Inside Firearms Manufacturer PTR Industries for USA Today

A few weeks ago I spent the day at firearm manufacturer PTR Industries in Aynor, SC during an editorial photography and video assignment for our client USA Today.

Aynor, SC — GunsRelocated: When Connecticut and New York passed strict gun laws following the 2012 Newtown massacre, some gun-makers firmly rooted in the heart of the firearm industry made life and business-altering decisions. They left. In their pursuit of cheap land and deep tax breaks offered by friendly suitors from South Carolina, Texas and Nevada, they have been forced to contend with new challenges: finding skilled workers from the plentiful pool left behind in the so-called “New England Gun Valley’’ and new distribution channels to get their products to market.– Photo by Brett Flashnick, Freelance

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Rayovac Battery for MacBook Pro: A Cautionary Tale

Rayovac Laptop Battery for MacBook Pro, COM11061, purchased on November 16, 2011 has a catastropic cell explosion after only 6 months of use. (© 2012 Brett Flashnick/flashnick visuals, llc.)

Batteries for most of the devices that we as photographers use these days are far from common at local shops (especially here in Columbia, SC) and far from cheap at the specialty retailers who stock them.  Aside from a few devices that use standard AA (LR6) batteries, electronic camera accessories use special rechargeable or photo lithium batteries like the Canon Speedlite ST-E2 transmitter which takes a 2CR5 lithium, or the Sekonic L-358 Light Meter that takes a CR123A, or our backup Audio Technica wired lavalier mic that uses 357 button cells, not to mention the cameras themselves, on the notebook computers we use to process our images on location.  In situations where I’ve been in a pinch and needed something immediately the folks at the local Batteries Plus store on Harbison Boulevard have always come to my rescue.  They always seem to have what I need in stock at a fair price with good customer service. I can’t count the number of Rayovac Lithium 2CR5’s, CR123A’s, CR2450’s and 357 button cell batteries that I have bought from them over the years.

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PPP at the SC Book Festival

This is an open invitation for everyone to join me for special panel discussion of the Palmetto Portraits Project at the SC Book Festival this Sunday, May 20, 2012 from 2:20-3:10pm.

The festival and panel are free to attend and will be held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, located at  1101 Lincoln Street, in Columbia, SC.

I will be joined by Series II photographer Vinnie Deas-Moore from Columbia, SC, Series III photographer Cecil Williams from Orangeburg, SC, and I will be representing the photographers of Series IV.  We will also be accompanied by author, Josephine Humphreys who wrote the forward for the book, and the panel will be moderated by Harriett Green, Director of Visual Arts at the SC Arts Commission (and my adviser for the Artists Ventures Initiative grant from the SC Arts Commission.) For more information about the 16th Annual South Carolina Book Festival please visit scbookfestival.org.

The panel discussion is scheduled from 2:20-3:10 in the Richland Meeting Room (located at the back) of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. (see map below)

If you are just hearing about this project for the first time, here is a brief history of the Palmetto Portraits Project, as stated in the book.

In 2006, the first year of the Palmetto Portraits Project, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) commissioned six photographers to focus on portraying South Carolinians in the Lowcountry, the Piedmont, and the Upstate, reflecting the full range and diversity of the state’s citizens, occupations, and recreational activities. In creating a collection of art to display within MUSe’s educational and clinical buildings, the university hoped to remind students, faculty, staff, and visitors of those they serve at MUSC and throughout South Carolina. Each photographer was given free rein to subject matter. MUSC did not establish any guidelines or place restrictions on whom the photographers might choose as subjects. At the conclusion of the inaugural year, the six photographers invited six additional photographers to create the second series for the Palmetto Portraits Project. This ongoing method was repeated for Series III and Series IV, concluding in 2009. In this way, these accomplished artists helped perpetuate the project, broadening the scope of participation and reaching other photographers throughout the state.

The undertaking was managed by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston. Project partners and the selected photographers expanded the ultimate impact by donating an identical set of finished photographs to the permanent collection of the South Carolina State Museum, in Columbia. This publication accompanies the exhibition, and serves as a lasting record of this historic adventure.

