Category Archives: Indianapolis

Eagle Creek Park and Reflections on the Seasons

This Saturday we took a bit of a hike around Eagle Creek in Indianapolis, Indiana.  This spurred some extremely random thoughts…
 
I started out my photography work out in the wild.  The wind, the trees, the birds and the hard, gritty earth were my bread and butter.  If I included a human in my wanderings it was entirely by chance.  In the past year though I’ve worked much more with the species and I find that increasingly it has value.  Unsurprisingly, humans like pictures of other humans.  Now as the seasons wind down I find myself intrigued by marrying up the two and putting humans into nature.  Sadly, I don’t know nearly enough humans who want this sort of photography done.  My next goal is to somehow join these two genres and find new ground.
 
Eagle Creek Park in November - Indianapolis Indiana
I love the shots of my younger daughter. She really is the dreamer of us all. She’s always looking out, looking forward, and I think these capture her yearning spirit.  But there’s also a strange hesitance to these.  She yearns but she also pulls back a bit from the unknown.  Maybe this is just my own fatherly interpretation but I can also see the caution that broils up from her soul.  She is fearless yet fearful.  I hope that she gets to follow her dreams into whatever she see out there on the horizon.
 
I’ve noticed over the years that my artistic streak has a very contrarian spirit. I just spent the spring and summer working inside on the entertainment scene. As soon as the weather changes I’m ready to go outside and shoot nature… just as it folds up shop and lays low for the winter. I feel like a newborn baby who has his days and nights mixed up. Hopefully there won’t also be meconium to follow.
That was the introspective day that was.  Clearly I am back to focusing on the outdoors for the moment.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Indianapolis

The Year in Review – Another Year Older

Well, today marks the day that I am… um, quick math here… 45 years old, apparently.  Of all the years in recent history I think this one marks the greatest personal transition.  I changed jobs under force because the company I worked for went bankrupt (again, sigh).  I’m now officially out of living parents.  Other things that I am forgetting that will make someone out there look at the screen and say, “Really?  Gawd!!”  But, despite that distinct possibility, I soldier on because this has been the year of taking chances and having good things occur as a result.  However, since this is primarily a photography blog I will constrain myself to the track of photographic arts.  Because really, anything worth remembering has a picture attached, especially in this day and age.

One thing that stands out in my recollection is that a year ago I repeated a lot of little phrases in my head over and over and most of those were of the form, “Oh yeah, if only I could shoot ‘X’ I would really feel like I was accomplishing something.”  At the time I was doing most of my shoots at local open mics and at Morty’s Comedy Joint (I still don’t know why Morty’s chose to let me in the door when Crackers has been such a tough nut to ‘crack’) but those venues were really a great opportunity to figure out the whole live entertainment process.  It bears striking resemblance to shooting outside in the wild but the lighting is much more dodgy.  Despite the photon deficiency, I met a lot of amazing people and saw some delightful things.

The comedy aspect was important because it gave a dude who lacked confidence (and among all dudes, I am the most profoundly self-doubting and lacking in confidence of them all) an “in” to feel that I not only had something to offer the world but also that the world recognized and wanted it.  So the past year has been the year of Heywood and Chick McGee (and what guy growing up in Indy doesn’t have a secret man-crush on Chick) and Costaki.  That night last December when Chick made fun of me to my face still rings in my memory.

The music side of tings has blossomed amazingly as well.  A year ago I dreamed of getting into the Murat for a show and wondered how I could possibly talk my way in.  Now it’s a thing that has happened and that I can work my way into on a fairly regular basis.  I haven’t quite managed to get to the point where I don’t have to beg to get in but I’m hopeful that there’s some way to worm my way in as a regular.

Earlham college has been an amazing place to visit as well.  We’ve seen two amazing shows and I’ve managed to shoot there both times.  I look forward to many a happy return.

Penultimately, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Indy Magic scene.  And really, when I say Indy Magic Scene it all boils down to the efforts of one man, Taylor Martin.  Taylor is to magic in Indy as I’d like to be to entertainment photography in Indy.  He is “the man” when it comes to illusion and magic around here.

