Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

D-Day June 6th 1944 – Battlefield Cant: Normandy

Omaha Beach- Dog Green Sector. " I started out to cross the beach with thirty-five me and only six got to the top, that's all. 2nd Lt. Bob Eldin

Omaha Beach- Dog Green Sector.
” I started out to cross the beach with thirty-five me and only six got to the top, that’s all.”
2nd Lt. Bob Eldin

Battlefield Cant Project

Battlefield n. the field  or ground on which a battle is fought.

Cant n. the phraseology peculiar to a particular class, party, profession

“Battlefield Cant” are a series of photographs from the European battlefields of WW2 and prose from the soldiers who fought there.

The heroic deeds of the landings at Normandy and the Allied triumph of WW2 are the defining moment of a dying generation. I have a keen interest in what remains of these sacred locations, both in images & words. In April of 2011 I began the project “Battlefield Cant” and visited the Normandy D-Day landing beaches and battlefields photographing with my trusty wooden 8×10 camera.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers -- the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machineguns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After 2 days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms. Ronal Reagan at the dedication of the Memorial.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machineguns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After 2 days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms. Ronal Reagan at the dedication of the Memorial.

Point Du Hoc- Three companies of Rangers landed by sea at the foot of the cliffs, and scaled them using ropes, ladders, and grapples under German fire, and engaged the enemy at the top of the cliff and destroyed the artillery that threatened the other beaches.

Point Du Hoc- Three companies of Rangers landed by sea at the foot of the cliffs, and scaled them using ropes, ladders, and grapples under German fire, and engaged the enemy at the top of the cliff and destroyed the artillery that threatened the other beaches.

View through the dunes of Utah Beach

View through the dunes of Utah Beach

Sherman M4 Tread Detail Sherman Treads- The M4 Sherman tank is the classic armor unit of American forces. Fast, agile, and in abundance it would prove to be delicate yet effective in ensuring allied victory. It earned the nick name, Ronson after the cigarette lighter company due to the unfortunate way it would easily explode and burn from taking hits.

Sherman M4 Tread Detail
Sherman Treads- The M4 Sherman tank is the classic armor unit of American forces. Fast, agile, and in abundance it would prove to be delicate yet effective in ensuring allied victory. It earned the nick name, Ronson after the cigarette lighter company due to the unfortunate way it would easily explode and burn from taking hits.

Mary of the Bullitt- a glass enclosed statue of the Virgin Mary posed with her hand across her heart got caught in the cross fire of Germans and American paratroopers fighting it out in the church of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Notice the bullitt hole that remains as evidence of the short fire fight.

Mary of the Bullitt- a glass enclosed statue of the Virgin Mary posed with her hand across her heart got caught in the cross fire of Germans and American paratroopers fighting it out in the church of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Notice the bullitt hole that remains as evidence of the short fire fight.

Batteries of Longues Sur Mer- Four batteries on the Norman Coast had to be eliminated for the invasion so the Allies tasked the Air Force to bomb them into submission. However the Germans built them to last, and it came down to a naval duel with battleships to force the surrender of the Germans manning the guns.

Batteries of Longues Sur Mer- Four batteries on the Norman Coast had to be eliminated for the invasion so the Allies tasked the Air Force to bomb them into submission. However the Germans built them to last, and it came down to a naval duel with battleships to force the surrender of the Germans manning the guns.

View from the German bunkers overlooking the beaches.

View from the German bunkers overlooking the beaches.

Brecourt Manor- This is a photograph of the site that Easy Company of the 101st Airborne assaulted 4 artillery batteries. The short battle is often cited as a classic example of small-unit tactics and leadership in overcoming a larger enemy force.

Brecourt Manor- This is a photograph of the site that Easy Company of the 101st Airborne assaulted 4 artillery batteries. The short battle is often cited as a classic example of small-unit tactics and leadership in overcoming a larger enemy force.

