Sunday, June 27, 2010

We Interupt Regular Programming to Bring You This Message

At last, the spot where vegetables go to die, has born fruit.

For three years now, I've sweat and dug and tilled and fertilized and almost prayed for my little cottage garden to produce anything.  Each year we had a few scrawny tomatoes and a Zuke or two but this Bush Bean harvest has to be the most significant yield yet.  Maybe the soil has homogenized and things are finding comfort and nutrients or whatever.
Praise the lord and pass the string beans.

Hope fully more to come.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alright, Enough Already

This is James. James Pannabecker, Esquire. Author, Lawyer, Banker, Concert Pianist, Farmer, long distance runner, Photographer's Assistant and my Friend.

I've known James for a long time but not very well, until recently. James and his equally talented wife, Karen, were our host on the recent photo safari to Virginia.  There's a trip I'll not soon forget. They invited us to visit them on their farm just south of Lexington. If you haven't driven Route 64 east into West Virginia and then into Virginia, you should.  You should do it at least once in your lifetime. The National Forests are totally amazing and the drive takes place mostly on a ridge with hundreds of small towns sprinkled below. I commented to my wife that I knew how the Grinch felt looking down on Whoville. It would make a superb motorcycle trip and you must stop along the way to visit some of those burbs.

I digress.

James was an open book and he practically tripped over himself to help me on my journey as best he could.  Photography, at least on a Commercial Professional level, was something that he had not experienced and he was all ears and open minded not to mention secretly thrilled at the prospect of the experience. I think at first he took it a bit lightly until he recognized my focus and determination was for real.  Once we got on the same plane, his involvement shifted into high gear.  I now realize, this story could become very lengthy and a chapter or two in a book, so I'll cut to the chase.

Once we had determined I would take a two day rental on a storefront in Lexington, James and Karen launched into a frenzied mental and physical search for Virginians who might best suit my need as subjects.  They made call after call and quizzed others as to who might be best suited for the cause. At one point James and I worked out a system, with a simple unnoticed nod, as to who to ask and who not to ask to sit. We went in and out of local shops and offices until we had more than enough subjects to fill my time there.

An interesting aside came the day I called the number on the building with the storefront for rent.  A very nice lady answered the call and I explained my dilemma...would she be amenable to renting her space for just a few days, I asked.  Cautiously she deflected answering the question until she consulted her husband.  I left my contact info and went on looking for a backup space just in case she deferred to accept my proposal.  After I had ended the call, I thought, I should have directed her to my blog as a reference to what it is that I do.  It had seemingly only been a few minutes when she returned my call.  "Jerry," she said with a certain amount of glee, "I went on-line to check you out and I found your site. I love it," she said. She then said something about did I know that Sally lived there. The cell connection was not the best and I didn't quite grasp her point.  The conversation went on through the crackling of the phone and the subject of Sally came up again.  I'm sorry, Sally?  Sally who?  Sally Mann she replied.  You mean THE Sally Mann, I responded?  At this point, maybe everyone is not familiar with The Family of Mann, it was one of the most successful photo tomes of it's time.  A bit of a documentary piece about Sally's family as they grew up. It was a bit controversial then and it reared its head through the decades over and over whenever someone would bring it up again.

Again, I digress.

It became quickly evident that James was more than willing to be my test subject, you know, someone to set up on, to test the lighting so as not to be embarrassed when the time came to shoot for real. Now, James is not a hulking mass of a man, nor is he old enough to wear his life on his face.  A phrase which became the the buzz words when approaching prospects.  I was concerned, how I would be able to apply my technique to someone not in the mold of my usual subjects. "James," I said, "you're not going to be able to shave for the next several days." I think if he could have sprouted a beard on the spot, he would have. I'm thinking maybe we could combine your farmer look with your concert pianist look.  Hence the the Tux shirt and Bow Tie and bib overalls (which got cropped from the shot).
I mulled that proposition over for a while because I try to avoid corny or costumed folks in front of my lens.  I think if I would have said I want you to pose naked with your goats walking on your chest, he would have done it.  You gotta love a guy like that.

When the time came to begin the James Portrait, the theme quickly emerged. He is a gentle man, an intelligent man and has a likeness to Bruce Willis and in some of the outtakes, he displays a slight essence of Kevin Costner.  Karen was thrilled and she assures me that James was equally delighted.

This is a very long written piece for me, I think I'll have James edit it for me. We'll see what comes of it then.

And Voila, the king James version has arrived.  My friends have long been eager to assist me in my grammatical quest for putting the correct words in the correct order so as to somehow make my copy seem as competent as my imagery.  It's not that I'm a moron, it's just that in my haste to embellish a thousand words to equal the picture, I sometimes skip over the little idiosyncrasies a good writer would never miss.

Click on the edit pages to see a readable version.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oh, Alright Already

I've been trying to get some of the work I did in Virginia ready to print but yet I'm being torn to be, of all things, business like.  Pay the bills, file the taxes, unpack everything from the trip, and family too.  Can you believe my mom has the audacity to expect me to pay some attention to her too.  She's seen me for 65 plus years and I haven't changed that much in the last 3 weeks. Well, truth be told, guilt has something to do with it. I have neglected her a bit of late.

Phillip Welch, Lexington, Virginia.  Artist, Craftsman and nice guy.  Phillip is one of those locals that allowed me to interrupt his life long enough to pose for my series. Without much fanfare, we dropped into his studio and basically didn't leave until he agreed to subject himself to my lens. Keep in mind none of these folks, save James (our friend), know me from Adam.  If it weren't for the introduction from our friends, my chances of getting any shooting done would have been severely hampered. 
Phillips forte is the art of creating fine furniture pieces from wood unlike anything you might find at Crate N Barrel or Ethan Allen or even Sotheby's for that matter.

The image itself is not how most folks who know Phil would picture him. I'll run more later.  As a matter of fact, the shoot ran so smoothly and quickly because, as it turns out, he is a natural. He sat down and went through poses almost faster than my light would recycle.  He was a Master of using his hands in the poses and feared no capture that might someday come back to haunt him. Mugging it up, he looked more like an experienced actor than a small town artist.  In fact, I asked him if he would like that I submit images to various agencies, because he has a very commercial face and an ability to follow direction that is usually only found in very experienced model/actors.

This image went right to my heart.  It portrays so many possible emotions, it could be the modern version of Rodan's, the Thinker. This may be one of my favorite portraits from the past 4 years.

Thank you Phil, you rock dude.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Getting Warmer

I don't wanna say just how hot it was in Virginia but these guys might. Melt down!
I'm eking closer to a final edit of the last week.  Unfortunately there are other matters at hand.

Till then.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fodder Me Home

Well, the foto gods did more than their share.  It'll take me a while to edit through everything but there should be some blog worthy material for some time.  Till then.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I will be traveling to Virginia this week and hope to bring back much blog fodder.  Pray to the foto god for me. Till then.