Twin Show Down!!

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I saw a post earlier today about these twins who are both serving as District Court Judges and pretty much have a lot more in common, from the ages of their children, to marrying their hubby’s two months apart. I discovered another blogger (not sure if she wants me to mention her or not) who is also a twin. I am also a twin!

I’m challenging all Twins to post their twin pics! Please do this on your own blog and link to this page so I can see them. The Twin Show-Down starts now!!!

*Clears throat: if I’m the only one who participates than me and my twin will just have to suck up all the attention 🙂 But no, seriously, I wanna see your twin!*

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Blog Photos: I Scared Myself Away From My Own Post

OK, you may want to sit down for this one.

A couple weeks ago (or was it last week?? LOL), whenever it was, I had a blogger to comment on a post I wrote asking me to go into more detail concerning photos in a blog post. I never consider myself a “blogging pro” or “advice giver” so her question made me feel very positive about the post as feedback often does. Here’s her question and my response:

Q. Can you share more about your thought that sometimes pictures can take away from a post?

My response:

Sure. Pictures are a great way to compliment a blog post but photos in blog posts is about strategy and not just decoration. If the pictures don’t tie in well with the article it can take away from the written content and become a distraction. Photos chosen should have the potential to reveal something about the post even if there were no words because images set the tone for the post itself. Sometimes I decide not to include pics because I want the focus on the words and a photo in this sense can just be distracting. All in all bad image choices can have a great impact on how people see our blogs. 

This morning I did not intend on writing this post, but after scrolling through the reader I experienced something that validates just how important photos are in a blog post. I scared myself away from my own post.

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Yesterday, I wrote a post that included a picture of Flavor Flave. When I scrolled through the reader this morning I was shocked to see that photo front and center on my timeline associated with that blog post (go ahead, take a look). I startled myself because I would not have chosen for that picture to be the one used to feature the post. As I opened with “We all have our favorites…” needless to say Flavor Flave was not a good look. I do not nor have I ever been a fan. I do not take back my thoughts in the article and using the photo in the post did look good when I drafted it because it represents what I was speaking about, but it did not mix well with my opening statements or as an advertisement for the post in the reader.

Did I say advertise? Yes. It may not seem important at the time, but photos in blog posts tend to act as promotional items for our blogs before people actually click to see what the post is about. I wouldn’t say to stress out about it, but whether or not people are clicking to tune into our blogs have a lot to do with the way that people think in general and we all know by now (c’mon, say it with me) “Pictures are worth a thousand words”. Just keep in mind that the first picture used in the post will more than likely be the photo that stands front and center as representative of your post. My little experiment proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that image choices is not just about what looks good, but it is also about strategy because the photography tends to set the mood for the article itself. The photos you use in your post can have the potential to downgrade the quality of the article if it does not blend well with the written content.

Experiment: Conduct your own experiment. Write a blog post and use an image, any image. Go back to the reader and see which one shows up! If your not too chicken to risks a few likes and views, this can help you to see  how the pictures in the post shows up when people are actually scrolling through the reader.

Writing 101: Assignment #4 – A Story in a Single Image

Conquering Mountain

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They say mustard seeds can move mountains. So how did I end up on the opposite side of it? Its tough exterior mocked the clouds hanging in the sky, mimicking their shape. Deceiving them like it did me the day Claire walked out the door. She didn’t take my heart with her, just some toiletries she didn’t really need. You know typical girl stuff. I wonder if she was being sarcastic again. She’d rather hold onto an old toothbrush than an old me. Claire was tough like that; tall but delicate. She had the appearance of a lightweight but I knew I could never carry her. She was a rare stone, or a beautiful picture carved into concrete. The wind blew a cool breeze slightly. I silently prayed it would rain. At least then I’ll have an excuse for why reality crawled its way out of my throat. Besides, they say men are not supposed to cry. Claire always thought that was stupid logic. Maybe that’s because she was always around water, so water on cheeks wasn’t a big deal to her. I smiled weakly. I’d always been in love with her mind. No wonder I found myself here; on the edge of the dramatic Columbia River Gorge, a steeply pitched, creek-like river chasm where the hills roll over and over like new carpet, and the water spread its body over the land like fine silk. I gave Claire silk once. An anniversary present for our six months together. She said it was too soon. That I should stop taking so much time out of my vacation to visit her. How can love ever be too soon? That is something we always disagreed on. Anyway, enough about Claire. I read somewhere that they were closing this place down. No more tourists they said. I bet it was Claire. This trip was supposed to be my celebration for finally having the strength to not care about her anymore. She may have me now but dear Mountain Claire, I will reach you soon.

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A photographer on the Baltimore Protests

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Just thought I’d share this article as a current events type deal before heading out for today. Though I don’t really get photography as an art far as all the technicalities are concerned (I mean, there are good pictures and then there are…good pictures), I do love the camera myself and I do think photography plays an important role in the unfolding of historical events. Had it not been for photographers, we would not have the opportunity to relive some of the most profound moments in history with such intimacy. As for my thoughts on the specific events rocking the country, I will have to come back with another post when I have more time, however I am led, we will see. Till then stay in tune:

Devin Allen is a self-taught photographer and Baltimore native. His images from the protests following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody have received thousands of likes and shares on social media. As the situation continued to unfold in his hometown, Fusion caught up with Allen to learn more about his work and the gaps in the narratives being reported on the news versus those being experienced on the ground.

