Inside the photographic lair …

This is my favorite project I’ve done in a while. The National Council on Aging has asked me to document their work. They’re not sure what this means exactly — but they know they want real faces, real people, real life. So I contacted a senior center, convinced the staff to let me set up a mini studio at the center, and lured unsuspecting seniors into my photographic lair.

I brought plenty of biscotti, which I used shamelessly to entice my subjects, as well as photography books to keep them occupied while they waited. What I didn’t have was lights — any lights — but I was blessed enough to find a quiet, out-of-the-way space with an entire wall of windows. And, lucky me — venetian blinds that allowed for light control. Beautiful. I actually much prefer this setup to any fancy equipment. The “backdrop” I bought for $3 a yard in the junk pile at a fabric store and rigged up with heavy duty tape. I’m really happy with the color. And thanks to a new camera, I feel like I have new eyes ! [The camera is now out of batteries, but that’s another topic]

[Above: Mike Basile, who I think looks like he’s straight out of a gangster movie, tipped me $5 for taking his picture. And gave me a necklace he had designated for the lady he’s trying to snag … what an honor …]

This endeavor has been extremely rewarding, mostly because it’s shown me what I’m capable of with just a little planning, a lot of luck, and the right subjects [and how amazing they have been …]. My plan is to return to the center this week to continue shooting portraits. Recently I have a heightened awareness of how lucky I am to be able to do something creative for a living — and I plan to take full advantage of it.

Fred teaches Tai Chi at the center. He’s been studying the art for 10 years.

Jean, 85.

Fatema, 71.

Atma, 86.

Mabel, 70.

More soon.



FLASH photography.

Recently I was in New York for less than 24 hours. I had so much stuff and so little time that I wasn’t able to bring my real camera — even with just a 50 mm attached — much less stop to soak in the essence of la gran manzana and pause to photograph the corners of this wonderful city. It was kind of entertaining, then, to see what I could capture on the run — literally — with my point-and-shoot. Something about being in a rush myself makes me feel like I can even better encapsulate the pace and feel of this city. Nice, too, to start thinking more about color and blur and texture when you can’t rely on the romantic look of shallow depth of field to make a nice picture. And I think it tests my ability to think in a FLASH, to think visually in fractions of seconds, because if I hesitate for just a moment, I’ve already lost the picture.

Julie on the run.

I wrote to some of you asking for your insights for a post about what makes us all tick and keep going. Write me because I’m interested in this topic ….


Point and shoot. GO.

Lately I’ve been leaving my SLR camera at home and just running around with a tiny Canon point-and-shoot camera. There are so many advantages to this — besides the fact that you can drive and take photos at the same time (err, probably not recommended), it also lets me be inconspicuous and take pictures in situations that might otherwise make outsiders uncomfortable. I like seeing how I can trick the camera, and it has a fantastic macro lens. Plus it sees color in ways the SLR doesn’t.


Emma, 76. A great lady I photographed in Philadelphia on Monday.

Just thoughts.

I wonder sometimes if wanderlust is a disease of which I will never be cured …

Perspective, thank you.

I spent the past two days with octogenerians, reporting for my NCOA project, first in New York City, then in Allentown, Pa. Nothing like spending your days with a group of 80-year-olds to give one a little bit of perspective …

Eleanor, 83

Cheers to old views.

My friend Andrew in Morocco, April 2007.

In addition to marveling in my acquisition of a few new tools, I’ve just stumbled upon the beauty of rediscovering old views.

Case in point: A project I’m working on involves dragging out old hard drives and sifting through photographs I took three years ago while studying abroad in Europe.

It was 2007 and I’d never picked up an SLR camera; didn’t even know how to spell the word aperture and had only the vaguest idea that a slow shutter speed might make things blurry. But armed with my tiny point and shoot camera I ran around that continent with the widest eyes in the world, just absolutely fascinated by what I could capture, by how I could manipulate the camera.

I could never go back to just shooting with that tiny camera. But in sifting through these photos I find this old way of seeing things — this innocence — something I can take and incorporate into the work I’m doing now.

Cheers to new-old views … (or would that be old-new views?)


An ode to new tools.

View from a place where I felt creative.

This is a horrible statement for a photographer to make — but you know when everything around you starts looking the same? You’ve lived somewhere for a while now, been looking through the same one or two trusty lenses, riding the same escalator in and out of the metro, throwing that same red scarf around your shoulders, pulling on the same black jacket, clicking the shutter in all the usual places? Inspiration starts to wear thin.

Which is why I’m so excited about new projects and new tools. Like a musician playing the same instrument over and over again, or a poet with a static syntactic reportoire, I can’t help but feel that I’ve outgrown my camera, my lenses, my editing tools. I need something new — rather several somethings new — to shake things up and shock myself into creative chaos, expand my toolbox, let’s say.

En fin, here’s to creativity …


Preview of recent work.

“I am a homeless veteran, and I am a jobless veteran, and just the average person right in the middle of every common man story. I am the ordinary downsize. downsize, downsize - nothing. And just let go – just the person to be let go.” -- Marybeth, 60.

Sharing stories

Thanks to a contract with the National Council on Aging, lately I’m out doing what I like most: Collecting stories and conducting interviews. I continue to be amazed by the people who so openly share their lives with me.  Here’s a few photos from this most recent project — eventually you’ll hear Bettie and Joseph’s stories.

[I know, I really need to configure this blog so the images are larger — that will come!]


What is this blog?

The "Unstatic Blog" documents the changes going on around you and me. It will ask and answer — and then ask again — how is your world changing? Read and participate in the conversation.


/ˈstætɪk/ –adjective 1. pertaining to or characterized by a fixed or stationary condition. 2. showing little or no change: a static concept; a static relationship. 3. lacking movement, development, or vitality