earlier today i took my students the self dubbed “village photo crew” on a photo walk to the open kitchen sculpture garden in kensington. when we arrived at the intersection of lehigh avenue and american street i noticed a woman wearing a brightly colored overgarment. she clashed with her surroundings and caught my eye not because of what she was wearing but because she was clipping plants from the landscaping outside of a rite aid. i’m a strong proponent of guerrilla gardening and the re-allocation/ propagation of city plants but rarely do i see others participating in this exercise. i walked over and asked if i could take a few pictures of her. she gracefully took my hand and introduced herself as tatiana from armenia. when i asked why she was taking the cuttings she peacefully said she was going to place them on her altar to allah. she then said she would be happy to pose as she’s often asked which she attributed to her “historic look”
This was my second photoshoot with fitness buff James Baik. Our first shoot took place last Spring and focused more on fashion. This time he wanted to take a less modest approach as he’d spent pretty much all summer/fall in the gym. I could probably follow his same regiment and still gain no muscle. We decided on a darker more dramatic tone for the images and ended up with this.
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.
I popped into the Saint Lazarus Bar for a quick beer the other night after seeing John Zorn’s Simulacrum at Johnny Brenda’s. To the left of where I sat was this mysterious stranger hugging a guitar while slowly sipping a drink and to the right of me was this wall emblazoned with an image of a fiery red forest. Clearly this man was meant to be photographed in front of this wall. I ask to shoot people I don’t know with some regularity so without hesitating I slid down towards the stranger, introduced myself and asked if I could take a picture of him in front of said wall on fire. He shot back a quick, “yes of course” as if he’d been expecting this inquiry. I had only my phone on me at the time but didn’t want to miss this opportunity. After a few quick shots I asked his name. Melvin. He then gave me his card, said thank you, took a final sip of his beer, grabbed his guitar and vanished. The next day after posting the photo to instagram I pulled his card from my pocket and decided to reach out to Melvin C. McKnight aka Blaqmel to ask if he’d sit for a proper portrait. He again said “yes of course.” The location I had in mind had been on my agenda to use for quite a while. Months ago while in the basement of my building someone turned the lights off and this was revealed to me. I thought Melvin would be perfect for this space plus I’m moving in a few days so time was not on my side. Clearly Melvin was also meant to be photographed in my creepy basement.
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.
Meet Derek (Bagel) Bakal and his puppets. They’re an odd yet wildly entertaining and very photogenic bunch. If you’d like to learn to make puppets you should reach out to Derek. He’s a brilliantly creative teacher/ mad man.
If there’s one thing I love about summer in the city, it’s the unbearable heat paired with the oppressive humidity. I find it both cleanses the body and the mind. Another thing I love, is bearing witness to how others cope. Most adults shy away from the heat and duck indoors to bathe in reconditioned air. But not kids. Kids love the summer sun. It represents a freedom from homework, a freedom from boredom and a freedom from bedtimes. Living in North Philadelphia, I revel in the creative ways kids find to keep cool during these sweltering summer days. From splashing around in the mist of a corner hydrant to lounging in the back of a plastic lined water filled pickup truck, they always find a way. I was sitting around my apartment last Sunday and decided to head out in search of something photogenic. I didn’t have any set plan on where to go but if you want to find kids playing in water all you have to do is follow the blocks long stream that ultimately leads to a hydrant. After only riding for a few minutes I hit the jackpot. There was a gushing hydrant, a grill smoldering, music blaring, a jumpy house and kids swimming in not one but TWO gigantic inflatable pools. It was the quintessential summer in the city scene. I hopped off my bike and walked on over to the adults to ask if it would be ok to get some shots. This usually goes one of two ways. Either I’m met with side eye and apprehension or open arms. This group was very welcoming. I didn’t even have to dive too far deep into my usual pitch. They saw the camera and welcomed me in to document their celebration which I found out was in honor of Xavier’s 7th birthday. The highlight for me was an impromptu yet clearly choreographed performance of the Electric Slide. I was beyond blown away by this. I’m so sick of the Cupid Shuffle. It was refreshing to partake in a throwback from my teenage bar mitzvah circuit years. As the jumpy house started to deflate and the shade covered the once glistening pool water I took my last shots packed up and hopped on my bike. As I waved goodbye one of the kids ran over and asked me to come back next week but this time with my bathing suit.
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.
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.