Two Street Photographers Locked Inside A Porn Convention (Photos)
This last weekend, I attended the Exxxotica Convention in Miami Beach, one of the largest events in South Florida for the adult entertainment industry. It was an exceptional treat for me, not because of the scads of free porn (which I somehow didn’t manage to pick up), but because for the first time, I would get to shoot alongside one of my favorite photographers, Carlos Ramos, also known as Miami Fever.
When Gus, the owner of MiamiBeach411.com, first approached me about covering the event, I was really excited about the opportunity. Shooting a convention would be something new for me; how to shoot booths and make it interesting would be a challenge. Of course, the booths would be filled with porn stars and lots of flesh so it wouldn’t be that big of a challenge, right? If there’s one thing I’ve found in life it’s that people love their porn. Most people, anyway. Well, some of them. No? Tell you what… let’s all close our eyes and raise your hand if you like porn. Yeah. Mm-hm. Exactly what I thought.
Anyway, I was excited about doing this project because it would be an interesting and fun challenge. Gus and I talked about it some more and decided that it would be excellent, too, to have someone else who does street photography in Miami Beach covering the event as well: Carlos Ramos, known to many as Miami Fever. I was excited about shooting the convention with Carlos since he was, in part, why I became so interested in street photography. Following his stream on flickr since arriving in South Beach eight months ago, I, like many others became an instant fan of his work. The way that he shoots, his angles, the lighting that always hits perfectly, the perfect framing, those exact moments that he captures…. just phenomenal.
Getting into Street Photography
I had been living in South Beach a while before I really started shooting people. I had always enjoyed taking photos and this new home of mine was so uniquely beautiful to me (and still is) that all I wanted to do was capture it. But I wasn’t shooting one of its biggest and most interesting subjects: the people. As I looked at Carlos’ photos on flickr, I began to realize, “Wait, HE’S doing this and other people are doing this, so…”
There’s a certain fear people have of shooting others and I knew that fear well. Since I started doing street photography, I’ve probably received half a dozen emails from people wanting to know how I do it; emails just like one I know I sent months ago. I’m sure Fever has received scores of similar emails. Possibly one from me. Months ago.
“Don’t you worry about this or that? Do you ask people’s permission? Has anyone ever gotten mad at you?” I don’t know how many people have given Carlos the finger, but it just doesn’t happen that much. Twice for me on the street and one of them was actually kind of funny. Two girlfriends in a bar, one scowling and giving me the bird, the other smiling ear to ear, giving me a gang sign. Finger girl got cropped. Mostly the only people who give me the finger are my friends and they do so with increasing regularity. I’ve never been attacked and I rarely ask permission; but I do sometimes. It just depends.
In addition to asking others how they did it, I did a little online research into street photography (and by a little I mean one googling session and a couple of page reads) and got some advice. And then one day, armed with the knowledge that others were doing it and following my advanced web training, I picked a spot on Ocean Drive, sat on a bench, and photographed people as they walked by. And that was it. Now, it’s completely natural to just pull the camera to my face as I’m walking down the street and take “Girl on a bike” or “Guy walking” or “Older woman sitting”.
As for how Carlos got into photography, his story is much more heroic. A number of years ago, he stumbled across a Toronto-based website that featured one new photo a day. And what he saw inspired him. He wanted to document his own life. And then one day, it was like a calling. He had been to the beach endless times but this one particular day, he took his camera. And all of a sudden, everything just appeared before him. Parrots, parakeets, people… everything. Things he didn’t notice before were suddenly there. And so it began for Carlos.
Shooting A Porn Convention Is Not As Easy As You Think
The Exxxotica convention would prove more difficult than I imagined. It was, at it’s core, a convention; it was businesses selling products. Sure, there was lots and lots of flesh and lots and lots of porn. But it was pretty flat and I’m not just talking about the lighting inside the hall. Booths. People on stage. Products for sale. Girls slipping and sliding all over each other on a bed. (Oh, wait a minute!) Seriously, though, a photo-op with a porn star where she simply smiles for the camera isn’t that interesting. (But, but, but… look! Big boobs!)
Still, I think both Carlos and I captured some part of what the convention was about in our own way. For those who want to see what goes on at a porn convention:
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"Two Street Photographers Locked Inside A Porn Convention (Photos)"