Beyond Social Media: The Old Ways…

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Like any good Samurai, I long to do things the old way…

 

Do I like microwaves? Nah. I heat my food up in the oven. TV dinners too.

 

Do I like TV? Of course I like TV. Um….at least I used to. I guess TV has lost its appeal to me as the centerpiece of human entertainment…

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What has replaced TV?

Facebook.

Instagram.

Snapchat.

YouTube (which I like)

Netflix.

Every video game ever made in last 17 years…

…the distracting temptation of each mindless app on your phone.

 

At some point you look at all these cable stations and social media platforms and you feel as though you are spending your waking hours in a place that isn’t real.

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I mean, lets say you are at work, (which is most likely a real place) but when you get bored or frustrated or happy or whatever at work you go to this virtual place on your phone to share random thoughts or to gain some sort of misplaced perspective by driving yourself to irrational jealousy as you follow other peoples lives…

 

I don’t want to be too harsh here. Even a Samurai must adapt to change. When the Shogun dies we become Ronin. When the Katana is outlawed we buy guns. When guns are outlawed we buy wine.

 

Still… I think back to my youth, when we had 3 TV’s (which each had 5 available channels to watch) and a chorded phone and a radio. Nowadays I have all that in my iPhone. All of it. I long for the days when the world was smaller and I couldn’t interact with so many people virtually.

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For instance, I have several Facebook “friends” in Indonesia. I will never see them in person within this lifetime most likely, and even if they really aren’t so special that I’d go to the other side of the planet to holla at them, part of me wishes I could see them. Why? Because I see them on my phone and maybe we traded some adult photos back when Facebook was newer and people did that shit. That makes me want to see them. That makes me subconsciously compare American woman I meet to these world-apart Indonesian gals. Life was a lot simpler when Indonesian girls were a “theory” or a curiosity and nothing more. In short: the internet has made the world smaller but it has also made me feel smaller too, while making my expectation of the world bigger.

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I deleted my Instagram account today. Why? First because I was shadowbanned and secondly because it was useless to me. I have never made a single meaningful contact through IG. R X R Photo has never booked a photoshoot or made a dime from it. I have felt bad when a photo didn’t get as many “likes” as I felt it deserved though…

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Will I delete Facebook next? That’s possible, but I’ll give that another year or two. I have a feeling I’ll just end up using Facebook messenger only…which I really don’t understand how it’s superior to regular old texting, but whatever. I would like to be like the old photographers who booked clients through word of mouth and their own websites and not through becoming a bitch for social media. I’m starting to hate what I see everyday. Nothing is separate any longer. There are no sub-genres. Every little interest you may have on social media moves along the rivers and dumps into the big social media oceans of presidential politics, social causes, and blindly fighting with strangers. It sucks. I suppose this social media thing as isn’t social anymore…

 

Exit.

 

The Weak End of Summer…

There were no 100 degree days this summer.

I’m not saying global warming is wrong, but back in the 90’s I recall consecutive summers in Baltimore and Georgia where the thermometer read 100 degrees or above.

The current/past summer was muggy yes. Hot? Not really to me.

I switched companies that I shoot sports for. (If you want to know to whom I switched check my Facebook page or something) Shooting sports is fun but the money is drying up pretty quickly. Fewer and fewer parents are willing to buy prints of their kid once he or she (the parent) leaves an event, and those photo tents you see at tournaments aren’t as lucrative as they once may have been. Couple that with newspapers and magazines dying slowly, and there really isn’t a major demand for sports photos. I see parents and high school students with semi-pro gear on the sidelines now all the time. They may not have the passion and skill to produce high level sports compositions, but that camera and lens they now hold represents the money they would have spent on professional photos perhaps…..

Sports are in full swing though. I’m booked to shoot every weekday afternoon (after my main job) up till probably the first week of November. I’m also shooting models now until kingdom come, and will probably miss many Sundays in front of the tube watching the Redzone channel because of it. Sundays are great to shoot models for that reason however. It’s a dead day in the city for foot traffic and that’s a perfect environment to shoot in….

MICROSTRUGGLER is nearly a year old. I mainly like to shoot women and that’s what this blog will be about moving forward: photos and women…..

