Want to Help the Unemployed? Shout Out to Photographer Giving Back

Just wanted to mention a photographer’s move to give back and the domino effect it seems to be having. Philadelphia-based Michael Albany of Magick Michael Photography will be offering free business portraits to those looking for work.

Because of the competitive nature of the job market, many recruiters are suggesting employment seekers include a picture on their resume or beef up their social networking profiles on Facebook and Linked-In with more of a business professional look and feel with a portrait. As you troll through profiles, it’s pretty obvious that most people do not have a professional portrait of themselves. I will add that the free offer could also benefit small businesses, struggling with the extra costs of publicity staff shots either online or in print materials, including business cards.

Michael was laid off from a large Philadelphia firm in February 2009. Up until that point photography was just a part-time venture. But the bad job news has allowed him to pursue his photography passion full time. His business has just begun to take off and he wants others to have a fair shake at employment. Says Michael:

If a simple headshot is going to do that then everyone should have the chance to get one done.

The beautiful thing about a giving heart? Others will follow. On Michael’s blog  www.zhounder.com, photographers from New York, California, and Pennsylvania talk with him in the blog about making it a nationwide effort.

If interested if either donating your time or reserving your spot for a free portrait, email Michael at bizshots@magickmichael.com. His free portrait session will be held August 26, 2009, from 10-4 p.m. in the offices of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, 200 South Broad Street, suite 700, Philadelphia, Pa 19102.   —Alysha Sideman


Armstrong Was Moon Photographer: Gear Good Enough for Outer-space & Here on Earth

neil armstrong

Astronaut Neil Armstrong is visible at the right edge of the frame, by the lunar lander.

With all the special programs and articles commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which marked the first spacewalk, did you notice that there were no good photos of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the Lunar Surface?

This is because Armstrong, who famously said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” was also the dedicated photographer for most of the mission. He used three Hasselblad 500EL cameras and 70mm Kodak film. This is why most of the historic photographs taken during the Apollo 11 mission show Buzz Aldrin. The only quality image of Armstrong is a 70mm photo of the astronaut’s back in a panorama.

According to NASA’s Lunar Surface Journal: one of the three Hasselblads was modified to be used as the data camera. And it was totally tripped out! They fitted it with a Reseau plate, which was made of glass, and fitted to the back of the camera body, extremely close to the film plane. The plane was engraved with a number of crosses to form a grid. The crosses were recorded on every exposed frame and provided a means of determining angular distances between objects in the field-of-view.

The Data Camera was also fitted with a new Zeiss lens, a Biogon f-5.6/60 mm, specially designed for NASA, which later became available commercially. Careful calibration tests were performed with the lens fitted in the camera in order to ensure high-quality, low-distortion images. Furthermore, the lens of the camera was fitted with a polarizing filter which could easily be detached.

Hasselblad data camera

Hasselblad data camera

This camera was given a silver finish to make it more resistant to thermal variations that ranged from full Sun to full shadow helping maintain a more uniform internal temperature. It was further modified to prevent accumulation of static electricity. When film is wound in a camera, static electricity is generated on the film surface. Normally, this electricity is dispersed by the metal rims and rollers that guide the film, and by the humidity of the air. In a camera fitted with a Reseau plate, however, the film is guided by the raised edges of the plate. As glass is a non-conductor, the electric charge that builds up at the glass surface can become so heavy that sparks can occur between plate and film—especially if the camera is used in a very dry environment or in a vacuum. Sparks cause unpleasant patterns to appear on the film and can be a hazard if the camera is used in an atmosphere of pure oxygen. To conduct the static electricity away, the side of the plate facing the film is coated with an extremely thin conductive layer which is led to the metallic parts of the camera body by two contact springs.

While the Reseau plate was not new in photography, the application of it to a small camera was. This camera is not only useful in space photography, it is good for aerial photography. In the past, cameras for aerial photography were very expensive since they were large and intended for a large negative-formats. The Hasselblad 500EL Data Camera with its Reseau plate produced a small and comparatively low-cost camera which gave satisfactory results in aerial photographic work.

