I also met Eric in my BNI! Eric runs a digital marketing company called MetroCreate that does everything from web and logo design to SEO to marketing automation to all kinds of other things, seriously, it's like there's nothing this company doesn't do. We convened in Davis Square for a quick fifteen minutes the other week to update his head shot.
I met Jennifer, an amazing LMT who practices in Arlington, through the BNI group I meet with early, early in the morning every Tuesday at a Medford Bertucci's. She wanted to update her website with a new head shot, so we decided to get out of the highly structured meeting room and into the woods! Twist my arm.
Hannah and Jon were having their wedding ceremony shot by a photographer friend of theirs — who, all being super fun people, they wanted to be able to party with later. I met Hannah at a coffee shop this spring to talk about shooting their reception only. I've shot a few weddings but I'm still getting my feet wet, and I knew this would be the perfect combination of new pressures and confident fun. (Especially having recently adding another skillset to my tool bag: off-camera flash on the dance floor! Consider me a convert.)
Not pictured: perfectly-timed lightning storm which rolled in around speech time, giving the whole room an occasional magical shimmer.
The joy in the air, and on the dance floor, was palpable. So grateful for this opportunity to be a part of their beautiful day!
Back in May, Richard got in touch with me about having some quick portraits taken. He's a professor and musician who needed some photos for speaking and playing engagements, and we phone-tagged a bit before deciding on a date. Did he need to come to Somerville, he asked on one voice mail. YOU LIVE IN CONCORD?! I LOVE CONCORD, I replied in another voice mail.
We met at the North Bridge on a perfect cool, cloudy day, minutes before a large boisterous field trip of children arrived and forced us to find this amazing little hidden staircase.
The other week the kids at Shaloh House went to the Brighton police station to drop off thank-you cards and cookies they'd baked for the officers. I tagged along and got to spend an hour or so afterwards just taking photos of the kids doing their usual day camp thing: games of Mafia, pool time and so many piggyback rides.
Running theory: girls' friendships with each other are maybe the most fun.
Jocelyn and Ben have similar feelings about being photographed as I do when I'm on the other side of the lens: they don't love being posed, and often feel awkward with a camera pointed at them. They wanted engagement photos that didn't feel stiff or artifically sentimental. "Can we just do something fun that we normally do? And you can take some photos?"
A million times yes. So a couple of Saturdays ago they invited Janaka and me to join them on their boat for some wine and fishing off the Cape, for maybe the funnest engagement shoot ever. (No fish were hurt in the creation of these images — but Ben did return one very wide-eyed crab to the sea.)
Can't wait to shoot their wedding in August!
A few weeks back I got asked to shoot a 5th grade graduation party, which would have:
- a mechanical bull
- a swimming pool
- a trampoline
- sno-cones and ice cream cake
- 50 twelve-year-olds, recently released from school
And the last item would be: me, obviously I am going to be there; this sounds amazing. What follows is mostly photos of kids gleefully falling: into inflated air, nylon, and kool-aid colored water. I long for the days when I could fall like that.
I've been really loving taking pictures of kids lately; even or especially in the din of wilder events (and the sudden concern; did I zip up my camera bag, the one that's fifteen feet away from the pool?) I feel like they make everything great. Their hearts are on their sleeves at all times. They're like explosive little ids, expressing exactly what they feel in the moment they feel it. And to them, I'm completely invisible; I don't even have to tiptoe.
This weekend my husband and I went to some fireworks in a neighboring suburb with friends, one of whom has a 10 year old son. "Does having a kid basically let you relive childhood?" I asked him. "The Fourth of July used to be amazing to me. Now it's, you know, great; but I can't seem to recapture that breathtaking endless magic it used to be. Do you live vicariously through someone who is experiencing that?"
"You can," he said. "Most people don't. It's hard to remember to do it."
I don't know if I'd be able to as a parent dealing with the logistics of keeping another tiny person fed and safe. But as a photographer who just shows up for a few hours to watch, it's my favorite part.
... not a great idea. Everyone knows that. But my friend Jon had just gotten back from a two week trip to Tel Aviv (he'd been bummed to miss the headshot shoot-out), and it was one of the first really pure blue, sunny summery days; obviously lunchtime had to be spent outside. We met up in Marblehead, where a whole fleet of sailboats surrounded the old lighthouse like baby ducks.
Jon is also an amazing event and fine art photographer — you can view his work here.
I'm not usually one for sales, but I've been having a lot of fun taking portraits lately and have also been re-evaluating my fee structure; I've been charging $150 for half-hour outdoor sessions for years now. I decided that this August I'll be raising that rate to $200, which better reflects my experience level and skills.
Before I do that, I wanted to make sure all of my friends and peers who want head shots taken by me have an accessible option. And then I thought: this is literally my favorite time of year to be doing this, I could do this every night and be happy. Let's fill this summer with outdoor portraits! So I'm opening this (crazy economical!) offer up to the world:
"Long Days, Beautiful Nights"
Portraits and head shots - $120
For all half hour sessions scheduled between 6-8:30pm
From June 1 - July 31 2016
Includes proof gallery and one fully processed image of your choice.
