Every year, for years, there was an eating competition in Philadelphia held every Friday before the Superbowl as an alternative to the Eagles again not making it into the big game. Once the Eagles won the Superbowl a few years back, Wing Bowl was ended.
Wing Bowl was a wing eating contest filled with all around debauchery. 20,000 attended annually.Boobs, butts and blowing chunks it was just plain trashy.
It started very simply as a contest. In fact, there was a time where the “Wingettes” were friends and family of the folks running the event. They wore sweathshirts and jeans. Twenty years later, any amount of clothing was too much. It was one of those things that, every year, I hated to cover. When I’d mention it to my editors on the phone, I could sense it as they cringed.
Some of the former participants remain in the news. Recently, one of the original winners, El Wingador, was busted again for cocaine possession in Nebraska.
That said, here is a look back at some of the craziness.
I was digging through my achives looking for an image the other day when I came across one of my favorite images I had made of Nobel Prize winner, George E. Smith in 2005, while on assignment for Black Star. What I did not know at the time I made this image, because we mostly talked about life and sports during the photo shoot, was that Mr. Smith was responsibe for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor of which I was photographing him with inside my Nikon D100.
Think about that. I’m making pictures using a piece of equipment that he had envisioned in 1969. The whole time I was at his house in Toms River, he never mentioned it once.
For those who don’t know about Black Star, it was the first privately owned picture agency in America and is noted for it’s contributions to the history of photojournalism. The agency was formed in 1935 and introduced numerous new techniques in photography and illustrated journalism. It took me a long time to get into that agency.
I had applied to become a Black Star photojournalist early in my career. I was encouragingly rejected by a very nice woman who became one of my good friends. They apparently already had a photog that they represented in the Philadelphia market and did not have room for another. I was told to re-apply after I had some more experience. Years later, that photojournalist who was already represented, who had also befriended me early on, passed away. What I did not know was that he had mentioned me to the higher ups, and when he passed on, they reached out to me and asked if I was still interested in working with them. Hell yes!!
It never occurred to me at the time that I was photographing one of the people responsible for the digital camera I was using while working for the photo agency that revolutionalized photojournalism in the 30’s on.
I’m sitting here thinking about it. All that’s going through my head is, how fucking cool!?
The other day I was viewing a FB post by someone I know. She was out with her family celebrating a birthday. They made a bunch of pictures of the celebration and posted them on social media. I noticed one of the pictures had, on the wall, a photograph of the Phillies Phanatic at the World Series Championship Parade in 2008.
Have any of you ever seen this photograph hanging on a wall somewhere? Yup. It’s one of mine. I made that image at Broad and Spruce with a 300mm as I got tired of riding on the bus the Phillies provided for media. I wanted to get out in the crowd and see what I could find pictures wise. Low and behold, the Phanatic was dancing atop one of the floats with City Hall in the background.
That image must have been published and republished many times over in the past 13 or so years. I once saw a print of the image for sale in Wegman’s. If you’ve seen it somewhere, let me know.
Years ago, when gathering names for captions I would write a name, age and location in a notebook. I had tons of these notebooks. Many times, when I’d get back to the newsroom to process my film and edit my images I would barely be able to read my chicken scratch writing. I’d figure it out, but it became a real pain in the neck at times.
Fast forward 20 years later. An iPhone…. video camera built in, it’s now so much easier to keep track of id’s for photographic captions. Nowadays I videotape my photographic subjects saying their names and where they are from. That way, there’s no doubt I have the names spelled correctly .
This video is a small sampling of some of the people I’ve photographed recently as they give me their names.
#tbt#ThrowbackThursday In 1989, I was walking on Broad Street near Chestnut. As I was walking I heard beautiful music being made. I turned the corner and headed towards 15th Street.
There was this man, standing on the corner, with his clarinet pointed towards the sky just playing and playing. It was awesome. I picked up my Nikon F3 and 85mm lens and started making pix. The musician was lost in his playing and barely noticed me standing by and making image after image.
