BLOG: On Scene for Chevy to tweet and photograph all things Chevrolet Cruze as General Motors launches a new car in Canada
November 3, 2010 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
October was a big month in Canada for General Motors as they readied for the launch of a new automobile – the Chevrolet Cruze. In my role as a Chevrolet On Scene insider – I was happy to provide some social media and photography help in two separate but very unique events who’s purpose was to introduce the new Chevrolet Cruze to Canadians.
The 5th annual Nuit Blanche street arts festival showcases unique art installations set-up in public spaces throughout Toronto overnight. Close to one million people come out and enjoy Nuit Blanche and it would be the first official peak Canadians had at this new vehicle GM was betting could emerge as a leader in the sub-compact car category. CRUZE Remix – was a sponsored installation during the late night arts festival and allowed thousands to experience and enjoy the new Chevrolet Cruze in a mash-up of video art, music, and test-drives.
A few weeks later, Cruze World in Toronto’s busy Yonge-Dundas Square would provide the official Chevrolet kick-off for a week of launch events around the country. I was on scene again at Yonge-Dundas sq. for Chevrolet to tweet all things Cruze and capture in photos some of the great people who help make an event like this happen, as well, many who dropped by the downtown Toronto square to experience the new Chevrolet Cruze firsthand.
BLOG: Hooked up a 40″ big screen internet connected LCD TV in my living room – an amazing way to mix my social media work and entertainment
October 18, 2010 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
Finally tackled a home improvement project this weekend I’ve been thinking about a while. And now, a couple of days into using my new internet connected big-screen TV from the couch of my living room area – I can clearly see it’s a game changer for me and my work.
Pretty sure if your reading this your probably like me in increasingly living your life online. This certainly isn’t a bad thing to me. I have fully embraced a huge range of online services that benefit my life – both personally and professionally. It’s really become more a question of creating the connectivity points to where I access these services.
Before the weekend, my three main touch-points for accessing my online life have been a home office desktop PC, a netbook, and my iPhone. When I’ve wanted to bring the net to my living room couch for myself or when entertaining with friends the biggest screen would usually turn out to be a friends MacBook.
So I had this idea about adding a new 40″ big screen TV to my living room area – and not for the “TV” – I have been without cable television for a year and certainly don’t miss it (or what I consider the overcharging of it.) Online streaming of tv shows and news content has more than satisfyed me when working – usually in my home office. The challenge to bring a new online window to my living room area was figuring out a way to clone my office monitor already running my home PC to a brand spanking new 40″ full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) LCD TV.
Because I was adamant about not adding any more computer boxes – besides the TV, the only other device I wanted present in the living room was a DVD player (I was serious about NOT adding a bunch of new boxes and cables and all that mess.) In my perfect world, I needed my new living room big screen TV to output content from just TWO sources – standard DVD’s (which I have a wealth of) and my already connected home office computer desktop.
The first big questions on my quest were; What brand of TV? And should it be Plasma or LCD? Some quick online research quickly revealed best results when using a HDTV as a computer monitor would most likely come from LCD (mainly because of a burn-out issue Plasma sets can get from computer screens that remain static on screen for long periods of time.)
So I knew I was looking for a 40″ LCD – but which brand? what model? There are a wealth of big screen LCD screens on the market today, many made from brand name manufacturers you’ve probably heard of (Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba) and many coming from cheaper China made brands you probably hadn’t heard of. I wanted to stick with what is usually the better made brand names.
I quickly zeroed in on the Samsung line of hi-def LCD televisions. I have been using a 24″ Sumsung monitor in the office which has treated me well the last couple of years, but more importantly, their line of big screen TV’s always seemed to look pretty good to me in the stores.
I ended up getting real lucky and scooping up an open-box special on a 40″ Samsung SERIES 6 LCD for a little over $700. This proved a good decision – spending a little more and going with a Samsung Series 6 LCD over Series 5 (where you see a lot of the Series 5 on sale today.)
Every few years, almost all brand name television manufacturers are improving at making these big screens televisions look better (namely in the areas of improving contrast ratio and how fast-moving video content, like sports, render on these big screens.) There is a noticeable bump in quality that Samsung has managed in moving from Series 5 to 6 and many of these improvements directly tie into making these types of full HD LCD’s ideal choices to mimic computer monitors now.
