ImageGuy

My photography, my art, my thoughts.

Read a good book!

When I was young, books and reading were never a big part of my childhood. My parents never read to me or bought me books (not that they could afford to buy us anything beyond the necessities of life). My oldest sister, despite being nearly blind, was a voracious reader. But because of her handicaps, she spent a great deal of time at home, so reading was an escape for her. I visited the public library but was always intimidated by the variety of selection and the hundreds of pages to get through. I, of course, was forced to read books for book reports in school. I resorted to the Cliffs Notes whenever possible to get through the basics of what I considered boring time spent reading something that I had no interest in. I preferred to be outside, riding my bike with friends or traipsing through the local woods creating my own adventures or meeting friends at the local drive-in once in high school.

Through much of my adult life, fiction and novels still did not attract me. Like many young people today, TV and movies provided stories and food for entertainment. It was fast and immediate and didn’t take days to work through. And once I was married and working, who had time for such indulgences. I had things to do.

This changed later in life, when my second daughter came into my life. And the pleasure of reading to her at night became not only a beautiful bonding experience, but a new satisfying form of release and entertainment. We relished the entire Harry Potter series and I found joy in trying to create the characters in my voice and add to the drama with my rendition of those imaginative pages.

But even with that experience, it was not until I became a single person again, without the demands of family and pets, and home maintenance projects, that I allowed myself the time to finally sit quietly, without interruption or pressing needs and distractions, and have what has now become one of my greatest pleasures. A good book!

Good writing is such a delight. It is entertainment, stimulation, education, imagination, exploration, and a way to weigh our own beliefs and principles, our history and experience, our emotions and intellect. It keeps your brain active and helps you to experience those things that make us human in ways most people’s everyday lives simply do not provide. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with the day to day requirements of living and miss the observances of people and the world and events that affect us and shape us in ways we are often unaware.

I was amazed to see a video on line of an interviewer on the street stopping people and asking simply, “Can you name the title of a book?”.  And so many replied, “I just don’t read” or “I can’t think of one”. Not even a classic would come to mind for them like Moby Dick or Gone With The Wind or For Whom The Bell Tolls or War and Peace, whether they had read it or not. I worry that young people today will be like I was throughout their lives and miss the beauty of the written word in favor of “tweets” and “you tube” and Netflix. Not that I don’t enjoy a well done movie or series, many of which are born from a well written novel or biography. But the beauty of a book tells the story in a way that allows you to see and create the story in your own mind, in the way you want to see it. You draw the picture, you put a face on the characters, you see the settings, and in that way the experience is yours alone.

I have my ritual now. I sit and read as soon as I come home from work most days. I have my reading chair and my bookshelf has at least ten books in line waiting for me to finish my current selection and pick something new. I love the day I sit down to finish the last chapters and close a good book and say to myself, “that was really good”. Some books fade away over time, but really good books stay with me. I keep a journal nearby and when I find inspirational quotes I record them. So many single sentences by great writers can have such an impact on us. A great example for me came from “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. One of the most powerful stories and character studies I have ever read. In a post-apocalyptic world a man and a young boy, traveling through a deserted hostile world, come upon an old man alone. In their subsequent conversations with him about God and beliefs he says, “where men can’t live, gods fare no better”. It was the kind of statement, so simple and so profound, that made me stop reading and simply sit stunned as I absorbed these words.

I take such delight, and yet feel so inadequate in my own powers of observation (and I’m a photographer), when I read good writing and realize how incredibly observant a writer has to be. The act of writing in a way that truly describes a scene or a person, or an event in a way that you can actually picture it, feel it, empathize with it, be moved by it, takes such skill.

When I was young, I felt like reading was such a waste of time. Now that I am old, I see how much time I actually wasted on things that were not nearly as satisfying or rewarding as reading a well written book.

The musician and poet, Tom Waits, wrote “The world is a horrendous place and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.”

Pick up a good book. Take the time to immerse yourself in it. It’s worth the investment.

–– Imageguy

 

 

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Apathy!

In a country such as ours, founded on the rights of individual citizens, built on centuries of struggle by individuals to ensure that the rights of individuals were represented and safeguarded and shared equally, our most precious right as a citizen is the right to vote. To have the opportunity to establish the kind of representation that supports and maintains a government that defends all our rights, that safeguards those rights, and that uses our tax dollars wisely and for the purpose of supporting the greater good of all citizens.

In a little over a month I’ll be 69 years old. I have voted in every presidential and congressional election since I was 18. I have been a life long Democrat, though after the last election I thought seriously about switching my vote to Independent. I am deeply troubled by the apathy among voters. That in our last Presidential election, approximately 40% of those eligible to vote either didn’t bother or were, in some way, prevented from voting. I am disturbed by young people who seem not to care enough that their voice be heard since those in elected office have a huge impact on their lives and their future every day through the decisions they make and the actions they take in our government. Youth culture today seems to be so caught up in their cell phones and their Instagram accounts that, when stopped on the street and asked, they cannot even name recent presidents from their pictures or recognize the name of a cabinet member or name their own congressional representative or senator.