Once he stopped playing, I asked his name for a caption. If it was a slow news day I was thinking I could get my editor, Gerry Benene, to use it as a weather feature. So, the man gave me his name. Byard Lancaster. He was a very pleasant, down to earth guy. Willing to chat with anyone who stopped by when he didn’t have the clarinet up to his lips. Well, it turned out that the guys was a pretty well regarded avante grade jazz musician. When he wasn’t in the studio or on tour, Byard told me he just liked to play for people and that’s what he dd on the Streets of Phildelphia.
I mentioned that I had photographed him to one of my colleagues who was into jazz and was told, “You met Jazz royalty today.” To me, while he may have been this world famous jazzman, he was just a very cool dude. Over the years I’d stop by if I heard him playing to say hello and shot the breeze.
Sadly, Byard Lancaster passed away in 2012 from pancreatic cancer, but when I look at these images, to this day I hear his beautiful music.
At 9am today, what ice was Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey will be imploded removing years of history from the small ocean side town. For me, it’s bittersweet. Early in my career as a photojournalist, @933wmmr, the radio station I worked for (long before the internet, they published a Survival Guide, which needed visual content) would do a week worth of broadcasts from the …then Atlantis Hotel and Casino. In the late 80’s it became a Trump property and rechristened Trump Plaza. In the mid-80’s John DeBella’s Morning Zoo would broadcast for the week and then on Fridays the station would hold a beach concert in front of the building just a hop over the boardwalk.
There I photographed Phyllis Diller and @jdbshow chatting up on stage, Pierre with DeBella and some dudes dancing in Hawaiian shirts, Pierre and Buzz riding a jitney and interviewing people n the beach and boardwalk, Joe Bonadonna sitting n stage doing his show in the hot August sun, Tommy Conwell and Southside Johnny performing onstage, my good friends Caryn and Ken dancing on the beach, a dude dressed as a gorilla chasing down women, and the list goes on. Most of these folks I am still friendly with to this day.
I learned how to expose an image in bright sandy sun there, work with backlight better, stay out of the way while performances are ongoing (people really get pissed), and to in most instances just hang and wait for that key “moment” that us photojournalists are forever seeking that shows a slice of life, a stolen moment between friends, a nice gesture, etc.. I don’t mean to preach, but things that I thrive to capture, the simple things or moments in life, many of which I learned while doing that first photographic job for the radio station.
In later years, Trump properties would become a client. Hard to collect on when looking to get paid, but that said, I did shoot some very cool stuff there and learned a ton about billing practices which set me up for further endeavors as a photojournalist.
Love Trump or hate him, my experiences were long before he owned that property. And, I think of those experiences fondly. So, while some are happy to see that building imploded because of Trump’s history and negative connotations with the town, I am a bit sad to see it go. Granted it’s now an eyesore, and should be demolished. Hopefully replaced by something even cooler that will eventually bring Atlantic City to the awesome resort town it once was many years ago.
Some of you might know that early in my career I worked as a photographer for WMMR in Philadelphia. One of the coolest things about that gig was the fact that I got to meet and photograph some of the musicians who provided the soundtrack to my life.
In fall of 1987, Pierre, Buzz and Reginald the Butler interviewed Trevor Rabin, Tony Kaye and Jon Anderson of the progressive rock supergroup, Yes at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia. If I recall correctly, Rabin and Kaye sat down first to be interviewed. Anderson strolled in after the other two had left. Now, looking back, I wonder if there was more to that, considering that a few short months later Anderson took a leave from the band and started to work on a solo project with Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, and Bill Bruford. No matter, it was still a treat to hang around making pictures during those interviews.
Found this in the archives of two of my oldest friends. Probably sometime in the late 80’s. Jim, my brother from another mother, and I were going on a bike ride through Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia.
