Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tagging Party in Wynwood

Following up my previous post on Graffiti Art in Wynwood,  during our stop in Wynwood Jackie and stumbled across a tagging party.   Two guys were doing the tagging, with some others hanging out by the cars, in the rear with the bear.  The kids were very cool and let themselves be photographed.

I don't know if they had the owner's permission.  Graffiti abounds in Wynwood.  Not all of it can be "illegal".  The work is beautiful. Surely some of it, maybe most of it, is done under commission by the building owners.  Still, I didn't photograph their faces, just to be careful.

Graffiti is fraught with such controversy given its origins in the streets, its association with African American and Hispanic culture and wholly unfair association with gang life. Many people don't consider it an art at all but merely a form of vandalism.   The vandalism aspect of this is almost beside the point, actually.  It confuses the act of graffiti with permission to create the art in the first place.  I suppose if Micheal Angelo had painted the Sistine Chapel without the Pope's permission it would technically be considered graffiti vandalism, but it would still be his masterpiece on the Sistine Chapel.  The art deserves to be measured on its own value regardless of whether the artist had permission in the first place.  As art, much of it is beautiful.  This beauty abounds in Wynwood.
Click here to read a great article on Graffiti.

Click here to view the rest of the gallery in my Flickr feed.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dominos on Nochebuena

Posted from iPhone.  Dominos at the Reyes residence, Nochebuena, 2011.  Felicidades.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New York in the Shadows

Walking through New York with my M8 swinging off my side I wondered what would happen if I cranked the aperture all the way up to f/16 and shot into the sun.  The results are fascinating.  Only the surfaces bathed in sunlight are visible, everything else is a shadow.  Of course this would have been different had I shot with the sun at my back but that would have defeated the purpose.  The images reveal a New York of of long shadows and silhouetted figures.

Go to my Flickr page to view the entire gallery New York in the Shadows.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Graffiti Art in Wynwood

 After the Wynwood Art Fair, Jackie and I drove around looking for something else interesting to photograph when she spotted the Batman tags on a wall.

Since I already had a photo of a Captain America she suggested I photograph this.  Well, it turned into an urban photo safari and a great encounter with some taggers as well. 

Photos of the tags can be found in my gallery on Flickr called Graffiti Art in Wynwood.  More on the taggers next time.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wynwood Art Festival

Couple walks past a dry-ice machine
Wynwood had its pre-Basel party in October with its Art Festival.  Typical of Wynwood, though, this was very much a participatory event.  You could even say that the Festival was, by itself, a piece of performance art.

Billowing clouds of dry ice embrace you as you walk in and are immediately a bunch of dancers, a kid doing an old-style break dance and a Celia Cruz lookalike. 

The entire set can be viewed in my Wynwood Arts Festival Gallery on Flickr.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A People's Memorial

Never Forget
Adjacent to Ground Zero, St. Paul's Chapel miraculously survived the blast that leveled the twin towers and forever changed our lives.  After September 11, St. Paul's ministered to the workers at Ground Zero, what they called "The Pile."  During this time thousands of visitors from around the world transformed the wrought iron fence surrounding St. Paul's Chapel into a spontaneous memorial.  They left many different items that held significant personal meaning.  By the time the 9/11 ministry ended at St. Paul's, the items filled 250 boxes.

The items are at once both heartwarming and sad. There is the banner from Oklahoma City professing its support and love for New York.  You can't see that and not be moved.  There are also many, many photos of the fallen and the missing.  Some firefighters, others police officers, still other just civilians like myself, mementos of lives cut short by madmen and by "politics by other means".  You can't look at photos of the dead and the missing without being moved to tears. 

Click here to see the remaining photos on my Flickr page.

Monday, November 21, 2011

West 10th Street, Brooklyn

By the time this post hits my blog, I'll be in New York for Thanksgiving week.  Before leaving, I wanted to publish one last post and thought, in counterpoint to the season, I'd post something from summer.

I took this shot in 2005 on West 10th Street and the Boardwalk on Coney Island in Brooklyn during the Mermaid Parade.  For those who haven't been, the Mermaid Parade is sheer insanity, but in a really decadent and fun way.  Hundreds of people pack both side of Mermaid Avenue to watch the craziness. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Zen and the City

Zen and the City
I've been going over some old photos, just for chucks and grins I guess.  Nothing in particular, just checking out what I've done in the past, how I've grown as an artist, how my technique has changed and came across this image.  

I remember taking this photo in 2004, walking down the streets of Midtown Manhattan at the height of Christmas week, tourists everywhere, the crowds, the hustle, the bustle, the grit, the rush, I really remember it all for some reason.  What I also remember, is the space passersby gave the six people on the sidewalk.  

If you've ever walked the streets of Midtown in the middle of the day you'll understand the the crowd.  For those who haven't, picture an intense river of people, a river oftentimes possessed of its own power, one that pushes and pulls, ebbs and flows to its own will, irrespective of any one individual's desire.  If you're not careful, you'll be caught up in it and miss your destination.  

This river of people made a wide berth for the six on the sidewalk.  Impressive, I thought.  Impressive I still think. [more after the break]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Alone in a Sea of People

New York Subway, somewhere underneath Manhattan
Big cities fascinate me.  Each one has its own feel to it, and yet in many ways they are all the same.  Large, bustling, vibrant and full of life.  Full of people living the novels of their lives.  I love to visit large cities and just hit the pavement with my camera. 

If you wander the streets of any large city, though, you'll soon enough encounter the solitary, the lonely, and the pensive.  Sometimes they are quite literally alone.  Sometimes they're surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city around them, they are alone in a sea of humanity.

Thinking about stuff in Portland
With some the solitude is welcome, a brief respite from hectic lives or the demands of others.  With others, though, the solitude is imposed, either by a society that ignores their plight or by the demons in their head that alienate them from others. Sometimes it is easy to tell which is which; sometimes it is more difficult.

The photos in this series span from December, 2007 to August, 2011.  They weren't taken as a series but just as shots over time.  It wasn't until I started culling older shots that the series came to mind. 

The entire series Alone in a Sea of People can be viewed on my Flickr feed here

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scenes From Gasworks Park

Jackie and I spent the second half of August in Seattle, a city that I'd always planned on visiting but just never seemed to make it out to.  Seattle was supposed to be the start of a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, one that would end in Big Sur.  This was going to be one long, great road trip, something that I also have always planned but just never seemed to do.  However, circumstances changed at the last minute.

Friends of my in Seattle finagled a deal for Jackie and me to house-sit a condo belonging to a friend of theirs.  A beautiful city, cool friends and great lodgings for a week.  Well, you really can't beat that.  So, we stayed in Seattle for a week.  Big Sur would have to wait.

It's taken me this long to cull through 1,300+ photos.  This is the first set called Scenes From Gasworks Park. [more after the break]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Steal Like an Artist

"Good artists copy. Great artists steal." Pablo Picasso

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Harlem Grieves #9

In December of 2006 I happened to be in New York for Christmas week at the same time that James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, passed away.  Although New York is an immense place, I just happened to be staying with relatives in Harlem, literally walking distance to 125th Street and the famed Apollo Theater.  When it was announced that he would lay in state at the Apollo and that members of the public were welcome to pay their respects, I had to go. There aren't many celebrities for whom I would stand in line in 45 degree weather, but he was an exception.  I grabbed my daughter, then twelve years of age, and took her to pay our respects to the Godfather of Soul.  Of course, I also took my camera. [more after the break]

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Occupy Miami

As protesters clashed with police on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York during another march of the Occupy Wall Street movement, an old-style sit-in was occurring at the Torch of Friendship, in Downtown Miami on October 1, 2011.  Passion, intensity, anger and a desire to seize  the moment were present.  It remains to be seen how successful this movement can be.

The participants aired a variety of grievances from excessive student loans, to Wall Street greed, to the Fair Districts Amendment, voter suppression, LGBT discrimination, and a litany of others. 

Will it survive?  Will it succeed?  In Miami?  Doubtful.  There's just too much apathy here.  Nationwide?  Well, it just might be enough to sway the next election. 

View the rest of the photos in my Flickr feed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Urban, hip, gritty, gentrified, artsy, blue-collar, new, and decaying. Wynwood is a place that defies description and one that presents us with a paradox.

Wynwood had it's origins in the great Puerto Rican migration of the 1950's. People came here in droves seeking a better life for themselves and their families, seeking a better tomorrow. Like immigrants before them, they founded a neighborhood that met their needs and reflected their character, all within the limited resources available to them. Through the years, Wynwood remained an island of genuineness in a city that was constantly being remade. It was an area apart.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hip Shots

Barcelona, June, 2009
If you use an instrument or a tool long enough, eventually you don't see its separateness anymore.  The thing you use, whatever it might be, ceases to exist separately and becomes virtually an extension of you.  I know several seasoned musicians who feel this way about their instruments.  

I've been shooting 1 Series Canon cameras for nearly a decade now.  Both my Canons, in fact, are set exactly the same so that I can switch between them without thinking about it.  A few years back Canon changed the interface and operations of its 1 Series.  I've grown so accustomed to mine that I can't really imagine switching over anytime soon.  Well, that and the expense too.

