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.
It’s often I find a friend who not only shares my passion for documenting the off-limits. Even more of a rarity when one asks if they can come along. When that friend just happens to have worked with me in a studio environment. The urge to capture that beauty among the rubble is surely alluring, but then again. When will I have time to spend wandering with this friend. Why would I steal time from this perfect moment, only to turn it into something it was never intended to be? Realizing just that so quickly not only allowed me to enjoy her company. It served as a lesson in that I in order to become a better communicator. I need to become a better listener. I’m not there yet. Far from it, but knowing where I want to be heading just might get me there faster. The images I posted below will hopefully express my intention to include her while allowing her a sense of ambiguity.
Last week as we travelled the winding roads and peeks that the colorful canvas of New York’s upstate beautiful landscape. Stopping often to enjoy the orchards and farms that served as the areas fuel for our bellies as well as a chance to stop to stretch our legs and breathe the mountain air. Though Autumn’s colors were still in their infancy. The browns, oranges and greens were more than us city dwellers had seen in a long time. As my wife loaded up on fresh veggies, fruit, apple cider and those delicious donuts. I took my lens to the skies and shot what I could while battling the harsh mid day sun. As we settled in at home that night and looked through the images I shot.
My better half seemed unimpressed with the skies lack of pop. “Plenty of blue, but where’s the contrast? Where’s the pop?” “Where’s the Drama?”While I agreed, I felt the need to defend myself, noting. “There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.” While my defense was just enough to keep me from having my came confiscated. It made me think aloud, “Why am I not using my filters?” Soon after, I dug feverishly through the containers of photo gear I rarely use and found a small assortment of filters that have gone unused for over a decade. Amongst them I found a polarizer I purchased at University Place while living in NYC in 1994. The next day, like magic, the clouds came out and danced with delight. Not having the time to drive upstate. I headed downstairs and took what you see below. Not bad, considering I hadn’t used a filter since I was a young sex machine in the 1990’s. Perhaps it’s time to start using them more often while attempting a return to my old (yet younger) self.
Everyone seems to have their own form of meditation. Something to help find the calm and focus needed to cleanse their mind of the clutter, stress and anxiety they deal with on a day to day basis. Personally, I have explored many channels in recent years. Many of which work very well .
One of mantras I’ve adopted over the last year or so is my nightly walk. One of the things that helped us fall in love with our current home is it’s industrial surroundings. With all the bridges, train yards and factories nearby. One could not ask for more character and personality. Watching the sun set over such a beautiful landscape brings me a sense of peace I can’t quite describe and hope to never take for granted. If I was able to dole out advice to anyone. I would recommend that whenever possible. Find those private moments where you can enjoy being alone. Breathe deep and be in the moment for as long as you can.
Last week my wife and decided to forgo our excursion into the city to stay somewhat local and explore Jersey City. As we came upon the historic Harsimus Cemetery I realized that, while we had passed and spoken about it countless times. I had never taken her inside to visit the goats who call the cemetery their summer home. Knowing how much she would enjoy the experience. I convinced her to stop in for a visit without going much further in detail as to what was ahead.
Quicker than it took to ascend the hill. Kayuri’s curiosity turned to wonderment as she began building a quick kinship with the beautiful goats of Harsimus. Within minutes she was racing back down the hill to exchange her bills for quarters so that she could score some snacks to feed her new friends with. Gleefully squealing and squirming as J.W., Arturo and Alexander (Correct me if I’m wrong on that one.) eagerly feasted on every morsel she hand fed them. It was a rewarding experience she still speaks about a week later.
