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.
For a long time the screensaver on my phone was my dog Nellie. I would tell everyone I loved that dog more than any of the family. She would always come, lick my hand when I got home, and never had an attitude. More recently this is the shot on my iTouch. No, I have no iPhone. It’s cropped vertically. It’s an image on the day of Lisa’s surprise party and David’s return from Argentina. Yes this was a very good memory.
As the kids got older my opportunity to get a shot of them together diminished. For while they didn’t like each other too much. And then they lived in different countries. But back at this point they were ok. We were in the Virgin Islands and the kids sat on these steps and let me shoot. This image stayed on my computer desktop for a long time.
What to they have in common? David spent time in both universities. And that’s where I spent my money. It’s funny because I got essentially the same shot in different years. I got the task of dropping him off freshman year. He had a room that was painted cinder block with high windows and reminded me of prison more than a dorm. His roommate first semester never appeared (probably made bail). David got straight A’s and departed a year later. I know that I thought he looked pretty alone when I left him in his Spartan dorm room. Two things I will add. We shopped for some furniture and we managed to wrestle a recliner into the rental car. And the other chair was a webbed rocking lawn chair. I don’t think he was really lonesome. We had lunch in a diner the first day he arrived. Our waitress sat down in our booth. She was a sophomore and gave David her number if he needed help. After she left he whispered, “Dad, She was in our space.” I got a laugh out of that.
The most terrifying conversation I overheard: “David. You have to graduate (this June).” His mother said this to him about a month before graduation. Thank goodness he finished in four years. Ouch! It cost enough as is.
I went through a big photographic journey starting in 2009, which coincided with my kids’ journeys. Lisa and I were invited to wedding in Peru. Lisa decided to invite the kids along but not to the wedding. David had graduated and had not found a job in about a year at home. Julia and David were soon added to the wedding guests. And then David dropped his bomb. He would stay in South America, travel around, and then find a job in Argentina. Lisa nearly fainted with the news. I wasn’t sure he’d last there. And besides there are bandits and they kidnap Americans. Ha ha! It was nerve wracking when we left David in Lima and left to return to New York. Within a year Julia was on her African adventure teaching in Namibia for a year. I like to say that my kids were not on the same continent nor were they even in the same hemisphere for a while. The derivative was that we had to visit both kids and I ended up traveling to South America and Africa. Lisa did a stint in a children’s village in Tanzania. This ultimately left me with the realization that if you only live once, take life and live it, hence my journey to the Middle East.
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.
The kids loved to dress up. They loved to play act. Me, I never did this as a kid. A couple of times they painted themselves and set up a priceless photo opportunity. This was the first time. I got this shot with the kids looking into the upstairs bathroom mirror with the overhead can lights casting perfect lighting for their faces. Sometimes it pays to know the lighting and its possibilities in your house. Yes, a little flash would have added catch lights to the eyes… but hey.
I know that I’ve taken some good photos over the years. I had this one in my office and one of my colleagues Frank Loh admired it. Frank was a childhood friend to my younger brother. This shot was taken while we were on a trip to the Berkshires in the autumn. It’s funny that sometimes you can take a shot and know it’s special. But in most instances, I would take a shot and realize it was iconic after I developed and mounted the slide. And that was often months later. Digital it’s not.
Not to be derogatory, this man was offering camel rides to the passersby. And on this busload of eager nurses I heard one exclaim, “It’s been my dream to ride a camel before I’m thirty.” So I guess this was her lucky day. What can I say? When the light is right shoot away. I could have used some fill flash and maybe composed a bit more off center. But this was a constantly changing target rich photo shoot and I was clicking away as fast as I could go.
Every year as a kid, Julia had birthday celebrations that began at the end of the school year so her school friends could be there. Then there would be the immediate family. Then there would be the extended family. Then there would be the friends we would vacation with annually at her birthday. So by now you must guess she’s well past forty. But to look at her she’s still my favorite daughter. (Note: only daughter.) Well this year, this summer has been exciting because she’s moving to California to teach for a year. I just hope she doesn’t find a boy friend and settle there…kidding. Anyway, good luck. I expect that I’ll see you visiting the Middle East again before too long.
When we finally arrived in Taif, we were lost. I was traveling with 28 nurses, two husbands and our Arabic driver. What with the different languages, I was not privy to the fact that we didn’t know where to go. We just drove up and down like we didn’t know where to go. So, at one stop I turned around. My companions liked to have their picture taken. Everyone was awake and they all smiled… so I took the picture. It’s not supposed to work out this well in an enclosed space at least 15-20 feet in depth. The depth of field on my camera is not that great and everyone keeps saying that the lens isn’t that wonderful. I would have to say that luck played a role. Not bad… not bad at all.
I made this shot back in December when Farid and I took his kids to the Red Bull Flutag event in Jeddah. His brother had special passes and we were in the VIP section. It meant no crowding. And the kids got a hat. I’ve done some group shots of Farid and the kids. I recently loaded them on a CD and he took them with him when he visited the family in Lebanon. When he returned he had this shot on his iPhone and told me that everyone in the family was making prints and framing the shot. I made this shot without any special effort. It’s just the photo sense that I have developed with experience. I’m glad that I did not have pressure to produce a money shot. Anyway it’s flattering to know that someone is appreciative of your work. This photo will be in their family forever, my gift as a friend.
