Monday, August 26, 2013

"climb to the top"

What a great  slogan for lifetime goals for young people: "Reach/climb to the top"

Shooting young people working their hardest to reach the top of this portable climbing wall set up by the NYPD made me think of how nice it would be if education was valued more in this country, maybe as highly as sports are? If reaching one's learning potential was encouraged, supported and rewarded?

As a former teacher, I always tried to set high standards for my students. "Mr. Belisle - do you think this is college! We're still in high school." But when they realized they could do things they considered nearly impossible, like reciting Shakespeare from memory, they glowed in their achievement and wanted to be challenged more.

So, let our young people strive to "Climb to the top!"

Friday, August 23, 2013

another step forward

"I like your work, Alex. You know that."

This is what President Lenny Caro (dude with the cool moustache) of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce told me yesterday and now it looks like I'll be their chief event photographer.

Reinvention is looking pretty good so far. Should I credit the "critical lens" of my camera or just plain luck? But once again there's a social dynamic that must be acknowledged: being connected helps one in just about any endeavor. Lenny and I hit it off immediately since we met when I started as a photographer for my local newspaper.

Where is all this good fortune taking me? I don't know but I sure do like the ride!

Monday, August 19, 2013

a major step forward

Shooting for NIKE Basketball (NYC)

Never thought I would get this far while "reinventing" myself but here I am - shooting for NIKE here in NYC. And it all happened because I was shooting basketball for my personal enjoyment and I happened to bump into a person who made this all happen.

So, as many people believe, it's who you know rather than what you know but I do know a little something about photography. Not much but enough to get published.

This past weekend I shot the NIKE Tournament of Champions at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and lo and behold, I saw one of my photographs, blown-up and hanging in one of their photograph hallways in the gym where the games were being played.

Now I wait and see where this will take my photography career. I'll be perfectly happy from now on to shoot local NYC events. Besides being around a sport I love, the money is great also!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

finally - the historic W. 4th St. basketball court

Ever since I could play basketball well enough to play in outdoor tournaments, W. 4th St. always came up either in conversations, or basketball related literature I read. It had a larger than life aura, a place where basketball icons were created, the only place on an equal footing with the Rucker courts.

I had visited it a few times but never played there nor "worked" there as a photog. Today I did and I'll never forget it. One can't avoid noticing the electricity that exudes from both inside and outside this court. Both basketball aficionados and tourists passing by get pulled in magnetically to the games being played. You just can't just walk by.

Do you love basketball? If you do, come on by.

You won't regret it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

meet Flaco Navaja

Ever meet someone whose face said to you, "There's something very interesting about this person but I'm not sure what it is?" Well, I met that someone on a newspaper shoot I did recently and watching him through the critical lens of my camera, I realized that this certain someone had charisma to spare!

Here's a brief bio: Biography

Flaco Navaja is a singer, poet, actor, who is born and raised in the Bronx. He sings in both Spanish and English and has toured with various groups across the globe.

If Héctor Lavoe Boxed Rubén Blades and KRS-1 was the referee you'd get Flaco. A Nostalgic old sound with brand new spoken word.

Navaja’s original style of poetry combines singing, beat-boxing, and spoken word. He was the host of the legendary open mic showcase; “All That! Hip Hop Poetry & Jazz” at the famous Nuyorican Poets' Cafe. He has performed at national and international venues and events. In 2003, he toured internationally with the Tony Award winning Russell Simmons' DEF POETRY JAM and he has appeared on four episodes of the HBO series.

Navaja is a member of Screen Actors Guild and has appeared in several films & television shows. Including PRIDE & GLORY, FIGHTING, GUN HILL ROAD, LAW & ORDER, CSI NY and new webseries EASTWILL

You should check this guy out. He's creative, funny, sings well, does great vocal impressions, moves well and  . . . . I guess one can say he has the whole package.

He doesn't know it but I used to have hair just like his. (back in the day - way back in the day, lol)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

new bike lanes don't mean we're bike-friendly

Riding bikes in NYC can be treacherous even if you're riding in designated bike lanes. It seems that many NYC drivers would rather not share the road with bicycles. I've always wondered why this is so?

I'm of the mind that it has something to do with our culture where cars reign supreme and many people don't or won't get enough exercise? But sometimes I've felt like I was a threat. Let me explain.

If you're fit, wearing those colorful skintight lycra bike outfits, you are vicariously getting into the heads of drivers who might wish they could be as fit as you are and have your body. Just a theory of mine, mind you. But there might also be a selfish motive also.

Why should I share the road with slower bicycles when they don't even pay taxes that are used to maintain our roads? The problem with this thinking is that, guess what? - we also pay taxes. When I said this to a female driver once who honked and yelled at me to get off the road, she became livid. In that moment I felt like she could've killed me simply based on how angry she was.

Okay. Now we have more bike lanes and CitiBikes (with bikes to rent by time with multiple docking stations throughout Manhattan) which are being used at a more frequent rate than people thought they would.

But I still feel uncomfortable riding in the street so I take out my mountain bike and hit the trails.

Ever see an angry, livid squirrel? No, I didn't think so.

Monday, August 5, 2013

close ups

It's amazing how willing people are to have their pictures taken if they think they will show up in a newspaper. Maybe Andy Warhol was right when he mentioned how most of us seek after a few minutes of fame. But there is another reality.

Females absolutely love to have their pictures taken. Even if they initially demure, after a few moments give in and after a few photos they will pose freely. And for many photographers getting good portraits, especially silhouettes is a joy.

Here's a secret: portraits look better in black and white. It makes the eye see clearly delineated areas of importance that help to define character that pervades our facial anatomy. Take a look at these same facial close ups in black and white. Do they look better ?

Now you've seen them. What do you think?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

faces of jazz

How does music move you? What does your face do? Do you even have control of how it looks or do the musical frequencies resonate so strongly through you that your soul takes over. Maybe that's why there's a category called "soul music?"

These faces were from a Latin jazz (Afro-Cuban) concert given by Bobby Sanabria at the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in the Bronx. And Bobby made sure that his audience was fully apprised of the rich musical heritage of the Bronx - much more than I bet you ever realized.

See that spiral staircase. That's an example of a Fibonacci spiral. (Look it up) The most beautiful forms are those from nature and I include sounds in this category. When we as humans engage with these artifacts of beauty we are immersed in that which is beautiful. That's what makes us feel good.

Good music. Good architecture. Good faces.

". . . any place jazz is played is a sacred place . . . " - ArtBlakey