Last year I asked a former neighbor of mine at Lowell's Western Avenue Studios, Sergio Vélazquez, if I could photograph him, partly because he is an interesting guy, who also happens to be a photographer, but also because he sometimes lets his hair get pretty interesting. While I missed that window, Sergio having cut his hair before we could schedule the shoot, I ran into him again recently and we finally made it happen. Since the first proposed shoot, he and his wife Kerri, who together run Sweet Pig Press with their amazing antique letterpress printer, moved their studio and shop to Mill No. 5, on Jackson Street in Lowell. I thought that their shop, and that amazing printer, would make a great location with the evening available light.
I was asked to photograph a bowling alley for the last issue of the Merrimack Valley Magazine. As a kid, I used to walk to the candlepin bowling alley in the town where I grew up after school and play in an after-school league. It wasn’t much of a league, but I learned to play and remember having a good time. That could have been because I was doing it in lieu of going home to do homework. The lanes that the magazine had sent me to were not candlepin, which, if you are not familiar with it, is a New England thing, nor were they the more standard 10-pin lanes. North Chelmsford Duckpin Bowling Lanes is one of only a couple of Duckpin lanes that is still in operation. Coincidently, my late cousin, Richard Bisson, used to own and operate the T-Bowl duckpin lanes in Newington, Connecticuit. His daughter, Amy Sykes is a champion duckpin bowler, acquiring the title of “world’s best female duckpin bowler”. There is a really good article about Amy, and duckpin bowling from the NY Times here.
But what I encountered in North Chelmsford was something that was truly from another era. This issue of the magazine may still be in the stores, in which case you should grab a copy, but here is the opening spread as well as several more shots from my visit. Thanks very much to the lanes’ owner John DePalma too! It was a really interesting and fun experience.
Last week Diana Jaye Coluntino stopped by my studio for a photo shoot. Diana, who studied fashion, metalsmithing and sculpture at Mount Ida and MassArt, ultimately teaching at MassArt, spent a decade designing in Venezuela and ended up in Lowell, Massachusetts as the Artistic Director of the Revolving Museum. A number of years ago, Diana founded New Vestures, where she is the Creative Director.
New Vestures provides “support, space, resources and classes related to the creation of fashion and textile projects”. Located in Lowell, New Vestures recently moved out of their Merrimack Street location into a temporary one in the beautifully renovated 110 Canal Street building, which houses the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub. What a cool location!
I visited Diana yesterday to get a tour of that space, where she is working while waiting for the buildout of New Vestures’ new location to be completed. That new home will be just up the hill, still in the growing Hamilton Canal District, at Mill No. 5. That space, on the building’s 5th floor, just above the city’s cool new retail space on the 4th, will give New Vestures 3000 square feet of work space, not to mention a bunch of big windows overlooking the district.
So here are some of the shots during my tour and the portraits we did in my studio. Thank you Diana and best of luck in your new location!
It has been far too long since my last blog post, although I think I say that every time I blog. That has to change! I have quite a backlog, so I will start with this month’s Merrimack Valley Magazine, the September/October 2015 issue.
Probably the biggest production shoot that I worked on for this issue was the fashion shoot, Enduring Essentials. This was shot, on location, on Jackson Street in Lowell, Massachusetts, where there are all sorts of great things happening, not the least of which are Mill No. 5, Appleton Mills and the Lowell Community Health Center. This two page spread was shot in the doorway of Rosie's Cafe, which is just around the corner.
There’s also a feature about fashion designer Darby Scott, who worked on the fashion shoot. We did these shots in her beautiful North Andover Studio.
I also accompanied writer Will Courtney as he tried out Chuck Raffoni’s Broga class. As an aside, my wife Amy and I had an excellent yoga experience with Chuck just last evening, in the same yoga studio in Tyngsboro. I am a total newbie, but Amy is a yoga practitioner and commented on what an excellent teacher Chuck is!
Next up was an interview with the Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s new Artistic Director, Sean Daniels, conducted by the inimitable Dean Johnson. Amy and I are regulars at the MRT and it is off to an amazing start this year with Benjamin Scheuer's show, The Lion, that we were able to catch just before its run ended.
And finally, we have the higher-ed leadership scene in Lowell pretty much covered with my photos accompanying articles by Will Courtney and Emilie-Noelle Provost.
