Capturing dangerous lives of rodeo cowboys

This summer, Tiger Woods became the world’s highest-paid professional athlete, pulling in $78.1 million from prize money, endorsements and appearance fees — a stark contrast to professional cowboys, who risk their lives to win a mere $800-$1000 (per event) competing in rodeos.

It’s “man vs. wild” as these men face unpredictable bucking animals. And in the middle of it all is photographer Rob Skeoch, known on Flickr as sportsphoto rob, who documents every moment.

“Photographically, the action is fantastic,” he tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “But what people don’t understand is unlike some professional sports, there’s so much heart and passion involved. It’s incredible and extremely humbling.”

Rob travels throughout Canada and parts of the U.S. attending what he calls grassroot rodeos. These are smaller events ranging from 800 to 2,000 fans, but allows him amazing access to the athletes.

Rodeo Cowboys Exeter Ram Rodeo

Rodeo Cowboys Orangeville Rodeo

“You’re so close to the action,” Rob describes. “You can actually feel the bull breathing on you as the cowboy is getting ready to go out. There’s so much activity, color and motion. It’s a wonderful thing.”

The crowd may be smaller than most televised rodeos. The excitement and energy level, however, is just as palpable.

Bull riding is probably the highlight of the rodeo,” Rob says. “It’s what people are sticking around to watch. There’s a lot of danger. These guys get on these animals, end up flying through the air and landing in the dirt. As a photographer, it’s very, very exciting.”

Ultimate Rodeo Welland Ontario STRRSH

Rodeo Cowboys Exeter Ram Rodeo

One of the most powerful moments to capture is the moment the chute opens and the bull comes flying out. Each cowboy is hoping to stay on the bull for a minimum of 8 seconds. Rob admits, however, even if one can hold on for that long, the worst is far from over.

“If you do cover and stay on the bull for 8 seconds, you’ve still got to get off this animal,” Rob explains. “And that’s always going to be a problem! When you get off a bull, they’re mad and coming right at you. You’ll see people flying off bulls and landing hard.”

Most people would call it quits after a couple falls, but these cowboys don’t give up. Instead, they’ll dust themselves off, tape themselves up and get back into the saddle.

Scott Sikma

Rodeo Cowboys International Plowing Match

“The guys are amazingly dedicated,” Rob says. “And they’re doing it because they love it. There isn’t one person there whose primary goal is to win a lot of money. It’s all for the love of the sport; it’s addicting.”

Rodeo life isn’t easy. Full time cowboys often drive all night to get to a rodeo. They’re vagabonds who sleep in their trucks, eat quick-and-easy meals, all the while getting beat up by animals. And then the next day, they’re driving again — hundreds of miles to different cities — to compete in another.

Rodeo Cowboys Woodstock Rodeo

Jake Knelson

“Certainly an accountant wouldn’t look at it as a viable opportunity,” Rob says. “They’re not making that much. You’re paying $90 to enter, driving around constantly and if you’re lucky you’ll win maybe $700? You compare that to what a ballplayer would make. They’re making more than that, ten times more on every pitch they throw or every swing of the bat. But these cowboys don’t care. It’s exciting for them and their circle of friends to win and walk away wearing a large silver buckle.”

Rob has been a sports photographer for years, covering professional sports like football and baseball. He keeps coming back to rodeos primarily because of the incredible comradery between the cowboys.

Rodeo Cowboys Exeter Ram Rodeo

Cowboys

“The first time I photographed a rodeo was in Jackson, Wyoming, where I was testing camera prototypes for Sony,” Rob explains. “During lunch, I went behind the scenes, and just to see the friendships the cowboys have with each other is remarkable. There’s a lot more fellowship between the cowboys than I think you’d find in any other sports where they’re competing against each other. These guys are offering help to one another, rooting for each other; the only one they’re competing against is the animal.”

Rob wants everyone who looks at his photos to feel like they’re spending a day at the rodeo.

Kitchener Ultimate Rodeo Ontario STRRSH

Markus Sommer

“I want you to sense the dust, smell the leather and feel a bull breathing right beside you,” he says. “But I also want you to see the faces of the cowboys; see their friendship and respect. It’s just fantastic.”

Visit Rob’s photostream to see more of his photography.

Watch why a tiny town has become an internet sensation with over 20 million visitors online!

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink

Crafting scenes of iconic Americana

Like photographs pulled from an old shoebox in a dusty attic, Michael Paul Smith’s photostream is filled with images echoing warm memories of mid-twentieth century America. Many who view his photos of vintage cars and familiar buildings are often hit with nostalgia. That feeling, however, quickly leads to bewilderment upon learning the truth: Michael’s pictures aren’t real!

