A Visit to The George Eastman House

George Eastman's HouseFor someone who likes photography and old cameras, visiting the George Eastman House is a welcomed opportunity. It’s not only the house that George Eastman (the maker of Kodak) built and lived in during his lifetime, but also a gallery and museum surrounded by many beautiful gardens.

From the outside the stone walls of the house appear gorgeous. The house itself is a work of art. At the front of the house there’s a patio, or sitting area, with two chairs. The door leads into a large foyer with a grand staircase straight ahead.

Inside the house it appears as if time has stood still. Some of the paintings, and I believe fixtures, are exact replicas, but everything is still as it would’ve been if Eastman himself was still living. From the crystal chandlers to the dishes to the bedrooms to the clothing hanging in the closet and the bathroom products sitting in the medicine cabinet, a tour through the house feels like stepping into the past.

The gardens on the property are full of flowers as well as lush, green grass and bushes. Some have stone, or slate, paths while others have paths laid in brick. One garden had lattice with grape vines growing. Another had a small pond in the center with fish and lily pads.

At the back of the house sits the gallery which is currently showing the work of Eugene Richards. It’s titled: Eugene Richards: The Run-On Time. His work explores large, complex social topics. While the photos are engaging, some may be difficult and uncomfortable to look at. Still, this exhibition is worth seeing.

Besides the gallery, the museum is also the home of many old cameras. They’re all gathered in one room and placed in multiply glass cases. They range from wooden cameras with wet plates to the camera of the 90s and, I believe, early digital. Along with the cameras are pictures lining the walls. In the same room are color and black and white photographs by famous photographers.

Whether it’s photography, cameras, a beautiful garden to walk through or even a little bit of history, I believe there’s something for everyone here.

To see more photos please check out my site by clicking here.

Something About the Ocean

The sound of crashing waves echoed through the night. The ocean churned, rushing for the shore and touching the sand before being pulled back out to sea. It kept up it’s constant rhythmic breathing all through the night and into the early morning.

HeavenlyAs the sun rose the ocean waves continued to crash. In the light of day the rolling, tossing sea could be seen. The water curled, crashed, whitewash spraying as it advanced toward the shore. And the ocean never stopped breathing. No matter the time of day the soothing sound of the ocean could be heard.

The hotel sat on the boardwalk, facing the ocean. Every night I fell asleep to the crashing waves and every morning I woke to them. The salty sea air blew in through the open screen door and some mornings I was torn between staying in bed and getting up. But the ocean always called me, pulled me, and I wanted nothing more then to be down on that beach before it became crowed with the day’s beach-goers. So, really, there was never a choice to be made.

Every morning I walked the beach with my camera. I took pictures and collected shells. The water was so rough that it was difficult to find one that wasn’t broken, but even the broken and chipped ones were beautiful. I walked under the pier, continued along the shoreline and dragged by toes in my water that would rush up and over my feet. There were only a few times where I walked in deep. (Once I walked in up to my knees and a wave came and pushed water up my shorts. I laughed, not really caring, and knowing Sand, Shells and Stonesthat my pockets were already full of sand from the shells I had picked up.)

There was a place on that beach where it seemed all the shells would wash up. Some were broken, some were shattered, some were in one piece. I had never seen anything like it, but where there should be sand there was a stretch of shells. They laid on the beach like a blanket. There was no way around them so I had to walk on them. I didn’t mind. I was looking for shells. Plus, the way the sun was bouncing off the surface made the shells look like they were glistening.

One day, I went down with my camera, but instead of walking along the water’s edge like all the other mornings, I climbed into a lifeguard stand and simply watch and listened. There’s something about the ocean. Time stops. The crashing waves wash away all worries, if only for a moment. Waves barrel and rush toward the shore, keeping the sound of rhythmic breathing. The smell of saltwater and the gentle sea breeze while the sun warms your skin is wonderful. It pulls me, like two opposite ends of a magnet coming together. Much like the ocean always find the shore, I can’t resist the ocean. There’s something about the ocean and I wonder, even though I’ve written about it many times, if there’s any words to truly do it justice.

