Social Media Run Amuck (It is so easy to get lost in the “Likes” the “Hearts” the “Stars” they are all so meaningless.)

Chloe (Model)

Model Chloe at in a cell at Eastern States Penitentiary. 

There has to be an official name for them, but I don’t what it is. My name for them is not really all that nice. Simply put they are like little assholes of the social media world. With all of the worldly knowledge of a 14-year-old girl they want someone to notice them… “Please notice me or I will just vomit and die.” Ok… so what I am talking about are the little “dicks” that plague any form of social media that photographers use. Here is how it works; you the photographer has an image that you think is worth sharing with the rest of the world… or at least the people who are connected via the various forms of social media. I’m not referring to Facebook, if you are not a photographer you may not be familiar with the other social media formats such as 500px.com, Behance, and of course there is Flickr and several others. In fact some platforms come and go so quick you don’t hear about them until they’re gone. So you posted a photo, but instead of someone coming to view it and actually “like” it or critique your work they leave comments like “love your image, now check out my page” or “wow great work, now view mine” again it reminds me of young silly girls who are so vain and want everybody to look at them. Please, please look at me… even though I look just like a thousand other girls.

Let’s face it beauty is in the eye of the beholder and therefore so is the appreciation you have for someone’s image. You may like it and I may not or vice versa. Hitting a “Like” button for me is just equating that someone seen the image but as far as actually “liking” the image… When I like something, I mean truly like a photo I will comment on it, but I have never and will never ask the person to “go look at my work.” If they feel inclined to go look at my work then so-be-it, but to leave a comment like “oh this is great… now go look at me” is utterly childish.

For the most part I like to follow people who I feel are better than me as a photographer or Photoshop artist… after all I want to learn how to be better myself. So why would I not want to follow somebody like Lindsay Adler, Emily Soto, Joe McNally, Cliff Mautner… and so many more. And how dare I leave a comment on their work and ask that they go look at mine.

It is so easy to get lost in the “Likes” the “Hearts” the “Stars” they are all so meaningless. They only mean something when they reach to the hundreds of thousands and then it is a calculated game. When you’re a blogger like Charlie Barker with 610,000 Instagram followers not to mention Twitter, Tumblr and anywhere else she is, all these numbers mean she has a solid core of fans worldwide and that equates to $$$. Any company would be crazy to not want Charlie Barker to wear their shoes, dresses, makeup ect… But until you reach the stratosphere of social media fame you are just another blip on the radar and all the “please look at me” bullshit gets you nowhere. There are very few people or entities on any social media format that got there by accident. Despite what they (themselves) say or anybody else such as news media and the like, reaching a super status in any form of social media is a calculated road. These icons are not just posting selfies or an image of their morning cup of coffee. At a glance their images can look harmless, but most times they are meant to cut to the core of their audience… and they do.

So where do I stand? In this entire abyss that is social media it is easy to get lost or to lose focus. I use Facebook personally to connect with family and friends and I have a business page for my photography and catering businesses. I use Instagram as an outlet for my photography with very little personal posting. Strangely enough with a mere few hundred followers I get more “real” interaction from other photographers, models, and people in the entertainment business then I do on any other social media format. I will get direct messages from musicians, art directors, photographers, lower level movie directors and other bloggers. Most just honest comments on my work, so I have learned to do the same. If I really like someone’s work I will DM them and let them know or comment in a genuine way. I feel this is true networking and in some way builds a relationship. I also use WordPress for my blog platform as I am doing right now. I use Adobe’s Behance and it works great because I can link the Behance projects to my website. When a person goes to my website they can view content that is hosted on Behance and they never really knew they left my website.

I also use Pinterest as a means for research mostly. I will make mood boards and store ideas there. 500px is another great place for research if I want to shoot at a location that I have never been to before. I will search it on Google Earth and then 500px, more than likely someone has already been there and I can see their images and hopefully make mine better lol. 500px was horrible with the little assholes a few years ago. In fact it was so childish with the “please look at me” people that I had actually deleted all my images and had a blank profile. I decided to return a year or so later and the wave of assholes had subsided.

