Wednesday, June 25, 2008

a portfolio

About 10 months ago I decided I would like to be a photographer again. This time I wanted to do it on my terms. When I did so, I joined the digital age permanently. I acquired some gear. I shot with wild abandonment again, like I did as a younger photographer. Today I am proud to say I put together a portfolio of my work from mostly these 10 months. I am fairly pleased. The first pass has 175 images in 8 categories. I am tempted to add more when I should probably be editing.

I still wonder what the "real" photographers out there make of my stuff. If you happen to be one please, I would love feed back. As a matter of fact I would take feedback from anyone of a constructive nature. What is working for you. What doesn't work for you. Do you care?

For those of you who have been viewing along the way, thanks for visiting! And for the true fans, the july edition of ben shot me the magazine is nearly in the can and will be going to press soon!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Celebrity encounters!

I make it to Bruins games a couple times a year. I watch most games on the tele as well. The other day I was driving around on the Cape with the camera when I ran to into a celebrity.

I was driving when I noticed Joe, I could not immediately pick out where I knew him from. Then it hit me this is Jumbo Joe. No, not the departed Joe Thornton, but Joe from Charlestown. Joe who dances during the breaks like there is no tomorrow. Joe who dances for the camera in his crazy hats. Joe's dancing gets him on the Jumbrotron or the tele often. Joe has been a season ticket holder since 1976 and will be again next season. Joe makes people laugh and Joe is an avid supporter of the Bruins. Thanks Joe!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You will be in trouble

Recently someone said to me.

"I didn't know you were a photographer"

My mind immediately thought something along the lines of, well I'm not, I am just a guy who takes a lot of pictures. I have only on a couple of occasions recorded images that I think could really be considered photography. Or at least photography as my idealist minds template of what is required in the medium to be considered photographic. This template is probably a bit too elitist and I have been trying to relax it to allow myself into it's fold. In reality anyone who ever depresses a shutter button becomes a photographer, therefor most in the modern world are also photographers.

As an aspiring photographer I can say if you carry a camera around long enough you are sure to get some real treasures and I do not mean pictures, I mean people. It is funny how some people will react to a "photographer" Here are some recent examples.

A while back on dank spring day I approached a very large man in a yellow hoodie pumping gas at a station down cape. At the time I was thinking it would be nice to photograph some real blue collar codders, from a far this gentleman fit the bill. I politely introduced myself and asked if he minded if I shot some pic's of him at work. He politely offered to break my lens in half if I took any pictures.

If you have been paying attention at the site you will have also notice a series of photographs of beer. I shoot pints almost every time I drink them. At one recent bar I was busy shooting and admiring my pint, at some point I looked up and another bar patron seemed to be glaring at me. So I uttered a cordial how you doing? He responded with an angry "Do me a favor, do not turn that camera on again." The tone was one that left it clear that it was going to be a real problem if it the camera turned on again. Later I realized that the gentleman was in the background of the pint shots. I guess he did not want any pictures of him as the sole patron at the pub in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.

Yesterday, I had been asked to take some photos at a local landfill. I again politely introduced myself at the gate. The gentleman there expressed ambivalence about a photographer shooting at the dump. I started off to looking for some good ones. Shortly later, while shooting the stack of dead monitors the gateman called me back. He asked if I had permission from the town to be there. I did not. I asked if he could give me a number to get permission, as I could tell he just got off the phone with a supervisor. He gave me the town literature and said that town hall would be open weekdays 9-5. I asked if that would be when they handed out day permits for landfill photographs? He apparently did not see the humor behind this statement and went on to ask what pictures I had already shot. I told him. He said well you better not use them, if you do, you will be in trouble! Can you imagine! The dump photography authorities are sure to be at my door any second! I have not been threatened with being in trouble since I was in my teens.

It is strange the reactions people have to photography and photographers. The good far out weights the bizarre and inappropriate, but I am still left amazed at the reactions. The first photo in this post I will be in trouble for, so I leave you with a the example of some pleasant subjects, a photo of Frisbee golf players discussing their game who happily let me photograph them for 3 holes at Burgess park yesterday.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Covering both sides of the street

Earlier today I shot some people rallying for peace at the local post office. The weather being pleasant there were a good number of people out. I overheard and then became part of an interesting exchange. A man passing angrily grumbled to the peace peeps,

"What! You think there are no terrorists in Guantanamo Bay?"

A peacer politely replied,

"No; I would love to see the terrorists there brought to trial."

As I was leaving the same gentleman, seeing me with my camera made eye contact and said, with a nod to the other group of people holding signs across from the post office,

"I hope you are covering both sides of the street?"

Here is the ridiculous part of the tale. I had also noticed the people across the street. But my terrorist hating new friend apparently had assumed his allegiance lay with the people with the U.S. flag across the street from the larger throng of peaceniks. Unfortunately for him he was not observant enough to see that they too were holding "peace" and "Close Guantanamo Bay" signage. I tried to tell him.

"It looks to me like they are looking for peace on both sides of the street."

