Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Early morning sprint

"Cpl. Brian Kelly, of the Towson precinct traffic team, left, and officer Gary Jacque investigate the scene of a pedestrian accident at Osler Drive at the Towson Center and Center for the Arts crosswalk Wednesday morning. A man driving a Honda Accord hit a female student as she crossed the street. The student suffered minor injuries was taken to Sinai Hospital."

Ever since our faculty parking spots were revoked, I've been forced to get to school early to find parking in the student lots. This means I am in the office from 9a.m. until class, which on average is noon. I do nothing more than waste time.

Well, all my time sitting in the office isn't unproductive. Usually my time sitting behind my desk consists of responding to numerous e-mails, editing other photographers assignments and doing homework.

This morning was different.

Not much happens news wise around campus. So when spot news comes up, I love it.

As I sat in the office 35 minutes before class, I get a call. "Pedestrian accident up the street." The call was promptly followed by my editor in chief running in the room telling me about the situation at hand.

The accident was approximately a half mile away. So with no where to park if I left, I grabbed my 70-200 and sprinted over. Of course, I was too late and was unable to get any sort of reaction shots or anyone showing emotion. I had just missed the girl being taken away according to a eye witness, too.

I think this image works though. Better than nothing, right?

This was the best accident situation I've been on to date. Not one word mentioned to me for shooting, and the police officers were helpful and friendly. I appreciate that more than one would think.

From what I gathered, it seems the student hit will be OK.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Every shoot is a learning experience

"Towson University senior goalkeeper Brandi Daniels has recored six shutouts this season and continues to lead the women's soccer team defensive. Daniels has been named CAA player of week three times, was a member of the 2006 All-CAA first team squad and has recorded 18 career shutouts."

When shooting assignments, photojournalists are constantly looking for creative ways to inform readers on a certain topic.

It's a fairly simple process. We shoot, edit and then transmit.

Once done, we move to the next assignment with new challenges and new subjects.

In most cases shoots go as planned, whether they are a preconceived portrait or an uncontrollable news event. But sometimes during the editing process we find ourselves disappointed.

While we cannot go back to reshoot, we may find subtle things that are unable to be changed. While it may initially disappoint us, it teaches us to pay attention to certain details and how to change our approach to similar assignments in the future.

For the above shoot, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Keep it simple, yet effective. Having planned two ideas, knowing rain my play a factor, I lucked out with a break in the downpours. It was weird to see rain, as we've been in a drought here in Maryland.

I arrived a bit early, setup two lights and had my associate sit where the subject would. This rarely ever happens, having a partner in crime on a shoot, so having someone sit in for a test cuts the time with a subject. In turn, gets me moving to another assignment and gets the subject in and out in rapid succession.

I liked how the test image looked and knew that's what I wanted to run with.

When Daniels arrived and put on her goalie gear, I positioned her accordingly and popped a couple tests images. Things looked great. I added a couple more soccer balls and had my image in under a minute. I changed things up a bit for a second image, and was out in back in my car in under ten minutes.

It wasn't until I was in post production that I noticed a subtle changed I should have made.

The thing I didn't notice was the soccer ball covering her feet. While it isn't a huge problem, it certainly is a small aspect of the photo I would have changed.

Sometimes we are either rushing ourselves or just get too caught up in the shooting process to notice small details. However, learning from these only helps us get better.

Nonetheless, I love the image and it looks nice on the front of the sports page. Next time I'll be sure to keep my eye on my subjects feet.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Does summer ever end in Baltimore?

"Sophia Koman, 3, of Pikesville, makes her way through a straw maze Sunday at North Run Farm in Stevenson, Md. The farm is host to a corn maze, hay rides, a pumpkin field and other fall festivities."

Yesterday I started my morning in Stevenson, Md. searching for a feature, otherwise know as a standalone for today's Towerlight.

All I have to say is does summer ever end in Baltimore?

As I mindlessly wondered through the confusing corn maze, around the screaming children and across the dusty farm, I realized it had to be 90 degrees. Sweat profusely dripped from my forehead as I continued my end to end journey across the farm and other fall activities.

But I couldn't stop thinking of the heat as I patiently waited in the middle of the corn maze for some children to run by my impeccable photo spot. After twenty five minutes of standing in one spot, waiting for the perfect shot, I had to eventually move on and search out some subjects. Drats.

Normal high temperatures for October in Maryland average 64 degrees. According to, the record high is 90 degrees. I would like to see the exact numbers from yesterday.

As if the corn maze wasn't hot enough, I made my way over to the men's soccer game afterward. They ended up winning, but not after I lost five pounds from the heat.

Keeping this post short today...a lot on my mind and a lot to do. But I had a great time shooting in this abnormal October weather.

I can't wait to break out the jeans and lightweight coat once this heat wave passes. I love fall.

