Saturday, June 17, 2017

Muslim in America

©David Sorcher 2007

It was just over 10 years ago that i was offered an opportunity to photograph Nur and her daughter Aaliya. This image above is certainly one of my favorite portraits in my portfolio and actually won me a Cleveland Press Club Award for 2007. I was on assignment for an feature article about local bloggers. At the time Nur was journaling about her experiences living as a Muslim woman in Northern Kentucky. She was so kind as to invite me into her home where she does her blogging work while raising her young daughter.

Nur was hesitant about revealing her physical identity in the photos for fear of being recognized and discriminated against in her own community. While she doesn't hide her religion she rarely wears a niqab (face veil) in public, but publishing her face in connection with her outspoken writing about a controversial topic seemed unwise to both of us. Her decision to wear one for these photographs served the dual purpose of protecting her identity while at the same time making the image instantly recognizable as a Muslim woman. When I asked if she would also sit with her daughter Aaliya she was also hesitant for similar reasons. Then I noticed the book, "Horton Hears a Who", which she had been reading with her daughter, sitting in the living room and suggested that we could conceal her daughter's identity with the book if she held it up and covered part of her face.

This seems to created a number of interesting and conflicting connections. We have a Muslim woman who is proud of her religion and culture, yet does not feel completely safe revealing her identity to the public for fear of retribution. So she chooses to wear a niqab to cover her face, not because of the demands of her own religion or culture, but rather out of fear of persecution from her American, non-Muslim neighbors. Fearing also for the safety of her child she feels the need to hide her identity as well and so we came up with the book, one which is known and adored by countless children in our Western, non-Muslim culture, and that book acts a a veil for Aaliya in much the same way as her mother's niqab. But for me at least, the book normalizes them as a typical American mother and daughter who do many of the same kind of things that all mothers and daughters do everywhere. So the image seems to defy stereotypes of Muslim women and families while at the same time using them to make a point about cultural clashes, misconceptions and intolerance.

Unfortunately, even 10 years later, very little has changed regarding our fear and suspicion of Muslims living among us. In fact I would say the situation has only intensified over the years as both government and media agencies continue to depict Islam as the enemy of Western societies and the world at large. The truth remains that homegrown radical Islamic terrorism is a relative rarity in this country despite continual hyperbole and fear-mongering, especially when one compares it to attacks perpetrated by those from the extremist Christian Right. Islamic Americans are just that, Americans, and despite all claims to the contrary from certain segments of our population, i believe we have always been made a stronger union through our acceptance and tolerance of the many colors, cultures and traditions the make up this vast melting pot that is our society today.
Muslim; Islam;
©David Sorcher 2007

Monday, June 5, 2017

Northside iTour

I'm not sure i'd call this a legitimate "tour" of Northside by any means, but it's a brief view of perhaps some of the seedier aspects of my neighborhood captured on a warm spring afternoon by means of an iPhone, a bicycle and the need to catch a bit of exercise.
I've said this before and i'll say it again; there are certain kinds of images that truly lend themselves to the iPhone medium, better perhaps than more professional equipment can. This seems just that kind of material. Particular aspects of color and form translate quite nicely into these frames and the ability to stretch one's vision through the pano mode, sometimes in an unconventional manner, allows for new ways of seeing our surroundings that were not so easily possible before.

(please click on images for an enlarged gallery view)











All Photos ©David Sorcher 2017
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



Monday, May 22, 2017

Red Hot Concerts and Things to Come...

