WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION

Back from Flagstaff and photographing the wedding.  I guess I can now list myself as a destination wedding  photographer .

Way back when I was a head track coach, my assistant Dave and I would excitedly get together and plan out the season.  Our enthusiasm knew no bounds.  Then by the time of the state track meet we would always talk about how rough the season was and all the problems and issues that came up during the season.  It was remarkable that by the time the new season rolled around, we had forgotten about the burnout and the problems and the frustrating events of the previous track season.

Over the weekend, I discovered a big correlation between the optimism before the track season and the excitement and optimism prior to photographing the wedding.  By the time I was done Saturday, I felt like I had just spent an entire track season taking pictures.  Just like I never wanted to coach another season of track, I felt like if I ever picked up a camera and took a photo of a wedding it would be too soon.  I just marvel at some of these photographers who shoot 2 or 3 weddings back to back.  I hate to confess this, but when Diana Elizabeth told us during class how physically wiped out she was after a 7 hour wedding shoot, I sort of  scoffed at the idea of her being so tired.  Let me tell you right now, I have a much greater appreciation for Diana’s point of view.  I couldn’t raise my arms above my shoulders.

Diana, I will never, ever doubt you again.

I also came to the realization that there is a little bit of similarity between coaching football and shooting a wedding, except in the latter, some of the players are prettier and smell nicer.  And there is no marching band.

They both require the practice of the skills necessary to be successful and they both require the designing of a game plan for any and all situations that can come up during the course of the game/wedding. There also needs to be a plan B and C in the back pocket/camera bag, JUST in case something goes wrong.  And it will.

To further the analysis, the grandfather of the bride is a head football coach of a local high school. In fact, he had coached his first game of the season the Friday before the wedding.  During the reception he came up to talk to me and I said,”dude, I am in the fourth quarter right now.”

He understood.

 

 

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MY THREE WEDDINGS

Got off track a bit with the whole blogging thing.  Started reading “Shadow of the Night”, the sequel to “A Discovery of Witches”.  It is 584 pages long, and I am a slow reader.  Plus, not having bought a Kindle yet, I am in mortal danger of such a big book crashing on my head when I fall asleep while reading.  As it is, when I do fall asleep, one of my fingers usually saves my place, which usually finds me waking up with absolutely no feeling in that finger.  Ah, the hazards I face.

The other thing that has slowed my blogging process to a standstill is my preparation for the upcoming nuptials. This weekend is the big weekend.  My first official wedding.  Practicing, rereading class notes, re-watching downloaded classes, practicing, worrying.  I vacillate between the belief that I will just blow the socks off this assignment and the feeling of impending failure.  However, this is normal for me.  I felt that way before every school year and coaching season.

The grandfather of the bride, and I love calling him that, although unfortunately he can’t turn a computer on and will never read this, was talking to me the other day saying he didn’t remember his daughter’s wedding being so fancy and complicated.  Although I can’t take credit for this saying, I told him that weddings have become the “wedding-industrial complex.”  People have made a whole industry out of figuring out ways to get people to part with their money for a one day event.   And I admitted to him that I am happily attempting to join in all the fun.  He  grumbled something about part of the problem, not the solution or some such nonsense, and then told me I was no better than the paparazzi.  I figure I get the last laugh, he has two more granddaughters.

But the whole conversation got me to thinking about how much weddings have changed since I got married.  The wife made her own wedding dress, the photographer was my dad’s secretary’s husband who did weddings as a paying hobby, a lady at church baked the wedding cake,  the only flowers we had were the bouquets, and the reception was at the my wife’s parent’s house.

Much has changed.

In my one of my first posts I talked about my 1st “unofficial” wedding shoot and the household emergencies that prevented me from getting some equipment upgrades such as a flash and a better lens.  Taking beautiful pictures just doesn’t happen with a pop-up flash.  But in spite of the limitations of a pop-up flash and a 24-90mm 4.0 lens (a nod to the techno-folks reading this) I did find glimpses of potential in my final results.  Maybe this is my newness to the business, but I am pretty sure capturing all the traditional portrait and family pictures is a fairly normal task.  Since I was unofficial, I didn’t take those formal portraits, but I concentrated on looking for shots that captured the emotionalism of the event,  the interactions of the bridal party and the guests that help push the story of the night forward.

From my art and photography class I learned that one should get the viewer interested in what the story is outside the frame of the picture.  I believe this shot does a great job of that.  Who are they looking at?  What is making the bride laugh?  And when the Duc and Van look at this, hopefully it sparks a memory: “Oh, yeah, that’s when…”

This is another example of pushing the story outside the frame.

One thing I also learned is that a great subject for a photograph is people interacting with children.  When I took the following shot, I was just focusing on the couple doing a silly balloon game.  It wasn’t until later that I noticed the child in the photo totally focused on something interesting her little world oblivious to the main event right next to her.  I will tell everyone who asks how I got this shot that it was a sheer stroke of genius.  I will confess to you here, it was what I like to call “a happy accident”

So armed with my, hopefully not overly, confident feeling about my photography skills, and pretty much scared witless about the mechanical things I cannot control, I am prepared to go forward with Mallory and John’s wedding.  One thing I did was to rent some professional grade lenses and a flash.  I rented from Borrow Lenses.  A big shout out to them.  I could have rented locally, but the company I went to wanted to secure my credit card for about 80% of the price of what I rented.  If I had that much money on a credit card, I would just buy what I need.  So I checked out borrowlenses.com and rented the wedding photographer package of 3 lenses and a flash.  I have a 50mm 1.8 lens that I have been using.  One of the lenses I rented is a 50mm 1.2 lens.  When I saw the difference, I was reminded of this line from “The Three Amigos”:

“You  wanna die with a man’s gun!  Not a little sissy gun…”

So it’s D-Day, countdown to lift off, “damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead’ and feel free to add whatever cliche’ you would like to add.  I am now armed with my rental man guns, owner’s manual and lots of check off sheets. Wish me luck.

