A Digital Journal

Photography by Tony Triolo

Striking the Pose

When I was a newspaper photographer, I was always on the lookout for what we called a “feature” shot.  Typically, it was a lighthearted photo we might run across on the way to a news assignment.  Other times, we’d specifically scout out these “feel good” images in order to fill up a hole left on a page once all the stories and ads had been placed.  When the page editor would find himself with space left over, he would most often turn to the “features basket”.  Photographers would place an 8×10 print in a wire basket on the editor’s desk if they felt a particular photo was worthy of publication.  Really good images would be snatched up and used almost immediately, but the not-so-good ones languished and might not be used until the editor became really desperate.  Sometimes, they wouldn’t be used at all – a real blow to the ego and sensibilities of any shooter.

Most of these feature photos involved kids caught in the act of doing what kids do.  If they weren’t riding a bike or a skateboard, maybe they were playing ball or selling lemonade on the corner (permits not required back then).  My very first photo published in the Huntsville Times was of a young girl lovingly embracing her pet goat.  I still have a print of it somewhere.  In those earlier days, there was never a question of whether or not you could photograph a child in a public setting.  You never had to seek out the parent and get their approval first, which is often the case today.  Every time you point a camera at anyone under the age of eighteen these days, it seems you are suspect.  “Who are you and why are you taking a picture of my kid?”  “Are you a child molester?”  “Did my ex hire you to get evidence that I’m an unfit mother?”  There are all kinds of scenarios.  And don’t even think about taking a picture of a kid on the playground, at school or at the day-care center without permission.  The cops will have the cuffs on you before you can say “Sesame Street.”

These days, I find it much easier to aim my camera on people I know.  Photographing the children of relatives and friends involves a lot less hassle, not to mention less risk of incarceration.  Recently, I attended a wedding, two baby christenings and a birthday party.  As you might expect, there were a number of children attending those events, so after I shot enough photos of the old folks, I tried to devote some time to the younger set.  This particular image is from such an event.  It was taken at my three-year-old grandson Kendall’s birthday party, held at the Huntsville Depot.  The Depot has lots of old trains, fire trucks and vintage cars for kids to climb over once the cake and ice cream are gone and the presents opened.  This particular photo is of Kendall’s cousin, Jillian as she explored the inside of a 1927 Studebaker Erskine.

Keeping up with kids of this age can be a challenge, but every once in a while, you will rewarded with a break in the action, when activity slows down and a child strikes a more subdued pose, like this one.  Aside from the fact that young Jillian is an adorable little girl, she has a knack for striking a pose better than most five-years-olds you will meet.  Aim a camera at her and she will instinctively stop what she is doing and give you a delightfully demure pose.  She will resist giving you the cheesy, toothy grin that most children will offer up, conditioned after years of forced smiles resulting from sternly delivered instructions from parents to “say cheese.”  I always remember what Guntersville photographer, Leon Kennamer once told me.  He said, “Never have your subject grin broadly, but rather let their lips barely touch, and let them smile with their eyes instead.”  His feeling was that a portrait of a broadly smiling person was tiresome to look at after a while.  I think he definitely had something there.

In this photo, the framing of the car window and the soft lighting certainly add to the image, but I’m not entirely happy with it.  My biggest wish is that Jillian had been alone in the car and without the boys in the background.  It would have been a much stronger composition.  I could Photoshop the boys out, but I really don’t like to do that, especially since one of the boys is my grandson.  I had other shots where Jillian is alone but none of those others match this classic pose.




November 9, 2010 Posted by | Alabama, Historic Alabama, Huntsville, Photography | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gardens of Glass

This past weekend I went to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville, TN.  Dale Chihuly’s sculptures in glass are included in over two hundred museum collections worldwide, and while I have seen his work on a few other occasions, this is the first time in an outdoor setting.  Admittedly, there are some pieces located inside the Botanic Hall, Art Museum and Frist Learning Center, but the great majority of pieces are scattered throughout the beautiful grounds.  The obvious question that comes to mind, is how does one go about installing a blown glass exhibit outdoors with all that mother nature can dish out.  The current display at the Cheekwood has been there since late May, and it would seem they have fared quite well, because I saw no damaged pieces.  I’m sure, that if something unfortunate were to happen, there would be spare parts on hand to repair them.

Here are some photos of the pieces I particularly liked.

Chihuly Boat and glass art

Glass-filled rowboat

This tight shot is of a boat filled with blown glass pieces located at the Robinson Family Water Garden.  Chihuly first used this installation method in Nuutajarvi, Finland.  He tossed glass pieces into the river, letting them float downstream where local teenagers would gather them up in rowboats.


Blue glass flowers at Reflection Pool at Cheekwood Gardens.
Glass flowers
Aquatic plants at the Replection Pool at Cheekwood Gardens.
The Reflection Pool


Aquatic plants at Reflection Pool at Cheekwood Gardens.

Glass Reeds

Chihuly’s mother’s passion for gardening was the inspiration for this installation called Mille Fiori, Italian for one thousand flowers.  These three photos depict various parts of the display at the Reflection Pool outside the Museum of Art.  Chuhuly uses truly unique shapes, formed in vibrant colors to represent a number of aquatic plants and flowers.


Onion-shaped Walla Wallas float on water garden.
Water Garden and Walla Wallas
Onion-shaped Walla Walla floats on water garden.
Walla Walla

Inspired by the famous sweet onions from Washington State, these beachball-sized glass orbs float on the surface of the Robinson Family Water Garden.  Known as Walla Wallas after the onion, they were first made by Chihuly in his Seattle shop to be set adrift in the canals of Venice.


Blue flowers and reeds outside the Cheekwood Museum of Art.
Persians and Blue Reeds

The Frist Learning Center provides a backdrop for the installation called Persians and Blue Reeds.  In a search for new forms, Chihuly came up with these exotic shapes with spiraling body wraps and herringbone effects along the surface.


The Chihuly exhibit was originally scheduled to run through yesterday, but due to the intense public interest it has been extended one additional week through November 6th.  So, you still have a few days to make your way up to Nashville to see this truly amazing exhibition.  If you have never seen Dale Chihuly’s work before, you really should try to see it.  Who knows when there will be another opportunity, this close to home.


November 1, 2010 Posted by | Photography | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment