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MY DRONE JUST HELPED THE POLICE FIND A FOREST FIRE

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Tonight my drone just helped the Massachusetts State Police locate a forest fire.

The Middlesex Fells is a large nature preserve near where I live. There are a couple of lakes that are very pretty, so this afternoon I took my DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter (with GoPro Hero 3+ Black video camera mounted to the bottom!) to the Fells to get some pretty sunset footage. As I was setting up the drone just a few minutes before sunset, I saw smoke in the sky. I called the State Police to report a likely forest fire. The operator took my name and number and thanked me for the report, and after I got off the phone I started flying the drone.

A few minutes later, the police called me back. The officer asked if I knew more specifically where the fire was located (the Fells is pretty large and spans four different towns, and parts of it are pretty remote and are only accessible by foot). I told the officer, “I don’t, but I can find out!” I explained that I was flying a drone and could use it to locate the fire more specifically. With the officer on speakerphone I took the drone up to about 100 meters and looked around and could clearly see where the smoke was coming from, right between the southern and middle of the park’s three lakes. I told the officer, and he then gave my information to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, which operates the park and manages the land, who then directed their firefighters to the area I pinpointed.

Framegrab from the video:

Frame grab from GoPro mounted to DJI Phantom 2 showing forest fire in Middlesex Fells reservation, Sept. 22, 2014. ©2014 Chris Conti Photography. All rights reserved.

There you have it. Tonight my drone and I helped the State Police pinpoint a forest fire!
(and some people want to ban them!!)

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The Best Response to Paparazzi Creepers Ever

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

As a professional photographer doing what I consider to be respectable work, I have a deep animosity for paparazzi. The horrid behavior, tactics and habitual violation of privacy that are the hallmarks of paparazzi give all photographers a bad name, and I can’t stand that I am associated with them by some members of the public (more than once when I’ve introduced myself and been asked my profession the follow-up question has been, “so are you one of those guys who follows around celebrities?” and the question feels like a knife to my heart).

So when I saw the response today of actress/actor couple Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield to the pack of paparazzi following them, I couldn’t have been happier. This is without a doubt the best response to paparazzi scum I’ve ever seen. Good for them.

Image via Buzzfeed. Click image to go to the Buzzfeed article.

Story: http://www.buzzfeed.com/whitneyjefferson/andrew-garfield-and-emma-stone-send-another-message-to-the-p?sub=3338869_3158538

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Proud To Be

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Things have been very busy recently here at Chris Conti Photography, but I wanted to take a minute tonight to post something that I think is pretty special.

There’s been a lot of controversy recently about bigotry and racism in the world of professional sports, with stories in the media about racist NBA owners and soccer fans in Europe making racist attacks against minority players, among others. With all the coverage of these other stories (particularly about Donald Sterling and the LA Clippers) unless you’re an NFL fan it would be easy to have missed a separate story developing: the Washington Redskins NFL team has for years faced calls to change its name and mascot away from what many people consider an offensive ethnic slur against Native Americans. In the past few months, the movement to get the team to change has gathered significant steam.

Today, the National Congress of American Indians unveiled a 2-minute video it produced that is reportedly going to be aired in most of the nation’s major media markets during the NBA Playoff Finals. I wanted to share the video here because I think it is a powerful example of the kind of impact well-made media can deliver.

YouTube Preview Image

In my opinion, the video is beautiful, simple, elegant, and powerful.

The Washington Redskins team, led by its owner Dan Snyder, has made a variety of different arguments about why the team shouldn’t have to change its name and mascot, most recently claiming that the controversy is manufactured and Native Americans aren’t actually offended by the term. After this video is widely broadcast, I think that claim is going to be a lot more difficult to make.

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The Aerie “Real” No-Photoshop Campaign

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Aerie, a brand of the American Eagle Outfitters clothing company targeted at the 15-21 year old female demographic and selling primarily bras and underwear, announced an advertising campaign on Friday in which it is promising to use photographs featuring women without any digital alteration or retouching.

Click for larger version

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

As a commercial advertising photographer the issue of drastic, severe photo manipulation in advertising and media is one that is of great interest to me (I refer to this manipulation, usually of women and usually to make them appear skinnier and with fewer skin imperfections than in reality [for example, all these], as “photochopping”… as distinguished from the more minor, lightweight “photoshopping” that I do on my images on a regular basis to do things like remove stray hairs, etc.).

There is no question that the imagery we see around us every day affects our perception of reality and our expectations; it is just another example of the old truism that if you tell someone something enough times, eventually they’ll start to believe it. Sadly it appears very clear that when women (especially young women and girls) are constantly shown fictionalized, impossibly-idealized versions of women’s bodies, their expectations of themselves and their own bodies change, even if they are consciously aware that the images are fictionalized. The resulting psychological damage that comes from being unable to attain the bodies women and girls think they should have seems almost inevitable.

That’s why I am so glad when companies pledge to use unmanipulated imagery in their advertising (happily, these campaigns seem to be gaining steam in the U.S., with the most well-known previous example probably being the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign). It’s great to see aerie in particular take the no-fakery pledge because the demographic that brand serves is probably the single most impressionable and susceptible to poor body image and self esteem issues as a result of manipulated advertising.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Looking at the images from the campaign above and below, there are several obvious (to people who do advertising photography for a living, anyway) examples in each image of things that fashion photo editors typically would have altered: a stretch mark here, an uneven skin tone there, a slight skin bulge or crease, etc. But all of these “issues” are very minor. All of the models aerie has featured in these images are beautiful women (who, it bears mentioning, while not digitally manipulated after the photoshoots, were professionally made-up by makeup artists before the shoots and photographed by a talented professional photographer who knows how to make people look good). The women featured in these images, to one degree or another, generally fit into our cultural standard of what would be considered attractive people.

Nevertheless, American Eagle is commendable (and smart) for making this campaign. Each campaign like this helps to both raise awareness that images in the media are often faked and also helps to give women and girls the confidence and self esteem to love their bodies the way they are (the campaign will also earn the brand a fair amount of social responsibility goodwill… so in addition to being a good deed, it is also good business).

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Click for larger version. Photo Courtesy American Eagle Outfitters.

Ultimately though, in my mind, the choice to forego unrealistic (and unhealthy) digital fakery in advertising imagery would ideally not be limited to a single ad campaign, but would be a permanent, industry-wide change. American Eagle has taken the first step in that direction with the #AerieReal campaign; will they lead by example and stand for womens’ and girls’ body image and self esteem and make the change permanent? Or when the media and blogosphere spotlight on the campaign has passed, will American Eagle revert back to using manipulated images? I posed this question to the company’s representatives when they provided me the images above; as of the time this post was published they haven’t responded.

I’ll update this post if they do. Until then, this campaign is at least a good first step in the right direction.

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Music Therapy

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

My shoot today was of a music therapy session at Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly in Framingham, MA. I’d never seen a music therapy session before, so it was a really interesting experience for me.

Most of the images are still in the editing process, but below is a quick frame of one of the therapists. Interesting day!

"Kaylee": Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II @ 165mm, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/250 sec. ©Chris Conti Photography All Rights Reserved.

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