At the last minute, Jim tells me that this girl he’s been dating is coming along with us. Ok. No biggie. So we go to meet up with Ana. Walking up to us with her bike is this stunningly beautiful woman. I think, boy Jimmy hit the jackpot! Then we start riding. Ana says we’re going to fast. She can not keep up. I’m thinking, “why in the world did we bring a woman along?”Slowly but surely I’m getting annoyed. Then we come to a big hill in Pennypack. Ana is having a hard time. I get more annoyed. A girl. On one of our extended bike rides. WTF?! Jim and I would sometimes do late night bike rides from Bensalem to the Art museum in Philadelphia then come home and watch Letterman. A short 18 mile ride at a quick clip was nothing to us. So, to have a woman (sounds really stupid now) come along and slow us down to me was unthinkable. I also, had never been in love with a woman at that point in my life. I believe Jim was in love with Ana at first sight. So, Ana wants to take a break and we find a 7-11 in the Fox Chase area. We had already ridden really far, and she was still with us. I start thinking she might not be that bad. At 7-11, Ana gets me a drink and some snacks. We then shared some laughs and have been the best of friends ever since. She is like a sister to me.They are both and have always been family to me. The type of people in my life that I may not speak with for months of even years, but if I pick up the phone to chat with either of them, it is as though I spoke with them yesterday. I can maybe think of only 5 or 6 people in my life that I can say that about. We might not be family by blood, but most certainly are in the most important area that matters, and that my friends is love.
It’s an image that to this day makes me emotional. It’s an image that I wish I didn’t have to make. It’s an image and moment, I will never forget. It’s an image that 11 years later, one of the sons of the surgeon whose funeral I covered that cold day in January reached out to me via email.
The boy, now in his teens wrote, “Hello, my name is John Pryor, you might not have remembered but back in 2008 you took photos for my dads funeral service (John Paul Pryor MD). I was 4 years old when he died and I don’t remember the funeral. I have looked at all the phots on Getty images but I was wondering if the was even a small chance you have anymore it would mean the world to me thank you. John Pryor”
I responded, hesitantly within a day or so. Hesitant because the last thing I wanted to do was bring up the trauma of his fathers passing in Iraq.The boy’s father, Dr. John Pryor, 42, of Moorestown, New Jersey, passed away tragically on Christmas Day 2008 in Iraq, where he was a member of the US Army Surgical Unit. Pryor was assistant Professor of Surgery and Director of the Trauma Departmentat the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The man was beloved by all who knew or met him. A great father, husband, and all around special human being. I asked him to give me a few days and I would look through the archives to see if I could find the folder from that January day.
Within a few days, I had located and set up the gallery so the boy could view them. I know it’s generally not protocol for a photojournalist to show outtakes from an assignment. This, I felt I needed to do. My gut told me it might help the boy in some way to get some kind of closure. Even knowing that while my own father died in 2012, I’m still not ok with that.
I wrote the boy, now young man, “Your father’s funeral is one assignment I will never forget. What I recall most is that fact that when you and the rest of your family were walking away from the gravesite and I was making pictures I remember being thankful that no one could see me behind the camera because I was probably crying as much as anyone else in attendance.”
I went on to write, “I also recall being upset with my assignment editor that day because she wanted me to make pictures at the cemetery. None of my colleagues from any of the other major wire services, or my fouler colleagues at The Philadelphia Inquirer had plans to make pictures there. And I told my editor that I didn’t believe anyone would allow me to make pictures at the cemetery. She told me to reach out to the funeral director, who in turn reached out to your mom, and she agreed that I could make pictures at the cemetery as long as I stayed back and shot with a long lens. As far as I know I was the only one that she agreed to allow into the cemetery at the time. I never did have chance to thank her, so, please tell her Thank You for allowing me to intrude that day. It was probably one of the hardest events I have covered. And not something I would ever want to do again.”
So, with the gallery setup, I sent the link to John. He responded, “Hello the image you are talking about is my mom with my older sister and my older brother. We still live in Moorestown and our family has been doing well. I have come to notice that as I grow older I find new grief related to my dads death. I am very thankful that you took the time to help me it means a lot. I understand how my dads funeral must have been hard but I thank you because I now have the opportunity to see it and fully process it.”
In my email reply, I opened up about the death of my own father, thinking I may be able to help the boy, I wrote, “My father passed away in 2012. I find that I still am not over it. Every where I turn there is always something there that will remind me of him. Sounds like you are having similar feelings. The way I look at it is that while I’ll never get over the loss, I will just have to learn to live with it, eventually. It just takes time.” John wrote back that he was sorry to hear about my father and it meant a lot to him.
A few hours later, I received another email from John. It still to this day brings tears to my eyes.
So many times I feel that as a photojournalist, what I do doesn’t matter. I feel as though no one appreciates or understands what we do. Picture do not lie, and our efforts to tell the truth visually rarely are thanked or appreciated. We are at times an afterthought as far as the chain of command ay newspapers and magazine go.
But, this response, made whatever I do photographical, or wherever I might make picture, no matter what the subject matter.
At least to me.
For one moment in time.
It is a response I am forever grateful for and will never ever forget.
John responded, “Mr. Cain words can not describe how thankful I am for these photos. Every photo helped me remember that day. I’ve seen pictures of family I didn’t think was there. You helped me see with my own eyes how many people cared for my father and that is something only you could have given me. I had doubts reaching out to you, I didn’t know if you would have remember or be too busy to respond. But you did and I am forever grateful for your compassion. My mom is grateful too. She told me that she aloud you to take photos for this exact reason, so that me and my siblings could remember that day. I don’t want you to feel like you were intruding because if it wasn’t for you I would have forgotten that day. Thanks you for everything you have done for me and my family Sincerely John Pryor “
After the tears subsided, I wrote John back, “Hi John,I was hesitant to set up the gallery at first. I was concerned it might hurt more then help. I’m very happy it helped. The pictures definitely tell a story of the amount of love and support that was and is still there for you and your family. Of course I would respond. For as long as I’ve been working as a photojournalist (I was a sophomore at UArts when I turned pro) my goal has always been to be true to the people or subjects that I photograph. I feel as though I owe them something for allowing me to step into their lives and make pictures. So, I will always respond…good or bad. It is nice to hear that you folks don’t consider it an intrusion. That means the world to me. I am glad you did reach out. So many times in my career it has felt like we just step all over people and come in and out of their lives never knowing what became of them. In this case it sounds like you’re growing into a fine young dude.
Your father would be proud.
I’m certain your mom is as well.”
It’s an image that actually helped someone. It’s life. Uncensored. Raw. Powerful.
The email. That was gift. From a young boy turned into a fine young man.
May God Bless you and your family John Pryor.
Your father is looking down from heaven and smiling.
It’s Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d share this story.
The power of pictures.
Just received a very sad request. A man emailed me last night looking for a copy of an image I made a few years ago at an event. He was looking to download a copy of the photograph.
The power of pictures.
First thing I thought was, “Oh, someone wants a freebie.”
Sadly, there’s more to the story. You see, the photo featured a woman that this gentleman had been in a relationship with, so, the reason was personal. It turns out that I made the image in the beginning of the couple’s relationship.
The power of pictures.
The dawn of a new day. Love in the air. All that really good stuff at the start of something special. That’s how the man sees the image.
Very cool. OK. Now we get to the sad part. The couple is no longer together. Late last month the woman died tragically in a kayaking accident. The man was looking for something that reminded him of her. That reminder is in the image I made way back when.
The power of pictures.
No, I won’t share the image, because quite frankly, I don’t want to invade their privacy.
He was willing to pay for it, but I just couldn’t charge someone for something like that. A memory. A piece of someone’s heart. Priceless. So, I just sent the pic with my condolences.
Can’t believe that I am crying like a baby writing this.
The power of pictures.
The reason I was able to find that image is, well, we are professional. Our archives are easily accessible as well as searchable years after an event. Currently in our archives are images date back to the very beginning when I was the station photographer for 93.3 WMMR in the mid-80’s before joining the staff of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
We value your memories as much you do.
The value of the memories created are priceless.
The power of pictures.
When looking for a photographer, whether hiring us or not, please keep that in mind.
