Category Archives: Articles & Reviews – podcasts, apps, websites, recipes, videos, photography

Articles & reviews about podcasts, apps, websites, recipes, videos, photography

Podcasts | The Culture Gabfest – Slate magazine’s critics debate the week in culture from highbrow to pop

In The Culture Gabfest podcast, Slate.com’s cultural critics Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner discuss the latest movies, television, books and more.

Conceptually similar to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is Slate‘s Culture Gabfest. Stephen Metcalf, Julia Turner, and Dana Stevens talk about the latest movies, television, and books.

They sometimes cover topics that verge on the esoteric, but they do it in such an engaging and articulate matter that they keep me engaged.

Slate Culture Gabfest - panel

Slate Culture Gabfest – panel

My favorite part of the show each week is a segment called “Endorsements”, where each panel member talks about a pop culture item that is bringing him or her joy in that particular week.

The Culture Gabfest website

The Culture Gabfest podcast episode

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Websites | SuTree – a knowledge community and aggregator of how-to videos

SuTree is a great place to increase your knowledge and expertise of almost anything you can think of in an easy way

Sutree-thumbYou can use SuTree to:
1. Watch thousands of free video lessons and tutorials from all over the web.
2. Join or create video-based courses and invite people to your course
3. Meet people who share your interests: Ask, answer and get smarter…

What does SuTree mean? The name SuTree comes from the combination of the words:
Sutra (from Sanskrit) – which literally means a rope or thread that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to a collection of knowledge in the form of a manual, and Tree – symbolizing the growth of knowledge.

Sutree site screenshot with how-to videos

Sutree site screenshot with how-to videos

Feel free to use SuTree to learn (almost) anything you wish:    Continue reading »

Recipes | Houston’s Spinach Artichoke Dip with how-to video

This tasty recipe for Houston’s spinach artichoke dip combines spinach and artichoke hearts and mixes with cheeses and spices, served up hot with chips for dipping.

I’ve made the rounds and tried most of them, and the recipes are nearly identical. That is, except for this one. Houston’s makes their spinach dip special by using a blend of sour cream, Monterey jack cheese and Parmegiano Reggiano — the ultimate parmesan cheese photographed by G Mancuso who shoots in Los Angeles

Parmegiano Reggiano comes from Italy and is usually aged nearly twice as long as other, more common parmesan cheeses. Houston’s Artichoke Spinach Dip is a more complex spinach dip than most that you may have tried.  This appetizer has become my go to dish for large parties, and gatherings.  This recipe has multiple cheeses and a hint of garlic to make this artichoke spinach dip extra tasty.    Continue reading »

Websites | What’s Alan Watching – best site for insightful TV commentary

When I want to know what’s worth watching, I always go to “What’s Alan Watching”. And whenever I’m confused by something I’ve already seen, my TV pal can always be counted on to fine tune my mind’s screen.

Alan Sepinwall tv commentary siteAll through his childhood, Alan Sepinwall’s relatives told his parents, “All that boy does is watch television! How’s he going to make a living doing that?”

His career as a TV critic has been 15 years and counting of his attempt to answer their concerns. “What’s Alan Watching” is a blog whose title is self-explanatory: Alan watches TV shows, then writes about what he watched.    Continue reading »

Recipes | Chili’s Baby Back Ribs recipe with GMA video

Chili’s baby back ribs savory flavor is found in the sauce, and the cooking secret is a slow-braising technique prior to grilling that will keep the meat juicy.

Chili’s baby back ribs recipeChili’s smokes their ribs in-house over pecan wood so they’re fall-off-the-bone tender with a bold and savory flavor that’s impossible to resist.

Choose from Original BBQ Sauce, Shiner Bock BBQ Sauce or Memphis Dry Rub. Continue reading »

Apps | Fido Factor – fetches dog-friendly locations where ever you roam

(Special post written by my dog Enzo) Think us dogs wanna be left behind while you go have fun? Well we don’t! Not never! So fetch the Fido Factor app and it’ll tell you where you can go with your canine, where ever you happen to go.

This app sniffs out pooch-friendly bars, restaurants, hotels, parks, stores, beaches, transportation, and lots of pet services. Yep, this mighty fine Fido Factor, a free app, digs up and fetches a big user-generated list of dog-friendly locations.