Having something as unique and special in our very own backyard is worthy of both celebration and support. The amount of work put in to maintaining this historic spot is paramount in supporting our community, as well as it’s history. For more information, a calendar of events and how to volunteer. Visit Jersey City Cemetary
One morning last week there came an authoritative knock on my door. On the other side of the door was a Viking helmet adorned neighbor blowing a horn declaring a day of action. Knowing the call of a Viking and the failure to properly follow Viking code full well. I followed him down to where the bikes, horses and Viking ships are docked. It had been a couple of years since I’d been on a a bike. (My last one, as well as every bike I’ve ever know has been stolen at one point or another.) Knowing full well my history as well as my recent battles with gravity. Said friend let me take a spin around the safely enclosed garage to help me get familiar. After a few twists, turns, crashes and fall downs. I was granted my own Viking helmet and we were off. And while our buildings surroundings aren’t very bike or hike friendly. A sturdy mountain bike and a seasoned leader more than get the job done.
After a short ride down the hill and a slight turn to the right. It seemed that we hit pay dirt. For that road led to all the things I love and enjoy both exploring and photographing. Trains, factories, train yards… You name it. The only thing missing was a junk yard with featuring an unchained rabid guard dog. I felt like a kid again. We hadn’t even made it half way to the end and I was already making reservations to return. After a few stops to take in the sites atop the railroad cars We took the road all the way to Secaucas before hitting what seemed to be the river of deceit.
After a break and a survey of the land we had discovered, conquered and thoroughly photographed. We headed back on the rocky path that brought us there. As time had passed I had become more and more comfortable with the slightly oversized bike. So much so that my buddy gave me his official thumbs up. Half way back, the days heat, coupled with my lack of balance began to take their toll. Like a good soldier, I kept the pace. Assuring myself that, once we get passed this rocky strip of road and onto solid pavement, I’m home free. Then, as soon as I hit solid ground. Every ounce of strength I had left gave out and I hit the pavement like a hundred and forty pound sack of wet bricks. Aside from a few bumps, bruises and damaged ego. I was fine. Though I ended up walking the bike the rest of the way home. The trip and the overall experience, as well as the opportunity to earn my very own Viking helmet, were more than worth the spilt blood. That weekend I returned, on foot of course, and did some more exploring as a solo act. I really love that the area we chose to live in offers such a diverse and colorful landscape.
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.
Journal Square is, by far, the strangest area I’ve ever lived in. Just within reach of my own home. Neighbors let trash sit in their yards for months at a time. Homeowners who never bother to take a broom to their sidewalks or curbs. At times, the streets smell like a stable of horses with a bad case of diarrhea are running amok on Tonnelle and Newark Ave.. And while this element of shame is luckily confined to a small area. It’s still eludes any connection to common sense. So when I came across a front yard that still had it’s Christmas decorations displayed in June. It made me smile, thinking “At least it’s not a fucking toilet.” Merry Christmas Journal Square.
This afternoon while walking on a stretch of Route 9 highway. I had a straight up “Stand By Me” moment. You know, the moment where they’re walking on the train tracks and come upon the bridge. Well, in my case it wasn’t train tracks or the fear of an oncoming train bearing down on me. As I passed the cemetery gates and the overpass looking down on the train yard. I suddenly came to a dead end. The rocky, gravely road I had been walking on for miles ceased to exist at what seemed like the final leg of my journey home.
Stopped in my tracks. I looked at my limited options. Already bloodied and still bleeding from a fall about a half mile back. I wiped my sun beaten brow and began to contemplate my narrow choices. Option 1; Walk just a matter of feet (Maybe a hundred or so) on the shoulder of a very busy shoulder of the road that turned onto 9 South and the Pulaski Bridge and proceed to what is known as “The Circle of Death. Option 2; Walk back about a half mile and cross at the next available signal. Having recently watched as car after car mindlessly broke for the shoulder (unfortunately for them, towards a tragic accident and in to the waiting sirens or the local police.) and how dangerous that spot tends to be. I began limping back towards the traffic light in the not so close distance. As I limped towards my destination I spotted a small break in the concrete medium and waited for my chance to bolt towards it. Lucky for me, I made it across without being hit or causing any collisions. Before long I was home wiping the blood from my leg. If there’s anything to be learned from my experience. It would be to dress appropriately. Sandals and shorts are not recommended when walking the highways or exploring local junkyard’s or industrial complexes. Two, take the high road. Life is too precious to have it end foolishly.