Guns Down, Books Up

Back in May of last year, I was trying to get a name out for my newly started B&M Photography (a company name that I have abandoned for the most part for the more personal Mike Wade Photography), and I wanted to shoot a charity event. It was at this time a flyer popped up around my day job of “Guns Down, Books Up” charity event happening in Greensboro. I called the organizer and it just so happened to be someone that works at the same place I do. I work at a big place, so we didn’t really have much interaction before this phone call. I expressed on the phone that I am a photographer and am looking to shoot the event at no cost, just to have my cards there. He said that was great and they didn’t have a photographer yet. I then asked what charity are they raising money for. He paused for a second and then said “We’re not asking for money, all of this is coming out of my pocket.” “Okay” I said, ” but I’m not talking about making a profit, I mean what cause are you bringing awareness to?”

This confused discussion lasted a few minutes. After I figured out it was just a neighborhood cookout/local street ball ‘tournament’ it was too late. At the beginning of the call, I stated that I wanted to shoot for his event. He was excited and happy that I called. I just am not the kind of person to say never mind, your event is not what I am looking for, even though I wanted to say that. I wanted to shoot for a serious charity with a cause, not a get together.

I hung up and was stuck committed to the job.

I got there on time, talked with the organizer, and started taking candid shoots of the people that were there, the food that was cooking at the time, wide shots of the party. I was getting all my bases covered because I knew I wasn’t going to stay long.

Shortly after I arrived, my mood started to change. The people that were there immediately warmed up to me, kids and adult alike. I was offered food and drink, constantly was asked if I needed anything, constantly thanked for shooting the event. Everyone was so friendly and in an awesome mood, it made me get in a great mood. It also helped that I was getting great pictures of the kids practicing for the tournament that was about to start.

They were just about to pick teams, when the rain started to come down unexpectedly. Everyone was scrambling to get inside.

No one’s spirits were effected. There was still laughs and fun to be had inside the club house that they held the event at. After many times asked and several people offering, I took this time to finally give in and eat a plate of the amazing food that they had brought/cooked. I might have been half done with the food that I was scarfing down when the rain stopped. The clouds parted, and as quickly as that storm came, it left. I finished the delicious barbecue and sides, picked my camera back up and started shooting again.

At one point a few police officers showed up. My first thought was someone had called the cops due to noise, being a grouch, or racism. They happened to be neighborhood friends with some of the event goers and invited to come by during their lunch. They ate, and hung out for a bit before leaving.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay to see which kid won the trophies seeing that the event was going on far longer then expected and I had other engagements.

All in all, it wasn’t what I expected going into it, though in hindsight, it was an amazing experience with some of the best strangers I have ever met. The vibe was nothing but having a good time with neighbors and they brought me into that circle, as a person behind a lens, and in turn, even though I was on a ‘job’, I was having a good time right there with them. Everyone had fun.

Well, almost everyone…

First Publication!

Am I famous yet?

No, no I’m not. Sure, the pictures are no work of art. It was midday when I shot them and all the light was so harsh. The article is not about the photos themselves, but to have photos that I’ve taken in a national magazine is a pretty cool feeling…before I realized a fatal mistake. Before that, let’s go back to the beginning;

In the summer of last year, I offered to take photos of a seeded metal detector hunt for a club that my father is in. It’s a fairly small club and they obviously never had a photographer on one of these hunts, so it was kind of a way to support my father and his interests without getting into metal detecting, which I have zero interest in.

After the hunt, I was asked by one of the writers for Western & Eastern Treasures that was at the hunt if he could use three photos that I took. I obliged, stating that my only request is that I receive a copy of the magazine when it’s published. Unfortunately, I did not request to be credited, a mistake that I will not make in the future. Who knew that if you don’t specifically state that you want to be credited for your work, you won’t?!

So, I sent said photos and…heard nothing. Summer turned to fall, fall turned to winter. In February, I emailed the writer asking if the photos were ever used. He stated that he was just a “stringer”, whatever that means, and that I would have to contact the editor about my request.

