Saturday, September 26, 2009

My New Muse, Pt. 4 - Jessica

And introducing Muse 4 ...


If you don't know her, I think it's important for me to note that Jessica has an unmatched and unbridled enthusiasm for life. She is uniquely intelligent, undeniably likeable and has an edge like a soft kind of 80s song that never forgets it's rock. You might find her in that moment just before the drumline pounds in a Pat Benetar song - or nestled between satin sheets in a ballad by Berlin - or maybe even in that abruptly chaotic section of "Take on Me", you know the one I'm talking about. She's sharp and edgy, smooth but prepared to slice.

It's this sort of 80s tone that I wanted to convey in her photos - I wanted to show you her, as I see her.

More photos of Jessica are to come ...

And that's it! Stay tuned for some photos I found from my past, and maybe a few more of Jessica as I have time to edit.

My New Muse, Pt. 3 - Beth

Muse 3 - Beth

Not often can a person say they had a teacher for college one year and dressed her in outfits five ways from crazy in another. Then again, not often can a person say they've had a teacher as cool as Beth.

Beth is a little Clark Kent in that putting on and removing her glasses changes her look considerably. Before her, I might've thought such an idea was strange - it's not much of a disguise. But Beth can easily transform herself from a pretty, responsible, and studious bookworm to that sexy rocker chick who can throw her shit down and talk you into a hole. I can still remember the shock of the first time I visited her at home, fresh out of her class, and was greeted by a Busty Beth in a tight, dark stringed corset, wearing biker boots, and a choker.

It's this kind of flexibility that makes her easy to photograph in myriad poses and themes, many of which you'll see here.

At this point, it's strange for me to think of her as my former instructor, just because, for me, our friendship toward the tail-end of my college life was so close and important. At times raunchy and exposed and silly. At times very serious and caring and sensitive. It's when you know you can be anything and everything with a person that you've found a friend for life. I cherish every photo I took of this woman, because she is a cherished moment in my life. And while I'm sad that she was near me for what felt like only a moment, it's my hope that we have yet many cherished moments to come.

Stay tuned for when I announce my newest muse and see some photos of her already in the editing process.

Muse 4 - ... coming soon ...

My New Muse, Pt. 2 - Kelsey

Muse 2 - Kelsey ...

Kelsey has the great-natured patience and genuine interest important in making an excellent model. She is very compliant, will do pretty much whatever you ask no matter how silly it may seem, and, well, clearly she's beautiful.

She came into my life when my interest in photography was the most weighted, and grew the quickest - my trip abroad. Being in a different culture/country/world, you notice things others there might take for granted - and when you come back, you have a sort of appreciation for your surroundings you never realized before. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time abroad knows the feeling. It's almost more of a culture shock to come back than it is to go there.

Kelsey has an inspiring kind of beauty - something strange and unique and powerfully flexible. And she couples it perfectly with an unusual yet captivating sense of style that try as I might, can never catch on film.  She's got class, she's magnetic.  And when you're in her smile - you feel that, if even for a moment ... everything's OK. 

Keep checking as I count down my life's favorite muses, followed by a series of some totally vintage photos I dug up!

Muse 3 - Beth ... coming soon ... 

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My New Muse, Pt. 1 - Karen

Four score and seven years ago, I took photos for no other reason than because I wanted. Countless Kansan, CHALK, Dulcinea, SUA and Ogden shoots later, photography had become more of a business for me than a hobby - and this was not what I wanted. Walking the fine line between doing something you enjoy for work, and doing something for work you no longer enjoy can be something of a balancing act.

What made it more difficult was that, while I might've once enjoyed taking pictures of pretty landscapes, or insects or flowers, these photos just no longer interest me. I want emotions in my photos - I want relateability, a connection. I want to show you something beautiful you might have let go unnoticed before, something I think you should notice. 

Having said that, my life's three previous muses have exited stage left, or are no longer able to participate in photoshoots in the kind of capacity I sometimes demand.

Each of them suffered countless hours of my "tilt your head this way" and "smile with only one part of your mouth" and, "stoic, be stoic ... mmm not that stoic!"s. They let me squirt ketchup on them, apply artificial eyelashes, smear them with makeup and blow-dry hot air in their face to make it seem as though the studio had a gentle breeze that day.

But they always held their composure, stayed in character, and developed beautifully in the final product, something I could hold up and be proud.