“When I tell people my photos are actually models — just little cars on a table that I’ve recreated — they’re shocked,” Michael tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “It’s a great moment. I really do love it!”

Motivated by a fascination with the mid-twentieth century era and a desire to catalog the past, Michael set out to build and photograph fictional, miniaturized scenes from the 1950s.

North Main Street - Elgin Park   [circa 1930's ]

First Warm Day in Early Spring - 1933

“The ’50s and ’60s had a sense of hope about them,” Michael says. “Television had come in, new cars came out every year and everyone avidly looked at science fiction hoping to get a glimpse of what the future was going to be like. The future was tangible, and it just made it worth while getting up in the morning to see what was going to come down the pipe next. It was an amazing time.”

As a kid, Michael was an avid model car collector. He’s started out building cheap model cars and later advanced to diecasts and truck models. Over time, he became aware of how cars changed; this evolution fascinated him and piqued his interest even further.

Teen Idol Slips into Town

Giant Head oversees accident

“As I began collecting cars, I became curious to see where it all came from,” Michael recalls. “It was mainly from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. And after awhile, I could identify the things that changed. So I started collecting as many tangible objects as I could from the past – wallpaper, linoleum and rugs – mainly as a keepsake. When my collection got so large, I started making models and setting them up as realistic as possible. Photography naturally started to come in when I wanted to document everything. And that’s how it all started!”

Today, Michael’s model car collection consists of over 300 cars — most of them prominently displayed in Elgin Park, the fictitious town he created for his series.

Velma Kelley's 1955 Studebaker SPEEDSTER

Pontiac for 1951!

The town consists of a dozen or so scale model buildings, which Michael mixes and matches to create many different sets. He carefully inserts his model cars into specific scenes and photographs them against outdoor backdrops in and around his hometown of Winchester, Massachusetts.

“The process of creating a photo is interesting,” Michael says. “I like to mix the old with the new and sort of juxtapose everything. For example, I’ll have a ‘57 Mercury and set it up against a carwash model I created. Honestly, it’s just kind of playing. It’s creative play.”

Elgin Park has everything: a train station, a supermarket, even a movie theater. One thing, however, it does not have are people — an intentional move on Michael’s part.

1958 Packard Hawk Glamor Shot

Packard Hawk Photo Setup

“From the very beginning, I decided that there will be no people in Elgin Park,” Michael explains. “I felt that having people interfere in the photograph, and the rest of the scene sort of disappears. I didn’t want that. Now, viewers can get involved in the photograph itself.”

And viewers have gotten involved — millions in fact! They’ve made Elgin Park into a tourist destination, attracting over 20 million views, all via cyberspace, since January 2010. A number, even today, Michael still can’t believe.

Color vs Black and White

“For a long time, I never showed my photographs to anyone,” Michael says. “I just thought people wouldn’t get it. Seemed kinda quirky to me, you know? Here’s a grown man with little model cars and buildings that he’s creating. But after a couple years, stuff was just languishing on my computer. It was brought to my attention that Flickr existed, and so I posted them, and within a couple months, there were about one million hits. It’s unreal.”

The reactions have also been overwhelming. Many of them citing nostalgic memories of “coming home” and “good times.” Michael received touching messages from viewers saying they started crying while looking at his photos — all of them happy tears.

East Main Street-1951

Slide 2 Vacation at the Lake

“There was a doctor who contacted me who said he showed my photographs to Alzheimer’s patients,” Michael says. “And what they did, much to his surprise, was it started a dialogue between the patient and the doctor. These images would trigger an emotion or a memory, and it was one of the first times these people were coherent. So I’m clearly touching very deep nerves and cords, and that was not my original intent.”

“Overall, this entire process thrills me, and it fills my heart,” Michael admits. “It just fills my heart to put this out there for everyone, and they enjoy it.”

Visit Michael’s photostream to see more of his photography.

Want to watch more video episodes? Check out how a photographer aims to trick the eye his ‘Strange Worlds’ photography.

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink

Photographer literally draws life into his photos

To call Ben Heine’s photography “cool” or even “eye-catching” is a bit of an understatement. His images are mesmerizing. Ben’s Pencil vs. Camera series perfectly blends illustrations in surprising but clever juxtapositions. The end result offers viewers a glimpse into an imaginative and surreal world.

“In my work, I’m really trying to interact with the viewer,” the Belgian artist tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “I want to make them laugh or smile, and if I can, surprise people so that he or she doesn’t understand how it’s made. I’m having so much fun and I want them to feel the same.”

