What makes New York so beautiful is not the trash-filled streets it's the freedom to do and be whoever you want.
I'm going home Saturday just for one night. I'm nervous about it. I will enjoy the moments, being with people I love, and the nature surrounding us but I won't enjoy the limiting mindset of a small town. The collective contentment is defining. An education system that never allowed us to dream. There are good families here but I can't even ride my bike around time without getting crushed by a drunk driver. Can't walk around and take photos without getting the cops called on me. Can't walk by my neighbors and bullshit about the coffee and the weather without looking like a weirdo. It's a different lifestyle than I am used to right now. In the past I had gone home to only make the best out of it, hike in the woods spend time with loved ones pretty typical stuff. Now after much internal conflict and realizations, I have come to see Connecticut as the end of my dreams. A crutch in a pretty cloak. This isn't true for everybody but for me and my aspirations, it cannot work. It took me a long time to realize that but for the rest of my days, I'll just be passing through.
Go skate day and the underlying topic is indecision. It resides at the top of my throat like acid reflux or a half-chewed Dorito that won't make its way down. Every gulp of water only lodges it deeper into the in between. A dangerous place for a cheesy snack from hell or any human. "The in between." I've been here before and I have never given my all to the things I am indecisive about. The important thing is to get out of this area fast. Make a decision stick with it.
Indecision works in a damaging way, it strips you of your identity. It can start with something as simple as, "I don't know where to go on vacation". Understandable but there are a million great options out there. Pick one it's very unlikely you will be disappointed. These leads me to smaller examples of indecision which I believe are the most damaging to your identity. Not knowing what you want to eat, what to wear, what to do tonight, stay in or go out? etc. Sticking with small decisions is the most import thing in building your identity and finding out what you want to do with your life. It may be painful sticking with these decisions at first for example if you decide to go out yet as soon as you get there you'd wished you had stayed home. It sucks but you made the decision be in the moment, embrace it, maybe leave a little early no harm in that. Here's a worse option go out, get there, regret it, "should I stay or should I go" leave, go home, you've now chopped your night into fragments.
You do not get to invest yourself or dive into things when you only taste them for a brief period of time. It is import to feel the pain of bad decisions they help us navigate away from those decisions in the future. If you avoid those small painless decisions you run the risk of being just a beginner, a taster of 7 free samples and still ordered the wrong kind of ice cream, an OMG there are too many options for me to handle kind of person. Don't get this twisted there is nothing wrong with being average or basic if you decide that is what you want to be, but if you are only average as a consequence of your lack of decision making, well then that is a tragedy.
There is a reason our culture is so obsessed with experts, celebrities, and pro athletes and that is because they are extraordinary in typically one area. What is the difference between us and them? They remove clutter and excess options from their lives. Narrow your focus, build your identity, become who you want to be. Or you can stay the same floating in an average purgatory for the rest of your days having never been the real you that is fighting to get out. If you want more than that, the simplest way is to start by making decisions now. Make the chose to try a new dish everytime you go to a restaurant. Give yourself 60 seconds to decide. Do not crumble or waste your time on tiny decisions, save that energy for the big ones.
There is no worse way to waste your life than by having no identity...even terrorists have an identity. It's a powerful thing. It can make you do amazing things or terrible things but it will make you do something which in my opinion is more iportant than doing nothing.
THE BIG HUGE. You know what I mean, that lingering feeling that you've been avoiding. Yeah the one you feel in your gut. Me too. It hit me this morning pretty hard. I can no longer act out of fear but instead I need to act out of love and in opposition of fear.
It's like throwing your first backflip on a snowboard or jumping off the high dive. It's hard to muster the confidence and it takes full commitment. Anything less is the grey area where people tend to get hurt. If you commit 100% the odds of you landing on your head or falling onto the diving boards below is much more unlikely.
Today I say dive in. Act in opposition of fear. Tackle what you have been avoiding because you're afraid of it but you wont let fear control you.
Holy shit this morning was off to such an amazing start till I met a guy named Penis.
There’s a lot of coffee shops in my neighborhood but only one that’s really tiny, really quiet, has wifi, and street parking that coincides with the Tuesday, Friday parking ban of my street.
So when I can’t park on my street I go to that coffee shop for two and a half hours to get work done.
That didn’t happen at all today.
I made an extensive and time scheduled to do list last night.
With hopes of getting some reading and some emailing done at the coffee shop I was abruptly introduced to a gay man named Penis.
Obviously a nickname his real name was Erik and he was extremely nice, but also extremely loud.
Come to think of it everything about Penis was extreme.
