Saturday, June 30, 2007

A hard day's iPhone

I think there's some rule today that anyone with a blog has to write something about the iPhone.

I think it's the 28th Amendments: Congress shall make no law that allows for leniency on blogs that do not gush and exude fuel for the iPhone hype machine. (Our economy depends on your disposable income after all.)

And I suppose I could talk about how the iPhone's built in Wi-Fi and easy access to RSS aggregators is going to revolutionize communication and how we get our news.

Or I could go negative and talk about it's hefty price tag and contract, navigation system that forgets to include voice prompts (thus making it useless as a GPS while driving), or it's built in battery pack that comes rated for 300-400 charges with only a one year warranty (365days/yr * 300-400 charges/battery * 1/warranty = you're screwed), or the absence of memory card slots (how about a SD or CF card for us photogs?).

Or I could use the iPhone as the lastest example of the new media to deliver content to and the importance of old media to embrace it or be left behind.

Or I can just make the obvious joke... ahem... Apple released the iPhone earler today to much fan fare... oh, this just in, the iPhone shuffle will be out on Wednesday and will store 500 random numbers at half the price. (zing!)

or... the iPhone is reportedly selling out at some locations, and for the most part it was peaceful, but panick did strike when the first iPhone owners came out of the store and realized they had no one to call... now there are millions of nerds who are desperately seeking phone numbers to put in their iPhone. (pow!)

or... Apple promises the phone can do anything from finding a place to eat to the show times of movies to constantly updated traffic information, not included is the ability to actually call a girl for you to go to that dinner, movie or drive across town. (boom!)

But... I'm feeling a little spry today and I'm thinking I'll have a little fun with it, it's just a phone after all.

So let me now present, without further ado and without any further delay, hmmm... does this look infected... where was I? Oh right, enjoy "A Hard Day's Phone Call"


Me (on phone): So yeah, I'll stop by and pick up some stuff before coming over.

Extreme Office Punk #2: Is that an iPhone?

Me: Uh...

close up on my eyes (first cord from "Hard Days Night")

EOP#2: Oh my god

ME (continuing): .. um...uhhh.....

close up on EOP#2 eyes (first cord from "Hard Days Night")... his eyes go wide... my eyes go wide

(In series of quick cross cuts)

Me (in slow mo): Noo-

EOP#2 (in slow mo): Duuuuudeees--

ME (cont'd): ooo-

EOP#2 (cont'd): heeee's gooot aaan--

ME (cont'd): ooo-

EOP#2 (cont'd): iiii

ME (cont'd): ooo-

EOP#2 (cont'd): phhhoo

ME (cont'd): ooo-

EOP#2 (cont'd): oooo

ME (cont'd): ooo-

EOP#2 (cont'd): ooonneee!!!

(Wide shot as we freeze in place, iPhone in my hand on my side.

Rotating tracking shot on my face and then EOP#2's face as all around us the sound of chairs scratching the ground starts and the sounds of phones, computer keyboards and other office noises stops.

Wide shot, as all around us everyone in the office is now standing up and staring at me, not unlike zombies. No one is moving.

The big clock on the wall moves it's hand and makes a louder than normal *tick in the absence of all the other office noise

The office water cooler makes an audible water bubble gurgle thing (what would you call that?)

A bead of sweat rolls down my brow.

My iPhone rings.

I gasp and look down at it.)

Secretary: It is an iPhone!!!

(I look up in fear)

Bob (lunging forward): iPhone!!!

(I step back and Bob falls to the ground, and person tries to grab it as well, I moves out of reach, then another tackles me and I fall down. Kick myself lose stand up again, backed almost to the wall... (shown in a series of frantic quick cuts)

Pan left to right, see the entire office closing in.

Alex: iPhone!

Sara: iPhone!!

Bob (on ground, say it like a zombie): iiiiphooone!

(I keep backing up until I hit the wall behind me with my hand, it's a window and I pull it up frantically and jump out on to the fire escape.

"It's a Hard Day's Night" plays as I head down the fire escape and continue running though the streets as everyone from the office chases me and onlookers on the street join in as I run by.

