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Look Around and See the Good

I met Geoff Foster at Lowell’s United Teen Equity Center (UTEC) in 2012 while documenting the important work that the dedicated personal at UTEC does. Geoff, a youth organizer, is UTEC’s Associate Director of Political Action and is well known in the community for championing the Vote 17 initiative, and state-wide for overseeing the Teens Leading the Way coalition, among other things.

What is striking about Geoff is his unrestrained enthusiasm for what he does. To see him in action with a group of young people is truly inspiring. So as I have invited different personalities for the area to allow me photograph them, several of them insisted that I should extend the invitation to Geoff as well. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule yesterday afternoon to come by. It was incredibly interesting and uplifting to talk with him and experience his contagious enthusiasm, but I got to photograph him too!

Geoff Foster

Geoff Foster

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Geoff Foster, United Teen Equality Center, Lowell, Massachusetts

Geoff Foster, United Teen Equality Center, Lowell, Massachusetts

Loving Both Sides of the Camera

More often than not, I am at a loss for something to write about in this space. There are some times though that I simply have work to show. Work to show off and to share, that I hope people will find compelling. I am constantly striving to do more significant work because I usually feel that it is competent but not that important. In any event, I do sometimes feel that it is good enough. Digressing... The week before last a colleague of mine, who has moved to Richmond, VA, came back to the Boston area to shoot a couple of weddings and we both wanted to reconnect and, I was hoping, get in a photo shoot. While she is a very talented and up-and-coming wedding and portrait photographer, she also loves to be in front of the camera. That quality in people usually comes through.

This then, is one of those times in which I simply want to share some work with you. Nothing earth-shattering or terribly important from a photographic or story-telling sense, but just some fun photos of a friend on an enjoyable afternoon in the studio. I hope you agree!

The excellent work of Melissa Desjardins, of Desjar Photography, can be found here: http://desjarphoto.com

 

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Some of Us Are From Here. Some From Far Away.

I met Derek and Lydia a little over a year ago. I recall the event we all attended, but I don't recall exactly how he and I started to talk about UTEC (United Teen Equality Center), where he was the Director of Workforce Development, and an idea that I had for a photography and film project. The conversation began and the idea grew into a project that lasted throughout the summer. I had an amazing experience meeting and photographing the young people and staff at UTEC, the culmination of which coincided with the Grand Opening of the renovated youth center. I was extremely privileged to have my work shown at the opening.

So what does all that have to do with Derek? Beginning with our brief conversation, the idea began to take hold in each of our minds. Pursuing a personal project over several months can be quite a commitment and at times can be really discouraging. Some days it seems pointless, or the goal seems so far off that giving up would be so easy. An advocate within an organization in which you are trying to work is essential. Derek was the ideal advocate. I never felt like an outsider or awkward to be there. Derek paved the way, made the introductions and prodded and encouraged me to follow-through, to show up and to create.

Now Derek has moved on to become the Lowell Site Director of The International Institute of New England, and most recently, he has announced his candidacy for Lowell City Council. I know that he will bring the same passion and commitment that he has brought to his previous endeavors. 

This installment of the Big Door series and the Basic black and white series features Derek, but his partner Lydia dropped in for the shoot as well. Lydia is an amazing person in her own right, so I will be featuring her in front of the big green doors very soon. Stay tuned! 

People have asked me what this project is all about. It's not terribly profound. I have been looking for local people who are interesting to know, and to see, and to tell a little about them here on this blog, in words and pictures. Mostly pictures. I enjoy the process and realizing results that satisfy me, and I still have a long list of people that I want to invite as this thing proceeds.

Derek Mitchell

Derek Mitchell

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I'm Not Really a Magician

At one point, Princess said "You're a magician!". I was flattered at first, but then I realized that the soft box grid that I was pulling out of my kit was velcroed to everything else in the bag and I was pulling the entire contents out. So not so magical after all.

My subject for today, Princess, performs magic with words though. She is really quite a talented poet. I sometimes will ask performers who I am photographing to do what they do in front of the camera. It often creates some very special moments. I was blown away by Princess. A college student, her verse is mature, intense and compact. Her recitation was really quite moving. Her photos speak for themselves. Thank you Princess!

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James Knows Community Building

I met James Ostis a couple of years ago, in Lowell, at a Tweetup. At first soft-spoken, James' demeanor belies his drive to change things for the better. Formerly a legislative aid in the Office of Massachusetts State Representative Colleen M. Garry, he is currently project manager for the Lowell Heritage Partnership.

In speaking with him last night before we started making photographs, I was struck by his passion and enthusiasm. I hope he enjoys his photos. I know I enjoyed making them!

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James Ostis

James Ostis

Classic

Patty calls her work-self an Excel jockey. But those who know her also know that she is an excellent musician. Patty plays clarinet and is the secretary for the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra, in Lowell, Massachusetts. She helped create the orchestra's annual summertime concert series at the Shedd Park Pavilion in Lowell. Patty came in to the studio to work with me on my "Big Door" and "Basic" series. Last year though, she was part of a collaborative project that Lowell Film Collaborator co-founder Suzzanne Cromwell and I had embarked on. Although it is on somewhat of a hiatis, I still have hopes of continuing that work with Suzzanne. Here are some of the shots from both photo shoots with Patty. Check out the Philharmonic! Click here.

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This Lovely Evening

He seems to be everywhere that's anywhere in Lowell. Last evening, he was in front of the now famous doors in suite A405. Sovanna told his Facebook friends that he was visiting me "this lovely evening", at Western Avenue Studios to be photographed. A pleasure to work with, Sovanna was impeccably dressed, as always, and ready to be photographed. Here are some of the shots for my Big Door series and my pick for my ongoing Basic series, which are all in B&W, and all done as simply and as similarly as possible in an attempt to really "portray" the person, in the true sense of the word. Enjoy!

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Four at the Door

This post makes my fourth submission in my Big Door series, so I think it can officially be called a series now.

In the process of casting for a short video project, which was the same occasion on which I met Obehi, I also met Jacquie, another talented actress. Interestingly, both Obehi and Jacquie are musical, and both are brass players. Her family owns Golden Girl Granola, which is awesome!

I also thought I would reshow the black and white portrait that I did of Jacquie, since I have received so many kind words about it.

Keep watching this space for who will be next in the series!

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