The Year of Good People

2011 will never be my favorite year, but if there is one recurring theme that is good, it’s the people.

A year ago I was back in Denmark for the first time in half a decade to experience one last Christmas with my mother. My mother had aggressive Cancer and died on the following Mother’s Day. This is the experience to which all other experiences of 2011 are compared, at least in terms of personal impact. If you have lost a loved one, I don’t need to say more. If you haven’t, then good for you.

It was the toughest year of my life, so far. After my mother passed away, my wife got hit with Cancer. Major surgery was followed by radiation treatments. The last of which will be over just before new years eve. My mother was going through treatments a year ago, but it wasn’t enough for her. In Kelly’s case, they caught the Cancer early. Things are hopeful, as well as painful.

I have spent a lot of time being a caregiver this year. It continues to be my most important job, until Kelly is well. It’s rewarding because I get to take care of someone who is extremely important to me. And sometimes it is incredibly hard for that very same reason. But life is not all bad.

When the stress of medical bills started piling up alongside the health related anxiety, two friends we have never even met started a benefit drive, and in less than 24 hours the bills were taken care of. Elizabeth and Ryan, I cannot thank you enough for what you did, and the same goes for the hundreds of people who showed their support.

My personal project – Another Passion – started out strong and took a back seat when Kelly’s health went down hill, but not before Lily had signed on as the first regular contributor. He work has been crucial and kept me at least a tiny bit responsible and on task.

Two comedians, Paul and Storm, have provided more awesomesauce in 2011 than they are probably aware of. Twice, they let me come take pictures of them performing. They even made me part of the show. You know you’ve had a bad year, when one of the highlights is tripping over a hole in the stage floor, interrupting Wil Wheaton mid story in front of a packed venue of laughing nerds. I had a blast that night. And at the other Paul and Storm gig, I took pictures of Hank Green – who liked them so much, he put several in his new album, Ellen Hardcastle.

Good people have carried me through 2011, and no one more so than Kelly. In spite of her own ordeal, she has remained loving and supporting of everything I do – no matter how scattered my efforts or lacking my follow-through. I am lucky to have met her, and I treasure every day we have together. She is amazing.

Looking back at the year 2011, I feel blessed by having met, worked and played with many kind, inspiring people. Many, many more than I could ever name in a blog post. I also feel closer to my wife than ever before. So I guess, even the awfulness that is Cancer is not without a bright side. That said, I will be glad to see it gone.

Here’s to a healthier, happier 2012 for all!

Two Weekends of Live Performance Photography

Since Thanksgiving is upon us, I would like to share something I am thankful for. Recently I had the pleasure of photographing two very awesome and different shows, two weekends in a row. It was the first real work since Kelly had surgery. She is recovering nicely, but has since started follow-up treatment which comes with its own unpleasantires. Her prognosis is good and she is a trooper, and so the time was right for me to get back to work. I was nervous. I felt rusty, still shaken after a run-in with some paranoid private investigators who happened to be at a client’s place of business that I was photographing. Long story short, it had been a rough few months and I was in need of a break.

Jason Webley’s Night of Elevens

The first concert I shot was Jason Webley‘s 11-11-11 concert at The Moore theater. It came about through a question in a short e-mail: would I like to cover the concert, which was the culmination of a year of massive touring and over 200 gigs? Webley had invited a host of friends, performers and fellow musicians to drop in and add some flavor to the show. And what a fantastic show it was. So riveting at times that I had to put my camera down and just watch. Other times I caught myself doing just that, when I really ought to have been taking more photos.

I shot a few hundred frames that night, and for a moment forgot everything else in the world. There was just the work and the music. These are the kind of experiences I live for as a photographer, when you’re in the zone and the camera almost becomes an extension of your body. Also, it was great meeting one of my favorite authors – Neil Gaiman – with whom I also share a connection to…

A W00tstock Surprise!

Comedians Paul and Storm are half of the master minds behind the traveling geek fest that is w00tstock, and also the subject of my second photo shoot. Having photographed them twice before, returning to the Triple Door to shoot the Wil Wheaton vs. Paul and Storm show was something I had been looking forward to for a while. It was – as all w00tstock productions – a show with many friends involved as well, in this case they were co-hosting with Wil Wheaton (Star Trek the Next Generation), and were backed up by drummer Jason Finn (Presidents of the United States of America), Molly Lewis and John Roderick (The Long Winters). Oh, and apparently – me!

This is something I have definitely never done before as a photographer: early in the show, I was called out and introduced to the audience as the guy who’d be walking around on stage, taking pictures of the performers in action. Not in front of the stage, but on it! This was of course just as awesome and amazing as it sounds, but also a bit of a challenge. Not so much the stage part – I’m fine with making a fool of myself in front of hundreds of people – but I quickly realized how ingrained it is in me not to be in people’s way while covering an event. Stepping out between performer and audience just felt wrong! So I stuck mostly to the sidelines. Mostly.

These experiences were wonderful and just what I needed to revitalize. I am super thankful for being invited in and being able tell kind of stories my camera loves, to follow the process and even become part of the show. That is pretty cool, inspiring and motivating – and definitely something to be thankful for.

Here is a slide show from each of the events.