Simply get your opposable thumbs tapping, search for a location type (i.e. restaurant) and you’ll find a list of locales which welcome canines, along with ratings, reviews, photos, and a filled-in Google map.

dogs sitting on bench

Enzo with his girlfriend – photo ©GregoryMancuso

It’s a lot like Yelp, but for dog lovers. And we know dog lovers are the best lovers : )

Fido Factor smart phone app screen shots

click to enlarge screenshots

You can browse around by category, name, or do a proximity search for cool canine hotspots right around you.

Recently I was a hound outta town, exploring the Bay Area. So I find myself prancing around San Fran and Greg, my personal valet, (he hates when I call him that, but that’s what he is) wanted a beer.

So I told him to take out Fido Factor and find a bar that has the good taste to allow canines in to have a taste too.

This is what we got…    Continue reading »

Websites | Funny or Die – The Presidential Reunion is a video featuring Will Ferrell

Barack Obama gets a surprise visit in the night from ex-Presidents Bush Sr., Bush Jr., Clinton, Ford, Reagan and Carter to get a few pointers about the Consumer Protection Agency.

funny or die Will Ferrell, Chevy Chase, Ron Howard, Jim CarreyThis amusing video features Will Ferrell, Chevy Chase, Ron Howard, Jim Carrey, Fred Armisen, Darrell Hammond, Dan Aykroyd, Maya Rudolph and Dana Carvey.

Recipes | PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps – with how-to video

This PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe has wok-seared minced chicken, mushrooms, green onions, and water chestnuts served over crispy rice sticks and served with cool, crisp lettuce cups.

PF Changs Chicken Lettuce-Wraps recipe It’s fast, easy and healthy so what’s not to like?  This is one of the most popular appetizers ever concocted in the history of humanity.

Below is an excellent video demonstating how to prepare P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Enjoy!    Continue reading »

Recipes | Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar – with how-to video

Bring a little bliss to your holiday gatherings with Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar.  A blondie cake base, topped with sweet cream cheese icing and tart dried cranberries, garnished with white orange drizzle.

If there are fruits for every season, cranberries might just be it for the holidays. Say hello to our Cranberry Bliss Bar. The sweet cream cheese icing and tart dried cranberries go perfectly with the hints of orange zest in the white drizzle.

Give one to a friend or enjoy a bar all to yourself. We know you’ll just love it.  Continue reading »

Websites | AllMyFaves – ultimate homepage & one-stop-shop for all your online needs

AllMyFaves is indeed the ultimate home page, offering an innovative visual exploration of the Internet.

AllMyFaves online web directoryI’ve been using All My Faves for years and have found it a fine resource–a visual table of contents of the online world.

Whenever I’m stuck or looking for new places to explore, I head over to this directory that contains countless visual links (icons) to popular sites within dozens of categories. It’s also customizable.

Check out their features and info…

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All My Faves online guide directory is one of the top 10 websites to help you online

All My Faves online guide directory is one of the top 10 websites to help you online

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Recipes | Domino’s Pizza – with how-to video

Here’s the secret recipe for a delicious Domino’s pizza and how-to videos for the recipe, and for tossing pizza dough, and making stuffed crust.

Dominos pizza recipe Top Secret RecipeThis Dominos hand tossed pizza recipe allows those who love the pizza chain’s signature taste to recreate it at home. While Dominos does not advertise their exact recipe or technique, this recipe comes close to what you would get from your local Dominos pizza delivery. This is a template for a basic cheese pizza which can be topped with a variety of ingredients.

Dominos changed the recipe for their pizzas at the end of 2009, and the new style is reflected here. Most consumers seem to prefer the “new and improved” Dominos, and the national chain has seen profits grow since making the switch.    Continue reading »

Funny Dog Video | ultimate dog tease, great talking dog

Ultimate Dog Tease – great talking dog

The perfectly produced talking dog video, Ultimate Dog Tease, has been viewed by over 63 million. It was made by Andrew Grantham, a popular Canadian entertainer. He has taken animal dubbing to a new level with his Talking Animals channel on YouTube. Check it out.

