1. March

    If you weren’t already, you are now all a part of my heart:

    March 1: Tony Watkins

    March 2: Erin Lyons

    March 3: Molly Rose Quinn

    March 4: Theo Altides

    March 5: Alexandra Boggs

    March 6: André R. Rivas

    March 7: Kai Chan

    March 8: Randie Kutzen

    March 9: Joseph Faragher

    March 10: Hannah Fordin

    March 11: Max Rodriguez

    March 12: Jun Ikeda

    March 13: Patrick T. Mason

    March 14:Katie Mayfield

    March 15: Kaylynn Brown

    March 16: Shireen Ahmed

    March 17: John Nemeth

    March 18: JoAnn Luering

    March 19: Porfirio Rosario

    March 20: Cynthia Eason

    March 21: Cherry Wu

    March 22: Richard Farley

    March 23: Elina Baygildina

    March 24: Rebeka Singer

    March 25: Mariette Bolitiski

    March 26: Carmen Estrella

    March 27: Eric Hoop

    March 28: Jose Rodriguez

    March 29: Briana Kaulani Hedge

    March 30: Charles Glenn

    March 31: Sabrina Wells

     
  2. Portrait of Rebeka Singer — March 24th

     
  3. Portrait of Rebeka Singer — March 24th

    Rebeka Singer and I went to graduate school together. I wouldn’t consider us “friends” in school but we had the same classes — always polite to one another. Rebeka was always nice enough to show up to my reading events and, at one of them, I had a little photo show. That night, she asked if I would photograph her sometime.

    Six months later, I found myself driving to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to meet Rebeka at her new loft apartment. Friends asked me, “why are you driving all the way out to Rhode Island? Do you know this person well?” 

    "No," I said. "But I have to photograph her. I really, really want to." 

    There is a wild fragility about Rebeka that is impossible to describe without meeting her. There is an impossibly rough attitude about her in some moments. In others, she is, perhaps, the most tender, sensitive, and kind individual I have ever met. When I arrived at her apartment, she had spent the morning making a beautiful spread of food. A feast, actually. 

    We caught up a bit (our boyfriends sat at the table, talking books). “I’m an easy target,” she said, pretty much out of nowhere. “So thank you for never being cruel to me.” Really, I was just happy to be there.

    The boys left for a walk and Rebeka and I got to work. I told her to keep talking as I shot, because she said talking comforted her when she was nervous. We laughed for half the time. She cried in other moments. I wanted to hold this person and be this person’s friend. I wanted to start from the beginning and hear about her entire life. I realized, after two years of knowing Rebeka, this was the first real conversation we had ever had. 

    It’s amazing how much people share with you when you’re willing to listen. 

    Ask.

     
  4. Portrait of Cynthia Eason — March 20th

    Sweet, sweet, Cynthia, who cried when I asked her to tell me about herself. 

     
  5. Portrait of John Nemeth — March 17th

    I went for a stroll around the neighborhood looking for someone to photograph. I ran into John Nemeth and his friends celebrating St. Patricks Day outside a Greenpoint deli. They thought I was a cop. “I assure you, I’m not,” I said.

    “That’s what a cop would say.” 

    Eventually we got to talking and they seemed more at ease. One of them shyly asked if I would join the party, but I told him I was only headed out for a carton of milk.  

     
  6. Portrait of Shireen Ahmed — March 16th

    SoHo, New York. I sat next to you and your mother at lunch. You talked about being a vegetarian. Your hair was blue and there was snow in it. You looked like you were from a world more beautiful than ours. 

     
  7. Outtake of Porfirio Rosario

     
  8. Portrait of Sabrina Wells — March 31st

    Brooklyn, NY. Sabrina makes cupcakes for a living aka she makes people happy for a living.  

     
  9. A note on contracts, March 31st: Although I assumed it obvious, many people have asked me about photographic consent. The answer: I do not photograph people without asking their permission first. I. do. not. 

    If I were doing a city landscape project, this might be different. But this is a portrait project. I do not feel comfortable taking somebody’s photograph without them knowing it. I do not feel comfortable taking somebody’s photograph without their genuine consideration and participation with the photo. These portraits are not about my vision, but, rather, how a person wants to represent themselves. It is teamwork. 

    Furthermore, every participant in this project has signed a release form. Yes, most galleries require these. They will not sell someone’s image without permission because that wouldn’t be nice. The release form also allows me to get the person’s contact information (and the proper spelling of their name) so that I can send them a copy of their photo. I feel frustrated with people saying to me “well, you can’t get real, candid photos that way.” This is the most honest way for me. And I think I’ve found some pretty honest results. 

    Above, you’ll see a man with a suitcase. This man picked me up from La Guardia airport almost a month ago. He agreed to a portrait. We did several, and they were fantastic. When I explained the release to him, however, he seemed uncomfortable. He did not want others to see the photographs of his face. Without any hesitation, I told him to forget about the release and being part of the project, it was just nice to meet him. This is the only process and approach that works for me. 

     
  10. Portrait of Molly Rose Quinn — March 3rd

    Roebling Tea Room, Brooklyn, NY.

    I wasn’t really sure what to expect when photographing Molly. I wasn’t expecting it to be a dud portrait, but I also wasn’t expecting anything groundbreaking. This has nothing to do with Molly, and everything to do with my general nerves and hesitation approaching a “planned” portrait in a public place. There are many factors that are problematic with these: the fact that it’s planned (and often unnatural), other people, distractions, too much pressure to get it, bad lighting, etc.

    I’m not sure exactly what happened with Molly, and I know this isn’t an extraordinarily unique portrait, but she has been one of my absolute favorite people to shoot so far. Molly is an outgoing, assertive, woman-in-charge (which is why she was a kickass boss), but when I held the camera, something about her completely shifted. There was an honesty to her face and eyes that kind of knocked the breath out of my chest. I couldn’t stop shooting her (I think I took an entire roll of 35mm). We didn’t speak much while it went on, but we both agreed something magic happened there, at that lunch table. 

     
  11. Portrait of Elina Baygildina — March 23rd

    Painted gold for a James Bond party. 

     
  12. Portrait of Katie Mayfield — March 14th

    Katie, artist and friend. Katie grew up in a Civil War reenactment community. She is always drawing. At first, Katie seemed really nervous in front of the camera. Then I asked her to draw me as I photographed her. Suddenly, something opened up. I think we really saw each other in those moments. 

    The bottom photo is what she ended up with for me. 

     
  13. Portrait of Kai Chan — March 7th

    Kai, Mr. Cheekbones, is a dear friend of mine. Here he is, playing with his poker chips. Kai spent graveyard shifts in California casinos playing poker to pay his way through college. This man stops at nothing. 

     
  14. Portrait of JoAnn Luering — March 18th

    JoAnn was one of my fiction students at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She is a lovely writer and absolute lovely person. She was kind enough to pose for me during (another) blizzard after class one night. 

     
  15. Off the books, March 8th: Chris Messer playing with my Hasselblad in a Boston hotel room, during the blizzard.