YOU KNOW YOUR TIRED WHEN…

I had this great idea yesterday.  I saw that a former student had posted on Facebook a photograph she had taken when she was a student in my photography class. So my great idea was to post a few thoughts about my class and the choice between film and digital.  I was up until about 2 o’clock finishing up about a 10 paragraph screed on the topic.  I decided to go to bed and edit the post sometime today.  It is now “sometime today”.  I reread the post.  It has now gone wherever trite boring trash goes when it is deleted.  Granted, I made it through eight years of college writing some of the finest papers ever written the night before they were due, but I am now writing for a bigger audience, not some burned out grad assistant grading 30 papers.  I also want this blog to be fun and funny, not bland and boring.

Poole blog post 8/15, take two.

Why I like film: In is workshop last weekend, Joe Buissink talked about his love for film and that he still shoots a few rolls of film at the wedding if his clients ask for it.  I love film.  I taught traditional wet room photography for 11 years.  Even after 11 years I still got a big kick out of watching a sheet of white photo paper go into the developer and  come out with an image.

Why I never made the switch to teaching digital:  One reason I never went to digital was money.  I always believed that if the district I worked for wanted me to go digital, they should pony up the money in the budget to do so.  What the district finally did was strike a deal with West-MEC to fund digital classrooms.  The catch was the instructor had to be Vocational Education certified, and West-MEC changed the curriculum from fine art photography to commercial photography.  It was not practical for me to get certified as I was so close to retirement.  My successor could do that.  I have heard that West-MEC was considering taking photography off of its approved list of subjects, which would mean no more money.

Every year we photography teachers would travel to other district schools and grade the portfolios of that school’s photography students.  Just my opinion, but the digital pictures I graded were technically sound, but lifeless.  Too much reliance on the bells and whistles of Photoshop.  Whenever I would have a transfer from a school that did just digital, I would ask them what they did in their digital class.  They usually said something to the effect that they took pictures early in the year and then spent the rest of the time playing on the computer.  Several of my current photographic mentors have said something like this, “if you take a crappy photo, Photoshop all you want, you still have a crappy picture.”  The value of film, I believe, is that you are forced to do as much composing as you can in the viewfinder as well as getting the best exposure settings before the shutter release button is ever pushed.  There are still adjustments that can be made in the darkroom, but the better the negative is the better the print.  I appreciate the fact that professionals I talk to now tell me that just like with a film camera, they try to get the best exposure and composition when they take the shot so that post processing is kept to a minimum.  That advice is helping me in my own transition from film to digital.

I don’t know what makes a car run, but I can still drive it.  Digital photography reminds me a lot of a craps table.  The first time a person looks at a craps table all that person sees is a maze of numbers and words and lines and 3 people, one with a stick who keeps saying weird things like “winner, winner, chicken dinner!”  Quite intimidating to the uninitiated.  Then I took a lesson on how to play craps.  The instructor took a deck of cards anc covered up all the areas of the table that werent’ important.That left about 20% of the table that a player really needs to pay attention to.  I think this lesson applies to digital photography.  There are a lot of things a photographer could know about, there are only a few things the photographer NEEDS to know about to take great pictures.

When I got my first digital camera last October, it had two owner’s manuals.  One in English, one in Spanish, both 260 pages long.  Up until that point, the camera I usually used was a Pentax K-1000 with totally manual controls.  I liken it to going from driving a Ford Escort to driving the Starship Enterprise.  I was fortunate that when I took the introductory class to digital photography from Diana Elizabeth, she taught just like that craps instructor. She figuratively covered up all the parts that of the digital process and focused on what was important for me know.  I believe she referred to it as the K.I.S.S. principle (keep it simple, stupid) which, as an aside,  kind of warmed my heart because I had been using that term as well when I coached football.  Art and athletics collide.

I liked simple when it came to football, I love simple when it comes to photography.  I remember being on an online forum when one of the members who was new to photography asked how people were getting the subjects in focus but the background blurry.  I was the first to reply and I told him to set the aperture at 2.8 then set the shutter speed until the light is correct and he would get  the results he wanted.  Photography 101.  After my post, someone else posted with the following advice “to get the bokeh effect you want you need to figure out half the focal length of the phlibus and the gazorts and test the frackels and the moops of the….”  I read the first couple words of this post and my eyes glazed over and my head exploded.  The moral of the story:  Skip the big, long-winded technical explanations when a simple answer will do.

Just one more thing:  Bokeh effect is an actual photography term.  I looked it up.  There is even good bokeh and bad bokeh.  Look it up.  I did.

 

One of my shutter speed images for my digital class.  My creativity knows no bounds.

Musical inspiration: artists whose names begin will L on my Ipod.

 

 

 

OLYMPIC DENOUMENT

The Olympics are over.  One conclusion I have come to is that I gave NBC too much control over my life.  I let my hatred of their incredibly lame coverage affect my feelings toward the Olympics.  I let them suck all the joy of the Olympics out of me.  Yet NBC is crowing about this being the most watched Olympics.  Does the term “captive audience” mean anything to NBC?  That number has everything to do with the draw of the Olympics and nothing to do with NBC.  It really didn’t matter what channel the Olympics were on, the number watching would have broken records.  That would even include CNN, whose viewership is at a 20 year low.

Final thoughts on the 2012 Olympics, in no particular order of importance.

Beating the dead horse a little bit more just to make sure:  Why did NBC decide to show a 6th grade history lesson on World War II?  The History Channel does it, and a lot better.  NBC seemed to think that the reason we watched the Olympics was because of their cute little special reports, and not to watch the competition.  What about the closing ceremony?  I know a lot of people love the Spice Girls, but showing them and cutting out The Who? Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Who?  I am seeing some Gen Xer at NBC looking at the schedule and thinking, “The Who?  If the organizers don’t know the name of the band, we can probably show our special at this time.”

Why do announcers insist on telling us what the athlete is thinking:  I remember watching on of the Fab Five sprinting down the runway to perform her last vault.  The announcer is screaming at the top of his lungs “here she comes!  She is thinking that she has to stick this so America wins the Gold!”  Mr. Announcer, how do you know that?  How do you know she isn’t thinking “I hope I don’t miss and break my freaking neck!”  Or even “I hope that boy in row three thinks I’m cute.”  The cost of the Olympic announcers could be cut in half by getting rid of all the lame-o color announcers that are hired.

