One from the very old pre-Leica days.
Good lighting and exposures are very important. Color and proper focus are both critical. That’s all. lol. Okay, just kidding. But you didn’t REALLY think I wasn’t going to make a defense of street photographers taking pictures of kids who aren’t theirs, did you?
I originally published this about a year and a half ago and it met great controversy when I posted a link to it over on DPReview. Some people threatened my physical well being. Or at least it seemed that way to me.
In the interim, the state of California actually implemented a law last year preventing celebrity hounding paparazzi (not judging, I’ve sold many celebrity images via a celebrity photo agency and some of them were surreptitiously taken) from taking images of the children of, you guessed it, celebrities.
First, let me say that I’m just a little appalled that celebrities have the power to win the passage of special laws that benefit only them. That you can trot a couple of lovely weeping actresses like Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner out in front of the state legislature and get a law protecting only their children is kind of an outrageous proposition.
But I was also relieved to find out that it did only apply to them and their children. Sort of a dichotomy I guess you could call it. I’d thought of ranting and raving against the passage of the law and hounding the governor of California, Jerry Brown, to refuse to sign off on it but, honestly, on the one hand, I’m not supportive of the idea that children of celebrities should be targeted by a stalking paparazzi. That is unacceptable.
But had that law included ALL photographers, and made anyone taking images of children in a street photography situation law breakers for doing so I would have been even more outraged. There is a price of celebrity and that price should be paid by celebrities and not free citizens doing what photographers have had free license to do since the advent of photography.
Anyway. Here it is. I can only give you my answer to the question of whether or not it’s okay to take pictures of other people’s children, in public, with no permission from anyone. It is the answer that I’ve come up with that applies to me. Every single person reading this has to come up with an answer that works for them and please don’t take anything I’m writing here as legal advise or even suggestions as to what you should or should not be doing with your cameras or with your lives.
The only immutable law, I would suggest, is that you’d better be taking pictures of kids for good reasons and with the best intentions. And there are many and you have a right to those reasons and intentions. (as far as I’m concerned. Not necessarily according to the law or customs where you happen to be located. Or not. See what I mean? Me neither.)
Children tell stories, with their expressions, their body language and gestures, in an unfiltered and psychologically complicated way that adults very often don’t. And you have a right to grab those stories and record them on film or a digital camera sensor when and wherever you find them. (But don’t hold me to that statement as legal advice. I’m not a lawyer and it is not legal advice or guidance.)
The image at the top here is one of my favorites. There’s a lot of information in this shot. You have what would appear to any resident of Los Angeles to be visitors from somewhere else. It is summer and probably this is their vacation together. It is a family with three lovely daughters sporting matching outfits.
Their parents obviously take great pride in their brood here and it appears that two of the girls might be twins. The third, standing off to the right, seems a year or so younger than her sisters. That she’s wearing the same outfit nevertheless seems to indicate this family feels a desire or need for a certain degree of family conformity. I’m not passing judgment. I would probably be looking for three of everything myself if they were my children.
Mom looks like she’s ready to take a picture herself which further indicates to me that this moment, here on an icky sticky Santa Monica sidewalk, represents some holiday memory that must be preserved forever. Seems like they may have just gotten out of their rental car.
But kids are scary scary things and a set of three like this would give me nightmares if I was their father. You have three beautiful daughters, you dress them alike to show how much pride you have in your family. But then there’s the one with the broken arm to remind you how delicate and fragile your precious family is and how precarious and elusive will be your grasp on their lives for the rest of your own.
The second shot is a collection of three individuals connected by something technically invisible, meaning you can’t see a wire or a string or a discharge of energy like a lightening bolt or anything like that, but that is there nevertheless and is probably stronger than just about any physical connection could be. Love and adoration and maybe, again, family, sisterhood; this time it looks like a loving grandparent.
I like to say that I take pictures of things that a lot of photographers don’t typically set out to photograph. Things that are happening inside a subject’s head that are maybe very subtly represented by other things happening on the outside of their head or in their gesture or posture or physical relationship or interaction with other people in the photograph.
This picture is an example of what I mean by that.
I don’t know if I can explain the title here… or if I should even try. It’s just the whole beyond carefree package of LA woman. Age? Ambiguous. Toned and striding up a tonier part of the Sunset Strip in the soft California winter light. Everything that her clothes and confidence and the zip code she’s owning right there conjures up for me exactly the girl I always pictured when I heard that great Phil Collins song.
Okay, the thing is, it’s here on Earth and it’s just for some lucky guy down in Laguna Niguel, Orange County, CA. But there it is. And we can all experience heaven vicariously through him, right?