He was Excessively happy, boisterous, and I guess you could say he lacked a filter but he had great intentions.
The only problem was his intentions were to talk about how he used to do meth and new bands I should check out while I was trying to write an email.
My blood was boiling but my face was smiling.
Who could resist Penis.
Nobody was free from his conversation. He introduced himself to every patron, and then he would circle back to me and go hey Atticus can I sit next to you again?
Sits before I can answer.
Do you have a minute?
Shows me a new band before I can answer.
Then Penis decided to tell me about his 1920’s broach collection and show me one made out of abalone.
I shit you not he told me he had more broaches and that he’d like to give me one.
And then he left.
Just like that, sprinted away.
I was like fuck, fuck, fuck, get some work done before he gets back hurry send the fucking email.
Penis swore a lot too and it kinda rubbed off on me this morning.
5 minutes later who shows up with broaches for me as a gift?
So you see my conflict.
On one hand this guy is the sweetest most jubilant person I’ve ever met and on the other hand my to do list is like hey fucker it’s already 10am. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of Penis to show you guys. I left my phone at home because it's extremely distracting to me when I am trying to get work done, but guess what, I do have the broaches he gave me.
Please see below.
Never work in a coffee shop without headphones.
No one talks to someone with headphones on.
Although today is Monday I am going to talk about yesterday. Sundays are the best day to get creative. Why because it's a day to relax, to be stress free, not tackle the chores you've been putting off but rather to marry your creative vision with a fun project. You can be productive and have fun at the same time. Get your chores done Saturday morning or even Friday night and save Saturday and Sunday for care free creativity. These are the extra hours in the week where fun projects should be explored.
Yesterday Jourdan Miller , our makeup artist Madison Parker, and I worked on a color study. Photographs that follow a strict color pallet. We had a couple couple beers and enjoyed a fun and relaxed Sunday....but we still got a ton of shit done.
I love that feeling and I don't see why work needs to be so stern and serious all the time.
Some one once said to me that they could never take me seriously. Probably because I'm usually joking around, smiling, or being really sarcastic. With that being said I replied the only time to be serious is at a funeral....Just not my funeral. =))
I was offended though. I take myself very seriously, especially my work, planning and following through with my word. That comment years ago and shooting yesterday made me realize an outdated and underlying subconscious belief that many Americans have. That is that work can't be fun, or that if you do what you love it's free and if you do what you hate you can charge a lot for it. The list goes on and on but that is bullshit. I love having fun with my work and I love charging for it. I deserve to charge a lot for it. I taught myself and i work my ass off at it everyday.
Never take yourself too serious. Laugh. Enjoy your job. Learn something new on your off days. Life is already stressful enough, why not have some fun while your on this earth because guess what you can fail at what you don't love, so why not try doing something you do love.
Happy Monday! I hope you love what your doing right now or at least learning something new.
I really love living here. It is a testament to real life happening outside of your apartment. It is an electric feeling to walk down the street see someone dancing and to join in. To have a full blown conversation with the homeless man in your neighborhood and to know him on a first name basis. (Sammy) I love that I can go to any skatepark in NYC and know somebody now. In a city of ovr 8 million it seems I can't go anywhere with out running into someone. It's refreshing, and not in the way that you run into someone in your hometown, where they want to tell you about there boyfriend cheating on them while your pump your gas and make it to your doctors appointment on time. When I run into people here we only know each other from having common interests. It's fucking great. It makes running into someone a pleasure and if your on a mission they can feel it, New York moves fast.
The point I'm trying to make here is that I am feeling that i am becoming apart of a community and all you need to become part of your own is show up and be nice.
Forging your own path can be lonely and having a strong community makes all the difference.
What do you do for fun?
I used to have such a curiosity when I met people. Ever since I can remember I was full of questions. I would meet new people even people I already knew and I would ask so many questions and we would end up deep in a conversation about their relationship with their siblings, there favorite vacation spot, even why they love horseback riding so much. The possibility was endless but somewhere along the lines I stopped caring stopped asking and I am finding my way back to that. For a while my interests had narrowed. I think that shut me off to possibilities and relationships that could have been. I never lost my curiosity it was just more directed. I'm keeping that direction but in conversation I am there to learn with no direction. I am so interested in what shapes people, their journey and how they have navigated it.
This is why I ask people the same shit I asked when I was 8, 10, 15, 18 and I will ask this till I die, "what do you do for fun?"
You'd be amazed by how many people are absolutely stumped by this question and it's alarming. If you ask a child though, you'll see their face light up, they'll tell you they chase their brother, play angry birds, baseball, whatever but it's electric to be around. With adults it's the same way when someone tells me about their crocheting hobby and their damn passionate about it I can't help but to be interested.
