Friday, May 30, 2008

What's In a Name

Not much, apparently. In the past 24 hours I've been called Andrea and Claudia, by two different people at least, though one person did admit that Andrea was not at all close to Jennifer.

I was forgiving and blamed it on syllables - I've been called Melissa and Stephanie in the past, also three syllable names. I've also been called Laurie when people mistake my last name for my first name.

But Claudia? Rhymes with dirt clod Claudia? Really? Where in the world did that come from? And she called me that just moments after using my actual name.

I have to believe that some folks are on Rx meds stronger than anything sold on the street in a tiny vial or plastic bag. We all forget names, but I think most people realize they've forgotten and either edit creatively to avoid including a name in whatever they're about to say or they admit it and ask you to tell them again.

While I'm at it, you know what's starting to really bug the shit out of me? When people are trying to tell me what they want me to photograph and instead of saying, "I like XYZ and would love it if you could..." they say, "I don't know... I wonder if there's a way..."

I don't know either - maybe nobody knows. I'm sure there's always a way, but if you want to stop and wonder about all things possible, let's do that. Let's stand here and wonder what all might be possible while time slips away and we all grow old wondering how in the world I might capture a shot of what you just showed me on the back of your own camera.

Rather than be direct and tell me what they want, they start off with the hemming and the hawing of I don't knows and I wonders while literally showing me what they've already shot. So I guess it IS possible! You've done it! My work here is done!

I know I sound like an asshole, but I'm there to work - I'm not struggling with trying to make art - I'm trying to help sell something - tell me what you want - I'm working FOR you. This work is not my art, it's your product. Don't say "I don't know" - you DO know, so ask for it! You get what you want and we can all move on that much faster.

I don't know. I wonder if there's a way for that to happen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No Vomiting Required

The other day I went on my "go see," as it could be called, to do a walkthrough of a property and think about how I might want to shoot it, but it was really a go-see for them - to look at my book to decide if I'm right for the job.

I was not. And while it's never any fun to lose work, I have to say, it was a relief. I can probably blame it on my horrific gaffe of leaving the last few pages of a portfolio empty. Those of you with art backgrounds are likely gasping at my rookie mistake, but I did not go to art school and have had no training in such things.

That said, this was billed as an informal walkthrough to look at the property and decide what we wanted to shoot and discuss scheduling, time of day, etc. And meet the homeowner.

I brought a book of samples so the agents and the homeowner could see a range of work, but it was not intended to be a formal presentation. I filled most of the pages of a very nice album with work I thought represented the best I had to show. The remaining pages will be filled when I have more work to put in them, but for now they're going to stay empty.

After a pleasant tour of the property with one of the agents, we gathered around the dining room table and made small talk while looking through marketing packages for other properties - all of which were full of terrible photos printed on crappy paper.

The homeowner, some "famous" artist and art-directing marketing dude, was telling a zany, HI-larious story about being at a party where he made a beeline for the host's bookshelf that had "sex books" on it, as he described them, to find out which books had the pages stuck together. Klassy.

He continued in some graphic detail about how those pages could become stuck together. Perhaps that was his way of reassuring us that *he* understood how that could happen, though I don't think the rest of us needed the explanation.

After our short trip back to 7th grade, the agents looked through my book and they all had very nice things to say about my work. Then an agent slid the book over to the homeowner and asked him if he wanted to take a look. He absent-mindedly replied “What? Sure…” and commenced flipping through the pages.

He flipped through all the photos and when he got to the empty pages, he looked up and asked me, “Is this yours?” Like I brought someone else’s book or he wasn’t just asked moments ago if he wanted to see MY work. I replied, Yes, it is, and staring right through me he said, with the gravity of a doctor delivering very bad news, “Don’t ever do this. Don’t ever leave blank pages in the book. Either fill them up or rip them out.”

He then smiled weakly and said he just wanted to help me out, to which I enthusiastically said, “Oh definitely – thank you very much!” What a nice way to be helped by someone who, just moments ago, explained to everyone how jacking off into a book might make the pages stick together.

