I was only seven years old when I wandered onto my first construction site in Jackson Heights, Queens and just weeks after that I watched a close friend fall to his death at the same site. Though tragic in every way, it never deterred me from hopping a fence or overlooking any signs that bore the words “NO TRESPASSING!” As an adult, I discovered a passion for photography and though that passion consumed me. My love and appreciation for things like construction sites, junk yards, factories and the numerous locations that are often deemed “Off Limits.” Having a camera and a desire to document my surroundings led me to many destinations. A few years ago, I attended a Q&A in downtown NYC where the author of a book whose title escapes me would speak about his experiences shooting his factory themed images for his book. Imagine how disappointed I was when he talked about getting permission and a time frame to capture the images for his project. “What a jip!” I thought. This guy got an all access pass and chose to shoot from the cushy balcony. Where was the rush of adrenaline coming from? Where was the risk? Undaunted, I returned to my passion and that rush that comes from not knowing what will happen next. That feeling you get when the hairs on your neck stand on end and tingle. While I’m too old and too sick to climb fences, outrun police or feel the breath of an angry guard dog on the chase,. I’m still holding out that there’s a gallery exhibit or even a book in the future. And while I’ve begun to gather and post pictures on my social media page, I know I still have a long way to go. Here’s a link to some of the images I’ve come across. Left Behind
Following a hearty breakfast that included Johnny Cakes, bacon, eggs and bottomless cups of freshly brewed coffee. We decided to stay close to home to explore nearby Washington Lake. With most of our recent weekends being rain soaked affairs that allow us the excuse to take a good book and the computer to the local coffee house. The sun drenched ones are rare in these parts and therefore wasteful to take for granted. So with our late start and lack of serious plans accepted. We decided to stay close, take it easy and take advantage of what our immediate area had to offer. It goes without saying that some of life’s greatest pleasures can be found right under our noses. Whether it be short walk to your backyard. The hammock on your porch or the lake that lies just five minutes from the place you call home. Sometimes, small steps and short trips can be as and even more rewarding than the bigger ones. As my Dad would say, “Take it Ease.”
As a kid, many of the sleepovers I attended at my friends home had nothing to do with sleep of any kind. If I remember correctly, and I think I do. The goal was to stay up all night in order to get a head start of the next day’s badly mapped out journey into areas and neighborhoods that often resided outside of the borders or imaginary lines our parents often forbid us from wandering past.
Years later I still have a love and admiration for those pre-dawn hours and minutes where much of the world still sleeps. The streets and adjacent pavement have yet to feel the impact of rush hour cars and hustling feet. Aside from the fact that I have to actually go to bed earlier and be aided by the sound of my alarm. Not much has changed. Upon learning that Thanksgiving morning would allow the sun to rise and proudly show itself. I once again set my alarm early enough to join in and watch as the sun peaked over the horizon.
As early as it might have been and as much as I may have waited to enjoy watching the night become day. I was not the first one on the beach. Waiting for me were two separate groups of fishermen, a loving couple, a surfer and someone who found the perfect time and place to reflect and/or mediate. While returning to my everyday responsibilities on the West Coast may not present the same opportunities to watch the sun rise. I’m sure I’ll find similar joys within time.
Today marks two months since we first moved to Seattle and as the days pass, we find ourselves adding things to our checklist faster than we’re able to cross them off. As we’ve gone from changing our address to getting our Washington state drivers licenses and plates, registered to vote and picked up our library cards. We’ve taken time to explore Seattle and take road trips throughout Washington. We’ve found a couple of spots for Vietnamese food and even Pizza. Explored different neighborhoods and brunch spots while attending open houses to look at real estate. In all honestly, the transition has felt effortless.
This past weekend, we skipped the open house schedule to visit a couple of beaches and parks. Being that we currently live a short walking distance from one of the many lakes and waterways. We never find ourselves feeling any sense of being land locked. Still, being at the beach had a good effect on booth my wife and my always unsettled self. Below I posted one image from Alki Beach (I was sure that at least one of those kids was going to fall in.) and Brackett’s Landing. (There was a car ferry just off to the left.)
