Apr 10, 2011

Hanging Around the Met

     The past few of months have been pretty interesting.  On one hand, we had some nasty flooding, but on the other hand, I've had some amazing opportunities as an aspiring/up-and-coming/dude-with-a-camera photographer.
     It all started when I got tickets to see Guster perform at the Met with artist Jon Sarkin.  Through a back-and-forth of emails with the co-chairs of Spectrum, I was able to attend the sound check and take pictures backstage.  I had originally just wanted to bring my camera to the show, but now I got to meet the band, watch them rehearse, and eat their food!  My pictures from the evening ended up getting posted on the Metropolitain Museum of Art's websitetheir flickr page and Jon Sarkin's website.  Besides the obvious excitement about all this exposure, I feel incredibly lucky just to have had the chance to meet these incredible people -- some of whom just happen to be in one of my favorite bands ever.

     A few weeks later I was invited back to the Met to take pictures at a similar event.  This time an irish musician named Duke Special was playing original songs inspired by photos from the Met's temporary exhibit, "Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand," which showcased the iconic photos of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand.  The show consisted of Duke Special playing songs while the photos were displayed on several screens.  Again, I found myself backstage with some more incredibly interesting people.

     Embarrassingly, I had never been to the Met just to look around and see the art.  So finally, a few days ago, I hopped back over (rather, tunneled under) the Hudson River one day after work to check out the museum and take some pictures for their Get Closer contest.  The point of the contest was to submit a picture of a complete piece of art as well as a close-up detail shot.  I had a lot of fun with the assignment; here's the piece I ultimately submitted,
Chuck Close's "Lucas," 1986-87
Oil and pencil on canvas.
and here are some others that I almost submitted:
Andy Warhol's "Still Life," 1976
Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas.

Chuck Close's "Mark," 1978-79
Acrylic on canvas.

Georg Baselitz's "Adler im Fenster," 1982
Oil on canvas.

Jackson Pollock's "Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)," 1950
Enamel on canvas.

     I'm currently waiting to hear back about the contest, but in any case I've finally been to the Met, and I've made some pretty cool diptychs!

     That pretty much sums it up.  The big highlights of 2011 so far: flood, Guster, Duke Special, Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Other than that I've just been working, living on the cheap and saving up for my long, expensive shopping list of out-of-date-equipment-in-need-of-replacing.  Assuming you've read all the way to the bottom, thanks for reading!

Until next time!

If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise

     Last month much of the Northeast US got hit with some really nasty floods.  Major causes included heavy rains and a particularly high amount of snowmelt.  In our neighborhood of Westwood, New Jersey we had an interesting additional factor.
     Many of the houses on my block, including mine, are situated in a flood zone.  There is a creek running behind the houses that will often overflow with heavy rain.  It's not unusual for one or several homes to get water in their backyards every once in a while.  The real damage occurs when United Water, which operates the Woodcliff Lake reservoir, decides to open their flood gates to protect their facilities.  The sudden surge of water will often, as was the case on March 7-8, send water flowing through yards and into houses.
     Usually homes in the affected areas will get a flood warning or a reverse 9-1-1 call when these situations are anticipated, but this evening there was little to no warning.  Luckily I was still awake in my basement-level bedroom around 2:30am, when I noticed water coming under the doors.  Had I been asleep at a reasonable hour I likely would have awoken to a nasty wet surprise.  I immediately began moving valuables upstairs and waking the rest of the family.  From there we were racing against the continuously rising water to save anything salvageable.  By the time the sun rose the water had finally begun to recede.
     One of my first instincts was to grab my camera and start taking pictures -- mostly for insurance purposes.  But before long I realized there was a story unfolding as firefighters showed up on the scene to assist people trapped in houses, neighbors began helping each other, and reporters arrived with the sunlight to interview fatigued residents in their soaked pajamas.  I decided to capture as much of the ordeal as possible while being very much part of the story myself.
I was glad I remembered this tip one of my photojournalism professors taught us for shooting in the rain: Wrap your camera in a zip-lock bag, cut a hole for the lens, and wrap everything in a rubber band.  Thanks, Professor Lippincott!
     I narrowed my pictures down to what I hope is a cohesive photo story, although I'm sure I missed some important shots while I was busy trying to save my Goosebumps books and guitar amps from flood water.