The Shinnecock Indians hold an annual Powwow on Labor Day weekend out in Southampton Long Island. I’ve been going when I can. It’s very colorful with native American costumes and pageantry. Anxiety? You go there hoping to see everything and to not miss anything. The key is to isolate the subject and to avoid modern life. So someone wearing tinted lenses does not make it. Most shots are close ups to focus on the face or costume excluding distracting elements. Contestant numbers are the most annoying things that spoil shots. This event is a recurring one and I have attended more than once. There are even a few participants I recognize from previous years. Imagine that?!
I’m still spinning the slide archive for old slide memories. I’m old enough to vaguely remember this day at the beach. But I definitely don’t remember the slide. So I admit to being old now. Cousin Jane is there with David and J. Too many slides (archive) and not enough memory (me).
How do you get them to stop running around? How do you get a moment to relax and not have to haul sand and water for a sand castle at the beach? Yes! It worked once. They never let me bury them again. Instead you can use reverse psychology and let them bury you. That worked too. But I wasn’t too fond of sand in my suit. Maybe they weren’t either?
I have told you J learned to ride on LI. David learned on the same street a little while later. At that point, we were a family who could ride. So… we rode together. The kids just never liked it that much. Still in later years David did a triathlon and J took off with Lisa’s old heavy bike to LA – retro is in. But for a while we would ride as a family.
When the kids were little, we went apple picking and ran through the cornfield in the fall. I don’t know about Lisa, it’s not something I did as a kid. But my kids will not be able to say the same. I don’t know who it was that had more fun.
Great Grandmas. Lisa was fortunate to have know both her grandmothers. Actually on the left is her step-grandmother. On the other hand, I have no memory or photo of my side of the family. Except for her mother, we have three generations. J, a toddler, has seen the pictures but has no memory of her great grandmas either. I didn’t realize the significance of the moment or I’d have gotten everyone into the picture. I will mention that it was two daughters for Lisa’s sister. So we have only girls on this side of the family. Of course David broke the record and it turns out it’s boys only for both my brothers. Lisa and I got the split. David’s the only boy on Lisa’s side so her relatives call up and ask how’s “the boy?”
This was my first experience with photographing hot air balloons up close. The memory it invokes has nothing to do with the picture. The backstory is that it was Long Island. Lisa had seen a notice for the show at Bookhaven Airport. She also happened to have the worst case of poison ivy, ever! She’d gotten it a few days before. The blisters and the itch were fierce. If you’ve ever had poison ivy, you’re probably cringing right now. We went to the show and the kids and I had our experience. I got my photos. We stayed till the evening to see the balloons launch. They don’t launch during daylight because of the winds. The picture that got away (missed) was the one at the end where Lisa frantically was dipping her blistered arms into the ice barrels (soda) to ease the discomfort. Yeah, I was not high on the empathy scale. Some things you learn much later in life. Sorry, honey.
You can’t go back. I know my kids grow older. They change. It’s a fact. We had a red maple tree in the front yard on Long Island. I didn’t think I would outlive that tree. It was a wonderful background for fall portraits. The tree’s gone now and the kids grew up. Thankfully I got this great shot. It’s a bittersweet memory preserved.
Never mind the focus. It suits the mood. We were having a torrential summer rain. It was so heavy that the pool overflowed. The kids couldn’t stand to be inside and ran out to play on the deck. When you’re in the pool, you’re already wet. So a little more water wasn’t going to make much difference. Yes, I do believe that they were having a great time. I’d like to think it was a magical childhood moment for them.
We’re in transition. The kids are grown but not yet married. There are no grandkids. Lisa’s tired of all the Christmas decorating (and especially the take down). So last year was a minimal year with presents exchanged and a Christmas tree visited at my brother’s house. But back when the kids were small…. We spent a few Christmases at the Westhampton house. No matter where, the kids were all excited about the tree decorating. Julia loved to read and I had hooked her into reading the Nancy Drew series. Meanwhile I had to test the strings of lights to see if they were working. As soon I tested the lights, Lisa would put them on the tree. She didn’t think I could do the lights quite right. And here’s Julia all set to go, right in the middle of it all. Yes, it’s a fond memory.
We had a maple in the front yard of the house. Lisa hung a rope swing and we had many a photo-op with the kids in that swing. Years later, not too many, Lisa got a gardener/landscaper who came along and trimmed the tree. He took down that branch. We never spoke about it again. I didn’t mention it because I’m sure Lisa knew what memories he took with that branch. What can you say; it’s been done. Of course, we never told him to cut down that branch. Still, I got a lot of memories of that swing. We’ve hung the swing again in the back yard. But no one ever sits on it. Somehow it was in the front yard with cars going by on the country lane that made this swing special in its location.
