Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Category: Brommer Projects

NYC for Beto Phone Bank 3 Days Before the Mid-Terms

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I’m lucky to engage in many interests and am part of a community to each one. They are varied, and one of them, paintball, tends to sway to the political right side, the other, table top war-gaming, swings left. I wont get into the nuances of each, suffice to say I am passionate about each activity, and my social media reflects it. I hear from the right views and I hear from the left. Like most of us, I tend to shout on social media because of the polarizing politics of post 911 America. Those who either regurgitate (re-post memes), spew, pulpit (virtue signalling), express, state, and declare tend to do it in an echo chamber of like minded people.  I’m guilty of that, and I’m proud to state that due to interests listed above, I have followers from both sides, so occasionally a good dialog occurs.

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That being said, I am keenly aware that stating your political views on social media may be cathartic, but it really isn’t changing anything. After two years of Trump America, I decided I’d be more involved. Summer of 2018 I discovered a Gen X Texas Congressman who was running for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat, Beto O’Rourke. Ironically I got turned onto Beto by following an article about how Cruz’s campaign sought to demean Beto by posting shots of him when he was playing in a post punk Grunge band and the pics went viral because apparently Beto was hot. I fell down an internet rabbit hole of Beto and learned quite a bit about him. He’s a Texan, I agreed with his platform and the way he expressed himself. I felt a kindred spirit in Beto and shared as much on Social Media. I spread the word, but wanted to do more. My “politik” friend, Justin Heyman and I had long talks. He is a more experienced activist than I, and outlined what could be done; mailing post cards to swing voters in Texas, donating to campaigns, and phone banking.

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I committed to all three and am a Beto backer in earnest. I joined a phone bank taking place in a Chelsea design studio, Stonestreet Studios. When I confirmed for the phone bank the option to post on Face Book was offered, my feed motivated two others to attend.

Justin exclaimed, “Democracy is contagious”.

 

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The phone bank experience was euphoric, instead of screaming into a contained cyber space, you are directly connecting with real people whose votes matter to advance an individual you believe in. This particular phone bank was located 5 blocks from my home, and took place from 5 pm to 8 pm. Three hours given to democracy is a meager sacrifice in any estimation, but sometimes actions can snowball into something far larger. On this gambit I set off as instructed, a MacBook air and iPhone in hand. I emerged out of an elevator into a working studio filled with young women, young gay men, and the heady air of hope. We introduced ourselves by stating our names and why we were here. The women where concerned about the right for them to receive healthcare and governance over their bodies. The gay men worried over the homophobic tone of national conversation.  I smelled a little fear on a few, but overall the tone was of warriors out for blood and ready to battle. Ted Cruz was detested unanimously and everyone knew what was at stake,

Beto had narrowed the gap and Texas may very well turn blue.

Victory was in sight, but not in hand. The hosts who lead the phone bank explained as much, backed up by being in Texas the week before canvassing. There was an excitement in the air as the process was laid out for us.

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This night would prove to be “throw your jacket down on the ground democracy”. We packed couches, crevices, desks and studio floors to make calls.

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A script we were told to follow (it was known that you could deviate wording as your confidence in the message grew) that essentially started off as informing the Texan recipient that there is an election on Nov 6th and could Beto count on them to vote for him. Upon a confirmation you would then go into determining from them a plan to vote. How would you get to the polls? Before work, or after work? you know, “the polls are only open from 7am to 7 pm”. One of my 50 calls that night I connected with a woman who didn’t know her polling location. I took her address, located her polling location on line then asked her to get a pen and paper and write it down. Right down to which door to enter. Then you end with asking for a promise to vote. The word of a Texan is no small thing, it is important that Beto supporters actually do vote and posing this question has a positive impact on participation. Rosie the event organizing explained that.