Mary of the Bullitt- a glass enclosed statue of the Virgin Mary posed with her hand across her heart got caught in the cross fire of Germans and American paratroopers fighting it out in the church of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Notice the bullitt hole that remains as evidence of the short fire fight.

Mary of the Bullitt- a glass enclosed statue of the Virgin Mary posed with her hand across her heart got caught in the cross fire of Germans and American paratroopers fighting it out in the church of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Notice the bullitt hole that remains as evidence of the short fire fight.

Today, June 6th 2015 marks the 71st Anniversary of the start of the battle to retake France and defeat the German Third Reich. Suspect Photography salutes the men who sacrificed their lives to so that we may live free today.

View of Omaha Beach through the ground glass of the Deardorff 8x10 camera with 8 1/4" Dagor Lens.

View of Omaha Beach through the ground glass of the Deardorff 8×10 camera with 8 1/4″ Dagor Lens.

Seven Steps to Self Editing Your Work

Looking up to Montmarte, Paris. Canon Power Shot A70

Looking up to Montmarte, Paris. Canon Power Shot A70

The most difficult aspect of Photography to master is Picture Image Editing. You can learn to shoot better, to expose properly, to capture composition, achieve perfect timing, master the light, focus on details and blur what you don’t want. You will have to ensure you are in the right place at the golden hour, always coaxing gesture from subjects and understanding the camera you hold in your hands, these are all hallmarks of a great photographer. You can learn these things by shooting a whole lot, or you can fast track an be taught in schools and workshops. However there is one skill that can’t be taught, its importance is paramount, yet is seldom discussed in the arsenal of photographic skills, that of picture editing.

Paris in April. Canon Power Shot A70

Paris in April. Canon Power Shot A70

I’m not referring to post editing, as in using Light Room, DxO, or even Photoshop to crop and adjust, I’m suggesting editing in the sense of “I have these 748 pictures and which ones are the best”? Self-editing is very difficult, I see poor editing while reviewing photographers work frequently and especially among the new photographers. When you have to choose 3 images from your archive, it’s an art all itself to make the right picks.

Notre Dame. This was shot with the Canon Power Shot A70 and heavily worked in photoshop to correct perspective and monochrome convert.

Notre Dame. This was shot with the Canon Power Shot A70 and heavily worked in photoshop to correct perspective and monochrome convert.

The following seven elements are what I have learned to use over the years. They have served me well and this post is populated with images I found in my archive, never before published pulled up just for use here. Some go back 12 years.

One: Take a page from Ansel Adams and pre-visualize the best shot that can be made from the scene before you. Ansel worked with large format cameras and they force you to get it right with an economy of shutter snaps. Contemplate the image in front of you and take time realizing the elements that will make a solid photograph. Resist a haphazard approach like overshooting in the hopes that one image will have a correct horizon and cloud will be in the just the right place. All this creates is a clutter of files and essentially- a bigger haystack to find the best shot.

Two: Archive or develop as soon as possible. Get the images off the card or the film processed before image anarchy occurs. Cluttered memory cards, unprocessed rolls of film in drawers, make bad for editing.

Three: Soak up a good look at what you have shot. This can start a healthy review of work via the playback button the camera. Don’t be afraid to pixel peep (zooming into the image) to check for proper focus. You have a succession of very similar shots, and one or two missed the mark for focus, but the other shots are tack sharp, feel free to delete the softies right out of the camera. I have found that I can edit very well right off the camera in most circumstances. I like to use a Hoodman Hood Loupe if I decide to pack it, it’s fairly cumbersome but it’s great at isolating your point of view when using the camera LCD.

Four: However you archive, be it Adobe Lightroom or manually like me, do it the same way, set up a consistent file structure and keep two hard drives or a raid as a back up. Name the shoot, and I also will date it too. Once the images are off the card, or processed and scanned, run through them again. Pick out a few favorites. Open them up and do a little post editing.

Five: Show them off and get some opinions. Throw them up on Face Book, tweet ‘em, Instagram them (even though I hate Instagram). My rule when I put up a shot on my Facebook if it gets over 100 likes then I know I nailed it.