The one thing I do recall is that this was a tough 4 alarm apartment building fire that took hours to extinguish. Somehow I found myself not far from the scene of the actual fire, which displaced 60 people in the middle of winter. I don’t believe it was very cold that day, or maybe it didn’t seem cold due to the amount of heat coming off the flames. Once the fire was out, or almost out, I was able to get close enough to make this image of Brad Panaia, of Yardley Makefield Fire Company who was drained physically and probably emotionally at the time, from the battle. He took off his helmet and gloves, placed them onto a parked car at the scene, and wiped his brow with his hand while waiting for a drink from one of his fellow firefighters. I know I had been on scene for at least an hour and a half at this point. In that time I had the easy scene setters, but I recall hanging because I was looking for something that conveyed the emotion of the day. At the time, I don’t believe they were aware of the death of a 3 year old boy in the fire. My editors must have though I captured that emotion since the image ran on A1 in the Philadelphia Inquirer the next day. Although for some reason, the only copy I could find in the archives is a black and white.
Every once and a while I wonder whatever happened to Brad Panaia, who, along with all of the firefighters that battled those flames on that winter morning, are certainly heroes to everyone that day and many other days. Out of the 60 displaced, a 3 year old boy was killed while his twin brother was saved by a neighbor who had scaled three floors to rescue the boy, 8 people were injured. 150 firefighters responded to the blaze.
Lucky for us there are people willing to run into the flames. It could have have been worse if not for these souls.
Not sure I’d call it a win. Maybe resolution is more like it.
Almost two years ago I photographed an assignment for a client. Those images were then published with a feature story by the client.
Well, the subject of that feature story in turn took those images and used them on their blog.
I had no idea.
Monthly, I do a search for my images online to find unauthorized uses. Generally, I don’t have issues, but most folks don’t realize that the copyright information is embedded into the actual images which make it easier to find when people use our work online.
Seventeen months after the photo assignment I was doing my monthly search and found a blog post with my images on this company’s website. Seems that the basic info had been stripped away from the images making them a bit harder to find in a basic search.
So, here I find two of my images on the site in a blog post as well as one of those images being used as the featured post photo. The site also included the reporters feature story without permission. Once I realized it was unauthorized I made a frame grab. Why? To make note of the date and to show my work on their website. That’s potential evidence. For down the road…if necessary in a copyright infringement lawsuit.
From wikipedia, the definition of copyright infringement is “the use of works protected by copyright law without permission for a usage where such permission is required, thereby infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.”
That is exactly what happened in this case. Company B took my images from Company B, who paid me to make pictures at Company A and placed those images on Company A’s website. It’s a clearcut violation and easy to prove. Remember, I have evidence in the frame grabs.
If the copyright is registered with the US Copyright office before the infringement or within three months of first publication, the owner of the copyright may be eligible for up to $150,000 per image in statutory damages and attorney’s fees from the copyright infringer. Remember that! $150,000. Per. Image.
So, I reach out to these folks via email. In the email I explain that my work is on their website and if they have purchased a license to use the images on the site to please provide that proof. I already know that they did not purchase a license since it would have to go through me. So, I hit send. Email sent.
A week later I try again via email.
I then found the Facebook page for these folks. Reach out then by Facebook message.
Finally a response.
They did apologize for the unauthorized use and ask that I send them an invoice. I do send them an invoice. Although since the work had been online for over a year and a half the price for the unauthorized usage was substantially more then it would have been normally. After sending the invoice, I wait. And wait. And wait.
One month goes by, then another. All the while, I’m emailing these folks and getting blown off. Sending invoice reminders. Nothing. This goes on about 6 weeks. I then email them and let them know I’d like to resolve this without taking them to court. Again…nothing.
About three weeks later, I start preparing myself for the court battle. Gather all of my evidence, which had been frame grabbed as soon as I first saw the images on the site without permission. My plan at this point is to reach out to the NPPA legal team and see where they can help with this issue. They would usually be able to recommend a copyright attorney in my area.
That didn’t happen. It wasn’t necessary.
In a last ditch effort, I had emailed the contact person at the company that had used the images without permission. It said, “Are we going to resolve this, or will I have to take legal action?”
In a matter of minutes, I received a response that claimed the email had gone to spam. They’d like to take care of this as soon as possible. Can they send a check?
