Thursday, February 26, 2009

Working Hard to Save Others

Integrity: The quality of being honest
and having strong moral principles;
moral uprightness.

To me, integrity is doing what's right — even when nobody else is looking. For some, rough times are often seen as a time of having license to do things they wouldn't ordinarily do. I've heard of people breaking into vacant homes and businesses and making them their personal shelter. I suspect that shoplifting is on the rise because people need to eat and feed their families.

President Obama recently outlined his rescue plan that will help many — but unfortunately not all. I really don't think we can wait for lawmakers to save us. We need to do something to help each other. I have an idea.

Working Hard to Save Others is a program I've created that will feed those in need. What I am going to do is, for the rest of 2009, donate 25% of my photographic licensing fees to the St. Mary's Food Bank (or food bank of your choice — maybe the one in your city).

Critics might argue, that I'm just trying to drum up business. I am. And I'm donating a portion of my income to those with no income. Together, we can make a difference.

Magazines, ad agencies and other corporations have budgets. There will be no misappropriation of funds, you will simply be hiring me to take beautiful pictures and I will go grocery shopping or make a cash donation.

Here is the promo I'm sending out. Look it over, leave a comment, but more importantly, tell someone else about what I am doing (especially if they are an art director, photo editor or art buyer):

Working Hard to Save Others
I think we can work hard to save others.

In a repressed economy, people don’t have the resources to give. People with the least resources suffer the most. Together here is what we can do:

From each project with your company, I will donate 25% of my licensing fees to the St. Mary’s Food Bank (or food bank of your choice).

Why the food bank? It boils down to trust. I don’t want us to invest in any more golden parachutes. And by donating to a food bank, we can be assured that the right people are being helped.

I plan to continue “Working Hard to Save Others” throughout 2009. You may not have a project right now but you can RSVP for sometime this year by replying to this e-mail or calling me at 480.329.8178.

With a little imagination, you and Tony Blei Photography can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

In the World's richest nation, nobody should be hungry.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Failure Is The Only Option

What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? You probably wouldn't do anything. There's no reason to. Not failing is safe. It's warm. All of your friends are there.

When failure isn't an option, there's no risk. Without risk, there's no character development. Without character, there is only mediocrity.

Failure hurts and is costly. But there we stand. It's dark. We're wearing tight white spandex and holding a pole. Your left foot slides onto a rope stretched over a big drop. The people on the ground look small. Don't look down.

Your mouth is dry and you can hear your heart beating.

Plant your right foot as your palms sweat. You wonder what in the hell you are doing here and you adjust your grip.

Take another step.

We could stretch our tightropes at twelve inches, twelve feet or 120 feet. At twelve inches, there is no risk. At 120 feet, the tightrope walker needs to be sharp and in tune. At 120 feet everything is being risked. At 120 feet, the tightrope walker is truly balanced.

Sometimes it's dark, cold and lonely. Sometimes I don't know where to plant my foot. Sometimes I wish I were on the ground where it's safe. Yet daily I slide my foot along the rope. I have to. It's the only way.

What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail? I would quit my day job and embrace a career where failure is an option with significant consequences.

I'm mixing my metaphors here, but anyone can get that which hangs low. For the sweetest fruit, you need to go out on a limb.

Just don't give up.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Barack Obama In My Backyard

President Barack Obama unveils his rescue plan
at Dobson High School in Mesa, Arizona.

I previously posted that President Obama arrived on Air Force One and that I photographed him at the airport. I also photographed him as he unveiled his rescue plan.

Members of the media, and other, set up their gear
and for the next four hours, wait.
Barack Obama made a visit to Dobson High School, which is within walking distance from me. To photograph him, I needed a credential, which I was able to get (calling the White House was kind of cool experience), and I also needed to wake up at 4 a.m., so that I could arrive, find a spot and then leave so that the bomb-sniffing dogs could do their part. This means, be set up by 5:30 a.m., leave and not come back until 8:30. The President was scheduled to speak at 10:15.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer shows off
a newspaper headline regarding the President's trip.

