2014 in Review

I know its been a long time since I posted. It’s been a very busy year! my first shoot of 2014 was doing my own portrait, then off to New York to work with Beate Chelette. That was just the beginning!

Rather than bore you with the details check out the video. It is just a few random shoots from this this great year. Enjoy!

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Where does the time go?

So here it is the end of April and I am just starting my blog entry for January. Not too far behind, nah. Where does all the time go?

I hope you are wondering what I have been up to, what I have been shooting, what amazing projects have I begun (and finished at this point), what spectacular images have I created? I can say that some great images have come out of the last few months; I have photographed some wonderfully amazing people, some events that were exciting and fun, and so much more. It has been a very busy year so far!

In my last post I was celebrating my wonderful wife and our time together. She thinks it’s corny but hey, I kinda like her so call me corny. It turns out that so many people liked the images I took of her to say “Happy Anniversary Baby!” that I was asked time and time again to do something similar for friends and clients. Who am I to say no? Of course I would shoot these people and help bring out their wonderful personalities!

In fact there were so many requests to create this type of imagery for people I have had to start an entirely new website just for the boudoir images. You can see a few below, to see even more head out to BoudoirPhilly.com and see a lot more!

Photographing beautiful women isn’t all I have been doing (not that I am complaining at all). There have been events like the Mt. Airy Art Garage’s opening to celebrate their quilt show. Needless to say the quilts were stunning!

I have been to Manhattan to shoot a fantastic singer Randy Herman. We shot his new album cover throughout the snowstorm in January. Lucky for us Grand Central is a great place to create images that show him “Moving Through Time”. You can learn all about Randy on his website, therandyherman.com and check out the new album (as well as the cover art of course), I think you will love it!

While I was in NY I had the opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite people in the world, Beate Chelette. I can tell you right now, she is one of the smartest people I know. You should check out her book, “Happy Woman, Happy World”; it’s not just for women. I have it in both hard copy and the ebook. I never want to miss a word of it!

Beate-001

book cover

StanSmith-001When I got back from NY I continued working with one of my favorite clients, Stan Smith, a Philly guy that is constantly helping the local neighborhoods to grow and flourish. This is the kind of guy who everyone should try to grow up to be. He not only refurbishes aging properties, but keeps them affordable for local businesses so that they contribute to the growth and well-being of the community, and that is before he even starts doing his work for the neighborhood and all the nonprofits he is involved in! Check him out at StanSmith.me, I think you will be impressed, I am.

Then there are the architectural shoots, the marches to help victims of sexual violence, business events in downtown Philadelphia, and so much more. Now that I write all this I see where the time has gone. It has gone into doing a lot of great work for a lot of great people!

This is just the beginning of 2014! More to come and I promise I won’t wait 4 months to post again.

 

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Equality Matters

If you follow this blog with any type of regularity you may have noticed at the bottom of each post is a short list of the most popular posts on the site. Consistently for almost 4 years the #2 post has been Equal Marriage Rights and Photography. I have been and always will be a strong advocate for equality at all levels and that starts with all of us treating everyone with respect and dignity. In the area of marriage it has been the tradition to not treat everyone equally. The tides are changing, finally.

In Pennsylvania it is technically illegal for two people of the same gender to marry and have equal rights under the law. In fact, a person can still be fired for being gay. I’m sorry but I don’t see sexual orientation as being something to fire someone over.

This prejudiced thinking has spilled over into marriage rights and many rights of those considered to not live a “conventional” lifestyle. In short Pennsylvania is as conservative as it ever has been. The repression of rights to any person or group of persons is just wrong.

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of DOMA and the PA State Attorney’s statement of choosing to not pursue prosecution of same sex marriages stating that it is in conflict with the commonwealth’s own constitution, a local Register of Wills, Bruce Hanes, has begun issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.

It is my belief that Mr. Hanes and his colleagues in Montgomery County are politely pushing this issue to the forefront and it is one of the few things I can be proud about in Pennsylvania. It is about time someone in this state stood up for what is right and just.

Yesterday there was a rally held on the Montgomery County Courthouse steps to show support for Bruce Hanes and his supporters in local government.  I was asked by Tom Cavanaugh, Executive Administrator of the Independence Business Alliance and Jen Colletta, Editor at PGN (Philadelphia Gay News) to photograph the story for them. Below are some of the images I captured (proudly) of the rally.

 

I look forward to this post becoming as popular as the one I wrote in November of 2009 but more importantly I want universal equality to not just be popular but to be the norm.

 

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Outlawing Photography

What is going on in the world today? In the last 2 months I have seen two bills proposed in two states that could seriously outlaw photography. This is ridiculous!

The first bill that I learned about is New Hampshire HB 619-FN that states, “This bill prohibits images of a person’s residence to be taken from the air by a satellite, drone, or any device not supported by the ground.” Here is the bill as introduced. I know a number of photographers that make their living in just this manner.

