Congratulations Selfie!

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the word of the year for 2013 is “selfie.”  And why not? Usage has gone up 17,000% since this time last year. With that, I thought I’d dispense few selfie observations mixed in with a little selfie advice.

1) “The Weiner selfie.”  This brand of selfie does not need to contain a picture of Anthony Weiner in order to fall into this category.  Ladies and gentlemen, please remember that we leave digital footprints with every keystroke we make both in public and in what you think may be private. Even if you don’t put it on the internet. When you press “send” to anyone, you send to the world.


2) “The be aware of the of the wardrobe selfie.” Pictured below, this reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s love interest only seems to have one wardrobe. Might want to mix it up a bit. Three times on the same dress in a close date range? You can do better than that.

wardrobe best

3)   “The car selfie.” I don’t know what it is about the car selfie. Could it be that you are just dressed, fresh and ready to go? Does the rear view mirror give you the idea?  Whatever it is, the car selfie seems to be one of the most popular selfies out there. At least I see people wearing their seat belts more often than not.

car selfie 3

car selfie 1

4)    “The Bathroom selfie.”  Think you’re hot?  Think you’re really the shit? Well, you may or may not have great physical attributes, but the bathroom selfie (just the thought of it) doesn’t really help you out. With a bathroom selfie, you really are the shit. Avoid at all costs.


5)    “The leg selfie.” I get it. You’re at the beach and I’m not. Maybe I’m just jaded on this one since I’m in Miami.  I’d be interested in your thoughts on the leg selfie.

leg selfie

leg selfie 2a

6)    The peace sign selfie.” I don’t even know if a peace sign is called a peace sign anymore– I’m so not hip.  Maybe this is some type of code for something else, but I sure see a lot of them. The bottom picture happens to be of my son and he refuses to explain the peace sign thing to me…

Screen shot 2013-10-16 at 6.34.25 PM

diego peace

7)    “The I’m not aware of what’s in the background selfie.”  This is a variation of “The Wiener selfie ” but warrants its own little mention here.

be careful before You publish selfie

8)    “Best use of the selfie, selfie.” Many have given the Pope Francis selfie the selfie of the year nod.

Screen shot 2013-10-16 at 6.52.38 PM

But to me, the below is the best selfie series I have seen.

best use of the selfie

best use of selfie 2

So congratulations you! It’s the year of the selfie. Please let me know what some of your favorite selfie types are or what I missed here.

Hope everyone has been well.


As a quick postscript, I will add that Twerk was in the running. Thank goodness for small miracles.

So proud of my alma mater supporting Sandy Hook

Coach Geno Auriemma has led the UConn women’s basketball team to seven NCAA Division I basketball championships, and has won six national Naismith College Coach of the Year awards.


But what he has put in place yesterday may be his greatest leadership achievement yet. He has established the Sandy Hook Scholarship Fund at UCONN. It will help support the college costs for any siblings of those killed in the assault, the dependents of the adults who also lost their lives, as well as students currently enrolled at the elementary school.

What this provides in all of the darkness is a bright future to a great University I was fortunate to attend on a scholarship myself. Something that will provide sustaining hope for so many. So it’s time to pay it forward.


Please join me by donating at I just participated in the National Moment of Silence. Now it’s time to get loud with your donation. Might be the best holiday present you can give.


The greatest Olympic performance ever?

Usain Bolt? No.

Jim Thorpe? Ryan Lochte? Wilma Rudolph? Nadia Comăneci? My beloved Mark Spitz? Sadly, no to all.

Sure the measure of a true Olympian may be their “body of work.” But the true measure of greatness, in Olympics as in life, is who brings it on that day – in that moment when the pressure is on.