This plant is really ugly most of the year. It’s gangly and unkempt. But, for a brief period in the spring, this bush really shines. So the trick is to get a shot that does it justice. The flower itself is not particularly photogenic. It’s really about the color. You don’t want to get too close. There are too many imperfections. The plant needs a pairing, hence the white picket fence. I’ve taken a lot of forsythia shots over the years. I’m still waiting for a better shot. But this will do, to illustrate my struggle.
This an iconic view for me. We have a white tile floor in the kitchen in Westhampton. It’s spring and it’s tulip season. I’m trying for a shot of the tulips that is different from the usual. So I went for this graphic composition. You can see my shoes at the bottom. I’ve done this with other flowers in other seasons since this image. But this was the first shot like this for me.
We went through a puzzle phase in our family – Lisa’s idea. You know – jigsaw puzzles – the really hard ones where the pieces and patterns are made to confound you. Here’s a proud moment at the completion. Everyone, Grandma, Grandpa, and Julia had worked hard to get this completed and I commemorated the event. There’s a look of satisfaction all around. We did this for a while, maybe 20 puzzles worth, and then everyone lost interest. It was the days before the internet. I wonder what my kids’ kids will be playing.
Here’s another fortuitous image. We were at the beach near to sunset. The family liked to stay past the time when everyone else was long gone. It’s too dim to get a sharply focused shot. Remember it’s film with a fixed ISO. That means a slow shutter speed and some image blurring especially the rolling waves. But it was getting the moon’s detail that caught my eye. It was that right moment when the shutter/aperture caught the moon and the scene in balance.
As I have mentioned, Julia was born on August 1. The poor kid was deprived of having a school year birthday party. So she had a party before the school year ended, a party for the immediate family, a party with the extended family, and often a party of her friends during the summer vacation… all so she wouldn’t feel left out… It was Julia’s birthday and we had arranged for a party in the Hamptons where we had rented Margaret’s place that summer.. Her friends and her brother just fell into place for me to get this shot. No posing. I was just there. Sorry, I don’t know who was far left but second in… Julia, Alexandra, Ben, David, Chessie… endless summer day without a care.
Boogie boards and big smiles go together. David and his buddy Josh remain close friends to this day. It’s nice to look back and see the origins of this fast friendship. All in all I have to say that they had a great childhood. It’s everything that you want for your kids as a Dad.
My wife is camera shy so I don’t include her too much in this blog. But she really did like hugging the kids for as long as they let her. Once in a while I got a shot that should not be a problem here. Just because there aren’t too many shots doesn’t mean there wasn’t a whole lot of hugging going on.
I looked at these shots and wondered at how casual we were at the time. Put them in a life jacket and off you go into the pool. I guess it helped that the kids and my brothers were all swimmers. No one ever fell in and obviously no one drowned. But it seems that it was a dumb Dad thing to stack rafts three high and throw a kid in a life vest on top.
As it turned out my two brothers had sons which left my daughter as the only girl on my family’s side. She never seemed to mind. But then she was the oldest of the cousins on this side. On the other side, she was the youngest of the three girl cousins. Well there were more cousins but I’m just counting the immediate ones that we saw about twice a year. I’m still trying to get a few once removed.
Out on Long Island, the weekend ritual would be to go to Scales and Tails. It was a small country market. The owner’s wife baked fresh croissants every morning. Warm from the oven, it was my mission to return with one each for my kids. The kids grew up and eventually Scales and Tails closed for lack of business. But it sure was a daily ritual when the kids were little. It almost felt like feeding the little birds.
I didn’t realize how dogs age. When Nellie was a puppy she could leap small buildings…. Her hair was short. As she got older her hair got way long and one day she couldn’t leap onto our bed anymore. It all happens so gradually. I always chased my kids and pretended I couldn’t catch them until one day I couldn’t. I don’t think that they realized this for a long time. Last winter we skied and I couldn’t go down the mogul trail with them. You get a little wisdom with age. Not much but a little.
Yes, Nellie liked to chew. So she ate a lot of chew toys. Thankfully she never ate the kids stuffed animals. Reggie, our first dog, had a thing for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (stuffed animal). But that’s a different story. Some folks obsess over where to keep their camera and it’s always in its case so dust won’t get on it. I leave mine out and handy. So when you see this shot you get it before it’s gone. Sometimes you can’t believe how goofy your family can be.
I always insist on taking at least two shots of any group… more if they will tolerate me. It’s because someone always blinks… A blink is measured in thousandths of a second. So how is it that my wife got us all blinking simultaneously? It’s a skill. She won’t stay still to take more than a couple shots. So that’s what you get.