Kids grow up fast and time passes in a blink. It’s all too brief a time when you get to hug your kids. Then they grow up and you shake hands and hug briefly. It’s not like you can sit and hold them like you had all the time in the world. I guess that’s why they invented grandchildren.
I did a couple of shots of grown-up (my cousins and me) jumping last year. This is shot of the offspring of the cousins (my kids, Wendy’s, john’s). Not only are they smart (but of course) but they are much more coordinated than their hapless parents (that would include me!). It’s a sad shot nonetheless. I had gathered the kids away from my dear aunt who was ill in order that they be shielded a bit from a situation. Still it was a spontaneous act and a good photo. It just conjures up a different memory.
Rene Magritte comes to mind in this surreal photo staged by Lisa. We were at Orient Point waiting to put our friends on the ferry to New London. I admit that this was staged and posed at Lisa’s request. Sometimes my friends will cooperate with silly requests. So Bob and Kevin posed along with me looking out to sea on a rock beach.
I’ve been working in random order, cleaning out the folder of pictures I’ve been holding to post. It turns out that this shot in Southampton, Long Island fits with my post yesterday. Lisa took this shot. We on a bench resting on the display furniture in front of the local store when the elements just came together with Lisa’s mom and dear Aunt Audrey. I have always liked this shot.
We were on one of our annual fall trips in the Berkshires. The kids were riding bikes and we stopped by the roadside to play around on the haystacks. The kids clambered up and I shot some great pictures. We made this trip several times and often coordinated the trip with a real estate hunt. We almost settled on a couple homes but ultimately chose Long Island. These trips were memorable for me. I hope the kids had as good a time as I did.
For a while, I will post to all three of my blogs regarding Saudi Arabia. My secret/insanity/mid life crisis will be now be revealed. I realize that I won’t live past one hundred. What fun would it be to say that I had lived in one place all my life? After letting you all know of my initial cultural shock and adjustment, I will continue the Saudi adventure on the Imaged Event blog, for which my posting has been fairly quiet. Like a diary I will provide observations of life and living in a foreign country. I am sympathetic but not so good on the empathetic side. My experience is giving me a new perspective as someone who is no longer language (English) proficient in learning how to adjust to different customs, food, and culture. I arrived on June 3, 2012, but have delayed posting until I have been in country long enough to get my bearings. My time zones remain completely discombobulated. To repeat, Photo Back Story will chronicle my photographic experience and Imaged Event will transition to my Suadi experience.
Today’s image is of the King. He is old and in poor health according to sources. His heirs apparent have both died and the line of succession is being determined. This seemed like a good place to start.
Under the George Washington Bridge. On my last day in New York, the kids and I rode our bikes to the GW Bridge. It was my last outdoor bike ride for now. As part of our ongoing silliness project, the kids ‘jumped’ in front of the Little Red Lighthouse. It took a few tries to get this one. I had a Canon G11 with the usual fractional timed shutter delay. You’d be surprised but a jump doesn’t last but a moment and to get both kids in the air was more challenging than I expected. Anyway, I got the shot. Since then I have gone to the other side of the globe and Julia will land in Africa in a couple hours. This is a memorable moment on many planes.
We’re stretching the concept of mermaid here. I guess in the spirit of things she has the idea and the looks to pull it off. There was really no dress code, just the theme of ‘Mermaid Parade.’ Really!
Ok, I have some gender issues here. They were dressed as mermaids and perhaps that’s where we leave the subject. I am reminded of the circus side show. It’s about the spectacle right. I still ask myself if I would ever dare go out looking like that. And remember mom always said, “Never go out without clean underwear on.” Well, somebody’s mother said it, right?
We went through a jump period in my family. The Christmas before Julia left for Africa to teach for a year, she introduced me to jumping. The new digital point and shoot she had would take a sequence of shots. The playback was hysterically funny. We did this a few times. So here, high on a hill top in Tanzania, Julia jumped. I’m pretty sure she had sandals on. If you’re happy and you know it…
This is a special shot and was my screen saver for a long time. It was late summer on Lake Champlain. We were staying at a family resort. The group decided to do the banana boat ride. This time it was kids. The boat was in motion and I juggled a film camera and a video camera, alternating shots. Both boat were in motion and any attempt at a close up, the motion was even worse. So by all rights I had no business getting this shot. If I had scripted this shot, I couldn’t have pulled it off. There is my daughter, leaning into the turn, a little extra lean, and with a yellow vest at that! If you had wanted the perfect shot with the perfect pose in full on motion… Well, I was pretty amazed myself. You can’t do it better with digital. Looking at the LCD screen can’t save you. All the kids had to be perfectly positioned. And to think I just shot one image and brought the film home to develop. The video by the way is very dizzying. Too close and the camera is moving too much. Too far and the figures are too small to make out. What luck with the film camera! Since I do this kind of thing periodically, my family tends to think nothing of it. But I can still say it was a pretty good shot.