The people chasing me are like zombies and only say one thing "iPhone!!!"

Gag#1: I sit on a park bench with a newspaper in my face, the mob runs past me from right to left and I lower the paper to look at them, think I'm smug and smile at the guy next to me. My phone rings and I lose my smile and look fearful again. He tries to grab the phone and I continue running to the right. The mob also returns into the frame and runs left to right.

Gag#2: Running in one door as they chase me and coming out another, then putting a chair in front of the door, then someone hands me a shelf, then a pile of books... then it's revealed that the person handing me the stuff is one of them... chase is on again.

Gag#3: The iPhone starts beeping. I tell everyone to stop. I look at it. "Battery Low" Cut to we're sitting at a cafe as I recharge the battery while everyone is sitting around drinking coffee and waiting. It finishes charging and the chase is on again.

The chase concludes on the edge of a river by a wind mill as the angry mob approaches me saying "iPhone" and carrying torches.

I end up getting knocked back as they approach and I drop the iPhone in the lake. It is destroyed as a current smashes it into a rock.

Everyone calms down, some shake their head, others look around as if unsure of where they are, a women gets up and is knocking the cobwebs loose.

Woman: What was that all about?

Me: The balance of nature.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Multimedia isn't making the world fall apart, photojournalism is just evolving

I have a lot of random thoughts throughout the day, today I had one that I just had to write down. It was supposed to be only one sentence and part of a new series I was toying around with, but as it so often happens I got on top of the soapbox and looking down realized I was afraid of heights. So I just stayed up there.

Remember how before everyone was asking should I learn html... and then it was Dream weaver... and now it's Flash.

Everyone is asking should I learn Flash (imho, it wouldn't hurt) and I'm already hearing whispers of should I learn Avid... should I learn ProTools? (I also hear, should I learn RSS... but that's another story.)

It seems to me that we keep getting caught up on the things that are holding us back, like learning how to hold and hammer with these new tools, and we keep losing sight of the thing that makes us who we are in the first place, our creative eye that was deemed special enough for a yearly salary.

Maybe we need to stop worrying about the medium and worry more about the quality of the content that flows through that medium.

During the NPPA Summit in Portland, Carolyn Cole, LA Times staff photographer and Photojournalist of the Year 2007, showed her piece from the Immersion course and despite having never done it before- she'd mentioned that she was unfamiliar with the process and the programs, and stories from others had confirmed it- on her first time at bat she hit one out of the park. Because she didn't forget that she's a photographer first and she knew how to ask those in the know for help and guidance in filling in the blanks.

I'd love to link to the piece now so you can see what I'm talking about for yourse;f, but they haven't been posted yet. But promises have been made.

I'm not saying don't learn Flash or Avid or CSS or whatever else is out there, what I'm saying is don't learn it if you don't want to. The foundation of this business is still compelling images and if you got that down, you got nothing to worry about.

If you don't believe me, just take a look at some of the other pieces (as soon as they're posted) that came out of the Immersion Workshop. And while it will get hard to tell, yes, they were all done by newbies.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sitting on the advice of giants... or knowledge bombs from people who are better than me

From time to time I get to talk to people who I genuinely admire and turn to for advice and debate the latest news with. Up till now, I've always said I'd post some of these talks to SLR, and they've always given me permission to, but I've just never gotten around to it.

That changes today (and hopefully it continues to be that way).

I've decided to launch a new series of columns that I'm calling "Sitting on the advice of giants,"
because thus far, that's what I've been doing with these nuggets of gold, but today I'm sharing some of the wisdom I've been imparted from Sol Neelman.

I only met Sol a few months ago, completely by chance come to think of it, but in the short time I've known him he's always been quick to lend an ear, look at my work, give feedback and just talk about anything whenever.

And when it comes to his advice, he's frank, honest, from the heart and a straight talker. Exactly the type of real speak you sometimes need.

