Thursday, November 27, 2008

Constructive boredom?

I haven't done something like this since I had a film camera. Making multiple exposure on film was rather hard for me since I couldn't "chimp" image previews like I can now. And actually this really isn't a multiple exposure - more like multiple layers blended together in God-blessed Photoshop.

It isn't hard to do. Thinking about the scenario I wanted was more intensive. Basically, you shoot the shots you want, keep a consistent background and shoot away each frame. Next, open them in Photoshop and then drag one image over another and then use the erase tool. It's really cool seeing the image underneath appear before your screen. Kinda reminds me of printing black and white and watching the image come up in the developer. OOOOhhh.

I had time off. I was bored. And I was curious about this technique. So I decided to give it a try. I had fun with it and I learned something new.

I don't think I can really apply this for work. Maybe an illustration? Who knows?

About the scene: A low-wage worker (me) gets punished by the big boss (me) for not making his popcorn-selling quota and pays the price. The big boss (me) gets his photographer (me) to shoot a picture to show other lowly low-wage workers (me) the consequences of poor performance just as another low-wage worker (another me) walks in to witness the horrific act. Good stuff, good stuff. Excuse me, I have to take a call... Scorcese is calling me about a script.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Elusive image

It was my first day back to work since the loss of my brother-in-law. It was good to see my co-workers and to receive their warm welcome back. Thanks everyone...

For the better part of a few weeks, I've had an image in my head of capturing the grackles in downtown but had not been able to really get the shot whether it was poor lighting conditions or bad luck. But as I left the building tonight I finally saw it. It's not for work or any assignment. It was for that elusive image I've seen in my mind.

I believe Junior would've liked this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

You will be missed, Junior.

Two fond memories come to mind when I think about my brother-in-law Steven Lew, Jr. who died from complications of diabetes on November 16, 2008.

“Junior” - as his family nicknamed him since he bore the same name as his father – was a big guy. He reminded me of a big 'ole bear. He even lumbered around most of the time like a bear. And that appearance often carried into his personality. Junior often seemed uninterested in most things until he found a topic he liked such as photography. When he learned that I was studying to be a photojournalist, his demeanor would change from uninterested to engaging. Like a bear finding the honey from a beehive. We talked a lot about photography and shared ideas or points of view. We'd also talk about camera equipment, photographic techniques or about famous photographers. It didn't matter to him. He loved talking about photography as much I as did.

It was during these conversations with Junior that often lead me to my other fond memory of him: his laughter. A man his size could not possess a small, quiet laugh. No way. His laughter was as big as he was. The volume of his laughter boomed like thunder and everyone in the house could tell who the laughter originated. And it was often at the end of our chats where Junior would reveal a loud, echoing “Ha!Ha!” His laugh always seemed like the perfect ending to a story.

And so this is how I choose to remember Junior picturing him laughing loudly from the heavens.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How a bad day became a shining moment

After two years of immersing myself completely into shooting video (which I enjoyed), an opportunity came about for me to return to still photography (which I love). Since August, coming back to shooting daily assignments was like the first day I picked up a camera - full of enthusiasm and nervous energy. A great combination to tackle just about any assignment. Until this week.

Saturday could not have arrived sooner and I was ready to get my work week over with. My last assignment of the day was to shoot a Veteran's Day ceremony at a retirement community. It was challenging for me because I lacked sleep from a late shift the night before and because shooting "another" Veteran's Day event taxed every creative fiber in my body. The event went along and I went through the motions of making images. But then retired Army Sergeant Major Benito Guerrero began to speak and I stopped to listen. His reminders of the sacrifice of soldiers to our country was moving. Seeing elderly veterans salute the flag and singing along with their respective military branch's hymn was moving. But there was one man in particular that drew my attention. Mr. Raymond Turner.

When I first saw Mr. Turner, he was sitting quietly in his wheelchair in a comotose-looking state. His shoulders hunched over from time. His face wrinkled from life. He seemed like a shell of man who's better part of his years had long passed. He sat through the event quietly. But then the National Anthem played. Other elderly veterans mostly stayed seated in their wheelchairs - not due to lack of conviction, I'm sure. But Mr. Turner, without any help from anyone around him, strained to get himself up. He pushed. He struggled. He wobbled. Yet he never gave up. Mr. Turner summoned up just enough strength to stand just as the song concluded. I looked on proudly and with a renewed sense of understanding why his generation is called the greatest.

But it doesn't end there. At the conclusion of the event, the senior veterans were handed certificates of appreciation for their service to the country. A retired Navy sailor held a certificate with Mr. Turner's name on it. I waited for their interaction. And when that time came - it was glorious. Mr. Turner's lifeless face lit up, literally. It was all I could hope for. All the elements came together for me. I was able to make an image that I hope is worthy of Mr. Turner and all veterans from all generations. Thank you Mr. Turner for your sacrifice and duty. You are the greatest.