Light and easy

Last night Ester needed help on a paper she’s working on for english.  The assignment was to argue for or against the statement “AI will become Frankenstein’s monster.”  There were and handful articles and videos she could use to support her position and she was required to have at least three paragraphs, each using three quotes for the sources to prove her argument.  BLAH.  No pun intended but it was a monster of an assignment and now, here we were, on the evening of the eve of delivery and it wasn’t complete.   Full disclosure, she had asked me for help earlier in the week and I did put it off for absolutely no good reason.  Gun to the head I procrastinated because I didn’t feel like spending my evening editing a middle school english paper on AI.  

So rewind back to last night, 9pm, when she reminds me (again) that the first draft is due tomorrow (today) and I haven’t helped her to edit and she’s “asked me so many times” and I feel a familiar sense of failure creeping-in around the edges.  A wave of shame pushes up from my belly and breaks over my chest.  I can see on Ester how stressed she is, how worried this paper has her.  The weight of her life pushes on my middle girl more than is fair.  She’s only thirteen but the stress has made her shoulders rise and her head and neck slightly fall.  I look at her and she is crumpling in front of me and it’s not right.  She was my baby girl yesterday.  She  was 51cm long liked to nuzzle into my neck when peaking over my shoulder.  She was warm against my chest when we would fall asleep together.  Her eyes were alive and curious and frenetic, even when we would argue.  Especially when we would argue. 

And we’re arguing now.  Not loudly or forcefully, but arguing all the same about how I can’t write the paper for her.  About how, if she was in such a bad position, all she needed to do was to explain so I could get involved earlier.  I hear all of these words coming out of my mouth about responsibility and planning and I know that they’re hollow–she did try to come to me.  She maybe didn’t tell me the whole story but she did come to me and I just brushed it off, treating it with null importance.  I’m the one who gave the slide handle another turn.  Not her.  I realize I’m looking down and look up to see her face.     

Her eyes are scared and sad and defeated and I can’t tell where the stress with the assignment ends and her disappointment with me begins.  Deep breath.  I pull up a chair next to her, determined to fix things.  Over the course of the next two hours I explain, we discuss, she questions, we formulate and reformulate and take turns typing and it’s done.  The draft of course but my baby girl is back too.  There were a few small tears shed earlier that are gone now leaving pink stained eyes staring back at me.  She’s thankful but more than anything I can feel her relief.  I wonder how much of that relief is because the assignment’s complete and how much of it is because I was there for her.  She packs her bag quickly and I send her off to bed.  When she walks away her steps are light and easy.  Maybe some of the weight is gone now and it makes me think of this time we were at the beach after she got her new hat.  

She was happy that day…  

LeicaM7, 35mm Cron, Kodak Tri-X +1 at the Icon.  


The art of self portraits has been severely cheapened to nothingness with the advent of forward facing cameras on mobile phones and social media.  The selfie has jammed a jagged straw into the jugular of self-portraiture and sucked it bone dry like Dracula at a blood-bank.  Sure they’re fun to take.  We can stand in front of some pop-art installation or in front of our favorite coffee shop or wherever and snap away like crack and pop.  We can duck face, purse, and sexy-face ourselves like crazy.  Then we digitally add reindeer antlers and a red nose and don’t we look cute?  Or now we’re in a shower covered in bubbles or now we have anime eyes or now we look like trolls and holy shit what fun I think I’ll take 100 more.  Snapchat and Insta and Facebook oh my. 

I’m hitting the bat signal.  What the world needs now and like never before, is a series of well-considered, perfectly composed, balanced and executed, Birkenstock-clad, artsy-as-fuck, Kodak-moment, self-portraits of the man with the plan from the street with the beat… 

So enjoy world and raise your glass with me.  This bud’s for you.     

A is for accident

On the days leading up to that trip to Ikea a couple weeks back, I had an aching feeling.  Anyone who has shot long enough with the same camera–especially film cameras with a bevy of mechanical bits–can tell you with some degree of accuracy when something isn’t right.  It can be the slightest bit of damping in a ring or stickiness in a dial and you know, balls to bones that something is messed-up.  More often than not, when I feel those sensations my first reaction is to chalk it all up to paranoia.  The logical mind takes over and the same line of reasoning prevails.  I shot the camera earlier and it was fine.  The last roll was fine, it’s all in my head.  This is all bullshit of course because it’s actually not in my head, I can feel it in my hands but I ignore that because I just want it to be ok.  

Well while I was out shooting before the Ikea pilgrimage I knew something was up.  I pushed it to the back of my mind because I had been having a phenomenal day.  The images were appearing right in front of me in slow motion.  All I had to do was frame and click at a leisurely pace and out would come photographic-gold.  There were at least 10 and maybe even 12 or so that I was certain were keepers.  Certain.  But all the while, the nagging feeling was there, all the way in the back of my mind, slowly running it’s nails down the chalkboard coated inner-wall of my skull.  The film advance had felt wrong… too little resistance.  When I would advance and cock it didn’t feel right at all.  I only had maybe two shots left on the roll but it was still nagging me when we arrived at Ikea.  

On the walk through the parking lot to in the entrance there was some beautiful light streaming in from an open section of the ceiling, casting beautiful triangular shadows on a wall with little windows cut in it.  People were walking behind the wall and popping up in the cutouts, so I timed it out and made frames 37 and 38.  When the frame advance cocked passed 38 to 39, I felt the bottom drop out.  I shot out 39 and when it advanced again I knew I was fucked.  

Down with the rewind-lever and spin the rewind-crank and I know immediately that for the first time in four years I haven’t loaded the Leica right.  After one turn all tension goes out of the crank and I open the bottom.   


I take out the completely unused roll of Tri-X, sit it on a bench near by to angry to even look at it and walk away.  Anna Maria was watching and knew immediately what had happened.  She told me how sorry she was for me while I loaded up a fresh roll, careful to test the tension after loading and exposed passed my head-frame just to see the crank turn.  Admittedly the rest of the day went fine and I made some images at Ikea that I really enjoyed but I know what I lost.  On the way out of the chaos that is Ikea, we stopped to get a bag of lördagsgodis each.  While we were heading back to the car AM was walking behind that same wall.  It was later in the day and the interesting shadows were gone, but I still managed to catch her, eating salt lakris and looking terribly guilty.  There was even a letter “A” behind her.  Neat.  I looked over at the bench and the devil roll was gone.  Like a bad penny that one.   

Shot on a Leica M7 with a 35mm Cron, on Kodak Tri-X film pushed to 800 at the Icon, loaded by a moron.  

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