The bill in NH was just written in a very vague manner and the representative was very receptive to a colleague of mine that chatted with him via text. Jim Cavanaugh, a former national president of American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) spoke to Representative Kurk the author of the bill saying this bill may “prevent many businesses from obtaining aerial photographs that they routinely use in their businesses. This may be construction documentation, road planning, news gathering, urban planning, images for companies’ marketing use, crowd estimation, environmental documentation, airport planning, wetland conservation, tourism and many others.” Representative Kurk said he would revise the language to resolve the issues Jim mentioned.

The problem is that it isn’t the only legislation being introduced.

FelonyPhotoYesterday I was reading my local news source and came across new legislation proposed in Pennsylvania that would make photographing a farm a felony offense. A felony!? Really? State House Representative Haluska (R-Cambria County) put forth a proposal that would make it a felony to take photos or record video or audio. I’m sorry but for me, this is just a bit of overkill and a true example of over legislation.

In New Hampshire the bill proposed had limited scope in that it would most likely only effect professionals. Rep. Haluska’s proposal would affect enthusiasts, real estate photographers, nature photographers, aerial photographers, and just about anyone that wanted to just capture an image of a beautiful landscape. The effect on tourism alone could be devastating!

Haluska stated that the idea for his proposal came from farmers in his district who are afraid of people trying to photograph or record farm operations and show them in a less than flattering way. He was quoted on NewsWorks.org (full article) as saying, “Sometimes you can take some things out of context, if you have a sick animal or something or if you have to (kill) an animal, which is just a normal part of doing business in the farming community, and sometimes it gets trumped up.”

Below is what I wrote to Rep. Haluska (and CC’d my local representative, Rosita C. Youngblood of Philadelphia. Neither has yet to reply.

Dear Representative Haluska,

Your proposed bill that would ban the photographing of farms is a dangerous bill. First of all how often does a tourist or day tripper actually take a Photo of farm where something that can be misconstrued actually happen? Yes farmers have to kill animals. Yes some things that happen on farms on a daily basis are unpleasant for people that don’t have a history of country living and understand the nature of how food gets to their grocery store. But is hiding that a good idea? I think not.

Don’t let my Philadelphia address fool you, I was born and raised in Delaware county when it was considered the boonies. My home town wasn’t on the map until the early 80s. But my knowledge of farming is not why I am writing.

I am now an architectural photographer and a good portion of my business is aerial photography of farms that are being considered for development as well as the completed projects.

The bill you have proposed will make it a felony for me to take those photos. That will stop me from renting planes, hiring pilots, and hinder the construction companies from developing the lands. This will then cut the potential for new jobs in the commonwealth and put us behind other states that don’t have such laws. The ripples of your proposal will go much farther than I believe you anticipate, and in my opinion, will do much more harm than any good, not to mention what it will do for my own income.

What you are proposing is to make a felony for someone’s curiosity, and subsequently their ignorance, about the “idealistic farm life” they believe our hard working farmers have. This law is trying to outlaw ignorance. If ignorance were a felony, most of Washington would be in jail.

Representative, please withdraw your proposal. Rethink your goals and why you proposed it in the first place and lets educate people about farm life, not outlaw the observation of the reality of it.

Sincerely,

Michael Albany

To me making any type of photography a felony is well, a felony! Keep an eye open in your area and make sure that legislation against photography isn’t pending. If you hear of something, write your representatives and call everyone you know and have them write them too! If you don’t you may be hearing the click of hand cuffs right after the click of that shutter.

 

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Year in Review

2012 is over and the new year has begun. I am more than confident that this new year is going to be more than last year. More what you say? More everything! More photography, more business, more work, more creating, more success, more of everything good! How exactly do I know this? I am predicting more. I feel it in my bones that your year is going to take off and so is mine.

I close friend of mine launched a new branch of her business last month, showing her art in a new way. Sonya Sanchez Arias opened a new website (SonyaSanchezArias.com) showcasing her amazing Reclaimed Beauty Jewelry and if you have even half a moment I think you should take a look. Her work is amazing! When you look at her stunning designs you will see artistry at its finest and yet all of her work is made with recyclable materials. I’ll let you figure out what is made of what.

At the very end of the year she became ill for the first time in a very long time. She is doing well now and recovering. I believe it was her body casting off the year of 2012 and launching her into a new life as a creative. Time will tell but once you see her new work I think you will agree that her jewelry is amazing, much like everything she does.

Her positive attitude through it all got me thinking. Sonya is an amazing person and she has helped me in so many ways. She and I actually met via LinkedIn and I have visited her in Florida. Almost every time I speak with her she is positive, strong and creative in all that she does. She has kept me thinking and at times helped me stay excited about my photography when I started to wane even the tiniest bit.

