Our collective trauma

As vaccines are being widely deployed in the United States, it seems as the volume of harsh rhetoric these days demonizing “the other” side’s response to the current state of the pandemic is rising. 

On one side, if you will, some are being exceptionally cruel towards folks that are genuinely nervous and scared about the Covid19 vaccine. These hesitant people are not one monolithic demographic. Each has its own set of concerns. It could be religious. Or they would rather see more data. Or they have a medical situation. Or they want to wait until the vaccines are no longer part of the emergency exemption program, or frankly they have been given false information. I encourage you to listen to this recent podcast on the Daily for those of you frustrated by vaccine-hesitant folks. 

Yet another other side is demonizing vaccinated folks for wearing a mask outside. But we don’t know their story either. We don’t know if they lost loved ones during this pandemic. We don’t know if they are actually vaccinated. We don’t know if they have other life stress in their lives. We don’t know if they have been dealing with misinformation. 

While we don’t know the stories that each of us is carrying, we know one thing very well. Our society and planet have suffered so much loss and pain during this pandemic. Every day we have beared witness to the loss of life and economic devastation. We suffered while a former President continuously denied the virus threat while knowing the absolute truth back in February 2020. We have experienced a deep and widespread collective trauma. 

This pandemic has reminded us that we are all in this together, that we need each other more than ever, that we are deeply connected. And thankfully we have seen countless examples of people and communities stepping up to help each other.

Let’s all give each other a little more patience and support as we enter the next phase of this process. Be kind.

(full disclosure: I am fully vaccinated as well and so is my wife. Two of our adult kids are fully vaccinated and our youngest will hopefully get his first injection in the coming days).

Joel Meyerowitz: a lifetime of passion and love for photography

To suggest that I am a tremendous admirer of Joel Meyerowitz would be a gross understatement. I have several of his books on my shelf and bedside table. I return to them several times a year to appreciate the brilliance and for inspiration. I’ve watched and heard countless interviews. He has been a guest on the Candid Frame several times over the years and there are number of great recorded interviews on YouTube.

Joel recently sat down as a guest on Talk Easy and I absolutely loved this conversation. It might be one of my favorite Joel Meyerowitz interviews of all time. It’s clear that the host, Sam Fragoso, has spent a great deal of time being curious about Joel’s work and genuinely appreciate the photographs. I love the format of the interview. Sam and Joel spend over an hour talking about Joel’s life as they flip through a number of Joel’s photographs.

I also learned a number of things in this conversation that I did’t know previously about the “why” behind some of these iconic images. Joel speaks from the heart about his life’s experience about his own journey and challenges. For someone that always seemingly comes across as happy and joyful, you can feel the pain as he describes his first marriage as essentially a long term loveless affair as well as his own father’s sadness in being in an unhappy marriage.

But the thing that comes out the most throughout the entire interview is Joe’s lifetime of passion and love for photography. At 82 years of age, he speaks with the clarity and poise of a much younger man who has just fallen in love. But in this case, we are talking about someone who has been making photographs for over 58 years, from the streets of NYC and Europe with a 35mm Leica camera to large format view camera on Cape Cod and New York and then to his most recent body of work — 365 days of self portraits during the Covid19 quarantine.

It’s a breath of fresh air to hear Joel talk about photography. You can feel the authenticity behind every shared sentiment and his words are poetic.

Thank you Joel for your amazing gift and for your inspiration.

Exploring Louisiana, 2021

I thought I would share some photographs from our trip to Lousiana last month. I’m healing quite nicely and just finished my fourth and final rabies shot from the dog encounter.

I also added a new subscribe feature to this blog. You can receive my posts via email now if you wish. I’m feeling motivated to post more frequently these days.

(Color photographs made with a Mamiya 7ii and Kodak Portra 400 film. Black and white photos made with a Contax T3 and Kodak Tri-X 400. Developed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab in California).

My first photo book

I love physical photography prints. Whether they are silver gelatin prints or ink jet prints. Small and large, color and black & white. I love them all. I also love them in a book format and over the last few years I’ve likely acquired over 20 photo books. The one I go back to for constant inspiration is by Fan Ho.

It’s always been a dream of mine to publish my work in a physical book format. I have had a number of ideas over the years but it’s all a work in progress that may or may not ever see the light of day.

A few months back I shared some of photographs from our recent trip to Hawaii. I didn’t post some of my favorite photos because they are personal and intimate family moments. But a few weeks ago, I created a photobook with Blurb. It’s a small 8″ x 8″, hardcover book with 70 photographs. I created exactly one copy and I absolutely love it.

If you haven’t created a photo book, give it a shot. Blurb’s software is super simple and you will be thrilled with the physical book experience. I know I am.

Attacked by a dog but feeling grateful

What a title for a blog post right?

Well before I get into that story let me share how my day went and thank all the women that came to my rescue.

We are in New Orleans visiting our daughter who is a student at Tulane University.

We started the morning with a run and ended up at our favorite breakfast spot, Mollie’s Rise and Shine. I didn’t bring my wallet but they take Apple Pay. But it didn’t work after trying multiple times. As I was about to give up, this nice young women who was eating her breakfast outside comes up to the counter, takes out her credit card and offers to buy us breakfast. I was so moved by her gesture. I ended up paying her back on Venmo and we were on way. Touched by kindness and our hot breakfast sandwiches in hand.

Later that afternoon we took a walk down Magazine Street. At one point my wife and daughter were a few blocks ahead of me as I was making some photographs. Shortly thereafter, I noticed a pit bull on a leash about 10 yards ahead of me. A few seconds later the dog leaps at me and escapes from the owners grasp of the leash. I suffered four bites, one was fairly deep before the owner was able to grab the leash again. I think the whole intense affair lasted less than sixty seconds.

I have never been attacked by a dog before. It was pretty scary. As I picked myself up and examined myself I could feel blood dripping from my leg, hip, hand and elbow. Two women came up to me right away to check on me. One of them had alcohol wipes and band aids. I thanked them for their kindness. The dog owner and his dog left the scene quickly without a word and before I could stand up.

My film camera took a beating when I fell but my phone still worked. I called my wife who found my location a few minutes later and helped me clean up my wounds and stop the bleeding. As we were about to get into the car another women came up to me with my AirPods that dropped during the whole encounter. Her mom took photos of the whole thing and offered them to me. I think I was was still in shock so I just said thanks so much for the AirPods but I politely declined the photos. I guess I didn’t want to relive the experience although I wish I had in retrospect. I would feel horrible if that dog bites another person, or god forbid a child.

We went to the emergency room and was treated by a doctor and nurse. Thankfully I didn’t need stitches but discovered another bite. I left with a tetanus shot and an antibiotic prescription.

My wife brought me back to our airbnb and I found myself reflecting on my day. While my wounds still hurt, and my mind has reoccurring flashes of the dog attack — I feel immense gratitude to all eight women that helped me yesterday.

I also feel so lucky. It could have been way worse.