Friday, October 05, 2007

King Gimp

"Towson University graduate student Dan Keplinger gazes at one of his painting in his studio in the Center for Arts where he creates various pieces of artwork. Keplinger, who developed Cerebral Palsy at birth, was featured in the Academy Award winning documentary "King Gimp" and will be showcasing his MFA thesis "In Whose Words?" in the CFA Holtzman gallery through Oct.27."

Wednesday morning I shot a portrait of a very interesting person. My subject being Dan Keplinger otherwise known as "King Gimp."

Featured in the HBO Academy Award winning documentary "King Gimp" at birth Keplinger was mistook for dead and placed aside. He went over a minute without Oxygen, but Keplinger miraculously managed to revive himself. However, as a result of the lack of air to his brain, he developed Cerebral Palsy.

Holding two previous majors from Towson University with a perfect GPA, Kelpinger is making his final stint at Towson with a showcase of his MFA thesis artwork.

I won't lie, I was nervous about meeting Keplinger. Maybe it was because I haven't been around many disabled people in the past, but I learned quickly he is no different than anyone else.

Sure, he was born with a disability that has left his arms failing around, feet stomping the ground, and face uncontrollably contorting. But that doesn't make him different from myself, it hasn't changed who he is or stopped him from pursing his love of art.

After spending 30 minutes shooting and engaging with Keplinger, I came to realize I envy him.

Simply put, he is inspiring.

Think deep. Think really hard. How often do we complain about things not being fair or perfectly right? Whether it's something small such as getting off work late or not finding a parking spot.

Keplinger wasn't given a normal body, but mentally is smarter than one may perceive him. Yet the work he creates, in the manner which he produces it makes you appreciate day to day activities that we normally take for granted.

After scrolling his website, I found a quote by him:

"The minute my headstick goes on, I don't hear other people in the room, everything is filtered out, creating a state of purity possible only through art."

Reminds me of myself. When I am shooting photos, more often than not I find myself losing track of what's going on around me... which isn't always a good thing in journalism. But it's the artistic side of me coming out: pure right brain dominance.

Moving on, I shot Keplinger during an interview with Arts editor, Alex. We originally planned to shoot in the gallery where his show would be, but we changed locations to where he creates his artwork. I am glad we did.

The bright, vibrant colors in his art helped tell his story. Nothing he creates is bland, and I feel as if the bright colors show his determination to continue his sucess.

The thing that I kept seeing though, was him looking at his work during the interview. I could tell by his quotes and actions that he is really passionate about art and expressing himself through his paintings, sculptures and other types of medium work. I am just glad I could capture that in the above image.

If you haven't seen his documentary, I highly suggest watching it. It truly is inspiring.

Also, speaking of inspiring: This documentary entitled "Kingsley's Crossing" is a great piece of photojournalism work. An oldie, but goodie, it makes me want to go shoot photos immediately following the end of the story each and every time.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Remember the good folk

I dread Tuesdays. They are by far my busiest day of the week. Between classes and shooting, I search for a 15 minute break just to grab a quick bite to eat in my hectic day.

It also doesn't help if my day is filled with disappointment. I can't see how some people can be totally unprincipled. I am a civil guy, one of the nicest people one could meet and not much bothers me. However, when people push me around, and are disrespectful ahem... Towson University, I get very upset.

I will leave it at that. We as citizens in society should praise those that uplift us.

Kanji or Sensee Takeno (above) is one of these people.

Kanji is the director of photographic services here at Towson University. Basically he shoots everything one may see in a TU publication, and he is great at what he does.

I met him when I first got to Towson last fall and he has been nothing but a great friend since. He never lets me down in giving advice, giving me motivation, responding quickly to e-mails or just being one of the nicest men I've ever met. He has a lot of charisma and never has a anything but a smile on his face. I think the above picture captures that impeccably. Too bad he doesn't have a camera in hand.

Most photographers and photojournalists are extremely pleasant. However some are so concerned about themselves and don't want to give back to the community. Kanji is not among these people. He, much like other photographer friends of mine, would do anything to help a young, budding photographer out. It's much appreciated.

So, why do I have a picture of Kanji you ask? He was asked to take photos of himself teaching. There is an obvious a problem there. He can't take images himself. I thought I'd help shoot during Japanese class tonight.

I had fun doing it, (I've always wanted to shoot images during class. The loud snap of the shutter always gets me in trouble though) but having studied for the wrong quiz, and shooting during the hints before the quiz, I kind of messed up on the quiz. Oops.

Although I had a bad day, bombed the quiz and have a busy rest of the week, I ended it happily by shooting.

Alas, what I am getting at, is even if we have bad days, and everyone does, just remember the good people: your friends, family, and the things we do that make us happy. We shouldn't get caught up in the things that bring us down, because life is too short.

Thanks again, Kanji. See you tomorrow.