Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pictures Without Stories?

"Father and Son at Bar Mitzvah", Paris, France, 2008. Juliana Beasley

Here are a couple of mixed random shots that I took in 2008 with my beloved Contax T2.  Each photo has a story. If I don't know the story, I can make it up. I have no other choice. Give me a picture, any picture and I will tell you there is a story to be told.

May 18th, 2011

Today, when I left my apartment, I shoved the my Contax T-2 into my knapsack and headed towards the Path train, making my way from Jersey City to the WTC stop in Manhattan. I'm not the sort of photographer that carries a camera with me at all times. I have special days when I plan to photograph something somewhere and then I have the other days. Sometimes on those other days, perfectly absurd and ironic and beautiful moments have appeared and happened before my eyes. There I am, empty handed and thrust into a storm of regrets, a world of ghostly photographs that never would be and never were.

"Flowers and Purse", Paris, France, 2008. Juliana Beasley

The excuses:

My make-up case and gel already weighed me down.

Did I have to choose between my personal journal, my agenda, my "project idea" notebook, my i-pod?

Oh, yes, my umbrella. It might rain later.

A hoodie. It might get chilly later if I stay out past sunset.

And I couldn't leave out my bottle of Diet Coke or Poland Springs or that extra large bottle of Ibuprofen. God only knows, I could get a headache at any given moment.

The camera was too bulky. I couldn't do it. I could easily convince myself that the chances of the lost photo op were much too slim. So, why bother? I could always take the camera with me tomorrow when I wasn't rushing out the door late on my way to an important appointment.

Out in the streets of Manhattan, I had already forgotten the small titanium bodied beauty at the bottom of my bag strapped over my shoulders. I went uptown to the upper east side to the podiatrist's office and then downtown to Chelsea to do some errands: the copy shop for laser prints, Staples to buy a stapler, Adorama to order some 4X6" prints for some of my subjects. I turned up the volume on my i-Pod and the Pet Shop Boys carried me effortlessly from one task to the next.

"New Jersey Businessman in Subway Station", NYC, NY, 2008. Juliana Beasley

By the time, I returned to my neighborhood in Jersey City and exited the Path Station, the sky was a surly gray. I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and pulled out my umbrella, prepared for what looked like a downpour.

I walked up Mercer towards Jersey and half way down the block, I noticed an older man with dyed black hair and very high cheek bones eyeballing me. He was sitting in car in the driver's seat like a taxi driver waiting for a customer to come out of a building. His slender figure was accentuated under a loose blue satin jacket that matched the color of the interior of the car. I stared back, smiled and kept walking until several stoops later I set down my knapsack on one of the steps. I unzipped my bag and for a moment, I hoped my camera was in my bag. I worried that perhaps, I had only dreamt packing it away with me that morning before leaving the apartment.

I reached inside and felt the compact case and pulled it out. I got it!

"Abandoned Bungalow in the Rockaways", Queens, NYC, 2008. Juliana Beasley

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spazio Labo Brings Photography Workshops to New York!!

 Photos from last year's workshop 2010 by Erica McDonald.

I recently found out about "Photography Workshops in New York City" from fellow friend and photo comrade Erica McDonald when she asked me to come and present my work during a workshop she is co-teaching with Andrew Sullivan. Others presenters include Amy Stein, Spencer Platt, and Amy Touchette. How's that for variety?

This is the second year that under the umbrella of Erica's very multi-faceted photo organization, DEVELOP  teams up with the Italian photography association, Spazio Labo to teach a documentary workshop from May 22nd to May 28th. Spazio Labo is also offering two other photography workshops from May 4th to June 5th.  Just a note here: The DEVELOP link here is the You Tube Page. Erica has informed me that the DEVELOP website will be up soon... so, hold onto your hats kids! But, what a teaser!

Spazio Labo’ – Center of photography- is a cultural non profit Association founded in Bologna in January 2010 with the goal of spreading the culture of photography in all its many meanings and uses and to be a planning and production photographic centre, a real source of creation and exchange of proposals, an independent reality open to sharing the passion for photography.

The idea of the "Photography Workshop in New York" originated from the personal experiences of Laura de Marco and Roberto Alfano, founders of Spazio Labo’ – Center of Photography in Bologna, Italy. After both personally learning the in and outs of the NYC photo scene, they decided to put together a workshop program that would put students immediately in touch and in tune with the same experiences they developed over time. Their idea is to impart valuable information on students such as:  contact networks, training methods, creative atmospheres, possibilities for professional experience; all elements of the vast cultural offer characteristic of the city that can be considered as the current capital of the art of photography.

Here is a list of the three workshops being offered:

“In Plain Sight” with Donna Ferrato, May 14-20 

You can check out and read about Donna F. dazzling and inspiring her students on their blog. Fantastic Donna!

