Sometimes things just come together perfectly.
Photographed at Paramount Studios in Hollywood while working a rather amazing event with my friend Maya Myers. Check her out here: http://mayamyers.com
If you’ve found your way to this post through a Google search, some asshole has probably just stolen your camera. My sincere condolences. The good news is there are numerous ways to help you recover your gear! How do I know this? I’m sorry to say, through my own excruciating experience. I recently had a Nikon D700 and an attached 80-200mm f/2.8 lens stolen – seemingly during the millisecond or so my eyes closed as I blinked – from a table I was seated at in the lobby of the Long Beach Convention Center. Fortunately, my insurance didn’t have a clause excluding blinking, so I was covered. I was cheap with my insurance, thinking nothing would ever actually happen, so that still left me with a $1,000 deductible to pay. But that’s better than the $3,000+ replacement costs! It’s also given me a sense of renewed vigilance when it comes to protecting my assets. Anyway, I’m sorry your gear was taken. When it happened to me I was looking for a consolidated resource on what to do, but couldn’t find anything. So, after research and asking around for advice, I thought I’d write my own. What’s the picture above have to do with this post? Nothing really, other than, like the thief who took my gear, I don’t know this person’s identity.
What I’ve learned about how to recover lost or stolen camera equipment:
Disclaimer! Unfortunately, none of this so far has resulted in my gear being returned, but I have heard success stories. Should my gear turn up I’ll be sure to update this post, noting which method did the trick. In the meantime, hopefully you’ll find this helpful in the event of stolen or lost gear. If you have anything to add to this or have had one of these methods work for you, please leave a comment below!
Happy Valentine’s Day! I caught this scene while waiting in line for an amazing rattlesnake and rabbit sausage at Wurstküche in downtown Los Angeles two weeks ago. I thought I’d save it for a Valentine’s Day post. The hearts are a creative take on the ubiquitous, and most often ugly, bolts that have been applied as seismic retrofitting for many of the city’s older buildings.
Well, not really. But a fun way to end the holidays. A few days back I got a last minute notice of a clandestine, late night bonfire on the beach comprised of a collection of Christmas trees set to be collected by the city the following morning. The dried trees were promised to go up in a flash. It seemed too fun not to witness, so we made an extra effort not to fall asleep on the sofa after having attended happy hour earlier in the evening and headed out to the water. When we arrived we were the only ones there, despite showing up ten minutes later than the announced burn time. We gave it a few minutes though, and just as we were about to pack it up spotted a line of people emerging like mice from the shadows, each with a tree in tow. Scurrying through the dark they dragged the trees out across the sand and beyond the berm, piling them out of site of anyone not already out on the beach and just feet from the water’s reach. Beneath the full moon, someone reached in with a lighter, igniting the needles of one of the trees. Within seconds the entire pile was ablaze, shooting sparks 20 feet into the sky as a group of 15 or so gathered around. As promised, the pile burned quickly and brightly and in a matter of minutes had nearly exhausted its fuel supply. By the morning the waves would wash away the ashes. It was a beautiful moment shared by only a few and was definitely worth waiting up for. Content, tired and smelling of campfire we decided to make the short trek home, stopping along the way to photograph our dancing shadows as they reached out to meet the surf. A fun way to officially end the holiday season. (More photos after the jump).
Erinn and I had a great trip to Tucson for the Thanksgiving holiday. Along the way I took numerous photos that had a rather quiet tone to them. Thought I’d pull them together for this post. While in Tucson, Erinn and I had a great time feasting with my sister and friends, trying out local breweries and visiting some pretty amazing locations, such as Ted De Grazia’s Gallery in the Sun and Mt. Lemmon. On the drive home we cut north on Rte. 86 for a very brief visit to the Salton Sea, which neither of us had visited in our three years living here. Only having seen images of decrepit trailers and short clips from the film Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea, I was surprised to see how many people lived there, primarily in the town of Salton City. We drove up the north shore looking for interesting sites and came across an interesting mix of abandoned furniture, dead fish and numerous birds. The chair I’d seen photographed before in different locations. It must be moved around as needed by the numerous photographers who have visited the site. The dead fish, it turns out, are a result of the ever increasing saline percentages in the water, which are making it harder and harder for the fish populations to survive. We had to stay on schedule to make it home by a certain time that evening for the arrival of some house guests, but I’d like to look into this area more. In addition to the eccentric people who live in the area, there are apparently some significant ecological issues going on there.
