Most of you that know me, also know that that my Dad was my world. He was not only of the best people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, he was kind, funny, and would give anything to make those around him smile. A few years before he passed away, my dad became the proud mother of a duck, we fondly named, Mr. Quackers. Behind the house my parents lived in, a duck had laid eggs. In the springtime, you would see the little hatchlings follow their mom to the lake and jump in a few days after they hatched. This particular spring, one of the little guys was left behind. He may have just hatched late, but by the time he did, his siblings and mom had gone. My dad was doing yard work, and heard the little thing making noise in the bushes. He helped it out of its nest - and the duckling thought its mother had finally come back for it. Mr. Quackers followed my dad around the next few days, waddling behind him as if he was mom. My dad fed the little guy, made him an enclosed walking area to protect him from the dogs in the yard, and would even carry him in his shirt pocket to keep him warm. If you didn't know my dad, he seemed a bit frightening at first. His thick accent, and his dry sense of humor, would make anyone that just met him a bit intimidated. But here was this tough man, playing mom to a poor defenseless little duck. Apparently, Mr. Quackers was sick.... or one of the dogs got a hold of him one day. I don't think my dad had the heart to tell me the truth, but he was gone. Although our time with the little guy wasn't long, the memories of a little duck waddling behind my dad to his each step will always be something that makes me smile. I love this picture; it perfectly represents who my dad was. His calloused hands, from working on machines as a tool and die maker – holding this little defensless guy, who trusted him as if he was his mother.
When out shooting pictures a few weeks ago, I had made a random stop to see some friends loading equipment out from a show the night before at a local club. There wasn't much in the way of taking pictures in that moment, the area was pretty bland, and the back of the bar was dingy and dark. The only thing that really caught my eye was the color of the floor leading out into the back alley. So I just snapped a quick picture from an interesting perspective. I didn't think much of this until I went to process the pictures I took later that day. I found it was actually one of my favorites from that day of shooting. What a bland, and gross area - something people would never pay attention to, but it was still so beautiful, especially that dark green color. I guess this picture in a lot of ways, represents what most everything in our daily lives appears to be. People always forget to look for the fine details, or the beautiful things within their lives, and the people around them. That's how people and things are taken for granted. Getting back into photography has reminded me of the importance of enjoying the details. Someone said to me the other day - 'It's amazing how life and things can change just within a few months'. It never really dawned on me how true that is. When we go through the daily motions, and work towards or goals - we tend to forget sometimes even about the 'green floor' in both ourselves and our lives. It's great to find self worth again, and to find the beauty even in the mundane, like the chipped up tile floor in the back of a bar.
What a great weekend for pictures! I was excited that we finally had snow on the ground, and that I got to take the equipment out once again to do some work. I am working on a series of photos of amazing people, and this weekend was my first in the project. The lighting was great, the day was beautiful, and I was in great company. Thanks Catherine for being my subject. You're a truly beautiful person, inside and out. Look for more in this series soon! I will eventually bring it together in one big art project. Hope everyone had a great weekend!
This last weekend, I took the gear out and finally took some pics for the first time in over a year. I didn't stray too far from home on this trip, but I remembered the most perfect place to go. I had gone to this location in years past, on Halloween nights with friends, and on a few photography trips. For anyone from the area, that knows where the State Park is on Wilmot Road, if you drive a little farther north, before Route 173, there is a cemetery, in the middle of a field. I'm not sure what came first, the corn field, or the cemetery, but you can't miss it. The trees are like those that you would imagine in an old spooky graveyard, and the whole thing is enclosed by a cement wall. The strangest thing about it, is the age of the stones. It must be a family plot, or a neighborhood cared for final resting place. It is always well maintained, and within in, lie those that have passed on from the 1800's, to as recently as the 1990's. I was on my own on this trip, and although it was the middle of the day, I can't say I wasn't still a bit freaked out. The wind picked up as I walked through the field, the dirt in the cemetery seemed extra unstable, and although I came out with my life, I still felt as if it may have been the last place anyone would have ever heard I went. Winter and Spring photography is difficult, without snow, and without green grass, and trees, but you can definitely find places like these to get some great shots.
