• No Lovelier Sound

    Miscellany  

    Sep 16, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Summer’s Whims

    Miscellany  

    Sep 5, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Best Laid Plans

    Miscellany  

    The orange glow from the east slowly crawls over the pines, dancing on the lake's glass. It's hypnotizing. Therapeutic. Magical. My suprachiasmatic nucleus (the tiny part of the brain responsible for waking you up) triggers as the lambent light hits my dilated pupils. I paddle towards it in a wooden canoe carved from a felled tree over a century ago. Its integrity still in tact, like a good man long laid to rest.

    I should be on Nantucket right now. If I had things my way (of which I often insist), I would be. Sand in my hair, salt in my mouth. But I'm not. Instead, I'm in a small town outside of Providence, Rhode Island. Late trains, missed buses, sold out ferries...disguised whispers to embark on adventures unaccounted for.

    It's the night before and I've stalled in Providence until tomorrow morning. I text Kiel (James Patrick). He and his lost boys will be here in about 17 minutes. We immediately declare a pizza party. All at once, we sync our watches for the 30 minute countdown and secretly hope Dominoes can't navigate the obscure snaking roads (does Dominoes still guarantee delivery in "30 minutes or it's free"? Who knows, we don't care...we just watch the clock in optimism*).

    Tonight becomes a flashback to boyhood. Fire-starting, prank-pulling, firework-lighting, trespassing, and all-around general troublemaking. We hop into canoes just after midnight and paddle into the night. Our iPhone batteries exhausted, we lose all track of time, space...ourselves. It isn't until this morning as I'm paddling out that I realize even the best laid plans are at the mercy of Summer's romantic whims.

    Now on to Nantucket...

    *The Providence Dominoes driver did indeed later lose his job after failing to make good on Dominoes' "30 minutes or it's free" guarantee. We discovered some time later that one of the summer interns inverted one of the numbers in the address. We felt quite badly about this.**

    **That was a fiction. It turns out that Dominoes hasn't promised a pie in "30 minutes or it's free" since 1993. Huh. Seems like it was only yesterday.

    Aug 11, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • How To Photograph Your Kids…Fashionably

    Miscellany  

    Childhood is over in the blink of an eye. Take a picture—it certainly lasts longer. Modern parenthood practically corners you into taking up photography. You might as well learn to do it well given the one-upmanship landscape of Instagram and Facebook. Photographing your kids is no walk in the park though. They’re often unfocused. Poorly composed. Unruly. And that’s just your pictures. Here, a few personal tips on how to photograph (and tame) your kids.

    Have a Plan: pull tears from magazines, scour Tumblr, thumb through coffee table books of your favorite photographers' work in it. What you're looking for here is inspiration—ideas for posing, expressions, styling, concepts, etc. What's that? You’re into taking pictures and don’t have a favorite photographer? Find one. In fact, find several. This shot is likely the culmination of countless Peggy Sirota portraits I’ve pored over the last seven years.

    Style the Shoot: No one wants to look back on photographs of themselves 15 years from now wondering, "What was I wearing???" Your kids won't want to either...because they'll be 25. Aim for timeless and classic. Drop in to Ralph Lauren, Crewcuts, and GapKids for shrunken takes on grown-up classics. Just ensure the clothes fit your kids right now…not 6 months from now. Some kids’ clothes designers make this as challenging as possible. The boys and I cut over five inches off these Old Navy chino shorts just so they would hit a handbreadth above the knee.

    Little Bribes: I prefer the more civilized term "incentive" since that is how the world actually works. And your kids are better off knowing that the sooner the better. If you do x, you will be rewarded with y. When my boys were 4 and 5, it was candy—instant gratification candy. Toddlers need that in order to comprehend the arrangement of being rewarded for the request made of them. Now that my boys are Tweens, it's "I'll drop $15 into each of your iTunes accounts after we nail this shot.” Just don’t show your entire hand upfront. They learn to negotiate eventually.

    Sink to Their Level: Some of the best portraiture is shot around eye level of the subject. Kids are no exception. Get down on their level. You can ice your knees (and lumbar) afterwards.

    Get Wide, Get Close: Reach for a wide angle lens and then fill the frame with your kids. A wide angle lens practically forces your hand to get up close and personal with your subjects. Here, in the backseat of my ’87 Bimmer, I opt for a 20mm…yet, I’m still filling the frame with my boys.

    Work Quickly: No matter how incredible your bribe incentive, the law of diminishing returns quickly erodes its perceived value. In other words, you have 30 minutes (tops) to nail your shot. Go!

    Jul 28, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Vineyard with Kiel James Patrick

    Miscellany  

    Preppies love nature and trekking to remote locations. As a rule of thumb, the farther and more inconvenient the locale, the more gratifying the experience. If you're driving, it has to take at least three hours. Have to take a ferry? Even better. We secretly wear this degree of difficulty as a badge of honor.

    By these standards, Chappaquiddick Island is the preppiest place in New England. Eagle Scout merit badges should be awarded upon one's arrival. And that's exactly where I end up after a seven hour bus ride and two ferries. That's right—two. See, Chappaquiddick, or Chappy to the regulars, is an even smaller island off the small island of Martha's Vineyard. It is only when I arrive that I realize I'm standing on the edge of Heaven.

    Once I shake off the nine hour journey with the help of a Del's Lemonade, I'm ready to catch up with my old pal Kiel James Patrick. I'm here for the holiday weekend because Kiel thinks I need a respite from the city. I think he's right. My back shoulders a 50 lbs. pack with enough supplies for a week (be prepared!—Boy Scout motto). I'm sleeping outside for the weekend.

    The Chappy compound is teeming with the young KJP team, summer interns, and guests of guests. My tent proves to be my only reprieve from the hive of activity buzzing well into each morning. It comes at a price though. Friday night quickly turns into me versus the fringes of Hurricane Arthur. The following morning proves me the victor but Arthur's howl and spit affords me little shut eye.

    Me: 1 Nature: 0.

    The intoxicating wild innocence of youth instantly teleports me back to when that floral crown graced my own head. Eighteen, nineteen...years of wonder, naïveté, and endless hope. Years no one will ever be able to give back to them (or myself), it is at the same time bittersweet and a gentle reminder to seize every day, every moment, for what it truly is. With that revelation, I pull everyone into the outdoor shower to capture just that...a moment, wild and innocent.

    Jul 7, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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