On A Lighter Note…

I took a break the other day from my event photography processing and played around with some landscape images. I then posted about my “time out”.

Shortly after that, I saw on FB that the next workshop for The Mindful Eye was in Big Bend National Park. An amazing place in its own right but I also remember the old mining town of Terlingua was full of colorful characters too. I remember grabbing a few images of that “color”.

That thought took me back down memory lane. I so very often enjoy catching the odd image and colorful characters and then (thanks to the fact that Craig Tanner has a sense of humor too) I have had the opportunity to throw in a couple of the images in the critiques for a little comic relief.

So, back into the workshop folders for another afternoon break while I wait for the lab to process my recent Mitzvahs.

What follow are some of the “out-takes” from my journey over the last few years. Tried to include some of the back-story too. Hope it inspires you to be a little irreverent too; to look for the out-take; to meet some of the “colorful” characters you might bump into….

It’s fun to grab a quick shot of photographers being photographers. The top image is from Yellowstone–how many photogs can crowd around a moose?? The bottom is from Death Valley-called tripods are for sissies!!

Photographer Stephen Milano

I am definitely not the shy retiring type! I approach virtually everyone. These are my “Harley girlfriends” I met in the Valley of Fire outside Vegas prior to a Death Valley workshop. They were in town for a Nascar weekend from Chicago and, being winter there, hadn’t ridden in awhile so rented a couple of bikes to see some of the sites. Wonder what Mom would have thought if i had brought a Harley girlfriend home???

Photographer Stephen Milano

Speaking of Big Bend–went there too. One of the assignments was to create a “story” about Big Bend. so being the irreverent SOB that I can be these were my opening and closing slides

Photographer Stephen Milano

Sometimes with a little persuasion you can get the model to do an outrageous spoof on things

Photographer Stephen Milano

Sometimes the eye catches an interesting and odd site to stand in stark contrast to an iconic image–everyone has a old farm house from Mormon Row in Tetons but how many wander down the road and find their outhouse–kind of iconic too – - don’t you think???

Photographer Stephen Milano

Then there’s the odd tourist doing odd things in the road but kind enough to let me catch it too…of, course (irreverent remember) Josh, Stacey, and I had to recreate it…I called my version 3 Amigos; Catherine, a workshop participant, preferred to call it “3 knuckleheads”

Photographer Stephen Milano

A self portrait is often an assignment at these workshops–one morning in Death Valley, Josh, Stacey and I simply “lost it” after a couple of hours in a blinding sand storm in the dunes-then remembered we still had to do the self portrait–’nough said!!!

Photographer Stephen Milano

occasionally things get completely out of control–Savannah–Bryan decides we need a “girl in a red dress” for a “pre-visualized” shot from a classically tiled men’s room–Jessi was game–pounced on an unsuspecting tourist; convinced her and the guy (turned out to be her son-in-law. Kind of weird!!!)…amazing

Photographer Stephen Milano

speaking of iconic images–Oxbow Bend in the Tetons draws a crowd-better get there early and stick the tripod in the holes of other photographers that have gone before you

Photographer Stephen Milano

of course, started by talking about Terlingua

Photographer Stephen Milano

finally, even Craig Tanner stumbles into the mix–great sense of humor–as did the Savannah police force–everyone enjoyed the show

Photographer Stephen Milano

hope these provided a laugh or two; maybe some inspiration to look around

have a great weekend

The Journey Begins – Grand Teton

For my very first post, I wrote about the “journey” -ie- transitioning from Wall Street to sabbatical to Atlanta photographer. The other day, I was catching up on some Daily Critiques from my good friends at The Mindful Eye. Craig Tanner had commented on some images from a recently completed Grand Teton National Park workshop.

Wow!! Where had the time gone?? Grand Teton is one of my favorite National Parks for a lot of reasons-the history of the place; the rugged landscape; the animals. I also like how approachable it all is from a very nice town-Jackson. You got to love time in the mountains followed by a dinner at Snake River Grill!!

But–it is really about the scenery!! Grand Teton National Park is one of the most recognizable mountain landscapes in the world. Iconic images (aka-”mature subjects”) seem to be everywhere you turn. It is a spectacular landscape with incredible mountains, beautiful lakes and an extraordinary variety of wildlife. The jagged Teton Range overlooks the valley floor covered with sage. The Snake River flows south through the park and provides an amazing waterway in the national park. It’s no wonder the park attracts nearly four million visitors per year.

It was in the Tetons, in September 2007, where I joined Craig Tanner and company on the first of what would be many workshops in some amazing places. I actually spent a total of 2 weeks there photographing amazing wildlife and all of Grand Teton’s classic locations — Schwabacher Landing, the Mormon Barns, Oxbow Bend, as well as many other stunning locations. If you ever wanted an outstanding landscape experience then check out Craig’s photography workshops.

But I digress…where did the time go??? It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years!! It was an amazing experience and as I listened to Craig comment on this years workshop, I realized after a couple of weeks of Atlanta event photography, I was ready to “play” and take a break-head down memory lane for awhile. Stop and smell the…sage. So, back into the folder from the workshop…

I do mean “play” in post processing: how about a pano (or two), maybe a B&W version; a little bit of HDR; what if I took the HDR to B&W. What about that thunderstorm image that led to the rainbow picture I had critiqued at the workshop that I had never processed….

Play time was just what I needed late yesterday afternoon…OK…now back to work…hope you like…

Larry’s Bar Mitzvah

This past weekend found me photographing another Atlanta “Mitzvah” – a Bar Mitzvah for Larry. Just like the Bat Mitzvah I photographed the week prior, it was filled with history and tradition. It was also remarkable for all it’s “multi-cultural” flavors–Larry had family come to Atlanta, GA from Ghana, Columbia, Australia, as well as from places closer to home here in the States.

