Between 1983 and 1986 I had a studio in downtown Minneapolis. I was a stone’s throw from the night club First Avenue. From my window I could see the intersection of 7th street and 1st Ave. I also got great light in my studio from the reflective buildings as the sun would set. It was pretty dramatic sometimes.
This is a view looking South-Eastward down 7th street to Hennepin Ave. – into the heart of downtown.
At the time I had a Nikon F3. This was on Plus-X and I metered for the bright spot of the IDS to get a dramatic shadowy effect.
August 14 was the Third Annual Internet Cat Video Festival hosted by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
The frist year was a phenomenon because nobody, including the Walker, knew how big it would become. That year saw 10,000+ attendees all seated on a hill to watch a sampling of cat videos from thousands that were curated. The festival made national news.
The next year was held at the Minnesota State Fair. Grumpy cat even made an appearance.
This year the festival returned to the Walker and as in the first year about 10,000 people attended donning cat regalia.
Having a studio in downtown Minneapolis during the 90s sure had it’s historic moments. My studio at the time was in the Butler North building, 1/2 block away from the Target Center (it was being built during my first year in that studio). There was a lot of urban development going on between new buildings and remodeled older ones. One of the big changes was a so-called blighted block (Block E) was slated to be razed and re-developed. It took almost a decade to get it even razed. Then development took another good part of a decade. There was an historic theater on that block, The Shubert Theater.
The theater was moved from it’s spot on Block E to the next block north on Hennepin Ave. The story of the theater and how it was moved can be found here. Another earlier view of the Shubert from my first studio can be found here.
I had moved out of my studio when the Shubert was moved but I was downtown a lot for business and my daughter’s ballet classes at Minnesota Dance Theater. I got to capture this shot of my daughter with the Shubert in the process of being prepared for what turned out to be the first relocation of a building of this size in history.
Lately I have been flexing my photography muscles by reducing the equipment I use to do photo shoots. I am finding that practicing street shooting helps me how I approach other shoots. It also has helped to expand my vision.
This summer offered numerous opportunities for taking interesting photos at events. I went to two that I thought would challenge me. The first one was a rally for Trayvon Martin two days after George Zimmerman was acquitted.
Armed with only a camera and speedlight, I ventured downtown to the government center where the rally was held. I won’t say I was scared or intimidated but I was apprehensive about being there and about the quality of my equipment. I have an older digital camera and I was unsure about how well it would handle the low light.
I felt out of place at first because I was still getting comfortable with street shooting and photographing people I did not know in public. I found that everyone that attended the rally either did not notice me or wanted to be photographed. I think photographing at the rally was giving voice to those who felt they had little or none. After I realized this I relaxed a little and played my role as documentary photographer.
The second rally was the anti gun violence rally called No More Names at the Federal Courthouse. There were speakers that travelled across the country to visit about 25 cities and hold this event. Some gun rights supporters also attended the rally as a show of support for gun rights advocates.
This being my second time photographing at a rally I felt more comfortable but still felt out of my element. There were almost as many photographers and videographers than attendees. So I tried to blend in.
These two experiences helped me to feel ore comfortable photographing people in public and to know my basic camera gear better. I still don’t consider myself to be a street shooter but I plan to do a lot more of it.
Glenwood Avenue in Minneapolis hosted my first professional studio. The building’s number was 14 ½, which sounds magical nowadays, and was nestled on a corner of downtown that boasted storefronts whose vibrant history had faded long before I took up residence. My studio was on the second floor in the middle of the block. The first floor storefronts were only ever partially rented, with a Chinese restaurant, a massage parlor (Hanako’s Sauna) and a hat shop. The rest of the stores were vacant, and the block looked a bit blighted. However, from my studio window one could see a bustling corner of the city. This view is and was the South West corner of Block E, at First Avenue and Seventh Street. On the right side of this photo is the Schubert Theater which has now been moved to Hennepin Avenue. Other than the First Avenue night club (not in the photo), none of the buildings exist anymore. They were razed to build the Target Arena and kick off the development of Block E.
While walking on Silver Spring Drive in my hometown of Milwaukee, Whitefish Bay, to be exact, I saw what I thought to be very large dog. What really puzzled me was someone was riding on it. Also there seemed to be a long, horse-like tail. Now, I have seen dogs big enough to carry a child but this scene had a different scale to it. I walked faster and found two young women walking a mule.
They told me that it was to be used at their church for Palm Sunday and that it came from one of the girl’s grandfather’s farm. I assume they were taking the creature for much needed fresh air and relief like so many dog walkers. Only this walk had an added effect for anyone who encountered the group, like me.
Take-away from this? It was a cold day and I decided to take a walk with my camera. I could have chosen to be warm and stay home. If did I would not have seen a mule on Silver Spring Dr. Whenever you decide to take a walk I recommend that you bring a camera. You never know.
For the sake of decorum and privacy, I did not get the names of the young women. I hope they will see this post and contact me for a copy of the photo.
What do photography, wine and ping-pong have in common? Last Saturday, Oct 13th, they all converged at the opening of the 4th annual Wing Young Hiue Salon Photo Show.
Wing is a photographer in the Twin Cities who hosts a monthly photography salon.
Wing documents “the dizzying socioeconomic and cultural realities of American society, much of it centered on the urban cores of his home state of Minnesota. He creates up-to-the-minute societal mirrors of who we are, seeking to reveal not only what is hidden, but also what is plainly visible and seldom noticed.” His work can be seen http://www.wingyounghuie.com.
There are approximately 30+ members of the Salon from varying photographic backgrounds. For the last 4 Years the salon has held an annual show of the member’s works. This year 19 members showed their images, all relating to their participation in the salon. The opening was well attended and after wards a ping-pong table was brought out and table tennis madness ensued till late at night.
The entire show can be seen online at sites.google.com/site/2012wingyounghuiesalon
I showed two images from my current on-going project of urban landscapes or cityscapes. These two images are good examples of a very different approach to photographing than I have been doing for years. It requires that I work with less equipment and carry my camera almost everywhere I go. I don’t chase the light like a lot of landscape photographers do. I mostly stumble upon a scene where the light is dramatic.
My favorite time to shoot is in the evening when the sun is low in the sky or at dusk. Sometimes the light is strong and dramatic which highlights the intensity of a location. It can give drama to a place that most people would walk by and not think about twice. Other times the play of light is so unusual that it seems un-natural. I often look for places where the light bounces off one building to the other which create a menagerie of cris-crossing light.
The sidewalk image is a good example of my stumbling. It’s the type of opportunity I find suddenly and I have to decide to stop and capture the image.
The Pedal Pub photo is a real departure for me because my preferred way of working is to take some time before tripping the shutter in order to try and capture the pathos of the moment. I was experimenting with the program setting on my camera so that I did not have to think about exposure and could concentrate on the fleeting moment. It was a steamy hot evening in June on Nicollet Mall. The setting sunlight was bouncing off of all the glass buildings creating cris-cross light and shadow. I was scanning the place for any opportunity when the Pedal Pub rolled by. The moment happened so fast I barely remember taking the picture.
Cityscapes, or what I call the urban landscape, is a departure from what I usually photograph, which is people. I have been experimenting with portraits in natural light but with a studio feel. This kind of shooting required that I work with less (equipment) and work within the constraints of being lightweight and simple set of photo gear.
This led me to an interest in photographing the urban landscape. For me, this subject matter ranges from wide shots of many tall buildings to the close up drama or banality of a street corner. I try to capture the pathos of the location and the moment.