August self portrait: Forced Perspective … and here is my deflated sigh

Many of you know I’m doing a 12-month self portrait challenge with fellow photographer Sunny Lee.

For our August self portrait, the theme of Forced Perspective was chosen. And by chosen, I mean I didn’t choose it.

I found myself in a depressed state of “what to do?” and “I’m so uninspired” and “I hate this theme” and “I’m going to Kill Sunny Lee for choosing it.”

Yesterday, I thought of a great idea, but executing it ended up being much more difficult than I anticipated. My concept was to do a forced perspective of holding a drawing of my face in front of my face, while looking through the top view of my Hasselblad viewfinder, and then using our stand-in Mannequin’s body underneath the camera to make it look like another forced perspective.

Like I said, execution wasn’t as simple as I thought.

I started with a photo that Bill took of me during a light test.

Ryan helped me with the drawing. I gave the drawing a whirl at first, but it turned out crappy. I used to draw self portraits as a teen all the time, and it wasn’t easy when I wanted to rush through it.

When I got the images from the shoot, I decided to nix the second forced perspective of the body underneath camera. I’ll post an example below the fold for you to see.

You’ll notice that I thought the image was going to be upside down for some reason, but the image is reversed left to right. You can see below that it looks like my wedding ring is on my right hand.

I’ll also post my concept drawings as well as my original drawing. Enjoy.

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This is your brain on drugs …

Remember that 80s commercial when you were growing up — erhm, I was growing up — of butter bubbling in a frying pan and then two eggs dropping into the pan with the voice saying, “Okay, last time, this is drugs. This is your brain on drugs …” here’s an update to that video.

Original commercial here.

We need more creative heroes to stand up to the #Showtimes of the world. Stop working for #FREE

Last week my brother sent me this article from adweek titled: “Meet the Hero Designer Who Publicly Shamed Showtime for Asking Him to Work for Free How Dan Cassaro’s tweet became a rallying cry” 

Essentially, Dan Cassaro stood up for all of us who are seeing more requests to provide creative services for gratis. Showtime sent him a letter asking him to join a group of designers to submit ideas for a boxing match event in Las Vegas. If his design was chosen, then he’d get a prize package.

The exchange was posted to Twitter, where hopefully it’ll get more legs.

Mind you, Showtime took the stand that no one needed to accept the challenge, if you will.

But as a photographer, this is a growing if not grown challenge that we are faced with more and more often. The music industry alone is riff with photographers who work for nothing, or next to nothing, covering concerts and festivals for magazines, blogs and other publications.

The point is that a boxing match in Vegas is far from a low-dollar event. Money is flung like pooh from gorillas’ filthy hands at events like this. It makes the discrepancy between the poor and rich look like a fenced-in circus with all the poor wander around outside wondering how a thousand men could bet thirty times their annual income on a single fight.

I’ve been asked to work for gratis, and unfortunately, I work for gratis on occasion. I feel like a hypocrite. I’m still growing my business, and growth takes risk. But it’s articles like these that encourage me.

From the linked article:

In the week since, Cassaro’s tweet has become a viral rallying cry for creatives who feel besieged by expectations of free work. It has more than 5,000 retweets and 5,600 favorites, and has become one of the topic’s most electrifying moments since Mike Monteiro’s “Fuck You Pay Me” speech in 2011. 

Showtime issued a response to BuzzFeed, saying the network is “a strong supporter of artists around the world. This contest, like many others, is entirely optional.”

In response to the question, “Has Showtime responded directly to you?” Cassaro says (emphasis mine):

They wrote me a short and very polite email. Honestly, it’s less about Showtime and more about these hack crowdsourcing campaigns that certain agencies are selling to them. There are lots of folks doing very cool things with user-generated content, but to ask professionals to compete against each other for potential “exposure” is completely different. It’s demeaning, and it lowers the value of everyone’s work.

A comic friend of mine used to have a bit about how you shouldn’t get upset if your food is tainted at a fast food restaurant like Taco Bell. “If someone spits in your food or drops it on a dirty floor and picks it back up and serves it to you,” he would say, “Is it really that guy’s fault? I mean, minimum wage equals minimum effort.”

If minimum wage equals minimum effort, what does free get you?

Think about that all ye greedy corporations and businesses hoping for a gratis deal from the guys and gals with the savoir-faire to represent you.

Newsflash: creative people walk … and walk often

From this column called, “The Speed of Inspiration” by Wayne Curtis in the Smart Set at Drexel University.

To be creative, to restore flow, we need at a minimum more downtime, a shelter away from ceaselessly incoming rounds of dirt and dope and scoop and poop. And this is not just a Cape Cod for the mind, a time to relax before wading back into the sifting and processing. Daydreaming, it turns out, is part and parcel of how the mind works, of how it locates and makes sense of the data we’ve already accreted and the links between them.


