Monday, December 9, 2013

All Access - Media

All Access – Media
“The most important thing about artists is that they should behave like artists. Who wants a creator who sounds like a real estate agent when you could have one who walks his pet lobster through the Palais Royal gardens on a blue silk ribbon? Responsible behavior in an artist is like modesty in a stripper; unbecoming, dispiriting and not at all what you signed up for”
 Andrew O’Hagan, NYT style magazine, fall 2013

Honolulu Marathon credentials and map.
Race map.

We won't discuss Mr O'Hagan's point of view any further for now. He is obviously not an artist trying to survive with his work. I rather tell you what I'm up to these days and will begin with the Honolulu Marathon for which I worked yesterday.
Cory Lum, Ronen Zilberman and I got up at 1:00 AM in small hotel room on Waikiki’s Kuhio Avenue as the party goers were still making noise on the street below, brushed our teeth and gathered multiple cameras, lenses and batteries and made our way to the parking lot at the Honolulu zoo, where I had already parked my van the night before with the “essential” sign placed on the dashboard. Ronen has been the principal photographer for the organizers of the Honolulu Marathon for many years and Cory has been shooting it for at least as long. 

Ronen Zilberman & Cory Lum in the press tent after the race.

I was the rookie on Ronen’s team, which included another photographer, who I never met. We milled around for a while, checking out shots, testing cameras and I got last minute instructions on what ISO levels to use for different shots and the changing light and locations as the day would break.
After some instructions from the organizers we heard the roar of 32 Harley Davidson’s as they came down Kapahulu Ave right on time at 3:00 AM and parked their bikes tail to the curb. The photographers checked the bikes and riders and placed their gear behind the bike or rider they liked, choosing by the specific assignments and its specific preferences. Cory and Ronen would ride sitting backwards most of the time shooting the elite runners throughout the race, while I would go to different locations and shoot standing, kneeling or lying down. I choose a sleek Harley, whose rider was the president of a Hawaiian motorcycle club and rode for the race the first time also; two rookies together.

32 Harleys and riders arriving at 3:00 AM

We headed to the starting line. My job there was to shoot human interest with artistic sensibility. The runners and sponsors of the Honolulu Marathon and much of the culture are firmly in the hands of the Japanese. Many runners are dressed up in various outfits and makeup, some of them far from ideal for running. Celebrities are being interview and gawked at, waving or throwing shakas to the runners passing by. There is a long row of porta-potties, divided into a men and women’s section and runners lining up in front of them. There are hydraulic lifts for crews to shoot or celebrities to be filmed, ladders for photographers and cables strung across Ala Moana Blvd to digitally check the start. The atmosphere is restrained anticipatory excitement. More and more people showed as it got closer to starting time and who was allowed to go where, became more restricted. I had total access walking around everywhere to get some exciting shots. It was easy to get people to pose, the runners and especially the Japanese loved to have their picture taken.
Precisely at 5:00 AM the race was on, while fireworks went off. I took a few pics and got on the bike for my next location Honolulu Hale (city hall), to shoot with the large X-mas tree in the background. Ronen stopped also and we took some shots of the wheel chair racers, who had started a bit earlier then the lead pack of runners. My next destination was the 8th floor of the Hyatt Regency parking lot to shoot the pack of runners when they would come down Kalakaua Ave through the heart of Waikiki. For this long shot I had to boost the ISO to 6 400. The race stretches out immediately after the start and I had to wait for a while before the road became filled up with runners. I got my shots, being careful with my breathing, leaning my arms on the rail to focus. A Hyatt security guard eventually came and kicked me out. I had All Access but not to the 8th floor of The Hyatt parking garage. All doesn’t necessarily mean all, all of the time.

Runners turning the corner of 18th Ave and Kilauea Ave. Diamond Head in back.

These Geishas actually took a break from their run to pose for this picture.

Back on the Harley we headed to the next location, the corner of Kilauea Ave and 18th Ave in Kaimuki. I was supposed to shoot looking down Kilauea Ave once the sun would rise out of the Pacific Ocean in the background. The runners came up 18th Ave from Diamond Head, and turned right for a downhill section towards the ocean. It was a while before sunrise but there was plenty of action and energy coming from the enthusiastic pack of runners, a bunch of photographers, TV crews, celebrities and a jeep with a crew focusing on a single star from a reality TV show, following her throughout the entire race. It was cloudy and a bit hazy, so the shots with the sunrise background had a flat light.

Eventually the sun came out from behind the clouds, which didn't produce great shots either.
Then we headed onto the racecourse with the Harley going against the traffic towards the Diamond Head lookout. We had to go slow and watch out for the runners who didn’t always pay attention themselves. At the lookout I climbed up the cliffs a bit and took pictures with the ocean in the background. I felt that I had gotten here a bit late, since the crowd had thinned out by this time. We got back on the racetrack and headed towards the finish in Kapiolani Park. The elite runners were done by this time but other fast runners were still coming in ahead of hours and hours of runners to come. Cory was placed in a great spot to shoot the finishers straight on. He had been there for the winners already.

The finish line at 3:10:58 still early for the majority of runners.

After the race with one of many porta-potties.

Relaxing behind the Kapiolani Park bandstand.
 There are moving scenes at the finish ranging from incredible joy to pain, with some runners collapsing as soon as they cross the line, immediately caught by the staff waiting and taken to the hospital tent. A guy proposed right before his girlfriend and he crossed the finish line. The elite runners had showered by now and were getting massages or being interviewed in separate tents. By this time I was loosing my voice and got some ginger lemon tee in the media tent and then explored the large tent city set up in Kapiolani Park shooting the runners exhausted and elated. I shot for several more hours, then we uploaded the memory cards to Ronan’s computer, I took Cory home, drove home myself, ate some lunch and eventually took a nap. After dinner and watching a movie I went to bed at 8:30 and turned all alarms off.

Poster in one of the high school classrooms I substituted in recently.

Well, I could walk around with my pet gecko on Kailua beach, but that’s not what I’m doing. Besides working as a substitute teacher in the trenches of the public education system, I did manage to create some art recently and even made a $ here and there. 

This is an exceptionally well kept classroom with clear instructions for the sub, including pictures of the students in seating arrangements. Seeing this I know the day will be ok.

 But I also missed being in a show at Telluride Gallery of Fine Arts, when my alterations of vinyl album covers arrived a day too late to be included in the show.

9 altered LP covers, Dieter Runge, 2013.

Billy Idol, Lou Reed, Rebel Yell. Altered LP cover, Dieter Runge, 2013.

Diana Ross, Lou Reed. Altered LP cover, Dieter Runge, 2013.

Thelma Houston, DANCE. Altered LP cover, Dieter Runge, 2013.

Janet Jackson, Desire Everything. Altered LP cover, Dieter Runge.

 I was more successful with my “trackracers” print, which won a prize in the Bike Art Show at the Dairy Center in Colorado.

"Trackracers" woodcut, 46"x 48", dieter runge, 2012, at the entrance of the Bike Art Show at the Dairy Art Center in Boulder, CO.

 I sold some of my Sri Yantra prints to the Hawaii Yoga Institute teacher-training course, and made 60 plus prints for the Hawaii Arts Alliance in honor of Allyn Bromley as their 2013 Honoree. I also taught a yoga workshop at Yoga Hawaii. We are in the middle of recording three songs with my band Alice Neel, two originals, Oahu Sweet, Rockets of Desire, and a remake of David Bowie’s Helden as a duet with Lucy Lynch all sung in German. The band will play at a private party for the winter solstice on the 21st.

Matt Brittain and Lucy Lynch recording at the pool house.