Today I found myself going to my happy place, the beach, after sharing my thoughts yet again to a woman who has been my counselor on & off for 10 years. Diana helped me get through stage 4 cancer, & she is now is helping me sort through the emotions of going through a divorce after nearly 25 years of marriage. While today was not much different than any other day in recent memory I knew it was sure to be one of the last good New Jersey beach days in 2014 with temperatures in the 60s, little wind & a beautiful blue sky.
The beach is a place where I find life to be in perfect harmony with the material world. The sky is in perfect harmony with the sea even as it rages during storms, & life is in perfect harmony with death as the ocean scatters gifts from the sea onto the sand for the living to enjoy. The fact that something as fragile as a seashell can be tossed about by the ocean & still emerged intact is inspiring. In my youth I only wanted to find perfect shells to show my Mom who taught me the magic of strolling along the coast to search for seashells while searching your own soul. Now, at almost 54, I have come to love the broken shell just as much as the beautiful perfect prize all beachcombers seek. To see how the spiral of a shell twists into itself is an amazing visual gift of the shell’s insides & shouldn’t be discarded easily.
There were plenty of shells on the beach today. Some shells were perfect & some were broken. I hadn’t planned on coming here, so of course I didn’t have my beach camera with me. There is always an image to be captured when I don’t have my camera, so of course I found many. Once again I was left with my ratchet iPhone 4 camera, although I must say the iPhone camera & I have come to understand each other better these days.
I didn’t notice the old woman at first. I was focused on trying to call back the high school nurse who had just informed me my oldest daughter wasn’t feeling well. It was the hundreds of seagulls, that appeared seemingly out of nowhere, which caught my attention. I can only assume she is a regular, since she wasn’t giving any indication to the seagulls that she was carrying food. She was happily chatting to them hovering overhead as she walked onto the beach with her reusable shopping bag filled with bread & other goodies. People who know me well know I love feeding seagulls! Needless to say I was immediately thrilled & sad (because I didn’t have any food to give them) all at the same time. Kirby was thrilled too. He wanted them as much as they wanted her food.
I’ve always been attracted to taking photographs of people in solitary situations. Seeing someone alone & immersed in their space is intriguing to me on many levels. Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they somewhere in between? It’s so easy to assume their thoughts are like your own at that moment even though we know they’re not.
I quickly got up off the warm sand to retreat to the boardwalk with Kirby. I needed to call the high school nurse back, & I didn’t want Kirby to disturb her or the seagulls. Looking back I saw her. She was alone with her seagulls, & I knew she was in her happy place.
Tonight I decided that even though Apple has never put much thought into the development of their iPhone cameras I still appreciate that the camera is there. I have been trying to keep at least one of my Canon digital cameras with me whenever I leave the house. I mean unless there is some extreme reason that I shouldn’t bring a camera I really have no excuse. I even have a “beach” camera thanks to the lasting impression a professional camera repair guy made when he spoke about the damage beach sand can inflict on your gear all those years ago in Walt Silver’s color slide class at SVA.
I try not to be a tourist, or rely on the law of large numbers, by photographing everything & anything. I know that at some point I will see something I need to capture, so I keep my camera with me. Well I try to remember to keep it with me.
All day today I had my camera. We never made it to the beach, because it rained pretty hard most of the day. I took a few shots of the kids at the house. I even took it with me when I went shopping. I didn’t take it with me when I ran out to Rite Aid with the girls tonight though. The strange things is when I pulled over to get this shot I thought I had it with me! While I still wish my Canon was with me I am grateful I had my iPhone, because honestly 34 (yikes!) years ago I would have missed the shot completely.
I took this photograph with my Canon F1 at our old beach house on the Jersey shore. My then four year old daughter had just showered after a day of playing on the bay beach. After playing peek-a-boo for some time under my Grandmother’s chenille bedspread she soon tired, & I snapped this shot in the natural light that was filtering into my bungalow’s bedroom. Today she is 14 & a beautiful teenage girl. I will always remember this wee girl though…..
Beautiful baby Griffin spending a summer afternoon with his Great Grandma. Hard to take a bad picture when the subjects are so loving!
So I’m hoping to see some of my favorite Irish friends this weekend if (ughhhh) it doesn’t snow. I haven’t seen too many people since the holidays for lots of reasons. Living in the Northeast one of those reasons would be snow… the new four letter word.
Thinking of bringing my camera. Yes I know I should always have it with me, and I usually do. Sometimes having my camera around friends makes them uneasy I think. Like I’m going to start snapping like the paparazzi lol.
Are there people I could just take shots of all day without pause? Absolutely. My daughter’s have been my muse since birth, and for the most part they entertain my obsession with them. I love to photograph dancers as my friends & many Irish dancers know. Many of the dancers now know me by sight. There is something about a person who is blessed with the ability to dance. The love of the dance comes through the lens in a magnificent fashion even when they aren’t performing.
I took the photograph above a year & a half ago. I’ve known Kerri for many years, & I just love this girl! The shot looks posed, but it isn’t. She was sitting next to me on the ground. When I looked down I saw her. As I grabbed my camera & looked down she looked up. With any picture that you love you know in that fraction of a second that it takes to catch the image you have what you wanted to capture. I hope to see Kerri this weekend even if I don’t take her picture (but I know I probably will).
So in awe of this cast. I have so many images to edit from this event & the week. My schedule is so messed up though. I caught a nasty fever virus right after the concert & we ended up leaving Boston early. Add in getting bursitis in my hip from sleeping with a 103 degree fever on 2 seats with a metal bar between them on the Amtrak train back home while on chemo really messed me up. I guess I have some issues!
In any event this was the second time I was able to spend time with Cherish the Ladies. Both times were fantastic for different reasons. The 1st time my oldest daughter was invited to dance with the cast at a concert in Philadelphia. The photo above is, of course, from the Worlds in Boston. Both times the show was fantastic.
A local describes how his life has changed after Hurricane Sandy as another resident looks out at the sea & what is left of the town fishing pier. “This use to be a fun place to live year round. Now everything has changed. It’s just blah.”