Saturday, April 23, 2011

Does It Have to Have a Message? sent out an announcement this week regarding their annual contest for the best photo books. I never even opened the email. My phone "droided". Saw what it was and deleted the email. I tried that once, remember? Submitted my "Drive-By Shooting" book and implored all my Facebook friends to vote for me, so that even if my book wasn't judged the best, maybe I could win by popular vote. Did you just hear that? Did you? That was me sighing...

Needless to say, I didn't win anything. And with that loss I started to question the whole drive-by-shooting art vs. luck question again. It's an endless battle that is played out in my head. There is never a clear winner, so the battle rages on--sometimes with a truce called, sometimes back in full-out warfare. My head has been at peace lately, but with this email that I didn't even READ, full-scale war has broken out.

I was out running errands admiring the curve of the phone wires, the unbelievable grace of the towers. Maybe I should enter another book. Maybe I should enter my second book, "Fly-By Shooting". That's when I missed my exit...

Why? Tell me, why would I want to enter another contest? I'm all about winning. I don't play games unless I'm 99.999% sure I'm going to win. There is nothing sure about entering a contest.

I looked at the thousands of books entered last year. They were beautiful. They recorded earth-shaking events, locales that I can only ever dream about seeing. These photographers were artists and they were taking photographs of things that matter.

Why do I shoot? It's for no one's education. It has no value to anyone. I shoot because I love it. I shoot because seeing things through a lens makes me less afraid. I shoot because everything I see--I see it as a photo. Alleys, overpasses, bridges, street signs, buildings, cars parked along PCH, the front of an abandoned building. It's all art to me and with luck, sometimes that final image is exactly what I saw in my head as I held my camera out the window driving down Wilshire Boulevard or pressed against the scratched window on a Southwest Airlines flight.

But I have no message. What I record is my life. The mundane, the exciting. The hours in traffic. The hours in planes. I don't know if I'll ever win a contest. Does anyone really care about the beautiful curve of the overpass on the side of a freeway? The majestic beauty of one small part of a gigantic bridge? The sleek lines of a towering building. Probably not. I have no message. No insight into anything. I just love to shoot, to look at the world at an angle.

Will I enter a "Fly-By Shooting" book? I'm not sure. We'll have to see who wins the war in my head...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Working, well not really...

I'm working. Well, not really. Well, I am. But not really. I've been "working" on a proposal all day. Let's translate "working". I've been "staring" at a proposal all day. I have read it and read it and re-read it. What to change. What to change...

I think and think and think. I write and rewrite and rewrite and read again. And then I do more "work". I read up on Twitter and retweet interesting tweets. I check Facebook and "Like" a few things. I look at LinkedIn and finally "link" up with some people.

And then I go back to "work". I read and re-read my proposal. I look at my pages of notes taken during my conversation with my prospective client. I change a sentence here, add a service there, and stare at the page. Why or why can't I get those two paragraphs written??

I go back to "work". I pace. I do laundry. I re-do my task list. I clean my desk. I check in on Facebook again. Look to see what's new on LinkedIn. Read my emails. Even respond to some emails. Check AOL. All the while trying to get my mind around the right words that will express my thoughts about this job. This great sounding event. This FUN, for-a-good-cause, great sounding event.

And now, twelve hours later, I'm listening to Slacker Radio (thank you Dave C for your suggestion). I have thoroughly worked Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I have written, rewritten and written some more. I have read and re-read and erased and erased and erased. So now I'm "working" some more. Updating my blog. Thinking about drive-by shooting, but really I'm "working". Really I'm thinking about that proposal. Who would think that it would be so excruciatingly painful to write a proposal for a FUN, for-a-good-cause, great sounding event? Who would think that those five to ten additional lines could be so elusive?

It's hard to get the perfect words from my head to my hands...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oh no...

It just seems to make sense, doesn't it? The airline that I fly the most decides to lose its top. The airline that I'm finally almost comfortable flying in, the one I just booked to fly to Nashville next month, is falling apart at the seams. Oh no...

And to make my total flying experience even more perfect--my other favorite airline? Jet Blue? I just read an article about the least safe airlines. Jet Blue was top of the list. Oh no...

But back to SWA.

I was supposed to fly to NAB this week, but plans changed so I called to cancel my flight. Which was fine. Really. I called SWA. I was on hold for 45 minutes (at least it seemed like three hours) and finally someone picked up. "I want to cancel my flight," I said. "Oh," she said cautiously, "and would you like to reschedule?" (I noted a touch of optimism in her voice.) "No, thank you." "Oh." Her disappointment was very evident. What was going on? Ah, I realized. She thinks I'm abandoning a sinking ship or tattered plane.

