As Hoboken’s Drum Den celebrates its tenth year in business, I reached out to my old friend Pete to talk about the business and life behind the drums. http://www.jerseybeat.com/petemartinez.html
I was having this conversation with a potential client when my humble studio beginnings came up. I shared how I somehow managed to set up a makeshift home studio in my small Hoboken apartment. Not only was the space incredibly small, but those who dared venture in to the mile square for a session had to follow up their nightmarish search for parking with a three floor walk up to said apartment. Strangely enough, I made it work to moderate degrees of success.
Fast forward a couple of years and I’ve just about quadrupled my space in nearby Jersey City where parking is a breeze and elevators seem to be all the rage.
Still, with the sizable change. I often find myself trying to find space to set up a full function studio as well as finding closet space to store away equipment while I’m not using it. And while any mention of clutter or booby trapped studio equipment is strictly that of an over worked imagination. I’ve been ever vigilant to keep things, if not out of mind,. At least out of sight.
Needless to say, my new found focal length has given me the space between my subject while having my subject further enough from the background to avoid unwanted shadows and unexpected falloff.
Yes, I’m still clumsy, but I haven’t broken anything or caused any permanent damage since I got here. Hopefully, with a little coaxing and improved balance I’m beginning to feel more confident in myself snd my work. If that continues, doors are sure to open.
Last night I added a KIDS section to Damion Photo which includes studio and location shots taken at local parks and beaches. Working with children and families has been one of the most rewarding parts of my photography life. Something I hope to dive head first back into in the coming months. I’m currently booking Spring sessions which include visiting clients homes where kids seem most comfortable. I also plan to continue taking advantage of Hoboken’s Parks and beautiful Hudson River view. There will be many updates and additions in the coming days, weeks and months. Come visit and watch for the coming updates. Yours Truly, The Photo Geek
Realizing it was the fourth of the month and we had yet to pay the garage. We raced over with minutes left before a late fee would be added to the already pricy cost to house our vehicle. Though our attention was squarely placed on getting there before the strike of midnight. The layers of fog and downright ghostly spell our town had fallen under. Upon return home I quickly reached for my camera and headed back out. Though I have less than zero skills when it come to night photography. I felt I owed it to myself to at least try. The crisp night air and solitude provided a sense of tranquility I rarely experience. I find these little moments of peace to be priceless. It clears the mind while awakening the senses. Not bad if you ask me.
As stated in my last post. I finally had the chance to wander the halls of Hoboken’s landmark building Neumann Leathers. After hitting the drums for an hour or so I took a few minutes to explore the nooks and crannies of this character filled old factory. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved going to factories, junk yards and “Off Limits” areas to explore, investigate and take pictures. Sadly, most of these places have quickly disappeared. Ultimately being replaced by soulless high rises and retail franchises. Forv me personally, finding spots like these is like winning the lottery. Below are several of my favorite images from my exploration.
In my ten plus years as a Hoboken Resident I’ve driven or walked past the Neumann Leathers building countless times. And though I had taken many pictures around and outside of the sizable landmark. I had never once ventured inside the building. That was until today. In recent weeks I’ve had the pleasure of running into Pete Martinez. Best known to me as the drummer for New Jersey Power Pop kings Stuyvesant. I consider him, like many of the musicians and bands I rub elbows with to be more of an acquaintance than anything. Yet during the last couple of times we’ve talked at shows, he’s extended a hearty invitation to come pound on the drums at “The Drum Den”. Which, by the way, is located just inside Neumann Leathers. So today, with a few hours on my hands and a lot of aggression to work on. I took Pete up on his invitation.
Following a hearty welcome and a healthy tour of the facilities, (The place is a lot larger and organized than I ever envisioned.) we got down to business and started laying the foundations of learning to play the drums. Though I went in there to just basically make some noise and take out some pent up aggression. I found myself listening and wanting to learn more. Though I lacked any sense rhythm, I listened and learned about the kick, the snare, the toms and the symbols. I learned how to position myself, hold the sticks and hit the snares properly. Honestly, I got a lot more than I came for and Pete? I just can’t say enough about the guy. He put up with my lack of timing and rhythm and was a true teacher. So much so that I’ve convinced myself to go back and take some lessons.
After we finished I managed to stick around for a while, take some pictures and eventually meet Mitch Cady. We briefly spoke about the place and me wanting to take some shots. I gave him a couple of business cards. Both of which featured images taken at Maxwell’s. Turns out he used to do sound there. Well, small world. From there I creeped around the building getting some shots of the old factory. It’s become quite evident that there are fewer and fewer of these places around anymore. Places with a sense of history and character. I feel lucky to have had a chance to see it in it’s original form. I’m sure that my return will reward me with further corners and crevices to explore. Hopefully my rhythm and timing will be improved when I do. Thanks Pete. Thanks Mitch.
