The Government Invades My Art

Talk about a headline, huh? But it’s true. Every once in a while I get a postcard back Return to Sender because someone has moved or something altogether random. Today I got one of the July postcards back because my friends Bob and Sue have moved a block away from where they used to live, and for some reason their mail… or at least this postcard didn’t figure out their new locale.

Like I said, it happens fairly regularly on a mailing list as large as mine. But this time I noticed something a little different on the front of the postcard. On top of my Billy Sheahan Photography logo was stamped “ARMY” so big you couldn’t miss it and their little Army of One star logo was right next to it. Instead of the usual post office cancel stamp that you usually see over your original stamp, here was a little advertisement for the US Army which, according to the stamp on my logo, is celebrating their 230th year.

I guess the thing that bothered me the most was that the ARMY stamp was not on the stamp side of the postcard, in fact my 23 cent stamp is completely clean… I may have to peel it off and use it again. Instead, the ARMY stamp is on the art side of the postcard, like I said, covering my logo and the corner of the photograph.

A couple of weeks ago I met a friend of a friend who happens to be serving in the army. He’s home on leave for another few months before he’ll probably have to go back to Iraq for an undermined amount of time. Nice guy. In fact, he’s the first person I’ve met that I can say that I know who has been to Iraq with the US armed forces. Odd that I don’t know anyone else really.

So when I say I was bothered by the ARMY’s little intrusion into my postcard space I don’t mean it as a slam against guys like Joe. The men and women who signed up are there because that’s what they believe in, simple as that. However, I do have an issue when I feel like the government starts to manipulate people into joining up. I’ve heard some crazy stories that I won’t get into here.

Basically the whole point of this little rant is that I don’t want the ARMY getting a free ride on my art. My postcards go all over the US and even outside of this country and considering how I feel about what the current administration is doing in regards to relations with the rest of the world, I really don’t want such a blatant pro-army statement anywhere near my photography. I really did feel invaded. Let them advertise somewhere else.

Other than that…

I had another really good day today. The 35,000 photographs scanning project is finally back up to full steam after the move. Two computers scanning as many negatives as I can load during the day. I figure I’m probably about four thousand in which actually means I’m a little behind schedule because I didn’t do any scanning during the two months it took to pack, move, renovate, unpack and set back up. I started in November of 2004 and I figure its a two year project. I did three rolls today which is twice or three times as many as I usually do. I must be hungry to get back at it.

People always ask me if I still shoot film now that I have digital equipment. Oh yeah. Film has a different flavor, especially in B&W, than digital does. It has a slightly different texture that probably most people wouldn’t notice, but I do. Pretty much at every shoot I do I shoot both film and digital. And although it’s not the main reason, but one of the reasons is that the digital buffers in the cameras are still so slow that if I shoot in the highest quality mode, which I do, I’m always waiting for the camera to save the images to the smart card. That’s when I pick up my film camera and keep shooting so as not to lose the momentum of the shoot. So I end up with about half digital and half film from any given shoot. The digital I usually keep in color and the film I usually shoot is B&W.

And while in the last few years I feel I have learned how to compose using color as an element, there is nothing like the pure emotion that is present in a good B&W photograph. Sometimes color is just distracting. Although when I’m shooting fashion sometimes the color is as important as the emotion.

Jillian just finished going through the color images from our shoot and sent me her favorites… 150 of them! Always a good sign when your muse likes that many of the images the two of you created! I just got off the phone with her tonight… another middle of the night conversation… and I think it’s clear that both she and I need to step away from our computers… she just spent 15 hours in front of hers and it’s almost 3am and I’m still in front of mine, writing and loading negatives… we need to just get up and slowly back away… it’s just that there are so many pretty images… it’s hard to walk away.

Wait ’til she sees the B&W ones!

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