After Sunday’s nude session I was both eager and anxious about sharing the results with my friend and mentor down the hall. He’s been a great teacher who has made it a habit to share his positive thoughts before sprinkling in any much appreciated criticism. I say “appreciated” because if it were not for those much feared critiques. I would have never grown or learned to improve on the things that have been holding me back. Imagine the combination of relief and glee I felt when he remarked how good the pictures from that session were and why. Going as far as saying that this was the best work I’ve done to date. Declaring that, as I move forward. This should be my portfolio. That school was out and I had graduated. The End.
Less than midway through our first session. Angel leaned in and asked “Do you like working with me?” “Of course I do” I quickly replied. Truth be told. Working with her had been the most stress free session I had worked on in recent memory. Secretly, I was glowing inside. Knowing we had laid the foundation for future collaborations. So when the need to work on something new presented itself just months later. I knew I had an ace in my deck with Angel. It’s quite rare when I am so eager to work with someone again so quickly. However, the chemistry and the results of our first session created the desire to work on new ideas and themes together. We’ve already set up a third and final shoot that I’m hoping will give us something useful for both of our portfolios.
It’s not often when I ask a friend to model for me. Let alone, strip down to her bare essentials to help me tests ideas, such as boudoir set ups I’d like to do in the future. So when it came to asking one particular girl to help me out. At the very least, I was fully expecting a flat out rejection. When she surprisingly agreed. I did everything I could to make her and myself feel as comfortable and pressure free as possible. My goal for this particular session was to project a sense of warmth and intimacy. A mix of subtle lighting, varied backgrounds and a great rapport with my model friend. I think we did a great job. And while my setup will need some adjusting. I’m grateful for getting the opportunity to work with someone I enjoy spending time with.
When I originally posted a casting call on Model Mayhem back in early May. I had no idea I would be getting such an overwhelming response from models interested in being a part of my upcoming portfolio. Yet, as I sought through the thirty or so candidates. I found a seldom few that really fit the overall feel and aesthetic I wanted to convey. As I worked through May and June with the people I had chosen. I kept in mind the ones that I was unable to immediately book due to their busy schedules and location. There was one by the name of Emily whom I would wait patiently for the right time to come.
Almost two months later, to the date, that time would come. When I went downstairs to greet Emily. I immediately noticed she was even more beautiful than any of the images in her portfolio would tell. Her big smile and upbeat personality were a welcome sight on what had already been one of the most oppressively hottest days of the early summer.
As quickly as our session started. I knew that the wait and a more detailed description of what I was looking to accomplish with the session made for an even better session than I would have ever hoped for. Her ability to move and change expression effortlessly was incredible. Emotive, expressive and flat out gorgeous. She put life in to all of the looks and vibes I was hoping to convey. Along the way we explored new lighting techniques, utilized my new canvas background and even found some use for my almost extinct CD collection. Thanks to Emily for making every image count.
Last night I sat down with a friend and fellow photographer to navigate last week’s sessions and decide on which ones were best suited for social media. The two pictured below really put the hook in me. Not that they were the best or they fit a specific project or portfolio piece. What really caught my eye was that their close resemblance to the photographs and artists who first inspired my love and appreciation for art and photography. The basic lighting and concepts that seemed so out of reach back then.
In my recent months of shooting I’ve been urged to google images and visit sites such as Pinterest and Instagram to create look books.Forming ideas and creating templates for photo sessions have become blueprints for getting exactly what I need from each session, model and shoot. Telling a model in advance, “This is what I want to shoot.” or “Can we do this?” has been a great way to inspire both myself and the person I’m working with. In the end, it allcomes down to good communicstion, preparation and proper execution.
In building a new portfolio I’ve been trying to show consistency in both my lighting and settings. The blueprint started with using a two light set up consisting of a beauty dish and a fill light fitted with a 72′ inch umbrella. As the sessions have progressed. I’ve tried to add a new element to each session. The project started using a seemless background for the majority of the session before quickly moving to a concrete column (L) that separates the kitchen from the living room. On to the foyer which features a giant black / chalkboard wall before finishing up with a few outdoor shots, typically on the roof. It’s a pattern that’s built from one shoot to the next. One that’s rendered improving results with each try. Today’s session with Kristina was more than I could ask for. Great looks, makeup, style and personality to match. On top of all the studio fun. She helped me overcome my fear of heights by simply showing her own.