Jada Cole's, May, 2010
I'm so accustomed to them, actually, that on many occasions I can just point a camera and click off a shot being pretty certain not only that I was able to achieve focus, but that I also captured an interesting frame too.

The first shot in this series was captured in the Bario Gotico in Barcelona in June, 2009.  I was standing outside a small, quaint shop waiting for my daughter to decide what she wanted when this couple just crossed my path.  The guy made eye contact with me and grimaced.  I don't know why -- he just did.  I quickly angled my camera, pressed the focus button and then squeezed off a shot.  No second chances on this one.

The second image was taken as the parting shot as I left Jada Cole's late one evening in May, 2010.  As I was leaving the bar, she looked over and smiled.  I moved my camera in position and took this shot.  I think she's lovely.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reservoir Dogs

It's the bride's day. From the flowers to the cake to the limo, the entire day should speak of and to her. A wedding that does this , and the photography of that wedding, is pretty much considered a success.  Still, in all truth the bride is but one half of the wedding. This raises the question, What to do with the groom?

I've tried a variety of shots but none has the visual presence of the "Reservoir Dogs" shot.  For those who are not fans, Reservoir Dogs is Quentin Tarantino's first film as a writer and director.  It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 1992 and instantly made Tarantino's career. Two years later he followed his success with Pulp Fiction, to this day my favorite Tarantino film, but that's an article for a different blog. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Black & White

Before digital, choosing B&W over color was a conscious and predetermined choice.  You decided what you wanted and picked your film.  The digital revolution has changed all that.  With a few exceptions, all digital cameras capture color images.  They generate images that exceed the quality of 35mm film and rival medium format and also offer the ability to choose B&W over color.  So, what to do?  Color or B&W?  Coke or Pepsi?

I love working in B&W.  As I said in my blog post on New York in the Snow, “B&W is just more subtle and interpretive than color photography.  B&W images are not direct renditions of their subjects, but are abstractions from reality, representing colors in shades of grey.  Wikipedia.  B&W captures the essence of a scene, the very feeling of a scene without the distraction, the baggage if you will, of added color.  The eye is free to see the substance of the scene without being overwhelmed with color."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cage Homes

Alex Thomas has a very interesting piece in FotoEvidence, a site dedicated to exposing injustices through the medium of photojournalism.  His article discusses "cage homes" in Hong Kong.  According to the piece, landlords took apartment buildings and gutted the interiors in order to fill them floor-to-ceiling with pens, or cages, to rent out to newly arrived immigrant workers.  Although more prevalent at the beginning and middle of the 20th Century, these apartments still exist today.  The photos are pretty impressive.

The piece is definitely worth a read.  Click here for the entire article. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Battle of Madison

Thirty years after President Reagan broke the back of the PATCO union, the country is again embroiled in a passionate struggle, some say life-and-death struggle, over the future of unionization.  Over 30,000 protesters have taken to the streets in Madison, Wisconsin to protest Governor Scott Walker's proposal to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights.  This has been known in the media as the Battle of Madison, read here and here,

This struggle has seized the imagination of the country as unions across the country demonstrate against the further erosion of their collective bargaining rights.  The demonstrations came to Miami yesterday, well at least what passes for union demonstrations in this very anti-union state and in a city known for its political apathy. 

Approximately 300 people (my very rough estimate) demonstrated at the Torch of Friendship in Bayfront Park, just across from Downtown Miami.  What they lacked in numbers, however, they made up for in earnest passion.  Dismayed and angry at the sense that they are facing a full assault in several different states, the workers and organizers gathered to express their solidarity with workers in Wisconsin. 

The gallery is definitely worth a look.  Click to see the full gallery.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New York in the Snow

This past December, my daughter and I left for our annual and possibly last (she'll be 18 soon) trip to New York for the New Year's Holiday.  We heard it would snow during our stay; we didn't expect a Snowpocalypse.  

After an hour in a holding pattern, during which the tower decided whether to divert us to Kennedy, we finally landed in La Guardia with the snow already falling.  It turns out we caught one of the last flights into New York just before the snow hit. Soon after we landed, the airlines started canceling flights and stranding passengers. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ambient Light Photography

Kamasutra, a 90's cover band played the Brickell Irish  Pub in mid-December.  An old friend of mine, Luis, is the lead guitarist and asked me to shoot it.  He's not the one shown in this photo, though.

Flash was out of the question for this shoot, partly because it would temporarily blind the musicians but also because it would just be lousy photography. 

A little over a year ago I shot another performance at Jazid's on the Beach.  I had been hired by the drummer. [more after the break]