Six: Move on. Forget about them. Work on your next shot. When you are ready to do something with them, and need them, make sure you have them properly cataloged on your drives so they are easy to locate for when you need them.

Seven: Dive back in fresh and do what really is your third edit. Based on your internal instinct and some reactions from your network look at your edit again, and also, the un-edited archive. You might very well have missed something. Become friends with this edit, improve on them with post processing. If you need to narrow them down further, set them up in folder for your screen saver and then your monitors become a “familiarization device” to better understand which are the strongest images. I learned this trick from Jock Sturges.

Union Square Pogo dance action. I recall shooting this, then dumping into a folder and forgetting about it. When I found it again I was thrilled to post edit and have a solid NYC street shot. A gem, hidden in a seldom used hardrive.

Union Square Pogo dance action. I recall shooting this, then dumping into a folder and forgetting about it. When I found it again I was thrilled to post edit and have a solid NYC street shot. A gem, hidden in a seldom used hardrive.

In summary, don’t shoot so much, go for quality not quantity and ask your network what they think of the images, then sit on them for awhile and keep shooting, return to them and look at your edit and the un-edited again. My last tip is that frequently, a crop is in order. Many a good image can be overlooked but stands out with a good crop. They say it’s all in the eyes.

I honestly don't know who's eye this is. I found a folder nested deeply among other folders with about 10 different eyes. I barely recall shooting this.

I honestly don’t know who’s eye this is. I found a folder nested deeply among other folders with about 10 different eyes. I barely recall shooting this.

~David

Death Becomes Her – A Paradox Portrait Shot with an 8×10 Camera

Portrait of Paradox, from 10 Hours Walking as a Goth in NYC viral video.

Portrait of Paradox, from 10 Hours Walking as a Goth in NYC viral video.

I have one fear, and that is to shoot my beloved portraits with an 8×10 camera. I fear being able to focus, I fear not be able to see as I do with a reflex view, I fear the time it takes to focus, pull the dark cloth, load the film, pull the dark slide, and finally make the exposure. What if the model moves in that time and the focus is so shallow that I miss the mark?

“First world 8×10 Film Shooter’s problems”

So I played it safe and stuck to landscapes. But when I set up my 10 Hours Walking as a Goth photoshoot I decided to face my fears and start the video shoot with a still shot. Camera of choice being a 8×10 Deardorff loaded with Ilford FP4. We started the shoot late, and the sun was setting early in mid November. I pushed the FP4 to 400 iso (two stops from its native 125) and opened up the Kodak Commercial 14 inch f6.8 all the way. Using a Pentax Digi Spot I arrived at 100th of a second wide open. My assistant held a 32″ Silver Reflector to try to direct the anemic light while giving a little fill to Paradox’s magnetic eyes.  I miss-placed the heavy duty cable release that is needed for that behemoth of a lens and had to hand trip the shutter. This photoshoot had all the hallmarks of a crappy outcome.

Detail of eyes. Yes, those are special double contacts.

Detail of eyes. Yes, those are special double contacts.

But an amazing thing happened, out of the two plates I made, one worked. I’d say I nailed the focus by a tight margin, but what really got me was the amazing bokeh. That huge herkin’ Kodak 14 inch lens wide open is smoother than a newborn babies but!

I scanned the Ilford FP4 negs on a Epson 3600 perfection using Silverfast AI software. Then using PS I retouched the image and applied Nik Silver EFX to fine tune the black and white. The detail when working with such a large negative is positively sick and allows for extreme cropping with little to no loss.

Detail of 10% of the 8x10 negative.

Detail of 10% of the 8×10 negative.

 

If you like Paradox, then check out the short viral video I produce with her shot in November of 2014.

I’m hooked on 8×10 Portraits and shall be shooting and posting more soon.

~David

Of Indians, Landscapes and Pooping Dogs

All things being equal, The Sky, The Moon and the Mountain.

All things being equal, The Sky, The Moon and the Mountain.