I sent an address with instructions on who to make the check payable to to make sure they had the information needed. Three days later, I have a check in hand for the amount that I had been requesting for 3 months. Now, if they were having trouble receiving my email, they sure hadn’t had an issue receiving the invoices. The amount was correct. Leading me to believe that what happened in the past three months is that they must gave spoken to their attorney and found that since my images were registered with the copyright office I could seek up to $150,000 in damages for each infringement. Now that is something I was trying top avoid. Sure, $150,000 per image sounds great, but my goal was to be fair. They, as well as myself, are small businesses. I didn’t want to hurt a small business. The other thing is it very well could have been a long drawn out court battle, which no one wants. Especially me. I want to make pictures not battle for the rights to images.
The good news is that I was paid. The bad news is that it keeps happening. Most people don’t or can’t understand that they can not just take someone’s work and post it on their website without permission.
We need to educate folks about copyright law.
This has happened to me before, and is one of the reasons that I do look online once a month to protect my rights. I don’t like doing it, but it has to be done. I love making pictures, but do not want to be giving the work away for free when my daily cost of doing and staying in business is as great as ever.
Most times I walk around with $5,000 worth of gear just to make a single picture. That doesn’t even begin to address other costs of doing business. There’s health insurance, liability insurance, vehicles, insurance, computers, software, etc… The list is almost endless.
Granted the company finally paid for the unauthorized use, but I had to invest so much time and effort into protecting my rights I don’t really feel like a winner.
I just want to make pictures and not have to worry about protecting my copyright. Problem is that in this day it is almost impossible.
They key here for photographers is to make sure you register your copyright. It gives you a lot more ammunition if an infringement ever happens to you.
Know your rights. Protect your copyrights.
So, instead of a win I’ll just call it a resolution, until next time.
A few days ago, someone in a Facebook to which I belong needed assistance with Photoshop for a project they were working on for their business. I offered, and did help the person. She wrote me a very nice thank you note in that group. She posted it and tagged me along with a link to my website. All of which is much appreciated and very kind. (SEE BELOW)
So, the link to my website shows a main image that someone commented on. The person wrote, “Look it’s Zorro!” Well, considering the image is from a funeral for a veteran who had no one to attend his burial and a health care worker helped get hundreds to attend the vets funeral, I was a bit perplexed. Strike that mostly, I was fucking annoyed. There is a time and place for humor. And, if the woman was trying to be funny, A. I don’t get it. B. Who the fuck are you to make some dumb ass comment like that. Be warned, I am very, very protective of my photographic subjects. Even in death.
As a photojournalist, we develop a certain trust with our subjects, and their families…and their friends or colleagues. Our goal is never to harm someone, verbally or by showing them in a sad light. If someone negates a subject of one of my images, I AM PISSED.
I wrote the above under her comment. Her response was that a very dear friend is in the photograph. OK. Well, if that’s the case why write such a dumb thing? I wrote again to ask if that person was who she refers to as Zorro. Never hear back and the woman coming now seems to have deleted the comment.
HOW ABOUT NEVER WRITING SOMETHING SO DUMB IN THE FIRST PLACE!!?
I’ve been feeling a bit melancholic of late. I wasn’t sure why, until my late friend’s sister posted a picture in memory of him. That post reminded me that it’s been 27 years since my friend passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident. My friend Jim, who I had known since 5th grade, (about the time we were in cub scouts) spent almost every day in high school with, and thought of his family as mine, and he the same.
I couldn’t believe it, but there it was in print in the newspaper where I worked. Written by a reporter friend. “Collision, fiery blast kills cyclist” I had heard about the accident the morning before, still didn’t believe it. There it was though, like a smack to the face saying, yeah, it’s true. It happened.
Almost every day of 7th grade, at lunch, Jim and our friend Mike would duke it out at lunch to see who was toughest. It was funny, during the lunch period, it was war. As soon as lunch was over, just like before, they were the best of friends laughing and joking. That was Jim. Fiery spirit, but friend to the end with one heck of a sense of humor. No matter what.
