Sanity Check

Okay, maybe I’m finally losing what’s left of my mind. Due to the loss of a family member and a constant reminder that my neurological issues are continuing to fuck with my balance. Ronnie (1 of 1)I’ve been doing my best to stay busy and creative. For the most part, I’ve splitting my free time tending to my music column United By James and reconnecting with my love of photography. Along with purchasing some Neutral Density Filters and a wireless remote, I’ve been revisiting and getting reacquainted with my Canon 5D’s many functions and even planned a few photo related outings for memorial day weekend. As for the picture on the right. I took it after hearing about a family members passing. It was shot 5:43 pm on a tripod at 1.0 seconds and f/14. The ISO was 250.  It was taken to convey loss and perhaps the sense of loneliness we tend to feel when losing someone we love.

Graduation Day

04-30-17 Montoya7729AMAfter Sunday’s nude session I was both eager and anxious about sharing the results with my friend and mentor down the hall. He’s been a great teacher who has made it a habit to share his positive thoughts before sprinkling in any much appreciated criticism. I say “appreciated” because if it were not for those much feared critiques. I would have never grown or learned to improve on the things that have been holding me back. Imagine the combination of relief and glee I felt when he remarked how good the pictures from that session were and why. Going as far as saying that this was the best work I’ve done to date. Declaring that, as I move forward. This should be my portfolio. That school was out and I had graduated. The End.

Ask a Friend

LuLu (1 of 1)It’s not often when I ask a friend to model for me. Let alone, strip down to her bare essentials to help me tests ideas, such as boudoir set ups I’d like to do in the future. So when it came to asking one particular girl to help me out. At the very least, I was fully expecting a flat out rejection. When she surprisingly agreed.  I did everything I could to make her and myself feel as comfortable and pressure free as possible. My goal for this particular session was to project a sense of warmth and intimacy. A mix of subtle lighting, varied backgrounds and a great rapport with my model friend. I think we did a great job. And while my setup will need some adjusting. I’m grateful for getting the opportunity to work with someone I enjoy spending time with.


LanaII (1 of 1)

LanaIII (1 of 1)


Show Me Your Softer Side

Iya-2969I had worked with Iya a number of times through the years. I’d seen many sides of her personality and beauty. Uncovered layers of her personality and character I never knew existed. All while building a level of trust and friendship that made me  feel as comfortable with her as she may have become with me. So when Iya returned for from her trip to Russia I invited her over to catch up and put some of my new ideas to work.

Iya softer side-3082Though I had done my share of Boudoir Photography in the past I had recently found myself engrossed in a book by author/photographer Christa Meola titled  “The Art of Boudoir Photography. Within the nine chapters Meola covers a wide array of subjects including, but not limited to posing, movement, lighting and communication. All with great detail, imagery and easily understandable text.

Iya B-2964As Iya arrived I explained my ideas and vision while expressing my hopes to show a side of Iya my camera had rarely captured. Since meeting and working with Iya I’ve been able to capture many of her strengths, beauty and naturally sexy look. Yet I’ve never been able to capture the soft and often funny side she often reveals in private. I don’t specifically remember her reaction that day but I do remember the relaxed pace and approach to taking those images. Moving from the lights and backgrounds of the living rooms studio. We moved to the bedroom, relying on the soft natural light coming through the widow late in the day.

Iya C-3077During those few hours we shot some beautiful images while capturing some very intimate and unguarded  moments. It was by far the most laid back and natural session we’ve done together. One I’ll look back on as the day I really allowed me access to Iya’s softer side. Thanks Iya.

Happy Returns

Since last weeks session with Denise the two of us have been in constant contact with one another about working together on other projects. Every now and then my phone lights up with an image, shortly followed by  “Look at this.”  “I want to try this the next time we shoot.” MercedesI’ve been really inspired these days to work with different people, try new things and experiment with different concepts and lighting.     As the winter begins to thaw and signs of spring just starting to show.     I feel energized and confident that I’m moving in a good direction. I’m meeting new, creative people who are open minded and love living life to the fullest. Photography, art and being a photographer allow me to communicate, create and relate on levels I would never be able to otherwise. Only the future can tell just where life takes me. For now, I’m extremely grateful to be where I am.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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.

Mike and Jackie.
She's a total sweetheart.
My Brother Matt. The most chill person you'll ever meet.
Brother Mike
My Father and Matt.

Roksolana invades New York City.

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,

The People you Meet

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.

Better late than never is never a good excuse.

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.

Building blocks

I’m sitting here enjoying my second cup of coffee and admiring the shelf I put up last night. It’s a nice shelf I picked up at Ikea a few weeks ago. Thick black particle board with silver brackets. As of now the shelf is empty with the exception of the proudly placed level I left as a reminder of what you can accomplish if you plan ahead and put your mind to it. Putting up a shelf may not seem like much but it represents something important to me.

A few years ago when I moved into this apartment I asked  a coworker if he could put up some shelves for me. He was a nice guy and a self proclaimed carpenter/handyman. I had two shelves that needed to be put up in the bedroom and a shelf to be installed in the closet. He asked for $10 an hour which seemed like nothing. Eight hours later he hadn’t finished the job and the work he had done was shoddy to say the least.

I learned a lot that day. What I learned most was “If you want something done right. Do it yourself.”. I always loved tools and carpentry. I’m a total sucker for those shows on HGTV and TLC but my fears of fucking up the job and putting a hole in the wall and messing up the measurement were overpowering. I’m a klutz by nature and don’t always go into things with a game plan. Over the past few years I’ve learned a lot about fear. Anyone can tell you I’m my own worst critic and my fear of failure had gotten in the way of a lot of my goals.

I’m on a path now. No more fear of anything. Everyone fails from time to time. Learning and growing from it is what’s important. In recent years I learned to DJ. I’ve become a much better cook and I’ve taken my studio lighting from dull and predictable to what some people have called “beautiful and elegant”. I like the work I’m doing now but I know there’s plenty of room for growth and there’s still so much to be learned. I’m using the gallery downtown to shoot during the early days of the week. The natural lighting is beautiful but it also presents it’s challenges. The walls are whiter than Barry Manilow and can all together wash out a subject and the success I’ve had in the early morning and around 2:00 pm only make the failures of 4:30 to 5:00 more frustrating. But it is far from insurmountable. I just have to figure it out and adjust. That’s what makes life great. Overcoming the challenges and making adjustments. Learning to deal with change and sometimes roll with the punches. In the future I’ll be putting up more shelves and getting to know and understand the tools that will hopefully bring me success. And when I fail I’ll try not to take it so hard and just learn from it.