5 Day Black & White Challenge – Day 4

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Day 4 – Minneapolis Cityscape 7th Street 1980s

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.


Halloween 2014

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Halloween is my favorite Holiday. From the start of its retail season in August, the items at Walgreens and my neighbor’s lawn decorations, I love it all. But I especially like the Trick or Treaters. The ones that come to my neighborhood are usually creative and stick to the spirit of Halloween. You know, traditional, scary Halloween themes. But they are always really cute.

This year it was very cold outside, about 30°. Most of the little monsters had to wear coats. These Trick or Treaters however, sported their costumes sans outer apparel, despite the temperature. I was impressed.


International Internet Cat Video Festival

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The Walker Art Center Hosted The International Internet Cat Video Festival.

The innargual festival was a phenomenon because nobody, including the Walker, knew how big it would become.  10,000+ attendees showed up, all seated on an adjacent hill to watch a competition of cat videos from thousands that were curated worldwide. 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.

Here are a few images I took.

Cat video crowd and screen
Cat video crowd and screen
Cat video attendee about to be interviewed
Cat video attendee about to be interviewed
Cat activity
Cat crowd
Cat Video Attendees
Cat Video Attendees
Cat Video Attendees
Cat Video Attendees
Cat Video Attendees
Cat Video Attendees


Cat Video Attendees
Cat Video Attendees



Instagram – From Coping to Mildly Liking It

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Instagram_Downtown_Bottles_1545 Instagram_Light_Patch Instagram_Frosty_Window Instagram_Downtown_1538 Instagram_Downtown_1536 Instagram_City_Reflection

Trying to Coexist With Instagram

Since starting this blog my feelings toward Instagram have evolved. I don’t want to say they have transformed because I still have some misgivings about the photo/video sharing platform. But since acquiring access to it, via an iPad, I have found the immediacy and spontaneousness of the experience offered me something I did not expect to like.

In the beginning I succumbed because so many of my friends use Instagram to give me and their followers a glimpse into their lives and activities in real time. This kind of immediacy creates a  transparency that can be disturbing and interesting at the same time. However, it also offers the possibility to artistically express a moment of time without divulging too much about one’s private thoughts. This is what I did not expect to like.

The Instagram camera, filters and controls are blunt tools for someone who has used conventional photography gear and software most of their life. There are enough tools to yield a variety of visual effects which can differentiate one person’s image making from others. Even so, a lot of the images I see posted via Instagram seem pretty similar.

The way a photographer can distinguish themselves from the rest of the Instagramers is in the choice of subject matter. For instance my choice of subject matter and eye for light differentiates me from many users who chronicle their daily lives and travels. I try to point the camera inwards to express a personal feeling even in the most unglamorous places, such as a corner in my home where light and shadow create a mood in abstract space. Or the odd place in the outside world where I find connectivity and can share on the spot. It is a phenomenon to me that I could be in a public space, pick up a wifi signal from somewhere and be able to transmit a personal, visual expression to people I know who live all over the world.

I am finding a way to use the platform to express myself and share my life without compromising my artistic principals.

As always, evolve and find a way to coexist.



I am Not a Street Shooter.

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Top: Rally For Trayvon Bottom; No More Names
Top: Rally For Trayvon Bottom: No More Names

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.


The View from My Studio Window

Posted 5 CommentsPosted in Street Shooting, Throwback



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.

Unexpected Encounters on a Typical Evening

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Two girls and a mule one evening on Silver Spring, Whitefish Bay Wisconsin
@Tom Corcoran 2013

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.