Complete coverage for the weekend was provided by myself and my frequent shooting partner, Brian Morgan. We covered the rehearsal at Temple Sinai for a wonderful ceremony rich with tradition. We had the privilege of hearing the message from Larry about his Torah reading from Genesis about Noah and what the story meant to him – be your best; be nice to others; always do the right thing; and, rescue animals. Larry also talked of the “transformation” from boy to man to which he had looked forward for so long. A remarkable young man-a remarkable story.

Coverage then took on the multi-cultural elements I mentioned. First with a session for various family combinations from far and wide; then, on to the Celebration – how many Bar Mitzvah celebrations feature a Conga Line, Cha Cha Slide during an evening that also featured the traditional Horah, a tribute to Michael Jackson, a Mother-Son dance to the “Perfect Fan” along with plenty of hip-hop, and, a rousing finale from “Rent: Season’s of Love”. Quite the musical affair.

Larry and friends and family enjoyed a remarkable party. In addition to the music, there was plenty of other things going on keeping the energy level at a high all night long: the Atlanta Falcons mascot Freddie the Falcon; the “dancing heads” on the video green screen around the corner from a “photography green screen”; a moving slide-show of Larry and family to date; the Motzi given by Alex; a wonderful toast form Larry’s Dad about how much of a remarkable and happy son he is; a banquet room and guests all decked in red and black (the colors of UGA and the Falcons). Sharon Fischer from It’s My Party kept us all straight all night and Contagious Entertainment had everyone on their feet for hours.

A remarkable celebration that had all the senses going.

Congratulations again to Larry and all his family. Mozel tov

Sunday Session with Maggie

A couple of days ago I blogged about the wonderful Bat Mitzvah event I had a chance to photograph in downtown Atlanta over the weekend.

Prior to the big event, I had a chance to have a location portrait session with Maggie to create images for a guest book or guest print for the Bat Mitzvah party. Everyone involved – Maggie, her Mom and I – were on the same page about what would be fun and different. We would do an “urban setting” session – i.e. – perhaps a little grunge, some graffiti, rust, bricks, and so forth. West Midtown Atlanta seemed an obvious area to do a little location scouting. The area contains some old as well as renovated buildings; has railroad tracks running through the area; lots of graffiti and urban decay; an area rich with Atlanta history-

In fact, for over a century this section of Atlanta was the center of the livestock and meat processing industry. Trains from all over the United States brought livestock to Atlanta. These buildings were used as auction houses, dairies, and saddle shops. Barns, stables and pens for horses, mules, cattle, and pigs covered much of the area’s landscape until the 1940s. Old structures still stand- butcher shops and meat packing facilities are now lofts, galleries and restaurants around White Provision; The Brickworks, its namesake to the Palmer Brick Company, now houses offices and retail locations.

Perfect–so long as we wouldn’t get arrested for trespassing!!! Have always been a little guilty of some civil disobedience – just a little, I promise! ( just in case the kids are reading this )

Early on a hot, humid Sunday, we met at the end of a dead end street next to the tracks for the first of 4 locations and two outfits changes. Maggie was a champ and hung in there for 2 hours while we negotiated with a security guard, an oncoming train, and the Sunday morning strollers–all in a days work. Captured some wonderful portraits. And, couldn’t have done it without my “grip help”-aka-Mom and BFF Mary Winslow holding diffuser and lighting gear–way to go team!!

Maggie’s Bat Mitzvah Celebration

Lat weekend was marked by history and tradition in Atlanta, GA as Maggie celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at The Temple and joined family and friends at the DeFoor Centre to celebrate the event.

In a ceremony that seems as old as time, Maggie became a “daughter of the commandments” and responsible to observe the commandments of the Torah. For me and my fellow event photographer, Brian Morgan, it was an honor and a distinct pleasure to spend some time with Maggie and her family capturing her rehearsal and party celebration over a wonderful weekend.

The history and tradition I referenced was in evidence everywhere we turned. The Temple, centrally located in the heart of Atlanta, has been an important part of the Atlanta Jewish community dating back to the mid 1880′s. The Bat Mitzvah was held in the “warm and embracing worship space” called Covenant Chapel which was completed as part of a recent renovation. History and tradition reigns – it’s designed to be a “tent in the desert” with a key focal point a Ner Tamid powered by the sun; the doors to the new Chapel are from the old entrance to the Temple and are carved with the words “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares…”; – a wonderful sanctuary to photograph Maggie reading from the Torah.

On Saturday evening, the celebration moved to the DeFoor Centre where parts of the original structure-a farmhouse from the 1800′s-sits in the center of what is today both art gallery and event center. On Saturday night, it became the scene of a fabulous party. Family and friends danced to the music of the Black Rabbeye; donned T-shirts created at the air-bush station; got silly in the “photo booth” with props provided by Maggie and her Mom–grandmothers and even a great-grandmother made their way to the booth. During the evening, guests viewed a slide show of images of Maggie highlighting wonderful memories with family and friends and danced the Horah as she was lifted aloft in the traditional dance.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate a young girl’s coming of age…

Congratulations again to Maggie and her family…Mozel tov

[...] couple of days ago I blogged about the wonderful Bat Mitzvah event I had a chance to photograph in downtown Atlanta over the [...]

[...] photographing another Atlanta “Mitzvah” – a Bar Mitzvah for Larry. Just like the Bat Mitzvah I photographed the week prior, it was filled with history and tradition. It was also remarkable for [...]