How many of us know where we will be in 50 years? I doubt any of us, least of all me. Maybe Mary and Frank didn’t know the details, but something tells me that when they exchanged vows a half a century ago, they knew they’d still be together. So we were thrilled when they asked us to be a part of their magical night, a Fiftieth Wedding Celebration filled with family and friends. Their original wedding was a simple one so Frank pulled out all the stops for his bride, and the night was elegant in every way, thanks in part to our great friend Gary the DJ who kept the crowd on their feet.
Here’s to another 50, you two lovebirds…
I’m all ready for Camp Creek.
The first time I went to camp, I tossed some beers into a cooler, and headed off to upstate New York. In a few days I’m packing the car with my D90, my D7000, an armada of lenses, lots of blank SD cards, batteries, and lots of bottled water. Then it’s off to Maine. Another show I’ll be seeing through my lens.
It was music that first pushed me into photography. I’ve been around music since I was a teen, working in the studio, schlubbing gear for any band in Queens that would either pay me or give me free beers. All that time, I sat around, unable to participate because to be honest, I can’t even play a radio. So what could I do? Well I figured it out once I got a camera into my hands.
The first show I brought my DLSR – the old Nikon D40 – to was an Earth Day show in NYC. I got there as Jon Anderson of Yes was finishing up his set. Between the NYC lunch time crowd and the people who were there to see the seventies prog-rock icon, I couldn’t get close to the stage. By the time Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams hit the stage though, I was front and center. I shot, even though I quite frankly had no idea what the heck I was doing.
I wandered around during set break, and stumbled upon what was more or less backstage. It was there, as I was hanging out, trying to act like I belonged, that I watched Grace Potter walk up with her band. I’ll never forget the fact that Grace was helping the guitar and carrying some of his gear. I got to say a few words to Grace before I found another place in front of the stage, and she was as polite as she is beautiful.
I’ve got a much better understand of shooting concerts now, I can’t even count how many of them I’ve done, especially Max Creek. The photos I shot that day are rough – over exposed, poorly framed and with no personality. I like to think I’ve gotten better but it’s interesting sometimes to look back at old memories.
By this time next week, it’ll be over, I’ll be home, and I’ll have lots new memories
What a terrific way to start my “First Year Package” program but with an adorable little peanut of a girl names Samantha. Just three months old she’s got the biggest most beautiful eyes and cutest little smile.
Taking her picture was an absolute joy, and I’m glad they turned out so well. The best part is now I get to watch her grow as I visit every three months for another session.
See more images of her first shoot … here
Why not look into booking your own session? All the information can be found on my site… Here
Ten years ago, on a hot Tuesday night, my little boy came screaming into the world. He was a little peanut, 5lbs, 1 oz. He was so small his cries for the first few weeks were soft, like a kitten.
I don’t have to describe how your entire world changes when you become a father. All that was important isn’t and you find yourself worrying about feedings, diapers and sleep schedules. James didn’t like to sleep when he was born, and there were nights I’d hold him for hours, walking around, signing a lullaby version of “Franklin’s Tower” until he fell asleep.
He’s 10 years old today. My little boy isn’t so little anymore
Happy Birthday James. Daddy loves you so very, very much.
I got an email last week… “You are invited to participate in the One Life Photography Competition”. No, it wasn’t sent to me personally, I get on a ton of mailing lists, and used to have a subscription to PDN magazine. PDN is one of the best trade magazines, and one of the most respected. I try to pick it up whenever I can.
The run competitions often, and I decided when I got the email I might go for it.
Them came the hard part questions… what was I going to submit, and how was I going to afford the $10.00 an image entry fee.
For the later part I turned to my GraspTheMoment fans, friends and family and I was stunned by the out pouring of support. Some people stepped forward to be a “benefactor of the arts” and before I new it, I had the needed $200 for 20 images. Now I could sit back and pick 20 images… so not the easy part.
After much thought, then some pacing back and forth, then re-reading the rules, then thinking some more, then more pacing… I finally picked and submitted the images.