The most recent mass school shooting in Florida brought a surge of teens to the stages to appeal to the citizens of this country to stop being apathetic, to have the courage and the willingness to speak out and vote and help the young citizens that will be our future to survive every day. I hope these young people will be a wave of new non-apathetic involved young people that understand not only their responsibility, but their power as voters.

The up coming mid-term elections may be the most important in our history. The current congress is overloaded with aging white men that owe their years of service to the wealthy and the corporations that have poured billions of dollars into their campaigns through donations and super pacs. They spend millions on negative advertising designed to keep people fearful of change and believing that they are doing what is right for their constituents. They do not represent the public. There is a huge discrepancy and inequality in the balance of women vs. men in congress. I am delighted to see so many younger women being elected in local races. We need desperately to replace many of the long term die-hards to bring new energy and new ideas to our government. Certainly there is something to be said about experience. But too many in congress spend their lives and their integrity to garner the financial support that keeps them in power. And that is the key word. “POWER”. This is what they, too often, seek to protect when they have been in congress too long.

The current administration is awash in scandals, investigations, incompetence, lies and deceit. The congress has lost sight of their responsibility to protect and defend the constitution and the laws of this country. They turn a blind eye and have given up their integrity for fear of losing votes from what is actually a minority of the country. It is shameful, and it is dangerous.

If you know people who can vote and don’t, if you know young people who are not concerned enough to vote, if you know someone who cannot get to the poles or register without assistance, help them. Encourage them to be active. And don’t neglect your own responsibility and and precious right. Don’t be apathetic! VOTE! Our lives and our nation depend on it now more than ever.

Time to get serious!

It’s time to get back to my blog again.  I have a lot of things I want to talk about. Not tonight because I’ve had too many Gin and Tonics. But the time has come to get back to this journal of thoughts, art, ideas, and images. See you soon!

Getting in touch…..

As I get older I am sorely aware of how fast time passes. When we are children we cannot wait to get bigger. When we hit our teens we can’t wait to be able to get driver’s license and our own car. Then it’s reaching 21 and being “legal”. Time is like molasses and we are anxious for it to shoot by, we are immortal and will live forever. We tempt fate and do dangerous stupid things without regard. Then one day you find yourself looking back with grown children and grand children and great grandchildren and three divorces and signing up for Social Security and Medicare and realizing that time has somehow sped up to an alarming pace and with every cherished weekend ending and going back to work on Monday that you’ve gotten old somehow and wishing you could just slow the clock down.

Time gets very valuable when you have less of it. We don’t realize that when we are very young.

In the past year, three people I was close to have died.  Last March, just before his birthday, my brother passed away. Died in his sleep. He had diabetes, was a smoker all his adult and teen years. He was a wonderful person and mostly I will miss his laugh.  A few weeks ago I found out that another person I knew very well had died. We were good friends for years. Played cards together, worked together, shared a lot personally. We had a big falling out about five years ago and didn’t speak for two years, but then mended fences and tried to be close again. Then a year ago, another falling out. And again we haven’t spoken since. What I will remember most about him was how much he loved his kids. This week I heard that one of my best friends from high school had passed away.  We were very close for years back when I lived in Georgia. I had heard from mutual friends that he had been ill for a while but didn’t know the nature of his health problems. Now he too has died.

I am at the age where every day brings that possibility.  That I will hear that someone else I knew has died.  I know people that have survived serious illnesses, cancer, accidents, have lost children. And as we age and see that life is only a breath away from ending for us and everyone around us, we begin to finally get very selfish at wanting to hold on to every day, to drag our feet and slow the whole run away train down.

I wish I had stayed in touch with my brother more often. I wish I could have stayed friends with Frank, could have survived his temper and his irrational mind. I wish I had made the effort to contact Jim and just talked with him about old times when he was still alive. I can’t go back and change those things. And I know there are other things I would wish, but don’t know that I will do anything in my remaining days to save myself the regret I will feel when they present themselves to me.

But I do know that every day means more to me with each passing day. And the people who mean a lot to me need to hear it more often. Opportunity, like time, is fleeting and fragile. Carpe diem!

Time To Catch Up

It is amazing to me that it’s been about eleven months since I posted to this blog. Life slips away much too quickly and the days fill with things to do. But I will post a couple of catch up blogs to get back to current, though they can’t possibly cover everything.