Actually, I’m pretty much in heaven shooting this Leica 90mm Elmarit 2.8. Oh yes I am. This image above is actually a crop of the one below.
Now I could have cropped to the blonde in the thong. Yes, she is blonde and she is wearing a thong. Then many of you would probably be in heaven for a moment or two. But you’d hate yourselves later and I wouldn’t want that. 😉
Reblogging this one from June of last year.
To mark the passing of Hugh Hefner I’m reposting this from years gone by. RIP Hef. Lord knows you’d need some rest by now. 😉
So let me tell you the story.
I get a call from a BET producer on a Friday night asking if I can go shoot an event for her at the Playboy Mansion the next night. It might come as a surprise to most people but the Playboy Mansion is the site of innumerable charity functions. I’d been up there before. Swam in the grotto pool. Blah blah blah.
But never, slow my rapidly beating heart, had I ever been there with a camera and a press credential.
So of course, I say yes! The problem, however, is that at that time in my life my health was absolutely miserable. So when the next day dawned blisteringly hot, I was both sick and apprehensive.
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Public transportation, the lowly bus, doesn’t roll over the rarified pavement of Santa Monica’s Montana Avenue anywhere near as often as it does a mile or so south, on the more common asphalt of Wilshire Blvd. So these ladies were waiting a long time on a gloomy chilly late afternoon just a stone’s throw from the icy Pacific. July notwithstanding. Sooner or later people will do what they have to to keep warm. The not-poor things. 😉 Top photo is the last (or thereabouts) in the sequence.
Reposting an old entry from last year for all my new beauty and fashion followers.
Getting back to some Leica photography. The date has been announced for the annual Fashion’s Night Out 2012 and it is September 6th.
Sooo… this entry today here at 50lux.com has a triple purpose.
First, I would like to give Leica and other lowlight shooters a heads-up to the coming FNO extravaganza, Vogue Magazine’s world-wide phenomena and to let you all know that this very impressive event is probably coming to a city somewhere near you.
It’s an incredible opportunity to get out and photograph great style and beauty and all in the vibrant colors and exact low-light conditions where our super-fast Leica glass really shows its stuff.
Second, of course, I want to showcase my own humble efforts in that regard from last year. All the images you see here were shot on film, with my trusty M7. Mostly with a Zeiss 50mm Sonnar f1.5 mounted, but there’s more…
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I took this shot about five years ago and have never really shown it to anyone. I think the reason for that is that I never thought I could adequately explain how amazing it is to me. I guess I’ve felt it needed explaining and I guess I’m finally in the mood now to try.
No part of the West LA area is really that bad. But this is nearly as gritty a corner on the Westside as there is. It’s directly underneath the intersection of the 405 and 10 freeways, which is to say, the junction of the two busiest roadways in the United States of America. There are homeless people camped out under the overpasses and exit ramps. It was fairly late in the evening. The feel there at that hour is probably worse than the reality. Or vice versa. Who really knows?
I travel by that way innumerable times a year. At any hour, but especially late in the evening, the very LAST thing you would expect to find there is three truly lovely sisters, possibly triplets, on bicycles, cooling their jets waiting for the light to change. Trust me, you just don’t see this in LA at that hour. In most of Los Angeles, they kind of roll up the sidewalks. That’s a common complaint of people from New York and elsewhere who have moved to LA from cities with a more active night life.
I’m a man. The car was being driven by my lady of 38 years. We both were like, DID YOU SEE THAT? And then she asks, Did you GET it? I don’t know how I got it. The green light was with us and we never even slowed down going through the intersection. I probably was pre-focused to some degree and the amazing Nikon D3 sang the song. I put the camera to my face, framed the ladies and slammed down the shutter release. It just happened. It’s one of those moments that makes me so happy that I had a camera, not to create some work of art or anything like that, but just to capture the natural beauty I witnessed there at the grimy and otherwise unsightly corner of Sawtelle and Pico Blvds that night.
Alone, a younger man, I would have probably slammed on the brakes and went down the line asking for their hands in marriage. Because these sisters are not afraid of the dark or probably anything else. I thought maybe there was someone filming them, like a reality show or something. Truly gutsy young ladies. And reason #90454 I’m glad I never had children.
I know it’s Polish model Joanna Krupa. But I don’t understand the photography aspect. Can’t be paparazzi, they’re too geared up and professional and paparazzi would have NO interest in whatever her name is. Can’t be a photo shoot. Photo shoots uh.. usually involve ONE photographer. Why would there be so many photographers fighting for a shot? Of Joanna Krupa. I just don’t get this. Someone enlighten me please. The only thing I can think of is that she’s got a really good publicist and it was a slow day in pseudo-celebrity land.
