If You Really Must Take a Selfie: 11 Ways to Make It Look Decent

Categories: Photography

Photo by Derrek Barlow
Dude, you are doing it SO wrong.
For years, photographers work to perfect their craft. And any photographer who has spent any time shooting human subject understands that it is not easy to get a great shot of a person who is trying to pose for you. Even experienced models can look awkward, uncomfortable, goofy, unhappy and any other characteristic you might imagine. In front of the lens, virtually everyone feels a little weird.

So, it is no wonder that with the proliferation of self portraits or "selfies" (God help us all) thanks to the magic of the cell phone camera, there are so many dud photos on Facebook and Instagram.

In addition to all the typical issues that face a person trying to make themselves look good in a snapshot, there are the technical problems that plague everyone who has ever held a camera. Fortunately, you've got me. I've been shooting pictures since my dad let me hold my first Kodak Instamatic and I've seen all the mistakes you make with your selfies. I'm here to help. Next time you fluff your hair and put on your best pouty face, keep these tips in mind and maybe you'll luck out and not just get a good picture of yourself but take a quality photograph in the process.

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No One's Dog at Diverse Works: A Heartbreaking Collection

Categories: Photography

marypasicatanphotography Via Diverse Works Flickr page
Corridor Rescue, June 2014
As a Houstonian, it's difficult to ignore the plethora of homeless dogs roaming about the city. The actual number of strays, however, is staggering. Over a million homeless animals call the Houston streets home. In fact, in a 2010 Health of Houston Survey, it was stated that strays are considered the No. 1 neighborhood problem in the city. It is with this in mind, that Diverse Works, Barrio Dogs and Box 13 have collaborated on a new exhibition, No One's Dog.

The show, which opened this past Saturday at the Diverse Works gallery, is a "community based" project that aims to shine a light on the city's stray issue. The three organizations put out an open call for community members to upload high-resolution photos of homeless or hurt dogs. Additionally, Barrio Dogs staff passed out 30 disposable cameras to residents of the East End, including children. The results were more than 100 photos of the desperate situation. Diverse Works chose the photos that they felt best encapsulated the issue, printed them and these images are currently on display through August 9.

A word of warning: The exhibition is not for the faint of heart. Animal lover or not, there is no way that this collection won't grab your heartstrings and tug them the hell out of your chest. I found myself tearing up multiple times. Many of the photos are haunting, some even difficult to look at. Emaciated dogs, broken down, hiding in shadows, alone in fields are some of the moments captured by the various participants of the project. Despite the subject matter being tough, the photos themselves are stunning; an odd surprise given they were taken by amateurs - and some are even very young amateurs.

This story continues on the next page.

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The 10 Best Places to Take a Selfie in Houston

Categories: Photography

Photo by Derrek Barlow
This is not the kind of selfie we encourage you to take.
Everybody loves selfies...or hates them...or says they are bad for you...or dies in car wrecks snapping them...or gathers a bunch of celebrities at the Academy Awards to create the most popular one of all time. Whatever the case, everyone knows what they are and has an opinion about them. And let's be honest, before cell phones, no one took selfies (well, except these two ladies) and now, pretty much everyone does. Hell, Instagram is basically a service for delivering selfies to the masses.

But, what if you live in Houston? There aren't a ton of celebrities lurking and, as we've been told many times before, this isn't exactly a super attractive place. Where can one go to snap a photo of him or herself that is classic Houston? And we purposefully didn't include events. If you have to wait for one moment every year like a marathon, Summerfest, the Pride Houston or Art Car Parades or even the Renaissance Festival (selfie with a busty wench FTW!), it's too much work. This should be a snapshot you can get pretty much anytime you want. Here are some suggestions.

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Debra L. Rothenberg, The Woman Who Shot Bruce Springsteen

Categories: Photography

Photo by Debra L. Rothenberg
From Bruce Springsteen in Focus 1980-2012
It's a bit of a Cinderella story -- a young woman, in love with Bruce Springsteen's music as a teen, takes several photographs of her idol in concert. A little while later, a magazine asks to use one for a story it's publishing. It was the start of a wildly successful career as a photographer for Debra L. Rothenberg. Some 30 years later, Rothenberg has become the Bruce Springsteen photographer. Her new book, Bruce Springsteen in Focus 1980-2012, is a visual record of her 30-plus years of shooting Springsteen both on and off stage.

Photo by Debra L. Rothenberg
From Bruce Springsteen in Focus 1980-2012
Rothenberg stood in the cold all night to get tickets to her first Springsteen concert. "Before [that], I had only been to one concert in my life -- Barry Manilow when I was 13!" she tells us from her New York home.

Her first photo of the musician appeared in New Jersey Monthly Magazine in September of 1981. "My oldest brother, Randy, was a writer at the time for NJ Monthly and heard they were doing a story on Bruce. When they heard I had photos, they called me and asked if they could use one. It was exciting.

