Weston Made Me Do It:

It’s Christmas and I’m sitting here wondering what the next year will bring judging by what the last one did. Work being more than slow hasn’t been too encouraging and my camera has taken the vow of silence to boot. I keep thinking of all the places I traveled to and fantasizing about all the places I want to go to, mostly in hopes of finding new images and the thrill of finding them. Meanwhile I sit as my thoughts become more and more complicated as to what to do next.

I decided to go food shopping when I came upon them, big beautiful Poblano Peppers, sitting lustfully against each other. I had to have them, and so I did. At first I thought of a recipe I had experienced in California, a Southwestern dish that I could try, but for the moment I just left them sit for a couple of days in the fridge. Every time I opened it I thought about them…what to do what to do… then somewhere I heard Edward Weston… ( at least I like to think that ) and how when things were down he bought a pepper and photographed it multiple times by his window with very long exposures before he finally came to Pepper#33, a signature shot that I had the opportunity once to see the original. 

With that in mind I eagerly pulled out the poblanos and started to shoot and shoot ( thank God it’s not film ) until I came up with my final composition, pretty much what I had pre-visualized to start with…. keeping it simple in a complicated time….and maybe that’s the lesson here. Despite what’s happening, don’t complicate things by over thinking or worrying…just go simple. 

Thank you Edward…. 

WHAT I LEARNED FROM COVID 19

High and dry sits the mighty Bozo echoed over the crowd at the annual fair. Above them, an insulting clown sat on top of a plank suspended over a large barrel of water. He would always pick on a couple, usually the one with the girl clinging onto her boyfriend’s arm….

” Hey muscles” he shouted,” how did a guy who looks like you get a girl like that?” the crowd roared and that started the barrage of insults until the macho challenged guy buys the 3 balls for $5 to throw at the target hanging just below the sitting clown.

With an angry pitch, ball one would go whizzing by, ” You call that an arm…the only thing its good for is for your girl to hang onto to..” and with a mocking laugh, once again he shouts,

High and dry sits the mighty Bozo

One challenger after another stepped up until at last the target was hit and down the clown came….the crowd cheered as he came up from his plunge standing there like a soaked mop. Gathering himself, he adjusted his orange wig and straightened his rubber nose, and the dripping wet clown stepped onto the ladder and returned to his perch… shaking the water off, he started again…

“high and dry…” and the beat went on.

Like many of us, Bozo sat high and dry some months ago never thinking that we would take the plunge into a barrel of water, but we did and many of us are still standing in it. Like Bozo, we just have to fix our wig and re-adjust our rubber nose, climb back up the ladder to the plank above the crowd, a little wetter, looking out and eventually say…

High and dry sits the mighty Bozo

#photography#www.matthewpace.com#miamiphotographer#photographerinmiami

The Seven Day Black and White Challenge

Remaining creative in a down period while being engulfed in a world of negativity can drown your spirit. Every day a whirlpool of bad news keeps one’s head under from catching a breath of air. Creativity becomes exhausted, and seems to fade away but it’s just at those moments when a life preserver appears.

I was challenged by another photographer, a friend, to create one original B&W image a day, for seven consecutive days. I gave it some thought first if I wanted to attempt this, if I actually could, given the limitations we all have during this pandemic. Four months of inactivity had gone by and the most places I had been was either upstairs or downstairs at home. I looked at all my heroes for inspiration wondering what they have done… Ansel, Yosemite…Kenna,Japan…Watson, Scotland.

What format would I use, is my scanner still working, where would I go? A few days went by, still unsure, I sat over morning coffee when the first image came to me and that’s when I realized a few things. I hadn’t drowned yet.

 

If you stop struggling and just let go, creativity will float to the top. Creating isn’t a hunt but a discovery, without searching for it. It’s sparked by the realization of the moment you’re in, and reacting to it, what I called in another post, Reactive Realization, to your surrounding. Prejudgements put aside, acting on the moment at hand, an inner voice can speak on its own, and even if the Why isn’t understood at that moment, it might reveal itself later when viewed with a distance in time .

