Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
Everyone who knows me, knows I don’t really like the holidays. I like them less than my birthday, and to be honest, I’d love to go somewhere remote and secluded from a week before Halloween until a week after New Years. I get argument after argument about this, so lets just accept it as fact. I try never to hamper anyone’s good time, I guess I just have too many hang ups to enjoy it all.
Tomorrow I think will be the most difficult Thanksgiving I’ve faced for quite sometime. My life is nowhere near where I’d like it to be. I’m broke, out of work, on the edge of giving up the freedom that I had decided to get back into my life, and 1,500 miles away from the person I want to be with.
Yeah, it’s gonna be a bleak day, inside of a bleak month, buried in a bleak winter.
But I’ll have my kids. My boys. The two greatest things that have ever happened to me. I’ve forgotten a lot in life but I like to think that even when I close my eyes for the last time, I’ll remember the exact seconds that I held them both for the first time.
Needless to say, I take a lot of photos of my kids. To begin with, they’re easy targets. They’re my flesh & blood so there’s no way they tell me stop anyway. Jack hides from me now, but I manage to catch him when he’s not looking. James… well James tolerates me. He’s started to play with my camera, but he still has trouble working the buttons. My mother got a new camera recently and we gave the old one to the boys. James especially loves it, he takes photos of all sorts of things, and I love seeing what he sees. He’ll be better than me someday. The interesting thing about that is he’s named after my Grandfather, James Killeen, who was a great photographer who passed his talent to my mom, who passed some of it to me.
So tomorrow will be another day of tickles, playing on the floor, goofing off, and me hitting the bed exhausted after them both wearing me out. I’ll sleep good. I tend to briefly forget my woes for the time being, even if it’s just for a few minutes while I play “I spy” with Jack or James is sitting on my lap. Sure things are pretty crappy right now, but Jack and James are still smiling, and they both still say “I love you daddy.”
I think I’ve beaten the “seeing when you’re supposed to see it” idea to a bloody pulp. You’ve gotten a taste of how I feel for that if you’ve read previous posts.
But what happens when there’s nothing to see? I sit here at night in my little makeshift studio, set up my lights and try to see if I can do the impossible – try to see if I can create.
But create what?
That’s where my mind goes blank. I’ve been around a lot of talented people, people who can one-two-three make a swan from a square sheet of paper, and I without a doubt am not one of those people. Hell, I have trouble at jigsaw puzzles, and I could never pick what tie matches what shirt so how the hell am I supposed to see the underlying beauty and message in the random objects that I find tucked under my bed?
So I struggle with it. An empty bottle. Some cards. A compass. Heck, even the rent money. Through I learn there is so much more to it than meets the eyes. It’s not just an empty bottle and it’s my job as a photographer to find the story hidden inside it and not only to bring it out, but to capture it.
It is my job, to create.
I was blessed.
When I was young… knee high to grasshopper some would say … I somehow stumbled upon Midnite Sound Studios. Midnite Sound was recording studio in the backstreets of Queens and home to Moose, a man that could turn a simple sound into the heavenly voice of angels, whether he had made it, or someone else. Not only was Moose a master behind the myriad of knobs, buttons and dials of a recording console, but he’s also perfect with a set of drums and a vocal mic.
Through the doors of Midnite Sound walked in musicians from all sorts of genres.More than a few nights blues were in studio A as death metal was in studio B which had been cleaned up from an afternoon of recording traditional Hindu prayer songs.
Midnite Sound began, for me, as a place to sneak beers that I wasn’t supposed to have yet, smoke a little pot, which I really wasn’t supposed to have yet, and have fun. I did do all that, however, something else began happening, almost without me noticing it at first. I fell in love with music. To me, the blues were just as interesting as the death metal and just as enchanting as the Hindu prayer songs. It became my passion, the most magical thing in my life. I helped Moose as much as I could, just to get closer and deeper into the music. There were weekend gigs, the recording sessions, and the late night jams with Moose, Tom, and Ron that were havens for deep, rich explorations. Through it all, the music was my mistress and I was it’s slave.
Then of course, I was introduced to The Grateful Dead, and all the rules were re-written. What I though I knew about music was re-defined. I began to crave music more and more, and over the course of my life, it’s been the one lasting consent. Whether it be Miles Davis or Max Creek, music has to be surrounding me or I can’t function.
Today, Midnite Sound is gone, a victim of the “I can do it myself” computer age. I think back and I choke back a tear, not just for the loss of the place I often called home, but because I would have been a madman in there with my camera!!!! But Moose is still… well he’s still Moose, and he’s still playing and I’m still considering myself blessed.
Cry Baby plays a monthly gig in a neighborhood bar that those displaced by the loss of Midnite Sound take over for the evening. Moose plays drums, and sings a tune or two, but usually lets Heidi do what she does so well. Her voice is sublime as it cuts through the heavy groove around her. Rob is nothing short than a powerhouse on guitar, his every note perfect impeccable. The bass has changed hands over time, but this last Saturday night it was Dan Prine who held down the bottom end and rattled your teeth.
