“There is no place like New York” is a comment I often hear from those who live in the Big Apple. In fact, I often wonder if the phrase was a twist on Dorothy’s “There’s No Place Like Home” incantation in the Wizard of Oz. While I need a bit more elbow room and feel more comfortable in the woods, I do on occasion visit the city for work or play. Regardless of the reason for the visit, I do enjoy walking the city with a camera hanging at waist level and releasing the shutter to see what I can come up with though once in a while I do lift the viewfinder up to eye level.
Most of the images I captured were taken in and around Times Square, which always reminds me of one big advertisement. It wasn’t quite as crowded as previous visits, but just as interesting. I stumbled upon the Good Morning America studio where the weather guy, whose name I think is Sam Champion, was outside mingling with fans. I wanted to get up close to get his photo but the police informed me that I was blocking too much pedestrian traffic because of my very large backpack. Surprisingly, a policeman asked if I wanted to set my backpack down next to the mailbox so I could get closer for a shot. The second surprise was when he offered to watch my bag. His offer to help was very nice and worrisome at the same time given we are living in a post-9/11 world. Maybe I did not fit the profile of a terrorist.
My favorite was seeing Elmo out and about greeting pedestrians and tourists as well as a gentleman walking in a kilt. There was a photo I captured that would be a proud addition to the people of Wal-Mart site but I decided to spare everyone the image. The Naked Cowboy who is not really nude to my disappointment was nowhere to be found. I have yet to capture his image. If I do not get one in the next year or so, maybe I will don my favorite Stetson hat and Lucchese boots as well as my biggest camera so I can play the role of the naked photojournalist. Or maybe not though one of these days I will visit this wonderful city for the sole purpose of doing some great street photography as opposed to just snapping my way to and from another destination.
The first time I met Julie was some time in 1994 when she became the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations at Qualcomm, which I had been covering as a telecommunications equipment analyst and recommending since 1992 up to my official departure from Salomon Smith Barney in the summer of 2001. After a sabbatical to go to the Culinary Institute of America to become a professional chef, she is back in the corporate world as the Vice President of Investor Relations at another exciting technology company based in San Diego, CA. She is now with Mitek Systems, which is a leading innovator of software that captures/reads data from mobile devices using proprietary technology called Mobile Capture. If you have ever used your smart phone to scan a check so it can be automatically deposited into your bank account, you actually were a beneficiary of Mitek’s enabling technology.
Now that she is back in the corporate world and on the conference circuit, I was able to catch up with her in New York immediately after the Barclay’s investor conference on mobile commerce. Mitek Systems sounds like a great story certainly worthy of some additional research. However, I am a photographer now so I convinced her to sit for a corporate headshot she can use for various social media sites for business networking. I wanted to travel light so I did the entire portrait session using my Leica M9 and a 75mm Summilux. After our photo session, which I could not have accomplished without Karen’s help, we had lunch at the Capital Grill to talk about old times when Karen and I were at Smith Barney covering the telecommunications equipment sector and Julie was in the trenches dealing with everyone on Wall Street. The only person missing from the mix was T.C., who is now in North Carolina some where. I spent most of my time meeting with executives and investors as well as media appearances, while TC and Karen did all the real work that was visible to everyone.
I dealt with Julie throughout most of the 1990s. It was a very volatile and exciting time covering Qualcomm prior to the wide scale deployment of the company’s core CDMA technology by wireless carriers. In fact, the company along with Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, Nortel and Lucent, in my opinion, played a major role in helping me become the top telecommunications equipment analyst on the street for many years. There were so many changes in progress as wireless carriers migrated from their old analog networks based on AMPS to digital wireless technologies such as CDMA and GSM as well as third generation technologies. There certainly was a significantly greater number of detractors than supporters during that time. There was so much misinformation and guesstimating by investors and analysts that I was able to provide a value added service by educating new investors and keeping old investors informed. As one hedge fund manager told me, “I call you when I need the big picture, to talk about a company’s corporate strategy, or arrange a meeting with executives, but I call Joe Bellace if I need to know what the quarter looks like.”
Julie was extremely helpful during those tumultuous times. Despite her crazy travel schedule, she was always able to return my phone calls to answer questions or direct me to those who can be of some assistance. I think Julie was instrumental in helping Qualcomm be more open to the public and advise on how some decisions may affect the street so it really helped Julie build her credibility with the buy side and the sell side of Wall Street. Compare that to the Street, which rarely if ever the impact of our decisions play a role in our financial analysis. We just wanted to be the first with the information or right on the direction of the stock. That is why so many analysts are such boneheads, present company excluded of course.
During lunch, we reminisced about Qualcomm and as well as new opportunities at Mitek Systems. However, true to form Julie could not tell us much since we were only two days from the end of the quarter. Some things never change.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about how an image may be worth more than a thousand words in the context of a documentary. There are just certain milestones in our lives that we want to record for future generations to enjoy whether it be our family or others. In addition to a more historical perspective, there are also financial motivations for using high quality images in other applications such as real estate, which was highlighted in an article provide by the Wall Street Journal
The article highlights research conducted by a Seattle-based brokerage firm using data on homes listed in the Boston and Long Island markets by measuring the difference between the asking price and the closing price of homes. I do not need to regurgitate the information in the article, but they did find a correlation between high quality images with a better closing price. What I disagree with though is they attribute high quality image with an SLR. That is a very simplistic view of the world in my opinion. Photography is painting with light. Professional photographers utilize many different types of cameras, not just SLRs. In fact, many architectural photographers use a view camera as opposed to as an SLR. Others prefer to use a rangefinder. My point is, it’s not the equipment but the operator who knows about lighting and composition. The two should not be confused with one another. I have seen a lot of over/underexposed and out of focus images taken with an SLR.
So if you are in the process of selling your home in this tough economic environment and need all the help you can get to differentiate your dwelling from all the other real estate in your neighborhood with for sale signs, then have a professional photograph the interior and exterior of your home. House For Sale or Home for Sale is no longer enough.
On St. Patrick’s Day, I was out working while most everyone else was celebrating this wonderful holiday. I was shooting the UMass at Penn State men’s lax game for Inside Lacrosse Magazine, which is the source for the sport. My favorite shot from the college game was the above celebration after UMass scored the winning goal in sudden death during over time. Instead of sitting in the corner as I usually do, I positioned myself mid-field so I had a clear view of both team benches. It had been a close match during the entire game so I wanted a sport I can shoot either bench. I did not watch the action during sudden death. I was focused on the attacking team’s bench and I was going to release the shutter the moment the team scored. I would’ve watched the action then turned toward the bench but I would’ve missed the peak celebration when UMass maintained its undefeated season.