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Two Photograhers Doing Doo Dah
Larry Hamill and Michael Gruber
September/October 2015 Issue

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Photographers Larry Hamill (left) and Michael Gruber have been shooting the annual Doo Dah Parade for years. Photo © August Brunsman III

LARRY HAMILL

SNG: Who is your favorite photographer? – or one or two you admire or who have inspired you.
LH: I don’t have a favorite. I just go with the images that impact me. The “stature” of the shooter doesn’t really make a difference but the shot does.

SNG: Are there special preparations or strategies used in photographing the parade?
LH: I charge my batteries. I put in fresh batteries and a flash in the camera and have my disc ready. I arrive early. I go an hour and a half before it starts to the staging area where people are hanging out because it’s more casual. The last several years, I have been using a flash on occasion to enhance the photographs.

SNG: How has the parade changed or evolved since your first shoot?
LH: The first parade was somewhat small. It is nice to see it evolve.

SNG: What are some of your most aggravating and memorable moments?
LH: I never had an aggravating moment. Memorable moments include the “Celestial Concubines,” “Buns of Heaven,” “Booger King,” and Arnett Howard’s Devilish Trumpetor.”

SNG: Is there any one photo that stands out as your best?
LH: Hopefully the next one.

SNG: Any favorite marchers?
LH: I like the longevity of the “Marching Fidels.”

SNG: I don't imagine you are able to photograph everyone. How much of the parade do you typically capture?
LH: I try to get like 70 percent of it. I photograph the beginning of the parade and the Doo Dah people carrying instruments, and then I look for the most imaginative people in the parade. I just photograph what to me looks interesting. The political things I’m not so much into. The ones that make fun of politics I really like, but ones that are promoting themselves don’t do a whole lot for me. Nobody’s paying me, so I’m just trying to have fun.

SNG: What do you typically do when the parade ends?
LH: The Browning’s have a wonderful post parade party off Neil Avenue.

MICHAEL GRUBER

SNG: What is your occupation, education, age?
MG: I am an insurance agent. I also spend just as much time helping as a ComFest organizer. I graduated with a degree in political science many years ago – before OSU had a "The" in front of it. I just attained 61 years.

SNG: How long have you been photographing the Doo Dah Parade?
MG: I'm not sure. Most seriously in the last decade.

SNG: Tell us a little bit about your background as a photographer. When did you first pick up a camera?
MG: I first picked up a real camera in high school. I helped re-open a long dormant darkroom at the school and learned a bit about mixing chemicals, using an enlarger and printing black and white pictures. My first SLR camera was an East German Hanimex Praktica Super TL - a "commie camera" made in East Germany. Now I use a Canon 7D with my favorite lens - Canon 70 -200mm f2.8.

SNG: Who is your favorite photographer? – or one or two you admire or who have inspired you.
MG: My favorite photographer is my daughter Mara. I put a camera in her hands when she was young and she went on to get her degree in photography at OU and has a job in her field. (Mara took the photo of the girl at ComFest with the rainbow flag standing up to the street preachers.) Inspired by Ansel Adams, Bob Gruen, Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and all photographers who risk their lives as photojournalists around the world.

SNG: Are there special preparations or strategies used in photographing the parade?
MG: Preparations and strategies seem oxymoronic when talking about Doo Dah. All I do is check the weather report and bring a bottle of water. The rest just unfolds before me.

SNG: How has the parade changed or evolved since your first shoot?
MG: The parade is always driven by recent local and national events, so the parade shape shifts with the current political climate. There are always laugh out loud moments during each parade.

SNG: What are some of your most aggravating and memorable moments?
MG: The only aggravation would be the weather, but even that has never stopped me from getting some fun shots. I always enjoy the singing of the National Anthem at the start of the parade. Nobody really has a great singing voice, but it always sounds great. it's always great seeing lots of friends along the parade route.

SNG: Is there any one photo that stands out as your best?
MG: No, my best is probably a shot I missed.

SNG: Any favorite marchers?
MG: The Marching Fidels of course. "To the left, to the left..." You have to love them.

SNG: I don't imagine you are able to photograph everyone. How much of the parade do you typically capture?
MG: I never try to get an image of everyone. I walk the parade route and shoot what interests me. I like to catch some of the same parts of the parade at different points along the route. I run ahead through alleys and cut back to parts I have already seen but I might not have gotten the best shot. Some of the folks watching the parade are as interesting as the parade participants.

SNG: What do you typically do when the parade ends?
MG: Either head for our family picnic or have a quick beer.

Photographers Larry Hamill (left) and Michael Gruber have been shooting the annual Doo Dah Parade for years. Their 2015 photos are included in this issue – see pages 16 and 17 and 24 and 25.

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