Things got a bit crazy last September when my wife and I decided to separate. Unexpected for me, but not surprising. Long story that I won’t elaborate on here. So I began looking for a place to rent and assembling some furniture that I would need since splitting households always leaves one lacking in some of the things you’ve been accustomed to. I know this from experience (long story again).

In the mean time, still working some part time projects at the Art Museum and doing my photography. I was approached in late October by Linda Harris to produce a book to be a gift for her Dad documenting his records of his time in the military. She persuaded him to give her access to many of his documents and photos under false pretenses, then allowed me to photograph them and prepare the book.  I shot his dog tags and designed a cover, laid out the book including some stock photos of ships he had sailed on. It was printed in time for Christmas and was a huge surprise.

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I took a short photo excursion to Elmira one weekend in early October that yielded some nice images. A few of these later were processed using Topaz Labs software and included in my new TOPAZ II book. The deer were in a field with some horses outside of Horsehead.

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In early December it was rehearsal at the Youth Bureau with Running To Places for the upcoming production of Hairspray.

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The day after Christmas I was shooting a family portrait on the Cornell campus. A chilly day, but fortunately it was a winter with little snowfall.

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On January first, I teamed up with my fabulous daughter, Tessa, and her partner, Ariel to shoot pictures for, and produce a book cover for their friend, Dana’s new book. The scene is one from the story and Tessa and Ariel had decided how they wanted it to look, so we set about making it happen.  It was shot in a patch of virgin woods in Trumansburg during the day, then Photoshopped to look like moonlight.  We found some stock photos of blue flames and set the picture on fire.  It was great fun.

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Later in January came the actual Running To Places production of Hairspray at the State Theatre.  I’m sorry I didn’t get up my usual fullblown posts for the last few presentations this season (see my next few posts). I’ve hardly had time to edit the pictures, much less post them to the blog. But needless to say, it was an amazing, fun, comical and entertaining show with great performances.

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I began working full time on January 1st for good friend, Shai Eynav, at his company Spider Holster.  I had been doing trade shows with them and working part time late in 2011, but Shai asked me to come on board full time and I immediately said yes.  Late in January it was off to New Orleans for the Trade Show at Imaging USA. I love New Orleans. It was my third time there and I took advantage of every morning to go out and shoot ahead of the trade show hours.

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The best pictures came from the area down around Frenchman Street in the Jazz district.

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Later in February, it was back to Las Vegas for WPPI. This is one of the biggest trade shows of the season, focused primarily on Wedding Photographers. It always makes for some great antics at the hotel. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas….NOT!

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Bob is up for anything!

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No sooner back from Las Vegas, and it was back to shooting Running To Places and their production of Oliver at the Hangar Theatre.

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In March it was back to New York for Photo Plus Expo at the Javitts Center, the big New York photo expo and trade show and in April it was time for me to move into a new place. Back to living on my own (which is fine) and now having some room for office and a small studio, a place to store all of my framed art instead of constantly moving it around every time my daughter came home (I was storing it all in her room) and only a mile from work which is saving me a ton in milage and gas.

That brings me up to Spring of this year. Next post, I’ll catch things up even further.

Glad to be back.

All images are Copyright © George Cannon, All Rights Reserved.

Images from Running To Places productions are available at http://imageguy.zenfolio.com. 30% goes back to Running To Places.

Senior Pictures with Thomas

I’ve know Thomas’s mother, Sally, for about 25 years. So I was delighted when she contacted me to shoot Thomas’s senior pictures. Thomas is a tall, thin young man with thick hair, a great smile, and easy going personality.  We even happen to have the same birthday so I felt an immediate connection with him. Thomas plays tennis and enjoys hanging with his friends. “A typical boy” according to his Mom.

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Ithaca’s Stuart Park is nearby Thomas’s house so we drove over there to get some shots by the lake under the big willow trees. In scouting the location I had been struck by the view down the railroad tracks that pass by the park and just had this vision of Thomas standing down the tracks, so we made that shot and I’m so glad we did. I think it’s my favorite from the afternoon.

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We did a series over at the arboretum and then moved over to the Arts Quad at Cornell. The afternoon light was beautiful and I’m really happy we postponed a day to get this beautiful fall afternoon sun.

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Thanks, Thomas. It was a great shoot.

All photographs are Copyright © George Cannon – Images.

Great Senior Session with Kevin

I’ve know Kevin  as well as his brother Nathan and sister Erin for a few years because of our involvement with Running To Places. Kevin is a fabulous young actor as are his siblings. He has played lead roles for R2P including an amazing performance as Romeo this year and a stunning part opposite Alex LoPinto in The Last Five Years (see previous post) last season.

Kevin’s family bought a portrait session I donated to an R2P fundraiser and we got together a couple of weeks ago to shoot his senior pictures and a few new head shots.

