^ Here is my portfolio site, posted here. This has been live since pretty much the beginning of the semester. Fairly simple, don’t really have a lot of questions, unless you can recommend anything ‘flashier’.
A Preservationist Vocation
Tom Stathes of Flushing, N.Y., has spent most of his lifetime assembling the largest collection of silent animation in the world. He’s an internationally recognized film scholar who hosts screenings all over New York City and whose findings have been screened on Turner Classic Movies. He’s also only 24 years old and operates out of his mother’s apartment.
“People are usually shocked to know that a person in his 20s is interested in this material and especially working with it professionally,” Stathes commented. “It’s usually a flattering form of attention, which is nice.”
In the digital era where film is facing extinction, Stathes clings onto the past to ensure its origins’ survival, specializing in preserving animation from the first quarter of the twentieth century. Be it 16mm, 35mm, 8mm, or even the obscure 9.5mm, if it’s silent and animated, Stathes needs to save it.
“The need to preserve these films exists because there just has not been other large undertakings to focus specifically on this period and to address the survival status and preservation of as many of these early cartoons as possible,” he said. “I’m trying to fill that void in film history studies and archiving.”
While some of his income comes from selling homemade DVD transfers of his films in the public domain, Stathes’ bread and butter is hosting Cartoon Carnivals all over town, ranging from Brooklyn art houses to outdoor parks in Queens. Sometimes he acquiesces to the more easily managed digital projection, but Stathes vastly prefers using his Telex slot-load 16mm projector to screen his rarities.
“These films were shot on and distributed on film, and I feel it’s necessary to stay true to the original technology as much as possible,” Stathes explains. “Guests always love seeing the technology up close, how it works, and it enriches the overall experience for them.”
So what still needs to be done once you’ve amassed over 1,000 individual short subjects on celluloid? It’s less of a hobby and more of a vocation, Stathes says.
“A little bit of everything,” he said. “Locating many more films, raising funds for their acquisition and preservation, continuously sharing them with audiences and doing more work to distribute the films to those who can’t physically attend my local screenings.”
I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure exactly what category these photos would fall under until I started looking at them in Lightroom…
All of these were taken in West New York, New Jersey. I figured since there’d be dozens of photos within NYC itself, I’d stick to my own digs.
Moment: Can I Trust?
Spotted a woman feeding a stray cat. This was when I was still figuring out how to work my camera, hence all the poor perspective and wacky ISO and aperture settings.
Emotion: Sloth on Sunday
I generally dislike photographing people. Animals have more of an excuse to be obnoxious because they don’t know any better and can’t sign releases.
These were all taken within about five minutes of each other. What, can’t you tell?
This photo’s use of natural light is frankly ingenious. I was taken aback at first because it almost looks like a staged photo (maybe it is) with doctored lighting. I’m sensing a bit of doctoring, but what isn’t doctored is the composition – and precisely that the sunlight is actually hitting the couple, naturally drawing your eye to them as if they were on stage in a spotlight.
The composition/framing of this photo emphasizes the devastation of the wildfire in Serra de Caramulo. The lone burnt tree is there in the center, commanding our attention, but we can’t help but notice the surrounding smoking forest behind it, putting this single victim into perspective of a much larger catastrophe.
We’ve got the whole “horizon” filled with an entire police line. That’s a powerful effect, giving us the idea that there’s nowhere to escape. The rainstorm captured in the snapshot (both in lighting and the actual rain) adds to the sense of urgency and low spirits [we assume] the protestors being kept at bay have.
I’m not sure why, but I’m drawn to photos that depict a human’s relative unimportance in the grand scope of the universe while making said human the point of interest in the photo. Here we have a woman posing at the Yensei River, one of the largest river systems in the world and fairly easy to get lost and perish in, as made apparent by the dense mist. Yet the woman clearly stands out – our eye is drawn to her in the lower right, while we have this vast wonder of nature as, quite literally, in the ‘background’.