My favorite “this announcer is a dummy” moment”  Watching the gold medal women’s archery match between South Korea and China.  A South Korean archer was taking aim and the announcer is breathlessly shouting (why is it always shouting?) “She’s taking too long!  She’s taking too long!  SHE’S TAKING TOO LONG!”  Zing! Swoosh! Thunk!  The arrow smacks right dead center in the bullseye.  Announcer’s lame cover-up: “well, usually when you wait that long, it means you don’t get a very good shot off.”  If you had any integrity, Mr. Announcer, you would fire yourself.

The biggest travesty of justice in these games:  In women’s fencing, South Korea and Germany were tied in a match to see who would battle for the gold.  When the fencers are tied, 1 second is put on the clock and they fence again.  In their third overtime, the clock malfunctioned.  As video later showed, 1.17 seconds went by, yet the official match clock never moved.  The South Koreans protested and the SK fencer, Shin A Lam, had to stay in the piste, bawling her eyes out while the protest went on.  If she had left, it would mean she accepted the defeat.  The protest took almost an hour.  When it was finally over, the South Korean lost.  She had to be escorted from the piste and immediately fence for the bronze medal.  She lost that match.  Later, the powers that be finally figured out that, yes indeed, the clock did malfunction and Shin A Lam should have won the match.  They proposed giving her a sportsmanship medal as a “oops, we are sorry we screwed you” consolation prize, but the South Korean declined.  I am hoping she said something like this: “감사합니다,하지만 메달을받지 않습니다 …태양이 빛나지 않는 메달을 넣어”  (translation by Google Translate.  My words, not Shin A Lam’s)

The TMI moment of Olympic coverage:  I am referring to a special report by local news dude Mark Curtis and others about the mating habits of the Olympic athletes.  I don’t care if some additional Olympic events were being held on the grass between buildings.  Nor do I need the report that half way through the Olympics, the athletes had already gone through the 150,000 condoms that London provided for them.  In the first place, make them buy their own and chalk it up to training expenses.  In the second place, let’s give the Olympics the same treatment we give Las Vegas.  What happens at the Olympics stays at the Olympics.

Nanny state moment after the Olympics:  Gabby Douglass was on the Tonight Show along with 1st Lady Michelle Obama.  Gabby admitted that to celebrate the Olympic gold by eating an Egg McMuffin.  The First Lady commented “your setting me back, Gabby.”  It depends on your political point of view on how to interpret this exchange.  The Right is saying that FLOTUS was chastising one of the darlings of the Olympics.  The Left describes it as friendly teasing by the First Lady.  Like I admonish announcers to do, I am not going to read Michelle Obama’s mind or assign a motive to what she said.  Only she knows if she was kidding or not.  I just would have liked Gabby to have said “I already have a mom, and she does a great job.  I don’t need another one, thank you.”  I also wonder what FLOTUS thinks about Gabby and her endorsement of Corn Flakes.

You have the right to your opinion but let’s keep it civil #1  Continuing with Gabby Douglass, I am sure everyone is aware that she gives all the glory to her Lord Jesus the Savior.  Someone on the left wrote in tweet how this was disturbing.  I did see any responses like that when two of the women sprints medalists said the same thing.  I do not know why this profession of faith bothers some people.

You have the right to your opinion but let’s keep it civil #2:  Cory Cogdell is an Olympic skeet shooter and an avid hunter.  She only finished 11th.  Because of her enjoyment of hunting, she received some very disturbing tweets.  Just one example:  “CoreyCogdell I hope that someone someday shoot your whole family just practicing.”

Most useless made-up press controversy:  The Brazilian women’s volleyball team apparently danced around like it was Mardi Gras in celebration of their gold medal victory over the USA team.  The press thought this was excessive celebration and started asking the American players what they thought.  Most felt it was just Brazil celebrating the way their culture always celebrates.  Note to the press: America leads the world in excessive celebration in its sports.  We even had a girl take off her uniform top after the ladies won the World Cup, and that made the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Most useless speculation at the Games, but everyone knows the answer:  I think the Dream Team should have been no more after the original Dream Team.  We made our point.  Let’s go back to the college kids.  Having said that, one of the current Teamers suggested that the 2012 team could beat the ’92 team.  Although that answer will never be known, everyone knows the 1992 team would beat the 2012’ers.  Even the people who say the 2012 team would win are just whistling through the graveyard.  The only chance the 2012 team would have is if the ’92 team let Christian Laettner play at all.  Experience always trumps youth.  The only people who disagree with that saying are part of the youth.  Here is one example of this truism.  In the mid-eighties I was working at Glendale High School.  The basketball team was second in the state that year.  In the spring there was a charity basketball game between the faculty and this basketball team.  The word on the street was that the basketball team was going to rough up the faculty and win by 30.  Early in the game, one of the faculty came down with a rebound. The best player on the varsity basketball team came over and tried to body him.  The faculty player gave him a nice elbow into the chest.  Game over.  Faculty won.

So yeah, the new guys have LeBron, but he is the only one I think could play with the ’92 team.  And just think if they had taken Shaq instead of Laettner.  But the cool thing about these arguments is that the answer will never be known.

Most useless speculation at the Games, part 2.  Who is the best athlete?  Apples and oranges.  Swimmers have the opportunity to enter eight events.  Track athletes have the chance to only enter four events.  So I don’t believe medal counts  are a good indication.  Throw Usain in a pool.  See if Phelps can run a lap.  Apples and oranges.  Does being the fastest man in the world make a person the best athlete?  I am of the opinion that the decathletes and the heptathletes are the best athletes in the world.  Yet I would still like to throw them into a swimming pool.

Most useless statistic at the Olympics:  The medal count.  This is a holdover from the Cold War.  Not necessary in this day and age.

2nd favorite Olympic moment:  Watching Georganne Moline run in the Olympics.  I have posted about her earlier.  I don’t know her personally, but my high school track team competed against her track team for four years.  I may have even congratulated her on her victory once or twice.  It’s just nice to see some one you know compete.  One of my retired teaching buddies was getting his tires changed in Flagstaff.  The kid doing his tires had run at Thunderbird High School and was the boys’ captain when Georganne was the girls’ captain.  This young man texted Georganne “good luck from the Apollo High School track coaches.”  Nice of the kid to do that.

1st and best favorite Olympic moment:  The performance of the athletes.  Not only the winners and record breakers, but every single athlete that participated in the games.  They are the best of the best that their countries have to offer.  It sounds corny as all heck-i-darn, but everyone who participates is a winner.

