Jamie & Shawn
Bear Mill Estate
May 26th, 2018
For the first wedding that I photographed in 10 years, I could not have asked for a couple with a more beautiful love than Jamie & Shawn.Read More
I've been going back and forth over the past week over whether or not to tie #NotForYou into the #MeToo movement which has swept social media. Sexual Harassment is such an important topic to talk about, and Not For You obviously has very direct ties to this epidemic. I have been cautious though because I am more than aware that I am a white-passing male photographer who is photographing topless women and the last thing that I want is to profit off of further exploitation of the female body, especially using a movement that is fighting that very thing.
So ultimately I decided that the best way to go about this is to share the stories that have been shared with me. Not For You is not about me. It is not for me. It was never meant to be. Not For You became what it is, grew to what it is now because of these strong, powerful, and inspiring women. NFY exists to promote strength in unity and diversity. It exists to give these women another platform to raise their voices a little bit louder and get their message a little further. I do not want to speak for them, I simply want to use my voice and my inherent privilege to further promote them as they speak for themselves. I'm going to shut up now because I've already talked more than I planned to.
"I had no idea." "I've never noticed anything." "Really? I don't ever see anything." "Do you curse?" "Can't you just....not?" "I bet you took advantage of it in school all the time."
These are some of the most common things said to me when people find out that I have Tourette's Syndrome. Tourette's is seemingly very well known in the public, yet very few people have any genuine grasp on what it actually entails. The vast majority of people assume that it's a disorder that causes people to curse randomly, or maybe make some weird movements with their arms. It is so much more than that.
For me, symptoms came about very early in life, around 3 or 4 years old, although I wasn't diagnosed until I was nearly 13 years old. My worst years were those when I was undiagnosed. Not only were my tics quite extreme and disruptive, but the fact that I had no idea what was going on, let alone my parents or teachers, caused me to stress, which caused the tics to get even worse, so on and so forth in a vicious cycle. In many ways, I became an artist because of my tics. I would channel my excess energy into sketching and doodling endlessly. There is not a single inch of empty space in my notebooks from school because my pen was constantly on the move, half the time not even drawing anything at all. The simple motion of pen on paper was enough to help calm the need to do....something. Anything. Everything.
To be honest though, I got lucky. Maybe because I've lived with them for longer than I can remember, but I was able to teach myself mental exercises to exhibit a degree of control over my tics. They were never ever fully under my control, nor will they ever be, but I was able to direct them at least, to a degree. When people tell me they had no idea I have TS, my response is generally "That's because I have a quarter-centruy of practice ensuring that you don't." I've taught myself to watch people and to catch the tiny little moments they would not be looking at me, when they would look at their phone, when they would blink or sneeze, or look past me or elsewhere. I was constantly on the look out for these minuscule moments to get whatever tic out that I needed to get out.
But I'm not about that life anymore. I am done hiding my tics, especially considering i wasn't hiding them for my own sake, but for other people. I was hiding them so other people wouldn't feel uncomfortable around me. I'm done with that. The Tourette's community is full of wonderful and beautiful souls and it's about time that we celebrate that. I am an artist, I have a voice and it's past due that I use that voice to scream (voluntarily) from the rooftops that we are not ashamed of who we are.
I've titled this piece Mutiny because that is what happens to us on a constant basis. Our brains are quite literally running a mutiny on our body every single minute of every single day of our lives. We are forced to do things that we do not want to do because our brains do not work like they should. We have a neurochemical imbalance. Our brains either produce too much dopamine, or the neurotransmitters are too sensitive to dopamine (there is still a lot of research that needs to happen with TS, it's relatively new.)
And these urges do not just manifest physically and vocally. That's just the tip of the iceberg. The real war happens inside of our brains. The psychological impact of Tourette's is far more powerful than anyone without it realizes. I myself at the age of 27 still continue to have revelations as to just how much this neurological disorder has shaped my life. Just as we have physical and vocal urges that we have to carry out, the same is true of mental thought processes. You know the classic idea of someone telling you not to think of pink elephants, so of course you're going to then think of pink elephants, it's similar to that.
And that's just Tourette's. It's very rare for people with TS to *just* have TS, they usually also have some combination and degree of ADHD, OCD, Depression, Anxiety, are prone to fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum, and a whole range of other neurological and mental disorders.
I apologize that this is quite rambling and all over the place. But i felt it was more appropriate for my writing on Tourette's to be slightly disjointed and stream of conscious, because it is quite representative of how many brain works, jumping from one idea to the next to the next to the next.
In conclusion, to those of you out there that are unfamiliar, please, i implore you, ask questions. The last thing we want is for you to awkwardly pretend like nothing is happening or to make assumptions because you don't want to offend us. No question is too stupid. If you approach us with genuine curiosity, a willingness to listen and learn, and an open heart, chances are that you will make our day. We want to be heard. We want to talk about what we live with. We want to promote education and discussion within the general public. No one is served by hiding away and pretending like it doesn't exist. That is nothing but a disservice to us and to you. Open and honest communication, as in all aspects of life, is key.
Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States of America.
I have never before experienced the combination of disappointment, confusion, loneliness and terror that I did that night. I never thought that I would live to see my country, a country that I love deeply, a country which has given my family so much, commit such a deplorable act onto itself.Read More
2016 is starting off quite wonderfully!! I'm just now sitting down to edit some shots from my first day back on set in the new year, working in Havertown/West Chester on reshoots for the pilot of Tenants, one of the funniest productions I've ever been on.
