Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Senior Portrait Session with Kelly

Just a few out takes from a senior portrait session...If you haven't booked time yet for your portrait session please be sure to do so soon! August and back to school activities will be soon all consuming. Early bird gets the worm. Don't put off till tomorrow, what you can do get the drift...

Also...a shout out and thanks to A. Robert Scott, Publisher of the Pittsburgh Point Magazine, for his recent comments about my book: Pittsburgh: A Photographic Portrait. He writes, " Over the years I've seen many books and photos of Pittsburgh, but these really appear to be some of the very, very best."

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE DAY: When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I'd like to know them. Anyone I know, I photograph. -Annie Leibovitz

Monday, July 7, 2008

Chocolate Labrador photo

I don't generally photograph animals for the same reason I haven't shot many babies...I simply don't have the patience to deal with things that can't talk back to me! As I was headed off to the coffee shop this morning, my good neighbor Lisa was walking her dog, Maddie, and told me a really cool truck was parked on the street. She thought having the dog in the truck bed would be a good photograph and I agreed. So I lifted the dog into the bed took a few frames and that was it! Of course Maddie wanted to be anyplace but the truck bed, but I got what I needed. She is more comfortable dragging stuffed animals and fire wood around the block when Lisa walks her, but she was cooperative enough.

The truck was a beautifully restored 1946 or 1947 International Harvester. The only reason I knew this was that I drove one when I was in high school. My dad had found it sitting in some front yard out in boonies along with broken down washing machines, lots of tires and rims, a few riding lawn mowers, and pair of crutches. You get the scene, right? So he paid about $200.00 for it and we drove it sputtering home with big grins on our faces.

We put new points,spark plugs, and a change of oil in the flathead six engine, and used it for a beater to haul fresh cut firewood out of the woods. A few months later, Dad gave it to me to drive when I was senior to get back and forth to school and soccer practice. It was one fun vehicle. Always the visionary, I was way ahead of the custom truck trend that started years later!

After he said I could keep it as long as I maintained it I went to work on it (or at least as much as one can do with a vehicle that was new 10 years before I was born!) I first set it outside to warm up in the summer heat and then using a can of shiny black RustOleum paint, I brushed the new paint on. It wouldn't have been worth paying someone to spray the paint, cause the paint job would have cost more than the truck! I then hand painted a beach scene mural on the dashboard which was all the rage in the 70's, put down orange shag carpet on the plywood floor that covered the long rusted out metal floor. Some adhesive pin striping from the car parts store and chrome paint on the 16" wheels and I was stylin! The truck topped out at about 50MPH. However it was geared super low, and could climb back roads and go off road up steep banks like a Tibetan sherpa. It was great for keg parties that were held out in the woods and always got me back reliably and safely. The truck was actually made from REAL steel, none of this "fuel saving pressed tin" that is in today cars and trucks. The front window was hinged at the top to ventilate the cab and a lever was under the dash that opened a hood scoop to let more fresh air in to occupants. It had a 6 volt battery (located under the seat) and it started by turning the key and then pushing a starter button that was located on the floor. A lot of kids made fun of me in the school parking lot for driving such a beater, but I had a line of girls (and guys) who always were looking for a ride in it and the experience of riding in something as old as that truck. I don't remember the truck ever breaking down or leaving me stranded. My sound "system" consisted of a portable cassette player (mono) wheezing out Foghat, Zepplin, Mountain and Bachman Turner Overdrive!

Just like one never forgets their first love, your first vehicle will remain forever etched as well. I promise my next post won't be so "nostalgic"!

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE DAY: When I have a camera in hand, I know no fear-Alfred Eisenstaedt

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A legend passes on...Ode to Froggy's

I'm sorry to report that I learned this week of the passing of Steve "Froggy" Morris, owner and proprietor of the former popular First Avenue watering hole, "Froggy's". Though the tavern closed many years ago, the death of Froggy closes a chapter in Pittsburgh that probably won't be ever opened again. Just about every designer, art director and more than a couple of photographers called Froggy's their place of doing business on Friday nights and at lunch time. I spent many enjoyable evenings talking with clients and others in the advertising business. What was interesting, was that by and large we never spent much time talking about "the business", but spent more time getting to know each other on a personal basis, learned about our families and extended friends and learned about life as we grew up through the years. Martinis and beers were downed, a little lamenting over the "good old days", but most of all a positive outlook for tomorrow and A LOT of laughs. Once I took a photographer friend of mine visiting from NYC in on a Friday night. He thought I was the mayor of Pittsburgh and was stunned that I knew so many people and shook so many hands before we even reached the third floor. Of course, Froggy was one of the first to greet me when I walked through the door...That is just the kind of place that Steve built...My NYC friend, simply wasn't used to seeing that kind of friendliness when he walked into a bar in Manhattan.

Froggy always welcomed everyone where he maintained his post at the round table once you got in the door. The bartenders and wait staff were the best in the business. Unlike most places where staff turn over happens on a weekly basis, the staff at Froggy's worked there for years. That in itself, is a tribute to how Steve Morris treated his employees and customers. Those familiar with his place knew that on Friday nights the three floors of the old building would be hopping. The joke was the older you got, you started hanging on the lower floors, either because you couldn't walk up the steps or you might look too pervy checking out all the beautiful young women who hung on the third floor and rooftop deck. In any case patrons from 21-81 all hung there and all got along great. Since the tavern closed, nothing in PIttsburgh even has come close to the ambiance that Froggy's had. Maybe I'm getting a little older, or maybe people just don't care to enjoy conversation all that much when they have texting and email, I dunno...but I'm a little sad that little piece of heaven doesn't exist downtown anymore.

Froggy, I wish you a great after life. Somewhere I know you are watching all of this with some amusement smoking a cigar and drinking a cocktail. I look forward to seeing you again and get a martini glass chilled for me :-)