Some Things Are Meant To Be

Most people move because of a clear, tangible life event or new opportunity such as a new job. As a self employed freelancer, it's not that cut and dry for me. While there is so much to love having lived in Boulder for 6 years - so many friends, so much sun and so many gluten free options - opportunities further east are calling.

We are moving to a place where the old is becoming new again. A place where haircuts are 12 bucks and a trip to the neighborhood ice skating rink is $3. A place where people allow you to make a left turn as soon as the light changes (that’s a “Pittsburgh Left”). A place where strangers act like they know you. That is my hometown of Pittsburgh. The thing that draws us there most strongly is the idea of moving to a house where our kids will be the 4th generation of my family to live there. A place with deep historical roots where our boys will be living in the same house that their great grandparents bought, their grandmother and father grew up in. It wouldn't mean so much except that the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill is exceptional and tight and proves it everyday - especially after the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Even Mr. Rogers grew up in that neighborhood - it is the very neighborhood he talked about. He was my neighbor!

While I’m so clear that I am not moving there to recreate my childhood or bathe in nostalgia, I can’t let go of something I learned last year being in Pittsburgh for months taking care of my mother who passed away in July. I had this feeling….this feeling I had as a child growing up in that house, on that street, in that neighborhood. I had this feeling that was pure joy. I then had this revelation. I have spent my entire adult life trying to recreate that feeling from my youth - with friends, with strangers, with my family everyday. It worked, but then going back to the source last year was a whole other thing. I never discussed moving into the family house with my mother. When the house was suddenly available I still never considered moving in. We started going through the process of getting it ready to sell, but it never really went on the market. There was a legal hiccup over the driveway, then came winter. When our boys insisted we go to the house over New Year’s like they always had, we didn’t think it was a good idea - but we also couldn’t talk them out of it. So we came to the house on Inverness that had been sitting empty. We went inside and turned on the heat, then we made pancakes. Suddenly the house was alive. It was familiar the way things are when your family is grounded with its past and its future all within a hugs grasp. We wondered….is this our new home??

Come June it will be. We are packing up and moving east. 

It is complicated saying goodbye and hello at the same time. It is hard making the case to friends who have come to mean so much to us and who thought we had many more years living in the same neighborhood. Of course, we never know what a day will bring and it is just a reminder that we must embrace every day. At the same time, people on the other end are wondering if you are really coming to stay. They welcome you in and suddenly it all feels like forever once again. 

Telling the boys was especially hard. In one conversation they had their worlds turned upside down. We keep reminding them (and ourselves) that keeping in touch with friends is much easier these days - they can just play a game of Fortnite (note to self - might need to get Fortnite to sweeten the deal). And while Colorado is a much more enticing place to invite visitors, the city of bridges has some fine coffee, too...and some really big roller coasters that are kind of shaped like mountains.

I have always felt like the biggest decisions in life are such big leaps of faith. Getting married. Having kids. Where you choose to live… even the block you live on… even the exact house. I always thought that you could make a wonderful life anywhere - and I still believe that. But the pull right now to Inverness Avenue feels strong and powerful.

Jackson is going to paint his room purple for the Rockies and is determined to keep his Instagram handle - @roxfan4ever. Asher is already going to a Parkour gym in a warehouse way out of town that has a soft pit of foam for him to practice his backflips. He will continue sharing his crazy flips on Instagram @zerogravity1009. Stephie is following her nose to the amazing old warehouses full of artists who work with paint scattered everywhere. As for me….I am taking short cuts without a GPS, racing past the last standing wall of Forbes Field, and thrilling the boys by sneaking in the door of the Dirty O seconds before closing for a big brown bag of hot fries. With lots of ketchup.

We went to dinner tonight in Pittsburgh to a house with lots of girls. On the piano was one piece of sheet music for the song, “Some Things Are Meant To Be.” That pretty much sums it up.

