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。
When my long time friend and favorite expatriate messaged me that she would be returning to New Jersey for a short, yet important visit. I knew the odds of me seeing her this time around, let alone catching up on her three years in Germany were about as good as the Cleveland Indians winning the World Series. Still, any chance to see such an old and dear friend was worth taking. Imagine my surprise when she was both available and looking forward to indulging me in one of my truest passions, studio photography. The hours we spent together were more of a gab session with me sneaking in a shot or two whenever I could.
Having met Mandy in the parking lot of a strip mall adjacent to my high school when I was sixteen. The likelihood of us ever becoming friends seemed improbable to say the very least. Yet, despite being polar opposites we became trusted, close friends before long. Supporting one another through sickness and health.Through the good times and bad. She’s been a huge supporter and influence on me as a photographer and as a volunteer to worthy causes. She’s one of the few people in my life who crosses the lines between friends and family. One’s that, no matter the distance or time. Remain, unspoken, an integral part of my life. And as my Mother put it “Damn, that woman does not age.” Looking at this picture. I think it highlights both her beauty and unwaning strength. I’m incredibly grateful for having the chance to catch up with her. One of Jersey’s best, no matter where she goes.
Last week I had a representative from a local painting company over to get an estimate on our loft foyer area. In the hour or so he was here, we went over ideas about color schemes, wallpaper removal and the stripping of a concrete column located at the left end of the room. It was apparent that the company had worked in the building in the past. As he began to leave, he asked curiously about the extensive damage in the lobby and common areas. I took my time explaining how the pipes had frozen causing a flood while putting the building on an all day fire alert. I told him about the alarm and sirens that wailed for hours and how the inescapable flashing lights in the loft and hallways triggered my first seizure in years. He stood there in a frozen state, captured by my story, asking questions along the way. I had no intention of keeping him longer than I had. Nor did I have any motive in sharing my history with seizures. It wasn’t until he told me about his beautiful sister’s long history with grand mal seizures and depression that I did. He told me how witnessing his sisters seizures unfold as a young teen terrified him. How, to this day, those memories still haunt him.
I shared my experiences with him on how I eventually got off the medication roller coaster after years of them adding miserable side effects to my somewhat manageable seizures. Taking more holistic path with diet and more spiritual approaches such as meditation. How both doctors and my own family were less than supportive of my choice. And ultimately, how I went from having three to five seizures a week to about a half dozen in the twenty years since.
As for depression, while I have yet to find any cure (Believe me, I’m no rocket scientist.) I told him that, in my own experience. Knowing that you are not, in any way, alone is key. It’s also important to understand that, no matter how I might feel at the moment. I’m always able to convince myself that I will most likely feel a lot better in a few hours, days or weeks later. My regiment depends on staying busy and creative whenever possible. Fresh air and even the most brief exchanges can change the course of a day. The smile on his face said it all and I think the amount of time he spent lingering in my doorway was more than enough evidence that even the smallest exchanges can change someone’s outlook on things. In closing, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to share our experiences and history with one another. We are all connected to one another on one level or another. Large or small, every word we speak can go a long way while carrying a heavy load.
When my wife asked me what I was in the mood for. I knew I had to think quick on my feet. Being that we had such a long winter. I’ve been continuously biting at the idea of getting out of my every day, break from the norm and put the pedal to the metal. All cliques aside. I’ve just grown tired of the weekly trips to Costco, Trader Joe’s and other places that magically turn “Getting Milk” a five hour endeavor. Quickly, I blurted out “Philly” “Pizza in Philly”. Knowing it was getting late in the morning and my wive’s strange, yet ritualistic battle cry “Isn’t it a little late to drive that far?” I scrambled for a list of the best pizza in Philly on my phone while demanding action. After stopping at RT. 9’s Wonder Bagels we were south bound and with a little luck and 80 + miles per hour speed, we arrived in the city of brotherly love. Knowing full well that the term is pure bullshit we went hard on our destination and arrived just as lunch was starting to brew. As we sat down at Slice’s
South Street location located near the heart of the famous Italian Market our eyes widened as our mouth watered in anticipation. With our belly’s still satisfied by the egg and cheese bagels we feasted on during the trip.
We decided to each order a slice as opposed to gorging on an entire pie. To say that “SLICE” delivered the best slice I’ve had since my Hell’s Kitchen days (93-2001) would be an understatement. From the first bite to the last I found myself plotting my next trip. Fresh ingredients, delicious sauce and a distinctly crispy crust that would satisfy the most misshapen pizza snob. Add to that, a friendly server who went out of his way to not make us feel like annoying tourists. From there we walked the walk. Enjoying the Italian Market, South Street and Phillly’s Chinatown. While Philadelphia will never be my favorite destination on the map. It’s close, offers a ton of things and even if you don’t manage to grope a cheesesteak. You can still make it home claiming victory and good time had.
The other night I posed a simple, yet complex question to a friend and fellow music photographer. “Can you ever see yourself enjoying, or even going to a show or concert without your camera?” It was a question I had to ask, considering I’ve asked it of myself countless times. After what seemed to be a decades long pause, he exhaled “No. I don’t.” The answer was as much a surprise as it was a relief. Having asked myself that very same question numerous times over the years. I find it somewhat strange that I know for a fact that I couldn’t. I don’t see any time in the near of distant future where I’m hanging back with a beer in my hand taking the show in as nothing more than a spectator. Whereas I see myself now as the old man with the camera at the show. I’ll probably end up as the really old man with the moment capturing apparatus at shows twenty years from now. Otherwise, I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
Realizing it was the fourth of the month and we had yet to pay the garage. We raced over with minutes left before a late fee would be added to the already pricy cost to house our vehicle. Though our attention was squarely placed on getting there before the strike of midnight. The layers of fog and downright ghostly spell our town had fallen under. Upon return home I quickly reached for my camera and headed back out. Though I have less than zero skills when it come to night photography. I felt I owed it to myself to at least try. The crisp night air and solitude provided a sense of tranquility I rarely experience. I find these little moments of peace to be priceless. It clears the mind while awakening the senses. Not bad if you ask me.