Everything Anew

It’s been a very long time since I have posted anything. Not for a lack of dong anything. More trying to choose which project to write about. This is a good thing. A very good thing.

Over the past 8 months I have had the pleasure and honor of meeting several local artists of all types…mostly dancers, but not all. Being a visual artist, I have generally stuck with my own kind, but lately I have found myself inspired by all forms of expression.

Most recently I was deployed to photograph five local artists whose projects were chosen to fill public spaces in Providence once occupied by the old Route 195. My objective is to document them in their workspaces, during the installation process, and then the final pieces in place. Ideally, I return and photograph the pieces throughout the year they are on display.

This week I visited with local multi-disciplianary artist, Sophia Sobers.

Sophia Studio LR-18

For the Interim Art Installation, she is creating a sculpture that will be installed along the service road that runs above and along Route 95 North near Cathedral Square. The series of pieces will contain living plants and ideally be lit at night using solar lighting installed within the base of each piece.

Sophia Studio LR-2

Sophia explaining the elements of each piece using the small scale models

 

Sophia sanding one of the exterior wood elements

Sophia sanding one of the exterior wood elements

There is a luminous quality to Sophia’s work as well as her work space. Combinations of light, texture, nature are present in her workspace and in the piece she is working on. She seems so genuinely connected to her work. It’s as if her workspace and her work are truly an extension of herself. Photographing her in her element was effortless.

Sophia Studio LR-13

As seamlessly connected as everything felt, I was intrigued with her process and how much consideration she had put into her creative choices. This has been consistent with the other artists I have met with as well. How do you create an installation that will withstand the elements for one year on a limited budget and limited resource? Personally, I am looking forward to seeing this work in place. Especially since I have had the pleasure of meeting the artists.

 

We’re in the 401

The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for me. In early August I broke my leg which for a photographer who primarily works with kids is more than inconvenient. Fortunately, I did not require surgery and healed enough to start working again in time for the busy season.  Finally I am catching up and ready to breath into the holidays.

Right before I broke my leg, I attended my son’s capoeira graduation (see previous post) and in addition to the capoeiraistas, a local B Boy crew, Project 401, was invited to perform. As soon as the music was cued, I knew I needed to find a spot and grab my son…this was going to be special…no important.

And it was.

B Boy FaCce Maldonado, one of the founders of Project 401performing at Waterfire, Providence

B Boy FaCce Maldonado, one of the founders of Project 401performing at Waterfire, Providence

B Boy Jurrassick (Saulo Castillo) of Project 401

B Boy Jurrassick (Saulo Castillo) of Project 401

In the months since this event, I have been out to photograph Project 401 and other elements of the Providence Hip Hop scene, because the work that these artists are doing is important and inspiring. It is inspiring to me, but also to my children (especially my boys) who love to dance.

B Boy Sydsho (Oliver Arias) at the Avenue Sandwich, Downtown Providence

B Boy Sydsho (Oliver Arias) at the Avenue Sandwich, Downtown Providence

Sept 26-42

B Boy Mike Figs at the Avenue Sandwich September 2013

I love this work. I love the energy that is created by this particular group of people which is made up of Emcees, DJ’s, B Boys, B Girls, and graffiti artists…the four elements of Hip Hop coming together. Hip Hop in its incarnation in the early 70’s was not about anger and violence. It was about creating an outlet for the anger and violence. It was a movement about generating peace and respect. It was meant to unify and activate communities. Hip Hop was innovative drawing off some of the traditions of jazz, drumming, dance, poetry, developing something never experienced in the art and political world.  It gave a powerful intelligent voice to communities of people that were previously marginalized and exploited by the media as uneducated and violent.

B Bot FaCce leading a workshop at The Movement Exchange in Pawtucket

B Boy FaCce leading a workshop at The Movement Exchange in Pawtucket

Here in Providence, there is an authentic Hip Hop movement.  Project 401 is a part of that movement. This extraordinary crew mentors at risk youth exposing them to the art of BBoying (or Breakin’) and the peaceful intelligent message of Hip Hop. They travel to schools across the state and in New England, hold workshops, participate in community events, cross over and merge with other forms dance. They are always working, rehearsing, educating, and expanding their knowledge and positive presence.

