The Things We Keep

As I was going through years of medical records that included but were not limited to CAT Scans, M.R.I.’s, and visits to the emergency room. I began to feel overwhelmed and somewhat depressed. While I understand that medical, W-2’s and tax returns don’t tell the true story of the lives we’ve lived and led. Seeing much of your experiences and struggles on tax return or hospital discharge can be quite the mind fuck. So when I found this envelope resting within years of hundreds of files deemed “important”. It was the life preserver that kept me afloat emotionally. While I often beat my chest about my disdain for living in the past and preserving memories by constantly reliving them. I am quite an archivist.

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I have a couple of books filled with everything from published articles to concert ticket stubs to notes passed to me in the eighth grade from my first big crush. My decision to keep or discard often come down to how these things made me feel originally or their importance to a specific time or experience. For christ’s sake,  I still have the hollow point bullet my Dad gave me when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure there was a life lesson attached, but for the life of me. Neither myself nor my Father can remember.  In no way am I a hoarder. I’m quite neat and organized. Often taking time to purge the less important things. Still, I’m often amazed by the amount of moments I’ve managed to save.

An Unexpected Education

07-17-2016 Manya K5010IManya K.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。

 

Day 11; Kawasaki

With plans to meet Kayuri’s childhood friend Junko and her daughter Miku in Kawasaki for lunch and a possible trip to the theater to see the new Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens”. Junk, who is originally from the Tokyo are eventually moved to South Korea when her husbands job transferred him there. However far, no trip to Japan would be complete without a day with her. I first met Junko when Kayuri and I were still dating. By far, one of my favorite people I’ve met through my wife. She’s been an important person in our life despite the limited time we’ve had together. She flew to New York to be the bridesmaid at her wedding and left a very positive foot print when she left. Unfortunately, after lunch and shopping we didn’t have enough time for the movie. Instead, we made plans to see it together before she left for home. Spending most of my day on the trains and at the mall. I really didn’t have many opportunities to take many pictures. Spending quality time with good people sometimes takes precedent.

Cock (1 of 1)Friends (1 of 1)Miku (1 of 1)Evil (1 of 1)

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

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. GarryAt 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. GaryA 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.

 

Two Friends, A Camera and A Bottle of Wine.

RuthieI really wish more of my little studio sessions were as laid back and effortless as my day with Ruthie. Though this was essentially two friends getting together and just chilling out on a less than busy day. It allowed me some time to play around with my lights and take my camera for a walk. Ruthie Relax ColorAs the day quickly passed, we shared stories, listened to music, drank wine and smoked cigars. There came a point where she looked so relaxed and comfortable. A blissful moment that was shortly interrupted when she raised her head and told me how much she hated having her picture taken. It was a strange moment, considering how incredibly relaxed and natural she looked. Ruthie Relax Color II      The simple truth of the matter is she trusted me. She felt comfortable enough around me to allow herself to relax and feel beautiful. I was pretty humbled, to say the very least. You know, I’ve always loved taking more personal pictures of friends I’ve made along the way. Making new friends through the pictures I’ve taken seems even more important.

Nervous Knots

IMG_7577After 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.

IMG_7604As 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.

This Fashion Workshop has turned me into a complete headcase.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.

An Old Friend Stops By

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.