So now I turn to the general public… again I need your help. There’s a people choice category, the photographer who gets the most votes for his whole body of work gets a $2500 prize and a spread in PDN Magazine. (Maybe I could get a subscription again! LOL)
SO PLEASE VOTE FOR ME!!!! Head to my contest page… http://graspthemoment.see.me/onelife2011 and vote… vote once a day for the next month!!!
I can also use all the publicity I can get, so tell your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, even the bill collector who calls you at 4 am!!!
And even though I want you to head to my page and vote… here -> http://graspthemoment.see.me/onelife2011 … I’ll give you a tiny peek at the images I chose..
Oh … and BTW… VOTE FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!! http://graspthemoment.see.me/onelife2011
This isn’t the first time I’ve attended the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Parade by any means. I make it a point to attend annually, not just to hone my photography skills, but to show my support and help celebrate this slice of NYC.
But this year, something was different.
Every year, the parade is a complex mix of pageantry and color, pride and happiness, with a dose of somber remembrance and social consciousnesses thrown. This year had all those things, but there was something else in the air. A wonderful look of celebration burned brightly in the eyes of every participant, as well as spectator. Just the day before the parade, the NY State Senate passed, and Governor Cuomo signed the Same Sex marriage act, joining only 5 other states that allow marriage to be based on love and not gender. It was another step forward along the path of granting all Americans equal civil rights.
I tried to capture some of this joyous attitude, as well as the pageantry and colors and all else that goes into the pride parade. My brother took the year off, enjoying to watch and not march, but a close childhood friend did pass us by, and it was great to see him so happy and celebrating the day.
Kim and I watched for a while – not only was there a lot to see, but I had new gear to play with. We finally headed home as the parade passed our spot, on it’s way towards Greenwich Village. When the crowds reach the Stonewall Inn, where the gay rights movement began over 40 years ago, the parade ends.
But maybe this is the year that won’t happen. Maybe this year even though the parade will end physically, it’s spirit will carry on, state to state, until we, as a nation, allow two people – regardless of gender – to dedicate their lives to each other. Maybe this is the year the rights we are supposed to be granted under the constitution will apply to every citizen.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr Suess
Even though I shudder at the thought of becoming a wedding photographer, there’s no denying the magic that is captured when you look through the lens and see the pure love of a happy couple. That’s the reason I readily agreed to take on my second wedding, for old friends Jess & Billy.
They tie the knot in October, but I was lucky enough to do an engagement shoot with them in a lovely park near their home in Pennsylvania. Their son was there too, and in some accounts, stole the show. But for now, lets just look at the spark in their eye for each other and the smiles they have during tender moments.
If I had the world to give, I’d give it to you
Long as you live, would you let it fall, or hold it all in your arms?
If I had a song to sing, I’d sing it to you
as long as you live, lullaby or maybe a plain serenade
wouldn’t you laugh, dance, and cry or be afraid at the change you made
I may not have the world to give to you
But maybe I have a tune or two
Only if you let me be your world
Could I ever give this world to you
But I will give what love I have to give,
I will give what love I have to give,
I will give what love I have to give, long as I live.
If I had a star to give, I’d give it to you
long as you live, would you have the time
to watch it shine, watch it shine
or ask for the moon and heaven too? I’d give it to you.
Well maybe I’ve got no star to spare, or anything fine or even rare,
only if you let me be your world, could I ever give this world to you.
could I ever give this world to you.
And then there’s some loss just to balance things out. - Lou Reed
That line ends Lou Reed’s masterpiece album “Magic and Loss“. If you haven’t heard it, you may find it a bitter pill to swallow at first, except for that time when you need it. When your heart is heavy and breaking with grief, it just works.
This has been a week of loss. A personal loss hit my children, something they will deal with for a long time. A great woman, their grandmother, who was generous and kind and filled their lives with love and happiness departed too soon. Their world, and ours, is a little sadder without her here.
I was also stunned to learn of the passing of fellow blogger and photographer Charlane G. Her blog Ramblins… was a favorite of mine. Her southern charm and sassiness reminded me of my Grandmother – maybe that’s why I was drawn to her. I admired her photography style as well, and I’ll admit, I often tried to imitate it. Visit her amazing flickr stream to see for yourself.
