Archive for February, 2010
One of the things I like about living in Indiana is the proximity to big cities and to some interesting small, rural places. Sometimes I like getting in the car and just finding my way to a small town for some photography. I did this with a friend back in October one afternoon, and last week I finally got around to posting some of the photos from the day.
There are a few more photos on my website, if you want to see more. and now, I’m looking forward to spring, so I can do this again.
I’m trying to find out more information about this new, EVIL camera that’s supposedly in development and will soon replace the digital SLR. All I can find is this: EVIL stands for electronic viewfinder/interchangeable lens (you’ll be able to use existing lenses with them, with an adapter); and they’re much smaller than SLRs; and much quieter when taking photos, since there’s no mirror to flip. I guess they also have huge sensors and take amazing photos, they respond fast (no picture lag), and they work great in low light settings.
I’m going to guess they’ll enter the marketplace so expensive that I’d have to sell a kidney to get one, which means I’m wasting my time thinking about them at all, right now.
I like Julia Pratt’s photo series and corresponding book, In Search of the Corn Queen, for both the title and the photography. And because she, like me, has an infatuation with Midwestern County Fairs and small town festivals.
Be sure to check out Julia’s website for more unique (and sometimes disturbing) photos of Americana, including an Abe Lincoln impersonator in a “traveling log cabin,” myriad displays of the United States flag, and other interesting scenes.
Julia has also been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and her work appears in the Smithsonian.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Lauren Marriott, who went to school with me from kindergarten until freshman year — when she ran away from home and was gone for 15 months.
Here’s what I remember about Lauren: She was one of the cool kids. She had pretty dark hair and a deep, sexy voice — even as a little girl — and she dressed kind of like a cross between Janet and Chrissy from Three’s Company. I remember liking her red-brown leather boots with the wedge heel and the way she wore them tucked into her jeans (because that’s what girls did in the late 1970s).
Truthfully, I was kind of infatuated with Lauren, and I can’t say why. The feeling was mutual. She paid more attention to me than other kids, even though she was clearly out of my league. Once in 6th grade, she told me that she wanted to teach me how NOT to be such a nerd. Of course, that was a relatively hopeless and short-lived cause.
When I was in 10th grade, Lauren’s dad was my Typing teacher. It’s true, back then we actually had a semester-long high school class called “Typing” and you learned on an old-fashioned, manual typewriter with a ribbon and carriage return and other things that you’ve probably never heard of, if you’re under 25 years old. Other than the godawful clanging noise of about 30 typewriters, Typing was a quiet class. We sat in silence and typed various manuscripts and took tests to see how many words per minute we could type. That was about it. We had little interaction with the teacher.
But one day, Mr. Marriott didn’t give us a typing assignment. Instead, he spent the whole period lecturing us about morals. Among the things he told us were that we’d go to hell if we had premarital sex or smoked marijuana, and that listening to rock and roll music might lead to suicide, and that we should stay away from kids who dressed in too much black, and that the government should reinstate the draft to teach kids some values and because war is justified when it’s “us” fighting the Communists or Arabs. He also told us that AIDS was God’s punishment for homosexuals.
There was a hippie kid in my Typing class who, in retrospect, looked kind of like a guy I photographed a few years ago. I can’t even tell you the hippie kid’s name; he came to class and sat in the back and kept his head down while he did his typing assignments, and I had never heard him say a single word until that day, when he looked at Mr. Marriott and asked what was wrong with him.
“Excuse me?” The teacher asked.
“How can you say something so cruel about people you don’t even know?” The hippie kid asked. “How can you even think that God would do that?”
“If you’re talking about homosexuality, it is a sin. God said so,” Mr. Marriott said.
“So you can join the army and kill another man in war and God won’t care, but you’ll go to hell if you loved another man, instead?”
At this, Mr. Marriott turned red-faced. He paced back and forth and looked at the hippie kid like he wanted to race down the aisle between our desks and choke him. But instead he composed himself and told us to open our Typing manuals and transcribe an essay about Lake Titicaca. Mr. Marriott’s sanctimonious diatribe was over and it was never mentioned again that semester. The hippie kid never said another word, but went back to keeping his head down and typing in silence.
If I had it to do over again, I would have approached that kid and thanked him for standing up to the teacher. I would have tried to get to know him. He was my first exposure to the kind of straight guys that are my friends, today. But it didn’t happen, and it never will since I don’t even know who he is. Or was.
A few weeks after this incident, Lauren Marriott came home after her year of living on the streets. Her first day back in school, she asked if she could sit with me at lunch. I still thought she was out of my league. It was a quiet lunch period. We didn’t say much to each other. I could tell that Lauren was embarrassed about being back; I was her safety net that hour. And I felt cool for sitting with the runaway kid, and mortified for sitting with the runaway kid at the same time. I desperately wanted to ask her what it was like to run away from home, and where she went, and who she met. And what she did to get money and food. And if she regularly shot heroin into her veins and if she had a pimp — two things that adults back then tried to tell us happened to ALL runaways. But I didn’t ask. We just sat, silently, and ate sandwiches.