Also, you don’t have to go half way around the world to find images. Your own world is big enough. Sit and quietly watch. Turn off the outside noise and hear an inner voice.

One more thing… It’s not the equipment that makes you nor the lack of that brakes you  ..it’s you.

these were all shot with my Iphone…on my dining room table…lighting provided by a master.

I challenge you to take up this challenge:

Create one B&W image a day for 7 days consecutive and post a link to them

#7 day challenge#miami photographer#matthew pace#black and white#Iphone#photography#B&Wphotos

Father’s Day

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I know better…I’m a photographer..it’s worth a lifetime. My father passed on recently. We were very close, having spent most of my life by him. We had walked a long way on this plane and at times I still feel his presence from another one. When it came time to place his ashes in the niche, I tried to find things to say about him that would talk about his life and what he really meant to me. Never really being at a loss for words, I couldn’t find enough of them.

Looking through the many photo albums both sides of my family collected, I embarked on a journey taking me through many lifetimes, a century’s worth. Some photos were high end studio portraits, individuals whose ghost remained on paper to introduce themselves to those who hadn’t yet arrived ; families that would later through fate and happenstance come together and give reason to how and why  we’re here; events that serve as ear markers to fill the spaces left behind in the dust of life; memories on paper, for those who forgot and  needed moments refreshed , and those who would yet come to see who came before them.

For me it was a moment refreshed , that I had completely forgotten about, buried deep by all the moments gathered after that. It sat there held by corners, framed, a frozen piece of time, a magical doorway that opened to a massive garden kept in the same condition as the day we left it and I now returned as time traveler. I sat a long time staring at it remembering that day, the things we did, where we lived, even how I felt. It was a defining moment, standing as the sum total of what my father meant to me.. the man who stood by my side all of my life and still does now,  though thick and thin, no matter what, a buddy, a sponsor, a guide…a hero.

I photographed a whole lot of people in this career and still do, paying proper attention to the world behind and in front of the camera. Behind, I am conductor, producer, director…witness. In front, I am the object or part of a moment. From behind I deliver results and walk away leaving the product of our trade and move on to the next. My judgment of my work is based by my professional standards, not by my personal emotions… but that is where the real impact of photography lies, not how I did it nor what it might mean to me but what it means to another.

Pictures say more than words. They have a life of their own superseding the ones who took them. They are keys to doorways of time spent making those who create them its locksmiths. Inside they speak. This one did to me..It spoke for all good dads, what they really mean to us who were lucky enough to have and have had them.

#Father’s Day#Dads#father son

Another Job

I went to Catholic school. It was small in size, smaller in thinking but I was a wise guy, so for my sins, my parents sentenced me there. My public school brother took shop, made cool things,worked on cars; I marched through Gaul with Caesar and said the rosary. As a small school it gathered large characters from all over the county, some by choice, some by last choice, me…only choice. The teachers, a mix of nuns and laymen formed the base of education…mostly theirs. I learned some things from their school books, which I mostly forgot, but everything from its people whom I still remember.

One, a dynamic physical ed coach was influential on a lot of us, boys that is ( don’t get the wrong idea here!) .   It was his philosophy on life and achieving that talked  to me. I repeat it every time I fail and it gives me reason to continue. He gave it with your last name first, a typical Jersey thing at the time :

“…LaBatts,  ya godda pay the price…”

True words he gave us on one hand.  In the other hand however he carried a golf club that he used like a walking cane and caned the ones with a swat that didn’t walk the walk. He was a real ” driver”. I liked him deep down. He wasn’t parochial, he was a stand up guy straight talking guy. He was also ambitious.

When the northern region of the county built a new regional high school, he got the job as the head coach and when I moved onto a new larger newspaper, I got the job to shoot a feature spread on him. I had left one Perry White type editor behind to find another, but a better dressed one more interested in pleasing advertisers than reporting news. His constant concern was that I was charging him more than I charged his friend which amounted to nothing really, but he had to put on the show. It came with his territory.

