Clair and Sam

August 23, 2011

They couldn’t be cuter. Jetting over to NYC from England, these two celebrated their love with their closest family and friends on a wonderful day in June. We started at the Ladies Pavillion and made our way over to the Central Park Zoo in a horse and buggy ride. Although my tendency to tear up at weddings seems to have subsided in the past couple of events that I’ve shot, Clair and Sam’s ceremony was especially emotional as the two recited their own vows to one another, and I found myself loving them dearly. When you can see the love that couples have for one another written all over their face, it is the most beautiful and most wonderful thing that you can be privy to.


With the recent closing of iconic NYC locations like Mars Bar and Film Center Cafe, I thought it appropriate to render a tribute to the city that I am from.

I have always been nostalgic. Even for places and events and people that I have never been to or attended or met. Certain weights that tug on my heartstrings. They are simple, like fire escapes, or fading painted advertisements on the sides of older buildings. They are ghosts of the past of a city that was raised by ambition and seems to be taken down by the natural element of ‘progress’. Establishments that have existed for years are closing. Huge skyscrapers are being built in the midst of beautiful characteristic low-rises. I am interested in documenting the things that are fading. In the buildings and the blocks. In the telephone wires and the phone booths. The neon signs.

I once wrote a letter to the Landmarks Commission in attempts at saving 35 Cooper Square which as a federal style house is one of the oldest surviving buildings on the Bowery. The following is an excerpt from that letter;

“There are reasons why tourists come to Manhattan. There are reasons why people from all over the world come with not more than a weeks’ saved wages to try to ‘make it’ here. There are reasons why numerous artists, writers, revolutionaries, business people, great thinkers, and big dreamers have chosen New York as their home base. I can tell you right now, its not because of our newly built glass towers, or the gastro-pubs, or the bottle service nightlife clubs. It’s because Manhattan was raised with charm. It has a grace that not many cities posses. It gives off the potential that anything is possible and part of this element is the structures that exist here. There are buildings that have dated back to the 19th century. They hold the city’s secrets. They have been standing throughout fires and floods, bombings and shootings. They are older than all of us, and deserve to have a chance to continue to show newcomers what the city is really made of. That throughout everything, New York buildings, like New Yorkers themselves, are durable, are resilient. That they have a strong history and past to settle their roots to, and because of that past, have a chance to to root their future in something promising, something real.”

Place is extremely powerful. There are spirits and lives that are buried beneath these streets. Under the concrete, under the cobblestone. They permeate every inch of the air on this island. I wish to document what’s been left and what is soon to go. Not only for a cartographical basis to determine footprints of the city’s mindframe, but for an artistic sense of seeing as well, creating in our time, a similar likeness to the times of those past.

I have lived in New York City for my whole life, and just this year I have begun to document it correctly. Here are a few images from this journey.

It was Rachel, Simon, Eric, and I. Three months of a full time internship had just ended for me and we went out to celebrate. It was my first time back out in the world wearing not-work clothes and actually enjoying myself after a few months of non stop work. We were sitting at dinner at the restaurant I work in, ABC Kitchen, when Ann Marie came up to our table. She told us about the few ideas that she had for all of us to start getting involved in good community causes. Food banks, urban organic community gardening, and the AIDS Walk, to name a few. We jumped on the AIDS walk idea automatically. I remember it well, Ann Marie saying “There’s so many of us, we can do so much good if we just put ourselves to use”. Over the next few weeks we signed up, created a team, campaigned for funds, even dropped flyers off with the checks at our tables just to get the word out that we were walking. On the day of, everyone was super excited, the energy was great and even through it rained, we still had 30 staffers from ABC, raised $2,000 and represented ourselves with a great cause. I wanted to document it right so I brought along my camera. Heres a few shots from the day 😀

Ann Marie

One of our star bartenders who also happens to be a cheerleader. We didn’t even know he would be there!

Rachel and I

Rachel and Simon

April 11, 2011

He rolls the cigarettes. She cooks. They came to NYC only a year ago and have already become established in the community, working for one of the best restaurants in the city, have an apartment with an amazing view, and generally look out for one another on an continual basis. What is nice about Rachel and Simon is that they are two very different people, and yet something about being with the other brings out the best they can both offer, and it just works. They are beautiful, individually and together. They are two of my favorite people and I’m always glad when I can photograph them.

Rachel is just hot. Period. Just sayin’…

I’ve been taking the subway in New York City since I was very young. I remember the first time or close to the very first time that I rode the subway with my mother as she showed me how to get to my high school which was forty-five minutes away, in another borough. I was shorter than I am now, and bright eyed at the prospect of this traveling independence. It was like learning a new language. Which trains go where – how many stops till here – where to transfer – the exact place on the platform that will put you next to the exact door in the train car to make it faster to exit at your stop. I became quickly fluent, parents rules of not riding the train at night became riding the train with a friend at night, and again became riding whenever and wherever. The rides were meditative. After spending a considerable amount of time traveling to and from school for four years, I developed a deep appreciation for the quiet time. Reading, thinking, listening to music, people watching. I would fall asleep and wake up moments before the doors open at my stop, never missing it. I have a long standing personal history attached to the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The tunnels run through my bloodstream. There was something about trains that had always just calmed me down.