B Boy FaCce co-hosting an event at AS220 in Providence

B Boy FaCce co-hosting an event at AS220 in Providence

B Boy Abel Carrera,  free style MC at AS220 Providence, RI

B Boy Abel Carrera, free style MC at AS220 Providence, RI

B Boy Sydsho, freestyle emcee at AS220 Providence, RI

B Boy Sydsho, freestyle emcee at AS220 Providence, RI

As an artist, I find their passion and energy inspiring. I have learned so much in just a few short months about Hip Hop culture and its importance in our city. As a parent, I deeply appreciate that my boys are able to be mentored by extraordinary dancers who are also extraordinary people. When they tell me they want to be B Boys when they grow up, I couldn’t be happier, because here in the 401, being a B Boy not only means being a dancer, it means being a teacher, being passionate, and living life with integrity and a peaceful heart.

B Boy FaCce and my youngest son in a workshop at The Movement Exchange

B Boy FaCce and my youngest son in a workshop at The Movement Exchange

B Girl Kiara of Project 401 helping my daughter with choreography at The Movement Exchange in Pawtucket

B Girl Kiara of Project 401 helping my daughter with choreography at The Movement Exchange in Pawtucket

The Project 401 Family, B Boy Abel, B Boy Jurrassick, B Boy FaCce, B Boy Largo, B Boy Sydsho, B Boy Mike Figs

The Project 401 Family, B Boy Abel, B Boy Jurrassick, B Boy FaCce, B Boy Largo, B Boy Sydsho, B Boy Mike Figs

For more in formation about the workshop at The Movement Exchange in Pawtucket visit the facebook event or The Movement Exchange Event Page.

Wide Awake

There is nothing more cherubic and peaceful than a sleeping newborn. It is a time to be in awe of a beautiful little being and also a time for new parents to hopefully rest or perhaps more likely throw in a load of laundry.

Photographing newborns is never as quiet as the sleeping baby image suggests, because life with a newborn is much more social. It is a conversation between parent and infant. Even in that peaceful state, the newborn and parent are communicating. And I love that.

Image

The life and experience of being a new parent (and you are a new parent whether it is your first baby or your tenth) is as beautiful as that of the new baby…parents unable to take their eyes off their child, the quiet whispers of the mother’s voice, the “just right”  gentle bounce in a father’s arms, the gaze into a parents eyes that speaks words of trust and love without actually saying a thing. That is what I enjoy most about creating images with new families.

This little girl and her mother and father take my breath away…

Image

Image

Image

Image

Eso es Capoeira

Twenty years ago while living in Boston, a dear friend of mine invited me to come observe his capoeira class held at the Dance Complex in Central Square, Cambridge. I watched him practice the slow beautiful movements enamored by the combination of acrobatics and athleticism and fluidity of dance.

Image

It’s origins are based in Afro-Brazilian slave culture. The slaves disguised precise kicks and strikes in dance. Always accompanied by music, capoeiristas “dance”  and “play games” in a roda, a circle of players and musicians, singing rhythmic call and response songs in Portuguese that lead the pace and movement of the game. The berimbau my friend carried (a single string instrument essential in capoeira music and practice), imitated an appendage that when not being played was carefully carried on his back.

Unlike in sparring matches of more traditional martial arts, there is little contact and lots of smiling and community.

Image

The Roda at Waterplace Park in Providence, RI

Fast forward 20 years….

My five year-old son loves music. He loves to dance. He started karate and acrobatics at age 3 and was actually quite good at both. The karate was not quite the right fit (not enough freedom of movement and physical expression) and dance classes were also not quite right (not enough freedom of movement and physical expression). What is going to work? I envisioned my friend…

Capoeira

I showed my son a few videos and enrolled him at the only children’s capoeira program in Rhode Island offered by New Wave Martial Arts. New Wave is affiliated with the Rhode Island capoeira group Grupo Ondas.

Image

My son is not an easy sell for anything. It was a challenge getting him to go to class at times. He is quiet, stubborn, intense, ritualistic, visual, physical…once he was there, he loved it. Capoeira is not just learning a martial art. It is learning about a culture of community and discipline married with peace and joy. When participating in the roda, capoeristas bring energy and laughter. Little Guy lives for the roda

Image

Image

After a full year of attending class, he earned his first cord, the corde crua, this weekend, inducting him into the capoeira community. It was a big moment. He was nervous. But, he was proud and inspired by watching all the masters, mestres and professors that had traveled from different parts of the country to honor the initiation of new students and the changing of levels for the experienced students, both adults and children.

