GHOST is this amazing luxury fitness lounge located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that has completely left me enthusiastic about visiting because this unique gym has a beautifully designed space to workout, socialize, connect and create.
Due to COVID all indoor events have been temporarily placed on paused at the gym but luckily McCarren Park is only located a few blocks away, so I had the opportunity to cover their first outdoor training meet led by one of their elite founding trainers Meghan Hayden.
I detest using myself as an example for anything, considering I sure as heck have a lot to improve in several areas of my life but when it comes to learning to sacrifice certain things in order to pursue that one activity that you’d easily do for free, I’ve learned to adapt to this evolving learning experience.
It’s crazy how for some this may come across as a foreign concept but in life, you can’t expect one thing to happen without being ready to trade something else for it. You can’t wait for the right time to pursue the things you daydream about or else you’ll be left with nothing but a faint glimpse of what could have been. We all share so much of ourselves online that seeing other people accomplish what we desire so much can sometimes be detrimental but it can equally serve as a catalyst for us to get our shit together.
Throughout conversation during shoots, people are surprised when I share that what I’ve done with my camera up to this point has been accomplished on my days off from my day job. Yes, the goal is to be a full time photographer but considering how much I love the craft, I can’t imagine being reluctant to create anything until I no longer have a day job. That’s not how it works. One feeds the other and you continue to do it for as long as you can or else you single-handily compromise the dream.
I think we all struggle with the question of personal meaning throughout our lives and if you don’t feel you’re getting it from your day job, there should be no shame or excuse in finding it outside of your work. It begins by carving out pockets of time to do what you’re passionate about. People may not always notice what you say but they’ll sure as heck pay attention to your consistency when creating and sharing what you do.
Stop waiting to have a million dollars to pursue what you want. There’s already a slew of people on that line. Why not get on the line of “working with what you have by setting aside time” which tends to move faster.
Photographer and director Edsel and one of his daily Instagram Story thoughts:
If your work isn't specialized, it's not second nature.
When problem arise, the solutions aren't in your mental archive, the movements aren't in your playbook, and the connections aren't in your contacts.
It isn't that you can't shoot it all, it's that your clients don't want you to.
Your best work will happen when you focus.
Perfectly said! Shooting everything might give the impression that doing so makes you more marketable, but it actually has the opposite effect in how potential clients see you.It was difficult to understand at first but the moment this concept sinked in, I was surprise how quickly I began finding myself creatively.
At this point I have to admit I probably have more photos of Callie than any other personal trainer I've worked with in New York. Since our first shoot back in 2018, we've connected very well all the way from experimental shoots to the opportunity to photograph her signature workout class on a Brooklyn rooftop hotel.
Unfortunately she's no longer based in the New York. She now resides in Florida so that ability to reach out, connect and experiment with concepts has come to a halt. Luckily, in a recent post-COVID short visit to New York on her part, our schedules aligned and we were able to not just shoot but also catch up on the weird routes life has forced us all to take considering all the uncertainly surrounding the pandemic. I use to think I had visit the vast majority of sections in New York but apparently Hudson River Park wasn't one of them so we met up near the water on a blistering hot day but in the end was so worth it.
Wake up early.
Put in miles.
Take the hard route.
Zach Pogrob runs this amazing Instagram account entitled Behavior Hacks in which he offers "tactical advice to be a better human and live on your own terms." I'm constantly saving so many of his post within Instagram because they've serve as a great reference for those moments when you're in a funk and you're in need to read for a few minutes tidbits of advise that's likely to get you to reflect right away. This one right here is a t-shirt, a poster and a coffee mug that distills everything that's important to me at the moment. It's helped me become a better person.
So much of who we are and who we become is determined by those around us. Considering that proximity nowadays has become a safety concern, it's vital to understand that our thoughts, our behaviors, our demeanor are also a byproduct of what we're paying attention to either online, on TV, or social media in general.
As a parent, one can't help feel that we don't have much time to occupy ourselves physically or mentally to anything which means that when the opportunity comes around it's typically regarding something that's of value. Why would I want to waste my attention on just anything when I have very little of it to go around to begin with? At least that's my perspective.
I pay a lot of attention to topics on health, wellness, self-care, travel, investment, family, leadership, politics and so it's natural that I won't be caught up on the most recent chart-topping artist. At my current age, I feel so much more caught up in life than I ever did at any age simply because I stopped trying to pay attention to everything while still being cognizant that life is made up of so much more than the ingredients we choose to include in our plate.
Prior to COVID, I've attended my fair share of fitness based events in New York all of which have been absolutely thrilling to shoot. Not only have they served as a springboard to meet more professional trainers in the industry but also with it's ability to walk away inspired every single time by simply being around individuals who are an embodiment of what they preach.