Consider it for space or sky!

Alysha Sideman


Inspiration Hits in Threes; Book Launch & Talk Tonight

book cover image courtesy of Amazon.com

book cover image courtesy of Amazon.com

Languishing in layoffs, feeling hostile in the humidity, down on your luck or just over it,  - sometimes life can seem routine, like a laundry list of chores, commitments and disappointments. We are used to processing thoughts and images a mile a minute. But pay attention. From the most common moments, the dawn breaks, the sky opens and inspiration hits. This was particularly the case for photographer Ed Kashi who was lying in bed one day when the idea for his new book Three came to him. In some ways it would be his life’s work.

That morning he dreamt of images from his vast archives flowing around in threes, like a comic strip on steroids. Particularly, he saw photos from Brazil in his mind’s eye: the leathery skin on the back of an old fisherman, calm waves of the ocean and the curve of the man’s body as he plummeted into the salty liquid bliss. Here’s how Kashi explains his vision:

They moved as a group, transformed by their relationship to each other.

Each grouping of images in the book are presented like a triptych, an artform dating back to the Middle Ages which is divided into three sections. Traditionally, carved panels were hinged together and folded. The middle panel was typically the largest and flanked by two smaller related works, although there are triptychs of equal-sized panels.

The trifecta idea became the impetus for Kashi to comb through more than 20 years of work looking for, as he puts it:

Visual connections, visual language and visual poetry of three.


Ed Kashi

No over stimulation here. In his book, images are presented with no context, no captions. Some come from the same story or location, but many only resemble each another visually. Each triptych’s order is deliberate and meaningful for some sensual purpose. This is not just a picture book but a feeling book. Kashi’s images are sometimes bittersweet and examine current issues of social and political significance, as well as the simpler things in life, bringing together the joy, sorrow, destruction, and reconstruction of a world in flux.

Still, you leave being inspired in some way.

Be sure to check out an amazing multimedia slide show produced to accompany the book launch here: http://edkashi.com/three.php

Join Kashi for the Book Launch and World-Premiere Screening of the Multimedia Piece THREE.

WHAT: Film begins 7:30 PM / Book Signing 8:30 PM
Followed by Panel Discussion and Q & A with Ed Kashi, Daryl Lang (
Photo District News), and Sean Corcoran (Museum of The City of New York)

Thursday, July 16, 2009, 7 PM – 9 PM

WHERE: powerHouse Arena
37 Main Street
Dumbo / Brooklyn

RSVP @ powerHouseArena.com. For more on Kashi visit his website at http://www.edkashi.com/.    –Alysha Sideman


New Photo Niche in a Bad Economy

Looking to branch out or try a new photography niche and make some good money?

The Washington Post on Sunday wrote about a boom in aerial photographers in Northern Virginia. This guy, Kent Larson, wasn’t even a photographer when he decided to trade in his information technology gig to zoom in on local real estate from the air. He began with an 18-foot blimp. Larson hung the camera from the blimp and stood on the ground, with the blimp on a tether.  He operated the camera with a remote control. And If you shoot it they will come! Shortly after beginning, he was shooting for real estate projects in the DC area.

by Alex MacLean

Clients include general contractors, developers and lenders who hire aerial snappers when decisions are being made about financing properties. The great advantage of this type of shot is access from to the sweet spot. “I would walk around a project and take a picture from the sweet spot, about 200 to 250 feet up,” said Larson in the article. These days he flies a Cessna plane and makes extra money subcontracting it out to other aerial photographers. For more information, visit the association Larson created, the Aerial Photographers of Vienna at http://www.dcairphotos.com/fotoshowpro/. Check out a story I wrote on aerial photographer Alex Maclean at http://www.imaginginfo.com/publication/article.jsp?pubId=3&id=2172&pageNum=2.

-Alysha Sideman