Walking with a touch of agreeable languor is an underappreciated gift — it endows us with the time to disentangle that logjam in our head and let the flow start to move again, then to build unexpected bridges between notions and ideas. A walk among trees and meadows is always welcome — merely being amid nature is a proven salve for mind and body. But even walking in a densely urban environment where you’re still under siege from Lilliputian mercenaries in the information army — armed with messages in store windows, ads plastered on passing buses, dudes dressed like fruits trying to entice you into a smoothie shop — you can still feel at a remove from The Information, as if viewing it from the far side of a wide moat. Walking creates a mobile oasis as it primes the well of creativity. It’s more essential to visit now that even in Wordsworth’s days of endless rambling.

Read on

What’s more frustrating when on vacation … a downed website!

On Monday, we left for our annual vacation in Carbondale, IL.

On Monday afternoon, I received a few messages from colleagues and clients that our Wittefini site was down.

“Ugh,” I thought. “The second I get out of town and have access to the worst internet connection apart from being in Cambodia, my site goes down.”

Since I had limited internet access, I emailed my host ( from my account on my phone. I explained that the site was down and to please help. The response was:

I am sorry, but the nature of the problem with is sensitive
and to discuss it properly would require providing confidential
information. As you have written us from an email address not listed at
an authorized point of contact for the account under which
is hosted, we can provide you with no information regarding this matter.

You will need to contact the owner of the hosting account for assistance,
and if they need help have them contact us directly. If you are the owner
of the account, you will need to either write to us from the email
address established as the primary contact email address for the account,
or otherwise demonstrate to our satisfaction that you are the owner of
the account.

To do this, reply to me with the answers to the following questions about
the hosting account:

1) What is your full name and address as shown on the account?
2) What is your mom’s maiden name?
3) What are the first 4 digits, and the last 4 digits, of the credit card
in your name last used to make payment on the account?

Once I receive your reply to these questions, and verify them against the
account records, I can further assist you with this matter.

I would very much like to help you and I appreciate your understanding
that it is necessary we confirm we are communicating with the owner of
the account before divulging any sensitive information with regard to our
customers’ accounts to protect the integrity and security of the account.

Any numb nuts would be able to see that the web site’s status and my inquiry really had nothing to do with each other. My personal information had nothing to do with the site’s status.

This is what happens when customer service acts like a bunch of fucking robots instead of mindfully helping people. It’s like the wait staff at a crappy restaurant. Refilling a glass or replacing an accoutrement takes very little more than basic observational skills. Only the customer service idiot is incapable of doing the one-step legwork of, “Oh man, it is down. If you sign into your account, you can likely restore the site within the host panel.”

Tah-dah … that’s good customer service. That’s GREAT customer service.

Apple did that to me before. I called for the answer to a simple question, and they wanted to verify everything from my underwear size to my mother’s maiden name. “You need all this to tell me how to reset my PRAM?”

The folks at DreamHost turned a site down for two hours into a site down for a week. A week when new customers and old ones were accessing its portfolios to determine whether we were the right fit for their company or project.

After sifting through a mire of responses with how to fix the problem via web sites that are expired or not down, I spotted a link to how to fix a site that has been infected with malware, which they claimed was the problem. Fixing the site ruined by malware required backing up our site and its databases. It required deleting EVERYTHING from our host and then sifting through the code of the sites to see what did and didn’t belong. I was to remove what didn’t belong and re-place everything on the host. Voila! All would be better!

The fix seemed so Sisyphean that I needed to wait till I returned from vacation and get on a faster speed internet connection. My head spun with all the info and all I needed to do to fix my issue.

Out of frustration, I twittered DreamHost today. I received immediate responses. Because public complaints are worth more to their customers than private ones. They’re approached more mindfully.

In the end, their responses were more concerned with my profanity than with helping.

While doing a major backup of the site, I found a button in the DreamHost panel to restore the Wittefini site to a backup. I clicked it and Pow! Within 5 minutes, the site was back up to the exact way it was when it went down. I had updated it Monday morning with a blog post, and that post was in tact.

Something we could have done on Monday afternoon from my phone took a week of headaches, frustration, piss-poor, absent-minded customer service before I finally found the solution on my own.

I’m dubious that DreamHost will apologize. I’m not expecting any kind of reimbursement from the possibility of missed jobs. So what they will fail to do in customer service and in the absence of refund, I’m charging them in the form of this negative review.

Shame on DreamHost for not going the extra mile to help me eliminate the problem, quickly and easily at my first request.

Robots are bad customer service representatives, DreamHost. Grow up. I contact you so very infrequently. One time in 10 years should certainly warrant a marginally better experience.



Mini, family reunion vacation starts today! How about some interiors photos to tide you over.

Today marks our sixth or seventh annual trip with my brother-in-law Michael and his partner Jason to visit Jason’s parents in Carbondale, IL. We’ve lost track of how many times we’ve gone.

It’s our fourth trip with our dog Talulah, who loves the trip, but isn’t all that fond of the drive. She gets a little bored.

We all pack into our car and drive down. Jason’s parents have a lovely large home with a pool and nice views. It’s a chance for Michael and Jason to get away from their record store, Gramaphone, that they own and operate together.

And it gives Tina and I a chance to to spend more time with the people we love.

I’ll likely blog from the road, but I wanted to share these interiors from last week’s shoot.