He walked away grumbling saying I was mistaken....and that I should look closer. Well I am here to report that a peace sign is a peace sign even if it is found with an American flag.

Pictured here is Joe who choose the more solitary position at the top of the village green. My terrorist hating friend surely read his sign to say:

war is immortal

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Graduation 2008

Saturdays grooms and dogs turned quickly into Sundays graduates. e and I debarked the hotel and had brunch at the Galleria. Then it was off to Matthews Arena where Boston Latin Academy graduated their class of 2008. Our favorite member of the class, Michaela Marin was graduated with the rest of the youngsters turned loose to the world this June. Good luck class of 2008.

This is one of the first high school graduations I have been to since my own. I wish I could say I found myself waxing nostalgic about that June day 20 years ago. But alas no, there have been far more momentous and valuable moments in my life since then. What I did not hear from the stage on this day and this could be largely because we seated ourselves poorly for the sound system, was a speech which told the kids the following. So here is how my high school graduation speech would go.

Graduates, kids, friends, while this may seem like a tremendous and pivotal day in your existence, your new responsibility is to make a life that makes this day seem trite, pretentious and meaningless. Now that you have arrived here do not let this day be a highlight of your life. Go get um.

Oh no you didn't!

After the visit to the pound I went out looking for some shots for the cape's newest alternative newspaper C.O.D. I wandered into and shot some gamers.

Then it was on to Boston to meet up with the Daniel Elliott bachelor party party train. I have known Dan since 1997 and he is good people. I did not know most of the other guys in the group but did have a fun photography conversation with new friend James, who was toting around his Leica this eve as well.

We bar crawled Allston and ended up in Chinatown during the end of night drunken street festivities on a very warm June night. Almost, no it did, make me feel nostalgic for our city days.

During the walk from downtown back to our Cambrigde hotel at 2 am I noted to self that we should occasionally make a point of spending a night or weekend in Boston. Our maybe that was just the beer talking.

What a weekend!

This is what will be the first of three quickish posts covering a very full weekend. The weekend started with a trip to the Friend of Falmouth dogs or what many of us think of as "the pound". We had seen a picture of a pup in the local paper and figured we should go check her out for ourselves. We met Misha with phoenix and had hoped we would be uniting long lost pals. Misha started with a guarded attitude towards phoenix and warmed up some after sometime walking around. Now erica and I have a difficult choice of trying to decide if the time is right to invite a new member into our little pack.

If your pack needs some additional love and joy maybe you should venture down to your local shelter or visit and rescue someone looking for their own pal. There are lots of four footers who would love to set foot inside your home and find a place to curl up.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I will talk more about Phoenix in future blogs. Today I want to talk about her first, of hopefully two encounters with Cicadas. She pointed out the one pictured by staring with concern. She pawed carefully and gently. She licked. The Cicada seemed sluggish but unhappy with its predicament. We photographed. Then the decision was to let Phoenix do what she had to do. I mean really its going to be another 17 years before she gets an opportunity like this one!

Sunday, June 1, 2008


It is not often that you have a photography nightmare, many of you probably have not had any, last night I had one. Many years ago I worked at a photography school. This school had huge gang darkrooms and sinks for printing and developing black and white film. The sound of water running was as persistent as the humming fans and clanking of fluid filled developer cans against stainless steal sinks. This was the setting of the nightmare. The plot was that I had just started developing two rolls of film. This is usually done in the clanking cans or tanks mentioned above and in the dream my film was in the "developer". I have developed thousands of rolls of film and I naturally multi task during this process, and I still do in my dreams as well. I left the tank at a developing sink surrounded by students to go to another area to find supplies. When I returned the film still on its reels had been emptied from its protective tank to the edge of the sink. Horror! My still light sensitive film, my images, were being destroyed by the very thing that made them, THE LIGHT!! Instinctively I shoved both reels back into the tanks and refilled the developer. I then scoped out the room where many students were sheepishly attending their own processes. I called out for the culprit and surprisingly a student at the far end of the sink area owned up to having ruined my film. I was so angry! We exchanged several sentences where I used this as a teaching moment for the listening students. I berated him, very unusual for me.

Exposing ones film happens if you do a enough developing, accidents happen. It is always a very painful experience. You are left wondering what might have been? The lost corrupted images were they great, were the exposures good, where the expressions timeless, you are left to your imagination and the desire to go back in time and correct the accident or re-shoot or or or, but you can not go back in time, they are lost. Forever.

In trying to figure out why I would have such a nightmare, I can only think of one reason. The process of intentionally exposing developing film or paper to light is called solarization and I recently recorded the image in this post. This is a unmodified digital image that has a resemblance to a solarized image. It was taken at the Enormous D show the other night (see the next post). This image got its unique appearance from another photographers strobe going off during the exposure. I call these happy accidents. Ok note to self keep thinking happy thoughts, so the nutty photography nightmares stay away. Next thing you know I will dream that that I am working at the Sears Studio trying to keep toddlers vertical in the faux jungle!