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The calling element was quite interesting from a technology standpoint. Integrating your mobile phone and an online interface you followed a flow chart of canvassing and recording outcomes. One dial in with an id and you stay connected as you follow a registered voter sample. In two hours I “called” about 50 numbers and spoke to about 15 who had pre-voted Beto, 15 answering machines (you just hung up and logged as a call back), 5 times chatting with spouses or relations and securing their support, 5 hang ups (Texans are polite what can I say?) 7 wrong numbers, and 3 voting plans. Those last three were the golden ticket you hoped to find in your effort. That’s where you make a difference. One gentleman named Thomas I spoke with was an 84 year old who said he’d vote “for that Beto, he seemed a good honest guy”. I went over the address of the polling location, he waited to till I finished then declared, “Yea I know where it is, I’m gonna walk on over”. He was sweet and it was an honor to connect with Tom from Texas.

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The UX of the system was more or less stable, but had an uncomfortable lag that you have to adjust to. Overall I was impressed with the tech. It could identify if the sample had voted in 2016. It worked best with head phones and embellishing your script with enthusiasm increased by how familiar you became with the process. A lovely Spanish speaking woman shared the couch I was calling on. She was extra valuable to the movement as she spoke fluent Spanish and hearing her canvas in soft fluid Spanish was invigorating. My friend Justin and his wife Nadine were diligent as well. Everyone had a laptop perched on their laps and a phone gripped tight in hand. There were sandwiches, cookies and an engaged atmosphere. Will Beto win big on Tuesday? That I cannot say, but I’ll say thirty people spending a Saturday night before the big election in NYC who were calling Texans and doing something proactive and proven to aid Beto’s victory.

It was a lovely feeling and an honor to state, “Hi, my name is David and I’m a volunteer for Beto O’Rourke’s Senate Campaign”.

 

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If you are a patriot, and passionate about your feelings being an American and want to do more, I suggest visiting the website of your candidate and learning how you can volunteer and make an actual difference.

To learn more about Beto for Texas click here.

All images made with an iPhone Xs Max and processed in Snapseed.

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I Just Shot the Best Photograph I Have Taken In Many Years.

Hey Sailors

Sailors in Central Park

 

Last Sunday afternoon, I shot the best photograph I have taken in many years.

That statement will depend upon the beholder, but in my not-so-humble opinion it is acurate. I’m actually not proud of that because it was so easy to execute on first glance, but was it really? Also I live up to my earlier work, which this is not, but then again, it is. If I sound confused, I’m sorry. What I really am, is amazed. Amazed that I saw this, at that the right moment, and executed it properly, perhaps even perfectly.

This image is complex, lots of things are happening and the light is just right. The composition evolved into the perfection it is. The subjects, 3 sailors along a fence and a buff guy with no shirt emerging from a field.

I love it because it’s homo hot, yea, I went there and said that. At the core of my work I want to challenge viewers and take them to dark places inside themselves and let them shine light inside themselves. For the past several years my work has been very academic, but with this image, I feel I have reached back to my roots and mission. To be clear, I don’t want my work to make you feel uncomfortable, I want it to turn you on and question what makes you uncomfortable because you got turned on.

I also love it because I have learned so much. Pierre et Gilles are terrific influences on me, albeit in color photography. Those two bring homo eroticism to the forefront, but other influences are present too. The work of my friend and mentor, the late Len Spier. Len’s work is super spontaneous, black and white, and instantly classic. Mel DiGiacomo distills lessons about being ready, searching with your eyes to find quirk in everyday life. Both of them are black and white shooters, I have sworn off color for over two years now (I only miss it occasionally).

It would seem that every lesson I have learned is present in this image. I turned a corner in Central Park around 6 pm and found my decisive moment. Immediately moving into position and pulling out the only camera I had with me, my iPhone 6. I turned it on, and swiped left to bring up the camera mode. Meanwhile the Frisbee players in the field overshot and the disc landed right of the sailors. One bent down to pick it up. There were four, now there were three. The picture was happening really fast, the moment was almost lost. I leaned out with my right hand, and took two shots in a row. I didn’t have time to solve the change in composition the fourth sailor made by leaving the frame. I was afraid the entire dynamic of the scene would be lost. It wasn’t. My quick composition was enough. I captured it. But I thought it was lost, because I would have to crop the fourth. A day later, I reviewed it and started to notice while I lost the fourth sailor/subject, I gained the frisbee player. And he was hot and shirtless. A small post crop would remove the fourth and the frisbee would become a circular element that sailors and players alike seems to be looking at. The errant frisbee gave direction to the image. It would seem that afternoon in the park, the photo gods smiled upon me.