I am a firm believer that the greatest Olympic performance of all time was by Jason Lezak, anchor in the 400 meter meter freestyle relay in Beijing in 2008.  When all the chips were down (France was leading by an enormous margin) and it wasn’t looking good for the US, Jason Lezak sprinted to the fastest 100 meter freestyle leg in history of 46.06.  It was the fastest 100 ever recorded by six tenths of a second which is a fortnight in swimming times. Not only did he help to bring home the gold for the U.S. team, this near out of body performance secured Michael Phelps’ record setting 8 gold medal performance in 2008.

As a proud American and former scholarship swimmer, I believe this is worth your time to view it.

Ask Rowdy Gaines. Ask Ryan Lochte, Nadia Comăneci, the Legendary Mark Spitz. Send an email or Tweet to Michael Phelps himself. I’m sure he’ll agree. Do you?


As a bittersweet footnote about the economic times we live in, Jason Lezak was effectively unemployed after this astounding accomplishment.

Lezak, 36,  is the oldest swimmer on the 2012 U.S. men’s swimming squad. He is also one of the five captains for the 530-member American contingent.


Saying goodbye

Sometimes the hardest part of photographing the homeless is saying goodbye.


Some of my time spent with the homeless is happy. Sometimes it’s sad. But usually, it both.  Because I don’t just shoot and run. I spend time. I make a friend.

Then comes the tough part. Saying goodbye. Some ask me for a ride somewhere. And despite the unknowns and the distinct homeless smell, I have brought them where they need to go. Some ask me where I live. Some ask me for my phone number so they can stay in touch. I’ve found that about half do have cell phones. I asked one man this weekend how he pays for his phone. He said he shows up in the wee hours after the nightclub crowd has thinned and he cleans up the outside of the place. They throw him a few bucks and some food and he’s ok with that.

They charge their phones by filthy public bathrooms and sit policing it so no one takes it. Last week one man wanted to share the pictures he took on his cell phone with me and I couldn’t wait to see what he had captured…what he found important enough to document.  But his phone was dead. And wet. So he put it out to dry in the hot Miami sun hoping it would work again.

He asked me to come back to share his pictures with me. And I will. I hope his lifeline to the world works when I see him again. So it’s not goodbye. It’s just goodbye for now and it’s tough. ~Mike

Got hit by a van yesterday…

So about 400 of us gathered together at BarCamp Miami 2012 at Miami Dade College in downtown Miami on Sunday.

For those of you who don’t know what BarCamps are, they are nicknamed “un-conferences” where anyone can speak about anything they want. Mostly social media and techie types attend and many came from all over the state for this one.

The great thing about BarCamps is that nothing is planned. Especially getting hit by a van. Some people had presentations prepared. And some people didn’t. Guess which category I fell into.

I decided that I would speak about Instagram and made up a quick title: Instagram: The most social of the social networks. So right after lunch break, as I was walking back to give my presentation, I spotted a homeless man who wouldn’t tell me his name but as you’ll see let me take a few pictures. We spent about 5 minutes together. I gave him a few bucks and he blessed me for the money and promised he would use it for food but I didn’t have time to enforce it. I asked if I could snap a couple of pictures but he said under one condition: that he could tell me where to stand so I could take the best pictures. And I listened to him.

I was so taken by our brief time spent together that I just couldn’t wait to look at the pictures that I had just captured. So I’m walking back looking at them on my phone. And as I was crossing the street, SCREECH! And bam, a van loaded with shoppers headed for Bayfront Park clipped me. The mirror hit my arm and spun me around real quick before the back tire could run over my foot. Everyone on the van screamed. The driver stopped and screamed, ” Are you OK? Are you OK? I tried to stop! I tried to stop!” It really happened so fast.

I asked him if he would stand for a picture and he agreed even though it was difficult for him.  The only thing he wouldn’t let me photograph up close was his socks. Why? Because that’s where he told me he kept his private and valuable stuff.

I have spoken with Jeff Zelaya many times about public speaking and I was lucky that I got to spend much of the day with him at BarCamp. I’ve always said that one of the keys to public speaking was having a great opening. Well, I had one. I just got popped by a van for the love of Instagram.

Maybe I’ll think of something a little safer next time.

Have a great short week everyone.


Trust no one

They say that the best camera you will ever have is the one you have in your hand.

So I’m minding my own business getting gas on US1 in South Miami which is a rare event in itself when you drive a Prius. And then, I see him.

He said his name was Vanny. He wasn’t panhandling and he looked a little worse for the wear. Actually even worse than that. So I struck up a conversation with him and gave him a dollar. He had just gotten out of the hospital and told me he had been beaten pretty badly the day before but he said he’s used to it. I needed a moment to gather myself and digest that one.

I asked him if I could take some pictures and he said that he didn’t think he looked so great after the beating but as you can see he was fine with it. Actually he even hammed it up.

Then Vanny and I sat down and had a beer together. He told me he is a college graduate, he says he’s retired but wouldn’t say from what and is homeless.

He was so kind to let me take many, many pictures. But the one he liked most was the one of him making a “face like a shark”. He begged me to use that one if I used any of them so here it is.

It was quite the shoot here in South Miami today.

By the way, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Instagram. I find it to be one of the most enjoyable and engaging social networks. If you have an iPhone, give it a try. Or an iPad 2 will work and so will an iPod touch. The download is free. Android user? You’re out of luck for a while. I just read an article published yesterday that says that version is running behind.

Now I have to go share this on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and I’m probably forgetting about 10 others…

Happy shooting everyone.


This is a big fat shout out for my ex-wife

1) Hey, thanks for the Guyabera for Christmas.

But if you didn’t notice, I’ve been working out and lost some weight. XL is too big for me and I’m swimming in the damn thing. If you have the receipt, please let me have it. I’m an L not an XL. Thanks.

 2) The Cuban time thing.

You’ve been much better about being on time for stuff. But you can still do better. I know you’re Cuban and I love the whole Cuban thing. It’s one of the reasons I moved here.  I also love your Cuban family (drama and all)  but I prefer to run closer to Gringo time for drop offs and pick ups of our son. Thanks again. I have all my clocks set about 10 minutes fast. I’ll do yours if you want me to.

3) You have your shortcomings and so do I. But I’d like to congratulate you on being nominated as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Woman Of The Year. You deserve it. You’re a cancer survivor.

We met right after you finished your treatments. It’s been probably more than ten years now and there’s about a skabillion people that are thrilled that you’re still free and clear. I know helping find a cure for cancer, any type of cancer, is something that means a lot to you and it means a lot to me.

4) You are a great mother and a great ex-wife. But then again I don’t have another ex-wife to compare you to yet.

5) In some ways our lives are separate now and in other ways they’ve never been more together. One thing’s for sure: we’re together on this fight to find a cure for cancer and I’m happy to ask everyone to join us in this important battle by donating below.

To view the ex’s donation page, click here.

So that’s the shout out for my ex. Thank you so much everyone for doing your best on this and as always my best to you all.


Orchid rescue project. So far so good

I’ve been taking in stray orchids for about a year now. The one’s that people usually toss away after the flowers die (yeah you).

They aren’t the pretty kind like you’d buy in the store or boutique but to me that’s what makes them even more beautiful.

I’ve spent at least a year many of these and I love giving them as gifts although I admit I can get a bit attached. Like the one below. This one was so mangled when I got it, the best I could manage was to replant it sideways. And now the leaves are growing completely upside down. Now she’s a double spike, super healthy and is certain to put on a real nice show in about a month.

How about this crispy critter? The previous owner was certain it would die. But orchids are tough as nails and would rather be neglected than killed with kindness.

Here’s the full view of the same plant. Note the side branching. This one’s going to be a beauty.

The previous owner of the one below thought it was toast and it was just sitting in the planter looking like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

So I scooped it up and before doing a wholesale cutting, I noticed that it was starting to put out a second growth. So I gave it a little trim, replanted it and I’ll get about a two month display out of the gorgeous white one above.

But what kind of beauty? Maybe that’s the beauty in all this. Truth is I have no idea. They could be any color or any pattern. I don’t keep track of the phylum, genus and species, but all those pictured here are Phalenopsis. Very common here in South Florida. I gave the one above away today to a friend, my first giveaway from this batch. Sad to see her go but happy knowing about the upcoming show this one will throw off.

Here’s a happy camper. In one year, the roots are going every which way which is a real good sign. Truth is growing orchids is as easy as making ice.  Once you know some of the of the basics.

I’m running long so I’ll wrap this up.

I love aging the pots when I can. It gives them so much more character.

Here’s another double spike with some nice gashes on the leaves.

Here’s where I grow them mostly, right on the patio. And some I regrew in an Eastward facing window at Beber Silverstein. Not too complex it is? The wood and bricks set me back about 10 bucks. Looks like a lot of work, but it’s not. I spend about 10 minutes a week on them.

And here’s the set I made for this post.

All of these pics were taken and edited on my iPhone 4G. If you have orchid questions, fire away. I’ll do my best even though I’m not a pro.


2012? My how time flies

Sometimes I wish I could just press the pause button on the time. Just for a bit.

2011 was a year that I personally won’t miss, but that’s not what this little post is about. It’s about enjoying every day as best you can. I try.

Today, we went and did this little photo shoot. It didn’t come out perfect, but hopefully you get the point. We shot this 5 years later — to the day — at a little park near my house in South Miami.

Maybe it’s a message to parents everywhere. Maybe it’s a message that I keep some of my clothes hanging around too long. Or maybe it’s a message of how much I miss Marc Kevin Hall’s sunrise series…

Not sure.

Whatever it is, I wish you all the best for 2012. Don’t blink. Stuff happens fast.

If anyone has the answer of why time seems to be moving faster as the years go by, please tell me why. I’d really like to know if you have an opinion. Thanks.

~ Mike

Going out with Carlos Miller? Five useful tips

The following advice is not guaranteed although all facts were checked at press time. It serves as a beginners guide and your results may vary.

1) Be ready to be the story.

A recent outing to the Dolphins/Raiders football game found me driving, filming and being filmed and  photographed. We did a quick count and there were 6 filming and recording devices in the car. And he wasn’t even going out to get a story. I take it back. He’s always out to get a story.

 2) Know a phone number of someone responsible and monied by heart. Or at least have it handy.

When you get arrested, they take your phone from you. In these days of speed dial and Siri, no one knows any phone numbers anymore.  Unless you want a few free meals care of Miami-Dade County Corrections, know a number.

3) Be ready to be surprised.

When I picked him up to go to the game, he made us 15 minutes late. Why? Because he wanted to go get flowers for his mom as she was coming into town.  I thought it was sweet.  But as soon as he got in the car, the conversation quickly switched to how he was photographing a nude woman with farm animals at an Art Basel exhibit and was asked to leave.

4) Be ready to make friends. Be ready to make enemies.

I’ve seen both.  Once we went out with Jim Winters on the Jim Winters bus and we saw a hellacious hit and run car accident. Jim slammed on the brakes and Carlos flew out flip cam rolling right up into this gigantic guys face. The guy was the size of a half a house and threatened to give Carlos an enema with the camera. Carlos didn’t back down. He must be part hockey player because he’d lose teeth if it meant getting a story. To this day, I’m surprised I haven’t seen him spitting bloody Chiclets.

5) Don’t feel ignored. He is paying attention to you.

He has a lot going on and is always in the middle of something. His Photography is Not A Crime Blog gets hundreds of thousands of hits a month (sometimes over a half a million).  He’s a Senior Editor at Miami Beach 411. He’s an Editor at the South Florida Daily Blog. And he’s always starting something on Facebook, even if it’s just a debate on who has the best chicken wings. Here are a few other snapshots that pretty much capture who he is and what he’s like.

Have any other suggestions? I bet you do. Let’s hear them.