So now I had the big screen in-house, it was time to secure the connection to get from home office computer onto the new living room LCD. A couple of months ago I boosted the RAM in my office desktop and while I had the attention of my friend who guides me through much of this hardware techy stuff (and in anticipation of this living room big screen idea which was gelling in the back of my head) I upgraded my computer video card to a dual display card. It’s this added second monitor port that now serves as the LCD display in the living room. The upgraded video card was just a little over $50 and it would be a DVI to HDMI cable that connects the big screen LCD to home office computer. But it should be noted; the new DVI output on the back of the computer only carries video to the living room big screen. I still needed to get the audio and ended up using my computers mini-jack speaker out to a mini-jack audio PC in (which the Samsung LCD’s beautifully have!) I managed to find from the good folks at Canada Computers on College st. a DVI to HDMI cable which has a mini-jack audio cable built into the casing. (I just found it challenging to find a long one, 20 feet or so.)
Once we had the video and audio cloned from the home office monitor to the new living room LCD big screen – the KEY question now becomes which keyboard / mouse? How to control the whole damn thing?
I wanted something slick and wireless to control the big screen from anywhere in the room. The boys at Canada Computers really helped with some good advice (namely, must go bluetooth over regular wireless technology) and the store on College st. did have a large, in-stock variety of cables which you always need a few of to get everything hooked up.
Ended up getting the Logitech cordless MediaBoard Pro ($70) with a cool built-in touchpad (the keyboard says its for a Playstation 3, but it can be used on a PC just the same.) One final step was just needing to add bluetooth connectivity to my PC and this Belkin mini bluetooth adapter for under $20 was great for this. (though, of anything in my little project, getting the bluetooth thing going proved most challenging and took a few hours of software tinkering. But when it got going, it worked great.)
One of the first places I went to get a sense of how streamed entertainment would look on my new living room big screen set-up was my netflix.ca account. About five minutes into watching a widescreen HD episode of Mad Men I knew I was seeing NOW the likely future of content delivery into most people’s homes.
Mad Men looked and streamed amazingly. The computer desktop, icons, and text are as sharp, clear, and readable as my office monitor (just much bigger!)
The BACK my new internet connected big screen. I wanted to ensure things were clean and simple. Didn’t want new boxes and cables everywhere. With just two simple cables (The AC power and HDMI computer cable) and with a TV stand I added wheels to – my new online TV floats into different positions in the living room area.
September 23, 2010 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
I don’t usually get a chance to shoot many fashion shows. But they certainly are fun when I do (and really, how can you not love photographing really beautiful women?) There was a unique show happening at the Art Galley of Ontario yesterday afternoon all in support of raising awareness for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
The White Cashmere Collection show features 15 designs all crafted in Cashmere Bathroom Tissue, Canada’s best-selling brand. This year’s collection was headlined by Canada’s Next Top Model, Meaghan Waller.
The campaign is entering it’s 7th successful year and is the brainchild of award-winning PR agency, Strategic Objectives.
Like most publicity initiatives these days, there is a vibrant social media component to the White Cashmere Collection campaign. It’s actually through twitter where I met the amazing Strategic Objectives chief Deborah Weinstein (@DebWeinstein) which led to my invitation.
August 29, 2010 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
If you ever wonder what type of people go to these fan conventions – where all things comic, sci-fi, & horror come together – just know there are a LOT OF THEM as tens of thousands descended upon the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto for the annual Fan Expo Canada.
In fact, the show got so jammed with people on Saturday afternoon – fire marshals ordered the building temporarily closed where no one else was allowed to enter. Leaving still thousands who had already purchased their tickets lined up on Front st. outside the convention centre.
This shot ended up running nationally in The Toronto Star.
With parts of the convention centre closed to traffic to ease congestion of people. I had to be creative in using my ALL-ACCESS pass to find my way in and out of the building. Found this cool bridge which gave an interesting look at the celebrity signing area. Had to spend a minute and fire a few of Summer Glau
No question TV show BIG BANG THEORY was hot. Sheldon shirts were all the rage and selling like crazy at Fan Expo Canada. Ironically, the lead actor of the show, Jim Parsons, would win an Emmy award for outstanding comedy actor on the Sunday night.
(August 29, 2010) William Shatner first says hello to Canadian director David Cronenberg before signing autographs at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto (Ernest Borgnine looks on in the background.)
BLOG: The aftermath on G20 Sunday and Monday – mass arrests, more protests, and BIG questions about Police conduct
July 3, 2010 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
After the long and intense day that was Saturday June 26th, my Sunday started rather late. I had walked the streets well past midnight on Saturday and when I finally got home and was absorbing the TV news and videos it gave me my first real context to what had occurred on the downtown Toronto streets that day. I tweeted well into the early morning hours. I knew we had just lived though a BIG news day in the history of Toronto.
So, finally hitting bed around 5 am and getting up before noon I only had a few hours to spend on Sunday afternoon shooting so I quickly ventured out.
Looking north up Grange street towards Dundas ave. I saw heavy police activity. The cops had pulled over a car, arrested the driver and it’s passengers, and searched the car. In the trunk they found black clothing, masks, and gas tanks.