So harkening back to this time last year and all the repeated “if only…” phrases… they’ve kinda come to pass.  If my life happened to be an 80s made-for-TV movie then this would be the part where the music takes a downturn and I find out I’ve got some horrible disease.  So far, however, no horrible diseases.  *knock*

I do wonder what comes next though.  I feel connected; I feel  I can contribute more (though it takes work to worm my way into shows still) and I’m happy to do so and expand my reach but I wonder to myself what’s the “next level.”  What do I do next to take this somewhere so that next year I look back and feel like I’ve made progress (whatever progress really means when you don’t have any real goal.)

Ultimately, it would be nice to be able to somehow make a living from scampering around the city and taking pictures but so far I’m just collecting images and trying to make it clear just how awesome Indy is.  And, frankly, just how awesome the world and the people in it are.  Do I press forward in the entertainment realm?  Do I retract and take the skills acquired in the past 12 months and move back to my old haunts of the forest?  Do I figure out some entirely new realm of photography to explore?  I just don’t know.  And really… that’s half the fun.

I thank you world for an amazing 12 months.  I look forward to documenting you again in all your glory, your joy, your everything for another year.  What will that year bring?  I’ve not a clue.  But that, my wonderful human race, is all the fun.

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Filed under Indianapolis, Uncategorized

VISTA, Brigantine, Emily Morrone and Anna Crume at the Irving Theatre

Firstly, let me admit that it has been a LONG time since last I wrote on this thing.  That is not to say that I’ve been sitting still; I have (as one person put it to me recently) been “really getting around” as of late.  Check out all the doings on Indy Live Photography if you care to.  Since last writing I’ve moved from the rather slow-paced world of comedic photography to the world of live music.  I feel no shame in admitting that things move FAST here.  Or, as it has been more famously said, “people come and go so quickly here.”  Yes, Dorothy, they certainly do…

Last night I was at the Irving Theatre in Indianapolis for a collection of musical amusements.  To give you proper context, the Irving is a wonderful older theatre in the middle of the Irvington neighborhood in eastern Indianapolis.  Its historical roots span from the immortal Elvis to mass murderers who proved that nobody is really immortal. On a pretty regular basis the theatre invites bands to come in and play their guts out for the neighborhood.  These performances are incredibly intimate and informal and frankly, for a photographer, the BEST possible opportunity to practice your craft.  You could very nearly put your zoom lens up the left nostril of the lead singer before someone would step forward to object.  The city of Indy has two musical hearts.  Fountain Square is where you go to practice before you jet out to the rest of the world but Irvington is where you hang out if you just want to be whoever the hell you want to be.  OK, enough of this, on to last night…

The first act up is Anna Crume.  With the ukulele and the curly hair and charming smile she has that disarming innocence.  Her music is soft and unobtrusive and the sort of thing you’d happily drift off to dreamland while you’re listening to it.  Reminds me of a few America’s Got Talent stars.

Next we have Emily Morrone; she is what I would call much more tech and edgy.  Ironically, I’m a bit of a musical moron despite getting out so much but she does a lot of sampling and playback that really makes her defy easy description.  Using just a laptop and a bit of recording equipment during a live performance she can sing a duet with herself and provide recorded background acoustics in a way that artists 30 years ago would have drooled over.  The amazing thing is that she does this all on-site and on the spur of the moment.  The mind boggles.

Next up we have Vista.  Despite being the headliner they went on next to last.  I presume that it might have been related to the fact that the lead singer was a bit under the weather.  Despite the presence of several billion uninvited life forms, Vista crushed it and brought an amazing energy to the Irving.  As a photographer I was challenged to capture them at their best and I hardly did them justice but they certainly provided a lot of WOW.

Admittedly, when I started processing these pics my first reaction was that everything I took was… pretty terrible.  The lighting here was a lot to get used to and it took me a long time to figure out how to shoot this.  The first 100 frames were almost entirely garbage and had to be pitched but after several minutes the “how” seemed to slowly leak into my brain.  By the end, the Garbage had turned to Gold and I felt really good about them.  Situations like this, as challenging as they are, epitomize the real magic of photography.  Looking back I still didn’t do “great” but I feel like the moment was pretty well captured.  And next time I’ll know a little better (I hope)

Lastly, we have Brigantine.  They closed out the show last night and from the perspective of emotion and energy they hit it out of the park.