More photos after the jump!
A moment of guilt passes through my mind as I think that while we were out doing this, the majority of the country’s population was still in the path of, or trying to recover from, Hurricane Irene. But when things are perfect in your neck of the woods you’ve got to take advantage. And we did.
Last Sunday we got an invite from our friend, Roger, to join him and others on a sail out of Marina Del Rey. A heatwave that pushed the mercury over 100 degrees in the Valley coaxed the coastal temperatures into a much more tolerable mid-80s. Couple that with low winds and it was a perfect day for smooth sailing.
And we enjoyed every minute of it; relaxing, swimming and laughing with a great group of new friends made up of an impressive assortment of performers, entrepreneurs, adventurers and even a writer from the Daily Show (!). Normally I hate when those guys go on vacation, but when I get to hang out with them on a boat, I’m happy to make an exception. In the evening, several of us made our way over to Michael and Don’s place on the Venice Canals and kept the party going with some great grilling and beverages. If only every Sunday could be this perfect. As that’s unlikely, I took it upon myself to memorialize this one.
More photos after the jump!
Forget fireworks. This year the big Fourth of July spectacular in Venice Beach turned out to come in the form of a broken fire hydrant spewing water four stories in the air at the corner of Speedway and Clubhouse Avenues. What else to do but throw off your clothes and dance beneath the downpour until the authorities arrive? Or, if you’re me, take pictures. In many ways it was a welcome relief the disappointment we experienced from the cancellation of major fireworks shows in Santa Monica and Marina Del Rey. We were still able to see distant shows to the north in Malibu and to the south in Manhattan Beach, but nothing that was in-your-face. On our way back from the beach after fireworks we came across this scene and, like everyone else, ran toward it. There, for 15 minutes or so, crowds of people cheered as people took turns dashing into the downpour until the authorities arrived, unwittingly making the show patriotic with flashes of red, white and blue light. After a few minutes they cleared out the scene and got to work capping the geyser. Apparently, the culprit was a car that ran into the hydrant, knocking it off its base. I haven’t heard that anyone was hurt and hopefully no one experienced too much flooding from the 4-inch deep river that formed in the alleys. Definitely a memorable cap to an otherwise great Fourth, despite the meager fireworks displays.
Check out more photos after the jump!
It’s a little known fact that both Erinn and I are accomplished sumo wrestlers. Believe it. In fact, both of us hold silver medals from an officially sanctioned California Sumo Association tournament. While this is old news to us, I figured it’s about time I shared this tidbit with the rest of you, before it’s ancient history.
During the fall of ’09, Erinn and I set out to attend the Shuubun (fall equinox) sumo tournament at the “Dohyo of Dreams” in Garden Grove. We’d been invited by U.S. Heavyweight Sumo Champion Dan “Sumo Dan” Kalbfleisch after I’d asked him to sit for a portrait shortly after meeting him at a sumo demonstration at Venice Beach. He happened to be participating in this tournament the following week and thought it would be a great place to shoot, as well as to get some photos of the wrestlers in action. (You can see the portrait here.) Of course, I thought this was a brilliant idea, but at the time had no idea what I was getting us into. My first goal was to get a portrait that I liked, plus Erinn and I also thought we could collaborate on a story on the sport. When we got there, I set about lighting the portrait against the backdrop of a garage, which was decorated with Japanese script that I’m told translates to “Dohyo of Dreams.” The dohyo is located in Jim Lowerre’s backyard, behind his suburban Garden Grove home and, I believe, owes much of its name to the Kevin Costner classic, “Field of Dreams.” “Build it and they will come,” was the famous line, and it appears they have. Not in droves, but enough that the venue hosts annual spring and fall equinox tournaments as well as practice sessions. At least it did. An old link I had showing the dohyo is no longer active.