As I got up to Queen’s Park and College, there were a few small marches and packs of protesters heading south. I could see various arrests taking place. In an interview with media, this guy’s girlfriend said they were just peacefully marching out of Queen’s Park and were pulled aside by police because they were wearing black.
If the theme of Saturday was mayhem – Sunday was all about arrests. I could sense a noticeable difference in the attitude and seriousness of the police. The restraint and politeness I had witnessed all week seemed to be gone. Numerous times during the day I saw protesters – some wearing black, some standing in places that suddenly the police didn’t want them in – get arrested or detained.
I was at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival at Nathan Phillips Square around 5 pm when my twitter stream started telling me one of the larger protest marches on the day, led by a group of bikers was coming east along Queen st. Realizing some of the anarchists messages from the day before were still tagged on buildings on Queen st. – it providing an interesting photo opportunity. It would be a few hours later when I heard the tail end of these protesters would be the core group ending up being detained and arrested in the rain at Queen and Spadina on Sunday night.
In what felt like the first real protest of the G20 to have a very passionate, peaceful and focused message – hundreds came east on Queen st. on Monday to protest the police tactics and mass arrests of the weekend. Again, my twitter stream was telling me this march was on the way, I seized the opportunity to get on a bridge the goes from Nathan Phillips Square over Queen street to get some very interesting shots.
BLOG: My G20 Saturday – Protests, Violence, and chasing Black Bloc riot protesters. A very surreal day shooting the streets of Toronto
July 2, 2010 by Richard Budman · 1 Comment
I purposely waited a few days before I could share my thoughts on what I saw and experienced on Saturday, June 26, 2010. A day I believe will now live in infamy in the history of Toronto.
Anybody who was in downtown Toronto that day of G20 demonstrations – some which turned violent – has their own stories to tell. With the mass arrests and controversial detention centre, I have read stories, some by friends who were arrested, that have quite frankly horrified me. Stories that will have us rightfully discussing issues of constitutional and police powers in the time to come.
But my story is really not that dramatic or painful. And while I have certain opinions of holding an event like a G20 Summit in a peaceful major metropolitan area like Toronto (the opinion being it’s about the stupidest fucking thing our elected officials could have done.) The only real story I could tell of Saturday – is my own.
So here goes…
In what will forever be a decision that haunts me for some time to come. Due to an unrelated work commitment, I didn’t manage to get onto the downtown streets till just before 3 pm on Saturday – the day widely expected for the largest protester turnout and possible trouble.
Ultimately, in the few hours I roamed downtown Toronto streets I found a wealth of dramatic situations and shots I’m very happy with. But my late start to the day, and my assumption the protest starting that day at Queen’s Park wouldn’t march out into the streets before 3 pm proved my undoing in really capturing what I was after. (The first protesters, including the “Black Bloc” looking ones, marched out of Queen’s Park around 1:45 pm.)
And what I was after was violent protesters smashing and burning stuff.
Why did the late start kill me? Because some of the key photos I hoped to capture was of anarchists employing so-called destructive “black-bloc” techniques on our city streets. (EDITORS NOTE: It’s not like I wanted this to happen. But I’m a photographer, and us such, we look for the most dramatic situations to shoot. And quite frankly, the thought of black-clad individuals smashing store windows and torching cars makes for some pretty dramatic stuff.)
I’d done my research. On Friday, I first spotted the Black Bloc protesters in the march that was to head from Allan Gardens. In the end, the black-clad protesters didn’t commit any violent acts that day – but ominous warning signs of what was to come were clear to me. I am actually convinced now, watching the Black Bloc protesters actions on Friday, including constant text messaging along the protest route – this was their surveillance and planning for what they eventually pulled off on Saturday.
So I discussed some strategy with some photographer friends and we felt if we just kept an eye on the “Black Bloc” looking protesters, and when they made their break from the much larger protester pack – the key would be to follow along on their hell bent path of destruction. Of course, we know today that’s exactly what happened and a core group of media and photographers were mobile enough, UNLIKE police, to follow the violent protesters when they broke away. The Toronto Star team of photographers really excelled here and got some of the best shots of the criminals violent rampage down Yonge St.
For me, being late the party really hurt.
By the time I caught up to the tail end of the protest at Queen & University just before 3 pm, I could quickly see the Black Bloc looking protesters had already broken off the pack and my twitter stream was lighting up with reports of the first early episodes of their destruction.
So I was now playing catch up.
I changed my goal to try and get to the King & Bay st. area. I was hearing reports of anarchists causing havoc in Toronto’s financial district and there was a large contingent of protesters there. So I headed south on Bay. As I approached Queen street, I could quickly see huge amounts of police in tactical gear seemingly poised for a riot were blocking all ways south. I made the decision to head west on Queen hoping soon for a crack in the rigid police lines so I could somehow get south to King street.
