In just a couple of hours I’ll be headed to Montclair’s Gallery U for the opening of ‘Permanent Images’. This is my first time exhibiting there and my first time displaying at a gallery in over a year. The three images showing at the gallery are a few years old which, for some strange reason, takes away a little of the excitement away from my inclusion. I’ve always been one of those people who’s appreciation for his own work has a sort of expiration date. Shooting work and preparing it for exhibition has always been the exciting part for me. Seeing it on the wall and standing under it with a “Hey baby, wanna see my junk?” look on my face has never given me the satisfaction that capturing the image and hunting down a wall to show it does.The truth is I’m a bit of an oddball. I often feel weird at these things and can’t wait for a friend to stop by to snap me out of my geek spell and say “I hate this kinda stuff.” “Wanna get a beer? Which I’m usually more than happy to do.
By now my nerves are starting to get a little scrambled. I’ve had way too much coffee and even broken into the cola reserve. I’ve peed a half dozen times and the butterflies are turning into tarantulas. This is the uncomfortable part. Knowing that getting there is the hardest part and once I’ve seen a familiar face those butterflies will disappear is comforting; But for me it couldn’t come fast enough.
I was talking to my Mother tonight on the phone when the subject quickly turned to my recent work and more specifically, studio work. I mentioned the evolution of my style and approach. As a kid I was surrounded by art in general. My Mother was an office secretary at a well known NYC advertising firm. From an early age I’d take the bus or train in from Queens and meet up with my Mom at the office. I’d spend most of my time in the art rooms where art work, advertisements and movie posters were being made right before my eyes.
I met a lot of really amazing and creative people who would later have a major effect on my life and the direction I decided to go in. At home we scraped by but my Mother always made it feel like a home. There was art everywhere. Vargas posters and Marilyn Monroe prints throughout the two bedroom apartment and classic nudes in the bathroom. There was also a collection of art and photography books always within reach under the near by coffee table. To put it mildly, my Mother has so much to do with the person I am today. The way I think. The way I work and my crazy, unfiltered personality.
Lately I’ve been reminded more and more of those days and in particular the Art books that first captured my attention and imagination. As I was photographing my most recent inspiration the other day I noticed a few images that immediately brought me back to the beauty and overall simplicity of those images that first inspired this eight year old. Mixing those classic elements with somewhat of a modern touch excites me to no end. Finding people that inspire me to do this is essential.
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.
When I was originally contacted to be interviewed for the premier issue of Lamplighter Magazine I was more than pleased to be involved. I had known Patrick and Nadia (the magazines Editor in Chief and Director of Social Media) for a few months and respected their hard work in what they were attempting and had already achieved. Despite all my blogging and internet shenanigans I have a great deal of fondness for print media. The interview was very professionally done and I was really impressed with the questions their writer Laety Maireville asked. I was however freaked out a bit when Patrick told me that the interview, along with my seldom photographed self was going to be the cover story.
Throughout my history as a writer and photographer I’ve interviewed countless bands and artists. Yet it’s very seldom when the tables are turned and the focus on my life or work is the topic of interest. Being behind the scenes is something I find comfort in. As the cover of the magazine shows, I’ve always been uncomfortable in front of the camera. Always feeling that work and art should be my calling card. Getting my work out there, being able to share and expand my audience is important to me. I’ve felt comfortable and confident in my work for a while now and getting a little credit for it is a really special feeling. I’m humbled and grateful to be a part of Lamplighter and hope to be a consistent contributor to the magazine in the future. For now, I’m going to bask in the glory of my own five minutes of fame.
Extra special thanks to bruno bruyes of New York Newsday for taking time from his very busy schedule to photograph me.
Ruth and I have been cyber friends for years. We originally bonded during the My Space’s salad days in a Photography Chat Room. We both loved art and often talked about organizing a photography exhibition at some point. Since then we’ve kept in touch sporadically but never made the leap towards a face to face collaboration. That is until a few weeks ago. We started chatting again on Facebook and she mistakenly said, “We’ve been friends for such a long time.” I quickly jumped on the opportunity and returned with “No, we haven’t. But once we actually get together, we will be. I invited her to the studio and lucky for me, she said “Yes”. The day of meeting she brought her childhood friend and business partner Mayra and although it was short. We managed to have a great time cementing our long standing friendship.
Ruth and Mayra are both beautiful women in the traditional sense. There was a certain class and dignity about them that really impressed me. But it was Ruth that completely won my heart with her smile and youthful exuberance. For someone who is damn near close to my age. (Late 30’s) She looks like someone you’d pass on the Freshman campus of your local Ivy League school. I honestly wish I had more time that day to get to shoot and talk about art and life in general but within a short time they were out the door and off to a meeting. Ruth and Mayra have embarked on a new business adventure. One can only hope it turns out to be as successful and rewarding as their friendship. Time will only tell.
Though I would love to shoot all my concert photos without the distraction of flash the lens I normally use (Canon 15mm Wide USM) simply does not give me the speed I need to get the sharpness a lot of my work requires. A couple of years back I did a little research and found that Canons 50mm 1.4 had the speed I needed to get the job done. However, the fact that the bulk of my concert shots are taken in small to medium venues made for a lot of really tight shots. In bars and taverns such as Maxwells those tight crops were more like head shots.
So over the past weeks I did my share of tests with both the Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Canon 15mm Wide Angle USM. Shooting on Manual Mode and changing the settings to adjust to the light I was able to produce some interesting results. While using the wide angle approach I was able to get right in the eye of the storm and get some interesting and artistic results. Though most were blurred and disposable, I did find some keepers amongst the ruins. The next night I played around with the 50mm 1.4 and though I was able to get crisp image after crisp image, the distance from which I shot made me feel more like a bystander. There was really no comparing as far as I was concerned. Although shooting without flash adds a sense of intimacy and storytelling to my images. I felt the wide angle clearly gave me a the exaggerated vibe I want in my work. It gave me a sense that I was right in the middle of the action as opposed to the bystander element that the former produced. I’d love to hear from other concert photographers about their experiences and approach. I’m always looking to experiment and try different things as I move towards creating my own style. I look forward to the challenge.
I’m often complaining that my apartment is too cluttered and there are too many things that are out of place or have never had one to begin with. Over the years I’ve often purged using the old TLC show Clean Sweep’s mantra of “Keep, Sell, Trash.” However, as I’ve learned, no matter how much I get rid of. I basically have the same size apartment. Being that I do so much work from home it makes the apartment feel even smaller. A living room that doubles as my photography studio and a second bedroom that doubles as an office. It’s a juggling act to say the least. If things are out in the open or out of place it creates chaos. Having to deal with that chaos means I get less work done while spending more time doing it.
So today I got up at the crack of dawn and started erecting my own little “Man Cave”. Moving furniture from one room to another while taking random frames off the floor and giving them the walls they have been missing for months. With a little hammering and finagling I created a wall Martha Stewart would be proud of. I cleared my desk to the point I could actually see the surface and created a little nook where everything was within reach. In the end, the only thing missing was a heaping cup of coffee just left of the keyboard. Though I’ll surely be tweaking it with different pictures and such, it is my little peace of mind that takes away some of the stress I feel when I’m sitting here doing what I do. Like the wise man said “Surround yourself with the things you love.” Soon we’ll be moving to a new place. I have visions of a room all my own with nothing but records, photography and all things geeky. A Geek can dream. Right?