Exit.

Model on Instagram is @myrlanis_

She only accepts followers who follow me first….

My IG is @rickyray73

Tee shirt available here.

Muggy Summer

This summer has been very hot and muggy. Blame global warming I guess, but if I’m going that far I may as well blame the sun while I’m at it…..

I’m gearing up to accept a second sports photography gig for the school year. Here goes….

I’ve been shooting street, working full time hours at my day job, and launching a few other business ventures. I’ve also resumed investing in my potential retirement. Here goes….

Single again. Here goes…..

Summer means scooting around on my Harley. I’ve been doing that a lot. If I wasn’t so busy maybe I’d combine my rides with street shooting….

The next big purchase for me is the Canon 1dx II. Then after that I’ll try to get the 300mm 2.8 IS II…..

Besides that shit is real. Keep banging….

Exit.

Commercialism and Street Photography

I shoot sports for a living. While shooting with my $4000 Canon DSLR setup I see a lot of people on the sidelines with entry-level consumer cameras. They shoot with Canon and Nikon bodies always, as I never see amateurs with mirrorless cameras trying to shoot sports. I don’t know if I feel as enthusiastic about seeing all these amateur shooters as I perhaps should feel. I’m a bit of a hater I guess.

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I’m moving away from Canon and Nikon (spiritually, as I’ve never shot with a Nikon) and moving towards Fuji, Leica, and Hasselblad. Ok, Leica and Hasselblad are dreams, but Fuji is my future. Meanwhile, as I prepare to gracefully bow out of DSLR’s for my street and event photography, I’m seeing more and more people buying entry level bodies. Even though every living human has a camera with them at all times on their phones, the internet exposes the mediocre performance of cell phone cameras as opposed to a Nikon D3400, for instance. Nikon does a fabulous job with their APS-C cameras, a fact I never wanted to admit before I decided to go mirrorless. As a result, many people are trying their hand at photography, and buying Nikons, because on some level, EVERY PERSON wants to be a photographer.

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Where will this all lead? Who knows? One thing I do know is that I hate doing what everyone else is doing. I get inboxed on Facebook several times a week with people asking me what camera themselves or a family member should buy for Christmas. I always politely oblige them, telling them to get a Rebel or one of the 3000 series Nikons. I ask them what they plan on shooting with the camera, and I’d probably punch them if they said they wanted to shoot street.

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Even my future brother-in-law has an entry level Nikon DSLR and two kit lenses. My sister, ironically, has a Sony A6000. Sony, Nikon, Canon…..All these brands and Christmas is rapidly approaching and all I want to do is go out and shoot, but it’s cold as fuck so I’m here typing. Plus I’m at work, so there’s that. I’m done with this rambling mess. You can go back to your Amazon wish list now.

Stay Low…..

 

Why I Stopped Being A Fan

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This is for you hardcore NFL fans out there. You know who you are. The kind who want to buy their wives and side-chicks mink coats when their team wins and want to live in a cave like Gollum from Lord of The Rings when their team loses. I feel your pain but I refuse to join in your micro-struggle. I’m done. I’ve been done in fact for years now, and in a moment I’ll tell you why I’ll never go back to being what you are.

What are you? You’re crazy as hell, thats what you are. From the first week of September until the day your team is eliminated from playoff contention or eliminated from the playoffs in the postseason, your behavior is predictable. If your team wins you are confident that the world is aligned to all your hopes and dreams. You are giddy watching ESPN highlights later that evening or the next day. Your week is set. Your morning commute is a spirited drive on a congested parkway as you soak in all the local media love towards your team on the radio. You might even be tempted to call the local station and chime in yourself. You can’t wait to get to the office or the warehouse or the barber shop to rub your squad’s victory in the face of the traitorous fans who choose to root for your team’s longstanding rival. Suck it Steelers fans. Bite it Cowboys clowns. You wear your orange tie or your Denver Broncos baseball cap proudly that day. After work you watch the talking heads of sports on ESPN and Fox praise your team and you curse and laugh if they still doubt your boys. Are they high? The Skins won 31-21! What do you mean they have a weak secondary? The head coach is fine. Stop hating. You are as close as can be to sports Nirvana. I know you well. I see you coming when your team wins. I used to be just like you, but I am no longer that way for one simple reason: Your team is going to lose and the later they lose, the more it hurts.