So if Lou was right, and it’s a balance of things, then we’ve expressed the loss, so where’s the magic? For that, I’ll give you some images of smiles and laughter from a day at the park. And no.. the dogs aren’t ours.. they belong to some great people who were nice enough to let three happy children invade their dog park for a while.
I’m gonna work like I don’t need the money … I’m gonna laugh like I’m not afraid to cry … I’m gonna dance like nobody’s watching … I’m gonna love while I still got the time
WC Fields once said he’d never work with children or animals. I had his words in mind as I entered the Glendale branch of Bobbi & The Strays.
Bobbi & The Strays is a 100% non-profit no-kill animal rescue organization, located in Queens. They rescue stray dogs and cats from the streets, and from situations of abuse and neglect. Before today, the only contact I had with them before today was my kids looking through the windows at the cute dogs & cats. But a volunteer from Bobbi & The Strayscontacted me, needing photos done for publicity purposes.
The day was challenging at best… it’s damn impossible to ask – even politely – a cat to smile, or to turn it’s head, or to do anything in fact. After a few hours, I for what I came for, and I worked on my photos as for the rest of the day as Kim peered over my shoulder with a constant song of “AWWWWWWWW… I want a kitten!!”
I don’t collect old cameras, I collect old cameras that mean something to me.
It began with a Kodak Vest Pocket Model 8 which came from an old friend who thought I might like it. He gave it to me in return for taking photos of his turtles. It was in perfect condition and it looked neat on my entertainment center. A few months later my dad found his Aunt Catherine’s Polaroid Model 80A in the basement. It was a pretty popular model in the late 50’s and early 60’s, it was the same model camera used by Mary Moorman who captured some of the photos of the Kennedy assassination.
Then came my grandfather’s Crown Graphic, a camera that was not only beautiful but had immeasurable meaning to me. This was the camera he held, that he learned on, that he shot with.
Kim suggested one day we put up shelves for the cameras. We could add some old photos of our grandparents, and this great one I have of my mother and father on a snowmobile. They were young and happy – a time I wouldn’t know, not because of their happiness but because of their youth. When we were done, it looked great except for the one piece I felt was missing.
So finally, one day, I asked my mother for her old camera.
I can’t think of a time I knew my mother without her camera. She carried it to every function, every trip, every day at the beach, or zoo, or whatever museum we were going to explore. It was always right there in her “Kenya bag”.
What I remember most though, was not being able to touch it. Partially out of fear of breaking it – but mostly because mom said not to. Her camera was always there and always just out of my reach. I did however lay my fingers on the strap. It always seemed to swing in the breeze when she wasn’t using it, off the picnic table or from the edge of the breakfront in the dining room while we all ate Thanksgiving dinner. Printed along the length of the strap was a rainbow, a playful nod to my mother’s hippie days perhaps.
And when that strap wasn’t dangling in the air where I could touch it before mom saw it me, it was around her neck and that camera was to her eye.
Through that camera came not only amazing images, but also the photographic record of my family. All of my sister’s dance recitals, my brother’s football games, trips, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries, and everything else that fills page after page of our albums.
So now a simple old Canon AE-1 sits comfortably on my shelf, in quiet, restful retirement.
Enjoy your retirement little guy … you and that rainbow strap earned it.
I never really got all the fuss over Halloween personally. I understand why kids get so excited about it… the joy and the excitement of not only loving Spiderman, Zorro, firemen or anything in between, but actually having the opportunity of being that, even just for a day. In the past few years though, it’s become yet another thing adults have ruined. Kim and I went to a store a few weeks ago and there were twice as many costumes for adults than children.
I’ll save the rants for the professionals, like Lewis Black who’s rant on this holiday sums up my exact thoughts.
So we decided to keep Halloween for the kids… and the pumpkins were cut up, cupcakes were made and iced and a “scarey movie” was shown on Grandpa’s new giant TV. All the while, of course, I played with my new lens.
Some one once said that to me about one of my photos, however I won’t say who it was or what photo. I walked into her cubical and looked over her shoulder to see what she was talking about.
“Where?” I asked. “I don’t see one.”
“You’re telling me you don’t think she’s weird for doing what she’s doing?”
I took a long look at the image on her screen. “No, I think she’s happy.”
