Asher

Black Friday

2015.12.02b

 

There were more guns sold in the US on Black Friday than almost any day in history. It demanded that the FBI process background checks at a rate of 2 per second. 40% of those sales were through unlicensed sellers. That seems a much more dangerous and porous process than the poor people who have to wait through 2 years of hell to get a ticket to our shores. I wonder what the process on Ellis Island was to gain admission to the land of the free besides not having some communicable disease. My photo teacher from RISD, Wendy MacNeil wrote to me this week saying, "Your stories and your photos don't have to "go together" in any way - just being your favorite pictures and favorite stories - YOU! - already means it's 'together'." So with that in mind, I am going to post a picture of Asher at dinner tonight along with my thoughts on guns. It looks like Asher is pretty weary in the picture of all this news, too. ‪#‎unforgettableinstagram‬ ‪#‎shootyourlife‬

Does Photography Make you Alive?

2015.12.02  

Asher asked me last week if photography makes me alive. This is from a kid who has been photographed almost every single day of his life by his father. I could have explained that my photography captures what is alive for me to remember and share. But to be honest...I was speechless. I try to take my pictures really quickly so Asher never looks over (like he did to the barber last night) and asks, "how much longer is this going to take??" I am hoping much much longer.

Hold this moment

2015.09.18This photo was taken in Venice, Italy. It was taken by the ocean off Cape Cod. It was taken at dawn in Barcelona. It was taken on a farm where the kids can feed the goats hard kernels of corn from their open palms in Colorado. It was taken so I could remember a date with my son on a balmy early fall morning. It was a gift Asher gave to his father the photographer. It was taken in a silo that was filled with sand and toys. I am holding this photograph like my favorite poem.

The View From The School Bus

2015.05.26_069

It was Jackson’s last day of first grade. He has already imagined crying after the last school bell rings. He was all too aware of another big milestone.

My mother was telling Jackson yesterday how proud she was of him graduating and he said, “I reached all my goals. My main goal was being able to tell time on a digital clock, and on the other kind of clock.”

Towards the end of the school year I start to get panicked that I cannot possibly remember everything. The feel of my son’s hand in mine walking to the bus. Our long shadows on the sidewalk. Rushing to his friends gathering at the bus, talking about the sports scores from the night before. That hug and kiss everyday before he boards the bus. That feeling of letting go and each of us beginning a whole other part of our days apart.

2015.05.26_015

2015.05.26_019

We have taken Jackson to the bus almost everyday for school this past year (except when we bike). When the bus pulls in and lets out its long brake hiss, the parents gather for last hugs (if they’re lucky, a kiss) and to say goodbye. The kids, each one with a full backpack all line up and disappear up the steps into the bus as the bus driver with the big gray mustache leans on the wheel saying hello. The bus windows are tinted so unless your child is right up against the window on a sunny day, the parents all wave wildly blowing kisses up at the bus windows hoping their kids can see them. I always wondered what it is like on the bus. What do the parents all look like from the inside out? What is it like sitting in the tall erect seats? What happens after the bus pulls away? Last week, I brought my camera to the bus and asked the driver if I could ride along to school with the kids. His big concern was how I would get home. I told him I could walk, and he waved me in.

2015.05.29_079

I watched how the kids all went to the seats they had figured out from the daily ritual. How they squeezed in next to their friends. I saw the parents all trying to figure out exactly where their kids were — some successfully — then drawing on the windows with their fingers, touching their children’s hands through the glass, then pulling away and blowing kisses. There was a sea of love on both sides of the windows. All about to let go and begin separate daily adventures.

2015.05.26_113

It is really hard taking pictures on a school bus. In our case the ride is under ten minutes so there is not much time. The bus bounces around and turns corners too hard. The light changes every second with the sun filtering through the trees. Richard, the bus driver is checking me out the whole time in the big mirror above his head. All the kids are making faces at the Dad with the camera violating their inner sanctum — their moment alone together in-between when they have to listen to adults again.

2015.05.26_180

Throughout the last week of school, I rode the bus several more times. The parents started asking me what it was like. They started saying, “one day I am going to ride the bus and find out myself.” Then the last day of school came and no other parent came on board. I was the only one who climbed up those steps to see the other side of the view we witnessed everyday. There are so many views with which to see our lives that we never take. Sometimes it is only three steps away and a quick permission.

2015.05.29_177

The Wrong Side of the Bed

2015.01.21Asher woke up on the wrong side of bed. He didn’t want to wear ANYTHING! He didn’t want to eat ANYTHING! He did not want to take Jackson to school! The important to thing to remember during a tantrum is just on the other side of nothing is EVERYTHING! Just on the other side of pushing me away is pulling me in. After dropping Jackson at school where the sign reads, “OUTSIDE”, Asher is sitting up on a stool at Boxcar warming his hands on a hot chocolate. A flower etched in the steam milk on top. “Dad, I am going to delete this!” On the other side of no is YES. We are walking in the morning snow. We are looking for the mountains that are hidden in a whiteout. I am holding Asher up against my face, and stop. I close my eyes. I feel his sweet cheek against mine in the cold. We look towards the mountains and say good morning to the mountains. “GOOD MORNING MOUNTAINS.”

Back at work, I am listening to Patti Smith while I write this: “I'll buy you a jet plane, baby get you on a higher plane to a jet stream And take you through the stratosphere And check out the planets there and then take you down deep Where it's hot, hot in Arabia, babia, then cool, cold fields of snow And we'll roll, dream, roll, dream, roll, roll, dream, dream When we dream it, when we dream it, when we dream it We'll dream it, dream it for free, free money”

Is it tomorrow today?

1400801_10152875822853234_1742225143103840760_o Many mornings Asher, my 4 year old wakes up and the first words out of his lips are, "is it tomorrow today?" This last week, tomorrow became today for me. It is a wonderful thing to have someone invite you up onto a really big stage, turn on the lights, and show you where tomorrow becomes today. To stop holding your breath, open your eyes, and start right from here.

Asher and the Fourth Birthday Party

AsherStephie made this amazing frame to shoot Asher and his friends for his 4th birthday party. Asher was sick, the party was cancelled - now it is there just for documentation. Asher is not into posing. Never has been, though I have won the battle often enough (not in this shot). I have been thinking about this generation - the first whose every single move is being documented. It was even funny to see the exasperation on the "professional" guy shooting pictures for the soccer league as every parent shot with their phones over his shoulder. (He lost my sympathy when the team assembled with their arms over each other and he moved them into a stupid, generic pose). My point is, what are our kids thinking as they are having to look into a camera everyday? "Hold that!" "Stand there!" "Can you just do that one more time?" What happens when they are looking at all these shots of themselves? I am as guilty as anyone on the planet of feeling that need to capture everything or else I will forget. My kids sometimes feel an experience is not validated without a picture. They love having the history. I get that. But what is going through their minds with their expressions? Jackson's fake smile that only appears for the camera. Asher pushing me away with his fingers. I have embraced the awkwardness. Have indulged them then moved onto the next shot (digital memory is cheap). Still, I hope we don't find out years from now that in all this documentation we were missing the best moments through wanting to capture them. #shootyourlife