LinkedIn to me is utterly useless. We all know people fluff up their résumé to make themselves appear… well, something more than they really are. So LinkedIn is full crap, utterly full of crap. I have a LinkedIn account and I hardly ever go there. Although I do get the “Peter Green” wants to connect with you in my email all the time. I think everybody gets the Peter Green emails, just pure bullshit. But the best part about LinkedIn is to actually go and read profiles of people you know. They all say the same thing, “specializing in operations management, focusing on team work and project management, with a background in advanced understanding. Background in senior business management and accounts… blah blah blah. All the while you worked with this joker at one time and he/she was a frickin disheveled mess on a daily basis. LinkedIn is the opposite of all the other social media in the fact that you get to make yourself feel good. What a joke! Runner up to LinkedIn is About.Me, another “how good can I make myself look format.

Social media… here to stay but always changing.

A Jazzy Afternoon

Chloe

Chloe

Today has been one of those relaxing days. You know where you have nothing scheduled… No work, no play, but yet still productive. I woke early and started tending to little tasks that are always in need of being done, yet somehow never get fully finished. You know things like cleaning out email and cleaning up my workspace where I edit. Somehow for me these days are far and few between. While I always do what needs to be done, I never seem to be relaxed about it. But today was one of those days that brings the hint of things to come. The air is quite cool today and the sky was sunny but has turned to gray and there is a brisk, calming breeze coming in my window. The house is quite and once in awhile the wind rattles the papers on my desk as the curtains flail and then fall again. I love jazz, smooth relaxing jazz, but I can only enjoy it… well, when I’m relaxed. Crazy I know, but relaxing music doesn’t relax me, I have to first be relaxed, then I can really enjoy it. Being relaxed and listening to smooth easy jazz is such an experience for me.
So the hint of things to come is the cool air, for I know Autumn is coming and it truly by far is my favorite time of the year. Holidays are so stressful, but Autumn is my time. Personally for me the Autumn and relaxing really go together, because it was the Fall of 1984 that I had spent totally incapacitated while recovering from a horrendous car wreck that had happened in August. I could not walk and I wore a horrible neck brace, so all I could do was either sit or lie on a bed. Some days a family member or friend would help me outside to the lawn swing where I would just sit by myself for hours. Just sitting and thinking, relaxing and enjoying life. I lived with my grandmother at that time and her house was at the end of a dead end road. How relaxing. Flat broke, no more car and lucky to be alive… just sitting watching to colors change day by day, talking with God and the birds. Occasionally a friend would stop by and ruin my day… Well not really, but you know what I mean lol. I couldn’t even play my guitar because my right arm had been broken, as well as my leg, foot, ankle and so much more.
So today I relax and at this time in my last life I like to sit and look
at my images.
So as the cool breeze brings light drops of rain I leave you with an image of Chloe. She is maybe the most spontaneous model I have ever met. Although this image is just her gazing at me she truly is a very talented person and spontaneity is her greatest asset.

Have a great day and thanks for reading.

Eastern States Penitentiary (Chloe’s Test Shoot)

Eastern States Penitentiary

Eastern States Penitentiary

Ok so if you read my last post about Eastern States Penitentiary (ESP) you know I have a project shoot planned for the 19th of August. So I head back to ESP on Monday to gather more info on the dos & don’ts for the special photographer’s night. Are the locations first come first serve? Yes they are. Can I bring hair & makeup artists with me? Yes you can bring anyone as long as you pay$20 per. And if you are a “Supporting Member” you can get 20minutes with one model in cell block 14. I guess it is supposed to be some special place. I am a supporting member and I’ll get that chance.

