Amish. The Long Way Home.

Late last September, after a shoot in Harrisburg, I decided to take the long way home through Pennsylvania’s Amish country. Despite having lived in PA on and off since 2001, I hadn’t visited this storied step back in time since I was a kid. With no real frame of reference, I typed the one restaurant I remembered from when I was ten into my GPS and set out for the Good and Plenty. The 45-mile journey would take me through the heart of Lancaster County and into the warm and welcoming past.

I never did make it to the Good and Plenty. The landscape was so inviting and accessible, I decided to pull off the highway and ramble through the farmland. Like John Muir supposedly once said, “Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” While I may not always live by this philosophy, when the opportunity presents itself, I go for it.

I came across all you would expect to see in Amish country: children innocently riding scooters (they’re not allowed to ride bikes), horses pulling families slowly and deliberately down a country road and livestock lazily grazing in the late summer sun. I wandered through fields of corn that were indeed as high as an elephants eye, came to a clearing that was swarming with more bugs than there are stars in the sky and watched a hot air balloon softly sink below the distant tree line. The one oddity that caught my eye was the horse and buggy only section at the gas station. Although It was fully equipped with a garbage can and shovel.

It was nearing dusk and I had no idea how far I was from home so I hopped into my car and set the GPS for Philly. Turns out I was only 68 miles away. After about five miles on this single lane “highway” I was met with a road closed sign and was forced to reroute. I circled around to investigate and discovered the reason for the closure of this bustling thoroughfare was a parade. Guess John Muir was calling again. It took a few more loops but I finally found a parking space next to a few horses tied to a fence.

I walked the few blocks down the road towards main street and tried to blend in. This was no easy task with a giant camera dangling from my neck. I was clearly an outsider there acting as a voyeur. I’m usually not shy or apprehensive when it comes to shooting strangers in a strange place but I didn’t want to come off as if I was on Amish safari. I was genuinely excited for this parade and just wanted to document the experience. That however can easily be construed as exploitation.

The crowd was about twenty percent Amish, five percent minority and seventy-five percent civilian white (as in not Amish.) I posted up near a family who clearly claimed their spots much earlier in the day. I’m pretty sure they had eaten breakfast and lunch there and were just moving on to dinner. A friendly gentleman wearing an Eagles hat to my right who was not with the group pointed out that I was facing the wrong way and to get my camera ready because the parade was set to kick off any minute. He asked where I was from and when I told him Philadelphia he gasped. He’d lived in this town his entire life and had never been. Need I remind you I was less than seventy miles away? He asked if it was difficult to park downtown and what Reading Terminal Market was like. I told him he should come see for himself. This he took as an invitation to meet up. We exchanged emails then a parting handshake. I’m still waiting to hear from him.

The parade finally began. The Grand Marshall’s Dick and Jean Risk kicked off the festivities followed by generations of tractor drivers and the Lancaster County Alternate Dairy Princess. The last glints of sunshine were fading fast so I turned my camera on the crowd for a few final shots before heading home. As the golden hour turned to dusk I drove off but not before stopping to get a few more shots to properly close out my day. I guess the beauty of living in Pennsylvania can be summed up by the fact that you can spend the day shooting portraits in the middle of a “city” then stumble upon an Amish farmer plowing a field by horse at sunset. 

I also feel this post might best be enjoyed while listening to this song by PHOX. The whole afternoon had a rather slow motion sort of feel to it.

Christmas Sunset in Truro

Christmas out in Truro on Cape Cod is always unpredictable when it comes to weather. We’ve seen flurries, blizzards, squalls, drizzles and this year summer. Temperatures peaked close to 70 and by 4pm I was able to lure everyone down to Corn Hill Beach to witness this extraordinary sunset.

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

get on your bikes and ride NAKED

After years of missing out I finally made it to Philly Naked Bike Ride. It’s like a festive cartoon come to life. Although after 8 hours of riding through the city streets with this bright bare bodied bunch I was destroyed. It was quite the day though. Thanks to all the riders covered in color, pride, love and passion for a mightily photogenic pilgrimage.

 

