Sebastianne came into my life at the age of three. At the time I had become close friends with her mom KC. Through the years KC and I remained good friends and I watched Sebastianne grow and mature. Even as a baby I was impressed and even amazed at what a smart and well behaved kid she was. She always seemed mature beyond her age. She was very special to me and along with her mom was there for some of the most important times in my life. As the years went by both KC and I moved out of Manhattan and saw less of one another. There were holidays and the occasional get together. They remained very special and loved throughout. A few years back I was having a special dinner with some friends on the lower east side and invited KC to join us. We were already in mid celebration when KC arrived with a friend. As I stood up to give her a hug I asked “Who’s your friend?” It turned out to be Sebastianne. In a short time she had morphed from a cute child to a woman. She was the same sweet, beautiful kid. I couldn’t get over how much she had sprouted. Fast forward to last week. I was in the middle of a session when the phone rang. I didn’t pick it up due to the fact I was in midst of photographing a beautiful woman. Later that night I checked my phone and didn’t notice the 914 area code. Once I checked the message I was still a little unsure. The message was very basic just mentioning her name and to call her back when I got the chance. When I did call back I realized right away who it was. My sweetheart Sebastianne. We talked and made plans to get together before she was set to start high school today. So yesterday I went up to Harlem and picked her up from the train. We went out for lunch at Gobo in the village and had a chance to catch up. She filled me in on her Summer and what she’s been up to. There are a handful of people in my life that occupy space in my heart. People you would do anything for at the drop of a hat without any questions asked. She is without a doubt one them. After lunch we headed back to Hoboken and did a laid back , impromptu photo session. Sebastianne is a really smart gifted kid. She loves to read, learn, writes, including her own songs. She’s beautiful but not the least bit self involved. A lot of kids her age hit that rough patch where they think everything is lame and stupid but she’s so balanced I don’t have the least bit of worry about it. Later that night we watched the movies I let her pick out at Blockbuster (Pink Panther I and II) and laughed ’til it hurt. This morning I drove her home and to her first day of High School. Sebastianne, I’d wish you luck but I know you’re going to synch it. Love you always.
Despite the humidity and heat yesterday couldn’t have gone better if I had wished so. The day started with a run to the city and in particular Calumet Photo. As noted in previous blogs I’ve had numerous problems with sync cords not working properly and being an overall hazard for someone as clumsy and accident prone as myself. After my session with Alexandra this week I was determined to trash my sync cords and finally go wireless. I stopped in to Calumet to talk with one of the sales associates about a wireless device called the Pocket Wizard II. I wanted to know more about how it worked and make sure it was compatible with my Canon 50 D and Genesis studio lights. After a short demo I was convinced wireless was my destiny and made the purchase. I then grabbed lunch and headed back home to get some work done before heading back in to the city for my late afternoon session.
Earlier in the week I scheduled two portrait sessions within a few minutes of each other. Risky considering the fact that people always seem to arrive late no matter what. I also seem to have to deal with a lot of last minute cancelations. Luckily my first session arrived right on time and we were able to get started. I had met Theory a few weeks prior and had already had a couple of mutual cancellations due to the non stop rain we’ve been dealing with. Theory is a pretty cool dude.
the West Side of Chelsea. Theory being a lot younger and from the West Coast seemed to be surprised by the stories I told about how the area was when I was living in the city. How what is now a hub of galleries, boutiques and restaurants was once a thriving meat packing industry by day and a red light district by night. As for our session we were able to get a lot of great shots without taking all that many. Two of the things I’ve really been working on improving in my photography is consistency and attention to detail. I think I accomplished what I was looking to do.
Just as Theory had arrived right on time my next shoot was just as punctual. We had planned on meeting at the Apple store at 6:00. It turns out we were standing right next to one another and didn’t even realize it for a few minutes. My first impression of Hugh was right on target. Plain and simple this is what I would call a “Cool Cat’. Tall, long dreds and soft spoken. His prior emails where he addressed me as “Sir” led me to believe he was channeling a James Bond character. His sharp looking motorcycle jacket and Duccati bike only reinforced that image. Hugh is an aspiring actor who takes classes only blocks away from where I lived in Hells Kitchen. Our shoot would have went off without a hitch if it were not for some idiot knocking his bike over when pulling out of the parking spot in front of him. The hit not only knocked over the bike but broke his mirror and tail light. All while scratching his helmet. So much for accountability. No note was left. Other than that it was a stellar day. Hugh loved his shots and I’m looking forward to showing Theory his.
