Fame, success, even self-respect can be elusive goals for many young men 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. Recently I’ve been spending time at some of the inner-city gyms in the old mill towns north of Boston. 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 – the beginning of a long-term project that will explore the lives of these boxers more deeply – celebrate the strength and courage it takes to be a fighter.
Joziah Turns One
In September, 2017, I met a talented young boxer named Kevin Rodriguez who fights out of the Intenze978 Boxing Gym in Lawrence, Massachusetts. I had photographed him at a local amateur boxing match and then visited the gym where he trains. The cover photo on this website was taken in the ring during one of Kevin's shadow boxing workouts. In December, he asked if I would photograph his son Joziah's first birthday party. So I did. The photos here were taken in the course of an hour and half at Kevin's apartment, where young Joziah was surrounded by family, food, loud music and plenty of love.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A former student of mine, Eddy Cao, and some friends started a dance company. Given my interest in creative tribes, I offered to document their journey. The four dancers -- Eddy, Emily, Rochelle and Dennis -- all knew of each other. But this troupe will be the first time they dance as a company, choreographing, teaching each other, rehearsing, and eventually performing. Here are a few images from their first rehearsal.
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.