Funny Animal Videos-Ultimate Dog Tease, great talking dog

Funny Animal Videos-Ultimate Dog Tease, great talking dog

Recipes | Starbucks Birthday Cake Pops – it’s whimsical, fun and delicious cake on a stick

Starbucks cake pop recipe solves the ever lasting question of how to make cake portable–it’s whimsical, fun and delicious cake on a stick. With how-to video.

What’s not to like about a portable pastry creation? This has been an emerging trend popping up in specialty bake shops, on blogs like Bakerella and even touted by Martha Stewart.

Here is Starbucks cake pops most popular flavor, birthday cake. And below is a how-to video that demonstates the making of Starbucks cake pops.    Continue reading »

Apps | Dragon – Fire up texting, emails, tweets without typing

I like texting except for the typing. So my pet Dragon swallows my voice and spits out hot text–for text messages, emails, Twitter, Facebook updates, notes and whatevers. Dragon Dictation is a free bird too.

Apps Dragon dictationYep, I like texting except for the typing part and this wonderful app beast, DRAGON DICTATION, helps me out. You talk to Dragon and he swallows your voice and fires out text. Press one of his belly buttons and your words fly off as a text message, email, Twitter and Facebook updates, and notes of any kind.

It’s quite easy to use and surprisingly accurate without any training–good Dragon, good boy.

Apps - Dragon dictation screen shotsThis app comes in quite handy when I want to text out while simultaneously juggling tasks like walking the dog, riding a bike, corraling a kid, cooking, or shooting a shoot. Here are some smoking screen shots, videos and details showing how the beast roars.

Dragon app how-to video

Stay connected, even when you are Hands-Busy. Dragon Dictation an easy-to-use voice recognition application that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text content for everything from email messages to blog posts. In fact, it’s up to five times faster than typing on the keyboard.    Continue reading »

Essay | Online Shopping Tips From A Guy Who Hates Shopping

A guy who hates shopping gives shopping tips and tricks for finding gifts and snagging the lowest prices with the least amount of effort and time. Nuf said!

Gotta get a gift for that special someone and/or your own special self?  Well I have a few tips that may help get you through the experience with the least amount of pain and the biggest bang for your buck to boot.

First, a couple of true confessions–I don’t like to shop and I don’t like going to stores. Now while some of you could view these facts as being deleterious to someone giving shopping advice, I beg to differ.

Since I indeed don’t like to shop, I find ways to get it done in the most efficient manner possible. So if you’re someone who doesn’t like to waste time either–I’m your man. Or at least I got your method.

And while I hate to shop, I’m not a lazy shopper. I want to give good gifts and see those faces light up and I want to snag the best price for that gifting glory. And since I don’t like physical stores, that just means I’ve had to more finely develop my online shopping skills.

If you enjoy the store experience–the hub-bub, crowds, noise, shoving, pushing, body blows, sticky-icky carts, more noise, terrible traffic, parking demolition derbies, guzzling gas jams, smog inhalation and then even more noise–then my online methodology ain’t for you.

I propose the better way to shop is by lounging in a bed or sofa, laptop on snack tray or belly, ample wine and/or beer, fine tunes, comfort treats, crackling fire, and no annoying noise.

General Gift Searching And Comparing

Shopping - Bizrate

Bizrate.com

Enough deep philosophy, let’s get down to it. Say you don’t have a specific idea about what gift to get someone. I would go to Bizrate where I think the best general product searching and idea generating can be had. Bizrate has the best product photos combined with a good user-friendly and intuitive site layout.

On the home page, go to the upper left side and click at the “Shop By Department” area. Then down to more specific categories in that department and peruse the pretty pictures for ideas.

Shopping - Bizrate.comI find the “What’s Hot” link atop the “Departments” list to be especially helpful if I’m not that knowledgeable in certain product areas–which can often mean women’s stuff. For example, I click “What’s Hot” and venture to “Women” to “Ugg Boots” to “Peep-Toe Booties” (Peep-toe booties are the hottest trend. Pair them with a skirt, leggings or your favorite jeans.)  Duh, I didn’t even know peep-toe booties existed, let alone think of them as a possible gift. Such astounding gift knowledge at your fingertips!