I will probably remember something else after I am done and have posted, but this is all I have for now.  The next Olympics is in two years.  I fully intend to be blogging about my brides and my weddings and posting pretty pictures by then.  So cue the music and extinguish the torch.  I am done.

The best photograph of the 2012 Olympics by Reuter’s photographer Luke MacGregor

In honor of the performance I did not get to see or hear Sunday night, today’s inspiration were songs performed by The Who.

FREE DAY SUNDAY

The last 20 or so minutes of the Beatles’ “Abby Road” was a medley of snippets of songs that the lads had started writing but never finished.  This post is sort of my “Abby Road” medley,  things I wanted to say, but really couldn’t find a way to make the idea flow with the original post I was writing, or just some random thoughts that really didn’t flesh out into a bigger post.

I think Paul should have sung “Her Majesty” at the Opening Ceremony.

During the Creative Live workshop viewers can submit their favorite quote by the presenter via Twitter and if selected there is a nice prize.  I submitted one on the first day.  It won!  However, they gave the prize to someone else who had submitted the same quote.  I figured that maybe it was a first come, first win on the submitted posts.  The last day of the workshop, I heard a real grabber and posted it right away, fingers flying over the keyboard like a deranged secretary trying to meet a deadline.  This quote was for a really big prize worth $2,000.  As the hosts read off the quote I recognized it as my quote.  My heart was all a flutter with the anticipation of hearing my name.  But my name sounds nothing like Alice Smith.  Bummer, man.  I pick two winning quotes but come away as empty as the Minnesota Vikings at Superbowl time.  Both winners were also women.  Both people picking the winners were women.  Not that I believe in conspiracy theories, but…

The winning quote, by the way, was “the shot may not be perfect, but the bride’s reaction was perfect.”

While taking one of my online classes, I was very disappointed to find out that Dick’s Sporting Goods does not qualify as a boutique.

I also learned from class that a way to help me determine how to “brand” my photography business is to check out my closet and look to see what kind of colors I have.  Great advice.  However, since I taught at Apollo High School for 24 years,my closet was pretty much full of clothes that were the school colors of navy and gold.  After 24 years those colors pretty much became my colors.

Joe Buissink says he doesn’t hand out business cards and gave a logical reason as to why.  It may be great advice, but since I just paid a bunch of money to get my cards designed and printed, I am going to be handing out those bad boys.

School starts for all my friends at Apollo this week.  The sad state of affairs is that instead of relaxing and getting mentally refreshed for the first day of school, my friends will be at school this weekend getting their classrooms ready.  They have been back since last Monday, but that time is all spent in meaningless meetings that could easily be covered by a memo.  When I started teaching we went in for 2 days.  One day had meetings and the other day was for room prep.  I never had to go in on a weekend.  Administrators, who rail against busy-work, are the worse at coming up with busy-work for their faculty.

The Olympics are wrapping up.  I will give my final report on my feelings about the Olympics in the next couple of days.  Today I will quickly review the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver.  When the Olympics are on, the primary focus in the house is figure skating, single and pairs, and ice dancing.  Therefore my strongest recollection is of Kim Yu-na from South Korea achieving the highest score ever and winning the gold in ladies singles.  I also recollect skiers Hank Bode and Lindsey Vonn.  Both of them sort of had comeback Olympics as they were less than successful in 2006.  The press didn’t care much for Bode, and Vonn won gold, but then crashed out or finished out of the medals in her other 4 races.  She still got  Wheaties box cover.  Snowboarding, moguls and such are only of interest to X-sports fans.  A Georgian Luger was killed in a practice run.  The video of his death went viral.  Max Jones became the youngest accredited journalist at the Olympics at the age of 13.   The weather was cold.

One of the best teachers I have ever known said this to me my first year of teaching, “The most important thing is to care about the kids.  Do that and everything else falls into place.”  I am taking that mantra into my wedding photography business.  Care about the bride and everything else will fall into place.

 

Today’s musical choice for inspiration was, of course, “Abby Road”

 

 

 

IT’S A MAN’S WORLD

At the time I made my commitment to write one blog each day for 30 days, I was also in the process of posting one song a day for my 100 Ultimate Road Trips Songs as compiled by me.  As soon as I started blogging each day, I completely quit doing my road trip song posts.  So much for my ability to multitask.

It is exactly 13 days until my first official wedding shoot.  I would be less than honest if I didn’t say I am a bit nervous, yet brimming with confidence.  I have tried to get as prepared as I can for the big day.  I have taken three great classes from Diana Steffen.  I have also listened to a talk by Melissa Jill and taken advantage of an hour of coaching from her, as well as watched a couple of Creative Live session with Jasmine Star.  Not only are these women fantastic wedding photographers, but they all have outstanding business models and are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with aspiring young (and semi middle-aged) wedding photographers.

However, there was one little thing that was picking at the back of my brain during all of these classes and sessions.  The reality of this business is that it is all about the bride.  All the fabulous people I was learning from were either brides or potential brides.  My fellow classmates in the online classes were all brides or potential brides.  The nagging thought in the back of my mind was can a guy pull this gig off?  I mean, when the suggestion is made for me to  “giggle with bridesmaids before the ceremony,” I am just not seeing that happening.  For goodness sakes, my nickname at school was Grumpy Gramps.  How is G.G. going to giggle with anybody, let alone bridesmaids?

See folks, men and women are different.  I know that for a fact because Time Magazine told me this back in 1995.  I also am aware that there are extremely successful male wedding photographers in the business.  And in spite of all the wealth of knowledge I was learning from my teachers and mentors, I was concerned about being able to relate to the brides I would hopefully someday be shooting.  I had spent the last 31 years of my life teaching big, young men how to block and tackle.  Somehow that doesn’t seem to be a skill needed at your average wedding.   The bottom line is that I was getting the best information about the technical and artistic side of wedding photography, and excellent information about sound business practices.  There were just some aspects of the wedding that I felt I needed a guy’s point of view, like just how does a guy “giggle with the bridesmaids?”

As luck would have it, during the last three days Creative Live offered a workshop taught by Joe Buissink.  That’s Joe, not Jo.  The cool thing about Creative Live is if one can block out the time, one can watch the whole workshop live.  Just like the ladies, Joe takes great pictures and has a great business model.  But I already have a good foundation from the classes I took from Diana plus some of the tips from Melissa.  I really didn’t take the workshop for those aspects of the business.  I really just wanted to see the male perspective of how he works with his potential brides.

