Empty Atlanta ~ Covid-19

It’s now April of 2020. The world is an absolute sci-fi movie right now! I have no doubt this will go down in the history books for generations to see. There’s a lot of info more detailed than I could even articulate about the virus commonly known as the Corona Virus or COVID-19. But the general idea is that it is a novel (new) virus that we have zero immunity to. It started in Wuhan China and quickly spread to Italy where thousands of people died in a matter of weeks.

Originally it was said it only transmitted if you have the virus on your hands and then put your hands in your mouth, nose, eyes, etc. so washing your hands should keep you safe. Over the past month I’ve read more and more articles stating the virus currently has 8 different stains, it can live on surfaces for days, and is now thought to be airborne. An early warning you may have it is if you loose your sense of taste or smell, and pink eye is believed to be another initial sign of you having it. The virus can live in someone for two weeks with out ever showing a sign of symptom, though we don’t know how true this 14 day period actually is. So we don’t know exactly who has it or doesn’t, there’s not enough tests available to test everyone, and anyone can get it.

Current numbers as of April 3, 2020 at 3:45pm EST, the world has 1,087,308 cases of the virus, and a reported 58,309 death. Though reports from China are saying the death rates are much higher. In just the US alone we have 270,062 cases (most cases anywhere in the world). The number of deaths are just shy of 7000 people, which 1000 of those deaths being from just yesterday. The next two weeks are down right scary to think about.

We’ve been mostly on lockdown since March 16th here in Atlanta. One of us leaves at a time to get groceries and other needs. Otherwise we’ve been basically quarantined. A big question right now, in the south, is “Plague or Pollen”?? I saw a meme trying to bring a bit of humor to this dark situation that said “Covid hitting during allergy season. I don’t know if I have 5 days to live, or if I need to take a Claritin”. To give you an idea of pollen right now, here’s my jeep w/ pollen on it. 🙁

The only known current solution has been social distancing. Do NOT congregate together! All sports have been banned (NFL, MLB, NBA, PGA, etc). Atlanta was supposed to host the Final Four basketball this year. Everything’s been postponed or canceled and the collective world as a whole holds their breath to find out what’s going to happen!

We took a ride downtown yesterday, April 2nd, around noon. My wife drove and I shot from the passenger side, out the sunroof, or we’d just stop in the middle of the road for me to open the door. We made no stops at businesses, talked to no one, didn’t come within 50ft of anyone. Empty Atlanta is downright eerie to see.

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The Old Bell Tower

A recent gig landed me in one of the oldest buildings in Atlanta. Agnes Scott College is a private women’s liberal arts college in Decatur, Georgia. Agnes Scott is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is considered one of the Seven Sisters of the South. The college was founded in 1889, in 1994 the campus was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and remains today a women’s college.

The first building on campus, Main Hall, was constructed in 1891. Over the years its had renovations and restorations. Now, nearly 130 years after its original construction, it’s about to receive another much needed modernization.

I was fortunate enough to be called in to help photograph and document the building in its current narrative. Some areas will be preserved as they are. There was an overwhelming feeling of “if these walls could talk”, which really resounded deep down the moment I stepped foot in the old bell tower. We found marks of affection by heartstrung college kids, students in the 60’s sharing a new idea of “make love, not war”, and signed names dating back to 1918! It’s absolutely wild to think of someone standing here over 100 years before us to add their mark.

My first reaction: WOW
My second reaction: “Don’t pull on the yellow rope, Chris!”

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Atlanta Secret Party… that we want everyone to know about!

Only a couple more weeks till this years Halloween party! But don’t worry, it wont interfere with your Oct 31st plans since this years party will be Oct 19th. Though you might want to catch a nap because it runs 10pm-5am.

SecretPartys.com puts on an amazing evening of DJ’s (including one of the best dj’s in the business: DJNEMESIS), Go-Go dancing, fire, costume contest, and entertainment. 21+ with costumes mandatory. They put on a 4th of July party to test out the space at this old church. It was AMAZING! Watch the video below for an idea of the evening.

Check out their facebook event page for more info.

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Power Rangers! Ranger Stop & Pop in Atlanta

What a GREAT first year this was for Ranger Stop & Pop in Atlanta! We had several familiar Power Rangers faces and a few special guests from our childhoods including JEM (Samantha Newark) and Kel Mitchell.