Photo nirvana occurred. You might agree or disagree with me. It doesn’t happen often. But when it does, it reminds me why I’m riding this horse called photography.

Sailors "Raw"

The unedited version from iPhone 6.

Here is the original image, and the snapseed processed version.

Sailors in central park

Edited in Snapseed.

The above image was processed in Nik Silver Efx. I wish I had had my Fujifilm XPro2 with me, but I didn’t want to be burdened. I’m thankful for the iPhone. What’s the best camera? You know the answer to that.

~David

Ed Brommer & Bradley Beach in Film

This year I decided that I wanted to continue my work photographing Day of the Dead in Mexico. I had first visited and photographed the holiday in 2013. I used the Fujifilm Xpro1 and have a blog post of the work you can find here. I was quite pleased with the work, but had been recently influenced by Rodney Smith and Paul Caponigro to shoot film. I hadn’t shot with my Hasselblad 501 in years, so I thought this would be a good reemergence as such.

I decided to test it out and see about how I would pack it. I’m extremely retentive when it comes to packing for travel. It’s the back packer in me. I first grabbed the Think Tank Speed Racer bag that is preferred by National Geographic field photographers. They know something about travel right?

I packed a Hassy 501 with 50 f4, 80 2.8, 150 F 4 Zeiss glass. One 120 back and a roll of Tri-X to photograph two subjects, my Father and Bradley Beach.

My father is 91 and is a survivor. He outlived all his friends, co-workers, siblings (and their husbands) and one wife. Ed loves his cars. He picks them out carefully, and all through my life, he had cool cars. I asked him to stand in beautiful light in his garage, with his latest prize, a loaded Buick LaCrosse. He had the vanity plate since the 80’s. I gave him the Seahawks sweat shirt back in ’94. He still wears it.

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Ed Brommer in his garage, fall 2016 New Jersey

I used the 80 mm 2.8 Distagon with Tri-X rated at 320. Meter reading was taken below Dad’s chin. 250th of a second f 4.0. Cha-Click-Unk.

I spent my summers in Bradley Beach as little kid in the 1970’s. It had a great influence on me, and when i return to Bradley I always get a tear or two in my eye from the sweet memories. This snapshot is the fountain on the board walk at LaReine and Ocean Avenue. All my life, I have seen this classic Jersey Shore fountain.

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Fountain, Bradley Beach, New Jersey.

I enjoyed making these images but what I learned was that the kit would be way too heavy. The Speed Racer bag is made for DSLR with a long zoom lens, while I could pack it nicely, the weight of that glass, especially the 50 and 150 was just prohibitive. The second problem I had with the film workflow, was the cost. I dropped off the roll of film to CRC on 22nd Street. They offer three levels of scans, 2.5 mb scans + processing would be $16.00. I know from experience, never ever get the low grade scan. The next was 15 mb for $30.00 per roll. Whoa, way to costly for me.

 

So I decided to pack my Fujifilm Xpro 1 and a few lightweight easy lenses and roll with that in Mexico. At least I got to make these two cool shots and dust off the Hassy. I still love that sound and dig the grain from the Tri-X.

Work from Day of the Dead 2016 will be posted soon. I took a year off the blog to see if it would change anything. The only thing it did was keep me off the screen and outside more.

~David

 

 

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.

