Tag Archives: photography

Adventures in film

I talk to people every day. I meet new people every day. I meet new people and I talk to them every day. I also take pictures. I probably take them  every day. So meeting new people and taking their picture should be easy to do on any day…..or it could be utterly terrfying. Yes, it was utterly terrifying.

A couple months ago I got a film camera, enrolled in a photo class and jumped into the art of photography. While there truly is extensive technicalities to shooting and developing film that I a far from mastering (and for which my own stupidity and clumsiness really set me back) I have found the real challenge to photography is not mastering art of the camera, but the art of people.

Photographing people, or more precisely people you do not know, is a surprisingly  difficult scenario to navigate. The photography that I am particularly interested in closely tangos with the art of journalism because its priority is the documentation of life. I am most enthralled by and strive to create photography which captures reality. But, capturing someone else’s reality does not come easy because it requires a level of intimacy many people don’t even establish with those they interact with on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, the realities I often find most necessary or interesting to capture are those most difficult to approach.

I have always loved the oddity and uniqueness that lies in the spectrum of humanity, but how do I photograph that without making them feel like a spectical. How do I make them feel comfortable, and not that I am taking their picture because I think they look cool?

I am also a proponent of the untold story, the marginalized individual and the forgotten soul. There are so many stories I want to tell and plights I would like to document with my lens, but how do I enter those worlds? Whether it is politically correct or not I find myself constantly terrified of looking like the often resented “white middle class suburban girl” who probably just wants to take cool pictures for her fancy photo class.

Unfortunately, I have not figured out the answers to these questions yet, but I get the feeling I am just going to have to dive in and experience it for myself. Which is part of the reason I am choosing to follow in the footsteps of Mary Ellen Mark for my final photography project. As one of this centuries best photojournalists imitating her work will force me to shed my anxieties, strip my insecurities and, relying on my kindergarden capabilities, meet someone new.

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Pro-Life? Pro-Choice? Pro Civil Conversation.

“The hallmark of civil debate is when you can acknowledge that which is good in the position of the person you disagree with.”                                   –Sidney Callahan

A couple years back, NPR’s On Being with Kristen Tippet did an extended project called Civil Conversations. This project was a series of radio programs, and online tools to help facilitate conversation about tough topics in both families and communities, and provided ideas and tools for healing our disrupted civil spaces.

http://being.publicradio.org/first-person/civil-conversations/

It is rare these days that political divides and contested ideologies are actually discussed with open minds and sensibility. I believe this is what conversation should be like in everyday realm, but it seems these debates are discussed with no more tact than shock jocking. I found one program in the project, Listening Beyond Life and Choice, especially influential on my approach the the issue. The piece features Frances Kissling, activist, ethicist, former Catholic nun and former head of Catholics for Choice. It did not focus on the actual issues so much as how to talk about the issues and more productive ways to discuss deep-rooted civil disagreements.

“I don’t understand how you can work on an issue for 35 years as complicated as this and never change your mind.”  –Frances Kissling

“Dialogue requires an enormous amount of discipline. You have to put up with things you don’t like.” –Frances Kissling 

For the full conversation: http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2011/ccp-kissling/

I have always found myself very intrigued with the debate on abortion in both the legal and ethical realms. My own thoughts and opinions aside, it is quite amazing to see the dedication, passion and fury people both invest in and polarize this debate with. When coming back from taking pictures at the winery I discovered the Pro-Life Planned Parenthood protestors were back out. I had not seen them since winter began and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture them.

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Despite that I don’t necessarily agree with these individuals tactics or stance I found it incredibly easy to maintain a neutral presense. Although, the man in the first photo asked me a question when I was finishing up photographing him that had such genuine inquiry and good intent it  took me aback:

“Do you think we are helping at all?”

While I believe that to be a matter of opinion, I also think it is the strive to bring about greater utility that must be respected on both sides of any debate. Acknowledging that which is good in an opponent or adversary is the vital if one ever hopes to obtain a greater understanding of the other.