I found myself roaring through desert canyon land over a hundred miles an hour astride a 1810 CC Indian Chief Vintage. I had companions; a lithe young photographer who specializes in portraits blazing alongside in a huge Harley Davidson, and the other just as opposite but more magnetic, a night photographer completely ecstatic as he was rolling on an Indian Scout. Oh, and there was a King with his Queen on another big Harley Davidson Road King, of course.

The strategic tilt is executed in the Valley of Fire. I loved the shadows from the bushes.

The strategic tilt is executed in the Valley of Fire. I loved the shadows from the bushes.

We cut a road that allowed sprits to pass over as we became ghosts leading each other into the Valley of Fire. In this baptism I would attempt to solve a puzzle of the landscape photograph. Not to capture a good one, but to make a great one. One that will undeniably NOT have a strong centralized subject found as a singular element, but rather as a whole would sustain the image.

Like Malcom said, Life finds a way.

Like Malcom said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way”.

The Indian was taking us there clad in chrome and distressed leather. I had one camera, one intention, and lots of questions. The camera was a versatile Sony RX10 that held a long range Zeiss lens that would deliver my vision, and the questions would be in my self critique. Would these images stand up to my own Occam’s razor?

Cliffhangers of Zion

Cliffhangers of Zion

Teaching alongside Bob Krist, Michael Melford, and Ralph Lee Hopkins, this National Geographic trio spoke about the “Pooping Dog” in the image. Of course not literally (but hey it could work if not reeking of ‘lowbrowness’) but metaphorically as an element that is identifiable as the subject and plays an interesting role in the image. The pooping dog tells the story and narrates the message of the image. The pooping dog has a bark and a bite for the image to be successful. Without a pooping dog, the image is flat, lifeless and not fully accomplished.

The Valley of Fire.

The Valley of Fire.

In my critique classes, I frequently admonish beginners for not having the pooping dog in their images. But what happens when you are in a gorgeous landscape, the light is right, you have the time and tools but no pooping dog? Can you still make a compelling image? The challenge of landscape photography is that.

Valley of FIre

Valley of FIre

I found the answer to be what I suspected: if the aesthetic of the image is extremely strong, and the execution dynamic enough, then you can avoid an obvious and demonstrative main subject. The photograph becomes its own gestalt that moves a viewer.

The Three Horses of the Valley of Fire.

The Three Horses of the Valley of Fire.

Did the Indian take me there? Was I able to channel my inner Ansel Adams and execute a formidable American Landscape? I guess i shall have to continue on the road to see if I did.

The Road to Upper Zion

The Road to Upper Zion

~David

On Wanting, Achieving and Sacrifice.

Selfie and found mirror in the Lower East Side. Winter.

Selfie and found mirror in the Lower East Side. Winter.

I do not believe in limits. I do not believe any thing is beyond ones reach nor any goal unobtainable. The only limit you have is weighted against how much you want to achieve that goal and accomplish what you set.

I hate to hear excuses; I feel they hide the hard cold facts to your self. An excuse is certainly easier than the path to fulfillment. I know that I am not treading any new ground, but that wont stop me from elaborating on why I feel this way. I also feel I can add to the established “rah rah- go do it- yes I can- no whining” motivation camp.

First let’s just get honesty out of the way. You have to be honest with your self and understand that you simply can do anything you want. Anything short of achieving the goal rests sorely with you. I wont even entertain the idea of realistic goals, all are achievable and some are more probable and some less. If you don’t believe anything is probable then let us first start off with the 44th President of the United States, President Barack Hussein Obama as an example. Who would have thought a black man, with an Arab name could reach the highest office (arguably in the world) just a generation away from the civil rights movement and post 911 America? Want a different spin on that achievement? Lets look at this scenario, a mediocre actor becoming the president of the USA? How about taking a Hassalblad up to the moon and doing some … moonscapes? In our history there are countless stories of amazing acts of goal achievements.