I love shooting live music. It is one of my true photographic passions. The challenge of capturing fast moving artists performing deftly through ever-fluxuating lighting conditions, the excitement of shooting quickly in a crowded pit, the joyous response of a stadium full of adoring fans screaming at the top of their lungs for their favorite rockstars and the satisfaction of capturing them in those decisive moments of divine musical exultation that drive those crowds wild...when it all works these can come together in an incredibly satisfying high of intensive photographic ecstasy. 
I've been thinking a lot lately about how i will soon be putting this aspect of my career behind me. Nova Scotia will become my permanent home within the next year. Halifax is not really much of a port of call for touring bands. Not at all really. I will be trading my big bands for big skies, my loud rock 'n' roll world for quiet, rocky shorelines. While i have come to terms with this lifestyle change (it's a trade-off for sure, but one i certainly look forward to), i can't help but feel just a twinge of regret for all those great musical acts i may never get a chance to shoot. 
Having an opportunity to shoot the Red Hot Chili Peppers both eased and emphasized my anxiety over this photographic lifestyle crisis to come, allowing me to register yet another notch in my gun for great live bands covered while at the same time reminding me just what i will be giving up for life in my northern coastal paradise. And the Chili Peppers did bring it to the stage at the U.S. Bank Arena last Friday. Don't ask me what they sounded like because i really couldn't tell you. When i shoot live music i don't really hear it, at least not in the same way i do as an audience member. I mean, i'm sure they were good, because if they were bad i would certainly have heard that. But when i shoot music my brain is focussed on the visuals and the action, not the aural landscape. I am watching the changing lighting and the movements of the artists, trying to time my shots with their reactions to the beat, not my own. I am concentrating on shutter speeds, aperture and ISO and doing my best to follow the action and nail my focus with every shot. The music itself becomes secondary as shape, color and decisive moment take center stage. Frankly, i don't really even need to like the music at all to have a good concert shooting experience. That's not to say that i don't like the Chili Peppers. I do have one of their albums, the obligatory Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but i would hardly call myself a fan. In the three songs they give us photogs in the pit i am sure i recognized some of the music, but if you asked me exactly what they played i really couldn't tell you.
But none of that matters because the Chili Peppers brought everything to the arena that i seek in a band as a music photographer. They were very active on stage, but perhaps even more importantly, they were interactive, both with each other and the audience. Even a beautifully lit concert experience can be a bit of a bore photographically if the band just stands in one place for the entire show. But this show had the "light fantastic" as well, that most important aspect for all photography. This light show was beautifully and tastefully designed and provided great backdrops for the high kinetic energy of this band, especially Chili Pepper bassist Flea's iconic rockstar poses. In the end shooting this show ended up being a bucket list item i did not know was on my docket. I hope to fill this year with a few more of the same before moving on to tamer and perhaps saner pastures. 
I would be remiss if i did not also mention that along with the experience of shooting these shows i will sincerely miss the camaraderie of my fellow music shooters. We were a coven of 13 in the pit that night (along with the 3 videographers who were recording the show for the band), a small tactical platoon armed with Nikons, Canons and Sonys. That made for some rather close quarters for this relatively large group, often vying for the same shot at the same time in the same space. The amount of respect and cooperation that took place in that crowded pit was indeed a remarkable dance to behold. Amazingly, i know 9 of this crew really well (part of the reason we work so well together i guess) as we often find ourselves working the same pits throughout the year. All are amazingly talented photographers. This affords us the unique opportunity to regularly view the work of this immediate peer group, often from shows we have all shot together, and engage in discussion about our personal experiences and preferences. It's interesting to note that the results from our little cadre produced some very different results this night. Whether it was a matter of focal length choice, angle of view, framing or moment of capture, or the many varying ways in which photographers choose to do their post-production work, everyone's gallery of images had their own unique vision on this single, dynamic subject. And we all have an opportunity to look and learn from one another and grow in our craft in doing so. So yes, i guess i will miss this life just a little bit...  

(please click on photos for an enlarged gallery view)

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Photos ©David Sorcher 2017
No Unauthorized Use Permitted

Monday, May 15, 2017

Second Spring

Given the beauty and magic of springtime i love that i have the opportunity to experience its beginning for a second time this year. I didn't expect to produce a ton of images from my all too brief trip to Nova Scotia this past week since the purpose of the visit was more geared towards sorting out our new house in Petite Riviere than hiking the beaches and coastal trails of the South Shore. But there must always be at least some time for capturing images and Nova Scotia is a place that never stops presenting them. Hopefully these are worthy of your viewing time.
Living in Cincinnati for almost 20 years i have grown accustom to early spring. Sometimes it even seems to arrive, however temporarily, as early as February. In the Maritimes though, it's fair to say that you can't really count on spring until May, and even then you might still be in for the occasional late frost before the land finally begins to flower and fruit. Something to keep in mind considering that i plan to soon make it my full-time home.
So here is just a taste of the Nova Scotia spring. As i leave for my current home to the south i find myself lamenting that i cannot stay to see it fully through to summer.

(please click on images for an enlarged gallery view)

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia; Seaweed; Hirtle's Beach

Nova Scotia

All Images ©David Sorcher 2017
All Rights Reserved