I’ll be there shooting 400 and 800 speed color film. Hope to have a lot of great images in a few days. Here are a couple from last year’s event.
When I first started shooting women’s basketball, the instructions from my boss at the publication were to not just bring back action shots from the floor, but shots of fans, cheerleaders, the band, etc. Everything and anything that would capture the atmosphere in the arena.
But he made it pretty clear that what he really wanted was cheerleader shots. That should be perfectly understandable; it’s an online publication, he needs traffic just as much as any other online publication does. And pretty girls equal heavy traffic.
No better place on Earth than to fulfill our need for click bait than the campus of USC, where the cheerleaders are icons of youth, beauty, energy, and style. I’ve seen a lot of cheerleaders, but USC’s “Song Girls” (that’s right, they don’t even call them cheerleaders) are in a class all their own.
But these fabulous ladies strut their stuff at Rose Bowl games played on New Years Day which decide the national championship of college football. (Or they did back then, anyway.) There can’t be any question that sitting on the baseline during sparsely attended women’s basketball games would be on the other end of the spectrum for the Song Girls in terms of the excitement and exposure they enjoy as USC’s finest.
So, in that first season, when a pasty middle-aged male pointed his long lens in their direction as they dutifully performed their Song Girl responsibilities at women’s basketball games, more than once I came away with looks like this.
Beautiful, yes. But I pride myself on being able to read people’s faces and maybe, hopefully, photograph what they might be feeling or thinking at the instant I trip the shutter. This was not good.
Where’s the famous USC ‘V’ for Victory sign? This seems to be teetering dangerously into ‘Hit the Road Jack’ territory and I’m just glad the razor thin depth of field on this shot only captured the scornful glare of Song Girl number one. I don’t know that my ego could have survived all three of them giving me that look.
Okay, I’ve had my fun with this shot. It was just an instant, it wasn’t planned, I know that. But I don’t think the looks being given to me here are at all misleading. After all, I was there before and after this shot was taken. I kind of know.
But I persevered, as a man with a camera is sometimes known to do. I continued to work the baselines of USC and other schools and accumulated my share of pretty good cheerleader shots to go along with hundreds of, I hope, pretty good basketball shots.
It was probably in the third season when I had prints made of some digital images and, just to see how colors in these lighting environments transferred to print, I threw in to the order a handful of the better cheerleader shots.
Well, I really liked the way the cheerleader shots looked from USC. The lighting in the Galen Center is fantastic. Colors were gorgeous, the subjects were stunning.
And far from the somewhat violated look I got from the ladies in the image above, the Song Girls had gotten used to me and went about their business and I went about mine. The images I took of cheerleaders became very good.
So I decided that I should share the prints of the images I took of them with USC’s Song Girls. I put about a half dozen in an envelope, including the image at the very top and the two below, and, I think, it was at halftime one afternoon that I handed them off to the sports information director for women’s sports at USC, who shall remain nameless because she’s a wonderful lady and we subsequently become pals and I don’t want to drag her into any of this.
At that point, however, she really didn’t know me and when I said I had some cheerleader shots that I really liked she kind of gave me a look and muttered something about not being interested in pictures of cheerleaders. But I handed her the envelope anyway and asked her to pass them along to whomever is in charge of the Song Girls.
Never heard another word about my cheerleading pictures. As I said, the SID and I became pals as I continued to shoot USC basketball for the next couple of years. USC even presented one of my shots, blown up large, to a graduating senior. That was a tremendous honor. The SID told me once to keep doing what I was doing, calling it a ‘fine art’ style of baseline shooting. Oh yes, that SID was a pal o’ mine.
But here’s the punch line. Starting maybe the next season, and for the rest of my two or so years shooting USC, I literally could not point my camera at the USC cheerleaders (or majorettes even) without finding them already looking at me. Smiling broadly. I would notice them looking at me as I sat there doing absolutely nothing. It was all so obvious. I told my significant other about it, she agreed it was happening and we would laugh about it.
The USC Song Girls were now very willing subjects for me. Too willing. It was hard to get the spontaneity, the far off looks in someone’s eyes that you only get in truly candid moments. It was no longer sports journalism; it was something else, and the pictures were never quite the same.
And, of course, I LOVED every minute of it.
Anyway. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, as my mom used to say. And I’m not going to be humble regarding the images. I think these shots are almost iconically wonderful images of the USC Song Girls, caught candidly doing what they so cheerfully do for the University of Southern California.
Hope you like them as much as the subjects seemed to.