I would like to use an example someone a little more humble and down to earth, the photographer Michael Murray. I worked with Mike at B&H in the marketing department and sales since the early 2000’s. Bravely, about 6 or so years ago, Mike took a big chance and left B&H to pursue his passion of photography. He walked away from a nice salary, health benefits, and stability. He diligently worked hard to make fine art photography and sell it in the cold, in the rain for12 months out of the year on the streets of NYC locations such as; Union Square, Central Park, Holiday Markets, Mike didn’t stop and busted his ass. He developed his own unique style, stayed the course and now, he will live on beyond his years, with his work published from the crème de la creme of book makers, 21st Century Editions. Take a look at the “Worlds Apart” video.  I must also note that in the interim, Mike got married and had his first daughter.

I hear the books will be extremely collectable and costly. I’m sure that prime gallery representation will follow and Mike from freezing street artist will catapult to Chelsea gallery artist. How did he do it?

He sacrificed. He redirected every aspect of his life to accomplishing the goal and pursuing it. He flirted heavily with the bohemian and realigned his priorities be able to put him self in the position to create art. These included; changing his environment from the costly central to the provincial, managing resources carefully and mostly of all, not stopping. Michael continued to be a photographer, making images, exploring the medium, and bringing it to market. He quit his day job to follow the path of the artist and he is well on his way down the golden path. I’m sure it took a few turns and detours, and the days were dark at times, and the bank account hovering at that dangerous level of emptiness. In the end, Michael Murray wants it. And he got it.

Time is a funny thing, you may want it now, but most times, now has to wait. Staying toasty though, keeping eyes open and on the road, time goes by and you are closer to the goal. Often the goal morphs into a similar reality, and one you didn’t actually plan for, yet by following the passion a new door opens and while not the original goal exactly in detail, it is a similar strata or for lack of a better word, “awesomeness”. Time changes the face of the goal but not its essence.

Whale fluking in Alaska. Shot on the Lindblad Vessel, Sea Bird. Canon 1DSmk2 with 300mm 2.8 processed in Silver FX.

Whale fluking in Alaska. Shot on the Lindblad Vessel, Sea Bird. Canon 1DSmk2 with 300mm 2.8 processed in Silver FX.

Those seeking the path or those on the path, there is a lesson here. Listen to the inner voice, follow your heart and be the artist you are. Bob Krist and Michael Melford taught me that Nat Geo Magazine isn’t in the business of publishing excuses, they publish photographs.

Dream, dream big. No excuses.

~David

I Can’t Breath- But I Can Photograph

My favorite image of the day, to look up and see this display of people coming together with a flag flying was dramatic.

My favorite image of the day, to look up and see this display of people coming together with a flag flying was dramatic.

I want to establish right off the bat that this post is about photography, not the politics. My choosing to take my camera and record the protest does not indicate my personal feelings nor alignment. What I do feel is that as photographers we have a duty to record the world around us. We don’t have to make a living at it, but we are the observers whose observations can outlive us. Future generations will be able to look at your images and share an experience based on what you photographed. That is a scary thought in of itself, and photojournalism is extremely subjective and barely objective. I certainly seek objectivity in the matter, and feel I pretty much got it. I barely spoke to anyone; actually the only person I had a full conversation with was a NYC Parks Dept officer. Our conversation consisted of the fact that it was peaceful.

I don't usually shoot in panarama mode, but when I do it's for really really really big crowds.

I don’t usually shoot in panarama mode, but when I do it’s for really really really big crowds.

However this is the internet and people throw opinions around like police hand out tickets so at the end of this post, I’m going to speak my mind about the recent issues surrounding this protest. It’s my soap box, you can choose to not read or make your comments. Now, back to the photographic portion of this post…

Pissing off the Police Union is where he is.

Pissing off the Police Union is where he is.

As I stated earlier, I believe it is both your civic and artistic duty to participate as a viewer/observer/recorder of the important social issues that occur in your lifetime. I’m not saying you should go well out of your way, but if these occur locally, be there and f8. They are societal milestones, events, and gain the interest of the masses. They can often define the ascendant generation. Going to and placing oneself in the epicenter is a solemn privilege that you as a creative should encourage.

