Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Big Apple

Last week I attended the PDN PhotoPlus Expo in New York City for the first time. After three days of workshops, meetings, and trolling the hundreds of display booths featuring camera equipment, software and gizmos, I decided I needed further sensory overload and walked to Times Square with my point-and-shoot in hand. (Yes, I do own one.)

Signs, lights, scrolling tickers, billboards stacked three high on the faces of buildings, advertisements, street vendors, tour bus hawkers and yellow taxis constantly call out for attention. To experience life as one with ADD, stroll a few blocks in Times Square.

A morning in Times Square brought two reactions on my part. One was amusement, the other disinterest. As a photographer I found it fascinating to study the images selected to catch the eye in the midst of a multitude of advertisements. As a human being, I found I couldn't handle all the stimuli and began shutting down the receptors. The processing circuits were sizzling and needed a break. The glitz, the glamor, the buzz were fun, but how much of the information actually stuck in my brain? Research project anyone?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Making Friends in Small Towns

This fall I've been traveling through the northern part of Illinois seeking to fill some holes in my stock files. My travels have taken me through small and mid-size towns such as Dixon, Amboy, Moline and Grand Detour, Illinois along with the Iowa side of the Quad Cities.

I've discovered that when a woman carries a large camera, a camera waist pack and uses a lens hood she attracts attention -- particularly in a small town where everyone knows everyone. Curiosity gets the best of many people and they want to know if I work for the newspaper, if I'm taking pictures (no!), what brand of camera I use, what is that funny thing on my lens and would I take their picture with their camera.

Frequently the interaction becomes a conversation and I have met many fascinating people and heard some great stories just because I've been toting a camera. While in Dixon, Illinois, I kept running in to the same group of 8 adults at multiple locations. It so happened that we ate lunch in the Baker Street bakery where I learned that they were four siblings and their spouses who vacation together annually. Now scattered about the country, their rendezvous point this year was Dixon, Illinois. No one could quite explain how the Dixon area was the pick in 2007, but they were having fun visiting Ronald Reagan's childhood home and other local sites.

While enjoying fabulous home-made pies at Baker Street, they agreed to pose for a shot together. In a day and age when it has become increasingly difficult for family members to share the same air space, this group inspired me and were a highlight of my Dixon visit.