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

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 Story Behind 10 Hours Walking in NYC as a Goth Viral Video

Portrait of Paradox shot with RX10 at 180mm 2.8 jpg and processed in Snapseed

Portrait of Paradox shot with RX10 at 180mm 2.8 jpg and processed in Snapseed

My first foray into video started off as a parody of sorts, but then it got serious as I delved deeper into the project and realized I could offer a commentary on what fringe persona have to deal with on a daily basis. I invite you to watch 10 Hours Walking in NYC as a Goth before reading the rest of this blog post, you’ll laugh and the whole thing will make more sense!

Click to watch video

sleep in a coffin

In early November a video was released on Youtube called, “10 Hours Walking in NYC as a Woman” which secretly video documented a simply dressed woman as she silently made her way about NYC and received catcalls left and right. The elements of the 10 Hours video are particular. The subject does not speak; they are “silent walking” and no matter how much they are intimidated they don’t respond. Subtitles are given for the catcalls they receive, and these subtitle float along at the bottom of the screen as the subject walks. A person also joins them and walks beside them for a prolonged period, and the subtitle keeps a tab on that time. The 10 Hours Walking as a Woman is actually quite a good piece of film making due to its stylistic choices. Proof of it being so good is the viral exposure it has garnered, over 36 million views!

woman

Ten Hours Walking as a Woman was created Rob Bliss, who runs his own viral video marketing agency. Bliss partnered with Hollaback, an advocacy group dedicated to ending street harassment. If you are interested in more of the original story behind the video the Washington Post has a great article about it here.

What got me were the parody videos that appeared after the original. Three in particular inspired me to make my own, the first was 10 Hours Walking in NYC as Jew, which is super hilarious. If you don’t get the joke, let me explain- Jews normally aren’t missionary, but a particular sect, the Lubavitch, or Chabab Jews get extra points for bringing a way ward Jew back into the fold. So in NYC, if you look even remotely Jewish, they accost you and try to get you to pray. It’s pretty indimic and I have been accosted by these particular jews many times over the years. Blame it on my big nose I guess. The other funny ones are; 10 Hours Walking in NYC as Princess Leia, as a white male, as a jets fan…  it goes on. They got to me and I figured it would be great subject matter to make a short video with. I had to try! (Note: the Princess Leia one is extremely funny in a nerdy way)

starwars

For the gear, I was currently testing a Sony RX10 for a B&H project and this camera, aside from an awesome still camera, shoots incredible video as well. Now I’m so not a video guy but I like a good challenge so I figured this was the opportunity to test the camera. I slapped on a Rode Video Mic ‘cause the built in mic is lame. The stabilizer in the Sony RX10 is superb, so no need for steady cam was called for, and also, I wanted a little bump and jump to give it that renegade look. I had my lifelong friend and Suspect assistant Joe Asaro guide me as I walked backwards in front of Paradox. The excellent Rode mic picked up her footsteps perfect, and since it was facing forward, didn’t pick up my steps (which I was worried about, walking backwards gives you a heavy step).

The opening scene starts with the walker adjusting the lens. I love Paradox's "Marilyn Manson" eyes in this scene.

The opening scene starts with the walker adjusting the lens. I love Paradox’s “Marilyn Manson” eyes in this scene.

 

While the original was spontaneous I knew Paradox would get little attention in the East Village where I wanted to film. So I went on line to the facebook group, “Goth after 30” and polled the elder Goths catcalls they have heard over the years. I edited together these comments and built a script. To parody the guy who walks beside the woman in the original 10 Hours vid (Shoshanna Roberts) I wanted something sort of outrageous so I bought a Priest shirt at the Halloween Adventure Store for $15 bux and caste the perfect “Priest”, NYC underground actor Joe Freedom. The idea for the “Jesus Saves” comment was made up on the spot, but I feel it worked out perfect. Notice the (13 minutes) line, the whole video has small subtexts that fit goth humor perfectly. Event the last title states, “666 comments were made”, that’s goth humor at its best.