In honor of her positive motivation in my work I decided to put together a bit of the best of my photography from 2012. Below is a gallery of my favorites form the last year. Some have been posted on the blog before, some not.

Farewell 2012. It is time for me to make this next year shine even brighter.

Here is to a fantastic New Year!

 

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Haboob in Arizona

At the end of my meetin

A wall of dust…

And a big wall at that!

Time to go back to Philly!

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Blight or Beauty – Part 2

I was discussing my post from last week “Urban Blight or Beauty“ on LinkedIn and a fellow photographer mentioned that in his city the urban blight is a severe issue. It has even attracted people from outside his area to come in and shoot these buildings, almost making it an attraction. I understand he feels that by making it an attraction it is doing a disservice to his city and showing the area in a negative light. Although some people feel this brings the issue into focus and makes it a public issue, he is of the opinion that it presents things in the negative, and therefore perpetuates the bad connotation of the city and the area.

I agree that when you show these areas from different cities in such a state of disrepair you can easily put forth a negative view of a particular city or neighborhood. However I don’t believe that is the only way they should be shown.  I wrote in the thread about my opinion and I am posting that below. I am blanking out the specific city for anonymity.

“I think it depends on how you do it. In my case I am shooting in a “recently acquired for restoration” abandoned building. That tells a different story. I rarely shoot abandoned buildings that have no hope or future and believe me when I tell you there are plenty here in Philly.

I also feel that these buildings are our modern day equivalent of ancient ruins. I would love to shoot Machu Picchu but the travel expenses are out of my reach. The point is that every building has a story and a history, what is the story of any particular structure?

Face it, [his city] has a ton of abandoned buildings and lost businesses. The issue isn’t that they are there, the issue is how [his city] is looking to grow the city and bring some of these building back to life again. At the same time to tell the history of an area or building you have to know where it came from.

I live in a building that was built in 1926 and there is no photographic history available. It’s a shame too because at one time this building had a ballroom, a pharmacy, hair salon, news stand and more. Now I can’t even gain access to those areas of the building because they are in disrepair and the owners feel it is too risky even though I have enough insurance to buy the place if anything happened.

History is being lost all over this country and that is a major issue for me. The fact that people are misrepresenting [his city] is the problem, not the blight or the temporary dip in the economic structure there. So rather than say it is sending the wrong message, use that soapbox to alter that message and correct it. Start documenting the history now, in a few years imagine the wonderful story of rebirth you will be able to present to your neighbors, your community, [his city] and this country.

Take the opportunity to rewrite the narrative and make what may seem ugly, into a beautiful future.”

How do you feel about abandoned spaces and buildings?

Feel free to tweet, post, or pin this post and invite others to join the conversation. Links are below.

Dog Days of Summer

Last week I wrote that this Independence Day would mean many opportunities to shoot politicians and parades and fireworks. True to my word I did not get a chance to shoot any fireworks but I did shoot the Occupy National Gathering, but that isn’t all. I was able to catch Philly’s Finest and I even photographed a movie under the stars for my local Business Association.

Below are just a few of the things this wonderful but warm holiday had it store. These are the Dog Days of Summer!

Escaping the heat while marching the street.

Philly’s Finest have to eat too.

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

You can’t go to the Movies Under the Stars without Ice Cream!

How’s your summer shaping up?

PS – I guess if am going to use the title of Dog Days of Summer I should post an image of a dog!

Independence Day

I am sure that many of you have tried to take pictures of fireworks to capture those “Ooo’s” and “Ahh’s” we experience when we watch the colorful displays high in the sky. Chances are that you didn’t just capture the fireworks either. Your friends and/or family were there and you probably popped off a few of them too.

So what is a pro photographer doing talking about your images of your holiday celebration? Chances are you’re not going to hire a pro to shoot the fireworks. Well this is going to be a very busy holiday for many people and the fireworks are not just going to be in the sky.

 

I know that in an election year many of our local, state and national politicians are most likely going to be taking this patriotic occasion to get their point of view out there to all of us. No matter which side you take in the political debates you can pretty much guarantee that there is going to be some news happening. If you didn’t know, I shoot photo-journalistically too.

 

I live in Philadelphia and on the celebration of this country’s independence there is almost always something going on here. This year I have heard that the Occupy movement is going to have a “National Gathering” here to plan their future and their next steps. That most likely means that there will be some type of Tea Party demonstration too, or some type of opposing opinion at least. That should keep me busy and I wonder if I will even have a chance to point my camera up!

 

Needless to say it is going to be an interesting week that should keep us all busy and thinking. No matter what you are doing to celebrate this coming week, be sure to drink lots of water, don’t stand in front of that hot grill too long, and remember: on July 4th just after dark point that camera up!  (P.S. – Use a tripod for best results too.)