“The Personal Documentary” with Erica McDonald and Andrew Sullivan, May 22-28 
“New York Reports” with Davide Monteleone and Maurizio Garofalo, May 30 – June 5 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Big Heart

As I begin to write this piece, I lack a desire to labor over words and sentences that might not only look precise and meaningful, but that tell the entire story behind the photograph. My mind can not hold steady or remain focused long enough to create the kind of colorful descriptions and anecdotes, I often try to tell when I present a photograph. I am unsettled. My dear Moishe, my lovely dog is very sick.

"Frontal X-Ray of Moishe's Heart", Jersey City, NJ. April, 2011. Juliana Beasley

For those of you who have read my blog or have in the past, you are familiar with my dear companion, Moishe, a little white Bichon Frise/ Terrier mix that I adopted from the NYC ASPCA back in 1998. He was 3 years old and needed a home and I was 30, had just lost my mother without warning. I needed unconditional love and some laughter and I needed to take care of myself by taking care of another.

Moishe was diagnosed years ago with heart disease, as well as lung disease. Now, his condition has progressed. Days are spent monitoring his behavior, his demeanor, his eating, his sleeping, and now the short walks that end midway down the block. The last days, he has not had the enthusiasm he normally has when I pull out his harness and shake the dogs tags to his typical delight, a signal which he knows means that he is going outside. I am only giving you a rough sketch. The sort of sketch a clinician might write in a patient's records and yet, I see it also includes the pain that is watching a loved one die when you foolishly believed they were going to live forever.

Moishe's has a big heart. It is growing larger and larger. Literally and figuratively. This muscle is expanding so much that now, it presses up against his trachea and makes his breathing labored and renders him exhausted after little activity.

He still has bushes and grasses to sniff and treats to be devoured. And he has the warmth of our mutual love and the abundance of years of our coexistence in three different apartments in two different states.

I have lovely stories to tell about Moishe. And heroic ones too. We lived a whole life that we shared exclusively with one another.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Louise in the Courtyard of Her Pousada

"Louise in Pousada Courtyard #1", Brazil, Summer 2010.

Dear Louise,

I am still looking for you.

I was foolish not to take your e-mail or your home address the morning before you got on the bus with the other Swedish tourists leaving for the airport. I searched all over the internet for you and cannot find any information. I found you on Facebook, but I see that you rarely visit your page and you do not accept requests for friends.

Your beauty and quiet soulfulness are imprinted in my memory. I can see no other way besides us meeting once again. Strange and as deceptive as a photograph can be, I feel that you are still somewhere close to me and that we have not lost one another for good. Maybe the next time we meet you will be walking without your crutches as you have always wanted and I will be free from generations and past lives of karmic suffering.

However, brief our encounter, I feel a strong connection to your desire to heal, your strength beyond your 18 years, and your deep conviction to hold onto faith. When I look at this photograph, I am reminded of all the possibilities that lay ahead of you. I imagine your reserved, timid yet courageous aura and all the inspiration of a full peaceful life that radiates from you. You inspire me just like the cool tranquil blue tiles and the painting of a flower in bloom that  paint the background behind you.

I hope someone will see this photograph who knows Louise and let her know that I am looking for her.

We met on a ship in the middle of the ocean, two strangers but bonded through our sisterhood in our desire to heal and to make the impossible become possible.

I hope you have found peace and healing.

Love, Juliana

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Day After Osama Bin Laden's Death

Here is two of the many photographs that I took yesterday at the World Trade Center the day after Osama Bin Landen's Death was announced. Many tourists and New Yorkers  overtook the streets and pathway around the WTC site to catch of moment in time with cameras and mobile phone cameras in hand. To look at others go to Contact Press Images website.

 " Photographer at WTC Site on 05/02/11 #1", NYC, Juliana Beasley

"Photographing Flower Left In Memory at WTC", NYC, 05/02/11. Juliana Beasley

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Photo for Sunday May 1st, 2011

"Genevieve In White", Brazil, 2010. Juliana Beasley.

As I look, at this photograph that I took of Genevieve, the daughter of my newfound friend, Madeleine with whom I share an e-mail correspondence, I am reminded of the simplicity of what life might be for me without so many "things" to clutch onto. Maybe it is a childish fantasy but I do believe somehow that it exists, if not for me, for others who perhaps have found and accepted the truth that life does not have to be so complicated.

I can only hope for more calm, more time in this next year to allow me to step away momentarily and remove this costume called "Juliana". I will return to Brazil, in body or mind, wearing a white dress brilliant and pure in the hot afternoon sun. I will search out the rough touch of tall grass upon my legs and the cool breeze that dries the sweat collecting in between the hairs of my brow. I hope to find the quiet and the inexplicable which was always here.