It’s mid-February, 2022 and New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced the relaxing of the state’s face masking mandates. She had re-imposed said mandates in December, as cold and flu season started up, and claimed her measures would help contain covid infections. Unlike the prior two years, for this round of restrictions, many county governments openly rebelled and publicly stated that they would not enforce Hochul’s orders.
On the other hand, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz strongly supports Hochul’s assumed authority. Most city of Buffalo residents appreciated Poloncarz’s tough-guy stance, but several of the smaller towns within the county issued statements condemning their county-level overlords.
All this is happening as most other places in the USA have dropped their covid-era restrictions.
This background information is for the benefit of the people outside of my area who may not know what’s happening here.
Ever since the start of the virus panic 21 months ago, various rulers of New York State have imposed some of the toughest restrictions in the country. Now, after we had an an almost normal summer and fall, the county executive of Erie County (where the city of Buffalo is) issued a new edict mandating that everyone wear face masks in all public businesses. He further threatened his subjects with business closures and other punishments if the virus doesn’t stop doing virus things, like spread during cold and flu season.
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.
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.
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.
The killing of George Floyd during his arrest on May 25, 2020 lead to protests throughout the country. I went to the demonstration in Buffalo and got these pictures. The pictures are presented chronologically between about 5:30 PM until 10:30 PM on May 30, 2020.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quick reference chart comparing media distribution
Free of Censorship
Friendly to a variety of artistic styles
Controlled by artists
Controlled by Silicon Valley dweebs, and beholden to their whims
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?
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.
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.