On portfolios:
I think putting together a portfolio is one of the greater challenges out there for a photographer. I'm lucky to have some talented friends help me - they make me look smarter than I really am! Don't ever make excuses about your work when showing it to someone else. Hold your head high and realize that not everyone is going to get or like what you're trying to say. But don't let that stop you.

When something strikes a cord of truth with you, embrace it.

On taking chances:
The thing for me: experience is key, regardless of where it's at. You're not getting married, just moving for a few months. If you don't have anything else going on, jump on it.
Also, always follow your instincts. They usually hold the answers for you.

On internships:
Forget the idea that you need "big-name" internships. Anyone with half a brain will tell you that you'll get more out of the smaller market papers than a major metro, where you'll get lost in the shuffle.

On schmoozing:
I'm not good at schmoozing, either. But after awhile, you realize we're all peers, only at different stages in our career. Everyone has been in your shoes. And if they can't remember that, then forget them!

On having fun with photo:
Just look at his piece from the 2007 a Photo a Day meet up and remember why we got into this field in the first place. It's a "fun, inspirational weekend - minus the egos and b.s." and the core of what photography is about when you take the pictures for yourself and only yourself.

That's it, the first installment is in the books, and I hope you've found Sol's advice as helpful as I have.

I'll have some more coming in the future, just have to make sure I have permission to share publicly the private conversations I've had.

Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A serendipitous end at the Santa Cruz Sentinel

My time at the Santa Cruz Sentinel has come to an end, last Wednesday was my last. I worked Mondays, and it was kinda weird waking up and not having to drive for an hour over over the hill today. Everything has to come to an end sometime.

For my last day there wasn't much on the roster, but it was a hot day (the first of a mini heat wave actually) and so I went out looking for weather art. When I returned I filed my stories and didn't have much left to do, and seeing as how it was my last day and I had time, I pitched an idea to produce a slideshow.

