Friday, May 31, 2013

NO PICTURES PLEASE!!!

My post will contain no pictures. In solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Chicago this photo blog will go visually "dark" for a day. In case you missed it yesterday, the Chicago Sun-Times (Sun-Times Media Group) laid off it's ENTIRE staff of 28 photographers in one fell swoop. Yes Gladys, ALL of them. No warning or preparation, no thank-yous for their long, dedicated years of service. Just gone. In fact, the union that represents 20 of the 28 shooters was specifically told in recent negotiations that there would be no lay offs. They were lied to.
Here is what the Sun-Times had to say about the action.

"The Sun-Times business is changing rapidly and our audiences are consistently seeking more video content with their news. We have made great progress in meeting this demand and are focused on bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements. The Chicago Sun-Times continues to evolve with our digitally savvy customers, and as a result, we have had to restructure the way we manage multimedia, including photography, across the network."

Allow me to translate. We at the Sun-Times have found ways to obtain visual content without having to pay for it. Readers and iReporters who get no compensation are willingly providing us with free content and we figure that our audience isn't really savvy enough to care about the poor shaky camera work and generally low image quality of this substandard submitted material. We are also able to supplement this content by putting iPhones into the hands of our reporters who, while perhaps very good writers, haven't a stitch of talent as visual journalists....AND we don't have to pay them any more for this new double duty.


I do have some personal experience that allows me to understand a bit of how these photographers are feeling right now. On July 8, 2009, the entire staff of CiN Weekly, where i had served as the staff photographer for 4 years, were all called into Enquirer Editor Tom Callinan's office and told that the party was over. We did all know that some cuts were in our future, but none of us expected that the whole operation was being shut down. Funny that i remember sitting in that boardroom feeling bad for Tom. It was obviously not his decision and his face seemed pained as he informed us of the end. 

Of course, what has happened in Chicago has weightier consequences. Newspapers do come and go, especially these days and that does indeed sucks. But what the Chicago Sun-Times is telling us with their action is that a newspaper (and here i mean a DAILY newspaper, not a lifestyle weekly like CiN) does not need highly skilled professional visual journalists on staff to provide good news coverage for their city. Now if i thought for an instant that this was true i would just have to throw up my hands and say fine, end of story, time to get back into the food service industry. Or maybe weddings! The idea that a staff of very talented professionals can be replaced by reader submissions and iPhone toting reporters is just absurd and i remain hopeful that this all blows up in the Sun-Times' face in the very near future. The idea that readers only want video content these days is also absurd, though i do understand and respect that video content is becoming a standard for news websites these days. But there is a big difference between the effect and usefulness of still images vs. video and while it is getting easier to lift usable still images off video footage the impact of those images is just not the same as those captured through still photography. The approaches to the capture are just different and yield different results. Beside, all photojournalists these days also shoot video and they are more skilled at it than reporters of the average citizen because they are already skilled visual professionals. 

I guess i need to remain optimistic. I just find it too hard to believe that readers will actually be happy with bad or even mediocre visual imagery to illustrate their news, whether still or motion. The Sun-Times had an award winning photographic staff, including Pulitzer Prize winner John White. So what are the i-Reporters and mamarazzi going to offer up to fill that void? Will they be out in the streets in all kinds of conditions taking risks to capture the breaking news of this cosmopolitan city with award winning images? Somehow i think not. I am also looking forward to seeing the local coverage of the Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls in the coming seasons. Maybe iPhone will be coming out with a 400mm 2.8 lens soon for those tight field shots.   

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Last Rites...

©David Sorcher 2012

I just don't see an any chance to make a new image today so i figure this is a good opportunity to promote some of my more personal work. I believe it is really important for photographers to continue to produce personal work, even if it is only for themselves and a certain sense of soul satisfaction. I show parts of this project to my students from time to time and i'm always amused by their reactions. Our personal work isn't always so easily accessible to the general populous. But what is really funny is that some of them have started looking for and shooting this kind of subject matter. Then i see a post somewhere...Hey David, look at this, i shot this one for you! :-)
As i stated in an earlier post, i've been working on this concept for about 35 years now. My early approach (mostly in B&W) was more documentary, but i now sometimes make arrangements like this one in an attempt to ritualize the subject matter and create some kind of statement on the cycle of life, death, resurrection and rebirth. This one is certainly one of my favorites so far. 
I feel that i am getting very close to wanting to mount a show of this project so if anyone knows of a good venue for this kind of work please let me know.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Into the Fringe...

