Capitol Protests: January 6, 2021

Photojournalism

For the past two months, Donald Trump and his lawyers have been raising hell about election irregularities. After several defeats in court, the last ditch attempt to keep Trump as president for four more years was to be when the Congress certified the presidential electors on January 6.

Trump hosted a rally with a series of speakers at the Washington DC Ellipse starting at 9:00 AM. Trump headlined the speaker series and delivered a firey speach from 12:00 to 1:10PM in which he encouraged his supporters to demonstrate in front of the Capitol Building where the vote to authorize the electors was to take place.

Here are photos from some things that I saw that day.

Reopen NY Protest: Tailgate in the Square

Photojournalism

On December 19, Western New York residents gathered in the cold outside of Buffalo City Hall to demonstrate in favor of reopening businesses and easing Covid-related restrictions.

This attracted a group of counter-protesters who were worried that easing restrictions would lead to a rise in Covid deaths.

The two groups engaged in a scuffle before the rally started, and Buffalo Police officers kept the two groups separated for the rest of the event.

A handful of local politicians spoke, as did local business owner Robbie Dinero, who has been fined $10,000 for flouting Covid rules. He is fighting the fines in court and encourages other business owners to join him in civil disobedience.

Erie County Comptroller, Stefan Mychajliw speaks to the gathered demonstrators. Recently, Mychajliw has been feuding with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Poloncarz backs strict enforcement of business restrictions while Mychajliw favors more leniency.
Robbie Dinero, owner of the Athletes Unleashed gym in Orchard Park, addresses the crowd. The Erie County Health Department fined Dinero $10,000 for violating covid-related edicts. Dinero vows not to pay the fine and is going to court to dispute its validity.
Robbie Dinero, owner of the Athetes Unleashed gym in Orchard Park, addresses the crowd. The Erie County Health Department fined Dinero $10,000 for violating covid-related edicts. Dinero vows not to pay the fine and is going to court to dispute its validity.
Although they made a lot of noise with their megaphones, the counter-protestors were still a little camera shy. Despite wearing a mask, this guy used the sign to block his face when I went to take this picture.
Counter protesters to the “Open NY” demonstration are in the top left of the frame. A line of Buffalo police officers keeps the two groups separated.
This aerial photo gives an idea of the size of the crowd. Some people were protesting in opposition to the “Open NY” message. Those counter-protesters are grouped in the upper left of the frame.
Not everyone that day was demonstrating about virus politics. This happy maskless couple went to City Hall for a wedding day photoshoot.
Women singing Christmas carols

Serenade Our Seniors: A Covid-Coping Demonstration

Photojournalism

Perhaps the hardest part of 2020 has been the forced isolation that government officials have imposed on us. This isolation is even worse for old people in retirement homes

On Sunday December 13 a group called “Save Our Seniors,” alternately, “Serenade Our Seniors,” sang Christmas carols outside of the Absolut Care nursing home in East Aurora, NY. They wanted to alleviate some of the isolation felt by oldsters who have been confined away from their families in the nursing home for the past several months.

Although Christmas Caroling and Save Our Seniors are apolitical, many of the people in attendance engage in local conservative activism.

Social Media Strategies for the Artist: How I Use Social Media

Self-development

Updated: January, 2020

As of this writing, there are four places that I post my work: this website, Instagram, Facebook and to my email list.

I don’t like any social media platform much, and I use them for different purposes. I’m writing this post so I have something to refer people to when they ask how to keep up with new output.

My email list and website get my favorite works. They are the only places where I can post what I want free of censorship. I shopped around for a web host and settled on Dreamhost because they had the loosest “Terms of Service” among the 5 hosts that I evaluated. Basically, anything that is not against the law is fair game, according to their TOS.

For NSFW stuff, I’ll usually make a quick blog post and link to it in my monthly emails. I do this so people don’t open my email at work and have NSFW stuff pop up on their computer. But some pictures of T&A occasionally sneak into the email if I’m pressed for time.

Email list

If you do one thing to follow me, then please join my email list. I send mailings no more than once per month. Social media “community standards” are constantly shifting. Every now and then, the big social companies tighten down on their guidelines and they will shadow ban artists who post risqué and provocative content.

Theoretically, I could spend years building an audience on a big social platform, and then have them shaft me when they get a bug up their ass to retroactively enforce new milquetoast standards. I’ve seen this happen to other excellent artists.

I’ve responded to this by toning down the things that I post to social media because I do have an outlet that I control, so I may as well use it.

Bottom line is if you like my work, then get on the email list. Click the link now and sign up. It’s painless!

This website

Everything I wrote about the email list also applies to this website. Although, I am always behind schedule in updating this site, so it doesn’t change often. Your best play is to just join the email list and I’ll mention when the website is updated.

Instagram

Of all platforms, I am most active on Instagram. I post there several times per week. I do find Instagram helpful to scout for models to work with, and get inspiration from top-tier photographers and other artists.

Instagram drawbacks:

  • You’re looking at a tiny picture on a 3″ phone screen.
  • Racism against vertical compositions; they only allow square photos and horizontal photos. Yes you can do a 4×5 vertical, but that’s practically a square. Please don’t split hairs.
  • Instagram is engineered to put its users into a zombie-like trance. And zombies are unlikely to appreciate fine art.
  • Censorship / banning / shadow banning accounts due to subject matter.