“Pencil vs. Camera” mixes drawing and photography, imagination and reality through illusion and surrealism. Ben says the idea was the result of a long graphic exploration and the evolution of his artistic ability.

Pencil Vs Camera - 66 Pencil Vs Camera - 7

“The initial idea happened randomly while I was writing a letter in 2010,” Ben explains. “When I held the letter up to put it inside an envelope, I noticed the paper was transparent enough that I could see my television in the background. I suddenly saw two images working together: the words on the paper and the action of the television. It was surreal, and I instantly thought I could do something with this.”

“The very next day I made Pencil vs. Camera #1,” Ben says. “It wasn’t very creative, but it was the beginning of this new concept. Since then, it’s evolved into more and more complex drawings, and it’s always changing into something bigger and better.”

The process behind the series is very simple. Ben draws a picture by hand and then takes the photo of the drawing at a specific location. His hand is almost always visible in the image to represent the connection between viewer, artist and artwork.

Pencil Vs Camera - 40 Pencil Vs Camera - 12

“The drawing has to be nice, and the location where I’m taking the photo has to be interesting,” Ben says. “When I edit my photo, like every photographer, I’m always adjusting. Since these are raw images, I’m adjusting the light, the colors, the contrast – everything. In some cases, I adjust the composition because I want the final image to be perfect!”

In “Pencil vs. Camera”, Ben generally focuses on architecture, portraits and animals. Among many others, the main themes he approaches are love and friendship.

Pencil Vs Camera - 68 Pencil Vs Camera - 58

Love and friendship are the main things I’m trying to express in my art because they are a reflection of what I love the most in life,” Ben says. “I’ve made many photos showing duos… either two people or two animals in love or in a friendly situation with each other. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

There is also a lot of illusion and surrealism depicted in Ben’s art. Throughout his career he’s been influenced by famous artists like Rene Magritte. Ben says he likes to play with shapes, geometrics and create illusions with tricky objects and perspectives.

1 - Pencil Vs Camera for Art Official Concept Pencil Vs Camera - 64

“One of my favorite images shows a lion jumping out of the image,” Ben says. “I took this photo in Tunisia and drew in a lion jumping and appearing. The picture is unfinished, because I mainly wanted to attract the attention of the viewer on the lion’s roar. I liked the powerful effect of this image – you know the lion’s screaming and shouting. For me, graphic art can sometimes be dull, but this image is powerful.”

The reactions Ben’s received from his series has been extremely positive. He credits the reception and encouragement to Flickr.

Pencil Vs Camera - 9 Pencil Vs Camera - 19

“I started posting my pictures in 2006, and since then, the feedback from other members has helped me to improve my work,” Ben admits. “I really strive to create a new form of art. For me, it’s very important to be innovative and do something different. I’m having fun only because I’m trying to surpass myself daily. I want people to see I’ve given my utmost best in each of my images.”

You can discover more of Ben’s amazing work in the previous coverage of his work on Flickr Blog and in his photostream. Also check out his website for more info.

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink

Blending painterly elements with photography

“When I see people moving up real close to have a look at my work, just to see if it’s a photograph or a painting… honestly, I just love it!”, says fine art photographer, Ellen McDermott.

“I love the fact that they don’t know what it is,” she tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “It just makes me feel good that I’m doing something that they haven’t seen before.”

Ellen, from Wicklow, Ireland, began her career as an oil painter, often using photography as an aid. Over time, her passion for photography grew and eventually took over her artistic interests. Putting away her oil paints, Ellen developed a new aesthetic that was best suited for digital photography. Her images evolved to become beautiful photo portraits, set against a serene Irish landscape with painted finishes (using Gimp and Photoshop), like The Girl With the Fish.

Anna Livia Pleurabelle

“It was just a natural progression for me to go to photography and then paint on top of it,” explains Ellen. “I’ve had oil-painting artists tell me, ‘ I’m not an artist, I’m a photographer.’ I’ve also had photographers tell me, ‘I’m not a photographer, I’m an artist.’ I would say my work is computer-generated art, which takes into consideration both photography and all that I learned through my art — painting, colors, cohesiveness of the picture and things like that. I just love it.”

Ellen’s work has been described as “enigmatic with a romantic sensibility that uses nature to explore the story of human emotion” — a theme that she’s fascinated by.