And I can’t forget about the boardwalk with it’s many shops and eateries. I love the soft pretzels and how their always warm, the funnel cake and all its confectionery sugar and I think I found one of the best pizza places the boardwalk has to offer. One place I always go is the taffy shop. I’ve tried a lot of different taffy in my lifetime, but Ocean City, NJ has Evening Wavesthe best. (They also have really good chocolate.) There’s also two arcades and two or three amusement parks, one which has been around since 1929. For shopping, there’s even more stores in town which are worth exploring.

The ocean is one of my favorite places in the world. To me, the ocean is many things – feisty, calming, dangerous, strong, beautiful, alive. It’s one of the places I want to go to find peace. The reasons are almost indescribable, but it’s natural, like the rushing of waves to the shore. I also believe the ocean is one of the purest places on earth.

To see more pictures from Ocean City, NJ please check out my photo page by clicking here.

Pictorial History

Photographs of old buildings that were once busy factories, populated schools, adored homes and so much more hang on the wall. These buildings now sit abandoned, left to decay and be taken over by nature. Some of them are partially collapsed while others have been demolished since the photos were taken and now there’s nothing left but an empty lot or the looks of what used to be the foundation.

These are the Hudson Valley Ruins, a photography exhibit currently on display at the New York State Museum. (And I do recommend going to see this instillation.)

The photos are beautiful. From an artistic standpoint I loved the use of lighting, attention to detail, the textures and angles at which the pictures were taken. They capture the essence of the buildings – still beautiful with it’s boarded up doors, partially collapsed walls, broken windows, torn wallpaper, peeling paint and overall abandonment.

Each photo leads to a sense of wonder and, possibly, nostalgia. As I stood in the museum looking at these photos I found myself envisioning what they looked like in their prime – busy, bustling schools and factories, lavish homes.

Historically the photos capture a place that once was a prominent and important piece of the past. These buildings once produced goods, educated children and housed families among other things. Some of the buildings were repurposed before being abandoned while others were forgotten long ago.

I think that’s the sad thing about these places. While still beautiful in their own way, they’ve been forgotten and left to the forces of nature to destroy what once was grand. A lack of care has turned these buildings into so-called “eye sores.” I don’t believe they’re ugly sights to be seen. Instead, I think they’re interesting pieces of history. They’re meant to be preserved as best as possible so we can learn from them.

Any photograph, if we look closely enough, can be a learning tool. Every picture tells a story. They depict specifics about a person – their clothing, their personality, their inner being. Pictures capture a lifestyle. Photographs freeze the horror and/or the beauty of a moment. They’re a window to the past and hope for the future.

It’s said, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Maybe the saying is a bit cliched, but I believe there’s truth in those words. We can learn a lot from a photograph, if we’re willing to listen, look carefully with our eyes.

California: Surfing and Music

It was the perfect day on the beach – full of surfing and music.

SwitchfootAfter breakfast, I made my way down to the ocean where the surfing events were taking place. (I wasn’t part these events. At least not in the sense of actually surfing. No, these guys, even the kids, could surf circles around me.) I surveyed the crowd, picked out the surfers and finally found a good place to set up camp. (And by camp I mean a good place to stand and take pictures.)

The sun warmed the back of my neck and bare shoulders as I watched the surfers ride the waves. (Not always all the way to shore. Sometimes they took a spill.) I raised my camera constantly to captures some action shoots, silently yelling at myself for not bringing a longer lens, but was still happy with the pictures I ended up with. There were times I was so captivated and focused on what I was doing that I didn’t realize how far I was wading out into the ocean. Well, I didn’t realize until the next wave came and sent water up my shorts.

I followed the surfers out of the water, along the beach, and finally found where they wereSwitchfoot all standing. As much as I enjoy a good action shot, I love candid pictures. These are the moments that can’t be made or recreated. I believe candid moments capture the soul.