In September of 2001, I was riding on the 2/3 line directly underneath the World Trade Center station on my way to school just one hour before Flight 11 hit the North Tower. We watched the rest of the morning unfold from across the river. For the remainder of that school year, the trains were rerouted and I found a different way to get to Brooklyn. It required both transferring trains in each trip as well as traveling over the Manhattan Bridge. While the view was beautiful, for a long time I couldn’t go over the bridge without holding my breath. I was terrified there would be another attack in some capacity. If the train was stalled for even a minute on the bridge, I had these horrible thoughts that there would be an attack on the bridges and we would happen to be in mid-bridge at that very moment. I got so paralyzed by my fear that I would occasionally get off the train at Canal Street right before it went over the bridge, just to calm myself down in order to get back on the next one that came.

The fear subsided eventually (I after all had another three years of subwaying in order to complete my high school education) and when I went to college in Philadelphia, I started taking Amtrak back and forth from one city to the other to visit home and my love affair with trains began to grow again. There is something romantic, nostalgic, and tragic about trains and their stations. Maybe its just me, but Rick reading Ilsa’s letter in the pouring rain as the ink is running off the page just before he lets the train carry him away in Casablanca, or as Samuel and Susannah with conviction and love step off the train that has taken them into the Montana mountains to the Colonel’s retreat from the madness of war in Legends of the Fall both get me every time. Aside from my emotional sentiment, trains are one of the oldest, strongest symbols of human expansion. The Transcontinental Railroad was the first built to link the East and West coasts, create a transport system that would modernize the movement of people and goods, and populate the West. In India, the trains are a symbol of independence and freedom and in China, they are known for their speed and efficiency.

I have always seen the light in the ability to connect closely with the human condition through the heart of movement. We stand inches from each other sometimes, knowing nothing more about the other person than perhaps what perfume they wear, if they’re solitaire or sudoku fans, whether they washed their hair this morning, or that they enjoy listening to Justin Timberlake at eight o’clock in the morning on a Wednesday. Sometimes we’re shown how children are treated by frustrated parents, racial fights between young men, homeless men and women, and one-legged beggars. Still other times we’re privy to lovers’ embraces, best friends giggling, babies being carried in the bodies of their mothers, and old school acapella groups singing Motown just right when you didn’t even know you needed to smile.

Nothing about any of them will ever be the same as it was before. The train car is the quintessential blank canvas over and over. The combination of lives and energy in the same space will never look or feel the same again. This is not a project, but something that runs deep into the fabric of my being. I know nothing of these people except what they choose to show me. The way they sit, if they’re reading, sleeping, thinking, watching. They are chosen for their communal solitude. They are not chosen at all. They choose me. We live our lives separately, and as yet, are constantly colliding with one another.

Wilkins and Monica

February 20, 2011

Seriously, I don’t have the words. This couple really blew me away. These two ladies are from Australia, and it was their first time in New York City. They wrote me because they wanted some really great pictures to take back home to commemorate their trip, and bring home to their families and friends to showcase their love for one another. We spent two hours hanging out in the city at some very “Classic New York” spots – the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, Grand Central Station, and the Public Library. We had become Facebook friends prior to the shoot and when we met up last week, I felt like we already knew each other. They were so much fun, had tons of ideas for photos and we really had a wonderful time.

It was really tough to choose favorites.. There were so many I wanted to put up, I had to narrow it down from 50 images! Hope you enjoy 🙂

ummm.. gorgeous much?

its confirmed.. they’re adorable

Working out the Kinks

February 16, 2011

I told you I wasn’t good with commitment. I always miss blogging on the holidays, usually because im too busy to sit down and actually write anything of interest. This Valentines day, however, was missed not because I forgot, but I specifically did not blog for several reasons. First, was that I had an amazing photoshoot the day before with two very special people, and I was so excited about it that I decided to jump on editing their session as opposed to blogging. Second, to be honest, and I might be going out on a limb here, but I think Valentines day is kind of silly. I’ve both been with significant others and been single on different years and every time it comes around it just feels like this huge expectation that noone can ever really live up to. Now don’t hate me, I love couples and engagements and weddings and love, but I simply don’t think that there needs to be one particular day of the year that say’s “today must be the day you show your love”. What’s wrong with showing it once a month, or once a week, or every day? Surprising your hunny with a dozen red roses just because? I understand the need for social normalities and how it is nice to show your love, but I am a strong believer of loving every day, fully and wholly.

Its often difficult for me to blog. What to talk about, what to keep private. How much to disclose. Will anyone read/care/judge me. These are questions that still permeate much of my mind before I begin to write anything.  I am only a small fish. Ok maybe a medium sized fish. For me, it is not about the hustle. It’s not even really about what I write here. It’s about how my clients look at each other. It’s the love for each other that they choose to share with me. It’s the feeling I get when I know that they will be looking at their photos years down the line, and smiling. I may not always be the most eloquent, or the most politically correct (cough-valentinesday-cough) but I’m still working out my kinks. Still working my way, little by little, one photograph at a time.

For now, enjoy a preview of my shoot with Wilkins and Monica.. I promise their blog post will be up soon!