Be thankful for your vision and keep pursuing it, no matter what the “experts” say
Two weeks ago I participated in portfolio reviews at FotoFest Paris, and showed several photos from my ongoing projects on street life in Paris and “a Lucky Life.”
Although the Paris work has been exhibited four times in galleries from Durango to London and my trademark image of Paris has been a favorite at charity auctions and with everyday buyers alike, the reactions ranged from “The bar is very high for Paris street photography” to “This isn’t reality [over here],” to “If you believe in a body of work, do what you need to get it out there.”
Item last - Bingo - and thank you!
So while I’m grateful for the observations and suggestions, and was heartened by the warm response to and request to see more images of Lucky, I’ll remember what my friend Guy Kawasaki learned from Steve Jobs, and remain true to and pursue my vision while keeping the experts suggestions in the proper perspective.
Be thankful for your vision, thank those who appreciate it, and stay true to your vision while continuing to work on your personal projects.
"Seeing isn’t enough - you have to feel what you photograph" — Andre Kertesz
Photos (c) 2008 and 2006 Bob Soltys All Rights Reserved
A Photographer’s Best Friend
Ten years ago September 30, someone tied a Jack Russell Terrier to a light pole in the parking lot at the South County shelter in San Diego, and left him there in the middle of the night.
He didn’t have a tag, so the shelter gave him three days. When no one came to get him, at the 11th hour on the third day the shelter prepared to put him down. Jack Russell Rescue arrived and saved him. Given the close escape from the needle, the rescue folk named him Lucky.
A month later, I saw his photo on Jack Russell Rescue’s website. After references were checked, Jill Aguilera (God rest her) gave the okay to adopt him, and I did, ten years ago today, October 26.
Since that time he’s made friends all across the country, brought smiles to countless faces, been an ice breaker with the Amish and others, willingly posed for so many pictures, gained a following on Twitter, and asked for nothing except that he come along whenever possible. And of course, as Elliott Erwitt likes to say, he doesn’t ask for prints.
Lucky has brought much luck and taught me a lot about patience. I’m grateful for his companionship and for his welcome when I return home from London, Paris, or from somewhere local that ain’t dog-friendly.
More information about the photos is in A Lucky Life, one of my Blurb books. Proceeds go to Russell Rescue, as do those from a coffee mug with the RCA Victor Dog picture.
In the meantime, may I keep in mind …
"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion" …
and live up to his opinion of me.
Photos (c) Bob Soltys All Rights Reserved
The onset of cooler weather this week, my upcoming trip to Paris, and trouble sleeping due to a cold prompted me to make some vin chaud (hot wine), with which I first became acquainted at Paris’ Le Brasserie de île Saint Louis.
Perfect for warming up on a rainy fall day, it also makes a great hot toddy:
One bottle red wine
4 cinnamon sticks
1.5 x .5 inch piece of orange zest (white pith removed)
4 tablespoons honey
2 cardamon pods
5 whole cloves
1/3 cup cognac
Mix the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to simmer on the lowest burner setting. Do not boil. Strain the spices with a mesh sieve or cheesecloth liner. You can add another teaspoon of cognac to a mug of the mulled wine.
Thanks to Le Brasserie de île St-Louis for the warm atmosphere, vin chaud, and being photographer friendly.
Photo (c) 2011 Bob Soltys All Rights Reserved
Caution: alcohol can interact with and cause unwanted side effects if you’re taking benadryl, cough syrup, and other cold remedies.
A picture is worth a thousand words
While doing street photography in Paris in September of 2007, I saw a group of medical students outside Cafe Les Deux Magots.
Without saying a word, in one, smooth, almost-choreographed Kodak moment they simultaneously dropped trou as I raised my camera, sharing with the world their opinion of Americans with cameras.
In view of the disgraceful dysfunction and lack of leadership from both Democrats and Republicans that partially shuttered our government on October 1, one can’t help but think that their opinion of America would be the same today.
Photography is all about light, and these two photos show how understanding light and using an incident meter can make the difference between a properly exposed and underexposed negatives.
The 2006 image of Lucky, my Jack Russell Terrier, whose 12th birthday is September 30, was underexposed in the camera. The film was lab-processed, as I had not yet started processing my own black and white film again, so I couldn’t compensate by developing the film a bit more. Thanks to John Rehner for saving it when scanning the print.
That was the perfect situation for an incident meter.
Why an incident meter? At a wedding, no worries about the difference between the bride’s dress and the groom’s tux, or being thrown off by bright candles. One reading on a cloudy day, and the wedding photos were properly exposed, much easier to print, and the print was a straightforward scan.
As Gunter Ostherloh told us on the last day of the Leica Akademie course for the M6TTL in 1998: “Gut licht!”
Photos (c) 2006 and 2010 Bob Soltys, All Rights Reserved
Mitch Dobrowner has chased storms since 2009, photographing monsoons, tornadoes and thunderstorms through out the American Midwest and West.
Powerful black and white photos from back in the day … Martin Luther King and the Freedom Riders, 1961
It’s mid-spring, 1961. In the kitchen of a safe house in Montgomery, Ala., Martin Luther King Jr. is tense. In the house with the 32-year-old civil rights leader are 17 students — fresh-faced college kids who, moved by King’s message of racial equality, are literally putting their lives at risk. These are the groundbreaking practitioners of nonviolent civil disobedience known as the Freedom Riders, and over the past two harrowing weeks, as they’ve traveled across the state on integrated buses, their numbers have diminished at every stop in the face of arrests, mob beatings — even fire-bombings.
Right there along with the riders, capturing the mood of the movement as it swung between exhilarated and exhausted, thrilled and terrified, was 26-year-old LIFE photographer Paul Schutzer, who covered the landmark Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom march and rally in Washington, D.C., four years earlier and witnessed firsthand the courage and determination Dr. King inspired in his followers. (Filed along with Schutzer’s Pilgrimage photos in LIFE’s archives are notes from the magazine’s Washington bureau chief, Henry Suydam Jr., citing the energy and excitement swirling around King even then: “At the end of the ceremonies, a couple of hundred people pressed feverishly on Reverend King — seeking pictures, autographs, handshakes, or just a close look. The jam got so heavy that he had to be escorted to safety by police.”)
Here, five decades after the Freedom Riders put their lives on the line for dignity and equal rights, LIFE.com presents photos — most of which never ran in LIFE — made by Schutzer during that heady era in American history. Here are images charting a pivotal moment in the historic journey of Dr. King himself and in the nation-changing movement he led, from the monuments of Washington to the highways, rural roads, churches and bus depots of the Deep South.