It didn’t take long before I realized I was walking along at least one of the anarchists paths of destruction. I could see the TD Bank and Starbucks at Queen & Bay St. had been assaulted with broken windows and the building tagged with slogans as, “Fuck Corporate Rule.”
I continued my journey west along Queen street hoping to find any way south. Police were blocking every intersection, every side street. I was again hearing stories of large groups of protesters trying to make it to the security fence, and now knowing police cars were set on fire at King & Bay streets – I was doing just about anything to penetrate the wall of police preventing anyone of the thousands of people on Queen street from getting south.
So I continued my personal march west.
As I approached Queen & Spadina I could see a large mob of people surrounding two police cars. These police cars had been vandalized – windows smashed and tagged with paint. I hung in the area for a few minutes snapping pictures. But my instincts were still telling me to try and find a way through the Queen street police block and get south. So I continued west along Queen.
About 2-3 blocks west of Spadina I finally spotted a clear route through an alley looking south. I got to Richmond street and started to head back east towards King & Bay where I knew a large group of protesters was still being held up. The first thing that hit me after I managed to get south of the massive police line was how empty the streets were.
Almost deserted. Except for groups of police officers stationed at almost every corner.
It took just a few minutes walking east that I ran into a large group of police that stopped me asking where I was going. I explained that I was “media” and was just photographing the G20 demonstrations. The police asked to search my backpack. While I was surrounded by about 6 police, they were polite and kept explaining their wish to search me was, “for my own protection.”
Inside my backpack, the police quickly stumbled upon my bike helmet, air filter masks, goggles, and rubber gloves (I was carrying items minimally necessary to protect myself in case of tear gas and falling projectiles – the two most common hazards on the front lines of shooting G20 protests.)
The policewoman searching me quickly motioned over for a commanding officer to come over and inspect these items. I explained again I was a news photographer, affiliated with NO protest groups, and was carrying these items for my own safety and protection. Protection I tried to explain from tactical responses the police themselves might deploy on protest crowds.
After showing a number of press credentials (not G20 media credentials – which I was not officially accredited for) but old TIFF, Canadian Music Week, Radio City Music Hall, CTV passes I always carry, I seemed to convince the surrounding police officers I was going to cause no trouble with these items and they told me to be careful and allowed me to continue east.
It wasn’t about a minute later I could see another gaggle of police officers standing further east on Richmond street and feeling I would be going through the whole search and question thing again, I decided to head further south and east through a series of interconnected alleys I knew populated the area.
Once on King street and heading east hoping to get to Bay where the protesters were being held up, I immediately was overtaken again by how deserted the city streets south of Queen were.
I will always come back to one word to describe my jouney east on King street that day – surreal. It really did feel like it was just me walking along and every so often you would run into groups of police (by now, in riot gear) huddled on the corners.
After getting through a few more check-points I finally arrived at what seemed like a thousand or more people held up at King and Bay. Here was some of the first dramatic stand-off shots between protesters and “Darth Vader” clad police I was hoping to shoot, so after a few minutes I worked my way to the front of the blockade.
After capturing some nice stuff being front-of-the-line I realized I was close enough that I was hearing the police radios. When I heard something to the effect of; the police have spotted protesters in the crowd going into their backpacks and possibly arming themselves with some sort of projectiles – and the police were now being advised to ensure they have full tactical gear on, including tear-gas masks, and be on full alert – I have to admit for the first time of being a little nervous. All of sudden, the police were masking up and in-coming were many other officers holding guns from which I could only suspect shot gas or rubber bullets.
And I was directly in front of all of this with easily a hundred deep of protesters squeezed tightly behind me (and I don’t want to forget to add the thought; “Holy fuck, I can’t believe this is Toronto!” also went through my mind a few times that day.)
I remember in my preparation of shooting G20 protests a good piece of advice I was hearing from much more experienced photographers was to “know your exit routes” in case the shit hits the fan. The thing is, unless the police was going to let me through their massive line, I had no escape routes if trouble started. When I heard another call over the radio warning of possible falling projectiles – I put on my helmet and goggles for the first time, took a deep breath and just kept shooting.
Thankfully, nothing violent occurred on the front lines of King & Bay in the time I was there. And a short time later, something did occur that caused the hundreds of us holed up at King street to start running north on Bay to where were met by a wall of riot police at Richmond street. For me, it was here that things got roughest for a few seconds (and it wasn’t that rough compared to what happened elsewhere in the city.) But as I was feeling this sudden movement of the mob was ripe for problems on the front lines – and hence, possibly some very dramatic picture moments, I quickly made my dash to the front, but the police also made a dash forward to ensure the crowd didn’t get through to Queen st. and I ending up bouncing off a policeman’s riot shield (and let’s just say in the battle of this guy vs. The Shield… The Shield clearly won.)