In hind site, maybe she was right. But, maybe the person in the photo was happy being a freak. Or, perhaps the person criticizing the image was the freak. Perhaps we’ll all freaks in our own little way.
I don’t seek out people who are being freaky, maybe they find me, lol. Rather I am attracted to those who have a lust for life and are caught in the moment of happiness.
Jack Kerouac wrote “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
Maybe the freaks, the mad ones, are easier to find. They’ re not the ones slummin on the couch after work watching endless reruns of Seinfeld and drinking and smoking their miserable day away. They are the ones who are out in the streets, in a parade, lost in the music of a powerful band, or just being their own freaky self out in the fresh air and sunshine.
It really doesn’t matter which one you are after all, all that matters is that you’re happy with your choice and that you’re living the life you choose. I’ve quoted the philosophy of Fred before – “have fun, be free” and I still feel those four words are a powerful statement. I’ve just finally re-entered the work force after a year of unemployed hell and I’m already starting to be tripped up by the trappings of a real job. My cameras been untouched for a week now and my newest postings are of unfinished photos from weeks ago.
However, I’m gonna try. I’m gonna find new ways to slip out of the shackle and grasp the moments slipping by me. I know what kind of freak I want to be and I’m gonna strive to make sure I’m never again morphed into something or someone I’m not. I did that once and it wasn’t fun
So as I’ll stop writing this on my blackberry on the way across the George Washington Bridge to work and turn it over to some photos of happiness … Or maybe freaks.
A year ago, I blogged.
I remember feeling that day, as I wrote, the desire to hone my HDR skills, and to grow as an artist, so I thought I’d look back and see what the year has brought.
I’ve spent quite a few hours studying the work of the great masters Jason St. Peter, Lincoln Palmer, EasyPix, the genius Andy Hornby and the HDR magician Louis Trocciola. I’ve made notes of their techniques, the way they frame their shots, and their subject matter. I’ve exchanged emails with them, chatted, and picked their brains on the subject. I’ve learned little bits from all of them and added them into my skills. I bought what I consider to be the best HDR program on the market, Dynamic HDR by Mediachance, which in my opinion blows Photomatix out of the water. Coupled with Lightroom (which is the rock that my photography software is built on) and Photoshop, I’ve created a strong arsenal of HDR tools. My Nikon D90, which ironically, I prefer without the bracketing feature, delivers the images I take with unmatched clarity and color.
But there’s still something needed for a perfect HDR shot. I wish I could tell you what it is, but part of me feels that I’m still searching for it. Sure, I see it occasionally. The way a tree looks next to the path in the snow, or the way another path disappears into the autumn trees. A ship sitting in a river, docked along side a pier, my kids playing in the church steps or Rob delivering a power chord as he jams along with The Midnite All-Stars. I can’t even describe what it is a see, but as occasionally, when I look through my lens, I see the world in layers of light and color.
It doesn’t always work, and sometimes I make some pretty crappy HDRs, and those never see the light of day, my ratio is getting better and better.
That’s what I’ve done in the past year, lets see what happens in the next one…
Here are some of my favorite HDRs from the past 365 days…
Saturday was German-American Day in New York City, and the heart of the entire event was the parade down Fifth Ave. Germans, German-Americans and anyone else with a hankering for beer and wiener schnitzel stood along the parade route watching the festivities and waiting for Oktoberfest in Central Park to kick off afterwards.
Moose & Wilbur were there, doing sound for the event. I had my own gig that morning, and after packing up, I headed up to meet them. I told them I’d come by to help pack up, but I also realized the perfect advantage I’d have standing next to the grandstand. I grabbed coffee for us all, and made my way into the restricted area. As the parade approached us, I made my way right next to the announcing platform. I stood next to the barricade, ready to shoot. As I raised my camera, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and some one say “Excuse me.” I turned and there was a parade official standing there, looking a bit puzzled. I really wasn’t looking forward to getting grilled about who I was or why I was inside the VIP area, but I knew the fact I was with the sound company would get me out of trouble. They wouldn’t like I wasn’t taking photos, but I could at least keep my spot. The German man looked at me and shook his head. Finally he spoke.