Lauren only stayed in school for about a week. One rumor was that she left home again, but I think what happened is that she transferred to another high school to finish up, where people wouldn’t know about her fugitive history, and perhaps where she could graduate without her father breathing down her neck. He seems like the kind of person that a lot of people would have wanted to flee.
Among the things that I don’t enjoy would be ice dancing and the Dixie Chicks.
I do, however, have a strong affinity for cowboys. (Strange thing, since I’ve never lived south of the Mason-Dixon line.) I think it’s the way they wear their jeans. And there’s something about a cowboy hat, too — even the least attractive men become a little bit hot if they put on a cowboy hat.
As it turned out last night, cowboy trumped the Dixie Chicks and I was compelled to watch Olympic Ice Dancing, thanks to these two couples. Cowboys wear their jeans well, and male figure skaters always have nice butts. So it was a win-win.
The second “cowboy” is only 19, and he attends the University of Michigan, which really isn’t that far from here. Not that it means anything.
In my new quest to capture the headshot market for every young classical musician in Indiana (okay, not really, it’s just who’s been hiring me of late), here’s one of my latest subjects, Karel.
Personally, I’ve always thought that male classical musicians were sexy. Karel was no exception.
I tried dating a classical musician once, a pianist named Clark who was one of the more handsome young men I ever went out with. He kind of looked like James Van Der Beek, back when he was Dawson. But Clark picked me up in his Jaguar (first strike) and spent our entire date driving me around the richest neighborhoods in Indiana and pointing at the houses he taught piano lessons in (second strike). It was the most boring date of my life. And after about 90 minutes of this crap, when I suggested that Clark could just take me back to my apartment so we could have sex, he told me that he didn’t do things like that until he’d been with someone at least 4 months (last strike).
Anyway, this was supposed to be about Karel’s photograph, not my disastrous dating life. Here’s another photo.
I don’t think I had ever heard of freezing fog until it happened here, the other morning. It covered the trees. You could almost feel it resisting you as you walked through it.
It was so beautiful that I thought about turning around on my way to work and just wandering around with my camera. But I don’t think single digit temperatures are good for cameras. Or photographers, for that matter. Here’s one more shot I did manage to get, taken at the same time of day and from basically the same vantage point as this winter shot, just a few days earlier.
Some people think that I’m keeping secrets from them. Even some of my closest friends. That isn’t quite true.
It is true that I’m working on a few things (goals, plans), some of which could impact my life in big ways. And it is true that, for now, I’m not talking about how.
I had a creative writing teacher once tell me that no writer should ever discuss unfinished work, because writers are, by their nature, story tellers. And once you’ve told your story, you’ve satisfied the need. I think that I’ve applied this to other areas of my life. Sometimes, talking about something gives it a life of its own, which might take away the need to see it through. Or at least it makes seeing it through that much more difficult. Maybe I just don’t work well when all eyes are upon me.
Plus, I’ve failed one (or both) of these goals before, and in case it doesn’t work out this time, I don’t want to face having to explain myself, or justify why I backed out, or deal with it when people are looking at me like I’m all talk and no action.
And so, you see, I’m really not being elusive. Or secretive. I’m just making sure that I don’t jinx myself.
If, however, things do work out the way I want them to, you’ll be among the first to know. So stay tuned.
My partner loves Christmas more than most people I know. Which explains his expression in this photo, an old one that I just recently rediscovered of Jay admiring a display in the world’s largest Christmas store (which is approximately the size of the average suburban shopping mall).
This particular store is in a Bavarian-inspired, campy little town in Michigan. Jay goes for the Christmas. I go because I like to see Jay happy, and because across the street from that store is a restaurant that’s world renown for the most ridiculous all-you-can-eat fried chicken dinner.
One of the newer trends in male artistic photography is to take the model to some abandoned, industrial place and make him get naked there. Most of the time, I find this kind of boring. It’s one of those circumstances where every one of these photos looks just like the rest. But Maximo Arroyo’s photography of Spanish model/porn star Jorge Ballantinos is an exception. I can’t really tell you what I like about the photography, I just like it.
It could just be the European-ness of the photography. Let’s face it, Spaniards are interesting, just because. But there is a sexiness and authenticity that’s missing in most American photography of the same ilk. This set just doesn’t look so manufactured. I think using Jorge for a series like this is a good move; he fits the setting, whereas an American photographer would try to put some pretty, Abercrombie model in a dirty setting and it just doesn’t translate. I think I’ve been guilty of that, myself.
If you want to see more photographs of Jorge, go to Arroyo’s website (be forewarned of the slow load and creepy/annoying background music). But while you’re there, also look at the gallery of Orlando Toro, which I also find to be surprisingly pleasing, despite it being nothing all that new.
All photos in this post copyright, Maximo Arroyo.