In Diana’s class she emphasized that ont of the most important things to do is to always be yourself, to be truthful and honest.  This is what I would call a first principle of the business.  This first principle was echoed by Melissa and others, and this first principle was practiced by Joe in his workshop.  After the workshop, I concluded it really doesn’t matter if one is a senor or senorita, a dude or a dudette, a mr. or a ms., one of the keys to success is to be true to oneself.

At this time I imagine that most everyone who reading this is mentally slapping the back of my head and telling me this is a no-brainer. But when I get a little nagging idea in the back of my head, I have to explore that option until I get the answer I need and the nagging in the back of the mind goes away.  It’s how I am.  If I didn’t try to fix the nagging voice, I wouldn’t be true myself.

I also want to say that I am happy the  workshop helped me with the whole “giggling with brides” dilemma.  Joe said the same thing, but from the man’s perspective.  He said. “talk to the bridesmaids with a sense of humor.  Get them laughing and smiling.”

Which leads me to conclude:

“Men are from Mars, Women from Venus”

“Men search Google+, Women search Pinterest.”

“Men say ‘sense of humor’, Women say ‘giggle’ “

Musical Inspiration:  “Mender of Hearts” by Sing Kauhr and Kim Robertson

 

 

 

Y2K OLYMPICS

Reading some tweets about a workshop that was talking about what it takes to make an awesome website.  All this time I thought it would just b posting gorgeous pictures of me, but maybe it takes more than that.  How disappointing.

Y2K had everybody in a panic.  For those too young to remember, there was supposed to be some huge computer glitch when the year changed from 1999 to 2000. This would shut the world down.  People were stocking up on water and food and buying Y2K survival packs, even my dad.  Of course there were other alarmists who said that Y2K would actually happen in 2001 because the 2000 didn’t actually count as a year or some such nonsense.  To me, the experts were listening to too much Prince and watching too many Stanley Kubrick movies.  On New Years of 1999 I made homemade pizza, bought diet root beer, nonalcoholic champagne and an extra couple of bottles of water and hoped for the best.

January 1st came an went with no problems, so the 2000 Millenium Olympics went off as planned.  Local residents Gary Hall, a swimmer, and Nick Hysong, a pole vaulter, both won gold for the U.S.  When the Apollo track team was working out at Glendale Community College, because our track was being resurfaced, Nick Hysong would sometimes be at practice.  Nick’s dad is the pole vault coach at GCC.  Nick is a very nice young man and willing to help our kids out.  A funny story he told was about his skateboarding.  Seems he skateboards everywhere, and it does cause a bit of an uneven gait for him when he goes down the runway to vault.  Didn’t seem to hurt him too much.

The Williams sisters began their dominance of Olympic Tennis that year.  File the next story under “these are the Olympics, what were you thinking?’  In women’s gymnastics vault competition girl after girl were missing their vaults, some even getting injured.  Finally, in the middle of the second round, a lightbulb appeared over someone’s head and they went to check on the vaulting horse.  The vault was set 5cm too low, which threw everyone off.  They fixed it, but by then the injuries and miscues had already taken place.

Marion Jones became the first track Olympian to win 5 medals in track.  Too bad she was using banned substances to enhance her performance.  Sadly she was stripped of all her medals and awards and spent some jail time for her indiscretions.

Summer Olympics 2004-2008.  The 2004 Olympics went back in time to hold the games in Athens, Greece.  Athens started the Olympic career of Michael Phelps, who took home 6 golds and 2 bronze.  The marathon was ran over the same course that the original marathon was run.  Remember, at the end of that run the original guy died.  Thankfully the athletes are in much better shape today.  And in a huge upset, the Dream Team suffered a nightmare and finished 3rd in Athens.

The 2008 Olympics were awarded to China.  These Olympics were the most watched Olympics. The Opening Ceremony is considered to be the best of all time by many.  Michael Phelps got a record number of gold medals in swimming.  U.S. Basketball coined itself the “Redeem Team” and won the gold.  Jamaican sprinters dominated track and field.  The Chinese dominated women’s gymnastics, only later to be accused of using underage girls. Misty Mae-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won their second Olympic gold in beach volleyball having not lost a set in two Olympic appearances.

Winter Olympics were held on 2002 in Salt Lake and 2006 in Turin, Italy.  Salt Lake is special as it was so close to 9-11 and there was even talk of moving them or cancelling them all together.  They went ahead as planned.  The 1980 U.S. Hockey Team lit the Olympic Flame.  It was the first Olympics to be opened by a sitting United States President.  The American Flag that flew at Ground Zero in New York was present at the games, as well as an NYPD officer singing “God”Bless America” and honor guards from NYPD and FDNY.  The flag of the ill-fated Challenger shuttle was also brought into the stadium.  Filed under “would you believe these two groups performed at the same venue at the same time”, the Closing Ceremony featured Kiss and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The 2008 games were held in Turin, Italy.  The majority of the American medals were won in Snowboarding.  Apolo Ohno became a household name in short track speed skating, in spite of the misspelling of both his first and last name.  He currently is the most decorated American winter sport athlete.  He is also seen in Subway commercials. I have come to the conclusion that if a person is a short track speed skater and working out all the time,  that person can eat 2 or 3 $5.00 Subway footlongs at a time.  I eat at Subway, I just get fat.

As I have been recalling what I remember of these various Olympics, I find that the events of the more recent Olympics are not as memorable to me as the events of much earlier Olympics.  I think much of it is due to network overkill.  The announcers in the ’70’s and ’80’s were inclined to let the athletes and events speak for themself.  The drama was in the competition, not in the droning on of the talking heads.  Today, all the announcers want to prove they are the smartest person in the room so they talk incessantly.  They also tend to try to tell us what the athlete is thinking.  They have no idea what an athlete is thinking.  Mind reading does not exist as far as I know.  All these announcers are doing is projecting their OWN feelings and thoughts onto the athletes.  Many years ago NBC, as an experiment, broadcast an entire NFL game with no play-by-play or color announcers.  It was a beautiful thing.  They only tried it once.  I think it dawned on them that if they did away with announcers, there would be no high paying jobs for ex-jocks.