I shot the opening kick-off party for the Cincinnati Fringe Fest last night at the Know Theatre. If you've never been to our Fringe Fest (or any of the other around the country) you should really check it out for a fun, off-beat theater experience. It was the usual events photo gallery for cincinnati.com, nothing particularly special, though i have always enjoyed working with theater people. They are generally open and colorful folks who give good photo.
I still keep my eyes open for a different kind of photo when i am shooting these jobs, something more candid and dare i say it, more artistic in nature. So taking note of the interior architecture and the windows along the ramp to the bottom floor i waited for someone to fill the spaces and made a capture. Frame within a frame, decisive moment, rule of thirds. Nothing truly exciting here i suppose, but basic principles of composition that do become second nature after so many years of shooting.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

SOS Art Show!!!

What's that you say? TWO blog posts in a single day??? Well, this one is just an announcement. Two of my photographs will be appearing in the annual SOS Art Show at the Art Academy downtown. It's something of a last minute endeavor for me, but i got my prints in today and the opening is Friday night so if you are in town i hope you all can make it down and make a party of it. :-)


The Man Behind the Curtain...

©David Sorcher 2013

Well, maybe not the man behind the curtain. Perhaps way out in front of it would be more accurate. You may not notice this guy at your next concert as he does a great job mixing sound to make any number of different ensembles sound good in all kinds of acoustical conditions. But i am willing to bet that you would notice right away if he was doing a bad job. I often like to find a moment to get a shot of the unsung heroes of the soundboards when i am at a show. These images don't often get published, but i like to shoot them anyway. It would be very easy at a show to forget about everything else except the band on the stage, but as a documentarian i enjoy getting other aspects that make up a show and the techies behind the boards are a big part of the sound you hear from your seats.

Whenever i approach any job i try to adopt this attitude, looking for the shots that aren't quite so obvious at first. What's not right in front of your eyes, what is happening behind the scenes? Often clients really appreciate this approach. If not, nothing is lost in shooting the extra frames and i might find my own uses for the images outside of the assignment. 
A less overlooked secondary subject for concert shooters in the enrapt fan. I like to photograph not only the music, but how people respond to it. Music doesn't exist in a vacuum. It effects everything it touches physically, emotionally and psychologically. 

©David Sorcher 2013

Of course, it is really satisfying when you can put the music and the fan together in a moment of interaction. That really puts the whole picture together for me.

©David Sorcher 2013


Monday, May 27, 2013

Flowers in Memory of...

I've been preparing work for the SOS Art Show at the Art Academy, opening next Friday, May 31st. Read all about it in the linky. This all came down very last minute and i am a bit surprised since the last day for the application was May 13th. I must admit i wasn't even aware of the show until my colleague Coulter Loeb suggested i contact the curator and so i gave it a shot despite the past deadline and was accepted. You never know unless you try, eh? I know that right now you would probably like to see the two images that i will be placing in the exhibition, but i'm not going to do that. After all, i want you to come to the show, right...? ;->
I will give you a hint though, that it will be work from my Occupy Cincinnati project.
Today i am going to return to macro world. I love these isolated places, so far outside (or rather inside) our normally existing worlds that we often forget to notice them. Place the camera to the eye, focus in and watch the rest of the world dissolve into a close-up faery tale world of flower trees and giant insects.
I offer these flowers in memory to those who have fallen.

©David Sorcher 2013

©David Sorcher 2013

©David Sorcher 2013


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jack of All Trades?

