While retrieving an old hard drive featuring many of the negatives from my film camera days. I notice an image that was somewhat foreign to my eyes. One that captured my imagination while dialing back to my days of living in the storied NYC neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen. At the time, I was going out to see bands two to three times a week. Although I went to clubs and bars throughout the tristate area. CBGB’s and The Continental were more or less, second and third homes for me.This particular image caught my eye, perhaps due to my often lamenting, wishing I had taken more time to photograph the attendees and personalities that often hung outside the clubs. Upon close investigation. I came to the conclusion that it was The Continental, a downtown, east village bar on 3rd avenue, just off St. Marks place. My other guess is, due to the ethnicity of the woman filming the action. That it might have been the Asian/Female fronted punk band Yellow Scab. As much as I’m guesstimating. Finding an image I don’t remember taking or seeing, was cooler than an eskimo sitting by a campfire. Though the picture was taken some twenty five years ago. Noticing it for the first time gave it a new shine.
Water, Water, Everywhere
Growing up in Jackson Heights, Queens. The nearest swimming pool was in what seemed like a far off world. Without the money, or knowledge of the transit system. We were often left to our own devices and local fire hydrants when cooling off in the hot Summer sun. The joy of jumping in and out of the hydrants canon. Applying a hollowed out plastic bottle to better direct the waters flow. Or better yet, giving the passing cars a thorough soaking. Hoping that one unprepared driver would drive past with his guard and windows down. The childlike excitement of soaking the interior and occupants of an automobile felt as if it would last forever.
When we’re young, we can’t wait to grow up. Then as we grow up, and inevitably grow older. We often reflect on our youth, wishing we could go back, or get some sort of redo. When recently watching a classic movie from my teens “The Breakfast Club.” Alley Sheedy’s character Allison laments “When you grow up. Your heart dies.” As an older person, I can’t help but feel the disconnection between generations and how we often discount, or completely write off the impact that each have, and continue to contribute on a daily basis. When we learn to become better listeners, I’m sure we can reconnect, share, and learn from one another. I captured the images below years ago while in downtown New York City. I refer to them when I feel an absence of balance and understanding. Reminding myself that, no matter how old I get in numbers. I should always remain open minded and young at heart.
Water Nourishes the Soul
As I continue dumping old, and not up to snuff images that occupy my computers overflowing hard drive. I’ve come to a indisputable conclusion that, being on, or close to the water, brings the best out of me. Regardless on whether it’s the beach, the boardwalk, a fountain, or a good old fire hydrant. Water has a calming quality that gives me the chance to relax, and free my mind of any troubles or distractions. As I continue to better understand what makes me tick. I’ve come to realize that I, myself, and countless others greatly benefit from its energy and the calm it often brings. In observing my own behavioral patterns. I find that putting myself in that environment makes me a better person and a better photographer.
Stops Along the Way.
If you’ve been paying attention, there’s this phrase by some guy named Emerson, that been passed around that says, “It’s not the destination. It’s the journey that matters.” Emerson was also quoted as saying, “Always do what you’re afraid to do.” Not being a philosopher myself. I have often sought understanding through travel and exploring different cultures, different ideologies, and economic imbalances. My experiences traveling (To another continent or just down the hall.) and interactions with people have educated me and informed me. Eliminating many prejudices and stereotypes, I might have had if I’d stayed within my bubble. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Breakfast Outing in Maryland
Due to the time we arrived at Maryland’s Stony Park farm, the sun was so strong, that getting the images I had hoped for were dashed by how overwhelmingly bright the sun was, It wasn’t until much later in the day when we stopped for ice cream, that I would dare take my camera out of the bag and attempt a shot or two. As a born and raised city boy. One whose lived his entire life in an urban setting. Getting out of my element and experiencing a completely different way of life is mind blowing. The experience has a child-like effect on me that can only be compared to that as a wide eyed kid in a toy store. My love and admiration of farm life, tractors and barnyard animals is boundless. So when the sky began to offer shade. I made sure I had an image to take home and boast about. Here’s my capture of the steering wheel and headlight of the tractor parked outside of the creamery.
If I Only Knew Then, What I Know Now.
As I review and often delete old files from my desktop and external hard drives. I can’t help but lament over mistakes I made when I started out. Whether it be bad lighting, busy backgrounds or blemishes. I often wish I had known more. Whereas in the past. I didn’t spend much time in post production and my studio lighting was often flat. Through listening to better photographers and putting their teachings to practise. My skills improved and I gained confidence. These days, my enjoyment of post production has grown to where I’m beginning to notice that shooting and editing play on an evener keel. Still, I often find myself wishing I could get another chance to capture the beauty and soul of many of the people I met along the way.
Better to Go it Alone.
This afternoon while stopped outside a farm. I exited the car to take a picture of a relatively unpopulated road. As I began to compose and adequately expose my subject. I began to hear my wife rapidly repeating the words “Chop. Chop.” Urging me to get it done, get back in the car, and get out of there as soon as possible. While I appreciate her support and willingness to go along with the plan as long as the program doesn’t involve her getting out of the car or waiting for more than a fraction of a second. I fully realize that, at the end of the day. I’m better off going it alone.
In recent weeks I’ve been asked several times, once by a complete stranger, what I loved most about photography, and what I most liked to shoot. In each instance, I went on a far out rant about my years of shooting, and other useless nonsense. that by all means, made me look as if I was nuts. Earlier this week, I had a chance to chat with one of them. During the exchange, I backtracked and brought up his question. Explaining my recent awkwardness and how I would have just responded with, “Everything.” Essentially because I love all aspects of the art. The colors, shapes, and tones. The storytelling elements of a good capture, and the moods they create. I look back with pride regarding the friendships and trust I’ve built during photo sessions over the years. Holding my camera, pressing the shutter and going through the days session bring me a joy that’s hard to explain. Getting off my soapbox and back to that original question, “What do you love most about photography?” My simple reply is and always will be, “Everything.”
Exploration often leads to Discovery.
As I continue to work on my balance issues. My drive to be more independent, to explore more, and to not so awkwardly engage with those I wish to photograph with the confidence that once led me to less traveled roads and adventures grows stronger.
Attempting to do things I was forced to take a break from have become more attainable. That thirst for adventure, exploring, and creating, sometimes, off-limits subject matter sharpens. Having lived in our condo for over a year now. I can’t help but question why I haven’t explored the many nooks and crannies of an architectural achievement. Unsurprisingly, we often find inspiration while venturing into areas and corridors just off our daily path. Coming upon this paint inspired me to get a lower perspective and reminded me of stopping at a fire-damaged automotive repair shop on my way home from Boston.