Fusion: So how old are you and how long have you been doing photography?

Devin Allen: Well, I’m 26, and I started photography [about] 3 years ago, in 2013.

Fusion: What got you started?

Devin Allen: Basically, hanging in the city, we don’t have a lot to do…one of my friends actually got me into doing poetry, so I had my own poetry night. But I suck. I can write poetry but I cannot perform. So I had to find a way to give people that poetry feel, but visually, so I started making T-shirts. From there I got into photography. I would take pictures and put them on T-shirts and eventually, I fell in love with it and that became my major outlet since then.

Fusion: How long have you been in Baltimore?

Devin Allen: All my life.

Fusion: Your whole life, so you’re local?

Devin Allen: Yes.

Fusion: What stands out to you about Baltimore when you are taking pictures? What makes Baltimore so interesting to you?

Devin Allen: It’s just real. Baltimore is a real city. It don’t cut no corners. You know, when you get around certain people or certain places it don’t feel real? You know, like everything seems perfect? Baltimore is not that. It’s a beautiful place, it’s like a rose in concrete to me. It’s a beautiful place, but most people don’t see it like I see it. I was born and raised here, so I see the negative, I see the positive. I see the good and the bad. I’ve been on both sides of the fence – both the good side and the bad side. So that’s what it is for me – it’s a beautiful place, and it’s real.

Fusion: When you say you’ve been on the bad side, what do you mean? What is the bad Baltimore that you know and what is the good Baltimore that you know?

Devin Allen: Well, growing up here is very stressful. You can get caught up in a lot of things if you don’t have a strong environment [around you]. Growing up, I got caught up in a lot of foolishness because of friends, where I hung at, and umm…I was raised by my mother and her family, I was raised good, but I just had affection for the streets. I had a lot of friends in the hood who’d run the streets all day, I hung with a lot of people. I lost a lot of friends. I buried both my best friends back in 2013. Both of them were murdered. I lost both my best friends, so they’re like my inspiration. I was just doing whatever, you know, to get the day passed. I tried the school thing, didn’t work. Got a job, but you know it’s hard to stay the narrow with so much stress and negativity. Drugs everywhere, crack-infested, heroin-infested. It’s very difficult, but [an] easy city to get caught up in. As far as being on the bad side, I hung with drug dealers and I ran the streets with some bad people, you know?

Photography actually got me away from that because both my best friends were both murdered; one was murdered on a Friday, and my other best friend was murdered on a Saturday. The only reason I was not with them was because I had photo shoots both days. And that kind of bridged the gap between the streets and my art, and I chose my art over the streets.

Fusion: What would you say about your interactions with the police growing up in Baltimore?

Devin Allen: (Exhales.) Well, I have been subjected to racial profiling. You know, I have had friends beaten by police. I have had police plant drugs on me because they’ve been mad that they didn’t find any.

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Photography

My beautiful sister Pamela
My beautiful sister Pamela, Photo by EC

Honestly, I can’t teach your ways to anyone, nor do I know much about you. I don’t talk about you a lot either, or cough up revelations about how I came to enjoy the way your eyes capture and then freeze our lives. I do remember however our first real encounter. It was the 11th grade. Mrs. Luno coupled us for the school yearbook, and we walked the hallways of Harper High School like we had been together for years. You wrapped your arms around my neck and let my pupils kiss your face. Together we recorded, froze, and transformed time into memory. We followed Jesse Jackson and Arnie Duncan through interviews and meetings. You even let me choose what to see and hold you in my arms during assemblies, plays, and basketball games. Letting me control the way your body felt in my hands, and in seconds we created images both tangible and symbolic; both real and fantasy. It was the first time I came to appreciate this kind of relationship with technology. We had so much in common: Your shutter and my pupil, your film and my retina, and our capacity to record the past; your memory card, and my brain. I still don’t completely understand you, but goodness, don’t I love holding the camera!

Captured Moments

The best thing about pictures is capturing a single moment. By stopping time in its tracks you freeze not just that moment but also the emotion stamped into it. Not only do you remember what you felt but you also experience that feeling again. Every glance is a blast back to one moment; the second movement was blessed with stillness; light, color, and atoms all bonded together and locked tight into the single shape of laughter, joy, sadness, or a relaxed coolness; giving you the permission to hold time in the palms of your hands, and the miracle of revisiting yesterday if only to feel what you felt again.

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This picture was taken almost three years ago, and the history behind it always makes me laugh. Hubby and I had just boarded the Carnival Conquest for a trip to Jamaica, Cozumel, and the Cayman Islands. I wasn’t smiling so hard because of excitement necessarily, but because I was actually not just smiling, I was laughing. These people were worse than paparazzi (not like I live the lifestyle to know what that feels like but I imagine it was something like this). They practically pushed us in front of the camera. Imagine walking down the street… (no, gliding is more like it) yea, gliding down the street encased in your own thoughts. You are somewhere between right now and yesterday and tomorrow; basking in the joy of this moment. Imagining what this week away from the world would be like. At the same time your accounting for the items you carry with you: tickets, card, purse, luggage….smile! Just like that someone snaps a picture, somehow simultaneously pushing you both in front of the camera. A burst of pending excitement is no longer concealed to your inward parts, but is about to give birth to an eruption of butterflies once protected in your stomach and are now visible in the creases of your face. But you’ve got to hold it all together with a pose that won’t look like you’re really rolling on the floor laughing, and will make the most gorgeous couple headlines at the same time.