I don't know where the problem comes from but in my best guess I think us Americans have been lied to. Our culture lives like we're in a video game and we will respawn once we die. We act as if this life is eternal and will never end. In part because none of us have died and come back to life at least not for more than a few minutes. When you step back and look at death as a part of life, it is so beautiful. It amazes me that one thing can power everything we do? That doesn't mean that death needs to consume us, but it is ever present.
A fun life. Isn't that what we all want? I know I do. That doesn't mean a life without pain because I believe all of the best things in life come from pain and struggle. Ex. a baby. Where did we lose site of that fun? Why is it then I ask someone what they do for fun they have no answer but drink and go out on the weekends. I guess I don't except that as a reasonable answer but that's everyones answer...thats a bleak life in my eyes. Standing spending all the hours of sweat and tears you earned, on over priced drinks to destroy your hearing and lose your voice because the fucking dj has the volume cranked to 12. If that's what lights you up then great but there is so much more to life than working, drinking and slowly dying.
So I'll ask one more time.
What do you do for fun?
I've been having a lot of big realizations in my life lately.
Particularly this week.
I've been listening more.
Realizing what my behavior says rather than my mouth.
I'm also choosing to come from a place of abundance rather than lack.
For example, I have (for some weird reason) been writing about dead people a lot.
So coming from a place of lack I would sound something like this. (I wish you were still here in my life. or I want, I need, I can't, on and on)
Fuck that shit. I am trying alternatives such as...
I have, I create, I love, I chose.
New version. "I am grateful for just having met you and having you make a huge impact in my life."
Coming from a place of gratitude is so useful in every aspect of your life not just in grieving.
I'm just starting this as of last week but holy shit I feel like everything in my life is falling into place and I don't know why I haven't done this sooner.
It's making me uncomfortable realizing all of these errors I have made, but as I walk around these streets at 6am to watch the sunrise I think to myself it could be so much worse.
I am doing what I love and I'm not dead yet.
Life is short.
Come from a place of love and abundance and your days will be better for it.
To take a line from my friend Holly "Say whats on your mind even if it's weird, tell a stranger their beautiful today, you never know who's day you might change for the better."
As much as I preach of discomfort there are certain things I cling to like a leech. I'm over it.
I was so unaware of my dependency of certain comfort zones for so long. For instance my mother. She is literally too good of a mom. Every ounce of security I have in my life is because of her. It's what every kid needs in my opinion. I received more love than I could ever deserve growing up and I am grateful for it. I also let it get out of control. When things get too tough for me I run back home to live. (Ex. when my lease ends) Hard to say but it's true. It's like a quilt on my back whenever I get cold but each time I put it on the quilt gets heavier and heavier. I'm over being that burden.
Secondly I've let my expectations be unrealistic due to having such a great home life as a child. A home life that was earned by my parents through hard work, sweat, blood, and tears, quite literally. Those are not my accomplishments but I am ready to make a home of my own and I want to do it by doing what I love. Life is too short to do anything else. I've made some money with photography but to take it to the next level, to be able to afford a home, studio, traveling and shooting everyday I have to get extremely uncomfortable.
Cold calls, emails, work events etc.
Everything good I have in my life has come from being uncomfortable but I think it's time to get damn near painful.
Where in your life are you getting out of your comfort zone and where are you clinging on for dear life?
Photos below are from something I am not used to photographing...skateboarding.
I pretty much always forget to photograph the skating and instead I photograph the people.
Today I am just going to leave this photo here.
Take from it what you want but it's pretty obvious.
Maybe I am even missing bits of it.
I just see two kids, that only see their similarities.
You're a kid, I'm a kid, lets be friends.
The world needs more of that especially in 2018.
If you don't agree with me great.
That's the beauty of America.
We're progressive because of our right to freedom of speech. Not because everyone needs to agree on the same beliefs. There is no need to physically harm those who disagree with us.
We learn from their opinions and create a better understanding from it.
Be open minded today.
I will try my best to do the same.
Day 174 of 365
Over a year ago now. Last April was a strange and emotional day. As Connecticut abolished the death penalty the man who killed my father had to be re-sentenced to life in prison. I was okay with that. It sucks the state doesn't follow through with their word yet they expect citizens to follow through with theirs. With that being said I wouldn't want the blood of a man on anyones hands for my own satisfaction. I don't even think it would provide me or my family peace of mind. If the state forced an innocent corrections officer, executioner whatever their title would be to kill a guilty man my father would still be dead. So what would be the point why stoop to such a low level.