David Nalbandian out for Blood at Queen’s Club

I was digging through my old tennis archives tonight and happened upon this incident which occurred during the finals of the 2012 Queen’s Club Tournament. The match was between Marin Čilić of Croatia and Argentine David Nalbandian.  I’d been covering  Nalbandian all week as I was shooting for a South American Magazine and the best way to describe his style of play was hostile. He was playing well but he was also playing with a rage that most players at least try to mask. During his matches he would predictably fly off the handle and capturing him smashing his racket onto the finely manicured lawn became routine. However, during that fateful final match his routine escalated. After having won the first set, Nalbandian was trailing 3-4 in the second. Čilić seeing a comeback in sight sent a rocket over the net that Nalbandian couldn’t handle. With his frustration no longer under control, he ran over to a plywood advertising hoarding and gave it a mighty punt causing it to break leaving a solid gash in the left shin of line judge who was sitting just behind it. I was armed with my 70-200mm lens just to the right of where the incident occurred.  With my camera still fixed on Nalbandian it took me a minute to realize what had happened. I could see in his eyes that he had finally grasped the gravity of his actions and when I found McDougall’s leg through my viewfinder I realized why. Blood at a tennis match? Blood at a tennis match in London? How delightfully out of the ordinary?  The head judge jumped into action with fans, coaches and players alike frozen in a daze of uncertainty. Did this mean Čilić would win by a disqualification? Was that possible? After a short deliberation that decision was made and the irate yet apologetic Argentine hurried off the court. The still bewildered and seemingly disappointed Croat sauntered over to the net and received the enormous championship trophy thus ending the bloodiest tennis match many of us will ever witness. Nalbandian was later quoted as saying “Sometimes you get angry, “Sometimes you cannot control those moments. Maybe you throw a racket or maybe you scream or maybe you do something like that. So many things happen.” Indeed they can. And occasionally those things include losing out on £44,000 in the blink of an eye and the clot of a blood drop.

David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals David Nalbandiand vs. Marin Cilic 2012 Queens Club Finals

And here’s a video of the kick heard round the courts. if you pause and squint at 2:02 you might catch my cameo.

https://youtu.be/kIsT_GPJXaI

Wing Bowl 23 | Philthadelphia at its Phinest

I had the esteemed privilege of attending Wing Bowl 23 which was held in the early hours of January 30th at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. There’s a great deal that could and probably should be said about this celebrated tradition but this sums it up just fine:

“PHILADELPHIA — I have found the heart of the Philly sports scene … and it isn’t pretty.

You know Paulie, Adrian’s brother in “Rocky”? Multiply him by the thousands, dress them in Eagles jerseys, fill each with a six-pack and stick them in a line so long it wraps around the Wachovia Center, throughout the parking lot and practically into New Jersey. Sprinkle some of these guys among the parked cars where they can urinate in semi-privacy. Carpet the lot with crushed beer cans and broken beer bottles. Throw in a cold wind and a winter rain.

Now, close the arena doors a half-hour before the competition begins because there is no more room inside the 20,000-seat center, forcing thousands of disappointed and angry fans to go home without the pleasure of watching 29 contestants eat as many chicken wings as possible in 14-minute rounds.

Oh, and did I mention? It’s 5:30 a.m. on a weekday. That’s right — 5:30 in the morning.” You can read the rest of the article here.

Reclaim Martin Luther King Day

Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list of social concerns from ending stop and frisk and police brutality to increasing the minimum wage and education reform in Philadelphia and beyond.

Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list Thousands of people gathered to march from the Philadelphia School District HQ on North Broad Street to Independence Hall in an effort to reclaim Martin Luther King Day on January 19th. The protesters formed a strong united front to address a laundry list

KABOOM!!!

My dear friend Chrissy came on by last night for a drink or two but let on she couldn’t stay as she had to wake up early the next morning to attend an implosion. I’ve heard a lot of early exit excuses, but none have ever piqued my interest quite as much. She explained that a 16-story uninhabited high rise apartment building in the Germantown section of Philadelphia was due to be razed at 7:15 am by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and as she’s in the archaeological preservation business she would be attending with some co-workers. Naturally I jumped on board. I woke at 6 am the following morning and headed on out to the site which was about twenty minutes from my apartment. When I got there, I discovered a wide radius surrounding the building had been closed off by the police. I played it cool and parked a few blocks away. I gathered my gear and proceeded on foot. When I reached the main blockade I was told I could not enter as I did not have a proper pass or hard hat. I miss my days as a credentialed member of the Philadelphia Press. It was early and I was feeling fearless so I decided to head down a street that ran parallel to the viewing  area and cut through a yard that led to a wide open expanse with a clear view of the spectacle to come. The press at this point was already set up and not wanting to ruffle any feathers I found a spot behind a cameraman slightly shorter than I. (always a good tactic when you’re the last man on the scene) It was now 7:10am. Made it with five minutes to spare. I quickly noticed everyone else had ear plugs and masks. This worried me a bit as I had neither. I figured I’ve done enough damaged to my ear drums over the years and only concerned myself with the dust cloud that could potentially come floating my way.  But with no time to deal I just hoped the wind would shift and begin to blow in the opposite direction. The countdown began roughly at 7:15. As the PHA employees depressed the symbolic t-bar that supposedly set off the charges nothing happened for about 5 second then an incredible booming started echoing throughout the corridor. Moments later a plume of smoke began to rise from beneath the building and it started to dip at the corner which led to a massive and rapid crumbling. All in it took only about 10-15 seconds for the entire structure to fall. Pretty impressive.

Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion Queen Lane Apartment Implosion

 

 

Spring

First day of spring.

Spring
First day of spring 2014

2013 NYC Vendy Awards

My buddy Sean Basinski (as seen here) , founder and director of the Street Vendor Project invited me out to shoot this years Vendy Awards held in Industry City, Brooklyn. Who could pass up all the best free food and booze that NYC food trucks have to offer. Good times. Here’s a sampling.