Friday, January 21, 2011

The Man Behind The Photographer

Today is my 11th wedding anniversary. I mention this because my trusty assistant, grip, stand-in, and all time cheerleader on this self-funded project, is my wonderful husband, Bill.   

I could never do this project without him.  Not only do I rely on his physical support but all the incredible emotional support he has given me to continue to work on this very personal project.  He was there the moment the idea popped into my head to do this project and been there on every step of this journey. As evidence shows below!

He schleps gear everywhere with me, stands in front of blazing lights, in sweltering heat, freezing temperatures, or in cold water.  He drags 100 feet extension cords to dark, unsightly locations late into the night, and waits with me when I’m working late. He'll hold lights for  me while all the blood drains from his arm and arise at the crack of dawn to accompany me on a shoot.  He’ll sit in for any subject on any location and does it all with love and a few grunts, but mainly love. He brings me water and snacks and makes sure I don't tweak my back, although he has many times lugging gear. 

He has been there from the beginning, he is my best friend and I love him with all my guts and I couldn’t do this project without him.   

 Happy Anniversary, my Scoop. I love you. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Secret Life of Swimmers Featured in Blog!

This is a cool art blog which is featuring The Secret Life of Swimmers this month:

Click here to see the images!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Yummy Daniel

This is Daniel. This is his first portrait, which he kindly agreed to let me shoot today.

Let’s talk about all the yum factors for a moment.

First I’ll start with the weather. It’s January 15th and it was about 82 degrees outside.

Secondly, I swam two miles in the glorious sunshine before I took his picture, that was also pretty yummy. 

Let’s see what else am I missing….?  

Oh, Daniel can save your life. Seriously, if you don’t have a heart attack by looking at him, he can save your life. He’s the Culver City Fire Inspector and he had just completed a 21 mile run earlier in the morning to prepare for an upcoming marathon in Japan next month. I’ll have to wait until he gets back to take his second portrait, but, it’s worth the wait because we’re going to have flames.

Yeah, he’s pretty yummy too.  And, he’s a really nice guy to boot. We spent a good thirty minutes talking about his job as a firefighter and it's clear he loves his job. 

 I’m not the only one who thought he was yummy. This is Liz. I had just taken her portrait and she was getting ready to leave. Interesting that she chose to cross right behind Daniel.   Hmm… she looks focused on something… 

 More soon with the delightful Daniel.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Barry Shore

Happy New Year!  I’ve been remiss in my entries because of the holiday madness (always a good excuse) and a back injury, a real excuse. This is me, being horizontal, over Christmas with my two dogs at my husband’s art studio, so I do have proof!

 All photographers seem to have bad backs; myself included, which is why I swim. It keeps everything working and is great for your core strength.  But I’m better now, and not complaining because I’m about to introduce you to someone who really experienced a truly life-changing event.

 Barry Shore is one of the most animated, upbeat, positive people I’ve met at the pool.  Always smiling, always happy to see you. A typical greeting is yelled from a backstroke, “Hello Beautiful Person!” Everyone is beautiful to Barry. He swims religiously. And that truly makes sense once you get to know him.  He’s truly a deeply religious person.  You could describe his features as biblical. But, Barry has always been deeply religious, even before his life changed, in what must have felt like an instant.

Imagine waking up tomorrow morning and not being able to move. Literally, you’re body is totally paralyzed. That’s exactly what happened to Barry Shore five years ago. He went to sleep one night feeling a little tired, but otherwise himself. The next day he awoke as usual, anticipating a full day of meetings and work. He may have been able to open his eyes that fateful morning, but that’s all he could do. He simply could not move his body, he couldn’t even get out of bed.   Something was seriously wrong. 
Barry spent that day, and the many months, that followed in the hospital. His paralysis was so intense he needed to be on a respirator.  Doctors initially could not figure out what was wrong. Such a sudden onset of complete paralysis was mystifying.  But eventually they determined he was suffering from Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome, a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. And then it spreads through out the body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until the muscles cannot be used at all and the patient is almost totally paralyzed.

Which is what happened to Barry. While most patients can make a full recovery from paralysis, Barry did not.  Five years ago, Barry could not walk. He was in a wheel chair. His once strong, powerful body was wasting away. His physical therapist suggested he try getting in a pool to keep his circulation going.  He tried it. And his life was once again transformed. Movement came but not as quickly as the paralysis took over his life.  It took time, but very slowly he regained some mobility. At first it was only his fingers, but he was so inspired that he kept returning to the pool, finally regaining some use of his arms and, slowly, his legs, which had atrophied to a quarter of their size.   Through it all, Barry  was ever hopeful and willing to work very hard.

 Barry arrives at the pool walking with the aid of walker or a walking stick. He still has trouble moving, his nerves did not make a full recovery, but he is walking and not in a wheelchair. As he tells me all the time, “beats a wheelchair, kiddo!”  He has a full time health worker who has to wait three hours for him at the pool because Barry swims three hours a day, six days a week. Of course, he takes the Sabbath off. He swims rain or shine, wind, or snow, as the case was last week. He’s now up to three miles a day.  He swims mainly on his back with the aid of two floatation devices on his withered legs, but he is swimming. He listens to religious tapes and never stops moving.  Swimming has transformed his life. 

I went to the “Shul,” which is what Orthodox Jews refer to as Synagogue, where Barry spends a lot of his time studying the Torah. I was there to take his second portrait. Barry had arranged special permission for me, and my bare head, to enter the building and photograph him. It is customary that women are separated from the men when they worship. As a Jewish woman, I always found this annoying, but I’m not Orthodox and it’s their tradition.  Not surprisingly, when I met the Rabbi and I went to shake his hand,  he skillfully retracted it and with some floundering told me, “I..I don’t touch women.”  This left my hand suspended for what seemed like eternity, while my brain just processed the information. But, l recovered, and went about the business of setting up the lights in this house of worship whose ceilings were so low I quickly turned my embarrassment into problem solving.