Good old Kenosha, Wisconsin. Never fails to take a quick trip out that direction, and snap some pictures near the lake. These were taken a couple of years back while venturing out to cheddar land with a good friend. Lake Michigan in general makes for cool subject matter, but finding places like this light house is always fun. A lot of people would say the graffiti is awful, and gang violence due to turf wars based on graffiti tags such as this, truly is. However, taking a picture of a lighthouse door in Kenosha next to Lake Michigan on such a beautiful day wouldn't be quite as interesting without the spray painted tags left by kids that thought they were leaving them to make some sort of statement. Over the years, I've been up to Kenosha several times for pictures - with bands, or just to shoot. So I would like to thank the great state of Wisconsin, not only for your sights, but for the many cheese snacks you provide as well.
As most of you know, I was born in Bratislava, Slovakia. These pictures were taken there a few years back. Bratislava is split up into two main sections. One part is old Bratislava, and the rest of the metropolitan area is a modern city. Stara Bratislava, or old Bratislava, is beautiful and full of amazing places to see. The first picture is of Michael's tower in that section of the city. If you ever have the chance to visit this amazing place, the tower actually houses a medieval torture museum, displaying all of the old instruments of punishment of those dark times. Bratislava is located on the Danube, and the main castle, Bratislavsky Hrad sits atop a bank off of the river. The second picture was taken next to the cathedral that sits just below the castle. This was a group of seminary students making their way through the street, a pretty cool site to see amongst all these old buildings. I wish I could go back and visit my home country more often. I hope to go again sometime soon.
So far, all of the pictures on my website have been from photo trips / shoots of the past. The latest of all of these is over a year old. I've put my equipment back together, and will be taking the first pictures of a new project this weekend! Putting the site together has been fun, but I'm really excited to get back out there, and actually start with new fresh ideas, and concepts. I can't wait to share it on here, and I will post the new pics and various artistic projects as I get them completed. For now, this was another one of my favorites from Death Valley. I think what I've learned the most of taking pictures in such various places - is to truly appreciate the beauty of everything around you. Whether it's something grand like this mountainous ravine in Death Valley, or if it’s a rusty bicycle on the side of the road in a town most people probably never see, it is perspective that makes it interesting.
Live band photography is truly an art form of its own, and I give so much credit to the guys and gals out there that do it for a living. I know I always appreciated seeing live shots of my projects, when a photographer captured the energy and magic of a performance. It's also not an easy art form! I tried my hand at live band photography for a good year at a local club, and it takes a lot of practice, and knowing not only when to shoot, but everything has to be taken into consideration. Lighting, equipment, and knowing when to get that perfect shot. This picture was taken of a band at Mickey Finn's in Libertyville, called Cold Comfort, during an all ages show a few years back. It's magic when you snap off a shot that brings out a performance during a live set. These high-schooler's were really talented. Not sure if they are still around now, or what they may be doing, but I hope they are still playing music in some form or another, as talent should never go to waste!
Last time I got to visit Europe was in 2007. On this particular trip we toured around my home country of Slovakia, went to Prague in the Czech Republic, and also went to Vienna, in Austria. Vienna is only about an hour away from my home town of Bratislava, so we woke up early one morning, and took a shuttle boat down the Danube to this amazing city. The boat ride was at 7am, and we made sure to start our tour off right - with beer. Then more beer every time we wanted to sit and take a break, which was often as the day before we were in Prague, and walked about 20 miles sightseeing. We decided to take a part of the scenic tour of Vienna via a horse-drawn carriage. It was awesome. The first picture is of St. Stephen's Cathedral. The history of places built over 1000 years ago, just puts so much into perspective. To think 1000 years of history has passed through the walls of a building like this, gives you chills when you get to see it. The last time I walked around Vienna, (other than being at the airport for trips to and from Slovakia), was when I was 7 years old and my family and I were in a refugee camp waiting to come to the United States. It felt like I everything came full circle, being a tourist on vacation there, after so many years.
It's not very often we sit back and actually think about where exactly we've been, and where life has really taken us. When you're in a zone, nothing can seemingly snap you out of the hypnotic trance towards whatever path you are heading down. The time spent on that path begins to define you. Once you need to change direction, and quickly - you get caught up in the whirlwind and the momentum of that force, and for a single second, in your excitement, you hope to forget why you had to change direction in the first place.
These pictures were taken somewhere between Las Vegas and Death Valley. I would probably sell a limb to be able to just get in the car and go on one of the trips that these pictures were taken on. Nothing but the open road, coffee, and laughs with good friends and an approximate idea of when we should be getting back home.