On a brighter note I am going to tell you the good that day did for me and why I am posting this today. I have been stacking up rolls of film that I have shot on various shitty cameras. I shoot them of my family friends etc. Then I just take the roll and put it in a box. Now a year later and I have about 20 of 40 rolls left to develop and scan and I am finally posting the photos.
On to the good that day brought me and my family. To finally put a face to the man that killed my father was surreal, before that day it was almost a cartoon a myth having only seen the guy in the paper didn't feel real. It gave me a chance to stick up for my family. Not only in front of a misguided criminal but in front of a court/state that doesn't follow through with anything they say. That felt good. It also brought together the people I love most in my life. We were all there. My family, my dad's colleagues, his friends, etc. The day wasn't about the court, it wasn't about the criminal, not even the re-sentencing, it was about how one mans life has brought so many people together.
Looking back at the photos I took, that sentiment is very evident.
There is only 1 photo in the courtroom. The rest are of the people I love the most.
What's important to you will ooze out of you, whether you like it or not. It's who you are.
In some part you chose what is important to you. That day could have easily been focused on the negative, but it wasn't we chose otherwise.
Today I hope you chose to make the best out of a shitty situation, spend some time with your loved ones, be happy together.
Day 172 of 365
For the past 3 years (possibly 4 years) my friends and I have done an annual camping trip. It's usually at the same place every year. Hammonasset State park a family campground (tons of rules) by the beach in Connecticut. It's always a great time but we're a rowdy bunch and getting us to quiet down at 8 o'clock is like trying to get a baby to stop shitting their pants. Baby's just shit and my friends, well they make noise.
Fast forward to this year. Kevin's parents who usually camped and booked 2 spots were no longer camping so we decided to not uphold the tradition we would find a new spot. Hopefully one with less rules and more space.
This is where Hipcamp comes in. I reached out to Hipcamp to find a spot in Connecticut. It was a success. If you're not familiar with Hipcamp it is the Airbnb for camping. If your not familiar with Airbnb it's an alternative to staying in an expensive hotel. Instead homeowners, apartment owners can rent out there fully furnished places online for short term stays. It's amazing, renting an entire home for yourself and your friends or an apartment in NYC etc. Back to Hipcamp, they have a program where photographers can photograph a property, stay for free, bring friends, and get paid $100 to do so.
The first time I used Hipcamp it was great we went to Maine, stayed in a cabin and got paid and the home owner loved the photos plus invited us back to stay for free again. This memorial day weekend I booked 3 nights as well. Little did I know you are only allowed to book 1 night. Obviously I didn't read the FAQ I didn't have any questions. I just assumed same as the first time. Don't assume. That was the first complaint. Secondly Hipcamp wants the photos edited in 3 days or less. I don't even give my clients who pay over $2500 a day the photos in 3 days. Retouching photos accurately takes a long time. So for $100 dollars editing in 3 days is crazy and not reasonable. I gave them the edited photos in a week. The 3rd and most major problem a few of my friends were very loud at 4am on the first night. It's not cute anymore when your 25 years old to be a noisy drunk and I was very upset about it as our host was extremely gracious to us.
With some surprise the hosts wife put in a complaint about us to Hipcamp.
We left the site just as clean as we found it. There was only 1 noisy night.
The photos I sent...not the ones shown below, were exactly what they wanted. Hipcamp even said they loved the photos, but the deed had been done. We had pissed off the wrong Hipcamp owner and I knew there was a reason I was so stressed about bringing my friends into something I had used for my business travels.
It was my fault I was the one responsible for everyone and I let myself down.
Hipcamp emailed me after I submitted the edited photos they said they loved them but because of this disturbance they decided they no longer wish to have me be a part of their photographer program.
I asked if their was anything I could do to amend the situation and they told me to apply again at a later date.
I wont be.
I will stick to hotels, state parks, and national forests from now on.
The moral of the story if you make a mess you have to own it and clean it up.
Even if I was in bed at 12 every night there was still only 1 person to blame and that was me.
Below are some film photos from what was still an amazing memorial day weekend.
Not afraid to touch.
Not afraid to taste.
Berries and bad belly aches.
It was worth the risk.
It was worth the risk to break from mindless motions.
In the belly of the beast floating in a subconscious potion.