Reminiscent of the Farm Security Administration’s photographs of 1930s’ America, the Palmetto Portraits Project is a visual survey of state residents at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Novelist Josephine Humphreys provides a first-person narrative about what it is like to be “from here,” and contemplates our shared kinship. Mark Sloan of the Halsey Institute offers insight into the privileged access that portrait photographers have long provided into the lives of their subjects. In the Afterword, South Carolina State Museum chief curator of art Paul E. Matheny, III, offers an assessment of how these portraits may be viewed by future generations, and applauds the photographers for capturing “the soul of the state.”

The Palmetto Portraits Project partners include the Medical University of South Carolina, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, and South Carolina State Museum, in Columbia.

Palmetto Portraits Project Book Details

Hardcover: 176 pages

Publisher: University of South Carolina Press (December 15, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0615354742

ISBN-13: 978-0615354743

Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 10.3 x 0.9 inches

Available for purchase at the SC Book Festival, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Speaking at SC Center for the Book 2/16/2012

I’m excited to announce my first speaking engagement of 2012. On Thursday, February 16, 2012 I will be speaking about my participation in the Palmetto Portraits Project at the South Carolina State Library’s Center for the Book (an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book). This program is presented in partnership in cooperation with USC Press.

This event will take place at the SC Center for the Book located at 1430 Senate St. in Columbia, SC from Noon-1pm, and it is free and open to the public.  I will be joined by Paul Matheny III, art curator at the South Carolina State Museum  and South Carolina Novelist  Josephine Humphreys, who wrote the essay for the book.

During this talk I plan to share my process for finding an creating the portraits that I was commissioned to photograph for this project. I will also be glad to answer any questions regarding the book, my process for finding and creating engaging portraits as well as any general questions about photography.

If you aren’t able to make the event you can find out more information about the Palmetto Portraits Project on the MUSC website. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book it is available from USC Press and Amazon.com.

-Brett

Beginning the National September 11 Memorial

Four years ago I was asked to photograph the first of many structural beams for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum as they rolled out of Owen Steel Company Inc., in Columbia, S.C., on September 11, 2007. As I arrived on location along with a film crew just before sunrise the workers at Owen Steel were already busy preparing the rigging to lift two massive I-beams onto a 50-foot flat bed trailer for their journey across the United States. There had been many sleepless nights leading up to this moment as a sense of tension and accomplishment filled the air of the massive building, while officials with the NS11MM met with executives of Owen Steel to witness this process. After the beams were lowered onto the trailer and strapped into place, all of the employees made their way to the parking lot to watch the tuck depart and begin to make its way through downtown Columbia toward the unveiling at Finaly Park.

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Published – U.S. Army Toughens Fitness Test

Yesterday afternoon, I was fortunate enough to be the only photographer for a civilian media outlet on hand for a closed demonstration of the U.S. Army’s newly revised fitness tests for soldiers.  Back in the days of print, I would wake up and head to the news stand to get a copy of whatever publication I shot for.  These days all I have to do is open my Google Alerts, and I’m instantly notified of every publication in the world who used my images online.  After more than a decade of seeing my images in print its still a pretty good rush when you open up your alerts and see double digits in the results.

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The Power List

I just found out that Command Sergeant Major Teresa King, who I spent a day photographing back in September of 2009, after she was named the first female commandant of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School, was named to Oprah’s “2010 O Power List”. Congrats to CSM King, who is an amazing person. It doesn’t hurt knowing that you beat the queen of all media to the punch by an entire year either!

Here are the resulting pages from the November 2009 issue of Jolie.  While I’m still not a fan of the layout/design used, it was a great story that was and still am proud to have been a part of telling.

CSM King is in pretty good company this year.  The other nominees include the likes of Julia Roberts, Diane Sawyer, and Vera Wang.  You can check out the full list at http://www.oprah.com/world/The-2010-O-Power-List