I was sitting with my friend going over the weeks sessions when I half jokingly said, “You’re going to put me in the poor house.” The remark was in response to his pointing out the next expensive item I needed to invest in. Being that the last six or so months had seen me purchasing a new camera, a lens, photo software, a sturdy tripod, new umbrellas and a studio light to name a few. It seemed a proper reaction. Then I thought about the education he’s been giving me and I suddenly found myself eating my words.
As I took a moment from my mason jar of home-made tea. I thought about how much time and effort has been invested in bringing me back and making every studio session better than the last through honest critiquing and continuing building blocks. And I continue to book shoots and regularly use the tools and knowlege given. My confidence builds, allowing me to have more creative control and in the end, satisfaction. For now I’ll keep my “thank you’s” to a minimum and use my time to listen, learn and appreciate. 感謝、私は残っています。
Last week I dropped by unannounced on an old friend with nothing but a smile and a case of beer. It had been years since I last saw Gary, but the memories and appreciation for this old friend had never wained. I first met Gary when I was sixteen, maybe seventeen years old. At the time I had just met and had begun dating his daughter Casey. At the time I had already perfected the “Meet the Dad” thing and had developed quite the silver tongue. As I sat there in his living room. Gary popped the top on his can of Budweiser and the conversation began. As we spoke about our common interests such as Hockey, power tools and of course his daughter Casey. Gary leaned back in his chair and breathed in before saying “Listen James, I like you. You’ve got a good line of shit.” It was a strange moment. One that I remember vividly years later. The man was honest and forthright. A gritty, no holds barred kind of man. A union guy who got his hands dirty at work, just like my step dad. Since that day Casey and me remain trusted friends and I’ve kept in touch with Gary through family events and unannounced visits. Till this day, he’s still as honest and forthright. A hard worker who, despite retirement, keeps himself busy and his hands dirty. Years may pass without a visit, but he welcomes me every time with a smile and an offer to stay as long as I like. He reminds me that, as we get older we learn to appreciate the little things in life and cherish the people we invite into it. My appreciation for Gary, the way he welcomed me to the family in my teens and the way he still welcomes me in to his life and home goes a long way. As I get older, I’ve grown to appreciate these little moments and exchanges more and more. Whether it’s reaching out to a stranger or dropping in with a case of beer on an old friend. These little things can make a difference in someone’s day and even their life. It sure goes a long way to make my own better.
After this weekends workshop I was eager to get back to my own home base and put to work some of the things I had learned. I had scheduled shoots for the week in advance. Lucky for me, my week would start with someone who is by far, my favorite person to work with. That morning I drove into the city and picked up a beauty dish at Calumet Photo. I’d been considering purchasing one for some time. After working with the dish over the weekend and seeing the results; I was somewhat obsessed with picking one up.
As the day progressed I had become more and more anxious. Getting into the city, dealing with traffic and finding a parking spot amongst a sea of loading zones, “No parking during the hours of…” and “Don’t even think of parking here ever!” As I returned home to set up my typical butterflies turned to nervous knots and full blown angst. Now, I’m usually a little antsy in the minutes and at times, even the hours before a session. What was particularly strange about it was Audrey and I had been shooting together for five years. She is my muse, my canvas and by far the easiest person I’ve had the pleasure to work with. When she arrived I was surprised that I was still feeling like somewhat of a head case.
Whatever anxiety and awkwardness I had been feeling faded as we began to work together. We put the new beauty dish to work and did our share of experimenting with lighting, angles and different lighting techniques. Having a beautiful, naked woman traipsing around the apartment without a care added a odd calming effect. At one point I walked into the room as she was undressing. I apologized and quickly began to close the door. “Oh God, as if you’ve never seen me naked before.” she laughed. Suddenly, all was good with the world. It was as if the clouds had lifted and all the stress and tension from recent days was lifted. I am officially back to my old self. Thanks Audrey.
I’d been wanting to get some of my musician and artist friends to stop by for some laid back studio shots for some time. When I ran into Eric recently at a friends exhibition opening I thought, “now that’s a fucking character I’d love to photograph.” So a few days later I dropped him a line and asked if he’d to stop by and shoot the shit while I cleaned the dust off my studio lights and gear. We talked about music, old friends and our Dad’s. Eric’s a good friend. The kind that would give you the shirt off his back. Upon returning from living in Seatle he gave me a HardCore record I had regrettably sold years ago. Knowing the personal and sentimental value the record held for me. He saw it only fitting that I should have a copy back in my prized collection. As the years go by you don’t see many of your old friends as much as you’d like. Jobs, family, distance and all the responsibilities that life throw at us play their part. Some stay close while others fade from the fabric of your life. It’s always good to have a few of the old guard around when you need someone to relate to or just share a common experience.
Ruth and I have been cyber friends for years. We originally bonded during the My Space’s salad days in a Photography Chat Room. We both loved art and often talked about organizing a photography exhibition at some point. Since then we’ve kept in touch sporadically but never made the leap towards a face to face collaboration. That is until a few weeks ago. We started chatting again on Facebook and she mistakenly said, “We’ve been friends for such a long time.” I quickly jumped on the opportunity and returned with “No, we haven’t. But once we actually get together, we will be. I invited her to the studio and lucky for me, she said “Yes”. The day of meeting she brought her childhood friend and business partner Mayra and although it was short. We managed to have a great time cementing our long standing friendship.
Ruth and Mayra are both beautiful women in the traditional sense. There was a certain class and dignity about them that really impressed me. But it was Ruth that completely won my heart with her smile and youthful exuberance. For someone who is damn near close to my age. (Late 30’s) She looks like someone you’d pass on the Freshman campus of your local Ivy League school. I honestly wish I had more time that day to get to shoot and talk about art and life in general but within a short time they were out the door and off to a meeting. Ruth and Mayra have embarked on a new business adventure. One can only hope it turns out to be as successful and rewarding as their friendship. Time will only tell.