Just before President Obama spoke, the Presidential Seal is placed on his podium.

During a long wait, a member of the audience
takes a picture before the President arrives.

President Barack Obama is greeted by his supporters
as he arrives at Dobson High School in Mesa, Ariz.

I've now photographed seven US Presidents. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were my favorites because they broke protocol which allowed me to get pictures of them doing something interesting. Sadly, I can't tell you what they spoke of because most of the Presidents were usually campaigning. I think that with this President, I'll remember that he wasn't talking about doing anything for himself, he came here to outline a plan that will help Americans keep their homes. Yesterday I photographed President Obama in my back yard as he gave us hope.

The conclusion.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Forty Four is Seven To Me

I've mentioned before that during my time as a photographer, I've photographed six US Presidents. That was until today.

Today I photographed President Barack Obama which brings the tally up to seven. What's especially nice is that I am a fairly smart and resourceful photographer. I made my own contacts and got credentials without being affiliated with a newspaper.
You just have to be like The Terminator
and not give up when someone tells you "no."

Air Force One is really a majestic aircraft.
My friend Rick said it can fly at 620 mph.
I looked it up. He was wrong. It flies at 630 mph or .92 mach.
It can fly at an altitude of eight miles high.

Maybe we could put some ordinance on the plane
and call it the O Bomber.

While we waited for Air Force One, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and his son, Jake brought one of Shaquille O'Neal's shoes
to give to the President.
I'm wondering why he didn't bring Shaq.

Normally they say that if the shoe fits...
Yeah, that ain't gonna happen.

Photo op for Governor Jan Brewer.

Barack and I are tight. It was nice of him to wave good bye to me.

Don't worry, I promise not to sell this on eBay.

On Wednesday, February 18th 2009, I get to photograph him at Dobson High School.
It's within walking distance from my house.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Experience should be valued

Mr. Happy President's Day

I'm dedicating this Presidents' Day to Bill Clinton.

I just returned from Las Vegas business trip. I wasn't there to gamble or party (I did, however, put a buck into a machine, double my money only to lose it all). Before heading back to Phoenix, I read a newspaper story about Natalie Dylan, a woman who is auctioning off her virginity. I find it amazing that she has world-wide interest, hundreds of bids, and the top bid is around $3.8 million dollars.

What I find interesting is how people are willing to form a line and pay millions of dollars to someone who has absolutely no experience! This to me is crazy — especially in this economy. People should consider spending and investing their money wisely. Experience should be valued.

I've worked consistently as a professional photographer since 1984. I've photographed celebrities, criminals and US Presidents. I have years of award-winning experience and I don't cost near as much as Natalie. And as an added bonus, my photography has the potential to be an investment. When Natalie's highest bidder is done, he'll only get a nap and a story that he won't be able to tell his wife or girlfriend. You can tell everyone about me.

As it turns out, Natalie Dylan isn't even her real name. has fake breasts and a Brazilian wax (like all good virgins). She says she is raising the money to pay off school loans (Oh please).

Am I the only one that sees her BS in Women's Studies for what it really is?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jump! Keep Jumping!

When I was ten-years-old my parents and I moved into a new house. It was the typical house in the typical neighborhood. It had three bedrooms, two baths, blah, blah blah.

When I was about 14, as I would walk through the house, I would jump and try to touch the ceiling. For the longest time I couldn't quite touch it, but I was getting close.

Eventually, with the tips of my fingers, I could feel the ceiling as my fingers brushed it. I began to have contests with my cousins and friends. By the time I was 17, I could stretch while standing on my toes and touch it. (By this time, my dad would get pissed because he was afraid I was going to leave fingerprints).

Today, when I'm at my mom and dads, I don't even try. I know I can do it and I've set my sights on higher things.

Yesterday my portfolio was returned from Vanity Fair with a hand-written note on a really nice note card. The photo editor thanked me for showing my work.

It seems that once again, I've brushed my fingertips on the ceiling. With a little more growth and hard work I'll touch that ceiling.

Jump! Keep jumping!