Contact me if you'd like to schedule a session!
Being a photographer means your life and everyone in it become extremely well-documented — but with the exception of some occasional harried or poorly coiffed test lighting shots, hardly any photos exist of ... well ... you. The Professional Photographer's Guild of Massachusetts had an excellent solution to our shared conundrum: last week one of our peers hosted a Headshot Shoot-Out on her beautiful property in Ashland.
We met, we ate pizza and we drank warm white wine, and then we split up into groups and traipsed into the field at golden hour to take portraits of each other.
The other week I followed Suffolk County candidate for Register of Deeds Stephanie Everett through the Dorchester Day Parade. The day started out looking ominously dark and rainy, but Dorchester could not care less. Not only was the parade still on; hours before it began, cars were jammed into gridlock for miles around the site and residents set up their folding chairs along the sidewalk.
They knew what they were doing. The sun came out just in time for the parade to begin, in a magical cacophany of trumpets, clown wigs, and applause.
The minute I was asked to shoot Stephanie Everett's campaign for Suffolk County Register of Deeds, I excitedly texted Janaka to tell him all about it. Getting to tap into my event and portraiture experience, all while telling a bigger story that develops over time? (And Stephanie Everett's life is a pretty incredible story already.) It's basically the amalgamation of everything I love doing, and all for a team of really exceptional people.
Thursday night was Everett's lively kickoff party at the Freeport Tavern in Dorchester, and on Sunday I'll be joining her team at the Dorchester Day Parade!
A few weeks ago I was invited to the St. Paul School in Hingham to shoot their First Communion service. It was a beautiful church, and despite growing up partially Catholic amongst many other things (long lifestory) I'd never been to a First Communion before — thankfully I had one of their very helpful school administrators at my side the whole time, letting me know what was happening and when I could stand where. I could focus purely on shooting and just reveling in the enchantment.
Cutest moment of the afternoon: the kids were asked what they thought we would eat in heaven. A bunch of eager hands waved in the air from their pews. "Ice cream!" "Cookies!" "The body of Jesus!"
Last spring when I'd just moved to Boston, I wrote an email to the public radio list-serv here, hoping to meet new people and get the word out about what I do. "I will shoot anything you want this month, for free." I hit send and immediately hoped I wouldn't regret it.
And that's how I met the delightful and multi-talented Rebecca Gray. We spent two days together: one early morning wandering along the coast, and another afternoon in Harvard Square, with another stop in Central to borrow a friend's studio space.
Yoga teacher, space clearer, kirtanista and musician. I love portrait sessions like these that take you on a journey through so many passions and aspects of who someone is.
I'm currently staying in a ridiculously beautiful studio apartment in the ridiculously beautiful Old Jaffa, and just down the block there's a coffee shop I've been working from called Alberto. And look what they do to their coffee-ice-cubes ahhhh!
In real news though, my flight back home to Boston is currently scheduled for tomorrow at midnight; but it's possible we'll be able to extend my stay for another week to wrap up some work. Will I need my passport in 24 hours, yay or nay? Stay tuned!
Update: I'll be heading back to Boston tonight, and will tie up some loose ends from there over the next couple of weeks. Super excited to share all of the stories I was able to witness and document with this amazing team.
True story: I was enjoying this tuna sandwich so much, I wanted to take a picture of it. This moment, right here; the smell of bread burning still in the air, the warm sun, flowers on the table inside, everything quiet. It was 4pm and I hadn't eaten yet. I thought maybe this was the best sandwich I had ever made in my entire life.
Yesterday it had been suggested I go into one of the Orthodox neighborhoods to see the various Thursday preparations for Passover: the stair scrubbing, the silverware boiling in the streets. "I'd really love to bring my camera and shoot that," I replied, "but should I be concerned that they might not want to have their photos taken? Does it go against their religion?" "Oh!" my peer replied. "Good question. You'll ... probably get yelled at or spit upon. But also," and he laughed, half-serious, half-shrugging, "who cares what they think? F#$% them."
"Ack!" I cried, a response that had me immediately feeling self-righteous as a person and inadequate as a reporter.
The conversation illustrates an issue I struggle with a lot: in what scenarios should someone's understanding and consent be given the absolute first priority, and in what scenarios do you as documentarian override an individual's wishes in favor of representing a larger truth? "Shoot first, ask permission later," as we were taught in documentary school, but also "first and foremost: gain trust."
Pictured: children burning bread in Jerusalem, 11am
I have always been drawn to longer-form stories which absolutely necessitate that latter relationship (for example: naked people backstage), while warily admiring from afar the photographers capable of the former — often at the risk of all else, including their own safety. But as with all things there's also a grey area of often even greater difficulty, in this case the Venn overlap required for most photojournalism, which is the sweet spot I've been striving towards — in which consent and understanding of the larger story are exchanged in seconds and some wishes are respected and others are ignored. There's an amazing documentary about the photographer James Nachtwey, which I've now watched maybe five or six times, where you see him (often from a video camera mounted directly above his shutter) photographing people whose language he does not speak, and who, at first glance, you think might not want to be photographed: they're swatting flies and sleeping just off train tracks, they're wailing over their son's dying body. Through eye contact and demeanor alone, Nachtwey communicates that he means no harm, only to tell their story. He intuits when to go in for the shot, when to back away and give someone space, and when endangering himself may be worth the story it reveals.