Bizrate’s motto is “search, compare, conquer”. I agree they are good with the “search and compare” aspect and I agree with the following hype they offer…

Search: Find virtually every product, store, brand, and deal on the web. Shop millions of products including apparel, shoes, home décor, and accessories, to electronics, appliances, computers, and games, from thousands of stores at the click of a mouse.

Compare: Easily compare products and store information. Bizrate lets you swiftly organize your results so you’ll find and see only the products that matter to you. And as the industry leader in online store ratings and reviews, bizrate collects over 25,000 customer reviews each day, and shares it so customers know for sure whether a store can be trusted. Find all the tools and answers you need to help you decide which and where to buy.”

All the above is fine, but I don’t recommend Bizrate for the “conquer” part of their motto. “Conquer” referring to the money aspect–the best pricing, coupons, rebates. I have a few other sites for that part. First let me mention the best place for…

Electronic Gift Searching And Comparing
Shopping - CNet Shopper
Hands down, the hot spot for all things electronic is Shopper.com, aka CNET Shopper I’ve found they are excellent for electronics searching and comparing and I especially find their “CNET Editor Reviews & Ratings” to be superb.

Shopping - CNet Reviews

Except for the price claims, I  agree with their hype…

“Shopper.com has an extensive technology catalog, thousands of professional product reviews, user opinions, and the best prices for computers and consumer electronics. A trusted merchant certification program combined with some of the best deals and bargains on the internet, Shopper.com has everything you need to make your technology purchases.”

 

Getting the Best Price

Once you have figured out exactly what gift you wish to purchase, then I suggest opening up three different browsing windows or tabs, and get these sites in each one…PriceGrabber – bottomdollar – Shopzilla.

Then copy the exact description and model number (i.e. Canon FS200 Flash Memory Digital Camcorder – Silver) for the product you chose at Bizrate or Shopper.com, and paste it in the “search box” of all three sites. Don’t go browsing or clicking on categories at these sites–just paste into the box.

Now compare the search results in all three sites. Sometimes the stores and prices found in the results will be similar, sometimes they won’t. For the Canon Camcorder example–Shopzilla came up with 24 stores and a price range of $259 to $449; PriceGrabber gives 6 stores and $255 to $329; bottomdollar has 5 stores and $255 to $330. In this instance, the lowest prices were in a close range at all three sites.

But Shopzilla gave us a lot more choices for possible stores which may come in handy when some products are hard to find or going out of stock. Also, once you type in your zip code to find out the shipping costs, and possible tax charges for your particular state, the wider choice can lead you to the lowest price.

PriceGrabber

A nice feature I’d like to point out at PriceGrabber is their “Price Alert”. On the home page is a video you can view that quickly explains it.

Beating Down The Best Price With Coupon Codes

Once you’ve found the best price at the best store, then it’s time to see if we can cut it down some more with “coupon codes”. While the sites mentioned above have some “coupon codes” and “cash back” deals, I’ve found the best results can be had by going with these specialty sites: CurrentCodes – FatWallet – Tjoos – Coupons.com.

Although I lean a little more toward FatWallet, I always check all four before clicking on my shopping cart and making the final purchase. Here’s what CurrentCodes has to say about the codes and themselves…

“Hundreds of well-known online stores like Barnes and Noble, Staples, and Overstock.com have a place within their shopping cart for a “coupon code” that gives a percent or dollar amount off your purchase. If you don’t know the code, you can’t take advantage of the discount. You can find these secret discount codes and coupon codes listed on many sites across the internet but the problem with these sites is that they’re usually personal homepages and they don’t maintain their lists! Currentcodes.com has a full-time staff of trained individuals whose only job is to find new coupon codes and discount codes and verify the accuracy of the existing database. We don’t flood you with ads and we don’t throw deals in your face. No hype, just current codes. Our mission is to have absolutely the best coupon code database on the Internet.”

I’ve slashed as much as 20% off with these codes and often get 5% to 10% off.

Well, that’s all the shopping wisdom I got. Happy hunting and gathering.

written by los angeles photographer & writer Gregory Mancuso

Essay | Clarence Clemons Tribute – “The Big Man” Bruce Springsteen saxophonist passes away

Clarence Clemons, known as “The Big Man” to Springsteen fans, passed away a few days ago. I already miss my favorite sax man big-time. Here’s my humble tribute with memories, photos and video of a most soulful musician I greatly admired.