As a motorcyclist myself, we had many conversations over the years about motorbike safety. He loved to race his motorcycle, fast. I wasn’t worried about his driving, but the other cars around him. I had once taken a spill on my bike, and since then was always a defensive rider. Jim was fast, but defensive. The accident that took his life would have been unavoidable for anyone. A car stalls on a highway, before you speed behind it without seeing it is hard to react. I later found out what caused the explosion from some of my police friends, but the end result was still the same.
Once, when my tire literally fell off my car after someone at the shop where he worked supposedly fixed it, he knew I was shaken up, but said, “At least it wasn’t me that tried to kill you.” He later told me that he almost killed the guy that had worked on my car for almost killing his friend.
High school was no different than grade school or cub scouts. In high school we both decided we wanted to go to technical school. Jim to study auto mechanics and me art. Two weeks at home school and two weeks at tech school per month. We loved it. Jim was always into cars. And he was always the go to person if I ever had a question on how to fix something in my car. Could tell you the answer in two seconds. Always. We drove to school many days over those years. Listening to “Chicken Man” or the “DeBella Travesty.” I remember when he met his future wife, who was studying baking. Never saw him with a smile as big as that day. Well, maybe after his daughter’s birth. Another smile the size of Texas.
“Run Jim, Run!!” It’s 11:30 am. We’ve just been let out of classes for the day. Every day, before we got our licenses to drive, Jim and I would run, full speed from Bishop Egan High School to the Levittown train station. 2 miles. We wanted to make the 11:55 am train that stopped in Cornwells Heights, which was maybe a mile from our homes. We did this for almost half a year. Raced each other to the train station. Never missed the train once. We cheered and encouraged each other not to slow down, but go faster. If we missed the train, the schoolbus wasn’t coming until 2:30PM. And we hated staying at school for any reason. So we would run as fast as we could.
On the fateful day, when I heard that my friend, at 27 years old, was gone leaving behind a wife and young 7 year old daughter I was in shock, disbelief and full of sadness. Jim was one of the people on this planet that I could see myself being friends with as long as we both lived. Saw it from 5th grade on. It, sadly wasn’t meant to be.
In my life, I’ve made many friends over the years.
Some friends come, some friends go.
Some stick with you in your heart until the day you die.
To me, that is my friend Jim. He’ll be with me forever in spirit, but God, I wish he was still here.
27 years ago August 23 my friend passed away at 27 years old.
I posted the above image on a facebook group this morning and while most people (over 300) liked the image, a few small minded people had a problem with the image. They didn’t have a problem with the composition, color or anything but the fact that the subjects might be Mennonite and accusing me of violating the subjects rights when I photographed them on a public beach in plain view. The complaints did not come from the subjects of the image, but some small minded people who did not like the subject matter. They tried to tell me the image should be removed because Mennonites do not like to be photographed. As someone who has photographed Mennonite and Amish folks for that matter, I’ve never come across a problem with making pictures of younger folks. The older folks sometimes do take issue with being photographed, but these people certainly didn’t have a problem. They were on a public beach in plain view for all to see.
I made the image because it showed a group of friends enjoying the day and each others company a well as the beautiful Cape May beach. The colors popped in conjunction with the sky and the fact that they are small in the frame shows designed to imply the larger, and hopefully great things to come, in these individuals lives. It’s a pretty picture on a gorgeous day with nice color that merely documents the moment.
To anyone who has a problem with this image, sorry you feel that way. As a photojournalist and artist, it is my right to make an image of anything I choose as long as it is in public view (which these people are). No laws are broken. No one’s rights have been violated (especially since the subjects are not identifiable). Well, maybe mine with the rude statements of some small minded individuals. The image is not being used commercially, but I do have every right in the world to use it editorially. And let me be clear, even if the subjects of this image had objected, I am well within my rights to make that picture and use it editorially. That said, if the subjects did object, I might not use the image. Did you read that? “MIGHT not.” Why? Because I am well within my rights whether those folks like it or not.
You have no right to violate my rights as an artist because you don’t like the subject of an image I made that breaks no laws.
If you have a problem with it, that is YOUR problem, NOT MINE.
