Photos that make you want to eat pizza…

My second gig for the PR company while I was in London, was photographing Vapiano, a new restaurant near Oxford Circus. Still no flash, but this time, thanks to the two-story wall of windows and the color red, it was much easier to photograph than the yogurt factory that I photographed a couple of hours earlier that day.

The hardest thing about the shoot was to convince the unsuspecting patrons to let me photograph them while they were eating. London is not the most photography friendly city. I have found that Londoners, as a huge sweeping generalization, are not into having their photo taken. I am not sure whether it is because it is their last shred of control over their image, after having every move documented by the thousands of surveillance cameras all over the city, or just the humble nature that is a part of their culture. Whatever the case, it is not as easy to photograph strangers as it is here in the: I-want-to-be-famous United States. But luckily, I was able to talk a few people into allowing me to unobtrusively document their Vapiano experience that day.

Making Men in Hairnets Look Good….

My most wonderful friend Claudia, who was a classmate of mine at the London College of Communication last year, was getting married in June… and she wanted me to come back to London for her wedding. So as a way to get me there, she asked me to photograph her wedding. At first I said, “No way.” Because with the American dollar being almost half the value of the British pound, there was no way I could afford to go… but then I got creative.

Before I went to London, I sent out a few eager emails to everyone I know saying that I was on my way and ready to work. Luckily for me, I have another wonderful friend in London, and she works for Gabrielle Shaw Communications, a PR company that I did work for while I was living there last year, and sure enough they had some gigs for me.

The first of the two gigs was for Bio Green Dairy, they produce a yogurt drink and they wanted to have images that show that they are a small family-like business and that they do all the work from start to finish. The owner saw my website of children and weddings and (somehow) thought I would be a good fit.

I was very excited to go to a yogurt factory, it would be my first factory photo shoot. But as soon as I walked into the factory, I realized I had a big challenge ahead of me. How do you make an all white room, men wearing all white jump suits, and a white product look good in florescent lighting. And to make it more challenging, I arrived without a flash (because I was living out of a bag and spread between three houses, in three different parts of London, I didn’t have my flash with me… opps.)

So, with no other options, I put my camera’s ISO on 3200, my aperture as low as it could go and I held the camera very very still. And then when I returned home, I searched the Internet to find Photoshop techniques that would turn my horrendously lit and very uninteresting photos into something, anything more. Relying on Photoshop is something new to me. Up until now, I have not manipulated my photos, besides the typical darkroom maneuvers, but this was an emergency, and I have to say, I think it worked out better than I was expecting. If you are interested in knowing the Photoshop trick click here.

And this time, I am sad to say, the Rolleiflex did not succeed. There was just not enough light, color or contrast to make even a black-and-white film photo look good…. oh well, the Rollei can’t win every time.

On a sad note, the only cow at this once dairy farm is now on Bio Green’s truck. The cows, where Bio Green used to get their milk, are now gone and instead the rancher is raising horses. As a result of the loss of local agriculture, Bio Green now has to order powdered milk for their yogurt.

Before and After….

I am in the middle of a massive photo-edit. Maybe my biggest yet, and I find that I am having trouble focusing, because I want to see it all right away, but life is interrupting and my attention span is scattered, so I keep jumping around. But so far, here are my two most favorite photos from Claudia and Leigh’s wedding in Surrey, England on June 21st.

And once again, the Rolleiflex wins again. I have hundreds of digital photos, but none inspire or evoke emotion like the soft glow of the Rollei photos. So stay tuned… there will be lots more to come, this is only the beginning and the end… I still have the whole middle to go.

AMAZING… magic-amazing.

Photostiching brought to you by photoshop. I have discovered a whole new world tonight. I heard about photostiching, but I had no idea. I was preparing to throw together a rough composite of three photos, taken by my Rolleiflex, to make up the large group photo of everyone at Claudia and Leigh’s wedding, south of London in June. But with photostiching I just selected the photos I wanted, and 8 seconds later… I have this….(click the photo to enlarge)…

Amazing! Not really any seams, and it knew where I wanted to join the photos. Amazing. Thank you smart people at photoshop, I am a believer.


ok….so I have been horrible at blogging….but I have my reasons…..