©David Sorcher 2013

It has been written and advised that despite the old adage a photographer should not attempt to be a "Jack of All Trades" because s/he will then surely end up be a master at none. While i do understand what the photo business gurus are getting at here i just personally have a hard time with this advice. Perhaps i suffer from a bit of photographic ADHD, but if i were to turn my focus just to one aspect of my photography i feel i would surely suffer for it.
A quick scroll down my blog page will clearly reveal my photographic schizophrenia. Yesterday i was shooting straightforward general news at the Monsanto demonstration. As you continue down you will find landscapes, music photography, abstract light and shadow, nature macro shots and dead animals. What's a boy to do, in am just interested i so many things. :-)
What i do believe in doing is finding consistency in each of these categories. Each of my different bodies of work needs to hold together as a whole. Certainly some bodies of work are more commercially viable than others so i suppose which work i show where and how becomes important for my commercial success. But hey, this is my PhotoWorld. Anything can happen here... ;->
Today's offering is another example of outdoor light seeking indoor environments, the play of light and shadow on my kitchen curtains.  

You Are What You Eat....

Today was an Global Day of Action against Monsanto and somewhere between 200 and 300 people turned up at Piatt Park to demand the repeal of the Monsanto Protection Act and labeling for GMO foods.
©David Sorcher 2013

I've spent quite a bit of time photographing protest movements, most recently following Occupy Cincinnati through the streets and the courts. There is something about the expression of our right to dissent that i find not only invigorating, but important. 

Amadeo Gavarrete of the Inter-Faith Workers Center. ©David Sorcher 2013

I was first really drawn to this work after being beating and having my camera smash by NYPD during the Tompkin Square Riot in 1988. The ensuing struggle around issues of the park fueled a 3-year documentary project for me. It seems amazing that the 25th anniversary of that event takes place this summer. I am hoping to travel there in August for festivities and a media panel discussion on the riot and it's aftermath.

Atia Huff in Piatt Park before the march. ©David Sorcher 2013

Here in Cincy we saw perhaps 300 at most taking to the streets, not really a bad number for our generally apathetic populous, but some actions in other cities around the world saw thousand marching in protest. Monsanto seems to be popping up more and more in the mainstream news as entire countries have made the decision to burn their genetically engineered crops. We have seen this happen in Hungary, Haiti and India to name a few. 

©David Sorcher 2013

Of course, Monsanto = money and money = power in this world. How Americans and American farmers respond in the future to this issue will no doubt be the tipping point one way or the other. 
Of course, the TV news cameras never showed up for the protest here in Cincinnati, so you may have missed this one on the evening news. Neither was it covered by either mainstream or alternative print media here, though i did send a gallery into the Enquirer which is now up here. So, if a protest marches through the forest and nobody ever sees it......?






Friday, May 24, 2013

Man of Service

My father was a man of service. As early as i can remember he was a volunteer fireman. When the call came (a different ring on our telephone to alert him), he dropped whatever he was doing and went without a question. This was the case morning, noon or dead of night, for more than 25 years. In 1964 he offered up his skills to the New York World's Fair, joining their team of emergency rescue workers. Rescue work eventually became his career as a paramedic for New York City, working on an ambulance out of Long Island Jewish Hospital, a job he did into his retirement. He eventually made his way back to photography when he became a civilian volunteer for the U.S. Army at Ft. Dietrich. They finally ended up paying him for his time. And when he moved to Hawaii, near my big sister, he became a National Park volunteer working at the memorial for the sunk U.S.S. Arizona.
Two packages arrived from my sister yesterday and in one were his fireman and paramedic shields. I already had his World's Fair badge, a treasure i had lusted over since i was a boy. So i had to do some quick photos, of course. I would image i might do something a bit more extensive with these in the future. Evidence of a good man's life well lived...

A Man of Service ©David Sorcher 2013

©David Sorcher 2013

Edit: Sorry, i had intended to place a link to my project, In the Line of Duty, a brief documentary series follow the work of three others who dedicate themselves to a life of service. You can check that out here.

Garden of the Gods

I must admit failure on two fronts. Firstly i am posting a photo that is not exactly new. I did shop it up for the very first time tonight, but it is not the new photo a day disciple that i was attempting to follow here. But it was a long and busy day and i am afraid that i just found no opportunity to make a fresh capture.
This is one of the shots from Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs when i was seeing my dying dad off. I'd love to visit this locale under better circumstances.
Of course the other failure is that i'm just plain late. Missed my deadline, i did. Good thing i don't do that when it really counts... :-)
©David Sorcher 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A SHORT, SHARP, SHOT.....