After the shoot they realized that there was only one female participant present – a 10-year-old girl – and turned to Erinn to see if she would be willing to participate in the tournament in order to give the girl a competitor. Caught a little off guard, she agreed. Saying no would of course send the little girl packing, so what choice did she have? Besides, how hard could it be for an adult woman to wrestle a 10-year-old girl? They went about signing her up, weighing her in and fitting her with a mawashi, the standard loin cloth worn by wrestlers.
This was pretty funny, I thought, watching her get ready. I didn’t expect that a minute later they would be convincing me to do the same. Uh oh. With my background in photojournalism, I usually try not to get involved in what I’m shooting. Often times that’s for ethical reasons, but it can also be for the simple fact that it can prevent me from doing my job. But, despite a moment’s hesitation, I couldn’t pass this up. We weren’t there working for anyone and when would I ever have this chance again. Suit me up.
Seeing as I didn’t bring my own, they were kind enough to lend me a pair of shorts to wear under the mawashi they lent me. How do you make a man in a mawashi look more ridiculous? Make him wear pink shorts underneath. After we were both fitted we went through a training session, first outside the ring with the referee, and then in the ring with Sumo Dan himself. You don’t realize what you’re really up against until you find yourself face to face with a 300+ professional, who, by effortlessly leaning into you causes you to buckle as you simply try to hold your ground.
Fortunately, neither of us had to actually wrestle Dan. After our training, which included a routine of tossing salt into the ring to purify it, squatting, stomping, clapping your hands and then raising them to show you are unarmed, we stepped out of the ring and waited to compete. While not competing, I was of course shooting while Erinn took notes and interviewed wrestlers. Then it was time to wrestle.
Erinn was up first. Her competitor nearly equaled her in size. The daughter of one of the male competitors, this was not her first time in the ring, and she quickly took Erinn in the first bout. Erinn stepped up and was able to push her out of the ring on the second bout, but lost again in the third. A valiant effort and enough to earn her second place.
Then it was my turn. Erinn grabbed my camera and I stepped into the dohyo. There were just enough men that we could have two weight divisions. Myself, another man in his 50s and a third approaching 80 comprised the lightweight division. My first competitor was the younger of the two, who effortlessly knocked me off balance by grabbing my belt and lifting as he pushed me backwards out of the ring. One of the keys to sumo, I learned, was keeping a low center of gravity. This I do not have, and lifting on my belt was enough to completely take away any chance that I could push back. But I had my revenge. Not on him, but on the 80-year-old. I shouldn’t be proud of that, but I am. You gotta take the victories where you can. We squared off and, using my reach and the fact that I was more than a foot taller than him, I overpowered him forced him out of the ring. Despite his overwhelming defeat, he was all smiles.
Following the sanctioned competition, I wrestled one more guy just for fun. Despite looking like a sumo wrestler, he was actually rather new to the sport and had traveled with his sister from New Mexico to compete. Someone volunteered me as someone with whom he could get another round of practice. I was given some tips on how to use his inexperience to his disadvantage, but my own lack of experience combined with his mass were enough to assure him of the win.
As this was an official event, a ceremony was held at the end of competition, and medals were awarded. Both of us proudly took our silvers and posed for a photo with our weight divisions and again with the whole group.
I did get some photos from the event that I liked, but it’s fair to say that my work did suffer from participating. But screw it. We medaled in a sumo tournament! I’ve had conflicts that have prevented me from going to some recent sumo events, but I’m hoping we can pick this up again and publish a piece at some point. I’ll be sure to share when we do.
Yesterday I rode my bike up the beach to shoot the Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race and then met up with my friend Eric who was in town from New York to visit his cousin. Still working on those photos, but here’s one that I shot on the Pier while waiting for the race to begin.