Clarence Clemons -los angeles photographer GregoryMancuso

Clarence Clemons – San Francisco Cow Palace – long time ago | photo by Gregory Mancuso

Thinking back to when I first saw Clarence Clemons, I’m surprised how long ago it was, and how well I can still recall his resonant tones and vibrant presence on that day several decades ago. It was at a free concert in a grassy field on a sunny day at UMass with a sparse crowd attending, and I had no idea who Clemons was or who that skinny lead singer was.

But I did know what a good sax-man sounded like, and this big guy I saw up on the stage, was indeed that.

This was before “Born To Run” was released so few knew who these guys were. After that album hit the airwaves, millions would savor the spine tingling joy of The Big Man’s sax blasts hitting their ear drums.

On that hazy New England day, I only got to hear a few songs from this unknown “String Sting Band” before I was dragged away by several cute dorm mates for the big mission of sneaking into an apple orchard to steal a bushel of fruit for apple pie night. (Such an outlaw I was–statute of limitations on fruit thievery, anyone, anyone?)

E Street Band Sax Player Clarence Clemons Dies – Associated Press

I don’t remember the name of the lovely lass who’s hand I was holding as I was being lead away, but I clearly remember letting go of that hand and turning around when that sax guy began a searing solo. I stopped in my tracks and would not budge until that solo and song were over. I had seen Coltrane and I now this big guy, and I had to rank him as the Coltrane rock equivalent on the spot. And I still feel that assessment is correct several decades later.

I gathered together a few things here for my fellow fans out there. An excellent appreciation article by Stephen Deusner. And some tribute videos: a classic, exaggerated, concert intro of Clarence from the Boss; an AP summary of his life and passing; a fan’s video collage with Bruce’s tale about how he first met Clarence; his latest recording, playing on the recent EDGE OF GLORY for Lady Gaga of all people; and of course, his incredible JUNGLELAND solo, from a concert a few years back.

JUNGLELAND | Live 2009 | Clarence Clemons solo at 4:10 mark

I confess, watching that clip now and listening to that incredible solo, with him gone, made my eyes leak. You’ll be sorely missed, Big Man. Thank you for all your soulful notes over all the years. And I imagine Coltrane welcoming you to his kick-ass band in the sky, where sax sparks will surely fly. Amen. Continue reading »

Podcasts | Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show – the planet’s best talk show ain’t on TV

With no time or language or commercial restrictions to hold it back, KEVIN POLLAK’S CHAT SHOW has blasted off into the stratosphere to become the planet’s best talk show.

KEVIN POLLAK’S CHAT SHOW Jon HammKevin Pollak’s Chat Show, in my humble opinion, is the planet’s best talk show. Since this podcast has no time or language or commercial restrictions, Pollak is free to do and say any damn thing he wants to and he does. To high quality, funny and unique effects.

I’ve gathered some tasty samples of his podcast featuring Jon Hamm, Tom Hanks, Larry David,  Dana Carvey, Alan Arkin and others below.

Pollak is quite a talented stand-up comedian and I’ve enjoyed his act for over 30 years going back to his early days in San Francisco where I used to live.

Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show podcast episode – Jon Hamm

Over the past two decades, he has appeared in over fifty films, as well as countless television projects, and has established himself as one of the few stand-up comedians to have a successful dramatic film career. Kevin pollak chat show

You might remember his strong role going head to head with Jack Nicholson in A FEW GOOD MEN.    Continue reading »

Podcasts | BrainStuff – get smarter in a few minutes and have a humm-huh? moment or two

Marshall Brain explains the world’s everyday mysteries and other puzzling phenomena in BrainStuff, a podcast from HowStuffWorks.com

BrainStuff, an excellent podcast, best top ten education podcasts for kids & adults

BrainStuff, an excellent podcast, best top ten education podcasts for kids & adults

This is one of my fave podcasts and It comes in five minute increments so it’s easy to fit it in anytime. I’ve embedded a few samples for your listening pleasure:

How did the moon get there? What is Schadenfreude? Can we make gasoline from bacteria? Why are West Coast waves fairly bigger than East Coast waves? What is mayonnaise?