Ra Ra Riot ©David Sorcher

I've been in a great discussion today about the frustration and angst of music photographers today, specifically one friend who is wondering just what he is doing it all for anymore. Firstly, understand that many, if not most of the music photographers i know and shoot along side with in the pit often do this work for no money at all. They are all damn good photographers mind you, but finding publications, especially web-based ones, that are willing to pay for the work is more difficult than ever before. In our "everybody-has-a-camera-so-everyone-is-a-photographer" world, the profession of photography has taken a bit of a hit, since so many publications these days seem all too willing to accept lesser quality images for the financial boost of the free ride. And now Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has announced to everyone, while buying up the world's largest photo sharing site (Flickr), that there is no such thing as professional photographers anymore (excuse me???). Somebody shoot me, please...literally.

Some will argue that young photographers need to pay their dues and that working free to build your portfolio is to be expected. I can agree with that to a point. I have certainly done my share of free work and dues paying in my day. But it is important not to make a long-term habit of it and to establish yourself and your work as something of real value. We school, we work hard, we invest thousands of dollars in our equipment and most importantly we have a talent and passion for the work we do that goes far beyond that of the average person's skill set.

This doesn't mean that i always need cold hard cash for my work, but there does need to be some adequate exchange. I am always amused when i shoot a band (or anybody, anyplace) and there is an assumption that you will simply email them photos. Because your picture have no real value, right? I suppose that means that the band will therefore be showing up with their instruments to entertain my friends at my next garden party? Well, if they are willing, we can talk. :-)

Believe what you will folks, but in spite of today's advanced technologies, you will not see shots like the one above taken with your cell phone from the 8th row. Even if you have the technology, being a photographer also involves the consistency of good composition and the ability see the light and recognize the moment. Yes Marissa, the world still needs professional photographers.

Here's one more from last night's show of The Shins. If you'd like to see more of that show, visit my FB page.
If you would like to see some of my best music shots visit please my website. :-)

The Shins ©David Sorcher 2013


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Someday, all this will be yours.....

Just a quick post. I've always been fascinated by the play of light on shear curtains, the way the daylight beckons you from the outside to leave your house chores and come play. The light dances here every sunny morning for an hour or so and this morning i thought to capture it.
©David Sorcher 2013

©David Sorcher 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Photo for a bleary-eyed morning

And you probably thought i had forgotten about blogging today. No such luck, eh? I suppose that for me a part of this is the disciple of the thing, of both writing and providing a new photo per day...at least for a little while anyway.
Well, i rolled out of bed a bit bleary-eyed (and waaaaay too early) from my Sunday gaming night (Settlers of Catan, yeah!) and knew i had to make a photo and make it then because the day was about to get busy with other things. But the light was nice at least. There is just nothing like morning light. Even though color temperature will be very similar in the late afternoon, morning light just looks different, feels different.
So my entry for today is just this simple shot of the shadow play on my porch from those early morning rays. No big whoop i suppose, but compositionally sound at least. Tomorrow night i am shooting the Shins at the new casino. Maybe something more exciting will present itself there. :-)
©David Sorcher 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

of bugs and buds and dead things....

I spent most of the morning doing up photos for the Enquirer gallery of Patti Smith's concert last night. A bit of a photographic disappointment as we were severely restricted in terms of time and position for getting our shots. That coupled with the usually poor lighting in the otherwise magnificent Memorial Hall left me with no particularly great shots of Patti's show for today's blog, at least by my standards.
So, what to do about my picture a day promise to myself. When in doubt i suppose it's never a bad idea to hit the garden on a nice Sunday afternoon with the 105mm macro lens. :-)
  Photo: ©David Sorcher 2013
               
The irises are in full bloom so i headed for them and found this little guy crawling around. Had to wrangle him a few times to keep him in view.

  Photo: ©David Sorcher 2013
             
It may be a bit cliché, but if you want a little more interest in your flowers, just add water. To be fair, it had been raining earlier in the day anyway. Of course, i waited for my little friend to exit first.

  Photo: ©David Sorcher 2013
                 
Thought i'd try some full frontal light on the red irises, but i sure waited a long time for the clouds to open up. They kept giving be really short little windows, but i finally got this one pretty much like i wanted it.