It appears as if it is all coming together the way I would like so you know what that means? Something is sure to go not as planned. I contacted B my stylist for the shoot and she’s still a “GO.” Contacted Lisa the wardrobe designer and she say all is good. I contacted my model Reese and gave her the run down and we have our “plan B” just in case “plan A” heads south on us. What I really could use is an assistant to help with gear and holding a softbox. Also assistants are someone to place the blame when things go wrong. No, no, no… just kidding.

So I knew I was going to be at ESP on Monday it was not far from this model I had been corresponding with and I asked her if she would like to meet up and take a walk through ESP with me and she obliged. We agreed it would be a nice way to meet before we plan a shoot. Now she is not connected to my ESP project in anyway, as I had met her well after I planned the shoot. Her name is Chloe and she is a Philly based model. I did however tell her I would do a few basic headshots outside the prison after our walk through. Sort of a “micro test shoot” as I called it. I told her that ESP has very strict rules about shooting models during public hours, hence the reason for the special photographer’s night.

So the morning of our meeting there were the normal text messages flying back & forth about I’m here, I’ll be there in a minute and so on. I meet Chloe at the front gate and she’s a real charm to say the least. A rather free spirited girl and very pleasant. But it’s that “free spirit” that will make this walk through fun. I know from the word go what is going to happen. So we enter in for free because, remember I’m a supporting member. All that means is a gave a donation, so I still paid, dearly actually. We walk in and of course to me personally the real creepiness comes not because it used to be a prison but it is a place where the word “penitentiary” was conceived. You came here to serve penance in total solitude. At the time a new concept and now lost with evolution. So just to look at these decrepit old cells and door, gates and hallways and think about what once was… that is what creeps me out. Then there is the crust or patina that has over run the place and that just gives such vivid character to the whole scene that is ESP.

I wanted to go to this one particular courtyard as I wanted to see it again. I had taken a photo there on my previous trip. This is one of the courtyards that is attached to a cell and the prisoner would get his one hour of daylight there each day. I turn the corner and walk in to the courtyard a few seconds later Chloe enters the courtyard and… yup I knew it. She drops her phone and other items to the ground and like a good little Urbex model she starts climbing the courtyard wall to get into a pose (if possible) and she is giving it her all. Of course I’m shooting the whole time and knowing full well at any second we could be thrown out on our ear. This then set the pace; let’s see if we can get thrown out. So with caution we continue to find little places where I would shoot her and then move on. Was it fun? No it was not… it was a blast and I knew right then & there I found my assistant for this shoot I have planned. So I asked Chloe if she would like to come on board as my assistant. After several mental backflips… well you know what her answer was. I laid down the rule “you are assistant and not a model that day, can you do that?” You know what will happen? I could picture her pulling a Nancy Kerrigan style stunt just to get into the shoot. But seriously I will get a photo or two or ten of her that night.

So our time at ESP was coming to an end. But wait… I still had to do that micro test shoot outside with Chloe. So we walk to my car (close by) and I put on my 70-200mm and pullout the color checker get a whit balance shot and its ‘game on” for Chloe. Is she good, will she be able to pose with no warm up shots? We’re on the street in Philadelphia and all she has to work with is a big prison wall and a sidewalk. From the word go she jumps into action and starts to climb the wall. I mean climb the prison wall. She gets herself into this weird positon on this tiny outcrop of the wall and I’m shooting the whole time and saying to her please don’t fall. Now let’s just stop here for a minute and break this all down; how many times have we all seen someone who claims they can do this or that. Examples that come to mind are a musical instrument or sing. And when put on the spot they hesitate or make an excuse. Most models will just stand there till you give them direction. So as you can see dear little Chloe is “killing it” as we say. The whole shoot lasts 5 minutes and a few seconds and we’re done.

So in closing with this rather long blog post, the next step is to go over everything in my mind. Visualize and visualize again till it comes second nature as to what I’m going to do in ESP that night. After all I am not only the photographer but the director of this little project. Everybody on my team will be looking at me for direction. Let’s see if I can be as good as Chloe. I know I can, I’ll have her by my side the whole time.