the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Instagram (Page 1 of 2)

New Photos for Sale

In October, I opened up a “store” on my blog to sell photos. Thank you to everyone who checked out the gallery.

Today I’m adding 80 new photos to the store — all of them taking over the last year, mostly in New York City, but also in Washington D.C., Virginia, Los Angeles, London, Paris, and New Zealand.

Photo Store

Here is a little video showing all of the new photos that have been added.

Next — Selling Photos

If you know me, you know how hard it was for me to put up that revolving banner advertisement that was on my sidebar for the last two months. It was a good experience though, because it forced me to go I beyond my comfort zone.

The last straw that broke the camel’s back, like they say, is that after I pressed publish on my last post, a gentle tale titled “My Friend in McDonald’s, I immediately saw my own advertising server hawking back at me a personalized ad from Ronald McDonald himself, “Hey there, wouldn’t you enjoy having a juicy Quarter Pounder with Cheese right now?!”

Maybe if I was making $10,000 a month in advertising, I could compromise more, but for the $2 a month I was receiving for my banner, it felt humiliating.

But it was a good experience, like a teenage virgin having awkward sex for the first time and getting it over with.

This entire preamble is an anxious introduction to telling you that I am going to sell prints of my photos.

My Photo Store is Open for Business.

I’m going to start slow, because I’m a newbie at this.   So, to begin, I’m just going to offer seven photos taken in New York City.   Imagine it is a limited edition selection available just for my closest friends.   I tested each photo myself to make sure they printed well, so I feel confident that they will look good as 8″x 8″ prints, despite their humble origins as iphone photos.

If you want a print of a another photo in my instagram gallery, just contact me.  I will test it to make sure it prints well.  As I test other photos, I will add new photos for sale.

For now, I’m going to charge $20, no tax. I’ll make the print at a local lab, using the best resolution digital image, then mail you the print in a sturdy envelope. I’ll use the profit to either buy a nicer winter coat, or buy drinks for some chick at a bar and then try to go to bed with her. It all depends on how many prints I sell.

I know I’m not a big time photographer, so for added value, I will sign the back of the photo for you, and even include a personal message if you ask politely.

Email me if there are any problems with the shopping card or dealing with Paypal.

Again, my photo store is here.

Thank you for you inspiring me to do this, and giving me the confidence to believe in myself.

She Was Crossing the Street

She was crossing the street. She had short blond hair and was wearing black. She strutted like a hip, confident, young New Yorker that you might see in a magazine. She belonged here. As we passed each other in the crowd, I took a quick photo of her, part of an iconic city street scene, and published it on Instagram.

An hour later, a blogging friend sent me a message.

I know this woman. No shit. She works for me. And I showed her the photo!

My first reaction was one of extreme horror. Ever since I started posting photos on Instagram, the thought of this happening was my biggest nightmare. A stranger would find his own photo. And I would deserve the punishment that fit the crime, like a shoplifter or insider trader deserving time behind bars.

But my tale had a happy ending. The woman LIKED the photo, and we now follow each other on Instagram! Proof that either God is on my side, or that New Yorkers are so narcissistic they will take publicity any way they can get it.

Over the last two years, several of my friends have taken issue with the concept of taking photos of strangers in the street. People are always waiting for me to argue with them, waiting for me to cry, “But it is COMPLETELY LEGAL!,” and disappointed when I don’t take the bait. You see, I KNOW it is WRONG. If anything, you should applaud me for keeping on with it. In the past, my “Citizen of the Month” persona would have kicked in after the first negative comment and I would have stopped, but I’ve pushed on doing it, despite it, finding it possible to live with myself doing something morally ambiguous.

I’ve learned this from you. I’ve been blogging for almost nine years, and I have seen a lot of shit go on — blatant hypocrisy, backstabbing friends, questionable business practices, bullying of others, and snobbism. But after awhile, it all becomes part of the fabric of life. Small moral lapses are forgotten and we all focus on the real meaning of the internet — business, networking, branding, and finding success. Morality might get you into heaven, but it has little to do with business or art. From my experience, the more someone succeeds in any type of business, the more likely they were involved in compromises to their personal moral code.

In the scheme of things wrong, taking photos on the street is small potatoes. Personally, if I never did anything that pushed me into the gray area of my own personal morality, I would never leave my house, or have the nerve to type out the word “fucking” rather than “f***ing.” (see blog posts 2005-2010)

I’m pretty moralistic about most things, and I find it difficult to see myself in a negative light. (note to self: talk about this with therapist, when you find one)

About a month ago, I went to an “Instameet” downtown. An Instameet is like a “Tweet-up,” but involves those heavily into Instagram as a social media tool. I was nervous when I arrived at the agreed on location, because unlike like Blogher, where I am instantly recognized, I didn’t know anyone, or understand the hierarchy. And believe me, there is one — just like in any social gathering.

In attendance were a few “famous” New York Instagram street photographers, some who had thousands of followers and were always being asked by brands to do corporate promotional gigs. I was most excited to meet some guy known as “The King” of New York iPhone street photographers. I was curious to see him at work.

An Instameet is an odd animal. You all walk the street together, like a photo mob, taking shots, but since photography is a solo act, there wasn’t much socializing. From what I learned, that happens later, in a bar. During the walk, everyone is too busy hoping to one up the next guy.

I watched “The King” as he worked his magic with his iPhone, and suddenly — the concept of street photography made me uncomfortable. By watching him, it was like a mirror to my own actions when I shoot with my iPhone, and I wasn’t liking what I was seeing.

