There’s only so much non-photo work I can do before I either have a boredom-related breakdown or start obsessively photographing whatever’s within reach. The problem with the latter option is that everything you look at daily just seems boring. It might not be, but it’s just so ordinary you don’t even thing about its value as the subject of a image.
That’s why I implemented a tactic from a few years back: Crowd sourcing anti-boredom assignments.
The first run of this was just after I graduated with my Associate’s Degree. I was still fresh enough that I didn’t have constant work, and I was also so used to assignments that it was a bit tricky to think of one-off images that didn’t involve a full-blown project. After pondering the situation, I asked the folks of the internet to suggest everyday items of which I could create unique images. The resulting images from those suggestions yielded 6 pictures that are still in my permanent portfolio, and 3 of the most popular stock images I’ve ever shot.
Well, I’ve had a ton of supplementary work lately and I’ve been gettin’ the ol’ photo itch. So, I put out the request and the feedback was just lovely.
There were a few that I’d certainly like to try out (lava lamp, pocket watch, tea kettle…) but those will have to wait for next time. One of the pleasant side effects of the project was that it got me pondering the visual value of other common items. As it is, I’ve been making home-made sausage lately and realized those should also be included in the lineup. PB&J was easily the most time-consuming.
If you’re ever in a pickle and need a bit of inspiration, be sure to turn to the internet. The folks of the interwebs are full of interesting ideas.
Here are some of my favorites – enjoy the shots!
On the way to a friend’s house in Southfield, MI, I drove over an intersection with good visibility and saw a plume of smoke on the horizon. Thinking it would be something close, small, and insignificant, I picked up my buddy and we went to check it out. (We are photographers after all).
Well, as we were heading in the direction of the smoke, we realized it must be bigger than I thought because we didn’t seem to be getting closer. Turns out it was actually 20 miles away.
From what I gather, it was an abandoned factory complex on Detroit’s West Side and the PD have no idea what happened.
To reiterate the scale, we met up with a volunteer firefighter from a northern suburb. He was there because he saw the fire from Auburn hills – almost 40 miles away.
Here are some of the shots.
It was about 10ish years ago, but I remember it rather clearly. I was sitting in my room with headphones on (quite loudly) and I could still hear these thumps. It was probably more “felt.” With the music off and standing on the back porch, the remote wail of sirens filled the evening. The thumps continued.
So, my father and I piled in the van and drove through neighborhoods around us trying to see what happened.
Through the trees we saw the sky glowing, but the color was coming from the ground. As we rounded the K-Mart, we saw what was causing the commotion. There was a blaze we could feel from a quarter mile away. Jets of fire were shooting 50 or 60 feet into the air.
Clearly there was too much hullabaloo for us to really understand what happened, but from the crowd that had gathered, we deduced that a shop owned by a hydroplane boat racer had caught fire. We tried to get closer but were dutifully turned back. The following day, we found out that the tanks of racing fuel had somehow combusted and compromised the acetylene equipment. When I walked down to see the building, I saw that an entire wall had been blown outward as though The Hulk was inside.
A decade later and well into a career in photography, I still think about the pictures I would have gotten had I had a camera with me.
This also brings up the “photo journalism argument.” Is is OK to profit from taking pictures of things or events that destroyed someone’s life or income? I suppose I still haven’t decided which mindset I have. So until that point, I’ll continue to take pictures of things that intrigue me.
As you can probably guess, there was a fire. It was at a tree maintenance company about 3 miles from my house.
Back in the day, when I first began my educational journey into photography, I met two people about a week apart. Ashley Lawler and I became “significant others” and have remained that way for the better part of half a decade. Carl Amyoni and I have remained very close friends and instigators of each others’ bad habits for a similar time frame.
Now – this is all nice and nostalgic, but personal relationships aside, we also make up a trio of photographic entertainment.
In the early stages of our acquaintance, we decided to start a series we initially called the “Canadian Olympics.” It would consist of ham-hocked trials, regular risk of personal injury, and a lot of plaid. In the end it will probably be a series of images of people doing incredibly stupid things.
As is the case with too may things these days, the concept fell through and all we were left with was a series of “promo shots” and one very elaborate and flame-filled take on the luge.
Recently, I have been wrapping up a series of time-sucking endeavors and can see a gleaming orb of free time rising on the eastern horizon.
Furthermore – I feel that if I stick this in the world-wide-web, it will prompt people to bother me about new pictures.
YES YOU! I AM RELYING ON YOU TO PESTER ME FOR WORK.
In the meantime – enjoy this blast from the past with a special guest appearance by my cousin, Mike Strong.
My buddy, Carl Amyoni, has a particular set of skills… skills that make him a nightmare for people like IKEA.
Carl is one of those unique individuals that grew up not with The Rugrats or Inspector Gadget, but with the likes of Norm Abrams and Tolstoy – essentially the makings for a modern-day Renaissance Man. However, instead of a hoity-toity Palisade, Carl found enlightenment in things like raw steel, hand carved mallets, and sandpaper of varied grits.
He was well on the way to a life of hand-crafted stuff.
One day, Carl became interested in photography. (He still won’t tell me exactly what happened – it has something to do with Public Access Channels and a substantial quantity of artichoke and onion guacamole).
Anyway – after meeting him through a photography class, it became clear that Carl was more interested in building, himself, what could otherwise be purchased at any department store.
About 3 and a half years have passed and, as such, other friends and I discuss how it’s likely Carl, in the search of imagery-perfection, designed and forged his own camera.
I think it probably went something like this….
A couple days ago, we dropped it like it’s hot… flaming hot.
As you might remember from the end of the post- one should take great caution when spitting flaming liquid out of one’s face. Well, even though caution was taken, there could have been more.
I learned a new lesson.
Back in the day (it was a Wednesday) I taught myself a neat-o party trick: FIREBREATHING!
It’s great for all kinds of things – weddings, kid’s parties, lighting birthday cake candles, even getting rid of hornet nests. But, above all else, visual entertainment.
Here’s a little collection of some of my favorite shots.
Now, before you say “Hey, that’s nifty. I should get down on some of that!” you should realize the downsides.
1.) You’re shooting fire out of your face.
3.) YOU’RE SHOOTING FIRE OUT OF YOUR FACE!
It’s pretty much a guarantee that the first couple times you try something like this, you’ll be ending up with a quick sunburn. That’s not to say it’ll be completely safe after you’ve had practice.
Recently, I attempted a picture while standing in Lake Huron. I was in one of the largest bodies of fresh water on Earth. I soaked my head before I took the shot. I also had my back to the wind – so the fire would just get blown even further away from me, right?
Apparently the oxygen that was consumed directly in front of my face because of the fire was replaced, and then some, by the wind wrapping around my head. So, be sure to stop back in a day or two for the follow up pictures on why you should know more about physics when attempting something like this.
In closing, don’t be stupid… like me. It could end really badly.
As you may have noticed (or maybe not) I’ve been lacking a bit on getting up “the content.”
Well, sure, I’ve been busy with some jobs – BUT – more importantly…
Jon’s learning video.
Yes indeedy, folks – while I will always rock out the single shots, I’m starting to love me some 24FPS. So with no more rambling, please take a gander at my very own promo video!
Oh – be sure to watch it in HD – it’s just that much better.
I went through some of my old pictures and found a number of pictures with fire. Fire and people. But don’t worry – they’re being safe.
So, I’m thinking about starting a new project – a series of self portraits, probably in somewhat obscure locations.