I mean, it's nice to get input and I would love to have my work critiqued by a professional, but it just seemed out of place. Not only that, but if he's such a brilliant artist, can he not see that those empty pages represent future potential yet to be fulfilled? Was he confused when he turned the page and there were no more pretty pictures? He needs the back cover of the book to tell him the show's over?

I think I dodged a bullet by losing that project. Lord knows how many colossal blunders I'd have made while shooting that job, with him bivouacked in my colon the entire time to tell me about every single one. Thank you, Universe.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Click It or Suck It

Why does the government care if we wear seat belts or not? Isn't it my choice to hurtle my body through the windshield of my car if I want to? Why should I get a ticket for that? I thought this was a free country.

I actually prefer to wear my seat belt, but I don't think it's fair to force those less enlightened to buckle up if they don't want to. We have to give Darwin a chance, don't we? Otherwise, the gene pool just gets more shallow every day.

I see the stupid signs all over the Bay Area - enough. Bring back the travel or traffic info - something useful.

Also more useful - ticketing drivers who can't drive, belted or not. There are far more of those to pick off and they're much more dangerous, though they can serve a purpose. Bad drivers + unbelted drivers = culling of the herd.

Friday, May 16, 2008

No Pressure [vomit]

I just finished talking to an agent about a couple of properties, hearing about the architectural attributes of each and things we'll need to keep in mind for the shoot, etc. - nothing out of the ordinary - until he told me that one of these homes has been photographed by a number of "famous" photographers, including Queen Elizabeth II's photographer.

Maybe I should know who that is, but I don't, and now all I want to do is throw up and purge this intense feeling of dread I have about this job.

What the hell am I walking into? Have they SEEN the work I do? I mean, I dearly love my cat photos and snapshots of partially eaten food and melted gummy bears on the sidewalk, but I'm not sure QE II would hire me. Then again, the British do tend to have an exceptional sense of humor... but I digress.

I feel like I'm being set up. I don't know if I can even start to come close to what this guy might be expecting. I'm sure it'll be a valuable learning experience and I'll do what I can, but it's going to be hard to get good shots while vomiting and shaking uncontrollably.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hot & Heavy

Today was crazy hot and wonderful. Driving around in 100+ degree heat, it felt like a road trip to L.A. in the late, heavy heated summertime. It reminds me of being on vacation.

The heat doesn't bother me - I'd much rather be too warm than too cold. Growing up in the Bay Area, you learn that you shouldn't go anywhere without a coat, because the fog *will* roll in and you'll freeze your ass off if you don't plan ahead.

When I was still working downtown we'd laugh at the tourons shivering in shorts and t-shirts during the summer. When the heat wave comes, it's an exciting change.

I had a marathon day of jobs, starting in Santa Rosa - one of the hottest areas - but I was ready for it with my frozen water bottle, light-colored clothes, damp headband and all the windows down. It becomes a contest, to battle the elements and come out unscathed.

I blasted through the first two jobs no problem, getting a wee bit sweaty, but feeling fine. From there it was on to San Anselmo where it felt hotter than it did in Santa Rosa. The wind had died down by then and the heat was starting to smother.

I got through it by splashing cold water all over my face and neck and slowing down a little. But there was one more job to go, in Mill Valley, an even tighter little pocket of hotness.

By this time, it was time for coffee. One would expect to enjoy an iced coffee on such a day, but I don't really like iced coffee. It doesn't taste as good. So I went to Peet's and ordered a regular cup of HOT coffee.

The woman behind the counter stared at me for a moment and asked me to confirm that I meant regular, hot coffee. I said Yes, I'm gonna go for it. She laughed and shook her head. Then she told her coworker what I'd ordered and they had a good chuckle at the crazy red-faced sweaty lady.

Back in the car, the coffee didn't even seem hot. My face and lips were already so broiled, the coffee just seemed warm. And it tasted great!