The 2012 Olympics have been an interesting Olympics.  I will wait until they are over to blog about them.  Which on the downside means I will have to think of topics to write about the next few days.  Maybe I will come up with some ideas about what makes an awesome blog.  In the meantime, I shall post pretty picture of me.

 

Welcome to the 21st Century. Me, rocking the SNAG (sensitive new age guy) pony tail.

Tonight’s inspirational soundtrack: the Geico commercials featuring Maxwell the Pig.  Wheeeeeeeee!  Wheeeeeee!   Wheeeee!

 

 

FREE DAY – 1 DAY LATE

I have posted something like this before, but I thought it would be nice to through out this little disclaimer again.  I am writing this blog as an aspiring wedding photographer.  I have no doubt that the word “aspiring” will be dropped as an adjective some day, when I get clients and actually have brides and grooms and pretty pictures to write about.  Until that time it is pretty much random free thoughts about those subjects that interest me.

I decided to continue with my break from the History of the Olympics as seen by Tim and just free write in my usual  thoughtful,humorous and light-hearted manner about  a couple of subjects that were on my mind.  But with the shootings in Wisconsin, I  decided to postpone my blog for a day.  Basically, this post is all the subjects I was going to write about yesterday, with a bit of a mention about the Wisconsin tragedy.

NBC’s coverage of the Olympics is horrible.  No Broadcasting Clue.  NBC chose not to  show the United States’ own Georganne Moline’s heat in the 400 meter hurdles.  Georganne won her heat, and had a better time than the other two Americans, whose heats NBC did decide to televise.  NBC did choose to rerun a segment of an interview with “Blade Runner”, that had aired the night before, and they also showed a segment on James Bond and Ian Fleming.  Could they not have cut back on the special segments and found the extra time to show the other two heats of the 400 hurdles?  Besides that, NBC shows three or four different replays of each race.  One and done, please.  Absolutely no reason to show a race from straight above.  Georganne apparently doesn’t fit into whatever template NBC  has for who and what that they choose to cover.  Much like NBC not televising the opening ceremonies tribute to the UK subway terror attack in 2005.

Like Olga, Nadia, Mary Lou, and Keri before her, Gabby Douglass has become the sweetheart of the 2012 Olympics.  I am happy for her.  It is well deserved.  And from listening to her interviews, she is very well grounded for a 16-year-old, and remember, I dealt with 16 year olds for 31 years.  Gabby now has a $90 million dollar endorsement deal and is on the cover of Kellogg’s Cornflakes. I may even start eating Cornflakes again.  But as is human nature, Gabby is getting her share of criticism about the stupidest things to be critical about.  Some are criticizing Gabby for her profession of faith when interviewed.  Others are criticizing her hair.  Soon, I predict that when it is figured out that 10% of her income will be donated to her church, that will be criticized too.  Go get ‘um, Gabby.

Yesterday, August 5th, is truly a “free day’ for American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  Three years ago on that date, Laura and Euna were released after almost 5 months of captivity in North Korea.  Their team was doing a documentary for Current TV on North Korean defectors in China.  On March 17th, 2009, they followed their Korean guide across the Tumin River and were briefly on North Korean soil.  The team was chased by two North Korean soldiers who caught up the two women on the Chinese side of the river and violently dragged them back into North Korea.  The women were put on trial in June and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in one of North Korea’s notorious prison camps.  Only after former President Bill Clinton met with dictator Kim Jong-Il were the girls pardoned and sent back home.  Laura Ling’s sister is journalist Lisa Ling.  Lisa used all her press and political contacts to eventually get the story out to the public and keep the pressure up to get the ladies released.  One thing she did was to post a tweet about how much she missed  and worried about her sister.  That tweet went viral and spread via the social media like wildfire.  From the networking on social media people began attending vigils, writing letters, signing petitions and communicating with each other via Twitter and Facebook.  A young writer named Lillian Wu wrote a letter on her blog in the voice of Hana, Euna’s 4-year-old daughter, from the perspective of 12 years later.  This letter on the blogosphere reached a lot of people and stirred them to get involved. That moving post is here. http://teenwritershaven.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-mother-is-hero.html

I remember in March hearing about North Korea arresting two U.S. reporters but I just figured they would be released in a couple of days.  I did not hear about them again until the verdict of the trial was handed down.  At that point I researched what I could on the story.  The primary reason I joined Facebook was to get connected and to keep up with the news.  I wrote some letters and sign some petitions.  When they came home, I remember watching their arrival live on tv at Bally’s Gym.  Laura and Lisa Ling wrote the book “Somewhere Inside” and Euna Lee wrote “The World is Bigger Now.”  I found Laura and Lisa’s book interesting because not only because Laura details her months in captivity but Lisa also gives us the behind the scene look at the negotiations and the struggles of the families at home with not knowing what was happening to their loved ones.  Euna’s book details her version of the story, but what makes it unique is how much her faith in God and her Christianity helped her through those dark days  And both books give the readers a glimpse into mind-set and the workings and beliefs of North Korea.  I would highly recommend reading their books.  They will touch your heart.

Finally, let me express my sympathies for the victims and families of the Sikh Temple shootings yesterday.

 

                                       

   

DISNEYLAND ADVENTURE 2003

I have decided to take a break from my Olympics saga.  I was beginning to feel like I was writing a term paper.

Many of my friends have gone to Disneyland this summer. Because of that, I thought I would share my last trip to Disneyland.  Even though it was almost 10 years ago, it is still one of my favorite vacation experiences.  We went to Disneyland in December of 2003.  One thing I wanted to do is fulfill a lifelong dream of staying at the Disneyland Hotel.  I also thought it would be nifty to go to Disneyland at Christmas time.  I went ahead and booked the room in September.  I also tried to book dinner on Christmas day at the main restaurant of the hotel, but it was already booked solid.  The next opening was after we would be leaving.  I guess they were right in the brochure when they said “make reservations early.”  I looked at that as just a minor little setback.  But then in November, a major setback occurred.  Disneyland sent my final trip package.  As I looked at it, I saw that I had listed us as checking out on Christmas day!  Yikes and Egads!  My life long habit of thinking Santa and the shepherds and 3 wise men showed up on the 24th of December had reared its ugly head again.  I rejected my immediate impulse to call the hotel and make it seem like it was their fault and went with the plan of calling them up and throwing myself on their mercy, maybe even shed a tear or too if need be.  It was only about a month until the trip and I figured they might not have any wiggle room to change my dates.