“Did you not get your press pass?” He asked. “We really screwed this up this year, they all went out Friday and no one got them.” He reached into his pocket and in one swift motion, hung a “2009 German-American Steuben Parade” press pass around my neck. Nearly stammering, I stuttered out, “Thanks, no, I didn’t get it.” I nodded, and then took the big step. The step which separates the boys from the men, the step which separates the cool kids from the dorks.
I stepped off the curb, and into Fifth Ave.
My feet were all ready on the double yellow line when I looked back. The German who had given me the pass had moved on, and I could see Moose at the soundboard. He saw me, and his face lit up. He laughed and grabbed Wilbur, pointing at me. I held up my pass to show him & Moose smiled big, and then waved me on, his way of saying “You’re in the river now kid, you better start swimming.”
So, I swam. Before me, I could see the first marching band and the Grand Marshall approaching. I lifted my camera, look through the lens and caught them dead on. For the rest of the day, group after group, band after band, float after float passed me, or I passed them. I walked all along the street shooting them. They stopped and posed for me, I thanked them, and they continued on. I was able to move around the sun, beating the light that sometime ruins shots, and I found the best places on the street to shoot from. I used position, and placement to my advantage because I was able to go where I wanted… I had a press pass dammit.
I didn’t get back to the truck until after the last float had passed, and I had wandered through the crowd taking some last candids. I threw my camera in the bag and started packing up the gear. Moose and Wilbur joked about how the big press guy took time out of his schedule to help out. As we were rolling down the tailgate Moose asked how the shots came out. I told him I didn’t know.
“I do.” He said. “Incredible as usual.”
That’s what Fred says at the end of every conversation. She says it in her one of a kind accent with an inflection that shows you that it’s not a forced comment, rather her accepted mission statement. If you’ve ever met Fred, you know this already though.
It’s pretty hard to have fun and be free. The pressures of daily life, your responsibilities, and the desire for a paycheck seem to hold you back most times. Then of course there’s the opinion of others which we tend to let steer our decisions. That, at times, is the biggest anchor around our neck.
But, as Poppy reminded me the other day, “It’s ok to compromise on issues. It’s not ok to compromise on Who You Are” In fact, be proud of who you are.
For the past two years, I’ve attended New York City’s annual Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Pride Parade. I don’t think a stronger display of pride and accomplishment could be found anywhere than along 5th Avenue on this Sunday in June. As I watched and photographed the participants, the sheer joy shown through their faces. They were so happy, so free. This past year, I left the parade route and walked through the city to get to the street festival being held in SoHo. It was hot out, in fact hot as hell, and as typically happens on a day like this in NYC, a wild thunderstorm broke out, raining like it was the apocalypse for thirty minutes, then returning to clear skies as quickly as it came. As I took shelter from the rain under an awning, I thought of the wild and beautiful costumes back at the parade route and I realized many of them would be wrecked in the storm. I felt sad because of the time and the work that went into them, but I realized that nothing could damper the feelings of those who wore them. Even with ruined make up or soaked feathers, the joy and pride that I saw before the rain would still be there.
I’ve been packing my apartment this week, getting ready to move, and finding things that I had forgotten I had. I came across a pile of DVDs, all unlabeled, and checked the contents before tossing them. Most was garbage, but one was a back up of photos that I had done before I lost a hard drive. Among them were the shots I took at the 2007 Pride Parade. Happy to have them again, I backed them up, so I wouldn’t loose them a second time. I went back to packing, and eventually looked up at my wall, covered with 8x10s of some of my work. I considered taking them down, wrapping them up, and getting them ready to move as well, but I’m here for a few more days, and that would leave me here staring at bare walls. More than that though, they’re not just photos I took, they’re photos I’m most proud of.
I think I’ll take them down last.
Go off now… go do something… and if you’re not sure what do, and how to do it, call Fred. She’ll tell you.
Here are some of the shots I took at the 2007 & 2008 NYC Gay, Lesbian & Transgender Parades.
Slide show of the images of the 2008 Parade can be found Here
Slide show of the images of the 2008 Parade can be found Here
I never wanted to sing. Actually I never really wanted to be anyone in the band. Being in front of a crowd for any amount of time turns my knees to jelly and makes me wish for a mystical cloak of invisibility. My best friend asked me to be his best man and from day one I dreaded the speech I had to give.Even today, I don’t really remembered what I said, I just remembered I wanted nothing more to hand that mic to someone else and get a Jack ‘n’ Coke.
