Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Real World DC Premiere

December 30: "This is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house and have their lives taped. Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. The Real World..."

You may have been there when these words were shown on television when MTV premiered their Real World show in 1992. Or you may have seen or heard about one of their shows in the past twenty-two seasons. We're up to season 23 and now we have The Real World DC show. The Real World was the first reality TV show that I can remember, and because of it's novelty and how these strangers interacted, it gained a lot of notoriety and quite a following. The Real World is the longest running program in MTV history, having taken place in a variety of cities, and it's shown in several countries.

I decided to go to Tattoo bar in Washington DC for their celebration of The Real World DC Premiere. The event was hosted by "Wicked Liquid" the band, RWDC's Josh Colon, Ben Martinez, Will "Chief Willis" Whitney & Fasil "Fuzzy G" along with GLiTTARAZZi's Kelly Ann Collins and Alicia Lewis, and SOULUSA Clothing. There was a VIP reception from 8-9pm where you could meet the band and listen to their music, then general admission flooded the bar with a sea of people. The premiere was on from 10-11pm, and the partying went on till 2am. What a night. Here are some of my photos from the event. More of these photos are on my website.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Help Portrait - Gives Back

December 29: Help-Portrait is a movement founded by photographer Jeremy Cowart that brings together photographers and others to give back to their local community by using their time, equipment and expertise. The date of 12/12/09 was set aside months ago and the plan was set in motion to have photographers use their cameras and other photography resources on that day to have pictures taken of people who would not normally be able to have their portrait taken. The response was amazing. The experience was uplifting and helped to let people know that they are valued. Some people have never had their picture taken professionally and some never had a family portait done. Prints were given out and wonderful memories were made. There are many stories from the day. You can learn much more about Help Portrait and the experiences shared by going to their website and community website.

I got involved with the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. Help-Portrait (H-P) group which was already established with a group coordinator and several members. We went to Central Union Mission in Washington DC which provides overnight and long-term shelter along with assistance programs to underprivileged men.

On December 12 Central Union Mission also had their Operation Christmas Miracle program that gives needy children Christmas bags with clothing, educational items and toys in them. There were waves of people that came into the basement and filled it for the program and while they were there, portraits were taken of some of them, and then the basement was clear till the next wave of people came in. The results of the day are astounding: 151 portraits were done with 382 people. Thanks to Penn Camera for their generous donation to provide the printing for the Help-Portrait event. Thanks to all who were involved in H-P as it took a team of people including make-up artists, assistants, hair stylists, video crews, and so many other skilled people. It was people giving of themselves and their talents to serve.

I wish I could have done more on this day. I knew about this for awhile, but I joined the group late and was not able to spend as much time there for H-P day. So I did what I could and took documentary pictures of the event and also shot some video with my camera. This movement is about giving pictures and not about ourselves or showing the portraits. It is important to share about this day that others may join the movement. Like the Christmas season, it's about giving, sacrifice, and good will. The next official Help-Portrait day is on 12/14/10, but you don't have to wait to serve others in need.

I'm sharing some documentary pictures from the Help-Portrait day in DC.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Moxie Christmas & Happy Hip New Year

December 24: It's been an amazing year full of opportunities and milestone events. For this blog entry I wanted to reflect upon this year and some of things that happened by showing some photographs. There are so many pictures that have been taken and I am just showing one from each month of this year that has been especially significant and indicative of my desire to capture life. I am grateful for the opportunities, for the experiences, and for the people I've met. It has been a sacrifice, but it has also been an investment in life.

January 20 - Barak Obama's Inauguration as the 44th President of the United States and first African American to hold the office. Obama was sworn in at the U.S. Capitol, but I couldn't get that close, so this is a photo to just show the masses of people that came out to DC to be a part of history.
February 8 - Washington Auto Show at the Washington Convention Center. This is a picture of a child and Rock-It, a nine foot robot with an array of lights and sound effects.

March 14 - A friend invited a group of us to go and see her sister perform in "A Chorus Line" at The National Theatre in Washington D.C. It was a great show and we had the privilege of going backstage and getting a personal tour.

April 26 - I was at dinner with a bunch of friends at an On The Border restaurant. The lighting was warm and beautiful in this area . This framed picture of a door just speaks to me of opportunities and my choices of which "door" to open and walk through.

May 25 - The Outer Banks (OBX). I enjoyed a trip to the beach with friends. It's easy to go to the beach, bask in it's warmth, feel the sand on your feet and just stare out at the ocean. It's as if the ocean is a mirror of sorts making you to reflect on life and yet look toward the future with hope.
June 27 - It was the grand reopening of Eastern Market building in Washington D.C. was on Friday the 26th and I went to see it the day after. The travesty of a fire in April 2007 heavily damaged this building and the livelihood of vendors and the community were severely affected. This was a landmark building and this day marked the reopening of it, reviving the pride of this market in the community.