So, I did.

And heard nothing.

Last week I emailed yet once again and finally got a response with two pages in PDF form. Here’s the first one:

feb2019- (Page 16)

Other then the weird three stooges hack of a Photoshop at the top (I have no idea what that’s about), this page is all photos that I took, cropped, but apparently unedited. Great, looks good. Next:

feb2019- (Page 17)

Woah. Wait a minute. First, I only submitted three photos, and I don’t remember taking the bottom one. In fact, I know I didn’t because it’s obviously an unedited camera picture. Notice the awning in the background that’s tilted. The back lit shadowed faces.

And then I looked at the one that looks like a child or little person took. It didn’t look right. I would never sit down or kneel down to take a picture of someone that is standing up (unless I’m going for that overpowering effect). This one stumped me the most, because it was identical to the one I remember sending, save for the way it was shot.

So, I looked up the one I sent.

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Yeah, they didn’t use this one. Sad, really. This one is so much better. Though, now that I look at them side by side, I notice that, as that page in the magazine is, my photo would not fit in that crop. One or both of their bodies would be cut off.

So, what did I learn from this experience?

  1. Ask to be credited, or don’t give consent.
  2. Go into contract with any request, including the request to be credited.

Well, at the very least, I can say that I got two mediocre photos that I took in a national magazine. Yay me.

I’ll finish this up with a few photos from that hunt that I’m actually fond of. Enjoy.

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The Candid Stranger

Thanks for checking out my photography site. I’ll be getting this down to a process, but until then, I want to share a passion of mine; “Street Photography”.

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Probably the most fun I’ve had with a camera is when I’m taking candid photos of strangers doing everyday things. There’s many reasons that I love this type of photography over any other, but there’s one reason why I don’t do it as much as I would like.

One reason why I love candid street photography is that… well, it’s candid. There is something sterile and fake about shooting a portrait session and everyone smiles for the camera. No matter what mood we are in or what is going on in our lives, we find ourselves in front of a lens and all of a sudden there’s a fake smile. No emotion. The photo doesn’t document what is happening at that point of time in their lives. Just smiling for the camera. A candid photo takes that front away. What you’re left with is the raw emotion of what is going on in that millisecond of time, captures it, and stores it forever.

The photo is also much more interesting if the subjects are doing everyday things. Ordering a cup of coffee. Hailing a cab. Walking to work. Standing in line for a concert or waiting for the band to come up on stage. These are all situations that we find our selves in and don’t think that it would make a good picture (other then taking pictures of your Starbucks lattes for Instagram), if they are taken from outside the box, by a stranger that is not trying to get them to notice the camera, you get organic shots that show the humanity of the people you are capturing. It shows the period of time that they are living in, and how they are living.

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 There is a sort of voyeuristic gratification that comes with street photography. Not in a creepy way (although people will sometimes think it is. More on that later), but in a “people watching” kind of way. I have always been a people watcher. Even as a kid, I would wonder what a certain person’s life was like. Was it so much different then mine? What are they going to do right now? How are they feeling and do they feel the same way as me? There are 6 billion people on this earth, and every single life is as unique and interesting as my own, most of the time more so.

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Now, there is one flaring downside of street photography: People, for the most part, do not like their picture taken by strangers. This is the sole reason that I do not go out every weekend to try to capture beautiful moments. I do not like confrontation, and the best way to find it is to do something that brings attention to you that you are singling out someone by taking their picture. There are many reasons why people are like this. Whether they feel insecure about their picture being taken or they feel that it infringes on their rights (public places it is totally legal in the United States), there will be at the very least, dirty looks after you snap that picture. I have not gotten approached as of yet, though I have gotten a lot of looks and one bicycle taxi driver to complain very loudly to his customers. It did make for a good photo though.

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All in all, street photography is a great time, and I plan on going out soon to hit the streets again to capture some great moments of beautiful people that I will never meet.

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