“I am interested in the juxtapositions between beauty and ugliness, pleasure and pain, freedom and the feeling of being tied down by things beyond our control,” Ellen explains. “In everything that’s peaceful, there’s something that’s sad too. It’s just a part of life, and I find it interesting. Whenever I’m feeling some sort of emotion, I like to get out there creatively in my work.”

Queen Maeve

Ellen also has an interest in capturing the innocence of children. She even uses her own four daughters as muses in her photographs.

“I think that children are just so honest and truthful,” Ellen says. “They’re like a blank canvas. Having four children is great because they like to plan out what the shoot is going to be, what props we’re going to use, etc. We do it together, and they get a great kick out of it, and I do too.”

Although Ellen’s work is contemporary and figurative, many of her pieces are in fact autobiographical and deeply personal.

the heart that never sees what it loves following intuition

“I don’t necessarily tell a lot of people about my life, but I do it in my art,” Ellen explains. “I, myself, sometimes look back at my work, and I can just see the different states of my life and notice the changes. In the last couple years since my husband passed away — which was a bit of a shock — but I’ve got four lovely daughters, and now a creative outlet for all that. I find my work cathartic and healing. It’s a release, and I’m thankful for all of that.”

Ellen says photography is and will always be a part of her. Besides her children and family, it’s the best thing in her life. She hopes others, whatever circumstance in life they’re in, can find a similar passion.

“There’s always a way that we can express ourselves,” Ellen says. “I think when you bottle something up inside, when you hold a secret in, or something like that, it just always comes out in the end. I think you need to, to let it out, and this is my way of letting things out.”

Ellen’s overall style is far from settled as she continues to change and experiment. Each day, she says, she’s inspired by striving to do something she’s never done before.

“When I think about creating a work of art, it’s usually me trying to see what I can do rather than show what I can do,” Ellen explains. “I’m continuously trying to push myself to try new things, and accomplishing this challenge gives me satisfaction. I love Flickr for that very reason. There’s so much inspiration to be found there. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Visit Ellen’s photostream to see more of her photography.

Watch the video of how a 14-year-old photographer became an internet sensation with his photos of surreal miniature worlds.

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink

Witty souvenirs replace wonders of the world

When most people travel, they typically come home with countless photos: selfies, playful poses with friends, iconic landmarks, etc. But when photographer Michael Hughes is abroad, he goes about it a little differently. Breaking away from a picture perfect postcard, Michael inserts cheap local souvenirs in his shots; resulting in memorable, hilarious photos.

“My images are fun because I really like to play with them,” Michael says in the accompanying video. “I like to play with the way people look at my images, and I’m always up for a joke!”

The idea came to Michael back in 1999 while on a trip to the Rhine in Germany. It was a late November day, and he was standing on a famous cliff overlooking the river.

“I remembered that I had a postcard for my daughter in my pocket,” Michael recalls. “When I pulled it out, I noticed that I was standing exactly where the photographer had been when he was taking the picture for the postcard. So I started playing with it and I managed to fit it exactly into the scene. When I got back to my computer and looked at my pictures, I could see there was something really good going on.”

alkmaar nl london sept 2008

A few weeks later, Michael went to New York City and decided to take a ferry around Manhattan. On his way to the pier, he bought postcards of the New York skyline to mimic his photo from Germany. In his mind, Michael was already brainstorming a “picture within a picture” photo series. Minutes later on the ferry, however, his idea evolved into something unexpected.

“When I boarded the ferry, I bought a cup of coffee,” Michael explains. “We went past the Statue of Liberty, and I suddenly realized the coffee cup had a picture of the Statue of Liberty on it. So I threw out the contents of the cup, held it up and it fit right in front of the statue. It was perfect! And it was at that point I realized I didn’t have to use postcards, but it could be any kind of souvenir… and that was the start of it!”

helsinki 74_camel_4331

Michael created a set of rules for his new souvenir series. First, he wasn’t allowed to take anything (a prop, an object, etc.) to his destinations. Second, Michael had to buy a souvenir on the spot.

“The rules worked well because it put me in a bit of a tricky situation,” Michael says. “You might turn up somewhere and there might not be a good souvenir, so you have to be creative. I like a bit of risk. I also like involving people into the photos as well. People who are standing around adds to the fun.”

new york 2008 Souvenirs series

One of his favorites photos was taken at the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

“My wife came over and showed me this multi-colored lollipop that she’d found,” Michael explains. “My daughter was also there, so I set it up that she was supposed to lick the lollipop. I really love it because it’s a nice family moment. The lollipop fits perfectly, and there’s a lovely violet sky.”

