FAVE PHOTO: Never too old for goofing around
Every Tuesday night at The Depot, a wide variety of folks come to share their talent on stage for the Open Mic event. I have been a sponsor of the event since May - which includes me shooting photos of the performers once a month and recording a music video for the quarterly first place winners.
One thing I’ve found about shooting photos is I will often find a muse. Someone who I'm drawn to and believe to be photogenic. I think sometimes it’s just a matter of them being an attractive (to me) person physically, but typically (or perhaps in addition to) I find their persona intriguing. A dynamic that pops for me through the lens.
Above on the right is Jordan. He’s a super talented musician...I’ve seen him play guitar, bass, drums, and rap - his energy transfers to the audience. He’s a captivating guy. He has been my muse many Tuesday nights. But last week, I found a new muse in the person on the left (sorry, I didn’t get her name). She has such a playful vibe and her look simply caught my eye. In my fave photo of the night (above) she is about to pull Jordan’s hat off. She had us laughing and listening as she described wild stories of her day while folks were on their smoke break outside the venue.
I’m a huge fan of faces. Hers has a youthful tight grip on her that also has the marks of wisdom from experience. She let us know multiple times that she’s 63 and still going strong. The multitude of colors she wore showed off her matching charisma and charm. The expressiveness of her eyes and mouth gave her story-telling the extra attention it deserved. I’m so glad she had no problem being photographed. Part of what makes someone a muse for me is their ability to be themselves or even perform a bit for the camera.
Perhaps, with age, comes a greater confidence or a who-gives-a-fuck attitude that breeds a great charm from my perspective. It certainly helps make my passion for photography a joy when someone lets their guard down, whatever the reason.
VIEWING RECOMMENDATION: UNTOLD: The Race of the Century
MY RATINGS: SCALE OF 1-4
Intensity: 😮😮 Comedy: 🤣🤣 Drama: 😢😢😢
Writing: 🤔🤔🤔🤔 Originality: 🧐🧐🧐 Cinematography: 😍😍😍
The America’s Cup is not something I’ve ever watched or cared about. Racing yachts never held an interest for this land-loving sports fan. I had plenty of other athletic drama in my own life along with the up and down emotions of a being a Philadelphian. Philly fans may be doing amazingly well presently (Phillies in the World Series and Eagles still undefeated half way through the season), but in my 50+ years, our professional sports teams have often given us fits and even reasons for throwing snowballs at Santa Claus.
The UNTOLD Netflix series includes several sports documentaries worth checking out. The 2022 season includes an NBA officials cheating scandal, the story behind And 1, and one of the most bizarre and misunderstood stories about a college football player being gaslighted. I recommend them all. I still need to go back and watch season one.
SPECIFIC REVIEW: 99 minutes into The Race of the Century
Re-living this story through the eyes of the guys who were in the race in 1983 makes for a great watch. The underdog story is pretty common, but what stands out for me in this 99th minute of the film is the emotion these old men show as they remember how monumental this experience was for them. Nearly 40 years later, the impact of this race, still contains such a strong pull on them and the viewer’s heart strings.
Having had the chance to interview hundreds if not thousands of people in the past 20 years of documentary film production, I know the desire to see the tears come. It’s not always easy making people feel open enough to cry on camera. I’m not sure there’s a spot on my resume to list it, but I think it may actually be a talent of mine. I have often cried along with the person I’m interviewing. It’s a pretty unique opportunity to hear someone’s story and truly be engaged with them. The highest compliments I’ve received in my work is when the person I’m interviewing tells me how comfortable I made them feel.
There’s a Chinese proverb that translates as, “Aged ginger is more powerful and spicy.” Offering ourselves to older folks in our lives and listening to their stories is something we could all benefit from.
VIDEO PROJECT: Chasing the Win
The documentary about the 1983 America’s Cup reminded me of a short film I directed. In 2013, I was hired by Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore City to create a video about their unique school by highlighting their boys lacrosse team as they attempted to get their first ever victory. Going into their fifth season with a record of 0 wins and 38 losses, they believed this was their time...not to win a championship, but to simply get their first win.
There’s a lot that can go wrong in trying to record a documentary with a story that is unfolding in real time. How will it end? Who will be the right people to focus on? How often do you show up to events? How many cameras do you need in case things go in a particularly important direction?
It was both an exciting opportunity and a challenge yielding heart-attack moments. The advantage of hindsight allows me to breathe calmly as I think about this project. We knew certain games were going to be blow outs...no chance of winning, but still, we needed to be there just in case - and to get footage that might be useful in the overall story. Half way through the season they played a team that would give them their best shot at getting the win. The game went into overtime.
I don’t like spoiling a movie--but I will say, they played this same team at the end of the season giving themselves one more chance to get that first win. Check out the trailer above.
The wisdom I gained from experiences like directing this documentary has given me perspective about approaching projects now. I started producing videos in my early 30s and now 20 years later, I get to look back on my learning curve. I couldn’t see it in 2013. The ability to see yourself on a timeline getting better is really difficult when you’re getting through a particular period. But the gift of growing old is being able to gain perspective and see a trajectory that was once just a point in time.
In 2014, I got a chance to screen Chasing the Win on a big screen in a theater in Los Angelos. I entered a sports film festival and received a 2nd place prize. You can see the full 27-minute version of our award-winning film here.
PODCAST: Fifty to 50
It’s back! My podcast about turning 50 (in 2019) and doing something I’ve never done before each week for the 50 weeks leading up to my birthday is back on all of the podcast channels. Listen (for free) to 31 episodes about all of my adventures.
Some common questions I often receive about my experience...with answers:
1. What was your favorite activity?
Episode 21: Euphoria - that time when I tried E for the first time.
2. Anything you didn’t like/wouldn’t do again?
jumping out of a plane.
3. What taught you the most?
My dad died in October of 2019, so there were a couple of episodes that talked about
unique experiences with my father as he faded. I spoke at his funeral and if you have a
soft spot for death and dying, as I do, perhaps you’ll enjoy this episode.
When I turned 40, I did something similar with Forty Days to 40 - and kept record of my experiences on a blog. At 50, it was a weekly podcast. Next up...60 Months to Sixty! I’ve got a couple of years before that journey begins. Right now, the idea is to record a video series to track a 5 year journey attempting new things each month leading up to my 60th birthday. If you have any suggestions on things I should try, I’d love to hear from you - send me your ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you dig what you’ve read...please subscribe (at the top of the page) and send a link to folks you think might enjoy it. Contact me at email@example.com with any questions, comments, or if you’d like to have me produce a video or photo for you. Check out my instagram and website.