Muggin' for the Camera Sans Sharkskin

Does anybody remember back when all or most cameras had film?  Way back then -- yeah, back in the 1990s -- a photographer snapped a picture.  Then the film had to be developed.  From photo shoot to final result could be a matter of days.  Until the finished photo, you were left to wonder whether you truly caught what you thought you had.  “Instant” photos were available, but they were poor quality.

Like much of today’s world, digital photography allows instant gratification -- or disappointment.  No more waiting.  No more wondering.  No more, “we better take another one just in case.”  Click, look, and decide whether to delete.  Plus, you can do all of this on your cell phone, smart phone, or iPhone.

Sunday, the Lava Pups gathered at the Doghouse to check an item off their 2014 to-do list.  Photo shoot.  Just what that meant was not entirely clear.

A friend, Neil Houston, volunteered to be our photographer.  He had a new camera that he wanted to test.  That may make this sound somewhat amateurish.  But Neil’s resume includes a stint as the staff photographer for the University of California Art Gallery.  He shot the works of Mel Ramos, among others, for announcements, postcards, and exhibit brochures.  He served as the guy who took pictures of patrons (read contributors) at fund raisers and openings.

Maybe the Pups would be too low brow for his talents and artistic tastes.  Then again, he has heard us and still volunteered.  Ingrid Lundquist, who recently has become an award-winning photographer, took photos of the photo shoot.  This might be a bit much -- photos of photos being taken.

Recently, in anticipation of band photo day, I ordered a cheap Chinese sharkskin suit.  Googling “narrow lapels + sharkskin” -- or was it “cheap suits” -- eventually got me to a site that offered $85 suits.  Of course, buying a suit online offers the opportunity for an ill-fitting piece of garbage to arrive in a UPS box.  But the eternal optimist in me won out over the skeptic.  The eternal optimist envisioned a serviceable shiny black sharkskin suit.

For the photo shoot, we all brought changes of clothes.  I had black, paisley, flannel, and Hawaiian at the ready.  Inspired by a Dick Dale poster, I fished a faux collar pin from a jewelry box.  Narrow lapels, skinny tie, high collar, and collar pin would be tres chic.  Out of place?  Outlandish?  Who cares as long as it is tres chic?

As Neil checked the lighting, he offered up how West Sacramento has some “great industrial” backgrounds.  Once all the Pups were gathered, he suggested that we try some shots against the Doghouse’s white walls.  “Okay.  Look to the right.”  Click.  Click.  Click.  “Ahead.”  Click.  Click.  Click.  “Again.”  Click.  Click.  Click.

Then came the instant gratification -- or disappointment.  Skinny tie, high collar, and collar pin did not magically transform a black jacket into a consummately cool look.  I looked into the viewer.  “Holy crap!  Glenn, Robert, and Sue are tres chic indeed, but I look like a . . . a broker . . . or a lobbyist . . . or  . . . worse.”  

Neil, Sue, and Robert -- the artistic contingent -- headed out the door to find a more industrial looking background.  I went to the clothes rack to change.  By the time that they returned, I had shifted to paisley.  We then were off for shots against the corrugated walls of the neighboring welding shop.

More instant gratification.  Neil said, “We’ve got something to work with here.”  Within five hours or so, he called to tell me that he emailed a couple of photos.  As we talked, I kept magnifying the photo.  "What is the resolution?  I'm up to nose hairs, and it has not pixelated yet."  I thought, "Good thing I brushed my teeth."  Brushed teeth or not.  We had something that we could pass off as a real band photo.

By the way, the cheap Chinese sharkskin suit did not arrive in time for the photo shoot.  But we all know now that whether it was an ill-fitting piece of garbage or surprisingly fine would not have made a difference.  A black suit was destined to make me look like a broker or a lobbyist or worse -- not tres chic.


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