My wife has put it in my head that I should get to work on publishing a book. After numerous conversations and shared ideas. We decided it to play it safe by starting with what I know and do best, that being music photography. Noting my special gift in lacking focus and working on numerous projects at the same time. She gave me the simplified task of choosing twenty images from the last four years of shooting live music and occasionally having them in the studio. Simple enough right? Well, in the two weeks that have followed I’ve set two images aside. Slow? Yes, very. However, I’m going on a number of factors when deciding. One factor being the subjects reaction and appreciation of the image.
The image below was taken of The Brixton Riot’s Jerry Lardieri at Maxwell’s during a particularly rewarding benefit show. Since that show I’ve become a big fan of the band as well as a friend of Jerry’s. I hope to finish this “Twenty Bands” project before long. As I continue picking the next nineteen. I hope to share my choices as well as the stories behind them. Feel free to share your feelings on my choices as well as the bands and artists featured. Here we go.
The Brixton Riot
After a long, hot day in the city with my mom and wife. I was eager to go home, shower, sleep and enjoy a tasty beverage. While we exited the Journal Square PATH together. I took a much need break to separate myself from the crowd as well as my loved ones. As I stopped to allow time for the herd of exiting passengers to thin as they made their way to the escalators. Standing there exhausted, poising myself for the short, yet arduous walk home. I noticed a light peaking through the concrete and metal columns just beyond the tracks. Stopping to take this one image gave me an extra boost of energy as well as short, yet sweet moment to myself. A much needed moment to exhale.
As a photographer I’ve always been intrigued with bikes. Big, small, I love them all. As an owner however, I am a complete and utter failure. If memory serves, I was given my first two wheeler, a red schwinn, at the age of five. Since that time, I’ve had every single one of my bikes sacked, snatched, stolen, swiped or shanghaied.
Despite this life long run of bad luck. I still hold this ancient form of transportation in the highest regard. With lessons learned I find myself remaining grounded giving the soles of my feet the job of getting me to and fro. Regardless of my choice of transportation. I’m still drawn to the eye candy that a road travelled bicycle can bring.
So whenever I come across a sweet looking cycle I make it a point of composing a worthwhile image. One that might detail the bikes history, character or uniqueness. This past weekend I spotted this particular set of wheels outside of a store on Thompson St. in the West Village of Manhattan. I couldn’t help but wonder what treasure that bike’s purse had carried through the years. I’ve promised myself time and time again, that one day I’ll pull together my collection of bicycle portraits, print them up and put them up on the wall. With my luck. They’ll end up getting stolen. Oh well. Such is life.
As I began to plan my route back home last night I ran into more than several dead ends and locked fences. Feeling a bit worn and self aware that I wasn’t exactly walking through territory that saw much heavy foot traffic. The rocky, uneven and muddy ground below me had already began to take it’s tole on my new pair of Nike’s and a slight sense of paranoia had start to set in. Weary of being sighted by any construction foreman’s or pulled over by the authorities. My pace quickened as my eyes widened searching for an opening in one of the fences. As the night grew dark and my path became more like an obstacle course. I kept my eyes close to the ground. That’s when I found buried treasure just below the muddy terrain. Without wasted breath I leaned forward, scooped up a couple and headed towards home. The experience quickly reminded me of my elementary school days when my friends and me would explore the train yards of Sunnyside Queens looking for buried treasure. While I may not be hoping any fences or climbing up on roofs these days. The explorer in me is still alive and well.
If there’s anything I missed in 2014. It would have to be portraits and studio photography. While the year presented many opportunities for travel, event and real estate photography. My studio work suffered greatly for many reasons. Moving to a new and spacious loft in nearby Jersey City offered new opportunities while allowing me to expand and grow. Unfortunately, I stalled in the process and temporarily lost my way. It seems I lost my ability to communicate in a way I’m used to, in a way I’m accustomed to. Then came the winter, the cold, the ice and the snow. During that time, I kept busy, worked on other aspects of my photography and waited. Suddenly an opportunity showed itself when our interior decorator, friend and neighbor stopped by to see the remaining pieces he ordered for our kitchen. A great communicator and story teller in every sense. I asked him to sit for me as I tested some lighting set ups. He happily obliged and within five minutes we had some great photos to go with the stories we had shared. It was a nice moment that reminded me about navigating the highs and lows of creativity. How when one aspect of your work loses steam, another might thrive. Like life itself, creativity is a balancing act. Thanks to my new friend for reminding me.
We were headed to our new bagel hideout when we made the turn just before the designated u-turn that would have put us on track for breakfast. As we rounded the long path that took us past the industrial park and back on to our preferred route. I realized we had hit an unexpected jackpot. That slight misstep allowed us access to some key views of the Pulaski Skyway and the bridge that is currently being worked on. So with camera in hand I hit the car seats eject button and composed a few shots. Within minutes I was back in the car and we were back on track for some fresh bagels and coffee. While there was a time when getting lost might lead me to self doubt and criticism. I’ve learned that it often leads to treasure and unexpected fun. It makes me proud knowing I have absolutely no sense of direction.
As the sun began to set, I grabbed my camera and headed downstairs for a relaxing moment up on the closure. Since moving here, I’ve grown so comfortable with exploring some of the off limits areas of my surroundings. So much so, that I imagined myself bringing a chair and a cooler up to their to watch the traffic go by as the sun sets. While construction on the Pulaski Skyway has been going on long before we moved here. As of this week, it’s intensified to include work that often extends to the morning hours. Quickly, I’ve come to realize that my backyard paradise might soon come to an end. Thinking back, not so long ago, when I first walked up that ramp. The anxiousness, my gelatin legs and that lack of balance I felt. It’s hard to imagine how comfortable I’ve become up there. While as my first trips had me wondering how soon the flashing lights would be upon me or if those circling helicopters were reporting on my whereabouts. I’ve become more and more at ease there. So imagine my surprise when I didn’t hear the truck rolling up on me until it was just inches away. My first thought was “Thank God, it’s not the Police.” That truck just happened to belong to someone with the construction team. Perhaps a foreman. “You know this is off limits and you are trespassing.” He was firm but not like most of the very angry and confrontational people I’ve come across in the past. I apologized, showed him some I.D. and explained how I couldn’t help but be enticed by the beauty of the sunset. I promised to leave, thanked him for understanding and promised not to return. I’m going to miss taking my trips up there, but I feel lucky to have had the chance to get some memorable photos from it. In the meantime, I have my sights set on some new areas to explore and photograph. I can’t wait to get started. Until then. Be good, be safe, be mindful.