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George Lange Salon at Todd Reed

My salon last week at Todd Reed was a big deal for me and extra thrilling that I could share it with so many people I love in Boulder. It was the coming out event for my new print collection and the discovery of the thread that ties it all together.

For years I have taken pictures all over the world, but never really understood what a “George Lange” picture was. I just dove into each assignment having new ideas everyday, but could never stop to wrap my head around how the pictures were connected as a complete body of work. 

Over the past year, after spending a good chunk of time in Pittsburgh and unearthing so much history, I realized that all my pictures were about searching for and recreating the joy I felt growing up. It took me all these years to understand something that simple. Editing the images to include at the salon was a whole new chapter I never knew how to tell before.

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The response to the talk has been pretty wild.  Last night in the dark, I saw from the shadows on my street a little dog being walked with blinking lights on its collar. From the other end of the leash a voice called out, “George! The talk was so great!” It was my neighbor Hollis Brooks.

Hollis used to work as a contributing editor at In Style Magazine and other high profile positions in New York and San Francisco.  Our paths never crossed in New York, but here we were on a cold Boulder evening walking up our street towards the mountains. Hollis now manages VIP speakers for Adobe and Apple among others. So when she said, “George, I was bowled over by the combination of your words and your images. To see and feel the excellence of your work was so moving and exciting. Others in audience felt it, too - the high level of creativity and beauty. The topic of JOY was unexpected and resonant to the audience."

I told Hollis I needed this all in writing for when I ever doubted what I was doing. She later wrote, “As a speaker manager, I judge the audience throughout a talk, and your 'kickoff' was perfect. Loved the concept of your pictures slumbering for so many years, and thought (along with others around me) it was funny that you said you barely remembered taking many of the 'important' ones.”

Hollis also said the idea that I didn’t want to become friends with my subjects - just wanted to take pictures together - was a radical idea from a celeb photographer. For me, the most interesting part of looking back at my body of work is how it has opened up the door forward. I never imagined that.

Soon I will be announcing a show in March at The Dairy Arts Center that's part of the Month of Photography, speaking at Caffeinated Mornings in April, as well as a super exciting project at the MCA Denver in September.

Also want to share a podcast I did with Danny Conroy at MadeLife in late December: icanthelpyou.podbean.com/e/episode-11-with-george-lange/

Please contact our studio - studio@langestudio.com - for any questions about the print collections or to schedule an in-person appointment.     

Ideas Come To You When You Work

Karl was Charles Mingus’ rage, Tom Waits' balls, Helmut Newton’s elegance and raw sex, Steve Jobs' uncompromising drive, Patti Smith’s “Piss Factory” all rolled into a career built on weaving black, white and hot pink thread into fashion glory.

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My first trip to Paris as a photographer was with Carrie Donovan - fashion director of the NY Times. I had poked into her W 43 St. office, asked her to take me to a fashion show and she said, “Meet me at the Miyake show next Wednesday in Paris.”

I knew nothing about the fashion world. There I was tucked under Carrie’s seat in the front row peering out at pure beauty. Listening to Tom Waits blasting every ear drum with “TEMPTATION”!

(Karl helping Carrie Donovan down the stairs of his home in Paris.)

(Karl helping Carrie Donovan down the stairs of his home in Paris.)

Then there I was at a sitting for a Chanel show. Karl sat at his throne built with handbags and jewelry. From his left came the most famous fashion models in the world for a final tweak. From his right was a parade of fashion editors and glitterati sharing a seat beside the master and often leaving with new jewels.

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I climbed up on a bookcase to take pictures of the whole scene. Karl looked up and yelled, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP THERE?” I said, “I AM TAKING PICTURES!!” He laughed. His laugh was my permission.

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Later he invited me up to his home in Paris. I was the first photographer he had allowed in. There were 20 marble steps leading up to the entrance. On each step was a tuberose Diptique candle. When I reached the entrance I was totally high - which helped, because the house was a museum and I was totally overwhelmed. We had invited Christy Turlington to come along. I asked Karl to sit at his desk and draw on her leg.

