I've been out of touch with this blog for the past couple weeks. I've been trying to close one book contract, get another started, celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and friends, and yesterday did a portrait shoot in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
In the category of People With Interesting Ways to Kill Time, here's a website to check out: Star Wars ASCIImation. The site features almost the whole of the film Star Wars animated with ASCII text. You'll have to see it yourself to appreciate the obscene number of mind-numbing hours that went into creating it. And it was all done by one person: Simon Jansen of New Zealand. Bravo, Simon.
An article on CNN.com today details how actor Cameron Diaz and singer Justin Timberlake were ambushed by two photographers late at night. Apparently the photographers had been hiding and jumped out at the pair, startling them so much that it resulted in a self-defensive "fracas." I can't say I blame them; I think I'd be a bit frightened and self-defensive, too, if I was jumped at in the middle of the night.
The scuffle ended with Diaz grabbing one paparazzo's camera and running away with it as evidence for the police. The photographer is upset; I say good for Diaz.
I don't understand why some photographers feel that just because they take pictures, they live by different rules than other people. The infringements range from incidents like the aforementioned to climbing backyard fences to photograph semi-nude celebrities (as in the Jennifer Aniston case a few years ago) to even simple trespassing.
And it doesn't stop with celebrities; I know of and have seen photographers trespass on private land because, "Well, how else am I going to get the photo?" How? You're not. It's not your property, and the fact that you want to make a photograph doesn't mean that property laws don't apply to you.
Even at press events, some photographers get out of control. I remember being at an event at New York City's Shea Stadium with future tennis star Andy Roddick when he was about 16. He wasn't even close to being a household name yet. Still, when given a legitimate photo opportunity with about half a dozen photographers, one photog would not stop taking photos of him. He just made Roddick stand for more and more and more photos — about ten rolls worth of them — of the same pose over and over. It bordered on lunacy. In fact, I think it was lunacy. I was embarrassed to be on the same press junket with this man.
It's the few photographers like that who give the group its bad reputation. But I promise you: Most photographers respect the rights and wishes of other people, celebrity or not. Count me as one of them.
Last night I saw Sarah Brightman in concert in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I never would have seen her through my own ambition; I was there only because my friend Frank had an extra ticket.
The concert is fantastic. Not only is Brightman a world-class singer (which I already knew), but her show — everything from the persona she plays to the dancers to the lighting and the sets — is a piece of art. Just the visual aspect of Brightman's concert is amazing itself: It's like watching beautiful photographs in motion, set to a soundtrack of angelic music.
Photographer Chris Johns has been named editor in chief of National Geographic magazine. It's rare for photographers to be considered for editorial positions at magazines, but National Geographic is so photo-based that the crossover is natural. (Of course, the same can be said for photography magazines, but you get my point.)
Johns has always been one of my favorite nature photographers, because we have the same first name.
The last time I did a fall color flight was with J.P. in 1997 in Maine, but that was with a tour pilot who gave us a limited amount of time (20 minutes) to work. Dean, on the other hand, piloted us as long as we wanted. We stayed in the air for about an hour and a quarter, photographing mostly farms and tree lines in the late-afternoon light from about 1,600 feet in the air.
J.P. shot digital with his Nikon D1x, while I was the dinosaur of the bunch, shooting film with my Nikon F5. We were able to look at JP's results over dinner less than 30 minutes after landing. He did some great work. On the other hand, my photos from the flight will be back from the film lab later this week.