Thursday, May 28, 2020

Supporting Charities When We Shop

Any normal weekend, this retail street in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC, would be crowded.
No traffic, few pedestrians  during the Covid-19 shutdown.  This event
has hurt not only retail but the charities you and I support.  
Since I work with many charities and needless to say, during these unprecedented times, the charities you and I support are in need of funding.  There are two simple and helpful ways we can assist in filling some of the gap.  

If you shop on Amazon, you can designate a portion of the sale to go to your selected charity.  The program in called AmazonSmile. This does not increase the prices of the items you buy.  Amazon donates 0.5% of the eligible purchase to the charity.  All you have to do is go to each time you shop.  Make sure you select the charity from the list. This selection is saved to your account.  So every time you make a purchase, the Amazon Foundation makes a donation.  The money is sent quarterly to the organization.  

Since the program started seven years ago, over $169,000,000 has been donated to over 1000 charities.  Learn more at

The current update of impact of my purchases.
You may say it's small, but think if everyone participated!

Coin Up
Your chosen charity needs to register with Coin Up. Then using the App on your phone, you sign up. You choose the charity.  You chose your credit card or debit card. You set the limit of donation per month. When you make a purchase on your credit card, the purchase amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar or you can do a set amount each month.  At the end of the month, this “spare change” is credited to your chosen charity.  

The Coin Up phone App. 
If everyone did a small part, that would make it impactful.  
These two methods are easy, and these simple acts of kindness can help the most in need.  

Full disclosure, my cousin works for Coin Up.  No renumeration from either mentioned in this article.  

Copyright 2020 Laurence L. Levin   No reproduction rights granted without permission
Instagram @larrylevin

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Before/After Photography Assignments

Before Photo.  Circa 1981 
While still a student at Indiana University, was working on a story about a Big Ten Basketball Referee for The Chicago Tribune.  Found this photo, (forgot the photographer who made it), sitting on the floor at Assembly Hall with a great mentor to me as well as every photo-journalism student at IU, Dave Repp.  He was a great friend to all.  
I had my Nikon and wore those big glasses. 

What a time it was at Indiana, it was still the Bob Knight era of great basketball.  Fortunate to follow my passion of basketball and photography.  The story that appeared in The Tribune was focused on Verl Sell, a seasoned official. Sports writer legend Bill Jauss wrote the story.  It appeared as a picture story, full spread on the back page.  Amazing time for photography as well as, it now seems it was too easy to get that story done.  Calls to the Big Ten office, I even spoke to Wayne Duke, who was the commissioner at that time.  All it took was a phone call to get permission and access.  The same thing to attend games, only a phone call to get credentials for several arenas. If that story would be done today, no doubt, endless phone calls, letters, and permissions from lawyers and others would be necessary.  

After Photo. Circa 2016 
At the Dallas Cowboy’s training field working with DCP Productions on a TV commercial for GEICO.  This time I’m with the Caveman! (Photo by Tony Gardner of Alerian, Inc.) No big glasses but I have readers and I am still using Nikon!  

For over 10 years been working with DCP, capturing behind the scenes imagery of their work.  Again, following my passion of photography and film production.  Understanding the nuances of filming has provided me the opportunity to work with this talented company.  Much like sports photography, you are capturing the subtle yet vital scenes that help tell the story.

Photography opened many doors.  It has allowed me to have incredible experiences and share my photos whether it be for a newspaper readership or company chronicle.  

Copyright 2020 Laurence L. Levin   No reproduction rights granted without permission
Instagram @larrylevin

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Notary: When you need one, I am here for you

My certificate after completing my oath and certification
Notary Public is an officer appointed or granted authority to serve as a witness and to authenticate the execution of certain documents.  Important commercial or personal documents need to be authenticated in order to be officially recorded for legal or governmental purposes. To ensure the person signing the document is in fact the person, the notary is engaged to be the impartial witness.  After the witnessing, the notary acknowledges it by imprinting certificate and embossing their seal on the document.  

In order to be notarized the document has identified the signer in some way, the document needs to be an original, the notarial ‘certificate’ may appear printed on the document or has a place to affix it.  After the witnessing of the signing, the certificate is completed, and the notary seal is embossed. 