Back in NY, I started getting packages from Karl - catalogs, photo books, quick notes. All handwritten. All inscribed. He was old school and generous like that, too.

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There was an event at the old Whitney Museum on Madison one night to honor Karl. The crème de la crème of NY fashion society was out in front as Karl’s car pulled up. I was there shooting for Esquire. When Karl emerged he looked out at the crowd and saw me, “George Lange - my favorite NY photographer!”

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From today’s obit in the NY Times:

“Ideas come to you when you work,” he said backstage before a Fendi show at age 83. As a result, Mr. Lagerfeld never stopped creating.

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Limited edition prints available at GeorgeLange.com.
Contact our studio at studio@langestudio.com

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Secrets

Call for Entries

"Secrets"

Curated by George Lange


Deadline 1/10

Exhibition 3/1 - 4/15

We all have secrets.


Places we never put our cameras -

and if we do - pictures we would never share.  


We have secret "PERSONAL" folders on our hard drives. We have pictures from old relationships we want to delete - but we really never delete anything.


I want to see the pictures of those moments after the lights go out before you fall asleep.

I want to see the side of something you never would share.

I want to see a reject from your perfectly curated life.

I want to see a picture you took that was really hard to take.

I want to see a picture of a lie.

I want to see a picture you couldn't show until the subject was gone or dead.

I want to see a picture you cannot put your name on.

I want to see a picture of something you swear you didn't see.

I want a picture that demands an apology.

I want a picture that instantly brings you to tears.

I want a picture that does not belong in grandpa's barn without a cover on it



George Lange on George Lange

My job is to humanize people and show how we are all connected.  

I shot for every magazine.  NYT. Fortune. Vogue. HG. Allure. Vanity Fair.  Sports Illustrated.

I moved to LA in the 90's. Shot a ton of celebs.  Teen People. Entertainment Weekly. Vogue. Lots of ad campaigns for Seinfeld, Jim Carrey movies, Flintstones, Little Rascals.    Shot many, many TV shows - Frazier, That 70's Show, ER, Ellen....lots of shows.


I do not have a real style - I have a sensibility.  I shoot really fast. I change my mind all the time at the shoots - working fast and honest -  people think my pictures somehow capture who they were - despite not usually being the most glamorous.   

I know when to speak up and direct a subject - and I know when to just shut up and let the thing unfold.

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When I am shooting Jim Carrey - I let him work through all his moves and faces he is famous for - the white keys....   Then I let it him play the black keys - which is what I am most interested in. With him, it is more lighting a can of gasoline than fine tuning any details on the set.

I am asked all the time, "Who is the most amazing person you have ever met?" "What is the greatest picture you have ever taken?" Every time I give the same answer. YOU are the most amazing person I have ever met, and the picture we are about to take is the most amazing picture I have ever taken.


I live in the moment. I dig into the stories that move me, your stories. The story of your company. Your family. The place we are all connected. My work is about how we are all connected. What makes us special. My work is as much about listening as seeing. I use all of my senses to take pictures. Pictures only taken with your eyes are like eating something you can only see and never taste. I take pictures you can taste. And smell. And feel.


Click Here for more info and to submit.

Making Art

For years I was so afraid to look back at my photographic archives. It always felt like looking backwards would prevent me from moving forward. I would visit the film archive from the 90's in storage - 80 files drawers, each drawer filled with 12-15 folders - each one another assignment. At first I would just run away - it was all too much. Then I would peek in the drawers for an hour or so at a time. Finally - and this is over years - I would think of the shootings as my friends. Still, owning the work and bringing it out into the world was a mountain I couldn't seem to climb.