I quickly got up from that minor altercation and seeing a large group of protesters held up in front of me north of Queen St. and looking behind me and seeing a large group of protesters south of King st. and realizing we where held up somewhere in the middle – I could clearly now see it was the police strategy to break up protest groups in smaller, more manageable chunks and box them in between blocks.
Which was all fine and good until I tried to leave my chunk. I couldn’t get out of the blocks I was in. After pestering a police officer to let me know when I could leave the area, they just mentioned, “when things calm down.” So I mulled about and just shot more pictures.
It was then I noticed – in a space between buildings looking west towards Spadina and Queen streets that a large plume of black smoke was rising into the air. I wasn’t sure what it was but is sure looked dramatic and I was convinced it had something to do with more turmoil related to the G20 demonstrations.
So my mission now became getting out of the box I was in and over to the area of the rising smoke. The police seemed to be picking & choosing who they were allowing to leave the area, after I pleaded as being media I was able to slip between a crack in the wall of police and get back to Queen street.
My decision to get to Queen and Spadina proved a good one as it led to arguably my most dramatic shots of the week. Even though I arrived at the burning police cars a good fifteen minutes after I first noticed the smoke – I was surprised how few police were in the area and how close the crowd was to the burning car. It would be a few minutes later when hundreds of police in tactical gear would flood into the area pushing everyone far back.
By the time I arrived at University and College starting my day – I caught the tail end of the protesters marching out of Queen’s Park. The bulk of protesters had already marched south into the city and my plan to follow “Black Bloc” looking protesters off the march was dashed.
My first time through at Queen & Spadina streets. The police cars were not yet on fire, though people were trying. I later saw pictures of this guy being dramatically led away from that car on fire and arrested.
When I was walking up Bay st. a little later after the anarchists had been through there. I could spot in store alleys and behind bushes trails of black clothing, scarves, and black gloves. It seemed to me the anarchists busted shit up, quickly shed their “Black Bloc” type clothing, and blended back in with the peaceful protesters evading police.
While violent demonstrations and protests occurred right around Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square – the TD Jazz Festival continued. Headliner Herbie Hancock played to a sold-out main stage tent. In one of the more surreal moments for me – during a quiet time in Herbie’s set when he had dedicated a piece of music to global peace – I could hear the wail of police sirens going off all over the area.
After I finished my night at the Toronto Jazz Festival – I walked home north on Yonge St. After midnight, you could see many crews of workers replacing and boarding up store windows. It was the first time that day I had a sense of exactly how much damage the anarchists managed to pull off that day.
BLOG: Friday’s G20 effects in Toronto – Protests getting larger, more intense as Police riot gear comes out
June 26, 2010 by Richard Budman · 1 Comment
Friday was officially the first day of the G8 Summit and world leaders arrived and made the travel north of Toronto to Deerhurst Resort. President Obama touched down at Pearson airport at 9:44 am and immediately boarded Marine One helicopter to Huntsville for meetings with the other G8 leaders.
I decided to visit Allan Gardens where a large gathering of protesters was assembling and preparing for a march. This was a noticeably larger gathering of protesters and police from when I last visited the park a few days prior. This time Toronto police where asking to search bags of people entering the park (including me.)
Media were everywhere. If anything, this might have to go down as the most documented and recorded G20 demonstration weeks in history. You can feel mainstream media is edgy for confrontation. So the slightest hint of any brings a throng of cameras and scrum.
When the protesters finally marched out of Allan Gardens and headed south, the goal of a few to reach the security fence at the south end the city was quickly dashed by a massive contingent of police, most outfitted in riot gear along Queen & University. Of course, this brought to my mind if security and police presence is so overwhelming and able to keep hardcore demonstrators blocks away from the security fence – why did we need such a fortified fence in the first place?
I didn’t actually get to see the minor confrontations between the police and protesters as another job called and I had to dash off, but when I saw the pictures of the demonstrations at College & Yonge streets I couldn’t believe this was my city and I lived just a few blocks away.
There was still other signs of life during Friday of the G20 weekend. Maceo Parker led a spirited set at the opening night of the Toronto Jazz Festival at Nathans Phillips Square. Protesters and police did clash Friday just a couple blocks away from the Jazz Festival at University and Queen.
BLOG: By Thursday in Toronto of G20 Summit week – protest marches got larger and billion dollar security in full effect
June 24, 2010 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
My Thursday of G20 week in Toronto started out with an early morning run around Queen’s Park. As soon as I got on the street this morning, I could already tell things seemed much quieter than a normal Thursday in the city. Traffic was much lighter.