Hilary Riftkin has been one of these inspiring trainers. After some scheduling challenges at the beginning, she reached out and booked me for a shoot which gladly accepted because it was to celebrate her birthday and the fact that it involved commuting to the town of Amagansett in Long Island which I've never been to. We chatted about life, the current state of the fitness industry and how much I admired her beautiful home!
Peggy Sirota is an America photographer who's work I feel I can easily scope out whenever I find myself reading a few of my favorite magazines on the iPad. Sirota has become one of the top entertainment photographers and her work her has been published in magazines like GQ, Shape, Esquire and Vanity Fair. From her portrait work, I invariably get this sense of authenticity, full of life and organic chemistry between her and the talent regardless of location and coincidently enough I came across this brief article in which she describes her artistic approach to what I see as an admirer to her beautiful work:
I don’t care whether I am shooting in studio or on location; I like both. It is more about the content, what the people are doing and how they feel in front of the camera. Where we are doesn’t really matter.
I like light that looks natural: in general I want the light to look believable. I like to catch people doing real things in a light that doesn’t look overly contrived. I want it to be a perfect moment that just happened!
Never feel like you have to do just one thing. The world will try to keep you in a box. Get a job. Work 40 years. Retire. Die. Try everything you want to try. Do everything you want to do. Be everything you want to be. When you do that, one life can feel like one hundred lives. Life's short, so go actually live it.
I don't know what it means to just go to work, come home and believe that's all I do. I'm fortunate to have developed a relationship with my camera, my photography and the people I've met along the way to remind me that my interest in life doesn't live within the timeframes of when I clock in and out at work. It shouldn't for you either. In the event that it does, I wrote about how you should have something in your life that's selfishly yours because I can assure you no one will come along offering you anything. If it doesn't come from you, you're doing yourself a disservice in not knowing what else you're capable of.
During these COVID times I made it my personal mission to educated myself more when it came to lighting a lot of which came mostly through YouTube videos and in going through a few portrait photo books I owned such as Hunks & Heroes by Jim Moore. After having ingested so much valuable information, I was beyond anxious to partner up with Elsa once again and practiced what I had learned because in the end it means nothing unless you get in there and make reality what only lives in your mind at the time.
There are people less qualified than you, doing the things you want to do, simply because they decide to believe in themselves. Period.
I'm positive I've heard versions of this quote in the past but not exactly phrased in this way and the reason I'm acknowledging it now is because I finally found it applicable to. There's so much more I'm wanting to accomplish from a creative perspective with my photography and while I like to think I'm always acting in a way that is consistent with where I want to go, I can't let fear stop me from visualizing what others have already conquered.
With photography being a very gear oriented craft, I aim not to get muddled in the notion that having the most equipment will in truth make me a better photographer. The real skill stems from habitual practice, reviewing the material, making notes on what worked, what completely missed the mark and as soon as one shoot is complete immediately having a vision and determination of what the next one would look like.
Buying anything is addicting but the downside to photography is that it’s a costly passion that can easily guide you to spending more than you can afford and need. I’m not going to tell you that gear doesn’t matter because is completely does but I think the most important question is how much of it do you need?
Define you Intentions
The gear and the process is the perfect combo of what matters. The real difficult part of photography isn’t knowing how to make the picture but in determining what picture to make and with that comes deciding what your real commitment to becoming a better photographer is.
I still consider myself a complete novice when it comes to ability, so I take any and every feedback I get in seeing what else I can do to gain experience and feedback. Perhaps not every photo you take will have that innate condition to stimulate someone but it’s acknowledging those intentions that will greatly enhance that chances that you will.
Frame the Picture
When we travel, even though Vanessa may not verbalize it, my wife’s expressions says it all in how irritated she may get when all I think about is photographing everything.
She loves reading the inscriptions to artwork in museums while I worry more about how to avoid reflections through the glass, or how to gain the best possible perspective or in making sure to adjust the ISO and shutter speed from place to place. It’s a thrill to photograph and visualize what the end result of each photo will look like already framed in our living room and that pretty much outlines what I think about before I shoot.
Finding the Story
The photographs that draw me in are always the ones accompanied with a good story. These are the ones that have a subtle or sometimes in-your-face subject matter that keeps you glancing and paying attention. Sometimes one photo alone won’t suffice to encapsulate how you envisioned something, so it’s ok to create a series of photos around your experience.
Photos that have this element makes you want to keep searching and imagining more of what you don’t necessarily see and trying to envision what else was around that wasn’t captured.
Honestly, the most important things to remember is that you feel that you have to take photos and being content with the camera you have now, upgrading as your experience does and from that great photographs will come.