The first step was a meeting in NY last winter with the artist Betty Woodman, two weeks before she died as it turned out. Betty was photographer Francesca Woodman's mom. Francesca was a classmate and friend of mine at RISD. Betty asked me about my "art." As I fumbled that answer, her brow furled like I had totally missed the point of life. On that trip I also visited my hero, photographer/artist Duane Michals. Duane was showing two dozen short films he made in the last two years. He is 88. At the end of our visit, I asked Duane if we could take a picture. He said, "What do you want to do for the picture?" I said I wanted our foreheads to connect. As his assistant tried to figure out my Leica camera, Duane and I were there for a long time, foreheads pressed together. Duane asked me, "What are you thinking?" I said, "I am trying to download every single thing in your brain!"

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The second step was my mother passing in July. She had lived in this same house for 86 years - and there were all these snapshots of her growing up right in that same place. Her 5th birthday party in that very backyard. Her running down that very driveway in high school. I also had taken a picture of her the last time she was at the dining table we both grew up eating at. The picture was a closeup of her hands holding a picture of her mother holding her as a baby. For the memorial we were having in the backyard, I decided to enlarge six of these images into big art prints and hang them on the garage door. The process of seeing these snapshots that were recently discovered in basement boxes come to life - and even the simple feel of the paper itself - really blew me away. It reminded me of my first days in the darkroom loving the paper and process so much.

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The third step was setting up a new studio in Boulder with the ability to scan old film and make beautiful prints right there. I realized that all of the images from my archives carefully stored in file preservers and on hard drives are completely (metaphorically) dead. They are history that doesn’t exist. It is only when I started printing them that they really came alive for me. The images in storage could be forgotten forever, but the prints are like physical poetry. It has taken me decades to understand this idea around an object of art.

Which happily brings this story to you. As we have begun to mine the archives, I am totally blown away. A shooting with Andy Warhol I had totally forgotten about. Images from a Bruce Springsteen show where the film went through the camera twice by accident, producing the most amazing images. All the Jim Carrey and Seinfeld images I shot but have never been seen. Kate Spade painting her toenails at her desk. My first assignment on Bread & Puppet Theater. Sophia Loren wrapped in a towel doing her own makeup. Karl Lagerfeld drawing on Christy Turlington’s leg (that was the first time he had ever let a photographer in his museum of a flat in Paris.) And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

You can see the work and buy prints here: www.georgelange.com

Please check it out and share.

I can’t believe I've had all these experiences. I can’t believe I've had all this fun!!

Brother up young men

Today is a day to learn about winning and losing. 

Arms around each other in a circle. Swaying back and forth. Words of encouragement from the coach repeated over and over. They are feeling everything. They are hearing some of the words. They are ten-years-old.

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They bring so much grit and sweat while hiding the tears and loudest cheers while they are with their teammates.

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This is not a generation that shows emotions. Look at the swagger of their role models. Look at their posture after the game.

Yet they are bringing so much to each game, their fingers can almost touch their toes. Their hustle can almost tip the scales. Yet they have to race back to defense after swishes into the net from the three-point line. Stay focused.

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The coach is in their face as they struggle so hard to look them in the eye. The coaches build their team with passion, guts and hard work “EXECUTE!” “DEFENSE!” “ARE YOU ALIVE OUT THERE?”

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It gets wild in the stands during the game with families taking sides, then it is all over. Babies that were sleeping wake up. Men wearing extra large versions of their son’s shirts shake hands. Moms start to gather the little kids and figure out where to eat.

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There were over 300 teams in Akron this weekend for the Coach Dru Joyce Classic. 

Referees became the rule of law for 24 minutes, then changed their black/white striped shirts and checked their phones. Buzzers blasted from scoreboards. New shoes screeched up and down the courts. Team benches were moved into like a messy closet then vacated. Gatorade, sticky pads that prep shoes, knapsacks filled with hoodies and street sneakers. White earbuds curled under big hair. Toes pointed down and hands reached for the heavens. It was all perfectly choreographed, then it was over with a medal, a pose, and car trunks being filled up.  

It was Sunday. Tomorrow is school and work.

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In the end, it will be worth it

Wrestling has to be the most intense sport I have ever seen.