” Get me some good stuff this time”…were always his encouraging words and insightful direction. ” What’s the assignment ” I asked. It helps to know that at times. They were featuring the new county school and part of it was their new star coach…the golfer and when I heard that, in my mind I shouted…” FOUR!!”

He had a winning football team and still a par swing no doubt..A few years had gone by since my high school but not enough not to recognize him from a distance as I approached him on the field.  He looked smaller for some reason, and very surprised to see me. I was glad to see him as well. He was still the same guy, a great colorful character and after spending a couple of hours photographing him in action, we walked back to his office for the feature shot.

A few more snaps clicked by, sitting on his desk, standing in the doorway etc when he asked ” Is that it? got it all? ”
” I think so..”  I said turning and stopping next to his  famous golf club leaning against the wall….” Hey ” I said with an innocent tone ” how bout you hold this club for one more shot??? ” ( a real pulitzer prize in the making.)  He stood up walking towards me… caught in the act  ” No ! ” Smiling I slinked away quickly and so did the shot …but I still liked him.

His shoot ran two pages. I never got that Pulitzer…but I’m still  “paying the price”.

This one’s for you Mr.Scrog

 

#matthewpace#miamiphotographer#st.cecilia#dominickscrog#photography

 

My First Photography Job

Many of us hold deeply that first photography assignment. It was the one that ignited your fire and started your dream. Mine was to be working for National Geographic…now a fantasy ( if it’s that) .
My first one happened when I walked into a county-wide weekly paper to see if they could use a stringer. I was much younger and a whole lot less experienced but a lot braver then. I put down my portfolio, a handful of B&Ws glued to black boards, my works in progress. The editor looked up at me and either liked my hutzpah or just felt sorry and took pity, and offered $20 an published image to string. Back then $ 20 seemed good  and  I  really wanted the break.
They had a staffer or two. One, the main one. carried a Speed Graphic so he could contact the large 4x5neg multiple times and pump out  “Handshake”  shots or “The Ribbon Cutting” event for the paper and its attendees. He had three names so his credit line took up a lot of space. Maybe that was clever on his part. He got the “choice” jobs, grand openings, town meetings, check donations.
The other photographer, a lady, part time got the cutesy shots…the dog wearing a raincoat on a bad weather day, the grandma who paints Easter eggs in her basement to raise funds for her society, the amazing baby who could sit up and happened to belong to the biggest advertiser the paper had..
The editor couldn’t have been cast any better if it had been from Disney itself. A robust, snarly, grumbling guy with a desk full of random sheets of papers and clippings, half full coffee cup and a totally full ashtray. He was always sitting sometimes leaning back and often leaning forward growling. Typical of Jersey , you were just a last name… ” hey Pace”.
Among the cast of characters, I stood there with my samples, my Nikon and two lenses in hand as he told me to come back in a day or two to see what he might have. I did.
My first assignment was to go up to a reservoir in northern New Jersey, ” Something’s going on, the Perry White styled editor growled, ” see if  you can get a shot.”
I was on my way , when the three named man smiled standing at the door, ”you’re wasting your time”, can’t do anything with that. he sneered. Of course not, I thought, who would buy contact prints of a reservoir? None the less, I went charging out like Jimmy Olsen from the Daily Planet…
When I got there to cover the reservoir event, a bulldozer had uncovered a overly large bone. Building had halted, no one was talking and nothing seemed to be happening. I left wondering how would I tell the editor that I just got a shot of a guy sitting on bulldozer. Worried that he would never use me again, the next day early I returned to find a staff from the Museum of Natural History along with some state officials on hand as they laid out an uncovered skeleton of a mastodon. I couldn’t believe it but was thankful I had a lot of film with me.
The only thing missing in their find was the head which they were furiously digging for, to the dismay of the builder. I couldn’t crank the Nikon any faster. At day’s end I raced back to my converted by night bathroom darkroom , enlarger on the bowl, trays in the tub, prints in the sink. Printing out my day’s coverage, I laid out my  prints on boards as a story  hoping the editor would like it. He did with a casual air. It ran 3 pages and I collected $200. To me it was a gift  from the universe that welcomed a young guy into what became my fever.
They never found that head…but I found mine, and every once in while when I lose it, I think back to this story.
What was your first job…what got you going?
#photography#photographyjobs#matthewpace

Do Pictures Really Lie?