I love the passion on their faces and the subtle interplay between everyone.

Closing comments… the more I shoot the more I realize that I don’t quite “get” music photography yet.  Having started out in more controlled circumstances, my mind automatically goes to precision and resolution and making sure you have the ABSOLUTE SHARPEST PICTURE ON THE PLANET for every single moment in a concert.  ISO 100, F22, 1/2000 is the only metric of perfection, right….?  Nope.  Just not possible.  You have to capture something fleeting, ephemeral, and you just can’t DO that with absolute perfection.  Sometimes you have to settle for a little-bit blurry picture of someone with a guitar kissing the lens of the photographer just down from you in the pit.  It’s not perfect.  It’s a snapshot of something just out of reach; you feel it in your soul even though you can’t see it with your eyes.

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Filed under Indianapolis, Uncategorized

Morty’s Comedy Joint Open Mic Quarterfinals – 7/5/2017

Last night I headed back to Morty’s Comedy Joint after a fairly long hiatus.  There were lots of new faces but the basic crux of the place hadn’t changed a bit.

First up, as is typical, you have your regulars, your “house comics.” You can tell these guys are polished, smooth and in their element. Their expressions reveal confidence and their sets are well rehearsed.  They are your comics of tomorrow and a very amusing tomorrow it will be.  Facial reactions range from “happy welcome” to “I just swallowed a bug” to “God, it’s me, Luke.  Please help me, I’ve just swallowed a bug.”


Next you have your up and coming comics.  They’re here for the sheer thrill of competition as they duke it out in a winner-take-all fight for comedy supremacy.  Of course there is the fact that the winner is determined by vote of the audience and the comics bring all their friends to pack the house but that’s neither here nor there. Never once has that mechanic of the competition swayed the outcome of one of these immortal battles of fisticuffs!

Here the expressions rage hard from “I don’t think that’s a schmedium, honey” to “yeah, I’m 19 and I’m already cooler than all y’all” to “who?  me?”  The bottom row I leave as an exercise to the reader.


The closers are your old pros.  One thing I love about the comedy scene is the equality of it all.  Too fat for other jobs?  Don’t play nice with others?  Too ugly for contact with the general public?  Fuck it, come on down!  Comedy folks love everybody.

Ryan Niemiller is hilarious and I can’t stop thinking about him trying to unbutton his shirt…  I feel bad for thinking about it… but I still can’t stop thinking about it.


Last but not least we’ve got the legendary Chris Bowers.  As rumor would have it he’s one of the absolute nicest guys around but he seems so put together and with-it that he’s too intimidating to talk to.  I’ve exchanged a few words with him and I felt like I was going to shake myself apart like a rusted out 72 Pinto running down the interstate on four bad tires.  I’m 6’4 and 250 pounds and the dude makes me feel like a little kid.


And there you have it, one night of great comedy at the city’s best venue for comedy. Your comedians for the night were:

Warmups:

  • Ryan McMannis (host)
  • Ray Hensley
  • Luke Basile
  • Logan Baert
  • Deon Curry

Contestants:

  • Lissa Sears
  • Riley Dismore
  • Cale Forbes
  • George White
  • Mike Williams
  • Grant Weber

Closers:

  • Ryan Niemiller
  • Chris Bowers

You can find full-size originals on our IndyLivePhotography website for this show and dozens of others.

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Filed under Indianapolis, Performance Photography

Misc Photos for 11-5-2012

A rather random assortment of shots from yesterday.

#1

Mostly just enjoy the contrast here. Harsh metal versus soft rustling leaves.

#2

The birds are busily cleaning up the fall… whatever those are.

#3

Wandering in the forest we came upon an orange construction barrel. Mother nature has gone a bureaucratic.

#4

One finds the oddest litter in the forest.

#5

The find of the day was this compost bin full of jack-o-lanterns.

#6

This whole situation strikes me as rather iconic of all holidays. We feast, we celebrate, then we discard.

#7

Later in the day back in the apartment I had some items to photograph so there was a brief spate of random puttering.

And that ends thus ends the day. Now if only I’d written proper descriptions for all the photos I took and tagged them with proper keywords. So many layers of work here. Any volunteers?