HowStuffWorks is a commercial edutainment website that was founded by Marshall Brain with the goal of giving its target audience an insight into the way in which many things work. The site uses various media in its effort to explain complex concepts, terminology and mechanisms, including photographs, diagrams, videos and animations, and articles.

BrainStuff podcast episode –  How did the moon get there?

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What is Schadenfreude?

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Why are West Coast waves bigger than East Coast waves?

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What is mayonnaise?

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Can we make gasoline from bacteria?

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Recipes | Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp

Bonefish Grill proudly refers to this appetizer as the “house specialty” and for good reason. This Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp recipe is a most delicious dish with bang-up flavor especially if you enjoy your food on the spicy side.

Bonefish-Grill-Bang-Bang-ShrimpBang Bang Shrimp is all about the spice! Tender, crispy shrimp get tossed in a light creamy, but spicy sauce. You can adjust the heat a bit with the amount of hot sauce you add. This recipe is very, very close to what we get at Bonefish. It starts off with shrimp that are coated with a seasoned flour-Panko breading, then fried till golden brown.We’ve served this dish many times for our “at-home date night” and for guests and it never disappoints!    Continue reading »

Essay | The Ins And Outs Of Looking Attractive, Outside And Inside, In Photos And Out

A Los Angeles photographer gives practical and philosophical advice on how to look your best in photos.

Having photographed and observed a big bunch of celebrities and “normal” people for a couple of decades now, I’ve noticed a few attraction principles popping up again and again. Brilliant philosophical aesthetic theories my keen mind has uncovered, perchance? Nah, I never come up with big profound nuggets.

But here are some observations and psych tips you might want to mull over. Plus there’s a verbal cameo appearance from Audrey Hepburn. Action.

Now I don’t claim to be an expert or to even fully understand what’s going on, but I think I have some kind of handle on this attractive thingamajig that’s been dancing around in my viewfinder and mind for years.

First off, I’m talking about two versions: the “outside attractive” and the “inside attractive”. And the principles apply whether you’re being photographed or just hanging out amongst other humans with photographer in Los Angeles Greg Mancuso.

Sally Field portrait shot by Los Angles photographer Gregory Mancuso

Outside Attractive

Let’s look at the outside attractive first. One thing I’ve perceived is that people come across as most attractive when they’re not trying to be attractive. Not obsessing over it. Although we’re all on different levels of the physical beauty scale, it seems you can bump yourself up or down a peg or two depending on your mind-set.

Although a good photographer can finagle the best lighting, and guide you to the most flattering angle, facial expression etc., that only goes so far. Your internal dialogues have an impact on the external results.

A suggestion I’d make if you want to maximize your attractiveness is to try not to think about it. Try to just “be”. Work on getting a Zenny thing going. I know it’s a lot easier said than done, especially when you’re being photographed or scrutinized in some way. But I think if you think… ‘this is just a stupid photo, I don’t’ care how it turns out, it’s not life and death, it’s not important, 20 years from now it won’t matter’–it will mitigate mentally obsessing about it.

Even if it is an important photo for wide distribution or whatever, mentally treat it like dirt. What you can laugh at or pooh-pooh can’t rule you.

Another tip when it’s picture time is to think about another time. Something else that happened that day or even years ago. It doesn’t matter when or what. You can also try to imagine being in another place entirely. Perhaps a faraway paradise of any sort that suits you.

Relaxing on the beach of a lush tropical isle with a bevy of beautiful mermaids surfing the waves and playing a Beethoven sonata on their harps, is one of my favorite imaginings. Hey, I know that sounds wacky, but we’re working on distraction and cutting tension here, so getting out there on a loony limb might be the way to go.

Enzo Effect

Photo by Los Angeles photographer Gregory Mancuso

Along the lines of loony, something that may work for some of you is what I call the Enzo Effect. Enzo is my dog and he’s always in my studio and sometimes on location when I’m shooting a portrait. Dogs can provide the dual effect of being a calming influence and pleasant distraction. Many times I’ve seen Enzo saunter over to a stressed out person filled with trepidation about having their pictures taken, and just a few pets and nuzzles later, their anguish is melting away.