  Photo: ©David Sorcher 2013

A little explanation here...My neighbor brought me 3 dead baby birds about 2 weeks ago situated on this piece of terra-cotta (she knows my twisted mind ;->). I balanced them on a stick in a bunch of blue irises to photograph them. A day later it seemed they were gone, perhaps snatch by one of the neighborhood's stray cat pack. But today i noticed that the smallest of the 3 still remained and shot the photo above. Below is one of the photos from the original shoot two weeks earlier.

  Photo: ©David Sorcher 2013
 
There is plenty to shoot in you own front (or back) yard. Just keep looking. :-)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Patti Smith, The Art World and Paparazzi

I would say that most respectable photographers would shudder (no pun intended ;->) just a bit if referred to as "Paparazzi". But very few people, photographers included, seem to know the origin of the word. Paparazzo was a character from the wonderful film by the Italian director Federico Fellini, La DolcĂ© Vita (The Good Life), a photographer who shadowed the main characters of the film documenting their extravagant lifestyle. It has been said that Fellini picked the name because it is similar to an Italian word for that most annoying of insects, the mosquito. One can quickly see how that applies to what is commonly thought of the Paparazzi; intrusive, invading, annoying, willing to cross all boundaries of decency to get their shot of the hottest celebrities, often in their most embarrassing  moments. Think Ron Galella, who hounded poor Jackie Onassis for years on end. Paparazzi have even been indicted as the cause behind the death of Princess Diana as they raced after her car desperately trying to get shots of her. And so we don't feel so bad about hearing when one gets slugged by some movie star because they have been incessantly stalking him for the past year or so.
I am not here to defend the average paparazzi or try to change anyone's idea about this field of photography in general. I will say that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this work and when handled properly it can be a respectable aspect of the photojournalistic genre. Celebrity is often in the news and there is no denying the populous want to know and see what our celebs are up to at times. Where most photogs in the paparazzi world go wrong is that they often can not tell the difference between a person's public and private life. Anytime in a celeb's life is a good time for them to get their shot. To these little mosquitos celebs don't have a private life.
The best of these shooters know better however. One such shooter would be Patrick McMullan. I knew Patrick way back in the 1980s as he mined the club scene of NYC. Pat didn't stake himself out on the doorsteps of famous people's apartment buildings though. He went where the rich and famous went to be seen. He got to know his subjects, even became their friends. So when celebrity artists, movie stars and musician saw Patrick with his camera at studio 54 or Danceteria they didn't turn and run or put up their hands to the lens. They invited him into their public world. I recommend you look for a book called So 80s: a Photographic Dairy of a Decade. At the time Patrick was shooting this work it was pure scene photography, paparazzi work at it's best. But as a collected works in book form it is an invaluable document of a time an place. BTW, that's my ex on the cover. ;-)
I guess this brings us to Patti Smith and the art world. Sometimes even your's truly dons his paparazzi hat. I must admit that it did make me feel just a little bit old when not a single one of my students seemed to know just who Patti Smith is. Oh, the pain. Patti Smith! The Godmother of Punk for Christ's sake! Poetess extraordinary! It was perhaps a bit more painful that only one of my student knew of Robert Mapplethorpe, the controversial photographer with whom Patti was once seriously involved. Especially controversial in Cincinnati since in 1990 the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) was brought up on obscenities charges for showing his photographs. A few years after Mapplethorpe's death from AIDs Patti wrote a book of poetry called The Coral Sea and about a decade after that composed a musical piece of the same name in his honor. This is what brings Patti to Cincinnati, a multi-media art presentation at the CAC (a fitting venue) of this work and a performance tonight at Memorial Hall of the music. As a long-time fan i am more than pleased to play the respectful paparazzi role at these events. But please, if you see me with my camera...don't call me that! ;-)
Patti Smith at the CAC. ©David Sorcher 2013

Patti and Jesse Smith. ©David Sorcher 2013

  