July 14 - I was able to photograph the Washington Kastles vs Philadelphia Freedoms tennis game court side. It was phenomenal seeing the athleticism of Venus Williams up close.

August 20 - I was commissioned to photograph the DC/U2 cover band in Ashburn, VA. There was an intermission in the set, so before the second half of the concert started, I went behind the band up on a hill and took this shot as the band started playing and as the sun was setting.

September 26 - Having worked with the GI Film Festival (GIFF) before, as I was asked by the founders of GIFF to cover GIFF LA for their first road show. Actor and musician Gary Sinise was the host of this event that features films that show the world a deeper look into the lives of soldiers, families, and the military campaigns of our country.

October 27 - After the PDN PhotoPlus conference in NYC, I attended the OneLight workshop by Zack Arias and his UsedFilm Studios crew. It was a great experience in learning how to use light for impact in photography and it inspired creativity. I also have a OneLight shirt that says "People are happier when they're lit."

November 11 - I went on my first official cruise from Miami to Key West and Cozumel. This photograph was taken on Paradise Beach in Cozumel as the sun was setting.

December 8 - At The Scene Bisnow Holiday party at Public Bar in Washington D.C., I saw these snowflake decorations hanging from this lamp over a table. Nice.

So I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. It's more than about the decorations, food, drinks and gifts, and so much more about relationships.

This was the first photograph of my blog for 2009. It was taken on New Year's Eve at a party and several people were wagging their light sticks while dancing. May you have a fun and festive New Year's Eve and New Year full of opportunities along your journey through life.


December 24: On Monday I received a book in the mail that I ordered and I was very excited to start reading David duChemin's second book "VisionMongers, Making a Life and Living in Photography." This book aims to help a person transform their passion into their vocation.

With VisionMongers and David's first book "Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision," he talks more about what goes on in the mind and heart of the photographer. There are many resources for photography technique out there and there is no single pathway to success as David shares in his VisionMongers book. One of the nice features of this book is the individual profiles of photographers and allowing people to know their story and their vision. Some of the photographers that I am familiar with are featured in the book such as Chris+Lynn, Chase Jarvis, and Zack Arias, and my eyes have been opened to photographers that I had not seen before. I enjoy hearing stories of how photographers came to be where they are today.

I admire David's outlook and desire to contribute to the international photography community. His specialization in doing humanitarian projects and capturing amazing images of the world inspires me to want to contribute more on the philanthropic front and to travel even more. The older I get, the more I want to see of this world and experience things. Yet it is David's work that also helps to remind me that it's more than just about the life of a traveling photographer, but that it's about our personal journey and how we can serve one another. May we be inspired to follow our calling in life and to be the best we can be, living a fulfilling life being and doing what we were meant to be and do.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Record-Breaking Snowfall

December 19: There was some major amounts of snow expected for the weekend. The snow started falling Friday evening and after Midnight the pace increased. I was glad for the weekend and slept in awhile. It's always fun looking out of the window and seeing how much snow fell. It wasn't until the afternoon that I went outside to walk in the snow and then shovel the driveway, sidewalk, and area around my car.

Fifteen inches of snow was officially measured at Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. The snowfall for this day broke a couple records: 1) The daily record snowfall for the date (7 inches in 1945) and 2) The all-time record om DC for any single calendar day, surpassing the 11.5 inches from December 17, 1932. All this snow makes things a bit crazy for people in the DC area, especially with driving. I was content to stay in this day, except for clearing pathways at the house and taking pictures around it.

Magic & Miracles at The Mansion

The Second Annual "Magic & Miracles at The Mansion" was a benefit for Ready, Willing & Working (RWW) on December 17th. "Ready, Willing & Working is a non-profit organization that empowers individuals to break the cycles of homelessness, welfare dependency and criminal recidivism through a residential, paid-work rehabilitation program offering a holistic approach and supportive services that allow participants to achieve permanent self-sufficiency."

The benefit event was a celebration of the Magic of Opportunity and the Miracle of the Human Spirit. The Mansion on O Street is a remarkable place. Their website describes The Mansion "as a small private luxury hotel and club, conference center, and museum, we combine art, architecture, literature and inspiration to craft an exhilarating, entertaining experience."

Once inside The Mansion, I felt like I was in a magical place, and the Christmas decorations enhanced the beauty of what was already there. It seemed like every area in The Mansion had something interesting to display. You could say it was like being in a wonderland of sorts. The evening started with a video about Ready, Willing & Working which was narrated by award-winning journalist John Stossel. After the video, we heard from the Master of Ceremonies, Kojo Nnamdi (WAMU Radio Talk Show Host). The Satin Doll elephant which was part of the "Party Animal" parade in April 2002 was on a public auction to benefit RWW. The auction went from December 7 till the evening of Magic & Miracles. Satin Doll was auctioned and an amazing smorgasborg dinner was served. The evening was enchanting and beneficial to all who attended, because we could all see the return on investment of RWW. The stories of the benfactors of this program are living testimonies, and it's encouraging to see the difference it's made.