. What an excellent concept...Help yourself through helping others. (U.L. expect a call...)

Dana contacted me recently to say hello and ask how I was doing. She's the model accompanying this post and she is a most astonishing character...fascinating to the nth degree. She was one of the last models I worked with while still in grad school shooting film. There were two models in particular who were god-sends to me and she was one of them. I say that because she was indeed an immediate answer to prayer. I had just finished my year-end final photo project for school and had a desire to do one last project just for the sake of shooting with no pressure or endless hours in the darkroom. Up to this point, with so little time left in the semester, I didn't think I could find a model on such short notice and still have time to shoot. I woke up with that prayer on my lips. I went to my office (as a grad assistant, I had my own office) and between the time I left my apartment and walked through the campus, I received an email from a girl who had heard about me and asked if it were possible to do a shoot with me. 

She wanted some tastefully artistic photographs for her boyfriend who was going away for a while. A former pageant queen who loves the outdoors, THIS my friends is proof there is a God. Dana is a lover of life, nature, and is not afraid to get dirty. I love that she's got my buddy, the sometimes scruffy outdoorsman, Jacob by her side. You can see pics of them in the mountains, deep in snow, or paddling down the river in a canoe, or camping out and living off the land. Jacob's got it like that and Dana's a straight up mountain girl. You gotta love 'em. But yeah, I miss shooting Dana. Our work was short and sweet back when I was still just learning to press the shutter. I'd like to see what I could do with her now. She doesn't belong in a studio. I need another shot in the mountains and out there in the wild green/white/blue yonder! Who knows, maybe I'll get up there in the mountains with them at some point, or maybe we could hike the Appalachian Trail with a couple more models, (Hi Elizabeth. Hi Katherine!). Grizzly Jacob would be the perfect guide for something like that. Like I said...Who knows?

And while I'm at it, Congrats to St. Merrique for making the cover of Nude Magazine. Oh how I wish I could have gotten to work with her a few months ago when she was here. Yeah, I'm thinking her fees just went through the roof.