WHY I DO What I Do

This work day appears to be just about over.

This work day appears to be just about over.

Memories morph and change over time, and some fade away completely. In fact, science has proven that no matter how much impact a moment, person or event has on us, sooner or later, every memory grows less vivid.

THAT is why photography is, and will always be, important to us.

Photography has a permanence that withstands the eroding forces of time. Collectively, our photographs are a visual monument to our lives – the legacy of what we want people to know about us: who we are, who we care about and what matters to us. 

I have been a photojournalist all of my professional career. Much as I enjoy the front seat to history my career affords me, I recognized long ago that my legacy as a photographer will be in capturing the simple moments of everyday life. That's what moves me, and stays with me. So it should come as no surprise that, of all that I’ve photographed, the photographic record I’ve created of my family and friends is the most treasured of all my work.

 
My dad, circa 1973.

My dad, circa 1973.

My dad enjoyed making family pictures and I’m so grateful he ignored our belly-aching and made the collection of pictures that he did. 

One of my all-time favorite photos of me, though, was taken by my mom – a snapshot of me coming out of the kitchen cabinets.

Even though my mom’s been gone for almost 10 years now, I can still hear her laughing about how it was the first place she'd look for me when I'd go "missing."

"Do we really NEED all these pots, pans & glassware?"

"Do we really NEED all these pots, pans & glassware?"

 

 
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My grandmother used to giggle telling me about this photo, recalling how I kept reaching into my pocket to feel the new penny she'd just given me.

Years later, I made this portrait of her and I holding what she always called "my favorite picture." She was a warm and wonderful woman. 

I cherish these pictures as much for what they are as for the memories they rekindle. 

 

I have precious few photographs from my life as a teenager. With two teenagers of my own, I now understand what a challenge it is to make pictures of teenagers...which is why I am so grateful when my kids put up with me photographing them these days.

I love these pictures of my brothers and I. It was really important to my parents that the four of us had good chemistry between us, even though we were (and are) strong-minded and independent, with different interests and views of the world. That value of having a strong sibling relationship is something I work every day to engrain in my own kids.

It’s funny the pictures we treasure over time. Here are two I love.

The first is a pretty pedestrian photograph of lower Manhattan and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. I grew up in New York and remember my parents bringing us down to see the construction of what were to be the tallest buildings in the world when they were done. As with many New Yorkers, I had an affection for how the towers defined and dominated the southern part of that magnificent skyline. On lunch breaks from one of my first jobs after college, I'd drive down to the end of Essex Street in Jersey City and gaze across the Hudson - enjoying a deli sandwich, listening to WPLR on the radio. This a picture I took one of those days with my trusty Kodak 110 Pocket Instamatic camera.

 
 

This final picture is from an afternoon touch football game in 1979 is one of very few pictures I made during my four years at the University of New Hampshire. Just about everything that could be wrong with this picture as a “quality photograph” is wrong with it. Yet, it’s still one of my all-time favorites. My years at UNH are some of best of my life and I cherish the too-few photographs I have of my days there.  

 
 

Far as I know, we only get one trip thru this life. I hope yours is rich in memories and surprises and that you have plenty of pictures to remind you of what an incredible gift it all is. 

These are the things I believe, the things that matter to me and the reasons I continue in my work as a photographer - the most time-consuming, demanding and fulfilling work I've ever done.