the life of m

Sol Neelman’s Weird Sports 2: The Photo Book

onecompellingimage:

Our friend, Sol Neelman is doing a Kickstarter right now to support his new book, Weird Sports 2! Both Weird Sports and Weird Sports 2 are filled with wonderful weird sports from around the world including Florida. Click HERE to donate to his book! There are some really great rewards like getting a copy of the book, prints, and even a custom Weird Sports luchador mask.

Here are a few of our favorite Florida images:

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A traveling day. Nathan Martin is going to town. He is going to have a meal with the woman he loves. He usually hates wearing a shirt, but Vida will tsk tsk if he shows up with chest bare. He also needs to decide what to do about footwear. He hates shoes even more than he hates wearing a shirt.

For as long as anyone can remember he has tramped through his North Florida woods in naked feet less human than possum. They’re yellow, padded and bristling with nails more like talons. Those feet fear no stone, stick or snake. But maybe, just a little bit, they fear Vida.

He growls: “I only wear shoes for town or church.” He last bought a Sunday pair two decades ago at Walmart for $25. He rescued a second pair from a dumpster about 10 years ago. Grumbling, he throws them into the back of the truck. If Vida gives him the stink eye for showing up for chicken and dumplings with feet exposed, he’ll put them on.

At 72, Nathan Martin is a throwback to a Florida that is all but gone. He lives without running water in a dilapidated house illuminated by a single light bulb and heated by a wood-burning stove, not because he has to but because he likes it. He has a phone he rarely answers, has never used a computer or owned a television or had a credit card. “I was born too late,” he says. He would have been at home in the 19th century.

When he dies a part of Old Florida will pass away with him. He has a lot of relatives in Gilchrist County, but no children of his own. He’s the last of his kind…

Do yourself a favor and read the rest of Jeff Klinkenberg’s story on The Last Martin of Gilchrist County. It’s a wonderful story about a wonderful man. And if you’d like to hear his wonderfully southern, molasses laden drawl as he tells great stories in his own words, please… WATCH THE VIDEO.

They say once the muck gets under your toenails it’s hard to get it out. I’ve come to realize that’s both literal and figurative as I’m preparing for another trip to Muck City this week — a place I feel strangely compelled to explore visually. With equal forces at play that I’m both drawn to and repelled by.

Glancing back through photos from recent trips to remind myself of characters and scenes and things I need to continue to gather. Really excited to see how this project is coming together.

(I have a few earlier posts on Muck City here and here.)

#ILikedItButItNeverRan

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I keep joking that I’m going to start a series of tumblr posts titled: #ILikedItButItNeverRan. So, here goes. Newspapers are funny, fickle creatures. They spend a lot of time and money on things that never run. They send photographers (and writers) out to do their jobs, and cover their communities, and then things never make it into print.

And this happens ALL THE TIME.

I always tell young photographers that they have to do their jobs to the best of their ability, then give others (editors, designers) the same courtesy — time and space to do theirs. But, after 15 years, of seeing photos I like not run, it gets tougher with each passing one to listen to my own advice… photos I feel like went above and beyond the assignment and added a little something extra to the visual coverage of the day (especially photos like the one above where I worked the shit out of a fairly lame, nothing assignment to cover the grand prix watch party on the roof of a parking garage and was actually pretty happy with the result).

But, hey, I guess I’ll always have it for my portfolio. I can blog, tweet or instagram it, right? That’s great and all, but (for better or worse) I’m a photojournalist at a newspaper, and I take covering my community seriously. Sadly, the ones I want to see the pictures I make more than anything are the subjects who let me in, people who gave me their permission to witness moments, their trust and their names and who were excited that something might appear in print the next day. 

When I was a student at the Eddie Adams Workshop (XIV), I heard Eugene Richards talk about how he’d been doing these incredibly powerful, eye-opening stories in the trenches of his community and how he begged the local newspaper to run them — even offered the images up for free and offered to write something, too — and they were never published. So decades later, along came his book “Fat Baby” that has a dozen of so of these hard-hitting stories — that probably would have made a difference in the community had they been seen — that were finally being published in a big, fat, beautiful, heavy photo book that as he said is great and all, but realistically it meant that that work was only going to be seen by 2,500 other photojournalists now. 

Sure, I like to get likes on social media. But what does that really serve besides my own ego. I guess that’s Richards’ modern day photo book analogy wrapped up in a nutshell and delivered on an iPhone. It’s great and all, but…

Friendly Advice

Can I offer a little piece of friendly advice for those of you applying for internships/jobs?

You essentially get three pieces of information to show your worth as a photographer, a journalist and a human being: your portfolio, your resume and a cover letter. It goes without saying, that your portfolio should be the best of the best. You are only as strong as your weakest photo (example: Don’t stick a lame sports photo in just to show you can shoot sports). It’s your main chance to shine and show what you can do for the publication you’re applying for, so this might be a good time to take those pix of your college girlfriend, and pictures of light and shadows off your portfolio… you know, the ones in that section of your website named after lyrics from your favorite indie song?!

