Monday, November 21, 2011

12 Days of Thankfulness: Well Made Videos

Sitting at a computer for most of the day allows for YouTube videos and others to land on my double monitors. Sometimes I need a little motivation to keep working through the day. As I am not a coffee drinker, I typically look for something else to give me some energy or excitement.
Very often I find myself watching a YouTube video to grab my attention for a bit. So for this post, I am thankful for videos that produce some emotion and are a cut above the regular Tosh.0/America's Funniest Home Videos/viral garbage out there. In the world of Google and YouTube, there is plenty to be distracted by, so why not make it meaningful and interesting: whether it be well designed/directed short films, great eye catching trailers, interesting music videos, or simply something that you get a truly genuine emotion out of rather than your average "laugh at that person fall off a bicycle" reaction. Just as I look for my photography to create an emotion, I look for artists to do so with video.
So is a list of some of my favorite videos recently:

Bangkok By Night: My friend Cole, who is currently teaching in Bangkok at my old employer, has a knack for catching the everyday nightlife of the great capital of Thailand. He captures the speed yet laid back feel that Bangkok has when the city lights turn on. The nostalgia is incredibly powerful with this video he made.

Friday, November 18, 2011

13 Days of Thankfulness: A Good Meal

I'm been very fortunate in my life to have some pretty darn good eats in my day. From my mom's spectacular BBQ chicken pizza to homemade pasta with meat sauce with my dad, I've grown up with some pretty delicious meals. And just last week while in Las Vegas I got to try out chef Tom Colicchio's (of the show Top Chef) restaurant CraftSteak. Let's just say it was incredible and I was able to try a lot of new things like caviar, frise'e salad, and gold sprinkled chocolate (all separately of course). But it was a tremendous meal that made me think about how appreciative I am of a good meal.

Making homemade fettuccine at home in New Hampshire.
Over the years I have had the chance to try all different kinds of foods from around the world. I spoke at a Peace Conference last month which was mixed with a traveler's forum and one of the questions was asked, "what is the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?" I had to dig into my brain a bit to think about exactly what it could have been.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

14 Days of Thankfulness: Earth/Space

Today I am thankful for earth/space. Not for the normal reasons like giving us life or being a really cool area in the sky to look at. Those are a given, I'm thankful for living and thankful for the fact that earth indeed exists in space.

I'm thankful for earth/space because of videos like this (below). Fortunately I was shown this video from my good friend, Matt, as his appreciation to amazing photography, video, films, music, culture, writing, etc is very similar with mine.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

The video itself is a majestic look at earth from the International Space Station orbiting around our planet, our home, our everything, really. The time-lapse panorama footage boggles my mind as I can watch it hundreds of times over, staring at the connecting lights of urban plots and various colors that our planet projects out into space so beautifully. It's something that I feel every person should watch at least once to get a true understand of how special a place we live on and how much we can learn from it. I have to steal Matt's quote on this because its perfect...
"I feel lucky to have this. It’s a perspective of the earth — our home — that only a few years ago wasn’t possible. Think of everything that had to happen to make this video possible: all the years of  science and research that made sustained space orbit possible; the capital — human and gold — spent to put a station in the sky; the convergence of communication, video, and social technology that created the platforms for these images to be shot, edited, and broadcast to our virtual networks. We see a camera above the clouds mapping our physical networks — cities, highways, structures — broadcasting its images along our virtual network in the digital cloud. I think it shows that even in something as ephemeral as a viral video, there is a lot for which to be thankful."
I couldn't have put it better myself (hence why he was Editor in Chief and I was Managing Editor). Thanks, Matt for allowing me to publicly thank you and our good friend, Earth.
PS- and to make the rest of your appreciate Earth even more, I suggest watching this video below as well. It's remarkable:

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

15 Days of Thankfulness: Ayla and Logan

As I have mentioned in many prior posts, being an uncle is pretty magical. But I had to give thanks to the pair of little pieces of joy that have come into my life, Logan and Ayla.
I am obviously thankful to have a healthy and happy niece and nephew but I have also had the great privilege to take of taking photos of both of them. Both possess great photogenic attributes; big grins, expressive eyes, and fun personalities (plus they both have such unique kinds of hair which I love). So instead of writing it all out, I will show my thankfulness for my favorite duo of photo subjects. I cannot wait to keep capturing them as they get older and then eventually get scalded by them when they are teenagers for being the "photo-obsessed uncle":

"We live in such extraordinary times
exquisite visions fill up my mind,
Do you remember me taking pictures of you?
As the light came through." -The Kooks

Monday, November 14, 2011

16 Days of Thankfulness

#16. Will power:
This past week I was "lucky" enough to get to go to Las Vegas for a work conference. I had never been to Sin City, let alone taken my gambling skills beyond one slot machine in Atlantic City which took $2 from my pocket. So I figured since I am in the Capital of Craps and Bethlehem of Blackjack, I'd try my luck out... but after a few drinks.

