The American Prospect

The desktop version of this terrific article from The American Prospect features my concert photography. Amanda Teuscher's piece is fantastic -- I especially like the wariness of nostalgia, and how DC's scene instead centers on dealing with current issues and looking forward.

Screen capture from Pictured: DC's own Coup Sauvage and the Snips.

Screen capture from Pictured: DC's own Coup Sauvage and the Snips.

Many of the photos they chose to use happened to have been taken with my vintage Asahi Takumar 135mm f/3.5 lens. Copies in good condition will go on eBay for under $150. Mine is an M42 mount. It's quite compact for a 135mm, and the image quality can be very nice. Check out the sharpness on this shot of Katie Alice Greer of the (totally awesome) DC-based band Priests.

I love the stray hairs against the black background, as well as the black fur against the white background. Shutter: 1/40, f/3.5, ISO: 2000. I usually won't push the ISO anywhere near that high, but the venue was rather dark this band's movements are so frenetic that faster shutter speeds were needed!

I was happy with the inclusion of this Ian Svenoius shot, because it has a little bit of wordplay. As the article notes, the words "POPULAR LIBRARY" were behind the band. I wonder if readers will notice that I framed the shot so it says, "POPULAR LIE"?

I feel like Popular Lie would be a solid name for a punk band. This shot was also with the Asahi Takumar 135mm f/3.5 lens. Shutter: 1/60, f/3.5 (or close to that), ISO: 800.

Street Photography

Everyone loves a good street photo. Even viewers who have no interest in the artsy or experimental will, when seeing the right street shot, feel the vicarious thrill of being in the vibrancy of city life. And many photographers love going out and taking them.

But I'm not one of those photographers, because street photography, at least how it's thought of lately, could also be accurately called "Stranger Photography." I'm totally a fan of it when others do it, and it's perfectly legal to do here in America and most other countries, but I just don't have the right constitution for it. I'm cowardly when it comes to the idea of getting caught taking a stranger's photo on the sly, and then getting confronted about it. People do occasionally freak out in those situations, and who knows what dark motivations they might ascribe to me taking their photo. 

In my opinion the best way to handle such a confrontation would be to say, "Nothing personal. I'm just out trying to capture city life, and photographing as many people as I can." I'd also offer to delete the photo as a courtesy, but there's no obligation to do that.

All that said, I will take a stranger's photo if the context makes me very confident that they'd enjoy having it taken. Last Friday night I was walking down U Street here in DC when when two women started dancing to a singing, bicycle-riding street preacher. I felt pretty sure that none of them would mind a photographer's attention...

Zeiss 55mm f/1.8, wide open on the Sony a7ii.

Now and then a stranger will stop me and ask me to take their photo. Those people always make for great subjects, because they're never lacking confidence...

This just happened to be the corner where he stopped me, but I like the combo of warm foreground light and cool background light so much that I would return there for portraiture work.

Any city will also have its local celebrities of one sort or another, and they're usually enthusiastic subjects. The other day I was in DC's Meridian Hill Park, and George Whitlow was there with one of his bicycles that he's modified to blast music. He spends his free time spreading funk and soul music through DC.

He was cranking up Michael Jackson for the whole park to hear.

But other than those situations, I don't take photos of strangers' faces. That's just my personal choice - like I said, I'm still a fan of when others do it. For now I'll content myself with shots like the following, where I might catch a bit of the face over the shoulder.

Ilford 125 ISO film, Canon 7Ne SLR, and Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens, probably at f/1.2 or thereabouts. This on the Potomac River, with the Kennedy Center in the background.