It’s actually been scientifically documented that blood pressure and heart rates drop while petting a dog or cat. Now Enzo is an especially soothing presence, and he’s even one of those Therapy Dogs who visit people in hospitals, but if you have a dog or other pet that is manageable, then bring them along to your shoot. It’s probably a good idea to run it past your photographer ahead of time.

(By the way, Enzo demands that I mention he’s available on a freelance basis. His rental rate is three jerky strips, one squeaky latex ball, two salami slices and five belly rubs per hour. Though I bet you could negotiate him down to the belly rubs and salami. He’s way over priced.)

Sally Field

Why don’t we now talk about this photo of Sally Field I took and see how some of the attractive principles played out. Although this is only the second shot taken and she wasn’t “ready”, and we took over a hundred shots later when we were really ready and set-up, this is the one I like the best.

Setting the scene, take one… Sally had just arrived and was casually talking with friends. I noticed she was in an easy, relaxed mood, and didn’t seem to have locked into have-to-look-like-a-pretty-celebrity frame of mind yet. So I suggested a few quick shots before the official shooting commenced. She said she hadn’t even taken her coat off yet, her hair wasn’t perfect yet, etc. But after some of my silly pleading, bowing, begging routine, she chuckled and kindly agreed to take a few.

The result was a picture that I believe captured the natural-beauty-Sally. It probably came about because she wasn’t obsessing about looking gorgeous because she was distracted by my antics and she wasn’t wrapped up in official photo session mode yet.

Another reason I like this image best is that in addition to capturing aspects of the physical beauty, it also gives a feel for attractive version two–the “inside attractive”. The best way I can describe this would be to say it’s the non-physical inner spirit thing, exuding a positive presence that makes others enjoy being in your presence. The human warmth felt when you’re actually there with that person.

It appears that the warm spirit I felt being with her in person, is hinted at in the photo as well. Although a good photographer can help bring out and reveal that warmth and positive presence, they can’t show what isn’t there.

Inside Attractive

So how does one create and project that beneficial inside element? Well it’s tricky and it can take some time cultivating virtuous thought patterns and behaviors depending on where you’re at. And in reality only you know what you know, and how the heck should I know? Huh?  All I can do is throw out some stuff to chew on.

Me thinks it’s the interaction of several inter-related traits and behaviors that have to be worked on and juggled. But if you have to point to one primary thing it would revolve around the issue of narcissism. Everybody has narcissistic traits to some degree. We all have wants and needs that we would like to be fulfilled. But thinking the whole world revolves around the notion of fulfilling those wants and needs ain’t pretty.

So taming one’s inflated sense of self importance will go a long way towards building the inside attractive. Try not to take yourself too seriously and above-it-all. Even if you are indeed the best-looking or richest or most powerful person in the room, don’t lord it over the others. You got to halt the haughty attitude as best you can.

Empathy

While self-importance is the big “don’t”, the big “do”, is cultivating and expressing empathy. Empathy involves the ability to put oneself into another’s shoes. So having compassion for those less fortunate and especially helping them out in a concrete way will supercharge your empathy engine. I found for myself, and have observed in others, that doing any kind of volunteer work will work wonders to get you down the right road.

If you want a push toward volunteering, check out Volunteer Match. If you have a dog, then look into  helping out via Pet Therapy, and the national group Enzo and I work with is called the Delta Society.

Audrey Hepburn

I found someone who did a great job of expressing the empathy/beauty thing–Audrey Hepburn. As you probably know, Audrey was an iconic beauty and Oscar winning actress, who starred in over 25 films. She went on to follow up her immense success in Hollywood by later focusing on humanitarian activities. She was the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and often assisted destitute people in impoverished countries and was recognized for her efforts with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Motion Picture Academy’s Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Here’s something she wrote which says it all…

For attractive lips,
Speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes,
Seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure,
Share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair,
Let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise,
Walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things,
Have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed,
And redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
You will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;
One for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

 

<h3><em><strong>written by Los Angeles photographer &amp; writer Gregory Mancuso</strong></em></h3>

written by Los Angeles photographer & writer Gregory Mancuso