Last night I met up in Chelsea with Berd for some head-shots and tests. I met Berd in my Hell’s Kitchen days when she worked only a few blocks from me at the Virgin Mega- Store. At the time I was just starting work on my first portfolio. Most of my work and inspiration was coming from strangers I would approach. I had this crazy energy back then and was never afraid to engage complete strangers in conversation and ask that they pose for me. One day I was at the Virgin Mega-Store looking for some new tunes to wrap my ears around. As I twas riding the escalator upstairs I noticed the most beautiful woman going in the opposite direction. I was in total awe. My head dropped while my jaw dropped further. No joking, her eyes were like none I had ever seen before. I was tempted to turn around and talk to her but for whatever reason I was gripped with anxiety and fear. When I got home I couldn’t help but think of missed opportunities. What if I would have just said “Hello”? Later that week I was back at Virgin looking for more music and alas, there she was. This time I approached and introduced myself. I told her I was working on my first portfolio and would love to photograph her. She probably thought “who the hell is this nut?” I probably came off like one. I remember telling her what beautiful eyes she had. She really did. Well, she agreed to get together as we shot some work at the community garden across the street from where I lived. I saw her a few times after and over time lost touch. A few years later I ran into her in Chelsea. She had shaved her head but still looked as beautiful as ever. We spoke briefly and went our separate ways. We’d kept in touch through Facebook but last night was the first time I’d seen her since that brief encounter in Chelsea. I hate the phrase “Some things just get better with age.” But in this case the phrase fits like a glove. It’s hard to believe but Berd is even more beautiful today than she was back when I met her more than ten years ago. It was an absolute pleasure spending time and getting to know her all over again.
I was kind of down in the dumps today. Trying hard to make this photography thing work. Trying to find a second job and a new home. Blah, Blah, Blah. I guess my head was just not in the right place. When I got home I checked my inbox and there was a really nice testimony that the woman I worked with the day before had sent. I’m posting it here because well, it’s my blog and when someone says something this nice about their experience and my work I’m gonna flaunt it. So here it is.
“James Damion is one of the most professional and encouraging photographers that I have ever worked with. He works to accentuate your best features and makes you feel like a super model during your photo session. I need to upgrade my online portfolio so that I can include more of James’ pictures of me in my gallery. These pictures are SO good I’m going to have a hard time choosing which ones! If your trying to decide on a photographer for your head-shots, portraits or pictures for your next project, let me save you the trouble of looking elsewhere. Let James Damion work his magic for you.” Erica Douglas, Actress
Took a trip to D.U.M.BO. Brooklyn with a friend the other day. For those of you scratching your heads D.U.M.B.O. Stands for down under the Manhattan bridge overpass. It was a really nice day and i didn’t feel like being cooped up in the studio. My friend being somewhat new to New York had never been there and it’s always fun checking out new things. D.U.M.B.O. is a great little area with cobblestone streets, old factory buildings and lofts. It’s also shadowed by the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges which creates a nice man made shade which is great for taking pictures. We walked around snapping away while making our way towards the water. At one point while taking some pictures we were approached by a Parks Department Employee. He approached me rather aggressively and asked “What are you doing?” Feeling a bit ambushed I replied “What do you mean? What am I doing?” He said “What are you taking pictures for?” I kept playing dumb “what do you mean?” It started to get fun by this time. He starts “It looks like your taking head shots” “What are you shooting for?” I tilted my head and look confused “what’s a head shot?”. I told him it was a beautiful day and I was just taking pictures of my girlfriend. He then went on to inform me that if I was taking pictures for anything I needed a permit. We moved along and found a more private spot away from the eyes of “the man” and finished shooting what we needed. As we walked off we laughed. She took my arm and jokingly said “wow, I didn’t know I was your girlfriend.” It’s getting crazy how often this kind of thing happens. When have our basic rights to enjoy ourselves become so compromised?