Don’t forget to get your tickets for next years convention! https://rangerstopatlanta.com/

Follow them on Instagram: @rangerstopandpop
Follow ME on Instagram: @chphotovideo.com

Ranger Stop & Pop! Atlanta recap of this years convention.
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Sid Haig passes away

Sid is considered an icon of modern horror cinema. But I never knew him as his evil clown counterpart Captain Spaulding, I always knew him as Sid the lovable gentle human we all adored when we saw him at conventions.

” This man. He is the only celebrity I have waited in line for and purchased his autograph. Not only was he one of the nicest people at the convention, you could tell he really loves his fans. He didn’t charge for pictures with him and he only wanted $20 for his autograph ‘so I can make the money back for the printed pictures’.” ~Michele Sivard

Below was a photo I took at DragonCon 2019. Strange enough, only one set of eyes was looking up at me from the pool of people. Great cosplay of Sid’s Captain Spaulding.

DragonCon 2019. Atlanta Ga. Copyright: Chris Helton

Sid Haig passed away September 21st 2019 after a long life of entertainment. He worked on dozens of films and television shows throughout his career, including George Lucas’ “THX 1138,” “Point Blank,” “Beyond Atlantis,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “Night of the Living Dead 3D” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown.” & “Kill Bill Vol. 2.” He can also be seen in “Spider Baby,” “Coffy,” “Foxy Brown,” “Gunsmoke,” “Get Smart,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “The A-Team.”

Sid Haig at Days Of The Days convention in Atlanta GA. Copyright: Chris Helton

“On Saturday, September 21, 2019, my light, my heart, my true love, my King, the other half of my soul, Sidney, passed from this realm on to the next,” Haig’s wife, Susan L. Oberg said. “He has returned to the Universe, a shining star in her heavens. He was my angel, my husband, my best friend and always will be. He adored his family, his friends and his fans. This came as a shock to all of us. “We, as a family, are asking that our privacy and time to mourn be respected. Sidney Eddie Mosesian. 7/14/39 – 9/21/19. Husband, Father, Grandfather, Friend. Goodnight, my love. We will find each other again, next time. I love you.” ~ Sid’s wife Susan

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A great evening with Matt Ryan

We had a fun evening photographing a private event at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. We spend a few hours hanging out at the SunTrust Club that’s on field level. Matt Ryan was the guest for the evening and talked about his time with the Atlanta Falcon, taking Q&A from the other guests.

A few of my favorite answers from Matt I’m sharing here. I’m sure I’m not quoting him directly since there were no recordings allowed, but the memories I have of the evening were:

Q: What is your cheat day, dinner out with your wife, kind of meal?
A: My wife is a really healthy eater, so she doesn’t really let me cheat. lol. But if I had my choice, probably a large Cheese Pizza and maybe a cold beer

Q: Whats something you notice to be a big difference from several years ago?
A: It might seem silly, but digital media. I remember having those giant cd binder cases full of dvd’s from each game that I’d go back to watch and study from. Now, I’m able to have my ipad loaded with videos and I can go back and watch just about anything.

Q: What’s your opinion of Tom Brady?
A: (Matt has a big smile on his face) Oh man, Tom Brady is a great guy. A few years ago when they beat us at the SuperBowl, that night his team is all out celebrating and I get a text from him saying something like “Keep your chin up. You done an amazing job today.” So even with everything going on, he took the time to still message me and be supportive.

I had the opportunity to meet Matt Ryan in Feb 2019 when Atlanta hosted the SuperBowl. Of course it was much more of a public setting and every ‘celebrity’ knows to keep up appearances. But this time around, even with a VIP event of 100 people and a post private gathering (more VIP? a VIP’er?) with a dozen people socializing he was still an incredible guy and very humble.

The last bit of wisdom I pulled from the evening from Matt Ryan was about achieving and sustaining goals. He said to always keep working hard for what you want, but you have to have down time. He said it was one of the best bit of advice someone gave him. He couldn’t be at practice every single day of the year and not expect to burn out.
Work hard at your goal, but take the time to take care of you.

This is the second time I was thiiiis close to a Matt Ryan autograph and still didn’t get one. Maybe next time 🙂 I’m still incredibly grateful for the opportunity to shakes his hand and chat with him a few minutes.

Matt Ryan signing a handful of footballs for VIP guests at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Photo Copyright: Chris Helton

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Stranger Things & A Smile For Days Gone By.