The young lady I talked to could not have been any nicer.  The best deal she could do was re-book me through the 26th, but we would have to check out of our room on Christmas day, then immediately check in and get moved to another room.  This room would also be an upgrade to a mini-suite with a view of the park.  This would also mean an additional charge for that last day.  I didn’t care.  I would have taken a room in the basement just so I could stay that extra day.  The hotel did say they would help us move our luggage to the new room, which I thought was a nice touch.

We arrived at Disneyland.  I went to the check-in desk and followed all the instructions I had received back in November.  The check-in girl got all my information and informed me that she needed to go into the back office for a few moments.  Of course when she says this I immediately start preparing myself for any and all worse case scenarios.  Now I am one of those people who need to check in at a special window, all the while watching the people smart enough to know that Christmas is on the 25th check in with absolutely no problems.  Finally the girl came back.  There was a new change in the arrangement.  We weren’t going to have to move to a different room after all, we would be in the same room the entire time.  Thank you for choosing the Disneyland Hotel.  Of course I was extremely happy that the hotel had been able to come up with a way to  keep us in the same room, but I was a bit disappointed at not getting one day in a room with a view.  I was looking forward to having one for a change.  We get to the room, and much to our surprise and delight, the Disneyland Hotel had decided to put us into the room with the view for 3 days at no extra charge.  I started pinching myself because this kind of stuff never, ever happens to me.  It was a great way to start the trip.

The last time we visited Disneyland, it did not have The California Adventure Park or the Downtown District.  Lots of new things to get out and see.  If there was any drawback to the trip, it was the weather.  It was cloudy and raining off and on.  Not a hard, driving rain, but mostly drizzle.  I do not know if this rain kept people away from the fun park, but the place was not at all crowded.  The last time we were at Disneyland, the park set a record for attendance.  People would get on their knees and pray and give thanks when they finally reached the sign that said  “Your wait from here is 45 minutes.”  One of the nice things that Disneyland has are many cool distractions to occupy a person’s time while waiting in line for such a long time.  I did not have time to look at these attractions.  The longest we waited in line for a ride was maybe 10 minutes.  I do remember jogging almost all the way through the queue to get to the Indiana Jones ride, the line was moving that fast.

It was on the day that we went to the California Adventure park that I came to the conclusion that little kids were mischievous and the wife was good at getting payback. California Adventure has this ferris wheel where the people ride in cages.  One can ride a stationary cage or a cage that is released and slides around and does all sorts of nasty, scary stuff.  We got on it and rode with a mom and her two kids.  We had a choice to ride on the safe and secure red cars or the movable,  slippery and slidy cars.  Oddly enough, the wife insisted we ride on the cars of death.  At this point in the narrative, let me tell you something personal about Timmy Poole of Poole Photography Studios;  I HATE heights.  No, I LOATHE heights.  No, I DESPISE heights!

A side story here to prove the point.  There is an old carnival ride called The Bullet.  At a small fair in Prescott, AZ, the summer of 1970, a friend and our dates went on this monstrosity.  He and his date in one bullet, I and my date in the other bullet.  The ride operator thought it would be cute to stop the Bullet Ride in mid-air and go on a coffee break and leave us stuck between heaven and hell.  My date thought it was cute and romantic and was trying to instigate a little “pitch and woo” while I am in total panic mode yelling at her not to move and to get away from me,  while screaming at the ride operator, telling him that he wasn’t funny and to get us down. The operator was probably gone for no more than 5 minutes but it seemed like an hour.  He came back, muttered something about someone being a big baby and let us off the ride.  At the conclusion of the ride, I still hated heights, but now added the ride guy and my date to the list.

THE BULLET RIDE

This is the exact position the ride operator left us in for an hour and a half…or 2-3 minutes, depending on who you talk to.

Back to Disneyland

As the cage we were in was doing lots of sliding around and turning me into a pale, white knuckled zombie, the two kids are doing everything that they can to make the thing rock and slide even more.  Somewhere during the ride, the mother pointed out that her husband was standing on the pier, stating that he was afraid to come on the ride.  I think the man was a genius.

This Ferris wheel ride was total revenge on the part of the wife because I got her to ride her least favorite type of ride, one that gets people wet.  California Adventure has just such a ride, the Grizzly River Ride.  It wasn’t totally me who made her ride the ride, it was also a couple of young kids.  These two kids, a brother and sister, were in line in front of us.  They were soaked.  The lines were so small for the ride that as soon as they got off the ride, it was possible to run around to the entrance and  get on the ride again.  They gleefully informed us that they had already ridden the ride 7 times, that it was the greatest ride ever.  These two little evil munchkins convinced the wife, no…shamed the wife into coming on the ride with me and them .   The raft has a wheel in the middle that passengers can turn to make the raft spin.  These kids were spinning that wheel like they were on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, laughing and screaming all the way down the mountain.  Needless to say, the wife got drenched, the kids were ecstatic, and I hoped that the wife had broadened her horizon and outlook on life.  With the help and encouragement from the children of the corn,  I even drug her on a second trip down the rapids.  After all, there was no waiting in line, she was already soaked, and it was raining anyway, and did she want to disappoint these two cute, wonderful little cherubs who think of you as their new mom.  In all the excitement, I forgot that the wife will always, I mean always, get her revenge. After the ride, I am ready to go back to the hotel, but she says she wants to do just ONE more ride.  So we walked to the pier towards the giant ferris wheel, her leading me on like the condemned prisoner to the gallows. At one point I did say, “you know I don’t like Ferris wheels.”  To which she replied, “and you know I don’t like “get wet” rides.”  The sound I heard at that moment was the big clang of the door being shut, sealing my fate.

I have heard from other people who have gone to Disneyland at Christmas that it was really crowded and the waits for the rides were as long as the lines in the summer.  So maybe out time there was an anomaly, but the way I look at is this: 45 minutes in line under the summer sun has got to be worse than 45 minutes under the winter sky.  We are planning to make the trip again this winter.

Brochure description of the two rides,  The word “fun” I believe, is open to interpretation.