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100 Creatives 2014 Suzy Taylor, a Fairy-Tale Photographer

What She Does: The journey that Suzy Taylor took to become a photographer is almost as fantastic as her actual work. The New Zealand-native spent most of her adult life living the life of a business woman, working in real estate and finance. She had a love for art and photography, but no real confidence in her ability to create herself.

In the wake of the world-wide financial crisis Taylor immigrated to the United States, where she met a musician, married, and had a daughter. Money was tight in the young family, and any hope of exploring the art world seemed even further away. Still, Taylor's husband noticed that her eyes would linger on cameras in electronics stores, and despite a promise that they would only buy gifts for their little girl that Christmas he sold his prized guitars to purchase Taylor's first digital single-lens reflex camera.

"Someone believed in me enough once and bought me my first guitar allowing me to live my dream," he said. "Now it's your turn."

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"New Works by David A. Brown: trying to find my way..." Opens at the Jung Center

Categories: Photography

All Photos by David A. Brown
New Works by David A. Brown: trying to find my way ... at The Jung Center
Many Houstonians got their first look at David A. Brown's "trying to find my way ..." photographic series at the Darke Gallery four years ago as part of FotoFest 2010. His "New Works by David A. Brown: trying to find my way ..." exhibit, just opened at the Jung Educational Center, an official FotoFest 2014 participating space, continues his exploration of reflected images with two important differences: composition and medium.

Brown captures a multitude of images, all simultaneously seen in the same space, in each photograph. The windows of an office building lobby, for example, become a canvas for dozens of reflections, all layered over one another. This isn't trick photography; Brown captures each image with a single exposure.

Most of the images seen at the 2010 exhibit were landscapes and still lifes. The current exhibit at the Jung Center includes a fair number of still lifes, but many more photographs show the reflected images of people as they walk down the street or look in a store window. (One shows a fellow photographer adjusting his camera settings between shots.)

The 2010 photographs were printed with a 3-D-like effect. (Brown had to work with a company overseas in order to achieve the desired quality.) The images seen at the "New Works" exhibit are printed, sans the effect, on fabric and 99+ year archival paper.

"Things have changed over the last couple of years," he told us at the exhibit's opening. "I'm looking more at interaction now. Before I was looking at composition and now I'm more focused on capturing the interaction between people with other people, with the space."

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"Great Art in Ugly Rooms" Is Exactly That

Great Art in Ugly Rooms
Someone once said that beauty was everywhere, you just have to find it. The exact quote has been bastardized, morphed and flipped around so many times who knows what the actual saying is or who should get credit. Regardless of who said it first, it's a played out saying and there is something almost corny or ironic about it now. If you could bottle the clich├ęd irony of this saying and shake it up and paint a wall with it, it might turn into Paul Kremer's "Great Art in Ugly Rooms" (GAiUR), now on display at The Brandon (what was once Domy Books)

If the title sounds familiar, it's because Kremer's tumblr of the same name has gotten a boatload of write-ups since its launch, although Kremer's name has mostly been kept out of the press. The site is a series of images of aesthetically unpleasing or "ironically" unattractive rooms that play house to a beautiful piece of famous art. A Normal Rockwell hangs on wall of a boring conference room, a Basquiat adorns the wall of a fast-food joint, a Dan Flavin illuminates a dingy bathroom; you get the point. For the current exhibition, Kremer has blown up several of the images from the site, as well as printing others on stretched canvas. The result is fantastic.

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Interesting People, Interesting Buildings: The Top 10 Photos of the Week

Categories: Photography

Photo by J Tovar.
We here at the Houston Press have long believed that some of the best photographers in the world live right here in Houston. Between the slideshows and blogs we publish and the images you share with us in our Flickr Pool, we see tons of amazing photos every week, and this is our chance to celebrate our favorites.

This week's photos include some people we'd love to hang out with and some buildings in interesting circumstances.

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Christmas in Texas and Dogs in the Snow: The Top 10 Photos of the Week

Categories: Photography

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg.
Even Santa stops at a food truck now and then.
We here at the Houston Press have long believed that some of the best photographers in the world live right here in Houston. Between the slideshows and blogs we publish and the images you share with us in our Flickr Pool, we see tons of amazing photos every week, and this is our chance to celebrate our favorites.

This week's photos include...

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Houston Photographer Daniel Kramer's Rodeo Photographs Selected for Prestigious Exhibit in Atlanta

Categories: Photography

All photos by Daniel Kramer

In 2013, more than 2.5 million people attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. One of them was Daniel Kramer a freelancer photographer and teacher who has been making a study of the Houston rodeo since 2003.

"My ancestors, Bud and Bobby Kramer, provided stock to the rodeo from the early 1950s until the late 1970s. In 2003, I reconnected that familial link to RodeoHouston when I attended for the first time and covered the barbeque championship for the Houston Press," Kramer says.

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