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Familiarity Breeds Contemplation

Updated: Oct 27

BLOG FEATURES: 1. Caleb Stine shows his rock 'n' roll face. 2. Eat The Cake: Threw Up in My Mouth (just a lil bit). 3. Mythic Quest’s odd & amazing back story. 4. My friend Wayne.

 

FAVE PHOTO: Rock & Roll

I’ve been shooting photos and videos of Caleb Stine for several years. He’s a fantastic Baltimore-based singer songwriter with a great story telling voice. Something that perhaps seems contradictory in making photos of the same person or in the same space many times is that the photos get better. At first it seemed to me the repetition would cause boredom and the freshness would dissipate over time. Instead, I’ve been learning the things that stand out as unique or special become clearer. Also, I continue to get better at adjusting to everything involved, from the light that changes, the clothing folks wear, the lenses I’m using, to even the camera itself becoming more comfortable in my hands.


What particularly makes this photo special to me is Caleb’s facial expression. As much as I think I know him as both a musician and a friend, I’ve never seen his face so animated with intensity as I did during his set at the 2022 Hampdenfest. The drama of this picture also pops with his hair caught in motion and the veins in his strumming hand pulsing. I toyed around with different angles, trying to avoid the mic stand getting in the way and the boring nature of a tent covered stage backdrop. Fortunately, this angle included both of Caleb’s hands and caught him as he turned to his guitarist who was cranking on his strings. Here are a few other snaps captured from folks enjoying the music.



 

BLOG FEATURES: 1. Caleb Stine shows his rock 'n' roll face. 2. Eat The Cake: Threw Up in My Mouth (just a lil bit). 3. Mythic Quest’s odd & amazing back story. 4. My friend Wayne.

 

VIDEO PROJECT: Eat the Cake music video

Once a quarter, The Depot Open Mic series hosts a championship event for the previous weeks’ winners. The grand prize includes a music video produced by me along with recording time in The Watermelon Room. Eat the Cake won the June 2022 contest. The band shared this video by Denzel Curry doing a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s song Bulls on Parade.


Having an idea to imitate and then twist it to fit our circumstances with a specific project really helps get the creative juices flowing. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but I also think it’s a great starting point for creating something new. The base we begin with comes from using what is familiar and then contemplating how we can add our energy to it.


In this case, I began with creating a visual layout of the space in Photoshop showing where we’d have the band members and how we’d place our gear. Along with my colleague, Tyler Spaid, we set up 5 cameras and 9 lights in the Watermelon Room recording space to capture this engaging song. The unique concept of the video in my mind was having everyone face the drummer, shooting from behind him to focus on the singers and the rest of the band.


Garrett Long, the owner of The Watermelon Room recording studio was gracious with his time and space. He allowed us to fill the room with 5 band members, their instruments, 2 camera operators, and all of our video production gear. After 4 takes, we got what we came for. Swimming through the footage, I edited together the variety of angles to help show off the talent of this incredibly fun band. I can’t say our video is as good as the sample, but given our limitations, I think we pulled together something cool. Hopefully it gives a taste of the infectious spirit of their live performances.


 

BLOG FEATURES: 1. Caleb Stine shows his rock 'n' roll face. 2. Eat The Cake: Threw Up in My Mouth (just a lil bit). 3. Mythic Quest’s odd & amazing back story. 4. My friend Wayne.

 

VIEWING RECOMMENDATION: Mythic Quest on Apple

MY RATINGS: SCALE OF 1-4

Intensity: 😮 Comedy: 🤣🤣🤣 Drama: 😢

Writing: 🤔🤔🤔🤔 Acting: 🤥🤥🤥 Cinematography: 😍😍😍


Mythic Quest is a sitcom set in a video game production office. I am not a gamer (the height of my video game skills lies somewhere between my middle school years playing Donkey Kong in the arcade and James Bond on the PlayStation twenty years ago). But I love this show. It mockingly confronts all of the quirkiness of gaming with the tensions of the awkward battles between the different generations in the workplace. I suppose working as a solo freelancer, my imagination of what others are dealing with inside their offices makes me giggle - whether the show is accurate or not, I don’t know.


SPECIFIC REVIEW: Season 1, Episode 5

As one Reddit reviewer wrote, “What the hell was that?” First off, kudos to the writers and whoever gave the green light to have a back-story episode about characters not even in the show...and only 5 episodes into the first season. Wow. The first 10 minutes, I'm wondering if I accidentally put on the wrong show. It’s a courageous move for a new series to experiment with an unconventional idea just as the viewer is getting comfortable with the characters.


The episode itself could be turned into a movie. Within only a half-hour this episode tells an entire tale of a video game company set in the past with developed characters you can connect with and a storyline you remember two years later (at least, that’s what it did to me).


What knocks me sideways about this episode is how the show took away the familiar characters but kept the familiar storyline and context of a video game company. They took me to another time, yet made it seem like the same place. If you decide to watch this series, start from the beginning and please give it to at least this episode before you judge it. Lucky for us, there’s a second season already out and a third on its way with a fourth to follow.


 

BLOG FEATURES: 1. Caleb Stine shows his rock 'n' roll face. 2. Eat The Cake: Threw Up in My Mouth (just a lil bit). 3. Mythic Quest’s odd & amazing back story. 4. My friend Wayne.

 

PHOTO ARTWORK: Wayne

Wayne is a neighborhood buddy. He’s one of those guys you run into on a regular basis and maybe catch their names and that’s about it. When I walk Gracie (my sweet dog) on The Avenue (the main commercial street in my neighborhood, Hampden) in the mornings, I usually run into Wayne outside the Royal Farms. He holds out his hand and lets Gracie lick his fingers as he says to her, “Oh yeah, I got that sausage from my breakfast sandwich.” Wayne and I say hi and talk about the weather and we go on our way.


I’ve always wondered about Wayne’s story. So, when I saw him hanging out enjoying some music at Hampdenfest, I asked if I could take his photo. I was carrying my old 1960s Mamiya C3 camera which had a roll of black and white film in it. This camera is a twin lens reflex that shoots medium format 120 film. I bought it from a friend’s yard sale at the beginning of the pandemic and it became my teacher and time travel machine the past couple of years. It’s the camera that stops people in the street who say to me, “Hey, cool camera.” I feel pretty hipster-like when I’m roaming the streets with this heavy awkward-looking device.


This camera also started a conversation with Wayne. He used to shoot with a similar camera back in school. He talked about staying in the darkroom developing film for so long he lost track of time. I asked about his photos and he shared that through some bouts with homelessness he lost all of his images. And just now as I write this, I realize what I’m going to do...gonna get this image printed and bring it to Wayne on my next dog walk. I hope he likes it.


Besides the story behind the image, I really like how Wayne’s smile raises his cheek bones up so high that his eyes are almost closed. There’s also a sweet mixture of styles showcased in his sleeveless shirt and cowboy hat with the background of the Atomic Books stage as the band tunes their instruments.


Going beyond the familiar routine of talking about the weather and then moving on is something special that I credit to my camera. It’s a great tool for me to break through the typical interaction with those I’ve gotten familiar with. It truly is a lens into someone else’s life. Contemplation has always been a hobby of mine. Looking at the same things from a new perspective is a growing habit.


If you dig what you’ve read...please subscribe (at the top of the page) and send a link to folks you think might enjoy it. Contact me at michaelivan@loud-communications.com with any questions, comments, or if you’d like to have me produce a video or photo for you. Check out my instagram and website.


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