But I could already see a huge police presence around Bloor & Avenue road and especially, around Queen’s Park. Many groups of 6-8 police could be spotted strolling around.
I wasn’t really planning to shoot the official protest today. But when my twitter stream told me the protest around Native rights was coming right down Bay street, pretty much past my crib, I had to step out and grab some shots. Glad I did. It was certainly much larger then the first protests early in the week. By the time this protest reached Yonge St. – it felt the crowd had swelled to 1,000.
BLOG: Shooting the G20 – Was Monday’s first official march in downtown Toronto a taste of darker things to come?
June 21, 2010 by Richard Budman · 2 Comments
Not sure yet what the G20 Summit will bring to Toronto this week. But I hope to walk around the city each day and see what photo opportunities present themselves and write up a daily blog on the impact this huge event is having on the city and it’s peoples.
One obvious photo op every one is chasing is the inevitable showdown between police and protesters. When I decided to check out the first “official” G20 demonstration in Allan Gardens (or “community mobilization” as the protesters like to call it) I didn’t expect a small gathering of demonstrators, police, and media on a beautiful day in the park would spill out onto the streets in the first dramatic displays of the effects of the G20 Summit on the city.
The march and demonstration was relatively peaceful today. The protesters probably numbered at best 200. Number of police, at times, seemed to almost match that. But I did wonder if this demonstration today marching through the downtown core was ten or twenty times larger – I sensed their would have been some destruction and trouble.
January 17, 2010 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
What a great night of shooting with The Family Stone at Fallsview Casino in Niagara, Canada. With backstage access – it was like the old days of the seventies when rock photographers like Jim Marshall would have full access and really document much more intimate encounters with musicians. I almost fell out of my chair when Cynthia Robinson told me after the show the trumpet she used this evening – was the same one used on the Woodstock stage in ‘69 when she was performing as a member of Sly Stone’s original Family Stone band. Special thanks to saxophonist Jerry Martini for granting me the access and warm welcome into the family for the night.
December 25, 2009 by Richard Budman · 1 Comment
When I decided to venture out on a cold Thursday last week – I never thought the Olympic Torch Relay would have turned into an event so fraught with controversy.
Lots of dialogue and debate raging the last week. Seems a couple of particular issues have rubbed a few people the wrong way.
The first revolves around the official sponsor and broadcaster of the Olympic Torch relay – CTV – and whether the network may have abandoned some journalistic principals in their coverage of the run.
If CTV (and by extension, just about every other network) have crossed the line into making their media personalities “part of the story” – it didn’t start with the Olympic Torch relay. I’d say the networks crossed that line ages ago in their quest for over-branding their channels. I never did understand why ET Canada would think I would give a shit about what host Cheryl Hickey’s new condo looks like or how she chose to design it.
Hey, if it makes you sick to watch Ben Mulroney gushing on eTalk over his Olympic Torch moments – then maybe, don’t watch. Change the channel. Lord knows I do.
I’m not sure why some people get so rankled that CTV got 30 or 40 spots in a Torch relay running across Canada and featuring 12,000 people in total! (selection to participate in the run, from my understanding, was from entering a lottery and being randomly picked.) While some media felt this was CTV “hijacking the run” for their own reality show is beyond me. It seems there was plenty of other spots available for “ordinary” Canadians to tell their stories which I did see enough off all over the place.
I don’t think this should come as a shock to anyone – but sponsors get perks. They pay millions of dollars for rights to broadcast events like the Olympic Games. Its really not that different from a Golf tournament or Jazz Festival. Rights holders get certain amounts of tickets and perks. Its seems to be a system that has worked fine for years. I don’t think anyone should be too surprised to see the same thing gong on with the Olympic Torch run.
And since CTV has been taking so much shit recently for not supporting more Canadian produced stories on TV – and this Olympic Torch relay is undeniably a very Canadian story – maybe we give the network a little break for pouring so much resources into covering the Torch run. Last time I checked, the Mulroney’s and probably all of the CTV personalities carrying the flame were Canadians too.
YouTube video: “Move over… your in front of kids! GET OUT OF HERE!” – said to the shooter.
The second issue that’s got the press raging this week concerns whether press reporters and photographers were actually physically assaulted by security while trying to cover the torch run. I can’t speak for what happened in Newmarket – where the most serious alleged assault seemed to occur. I just know what happened a few hours later when the Torch entered Toronto on Yonge St. south of Steeles Ave, and later that evening when things got really crazy when the Torch got south of Bloor St. in downtown Toronto.
I can just add by being out on the street that day – It was a tricky, unpredictable shoot in bitter cold. The run was really a long rolling caravan that has to present huge security and safety implications for the organizers as they are not actually closing down the streets. Just rolling up them.