Michael admits the crazier the souvenir, the better the photo. Throughout the years, he has come across several strange objects: an Elvis bobblehead in Graceland, a Don Quixote figurine in Spain and a mini croissant magnet in Paris.

One of his favorites was a transparent plexiglass Jesus the Redeemer he bought in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

pisa italy redeemer520br

“It was the funniest thing in that you could put batteries in it, and it would light up in all sorts of colors,” Michael says. “When I went to see the Jesus the Redeemer, I was standing in front of it and looking at it from a bit away. When I held up my souvenir, it looked like some tourists in the background were actually looking up at my souvenir instead of the real thing! It was very cool.”

disneyland paris fr 20100928DEH1328.jpg

Michael’s received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement since posting his photos on Flickr. What he likes about his series is that it plays into people’s perception about travel.

“What I like is giving people a question. I think it’s fun to make people think about the world we live in and get them excited to see it. But more importantly, it’s great to have a joke with them at the same time.”

Visit Michael’s photostream to see more of his photography.

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink

Photographer goes backstage with the funniest people in the world

Zach Galifianakis by Dan Dion“Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres and Chris Rock. These are just a handful of comedians we love to see live on stage.” says photographer Dan Dion.

One of Dan’s favorites was Zach Galifianakis. The photo was shot at the height of his fame, right after ‘The Hangover’.

“He ended his set by ripping off his outer clothes, to reveal that he’d been wearing this Annie outfit all along,” Dan says. “Zach’s sense of irony and absurdity is so cute, that he’s perfectly happy in a dress with furry legs.”

“In my career, I’ve been so fortunate to see and meet many of them backstage,” he tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “And I know what they’re really like.”

Dan grew up as what’s now considered a “comedy nerd”: collecting vinyl, watching Saturday Night Live and immersing himself in all things comedy related.

“I saw my first standup show when I was 14 years-old and developed a huge respect for it,” Dan says. “I love their art, their craft and I think what they do is magical.”

Flickr Page Collage

Dan started work as a portrait photographer when he was 18 years-old. After college, he established himself as a performing arts portraiture of comedians, taking promo shots at comedy clubs. A few years later, Dan became the house photographer of the legendary San Francisco Fillmore at the age of 24 years-old.

Visually, Dan loves comedians’ faces – specifically the variety of expressions.

“Comedians are the smartest people I know,” Dan admits. “They are the best conversationalists and they’re great to hang out with. Their expressions, their smiles, their life lessons that have made them who they are and got them where they are now. It’s great.”

Dinello, Sedaris and Colbert by Dan Dion Lily Tomlin by Dan Dion

Dan’s approach to his shoots is unique. He doesn’t ask them to do wacky and outlandish things. Instead, he develops a trust with them and in turn they trust him.

“So often photographers make comedians look like clowns, but if you can make them look smart, you’ve got a friend for life,” Dan says. “The best time to shoot is right after they get off stage. It’s when they let their guard down, when they stop mugging. I like to just be relaxed, hang out for a little bit, talk about their friends. I want the shot when they are who they are. And before they know it, the shoot is over.”

Chelsea Handler by Dan Dion Jason Sudeikis by Dan Dion

“Another of my favorites is Jerry Seinfeld,” Dan explains. “New York’s more elegant comedy club, Gotham is wrapped with my portraits. When Seinfeld saw the exhibition, he wanted to be a part of it, so when he came to Oakland, he agreed to a backstage shoot. When we shot, I felt like he’s the person you see in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Relaxed, friendly, cooperative. He was very accessible, conversational, just a regular guy, hanging out, talking comedy.”

Tracy Morgan by Dan Dion Martin Mull and Fred Willard Portrait by Dan Dion

Dan’s photographed over a thousand portraits and he admits he’s always prided himself on keeping his cool. But when he shot Steve Martin, a comedy legend to him since he was 13 years-old, even the most seasoned pro can get starstruck.

Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy by Dan Dion Paul Rudd by Dan Dion

“This was a very brief session but extremely memorable,” Dan recalls, “We talked about regular things, we talked about vintage banjos, San Francisco in the 70′s. He was very amenable, very professional.”

Dan loves his job because he feels he’s creating an archive of comedy.

“I’m not a comedian myself, but this has allowed me to become a respected part of their community,” Dan explains. “This is backstage. This is the lifestyle. This is comedy. What makes it even better is they appreciate what I do, which is more important than any audience member, magazine, or anything. And I love it!”

Visit Dan’s photostream to see more of his photos.