Priest

One of the stars for sure is my Mother-in-law Elvira. She is a sweet little lady from Milan and needed a bit of coaxing to be the freak with the crucifix. I figured with her diminutive size and black clad look she could pull off the scene comically and with aplomb. In the editing phase I had to make her appearance with a fast cut because she looked to Barbara, her daughter and my wife right after “accosting” Paradox. I think the fast cut is hilarious and gets the point across perfectly. Almost all of the scenes were done in one take.

Elvira

Speaking of comedy I wanted to interject something very goth culture like, and the dominant factor that brings all gothdom together is music and dance. Paradox had asked if she could bring a some friends along, and I immediately conceived of the scene outside of the Gothic Renaissance (notice the gargoyle?) store. It would be a fast dance scene complete with old skool boom box. Joe A. schlepped in his boom box and I recruited the one and only William of New Goth City fame to be the boom box operator during the scene. The music is a youtube approved goth sound track that really worked. I only wanted them to dance for a few seconds but what got me was Paradox’s perfect sashay. She sums it up in haste, and as fast as it begins, an unscripted pedestrian walks through the scene, then it’s over and Paradox continues her silent walk.

dance scene

The video took about 3 hours to shoot. It was cold, I was layered up, and Paradox was a super trooper for enduring the scenes only wearing a skirt, corset and light top. William stood vigilant over the gear as we shot, and I trusted Joe to guide me as I walked backwards and faced Paradox as she strolled along, umbrella in hand and getting harassed left and right. Albeit a scripted harassment, half of the harassers were recruited right on the street, the other half I arranged to meet up at points along 2nd Avenue. We ticked off the best comments and gave the lines out the strangers that we recruited. The shoot went off perfect. It was tons of fun and Paradox really rocked it. All that was left was to edit the footage and that was the part I feared most.

BTS shot by Joe Asaro with iPhone

BTS shot by Joe Asaro with iPhone

I started off working with Apple’s iMovie but it turned out that soft ware was not up to the task. You couldn’t add the text in the live video, and I needed that to pay proper homage to the original with the subtitling of the catcalls. I downloaded the trial of Adobe Premier and rolled up my sleeves and had at it. I haven’t learnt new software in ages but with in 5 hours, had it cut and ready to go. After spending 5 hours looking pretty much at Paradox’s face and those eyes (double contacts if you were wondering) to say I didn’t have a bit of a goth crush would be a lie. Premier was easier to figure out than I feared and dare I say, I kinda like editing now. I look forward to my next project to edit.

Before we began, I busted out my Deardorff 8x10 with Kodak 14" lens and made two exposures with Berrger BPF200. Yup, I'm the kind of guy who shows up to shoot film still with a wooden 8x10 camera. Truth is, the Paul Strand retrospective at the Philly Museum of Art I had just scene inspired me and with a great model at your disposal such as Paradox, you gotta make the most of the collaboration.

Before we began, I busted out my Deardorff 8×10 with Kodak 14″ lens and made two exposures with Berrger BPF200. Yup, I’m the kind of guy who shows up to shoot film stills with a wooden 8×10 camera. Truth is, the Paul Strand retrospective at the Philly Museum of Art I had just seen inspired me and with a great model at your disposal such as Paradox, you gotta make the most of the collaboration. I hope to print these in cyanotype soon.

One thing that surprisingly manifested itself as this project unfolded, while the whole film was scripted and started as a parody, it rang true. Paradox and her ilk do indeed endure catcalls. So while it is funny, and was inspired by a straight up girl doing the silent walk, there is a substantial statement about society and those who walk the margins have to endure. This video does make a statement, and while catcalling any woman is un-gentleman like, the same applies to woman, boys or anyone who expresses themselves in a flashy, punk, drag, or gothic manner. Regarding the original, it has also caused some controversy. The video states that she was catcalled by all ethnic backgrounds, however the video seems to show only latinos and blacks. Where are the white men? I’m not going to comment further, but would like the viewers question this aspect and draw their own conclusions. Also, Shoshana B. Roberts is now receiving rape threats as a response to the original video. Humanity can be disappointing in all its forms.

Please help the cause and share the video! Thank you,

 

~David

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