Muse 1 - Karen. 
Karen had the unfortunate position of being the girlfriend and the model, which is never a smart combination. OK, so we were really more like best friends (see her in her prom gown below), but this woman and her family really encouraged me to take photos in a way that had never been encouraged, and as a result, Karen got stuck in more and more situations that demanded her to pose (and in some of these photos, she's posing as a victim of the Holocaust).The self-discovery that came with photography for me during that time in my life is immeasurable. I wasn't very technically good, and some of these photos are particularly embarrassing to share with you now, but isn't that the nature of art? A kind of vulnerability, something, that, at one point in your life, gave you great pride, and in another, reminded you of some primal-figure you might've scribbled as a child specifically to smack on the fridge. Was that art?

I'm sure that many of my favorite photos now will seem silly and young to me in ten years, but, unlike Vanilla Ice, I won't go scratching through my past, embarrassed of who I was, but rather, learning to become who I want to be.

Keep checking as I count down my life's favorite muses, followed by a series of some totally vintage photos I dug up!

Muse 2 - Kelsey ... coming soon ... 

Friday, September 04, 2009

Taylor Miller v. Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins

Health care reform is the first major issue in a long time to split the country without having anything to do with religion. It's probably the single greatest issue affecting this presidency, as it involves both the well-being and the wallet of the entire nation. It's also a serious issue, but one that has been diminished into a war of name-calling Jerry Springer antics that we, as Americans are so well-known for. While I do have certain opinions on health care reform - this post will be more concerned with the way Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins decided to spend 43 cents - so, prepare for only a few moments of my inner-Springer coming loose.

I'm not sure if Google localizes searches, but assuming they don't, this blog appears in the 9th position in a Google search for Taylor Miller, which, relative to the frequency of my name, is pretty damn good.

Running with this pseudo-celebrity, I'd like to take a moment to comment on the politics of Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, hoping Google will also place it high in its search results. I'd like to make a comment on Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins because calling her office to request exemption from her harrassments has led only to dead ends and more phone calls.

Having said that - to increase search engine optimization, I'm going to try as hard as I can to refrain from using pronouns when talking about Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, much like she, Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, does. (If you think her name is annoying by this point, you should hear her speak.)

I began receiving phone calls from the furious Kansas Congress-bot, Lynn Jenkins, almost immediately after her election to the 2nd Kansas District U.S. House of Representatives. Three or four calls in, I called the number back and was greeted with an answering machine inviting me to leave a message for Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, wherein I asked if, perhaps, she could stop contacting me because I was uninterested in her uninformative views on healthcare.

Today, the bitch sent me a mailing. In color. On cardstock. And so I blog.

As a graphic designer, I'm somewhat aware of what it costs to print thousands of mailings in color and cardstock, and it's not cheap.

Upon further review, I found that the mailing had the stones to tell me the following, if in fine print.

"This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense."

It then goes onto say that, never fear, the cost it took to prepare this piece, "is less than a postage stamp." But who doesn't complain about the cost of stamps!? There are tens of thousands of registered voters under this woman, and I can hardly afford a book of stamps! BUY ME STAMPS!

From another quick Google search, I found that in the 2008 election, there were 3,098 NEW registered voters in my county alone. I was going to use that number to impress you all with some fancy statistics on the copious amounts of OUR money that REPUBLICAN Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins just spent on a mailing that told us, well, really nothing (letter and reaction below), but I couldn't find the total number of registered Douglas Co. voters (help?).

In that frustrating Google search that failed on many ends, I typed in the following in a moment of desperation (we all do this):

"how many people voted in kansas i don't understand why that's so fucking hard to understand" ....

Interestingly enough, that prompted Google to bring up an article about Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. (Search it if you want, it talks about how Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins says the Republican Party is "struggling to find the great, white hope..." to quell Obama. I wish I were kidding, but that's not really the issue I'm addressing here).

THE ISSUE: The mailing that my tax dollars sent out, was to inform me that I should not be pleased that my tax dollars were being used on something pointless (which in her opinion is healthcare).


The irony! As you can see from this scan, the imagery of the mailing puts great emphasis on
juxtaposition. It shows how the Capitol building is pushing apart the family and their doctor, it uses different font colors to distinguish "your family" and "your doctor" being
separated - the mission is to show how Washington separates us from our doctors, right.

