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Two Sides to Every Story


 
 

FAVE PHOTO: The Many Faces of Susan

I’ve been shooting documentary style video and photography for 20 plus years but have never really dove deep into posing my subjects...until recently. After utilizing several friends to pose for me over the past few years, I finally connected with someone outside of my circle. Susan is a concert pianist who plays beautiful music all over the country through The Concert Truck. She is also growing her modeling portfolio. And so our mutual friend and talent agent, Scott Burkholder, connected us. The images here are from our first collaboration. We’re both thrilled with the results and aim to work together again soon.

What made this portrait shoot go smoothly for me was Susan’s desire to be involved in the process. She reviewed the shots as we went along and make adjustments to her poses. It took the pressure off me trying to direct her while also finding focus, making camera adjustments, and searching for the best light. We became a team in a short time as the golden hour before sunset quickly moved through the windows.

Another bonus to both of us being new to our respective roles was a great flexibility to wing it and try new things. I wanted a gritty look and to limit ourselves to the sunlight in this empty raw space. The only thing in the room was a broken window screen leaning against a wall. When I put that screen between the lens and my subject, I achieved that style I was after.

Our fave photo from the session posted above was created using a Kaleidoscope Prism Filter (first time I’ve ever tried using one). Below are some other faves including one showing the screen I used to help get that warm muddied feel.

I so appreciate the way two strangers could come with different talents, experiences, and purposes to create something beautiful. Our in-the-moment approach paid off. And now, we’re no longer strangers.

If you or someone you know would be up for a posed photo session...let me know.

Lunch with me to the person who correctly guesses the number of faces of Susan in the prism photo above. Comment below or email michaelivan@loud-communications.com with your guess.


 
 

VIEWING RECOMMENDATION: Fleishman Is in Trouble

MY RATINGS: SCALE OF 1-4

Intensity: 😮😮 Comedy: 🤣🤣 Drama: 😢😢😢

Writing: 🤔🤔🤔🤔 Originality: 🧐🧐🧐🧐 Cinematography: 😍😍😍


Toby (Jesse Eisenberg) and Rachel Fleishman (Claire Danes) are having marital problems in this Hulu series based on a book by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. It’s a show about marriage, divorce, friendships, raising kids, getting older, and life’s big decisions. The genre is in line with the recent rom-com-dramas attempting to give a truer version of relationships than perhaps what we grew up watching...that “meet-cute that gets derailed but then turns into they lived happily ever after” - well, this show questions that “ever after” part.


Season 1: Episode 6, This is My Enjoyment (about 4 minutes in)

Toby is talking with his college friend Seth (Adam Brody) who is the token bachelor in his 40s who never got married or had kids and who is taken perhaps less seriously than Toby or their other college friend Libby (Lizzy Caplan) who have both been married for years and have multiple offspring. Toby is commenting how amazing Seth’s life is...free to party and go out all night and hang with a younger crew of adventurous friends. Meanwhile, Seth breaks it down for Toby. When it comes to dating, Seth is “suspect” while Toby has been tested, he’s made it through the vetting process, and is part of the establishment.


Even though Toby is divorced with kids, he’s a safer bet in the dating world. Seth is not. I have never seen a show depict this “truth” so directly.


The story telling has some unique twists including a surprising choice of narrator, Libby, the suburban house wife who is Toby and Seth’s old college friend. Through her eyes we see Rachel’s (Toby’s wife) version of their marriage gone bad. A relationship ending is often an awkward story that has us choosing sides. I’m not sure I love the ending, but one of my favorite lines comes near the end of episode 8, when Libby narrates, reflecting on a lesson she learned in journalism,


“...that there were no real villains in life, not really. There were no real heroes either. Everyone is great, and everyone is terrible, and everyone is flawed, and there are no exceptions to that.”


For me, great story telling includes the crap that makes it complicated.

 
 

VIDEO PROJECT: Thinking ‘Bout Love

Wild Rivers was my pandemic band. I first heard their song above in 2020 and listened to their album Songs to Break Up To on virtual repeat for two years. They were the first band I saw after Covid entered our world. I went to Union Stage, a small but sweet venue near the much larger Anthem on the Wharf in DC, I brought my new Sony mirrorless camera that shoots both photos and video. I was able to stand right by the side of the stage and captured their encore performance of this crowd favorite. It’s not the best video I’ve shot - but the message of the song fits so well into this month’s blog theme: Two Sides to Every Story, I decided to include it.


I read an article where the band explained the song’s premise about a couple who broke up and had different perspectives on why. I particularly like how the lyrics imply each person is guessing what the other wants--not really knowing. If only they’d ask? Here’s one verse that highlights that for me,

I’m on the road while you’re waitin’ at home

But I swear I'll be right back

You’ll find some man with no rock ‘n’ roll band

And maybe you’ll like that


It’s a familiar feeling that clearly strikes a chord for the audience as the band ends each concert with this, their most popular song. Sometimes great story telling is leaving some mystery to what really happened because we don’t always know what’s going on inside someone else’s mind. Try as we may.

 
 

FILM FESTIVAL: Let’s Be Fools

Exciting news!! A music video I directed for Jae Jin with the marvelous camera work of Matt Adams has been selected to be screened at the 12th Edition of the DMV International Film Festival in Washington, DC on February 25-26, 2023. If you’re in the area, please get your ticket and see some great locally (and internationally) made films including the one above! Shout at me if you go and hopefully we can connect. Also, a big shout out to Jae’s friend, Steve Chu co-founder of Ekiben, a recent James Beard nominated chef, and a supporter who helped produce this project. I love their spicy bird bowl.


Jae’s songwriting and performance shows off all of his skills along with some beauty shots of Baltimore...including my Hampden neighborhood. The song, Let’s Be Fools, gives some hope to the two sides of every story theme. The main character is struggling with their insecurities and anxieties about a relationship, ultimately afraid of getting hurt. But in the end, they want to take the risk for love,

I’ve been a fool

Getting hurt rushing in

I’ll stay a fool

Still afraid to give in

Unless you’re a fool

I guess you’re a fool

If you’d choose to love me


A side note about film festival selections...I often have to explain to folks that getting into a festival is a huge accomplishment. Sometimes there are specific category winners and awards, but the selection really is a big deal. Of 35 submissions in the past several years, my films have been selected 9 times. I’m particularly proud of this music video as it has become a launching pad for me to offer this service to more musicians. Shout at me if you or someone you know might want a music video or some artist/band photos!


 
 

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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