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Sunday has always been “headache day” for me for some reason, likely because I drink heavily on Saturday nights, and seeing my team lose the next day used to make the headache worse.

I also know you when your team does not do so well. In the immediate aftermath of a loss many fans cannot stomach watching another NFL game that day, so if their team plays at 1pm and loses, and there is a game on at 4pm, they wont watch that second game. They probably wont watch the Sunday Night game either. It’s possible that if their team lost on Thursday night that they wont watch any games on Sunday or Monday night. Fortunately there are some good shows on Sunday nights in the fall, namely The Walking Dead, and you can always run to Walmart with the wife and the kids to kill time, or yourself. You can make it through that day fine perhaps, even though your football viewership has ended for the weekend.

The next day is when you realize how long 6 days are. 6 more days until the Skins play again. Forever and a day. During your morning commute you listen to pop songs and Reggae hits from the 90’s on Pandora instead of sports talk radio. You cannot bear to hear all the yapping about your team. When you arrive at work it gets worse. You know he’s there, but you try your best to avoid eye contact with the token Cowboys fan who wore his parade blue Troy Aikman jersey today. He taunts you to the point where you want to pummel him with a bag of needles or knock him out cold, despite the fact that you roasted him the exact same way a few weeks before when your team beat his. The difference this time is the present loss has all but assured your team will miss the playoffs. This game was a game your team had to win but like so many years before, they lost. Your team fought hard, but in the end, like so many times before, they choked.

This is why I can’t be like you. It was hard becoming NOT like you. I was lost for years. I tried not watching the games at all, but I love the sport too much to keep away. I thought about moving and adopting new teams, but my team here in Baltimore is actually pretty good compared to the many hopeless NFL franchises across the country. Then, one day in early September a friend called me and told me that the new NFL Redzone channel was on for free that day. All I had to do was tune in.

I was immediately reminded why I loved the game. I was reunited with the NFL as a whole, and divorced from a shotgun marriage to my local team. The Redzone does whip-around coverage of every team playing that day from 1pm-8pm. There are no commercials. There is just football. I found that I could listen to sports talk radio again without anger or bias and I could form objective, non-myopic opinions watching sports related debate shows (which I am addicted to). I was struggling but I am no more. I’m fine. I still check out my local team when they play prime time games, but otherwise I see them when they are in the redzone on channel 861, just like every other team playing that day.

I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life. I know I’m a bit of a douche for walking out on my marriage to my local squad, but I’m happier now, and in the end sports is entertainment. It should make me happy most of the time. It shouldn’t FEEL like a rocky marriage. It should feel like a mistress. 🙂

I’m just trying to help you with your little micro-struggles. Don’t mind me. Please scroll down and follow me and check out my Media page to find out where else on the web I’m lurking. Please also leave a comment. My advice to you is: take a year off from being a die hard fan and watch the Redzone channel. I think you might agree with me if you don’t see my point already.

 

 

The Reason…

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I don’t know if the “I have to scream to talk on the phone in a loud gymnasium” problem will ever be solved by science….

Winter is coming but it isn’t here quite yet. The leaves are turning and the morning school children waiting for busses blow steam though upside down peace signs, smoking imaginary cigarettes. The commando business women of summer are now wearing hose with thick black lines of thread down the back of the leg. The trash men on Reedbird Avenue are…….hold up, before I get all poetic and shit let me introduce myself.

I’m Ric Ray. I take street photos with a 5D Mark III, normally of attractive women, and I shoot sports photos with a 70D (though I’m transitioning to using the 5d Mark III for sports as well) for a growing national website that I find myself having to repeat the name of twice when I tell people about it. I don’t know for sure if the reason I have to repeat myself so often is because I mumble when I talk, or if the website name is too alliterative, but I digress. The sports photo site pays me on time each week, and because of them I am finally able to bring this hellish blog to you unwilling victims. Trust me, never have you clicked on a blog authored by such an individual as me. Subscribe whenever I figure out how to allow you to do so. Keep reading this blog because I can tell you better than I can tell you.