Fittingly enough, the only other thing that separates this poor family from their doctor is "the update ... from Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins". Does that mean that she, like Washington, is also keeping us apart? Is this a major design fail, a freudian slip on behalf of the Congresswoman, or is the graphic designer secretly a democrat who hates his boss, but is suffering through her crazy rants because he needs a job like everyone else to pay his taxes that is used on pointless crap like this??! *breathe*

Outside the stupidity of spending money to tell us not to spend money, I really don't understand what I'm supposed to do with the contents of this mailing, except to write a blog and call her out. What is she telling me to do, exactly? Outside of the letter, there are some random facts about what a healthcare system could do to Americans, and blames other countries with socialized health care systems for having lower survival rates when it comes to many diseases (I'm guessing excluding anything related to obesity or heart disease which is really the cornerstone for all American deaths?)

She doesn't offer any alternatives, outline what her party is doing to improve the issue or what we, as her constituents should be doing in our day-to-day lives to make the issue work for us. Instead, she opted for that space to go to photos of her (and bad ones at that) talking with Topeka doctors.

These photos don't say what the issues are that are being discussed, what specifically might be changed for each of these doctors (who could totally be disagreeing with her completely ...) Nope, only that she is "discussing issues affecting health care..."

Not that this is what is being proposed, but all these republicans seem so categorically opposed to socialized health care (even when private options are still and will always be available) and none of them can tell me why?

Apparently, our veterans use a socialized healthcare system, so, if it's so bad, why are we tossing our nation's defenders to the curb - that makes little sense, especially considering we HOPE they're the healthiest individuals in the country.

Maybe I'm biased because I actually have spent time in and USED the kind of health care being proposed. When I studied in Spain, I got really sick and needed immediate doctor attention - moments after arriving at the clinic (we had private insurance, like I do now), I was seen by a DOCTOR who treated my issue and prescribed me meds in a genuinely caring manner, answering any questions I had along the way.

Conversely, I cannot tell you how many times I've been in similar situations in the United States where I've had to wait many, many minutes or hours writhing in pain in a waiting room for a doctor to have enough time to meander away from his desk long enough to tell me he doesn't really care, and will I be billing this or paying outright?

I sat in pain for half an hour when I had kidney stones, I endured unbelievable amounts of paperwork while I bled to death in the waiting room chair when I sliced my thumb to the bone, and it took me half an hour to see a NURSE PRACTICIONER in an immediate care clinic to tell me in 3 short sentences (before she walked out) that I just needed some fancy Tums when I thought I had an ulcer - because it's too time consuming and expensive to do the actual test.

And don't even get me started on prescriptions. All the government wants to do is setup another system to COMPETE with private insurers to drive down costs and make doctors accountable to their patients. Who doesn't want that?

If you honestly don't understand healthcare reform - check this out - Health Care Reform drawn on the back of napkin.

It's really cool and easy to understand, partisan-free. And I dare say far more informative than anything from the office of Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins!

Let's dissect her letter and try to figure out if my 43c helped me to make a more informed decision. Her words are published in red (red because she's mad) and mine are in black.

Dear Friend (nope) - I believe that nothing should come between you and your doctor. (me neither, but it already does, and her name is insurance). Not Washington politicians (like you). Not government bureaucrats (also like you). And not insurance companies (I AGREE!).

Government programs like Social Security and Medicare are fiscally unsustainable and now some in Washington want the government to take over the entire health care
system (Mmm, I don't think so - this isn't really on the table anymore). Make no mistake about it; this course of action (meaning an entire takeover [which democrats don't want], or just creating a new system to compete with private insurers?) will bankrupt our nation. I know Kansas families need health care reform, but we need to do this right (I agree - I can't believe there are people out there consciously trying to do this wrong).

I support health care reforms that will make health insurance more affordable and available for all Kansans; these include coverage for pre-existing conditions (like I have and you're about to), medical liability reform and tax credits for individuals and small businesses. I also support strengthening and expanding Health Savings Accounts to give more control to individuals and encourage folks to save for future health care costs. We also need to weed out waste (LIKE THIS MAILING!?!?!), fraud and abuse (like calling your constituents incessantly?) and let families get the plan that best fits their needs (This really doesn't deviate from Obama's plan, except that right now, many families can't afford to pick a plan, and in 8 years of your turn at president, we made no progress ...).

I am confident we can provide affordable, quality health care that lets you control your healthcare decisions, without breaking the nation's bank.

Sincerely, Lynn Jenkins (Ohhhh, the next Republican I see SO owes me a stamp.)