Card games have never been a craft of mine. Too much math, too much thinking. Poker I enjoy when it is low buy-ins and everyone is fairly equal in their skill level. So my two weapons of choice for this trip were blackjack and roulette. With some help from my coworker on the blackjack table and some luck on the color selection on the roulette wheel... I walked away down $70. Victory in my eyes. I was almost certain I'd be losing my money I put into the gambling on day one.

It was not that I didn't believe in myself, but rather I wanted to chalk up the cost of the thrill (and later realization) of the few hours I spent gambling. Winning a few hands feels great. Losing a few hands sucks. But as I have always preached, coming out equal and balanced is the best way. Some look at being down $70 in Vegas does not mean being equal. "You're in the RED!" they'd say. But the silver lining is always available: I got free drinks. I had a fun time playing hands and forming a camaraderie with my friend and other strangers at our table (including one who proved to me that it is a small world being it that he was the THIRD person I met in the past week that knew the town of Holderness, NH... pretty cool).

Plus, $70 for the price of entertainment is cheaper than a night of dinner and drinks in most places. I found the silver lining and I attribute a lot of that to a strong will power. Addictions are hard to break; cigarettes, drinking, gambling, eating, etc. But as I have tested myself throughout the years by boycotting all of those things for long periods of time, I have gained a stronger will power and deeper character.

Do I wish I won thousands like my friend did on Blackjack? Absolutely. Am I just as pleased with going in the red for the chance to simply lose a few hands in Vegas and have a story to share about it, rather than gutting my bank account? You betcha.

17 Days of Thankfulness

I knew this would happen. I knew it.
I would say that I will write each day until Thanksgiving about the things I am thankful for. Well just like New Year’s resolutions, that consistently fail after half a week, I have fallen behind. BUT that doesn’t mean that I am giving up, I just will have some gaps along the way. So to make up for this week’s thankful things that I missed due to my trip to Las Vegas, I will get you caught up (Tuesday-Monday):

#17: Sisters: I just stumbled upon a post from one of my friends, Luke, that inspired this one. It read: “SISTER WEEK: If you have a sister (or sisters) who has made you laugh, punched you, stuck up for you, drove you crazy, annoyed you, hugged you, watched you succeed, saw you fail, picked you back up, cheered you on, wiped your tears, calmed you down, made you strong & is someone you are proud to have in your life, re-post this if you have a sister you love!!”
(Side note: Luke is the lead singer of an excellent band, A Cool Stick, and just released their most recent EP "Bird's Eye View" this past week and it is amazing. I highly HIGHLY recommend you checking out his site and try to see them perform live! It’s always great to see good ol’ Loyola peeps doing big things. And it’s a plus when they are successful at being a very talented bunch of bros.)
So clearly, being born the brother of two great sisters and then being fortunate enough to add four more throughout the years, I had to show my love for mis hermanas.

Being able to be thankful for such wonderful people is truly something special. Being the youngest of all my siblings, I often found myself being appreciative specifically of my older sisters who were always there for me. I can remember way back in elementary school I was given an assignment to write an essay about someone special in my life. I decided to write about my two sisters, Emily and Erin and separately lists all of the things that made them such great sisters. I highlighted events where they individually stood up for me or simply times where we had a good time together. And being that I was only 11 years old at the time, I felt my introspective words were genuinely accurate-- even to this day. I sealed the essay off with specific photos of all three of us throughout our lives. Photos that will forever be linked to that specific essay for both them (as it was before the time of digital photos or scanning images). Each year I get the chance to visit my sister, Emily's house during the holidays to see my nephew Logan and I usually sleep in the guest bedroom where my framed essay from 1998 sits on the desk near the bed. I read it every year and think about how lucky I am for both my amazing sisters and how before any of my more significant moments in my life I could see pinpoint moments of joy and appreciation for both them equally, separately, and together as a family. To this day I don't think I could write a more accurate portrayal (giving leeway for grammar) of what it meant to be the “baby brother” to two great sisters.

Now they are older, wiser, and have their own families that they have begun. But I remember distinctly, when they both had their first child (my first nephew and niece) I specifically told them both that I knew Logan and Ayla couldn't have a mother better than theirs. I knew because I was the first person to ever experience their warmth and maternal love as their baby brother and now it is great to see them with a happy, healthy, and exciting family of their own.

