Washington Square Park has always been a place with so much energy and inspiration. Be it be musicians, the colorful characters, the fountain, arch or maybe even the drug dealers. There’s something for everyone. If you enter on the West side of the park you’ll surely find inspiration from the chess tables. There you’ll see people from of all walks of life gathering for one reason….. The Game. Last week as I entered the park an older gentleman asked if I’d like to play. I smiled and in passing replied “I’m sorry, I never learned.” to which he smiled and replied “I’ll teach you.” If not for my being in a rush I would have taken him up on his offer. The exchange took place in a matter of seconds but it stuck with me. So when I walked into the park today I looked for that gentleman to perhaps take him up on his offer. Almost immediately I spotted him. There he was smiling and teaching this young kid the game. He leaned forward and in a sweet and deliberate voice explained each move to the child. It made me smile and think how we all have it in us to teach and make a difference in people’s lives.It can just take a moment. Whether it be a loved one or a complete stranger. It’s in all of us.
Earlier today I went back to my old neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen for my first day of teaching 5th and 6th graders the art of Black & White photography. I’ve been a volunteer with NY Cares for about a year now and in all honesty, it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Throughout most of the year I’ve been volunteering with the Hudson Guild in Chelsea. Hudson Guild offers underprivileged first, second and third graders a place to go after school. Helping with their homework and art projects has been lots of fun. I myself and not much of an artist and having a six year old make fun of your skills with the crayons, scissors and glue can be pretty damaging to the ego. Photography Explorers, however, is right up my alley. I had a great time and loved working with the kids. I plan on becoming a regular and will be bringing the portable studio to the next session. Teaching them about portraiture should be a lot of fun. Judging from all the characters I met today. We should have a lot of good pictures.
Travel and life in general is all about taking detours and exploring roads less traveled. This weekend while crossing the Betsy Ross Bridge into Philadelphia we sited an interesting old building to the left of us. Many is the time I’ve traveled the highways and routes and wondered about the history and stories of the old buildings that stood off to the sides. This time I was intrigued enough to take that exit and do a little exploring of my own. We exited and followed our instincts back to the old building. What turned out to be an old power plant wasn’t quite as interesting close up as it was off the bridge. Regardless, we stopped and got out to take some shots and explore the nearby railroad tracks.
As I was photographing the garbage and refuse left on the abandoned tracks I noticed three kids approaching in the distance. I could just make out their figures as I gazed into the hot sun. It was like something out of a post apocalyptic movie. I continued to shoot images of the warped LP’s as the grew closer. Just as they reached me they stopped in their tracks and asked what I was taking pictures of. It was somewhat surreal. Here were these kids with no shirts, no shoes walking the rail road tracks. It reminded me a lot of my childhood. From as far back as I can remember we spent much of our time playing on and exploring construction sites and running around in the train yard over in Sunnyside Queens. It seems like much of my childhood was spent ignoring “No Trespassing” signs and entering restricted areas. This trio was very friendly and inquisitive. Asking me lots of questions. Never displaying an ounce of fear or hesitance. Much like I was as a kid. It really brought me back. As I get older I hope to keep some of that adventurous spirit with me.
The weather today was just perfect. The kind of day where you want to get outside, feel the sun on your face and dip your toes in the water. I had a really busy day but was eventually able to head over to Washington Square Park. I always hear people talk about how they could never raise their kids in the city. Personally, I can’t imagine a better place to grow up. Manhattan offers some of the best parks you can imagine. Washington Square and Union Square are two of my favorites because they offer so much in such a small area of space. The Parks are always full of music, art and activity. As a photographer they keep me inspired and allow my creativity to thrive. At times there’s so much going on it makes my head spin and before I know it I’ve been there for hours. “Look at that….Wait, look at that…No, look at that.” Today was one of those days. The fountain is a particular favorite of mine. There aren’t many swimming pools in the city outside of the YMCA and the pricy Health Clubs so this is the spot. The fountain is in the center of the park which is evident by all the activity surrounding it. In the last year I’ve gotten a little obsessed with taking pictures around water. I love the energy and being able to freeze that moment. I’m really looking forward to more days like today.
The temperatures were headed into the 80’s today so we headed over to Brooklyn for Chicken and Waffles on Washington St. and to check out the Cherry Blossoms at the Botanical Gardens. There’s a cool sprinkler outside of the museum that shoots out of the ground intermittently. The water dances in and out almost like a ballet. The kids were going crazy and although there are easily viewable signs that say “Do not Enter”. The kids never seemed to care. Come to think of it. Why should they? Due to a combination of too much food and too much sun (if there is such a thing) we never made it inside the Gardens. Somehow just sitting on the Museum steps and watching those kids have such a good time seemed like enough.