Tom Hanks visited Lafayette College to give an informal talk with friend and author, Don Miller, and president of the Lafayette College, Alison Byerly. Tom talked about the notable roles and experiences he’s had working in the film industry, notably films set during World War 2. Miller, a WW2 historian, has collaborated with Tom on many occasions, including the HBO miniseries The Pacific, and Masters of the Air, which is based on Miller’s bestselling book.
If you are interested in a future project, or would like to see more of our work, visit the links under the credits below.
After finally fixing a broken memory card, I was able to salvage shots from the 2014 Holiday Show, which took place at the Leonard Theater, in Scranton, PA. Each year, internationally recognized acts originating from Scranton, PA return to share the stage and pay respects to their hometown. Proceeds from the event are donated to the youth art and music programs in the Scranton Area. The show was a great success, selling out early in the evening.
This year’s headliners were:
A video portrait is an excellent way to spotlight a unique individual or location. Interesting subjects can be found at every corner, and are a great way to spark your creativity.
Storytelling, either through filmmaking or writing, is made up of two types of building blocks: concrete and abstract. To demonstrate the difference between each, picture the following words in your mind: horse… money… love. The word “horse” is a literal representation; the word is concrete and universally pictured as a specific animal. The representation of “money” may come as a literal stack of money or as luxury items and the lifestyle associated with them. The word falls in between concrete and abstract. A visualization of “love” differs between person and culture. It is abstract and represented by the emotions evoked and connected with it. Much like these examples, video portraits fall into three similar categories.
The artistic portrait (abstract) is less about the subject and more about the film’s visuals or techniques. These types of portraits often are without dialogue or have separate dialogue not linked to the visuals. I often refer to this style as lyrical or visual poetry.
In George Kuchar’s Wild Night in El Rino, the subject is not a person, but a storm. George gives the audience little information to this point aside from what is visually seen. Through the use of film he documents the nuances of the storm as seen through his eyes, capturing the mood and feeling of the storm the same way a poet would capture the storm through the use of words.
The second example, Kyle, I created in 2006. Again, the film’s focus is on visuals. I chose to use a Mini DV camera at a very slow shutter speed to create a pastel colored palate the subject travels through. The limited used of sound (footsteps, breathing, and guitar playing) further adds to the idea of visual poetry composing the portrayed subject.
Mini Documentary (Indirect Approach)
Al Monelli’s Man With Puppet is an example of what I refer to as the indirect approach to video portraits (a mix of abstract and concrete). The indirect approach has a story arch that does not expose the “who”, “what”, and “why” of the subject upfront. Rater, the focus is on the inner struggles of the subject and the content is told through the visuals, building the story of the portrait as the film progresses.
The second example by James Hollenbaugh is an excerpt from Self Portrait Portrait. What is interesting about this piece is that the concrete and abstract areas are separated; the visuals serve as the abstract, and the audio the concrete. Where one ends, the other fills in. The audio tells the inner feelings of the subject, while the visuals paint a visual representation. Both are equally important, and can not exist without one another. Combined together, they create this amazing portrait.
Mini Documentary (Direct Approach)
The direct approach tells the “who”, “what”, and “why” of the subject upfront. While this style can still be artistic /semi-abstract, the main focus is on conveying information about the subject to the viewer. This is often the structure of documentary, promotional, and more recently, “Kick Starter” videos, as this information is needed upfront.
The first example is another film by James Hollenbaugh, I Made it With Colors. The focus of the piece is to portray the organization through subject interaction.
Art 21 has an excellent direct approach example with their portrait of Martha Colburn. The piece discusses her artistic process and is accompanied by visual representations to tell her story, portraying who she is as an artist.
Let this be an inspiration to use at least one of the styles listed (or all three!) in your future projects. Video portraits are individually unique and no two subjects or ways of portraying them are the same. Plus, searching for and finding the subject is half the fun.
It’s safe to say that exposure to the Winter holidays is inescapable. Lights are hung, cheer is in the air, and opportune moments exist for capturing a great image. This year I challenged myself to capture a creatively themed holiday image unlike any I have seen or taken.
For myself, the ritual of a Christmas tree comes along with the celebration. Each year the tree is dug out, erected, and decorated. Back in 2007 I took my first creative Holiday images with my first digital camera, a Canon Rebel XT. It was a long exposure intended to make the tree appear as if it were on fire (Figure 1. O’ Tannenbaum).
It not only captured a ritualistic holiday family tone, but a sense of mystery and darkness. Around this time I had first seen and been inspired from David Lynch’s film “Blue Velvet” and Otto Muhl’s experimental short film “O Tannenbaum”, to which I appropriated the name. Other inspiration for the image came from photographer Diane Arbus “Xmas Tree in a Living Room” below (Figure 2).
Here is the image I’ve come up with for the challenge (Figure 3). The editing isn’t 100% as I still need to tweak the color and make the image pop, but for what it is, I feel it accomplished the goal. Creating the image started with experimenting with a wide lens (16mm). After a few shots I noticed the sides of the tree wrapped around the back, and the center bowed forward due to the distortion of the lens. Using this to my advantage, I made a long exposure. Here’s the real kicker; while the shutter was open (8 -10 seconds) I walked a 360 degree circle around the tree equal distance to it’s front, until the exposure stopped. Because the composition of the tree and distance never changed, the shape of the tree remained the same. The result is a 3D representation of a 3D object on a 2D medium. The inclusion of the ceiling in the frame tells the process of how the image was created, melting into a smooth circle on the top of the image.
So there you have it, I’ve accomplished my goal and I have to say that experimenting creatively feels great! It opens up the creative juices that only enhance other work. I hope this is an inspiration to go out and capture your own creative holiday images. Keep those shutters clicking!
The seed library is a new addition to the Marywood University Library, and supplies members of the community with free seeds for planting. Learn how the seed library operates, as well as more information about the community garden.
Lately, I’ve been switching from a 4:3 ratio to a 1:1 ratio while shooting photographs.
Nostalgia pours in as I think back to this time of the year during early days shooting on film. Leaves falling, days growing shorter, and myself alternating between 35mm and 120 film (a 1:1 ratio). Mentally, shooting on 1:1 is very refreshing and brings me back to a time when the instantaneous results of digital was not present, and composing a shot in my mind was not as fast. My memory recalls paying more attend towards changing light of compositions and limiting shots by how much film was left in the camera.
Shooting on a 1:1 format has made me rethink the entire process of capturing an image. The rule of third has changed to quadrants; geometric patterns have also become much more evident. When I hold up my camera I find myself thinking, “Why am I taking this photo and what has drawn me towards this?” I would recommend switching formats to anyone seeking to rekindle their lost creative spark, ambition, or sense of adventure of just going out and shooting. Even if you never show or use any of the images, just shoot. Shoot, and your potential creativity will thank you later.
Recent shots I’ve taken at a 1:1 ratio.
The Russello Project is hands down, one of the most talented instrumental rock band I’ve come across. I had the opportunity to document their performance with Ken Jones Imagery, at The Factory Underground, located in Wilkes-Barre PA. Ken Jones Imagery and I are also collaborating on a live DVD/Blu Ray for the Russello Project, and are currently at the post-production stage.
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