Dream assignment

Once upon a time, I was a photojournalism major. I even bought my digital camera (which I use to this day!) from David McLain, an amazing photographer who has shot for National Geographic among many others.

After a few years taking classes and covering boring meetings for the Daily Tar Heel (or Hell, whichever), shooting became a chore that I seldom enjoyed. Don’t get me wrong, through the classes I met inspiring people, learned about sacrifice and hardship, and just as important, I realized that being a photojournalist is tougher than I had ever imagined. Not because I covered any wars or violence, but because I found it hard to detach from the people who had welcomed me into their lives. Who, even after my projects were done, would still invite me to family gatherings and considered me a friend.  

It was hard because I felt like I was deceiving them into opening this door, to let me see their vulnerability, to tell me their darkest secrets, to expose those secrets. I was profiting from them (not monetarily perse) yet I couldn’t even find the time to return calls. Going to school and working three jobs just seemed like pitiful excuses. 

That was just a long way of me saying that, while I never did go down the road of capturing stories for a living, I’m still inspired by those who do. 

If you’ve ever enjoyed my meager attempts, my rather superficial take on photography, then much of it I owe to the practice and advice I received during my time in Pat Davison’s class. I’m pretty sure I was never one of his favorites, and to be honest, I was particularly intimidated by him, so I probably didn’t take advantage of developing a better relationship. 

He’s trying to fulfill his “dream assignment”: 

“Divine love drives ordinary people to extraordinary service. The Face of God will document 10 stories of world-changing people whose weapons are love and faith.”

He needs to be in the Top 20 to be considered by a panel of judges, and if accepted, he’ll received the means to go about developing the project. I’d be very much obliged if y’all would go read about it, and vote for him. Trust me, I wouldn’t be asking if I thought they idea was not conducive to a brilliant project, but I really do think it’s great. It only takes a very quick registration (just your name and email). Voting ends this Friday.

Here’s the link again:



They see me rolling

Oh the good people of the City of Tempe, such avid photographers, are always practicing with unsuspecting models. Well, it flatters me so, when they keep coming back to me for candid photoshoots. 

A City of Scottsdale van once flashed me (and not in the better sense of that word) while speeding, but I never got that ticket in the mail. For some reason I always seem to get caught in Tempe. 

The first photo happened at night time, coming back from Cinco de Mayo festivities. And let me say that you know you’ve been flashed because the whole street lights up. The second photo I didn’t even noticed till I got it in the mail. That photo is the one that resulted in traffic school, which I somewhat enjoyed.

I decided to take the Spanish class because dammit it all, if I was going to pay $178, I was going to at least brush up on my Spanish. The class was fun, mainly because the people in the class took it as more of a therapy session than a class. Everyone was just kinda venting about their particular offenses and how it was not right, and everyone does it, etc, etc. The teacher, who seemed rather strict at first, was more than willing to let people rant and ask questions that sometimes prompted her to say, with a laugh, that “maybe they should seek legal advice”. Overall an enjoyable experience, with constant laughter, which is more the exception than the rule, from what I hear of others that have gone to traffic school. 

I guess no one at the class had yet seen one of these speed, red-light photo tickets, so everyone was looking at mine. They were thoroughly impressed, saying things like  “Oh, it’s really clear, definitely you!” which is exactly what my mother said when she got the first one in the mail (the car still had North Carolina plates at that point). The class was very informative, and by the end of it I learned that the act of me getting into a moving vehicle is probably a violation against something, like morality or mankind. 

Here are a few handy things to know if you get a ticket in the City of Tempe:

1) If you ignore the ticket, the process server is $27 dollars. He’s a sneaky man, wearing a leather jacket, who somehow has your apartment gate’s code. He’s vicious. He will start screaming your name, for all the neighbors to hear, which will prompt you to open the door out of sheer mortification, should the neighbors think you’re a criminal. 

2) You have to pay those $27 in order to take the class, which is, coincidentally, $7 more than the tickets itself ($171). 

3) You must bring the citation to the class, and a money order. No checks, cash, small children or cockatoos, accepted as payment. 

4) My class was in a hotel, which the teacher pointed out, causes understandable suspicions amongst couples. If your significant other got up at the crack of dawn to go to “traffic school” at a “hotel”, you might be somewhat suspicious too. 

5) If you pay the fine, they will add points to your driving record. 

6) If you go to court and you lose (which you most likely will, having just wasted the judge’s time trying to dodge responsibility) they will add point to your record. 

7) Points on record = higher insurance. Considering I’m already paying ridiculous amounts to insure my car in Arizona, I’d highly prefer to avoid that. 

So there you are, stuck with a ticket, unable to defend yourself against your accuser, seeing as the accuser is a camera. A camera that could very well be malfunctioning. It’s rather unconstitutional if you ask me. 

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking, I could’ve just slowed down. But here’s the rub, I don’t even remember speeding. I’m not familiar with the Tempe area. I vaguely remember that on this day, I was trying to find a particular cross street, so I suppose that I must have been paying attention to the street signs rather than the speed, and I was just going with the flow of traffic, not reckless speeding. I was, allegedly, going 51, one mile over the 10 mile threshold. But again, to me that just sounds odd. Why would I be going that fast when I was semi-lost, looking for the right cross street? I would’ve thought I was going relatively slow. I don’t know, to me there’s just something shady about the whole process.  

But you know how that saying goes: when life gives you photo speeding tickets, you make lemonade — or abstract graphics, whichever. So I used the photo mailed to me to put together a little something. Click below to see the whole image. 

I just scanned the image and downloaded some recession chic (free) illustrator brushes, and put it all together along with my handy Arizona license plate. 

Lesson learned: stay out of Tempe.



Quick update

I know, I know, I’ve been MIA for a while. Pretty busy around here with all sorts of things. But coming up I’ll have more photos from sailing, and from the Coldplay concert last night. It’s been too long since I shot a concert (almost a month, ouch!), so it was good to get back into it.

I made some cookies from scratch the other night, and I think they were received well at work, or at least I’d like to believe that. But for now, I’m off to try and make some pumpkin pie. Wish me luck.