Also from comedic icons to music icons, check out Scott Dudelson’s incredible photos.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Dream’ after 50 years

August 28 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a key event that changed the course of civil rights and American history. Throughout the years, Dr. King has become an icon of promise, justice and hope for millions — especially to those within the poorest and most segregated communities. Camilo Jose Vergara, known on Flickr as Camilo Time tracker, has been photographing urban America for more than four decades and can attest to Dr. King’s everlasting influence.

“I have seen many images on the walls of urban America,” Camilo tells The Weekly Flickr. “But the one that stands out still after all these years, are the images of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Camilo has been referred to as an “archivist of decline” because of his interest in the American inner city.

“I was interested in the culture of the place and what the community values,” Camilo explains. “I found it in murals that were placed in alleys. Wall art reflects the community — what they’re thinking, feeling and even idolizing. It’s interesting.”

07_187 E. 123rd St., Harlem, 2007_ 45_80gri__1

Camilo spent years returning to the same places to witness how communities changed. Over time, he accumulated an archive of images that people made. Among them he started to see the recurrent image of Martin Luther King Jr.

Each mural of Dr. King depicted different values and served many purposes. One was to stop gang graffiti which was always so pervasive.

“It was interesting because there were three symbols that were particularly used for graffiti fighting,” Camilo says. “One was Christ. The other was the Virgin of Guadalupe. The last was Martin Luther King Jr. The idea was no one would dare deface these icons.”

24_50 P andVermontlaFamilyMarketLA2004

05_52gri__1

Dr. King’s image was also used to bridge the gap between different ethnic communities. He was a symbol of equality and peace; local businesses would display his image as a sign to welcome/invite others.

“A picture of King would diminish tension,” Camilo explains. “Particularly after the LA riots in 1992, when tension between the Latino and Black communities was very strong. Dr. King became a fixture in Latino storesmini markets, liquor stores and so on — because it was saying to the African American population, ‘We are friendly to you. We take your symbols and make them ours.’”

14_MLK1 27_South Side Chicago, 1980 by B. Walker_

Throughout his travels across America, Camilo noticed wall art reflected the ethnic makeup of each community. Most of King’s images reflected these areas in how and where he was painted. For example, in New York, because of its large Latino population, Camilo would see Dr. King next to Latino symbols — like the Puerto Rican symbol of El Morro.

“In Los Angeles, what you’d see is this whole school of people who were sign painters and probably never painted a Black person before,” Camilo explains. “So then Dr. King ended up looking very Latino. In some cases Latino-Indian or Mexican-Indian. In other places, like Detroit, Martin Luther King ended up looking Asian with slanted eyes. It was always different.”

10_Avalon Auto Repair, Colden Avenue, Los Angeles, 2005_ 52_81gri__1

Over the years Camilo noticed Dr. King in the midst of great icons like Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and Malcom X. Recently, he’s been joined by President Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Colin Powell. But as Camilo points out, “Martin Luther King was always there. He was the one steady thing.”

When asked why Martin Luther King Jr.’s image has made such an impression after all these years, Camilo’s answer is simple.

“Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man,” Camilo says. “Most speeches (when you hear them) lose power. But with Martin Luther King, there’s something about the voice, about the way he speaks that really moves you. It’s like you have to stop what you’re doing. He has this staying power.”

16_Las Palmas Discount Market, 5600 Broadway, L. A., 2010_ 34_72gri__1

“People feel compelled to keep him on their walls,” Camilo says. “The number of truly great people is not that large, but Martin Luther King is one of those people. He has been there for a while, and I think he’ll continue to be there for a long time to come.”

Camilo’s photography has earned him a lot of praise. In 2002, he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant; and in 2013, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama. Camilo was the first photographer ever to receive this prestigious award.

Visit Camilo’s photostream to see more of his photography, and visit his website to learn more about his work and where you can see it.

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink

Music icons up close and live: Miranda Lambert to Jay-Z

Scott Dudelson is a self-described music nerd. As a concert photographer, he’s been to at least a 1,000 concerts across the country and has photographed nearly 3,000 bands.

“Being at a live music event is extraordinary, but being in the photo pit taking pictures is magical,” he tells The Weekly Flickr. “When you get to be in front of icons like The Rolling Stones, Jay Z and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, there’s nothing quite like it.“

“When people look at my photos, I want them to feel like they have a VIP seat to the show.”

Scott began his career in 2004. After experiencing the unique access to bands and camaraderie with the other photographers, he realized this was the path he wanted to pursue.

“Being at a live music event is extraordinary, but being in the photo pit taking pictures is magical,” Scott says. “Behind you is the front row where all the biggest fans are going crazy! That excitement feeds right into the performer, and I’m in the middle of that. It’s like a vortex of awesome energy that you just get hit with.”

