It’s been close to a week since my Mom’s first visit to our new home here in Jersey City. During her week here, I made it a priority to capture some intimate images of her stay. Being that we’ve lived so far from one another for over twenty years now. I don’t get to see her nearly as much as I’d like to. While her stay had it’s share of ups and downs. It reminded me of how much I love, respect and appreciate how much she’s shaped the person I am today. By far my favorite moments of her visit was seeing her interaction and the positive foot print she left on everyone she met. Her smile, positive outlook and ability to make complete strangers feel like family are inspiring. Looking back at her visit, I realized that the thing I enjoyed the most was hearing her speak in Spanish s0 often with anyone and everyone she new spoke the language. For me personally, it’s always been one of the many traits that made her so beautiful. Till this day, I still remember the first words she taught me as a baby “Dame Un Beso.” (Give me a kiss.) All these years later, I still tell people about my first words and about what an amazing woman my Mother has always been. Despite all our differences and endless similarities. We still love one another to the fullest. Thanks Mom.
After a long day of good food and gallery hopping in Chinatown, SOHO and The Lower East Side we began to head West on Houston to catch the Path Train back to Hoboken. Stopping here and there to check out some of the artisans that sell their gear in front of that church I came upon one particularly interesting table. The man and his wife were selling these intriguing artifacts they cleverly restored and made into jewelry. As I listened to the man explain the background and process to an interested party I started to set up my camera to sneak a shot of this very interesting looking gentleman. I could have pulled it off without him noticing but would I get a really honest telling shot? I got over my shyness and began an interesting conversation with Scott. I then asked him nicely if I could take a picture of him. He obliged and I left with both a story and a picture. You can check out some of Scott’s work at www.newyorkartifactart.com I’m sure you’ll be impressed.
As we left the bar Shell and I passed this gentleman standing outside what seemed to be a community center. We made as far as the corner when I turned to my friend and told how much I would have loved to get a picture of him. His face had so much character, I’m sure there was one hell of a story there. I explained to her that I had become so introverted lately and just felt weird asking. Shell, being the awesome woman she is walked back with me and asked him rather sweetly. How could he refuse? The man obliged and began sharing stories about his life, loves and adventures. I’ve been a bit of a sniper as of late with my street photography. This however was a defining moment and reminded me the NYC is unlike any other place. Add this to my “Tales from the Lower East Side” series.
As the temperatures soared into triple digits I sadly had to reschedule my upcoming follow up shoot with Salley. After almost six months of scheduling issues and near misses due to everything from being buried in snowpocalypse 2011 to a broken ankle. We were able to finally connect for a quick yet awe inspiring session a few weeks back. After shooting some outdoor work that day we eagerly planned for some studio work. Being in the studio allows me so much more control over lighting and background. It also gives me more of a sense of mood. During the next week or so I’ll be working on a concept and vibe for our shoot. No matter the theme or wardrobe I’ll have one hell of a canvas to work with Salley is one of the coolest people I’ve worked with recently. Here are some of my favorite shots from that cool Sunday.
I don’t get to see my family very often. Holidays and Birthdays for the most part. Being that my parents divorced when I was six, I’ve gained an extended family of step and half brothers and sisters. Though we’re all very different I love them with all my heart and look forward to the time we get to spend together. Here’s a few pictures I took with the new Canon 7 D.
I’ve been a member of SOHO Photo Gallery since 2006 and have really appreciated the opportunity to share my work with the gallery members and the people from around the world that visit. However, I’ve always been torn about it.
Whenever joining a photo club or as is the case being a member of a COOP , my goal is to share and learn from the members. To create, inspire and be inspired. And of course to expose my work to new viewers. Having been a member of several such clubs Hob’art, The Palisades Camera Club and SOHO Photo I’ve gotten to do that. Yet, the experience has always left me wanting more. Coming to SOHO Photo was a big step for me. Having to work on submitting a portfolio for acceptance was paramount to my growth. Yet since joining I’ve been left with the feeling that I’ve joined a sewing circle at a retirement home. Each year when it’s time to pay my dues and renew I think long and hard about it. In 2010 I decided to renew with the ambition of shooting there from time to time on the galleries off days. I gingerly brought this up to various members I had hosted with. None of which seemed to show any concern. For me personally, that alone made it worth while. So I decided to take advantage. Recently, while shooting I was confronted by a member(One I had never met prior) . He was pissed off and said he’d be telling the elders. I jokingly said “Hey, point taken. Don’t be a rat and drop the dime.” He saw no humor in it.
Time went by and I got no feedback. no scolding came my way. Yet I still delayed my renewal. Maybe this was it. This was my sign. I got an email stating that I was “overdue” and ignored it. Still thinking. Then I got an official letter with the galleries letterhead and everything. I let it sit. Sunday morning Kayuri saw it on the coffee table and said. “Just renew. It’s not a lot. It might be worth it.” I wavered. “You know, why not.” That was until this morning when I got the email. That Rat dropped the dime on me and it upset some people. I can assure you and them it was never done out of disrespect or in a manner that would suggest I was sneaking around. Having discussed it openly in the past. I replied with just that and haven’t heard back since. But it made me think. I’ve never been much for groups and it’s been quite difficult relating to so many of the members in the past due to the vast generation gap. I’m deciding to follow my instinct and end my association. I can’t complain at all.
Life is what you make of it. You get exactly what you put into it. I never liked sitting in meetings. The openings rarely brought in new faces. It was always a mutual admiration society as far as I could see. There were times when members work totally blew my mind. Inspired me and made me yearn to be better. That’s a good thing. I’d definitely say my experience was a good one. It’s just time to try something new.