Trying not to skip a day of this blog, with all of my routines for that matter. Like writing every morning or getting some form of exercise everyday. With my morning writing it feels like if I miss it for 1 day it is a massive derailment of a locomotive. It should be that way with all of your routines. They don't need to be done at the same time everyday but they need to get done. It needs to be a priority for you to progress in that area of your life. So instead of looking at it as a cheat day, look at it as a end to your momentum. It's like pushing a car with your friends while it's in neutral at first it's so unreasonably heavy but once you get it going you will be walking with ease. Don't stop... and on that note this is the end of my Saturday blog.
I hope today is a productive one for you.
Keep that momentum going.
AHH day 169 is that like a 69 but with 1 extra person....bad joke uhhh sorry I'll get started.
Who the fuck is "they" because I'm starting to believe that whenever I say "they say" it's ust an excuse for me to not do something. This week I am getting back to something I have been doing for the past two years. Something I stopped doing 6 months ago. A lot of good was happening in my life because of this. I was getting ahead of my goals, chores, bills etc.
My alarm is again set to 5:30am
Not too difficult a small adjustment. The hard part is getting to bed on time. Right now I'm aiming for 10pm but so far I have gone to bed around 12:30 every night. I'm starting to get tired earlier and I love it. I wake up at 5:30 and by 12 o'clock all of my busy work is done for the day, leaving me with time to shoot photos, plan photo shoots, skate, read and whatever else I want to do.
Last summer I was doing the same thing. I would skate from 6am to 7am, go shower, go to the coffee shop, write, then send emails. I would start my days at 9. It was intoxicating. I would be skating at 6am and think to myself is this real life, am I actually an adult or a kid in a big body. Yeah I know this may end when I have kids but just wait till they turn 5....Daddy's going to wake their asses up at 5am and bring them to the skatepark for some morning exercise.
The moral of this story is there are no excuses not to do what you love every single goddamn day of your life. If you want it bad enough you'll make it happen, even if that means waking up at 5:30 on your off day.
I like to walk, avoiding artificial light underground. A chance to see the sun and some faces. It interests me what people chose to do, and what they just accept. People on their bikes and how they don't ride them anymore in the suburbs. What's socially acceptable here is whatever you want to do. There is a home for everybody in the loneliest city in the world.
Shred feast 2018.
Every year my good friend Chris Zablan throws a massive skate competition through his non-profit organization key life foundation. This year he asked me to come by and photograph the event. I was honored. I'd always dreamed of things like this as a kid, and to see one of my best friends making this happen was the icing on top of gallon of ice cold ghetto juice.
Today was a day where everyone could progress and work on a common goal together. It felt less like a competition and more like a brotherhood (sisters included). Without Chris Zablan none of this would be possible and today I was very inspired. I was inspired by the Be Easy crew bringing a god damn bus to the park and for running their own skate family. It felt damn good to see some Ct locals doing some great things too. People like Kevin Tolderlaund, Julian Focareta, Chris from Phat Lip Mag, Mason, Manny, Cutting edge, and all the scooter kids just for showing up. To have everyone in one place felt right. Skateboarding has come so far and the local talent has gone to an entirely new level, but what impressed me most was the community. Everyone there wanted to see every skater triumph over every trick. It was a good feeling, but no feeling was as good as watching key life foundation give the most respectful kid a free week at at camp Woodward. (A skate camp every skater dreams of going to as a kid) A lot of parents can't afford something like that and I think that's where skating shines. It's a non-exclusive sport. If you can stand on the board...fuck if you can sit on the board and make it move all are welcome. Your income will never determine if you are allowed to skate.
So when asked "Is this really what you want to do with your whole life? Skateboard? "
With a community this good.
Yes I do.
Discomfort is everything.
It's been a while since I was a beginner at something. It's relieving to know that you suck at whatever you're doing. You don't expect yourself to be good so you are not afraid to try something new and fail. If I could stay in a beginner mindset in photography I would. Never caring what anyone thinks of what I put and never being afraid to switch things up. Unfortunately I am too deep into it but I am still finding ways to shoot everything edit in different styles, and only publish the work that fits into my aesthetic. The thing is once you are known for a specific style people expect it all the time. For me I have 2 different styles really. My website work which is more color intensive and my instagram work which is more muted tones and little to no blues. Today I was trying new editing softwares and with that being said. Don't be afraid to suck at something.
Admitting to yourself that you might suck at it before hand opens a lot of doors to just have fun with the process of learning anything. It also helps you put your ego aside so you can do what's important....learn and mess up!
At the time I thought I could drink her away.
I was young and naive. I didn’t realize you can only “me” someone away. Yeah thats right.
If all your love, effort, energy, is in someone else and they've left you, then you’re neglecting the only vessel that can give you a chance of a better, happier life.