Mill Valley was where I started to unravel a little. Climbing a ton of stairs with equipment in-hand was getting difficult. None of those little bungalows have air conditioning - there's no brief respite - the marathon battle with the elements continues.

Another splash of cold water to the face and I went on, finishing the job and getting back on the road around 4:30. I sat in traffic for a bit where my car's thermometer said it was 110. That was rough.

About 15 minutes later I was cruising down 80 along the bay with a cool breeze coming through the windows, chilling the thermometer down to a frosty 88.

Once home, it was still about 90 degrees, but I'd made it through the day without any obvious scorch marks.

p.s. and the very best part of the day - CA's Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage - huzzah for California!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wobbly Wednesday

This crazy, 100-degree springtime heat wave means it's time to bust out the doc marten sandals - shoes I almost forgot I had until yesterday.

I adore these shoes. The footbed feels like it was made for my feet and while they're technically sandals, they're very sturdy - something I like in a shoe.

It would seem that I like my feet to be well-protected at all times. See my post about breaking my toe for some insight into the love affair I've had with my feet since I was wee.

So, as I was walking to my car today along an ordinary sidewalk in an ordinary suburb, I stepped on a crooked piece of concrete and fell right off my damn shoe. I almost went down like an old lady drunk on white zin.

Somehow I caught myself - and my camera gear - and popped right back to vertical like it never happened. All those weekly ballet classes I had when I was five really paid off today.

And thank god my ankles, while amazingly dainty and slender (seriously - don't make me post a picture to prove it), seem to have the strength of ten longshoremen. It's an anatomical marvel, really. My foot should have snapped right off and flown into the middle of the street. Thanks, mom, for making me drink all that milk.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Husband = Pet

Or giant kid. If you see this post David, you know I'm right.

Guess who left the country and took his car keys and the key to our bike lock with him? Go ahead and guess - I'll wait.

Here's a hint - he doesn't have his car or our bikes with him in Merry Ol' England. If you guessed Your husband - you're right!

Let's see what you've won! A bike you can't ride and a car you can't move. Congratulations!

Monday, May 12, 2008

I Love the Universe

I was not looking forward to today. It was going to be a marathon day of driving, like, over 150 miles, which might sound like the best time ever, but let me assure you, it gets old QUICK.

Sometimes that's just the (bad) luck of the scheduling draw. I'd love to plan everything in neat geographical groupings, but it usually doesn't work out that way. I was going to have to start in Sonoma then go down to Fairfax then head back up to Petaluma. Fuuuuck me.

Looking at my calendar last night I kept thinking I should call and try to swap appointments, but I hate doing that - it's not their fault it turned out like that. I sucked it up & went to bed early.

This morning, my phone rang just moments after I turned it on. It was the agent in Petaluma and she had to reschedule. I almost cried hot tears of joy right into the phone.

Thank you universe! Even the universe knew it would have been asinine to drive all over the state like that.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Phoney Police

I keep hearing on the radio about the law going into effect July 1 that drivers must use a hands-free device if using the phone.

Last night KTVU did a story about it and included a segment from an Oakland cop saying the law would be strictly enforced - if they see a driver with a phone to their head, they'll absolutely ticket the driver.

Today while running errands I saw two Alameda County sheriffs driving in Alameda and both were yammering on cell phones plastered up to their ears.

One of them, while yakking away, made a lazy, illegal u-turn, then moments later, made an illegal left turn from the middle lane of traffic. What a great example, officer. Way to set the standard.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Speed *can* Kill

I had to be in Point Richmond by 10am this morning and of course, when the appointment is just up the road, it seems like I have more time than I do, but I don't, but I still cut it too close and end up trying to bend time and space so I'm not late.

And of course, on such days, all sorts of things go wrong. I was on my way and feeling confident that I'd make it on time - I gave myself about 25 minutes to get there, during rush hour traffic.

