As far as good intentions go, Friday morning’s eary trip to the docks on Harbor Avenue to watch the sunrise were as good as they come. It can’t go without saying that waking up and standing by Elliot Bay waiting for the first signs of the sun in freezing weather kind of wrecked us for the rest of day. Still, crossing something off your list definitely has it benefits and rewards. Energized by a day of napping and sampling a wide array of Thanksgiving leftovers. We were recharged enough to endure a two hour trip for hearty plates of pancakes, eggs and delicious biscuits. Fairhaven, Washington seemed the perfect destination. Though we didn’t pick a place the night before. Finding a parking spot right in front of a local eatery worked perfectly for two hungry souls who had driven two hours on empty stomachs. Though Fairhaven’s downtown is quite small. There’s enough shops and goings on to keep people entertained and making frequent returns. By the time we finished eating and walking it off, it was time to hit the road again. As usual, the sun began to set and we pulled over a few times to enjoy what is for me, a perfect time to breath and reflect on just how good things can be if you let them. Aside from almost falling in a ditch and running into oncoming traffic, I’d say I did pretty damn good.
Since moving to Seattle from New Jersey back in June, I’ve spent more and more time writing about my personal experiences. With a music column back in Jersey United By James and all but finished music blog United By Rocket Science. It’s a wonder I ever find any time to write about my own struggles and experiences.
Like with most things in life, we all experience that sense of burnout that often comes with focusing so much of our energy and time on our passions in life. Whether it’s work, relationships or other passions. We all need room to breath and step away in order to view the bigger picture. There have been many times, more than I can count, when I just wanted to fold the tents, close up shop and go home. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t.
After months of writing stories and struggling to find a name for a new writing blog. (Just about every name I came up with was unavailable.) (I was about to try Squirrel Farts.) I’ve decided to incorporate some of these stories to Photo Geek. While it might be a far cry from record reviews and interviews. It’s something I feel will be a positive addition to the blog. Besides, I can’t think of any one who wouldn’t be interested in reading about my crazy life and scatterbrain theories.
When we unexpectedly stopped at the Marina the other day to stock Kenichi’s boat for the upcoming trip. I wanted to kick myself for not bringing my camera. The sight of all the boats and yachts docked amongst the beautiful blue sky was breathtaking to say the very least. While I did regret not having my side arm on hand. I reminded myself that some moments are better left to memory. There was that and the fact that we would soon return to put that boat in the water and sail the Pacific with enough provisions to keep our bellies full for days. Well, that day came today and despite some initial concern on how I was going to get my unbalanced ass on to the boat. It was, for lack of a better term “smooth sailing.” Kayuri’s Dad Kenichi has many passions in life, sailing being his greatest. Not only is he an excellent sailor. He’s won more than his share of trophy’s and ribbons in sailing competitions over the years. As a man who always seems to be in high spirits. Laughing and toasting for days on end. Seeing him at wheel of his boat is by far, the happiest he’s been. Over our last two visits and this one. He disappeared in to the ocean for days on end. Lucky for us, we got to go out with him today and will have a second chance before the weekend is over. I’m happy to say. The New Year started on the right foot. Be well. Be awesome.
As we headed to Tokyo. I couldn’t help but feel a bit anxious. The combination of an empty stomach. My Sister-in-Laws taste in music and the fact that I had accidentally walked in on her as she was finishing up her shower were all in clear focus. Somehow those factors would stay with me for what seemed to be a long ride. Fortunately, for me and my wife. A really good meal washed any and all anxiety I may have carried in to the city that day. After an excellent meal at Tiger Gyoza Hall. We headed towards the Asakusa Shrines. A small, yet highly populated area I fell in love with during my first trip to Japan in 2001.
This was my third trip to Tokyo since we arrived and I promised myself to be a little more open minded about the city than I had been in my two prior posts on the big city. Aa we inched closer to our destination the crowds thickened and I went from dodging passing bicyclists to avoiding collisions with pedestrians. Overall, it was a great day. The shrines were packed and I was both visually and spiritually stimulated. Tomorrow we’ll be heading back to Tokyo to have lunch with one of Kayuri’s closest friends Junko. (June-Ko) She was the head of my wife’s bridal party at our wedding. So it only seems fit that she will be taking us out for lunch and to see Star Wars “The Force Awakens”. Things are getting interesting around here… and elsewhere.
Weekends have become a time to get lost and reflect on things that matter to me. The things that make me happy and those that I’d like to spend more time focusing my energy and time on. This morning, as we drove past a farm. I caught a quick glimpse of several cows conspiring near a barn. The mere sight of these beautiful animals always sends me in to a full blown state of euphoria. While we didn’t stop to trespass. It did remind of the things I love and hold dear. Minutes later we stopped at a corn field before getting out of the car to buy some farm fresh tomatoes,berries, plums and corn. Not a bad way to start my day.