I’m a rather lazy street photographer. If I see something or someone interesting in my path, I might attempt a shot. But “The King” was proactive. He didn’t let Fate determine his art. He would eye someone across the street, and follow him. He would even walk around the block, circling back, just to face his subject, inches away. He seemed to enjoy the danger; but to me, it seemed like STALKING! I even hated the way “The King” viewed his subject — not like he was a humanistic individual seeking the personal in others — but as if he was a hunter searching for prey.

“What a jerk,” I thought to myself, annoyed that he was so beloved by the others. “What he’s doing is SO WRONG!”

His iPhoneography work is now showing in a gallery in Soho. Art/Morality? Does it matter?

I enjoyed taking photos of my friends at BlogHer. I wish I had more of an opportunity to do that here in New York. I wish I had a beautiful girlfriend or photogenic kids to take photos of during the weekend. But I don’t. So, I practice my photography by shooting strangers in the street. Maybe there is a bit of loneliness to it. I’d rather see it as a celebration of others. And I do it with a good heart. I try not to be a jerk. I don’t stalk people, even if it means it can get me a better shot. I try to find my own grey area.

You might think this post is about Instagram. But it’s not. I don’t need you to write comments telling me that you like my photos. Thank you if you do. This post is more about fighting the instinct to do everything RIGHT, and being OK being a little WRONG.

Perfect for right before Rosh Hashanah!

I’ll worry about my morality. You can worry about yours.

Note: This post is written for myself. And more dangerous than you think.

The Instagram Video Trilogy

I hope you enjoyed my Instagram Video Trilogy this weekend, consisting of my first three fifteen second Instagram videos. It was quite cathartic, a personal passive-aggressive nod at how much I dislike the inclusion of video into the previously photo-only Instagram app.   Sadly, only I will truly understand my own joke.

Why am I so against it?  I know, I know.  I can shut off the auto-play of the videos in the stream.  But it has less to do with YOUR dull videos, than with my own temptation to use video for MY own nefarious purposes.

I could write you a long thesis, with quotes from famous authors such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, explaining the differences between photography and “motion pictures,” but I’d rather be as concise as possible — in my opinion, photography and video go together as well as a corned beef sandwich and mayonnaise. A photo captures a moment in time. A video is about movement in time. What strikes me as interesting as a photo — a street scene, a skyline, a person smoking a cigarette on a park bench — is not what I look for in a video.  In one swoop, Instagram ruined the gentle creative flow of the photo stream.

What am I talking about?   Why do I care so much about this shit?  Am I just weird?

Yes, I am weird.  Case in point — the completely unexpected Instagram discussion on the first video about my life-long technique of taking a shower.

Great video but one question.  Who gets into a shower without turning it on first!

Really, @lillyhollow? I had to fake the washing a little so the iPhone didn’t get wet, but I ALWAYS go into the shower and then turn it on. Have I been doing it wrong all my life? I adjust the temperature from inside.

Yes @neilochka that’s wrong 🙂 In fact I hate hotels where the door is such that you have to get in to turn it on.

Others then jumped in, calling my shower technique a “troubling one.”

Yes, I am so WEIRD that I even take my showers WRONG.

That said, I will probably delete these videos from Instagram tomorrow.  The style of humor in the videos doesn’t blend in with what I have created on Instagram during the past few years.  I have been proud of finding a place online where I can be less a personality driven narcissist — always about me, me, me  — and focus on observing the outside world, like a bystander.   It’s been a very enriching experience that I would rather not destroy.

God is An Absentee Landlord

God is an absentee landlord and we are the tenants.

He created the world in six days, and then, on the seventh, he moved to a retirement community in Boca Raton, letting us fend for ourselves.

We are bad tenants. Without God nearby, we turned our Garden into a miserable dump.

“Where are you, God?” we cry. “Why have you forsaken us? Why do you leave us with death, illness, and decay? Why must we stand alone with so little guidance?”

God will not answer. He is too busy playing canasta with his friends.

But I have heard from God.

Oh, nothing dramatic like a Burning Bush or a Technicolor Dream.

God left us a Post-it Note on the front door.

Dear People,

You are not alone. But go look at the contract you signed. You need to take care of your shit yourselves. Grow some balls. I know you are weak. But I already gave you the three tools that will get you through every emergency.

I gave you rain. This will wash away the death and despair.

I gave you sun. This will give enable you to see.

And I gave you love. Which will make life worthwhile.

If any of you would rather trade in one of these tools for a new dishwasher instead, please leave a message at the rental office.

Now leave me the alone.


cc: prophets and angels.


Watching the Fishermen

I’m not a fan of the ocean.  It is too big, vast, dark, and scary.  The tide will come in and swallow you up like a shark.  But I am a Pisces.  Two fishes swimming in opposite directions.  I am drawn to the water.  The grubby little pier in Redondo Harbor is so small that it feels like it belongs in some run-down New England seaside resort that has seen better days.  Hollywood is far away.  The celebrities go to Malibu, the tourists to Santa Monica.  I like to watch the lazy fisherman, who spend the day dreaming of nothing, and catching even less, waiting for the sun to set.

Los Angeles Traffic – Instagram

If New York is symbolized by the Empire State Building, the iconic image of Los Angeles is… traffic.  Sure, the Los Angeles Kings just won the Stanley Cup, the supermodels are at the private beaches of Malibu, and the Hollywood sign beckons from Rodeo Drive, but when it comes down to our daily conversation, it is all about, “Jesus, avoid the 405 today.”

I took some traffic shots today.  One of them, taken on the freeway, could have earned me a hefty traffic ticket.  Look what I do for you, dear reader.  And for ART.


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