But let's just right into the elephant in the room as seen above..
I'm going to be having my first ever solo exhibition in a few weeks!!!
I'll be displaying 12-15 images at Cappelli Bro's Cigar Company downtown, a personal favorite spot of mine in the city. Back when I lived on Passyunk I would hike up here once or twice a week and enjoy a cigar, a few drinks, and the wonderful company that passes through this great joint. I originally began to patronize the lounge because an old childhood friend started tending bar there, and I quickly became a regular after I fell in love with the atmosphere there, a BYO bar on the first floor, with a sofa lounge in the basement. I've never been there and NOT entered into a fascinating conversation with a complete stranger. One time I even ended up getting a personal backstage tour of The Lion King when it was in town last summer thanks to a connection I made at the bar.
Point being, I absolutely adore this place and the people who work there and couldn't be more ecstatic that I get to have my first ever solo show on their walls.
Ok, wow, I haven't updated this in almost exactly a year. Lots and lots to catch up on...where to start, where to start....
I had one hell of an impromptu adventure last October. So it's a Saturday morning, I'm sitting in my living room, eating breakfast and watching tv. My phone rings, it's an unknown number. I never pick up unknown numbers. But, just a few days prior, I had given my number to a coworker to hang out, so for once, I picked up.
Wasn't a coworker, it was my former professor, Andrea Modica, asking if I would be willing to drive her up to New England in 2 hours to assist on an assignment for the New York Times. I was speechless and not really sure what to say, considering this was this last phone call in the world I was expecting to get in my pajamas as I was eating pancakes. Having just received the assignment an hour before, she explained that we would be photographing a journalist who was just 5 weeks earlier released from two years of captivity in Syria.
Needless to say, two hours later, my bags were packed, and shortly we were on the road deep into New England.
Theo Padnos, American Journalist, on Being Kidnapped, Tortured and Released in Syria
In the early morning hours of July 3, one of the two top commanders of Al Qaeda in Syria summoned me from my jail cell. For nearly two years, he had kept me locked in a series of prisons. That night, I was driven from a converted schoolroom outside the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, where I was being held, to an intersection of desert paths five minutes away. When I arrived, the commander got out of his Land Cruiser. Standing in the darkness amid a circle of men trapped in Kalashnikovs, he smiled. "Do you know who I am?" he asked.
“Certainly,” I said. I knew him because he visited me in my cell once, about eight months earlier, and lectured me about the West’s crimes against Islam. Mostly, however, I knew him by reputation. As a high commander of the Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, he controlled the group’s cash and determined which buildings were blown up and which checkpoints attacked. He also decided which prisoners were executed and which were released.
He wanted to make sure I knew his name. I did, and I repeated it for him: Abu Mariya al-Qahtani. “You are our Man of Learning,” I added, using the term — sheikhna — that his soldiers used to refer to him.
“Good,” he said. “You know that ISIS has us surrounded?”
I did not know this.
He shrugged his shoulders. “Not to worry. They won’t get me. They won’t get you. Everywhere I go, you go. Understand?” I nodded.
Shortly after one thirty in the morning, we arrived at the house where Theo had been living with his mother in the weeks since his release. We were deep in the mountains, zero cell reception. Theo's wonderful mother was more than gracious enough to allow us to spend the night in the house because it turns out we traveled there in the peak of leaf season, and every hotel in the state was booked. Leaf season. It's a thing.
We awoke to a beautiful frost on the grounds around the house, which were extensive and picturesque, completely surrounded by mountains bursting with every color you can possibly associate with those weeks when all traces of summer are gone, yet its still a few precious weeks until winter truly sets in. In other words, my most favorite time of the year. There was a great feeling of warm, enveloping security, despite the frost, yet also a freedom and liberty that can only be found in the escapes from city and industry. All in all, I couldn't have pictured a more perfect place for someone to rest and recover after the unfathomable experience Theo went through. How diametrically opposed this Rockwellian picture of serenity must have been from his torture and captivity in a war-torn desert for twenty-two months. Being in those mountains for just 24 hours, I began to understand how he was able to run around barefoot, kicking a soccer ball, almost childlike, seemingly without a care in the world. Completely surrounded by nature's last explosion of color and life before it settles in for the winter, and the coming spring as the seasons recycle round and round, this was sheer joy in the simple act of enjoying freedom and life.
Spending the day with Theo was an unbelievable experience. Even more so was being able to watch Andrea, a master photojournalist, a former professor, and a friend, at work. Andrea works with a large format camera, 8x10. That is a massive, hulking beast of a camera, most publicly known for Civil War battlefield photos. The depth of clarity, and the amount of control over the image is to this day still unachievable by digital. She wields it with precision and purpose.
Here are some photos I quickly snapped when I wasn't busy with assisting duties:
A few weeks ago I accepted a position with John Wind Maximal Art Jewelry Studio down in Aston. I am very very excited about this new chapter and the fresh challenges that it brings. This is an environment in which I feel that I'll really be able to grow and learn as an artist.
You can see my work at Maximal Art
Here's a few candid shots from my first day.
30th & Market
State & Princeton
Broad & JFK
G & Erie
Did a quick promo shoot with Huey McBanjo, a fantastically talented banjoer and bluegrass singer, at Connie's Ric Rac down in the Italian Market. Huey will be providing live entertainment at the premiere of Like, a short which I've been working on as production photographer and social media coordinator. Like premieres Friday, June 6th at the International House.