The band is great, the music is great, but I get more out of them than just a great night of electrifying jams. The cool thing is, they let me practice as they play. They never bitch and complain as I scamper around, camera in hand, taking shot after shot. I learn as I go… I change modes, shutter speeds, flash strength. I study each shot and why it didn’t come out and I use it to better my ability.
The band doesn’t seem to mind.. in fact, I’m now faced with Rob trying to pose for me.
Great music, great friends, great photos… didn’t I say I was blessed?
The next word I drew from my inspirational coffee can. A Little tougher than my first… Seen Here. I had one ground rule for this, no “slanted T’s”. It had to an X. Drawing another word now.
Unfortunately, even sitting in a bucket of water with a lighting rod helmet on the roof of the tallest building doesn’t bring inspiration shooting from the heavens above. I did however have a pigeon make a nest on my shoulder.
Its amazing how I can walk past the same plot of ground day after day and never see anything interesting and then one day – BAM – it’s there. The next day it’s gone.
I was stuck in my house one miserable rainy week and walking around, camera in hand, just looking for something shoot, anything. Then I saw it… and to be honest, I was baffled why I had no seen it before. It was so beautiful and it almost beckoned to be photographed. The amazing detail … the colors.. the textures… so I shot it… picking it apart in detail so it could be appreciated for all it’s wonderful glory…
But now that’s done.. what next? What mystical source will give me the next inspirational charge?
The help speed the process along, me and my friends at YourPhotoForum.com including the great Sue Henry and Lincoln Palmer have agreed to start an “Inspiration A to Z” challenge. The idea is simple. Using a list of words, we all have to write the words on paper, toss them into a can and draw them out one at a time. You can’t move to the next word until after you’ve shot two or three images based on the word you’ve drawn.
So I started today… and was shocked at my first draw… the word “Inspiration” itself. Yup, out of all the words I had to choose from…
Of course, the source of all my inspiration these days was an obvious choice…
Finally in the words of the Grateful Dead… “Inspiration, move me brightly. light the song with sense and color; Hold away despair, more than this I will not ask.”
So where will inspiration come from next? In what form will it be? I have no idea… but I know if nothing else, I’ve got a coffee can of words to get through.
I still scratch my head when people say my photos are good. Ok, yes, I’ll admit even I think some of them are, but I think it’s tough for me to accept the fact that something that brings me such peace and joy is also something that could touch others.
This doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling I get when I get positive remarks on my work by other photographers. I’m the past few months I’ve begun to follow work of photographers that I basically idolize. I get advice and pointers from brilliant minds like Chiller, Lincoln Palmer, Sue Henry and of course the amazingly talented Jon Mikal who have become a real a “photographic family” to me at YourPhotoForum.com.
Each month at YPF there is a Photo Of The Month Contest. The really unique aspect of this contest is there is nothing submitted for it. Instead any member of YPF can nominate another member’s work for the contest.
The first time I was nominated I was blow away. I didn’t win… hell, I didn’t even vote for that photo! The winner that month was well deserved but then the next month, I was nominated again and this time I won! I still don’t think I’ve gotten over the shock of that!
Well last month I was nominated again and I was ecstatic. Then… another photo was nominated. Then… another!!! When voting began last week I had 3 entries in the contest and I’m proud to say I won. (LOL.. had good odds, right?)
and the winner…
So if you’re a photographer, and you’re looking for a great forum with some real supportive and encouraging people – not to mention the most amazing collection of talent I’ve ever seen, stop over at YourPhotoForum.com. Hope to see you there!
I remember it very clearly.
It was a Saturday night, yes the loneliest night of the week, I was on my laptop at the corner of coffee table because at the time we were trying to be at least in the same room. She looked over & asked what I was doing. I was on Flickr and I explained how I was commenting on people’s photos.
She paused a second and then said “Why do they care what you have to say?”
As with most of her verbal kicks in the teeth I had no response.
But really, what do they care what I have to say? I mean who am I anyway? I’m just a guy who bought a really nice camera and likes to take photos of things I see. I’ve got no background in art, no formal training in anything except my job, and that couldn’t be further from photography. I’m horrible at technicalities, no matter how much I try to study the meaning of the words aperture and so on. So yeah, what do they care what I have to say?
Well, I guess the same reason I care what people have to say about my stuff. In fact, “care” is too soft a word. Comments are like a drug to me. It’s the look on a lover’s face when you give them that gift you’ve been waiting to surprise them with.
It’s just about the greatest goddam thing in the world.
And I’m not being a praise hound here, no, far from it. In fact I hate those “Great!” and “Awesomes” I’m not digging for a compliment, that’s not my style.
What I feed off of, what keeps me going, is hear what you see. When I get a story about what that frozen second in time is all about. I might have been there when it happened, but now I want to be there when it happened with you.
So I guess this is why I have this blog. A place where thoughts on my photos can be placed.
Why? Because I care what you have to say.