A year and change ago I went back to my hometown in London, England. It is not only the place of my birth but the place that birthed my love of photography. As chance would have it, I had an opportunity to reconnect with my first ever photography teacher. The man who inspired me, encouraged me and taught me about "the eye" I had for portrait shooting. I have thought of him quite often over the years, but his name always escaped me.. but now I will never forget it, the award winning photographer and Professor -John Goto. Professor Goto has long since moved out of London but was returning to attend an exhibition featuring his book of portraits entitled "Lovers Rock" ( a musical sub-genre that grew out of the South London reggae scene around 1975). The book chronicles the lives of first generation children of immigrant parents (from the West Indies) in the late 1970"s in South East London, during a period when racial tensions were high. It is eloquently forwarded by Paul Gilroy, John Goto, Mark Sealy and Baronness Lola Young. These names won't mean much to people living in the United States but their writings give us some insight to the dress, culture, emotions and fears of the youth at that time. Shot during this period , the images have been in Professor Goto's "vault" since that time, over 35 years! They were recently discovered by Autograph ABP and published.
The night before the event my mother passed away and I wrangled about attending the event. Knowing it was a once in a lifetime opportunity I decided to go and was delighted to see so many of the people in the book in attendance, grown up now with their children and grandchildren in tow. Many of these people still living in the area. Even the Mayor showed up! I would love to tell you that Professor Goto remembered me after teaching thousands of students, but he didn't really. And he didn't have any idea of how much he had influenced my love of photography. He did, however, remember the class I was in and the circumstances under which he taught me and my fellow students and was amazed and excited to learn that I had continued shooting. After returning to the United States I became frozen by my mother's sudden death. I stopped shooting and began considering selling my equipment, until I came across this email a few months ago.
How very nice to receive your email. I too really enjoyed the occasion and meeting again after all these years.I looked at your website – You are obviously very good with people who look relaxed and at home before your lens. And you also have a keen eye for telling details and technical control over very diverse lighting situations. Impressive! This whole experience with reworking my old Lewisham pictures has made me realise a few things about portraiture that I had no idea of at the time. Mostly to do with the role and significance images take on long after they have left the photographer. I was saddened to hear that the handsome young man in two of the photos was your late brother. I received another email from someone whose estranged father appears as a young man in the series – again you get a sense of very personal investment in the portrait. Roland Barthes writes about this rather movingly in ‘Camera Lucida’..........
All best wishes
Needless to say Professor Goto's email not only made my day, but reassured me that portrait shooting will continue to be my life's work, because yes long after the pictures I take leave my camera-the images do become significant to someone else. Thank you Professor Goto for a great start!!
Professor John Goto: http://www.johngoto.org.uk/index.html
View the book Lovers Rock: http://www.autograph-abp-shop.co.uk/books/lovers-rock
Camera Lucida: by Roland Barthes
My very wise Uncle Stanley once told me, "Sometimes you have to step down to step up, step back to step forward. Rewind". I had to step back from photography for a bit but I am now ready to step forward.
While driving across the Brooklyn Bridge recently I noted that there were hundreds of locks attached to the beams along the walkway. Curious to find out more I consulted the internet and discovered that these locks are part of a phenomenon that began in Europe. Couples initialed padlocks and attached them to public places, mostly bridges, then tossed the key into the waters below. This act, symbolizing everlasting love! Wow, I thought what a great idea. I returned to the bridge sometime later to see these locks up close and carried my own lock with me. I was intrigued by the variety of locks and their inscriptions. I took out my black Sharpie marker and wrote "T.M. PHOTO" on my lock, secured it to a post and tossed the key into the East River below symbolizing my everlasting love of photography.
I am back to photography now more inspired than before and ready to take those oh so important shots of people, their events, their lives. Photographs are among the most important possessions we can have. They connect us to a time or place that we can never revisit in quite the same way. They are our connection to our past, our present, our future. They tell the story of who we were, who we are, where we have been and what we have done. Photographs tell the story of life and I am committed to helping others tell their story one picture at a time.
I am locked in love with photography!
July 25, 2013
Over the past year I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with a beautiful and talented young lady. I met her shortly after her arrival from London through a friend. At that time she was seeking some headshots to apply to a school of dance in New York. We instantly hit it off and became friends.
Possessing a rich cultural heritage, (Ethiopian mother and German father) one of her goals in life is to return to Ethiopia to teach dance to children. We had drinks, dinners and shared stories about London and its people, my time living in Germany and our love of music. Two photo shoots and one year later she must now return to London.
At our last dinner together we left everyone at the table and ran outside Madiba Restaurant in Fort Green, Brooklyn(I LOVE THIS PLACE!!) http://www.madibarestaurant.com/ and snapped a couple of quick shots.
These shots were taken at dusk a couple of doors down from the restaurant in 3 different locations at F1.4 , 85mm, without flash. Some retouching in LR. No retouching in photoshop.
I will miss her greatly! Auf Wiedersehen my friend until we meet again.
June 25, 2013
I had the opportunity to have my first gallery event on June 22, 2013. It felt strange to me that I was not the one taking the pictures. I seldom go to events where I am not the photographer. I worried about a myriad of things; is there enough light, is the photographer capturing all the special moments, my family, my mum (who flew in from London for the event) my friends? Over one hundred people showed up and needless to say the evening got so busy that after the first 10 minutes I don't remember seeing the photographer and can't remember him leaving.
Putting together a photography exhibition required much more planning, knowledge, and money than I ever imagined! Given only six weeks to prepare (which is an incredibly short amount of time) I felt that I was in a "now or never" situation. So I jumped in with two feet pulling my oh-so talented family members with me. My fantastic sponsors (Ms. Cresta Mentor, Philip Howard Residents Association, 7-11, Dawn's Catering, Murray's Framing and Angela's Cookies) they provided me with resources for a memorable evening.
I didn't have time to shoot a body of work and needed 42 pictures for the space. I decided on a portrait collection. I felt the pictures had mass appeal, highlighted several styles and could be weaved together easily to tell a story. Thus "Life in Squares" was born. "Life in Squares" are portraits that chronicle snapshots of the lives of people from a diverse range of backgrounds. All portraits are accompanied by text that tell a story not only individually but collectively. The last picture in the collection is captioned with "Life is a Dream live yours to the fullest!" "Life in Squares" is all about stepping out of our comfort zones and doing something a little different. I stepped out. The things I have learned and the people I have met has been amazing. June 22nd was a dream for me. Step out and see what you discover.
*Thank you to my amazing family for your love and support. And a BIG thank you to Syndor Cinema and Duality Productions for capturing the event.