With that said, researching the publication you’re sending stuff to is essential. Is it a small community paper where you need to be incredibly well rounded and show you can do it all? Is it a larger publication that places an emphasis on personal vision and good story telling? Is it a magazine that specializes in portraiture? It might help to know these things. (We’ve actually gotten questions from people wanting to know if we shoot sports at the paper. Yes. It’s a large daily newspaper with professional football, baseball and hockey teams, arena league football, a Grand Prix, and about 100 high school in our coverage area who are always state contenders in something… but you should do your homework, because just going to our website would have told you that…) And before you ask stupid questions to editors, about what their publication is about, seek out past interns that can tell you what the daily demands really are.

Now onto your resume. Keep it to ONE PAGE. At this point, it’s silly to think you require more. Highlight your experiences and awards, but don’t over inflate your sense of self worth. Also: social media isn’t a skill. It’s expected at this point, and there’s no sense in saying you know how to use it if you haven’t included your @username. 

And lastly, your cover letter should NOT duplicate your resume. If you spend a paragraph telling someone what computer programs you know and what gear you’re comfortable using — you just wasted some valuable real estate. If you spend three paragraphs telling someone about your qualifications and every place you’ve ever worked and how many people you managed on your student paper, (thing you’ve bullet-pointed already on your resume) I can guarantee they’ve stopped reading because you’ve wasted their time.

Instead think of a cover letter as a chance to introduce yourself, an opportunity to share something about the quality of your character, the perfect place to infuse some personality and set yourself apart. Anecdotes work well. Tell me, in a paragraph, about how you’ve grown as a photographer. About a picture or story that moved you and why. About a moment that was a turning point. About how you’ve dealt with adversity. Or about what you’re most proud of.

And for the love of all that’s good in the world, please spell the editor’s name correctly (actually have someone else read it before you send it — and make sure you spell everything correctly and use proper grammar…). And resist the urge to use “To Whom It May Concern” or my current favorite “Hello Employer!”

That’s all you get — three little pieces of information to get your foot in the door and make a good impression on a future employer. If you’re smart, all three will complement one another and give a more well-rounded idea of who you are. Ultimately, it’s about the strength of your pictures and what you can do for the publication you’re applying for. When there are plenty of good applicants though, things like your resume and cover letter can help set you apart if done well. When you’ve made it to the finalist’s pile, I can guarantee it’s those small things (like typos) that editors will be looking at to find fault with.

Oh, and have I mentioned that we’re looking for an awesome one-year photo intern at the Tampa Bay Times?

5 Questions for Melissa Lyttle

apadblog:

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Melissa Lyttle is a photojournalist at the Tampa Bay Times newspaper in St. Petersburg, Fla. She started APhotoADay nearly 15 years ago, as a conversation between two friends; APAD now has over 2,500 members on its listserv and inspirational annual get-togethers for its members. She believes in the power of community journalism and of the importance of community amongst fellow photographers. 

I had an awesome first (and hopefully not last) freelance assignment a few months ago for Our State Magazine to photograph the Bodie Island Lighthouse keepers’ descendants reunion weekend. I was totally enamored with the Outer Banks and its ubiquitous light house culture.

Here are some of my favorite outtakes that didn’t make the magazine.

Also, because we’re a great team, Lane DeGregory’s story is worth a read on the folks drawn to the light.

Master the Medium

Amen.

"The fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium. Instead they allow the medium to master them and go on an endless squirrel cage chase from new lens to new paper to new developer to new gadget, never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities, becoming lost in a maze of technical information that is of little or no use since they don’t know what to do with it."

Edward Weston, 1927 (via erickimphoto)

5 Questions for Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

apadblog:

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Sara Lewkowicz is a native New Yorker pursuing a master’s degree in visual communication from Ohio University in Athens and received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has won several grants and awards, including the 2013…

5 Questions for Pete Brook

apadblog:

Pete Brook is a freelance writer and curator. Pete likes images in general, but prison images specifically — he thinks they may have instructional value. Pete is confused why caring about prisons is seen as radical. Being concerned about millions of men, women and children who are locked up for…

5 Questions for Kendrick Brinson

apadblog:

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Kendrick Brinson is a redhead (if you know any redheads, this explains a lot). She is a documentary, portrait, and lifestyle photographer (take that, boxes), who now resides in Los Angeles, California with her creative counterpart David Walter Banks. Her work can be found at

Playing around with a possible #Florida edit for my site.

Last Day for Local Barber, Carl Troup

He unlocked his shop just after 8 a.m., clicked on the neon “Open” sign in the window facing Fourth Street.

To his right, just outside the door, the barber pole was still spinning.

In 46 years, he had never turned it off.

"Cold out there this morning," he said to his partner on Wednesday. "Don’t know that we’ll get many today."

The shop was small. Three chairs lined the northern wall, but his was separate. They all had cushioned footrests — with ashtrays carved into the right arm. The black seats sagged with the weight of four generations.

As soon as he picked up his coffee, the phone rang. He has had the same number since 1968. “Pyramid Barber Shop,” he said. “No, you don’t need an appointment. Just walk on in any time.”

Then he shook his head. “No,” he said. “We won’t be here tomorrow. Today’s our last day.”

Read the rest of Lane DeGregory’s story here and watch my video about the end of an era.