Sunday, November 7, 2010

Autumn is upon us.

"The process of delving into the black abyss is to me the keenest form of fascination."
- H. P. Lovecraft

Autumn is by far my favourite time of year. It's common belief that this time of year, the veil that separates our world from the beyond is the thinnest. Spirits of all varieties make their trips across the divide to mingle with us and change the seasons. The air is filled with a certain magic and electricity... that wonderful combination of warm sun and cool air and mysterious nights...

It's really no wonder the angels and demons and spirits of the dearly departed choose this time of year to visit us. Where else could you enjoy these colors, the vibrancy of everything surrounding us, the smell of falling leaves and chimney smoke? The days may not be as long, but they make up for it with the intensity and fullness they bring with them.

This weekend, my lovely muse and I enjoyed some time outdoors appreciating the beauty of the season. We found hot apple cider and fresh home-made donuts at a local farm and took a walk off the beaten path through the woods discovering hidden abandoned campsites and relics from teenage summer parties rusted beside a long-cold campfire.

I've always noticed that nature has a way of coming alive in autumn in a way that it doesn't at any other time of year. The birds sing louder. Horses run around in the low-hanging sun. Deer graze in the open and spy on you from just beyond the bushes. We even had not one, but two close-calls with hawks this weekend... one swooped down inches from my car to catch its lunch, and another flew right past us as we were on our way back home. A group of turkey vultures even circled above us as we took our hike through the forest. Nature is always keeping an eye on us.

There's definitely magic on the wind this season. Take some time our of your daily grind to walk through the leaves and see something new. You never know what the spirits will unearth for you... like the remains of an old car buried deep in the woods, for instance. Fall is filled with mystery and secrets. And if you listen, it will share those secrets with you. Just follow that cool breeze off the trail and see where it leads...

...and while you're at it, take some time to enjoy the sunlight. It won't shine like this again for another 12 months. And once it sets, nothing beats watching some good movies under a warm blanket with a hot mug of mulled wine with your loved one. Happy Autumn, everyone!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Anytown, USA.

"Anywhere is walking distance, if you've got the time."
-Stephen Wright

It was a busy weekend and over far too quickly... but on a positive note, I did spend some much-needed time with my muse and we stayed in this funky motel room in the picture. I had a few minutes to kill on Saturday while I was by myself and I snapped this photo since I had been carrying my gear with me all morning. At the time, I really wasn't sure if I was going to get anything with the shot. I didn't even have a clear idea, but as I'll explain, the idea seemed to find me.

I have a fond spot in my heart for kitsch and americana. I grew up as a teenager hanging out at truck stop diners and bumming around my tiny town in whichever friend's car had gas that week. Some of my fondest memories growing up were from those years. They carried into college where more nights than I'd like to count were spent driving from Philly out to New Jersey just to stay awake 'till 3am drinking coffee and playing cards and making friends with the blue-haired waitresses. These were the days before ipods were everywhere. We made mix cd's and piled six-deep in a tiny ford focus and cranked the volume. Today, I love finding a good thrift store and checking out discarded bowling trophies and someone's old (only slightly-broken) Jesus statue. Maybe a t-shirt with some awful slogan on it from the grand opening of a now defunct TV & appliances superstore. These things speak to me in an amusing way. They fill in the details between then and now. I feel like one of those egyptian archaeologists digging up a treasure-filled tomb except I'm dusting off Uncle Cletus's golf shoes.

Anyhow, these relics and artifacts of americana have shaped our way of life. They came from somewhere, and like a time machine, they can give you a glimpse into a by-gone era. Which brings me to that room... The bedside lamps were totally different. The cord for the lamp on my side of the bed stretched halfway across the room suspended in air because (presumably) it was the nearest outlet. Each light had a different type of bulb in it. There were these weird old National Geographic circa 1935 'paintings' of ducks on the wall. Basically, it looked like the room was decorated with knick-knacks from a yard sale and I wouldn't say that estimation is far off. But it had a charm to it. It was clean and all, but you could smell the age of the furniture. These little locked-away rooms are like tiny museums for forgotten ordinary things and the forgotten ordinary people who played a part in those elements combining over the years to make the photo I took this weekend. And that makes them extraordinary. As it turns out, the idea for the picture was simple... to give those quirky little elements a moment to shine and to celebrate the random series of event that brought them in front of me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


"Cynical realism is the intelligent man's best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."
-Aldous Huxley

I should start by apologizing for my unannounced absence. Long story short, beginning in mid-may, just after my "Dreamers" show, I fell into a bit of a slump. I was worn out creatively, uninspired, and a bit depressed (as a result of passing the 1-year mark on the unemployment line...). As consequence, I took a little time away from blogging and doing new 'work' while I focused on finding a job and rebooting myself. Thankfully, I'm happy to report that I've jumped that particular hurdle, I'm back to work, and I'm feeling the creative itch all over again.

