storm&don

A few years ago, I was in Houston attending a portfolio review. Things were not going well at the time. Some reviewers were too honest, some were right on, others were full of shit.It was sort of depressing so I took an afternoon off and headed for a bar. I stumbled into this place, somewhere in the downtown area, picked out a stool and ordered a beer. Within a few moments I was talking to these two guys. Storm (on the right) was homeless but he got a check from somewhere every month and spent it in a bar while they let him charge his phone. I guess he added a new dimension to homelessness. Donald (on the left) worked in a shelter. He had been homeless, but settled down and now devoted his time helping people. In their spare time they both drank.

Bars are interesting places. Everybody is friendly and happy but I think down under there is something missing. Most people live very lonely lives in “quiet desperation” — without contact, without hope and without passion. They are just drifting from one woman/man to another, from one job to another and from one bar to another. They never really get passionate about things. They never feel they have to get inside anything, to understand it, to get better at it, to master it. Instead they drink.

I feel fortunate that I can get into things and try to understand them better. Although I was a fuck-up in school, I managed to get into worthwhile activities as I matured, that opened up my “curiosities”. Whether it was as a photographer, a golfer, a designer, there was always something to stir me up and I am grateful for it.

Who knows about people like Storm and Donald. Perhaps I am completely wrong about them. I hope so.

I shot this photograph a few years ago at a street carnival in Miami. I have always liked this one but more importantly, it is on the subject of music—one of my never-ending on-going themes. On reflection, I sometimes wonder what it is that attracts me to these “themes’. What is the hook? Being a photographer is about reflection, it is about examining the things that are going on in your life. It is about self-discovery. At least that is how I see it and so on the subject of music, this is where I came from.

Years ago, way back in the last century, I was a young kid with very little going on in my life when I met my friend Harvey who would be my best buddy for many years to come. It was at the end of my high school career and I had no future and no past to think of. It was that special age—that bridge from teen to adult that some get through easier than others. We would spend our time hanging out together all the time and it was at this time that I discovered Jazz. We would spend endless hours in his basement, smoking, listening to Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evens, etc. and talk/dream/wonder about the years to come. Eventually we ended up on separate paths, although we still talk to each other about once a year. The main part of this though is that this is where my love of music began and continues to be a major part of my life. It is in my head. To this day, if there is nothing going on upstairs, or I am a bit depressed, or whatever, I can still put myself back in that basement and play “Green Dolphin Street” in my head—every note, every solo.

These days, whenever I am wandering around with a camera around my neck and I hear music, I am drawn to it like a moth to the flame. It could be a street festival (like this one), a street musician, an outdoor concert, some guys banging drums in the street—anything, with sound but to me it is all about those days as a kid, smoking cigarettes, and listening to jazz in that smoke-filled basement.

I have also said, when I take photographs, they are about me. When I choose to photograph something, it is because it is something from my past, my dreams, my life that pops out at a particular moment. It is a statement that says, that this is where I stood, on a particular day at a particular time and this is what I felt. Photographs to me are very, very personal.


Day 11, Project 14
I never noticed this photo until last year. I had taken it about 5 years ago in Positano, Italy and upon looking at it, I immediately designated it as unworthy. Of course it did not look like this at the time. When I first saw it it was lifeless and dull but when I darkened it it came to life. I think that is the way it is with most images. They just do not stand up on their own until you give them a second look, and then try to find the secrets within. Ahhhh… so very zen.