It’s been a while since I posted anything but that doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination, mean that I haven’t been busy. Though the heat and some planned renovations have brought my studio work to a grinding halt. My event and real estate photography have taken off. One of the strangest yet most rewarding types of work I’ve been getting is animal photography. I’ve always loved animals and in particular dogs. As a kid my parents had a saluki, my grandmother a collie and my step dad a doberman. When my wife and I were getting ready to buy a condo in nearby Jersey City, we talked as much about getting an Bull Dog as much as we did about new furniture. Spending much of this Summer cavorting with canines has been rewarding both personally and monetarily. Experiencing the relationships and family bond between dogs and humans. One can’t help but absorb the warmth and love. Hopefully my dog day will come soon. With a new air system I’m looking forward to a much more comfortable studio environment which should bring more exciting shoots to muse about. I just upgraded the blog giving myself a new domain name and unlimited space which will allow me to go crazy with the amount of images I can upload. All my best to my friends and those who’ve been keeping up with the blog. Stay cool and remain calm.
A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to sit and interview Norwegian singer, songwriter Dyveke as she was finishing up her album at Water Sound recording studios here in Hoboken. Though I had just met her our exchange was very easy and open ended. I learned a lot about her during that hour or so conversation. I learned about her upbringing in Norway. Her music education in Liverpool England and her recording with some very talented and well known artists. I also learned one very important thing. “Sarcasm is not a part of Norwegian culture.” Knowledge that could have served me well if i had remembered days later when we prepared to start our photo session.
As we drove from nearby Jersey City to my place in Hoboken I shared a recent experience I had with a very difficult customer. In telling the story I mentioned that I got to a point where I thought to myself “I could just take that nearby pillow and snuff the life out of her.” Though it was meant purely as a joke and to show just how bad the interaction had spiraled out of control. My new friend and model for the day did not take it as such. As we got out of the car, she revealed that my story had really gotten to her and she no longer felt comfortable going to the studio alone with me. I immediately recalled her explaining to me that sarcasm is something foreign to Norway. At that moment, I felt like a complete and total ass. A cad, a fool and a villain all rolled up into one horses ass. As we walked I tried to ease her fears and tensions with no results. The backgrounds, lights and refreshments were all ready for action but production had been shut down. I made the best of my foolishness and followed her suggestion to just go with some location shots. As we walked along the Hoboken side of the Hudson, her tensions seemed to ease. I did my best to convince her I wasn’t one to murder old ladies, feed arsnic to children or kidnap Norwegian singer/songwriters. I really felt terrible about my stupidity. As a photographer, the most important thing I can do is make my subject feel comfortable and trust my instincts. Without that, I am a lost soul. That’s when she assured me that everything was okay. That someday, “We’ll both look back on this and laugh.” I certainly hope so. I realize we all make mistakes. We all fail from time to time. So, instead of banging my head against the wall and continually punishing myself for my own stupidity. I hope to learn from my mistakes, learn and move on. Overall, my experience with her was very positive. I learned a lot about a very talented musician. One that came all the way from Norway to record in my mile square town. I met a stranger and learned from her. I even got a story to tell for my little blog.
The older I get the more I find myself playing catch up. I work harder, sleep less and seem to be having more fun than any other time in my life. This creates an unforeseen problem. There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day or days in the week to accomplish the tasks I hope to accomplish. You’d think that with all the modern technology at our fingertips, things would be made easier. Maybe it’s just me, but it only seems to make things more difficult. My neglect towards this blog only serves as a reminder. One of the things I decided to do is start a new installment to the blog titled “Flashback Friday”. This will allow me to free myself from any time
constraints and show work that from the recent or somewhat recent past.
This weeks install doesn’t go that far back. The second week of August to be exact. I was still recovering from surgery when I was contacted by Dromedary Records head Al Crisafulli and Jim Testa of Jersey Beat asking if i
would cover a two day, three show music fest at Maxwells. The festival, strangely named “Camelfest: would benefit the Roots and Wings Foundation. A group that serves to help those that are aging out of the Foster Care System. It sounded like a great cause. Definitely worthy of attention. The thing was I was just out of the hospital recovering from surgery. I still had my stitches/staples in (Eleven if anyone’s counting) and was told to rest and stay out of crowds or situations where you might be bumping into people. “Fuck it” I said. You only live once and Maxwell’s is only a few blocks from me. It wasn’t as if I’d be getting caught in a mosh or have people stage diving on my head. So I went, covered all three shows and had a great time. The few times when I really felt the pain of my surgery was when I bumped myself with my own camera. By the end of it all I was exhausted and needed an entire day to sleep it off. Regardless
, I’m glad I got to be a part of something special. I finally got to meet Al from Dromedary. He’s an all around awesome dude. It was really special getting to see him really enjoy himself on the final night. Enjoy the pics.