The other night I posed a simple, yet complex question to a friend and fellow music photographer. “Can you ever see yourself enjoying, or even going to a show or concert without your camera?” It was a question I had to ask, considering I’ve asked it of myself countless times. After what seemed to be a decades long pause, he exhaled “No. I don’t.” The answer was as much a surprise as it was a relief. Having asked myself that very same question numerous times over the years. I find it somewhat strange that I know for a fact that I couldn’t. I don’t see any time in the near of distant future where I’m hanging back with a beer in my hand taking the show in as nothing more than a spectator. Whereas I see myself now as the old man with the camera at the show. I’ll probably end up as the really old man with the moment capturing apparatus at shows twenty years from now. Otherwise, I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
If there’s anything I missed in 2014. It would have to be portraits and studio photography. While the year presented many opportunities for travel, event and real estate photography. My studio work suffered greatly for many reasons. Moving to a new and spacious loft in nearby Jersey City offered new opportunities while allowing me to expand and grow. Unfortunately, I stalled in the process and temporarily lost my way. It seems I lost my ability to communicate in a way I’m used to, in a way I’m accustomed to. Then came the winter, the cold, the ice and the snow. During that time, I kept busy, worked on other aspects of my photography and waited. Suddenly an opportunity showed itself when our interior decorator, friend and neighbor stopped by to see the remaining pieces he ordered for our kitchen. A great communicator and story teller in every sense. I asked him to sit for me as I tested some lighting set ups. He happily obliged and within five minutes we had some great photos to go with the stories we had shared. It was a nice moment that reminded me about navigating the highs and lows of creativity. How when one aspect of your work loses steam, another might thrive. Like life itself, creativity is a balancing act. Thanks to my new friend for reminding me.
Unable to sleep the other night I walked down to the Hudson River to watch the sun rise over the Manhattan skyline. The morning air is so fresh and cool while that feeling of solitude before the day breaks is the perfect tonic for clearing the mind. As I stood there admiring the day in it’s infancy I noticed this man paddling north. The site of this solitude man looking up at a monster of a city was awe inspiring. It reminded me that no fight is too big. No task is to hard. We can accomplish anything we put our mind to. Here’s to a new day and taking on every challenge that comes our way.
I was having a conversation recently with a photographer I had just met the day before. We were just talking shop and sharing some of our experiences. Then she said something that hit me like a bag of sand. (bags of sand are quite heavy.) She said “To be honest. I’m only truly happy when I’m shooting.” I sat frozen for a second. A second that seemed like a lifetime. This woman who I had just met said what I’ve been feeling for so long. It was as if someone had just hijacked my soul and said the very words that I’ve never been able to say myself.
Since I was a child I always had this hyper creativity about myself. Always writing and creating in one way or another. It wasn’t until I got into photography that it really hit me though. From the moment I got my first camera I was obsessed. As I got better that obsession took up more and more of my time and occupied more real estate in my thoughts. When I think about it I’m reminded of an old Ray Romano skit where he talks about his young daughter of four. She was looking out the window in what seemed to be deep thought for some time. When he asked her what she was thinking about. She replied “Candy”. That’s me. Only a lot older and with photography. I was laying in bed last night around 4:00 AM. Tossing and turning, reflecting on that days shoot and the ones that are coming. Thinking of how I can avoid having my pictures start to look the same. Working on new concepts and ideas. I just can’t put my mind to rest. Laying awake my eyes focused the wardrobe in front of the bed. “What if I emptied it out and photographed someone inside. Someone who feels trapped.” It’s fucking 4:00 AM and I’m thinking about this shit. It’s crazy.
My long time friend Mandy got me into volunteering a little over a year ago. During the times I shot these events I’ve received so much love and praise for pictures I thought were pretty mediocre. I’ve sent them to her with an almost apologetic tone. Of course she’s always positive and appreciative, exclaiming “these are amazing.” “Why are you so hard on yourself?” The thing is, I’m not an events photographer but I want to be at my very best regardless. Even when I’m shooting portraits, something that I’ve become very good at. I keep thinking “I can do better. I can do more.” It’s an obsession.
The plain and simple truth is that when I’m shooting. When I’m in that mindset. I’m the very best I think I’ve ever been or can be. I’m pretty much a dork when it comes down to it. But when I’m in the studio communicating and creating, I feel like a fucking Rock Star. I can say and do things I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I’m happy and confident. I’m not shy, self conscious or clumsy. (okay, maybe a little clumsy.) Not to freak anyone out but I’ve even compared it to sex. Not quite there but about as close to an orgasm as you can get without….. well, you know. So yeah, maybe I am only truly happy when I’m shooting. God, help me.