Two months between blog posts. Not good. I have been busy (lame excuse), but also have been shooting quite a bit that cannot be shown here until it is published elsewhere (better excuse). I have been doing a little traveling in the way-back machine lately though, having purchased a scanner and some film. I hadn't shot film in several years and it is definitely a reality check. I am hoping that, like a painter's medium, it will have me think a little differently, both when I am shooting and in preparation for a shoot. I know, blah blah blah..show me the pictures.
I resurrected my 35mm camera and took a couple field trips...So here is a bench, some grapes, and a couple of guys on bikes. Did I mention that I am not a street photographer?
With a little help from eBay, I made some new friends in Japan and Korea. In the process, I bought a monster of a medium format camera. It creates negatives that are 6x7 centimeters. Here is my photography colleague Jack Holmes; world traveller, great photographer and all around nice guy!
Ok, one last gear-head thing... I bought a mono-rail 4x5 view camera recently too. I am headed off to a workshop next week, but I hope to start, or restart, a series of portraits of local artists when I return, and use both medium and large format. So watch this space.
Now, in no particular order, here are a couple of publication tear sheets, some shots from UTEC's Sweet 16 event, the Summer Kickoff of the Lowell National Park, the Grand Opening of Ani's boutique, Humanity, and an actress headshot that I did for another all around great person, Christa Brown.
It may be raining here as I write this, but it was sunny in the studio last month when I was joined by Ani, from Humanity Lowell, a cool little boutique for women on Merrimack Street, my style collaborator Grace, as well as Christa and Monika who clearly lit up the studio with their modeling talents.
We are looking forward to better weather here in Massachusetts that will be allow for another shoot, this time out on location. Watch for our work here in a few short months. Hmm…maybe another studio shoot is in order before then!
This month, David Iverson’s piece on The Last Safe & Deposit Company, on Merrimack Street in Lowell, in the Merrimack Valley Magazine, will soon be at news stands. The club’s owner, Steve Perez, AKA D-Tension, had me show up early so that I could get shots of him and the club before the band started and the crowd appeared. Come to the back door, he said. If you haven’t been there, the front door is no less disguised, but be persistent and note that the club is downstairs and shares its entrance with Sweet Lydia’s, another downtown Lowell institution. The Last Safe & Deposit Company is uniquely Lowell, and inspiring, to mangle a marketing phrase. Do check out the article in a week or so when it hits the street!
Stop me if I have said this before, but I really find the many end-of-the-year lists very tiresome. So naturally, I thought it would be a swell idea to do one myself and to review my year for you. Mine will be exciting though. Really! There will be lots of local interest, beautiful people, amazing food... Ok, so you're bored already... I will get right to it. Enjoy!
Oh, and Happy New Year!
I enjoyed photographing and profiling several other authors, artists and artisans this year for the Merrimack Valley Magazine too. Clockwise, from the top left in this group, is one about author Holly Robinson, shot at Plumb Island. Next is ceramic artist Yary Livan, shot at his studio at Western Avenue Studios, in Lowell, MA. And last, I spent a morning learning about the coffee roasting that Rosie's Cafe does, also in Lowell.
I haven’t blogged in a while, so publishing some tear sheets is way overdue.
This spring’s Merrimack Valley Home Magazine features a story about Lowell’s Whistler House Museum of Art. It’s located right downtown in Lowell, on Worthen Street, and features a nicely kept historic building and grounds, in addition to lots of classic art work.
Neil Boissonneault and his staff at CON-CEPT are the cover story of this month’s CE Pro Magazine, a locally-published techie magazine. In addition to the cover, I had the run of his showroom in order to get lots of gear shots. In the 50s through the 70s, my father had a television store, so I enjoyed talking with Neil about some of the old products and how they compare to today’s technology.
Two of the nicest people you could ever meet also happen to be two of the smartest and innovative entrepreneurs in the area. Lydia and Francey are the force behind Mill City Grows, the Lowell, Massachusetts-based enterprise that is bringing community gardening and urban food production to the city and surrounding area. Their mission: “Mill City Grows fosters food justice by improving physical health, economic independence and environmental sustainability in Lowell through increased access to land, locally-grown food and education.” Please visit their web site: http://www.millcitygrows.org
Back to Francey and Lydia though, both of whom, along with their husbands, are thoroughly invested in the community and its success. I have had the opportunity to follow them around to a few of their projects for the Merrimack Valley Magazine and the Local Farming photo essay that I did last year. Yesterday afternoon they dropped by my studio to pose for some shots at The Big Doors. Please do visit their web site to see what’s growing!