Mad Max Fury Road

Without much fuss, I just wanted to share some of the photos I took the other night at the Wasteland Weekend event at the Vineland Drive-In Theatre for a screening of the film, Mad Max Fury Road.

Members and fans of the Wasteland were invited to arrive early in their best post-apocalyptic garb and bring out their wasteland vehicles for display before the movie began. As someone who has been a fan of the Mad Max films since I was a kid, and who loves custom cars and motorcycles, I was really looking forward to this event. Also, I’ll be attending Wasteland Weekend this year for the first time and cannot wait to wander around the post-apocalyptic landscape with my camera.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend it. This was my second viewing in as many days and my only question is when do I get to see it AGAIN. For fear of spoilers, I won’t say much about it… but just Go See This Film. Even if you don’t expect to like it, you probably will. More than you expected.

But I digress. The point of this post was to share a few of the shots I got at the drive-in. It was such a great time and really got me even more excited for Wasteland Weekend. (I’d also like to say a random thanks to the universe for providing me with some ominous cloud cover that was a perfect compliment to the subject matter.)

See you in the Wasteland.

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Thoughts on the New Instagram Terms of Service, And It’s Subsequent Responses

Earlier today, a friend re-posted an article with the tweet “by someone who actually bothered to read it” regarding the new #Instagram Terms of Service debate. Well, dear person who wrote that, I would kindly like to invite you to go fuck yourself.

Contrary to that snarky little troll’s suggestion that all the uproar was by people who didn’t even read what they were complaining about, I did, in fact, read the new ToS that Instagram posted and the terms and language was pretty damn clear to me. I am a photographer and producer who constantly deals with the legalities of image use both in my own work and for other photographers. There was no question to my mind, or the minds of a number of other users what the intent was.

It said that Instagram could use my photos for advertising without my permission and very clearly stated that they could even get compensation for my images. There was nothing UNCLEAR about that statement. No, the language did not say that they could directly sell my images, but does that matter? A blanket statement allowing a social media network to use my photos and get compensated for it – however that compensation breaks down – is not okay. Whether its an image from an upcoming fine art series I’m working on that I feel like sharing to get feedback or a random picture of the foam bird the guy at the coffee shop put on my latte, no one should have the right to use those photos without my express permission.

This language was so widely “misinterpreted” that Instagram quickly back-pedaled after the outcry of users who did read the ToS, saying, like a sheepish boyfriend trying to apologize when he knows he’s wrong – “I didn’t mean it like that.”

Um, I’m sorry, but I’m calling BULLSHIT. They meant it like that. The language and intent were clear, there is no question. Instagram only started to “Clarify” after a large number of celebrity users started dropping the service like it was a blanket covered in small pox. Facebook owns Instagram. And Facebook has long been trying to figure out a way to get away with this kind of crap. The ToS on FB is questionable at best and it seems to me that this may have been an attempt to see just how far they could push things before their users would indeed jump ship. Judging from the fact that it has taken me all day to get into Instaport (to export all of my images from Instagram in preparation to leave the service) and that the Instaport service has been crashed from overuse for most of the last day that there is a large number of people who know exactly what Instagram meant and didn’t like it.

And if I was even the least bit unsure of my own interpretation of the ToS language, there is this: That – to everyone who supposedly “misconstrued” the language in question – is pretty damn clear.

National Geographic – one of the most respected and long running magazines on the planet – has suspended it’s Instagram account because the powers that be at NatGeo thought the language on the ToS was clear enough that they want no part of it. I don’t think the lawyers at National Geographic had any doubt in their minds as to Instagram’s intent when they read the same lines that I did. They think it’s shady. So do I. So should you.

Washington DC

Another group from my current series of shots for my latest project.

©LaurenElisabeth Photography


Recently, I had the realization that in most of my traveling, no matter where I go, a lot of my favorite pictures are taken on my phone.

So I’ve decided to put together a project of the favorite shots from each city I’ve been to.

Not too many to start, but here’s the first bunch.

From Baltimore, Maryland.

That’s Not An Exhibit, That’s What’s In My Living Room

As a member of LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), every few weeks, I check their website to see what new exhibits are coming up. I try to go at least once a month for a wander through my old favorites in the Broad Contemporary Art Building. Usually, there’s a few interesting exhibits to wander through and most often, given my career path, I get excited when a new photography exhibit comes through. (Though, I have to say I CANNOT wait for the Tim Burton exhibit in May.)

