Thursday, September 30, 2010

Leave room for action

Originally I took this photograph trying to do a self portrait. (Look carefully for a large moustache in the water reflection.) It turns out clients wanted to use it too. (Obviously they had bad vision so didn't see my face.)

Then by chance I saw one of those uses. It was cropped. Something was missing. Somehow the photo seemed wacked off at the knees, like someone was choking it. I want to see space for the water drop to fall into, room for action.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

China & Cancer. Did I do the right thing?

This past week my core values felt waterboarded. I'm not in China as scheduled. Nor will I be going anytime soon.

Let me paint the moving picture. For about the last 5 months, I, along with my Hong Kong friend Houghton, have been making arrangements to interview key people and photograph 9 different Chinese wineries in Yunnan, Xinjiang, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Hebei Provinces. If you look at a map, that covers all of China-about the same size as the USA. While making the arrangements, there were boulder-sized snags, hundreds of emails and the Silk Road.

I wanted to visit the Shangri-la winery vineyard sitting at more than 9000 feet in Yunnan Province near Tibet. But the road was under construction, making a 7 hour journey into a 3-4 day bone-jarring Genghis-Khan type expedition. I'm told that when the construction is finished, it will be a 3 hour trip. And winemaker Emma Gao in Ningxia Province invited me to stay with her family during my visit. And Loulan winery sits right on the Silk Road–I could have walked in the footsteps of Marco Polo. That area,
way out in western China, is the second lowest dry spot on our planet . Talk about adventure city.

Plans were set. Seat assignments–window in front of the wing–confirmed. Airport pickups arranged. I spent 2 weeks fine tuning my packs, making sure that every sock and piece of photographic equipment was absolutely necessary. Heck, I didn't even pack my hair dryer.

Then Wednesday before I'm to leave, Erath Winery asked me to postpone for one week to complete some web and newsletter projects. With some teeth gnashing, I did that. I will leave one week later. This quick change of plans only took 5 or 6 hours to make all the contacts.

Then yesterday,
"Microcalcifications," the doc called them. Oh yes, there was also another spot. A follow up mammogram for my wife Eddi showed these "abnormal" areas. "The soonest we could schedule a biopsy is next Tuesday," the white-coated doc says. "We went ahead and scheduled a consultation with the surgeon the following Monday."

"But my husband goes to China this Friday," Eddi interjects.

The cold water of reality splashed on us right there in the Mammogram waiting room. Mentally I canceled my China trip. Pain. I needed to be with Eddi through this. That's what family means. That's what the marriage vows mean "for better or worse." That night after she went to bed, I just looked at my meticulously packed suitcase and sobbed at the whole situation. How the big winds of chance can so easily change the course of our little ships. Who can say why?

Did I do the right thing?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Judgement day Dec 21, 2012

When an oak seedling sprouts, is its nature to dominate the space it will fill?

What if all of humanity on our planet were judged as a group on December 21, 2012? It's up or down, Heaven or Hell for everyone.

We will be judged not on individual merits, but rather on:
How well we all take care of each other.
How well we all accept each other's beliefs.
How well we all take care of our planet home including other species.
How well we all help each other rather than let selfish greed rule.

How well are we doing? Are we as humanity in Heaven or Hell?

(Sorry, I just had to get this out of my system.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Which would you hang on your wall?

Tamarah, my Digital Asset Manager, and I are getting ready to reinvent our fine art website. As we were pulling photographs, we got into a discussion about which photographs people would hang on their walls. Tamarah insisted more people would like her selections. Naturally, I am right.

Please help us regain peace in the studio.
Which of the following photographs you would hang on your wall, at home or at the office? Oh yes, please tell us why you chose that particular photo or photos.

#1 - Aramenta Cellars Vineyard reflected in a still pond

#2 - Oak and Vineyard Mandala, taken from Cain Vineyard in Napa

#3 - Full Rainbow over Grinnell Point and Swift Current Lake, in Glacier National Park, Montana

#4 - Giraffe Couple in Etosha National Park in Namibia

#5 - Feather Shaped Cloud, Sherwood, Oregon

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Was I right to charge a fee? Update

About a month ago I blogged that I had discovered a wedding web site using one of my photographs without permission. When I sent an email to the business inquiring as to where they had gotten such a beautiful photograph, the reply, "from the internet."

When I explained that the photo was copyrighted with the US Copyright Office and, as such, I am entitled to collect $10,000, in addition to all attorney's fees and the
regular usage fee. An intern immediately called back, on the verge of tears, explaining she had downloaded the image and put it on the wedding photographer's site. She also said that her boss had just fired her and she would have to pay any fees.

Later the intern called explaining that she would make monthly payments on the usage fee I charged the wedding business, but that her husband was unemployed and they had two kids.

In the end, the boss wrote a check for almost 1/2 of the fee. Since the intern was to pay the rest, I said we were even and
refunded the $25 the intern had already paid. It also turns out that the intern did not get fired.

I have so many mixed feelings about the whole downloading (as in stealing) photos from the net situation.
• Should the intern be held responsible? I use interns all the time.
• How do we stop people stealing copyrighted photographs from the internet? Many young people feel it is their right to do so.

Oh, yes, a day after I found the wedding site theft, I found another site using one of my images illegally. Since they are associated with a very large company, they shuffled me around a bit, but they are paying the usage fee. Should I have charged the punitive fee? You would recognize this company.

What are your thoughts?

Am I the visual vineyard porn king?

I came across an article in an old radical environmental journal, Wild Earth, titled: "Eco-porn and the Manipulation of Desire."

So the author wrote how he had "struggled for, rose before dawn for, thawed an ice-filled coffee pot for" this particular sunrise moment. Right next to the cameraless author was a photographer who "trapped a sacred moment like a rabbit in a snare" using a camera. And worse yet, the photographer's "fragment of this brilliant dawn could be re-experienced by someone warm and comfortable in an easy chair, leafing through a magazine or calendar."

The author likened landscape photography to pornography, "a physical persona of unsurpassed beauty has been grotesquely trivialized by being removed from essence and context."

He thought that "landscape photographers resort to the methodology of creating a pornographic image," but also that "the intention of most landscape photographers is to appeal to, even seduce, the beholder with an image removed from its physical context, amplified into a commodity by technique to evoke a subjective response for commercial gain, to sell calendars and magazine subscriptions or to connive contributions."

Now there are even web sites that tell a photographer when is the best day and time to take a snap at scenic locations around the United States. Bring your coffee, camera, easy chair and show up.

So then am I the visual vineyard
porn king?