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Filed under abstract photography, Indianapolis, nature Photography

Talbot Street Art Fair 6-9-2012

As I sit here on a balmy June day, I listen to the camera clicking away on the patio. Since 1:00 today it has been dutifully recording the sky at 2-second intervals. I’ve endeavored many times to time-lapse the sunset but something makes me want to do so today with complete perfection, to start with a turbulent and cloudy sky and to watch the Indiana horizon all the way until the proverbial ‘fade to black’.

I’ll admit though that being this lazy about my photography does harken me back to the winter. I recall with great vividness sitting in this exact same spot and being vastly annoyed that the weather was so averse to my usual summer pursuits. Now that summer is upon us, here I sit upon my ever-widening posterior being lazy. That is not to say that I haven’t taken ANY photos over the past week but it certainly hasn’t been a week of abundance that one would expect given my previous annoyance at my force lethargy only 4 months ago. Damn these temperate climates.

Last Saturday we traipsed off to the Talbot Street Art Fair in Indianapolis. For an entire weekend a whole section of the city plays host to hundreds of artists selling their wares. Laura and I debated briefly whether the people who actually live here enjoyed or despised the presence of these people. Whatever the case, the transformation is amazing.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

I have learned, as of late, that artists hate to have photos taken of their work. As someone who casts his artistic progeny freely and widely into the public domain, I find this disappointing but I obeyed their desires anyway. Any “artwork” found in these shots is purely coincidental. My main focus for this trip was to capture the attendees and ignore anything of a material nature. I wanted to capture culture, personality, people.. all that intangible rot.

This woman is a sign of our age. She motors along with her child in tow (who is obviously unamused by the whole thing) while she putters with her phone. The yellow necklace and blue nail polish also say something but I’m not qualified to say what that something is exactly.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

So, a few words about this type of photography. Firstly, it’s REALLY hard. My intent in all these is to capture people candidly so there’s not really a whole lot of ‘aim and focus’ involved. You point your camera in the general direction of what you want to capture and hope desperately that it works out. The second that somebody KNOWS that you’re taking their picture the whole universe changes. Life lives on a knife’s edge and even the hint that you’re trying to capture it disrupts it. In this case, I liked the hat. It screamed to me 1960’s Parisian. Unfortunately, she’s out of focus. What *IS* in focus is the guy in the background looking on. I’ll save my more candid commentary on his person but I don’t doubt that you’re thinking the same thing I am. Whatever the case, I love the result.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

I always take shots of these when I can get them because really, they are the epitome of childhood. Parents sacrifice to lift us up and as a result, we get a really grand view. In many cases, it’s a view that we will never, ever have even as adults. This is a grandfather I suspect.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

One of my goals in this session was to focus on strong personalities. This woman screamed personality and strength to me. Clearly the sort of person that if you came into contact with her you want her on YOUR side.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

Outside the concession area, we found these adults looking much like 10-year-olds enjoying their snacks. Oh how little things actually change despite the passage of decades.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

I… well, I don’t even know what to say about this. Dude with shirt unbuttoned, looking on with his pizza in the upright and ready position…. Well, ok, I know what to say, but I’m not willing to say it in print.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

Some of the art was quite visibly alive, though it chose its moment of movement all on its own.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

So one tries to be candid. One tries to be subtle. One tries to just slide unseen through the crowds. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it doesn’t always work. This gentleman seems to peer effortlessly into the photographer’s soul. As I look at him, I wonder what his story is and ponder the possibility of inviting him to have a beer sometime.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

This hat… is dramatically huge. I say nothing more than that.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

And so we close with this face of childhood. As kids, we were all here. WAY too tired and don’t even want to WALK. As parents, we’ve all felt this but seldom actually see it in our children’s faces though we can feel it the small frames that we carry towards their rest.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

And with that, we close. And that was the Talbot Street Art fair.

PS: A while ago I took photos of the Superbowl crowds and against all odds I found that somebody from that crowd actually not only saw my photo but recognized themselves.  If you should see yourself in this blog post, then don’t hesitate to reach out.  Hopefully not with a subpoena.

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Filed under Indiana, Indianapolis, portraiture