The notary records the procedure in their journal.  A government picture identification from the signer is recorded as well as their address, phone number, document type, and signature.   

As a public servant who is honest, fair and unbiased, the notary can refuse service IF: 1. Unable to verify the signer’s identity. OR 2. Competence of the signer is in question. OR 3. Any indication of fraud.  Otherwise, all are served without discrimination.  

The notary is only a witness to the signing.  No legal advice given or help in document preparation is permitted.  Violators 
can be fined or worse for unauthorized counsel.

In the District of Columbia, the fee for each imprint of each signature is $5.00.  The notary is allowed to charge a travel fee if travel is done to the signer’s location.  As a District of Columbia Notary, Only available in DC.  I am bonded and mobile.  

Mobile Notary service is available.  

I can come to your location--office or home--for the flexibility and convenience.

Often short notice, off-hours and weekends.  Efficient and professional!

Common documents that require notarization include:
Deeds, Power of Attorney, Contracts, Affidavits, Bill of Sale, Agreements, Waivers, Authorizations, Pleadings, Certificates, Sworn Statements, Guaranties.  

Some of my most recent requests have been Pension Forms, Applications, Financial Documents, Quick Deed Claims and Power of Attorney. 

Contact me for questions or anything else.

Copyright 2020 Laurence L. Levin   No reproduction rights granted without permission
Instagram @larrylevin

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

5 Photo Tips for Your Event Photography

Make your group shots exciting

Move beyond the standard group and podium shots to create compelling photos that will extend the value and reach of your events. Best Buddies and Special Olympics photographer, Laurence Levin, shares some fun and practical ideas to make the most of your event photos, whether you hire a pro, or rely on a volunteer to capture the festivities.

1. Go for the human touch
Look for opportunities to shoot an emotional moment, high five, fist bump, or a hug between a volunteer and a recipient of your organization’s services.

2. Catch the action! 
Sports centered events lend themselves to action shots but even a gala has moments of excitement and animation, such as a live performance, game playing, or a reaction to a special surprise.

3. Use Props    
Give subjects an item relevant to your cause to hold, such as sports equipment, art supplies, food, books, even an animal. Someone holding a sign with a meaningful message is also effective. The more interactive the photo is, the better.

4. Take lots of shots
Make sure you get a “keeper” from each set up. Eliminate all distractions such as unwanted people/objects in the background. Avoid insufficient or harsh lighting. Make sure everything you want it is in the frame, and everything you don’t is out.

5. Create a photo book 
Show a special donor how much you appreciate their support. Curate shots from past events for a hardback or e-book. Two of the many options that are easy to use ZNO or Vistaprint. Prices vary, but can be as little as $30 plus shipping.

Copyright 2020 Laurence L. Levin   No reproduction rights granted without permission
Instagram @larrylevin

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Seven Tips for Diplomatic & VIP Photography

Potomac Exchange group with H.E. Armando Varricchio Ambassador of Italy at the residence. 
Named as the official photographer for The Potomac Exchange, it entails documenting the interactions between its members and honored guests.  The Potomac Exchange is a member-based group that promotes international business opportunities by providing access to foreign ambassadors posted to the United States. 
Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio luncheon at the residence. 
H.E. Gerard Araud, Ambassador of France
H.E. Hynek Kmonicek, Ambassador of the Czech Republic
H.E. Fernando Oris de Rosa, Ambassador of Argentina
H.E. Virachai Plasai, Thailand Ambassador
There are seven important aspects to photographing closed door meetings with high level corporate people and VIP diplomats:

1.     Know the space you are photographing.  Where can you go to get the best angles.  Know what is in the background.  Check the lighting.  Often times there are several lighting sources, verify the white balance. Usually, you will not be allowed to use a flash.  
2.     Pay attention to details.  Especially during a formal shot, tie straight, collar correct, hair straight, coat buttoned, name tag off, and no elements in foreground or background that are distracting.  The people in your photos will be grateful. 
H.E. George Maior, Ambassador of Romania
H.E. Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines
H.E. Rosemary Banks, Ambassador of New Zealand
H.E. Martha Barcena Coqui, Ambassador of Mexico
3.     Be inconspicuous, stay out of the way of staff members, waiters, or other service personnel.  Work stealthily, camera on quiet mode, get in position gracefully—do not rush, and cell phone off.  Enter or leave the room gently, don’t let the door make any noise.  
4.     Hear but don’t listen. As the legend New York Times photographer George Tames said, “Never repeat what you hear in a private meeting. Unless you are on the record.” The photographer is a “fly on the wall,” for one purpose to document the event.   

