Hunting With Ian

Hunter crouches in the woods with his rifle and cell phone

The strangest thing about hunting was how quiet and still it was. Ian emphasized this before we went out — that it became a meditation, to stand or sit for hours in the woods and just observe, and he loved it for that.

At first I treated it like a game, to be a statue like this. I didn’t turn my head. I didn’t shift my weight. My breathing shallow, my heart an oyster buried in sand. Just the field in front of me, and my eyes scanning, back and forth, or settling in the waving reeds. For a minute, two minutes, what is time any more. When you’re listening with this much expectation, everything begins to sound like an approaching animal, and your eyes dart — is this the moment? Do we spring into action now?

After a while it would feel like a spell had been cast. What if I’ve forgotten how to move, I’d wonder. I’d test it out, slowly. Can I bend my knee, just a little? And every time there would be a moment, before effort overcame inertia, when the answer seemed to be no, motion is no longer possible, time has stopped perhaps forever, and the magic and the power of that was terrifying. And then suddenly — perceptible only by feeling — my knee would bend.

Full album: here.

Card Game Beginnings in the Park

Moby Dick card game creators walk through Battery Park

I connected with some old college friends at a birthday party, and they told me they were in the middle of making a Moby Dick card game. “We’ve got it all designed and written out, now we’re just going to make a Kickstarter page to raise money to make it. Oh, actually — would you want to take photos while we film that, to help our page?”

Yeah sure! You guys are awesome and consistently make awesome things.

Caleb holds mic in the park

The forecast had been for rain or “wintry mix,” but it turned out to be the first really spring-like evening we had, and I felt drunk on sunshine, taking my black parka off and leaving it in a pile while they worked. A gaggle of tourists flooded the scene and filming stopped. “I’m just gonna take like five minutes of ya time!” the guide yelled. “You guys cool for five minutes?” Crash crash, said the ocean.

Later, walking along the pier to the subway stop, a turkey would wobble its way across my path and eye me curiously, as if I was the out of place thing in this park, and in the parking lot a bus driver would lean out of his window and yell to his friend “hey! You want some of these pecans?” I’d turn my head, because it felt like the kind of day when a stranger might offer something like that.

When I emerged in Midtown, the sun had set, and the freezing rain had begun to fall.

Done! Hurray!

Before the Battery Died

Avery Fisher Hall

Hurricane Sandy hit on the evening I was supposed to shoot a fundraising gala for a choral society. The gala was canceled, but we still needed photos for an upcoming audio piece, so a few days post-storm I took the apocalyptic shuttle — with its block-winding hoards of people, all making calls to friends and relatives out of state to exclaim Oh. My. God, you would not believe how crazy this is, I’m going to be like three hours late to work, or raising their smartphones into the air to Instagram and immediately Tweet the moment — into Manhattan to shoot the chorale’s rehearsal.

The rehearsal was for a concert they were having that night; one of the few they have in the year. We couldn’t record any material at the concert itself, but after the rehearsal I realized I had little else to do, beyond take the terrible shuttle back home to my cookie-filled apartment. So I walked from Chelsea to Avery Fisher Hall, thinking I would at least get photos of the crowds lining up for the concert.

Of course: this was a few days post-Sandy. Most people still didn’t have electricity or hot water. Many trains weren’t running.

I hadn’t been to Avery Fisher Hall before and I was following the walking directions from my phone, a little cold and bewildered, readjusting my laptop and gear on my back. Suddenly I turned a corner and there it was, glittering in the dark. There weren’t many people bustling in front of its snowy fountain, but those who had made it had come in ironed clothes, a splash of cologne, polished shoes, curled hair, lipstick. I got out my camera and hunched in front of a doorframe to rest my legs, contentedly waiting for something to enter the frame. The air was cool and wet, and inside, the show was going on.

I would take ten, maybe fifteen photos before my camera’s battery died, its spare back home in Brooklyn (lesson learned: third time); I would sit there with my dead camera for a while to rest and watch the couples lean on each others arms. I would decide to walk as far as I could home to prove something to myself; I would make it four, five, six? who can say anymore hours to the Brooklyn Bridge when, exhausted and hungry, I would see a policewoman smile and gesture at the open doors to an empty shuttle. “Going to Brooklyn?” she’d ask. The city felt like a slumber party lock-in then, with its dark empty streets, freshly polished by the storm; teenagers giggling on corners, storefronts dark and taquerias buzzing warmth and the drunkenness of wild surrender. Being here felt like you were in on a secret. When night fell, anything could happen. I got on the shuttle with no idea where it was going, really, beyond toward home.

Backstage at the Nutcracker

Backstage at the Nutcracker

Oh hey guys, what’s up. It’s been a while. The good news is . . . I have been doing all the things! And more importantly documenting all those things! And then storing all of those things on memory cards and then responsibly external harddrives and then extra responsibly backing up those things! And then . . . doing more things without looking at any of the previous things! VROOM GO GO GO!

So January has been a whirlwind of processing catch-up, but now I finally have something to show for it. First, here’s a slideshow of photos from backstage at the Hopkins Youth Ballet’s performance of Nutcracker.

Sad Mouse

Gingerbread Boy

I always forget that kids live in a different universe than adults do. I had been backstage for maybe five minutes when suddenly a pair of arms were wrapped around my waist; the East Coast instincts I’ve been struggling to cultivate almost let out an alarmed shriek. I looked down to see a tiny blonde head. “ADRIANNE!!!! I love you.” Who the hell is this, I wondered in a panic, before her mother turned the corner and waved. Oh! Right, the neighbor’s little girl.

She took my hand. “We’re best friends now!” she said. “Want to come with me?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “I’ll follow you anywhere. What are you up to?”

Full album: here.

Outtake From September

From a shoot Maggie and I did for her Mafia Trivia night at Pizza LucĂ©. We’d both gotten up early to be there before they opened for the brunch crowd, and the manager was lovely enough to bring us a whole pot of coffee (not to mention later, gluten-free eggs benedicts) while we clambered all over his restaurant.

Once we’d finished balancing poor Maggie on towers of canned tomatoes and dangling her off the booth — some legitimately dangerous poses that she managed to make look totally comfortable, in heels — we noticed the lipstick on her diner cup. “That is the classiest thing I have ever seen,” I said. “All you need is a newspaper.”

Miss you, Maggie.