Archives for June 2012

Jordan Wolfson – Painter

Here’s the second in a series of portraits of artists and creatives. Jordan Wolfson is a painter who lives and works in Boulder, Colorado.

I had a great time speaking with Jordan. We both had intense experiences to share about living in Israel and working on Kibbutzim as young men.  I also started my artistic career painting and drawing, so Jordan’s experiences resonate with me.

In terms of a project, I arranged to meet and interview Jordan via a cold call.  He was very friendly and supportive.  We met at his studio and talked for awhile as I picked up audio of the interview with my shotgun mic mounted on a stand, piped into a Marantz 661 digital audio recorder.  After we spoke, I wandered around his studio taking stills as he worked and we chatted.  In retrospect I wish I had used my macro lens on the small pictures of roses that Jordan discusses in the film.  During post production I wanted a better visual illustration to Jordan’s voice when he says, “You can see the brushstrokes and the viscosity of the paint.”  I think I could also have picked up some different types of shots — 20/20 hindsight.  On the whole I’m pleased with the piece.  It captures our conversation (sans mention of Israel), and it includes a sense of Jordan’s anxiety as he pushes his painting forward.

The only thing I don’t like is how YouTube froze an image in the middle of the film and automatically used that as the “thumbnail” for display purposes.  More accurately, YouTube’s capture distorts the color of that image.  I can’t find a way to override the auto-select/auto-correct of that image.  Yuck.


Raymond McCrea Jones – Damian’s Ride

Raymond McCrea Jones worked as a journalist with the NY Times after finishing up his journalism degree at UNC. While at the NY Times, Jones did a number of very, very powerful multimedia projects, including “Damian’s Ride” which in my book is just flat-out magnificent.

Click image below for short film on NY Times site.

What struck me most about this project was Jones’ pacing and suspense. Jones begins with close-ups of Damian pedalling, but with sub-titles we quickly learn that something may not be right. “When I’m riding a bike I feel like a normal person….” we read — so why wouldn’t this guy feel like a normal person when he’s off a bike. Boom – in the first 12 seconds I’m hooked. At 0:36 seconds we learn more: Damian is training to compete in the Paralympics. Okay, but from the images at this point you don’t see what’s wrong. We’re 1:10 into this film before we see Damian’s face. By then we know his backstory, how as a boy he was electrocuted while trying to recover his kite, leading to his disfigurement.

Also striking is the transposition of beauty and, hmmm, how do I say this?: awful. Jones’ records richly colored images of Damian’s action and bike, especially in the early portions of the film. Then Jones gives us Damian’s face. Wow. Those two components placed so closely together is really emotionally charged.

Wonderful angles. Wonderful story. Wonderful resolution. This is just…wonderful.

Raymond McCrea Jones now works as a commercial photographer in Atlanta, GA.

Stream of Consciousness

Talking Eyes Media created this short film to promote Ed Kashi’s new book, “Photojournalisms”. (Click on image to activate the film)

This is a short film done is worth watching, as it presents some of Ed’s still images and a running almost stream-of-consciousness narrative to accompany the imagery. Ed discusses some of the emotions he feels working as a photojournalist for 30 years. Physical discomforts, fatigue, anxiety, longing for home and family — these are some of the phrases Kashi as narrator mentions in the film. This stream-of-consciousness narration allows me as a viewer to experience the compelling images from a different point of view. The narration begs me as listener to actively arrange and order the ideas presented into a coherent whole — and my reaction is amplified when still images also cycle past my eyes. I find I’m actively decyphering the bits and pieces that come past me (oral and visual) and reconstructing the piece as it evolves.

We need to employ this stream-of-consciousness technique more often. It honors the listener/viewer as an active participant, capable of forming their own conclusions based on raw information.

Check out another interesting use of this technique: Studs Terkel’s Prix Italia Award-winning audio piece called “Born to Live” (created over 50 years ago but still relevant today), available as a Podcast dated 11/5/2008 from Transom.

The Evolving High School Portrait

Here’s an interesting permutation of the high school portrait, employing audio interviews and ambient recordings with still photographs. (Click image for multimedia player.)

I like the quality of the sound – both interview tracks and recordings of ambient sound. I’m less thrilled with the still photos – to me the photographyer Tom Salyer ( seems to use too many of very similar shots. I think he could insert a greater variety of still photographs and create parallel visual stories to keep the mind occupied while listening to the audio tracks. This guy is a very good photographer, so that incremental change would really enhance the final production in my opinion.

In his blog, it’s clear that photographer Tom Salyer is spending a lot of time working to perfect his audio recording skills. He also references some other photographers who are collaborating to add motion and sound to still photography.