The Finer Points of the 413 with Photog Chris Marion

I suppose I’ve reached a certain age when my talented friends start hosting retrospectives of their work. The trade-off is good when it’s youthful uncertainty for art-show openings with beer gardens, though, and here we are.

Marion Reception

I’m really proud of my friend Chris Marion, as I tell him frequently on Instagram. There was a time when I knew him as an IT Guy with a good eye, toiling along with the rest of us in Western Massachusetts. Now, after mapping out a dream and honing in on a specific set of skills while doing so, he’s a full-time photographer with client names like NBA, WNBA, UConn, and MGM.

With a portfolio like that, no one would begrudge him a gallery show limited to celebrities, sports stars, and once-in-a-lifetime events. But Chris never forgets where he comes from, literally or figuratively, and his recent show From the 413 to the NBA was proof.

Held in the Benzine Gallery at Gasoline Alley in a once-industrial section of Springfield, Mass., Chris whittled his collection down to 100 bright spots — some captured locally, others from the sidelines of national championships or rock-legend concerts — and joined forces with more than 16 local small businesses who served as partners or vendors.

“It still feels like a dream that I grew up in the birthplace of basketball and now I get to help document the game at such a high level,” he says.

Back in the day, Chris and I shared the same friend and mentor: street photog, reporter, and one of the original members of the American paparazzi (back when velvet ropes meant something) Keith Sikes. He founded the Valley Photographic Center and helped me, Chris, and countless others navigate the business of art and the art of business when we were still young enough to want to set the world on fire.

Keith, who was always young enough to set the world on fire, passed away last year and I miss him very much. Chris’ exhibit opened with a photo and thank you to Keith, and that alone would’ve been enough to warrant the trip — my first overnight foray since a pandemic/medical crisis combo took me out of the game for a year and a half. But it was followed by capture-after-capture of some other very-important-humans… Current Olympian Flag-bearer and WNBA star Sue Bird. The Dropkick Murphys. LeBron James. Victoria, a little girl from Springfield, who’s portrait was hung at her eye-level in the show.

And for me, it was also a trip back to a city I called home for a decade; one that is overflowing with culture, diversity, talent, and strong connections… a combination I sometimes miss where I live now.

People say you can’t go home again … that may be true, but we can always go back and look at the pictures.

Read, watch, or listen to more about 413 to the NBA from some Western Mass. Media Greats:

Report by Alanna Flood, Mass Appeal/WWLP

Report by Paul Tuthill, WAMC

Report by the great, cantankerous G. Michael Dobbs, Reminder Publications

…And the Winner is

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 11.48.46 PMThe votes are in and a winner has been chosen! Beat your hands on the desk or laptop briskly for a drumroll, please…

The winner is Natasha Clark, author of The Wicked Mrs. B!

Natasha is the founder of The Lioness Group, a full-service media relations firm in Springfield, Mass., and publishers of Lioness magazine. Natasha also manages the Partners in Education program at Springfield School Volunteers where she recruits the business community to get involved in the local school district. taking top place, Natasha wins a gift basket from Berkshire Naturals and Berkshire Outdoors of Lenox, Mass. with a lemongrass-scented soy candle, soap, and foaming hand wash.

It’s been another great Blogtoberfest season! Thanks to everyone who wrote, read, and voted … we’ll do it again next year.

Fire in the Mountains: Bring the heat for a fellow photog

Reblog at will… my friend Keith has suffered an artistic and financial loss due to fire, and a benefit party is being held at Springfield’s iconic Student Prince restaurant this month. Details below…

So much to publicize, so little time. The basics are this :

Benefit Fort Fire Party, October 24, 5 to 8 p.m. To be held in the new BIERGARTEN adjacent to the Fort and Student Prince.

Purpose of the benefit: Photographer Keith Sikes had his house and photographic equipment destroyed by fire. While he is covered for his loss, the insurance values artwork based on its frame rather than its content.

Included free at this event: Student Prince pub food, local music by Eagle Eyes, and a silent auction. Tickets available at the door for a donation (minimum donation is suggested at $10). The more we collect at the door, the sooner Keith gets started creating images. There will also be a silent auction for you to bid on great images at bargain prices.

Any photographers who would like to donate art for auction, please call Keith at 413-250-3738.

Shooting from the Hip with Legend Lou Jones

Photographer Lou Jones has photographed the sloping roofs of Japanese homes as well as inmates on Death Row. He’s trekked to the top of a Hawaiian hotel with his mother, 86-years-old at the time, in tow, so he could show her what he does for a living.

He’s been to Cuba as a journalist twice, dodged bullets in a Guatemalan civil war, and has spent time in thirteen international jails, all in the name of getting the perfect shot.
His latest speaking tour, planned around his new book Travel and Photography: Off the Charts, walks audiences through a slew of Jones’ photographs from locales across the globe – the Iowa State Fair followed by the City of the Dead in Cairo; Paris, France to Paris, Maine; the opulent shores of Waikiki to the dregs of Jamaica.

Just getting a glimpse at these amazing photos would have been enough. Every one of them is bursting with color and shot with a deep depth of field that still lets the subject pop, a talent I envy greatly. They’re also striking and strikingly accurate accounts of destinations all over the world, depicting people, places, and things. That proves that Jones is not only one of the best and most prolific photographers on the planet, he is also an accomplished documentarian of the human experience.

But beyond exhibiting his work, Jones offered some insight into the art of travel photography as well, and I was all ears – grasshopper ready to learn from the master.

• First, Jones says when in doubt, start with architecture. Look for details and interesting points of view, and use available light when possible. He said dawn and dusk are two of his favorite times to shoot, calling the light those periods provide ‘the gloaming.’ In addition, Jones advises:

• Walk. Jones says the best shots are found while wandering, and he’s worn out plenty a pair by doing just that.

• Respect the culture in which you’re immersed. That doesn’t mean you must learn every single turn of a phrase and cultural anomaly, but Jones says do the best you can. Research before you go, ask questions when you get there, and tread lightly when you’re unsure … that’s how he was able to get such images as a religious ceremony in Singapore – he remembered to slip off his shoes in the church – and of a Jamaican fisherman on his boat – he remembered to ask permission to shoot what was likely the man’s most prized possession. And in the case of a net weaver in the same country, he remembered to have a few bucks in his pocket in this impoverished region.

• Listen to your mentors. Jones recalled a time when a French teacher brought him to Paris and suggested a few shots of the Eiffel Tower – Jones refused, thinking it was too generic a subject. Upon returning to the states, he was inundated with requests for images of the tower. “Listen to the lessons,” he says.

• Wait. Some of the best travel photos come after minutes or hours of standing in the same place. Among Jones’ own examples are an image of a little girl running past the jetties of Martha’s Vineyard and of a private conversation in Cuba, both of which resulted from patience.

There were other lessons and many included in his book, which I bought without a second thought. But perhaps the best aspect of learning from Lou Jones was his readiness to teach, and to listen to others himself. He seemed genuinely interested when I talked to him a little but about my own travel assignments, and when I got home, I peeled back the cover of Off the Charts to read what he’d inscribed in my book, praying it would be one more nugget of knowledge and experience.

I wasn’t disappointed.

“Take small steps at first, Jaclyn,” he wrote. “Then, all will be revealed.”

Published: Thursday, 7 December 2006