It is a team event but you are completely alone on the mat - with the din of encouragement from your teammates and coaches voices muffled somewhere in your periphery sound bubble. 

Mostly you are just trying to keep your face from being smashed into the mat and get some points. Or if your opponent slips for a moment, pinning them down.

The coaches are not messing around either - their whistle is deafening and constant. There is a cordoned off pen on the side filled with parents who are all in. Even if your kid wants out, most will push them right back in. 

Girls wrestling is a whole other thing. 

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Only six states sanction girls youth wrestling at schools. The rest have to wrestle with the boys. 

Boys do not want to wrestle girls - and on mixed teams they sometimes forfeit rather than hit the mat with a girl.

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Boys cut 20 pounds to make weight. Girls stay solid. 
 

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The girls are pioneering a movement with bloody noses, shoulders knocked out of whack, and a commitment to moving mountains with their bare strength. The mat is covered with sweat and tears. All the girls could probably kick my ass upside down. 

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I am not going to find out.
 

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Olivia, a 15 yr old wrestler from Ohio - who has already fought all over the world - gathered her team in the lobby of Comfort Inn by the Will Rogers airport in Oklahoma City. They were at the Girl’s Folkstyle National Championship and had fought up to 8 matches that day.

Olivia gave one of the most inspired team pep talks I have ever heard: “In the end, it will all be worth it. You’ll miss your friends and all, but it will all be worth it. You gotta think about your life.”

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The Sisters On The Mat team from Texas all get together after practice for a deep talk about setting goals and what it all feels like with their incredible coach, Monica. Then they write in their journals.

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This was an amazing week. Watching coaches screaming from the corners, capturing the groan of wrestlers pushing themselves beyond their limits, the pep talks in the buses and diners, the boredom lining up for the weigh-in, and the consolation that is whispered to the winners and losers wrapped in hugs.

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More soon,
George

Alive in a totally new way

When we think about photography we think about photographs - yet I have so rarely printed my work. 

Several weeks ago I unrolled a tube with prints that were made in India. They are massive and bring my pictures to life in a way that is so different than seeing the images on a screen.

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I had just gotten access to an empty swimming pool in the same building I have my studio. The five subjects were all brought to my door by my friend Paul Cure who organizes panels under his curiosity umbrella We Need To Talk. Everyone climbed to the bottom of the pool and we took photos in the beautiful southern light. We made these giant prints for the event.

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Filling the walls with really big prints is like feeling the subjects all breathing together in the room: the athlete, the blues musician and the yoga teacher. Everything is locked in: their expressions never change, the light never shifts, the subjects don't get older - not even for one second.

The photographs are alive in a totally new way.

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I was asked to moderate a talk last week at the Conference for World Affairs with the French Photographer, Maurice Sherif. I knew nothing about Maurice and had to do my research. I found one article on the loneliness of being a photographer which really rang true (“if love belongs to the poet, and fear to the novelist, then loneliness belongs to the photographer”). 

Maurice and I decided to meet before his presentation. I picked him up in one of the gorgeous houses up at Chautauqua - pointy French leather shoes, dusty pink shirt, black vest, herringbone blazer- nice cologne.

The first thing he does is sign the most beautiful handmade B/W gravure print over to me. A haunting image from under a bridge somewhere in Paris.

We talked about the ideas around leaving a legacy...prints...books...evidence of our work.

So I'm starting to experiment more with prints.

Yesterday, Stephie, the kids and I all looked at photos of the moments just after the kids were born. We had never looked at them together before. Both boys were a little bit taken aback by their very younger selves that had been hiding hard drives all these years. Asher asked, "Are those good memories for you? Were you happy when I was born?"

It is time to blow those pictures up, too.

George

Gambia

Most days I photograph strangers.

When I knock, they open the door onto their lives. I try to gain their trust.

And it is a gift I don’t take lightly. 

My job is share their stories in an honest way, and in the process...my own story. Sometimes the pictures take on a life I never imagined. 

