Happy New Year from New York City!
Photo: Zach Lumpkin plays with his dog, Fiona, at the play ground at the Furnace Creek Ranch.
My book is now available on iTunes: http://bit.ly/RbUg3Z It’s free and meant to be viewed on an iPad. I’m considering modifying it into an ePub file format so that it can be read on computers and other tablets as well. I think that iPads are becoming more and more common, but I am annoyed that this version isn’t readable on a computer.
Anyway, life in New York is zipping along. I have a backlog of photos that I need to edit, so hopefully those will appear here soon. In the meantime, Happy Holidays!
Val Baumunk drives past Zabriskie Point towards Furnace Creek in Death Valley. At the end of the route, Val will leave the bus will the morning route driver and take a school van back to Shoshone, where she will pick up her car and drive home. Nothing is simple in Death Valley and getting home can be difficult.
I am closing in on the last week before my Master’s defense. I will be at the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University in a week to defend my iBook, which I will publish shortly before my presentation. (Hopefully.) I’ll put up more details as the time approaches.
I’ve been getting feedback from professors and colleagues, which I appreciate. A couple of my friends at work were kind enough to proofread it for me and I’ve observed how different people interact with it. I’m worried that everyone is going to ignore the text in favor of watching all the videos. Hopefully that won’t happen since I have put a lot of thought into the writing. The younger the reader, the more likely they were to calmly bounce between text, video, and images.
I found this while I was backing up my computer tonight. I waited for a shot for an hour in the early morning between Shoshone and Death Valley Junction back in February. Granted, there have been a few times where I’ve invested at least four hours into capturing mere seconds of footage, but this is the one I happened to shoot a photo of. It’s my Canon on a tripod. Stuck to a small boulder to the left, out of frame, is a little GoPro camera. By setting up two cameras at different angles, I was able to get matched-action, which you can see if you watch the beginning of the video I posted earlier.
(Above): Rough draft of publicity poster for “Death Valley Unified”
The time has come! Not really, but it’s right around the corner. I have a presentation date for my master’s defense. I also have a due date for publicity materials for said presentation. I put together a little poster just to see what would happen. It’s a bit rough. Most of my photos work best with horizontal compositions because I shot them with video in mind. I think the immense sense of space is lost when this photo is cropped into a vertical composition. I had a different photo there, but I realized I had to have the school bus in the shot since it’s at the heart of the story.
Anyway, I’d love to hear feedback. Would you come to my presentation after seeing this poster? Maybe I should add “Free Cookies!” at the bottom. I’d show up for free cookies.
I come bearing a photo! As always, feedback is appreciated.
My master’s project is going slowly. The iBook is designed and mostly written. At the moment, I’m trying to build up the courage to get feedback from my professors, which is always daunting.
I’m debating what to do with this blog. After my previous post, I began to think about what needs to be said in the world of photography. Many people blog and write about what’s going on (I’m very fond of duckrabbit.info/blog/ for anyone looking for inspiration and thought-provoking posts). However, I feel that the world of photojournalism is small and inbred. It is difficult to make a name for yourself, to be recognized, to ‘make it.’ There are also ideas that bounce around in my head that I don’t have someone to talk to about, especially since I’ve left the confines of school. So I’m just going to start throwing them up on here. Brace yourself.
I know I usually keep to posting photos on this blog (and that lately I have definitely been slacking off) but this issue upset me so much that I felt the need to write a response.
Today I received an email from Photo District News announcing their new magazine. It’s called “Pix.” It’s a new “Photography Lifestyle Magazine for Women.” My heart sank as soon as I read the label. “Lifestyle” is never a good sign. The introduction notes that I’m probably “artsy.” The more I read, the more depressed I became. In each issue, I was promised that I would find find “tips, ideas, products and trend reports for women in photography.”
Basically, this magazine is a combination of product placement, fluff articles, and lens flare. It’s a sad excuse to make money off of a group of people the rest of the photography world already doesn’t respect. Pix recommends what mascara to wear while working. It will enlighten me on the joy of photographing newborns. One of the subheadings is labeled “Wallflowers” and there’s an entire article devoted to couples. I can even decorate my lenses and buy cute camera straps!
Here’s the problem: whoever decided to publish this has no idea what my “lifestyle” is. It isn’t about make-up. It’s not about decorating my lens and it’s definitely not about being a wallflower.
So, for those who are looking for the truth, this is what it is like to be a female photographer:
My favorite lens is chipped, my back is sore, my feet are blistered. In the past year, I have been in a car accident, been bitten by fire ants, missed many, many meals, and become incredibly sleep-deprived. I work a full-time film and production job and spend my free time trying to finish my master’s degree. I walk over a mile every day, usually more. I carry pounds of equipment on my back. Every single scratch on my lens and dent on my camera gives me pride because it means I have endured. My coffee addiction is getting out of control.
I am not “artsy,” I am an artist.
In December, I went to a film screening with a male peer of mine. He was treated professionally, but I was asked if I was a “groupie.” I don’t know if the man who said that merely meant that I was tagging along and pretending to be a filmmaker or if he actually thought I was sleeping with one of the men in the room, but either way, it’s one of the worst things anyone has ever said to me. It stung more because he was the one who organized the screening.
I have driven through Death Valley alone at night in a car with the warning light blinking, with over $3,000 of equipment in the trunk in an area with no cell service. Never, for one second, did I wonder, “Is my neck strap adorable enough? What if my lens isn’t cute enough?”
I do not photograph babies. I do not shoot weddings. I resent it when people assume I do simply because I was born a woman.
Women in photography have it hard enough as it is. I have spent hours commiserating with other women over being overlooked. Some female photographers have to worry about being assaulted or raped, yet now that someone decided to make a magazine for us, it doesn’t deal with any of that. Give me self-defense tips, advice on how to protect my camera in sub-zero temperatures, and directions on how to waterproof my backpack.
I buy the same cameras, the same backpacks, and in some cases, the same shoes as my peers of the opposite sex. And trust me, I can shoot and edit as well as they can and in the end, that is all that should matter.
A student from Death Valley walks towards her home after being dropped off after school. She spends an hour and a half on the bus each afternoon in order to get home.
Also, in a personal note, I am moving to New York City in about a month. It’s kind of the opposite of what I was expecting and not what this blog was supposed to be about, but hey, life’s weird.
This means that this project will not be completed as soon as I had originally hoped, but I should have something respectable by September. I’ll post some of the videos before then, but the entire story should be on iTunes in October or so.
From my master’s project: one of Death Valley Unified School District’s buses drives toward Death Valley Junction during the afternoon. The school’s principle and the driver were worried about encountering a large dust storm in Furnace Creek.