With no studio, studio gear and just the basic camera body, flash and a couple of lenses available. I’ve had to get a bit more creative with my lighting and backdrops. And just as doing with less has created more opportunities than problems. Finding and booking test shots seems just as difficult in the Northwest as it was in New Jersey and New York. On my first shoot, I took photos in and around the corporate apartment I was temporarily staying in. Being that it was a sun soaked day. We retreated indoors, taking full advantage of the more subtle lighting its interiors offered. As we moved from point A to point B. I couldn’t help but feel relaxed and confident. Recalling the nervous knots I often get while working in the studio. And while I can’t wait to start booking more sessions with aspiring models, such as the one seen here. I’m not quite as eager to get back to studio work.
Prior to moving to the Journal Square area of Jersey City. I had little to no knowledge of the area with the glaring exception of beautiful views of the former American Can Company we would often view from Rt. 9 and or The Pulaski Bridge. As we passed the yet to be renovated towers. We’d often comment, better yet drool about the possibilities of someday moving in to an old run down factory or industrial complex. Little did we know at the time that those run down, abandoned beauties would be reborn as loft condos.
Upon starting our four year process of searching for a home. We saw a number of properties in and around Jersey City before deciding against moving to the area. Then, all of the sudden, thanks to the wisdom and hindsight of our trusted realtor. We gave the area one last shot. On the day we came to see the very first unit the market offered us. We were both convinced that this was the place we wanted to be. This was the kind of home we always imagined but never thought we would find. And while it took some months and the loss of two units we had our hearts set on. We sealed the deal on one we both loved and still feel very happy to be in.
While the neighborhood took time getting used to. Exploring the surrounding areas has been an amazing adventure. In areas I once tip toed around for fear of trespassing or being interrogated. I know walk boldly. The neighborhood has evolved and changed for the better.The area has become quite colorful and artful with new murals being created in some of the most unexpected places and access to anywhere else I’d like to go is literally at our fingertips.
Aside from all those pretty good reasons to be positive. My neighbors and the residents here are pretty damn nice. See friends, families and pets in riding the elevators or roaming the halls daily only reassures me moved to the right place.
As the weather warms I plan to extend my walks, exploring more corners of the area and stop being so weary about those helicopters that seem to appear any time I get to close to a bridge or railroad. Wish me luck.
Armed with a recently purchased tripod and a fresh out the box circular polarizer. I headed south on Rt. 9 to Fords Ave. for one of my favorite spots to photograph sunsets. After an over priced and underwhelming slice of pizza and a quick stop in at my friendly, way out of the neighborhood record store. (You know the one that prices every fucking item in the store higher than anyone else on the planet.) I made my way towards the power lines and set up my tripod in time to watch the sun slowly set over the industrial setting.
To add to the industrial feel the scarecrow like towers offer were too larger than life objects that looked to be a skateboarders wet dream. The barrels, wide enough to drive a car through and hollow enough to deliver ear shattering echoes. While it’s taking me a bit of time to get used to working on a tripod. According to a friend and mentor. It’s a much needed step in my growth as a photographer. As for the filters. I owe a thank you to the sales woman at Adorama for her recommendations and taking the time to make fun of the old, crappy filter that was attached to the lens I brought in.
Last night I received a heads up that the print I had mailed to a friend had arrived. Just a week before, Cindi stopped in at the loft for a fun, laid back photo session that would hopefully allow me to test some new gear and experiment with high key lighting. I style I had just learned from a friend and fellow photographer. Looking at older studio sessions I often shot a darker, low key side that tended to produce, moody yet stark results. Hoping to bing light to both my work and mood. I enlisted one of my favorite musicians. The image below, her showing off my box set of The Replacements first four albums. Was a personal favorite. In the past we’ve shared our mutual love for the band. Sending her an enlargement was just my way of thanking her for helping me to try some new things while returning to the type of work that inspires me the most. Thanks Cindi.
My wife has put it in my head that I should get to work on publishing a book. After numerous conversations and shared ideas. We decided it to play it safe by starting with what I know and do best, that being music photography. Noting my special gift in lacking focus and working on numerous projects at the same time. She gave me the simplified task of choosing twenty images from the last four years of shooting live music and occasionally having them in the studio. Simple enough right? Well, in the two weeks that have followed I’ve set two images aside. Slow? Yes, very. However, I’m going on a number of factors when deciding. One factor being the subjects reaction and appreciation of the image.
The image below was taken of The Brixton Riot’s Jerry Lardieri at Maxwell’s during a particularly rewarding benefit show. Since that show I’ve become a big fan of the band as well as a friend of Jerry’s. I hope to finish this “Twenty Bands” project before long. As I continue picking the next nineteen. I hope to share my choices as well as the stories behind them. Feel free to share your feelings on my choices as well as the bands and artists featured. Here we go.
The Brixton Riot
One morning last week there came an authoritative knock on my door. On the other side of the door was a Viking helmet adorned neighbor blowing a horn declaring a day of action. Knowing the call of a Viking and the failure to properly follow Viking code full well. I followed him down to where the bikes, horses and Viking ships are docked. It had been a couple of years since I’d been on a a bike. (My last one, as well as every bike I’ve ever know has been stolen at one point or another.) Knowing full well my history as well as my recent battles with gravity. Said friend let me take a spin around the safely enclosed garage to help me get familiar. After a few twists, turns, crashes and fall downs. I was granted my own Viking helmet and we were off. And while our buildings surroundings aren’t very bike or hike friendly. A sturdy mountain bike and a seasoned leader more than get the job done.
After a short ride down the hill and a slight turn to the right. It seemed that we hit pay dirt. For that road led to all the things I love and enjoy both exploring and photographing. Trains, factories, train yards… You name it. The only thing missing was a junk yard with featuring an unchained rabid guard dog. I felt like a kid again. We hadn’t even made it half way to the end and I was already making reservations to return. After a few stops to take in the sites atop the railroad cars We took the road all the way to Secaucas before hitting what seemed to be the river of deceit.
After a break and a survey of the land we had discovered, conquered and thoroughly photographed. We headed back on the rocky path that brought us there. As time had passed I had become more and more comfortable with the slightly oversized bike. So much so that my buddy gave me his official thumbs up. Half way back, the days heat, coupled with my lack of balance began to take their toll. Like a good soldier, I kept the pace. Assuring myself that, once we get passed this rocky strip of road and onto solid pavement, I’m home free. Then, as soon as I hit solid ground. Every ounce of strength I had left gave out and I hit the pavement like a hundred and forty pound sack of wet bricks. Aside from a few bumps, bruises and damaged ego. I was fine. Though I ended up walking the bike the rest of the way home. The trip and the overall experience, as well as the opportunity to earn my very own Viking helmet, were more than worth the spilt blood. That weekend I returned, on foot of course, and did some more exploring as a solo act. I really love that the area we chose to live in offers such a diverse and colorful landscape.
I was strolling through Union Square when I came upon the group of Hare Krishna who gather at the parks south western corner to sell books, chant and play their unlistenable music. While this sight somehow manages to draw a curious crowd. It was the first time I ever saw them filming themselves. One can only hope it was being filmed to please their supreme Lord Krishna. That, they were filming a “How to make it in the music industry without even trying.” video.