Going through old film photos. Sadly I can’t remember what film this was, but I definitely shot it with an Olympus OM-10. Given how outstandingly grainy this is, I’m going to guess it was some cheap Fuji 400.
Two years ago, while riding a city bus in Tulsa, I had a thought.
I’d been riding the bus off and on for a while. The service itself was really great — the buses ran on time, were generally clean, affordable, the drivers friendly. I was, however, consistently frustrated by basically every element of the graphics, maps, signage, branding and various printed schedules — and don’t get me started on their website (it’s since been updated, apparently using web standards from the late nineties). The buses almost always went where I needed to go, but finding my way there via their maps and schedules was quite a challenge. People who rode often had a sort of route memory, and it’s easy to see why they needed to. Consulting the map was a source of endless frustration.
I’m a lover of transit design. The first time I saw a Massimo Vignelli NYC subway sign, I had someone take my picture with it. I was once given a transit map shower curtain as a housewarming gift, and I have a drawer full of maps from every city I’ve visited. I’ve always wanted to design a map, but never knew where to start. Then I read a newspaper on a bus (I’m a regular well-respected man-about-town, apparently) and came upon an article about a light rail proposal. Tulsa’s always proposing light rail. I love trains, but I suspect it would be a disaster, but that’s another post. I started thinking about what the wayfinding might look like on a Tulsa Train system. And I thought of the bus map, and I got sad.
And then I got excited.
I got home and spent all evening sketching, doing research, completely re-thinking the transit system of my home city. What if there were Rapid Bus (BRT) corridors? A commuter rail system serving the suburbs and the awkwardly located airport? My mind was buzzing.
Over the coming days as I continued to work on this project, the scope intensified. While originally I wanted to plot theoretical new lines and rail service corridors as a kind of de facto Urban Planning exercise, it became clear that information design was the core of what I was after. I couldn’t do anything else until I had a solid core, building upon the existing service.
And so, two years ago on Friday, I started this project. Then I got busy with life and freelance work. Then I moved to Austin. I was pushing my pet project on down the road and making excuses. Lately I’ve been thinking about it again, and I’m committed to finishing it this summer.
I’ve been making progress. If you’d like to follow along, check out Transit Tulsa, a tumblr where I’ve been posting status updates and talking about what I’ve learned.
The concept is simple, the reality anything but: make a movie in twenty-four hours.
It’s fast-paced, it’s stressful, it’s exhilarating, challenging and a little bit crazy. And it’s one of my favorite parts of the year, creatively-speaking. The guidelines are simple: make a 5-minute film in 24 hours, incorporating a pre-determined (but secret until midnight on the night of the contest) elements: a theme, a line of dialogue, and a prop.
For a few months last year I rented studio space downtown. It didn’t end up being cost-effective for me, being that I’m a sort of anti-commercial photographer*, but it did give me the chance to coerce more of my favorite people in front of the camera.
I swear, these people make my job way too easy.
I have beautiful friends. Pictured: Katie Cunningham and Jillian Summar at Loose Leaf Co. Fall 2011, Grace Grothaus in her Tulsa studio, Summer 2011.
*not entirely true. I just tend to offset the paid photography I do with expensive stuff like “still shooting film” and “buying more old cameras”.
Here’s more wintry coldness, because I’m finding it hard to think about anything else right now. On a positive note, the 24-hour video race is tomorrow night and I’m totally stoked. Here’s my team’s winning entry from last year and a write-up I did for Tasha Does Tulsa about my experience. But more on that later; grab some hot tea because it’s time for more cold photos.
This one’s actually from last year. I was shooting long exposures out my back window while firing a giant manual speedlight from the side through a garden window. Apparently when I get cabin fever this is what happens. I’ve actually used this photo as the background on my phone all winter, because apparently the feet (plural) of snow outside isn’t enough of a reminder.
And another from last year, though not so snowy. Fog is one of my favorite photographic subjects, as well as one of my favorite things about winter and the cooler parts of the year in Oklahoma.
Also I apparently have a thing for the lines in the middle of roads or something. I’ve always liked this shot though, because if it weren’t for that bright yellow line this photo could pass for a black and white. Again, I dig that monochromatic quality that winter brings into our lives; having said that, I’ve had enough of it this year. Spring, we await you with open arms and short-sleeved t-shirts.
It’s always seemed like I get most inspired to take photographs in the winter, which most people would probably call the least photogenic of all the seasons. The truth is I never saw it that way; I think one of the reasons I was always interested in photography was that it allowed you to capture the beautiful in the mundane, the everyday. I also think there’s a sort of minimalist beauty in the sparseness of winter.
There’s just something about it.
There was a time in my life when I didn’t enjoy shooting weddings. I thought there was too much pressure, that they were too hectic, stressful. Now? I find them really enjoyable. I enjoy each one more than the last.
People make a big to-do about making sure everything is just right and goes according to plan, but what a wedding ends up being about is the moments shared between people. Parents and children, life-long friends, people very much in love. The beautiful things about weddings are almost always the ones you could never plan for.
Photographing a wedding isn’t just about knowing which events need to be captured. Sure, there’s a “list”: the kiss, the first dance, the cake. But it’s also about finding those little moments, the ones often happening when nobody knows you’re watching.
For me every wedding has an overarching theme: people in love, people being happy. Photographing a wedding is all about capturing those happy moments.
Congratulations to Josh and Natalie, and thanks for letting me be a part of your big day.