Over the years I’ve photographed some sick stuff and strange people. One of the most haunting events I ever covered was an Anerican Nazi Party rally at, of all places, Valley Forge National Park in 2004. The hatred in these people makes no sense to me. To me, people are people, I don’t care what color or religion or political party. People are still just people. Not sure I can categorize these folks as people though. The first image with the kid on the fathers shoulder is just plain haunting. EVerytime I look at the expression on the kids face I think of Damien, from the Omen films back in the 70’s. I wonder if this child, who’d have to be at least 18 years old by now has learned top spew the hatred that his parents taught him. And I hope, he hasn’t become that way and learned to see people as people. My gut tells me he probably didn’t and the cycle of hatred continues. The story behind my getting this pic is that I had to use the bathroom. For some reason, I left me camera around my neck. The park rangers kept us pretty much away from the activities that day, but I really had to take a leak. One of the rangers “escorted” me to the restroom. These idiots arrived late for the rally. Bam, I had my pic that represents the sadness I see here. The second pic is just annoying. These people started to praise Hitler. And the dude started throwing his arm out. I got in his face and shot wide. Another crazy piece of madness. Third shows some idiot holding a Nazi flag. Sadly, this still exists today. Some day, maybe the world will grow up. And we can all live peacefully, in harmony. Roddenbery had a great idea, too bad we haven’t been smart enough to live that way. Some day…maybe. I hope. No, I pray….
One of the coolest things about being a photojournalist is the fact that I get to meet so many people from all walks of life.
While making picture of the sun setting over the Delaware Bay, a couple who had just moved into the neighborhood by my family’s home in Villas, NJ. They were trying to make a self portrait with an iPhone and the flash, to me, was obviously not powerful enough to overcome the light of the sun setting to light them in the foreground while still capturing the colorful sunset. Watching them, I had to interrupt and offer to make the picture for them. I tried using the iPhone, but as I thought the flash couldn’t cut it. So, I grabbed my Nikon D800, which had a much more powerful strobe on it. So, I made the pix using my camera and flash thus filling in the foreground with enough light to cover them and still capture the light from the sun. Sometimes it helps to run into a professional.
How do I know they just moved in? I ask questions. Always asking questions. I can be very nosey, but that information helps me when making portraits of a subject that I do not know of understand. The reason that I do ask questions I so I can better tell a story. Anyhow here’s the pic.
Looking happy as could be while holding that 2008 World Series Championship trophy after the Philadelphia Phillies defeated Tampa Bay to win their first championship since 1980. Montgomery, who in 1997 became the first home grown kid in over 60 years to run the team as president, deserved it.
A class guy, well respected, wonderful man. He was always a pleasure to be around and always made us in the media laugh.
Sadly, Montgomery passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.
I found out about his passing after this image I made while covering the parade in 2008 popped up on Facebook as his obituary photo.
Very sad to just find out that Anne Donovan, women’s basketball hall of fame player and head coach, and wonderful person passed away last year of heart failure. Last time I had photographed her was for a USA Today sports feature in Beach Haven, New Jersey where she was spending time with her family before the start of basketball season. One of the things the assignment called for was a family portrait of Anne and 20 or so family members. She came from a very large tightly knit family. For years they would spend the same week at the beach together in their summer home. We had kept in touch for years after that shoot via email. I would hear from her at Christmas via an email card. Well, I was wondering why I hadn’t heard from her last Christmas and today found out that was because she passed last June. Very sad news.
At Christmas of 2017 we exchanged Christmas email cards and I had mentioned to her that I was thinking about them that past summer when I was photographing a boot camp beach yoga story in Beach Haven.
She responded with, “I’m so humbled that you remember the Donovan Clan! We all have your photo blown up and framed in various places in our homes. So you are always close in spirit!” I wrote her back that the thought of the family having my images hanging on their walls put a smile on my face from here to Texas. Still does.
In all my years making pictures I had never met a more kind and professional coach. She always went out of her way to help with whatever my photo assignments called for an for that I will forever be grateful.
More then that though, I will never forget her friendship. A wonderful woman gone far far too soon. RIP my friend. You are missed.
Above is one of the portraits I made of her and her family. .
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