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Lindsey Learns DSLR II

Part II: Uncapped and Untamed 

All I set out  to do was remember to take my cap off the lens and figure out how to take a picture with a Nikon D7000, but here is what I learned instead:

Frequently asked questions when carrying around  Nikon D7000: 

1. “ARE THESE GOING ON THE FACEBOOK!”

2. “You know…you can take my picture if you want…”

3. “Why are you doing that?”

4. “Stop.”

5. “Your not going to photoshop my face onto Hulk Hogan’s body are you?”

6. “Do you want fries with that” (Eh, okay, maybe that one didn’t totally have to do with the camera, but if I wasn’t taking pictures I wouldn’t have been by that McDonald’s!)

As well as…..

How to break into your own car

1. Find someone who knows how to break into cars

2. Become a girl (if you are already a girl you may proceed to step 3)

Note: if becoming a girl is not possible in your current situation please refer to the alternative step.

3. Smile

(Alternative) Throw rock through window.

Had I known the reaction a professional grade camera would solicit from strangers I would have started wearing one as an accessory, just to make friends. Some people threw their limbs out in exaggerated poses, others offered their unsolicited input on my content choice and one eyed me with McCarthy-esq suspicion while peering through a window. However, none were more helpful than the two ink artists from Tattoo You.

It was getting dark when my partner, Lauren, and I were trudging back to the car. My butt was a little wet from unnecessarily rolling around on the ground to get that “awesome” angle of that…..piece of trash. It had been a hard day of playing photographer, and we were ready to leave when I reached in my pocket for the keys, but all I felt was that piece of chewed gum I left in there last week. My heart sank as I peered into the window, and there they were, just lying on the seat of my locked car. Accompanied, of course, by  my cell phone, wallet, jacket, Lauren’s cell phone, and Lauren’s wallet. Apparently, we wouldn’t be eating anytime soon, good thing I had that chewed gum.

Between smart phones, Triple A cards and the invention of, oh whats it called, the spare key, this kind of situation was really not supposed to be feasible in this day in age. So, before Lauren went Neanderthal and threw a rock through my window, I decided to venture into the nearest establishment, Tattoo You. Their assistance can effectively  be summaraized in the following quotes:

“I can get it open for you.” (Tattoo artist 1)

“We have extra needle wire!” (Tattoo artist 1)

“I hope no one thinks were stealing this and calls the police.” (Lauren) “Ha, not in this neighborhood!” (Tattoo artist 1)

“Let me go get someone more experienced at breaking into cars.” (Tattoo artist 1)

“I haven’t done this in forever.” (Tattoo artist 2)

“This is such a handy talent!” (Lauren) “My parole officer didn’t think so…” (Tattoo artist 2)

Two types of needle wire and a determined “GOD DAMN, YOU WILL OPEN” later, the “more experienced” tattoo artist came back into the shop and tossed the keys my way! While I joke about the ease with which they aided us, I would like to whole-heartledy  thank those two men with words I thought I would never say.

Thank you, for breaking into my car. =)

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Lindsey Learns DSRL

Part I: A Flash from the Past

The Barbie Instant Camera was my very first camera, well, not mine per se, but Lisa would make me use it during recess to photograph her modeling on the monkey bars. Looking back, I may have been taken advantage of by a snotty, elementary egomaniac, while arguably responsible for the creation and circulation of  some slightly “indecent” (as Lisa’s mother said) photos of an underage girl, but I loved that camera! And those bonus flower stickers, they were all the photoshop a 6-year-old girl could ever need.

Unfortunately, seeing as my technical skills  never developed much past the Barbie Instant Cam, my hobby as a photographer remained in the 90s, wedged somewhere between my pogo stick and Atari. But, the time has come for me to embrace the digital age of film, and take on the Nikon D7000!

Wait! I am not ready, just one more flash back!

Okay, now I think I am ready. Deep breaths and…..CLICK! Woops, the lens cap was still on.

Stay tuned next week for Part II of Lindsey learns DSLR, Uncapped and Untamed.

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