No, no abandonment. I have to fly to Nashville in May--a flight I already dread with a stop-over in Las Vegas. I will probably fly down to LA in early May and then two trips to LA in June and then July and August and September. I'm not fleeing. I love SWA. I hate their new Rapid Rewards system. I'm not happy with the fact that their plane ripped open in flight. But I still like SWA.

I have to get back on a plane in a couple of weeks. Panic is already starting to seep beneath my skin. Prickly fear. But I'm trying to get positive thoughts going here. My idea is that all the planes must now be safer, right? I'm trying to keep in mind my friend's always consistent message that SWA is one of the safest airlines around.

But Paul? I may need you help here. I think I need you to explain to me why I should feel incredibly safe as I board my flight next month. I'll be waiting. And feel free to send me your cell number so I can add you to my list of friends who I text and email frantically as I board the plane and strap myself in and wait to hear from anyone that everything will be just fine...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Don't stand...Don't stand so...Don't stand so close to me..."

I have a problem. No, really. Stop laughing. A lot of people think that my drive-by shooting is a dangerous exercise. Driving, holding a camera out the window as I speed through the streets of whatever city or town I may be in. But let me tell you, now that I'm restricted to only shooting at stop lights and stop signs (mostly), drive-by shooting is a much safer proposition than walk-by shooting as evidenced in my little trip yesterday.

I took BART into The City yesterday for a reception. I arrived at Montgomery Station at about 5 p.m. and walked up the stairs to reach street level and that's when it happened. As I was coming up to ground level I looked up. OMG! My camera! My camera! Where is it? I stopped in my tracks and started looking for my camera. That building was amazing! And somewhere in the recesses of my mind I heard some grumbling behind me as people stopped their straight up progress out of BART and moved around me on their not-so straight line journey.

But it didn't stop there. How can you walk in a city and not look up? Not admire the architecture? The lines of the building, the history, the beauty? People are always so hell-bent on getting to their destination that it often goes unnoticed. On the other hand, maybe I notice too much...

I don't walk in a straight line (never have). The streets were crowded, but I was unaware as I looked up and saw a beauty of a building and stopped to shoot. And that's when I would hear the traffic jam of people behind me slam on their brakes and maneuver around me. Not once, not twice. Probably not a good idea in a crosswalk trying to get across Market. But I only got run into a couple of times. Eventually, I found myself walking alone--people had figured out I need a wide berth. And I got to shoot and shoot and shoot, until I realized that I was almost late for the reception. I took a couple of last shots, put my camera away, but I still looked up as I made my way those last three blocks to the hotel. Beautiful architecture in a beautiful city on a gorgeous day.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Is it Me?

I've been renting cars from Avis forever. I'm a Preferred Member. I have a Corporate account. Granted, I almost always rent a compact or sub-compact. But it's usually just me and my camera driving the freeways and roads of Southern California. I've never had problems with the company until this year. Is it me? Do they know?

Last year I rented at least a dozen times from Avis. Probably 98 percent of those rentals were a car with a sunroof. One time, since they didn't have my Ford Focus, they upgraded me to a convertible mustang! It was heaven! And it's not that I want to drive fast or get from zero to 125 mpg in 2 nanoseconds (even though that's okay too), but if I have a sunroof it's much easier to practice my drive-by shooting skills. The buildings are really, really tall and when I stick my arm out the window of the car and try to get that angle, it's a scary thing!

No, I'm not worried about causing accidents or running into anything. (Actually I am now restricted to only shooting while stopped--mostly). What I'm really concerned about is dropping my camera and running over it.

Last year, rental car after rental car after rental car had sun roofs. It was wonderful! What a treat--even when it was raining. Never a fear of accidentally dropping my camera and crushing the life out of it. Nope. Just the knowledge that if it fell, it would fall inside the car, hopefully not under the gas pedal... (but that's another story).

So what's up this year? Is it me? Did someone rat me out? I fly into Burbank, walk to the Avis Preferred Members building to pick up my keys and I get that look, that knowing smirk. First they offer me some Nissan toy car (no acceleration pick up at all which is bad for merging onto freeways). After I turn that down they offer me a bevy of cars speaking so fast that I have no clue what they're offering.

My only question always is--sunroof? Does it have a sunroof? Then I get that look again. They can't tell from their computers is the car has a sunroof. (They KNEW last year!) Last week I was offered a mustang. Convertible? I asked hopefully. Nope.

So I'm back to sticking my arm out the window getting that angle that Vincent always likes and praying that I don't drop my camera. As I walked to my sunroofless Ford Fiesta last week I walked past three cars with sunroofs. Just parked. One was a Ford Focus. Is it me?

Avis! Are you listening? Are you reading? I would like a car with a sunroof again! I'll be renting in Nashville in May and LA in June, July, August and September. T-top, sunroof, convertible. Come on!