Miranda Lambert - Live in 2011

Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers - Live in 2013 The Black Keys - Live in 2013

As a music nerd, Scott loves all genres of music. He says he’s agnostic to what he shoots, as long as the performer is excellent. He’ll attend country shows, rock shows, pop shows, bluegrass, etc. “As long as the music is good, I’m the first one there”, Scott says.

At every concert, Scott likes to capture the artist’s signature move – the one stand-out moment or gesture that defines him/her as a performer.

“Every artist has their signature moves,” Scott explains. “Whether it’s Mick Jones from The Clash — he does a little machine-gun thing with his guitar. Or it’s Johnny Marr from The Smiths — he’ll do a big, high kick. It excites me to capture these moments because it allows other people who may not have been at the show to see it. It’s incredible.”

Snoop Dogg - Live in Concert

One of Scott’s favorite live artists to capture is Miranda Lambert. Her signature moment is running away from the microphone with her hair flailing out, jumping up and down. Another is Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters who, similar to Lambert, shakes his head with his hair all over the place like a wild man.

Kanye West loves to do a thing where he points to the sky,” Scott says. “It’s like he’s telling the universe that he’s Kanye West and will do it at least once a set. Mick Jagger will walk around the entire stage and play to both the fans and the camera. You’ll see him throwing his hands up, jump up and down, as limited as he can do.”

The Rolling Stones - Live in 2013 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Live in 2013

Apart from capturing a good photo, Scott believes these signature moments are historical.

“If you go back 30… 40 years ago and see pictures of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin,” Scott says. “These are moments that at the time, people now relish to relive. I can only hope that in 20 years, people look at my pictures and feel like the essence of who these artists are was captured.”

Wu Tang Clan - Live in 2013 The XX - Live in 2013

To Scott, concert photography ended up being one of the greatest things he’s ever done in his life and enjoys it every day.

“The opportunity to take pictures in a photo pit, two feet away from some of the greatest starts in the world,” Scott admits. “It fulfills every music nerd dream I’ve ever had.”

Like Scott’s photography? Check out these Matrix-like photos and a photographer who explodes light bulbs!

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink

Dad’s ‘extreme’ family photos

Most of us know how uncomfortable and awkward family photo shoots can be. But when photographer Justin Van Leeuwen, known on Flickr as jlvphoto, is behind the camera, it’s pretty much guaranteed everyone is having a great time — especially when it involves his family.

“I like creating fun and extreme images,” Justin says in this week’s edition of The Weekly Flickr. “People are flying through the air, kids are breakdancing on the ground; things outside the norm. With a few exceptions, there aren’t going to be a lot of people with family photos like mine to show their friends. And I love it!”

Justin lives in Ottawa, Canada, with his wife Melanie, step-son Owen, 15, and his two boys Quinn, 5, and Alex, 3. He describes his family as a tight knit group.

Family Photo 2012

“The best part of my family is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Justin says. “I am quirky guy and like a little fun in everything I do. I think it’s rubbed off on my kids too. Sometimes you gotta have some levity in life, and our photos together reflect that.”

Justin’s first extreme family photo shoot came about as a matter of necessity, getting a Christmas card together with all three boys knowing they wouldn’t all be at the same place at the same time. He decided to make composites, building the photos over time.

Van Leeuwen Family 2010

“Owen was off to his dad’s so I shot him first,” Justin explains. “Alex was napping because he was two at the time, so we got Quinn on the bed jumping. When Alex woke up, we shot him. We actually tossed him back and forth over the bed, and he had a great time! When the kids went to bed, I photographed my wife and I on a self timer. I later layered it all into Photoshop, and I came up with a fun image. It was great!”

Home Remedy

The positive feedback from that year’s Christmas card encouraged Justin to take more photos. But more importantly, he realized his family had fun taking them.

“Our shoots are sort of like playtime for the kids,” Justin explains. “They jump around, play with beer bottles, cooking utensils, pots and pans. I’m encouraging them to do some really quirky looking things like jumping off the couch — stuff that, yeah, normally I don’t encourage. So they get a kick out of doing this weird stuff, but the trick afterwards is to get them to stop.”

SAHD

Justin’s take on family photography is to break away from the static posed shots and portray something unique in families.

Buell Family

Family Dynamics

“I’m able to take each characteristic, personality, mannerism and put them on display one by one so that everyone looks their best, everybody is being themselves,” Justin says. “In my mind, that’s what makes a great photo.”