I find it kind of fitting that my last day at the paper ended on the beach... and with a slideshow.
I wanted to try something different and sorta went nuts with the editing. Take a look, it's sorta my parting valentine for the paper. I had some good times there and I'm gonna miss it... hmm.. that sounds like a list full of reminiscing...
  • I'll miss debating the latest news or ethical developments in photojournalism with Shmuel Thaler.
  • I'll miss running into Ryan Sholin everyday and having one of us say "did you see this online..." But seriously brah, you can't let you're daughter's first movie be Transformers, that's child abuse :P
  • I'll remember that first day of looking though the archive and seeing all the cool stuff in there... and then wasting all that time looking at old movie stuff and press packets for TGIF (if I have to explain it, you're to young... and a loser).
  • I'll chuckle when I think of all the office politics and romances that I'm not supposed to know about.
  • I'm miss getting to joke around with Anthony L. Solis in the office and then checking out his photos on Flickr.
  • I'll remember getting lost twice on the way out to an assignment with Soraya Gutierrez and talking about Rage Against The Machine... not to mention rage in general (I still say it was her fault!)
  • I'll wonder how it was that I always (well 99% of the time) ended up driving the reporter to all of our assignments... I'm the out of townee after all.
  • I'll remember the day I got the frantic phone call that the front page story fell through and I'd better do a really really good job (no pressure of course the message said) to help fill the gap "or else."
  • I'll always wonder why it took me three weeks to finally go to a beach.
  • I'll remember the hum of the printing press in the basement as it rumbled to life each night and vibrated the floor in the photo room.
  • I'm not gonna miss waiting for a free computer... or saving all my Photoshoped work to a portable hard drive to move over to the only Mac with soundslides (but no Photoshop) only to discover it's behind a door that was supposed to be unlocked.
  • I'm not gonna miss waiting 15 minutes for Photo Mechanic to start up for that matter either.
  • I never did figure out how to check my work e-mail... I hope there wasn't anything important in there.
  • I'll laugh at all the times I ran out on false alarms for spot news... like going out to a fire and instead finding Frisbee golf (which it turns out is normal) and the time a guy brought dynamite to Costco in his car and went inside to ask "Should I have this?"
  • I won't miss (or understand) having to move my car every hour in Watsonville.
  • I'll remember the day I spent on a story covering bookstores and discover that book stores are pretty cool places.
  • It's a sad fact, but no one actually ever drives the speed limit... unless a cop is around, and even then the cop doesn't drive the speed limit either.
  • I'll sorta regret not going to New York City for spring break.
  • But I'll miss being the point man while two of the three staff shooters were on vacation during spring break.
  • The day I was told that I'm getting too many front pages and doing too good of a job (apparently it's possible).
  • I'll remember when everyone felt I was being taken advantage of with an unpaid internship and they threw a few bucks my way.
  • I'm gonna miss the photo advice from Matt King, less art, more limbs. Got it dude!
  • I'm not gonna miss becoming known as the go to guy for pictures of pets and kids during my first month there. Thankfully that changed.
  • I'll always remember the day I finally got to go to the beach.
  • I won't miss the racist old woman at the bank who asked me where I'm from and wanted to teach me the ways of America. I told her "I can't help it if they let brown people and white people walk on the street together in Canada." (I'm not from Canada.)
  • I won't miss the hippies who believe that listening to George Harrison's post India sitar and doing Yoga somehow makes them spiritually enlightened and somehow as I'm an Indian, that makes me their mystic conduit into the mysteries of the East. Seriously guys, we're just different, stop thinking you're somehow better than others in the West just because you want to be different like us.
  • The day I returned the light kit at school only to need it on the very next assignment. Lesson learned, take out a loan and buy a light kit.
  • I won't miss the time I was blocked in at the fairground with a deadline and couldn't get my car out until way past midnight. (I meet my deadline, don't ask.)
  • I won't forget the garlic fries on the Boardwalk or standing in the framework of the Big Dipper and trying to hold the camera as steady as possible while the roller coaster shook the rails and wooden structure almost violently.
  • I'll remember the letter from a reader who cried after seeing my pictures.
  • I'll miss going down to Watsonville and sharing in all sorts of censored shenanigans... and telling them they were better than the main office and then doing the same when I was back in Santa Cruz.
  • And this will be my last time being a part of the week in pictures.
  • There's so much I'll remember and look back on... but mostly I'll always remember all the cool people I met while on assignment and all the things I learned about them, from them and about myself.
It's been fun, but every chapter has to come to a close.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

We'll always have Paris...oy...if you want to or not

When I got up this morning to run an errand, the radio was talking about Paris Hilton... when I logged on to check my e-mail the top news blurb on Yahoo was of Paris Hilton... When I turned on the noon news on TV, the top news spot was about Paris Hilton.

We are a nation obsessed with celebrity... or non-celebrity that somehow ended up at every party that celebrities attended and like a Yellow-Beak Toko bird on the head of a rhino, leaching off the remains to sustain itself.

I akin it to the Greeks and their soap opera of gods. For some reason this socialites imprisonment is the top news story of the day. More important than Iraq or the toppy turvy stock market or even the fist fight that broke out in in a state congress down south (yes it doesn't only happen in other countries).

We just have to know no matter what other stories are out there... I wonder what's going on in Iraq or Congress or downtown (thank you Divertor!.

Thank goodness for foreign media, online news and my newspaper subscription so I can get other news.

It's frustrating! I mean, that whale in the Sacramento delta story was all the local news cared about last week... we finally get rid of that one (the whales made it back out to sea, you can 'awww' now) and now we have Hilton-gate 2007 (because you know there will be a 2008... 2009... actually, we better just rename that Hilton-Gate June07 now before July comes around.)

KGO radio talk show host Ron Owens devoted an hour to Hilton-Gate June07 this morning on his program and tried to justify it by playing up the "is there justice?" "Do celebrities get treated differently?" "Does being rich and white get you out of jail?" angles. Oh just admit that you're as giddy as a gossiping middle school girl about the whole thing and enjoy yourself Ron, no need to carry the manufactured air of civic duty on this one. (We know you like to have fun.)