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Kevin is a really handsome young man with a great outgoing personality. Easy going and relaxed in front of the camera, his stage work helped him take direction like a pro model.

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We shot pictures in his neighborhood, on the downtown streets, and then over at Buttermilk Falls State Park.

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Thanks, Kevin.  You make my job really fun and satisfying.

All photographs are Copyright © George Cannon – Images.

Senior Portraits with Paige

Paige contacted me for senior portraits after seeing some pictures I took of Rachel who goes to the same school. We had a little problem coordinating dates because of weather but finally found a beautiful afternoon. Paige enjoys tennis in addition to school studies, especially French and History. Our first shots were down at the school tennis courts.

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Paige picked out a few outfits including a lovely dress with a lace skirt and ruffled top. After the tennis shots we headed off to the Cornell Campus.

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Paige is a lovely girl with fair skin, a strong jaw line, great smile, and deep dimples, and gorgeous hazel eyes. She changed into a great orange top and we drove over to the arboretum, one of my favorite locations.

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A beautiful girl with a great variety of expression. Thanks Paige.

All photographs are Copyright © George Cannon – Images.

Senior Portraits with Phebe

I shoot all my senior portraits on location, so was pleased to get an email from Phebe asking if I could do her senior pictures at her farm with all of her animals. Phebe is an amazing girl, confident, talkative, relaxed, great in front of the camera, not to mention, beautiful. Fantastic hazel eyes and a very bubbly personality. Plays beautiful piano and loves her myriad of pets.

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When I arrived, she had a variety of outfit choices to look over and then I asked her to give me a short tour of the farm so we could pick good spots for pictures. Her farm was a perfect location for a great senior portrait shoot. So many settings and so picturesque. We started inside so the sun could get a bit lower and shot at her piano. Eventually her one indoor cat came to be a part of the project as we had hoped.

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We shot a few more pictures in the parlor then moved out to take out the horses. Phebe has two horses that she really adores. The first was a bit edgy and uncooperative, so we spent more time with the other. They are both beautiful animals and made for great pictures.

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When Phebe had shown me around the farm, she said she particularly wanted some pictures down in an old tree covered roadway, so we took their huge white dog that guards their sheep from coyotes and walked down to this beautiful light dappled old road.

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We picked other beautiful spots in the barn, on the front porch, and in the wonderful old swings that hung from the big maple in the front yard, finishing out by the roadside, accompanied by their pretty Golden Retriever.

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It was a delightful afternoon shooting an amazing young woman. Thanks for a perfect afternoon and thanks for the delicious pears you sent home with me.

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All images Copyright © George Cannon.

R2P Closes 2011 Season with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Running to Places Theatre Company finished their 2011 season at Ithaca’s State Theatre with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella in late August to the delight of adults and children, many of whom came dressed in costume for the event and greeted the characters after the shows.

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The starring roles went to Engy Hassan as Cinderella and Matt Avery as Prince Christopher.  Both these young performers have strong beautiful voices and added grace and magic to the stage. Whether in quiet moments alone in the stepmother’s house as in “In My Own Little Corner” or in duets like “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful”, both Engy and Matt gave wonderful performances.  Todd Petersen’s choreography, as always, had these two floating across the ballroom floor as enchanted lovers should.

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Extremely strong supporting performances were brought to life in the characters of the stepsisters, Grace and Joy, played with such humor and delight by Haley Evanoski and Natalia Rathburn, and guided by their mother, played by Allison Mollenkamp. The girls you love to hate were great fun in their disgusting habits and hilarious costumes. Kudos to Michelle Roy for great costume design. Grace and Joy won my heart with their great duet, “Stepsister’s Lament”. Fabulous, girls!

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Another marvelous performance came from Jewell Payne as the Fairy God Mother.  Her powerful voice and elegant stage presence gave wonderful life to the character. Lisa Podulka also gave great supporting performances as Leona the Steward, with strong expression and energy and showing her talents both singing and dancing. Rebecca Woods and Felix Fernandez-Perry played the roles of the King and Queen with delightful duets and good humor.

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Tyler Perry designed beautiful sets, simple and effective, to bring us into the story book production complimented by lighting by Max Doolittle and the pit orchestra led by Richard Montgomery brought the story alive with great music.

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A wonderful family production and great finish to an amazing season. Hats off to all the cast and supporting crew, to Gail and Joey and everyone who works so hard to support this great local company of performers. Our community appreciates you and are lucky to have you all. Now, onto next season, bound to be even better if that’s possible. Congratulations Running To Places on a great season!

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All images are Copyright © George Cannon. Images from this show and all Running To Places season shows are available for purchase at http://imageguy.zenfolio.com with a portion of the sales going back to support Running To Places. Order your favorites today.

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