Instagram accounts to follow

These are photographers whose work I love, who are currently shadowbanned. In other words, you’d never find them through the app unless you went looking for them specifically. Check them out and give them a follow if you like what you see:

3 great photographers who are a hair’s breadth away from being banned from Instagram! How would you find them if I didn’t mention them here? Will they even be on Instagram a year from now? Hopefully you get my point.

Facebook

I post to facebook if I do shots at a public event, or if I work with someone with a facebook presence. Facebook’s advantage is that it allows for easy sharing == more exposure for me. So if I post to facebook, and the person in the picture re-shares the post, then that gets my work out there via word-of-mouse. For abstract and more experimental work, facebook is useless to me.

Facebook drawbacks

  • It sucks.

Quick reference chart comparing media distribution

WebsiteMailing listInstagramFacebook
Frequent Updatesxxxxxxx
Free of Censorshipxxxxxxx
Friendly to a variety of artistic stylesxxxxxxxx
Controlled by artistsxxxxxx
Controlled by Silicon Valley dweebs, and beholden to their whimsxxxxxx

Conclusion

I’ve dabbled with a variety of platforms, some of which I’ve since abandoned, like Flickr and Steem. I try to optimize the balance between artistic integrity, and also getting my work in front of people who appreciate it.

Working creative people often bitch about social media community standards or being put in Instagram jail due to an algorithm’s decision: check the #freethenipple hashtag and you’ll see a ton of examples. They also complain about how the social media sites will bury your content and not show it to anyone unless you pay them advertising money.

Rather than whine about it, I decided to follow the strategy outlined in this post. Social media companies are not about artistic integrity; they are about making money for investors. As they try to grow and expand into other parts of the world, with more conservative social standards than Europe or the USA have, I expect that they will get even more restrictive.

I understand that the game they play puts the artists’ needs at the bottom of their concerns. Rather than complain about this, it makes more sense to me to play a different game.

What do you think? Questions for discussion:

  • As a consumer, what is your personal method to discover new content?
  • As an artist, how do you get your work noticed? Does it work?

Photo credit: David Mark via pixabay.com

Greeting Cards

Photographs

I have been working on a series of note cards featuring some of my pictures. So far, I have 9 designs done. The can be purchased at the eARTh House Center for the Arts in North Tonawanda, or you can contact me directly.

The cards are blank inside and measure 5×7″ for the rectangular ones. The square ones are 5×5″. $5 each and I can do quantity discounts, just ask.

A Rare Abstract Photograph!

Photographs
An abstract photograph
Abstract photo. July, 2019.

Abstract photography appeals to me. Conceptually, I like the contradiction between the idea of a photograph, which is supposed to represent concrete reality, and turning it into something unrecognizable, yet still visually appealing.

I don’t get many chances to shoot abstract photos, but I love it when I happen to catch a “winner.” It also forces me to experiment with new processing techniques to find the most visually compelling image that I can.

I could tell you what this is a photograph of, but that would defeat the purpose, don’t you think? Much better to say, it’s whatever you want it to be!


Please remember to sign up for my email list if you haven’t already. I send an email less than once per month, and the email list allows me to share my latest artworks with you. Social media (specifically Instagram) is where I post most frequently, but I have to be careful what I post on there, as then we’re dependent on the whims of their algorithms. Get on the mailing list so that we can maintain our artistic sovereignty.

New photos with Amy Walek

Photographs

Amy Walek is a friend of mine who recently started modelling for local photographers. She often helps out at our experimental Töad Meädow Arts Collective and attended our big annual party that we threw in July, 2019.

At the party, we had a fire sculpture that I made way back in 2011. It’s called Untitled Fire and it has rustled some jimmies at various Burning Man-affiliated festivals because some people considered it anti-Christian. Other people objected for other reasons. A lot of people have found a lot of reasons to dislike Untitled Fire, but I think it looks pretty damn metal, if you ask me.

Anyways, Amy was dressed in a killer outfit and looking great, so we did an impromptu photoshoot using the firelight from the sculpture to light the pictures.

I think my favorite among these is the one with her silhouetted against the light from the sculpture. I haven’t posted it to my Instagram because I think it would look shitty on a tiny phone screen, but it looks cool as hell on a computer monitor and I bet would look really good printed on photo paper.

It’s reasons like this that you should join my mailing list for newest art. I take a lot of pictures that are very good, but that I do not post to social media for various reasons. This website is censorship-free and I will direct you to new art that I post. I send an email less than once per month, so it’s no big deal. You should sign up now for free.

Amy can be contacted through her facebook page.

A gentle nude

Photographs
Woman's upper body

I’ve taken pictures of a lot of breasts, but this ranks in the top 1% of my favorites. Everything about it says “soft and feminine” to me. The soft focus, gently swooping hair, contours of the body, etc..

To me, it’s a sort of hybrid photo between a human body and a landscape picture. Anyways, I hope you like it.

Click the photo for larger breasts.

It’s reasons like this that you should join my mailing list for newest art. I take a lot of pictures that are very good, but that I do not post to social media for various reasons. This website is censorship-free and I will direct you to new art that I post. I send an email less than once per month, so it’s no big deal. You should sign up now for free.