As the dusk began to fall over the warm, sunny Tacoma sky and we continued to explore the industrial area just across the Tacoma Bridge. My wife kept asking “Do you smell that?” “It smells like shit.” After checking the bottom of my shoes and my tighty whities. I confidently replied “That’s horse shit.” Quickly and visibly puzzled, she cocked her head before asking “How do you know the difference between the smell of dog shit and horse shit?” Knowing an answer was required. I quickly replied “I grew up in New York City.” Despite that lingering smell and the questions of it’s origins. I really enjoyed my time under and around Tacoma Bridge.
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.