H.E. Sergio Silva do Amaral, Ambassador of Brazil 

H.E. Ivan Korcok, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic
H.E. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Ambassador of India
H.E. Faycal Gouia, Ambassador of Tunisia
5.     Dress the part, always look sharp, dress the same as the participants.  
H.E. Kare R. Aas, Royal Norwegian Ambassador
H.E. Asada's Majeed Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan
H.E. Santiago Cabanas Ansorena, Ambassador of Spain
H.E. Date Azmil Mohd. Zabidi, Ambassodor of Malaysia 
6.     If there is a security detail, introduce yourself, be friendly, find out if there are any restrictions on what you are photographing.  

7.     Only speak when spoken to.  Always be professional, be ready for last minute changes, flexibility is the key.  Be polite: smile, say excuse me and thank you. 

H.E. Emanual Gonzalez-Revilla, Ambassador of Panama
H.E. H.R.H. Reema Bint Bandar, Ambassador 
H.E. Jacques Pitteloud, Ambassador of Switzerland
H.E. Kare R. Aas, Ambassador of Norway
The Potomac Exchange
Copyright 2020 Laurence L. Levin   No reproduction rights granted without permission
Instagram @larrylevin
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Thursday, May 07, 2020

Three Quick Lessons for all types of Photography

Carolina Wren, nest building, Roosevelt Island
During the shut down, been hiking around Glover-Archbold Park, Roosevelt Island and the C&O Canal.  Photographing birds and other wildlife.  This exercise has reinforced three important concepts that I use in my work. It's been great practice.
Pileated Woodpecker, Glover-Arcbold Park
Light--it seems so obvious, but it is vital to see how the light hits your subject. Additionally,  knowing the technical aspects of your camera to properly capture proper exposures.  In nearly all cases, the light is given, you have to move into a position where the light hits the subject to make them look good.  In photographing nature, try to go in the afternoon, where the sun in lower in the sky or shoot in the shade, in both scenarios the quality of the light is softer and more pleasing on the subject.
Mallard, C & O Canal
Composition--In each case, attempt to crop out distractions,  make sure the subject(s) is emphasized.  Keeping in mind the arrangement of the subject and the elements, hoping to have the best camera angle and watching the foreground and background.  When time allows, take as many as possible shots.  Always nice to have options.
Fox Squirrel, C & O Canal
Patience--Watching for moments, understanding nuances and habits.  If the subject did it once, most likely they will do it again.  Being ready and prepared. stealthily...record what happens, take your time.
Baltimore Checkerspot, near the Potomac River
Canadian Geese Family, Potomac River
Copyright 2020 Laurence L. Levin   No reproduction rights granted without permission
Instagram @larrylevin

Portraits: Formal & Informal

In a short period of time
capture that good expression. 
The purpose of a portrait is to capture the subject in a way that the viewer feels a connection with the person.  And importantly, the one photographed wants to look wonderful. The making of a portrait is a collaborative process between the person and the photographer.  The subject needs to be relaxed, comfortable and confident.  The photographer needs to engage the subject, pay attention to details, and be a master of the craft.  

The straight on portrait for social media use. Shot in horizontal format because 
there might be many uses for the photo and you can easily crop vertical
These images made at the Technical Program Committee meeting of OSA.  A quality of light, capturing an expression are vital in the portrait.  Found a well lit area and used an additional light. We made some formal portraits for about 20 attendees.  During the day, other shots of speakers, group discussions, and informal portraits were done.  The lighting for the other images was only the available light in the conference room.  It was a mixture of several lighting sources.  Thus color balance was fixed in post.
Informal spontaneous portrait
Group discussion
Patience and waiting for the nice moment. 
Copyright 2020 Laurence L. Levin   No reproduction rights granted without permission
Instagram @larrylevin