Goodbye Folsom Street

After a two year hiatus, I was mentally and physically “gearing-up” this week in preparation of attending Sunday’s Folsom Street Fair .  I’ve decided not to go.

With over 250,000 attendees, this San Francisco leather and fetish festival is packed into about 13 blocks. It is a photographic goldmine, especially for portrait photographers. As a street and documentary photographer, my images from past fairs show quirky moments that I specialize in. Unfortunately, many of those images are too risqué to be shown to a general audience.

According to local media, in addition to regular warnings of not bringing kids and/or stay away from the area if the nudity is not your cup-of tea, there will be warnings of getting consent before you touch anyone or take a picture. Flyers say “Gear is not consent. Nudity is not consent. Ask first before photographing or touching someone. No means no.”

Due to the nature of the event, I acknowledge that there were serious incidents of touching at past fairs (years ago, a drunk woman gabbed my butt and ran away…and that happened before I even went through the admission gate!). And I acknowledge current events such as the “me too” movement are driving needed awareness.  But I, and many other photographers, don’t attend Folsom Street because we need to touch someone or collect pictures for porn collections. We pack our gear to get great images. The below photograph was taken about 7 years ago and hangs in my home office. It’s part of my San Francisco collection. When kids ask me who it is, I tell them it’s Bane, from Batman. ! 🙂

I’m not here to debate the First Amendment. Anyone can legally photography on a public street but these “warnings” create a hostile environment for photographers with camera gear while those photographing with the ubiquitous smartphone are not branded as perverts.

What am I gonna do about it? It’s Not Complicated. I’ll just save the admission fee and film and photograph places that are not criminalizing photography.

If I Do Color, I’m Doing Snapseed

Only two of the 88 frames I took at the Berkeley Marina were presentable. That’s much better than the “Zero” out of 150 taken weeks prior. But that’s not what drove me crazy. I wasted time attempting to edit these two on the computer…I remember why I became a minimalist photographer. I wasn’t going to accept the super sharp, plastic rendering.
 
As I was about to throw the whole project away, I decided to play with Snapseed, the Google photo app on my phone. One click and it was over! It gave me the grainy look of Kodak Portra 400, my preferred color film. No more color editing on the laptop. Snapseed on an iPhone or iPad or forget it.

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A Point-and-Shoot Wedding

I couldn’t help myself. I tried to be a “guest.” As a former wedding photographer, I had the very best intentions of “laying low.” Hell,  I even bought my granddaughter’s point-and-shoot camera, still sporting the “My Little Pony” decals, to make sure that I didn’t get caught up in the moment.

But the minute I stepped through the church doors, my eyes immediately scanned the light and space. My mind started composing in 28 mm…50 mm. Flashbacks of my glory days only emboldened me.  I gave up trying to suppress what gave me joy!

As this was an evening wedding and the light was deteriorating, I made some adjustments and still obtained a respectable number of images considering I only had a “point-and-shoot.” Consumer-oriented point-and-shoot cameras are small, lightweight, and easy to maneuver but aren’t the most responsive cameras for a wedding. But that didn’t matter, my pictures went over well not because of the camera or photographer, but because they captured important moments.  It’s Not Complicated.

Thanks to Andrea, the hired pro, for allowing me to share the space.  🙂

 

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