Everyone who watched Season 3 of Stranger Things I’m sure had their own nostalgic reactions. It’s an absolutely beautiful and well done series. Looking back, remembering the absolute best of our childhoods. Jumping on your bike and finding the other kids around town to play basketball. Riding in the far back of the vehicle, the one with no seats or seatbelt. I think we all experienced the ‘keep the door open’ rule. smiles

Stranger Things has also been special to many of us around Atlanta since the series is filmed here.

The sentimentality of time gone by was powerful this season. Not so much a longing for the past. I’m right where I belong and couldn’t be happier. No desire to go back and do it again. It’s something I feel inside. Mostly recalling or conjuring of mental images from my past. That feeling of joy from life gone by. A somatic empathy for the characters and their relationship’s with one another. All those people and moments that uncontrollably made a smile come to my face.

It wasn’t a desire of how I wished things had gone or for things to change. Just a smile of memories from days gone by. A smile and a hope that my friend is doing well.

This was back in college before the iphone even existed. El’s likeness brought me to think of a wonderful friend. For a time, she was certainly very dear to me. Here’s a picture so you know what I mean. Tiffany on the left, Millie Bobby Brown (who played El) on the right. I believe Tiffany was 19 and I was 20 in these photos.
*I also just realized MBB is 15 years old. She wasn’t even born yet when I took these pictures of my friend… 15 years ago. This life slips by us faster than we ever realize.

And yes, I can certainly appreciate the irony of a photography major with only blurry images. 😉

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Spencer Bohren passes away

I met Spencer several years ago in Silverhill, Alabama. A small, one red light town, where he was performing at Blue Moon Farm with a handful of other musicians in the round. Each musician would play one of their songs while the others harmonized or added their own little melodic bits.

The farm has been a special place to a lot of people. Everyone who came would add money to the hat for the musicians to split. They’d bring a potluck dish, a lawn chair, and a cooler.

I was fortunate enough to record several of these shows over a year, including a couple with Spencer. His performances were nothing short of hauntingly magical.

Spencer Bohren vinyl. “Hey Chris… STAY OUTA JAIL”

He was always kinda and genuine. A soul that can never be replaced. He passes away June 8th, 2019 in New Orleans.

Night Is Falling
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Music legend Dr. John passes away

One of the first concerts I photographed professionally was the 2008 new years concert of Dr. John at the Saenger Theater in Mobile, Alabama. This was 6 months after graduating college. I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph and film a lot of amazing music since this.

Dr John. passed away June 6, 2019 of heart attack. He was 77 years old. Through his extensive musical career he won 6 grammy awards. Rock and Roll hall of fame. 30 studio albums and 9 live albums. One of his most well known songs was Right Place, Wrong Time.

Going back looking at photos of this show from almost 12 years ago. I spotted this gem too. Kristy Lee, another amazing musician. I think she played an opening set? Keep an eye out for her, she plays here in Atlanta time to time too.

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The Death of THE Wookiee

April 30th, 2019 was the last day on earth for the one and only original Wookiee. Peter Mayhew was best known as the actor who played Chewbacca in five Star Wars films. The original trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Mayhew died of a heart attack at his home in Boyd, Texas at age 74.

Lucas said Mayhew was “the closest any human being could be to a wookiee: big heart, gentle nature and I learnt to always let him win”

I’ve had the opportunity to meet the wookiee on a few occasions. He was always a very kind individual. In this image I snapped in 2008, we see Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), a daydreaming wookiee Peter Mayher, and on the end a rare convention appearance of David Prowse (Darth Vader).

This is particularly special because Jeremy Bulloch doesn’t attend large conventions like this anymore, and David Prowse doesn’t attend (nor sign) anything.

I backed a kickstarter project back in 2013 for an individual who was documenting the life of Peter Mayhew, particularly surrounding the time of Peters knee replacements so he could appear in the new Star Wars movies. I backed “ART FROM SCOTT HARBEN 11″ x 17″ Metallic print drawn exclusively for our Kickstarter by Scott Harben (Lucasfilm Artist,) signed by him and Peter. Limited to only 10 prints!”
It took nearly 6 years for this artwork to make it to my door. It’s a pretty neat piece of work with a special story. I like to think of it as “The last battle of the wookiee”. RIP Peter Mayhew.

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