“The world is going to pieces, and people like Biderman and Hill are photographing stars.”

– David George Brommer, December 2014.

I have shot a few demonstrations in my day. The first was a NORML rally at William Patterson College in NJ in the latish 80’s. The next would have been great anti-Iraq war protest that took place in 2003 in NYC. I rolled through the Occupy movement when it was in full force. I heard about the #MillionsMarchNYC from local channels, and put aside the time to go shoot it. Having watched the other protests, mainly the Ferguson and the SF/Oakland ones, I was a bit wary of getting caught up in a mele. I would be simply a citizen armed with a camera, and my opposing force would have truncheons, shields and tear gas. In the back of my mind a spot fear appeared. We all know what fear is right? It’s the mind killer! Mostly I feared getting gassed. I had seen the nasty canisters bouncing up to a CNN crew and the journalists all getting a good hit of it in Ferguson. I dug out my Israeli issue adult gas mask size three and stuffed it into a WW2 vintage ammo sling bag. Plan for the worst, hope for the best, and if worse happened, I could keep my vision intact and the cameras clicking.

When protesting, protest in Patagonia. Oy.

When protesting, protest in Patagonia. Oy.

Noon: Inspect the camera arsenal for today’s shoot. I go for the Sony RX10 because I want a telephoto lens to pick out faces and signs a distance away (24 to 200mm f2.8). It’s also weather proof and resilient, so it can take it if the environment gets crazy. I also grabbed my trusty Fujifilm Xpro1 and slapped on the 18mm f2.0. I picked the Xpro1 because it can take a hit, and the look and size of the 18mm (1.5x APS-C size sensor brings it to 28mm effective) would both perform, and fit in my bag. Instead of a camera bag I choose a vintage ww2 ammo satchel, because I like the way it melts to my body and it’s discrete while having an edge. Note, the bag does have a Domke insert to further pad the gear. I also stuffed my gas mask and a fresh filter in the bottom of the satchel. In this game the best offense is a good defense.

Israeli issue M15 gas mask and cartridge. Sony RX10 digital camera. Fujifilm Xpro1 with 18mm f2 lens. US issue WW2 ammo pouch.

Israeli issue M15 gas mask and cartridge. Sony RX10 digital camera. Fujifilm Xpro1 with 18mm f2 lens. US issue WW2 ammo pouch.

2 pm I parked the Vespa on Bleecker and Sullivan. Twitter images showed the masses of protesters thronging beneath the Arch where 5th Avenue meets Washington Square Park. Enter from the rear, so you can get an idea of dispositions of the crowds.

As you neared Washington Square park there was a constant buzz of helicopters. The eye in the sky never looks the other way.

As you neared Washington Square park there was a constant buzz of helicopters. The eye in the sky never looks the other way.

I wanted to capture the faces and signs. I wanted to show the disparity of the protesters, and what they were saying. Simple task.

All Lives Matter.

All Lives Matter.

As I walked further into the epicenter around the fountain I found the wide settings on the camera were taking most of it in. Standing up on bench I was able to zoom into details. The Sony RX10 has swing a out LCD screen, I used my height and tilting out of the screen so I could turn myself into a 8 foot tripod in this fashion. That gave me a sweet perspective on the throngs.

Get that monument in so you can readily arm the viewer with an accurate location.

Get that monument in so you can readily arm the viewer with an accurate location.

There was not a police presence inside the protest throng, except Parks Dept (protecting the trees from being climbed) and this interesting Police Captain from Philadelphia. I do have a regret, I noticed one Parks Dept Officer with a tonfa strapped to his belt. Interesting, but I didn’t feel like getting my lens smashed by it so I didn’t shoot him. I regret that now.

A Police Captain from the City of Brotherly Love.

A Police Captain from the City of Brotherly Love.

The protesters, while mixed with all races, were predominantly white.

Pockets of protesters could broadcast stories.