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Put a pair of Chucks on any human or primate and they immediately look cool badass…

Why the girl in the photo above? Why do I capture women in my photos primarily? More on that later. Way later, as in another post. Winter is coming, but I wont rip off corny lines from Game of Thrones any longer, at least until I’ve told you the reason why this blog exists in the first place.

What is my motivation when I call my blog “micro struggler”? Am I bitching about my life? Am I saying that I’m out in these streets grinding like a 1989 drug dealer in Harlem, you know, as if “micro” is slang for the tedious day to day process? Am I being purposefully cryptic and vague to create some silly aura of mystery about me? None of the above….besides maybe the grinding part.

We all struggle at times in our lives, and indeed many of us define ourselves by a general outline of struggle. We are “cancer survivors” or we “did 5 years in the bing” or “started from the bottom” or “stayed with her even though the kid wasn’t mine”….stuff like that. Some of our struggles are harder to grasp or relate to such as “I swear to God Starbucks is using a high gluten extract to flavor my latte” or “The street sweepers are coming through this afternoon and I have to move my car two blocks away from my house” or….. “I can’t find a condom that fits me”….that’s where most of us find our day to day self-definition. Most of us don’t have monster, life-altering, wickedly unfair struggles to define ourselves by on a weekly basis. Most of us have silly little micro struggles.

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Because the last thing pretty girls want is their photo taken…

That’s fine on the surface. Who cares if I feel honest rage about having to listen to a 30 second commercial on Pandora during the middle of my workout? It’s no big deal right? Even if it is a big deal to me at the moment, I know that’s it’s not a fatal STD diagnosis or getting pulled over by the police when you have a half-emptied bottle of Patron nestled between your knees and a smoldering blunt in your mouth. Compared to that my micro struggles are nothing. However, even though they are meaningless to the world, my micro struggles are mine. They are a part of my story. Taken in totality they are my inner badge and they constitute my life reference points. They are not comparable or related to YOUR micro struggles, that is unless your micro struggles are congruent with mine. If they are, then we have bonded, because to be human is to relate to others and bond through struggle, and together hope for that impossible moment when all struggles are absent. But in addition to co-micro-stugglers, there are people in our lives, on our social media timelines, in our local and national political offices and especially on our 24 hour news channels who will take the momentary gorilla rage one feels when having a “micro-struggle” and turn that into a national crusade. I don’t know how I feel about that in a historical sense but I suspect I disapprove. This blog will, over time address when that happens in our various medias, and will also be deeply intimate as I relate my micro struggles to you, and give you the forum to relates yours. I’ll also share my random photos, which are perfect of course. 😉

My name is Ric Ray. I’m a photographer and I guess now I’m a blogger. I’m NOT a father or a husband though I’d like to be those things I suppose. I suppose I’m a sex partner to lonely old ladies until that lady grows sick of my shit. I am a self-proclaimed lifelong or “career” bachelor of sorts, but I’m no keeper. I don’t know when I was sentenced to be forever single or by what authority, but here I am, doing my bid and hoping for parole.

Recently, while going about the business of offering my “forever single” micro-struggle for consumption I heard the phrase, “You ain’t missing much” from a lovely chatty patty. I hear this often. This particular lady was a career-minded married woman and was tired of being the one who took the kids school in the morning while her unemployed husband slept. Once upon a time he was a big time drug dealer, she said, but now he was a full time visionary. After hanging up with the married lady I logged onto Facebook and the first post I saw was from a busty beauty complaining that she is single because all men are crazy, as if beauty isn’t the root of all insanity.

I can’t cover all that I have to say in one blog post or even one billion blog posts, but I will try. At least I will if I don’t drink heavily and ride my Iron 883 at unlawful speeds across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge during a rainstorm.

I don’t know what is wrong with people these days as much as I can’t tell you whats wrong with myself. We are all humans and thus, it is impossible to be “objective” about our lives or even the lives of others. We are all trapped within the human experience, and the only way to truly gain an objective vantage point is to die. All Ricky Ray can do is bitch about my little micro-struggles, and heckle yours, and thank you for reading my blog, even though you don’t give a shit about me anyway. 🙂

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