Fame, success, even self-respect can be elusive goals for many young men and women who grow up in the inner city. But the boxing gym, as it has for decades, promises a way up for some. A way out for others. It offers young boxers a home where they can find support and community. It builds character. For some it's also the source of discipline needed to avoid the ever-present lure of gangs or drugs. During 2017 and 2018 I have spent a lot of time in the gyms of the old mill towns north of Boston and at many of the local amateur boxing matches, including The Golden Gloves. I’ve gotten to know many of the boxers -- and the trainers committed to them -- and found them to possess an inner strength as well as a physical one. It takes both to step into the ring. To put the body through the punishment boxing demands. To make the sacrifices needed to achieve a few moments of glory. These images, part of an ongoing project, celebrate the strength and courage it takes to be a fighter.
Slowly at First
For the last two years, my 87-year-old Mom, Gloria Boches Abramson, had been housebound as her physical condition slowly deteriorated. In May of 2018, pneumonia sent her to the ICU and left her even weaker, her lungs and heart both compromised.
Despite having all of her mental faculties and sense of humor, she decided enough was enough. She rejected the hospital’s recommendation for rehab and opted instead for hospice care. She was ready and eager to die, but determined to die at home.
I had been casually photographing and video recording my Mom for the last few years. We had discussed death and dying as well as her wishes for her funeral. In many ways those conversations and photo sessions brought us closer together as we spent lots of time in each other’s company.
When I asked Mom if I could document her final days as a way to both witness her courage and confront my own fear of losing her, she agreed. She had been an artist herself -- a painter, illustrator, and musician -- and knew that this was important to me.
In hospice care, she started to improve, and we both thought this project might go on for six months. But then suddenly, her health took a turn for the worse, and in a matter of days it was over.
Slowly at First captures my Mom’s last month on earth and all the emotions it triggered.
Home from the hospital
Minutes after she passed
Left arm only
Notes and wishes
Son comforts father
One day later
Mom being Mom
Life in the city moves quickly. Everything is in motion. But if you stop for a moment and look around or freeze yourself, the city takes on a different feeling. You realize that there are thousands of individual “places,” millions of “moments.” Each is there for a second or two then gone. If you’re lucky or patient you might find something interesting in the light, shadows, shapes, layers, reflections and collisions that are constantly present but instantly gone. This is my attempt at recording some of that.
I gravitate to the streets for the constant motion, the changing light, the geometric shapes in a city’s architecture. But more than anything I am attracted by the diversity of people. They offer a never-ending source of inspiration. When possible I try and get close enough to capture their faces, unposed, presenting a small sense of who they are, at least for that one moment. These are a few recent images, urban portraits if you will, in and around Boston and New York.
The Skateboarder's Canvas
Having spent my entire career as an advertising writer, creative director and professor, I have always been keenly interested in individual creative expression in all of its forms across all possible media. Recently that interest led me to Lynch Skate Park to shoot the diverse community of skateboarders who gather there.
To them, skateboarding is less a sport than an outlet for their own creativity. Their canvas is the concrete surface -- ramps, platforms, deep bowls with vertical sides -- upon which they perform ollies, kickturns and axle grinds. Those become their wavy lines and splashes of color
In this body of work I strive to capture the creative expression of skateboarders, both in their appearance and performance, by emphasizing how their presence highlights the curves, shadows, angles and inclines of an urban skate park.
A selection of the images you see here were exhibited at the Griffin Museum of Photography, as part of Atelier 24, in September, 2016 as well as at the Providence Center for Photographic Arts in December, 2016.
In the summer, I’m fortunate to live in the historic district of Brewster, on the bay side of Cape Cod. There’s a small beach at the end of our street, perfect for an early morning swim, a kayak trip at high tide or a two to three mile walk on the flats at low tide. And if you happen to bring a camera, there’s something different to record every day, if not every hour. All the photos here (except for one, the eighth from the top) were shot from the same small beach during July and August, 2018.
It’s rare these days that we actually know the people who grow our food. But whenever possible, I try and buy my produce from local farmers. This summer I’ve been buying fresh vegetables from Halcyon Farm in Brewster. Proprietor Lucas Dinwiddie, for whom organic farming and connecting people to the food they eat is a mission more than a job, grows and harvests salad greens, beans, pea shoots, radishes, chard and other summer vegetables. He’s been kind enough to invite me to share in his journey as he expands Halcyon Farm into a bed and breakfast and explores other ways to bring locally grown food to a community that cares about farming, healthy eating and protecting the land. The images here are merely the beginning of a new project.
Wellfleet farmer's market
Unloading for market
The '61 Chevy
Off to market
In Brewster, Massachusetts, a few hundred offshore from Ellis Landing, Brian Daley, a life-long native of Brewster, farms his oysters. Since the 1980’s when local legend Chip Ellis granted Brian an acre of his licensed flats, Brian has been an oysterman. Today, working with his daughters, who are still in high school, and a few hired hands, he maintains 500 cages holding more than a million oysters. Here, on the bay side of Cape Cod, right along the channel, the tide produces the perfect water flow, tumbling the bivalve molluscs around just enough so they develop the desirable deep dish to better hold nature’s salty brine. The images here are part of a new project started during the summer of 2018, documenting the farmers of Cape Cod.
During the summer of 2018, I decided I would only eat food that I bought directly from the farmer who grew it or raised it. If that wasn’t possible, I would buy from a fish market, vegetable stand or coffee roaster who bought directly from the farmer or fisherman. That way I was never more than one step removed from the food that I ate. The exception was dairy, as there was no direct source of butter, milk, or yogurt nearby.
Among the many farms I visited was Seawind Meadows in Dennis, Massachusetts where Laura McDowell May, her husband and their three daughters raise Highland cattle. It’s a full-time, part-time job for the family as Laura and her husband both have “real” jobs and the girls are either away at college or booked solid with school, work and extracurricular activities including the local 4-H.
The McDowell-May’s raise their Highlands humanely. The cattle are grass fed and 100 percent of the animal gets used in one way or another. The images here are from one short visit to the farm and represent a small beginning to a bigger project on family farming on Cape Cod. Oh, and if you can ever get to either the Orleans, Wellfleet or Truro farmers’ market, don’t go home without a cut of Seawind’s amazing beef.
I have always been interested in creative "tribes," people who come together around a shared interest and collaborate to make something beautiful or meaningful. Around Boston, there is a huge community of young freestyle dancers. Dancers assemble as crews, choreograph original routines, dance for each other, and put on numerous performances. While dance is better suited to video, I'm trying to capture some of the energy and motion of young dancers through the shapes and lines and compositions their rehearsals and performances reveal in a still photograph.
The light changes. The tides shift. The days pass. But the dory remains. Tethered to its mooring on the bayside of Cape Cod it looks the same but appears different every time you approach. It seemingly asks to have its picture taken. And while it refuses to cooperate with the photographer -- it points and shifts in whatever direction it chooses -- neither does it complain or become impatient as you find the perfect angle and set your focus.
When I'm in downtown Boston, I often find myself here, at the Holocaust Memorial. Some people leave a stone on the granite block that explains the memorial. Others, less aware, walk through the towers carrying Starbucks cups or shopping bags. But for me, no matter how crowded or noisy the city may be, there's a stillness here as I stop to ponder the meaning of those nine million numbers inscribed in the glass.
Right after Trump was sworn in and threatened to deport undocumented immigrants political protests broke out across the country. For many it was the first time they'd attended a rally since the days of Viet Nam. For others it was the first time they'd ever marched in the streets, held up signs of protest or shouted out their concerns and demands. In Boston, there were rallies in support of women, refugees and immigrants, the LGBTQ community and science.