As press photographers, we’re zig-zagging all over the place. Stop. Shoot. Then trying to run ahead of the torch bearer and repeat again. Sure, at times security and Toronto police were pushing me out of the way (yes, actually touching me) – but I was heading right out into the “line of fire” on the street trying for optimal placement to make the best pictures I could that day.
December 18, 2009 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
Take Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar, an Olympic torch run on Yonge St., protesters, and your going to have a recipe for chaos and shooting fun. And it was certainly that in downtown Toronto last night.
A huge crowd had swelled on Yonge awaiting Bollywood star Aksay Kumar – but it got a little difficult for police as protesters delayed things for the Olympic torch runners and forced an alternative route for the flame.
December 17, 2009 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
A fair amount of the recently announced nominees for the 2010 Golden Globe Awards made their way through Toronto at one time or another during the year. Nominated films to make premieres at this years Toronto Film Festival included Precious, The Informant!, A Single Man, and Up In The Air.
If your writing, blogging, or just care to enjoy some photos of the nominees – download the shot7.com Golden Globe nominee photo pack. Includes George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Reitman, Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz, Christopher Plummer, Morgan Freeman, Carey Mulligan, Juliane Moore, Colin Firth, and Woody Harrelson. 22 photos in the pack!
December 13, 2009 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
My friend Saul Colt invited me to an interesting DVD launch event. Saul and I like to talk all things digital marketing so I was intrigued that Warner Brothers was doing this “live community screening featuring star Daniel Radcliffe” (their words) to promote the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on Blu-ray and DVD.
Now, the event was well put together and the couple hundred people in attendance at the Varsity cinemas seemed to enjoy the free popcorn, drinks, entertainment, and the chance to win some cool prizes.
But when it came time for the actual screening – I was very disappointed. Small text scrolling across the top screen? That’s what Warner Brothers means by “live virtual participation of star Daniel Radcliffe and Director David Yates” ?
I certainly wasn’t feeling it to be very participatory or entertaining for that matter. If you got the director and star Daniel live in London doing real-time commentary on your network – I say you got to pump some video threw those pipes!
If they are talking live in London – I want to see that on the big screen, together with the film. Since everybody at the theatre will end up buying the DVD and watching it twenty times anyway – we didn’t really need to see a full fledged theatrical presentation of the film yesterday.
Here’s a thought Warner Brothers – find one of those DVD’s you’ve produced in the past – one that lists a “video commentary” by the cast and crew as a special feature.
Do that next time and you’ll have a cool community screening.
I can’t believe its a bandwidth thing. If YouTube can deliver a beautiful live U2 concert stream to 10 million peeps simultaneous – I think WB tech people can figure out a way to pump a video stream into the few theatres across the globe participating in the event.
So after about 15 minutes of not being able to connect to the text commentary. I was out of there.
Turned out the best thing about the Potter event for me was it got me into Varsity cinemas where I noticed a screening of Up In The Air was just starting in the theatre next. Since I was waiting for my nephew who was enjoying the Potter Film (I did ask him later, he didn’t bother with a word of the text commentary either – he was just lovin’ the film.)
Me? I took a seat for the Clooney movie next door.
And what a beautiful film it was. Reitman and Co. should well be on their way to multiple Oscar nominations in the new year.
December 9, 2009 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
I’m sure they’ll eventually be even more innovative ways to use the iPhone in ways to help us take better pictures. But this list of the Top Ten iPhone Apps for photographers from PDN is a good place to start.
November 24, 2009 by Richard Budman · 3 Comments
Sometimes it can be a battle to get a good shot.
Winona Ryder was just filming her new movie When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story in Toronto’s historic Union station. I actually only stumbled upon the set because I was traveling through the train station on the way to another assignment.
I knew the movie was filming in town, and when I saw Winona and the period costumes in the train station I figured it would make for some nice news pictures.
Now, to say that movie production people generally hate paparazzi type photography around their sets would be an understatement (unless maybe, your Gossip Girl.) When it became clear they would just try and block any of my attempts to get a clean shot of Winona – I decided to shoot video instead, figuring it would probably turn out more interesting.
Yup, that’s me in the video stating my case to a police officer of why I am shooting – even while they are asking me not to.
You may wonder, why didn’t I immediately leave? Why after repeated requests by the movie crew to not take shots, did I still?
Simply put. It’s news people.
It’s news I believe the public is entitled to know about, and I feel I’m not invading any ones privacy or doing anything wrong as a news photographer. Should people really be able to pick and choose what news is fit to be reported or not? (The reason I am not being kicked out of the train station, or being demanded to leave by the police officers present is because THEY ALSO KNOW legally, I am well within my rights to take pictures and report this news.)