This morning I got a text: "they're burning all their bread right near the dance center, if you want to get some photos!"
Despite finding Jerusalem to be one of the most beautiful and interesting cities I have ever seen, I have taken very few photos here. I am constantly aware of being an outsider, occasionally one to be taken advantage of, and occasionally one who is entirely unwelcome. The other day, tired of sweltering in the 90 degree heat with my leggings and cardigan over my summer dress, I decided to finally ditch the leggings, and thirty minutes later I was back at the apartment to put the leggings back on. It turned out that for all of my active disregard for all things virgin/whore complex and my belief in expressing a purely practical body — the kind of body men get to have by default everywhere they go — my protest whithered under the nasty looks and comments I experienced in the few block radius of the apartment. ("It's not that you can't wear weather-appropriate clothing here," a friend said, "it's just that when you do, you are aware of it, every minute.")
In general I've been trying not to draw any attention to myself as an outsider, to feign blending in. To look, but not to stare. And never to engage — that immensely tricky if only momentary Venn overlap that's required in raising one's camera to a stranger. But it's also been weighing on my mind with every passing day this week that tomorrow, I leave Jerusalem, and everything I've been seeing — the Old City, the Shabbats, plate after plate of Shakshuka, the teenagers gathering in the alleys at night — has already been subjected to the diaphanous traitor of memory and loss.
So after some deliberation (always risky, deliberation, I've missed shots to it before), this morning I put on my summer dress, my leggings, and my cardigan, despite the air heavy with heat. I grabbed my widest lens, to force myself to get close. I wanted it to be clear I was taking a photo, and what that photo was of, and the response would clearly be permission, or not. I left my apartment to follow the smell of burning bread to a fire pit, where kids were poking the now-charred remains of everything that had been left in their pantries.
I slowed as I approached. I got closer, just a few feet from the kids, and looked into all their faces. I pulled out my camera, began futzing with the settings. I looked toward the adults, some of them watching behind me, several of them coming and going to manage the fire — they would be the ones I was most concerned about and who would be most concerned about me. I looked back toward the children. I was clearly an outsider, clearly someone preparing to take a photograph. No one seemed alarmed. I got closer, crouched and framed the shot. Nothing happened. So I took twenty more, then got up, smiled at everyone, and left.
Obviously images of children burning bread in the street doesn't carry half the weight of war photography, but this was my small step onto the moon, a deliberate and strangely difficult turn in the kind of direction I'd like to be going.
As part of our coverage of the HaTanach competition, Israel Story producer Yochai Maital and I visited the small town of Shlomi, which is about an hour's drive out of Haifa — essentially as far North as you can possibly go in Israel. Taking the bus from Jerusalem you watch the landscape flatten into dry fields and then gradually bubble into rolling green hills again, until you reach Haifa itself which is built into the side of a mountain: staggering houses upon houses like cinema seats up the steep slope of Mount Carmel. Driving back toward at night with all of the city lights turned on felt like driving straight into a wall of stars.
I think every time I see a new city in Israel, I say, "no, this is my favorite place."
This family spoke very limited English, and my Hebrew is nonexistent, but I can still tell you they were maybe the most hospitable people I've ever met — bringing us coffee and almonds and candy bars, and huge bundles of fresh mint from their garden before we left, at which point the father insisted on driving us back to our car ... literally maybe fifty feet away from their home.
Pictured: the sun sets across the street from the family home of one of the HaTanach semifinalists (straight ahead is Lebanon, to the left is the Mediterranean Sea). This little guy was very vocal all through the interview. Playing soccer in the yard. Mother and little brother on the second floor porch.
... We'll be riiiiight back. I took a day's hiatus from shooting here to work from a cafe on a little video I shot last month for the Boston Hoop Troop. I spoke to teacher and hooper extraordinaire Lolli Hoops about their kids' workshops, and had a ton of fun shooting one of their classes with a girl scout troop at the Melrose YMCA.
A couple of hours after I first arrived in Jerusalem I was in the Shuk, and thirty minutes after I'd entered the Shuk it was pouring rain and a lovely Italian reporter I'd just met was ushering me into a cab. We were headed to the bookstore-café Tmol Shilshom, where the host of Israel Story was performing a reading of the satirist S. Y. Agnon's work.
Oh, did I happen to mention that the parents of one of my best friends and favorite people in Boston were there as well?
"I had no idea you'd be at this event!" I exclaimed to her stepmother, flying into her arms.
"Be at this event? I am this event," she responded. True story. To the left of Mishy, up front, is professor Sidra Ezrahi.