I was called on by an editor of some popular “rag sheet” that you find at the checkout counters in the supermarkets. They wanted to do a story about frog legs and asked if I had any in stock since I shoot a lot of food. I didn’t but living here in South Florida at that time provided no problem .
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A local fish market had a supplier who hunted frogs in the Everglades, big ones too and that afternoon I got some of the best. I prepared them myself, some I had to eat of course…and photographed them as well. Setting up the film..(ah the good old film days when I wasn’t in front of the computer all day for every thing I now do, when I dropped off my film, met with colleagues while we waited the 3 hours or so to process film, and over lunch talked about work, life , a good old human experience ( prior digital slavery to the computer)   .. excuse  me I digress… anyway, the editor selected this and a verticle shot as well to see how it would lay out.
I asked about the story but they were vague, she was simply the photo editor doing her research etc… about a month later I ‘m in a local super market and I spot my shot very nicely reproduced with all appropriate bylines, and paid for of course, under the headline.. ” Scientists have found why the French make such great lovers” semi quoted here, the story goes on..because they eat Frog legs and frogs have been found to feed on flies, the aphrodisiac ones that they pass on in their meat. Since the French are known to eat them…when they do…VOILA..cum eere ma cheri!!!
Now I may be French and on occasion do eat a couple of them, but I always thought it was my je ne sait qua …that upheld our reputation
Now a couple of months go by and I am at the photo show in NYC at Javits. I go to a local market and there in another newspaper I see the same shot again, this time…” Man sues famous restaurant in France over a heart attack, when his dinner of frogs legs gets up and dances in his plate.”     wow…both Fred Astair and Kermit must have rolled over on this one!
Both stories in separate papers used this image, created in my kitchen, by me, supplied from the Everglades. Now, I know about freedom of the press and artistic license but this was absolute parody or should have been.
They say pictures often lie… really?
#matthewpace#food photographer#foodphotography#Froglegs

Getting the Shot

Isn’t it always the way, the day you didn’t comb your hair, didn’t shave, put on sloppy clothes, and that’s the very day you run into someone important, maybe a potential client, a could be girlfriend or boyfriend, maybe your ex?  For us photographers, it’s when you leave your place without your camera. You could go a few days searching for pictures , fully equipped as though you were going on safari, but on the fifth day…cameraless, ( I know it’s not a word…who cares)… and bang that’s when you see the “one

parking Italian stle-IMG_1087

” Italian Parking  “

Again in Florence, My Mac needed attention and the Mac store was just up the street. Out I went, of course not thinking about pictures when this happenstance stopped me. I could have taken the chance to go back to our apt. but maybe one of the three would have moved on…well maybe not the bike. Rather than chancing it, I took out my Iphone and enjoyed the freedom of not thinking of f/stops etc. When I finished at Mac, they were all still in place, so from the apartment I returned with my camera and shot it again. This image is from the Iphone and that is what this blog is about, when is using the right tool, the right tool.

Someone once asked me ” does it matter what camera I use? ” I had to answer with depends on what you need to do. If you could plan ahead , and if you have choices, you would match the job to what camera works best. However in a given moment the right tool is the one you have at hand.

We often get so hung up on our equipment that we overlook what’s most important. It’s the image taken, not how or with what.

#photography#miamiphotographer#Italy#Florence

What Do We See When We Look at Pictures

We look at pictures all day long, some deliberately some unintentionally. We pass by billboards, signs, flip through ads, onscreen, in newspapers, magazines, online and a host of vehicles that show them, as we scroll through our cell phones. We would be amazed if we could ever count the amount of pictures we see in a day, even without trying to. It’s easy to become jaded at visuals and maybe part if the reason we don’t see past their surface.

Pictures say things to us. They communicate without words, when we stop to listen. Some are subtle, some shout. Some may continue to say different things each time we look, and for me, those are the good ones. They’re not always beautiful and sometimes not even well done.