Even early on, I was drawn to the spotlight however. Not really the spotlight itself though, but to the edge of it. My natural curiosity brought me to that line, never over it. I always wanted to see what was going, watching it all, imprinting it into my memory.
And now I have a camera, makes it easier I guess. Well, in some ways. The great thing about spotlights is they tend to make if difficult for the person in the spotlight to see what everyone else is doing. Now it’s up to me to slowly sneak my way to the back of the crowd and take the shot that totally captures their spirit without them knowing it.
Growing up, my mom was always the one with the camera. I get whatever talent I have from her. But mom was always part of the party, she was always laughing with us, not being the social introvert I’ve grown into. We always goofed around on holidays and Mom’s slogan was “do that again!!” so she could take a photo. Someone, usually my sister would call out “And act candid!!”
Of course there is no way to “Act candid.” Furthermore, there is no way to tell a complete stranger to pretend he/she doesn’t know his/her photo is being taken. So, when I see someone I really want to capture, I linger, make myself disappear and try to take a shot I’m pleased with.
Here are some I’ve been pleased with… in no order…
Mike and Shea
There’s more, but that’s enough for today. I’d say something stupid like see you around, but I guess the point of this is that you don’t see me, that I see you, and I see you being you.
I was sitting in Laguardia Airport, which I really believe holds the record for the most boring airport on planet Earth. I think a one room shack in the middle of the Philippines would have more to do. There was a bar I had spent some time in, but the necessity of catching this flight kept me now glued to the gate. I sat there on the floor near the closest outlet and goofed off on my laptop, at least I had Wi-Fi.
I noticed a boy and his mother approach from the side. She was young, I actually wouldn’t have been surprised to find out she was his older sister. What first caught my attention though was the fact that he was in his pajamas, Pirate Of The Caribbean PJs in fact. After that, I noticed the IV and colostomy bag.
They sat in the corner, and she produced two small robot toys from her bag for him. He played with them on the open chairs between us as I closed up my laptop to prepare to eventually get on my plane. After a few moments I noticed he was watching me.
“Hello.” I said to him.
“Hi.” He responded. “Are you going to Florida too?”
“No, I’m going to Atlanta, and then to Dallas.” He picked up his robot toys and moved closer.
“I have to go to Florida to see another doctor.” He told me. “Do you want to play robots?”
“I only have a few moments, but sure.” I took the robot he offered me and for a few minutes were first explored the top of my suitcase the he suddenly turned on me and threw my robot off the suitcase which suffered a horrible fall to the terminal floor, screaming in panic the whole way. The Boy In The Pirate Pjs laughed, and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed so did his mother. An announcement that the boarding process of our flight had begun rang out, so I told the little boy I had to go. He smiled, picked up his robots in one hand and the IV and colostomy bag that trailed behind him in the other and walked over to where his mother sat. She greeted him with a big smile. I finished collecting my things, and before I stood, I pulled out my camera. As he climbed up on a chair and looked out the window, I took a shot. I heard them announce my flight again so I stuffed the camera in my bag and got on the line.
As the line began to move, I watched the two of them. She now cradled him in her lap and tickled him. He laughed and tried to catch a necklace she wore. I silently wished them a safe trip as I boarded my plane.
I walked through Union Square one late summer afternoon and I came across a man who had a table set up by the steps at the southern end of the park. He had a sign that said “50 Cent Flowers” and he had buckets on the table filled with them.
I came a bit closer and noticed that the flowers weren’t real flowers at all, rather fake ones, made from material and wire. They were all very delicate and I watched from a distance as he sold a few. Finally I approached them and took a closer look.
He noticed my camera and asked if I was a proffesional, and I chuckled and told him no, just enjoying a hobby. He chuckled back and said “Me too.”
I bought 4 flowers and then asked him if he minded if I took pictures of his flowers. He smiled and nodded and I took some, but when I looked at them later, I realized that none of the images I had captured of his exquisite creations were as delicate as the man himself tending to his hobby.