And for my step sister, Kate and sister-in-laws Christie, Christina, and Ginny, I've had the great chance to learn from them as well, as each one of them provides a unique and integral part of this large and growing group of people I call family. I am incredibly thankful for all of you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

19 (and 18) Days of Thankfulness

Today I am thankful for two to make up for missing Saturday:
First, I am thankful for water. You often forget how important water is for life (whether it be our planet or our bodies).

We just reached 7 billion people on planet earth and 1/7 of that (nearly 1 billion) people live without clean drinking water. Clean, drinkable water is such a vital asset of life and when you have the great fortune of living in a country with drinkable water highly accessible, you sometimes forget that.

Water surrounds our everyday lives. To replenish our bodies, to bring life to plants and trees, to clean our laundry, dishes, cars, bodies, etc. We rely on water and we can often take it for granted by wasting it.

Sadly, when something is so crucial to life, someone/company tries to profit. One film that I highly recommend checking out --which will forever change the way you look at the bottled water industry-- is called Taped. Check out their website which discusses the injustices and robbery of free municipal water.

But --like everything-- with every negative, like the previously mentioned rich water bottling companies, there is a positive. That positive is the awareness and overall charitable actions of those so lucky to have water and money to donate to a good cause like The Water Project. This great foundation provides information and ways to help those in need of fresh, clean water.

While in Africa, I got to see many people who's lives revolved around water specifically. Their days were driven by the long, grueling trips to water for their families. And their use of it was conservative and strategic. When living in a home where the water was literally looked at as "liquid gold" or one's "life blood" your perspective is changed. I challenge you to donate to such a great charity that can changes the lives of not millions, but billions of people. (Be sure to check out as well for more information)

The second thing I am thankful for ties into the water discussion and that is charities and being aware of the world around you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

20 Days of Thankfulness

Today I am thankful for medicine.
I got my flu shot today and we'll see if it actually works or if it gets me sick but I must say, without modern medicine, I would not be here today. Quite honestly, it's something I do not think about very often, but now getting my flu vaccine, I thought about all of the vaccinations I received before living abroad and how terribly I did not want any of the foreign diseases or sicknesses that are common of southeast Asian and Africa. Because of some vaccines, I may have avoided them, and I appreciate that. I know it's a little glim, but sometimes its necessary to appreciate the things that are keeping you balanced and healthy.
Thanks, medicine.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

21 Days of Thankfulness

Today I am thankful for travel. I think a lot of people take travel for granted and believe it is strictly to far off destinations. Many people consider that when I talk about travel I only am referring to abroad because of my somewhat extensive resume of foreign locales that I have been to. But many people forget that travel includes so much more; the commute to work, the walk to the bathroom to brush your teeth, the trip to the grocery store, etc. Travel is everywhere and it's appreciating those trips as much as the big ones to faraway places that makes you realize how vital travel is to us as human beings. It is overlooked and under-valued. People who get the "travel bug" don't realize that they probably do travel each and everyday, and it's a matter of simply recognizing it and filling that void. Yes, I miss traveling internationally, but I can still connect with other types of trips and travel within my everyday life.

For instance, everyday I read National Geographic(Traveler) to and from work... while traveling. It makes me long for the times when I could pack up my bag with a couple pairs of underwear, two pairs of shorts, some sunglasses, couple shirts and sandals and head to some remote location and soak it in. That was the life. But I fill my void with reading about travel and appreciating the beauty of domestic travel. Today, I don't live the life of a foreign backpacker anymore, but I still enjoy the daily commute and the life that I see around me. I find it enjoyable and eye opening.

Holding discussions with people on the bus to work, clicking through thousands of old photographs of past trips in intense nostalgia, interacting with the world outside of my house, or even the planning of future trips and destinations are what I thrive off of. As some may that you wear your passions on your sleeve, I say that I recognize my passion and fulfill it in some way each day. I am truly thankful for the gift of travel and how much it means to me. I look forward to integrating more of my life with travel whether it be in writing, photography, or some other facet, but I know that if that day comes when I am presented with that pristine job, I know that my entire life has been resume building in travel experience.
So thank you, travel.

(To give anyone some motivation to get up and "Move", watch the video below)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

22 Days Until Thanksgiving: What I am Thankful For

As there are 22 more days until Thanksgiving, I figured I would start a little tradition and put what I am thankful for as my status each day (somewhat stolen idea):
Today, I am thankful for all of the support of friends, family, colleagues and co-workers of W Michael Tirone Photography. Your presence in my life keeps my passion strong. Without all of you, I would not be so fortunate to have websites, galleries, books, and photo shoots and also an outlet. My appreciation of your support is beyond words and I am truly thankful for that.