As I continue to go through some old photos of my numerous trips to Coney Island and Asbury Park, I can’t help but think this is somehow connected to the fact that I’m doing so while bundled up like someone sitting on an Antarctic iceberg. Being that we’re a couple of days from Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the New Year. I’m hopeful that it won’t be long before I’m taking out the shorts, flip flops, and sun block.
Just as we wear skincare to cover our blemishes and makeup to… wait, why do people wear makeup? We wear masks to hide our pain or secrets. Ultimately, we find a commonality in pain, suffering, joy, happiness and art. As divided as we may seem at times. Many of us, maybe even most, are connected on some level. During my recent travels along the east coast. I photographed many of the murals featuring the many faces and moods painted on the walls, parks, boardwalks and buildings. Each time, trying to understand the message/messages that artist was trying to convey. I’d love to read your thoughts.
As a kid, many of the sleepovers I attended at my friends home had nothing to do with sleep of any kind. If I remember correctly, and I think I do. The goal was to stay up all night in order to get a head start of the next day’s badly mapped out journey into areas and neighborhoods that often resided outside of the borders or imaginary lines our parents often forbid us from wandering past.
Years later I still have a love and admiration for those pre-dawn hours and minutes where much of the world still sleeps. The streets and adjacent pavement have yet to feel the impact of rush hour cars and hustling feet. Aside from the fact that I have to actually go to bed earlier and be aided by the sound of my alarm. Not much has changed. Upon learning that Thanksgiving morning would allow the sun to rise and proudly show itself. I once again set my alarm early enough to join in and watch as the sun peaked over the horizon.
As early as it might have been and as much as I may have waited to enjoy watching the night become day. I was not the first one on the beach. Waiting for me were two separate groups of fishermen, a loving couple, a surfer and someone who found the perfect time and place to reflect and/or mediate. While returning to my everyday responsibilities on the West Coast may not present the same opportunities to watch the sun rise. I’m sure I’ll find similar joys within time.
For our first trip to New Jersey since our move to Seattle back in June, we decided to stay in Asbury Park in order to remain within striking distance of both New York City and my Dad in Tom’s River. When we booked a hotel within spitting distance of the pier and the beach. I made it a point to get out early enough to watch and photograph the sunrise there. While setting my cclock alarm for 4:45 gave me more than enough. time to get ready. Being met with rain and per-dawn darkness, left me with few options. While returning to my hotel room for a couple of extra hours of sleep definitely came to mind.. Finding enough cover to shield me from the rain while I worked on setting my camera to manual won out in the end. After a brisk walk that included it’s share of morning strollers, joggers and dog walkers. I returned to the hotel and my wife to plan for breakfast and map out the rest of our day. Looking back, I’m glad I went with the latter of the two options.
We were on our way home from an event at Asbury Lanes when we pulled into a local rest stop. Looking for coffee, gas to fill our tank and a functioning restroom (Not necessarily in that order.) It was about 2:30 am and the road was black as … well, you know. There was not a street light in sight and with the exception of the glow coming from the gas station there was nothing. As we headed back to the car I became hypnotized by the amount of power that small outpost resonated. I’d liken it to something out of Star Wars with the mighty and ominous Death Star floating amongst the constellations. With my wife in the car and the engine running I steadied myself as not to create any unwanted camera shake and took my shot before heading back to the car and my now cranky wife. More and more, I find myself realizing that it’s not the events I shoot that reward me with my favorite images. It’s the long ride home.
Each week, usually by Wednesday, my wife’s line of questioning goes from “What do you want for dinner?” to “What do you want to do this weekend?” Inquiries that keep me on my toes while keeping my mind in a continuous creative mode. Over the years I’ve come to learn that this particular line of interrogation has a readymade answer most likely calculated long before the question was ever served to me. The key to my success has always been about taking the time to research and come up with the proper match to said answer.
This week she emailed me three compelling options for the coming weekend. A list which included a trip to Philly for a festival. One to Connecticut for some tasty food and a zombie walk in Asbury Park. Knowing my wife pretty well, you can imagine my surprise when my answer “Zombie Walk” matched hers perfectly.
As we came upon Asbury Ave. the traffic hit a stand still. One that brought to mind the first episode of “Walking Dead” where all the cars are left abandoned along a silent highway. I began to look at the clock and think “We’re never going to make it on time.” “And if we do, we’ll never find parking anywhere near the event.” I thought for a second about jumping from the vehicle and walking the rest of the way. But somehow the thought of leaving the security of our vehicle, being eaten or leaving my wife to be devoured by the zombie apocalypse kept my seatbelt firmly in place. Within a matter of minutes the wheels of the cars in front of us began to move and the end of the world was upon us.
As we hit the boardwalk I quickly realized two things. 1. I’d probably have to wait a few hours before the sun began to set and diffuse some of the harsh light that was shining down on the boardwalk. 2. I wasn’t going to get many worthwhile shots if I wasn’t willing to personally connect with the undead I wanted images of. Luckily I was able to slip through the growing crowd rather seamlessly while stopping to interact with the ones who really caught my eye. During the day we came across some amazingly imaginative takes on zombie culture. I managed to stop a wide variety of individuals, groups and families to get lively images. While most were very cooperative and friendly, I often had to remind them that “This ain’t Disney Land.” “It’s the god damned Zombie Apocalypse.” In all 9,592 Zombies walked Asbury parks boardwalk and beach. Enough to set the Guinness Book of World Records previously held by Minneapolis. We had a really fun day that completely took us out of out element. We promised that if Zombie Walk comes back to our area in 2014, We will be in full blown character for the event. I’m looking forward to the experience.