Underwire - 3D Concerts

My most recent posting on Wired’s Underwire was in regards to a concert movie showing in 3D. Dave Matthews, Ben Harper and Gogol Bordello are the focus of this first release by new venture inconcert3d, a company founded by several larger businesses. My efforts to get more technical details regarding who designed the systems and how the post-production is handled was met with silence, which may explain why the piece was altered by my editor to sound like a press release. Or maybe Underwire just wanted to make a press release, or I’m a talentless hack, or many other possible reasons.

Vingt - Emir Kusturica & TNSO

Meanwhile on the Vingt front I did a show preview of Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra. Kusturica is obviously better known as a film director but he lends his guitar and name to this band. It’s a high energy outfit of old Serb guys who mix theatre, comedy and rocked out Balkan/Gypsy tunes for a pretty entertaining show. Or I imagine so as I’ve never seen them, and by the looks of ticket prices I wont. This is pretty heartbreaking to me as seeing the poster for this show was one more instance of, “my God, things I want to check out are happening in Paris”. Do yourself a favor and click the second link– goes to a video that has some amazing violin action. I know it’s long but do it at work or something.

Vingt - Staff Benda Bilili

Feeling like I needed to come up with something else I was prowling the internet and came across this group from Kinshasa, Staff Benda Bilili. They lay down a compelling blend of afro-funk and American influences, riding a rollercoaster from deeply emotional reflections to high-energy dance numbers. The big media draw is that the core of the group are all disabled, mainly from polio, and until recently have only existed as street musicians. A Belgian label decided to release an album and this is their first European tour. I’m going to see this courtesy of Vingt’s press power and am really looking forward to it. I would recommend you also check these guys out, videos or whatever you can find. Hell, I’ll start you out.

Moving On Up

At the beginning of summer I clicked through to a forum debating the development of DSLRs beginning to include HD video recording. A group of Oregonians had utilized a Nikon D90 to shoot a feature length movie and I mentioned this to my editor who encouraged me to dig around and build a story. Sent out some e-mails to the filmmakers, a camera reviewer/photographer and a favorite indie director of mine. My editor liked the facts and color commentary I had collected when he finally got around to reading the draft, just not how I had written it.

He proposed a redirection and focus but I was well in the midst of getting ready to move. One evening I brought my notes up to a cafe by my parents’ (where I lived for a month before disembarking) to try and make sense of it all and failed miserably. Flew across the world and got my bearings before making another stab at it, which essentially meant rewriting the fucker, double-checking for new developments in the field and seeing if anything new was going on with the film.

The second copy went ignored for a while until my editor had the time to go over it. Together we worked out some clarifications and then he posted it, telling me I was holding the top slot of the front page overnight. Why? That answer remains a mystery, but any and all zombies awake at indecent hours had the opportunity to see me in all my glory underneath and Apple ad.

Shit, I’ve been busy. I’ll explain, but first part of my excuse is:

Brett Beyer

Got assigned to profile a New York photographer who mashes up prints and exposures. Didn’t really know how to deal with the obtuse, approach but I tried to represent the guy as fairly as possible– my editor really likes to trim quotes down. I’ve never seen anyone get savaged by Wired readers like this guy and I do feel bad for him. (more…)

Sell Out and Wait

One of the more difficult things about trying to write articles for people other than myself is the amount of time it takes. Working with an editor is a challenge but one that I think has helped me figure out what exactly I’m doing and how it can translate into a real world piece which other people might care to read and find interesting or worthwhile. It helps that my editor Keith is talented, patient, understanding and a close friend.

The time it takes to think up a solid idea and have this validated by an editor is already double my usual approach to writing. Actually the thinking up an idea is already pushing the boundaries of my usual writing style. Anyways, add onto getting validation and ideas for clarity the process of collecting information and verifying that with additional sources. Time consuming in the best of circumstances and horrific when part of the research is learning everything you can about what you’re trying to write. Then throw in needing to solicit additional information from sources, taking that information and integrating it into your narrative, convincing your editor it’s necessary to include such source material, and then going back and cleaning up the mess you made.

