Last New York Thoughts

I’ll have to admit that once nice thing about coming to New York was that so much of my life had to be put on hold while I was here. I’m sure I’ll pay the price for a lot of it in the coming weeks, but sometimes I just have to throw up my hands and say I simply can’t do it all. On Friday I was at Lois Greenfield’s photo studio to have lunch with her and go over my portfolio one more time and talk about my photography goals. She’s an incredibly generous friend and is going to help me take the next steps I’ll need to get my work in front of more people.

As we were going over the images, at one point she turned to me and said, how do you have time to do all of this? And I said it’s something that I really want and so I really focus on it as much as I possibly can. It means there isn’t a lot of time for much of anything else. I don’t see my friends probably as much as I should unless they happen to be in front of my camera, and I’m certainly not getting the sleep I should.

But every person who inspires me, every photographer whose work I admire, if I look at how they got to where they are it was due to hard work, plain and simple. I’ve rarely been unsuccessful when I really put my mind to something. They used to call me “long shot” in college because it looked like I was the luckiest guy around. Everything always seemed to work out for me. But I’ll tell you now that it had less to do with luck and more to do with just showing up, working for free if necessary, and making sure I was constantly getting better.

When I’m not shooting, I’m not moving forward.

Lois’ operation is a lot bigger than mine, but we realized we are both fighting the same battles of time and people management. There is never enough time in the day to organize shoots, keep portfolios updated and make sure prints are getting made. Yet we’re both succeeding in our own ways. Clearly we’re both doing something right.

It was really a great opportunity for her to go through my work and tell me what she felt was strongest and what she felt needed more work. I didn’t disagree with any of it. I know where my art is it’s strongest in my heart. I always have. It’s nice to hear that inner voice validated by someone whose eye is as good as hers. It will help me grow because ever since I started to seriously create my photography years ago, I always created images that pleased me first. If I liked what I saw, chances are others would too. When I tried to create what I thought others might like, that was when my work lost it’s point of view. Obvious perhaps, but artists fight that battle all the time. I must continue to trust my heart.

On one of my last nights in NY, Mark and Cheree and I went out to dinner at a great fairly new Italian restaurant up near 114th and Broadway, and sadly it’s name escapes me at the moment. It’s a bit funny sounding and begins with a P, and perhaps I’ll remember it before I’m done writing. I can tell you it’s just north of Tom’s Diner on 112th which has become probably as famous as any other place in New York only because is in pretty much every episode of Seinfeld. I didn’t even notice it as we walked past it the first time, but Mark and Cheree pointed it out on our way back to the subway and I just couldn’t resist being a tourist with a camera phone.

Finally it was time to leave. In the cab heading back through midtown to the airport, as I looked out the window I was a little bit sad to be leaving. The past week and half had been a flurry of hard work with a few moments of fun here and there, but I felt the trip unfinished somehow. Some of my favorite moments were when someone spotted my photography portfolios and asked to see them. It’s always interesting to see people huddled around turning the pages of my work. The reactions were always good and will inspire me to continue on my path with increased determination.

I sat in the airport writing and people watching. It’s amazing how ridiculous some people can be. There was a guy in a suit and black overcoat who decided to stand near the gate entrance even though we were still at least a half an hour away from boarding. He was talking on one of those bazaar looking bluetooth headsets. I have one but I only use it because I have to by law when I’m driving, but I can’t bring myself to use it any other time because it’s so… well… ridiculous. No one looks like a more pompous jerk than when they’re spouting orders and gesturing wildly simply because their hands are free. This particular moron was in what I like to call “lighthouse mode.” It’s a sort of pacing, but since there is really no where to go at an airport gate, he simply began to rotate as he gestured. I usually ignore idiots like that, but because of the lighthouse mode, every time I would tune him out, I would get, “…some way to get from Sydney to Perth and back ……………… going to Sydney then I can meet them for the ………………….. back to Perth again by next Monday……” Auuuugh!

In the meantime, the adjacent gate is unloading a plane and weary travelers are trying to get past this whirling dervish and he’s completely oblivious that he’s in the way of a planeload of people. By the time I boarded and walked past him, of course he was in first class, it made me happy to be in coach so I wouldn’t have to be anywhere near him.

But he wasn’t the only inconsiderate one. I think we need to create a new domestic policy called No Citizen Left Behind. Let me explain. Every citizen is tested on various things like proper tipping and what constitutes an acceptable piece of carry on luggage. If you don’t pass restaurant tipping, then you lose your eating out privileges. If you bring a piece of luggage on that clearly should be checked, you lose your ability to travel by plane. I was amazed by what people were trying to cram into the overhead compartments. This of course meant that people who did follow the rules such as myself, had a bit of a time finding room near our seats for our proper carry-ons. But it all worked out. I do believe in karma and karma seems to be sweeping up the refuse nicely these days.

I got back into town and had a nice limo ride back to my place from a Bulgarian driver who used to be a mountain climber back in the day. We talked about growing up behind the Iron Curtain, which for those of you who don’t know was the term people used to use for people living under control of the Soviet Union. It was pretty much impossible to travel in and out on your own because they were afraid you’d leave for the west forever or something. I never understood how governments could live with themselves if people were always trying to get out of the countries they controlled.

I got home and spent the next few hours trying to schedule a shoot with a new model I’ve been wanting to work with for about a year and a half, but since I really probably needed some down time more than anything else, we decided to put it off a few days. But as I said before, when I’m not shooting, I’m not moving forward, so I’m sure we’ll make that happen before the end of next week. She sounds very excited and so am I.

AndJillian Ann who I spent some really great quality time with in the middle of the night about a week ago is now in Miami performing at the Ultra Music Festival with some amazing bands and DJs. I wish I could be there to see her. But I just got an email from her and it looks like we’ll be shooting again next month. Always creative, productive and inspiring.

And speaking of inspiring, I got home and started to do laundry and put everything from my travels away including my winter coat which I’ll have to admit has become so big on me that I feel a little silly wearing it anymore. I was walking through Union Square one morning last week and a big gust of wind came up and blew my coat tight against me and I realized I was just swimming in it. I’ve been trying to just make it though the last few weeks of winter without buying a smaller coat because at this rate, anything I buy now will be too big on me next winter. I haven’t really been weighing myself on a regular basis because I know I’m eating healthy and doing a lot of walking and I think being overly concerned with numbers can be demotivating sometimes. But I decided to jump on the scale and see where I was. Amazingly, in the last month, I’ve lost another ten pounds. It makes me happy to think that even during the cold winter months when people are usually putting on a few pounds, I’m continuing to get smaller. I thought my coach seat was a little more roomy than usual this time.

Still a very long way to go until I’m where I want to be, but I’m making steady progress amidst all the other things going on in my life right now, and that’s a little bit of incredible.

So that’s that. I’m back in Chicago, starting to catch up with my life here and feeling like I’m going to burst if I don’t start clicking my shutter soon. Too many ideas to explore! The day isn’t over yet!

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