These were unusually warm and fun 12 days of Christmas.
Valentine’s Day seems to rival Christmas for the amount of stress that people go through every year. Gift hunting, elevated expectations, fighting for restaurant reservations for the couples and feelings of failure for many singletons who are fighting back by throwing Singles parties on this day. This is also sad time of the year for those who lost their loved ones.
Luckily, the concept of the V day is beginning to change. More and more people celebrate this day by showing appreciation generally for the people they care about – friends, family and even pets.
Some cultures are leading the way in this direction. In Finland, Valentine’s Day is referred to as Friend’s Day. In Guatemala, it is known as Day of Love and Friendship.
This year consider everyone in your world that you care about and send them a token of appreciation. My suggestion is do it with a photo that you can email, post on Facebook, or print out and frame. It can be a photo of you together at a happy moment or a nice photo of them. Of course, PhotoHand is here for you to make this photo gift-worthy by fixing the flaws and giving it a Hollywood touch.
Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!
It’s been estimated that every two minutes, we take more pictures than the whole of humanity in the 1800s. How many of them were worth taking and sharing is a question that will not be answered.
With such a turnover per capita, one might think our lives are being documented at every step and then when a dear one passes away there is somehow no good photo to keep. I know this from experience as I talk to people all the time who call to ask if anything can be done to fix the cherished image. more often than not it’s a phone camera shot that gets too blurry when enlarged. Take good pictures of the ones you love while you still can!
I lift them like kisses from the wall:
my daughter in a pumpkin costume;
my mother and her poodle, the one she loved
like the sister, soul mate, lover she never had;
my father, shoulders back, belly out,
a flat blue lake, a gray sky. And in the spaces
left behind—one for each memory
wrapped and packed away— thin, sharp nails.
One-by-one I extract them, gripping
and twisting needle-nosed pliers
to prevent the chip or flake of paint.
But I can’t avoid exposing the plaster
under its layers of years, the same way
the mortician who applies the makeup
to my father’s body cannot prevent
the incidental scraping of his ear,
revealing the cold gray flesh. My wife
at the funeral says His ear is blue.
Once the nails are out, I consider
the pencil marks made years earlier
to define the placement of each frame.
I use an eraser, the kind you knead
until it’s warm and soft, pliable
as an infant’s fist, while outside the window
a sparrow hops across the brick planter,
one of the wild birds my father always fed
when he could still rise on his own.
When I see his body lying in its coffin,
I bend across the torso, press my lips
to the stone-cold brow. I kiss him
the way I never kissed him in life,
stripped now of all defenses, naked
before me even in his gown of coat and tie.
And I do not wonder why I kiss him.
I know I have lifted the pictures from the walls.
I know the walls are white and I will fill
the holes with care—covering anything
that might reveal what has been damaged, or where.
It was in 1975 when the world-renowned Detroit-born photographer Nicolas Nixon, a professor of photography at the Massachusetts College of Art originally photographed his wife Bebe and her 3 sisters. They liked the picture so much that they collectively decided to make it a yearly event – the annual family photo – the family’s “annual rite of passage,” as Nicolas Nixon has called it.
Each image reflects another year of life experiences that take their toll.
In 1999, when the resulting series of photographs reached its twenty-fifth anniversary, The Museum of Modern Art published The Brown Sisters photography book, presenting all of the portraits in sequence. “We might wish,” said Peter Galassi, the Museum’s Chief Curator of Photography, “that our family included a photographer of such discipline and skill but otherwise Nixon’s pictures do what all family photographs do: they fix a presence and mark the passage of time, graciously declining to expound or explain.”
That edition is out of print. Eight years later the Museum is published a second edition, including eight new photographs that brought the series up to date.
As of today the Brown Sisters photo story numbers 36 photographs – candid and and at the same time poetic.
Blaming the Digital trend as they do is just an excuse not to take the responsibility for having been stuck with an ailing business model in the face of the modernization of the Photography industry that rapidly evolves as consumers are taking charge.
While a whole host of specialized high-quality vendors were beginning to command this very personal Photography industry branch – Consumer Photography, CPI was still bundling services from “good enough” providers.
At the production point, the photographer on duty could be bad at handling kids or didn’t know how to pose pregnant women. The backdrops and props were outdated.
At post production, there were problems with cropping for framing, forget about editing out stretch marks, fixing awkward smile, or skin retouching.
Printing took weeks and months instead of the promised 72 hours.
This is why consumers chose to beat feet the hell out of Sears Portrait. They had options. There are plenty of specialized photographers to choose from and who will come to you to take pictures in your natural environment.
Then you can submit your photos online (professional or amateur) to companies like PhotoHand.com to get professional grade photo editing for the price of a Starbucks coffee.
As for online printers, there are gazillions to choose from offering everything – from plain prints to photo books to photo blankets and photo cake tops. Even professional grade printers like NationsPhotoLab are beginning to serve amateurs.
Lesson learned: Don’t mess with empowered consumers!
If you are into social anthropology, the “Meet Miss Subways: New York’s Beauty Queens 1941-76,” is the exhibition for you. The photo show will be on display at the New York Transit Museum from October 23 to March 2.
For over thirty years, photos and one-sentence aspirations of New York women were displayed in subway cars as part of the “Meet Miss Subways” contest with a hidden agenda of drawing subway-riders’ attention to other advertisements in New York’s transit system.
For the first 22 years, winners were selected by the John Robert Powers modeling agency and the New York Subways Advertising Company. Afterward, the voting went the American Idol way, with NYC subway-riders voting via postcard for their favorites.
The contest saw its first African-American winner in 1948 – long before Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America in 1984—and the first Asian-American was honored in 1949.
Immigrants from Russia, Lithuania, Guatemala had their wins. This is New York, after all!
Anyone could participate and win. Married with kids – no problem!
The photos contain the evidence of women’s upward mobility. Here is a winner who happened to be a Recruiting Sergeant at the Manhattan Marine Corp.
Another one was an FBI employee.
There were team winners – twins and triplets.
What made Miss Subways contest so marvelous is that it celebrated ordinary New York women end their dreams. Everyone’s life deserved to be in the spotlight.