Pockets of protesters could broadcast stories.

6 pm Time to edit and archive shot images. I shot as jpegs and imported into Nik Silver EFX through Photoshop. Since the subject matter was heavy, I felt that I would add drama and impact by choosing a heavy process. I went to the Film Noir Preset #1 and then decreased the size of the grain 40% while pushing up the structure. I also minimized the spread of the digi-faux rebate edge.

Brommer is now going to discuss his feeling on racism. It might be time to click here for lighter subject matter.

My personal take on the issue at hand is that it’s something that has been brewing in this country since the 1800’s. Racism. It’s not always fair and it’s not easy to understand. It may very well resound in all of us, deep down, hidden and can bubble up in certain circumstances. Others make decisions and judgments based on race with little provocation and thought. I see color and race, I am a photographer and my job is to see. However, I do not let race, nor social standing effect the way I interact with the population. So while acutely aware of racial details and stereotypes the factor is nullified until you give me a reason to respond from your deeds and words. After all, we are all human. And I’ll treat you like a lady or gentleman as long as you are one. That’s how I roll. I’m ashamed when a racist thought runs through my head. My first best friend was Lamont Swain, we played together on the streets and playgrounds. I was a skinny little white kid, and Lamont was a skinny little black kid. R.I.P. Mont Mont, your friendship showed me in the end, we were just skinny kids.

In a perfect world you don’t get taken down so hard you die for selling illegal cigarettes. In a perfect world when you steal and you get caught you don’t resist arrest. In a perfect world the cops don’t have the right to use violent force unless being met with violent force that is un-arguable. In a perfect world a segment of the society was not enslaved and then after generations set free. In a perfect world all the children are taught to respect one another and know right from wrong. In a perfect world no one would take advantage over another. In a perfect world… is just a dream. 

~David

The New Star Wars is Going to Suck But We Will Go See It Anyway

The Legendary C3P0 and R2D2. These two droids have been through a lot.

The Legendary C3P0 and R2D2. These two droids have been through a lot.

I’m afraid of the new Star Wars trilogy. I feel sorry for the Millennials and the generation after them. They didn’t get to go see the Star Wars trilogy that my beloved Generation X got to grow up on. Millennials got Jar Jar Binks and a whiney teenage Anakin Skywalker. We got introduced to a new spin on the Arthurian based characters set in a space opera that took us to a galaxy far far away. They got over the top CGI to cover up horrible dialog and soulless characters. We got awesome lines to live by, such as, “Never Tell me the odds”, “Use the Force, Let Go” and the best line in movie history ever, “There is no try, there is only do or do not”. They got, “The people of Naboo are a peaceful people”. As great as Episode 4,5, and 6 was, Episode 1,2, and 3 were horrible. However, I paid out $$$ each time to see it in the theaters hoping against “A New Hope” that George Lucas would redeem himself and take me back to those awkward pre-teen years of 1977 a long long time ago. All the new episodes did were to make me appreciate the treat that seeing the originals were in theaters back when was I just a kid. For me, Star Wars proved to be both a moral compass and inspiration to dream, and dream big.

Rawwwwggghhhhhhh. Let me suggest a new strategy, let the wookie win.

Rawwwwggghhhhhhh. Let me suggest a new strategy, let the wookie win.

Like must of us, I watched the new trailer this holiday weekend. And yes, it has its moments and promises us the force will be with this new movie… but I got burned and I’m just as cynical now like Jawa under two suns at noon.

First trailer for Star Wars Ep. 7 "The Force Awakens".

First trailer for Star Wars Ep. 7 “The Force Awakens”.

So you might say, “what’s your problem? JJ Abrams is genius”. And that is my first problem. Mr. Abrams is not right for the job. My reason is simple; he is a Star Trek guy. There are two universes to consider, one takes place a long time ago and the other in 300 years. Never the two may cross. In Star Trek you have a Warp Drive, in the Star Wars you have a Hyper Drive. Phazers vs Lazers, Deflectors vs Shields, and all the other differences can be argued by geeks till blue in the face but one thing is certain, the look and feel of these sci-fi worlds are vastly different. Vulcans cannot mix with Wookies, Mr. Data can not play space chess with an Astro-Droid. But that is just it, JJ Abrams rebooted Star Trek and now he is going to reboot Star Wars? Too much power to wield from one director says I.