Image

Little Guy receiving his cord

The celebration went on for hours…the energy was infectious! One of the most beautiful aspects of the practice is the joy the capoeristas bring to the practice.

Image

ImageImage

Image

Beginning a game…

The power, athleticism, and beauty of the movements are addictive to watch.

ImageImageImage

We stayed for hours…

On the way home I asked my son if he wanted to continue with capoeira.

He emphatically in that “what are you silly?” tone replied

Yes!

We will see the New Wave family back in class next week after a short break this week (just don’t tell Little Guy)

Image

Vacation

To go or not to go…that was our question. Seems silly now.

Image

We are fortunate to have family who have a series of cabins on a remote island in Maine. It is beautiful. Situated in a lake at the base of Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine and the end point of the Appalachian Trail, it is out of cell phone range and without electricity. It is place where one can truly disconnect.

As parents of three children ages 11, 5, and 3, the dilemma was the drive. Eight long hours in the car plus a transporting our gear via small motor boat across the lake. We were also going to be using our tent on a tent platform, so all of our camping gear would be coming with us as well…

Already burned out, this felt daunting.

Image

Then a cabin freed up. Suddenly packing just our clothing a few blankets and books seemed doable. Also, the drive would be broken up by a night stay in a hotel a little more than half way up.

Image

Photographing my family takes on different intentions. One of them is the usual snap shot, usually taken with my iPhone 4S and shared via social media. These images are meant for immediate consumption. They tell the story of what is happening right now. I do take the time to develop them and make them pretty, but they are what they are.

The second type of photograph I take are the ones that are meant to document my family. These images are more about the history of our family. The images that we like to take out years from now and find ourselves back in the moment, in the place, in the body and age we were…this is what I tried to do while we were in this magical place. This is my pleasure and my way of disconnecting with the immediacy of everyday routine and life. I am connecting with the story of our family and the place we are experiencing together. Slowing down to observe…a true luxury.

Image

I want my children to have these images of them selves, their grandparents, their relationships as siblings. I want these images to transport them back to the quiet serenity and simplicity of the island where playing with sticks, digging in the sand, listening to the laughter of the loons, paddling in a kayak, preparing and eating dinner with extended family, listening to Oma and Grandpa tell stories, was truly a vacation.

Image

Image

Image

Image

When I meet with families, attend weddings, and other special occasions, I am there to create images that will tell the stories of that family. What may seem to be an hour in carefully chosen outfits in a beautiful location trying to assemble that perfect family photo, in my mind is actually much more than that. I am there to work so that hopefully parents can relax and enjoy the moment with their children. So they can allow for that hour of their history to unfold. So that I can create those images that the children will inherit as pieces of their history. Images that are for “immediate consumption” …sharing and adding to holiday cards, but also are looked at again and again in order to return to that brief moment where everyone was together for the sake of documenting togetherness.

I know that may not be the intention my clients bring to their session, but that’s okay.

I am the one working…

Let’s Dance

At the end of June, I was invited to photograph a dance school. I attended the dress rehearsal and the following afternoon I took the portraits of 20 or so students. As a dancer growing up, I really enjoy spending time back stage and working with the dancers as they bring various personalities to each costume change.

Delicate and graceful ballerinas…

July 2013-2July 2013

And smart and sassy jazz attitude…

July 2013-3-2 July 2013-4-2

These girls really brought it and made for a fantastic afternoon of portrait shooting!

Party Time…

About a month before her due date, a mother of two young boys contacted me about scheduling a portrait party with a few other families. Having done something similar in the late Fall, I was really looking forward to a full day of photographing families.

Just 3 days before the scheduled party day new baby arrived…just in time to join the celebration!

Portfolio-4   Portfolio-2-2

Portrait Parties are generally scheduled in one location and often several families will come to have their pictures taken. I like to have time with each individual family so instead of everyone arriving at once, I set aside an hour for each family.

There are so many things to love about Parties. I get to see lots of families and meet lots of great kids all in one day which sounds exhausting, but it is actually the opposite. Because every family is different, every hour renews my energy! It’s exciting! The light changes transforming the location for each group…I get to do what I love for an entire day.

Portfolio-2 Portfolio

And not everyone is willing at first…

Portfolio-3

But, by the end of the hour, we all know each other a little better and always have fun.

If you have a great location and a group of families who want to create a party, lets do it while we still have long days and warm weather! I will also be suggesting a few of my favorite locations and booking my own party days starting next month. Keep an eye out for postings!