Monday, August 22, 2011

Tourists at Home

This picture is an object lesson in some basic principles when photographing chubby folk. First, overweight people look better when filmed from above. The downside for me is that bald people look better when filmed from below. Face-on, needless to say, isn't flattering for either. But I am used to that.

The other key principle is that people tend not to notice that the subject is overweight when there is a very large elephant head in the frame. This isn't always possible, of course, but when it is, the smart photographer will take advantage of it.

I am focusing on photography because this picture was taken by Sandy when we visited the George Eastman House in Rochester yesterday. Eastman was the guy who started Kodak after inventing major breakthroughs in film technology. He ended up being so rich that when he died they called his place THE George Eastman House, rather than George Eastman's Old House.

Walking through the house was a fascinating way to spend the afternoon. (OK, half the afternoon. The other half was checking out the bar with $2 Bloody Marys down the road.)  Besides being a fantastic building filled with so much beautifully detailed work, the house was also a testament to another time.

Take the elephant head, for example. For the life of me, I cannot imagine wanting to put the head of a dead animal on my wall - even if I had a wall big enough to hold an elephant head. More bizarrely, throughout the house there are numerous ashtrays made from the hooves of various critters. This must have been considered pretty cool 100 years ago, but it's really off-putting in the 21st Century. Perhaps not enough to make you a vegan, but it certainly would make smokers think twice before lighting up.

The visit to The George Eastman House is part of an effort by LK and me to do a little more of the tourist thing when we make our annual visits home to be with family. Last week in Vermont we stayed one night in Stowe and checked out the shops the next morning. LK - retired from some work, but still very much a professional shopper - decided we needed to compare the Stowe shops with the Woodstock shops, and so we made a bit of a loop on our route back to Rutland. She gave Woodstock a big tick.

In Rutland, we decided to stay in a hotel up on the mountain near the Pico and Killington ski resorts. And one night we went out to dinner with Bob and Deb at a lovely resort high on the mountain overlooking Chittenden Dam. All in all, doing a bit of the tourist thing made me realize why people flock to Vermont. It's a beautiful state.

We also made a side trip during our time in New England and caught up with an old friend, but I will leave that for another post.

Meanwhile, this is another shot Sandy took during yesterday's tour of Rochester.

It was taken at the bar after, I believe, a second Bloody Mary. I assume you can see that I look much happier by this stage of the tour.

And you photographers might want to note that another tried-and-true method for photographing us big guys is to place someone else in front of us and have just our heads pop into the frame. Works for me.

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