I would be the first one to admit there is a breed of celebrity photographers that do cross a line into invading an individuals right to privacy – and yes, I think even celebrities have privacy rights too. I personally cringe when I see shots of celebrity moms picking up their kids from school. I feel that stuff should be off limits and I have consciously made the decision to never shoot “news” like that.
But the filming of a period-piece movie with a Hollywood star in a public train station? Puh-lease… I’m blasting.
Of course, after I clearly saw they would devote significant manpower and energy to prevent me from getting photos. I left. Really, the last thing I want to do is disrupt a movie production. But I can’t see how it’s such a big deal to get some clean shots of Winona on set? I actually think the movie production peeps are looking at the situation all wrong. They should be enabling the celebrity photographers that want to shoot their movie – which can only lead to further stories in the press (not like Winona can’t use a little buzz in the celebrity press, eh?)
For more thoughts on the difficulties of shooting Winona, AND ACTUAL PICTURES OF HER ON SET visit celebrity photographer John Kennedy’s PopGoesTheNews.com who certainly fared better than me on the day (but also, not without a battle.)
BLOG: Video of Royal Motorcade through downtown Toronto – Would more people care if Diana was still with Charles?
November 5, 2009 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
I shot this video from Front St. as the Royal Motorcade was coming up University Ave. entering the Toronto downtown core. The motorcade actually split in two from the airport, with Charles heading north up Bay St. to meet with business leaders and Camilla up University to a different function.
There seems to be a lot of apathy on the street towards the Royals visit to Canada. Lots of moans could be overheard as a systematic army of police managed to stop traffic so the motorcade could whiz through. “Is this all really necessary for just them?” could be heard from the crowd. “Who’s paying for all this?” could also heard a couple of times.
RELATED #2: Funny stuff, National Post sums up Royals arrival at airport.
October 28, 2009 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
Probably a better night for laughs then shooting photos (photographers were asked to shoot from the back of the lower-level seating in the theatre – pretty far from the stage and if you weren’t shooting with at least a 300mm lens, which I wasn’t, you could forget it.) Knowing Mr. Seth Meyers would be coming out to close the show and say the obligatory goodnights as acting host, I cheated a bit at the end of the night and shot a few frames from much closer seats recently vacated by people heading for the exits early.
October 26, 2009 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
When Pamela Anderson takes part in a PETA political protest outside the Legislative buildings in the streets of Toronto you can be assured of at least one thing – lots of different pro news photographers will be getting together for the scrum. I personally love events like this when local newspaper photographers have to bump up against the wire guys who bump up against the paparazzi for positioning. There is usually little planning to these protest photo ops, and with the bad weather this was only going to end up being a bit of a free-for-all among the assembled media. Thankfully on this day, I anticipated this and managed to stay ahead of the pack and guess the correct spot where Ms. Anderson would likely end up.
Does photographer POSITION in the media scrum really matter? Your damn right it does. I seriously doubt I pull off the above photos of Pamela Anderson and the baby seal without first jockeying for a front shooting position.
October 18, 2009 by Richard Budman · 1 Comment
I have to admit when I asked Dan Aykroyd about the status of Ghostbusters 3 at a recent event to launch his fathers new book – I did not know that Bill Murray was asked the same question just the previous night in London.
But the two actors commenting on Ghostbusters last week made for a good story and shot7.com is grateful to the many blogs and movie news sites that picked up on our video and Aykroyd photos – Reel Loop, ScreenRant, CinemaBlend and more. It was especially cool to see our favorite movie news site of the them all – The Playlist, pick up on the GB3 story (and use a shot7 photo!
I purposely arrived early at the Aykroyd book event because I wanted a good choice of seat and where I would shoot the duo from. I have long discovered when shooting families or brothers, rarely is the straight-on shot the best one (often too much distance between the subjects, I wanted to ensure I could bring the Aykroyds visually close together in the frame.) For the Dan and Peter, I wanted to shoot them from a 45 to 60 degree angle from a dead-on centre spot. The way the stage was set up, their natural looking position for most of their interview would not be towards my camera, but I figured over the course of a 30 minute talk they would have to be a few times they would look over in my direction, and then I would have the look AND angle I wanted.
October 11, 2009 by Richard Budman · Leave a Comment
The folks at Bell put on another great event in Toronto with their annual Bell Celebrity Gala. The Gala is considered the largest celebrity-attended fundraiser in Canada. Its also a very photographer-friendly event. While the evening is a long one, from first red carpet arrivals to the final concert performances, accredited press are pretty much free to roam and grab the shots they need – while still finding a few minutes to grab a drink.
Looking for shots of the 18th annual Bell Celebrity Gala? shot7.com photostream available here.