Saturday, October 31, 2009

U2 360 Rocks!

September 29 - U2 360 Tour - Fedex Field, Washington DC: U2 Rocks! They are one of my favorite bands and I had been looking forward to their concert in DC for many months. I got four tickets and was glad to have some friends go with me. We got to Fedex Field early to try and avoid traffic. We didn't have time for dinner elsewhere so we go dinner at the stadium and Johnny Rockets was our choice from all that was offered there. The anticipation was constantly building and as it came time for the concert to start, we could feel the flurry of excitement. All I had was my iPhone on me, so I did what I could with it in taking pictures.

The band Muse opened up the evening and they are also one of my favorite bands with their Starlight song being one of my faves. Muse was awesome. When U2 came on the crowd cheered and was amazed at the sights and sounds around them. The whole concert structure looked like something out of sci-fi movie. The stage had a walkway all around, hence the name 360 for the tour. It was an amazing concert and even felt spiritual. It's more than just about the music with U2 as their is a definitive message in their songs, some of which are supportive of humanitarian causes. This was more than a concert, it was an experience, and one that I feel helps me to consider more than just where I am and what I'm doing, but to think in a 360 perspective with concern for what's going on in the world and what I can contribute to it.

The Morning After GIFF LA

September 27 - LA to DC: I awoke the morning after GIFF LA in a very relaxed state and I'm sure the amazingly accommodating room I stayed in helped me feel that way. I'm not used to staying in such places and I felt so thankful, yet I also understood that so many people in the world don't get to wake up in such conditions. It caused me to be thankful for what I have and receive it as a gift.

The relaxing morning continued with a nice continental breakfast (nicer than a lot of other continental breakfasts I've had). Breakfast by the pool was enjoyable and I knew that this time was only a temporary escape of sorts, as I would be back to metropolitan DC soon and back to the familiar.

I met my executive car driver and saw the peculiar shoes worn by him that represented a dress casual appearance and way of doing things. In conversations with me and on the phone the driver kept referring to me as the big kahuna, further reflective of how this company serves their customers. I got a big kick out of it, and the driver went on to tell me the kind of people he's driven around and the stories from his experiences driving with this service. That's good customer service in making your clients feel important. At LAX I passed by a couple guys outside, and one of them had some gear on him that made me think he was one of those photographers who waits for celebrities to show up at the airport to snap pictures of them. I enjoyed using my new camera gear luggage as it served me well.

The flight to DC gave me more to ponder and photograph as I enjoyed the perspective and the sun setting. I arrived at IAD around 7:15pm and was on the way out of the airport just after 8pm. It was a good trip and I enjoy traveling every once in awhile, but it's also good to home. There's something about both traveling and being home, and may it create a balance of perspective and growth in this journey called life.

The Big GIFF Day

September 26 - GI Film Festival - Simi Valley, CA: It was an important day and it started off well as I was able to walk around Westlake Village where I stayed and enjoy the surroundings. I had the complimentary breakfast and had some bagels with cream cheese. That's a big deal as I'm often too on the go in the mornings to eat a good breakfast! Our GIFF crew arrived at the location of GIFF LA around 8am at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to prepare for the day. It was a beautiful location and we felt that this was the perfect place to hold this event.

We were pleased to be expecting a good number of people for this inaugural road show event. Guests started arriving and they were greeted at our welcome table and checked in, and guests could see the Young Marines at specific points showing them the way to the auditorium where the films were to be shown. There were a lot of veterans and supporters in attendance, and it was good to have Gary Sinese host this film festival. Gary is very supportive of our troops and has done so much to show his appreciation for them and their families. It's good to have support from a variety of celebrities too as seen in past GIFF events.

The surroundings of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library proved to be a very solemn and honoring location for this event, and the backdrop of the horizon was reflective. The sunset from this vantage point was absolutely gorgeous. One of the most notable monuments here was a piece of the Berlin Wall, and it brought to mind the events that transpired at that time and the sacrifices made to bring the wall down. The dawn of a new era would come and Ronald Reagan helped it's arrival at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987 with a speech challenging Mikhail Gorbachev to"tear down this wall!"

In such an environment as this, the films seemed to resonate more for the cause of freedom. The reactions to the films were positive with support and appreciation. One of the highlights of the day was seeing and hearing Gary Sinese speak, and following that there was a reception at the spacious Air Force One Pavillion. This was the plane that flew Reagan and several other U.S. Presidents. Also on exhibition was a 120' mural that represents all the aircraft that have flown a U.S President. The evening ended sometime after 11pm and just before Midnight the last of us departed having stood for our troops and the cause of freedom worldwide.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Day Before the GI Film Festival

September 25 - Flying to LA: It was planned for me to take a flight to LA for the GI Film Festival (GIFF) Road Show as I was commissioned to photograph the event. I was set to arrive the evening before the event to prepare and rest for the big GIFF day. The GI Film Festival is "the first film festival in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the American military through the medium of film." I was also honored to have photographed the GIFF event in May of last year and this year when they hold their week long event in DC. The LA event was the first GIFF event taken on the road to a city other than DC.

I was anticipating my trip to LA because I enjoy visiting CA and because traveling always seems to bring about new adventures. While in the self check-in line for American Airlines at Dulles Airport I met a couple ladies that turned out to be actresses. They're on and play Peggy and Lupe in the show the Diary of a Single Mom. It was great to talk with them on the way to the plane and along the way it felt like we were in a futuristic place with the way things were constructed at the airport.

I'm traveling much more these days compared to previous years. I still marvel every time I'm on a plane flight and look out the window. It is truly a wonder to me that we "fly" and how small we can seem in such a big world. Everything seems so much simpler in the skies and in space. The in-flight movie happened to be The Proposal so yeah, I watched it and had a few laughs. Time flew and I arrived at LAX and had a ride waiting for me with my name on a sign. That's never happened before. Brandon and Laura from GIFF made me feel welcome and took care of the arrangements, including the nicest "hotel" room that I've stayed in at Westlake Village Inn. They also had a gift bag for me in my room. I had to get ready for the next day, so I double-checked my camera gear and made sure I got enough sleep for the long next day.