I go back and forth with why and who cares….why blog when I have my personal journal, and I certainly don’t need or want a public one….so then that means I put a watered down, cliff note version on-line…..but with a nauseating amount of information and verbal blabber on the internet, who would want or need to read one more (refer back to the who cares question)….so therefore it would be just for me….but I don’t want a skim milk version as a personal record….so back to the why… is close to impossible to get anything done with that incessant rationalizing blabber.

But my loved ones have expressed an interest in knowing what is happening this year….so therefore I will try and do better about writing….and to do so I will stop thinking of the performance aspect of blogging…my hesitation is similar to the feelings I had when I used to draw. I never wanted to show anyone what I was working on until it was finished because it wasn’t good enough yet…..but I need to remember that a blog is not meant to be the final draft for my photography coffee table book….it is just a place where I can keep a record of thoughts and photos so people who love me can check in from time to time and see how my daily thought process very much compares to the flight pattern of an insect trapped inside a jar, beating against the glass walls trying to escape….so with my “it’s not finished yet” disclaimer out in the open….here goes….

A quick re-cap of last term….I am still interested in communities. I focused on the East Street Market near my house in Elephant and Castle (I moved from west London to be closer to school)… new household is an adventure for another blog entry…..

For the East Street Market project I worked with the wonderful Claudia Leisinger. I loved working as a team and wish I could work on every project with another person. Come to find out I am a people person…..surprise surprise. And it is so great to have another person to bounce ideas and energy off of…..we were a good balance for each other. It was really nice to share everything. I think the hardest part of photo team work is making sure every person plays an equal role….but I really feel like we shared each photo… didn’t really matter who pressed the shutter because there were so many other aspects that went into taking the photos like: gaining access, setting up, crowd control….that I feel every photo belongs to each of us……it is the socialist way to photographing…..unlike the usual slave labor capitalism, which exists in most photo situations…..photographers schmooze and win awards while free labor assistants do everything else and remain anonymous (soap box finished).

And it was really neat to learn about the history of the market and the area and about a section of the population that does not usually get much attention. Here is a sample of the portraits we took……



To read more about the East Street Market project click here.

Three Mills and the Olympics

The mooring at Three Mills has historically been the home for 20 canal boats and 31 canal boat living people. Until a few months ago when the British Waterways announced that everyone would have to leave for 18 months while the canal undergoes improvements made to transport construction materials for the Olympics. Now the mooring is home for three boats and seven people, who negotiated for special permission to stay.

This documentary project explores the Three Mills community and the people and animals who are positively and negatively affected by the 2012 Olympic canal improvements. The oldest residents of the area do not have a voice, but if they did, I imagine they would have mixed reviews about the changes.

Worms, small and pink, live in the canal mud; the mud that is usually freckled with tires, bikes and other human leftovers. For 30 years the worms have been the prey of not only birds who come to hunt when the tide goes out, but also tropical fish enthusiast Brian, affectionately called the Worm Man, and later joined by his son Darren.

Two days a week for the past 30 years Brian has come to Three Mills to hunt these worms and then sell his catch to tropical fish food buyers. After the canal improvements, the Worm Men will not be able to hunt at Three Mills because the canal, that has historically been tidal, will continuously be floating. Besides being safe from hunting birds and men, it is yet to be determined how the worms will fair being underwater indefinitely.

image of beauty

This is a view from the Greenway, a section of the canal a few blocks away from Three Mills Mooring. People still think of the canal as a place to deposit their trash and unwanted belongings. This is a sight that will be hidden once the canal improvements for the 2012 Olympics are made and the canal is no longer tidal.

tropical fish

The narrow boats at Three Mills Mooring sit on the mud twice a day. This gives Brian and his son Darren at least four good hunting hours for the worms, that they sell for tropical fish food. Darren says cloudy days are ideal because the worms rise close to the surface so they don’t have to dig as deep. The boaters say they will miss hearing Brian and Darren swear at each other outside their windows as they rush to finish before the water rises again.

wet feet

Darren says worm work is hardest on your arms and back. Today he has a hole in his waders and his legs are cold and wet. After the canal improvements they will have to try and find somewhere else to hunt but they will keep coming here until the very end. Darren, 28, likes the work and hopes to keep doing it as long as there are places to hunt.

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