It’s the same with music. When I photograph an artist, I feel like I’m capturing a moment that shows how in touch they are with the music they’re playing. I’ve photographed a lot of bands over the years and Switchfoot has always been one of my favorites. When I watch them live, they seem to have the music running through them. They believe in the songs they play and the words they sing. For me, not only does it make for a great show, but great photos as well.

Switchfoot put on one heck of a show. Actually, I should say shows. First there was Auction Night where they played a short set after raising money for local charities. There were multiple items people could bid on and win with the six charities splitting the money. The guys played a tight set, including three songs from their new album, Where The Light Shines Through.

Switchfoot at the Switchfoot Bro-AmThen there’s (what I like to call) beach day. This is a day full of surfing and music. I’ve already mentioned the surfing portion, but the music is equally as entertaining. Once again, the guys played three songs off their new album, which was released that week – “Float,” “Where the Light Shines Through,” and “Live It Well.”

During the show they brought several children up on stage from an area school and let them sing “The World You Want.” They were part of VH1 Save the Music, which brings music back into schools.

Over all the band preformed a tight set with Jon making his way through the crowd. In order to get back on stage he laid back as if getting ready to crowd surf and let the crowd Switchfoot at the Switchfoot Bro-Amraise him. Drew did what he does best on stage – shred. Tim showed off his bass skills. (Especially during “Float,” which is a very bass heavy song.) Chad kept the beat going and Jerome played some very lovely piano parts.

I captured so many great moments with my camera and was thrilled to be right in the thick of it and part of this amazing event. So, yes, a day on the beach with surfing, music and my camera – perfect.

To view more surfing pictures please click here.

To view Auction Night picture please click here.

To view beach day concert pictures please click here.

Being a Concert Photographer

There’s a certain energy that takes over the atmosphere of a venue during a live show. It’s different in each place and with each performance, but it still exists. The crowd feeds off the energy of the band and vice verses.

When I listen to music, it absorbs me. The notes carry me away as the melody wraps around me. And live shows, well, I love the feeling of the bass as it vibrates through the speakers and snakes along the floor. It’s an interesting and wonderful sensation to have the beat of the drums and bass weave their way through my body until it feels as though the music matches my own heartbeat.

As I stand there, now part of the melody, the performers take my breath away. Most of the bands I’ve had the opportunity to see live have produced an energy like no other. I can tell simply by watching that they can feel the music and believe in the words they are singing. And that makes me believe in the songs that much more too.

On the nights when I’m working a show, the whole atmosphere takes me over. (And I use the word “work” lightly, since I love what I do and it never feels like work.) I’m in front of the barricade bar, wedged between the bar and the stage, an entire group of people behind me while the band is inches from my face. I raise my camera, the lens now acting as my eyes, and capture the moments. I capture the songs, the notes and the emotion in a single frame.

Even when I’m standing stage-side, my adrenaline is still pumping. I’m standing in the mist of security, band members, tour managers (although I can rarely pick them out), maybe one or two other photographers, sound equipment and instruments. It’s a different view from standing in the crowd, a view I would never give up.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way because I love my job.

If you would like to take a look at some of my photos you may do so by visiting my website.

Be Thankful

For years I struggled with the concept of where I wanted to be in life, or where I thought I should be. For years I thought I was the only one who didn’t have it all figured out. But I’m happy to say that I’ve realized very few of us actually have it all figured out (and I do mean very few).

Here’s the thing. As far as a career is concerned, I’ve always known exactly what I wanted to do with my life. From the time I was child I knew I wanted to be a photographer and a writer. (I mean, for a time, I thought about being a veterinarian since I love animals, but then I learned you have to put animals to sleep sometimes if they’re suffering too much and I said, “Nope.” And then there was all that math and science. Not really for me.) As I grew up, I realized how difficult it was to break into these fields and be recognized. (No offense, but any fool with a camera can snap a picture and please don’t even get me started on some of the poorly written literature that’s been published simply because it will sell.)