Three minutes into my trip, as I turned the corner to head over the Fruitvale Bridge - DENIED. The bridge was up. Mother sister! That's a 7-minute delay right there. Great.

Once past the bridge, stupid 880 was stupid as always - slow traffic through downtown, for no reason. No accident, no stalls, no reason - just a whole lotta cars driving too slowly.

As I merged onto 80 I thought there might still be a chance to make it - traffic was much lighter and moving fast. Definitely totally possible within the 5-minute grace period.

10:05 is still on time - no one likes someone who shows up RIGHT on time - that's annoying. Everyone should have a few minutes to maybe fit in one last pit stop or inhale a doughnut or slam another cup of coffee. Five minutes is a thoughtful gift.

Blazing down 580 - let's pause to thank one of our sponsors, Beltronics Radar Detectors. Thank you. Blazing through Richmond on my way to my exit, time began to slow down and I believed I would actually make it - amazing, given the stupid drawbridge, stupid traffic and the inability to use the commuter lane. OK, so I used it for five seconds, but I had to. It was 9:53 - no one's checking at 9:53.

As I approached the exit, I slowed way down to the proper exit ramp speed limit - I'd never been in this part of town before - I had no idea where the exit ramp might be going.

Following the curve of the ramp, ahead of me I saw what looked like a bag of concrete mix or sand or something spilled onto the roadway - no biggie - I kept going and then BLAM - the car started skidding and I thought for sure I'd blown a tire.

With a fresh crap in my pants, I guided the car gently to the stoplight and felt the adrenaline take over. I was panting like a winded dog, telling myself Just get through the light, then make that one turn, we're going to check everything out but we're not going to do it here on the offramp...

And I kept driving... the car seemed fine. I got all the way up & over the hill to where I was going and got out to inspect the car. All tires OK. Car looks OK. Huh. OK. It was 10:06. That still totally counts as on time when you almost just killed yourself driving over a bag of dust on the freeway.

So, thank you also to Volvo, for making a car that even with over 110K miles on it, has no trouble sliding through a patch of sand and coming out fine.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Getting Closer

I'm getting closer to a couple of things... Meeting a rattlesnake up close and personal and running into a former boss - it's just a matter of time for both.

Working in St. Helena today I walked out to the back area of a country lot located up above Lake Hennessey - not much out there besides vineyards and one-lane roads.

As I walked away from the house, the agent said - of course - "Watch out for rattlesnakes." I knew he was going to say that and I was already on high alert, scanning the ground all around me.

I got my shots and made a hasty retreat to the deck while we talked about snakes. He told me how his cat catches and kills baby rattle snakes and leaves them on his front stoop. That's one talented cat.

Finishing up around the front of the house, I walked off toward the side of the yard and he said "Be careful..." He was really worried I'd walk right into one. Then he told me that whenever the topic of snakes comes up, he usually sees one soon thereafter. Neat!

As for the boss... A few months ago I happened to think of a former boss I loved working for but lost touch with over the years, so I sent him a message through an online networking service. The message bounced back, but I figured he'd get the message whenever he logged in.

Then a former coworker and I who have been in touch again for the past few months sent me a message about another former colleague and he showed up as a link on her page.

The other day I was leaving an open house when I saw a couple coming up the walk - I thought for sure it was him and his wife. I thought that was weird - what would they be doing there? But it turned out to be their doubles.

Today when I stopped for coffee a guy came walking past my car - he looked exactly like my former boss. What the hell is going on with the universe?

I think it'll be fun to get back in touch with him, so I'm looking forward to that. I am not looking forward to meeting any snakes - ever.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Rogue Chicken

I don't want to alarm anyone, but there's a strange chicken in my backyard. She was back there all morning until my neighbor came home and helped catch her.

What a nice way to meet a new neighbor, running around the yard with towels trying to outwit a flightless bird. Man, those suckers can move fast.

She's now living in Henry's travel cage until the animal shelter folks come out tomorrow & pick her up from my neighbor, and I'm defrosting her distant cousin in the sink.