Friday, May 17, 2013

I seem to alway amuse my students with my interest in shooting dead things. I know.... ewwww!
I guess it started back in my Rockaway Beach days when i would stumble upon all manner of little creatures who had gone to meet their maker on my long walks along the beach and in the great empty lots that occupied the space between the elevated "A" train and the boardwalk.
My interest is not as morbid as you might at first think. I'm a bit of a pagan who likes to follow the cycles of things. Just as spring leads to summer and fall on to winter and then back again to spring, life leads to death which then again feeds life. I remember the first time i noticed how plants were growing up through the remains of a poor dead puppy that had been abandoned in an overgrown lot along my walk to the beach. Death feeding life, life feeding death, the never ending cycle. I decided this was a good personal project for me. After all, every boy needs a hobby. Certainly ever photographer needs a personal project, one that we do just for ourselves without worrying what clients or critics think. I wanted to explore these ideas through my photography and break through some of the taboos that our Western society in particular seems to place on this very natural process, one that like it or not, eventually will come to all of us. I also wanted to tie it in with my early childhood interest in archeology and paleontology. So my early series of these were called Future Fossils.
Death is transition. For those who know a little something about the symbolism of the Tarot cards, the Death card is the card of change, not disastrous endings. What that transition actually is has been a matter of philosophical and religious debate since the dawn of civilization and i don't believe my project is looking to answer that question. But i do want to approach the questions of mortality, our fears surrounding it and hopefully find a beauty and grace in the passing of things.
While this started as a more pure documentary project i have recently begun to be more proactive in some of my compositions. And so i am also developing the idea behind Last Rites and the idea that all beings deserve to be honored in their passing through some kind of rites or ritual. This sort of started with that last image of the hummingbird on the sunflower that you can see in the Future Fossils gallery. Depending upon the scene i might add to the composition to this end or rearrange the elements. The image i am attaching below is a straight shot though. I found this little guy yesterday at Twin Lakes in Eden Park while practices some DSLR video (i'm taking a class to improve my skill set). Nature provided it's own funeral flowers and the caterpillar in the water as food for the journey home.
                                           ©David Sorcher 2013 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Territories, New Frontiers

Hey, look at me, look at me....i'm blogging, i'm blogging! :-D
There was a time when i swore i would never, ever blog. After all, what do i have to say that anybody would really want to listen to. Who would want to "follow" me?
But hey, here i am and i guess folks can either read me or not. I have been a visual artist since i first got my fingertips into paint and a photographer since my teen years. I've been through many changes since first taking up the camera as my main axe, following a long and often detoured path shaping my love of photography into a career, often "the road less traveled by". My life is at a transition point again and it is time for something new. So let's try blogging and see where it goes.
I just lost my Dad this week and find myself completely parentless for the first time. Though he never pressed it upon me, my Dad was certainly my major influence in becoming a photographer. He was one himself and i still recall how he would set up our family shots, set the self-timer and quickly run around to join us all in the photo. I'll never forget finding his "real" photos though, shots from is time in the war of dead soldiers in the mud, reportage shots of the streets of New York City in the 1950's and images of my great grandfather working metal in his blacksmith shop that showed me that my Dad was once far more serious about his camera work.
As i grew up my Dad seemed to do less and less photography as he worked through other careers (first as a machinist, then a paramedic). It was only in retirement that he returned more seriously to the camera, first doing travel stories, with my Mom as writer, for the local newspaper. Then he landed a volunteer position shooting for the U.S. Army at Ft. Dietrich which eventually turned into a paying gig. He was no spring chicken, mind you, doing this work well into in his mid 80s.
My own path has not been anything like my Dad's. I never gave up the dream of being a professional like he did, but i certainly had to do a whole lot of other work to survive and feed my photo habit (and my stomach) over the years. We do what we have to do to survive and hope that we still have the time and energy to also do what we love. It has only been in the past ten years that i have managed to make my living solely from photography. But we live in a very unstable universe these days, especially for the journalistic work that i so love to do. Since the advent of the internet my entire industry has been in some level of flux. No, i am not one of those naysayers who shout from the rooftops that photojournalist is dead. That is just ridiculous. But we do need to find new ways and understand new technologies to stay current and active in this ever changing field. The passing of my father only emphasizes this instability and reminds me that i really need to stay on top of my game if i don't want to end up forsaking my love for more "secure" work in some other field just like my father was once forced to do. I guess this blog serves as a ground camp for my assault on the next big mountain.
 ©David Sorcher 2013 All Rights Reserved