Earlier today I went back to my old neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen for my first day of teaching 5th and 6th graders the art of Black & White photography. I’ve been a volunteer with NY Cares for about a year now and in all honesty, it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Throughout most of the year I’ve been volunteering with the Hudson Guild in Chelsea. Hudson Guild offers underprivileged first, second and third graders a place to go after school. Helping with their homework and art projects has been lots of fun. I myself and not much of an artist and having a six year old make fun of your skills with the crayons, scissors and glue can be pretty damaging to the ego. Photography Explorers, however, is right up my alley. I had a great time and loved working with the kids. I plan on becoming a regular and will be bringing the portable studio to the next session. Teaching them about portraiture should be a lot of fun. Judging from all the characters I met today. We should have a lot of good pictures.
My shoot with Roksolana (Lana for short) was both fun and heartfelt. As we were sitting in the office talking she told me about her recent move to Brooklyn from the Ukraine. Her love for modeling, art and New York City. There was a certain warmth and ease to her personality. I told her about my current town of Hoboken which she knew very well, being that she has been working with an artist there. I was very engaged. In speaking I couldn’t help but notice a pronounced scar on her chest. When I asked her about it she openly spoke about having been fitted with a pace maker. Something that seemed insane at such a young age. She told about the issues she had from a very young age. I immediately identified considering what I went trough with having a brain tumor at a very young age. It wasn’t as much as sad exchange as it was a triumphant one. Both of had overcome and adversity at a very young age and were living happy, full lives. As for the session that followed. She was so natural and instinctive. Few of the shots were posed. It was just the two of us conversing and exchanging stories. Exchanges like these are a major ingredient to why I love what I do. Here’s to you Roks.
P.S. Lana, if you read this. The reason I didn’t photoshop the scar out of the picture is I thought is was an important part of the story, your beauty and your experience,
Photography has always been my way to meet the world. To introduce myself and get ot know people I may not be bold enough to otherwise. To say things I would never be able to say with words. One of the reasons I started this blog in the first place was to tell the stories about the unique people I had been meeting and to tell the stories behind the images. Photography and portraiture has allowed me the opportunity to meet the world.
Thursday I met a woman whose cultural background was as diverse as the places she’s traveled. A recent transplant from the West Coast Suzanne is a mix of Arabian, South East Asian and European. Not to mention that she speaks a number of languages including Cantonese, Mandarin and Russian. I learned so much in the short time we spent together. Being around people with such diverse backgrounds and experiences is so important to me. We talked about our favorite destinations and how I dreamed about my next possible travel spots. Places like Vietnam, Cambodia and Morocco. I may not have been able to go there yet but I’m happy to have met and photographed people who have.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I worked fro a talent agency doing print ads and working on movies. While signing up with the woman told me the importance of being on time. “If you have a 3:00 appointment make sure you are there and fully prepared to start work by 2:45. It was a simple rule that made sense and it stuck with me. All my life I always made a point of not only being on time. But getting there early just in case.
Somewhere down the road I wish everyone got that same memo because people just don’t seem to have any understanding about what it means to show up on time. I used to hold a management position with one of the museums in New York City and had a staff of about five to seven people to work with. Two of the girls on my staff were showing up late on a daily basis. When I took them aside to note and remedy the situation one girl responded “I’m from the Bronx.” It was a term I was familiar with having heard it many times regarding various issues. Her point, dumb as it may seem, was that she came to work from a far away land where time hadn’t been invented yet. I suggested that if she was late everyday by about fifteen minutes she should set her alarm a half an hour earlier. This seemed to make no sense to her whatsoever. “Yeah, but I travel with my friend.” Her friend just happened to be the other girl who was constantly late for work. By that time I had convinced myself that there was a force field around the Bronx that kept people from being responsible and basically “Knowing shit”. Sometimes if you hear something enough times you tend to start believing it to be true. Hearing the term “I don’t know dat shit. I’m from the Bronx.” made me believe it was true.
This week I got to experience that feeling again. I met Antoinette while working at the gallery last week. We had talked on line and she mentioned she would stop by to say hello and talk further about our upcoming session. The day she came by we talked and talked for what seemed to be hours about everything from art to philosophy and the belief theory of good and evil. We set up an appointment and continued to talk online in the days that followed. The day before our shoot I confirmed for 2:00 p.m. which she agreed. I even spoke to her online the next morning in which she told me “I’m jumping in the shower and then heading out.” 2:00 p.m. came and went. As did three and four. At 5:00 p.m. I get a call. “I’m here”. I was and still am without words. Yesterday we were scheduled to shoot at the downtown gallery where we first met. Same time different place. I got a text telling me she’s on the train and will be a little late. Okay, bad but not too bad. That was until she called me and asked. “I’m here on 23rd Street. How do I get there?” I was without words. The gallery which she had just visited less than a week ago had not mysteriously moved from Tribeca to Chelsea while you were sleeping. Let me just say that Antoinette is/was a sweet, beautiful and sincerely apologetic girl. She even sat through both of my tirades where I basically tore her apart. But you have got to be fucking kidding me. I am often amazed at how some people manage to get through life, hold jobs, have families and even operate heavy machinery with absolutely no clue as to what is happening around them. In coming to a close I just want to say that I’m not dissing the Bronx or it’s residents. I’m sure KRS-1 was never late for an MC battle. I know for a fact that millions of people from the Bronx make it to work on time every day and actually “Know shit.”. I just had to get some things off my chest. Antoinette as mentioned before was a complete sweetheart who I enjoyed working with. I just don’t think I could ever go through that again. Plan ahead, know where you’re going and for Christ sake…… Get there on time.