The time, dedication and discipline it must take to transform yourself into this bulging mass of muscles is nothing short of impressive. I like noodles and cake way too much to ever stand a chance at achieving such a goal. Fitness shoots are fun though because you really get to play with light and shadow in an incredibly interesting way. William here is a champion when it come to sculpting biceps but I train and sculpt light.
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.
2015 started off nice and wholesome with the annual New Years Day Mummers Parade and quickly devolved into a rollicking bacchanal. and yes i know one hundred is a ridiculous number of images to post. However, this event is quite the visual spectacle and is deserving of a gallery that reflects the shift from family friendly affair to freak show.
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.
Natasha and I went wandering through the Forbidden Trail along the Wissahickon Creek the other day. We climbed steep slippery slopes (stairs provided to aid hikers), encountered threatening wildlife (some dog playing in the water) and forded the deep rushing whitewater river (wading up to our ankles to cross back to the side of the creek our car was on) All in all a lovely wander.
I stumbled upon some bugs (moths, beetles, butterflies and i think a wasp) binging on a buffet of some gnarly rotten fruit during a stroll along the delaware river in south philly. it was all things gross and beautiful. wish i had a macro lens but honestly didn’t want to get too much closer. it smelled much worse than it looked.
I Spent the day at Peace Rock in Hamburg, PA with a lovely group of friends. I didn’t want to bring out the top level gear as I knew I’d be swimming most of the time and leaving thousand’s of dollars of camera equipment on the sandy shores while I swam around seemed unsettling. So I decided to dust off the trusty ol’ 7D and I’m quite happy I did. Been relying on the 5D MK III for quite some time but sometimes you need the high frame rate to catch all the craziness that unfolds around you. It was 40 feet from the top of the rock to the river below and despite having jumped 15+ times this old dude put me to shame with this one rad dive. Well done sir. I will never have the guts to join your ranks.
I loaded up the photos into iMovie and put this little clip together. Sound effects added for your viewing pleasure.