Violinnst_DSF3929

The Violinist from  ” The Reality of Dreams “

We were living in Florence, Italy for the summer and on weekends, various performers came to this spot in the evenings. She was my favorite one. She appeared to be more than just another Busker playing a tune, she was a true professional, or at best wanted to be. From her posture, talent and presentation , one could see she had years of training. She wasn’t playing show tunes, her symphonic performance was perfect.

I shot a lot of her from various angles and compositions. She was as beautiful as her music and I wanted to capture where and who she was however in my edit none struck me as much as this one. It fell into a series , that I gather when the right moments present themselves called ” the reality of dreams”. Based on what we dreamed of being, how we would like to see ourselves in our future, our expectations of things …and what those dreams really become.

In her moment she was on a great stage, formerly dressed, giving her performance while holding a Stradivarius, but in reality, she was sitting on the street,  giving a first class concerto that didn’t seem to matter to a crowd, for a few coins . For the most part, she may as well have been eating a hot dog.

One of the best exhibits I ever saw was in New York many years ago, “Talking Pictures”   now a book. In it, a host of people from all walks of life were asked to present the one picture, not their own, that talked to them the most. In front of each picture was a speaker for the viewer to hear their comments. It was interesting what they chose and why. They weren’t just looking at the print, they were looking into the picture. Some of what they saw in them took me a while to see, maybe not in agreement, but we all have our own viewpoint and maybe that was what that show was really about.

I could look at my picture briefly and just see a woman  playing a violin to a distracted crowd. I might also simply judge this picture good or bad by its technical execution alone but how much and how far we see into pictures is the challenging part of photographs.

This Miami photographer  now asks ” What do you see in this picture”

 

#photography#Performers#Italy#Florence#violinist#travelphotography”streetperformers

 

Finding It

It was Paris and every day I walked its streets searching, camera in hand. The problem was that I wasn’t quite sure of what it was that I was searching for. I Passed by beautiful monuments, romantic scenes, and bustling streets with hoards of tourists that presented themselves but they didn’t stop me nor attracted my camera.

Then by the great Pompidou Museum, a marvelous piece of architecture, a small crowd gathered to watch a man feeding pigeons…a whole lot of them. I had to add my camera to to the others and the myriad of Iphone snappers, some selfi ” me in Paris” shooters and Instagram feeders and as I started to shoot, a woman said to me, ” isn’t that sad? Poor man”  and walked off shaking her head. I didn’t respond, just kept shooting as I started to close the gap between him and me.

MatthewPacePhotographer _DSF2568Abweb

” The Pigeon Man “

He didn’t respond to me as well. He continued to reach into his bag as he gathered more friends. Looking down onto my screen, my favorite way of shooting, became a moment when all else seemed to fade away and only he, I, and this moment existed, time faded away. Had it not been for him running out of food, I would have continued on all day.

Once done, we both left the scene, the play was over and as I handed him some money I said ” this to feed the birds ”  Later I learned that he would go around to the restaurants every day where they would give him left over bread to help him do just that.

Photographers can tell you that sometimes there’s a moment where time seems to stand still, a photographic space where only subject and you exist… photographic Zen. In that moment you stand alone, unaffected by all else around you, zoned into what appears in your frame, you become like a matador coming face to face with the bull, as the cheering noise of the crowd and its background fades away, in the moment of truth.

You forget what you were searching for…you simply found it.

I later thought back to what that woman said. She saw this event as sad, pitying this man as she walked on. She couldn’t see past what was at hand, no doubt like many others who saw a raggedy old man on the street. I, in turn, felt sad for her, she had eyes but couldn’t see, maybe that’s what’s wrong with this world.

He had found what he searched for, a meaning and purpose and on that day I felt that I had found mine as well. Sometimes I think that photography isn’t so much about the image that’s in your camera but the experience that’s in your head and looking back at your photographs they become its reminders.

#Paris#photography#www.matthewpace.com#black&whitephotography#streetphotography