I've kept myself busy during the off-season by studying up on my craft. Heavily. And doing odd photo jobs to fund some gear and help me practice. I've taken a particular slant towards portraiture lately. I really enjoy taking the time to explore my subjects and discover them in the way that the masters have captured their subjects. I've grown quite fond of Yousuf Karsh lately. I feel like his attention to light and form have a direct correlation to the illustrative style I often aim to achieve in my own work. And also, he seemed to connect to his subjects in that indescribable way that only a master can. His photos weren't just a picture of a person... he captured something within them. That vital spark of the divine that dwells within us all. He saw it, and with his antiquated equipment, captured it on film in the blink of an eye.

I've come to realize that beyond the romanticism of being an artist and a photographer, the real reward of this lifestyle is when you find yourself connecting to an idea or a subject in a way you didn't expect. It's an inner reward that can't really be described in simple words. You KNOW when you've connected with your work and your subject. You have a moment of harmony that you've cultivated in some tangible form to be remembered and shared. Some people call it a 'click'. When you 'click' with your subject... your work... something just 'clicks'.

In the photo I've posted above, this was one of those moments. As soon as I clicked the shutter, I knew I had something special. For others, it's often a more gradual process... the layering of paint on a canvas or the culmination of months of rehearsal for one special performance. We all experience it at some point where the chaos seems to subside just long enough for universal order to take its place.

The factors that influence that kind of serendipity can vary quite a bit, however, and personally I can rarely tell when the pieces are falling in to place until that moment where it all comes together. When it falls apart though, boy does it fall apart. (3 months worth, in my case.) But climbing back on the horse can be just as rewarding when you look back and study what you've learned from the fall that got you there. For me, it was a simple matter of negativity getting the best of me. Self-doubt and inner conflict with your artistic vision can really ruin ones motivation to produce new work.

Thankfully, these are just transitional periods. I made the most of my 'break' by studying not only my technique and my influences, but also researching more esoteric subjects that correlate to my work. I'm keeping a dream journal. I'm forcing dream recall with a B6 vitamin supplement. I'm listening to podcasts at work about spirituality and the paranormal and fantastic. I am in a state of absorbing inspiration from all angles, however it chooses to present itself to me.

As always, I'm thankful to my muse, the lovely Sara (the ballerina in the black tutu above) for being the spiritual mirror I need when things get rough and I feel artistically dry. She tells me what I need to hear whether I know it at the time or not... seems that lady is always right. And in the end, she always leads me down a path towards the goal I was trying to achieve all along. And she puts up with my grumpiness along the way, which she deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for. And my family, too... (including Katie, the dancer in the black tights) when the going gets rough, they always bring me up and inspire me and keep me driven. I don't know what I'd do without the little support group I've developed over the years. It's for them that I keep going when I'm feeling down. And when I'm back up again like I am now, it's them I have to thank for getting me there. This back-from-the-ashes entry is dedicated to them. You guys are awesome.

More work soon.
For real :)


Thursday, July 8, 2010

72 Months...

"Love is something eternal; the aspect may change, but not the essence."
-Vincent van Gogh

Summer has hit us here on the east coast like a freight train. The past 2 weeks have consistently been over 90 degrees, many days climbing above 100. When the lady and I weren't down at the shore celebrating our anniversary, we were on a desperate mission to find shade and air conditioning anywhere it was available. Thankfully, the gods have been merciful tonight and this evening's temperatures are supposed to reach a chilly 85...

Last week, we attended a party at Penn's Landing in honor of the SS United States. We have a strange appreciation for that boat. We've both recalled feeling a certain familiarity with it... as though we've been there before somehow. It's a magnificent work of art sitting abandoned in the shipyards of south Philly and it really deserves to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Please check out the SS United States Conservancy to see what they're doing to preserve this piece of history. The event culminated in a beautiful lighting of the ship once the sun fell...

She's a haunting and beautiful piece of work. If you pay close enough attention, the hands that riveted her together and the feet that walked her decks are still on board somehow. The ship has a life of its own and it leaves me in awe every time I pay her a visit. Someday, I look forward to walking the deck myself and paying respect to the ship's legacy...