Today was no different. An otherwise non-eventful Saturday afternoon, this is exactly when I usually go. I’d seen on the website listing for an exhibit of photographer Larry Fink’s journalistic portraiture. I was intrigued by the description. I’d of course heard of Larry Fink before, and I knew he had a long career snapping portraits and his many times was the only camera allowed inside the legendary Vanity Fair Oscar Parties. His career spans over 40 years and I was thrilled to see the possibilities of what his lens might have captured. So this afternoon, I asked a friend and fellow photographer to join me up there to check it out.

What was billed on the website as an “exhibit” was a huge disappointment. For a man whose work spans 40 years, the portraits included only cover 9 of those years. And to be honest, it looked to me like almost all of the images pulled for this were from the same year and party. And the number of images was ridiculous. I’d say there were about 18 images in total. That was it. Forty years of a career, 9 years of material to pull from and the artist didn’t even take the time to pull 2 dozen images? Who does that?

Though, seeing some of the images in their intended silver gelatin print form, rather than in digital or printed in a book was nice. And the prints were beautifully done – at the least the gelatin prints were. There were also a number of inkjet prints, I assume from digital images, but they looked off – both in colour and contrast. They were a bit green to be honest. Having worked with a photographer who did a large number of inkjet prints for a gallery show all from digital, I know that this is an avoidable issue, so I can only assume either he didn’t have time to double check them or just didn’t care enough to do a proper job on colour correction on his prints.

The only thing about the show that I did enjoy was this one image of Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton and Kid Rock sitting together at one of the parties. Just the juxtaposition of these three icons of media got my attention.

As for the rest, the only thing that made the images interesting was the subject matter. A few years back, some friends and I were discussing the book project that another photographer we knew was putting together. He was focusing on doing lighting techniques in the book, but the images used as example were all images of celebrities. And the question put forward was “If it wasn’t a celebrity in the photograph, would it STILL be an interesting image?”

For most of the work that I saw yesterday at the Larry Fink exhibit at LACMA, the answer is sadly, No. I felt like we were walking through a hallway of a grand home. It was wall art. For the size of it, for the subject matter and the way it was presented, I’d have to say that this wasn’t an exhibition, it was a vanity piece.

Consuming the Arts

Tonight I would like to write a little something about a project that has become rather near and dear to my heart. It’s called the Consuming the Arts Theatre Project.

Once monthly, at the Lounge Theatre here in Los Angeles, a group of writers, actors, musicians, spoken word artists, poets, and artists get together to put on a themed show of one-act plays and pieces to entertain and amuse for the viewing pleasure of a growing audience. The project was started by my friend Aurora Lizardi and her friend and partner Carrie Morris-Factoran 3 years ago as a non-profit in an effort to bring theatre and art to neighborhoods that don’t have access to shows like this. Not to mention providing a showcase for the amazing group of artists and performers who participate, with no expectation of reward other than the applause of an audience. Each show is woven around a theme that is not only common to all peoples, but meets head on some of the more controversial subject matters that everyone must deal with.

I’ve now seen three of these shows, and this last time, I offered up my services to photograph the event. I was intrigued as to what I might capture both onstage and off. So this past Sunday night, I headed out to the Lounge Theatre to do just that.

Jennica Schwartzman and Christopher Reed Performing "Lion's Den"

The theme of this week’s event was “Forgiveness” and featured a one-act play written by CTA contributor Evan Baughfman, music by Tim Banning, comedy (done as improvisational word jazz for lack of a better way to to describe it) by Matt Geiler and a fantastic set of original spoken word and poetry by Jacole Kitchen, who I firmly believe is my generation’s Lucille Clifton. (And if you don’t know who Lucille Clifton is, go look her up!)

Spoken Word Performer Jacole Kitchen

The last performance of the night was an original one-act play written by CTA’s Aurora Lizardi called “For Keeps.”  (She also acted as the lead and did a fantastic job.)

Performance of "For Keeps" by Aurora Lizardi

Not only was it acted really well by both Ms. Lizardi and her co-star Matt Munroe, but the addition of musician Jake Newton to play in and out of the scene transitions was a fantastic touch and highlighted the play’s theme so well it was as if Newton wrote the song for it.

Singer/Songwriter Jake Newton Playing During "For Keeps"

The performance was so good that the audience gave them a standing ovation, which I am told is a first at CTA, but it was well-deserved. If you have the interest and the inclination, I highly suggest that you come check it out sometime. The performers are fantastic, the event is fun and original, and if that’s not enough they provide a lovely spread of snacks and wine during the intermission for their audience. (Free food is always a bonus.)

It’s good fun. It’s a good cause. It’s just good. Go.

For more information on the Consuming the Arts Theatre Project, follow them on Twitter @feedyourart and check out their next show on March 23rd.