This past month via the best part of Facebook - I was turned onto a project by Harry Dwinnell, a peace corp worker based in The Gambia. 

Harry took my book, “The Unforgettable Photograph” over to Africa with him, and shared it with the kids in his village recreate the photographs. 

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The book is filled with pictures of my children, along with others, doing the most everyday things in ways that completely astonished me. When Harry shared my pictures with the kids in his village, they wanted to recreate the photographs.

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His pictures blow my mind! 
 

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They are all about finding that place we are all connected. All about the power of photography, which often gets lost in the volume of photos we comb through everyday.
 

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Tonight I was in Pittsburgh showing Harry’s project to my mother. Looking at moments that occurred in her very house - recreated across the world with children I will never meet - was so moving. This must be what it is like for a playwright to see their work produced in a foreign land.

I remember watching an August Wilson production in London once - a play which took place in my hometown of Pittsburgh. It was incredible being so far away and still so close to home.

Since I discovered the project (through being tagged on Facebook!), Harry and I have been in touch and are now making images for the other to recreate.

My 7-year-old Asher is totally transfixed by this project. He wants to do a video of himself dancing and send the music over for the kids in The Gambia to dance to. 

Stay tuned...
George

 

Just got 5 new images from Harry - check them out below:

 

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Spring Training

We all know about intensive off-sites for work.

Where you are spirited away from the daily grind and freed to think about everything in new ways.  

We do the same thing on a much more personal level.

From a trip alone with our partner to last week having 72 hours alone with my ten year old son Jackson at spring training in Scottsdale.

On the first day with the game starting at 1:10, I asked Jackson when he wanted to get to the ball field, he said, "No later than 8AM!"

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Before we even got out of the parking area at Salt River Fields, a ball sailed over the fence into Jackson's glove from hitting practice.

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We get into the ball park - first row on the first base line - perfect for autographs.

Jackson joined the long row of kids holding out their pens and baseballs.

“PLEASE! Nolan! Charlie! Trevor! DJ! PLEASE!!!”

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There were no players signing autographs where Jackson was standing and yelling out, but he was patient....and relentless.

“PLEASE! PLEASE!”

The whole section was onto Jackson. He is infectious at a game. People on all sides were asking me about him.

“How old is he?”
“Does he play baseball?”
“How many balls has he gotten??”


At one point he started giving baseballs to other kids.

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Then in the 7th inning, Charlie Blackmon was leaving the game. He is one of the great sluggers in the game today. As he was walking up the first base line to the locker room, he passes Jackson who yells out -

“CHARLIE PLEASE!”

Our entire section is chiming in with him, “Give Jackson an autograph Charlie!”

Charlie looks over, looks at his broken bat and walks over to hand it to Jackson.
 

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The whole section went crazy. Some wanted to photograph the bat. Everyone was so into the whole gesture. Charlie walked off leaving the wake of a very happy young fan getting pine tar onto his hands.

While the pictures are ultimately the artifacts of our experience, it is always the journey rather than destination. It is all the things we never imagined - that unfold into dreams coming true.

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George

Unmistakable Podcast

Hey.

This just posted last week...I was a guest on the Unmistakeable Creative with Srini Rao. 

It was a crazy high wire act last week to sit at a table in our house facing the mountains and be interviewed for an hour by a stranger’s voice in my ear from southern California.

The questions were just jumping off points - though definitely high dives: “Which parent were you closest to growing up?” or “You picked up a camera at the age of 7 - how did you get from there to here?

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I had notes all around me - but they were only to cover the fact I live so much in the moment I cannot remember too far back. There were also notes from my friend Eric Bruno, who calls what I do “appreciography” - which is his term for using my camera to appreciate everything in new ways.

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Many thanks to Srini Rao for including me in his all star line up for “The Unmistakable Creative” and my friend Joseph Logan for the hookup.

Give it a listen - I'd love to hear what you think.

George