Kansas City Art District

Last fall, me and my friend went to Kansas City on a Wednesday to go to a concert. We drove to KC at noon and spent the afternoon just wondering around in the city and we ended up at the art district.

We saw many graffiti there and I really like graffiti. The afternoon light made me feel lucky that day.

First Roll

I finally bought a Canon AE-1 this spring. I had been thinking about to buy a real SLR in the past few years, but never thought that I can handle one. Plus, it is so expensive in the secondhand market in Taiwan and in the camera retail stores here in the U.S. In Taiwan, an excellent body and a standard 50mm would cost roughly $200, and the retail stores in the U.S. would be more than $100. I decided to give eBay a try, since I haven’t had any bad experiences buying cameras from eBay. So, I got a quite nice AE-1 body with a standard 50mm and a 28mm lenses that cost me around $60 or $70. Good deal!

Here is my visit to the Soulard Farmer’s Market in St. Louis with my AE-1’s first roll!

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Revised Job Profile: The Tuning Spot

Here is my revised job profile of Stuart Cunningham, the owner of The Tuning Spot.


For this revision, I mainly have lightened the photographs up, eliminated some redundant photographs, and slowed down the pace of Mr. Cunningham’s talking.

We Are Family Progress 2

After photographing the family walking dogs at the dog park and setting up bunk beds, I spend a few occasions to photograph their daily life.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the kids had some fun with their friends from the playgroup. The playgroup has about five or six families and about seven or eight children together having some fun.

The afternoon light was great to take photograph, and I think I got better at photographing a group of kids.

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Last Thursday morning, they went to the Columbia Public Library. The family visits the library quite often and they check out a lot of children’s books with them every time. The kids played the computers, picked the books that they liked, Ms. Mullin read to the kids, and the kids met a new friend and played together at the library.

The reason that I particularly want to photograph them in the library is that they were treated rudely at the library by a librarian a few months ago. Ms. Mullin was standing next to the sister and brother and watching the two getting water at the water fountain. The kids were getting along with each other when a librarian walked towards them. The librarian walked pass Ms. Mullin and the sister, then stopped by the brother and asked him where is his mother and why is he wondering around by himself. After Ms. Mullin told the librarian that these are her kids, the librarian just said “Oh” and walked away. Both of the kids had a break down that night. The librarian had the preconceived notion that because of their racial differences, they must be different families and the little boy must belonged to a Black family. So, for this part, I focused on photographing them as a family being together at the library and the little boy interacting with other kids.

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I also went to their school to photograph Ms. Mullin picking the kids up yesterday. The kids go to the First Baptist Children Development Center three days a week and get off at 1 p.m. each day. I photographed them playing at the school playground with their friend.

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My story is rolling, and everything goes well with the family. I know that I do not have too much details but I don’t think it’s necessary for this story and I think my main problems right now is to get a lede photograph. Also, I am not sure what are some other occasions that is good to add to the story.

Job Profile: The Tuning Spot

I’ve decided to do a job profile on Stuart Cunningham for this assignment because his The Tuning Spot is a Do-It-Yourself auto repair shop. It sounds very cool because it is the first time that I’ve heard this kind of business actually exist. And, in fact, it is the only one in Missouri, according to Mr. Cunningham. In this story, I want to show the unique characteristics of this shop, that this place is from other auto repair shop, and try to establish the relationship between The Tuning Spot, Mr. Cunningham and his customers.

The shooting and interviewing process were pretty smooth. Mr. Cunningham is a really good talker and shares a lot of things with me and gives me 100% access to photograph in his shop. The customers were also nice to me and were willing to let me photograph them and talking to me, too. I was able to get variety of people working on different stuff, and I was particularly fortunate to photograph the same group fixing the same car twice without any arrangement.

The major challenge was the lighting situation in the shop. First, it is not possible to nail the white balance. I will get yellow, green, and red colors from the same setting on my camera and my strobe. This is also the main reason that I chose to make my photographs black and white. The other problem with lighting is that since cars are made out of metal, everything in the frame could reflect back to the camera. I have to test many times before I am sure where I should position my strobe before started shooting. Second, I really wanted to show the bottom part of the car  when somebody was working on their cars from the bottom because I think that’s the side of the car that people do not see often. But I only did an OK job with using a strobe for my first and second attempt. It was a bit hard to manage how to bounce the light, too, because the it is a large space in the shop and it was a bit hard to control how to bounce the light. I brought the infrared remote set with me the third time, and was ready to do multiple flash, but it turned out that I did not use them because I figured that I could handle the situations with my off-camera strobe.

The audio was tougher. I thought it would be really nice to gather natural sound since people are working on their cars and there must be talking and sounds going on. However, I forgot that it will be three or four groups of people working on three or four cars at the same time in the same space, so the natural sound would sound very messy. As a result, it is not a natural-sound-rich story. Also, the interview condition was not very good as well. We could only do the interview in his office, and his office has both the A/C and also a refrigerator…so, even I’ve used wireless microphone and hooked the microphone close to him, there is still the hum noise. I had to minimize that during post production.

The More The Merrier

Raven Wolf C. Felton Jennings II is a travel musician who comes to Lakota Coffee Company in downtown Columbia, Missouri from St. Louis, Missouri to share his music every Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. In this micro documentary, Raven Wolf shares his story of performing on the street, why come to Columbia, and what his theory is.

For more information, please visit pugdogrecords.com/