I’m not saying I’m above anyone or entitled to things. I’m not. But when you work your butt off and give it your all every single day simply to feel like you’re getting nowhere…well, it can become frustrating. I often found myself wondering, “What about me?” or “When’s it my turn?” And those were days where I thought about giving up.

But those are the days you have to push yourself.

I’m glad I kept going. I’m glad I never threw in the towel.

Looking back, I realize that those struggles were some of the most exciting times. (Not that things aren’t exciting now…because they are!) Those were the struggles that set me on the path to where I am today. (And believe me…there are still plenty of struggles.)

I’m 25. I’ve been photographing since I was about seven. It’s only recently that I’ve broken into concert photography. Officially. You know, with press passes and all that jazz. And it’s only been within the last two years that my photos have appeared online (unless, of course, you count newspapers and magazines too). I’ve been writing since I was in second grade. I’ve been published in newspapers and magazines, but my fiction still hasn’t been seen by anyone except my family and friends.

But the struggle makes you appreciate the success that much more.

So after having a conversation with a friend one night, I started thinking about where I am in life. Without dragging you all through the details, I guess I thought I would be further then where I am right now. I mean, it took so long to get to this point.

But it’s easy to become caught up in the things you don’t have instead of looking at everything you do have and being thankful.

I did.

That realization hit me after reading something a friend wrote.

And it’s true. In this world of competition we’re all trying to be first. We all want the top spot and end up missing out on the journey.

I think it’s more then all of this though. I think it has to do with being thankful for what you have because we are all so fortunate.

Pondering all of this made me think about people in other countries. It made me think about others in general. I’ve seen and talked to people who have a lot less then I do.

They basically have nothing, yet appear happy – always with a smile on their face. It makes me wonder how those who have nothing can be so happy, yet those (like us) who have access to everything can be so miserable.

So here’s what I think it comes down to – being thankful for what we have in our lives instead of worrying about the things we believe are missing.

I’m thankful for my family and friends. I’m thankful for the dog and how she greets me everyday when I come home from work. I’m thankful for opportunities. I’m thankful for each new day. I’m thankful for the people who have touched my life without knowing it. (And that’s just to name a few.)

Yes. I believe it all comes down to being thankful for what we’ve been given. (Although, this might be difficult to do at times.) But worrying about what you don’t have and thinking you deserve more will only lead to missing out on the journey.

Maine: Day 4 – Local Art

My plan was to walk the mile into town and take pictures along the way, but I didn’t make it very far.

The dog in the window caught my attention. Not a real dog. It was a picture of one, a calendar cover. In the picture the dog was hanging his head out of a car window. And he looked like he was having a wonderful time.

There was a row of art galleries as soon as I started my walk and I’ve never been one for turning down an art gallery. Especially one that deals in photography.

Upon entering the photo gallery I was struck not by how small it was, but the beautiful photos hanging on the walls and placed around the gallery. The ones leaning against the wall were wrapped in plastic and as I carefully looked at them, I felt at if I was handling something fragile. (Which, in a way, I was.)

Night.

Water.

Moon.

So many great photographs. It’s hard to pick a favorite. (So I’m not going to.) Of course there were those that struck me instantly, but what I loved in each photo was the lighting. It was gorgeous. I could’ve stood there all day looking at them.
I’m sure anything I could say about these photos wouldn’t do them justice. So make sure to check out Chris Becker’s website and have a look for yourself, as he’s the photographer of these amazing images.

I’m thankful I had the opportunity to speak with someone so knowledgeable on the topic. (As I’m still young and learning.) When I find someone as passionate as I am, I feel as though I could talk to them forever. Or at least a very long time.

I never anticipated walking into a photo gallery that day.

I never anticipated having a great conversation with a local photographer that day.

But I’m so glad I did.