The 4th of July came and went rather quickly, but these things happen when you let several days vanish in the heat while sitting poolside. But we did get to see some fireworks... something I've enjoyed since childhood. Little things like that always make me smile. I guess I'm a sucker for holidays and being around loved ones. It gets me every time. And I'm so glad I've gotten to spend so much time lately with my dearest... she's a saint for keeping me inspired, motivated, and well-fed in the best and worst of times. And for giving me tough love when I need it and for making me laugh when I think I can't. She's my anchor.

And so the oppressive heat carries on. I aim to get out a little more over the next few days since the forecast looks to be on the less-smothering side of things. I'll be shooting some engagement portraits for a cool couple this weekend, and a punk wedding on the beach next weekend. So I really have no excuse but to be creative. The next post will come much sooner than later. Thank you as always for reading my ramblings and until we meet again...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Traveling off the map...

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."
-Ernest Hemingway

We're prone to flights of fancy, her and I. On the occasion we find ourselves unoccupied, we explore the roads we've never taken and walk the paths that look most neglected. We take pleasure in the day trips others would find mundane or unusual or downright strange. Our last day trip led us to spend a good portion of the day in a colonial cemetery and other trips have found us in the middle of a forest high atop an abandoned fire-tower or sitting on a frozen beach in winter staring out to the icy sea...

Today we discovered a place far off the beaten path to explore and enjoy. The sun was warm, humidity was low, and we felt adventurous. We hiked, rested our feet beneath giant sequoia trees, spent time attempting to catch butterflies on the palms of our hands and tried our best to communicate with an enormous crow who perched beside us (to no avail...).

We take our time appreciating places like this because they're often forgotten to people living in big cities, like us. It's something that's so enjoyable but in today's world of commerce and business and alarm clocks, many people don't take this kind of day-trip anymore. The forests are such a fascinating place full of strangeness and beauty... these little things go unnoticed far too often.

...But we pay a visit. If you listen hard enough, nature will communicate with you. Not in some hippie kind of way, but ACTUALLY communicate with you. And if you give it the respect it deserves, it will welcome you with open arms and share its secrets with you. Maybe this is just a story about how we like to hike and travel and enjoy the outdoors, but it's absolutely true. With things being the way they are in today's world, it means a lot to be fortunate enough to spend some time amongst the forgotten paths and beneath the quiet and peaceful branches of an old tree that's seen more sunrises and sunsets than we ever will.

After all, there are more things in heaven and earth...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The other side.

"Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions."
-Edgar Cayce

If you're reading this, you most likely know a thing or two about me. If you know a thing or two about me, you know how I have a fascination with the dream world I spend much of my time in. And every once in a while, I find that my little dream world intrudes upon my reality. Lots of people call it
Déjà vu but I see it as something different altogether.

Have you ever had a moment where you're walking around and suddenly it seems as though the world around you has shed a layer... the air seems thicker and you're more aware of everything around you? Everything seems 'normal' but at the same time you know it's anything but. The sun is a little too bright. The clouds too vivid. The ground seems to vibrate beneath your feet, almost imperceptibly, but enough to take notice. This is the other side trying to get your attention...

We all live in this dream land sometimes. It's just that some of us have forgotten how to see it. We wake up and have our coffee, go to work and pay no mind to the memories we made on the other side while our bodies slept.

What if more of us spent more time paying attention to our dreams? I go to sleep telling myself to remember what I see... to remember what I felt and who I met and where I went. When I wake up, I spend an extra few minutes laying there in that space between places where I can slowly return to earth and bid the other side farewell until my next trip. My travels inspire me. I believe everyone's creative side is rooted there... it's where your third-eye opens wide to take in the things we can't see here.

Open your eye and go on your own journey and take note of what your journey brings.

All aboard.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Brand new day...

So a brief update on my photo blog... As some of my regular readers (all 13 subscribers... woo!) might have noticed, the photo-a-day project has been on hiatus for a few weeks. I completed 365 consecutive days of shooting photos like a crazy-person and frankly, I was totally burned out on shooting and I needed a small vacation from the pressure of updating daily. I have a few left-overs from the 365 project that are thus-far unposted, but they'll be showing up in the near future. But as for current goings-on...


It's going to live right here on this same page and it's starting immediately. I'll be doing photo essays this time around. And I aim to post one essay a week. Instead of the regular wordless snapshots I've posted for the past year, this time I'll be spending time with a subject and really exploring it, studying it, and telling a story about why it caught my eye and why it struck me as important. So check back often and see what kinda groovy stuff gets dug up here. First essay will be up within the next 72 hours...