Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Photo Adventures--Part Six: "A Day with the Mammal Keepers at Cameron Park Zoo"

For my final photo project in this class, we were assigned to do a photo story, complete with a narrative paper and 20 good pictures.  I wanted to do something interesting that no one else would probably tackle.  I chose the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco...but I captured beyond what any spectator who paid a $10 admission fee would see—I went behind the scenes with the mammal keepers.
I went into it not really knowing what to expect, and I don't think the mammal keepers really knew what to do with me.  I ended up following three different keepers as they closed down their sections of the zoo.  I saw giraffes, lions, tigers, rhinos, and elephants. Oh my! (Couldn't resist.) It was very cool to say the least.  I observed the keepers cleaning the cages, transporting animals from one area to the next, and feeding the mammals their specified diets.
What did I take away from the experience? I'm pretty sure I was ravished by mosquitoes.  By the way he was growling, pressing up against the bars, and staring at me, I think the lion wanted to change up his diet that day. The feisty and playful tiger cubs were kept in a separate cage from their parents because the parents are a danger to their babies since disowning them. Rhinos are shy. Giraffes are curious. Elephants are sassy and playful.  And the mammal keepers of the Cameron Park Zoo are passionate about their jobs and do a lot to take care of the animals.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Photo Adventures--Part Five: "Taqueria Time"

One of my most memorable photo experiences included language barriers and uncomfortable pleading for permission to take a picture.  Yes, I'm talking about taquerias on La Salle.  I chose taquerias for my 'sense of race' assignment.

On a hot, lazy Saturday afternoon, I decided to drive down La Salle and scope out the area for a photo opp.  I pulled over at the first taqueria I saw on my left: Taqueria Mobile.  It was about 2 p.m., and there were no customers.  I approached a woman hosing the parking lot down and asked her if I could take pictures for my class at Baylor.  She asked the owner in Espanol and apparently he said yes. I snapped some pictures, but realized I needed people to get a real sense of race and community.  I asked the owner if I could take his picture, and he hesitantly nodded.  He climbed up in his taco truck, put on his apron, picked up two sharp knives, and stared into the camera.  Perfect shot.  It made a great environmental portrait.
I asked the woman when I could come back to get some pictures of some customers.  She asked the owner and got back to me: 2 a.m.  A.M.?  I asked her.  I could have sworn we had some kind of miscommunication, but no. She repeated, yes, 2 a.m.  I asked if there was ANY other time they might have some customers, and she finally told me Sunday around noon.  I thought, okay perfect, I can do that.

I came back Sunday noon after church; there were only three people there: an old woman and two middle-aged men.  I asked them if I could take their picture for Baylor.  At first they laughed and said no. I tried to look sweet and innocent and asked politely again.  They flat out rejected me.  I was shocked by their severity.  I had a freak-out moment trying to figure out what I was going to do in order to complete this 'sense of race' assignment.  I got back in my Jeep and continued to drive down La Salle.  

A few minutes down the road, I saw a nice looking taqueria on my right, known to Baylor students as Taco Z.  I had never heard of this place.  Apparently it's where all the cool kids go.  Everyone let me know after hearing this story.  I pulled up to a crowded, modern-looking taqueria filled with people.  I asked the lady at the counter if I could take pictures for my class, and she didn't quite understand why, but she didn't see why not.  I then, of course, asked each individual table if I could take their picture. They all agreed. Victory!  I may have gotten some of my most precious pictures yet from this photo shoot; the kids were beautiful, and the joy and pride from their parents was so wonderfully evident.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Photo Adventures--Part Four: "Backstage Pass"

I took guitar lessons my freshman year from the only music store in Waco that I'm aware of:  Backstage Pass.  This is where I chose to complete my 'sense of place' assignment.  Although my old guitar teacher wasn't there, the owner remembered me and agreed to let me take pictures.
I took pictures of the instruments, of course, and of one of the employees playing guitar.  I think the most interesting picture I took was one of a man in a worn-down white t-shirt, cell-phone resting between his shoulder and chin, all while playing a piano with both hands, split between two different keyboards.  He didn't want me to take his picture, but luckily for me he was a good sport.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Photo Adventures--Part Three: "Next Stop, World Hunger Relief Farm"

Next stop, World Hunger Relief Farm.  This place was full of activity and life the morning we went on the shoot.  It seemed lazy and quiet at first, but when I walked around and investigated the territory, there was a lot more going on than appeared. 

My morning got off to a rough start, though.  The night before was a late one.  It was pre-spring break, and my life was kind of crazy, so I was up late working on a lot of projects.  The consequence: waking up twenty minutes before we were supposed to drive out to Elm Mott.

Through the muddiness and messiness of it all, I ended up getting some great pictures of the farm animals there….mainly cats.  The people were very friendly as well.  A group of students from Michigan were staying at the farm to learn about sustainability techniques.  Overall, I was very impressed with World Hunger Relief.  They practice and teach sustainable farming techniques and participate in urban gardening.  
I will be going back for sure.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Photo Adventures--Part Two: "Three Things Secular, Three Things Sacred."

Now here was an interesting and complicated photo assignment:  three things secular, three things sacred.  More specifically, in those two categories there were even more subcategories like 'parting of the water,' 'the miracle of the fish and loaves,' 'the tree of life,' 'the best babysitter,' and 'things that fly.' Yeah. That one took some brainstorming.
I ended up driving out about 10 miles outside of Waco to photograph some rowdy boys, ages 6 and 8.  One of my best friends babysits these adorable little boys, and I've taken their picture before.  I thought I'd do Kaitlyn a favor and make her look like the best babysitter.  (She actually is a very good babysitter.)  The kids did their homework, tackled Kaitlyn, practiced piano, and climbed in a tree—all photographed.

For the sacred photos, I went to St. Peter’s Catholic Student Center, where I was approached with friendly faces, eager to help. One guy even prayed in a pew and allowed me to take a look at the bread they use for communion; I photographed both. Very kind and helpful people.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Photo Adventures

Cameron Park Zoo. Two taquerias. Backstage Pass. Practically Picasso. Baylor Moody Library. A home belonging to two rowdy little boys. St. Peter's Catholic Student Center. World Hunger Relief Farm. These are the places I have traveled for Media Photo I at Baylor University.

The assignments I've received for this class have been odd and extensive.  Odd because I've had to come up with some creative and sometimes uncomfortable photography topics. Extensive because I've had to hunt for my photos and edit down hundreds to choose 4-6 pictures that fit the criteria.

These next few posts will function as a series; combined, they are too long for one post.
My experiences as I recall them:

My first shoot was at the library. Why? I admit it. I waited until the last minute to get pictures for the assignment. It was dark, and really the only logical place I could think of was the library.  It turns out I wasn't the only person who had this brilliant idea; several of my other classmates took their photos here.  My teacher commented on the coincidence and said he was glad we were spending ample time at the library. Nothing eventful happened here, just pictures of books and a student.

The next photo shoot was a little more uncomfortable.  I chose Practically Picasso, a local pottery place in Waco, because I thought the place would have a lot of fun colors and opportunity for some artistic shots.  I needed a good environmental portrait, and I hoped these assets would do the trick.

I had never been to Practically Picasso, but had only heard good things about it.  I hesitantly went in and asked if I could take pictures.  The only employee, a young teenage girl, reluctantly agreed to let me take my photographs.  The lady checking out at the register, did not.  I politely asked the woman and informed her that it was for a class, but I was told no, so there went that shot.

Look for more photo adventure posts in the near future!