MICKEY’S FUN WHEEL

150-foot-tall Ferris wheel is really a ride within a ride.  As the gondolas are raised by the wheel, they also slide along interior curves as the wheel turns – or take a red car for a tamer ride.

GRIZZLY RIVER RUN

 long, tall, fast, spinning white-water river rafting ride. You WILL get wet.

Ellen

Christmas at Disneyland, 2003

THE DREAM TEAM AND NIGHTMARES

Since I am behind today it seems only logical to create 2 posts to get back on track to write one post a day for 31 days.

The Olympics changed in the 1990’s.   This change pretty much started in 1989 when Communism started to collapse, the Soviet Union broke up, and the Cold War essentially came to an end.  One thing this meant is no more boycotts.  Yay! This break-up led to many new countries getting into the Olympics and Germany would now compete as one country. The Olympics also decided to let professional athletes compete in the Olympics.  Finally,  the Winter Games and Summer Games split from each other so they were no longer held on the same year.

The ’92 Winter Olympics were held in Albertville, France.  I won’t even pretend that I remember anything about these games.  I know I semi-watched them.  The wife will not miss a minute of figure skating which means I don’t miss a minute of figure skating.  Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States and Midori Ito of Japan won gold and silver respectively.  These ladies were the first figure skaters of Asian decent to win Olympic medals.  Midori was also the first female to land a triple axle in the history of the Olympics.  She apologized to Japan for not winning first place.  Midori was given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.  Kristi Yamaguchi turned pro after the Olympics touring with Stars on Ice.  More recently she made news by winning the 6th season of Dancing with the Stars and for endorsing Mitt Romney.

The excitement of the 1992 summer games was dominated by one main event.  The rules now allowed for professional basketball players to participate in the Olympic games.  The United States dominated Olympic basketball.  However, in 1988, the team finished in 3rd place.  Now the United States had the chance to put its best professionals together and take back our game.  They were dubbed the Dream Team.  Chuck Daly of the Pistons was the coach. The co-captains were Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.  Also on the team were Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phoenix favorite Charles Barkley.  Sir Charles had been traded to the Suns that summer.  He, Jordan and Pippen would later play against each other in the NBA finals that season.  The Dream Team went on to win by an average of 40 plus points a game.  They were usually posing for pictures before the game with their opponents, which regarded members of the Dream Team as their heroes.  I recommend reading the new book out called “Dream Team”.

In 1994 one of the more bizarre incidents occurred in that most violent of Olympic sports – figure skating.  Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were the two of the top US figure skaters in ’94.  During practice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked and struck in the leg by a police baton.  The blow was intended to break her knee, but only bruised the thigh.  It was discovered that Tonya Harding’s ex-husband hired the thug that attacked Nancy.  The ex implicated Tonya Harding as being involved in the attack.  Both women went to the Olympics that year.  Harding finished 7th.   Nancy Kerrigan won silver.  Kerrigan retired from competition and has kept involved figure skating and charity work in various ways.  She had a tiny part in “Blades of Glory”.   In an effort to somehow connect this post to the world of weddings, Nancy’s Olympic final outfit was designed by famous fashion and wedding dress designer Vera Wang.  Tonya Harding pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution of the attackers.  She was stripped of all her skating titles and banned for life from competing in skating.  Because of her involvement in the attack, the professional skating circuit shunned her.  Tonya gained a little more notoriety by releasing a sex tape of her honeymoon.  She later dabbled in ladies’ boxing, finishing her short career 3-3.  She still claims she is innocent of any involvement in the assault on Kerrigan.

Atlanta was the site of the 1998 Summer Games.  Of note at these games was the lighting of the Olympic flame by Muhammad Ali.  Michael Johnson won the 200 and 400 meter races.  The U.S. women’s soccer team won Olympic gold.  My favorite moment ot the U.S. team,  and the favorite moment of many other people as well, would not occur until the World Cup finals in 1999.  Keri Strug won the hearts of the nation and world when she vaulted with torn ligaments in her leg.  She stuck the landing on one leg and then collapsed unable to walk.  This gutsy effort of hers helped the U.S. to win the Olympic team gold in gymnastics for the first time.

The nightmare of these Olympics occurred when a bomb went off in Century Olympic Park, killing 1 and injuring over 100.  Richard Jewell, a security guard at the park, found a suspicious backpack, called the proper authorities and helped evacuate the area while they awaited the arrival of the bomb squad.  Richard Jewell was hailed as somewhat of a hero and is actions had helped to save lives.  But then the nightmare began for Richard Jewell.  Three days after the bombing, the Atlanta Journal and Constitutional wrote an article which said the FBI considered Jewell to be a “person of interest” in the bombing, based on some “lone bomber” profile.  While the FBI investigated Jewell, the press went into full “guilty until proven innocent” mode.  The press investigated every aspect of his life, camped outside his house 24/7 and pretty much had Richard Jewell convicted of this crime.  His motive was, according the press, the “failed police officer syndrome.”  They figured Jewell had set this all up so he could be a hero.   Jewell was sued by some of the victims, even though he was never charged with the crime.  After he passed a polygraph, the FBI took Jewell off the suspect list.  After this, Jewell filed several lawsuits against various media outlets for slander and libel.  All but one was settled out of court.  Jewell was finally and completely cleared of any involvement in the bombing when the real bomber confessed in 2005. Richard Jewell went on to work in various law enforcement jobs.  He died of natural causes in 2005 at the age of 44.

The decade finished with the 1998 Winter Olympics held in Nagano, Japan.  Compared with the last two Olympics, this was a nice, peaceful time.  Of note, women’s ice hockey made its Olympic debut with the U.S. team winning the gold.  Snowboarding also made its debut as an Olympic sport.  A Canadian won the gold, although he had earlier been removed from the competition because he was found to have marijuana in his system.   Go figure.

In a cute current Olympic moment, I can hear my wife yelling at the tv for Michael Phelps to hurry, even though she already knows he won.  I guess that’s just human nature.

Coming up next: the 21st century games and a special post about the 2012 games.

Musical inspiration: The sound of the Olympics on television.  The performances are inspiring, the talk and the hype and the look how smart we are NBC announcers only inspire me to put the tv on mute.

Apollo Track and Field 1998.  I do not play golf.  I do not know why I have that hat.