That’s how far I got with this article on an interesting court hearing in San Francisco. Obviously you should read it on Wired so computers can tally my worth, but to summarize a photojournalism student lost his subject in a shooting, refused to cooperate with police on the grounds he was a journalist, then had his apartment searched under warrant and property seized. The city defended its actions by saying a student does not a journalist make. The student’s lawyers called bullshit. (more…)

Assignment: Sell Out

During a tranquil evening of domestic bliss I first broached the subject of getting into writing. It wasn’t easy for me to discuss, in part because I’m squeamish when it comes to talking about creative projects and in part because this particular project was going to require more help than I’ve ever asked of anyone. Around bites of veggie chili dogs and salad, which Jeni and I both insisted he take, Keith openly shared everything he knew about the wonderful world of online publishing. Then he gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The Raw File blog was taking its fledgling steps into the family of Wired columns and it would be the perfect venue to wear my water wings. I could gain experience while learning the ropes and get credit for my accomplishments in a nationally known and respected publication. People spend years in school just to have the credentials to apply for an internship of this caliber and I had someone holding the backdoor open. The plan was to build up my clippings to prepare me for the future as a freelance hack; this trial by fire would have me ready to seek assignments within a couple of months.

My concerns had been learning how to pitch stories and then write them according to commonly observed standards. The idea of requesting assignments was a foreign, but possibly more beneficial concept. After several pitches of my own devising, which have alternately found their way onto the site, been abandoned or are languishing in purgatory, I’ve now performed my first piece of assigned writing. (more…)

The Real Sell Out

Once again the kind people at Wired allowed themselves to be victimized by multiple drafts, lazily checked facts and unfortunate attachment to complex sentences. This piece is about the 25th anniversary of a Russian automatic camera that has grown into a cult fascination with the young and hip, the Lomo LC-A. Sorry it took me over a month to repeat publication but it’s been a bumpy several weeks.

The biggest problem remains that I know fuck all about photography. I chased one thing that turned into a sprawling mess with lots of potential but more than I can handle right now. My editor Keith wants it fast and hard and I was milking a possible feature; back-burner it and move on. Caught wind of another interesting topic, this one about an African news agency that uses cellphones and folding keyboards to record and upload stories. The appeal was their program to train young journalists in the field but the photographic angle didn’t hold up– the kids all record videos on their cell phones. After a rousing defeat I sniffed around Indymedia hoping for a similar idea but walked away with nothing. My friend and former conspirator Pete suggested I interview a local photographer which I have done but the transcript is pretty mind-boggling and I’ve been staring at it with no clues for quite some time. (more…)

The Big Sell Out

Okay, not officially a sell out because I work for free, but as of today I am now a quasi-official writer for Wired’s Raw File, the photography department’s new blog. Yes, blog. But that’s fine because it’s affiliated with a major print and online magazine which I hope translates into actual journalistic credit down the road. Because I fully intend on selling out to whatever degree possible in the world of journalism 2.0 or whatever the fuck it’s called.

My first posting was about some recent challenges photographers have been facing in the UK. Police have been citing recent changes or additions to anti-terrorism legislation to harass both press and amateur snappers, completely against the spirit of the law and democracy. Journalists have also been complaining of having their attempts to cover the rash of protests throughout England either foiled by police blockades or dangerous because of police batons; some press photographers have been hospitalized while working in London.

And important topic and I’m glad I was able to pull something of this magnitude for my first offering. Thanks to my friend and editor Keith who landed me the opportunity, then hacked and sawed and stitched my drivel into a publishable news piece. I would encourage you all to take a gander to make me look good in front of the editorial team I’ve never met, but don’t feel obliged to comment because that would just be embarrassing.

An also, if you catch wind of any story remotely involving photography please feel free to hip me. I’m not a photographer, don’t follow photographers, and have very little understanding of what it entails. This makes me a poor choice for The Raw File but hopefully I’ll be able to continue pitching ideas that pass