Two Bounty Hunters and Jabba's pit boss.

Two Bounty Hunters and Jabba’s pit boss.

I’m going to sum it up this way; JJ can bring the bling for sure. While I’m not a huge fan of what he did with Star Trek I’ll throw him a whompbat pie and say, OK he did pretty good. But that’s just it- pretty good. Star Wars deserves better than pretty good. It should epic. It should thrill you, and take you on a ride you have never been on before. This includes through Asteroid fields, artic plains, lush forests, mammoth space stations and of course, arid deserts where you farm moister. It shouldn’t look like perfect digital, it should look real, as in a sound stage on location. I want to feel the movie, feel it course through myself… oh wait… sorry I got lost in great Yoda wisdom from the Empire Strikes Back.

Two Jedi Masters. Judge me not by my size do you.

Two Jedi Masters. Judge me not by my size do you.

Here is the crux of my problem. Can he do this? It’s second to last scene in a New Hope- Episode 4. The whole movie has brought us to this one point, the smuggled plans that reveal the achilies heel of the most devastating object in the universe, the Death Star (hellooooo a frigg’in DEATH STAR!!!!!!!). The proverbial underdogs, the rebellion is going at it with vim and vigor, it’s a long shot but they are the good guys and if they can win the day, they save not only a planet, but end tyranny and evil on a grand scale. It comes all down to Luke as he pilots a hot rod of fighter through canyons of steel, lazers and enemy tie fighters led by the most evil character in movie history (besides Hanibal Lecter of course). The tension is palpable, he is so near his goal, to make a “one in a million shot” and start the chain reaction that will destroy the Death Star. It’s David vs. the Ultimate Goliath and he is turning off his computer and using the force to do it. Lord Vader is on his tail, has him in his sights and says, “I have you now…” when the prototypical cowboy-scoundrel-pirate flys out of the glare of a star in the Millennium Falcon and wings Vader’s mean tie fighter off into the void of space. Han Solo exhorts Luke to “You’re all clear kid now lets blow this thing and go home”. Luke takes exhales deeply and takes his shot… It’s perfect, you are in the X-Wing at that moment, you are Luke, and you are the hero of the rebellion for a moment. Your stomach twists and you pull up out of the Death Star’s canyon as the your proton bolts fly into a small exhaust hole and Luke-You destroy the ominous Death Star in a spectacular climax.

The Circle is now complete...

The Circle is now complete…

It’s 1977 and Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) do this with models and green screen. No CGI. It’s almost real. Han and Chewie have your back and it’s a perfect suspension of dis-belief.

Hammerhead. 'nuff said.

Hammerhead. ’nuff said. You might notice his eyes are soft, that’s because he was the first figure I photographed and had the lens on the RX10 set to 2.8. All the others were shot at f8. note to self, when doing macro, shoot stopped down!

Can Mr. JJ Abrams replicate this? Sadly, I don’t think so. I think the movie will be lost in pointless dialog and over the top effects that have no soul. I hope I’m wrong- I truly do, for the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.. oh wait, wrong movie.

Tie Fighter Pilot. So bad ass, they aren't even clones.

Tie Fighter Pilot. So bad ass, they aren’t even clones.

The images found on this post were shot in the portrait style I used for the Seattle Suspects. The figures are from my personal collection; each one was played with in back yards, friend’s rooms and construction sites. I photographed them with a Sony RX10 using one reflector and widow light. A sheet of 13×19 white satin paper was used as the back drop. I then ran the images through Nik Silver EFX to get them to look like my old Tech Pan process looked like. Contrasty and filled with detail.

studio set up

that's no moon.

that’s no moon.

~David “may the force be with you” Brommer

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