You don’t see many street performers here on Long Island.
Plenty of street signs, streets gutted with potholes, and traffic on the streets, but not many street performers.
That’s why, when I heard music playing as I walked toward the Dollar Tree entrance in my local strip mall, I was perplexed by how LOUD, CLOSE, and EMOTIVE the vocals sounded. “Is that coming out of someone’s car?” I wondered. But as I got closer, I saw Jane.
Claiming her space on the sidewalk, with an open guitar case and personal items (a leather bag, a hand-decorated marble notebook) strewn around her feet, Jane was belting out earnest lyrics and strumming her guitar like she worked for Quality Control at D’Addario, testing how much force guitar strings can bear before they snap.
Fortunately, I had my camera in my bag because I had just finishing shooting an assignment (“the best camera is the one you have with you”), and so I took it out. I approached Jane, ready to do my usual photographers’-etiquette when approaching someone on the street (politely get eye contact, point at my camera while doing a “May I?” non-verbal shoulder-shrug, wait for a nod or thumbs up, and get shooting); to my surprise upon getting a clearer view of Jane, I realized we were already acquainted.
“You used to go to the Open Mic Night at the Bayshore Bean, right?” I asked, after waiting for the end of her song. “Still do,” she replied. We chatted a bit, realized we know a lot of the same people; Jane clarified the details of a rumor I had half-misheard about a verbal altercation involving a down-on-his-luck man and a macho jerk at one of the recent Open Mic sessions.
After shooting a little while Jane played another song or two, I eventually went on my way. Our whole interaction was a lovely little space of synchronicity…a reminder that this Island is small, and diverse, and even cultured sometimes. It was also a reminder of why it’s good to carry my camera with me, how this little lens with its small glass elements is a WAY IN…an excuse to intrude and interact and connect.
Hell, if Long Island had more Janes, I might not hate running errands so much. If there were open and courageous artists and performers belting their hearts out on every street corner, this little suburban Island might just feel a lot more like home.
Ah, snow days…as long as you don’t have to drive anywhere or shovel a long driveway, they’re love little slices of permissible laziness. Watching Netflix, eating snacks, catching up with friends on social media…and all while wearing PJs and burrowing under your blanket.
But, as a photographer, my snow day looks very different! I’m catching up on indoor studio photography, and LOVING the process!
While it’s true that portrait photography is my first love, I also very much enjoy indoor studio work: food photography, product photography, etc. The creative control and ability to work with very fine details keeps me engaged for hours on end.
While snowed-in today, I’ve turned my kitchen upside down creating some food photography images for a new work opportunity, and I love how these images turned out so much, I figured I would share them with you all…
Here’s to a PRODUCTIVE snow day shooting indoors!!!
Hope I didn’t make you too hungry… ;)
Wake up. Breakfast for the kids, coffee for you. By the time you sip it, the coffee’s gone cold. Replying to texts and emails on your phone. Running errands and scratching off To-Do-List items that multiply like the heads of a hydra; as one item is removed, two take its place. Work. Your boss. The holidays. Your health. Cooking dinner. Paying bills. Watching the news and feeling overwhelmed. Cleaning the bathtub. In the rare moments when you’re NOT doing things, you have this sinking, restless feeling: “I SHOULD be doing things right now.”
What do these stresses of our age have to do with photography?
A lot, I would argue.
One of the aspects I love about making photographs is how the creative process creates a STOP-GAP in this endless tyranny of tasks. When I pick up my camera, start observing the world around me and making shots, I enter a flow state. Time slows down, yet it does not drag; photography transports me to a timeless, stress-less, meditative space of acceptance and connection. In short, photography creates bliss.
I experience this bliss whether I am photographing a still-life tabletop arrangement of melons and berries, or whether I am looking through my viewfinder at a smiling, giggling, initially-nervous-but-really-starting-to-enjoy-this human being, or couple of human beings, or entire family of human beings.
And unlike photographing melons and berries, when photographing human beings, something magical happens: they catch the bliss, too.
This sense of connectedness, joy, and love doesn’t just radiate out of the back of the camera as it is pressed to my left eye; indeed, this bliss radiates out the front of my lens, sparks white-hot out of my speedlight, bounces of white foam reflectors and pools in the catchlights of my subjects’ eyes…the meditative experience of photography (making photographs, being photographed, looking at photographs) spreads in all directions until it becomes the very container that our session occurs within. Held in this sacred space, the subjects and the photographer make art, imperfectly and in earnest, truly seeing ourselves and one another. This experience is a form of meditation, and the images captured are the record of that meditation.
This doesn’t happen by accident. Like all the best kinds of magic, it requires sincere and authentic participation, a joining of creative energies and a trust in PROCESS over PRODUCT. It helps to have a guide who knows the way to this special space: a shutter-speed-sherpa, someone who’s adept at apertures, and has an instinct for ISO…but who also strives to be more than just a technician. A photographer who brings compassion and presence to her sessions.
Again and again, my clients tell me how our sessions give them a much-needed break from stress and distractions. If you feel like you need a break from life, like you need to come back to yourself, or take time to truly be present with your partner, or to play with your little ones away from screens and phones and household tasks, contact me and schedule your photo session.
You never regret getting a massage.
You never regret meditating.
And you will never regret the personalized experience of our photo session, nor the beautiful, creative, authentic images you will be able to look back on for a lifetime.