Justin admits his quirky personality plays a lot into his images, giving it an edge or a spin. He gets people to do things that don’t necessarily makes sense, but makes for a good image.

Never Alone

“I’ve always pushed people’s buttons,” Justin admits. “I like challenging what they think should be normal or what their comfort levels are. I do it in person, and I’m doing it visually in my photographs. Like with Delicious Little Brother. Alex was on the stove with a little flame underneath. That photo went up on the Daily Mail and the comments were terrible! The people think I’m cooking my kid, and it’s ridiculous! But it made a good photo.”

Justin feels his photography is more than just a livelihood, rather it’s a representation of his family.

Look at me Now

“It’s something that when I’m gone, other people will be able to see,” Justin says. “I love my kids. I love my family. I love being able to give them something unique and fun. I mean it’s my kids. I’m just so proud of them.”

If you enjoyed Justin’s fun pictures, check out previous photography videos of Woody and Champ.

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink

Visually impaired photographer shoots severe storms up close

You can’t help but be in complete awe looking at Terry Rosema’s photostream. As a storm chaser, Terry witnesses and captures Mother Nature’s fury firsthand: deadly tornadoes, torrential rain, golf ball-sized hail, lightning, etc. His photos are incredible, but what’s even more amazing is that Terry is partially blind.

Terry’s love for storm chasing started in 2008 while working as a graphic designer in Grand Rapids, MI. He was asked by a meteorologist friend to create a vehicle that intercepted severe storms. Excited by the opportunity and a challenge, Terry accepted the offer.

 

The vehicle Terry designed was an SUV with an external roll cage, a exoskeleton and a 16 gauge steel plate that altogether weighed about 10,000 lbs. On top of that, the car had a kevlar coating for protection from flying debris and can lower to the ground preventing it from flipping over from high winds.

“I was really proud of what we came up with,” Terry says. “I was relieved and excited when we tested these vehicles out and they were able to hold up against severe weather. It was an incredible accomplishment.”

Shortly after the car was built, Terry’s life changed forever. He was diagnosed with Behcet’s disease, a rare immune disorder that attacks different parts of the body. For Terry the disease affected the blood vessels in his eyes, ultimately impairing his vision. Today, he has little to no visibility; most of what he sees is out of his peripheral and around his blind spots.

“I was in a really rough patch,” Terry admits. “I lost my job and honestly I lost a lot of the freedom and enjoyment in things that I used to be able to do. I couldn’t draw, paint or even go out on a drive — my life was extremely limiting.”

Not too long after his diagnosis, Terry’s storm-chasing community invited him out to Oklahoma to check up on the cars he designed. Upon arrival, he went out storm chasing with the team, and to his surprise, found a new sense of purpose.

“Part of being out there is everybody is trying to capture the most amazing photos and videos that they can,” Terry says. “So they want everyone to have a camera in their hand. One thing led to another, and they put a camera in my hand, and I ended up capturing amazing footage.”

Terry discovered he could adjust his camera settings appropriately to help him see better — simply by using magnifiers, zooming in a certain way through his viewfinder and even adjusting the contrast. He also realized that storms, clouds and tornadoes aren’t super detailed, so as long as he framed it correctly, he’d often capture a beautiful photo.

“Mother Nature gives me an amazing canvas to work with,” Terry says. “No storm is the same, and every shot I take is different. When you chase tornadoes, the amount of time that you actually see one is fairly small. So you have to learn to appreciate the structure, the way the sky looks, sometimes even sunsets. In fact, my favorite shots are of the actual storm structure, even if a tornado doesn’t happen.”

When Terry does come face to face with a tornado, he admits the unpredictability can be terrifying.

“Am I scared sometimes? Sure, definitely,” Terry admits. “We get close to some of the most powerful forces of nature on the planet like large hail, flying debris, cloud-to-ground lightning. But I find a lot of comfort behind my camera. For me, looking through the viewfinder makes me feel almost oblivious to what’s around me. It allows me to have the patience and remain calm in these situations.”

After several years of going out and documenting these storms, Terry eventually became addicted to it. But more importantly, Terry feels that documenting these storms has allowed him to be creative again — when only a few years ago, he didn’t think it was possible.

“I would say photography has really helped me overcome a lot of the problems and feelings I had about my eyesight,” Terry says. “It’s an awesome feeling for me to be able to do something artistic again. Just the beauty, the shapes and the artisticness of a lot of the photos that you can get by chasing these storms is awesome to me. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Visit Terry’s photostream to see more of his photographer.

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
Permalink