Mercury News Columnist Mike Cassidy put it another way, "I don't want to see another word written about Paris Hilton. Not one. No more blog posts. No more graffiti on the bathroom walls. No more pictures of Paris. I don't want to see Paris Hilton in her jumpsuit. I don't want to see her in underwear. I don't want to see her not in her underwear. Think of all the trees that can be saved by American newspapers."

I had planned to ignore the story as much as possible just like I've ignored every other celebrity story thus far, but late in the evening as I logged on to check my mail there was an AP video awaiting me and wouldn't you know it, once again, Paris-Gate June07. (Aurggh!)

The nation was on the highest alert-- Prada alert (that's still hot right?).

So just out of curiosity I decided to see just how widespread it was getting. I already knew about the numerous petitions that people were signing, but I wanted to see what else was going on. Call it a psydo-Anthropological study (more like I'm bored and was going to do it anyway, so why not write about it).

A search for the phrase "Paris Hilton, jail" turned up these results:

-Technoratii hits- I'm only seeing 23... wow, woulda expected more... maybe there's hope for humanity yet. Or the bloggers are all to busy talking about google videos newest developments.

-YouTube videos- I'm not sure, a lot! I'm just amazed that there's already parody music videos up and running. And pretty slick ones to.

-Her MySpace page- got bored and stopped counting.

-Google blog search hits- over 3,600,003... sad.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

I won.... a very honorable scholarship

Last Saturday the Peninsula Press Club held an awards banquet... they announced to those in attendance that I had been awarded this year's Herb Caen Student Scholarship... named for the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist... whose style I am mimicking here... (poorly)... I was not able to attend but I heard it was quite a show... I would have loved to attend... to shake hands with the other honorees... to smile and thank personally the board that selected me...

This was a big one for me... I've long been a fan of Caen... having (poorly) mimicked his 3 dot journalism in the past in columns for my college paper... I figured I was a long shot... not being a writer... I hoped my passion would show through... this is one I truly wanted... money aside... I consider having my name and Caen's name uttered in the same sentence a phenomenal honor... ludicrous even...

They tell me it's the first time a photographer has been bestowed the honor... wow... humbling to say the least... very...

Unfortunately I was unable to attend... I had a prior engagement in Portland... the NPPA Multimedia Summit... tickets were booked... plans were made... others were depending on me... it just wasn't possible... sadly...

I deeply wanted to say something... on Wednesday I left a voice mail for my contact at the Peninsula Press Club... tried to convey what I wanted to say and asked him to pass along my appreciation... feeling terrible the whole time because I wanted them to know that I truly was grateful...

It occurred to me this morning... (Wednesday actually, as that was when I wrote most of this post on a napkin)... as I drove to Santa Cruz... the internship at the Sentinel is going well... awesome even some would say... I would say... it occurred to me as I drove in that there was a way that I could have dispatched my message of appreciation... podcast... I should have created a MP3... e-mailed it to my contact... had it played at the ceremony...

Why didn't I think of it sooner... I wonder what Caen would think of podcasts if he were still around... would he hide from it... or embrace it... would his Baghdad by the Bay include the linguistic tongue twisters that he so often wrote about... would a slow week result in the sounds of the streets of San Fransisco as he made his way from the bar to the newsroom trying to avoid the rain... would he invent 3 pause journalism as he sifted though the notes he'd jotted down during his travels about town...

But I digress... I guess what I'm saying is... thank you.

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Ever have that feeling...

Ever have that feeling that you just have to blog about something? I'm looking at SLR and thinking, man it's been dry around here for a while, it's about time I write about something.

So you start thinking... gee, what to write about. Columnist can do it many times a week, why shouldn't/can't I?

So I'm thinking that I'll blog about blogging and how one can become so engrained in this creation that it takes on a life of it's own, people start to wonder what's happened to you (I'm okay Mom, seriously) and you start to feel like you're letting others down.

But wait, if you're reading this you already know this... and I've just wasted your time.

Pretty stupid huh? Yeah, I'll stop now while I'm behind.

Actually, new content that will be worth your time is coming in the next few days. (So stop asking me Ryan! Haha!) I promise.

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