can’t stop listening to ___________

#lemonade.

No matter what you make of the real story behind the album, I think it’s undeniable that Lemonade is an incredibly moving piece of work.

I hadn’t been a big follower of Beyoncé’s music before.  Of course I knew some songs–has anyone not heard Single Ladies??  But then the Super Bowl halftime show happened and Formation came out and I was totally smitten.  The visuals are so exciting I was immediately enthralled.  I love the settings, the fashion, the shooting style…and then on top of that it’s a really great, catchy, multi-layered song.  (Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation!)  I watched it 3 times immediately and then shared it with others later that week and have probably gone back and watched it 10 more times since.

Formation got me interested in Beyoncé’s creative team and how she puts her videos together because it’s so varied in its styles–from the hair to the makeup to the outfits to the settings…  There’s a great BTS video for the making of 2009’s Sweet Dreams that shows every outfit, including how she got to use a vintage Thierry Mugler gold body suit that had been on display at the Met.  If you’re Beyoncé you get to wear that.  If you’re anyone else, you get to be inspired by it.

One of my favorite looks from the Formation video is the red dress she’s wearing while sitting atop the sinking police car, shown here in The Guardian’s coverage of Formation fashion.  Turns out it’s a blouse and skirt from Gucci’s 2016 Spring line–which is amazing and images from the ad campaign became my phone wallpaper all during SXSW.

So then, 10 days ago, after the first episode of the new season of Game of Thrones, there was Lemonade, begging to be watched.

Before midnight I had watched it all the way through and some parts 2 or 3 times.  I tweeted with friends about it after it was gone.  And the next day I bought it on iTunes and started listening to the music.  I had my immediate favorites as one does with any new album but in the following days of listening and taking a break from listening, and watching again and listening again, and reading about it and listening to podcasts about it, there’s not one song on there that hasn’t gotten its hooks in me (har har).

I woke up this morning with “pray you catch me listening” running through my head. Fitting, because I still am.

 

#sxsw2016: i heart ira

sxsw 2016 has been officially over for a little while now and in that time i managed to drop my iphone in water. not sure yet whether the data that was on that phone will be recoverable, and one of the biggest losses i’m feeling is my notepad where i was jotting down all the wise words and hot tips and fun anecdotes my favorite panelists were sharing during the film and interactive festivals. thank god the good folks at sxsw taped a lot of the sessions, including the ira glass conversation that mark olsen led.

so much great stuff happened at that talk.

first things first: ira glass is a dreamboat. as with lots of the folks on NPR whose voices i recognize, i didn’t know what he looked like. and then he walked out in all his tall, lanky glory, with wavy, dark hair, silver at the temples, bold, dark-rimmed glasses that didn’t hide the twinkle in his eye, and a sharp-looking blazer with a button-down and slim jeans. i attended the talk with a girlfriend of mine who was completely atwitter before the talk even began. as the hour went on, her crush became our crush.

his easy-going demeanor, constant grin, and earnest desire to answer his interviewer’s questions well were totally charming.

he discussed topics like his start in radio, his evolution as a journalist, this american life, of course, and he mused on the success of serial, praising julie snyder and the folks who produce the show and believed in the concept when he was skeptical. he had some interesting insights into the boon to shows like his that came with the emergence of podcasting technology and itunes as a distribution platform. and he shared about getting into filmmaking, producing 2 films with mike birbiglia.

toward the end of the hour the questions from the audience started, and 2 awesome things happened.

  1. he got a request to make a balloon animal. the woman asking had seen him speak in austin on a prior occasion and he had made one then. drawing a balloon from his bag, he began to make a blue poodle for her, explaining that he had done magic tricks at parties as a kid and that he always carries balloons with him for occasions such as these…and when he was a guest on ask a grown man. this segment alone is worth watching in the video of the talk–it starts around 52:20.
  2. and then the director of “thank you, del,” who was a fan of ira’s famous thoughts on taste and talent, asked if there was any follow-up ira wanted to offer. his response: do it now; don’t wait.

if you ever get a chance to hear ira glass speak, do it now; don’t wait.

and don’t ask him for a selfie; ask him for a balloon animal.

can’t stop listening to ___________ (NYE edition)

in honor of the closing hours of 2015, i wanted to write a music post and post an autoside–music and photography being, this year as always, two things that bring enrichment and joy.

this musical recommendation comes as a result of something else that brings enrichment and joy: great tv.

a recent highlight from the cultural endeavors of 2015 includes re-watching the entire series of HBO’s six feet under. though several years old now it holds up so well and is so amazingly insightful as far as family dynamics and relationships go.

that closing sequence that shows the fate of all the main characters, shown with sia’s “breathe me” playing achingly over it all was sooooo good…

along similar lines of brilliant exploration of complicated family dynamics is amazon’s original series transparent, created by one of the six feet under producers, jill soloway.  in the second season (the latest one) a song reoccurred throughout several episodes.  it was alice boman’s “waiting.” (see below)

i found it so haunting and beautiful the first time i heard it i re-watched the scene during which it played several times.  not unlike the closing sequence to six feet under…

MONSTROusly fun!

my brilliant fiancé is a designer with white whale games who, this past year, kickstarted a card game called MONSTROCARDS.

we got to work together on a series of still photographs of our friends who played the game (scroll to the end) and then we collaborated again, along with writer/director colin gray, on the video for the kickstarter campaign (see below).  i shot the video using a canon 5D mark ii with 28mm, 50mm and 85mm prime lenses.*

the game just started shipping out this past week and is starting to get some buzz, so i thought it the perfect time to talk about the video.

we shot it in one afternoon in a friend’s kitchen, casting 5 of our friends in non-speaking roles–the whole thing was VO’ed by dan boehl–and showing the various phases of the game with hammed up expressions and body language.  we wanted it to feel playful, fun and poppy, with a cadence like game commercials from the 50s and 60s.  the music helps and much credit for the awesome finished product is due to josh meyers of emergent order who edited it with me and colin over the course of a couple of hot july afternoons and more than a few coke slurpees.

here are some of the stills from the campaign:

katie's winning monstrocard: giant farmer

katie’s winning monstrocard: giant farmer

these were all basically one-light portraits in front of a white sweep.  i had a background light on a floor stand to provide a gradient behind the subject’s shoulders and photographed each model with a large softbox on a strobe set up for loop lighting.

charles' winning monstrocard: underwater summer camp

charles’ winning monstrocard: underwater summer camp

quin's winning monstrocard: tacky chair

quin’s winning monstrocard: tacky chair

*notes on shooting video:  there are several settings you can use for the video feature on the canon DSLRs, but i used the 1920x1080p format at 24fps.  shutter speeds of 1/60th or slower seem to work best, otherwise the footage can look choppy.