evolution

neighbors

A year ago February I was desperately sick with flu, had two cats, and the office where I worked was moving to The Basement at the end of the week. I needed it to go well. The younger of my two cats, not yet 6 months old, was heavy footed. My downstairs neighbor had complained months before about the footsteps. I made a conscious effort to keep him out of my bedroom in the mornings while I got ready for work, and they presumably were trying to sleep. it seemed like it hadn't been an issue for awhile.

one night, a few days before the big move, i woke up at 3am to put steam in my face hoping to move the illness along and out of my life. Hank thought it was time to play. I was so ill and focused on steam in my face, I did nothing to stop him. My downstairs neighbor knocked on my door. I recognized him and opened it. 

"I may be black, but I'm not stupid," is what he said to me. "You have to be kidding me it's a cat making that noise."

(In all fairness, Hank was heavy footed. you wouldn't expect it from a kitten, it was sort of unbelievable.) Oliver made his way to the door at this point, ready to say hello. He is not heavy footed, but he is a cat, nonetheless.

"You're telling me this isn't a cat?" I said. I was a little angry with his opening. I hadn't tried to pull a fast one on him. I felt like shit. I needed sleep. There was no 40-lb dog stashed in my apartment. It was in fact a cat making the noise, even if it wasn't Oliver. 

Then, he called me a bitch. I slammed the door and locked it, told him I'd call the fucking cops. He kicked my door several times. It may have been after he kicked the door I threatened calling the cops, even though that was the last thing I wanted. It was scary and not a highlight of my living experience here. But I really have no tolerance for being called a bitch in my own home, and I'm not good with aggression. 

It's been more civil since then, but we certainly wouldn't hang out. I can hear them fighting downstairs all the time, and I have been wishing she'd kick him out. 

Until this evening, when it changed.  I was on my way out, he was throwing the football around with his 8-year old son. HIs wife stood by watching, cane in hand. I asked if I could play. So fun. We played for 10-15 minutes. I had to run a quick errand, the reason for the departure from my apartment. When I returned, Keating, the kid, repeatedly announced, "she's back, she's back, she's back!" So sweet. We threw the ball around some more. This time my Super was there to throw and catch, too. 

Downstairs neighbor thanked me for playing and invited me to play flag football with his friends in the park.

Love it. We all won.

 

 

Camera

In putting together this site I had to sift through loads and loads of old images. Time consuming but worthwhile. It got me thinking about the evolution of my relationship with photography. I’m glad I had the experience of developing film in the darkroom and making prints. I remember what a purist I was when digital first arrived on the scene, and people were making the switch. I eventually made the switch, then scoffed at the purists. 

I thought at one time I wanted to make my career as a photographer until I noticed people who weren’t making their careers as photographers were having more fun with it. It happened around the same time I was working for a commercial photographer who had just returned from vacation. I asked him if he had photos. He said: No, I don’t take pictures on vacation. It’s like work. I felt heartbroken and decided right then that was not how I wanted my relationship with my camera to be. 

Flash forward 5 years. I was sitting at a bar in Park Slope with my friend. A guy to my right said he was a photographer and immediately wanted to know what kind of camera I use to shoot. I had just gotten an iPhone and was only using it to shoot. He scoffed and suggested I’m not a real photographer. My DSLR is heavy and hurts my back. Quite frankly it doesn’t give me the immediate satisfaction. I don’t miss sitting at my computer waiting for photos to download. It doesn’t mean I’ll never shoot with it again, but…we’re on a break. I’d rather use a film camera at this point if I am going to lug something around. 

To me it’s never been about the equipment. It’s about the story, composition, texture, it’s never been about the f-stop or film speed for me. Sure it’s fun to geek out for some, but that’s not what I geek out about. Something with crude technology can create something magical and amazing. Anyone can buy the most expensive camera, set up a business, then just send their terrible quality photos to a photographer who can fix them. I worked for that guy a few times, fixing an amateur photographer’s photos. Not just levels, curves and color…moving heads. It was ridiculous. 

At another bar with another friend just last summer, a young Australian gentleman was sitting at the end while I waited for the bartender. He had a film camera, a Rolleiflex medium format, one that I have coveted for years. I don’t know why I don’t have one, but he let me check it out. He got his on eBay and inspired me to finally fulfill that dream. 

A camera after all is just a fun toy in the toy chest, photographic images a layer on canvas. I’m sure our relationship will continue to evolve.