Wednesday, July 27, 2011

That Dam Cafe

After a great shoot in the studio, my business partner and I headed out to check on a location for a wedding this coming weekend. Hungry and already on Northampton St, (rt 5) for the non-townies, we decided sandwiches from The Dam Cafe was in order. I have made numerous references to the Dam through this site, have put up a few photos here or there, some every where. But, lunch was great! I have a few more photos to include from today. Nothing special, just a few shots in passing really.


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Stepping out side of the city for a little while on business, I know, I know, "why leave Holyoke?" Well, some times we have to, we took a drive to Montgomery to view a location we have never had a wedding at yet. A quaint little church nestled half way between 01040 and the Birkshires, it will be alive Saturday afternoon with the soft spoken buzz of new love, "I DO!'s, and tears of love and joy. We look forward to every wedding, but when we get to meet the couple for the first time, (out of state residents who booked with us), it will be a truly special day to capture their love and their moments.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Showers...

I first noticed the sky change from a that familiar blue we know and love to see on a summer day, to the threatening grey, dark with contrast and rich with electricity, while sitting in the Dam Cafe. Moments before the light rain drops turned to a flash flooding down pour of rain and hail, I made my way back to the car with a friend. The rain beat down so hard it was almost impossible to drive. Combined with these treacherous driving conditions, the streets quickly filled up with rivers and pools of water and ice. Within minutes the rain was washing away the beauty of the summer day and bringing with it a wake of destruction that left homes destroyed, cars inoperable and stuck in flooded out intersections, trees on roofs, and a building that looks like a massive ball bounced its way through, tearing the roof and walls apart. It is a day similar to June 1st, but will less damage. The fears of that day were re-instilled in many as they came out into their communities to witness and take a close look at what had happened. Holyoke, like Chicopee had a real sense of communal bonding as the members of each neighborhood came out to assist one another. "We as a community are helping each other," one man said to to me as I was passing by. "You should get a picture of that," he continued to say. I nodded my head and expressed that I had done so already while he was busy directing cars away from the flooded out underpass. In Chicopee, near my parents house, it was a similar story. Random people passing by, or out with intentions of helping and assisting those afflicted with damage, stopped with their equipment, chain saws and rakes and took liberty in helping people they did not know. If it is one positive thing that we can take from June 1st, it is the re-newed sense of neighbor and community. People unselfishly came to the assistance of people they did not know, asking for nothing more than a chance to help. Occasionally a news crew would pass, take notice of the damage and in their unbiased and less sympathetic view, narrated the story of what happened. More adventurous individuals toted their camera to grab the picture of the fallen tree. Not with intentions of telling the reality of the situation, but more so as a record of what happened. Some people, with no inhibitions, carefully exposed the vulnerability of the home owner by making a photograph of the front of their homes. Walking through my parents neighborhood, groups of people passed by with their cameras, pacing themselves stopping to view which house was worse, and occasionally wandering into backyards to see some of the more private damages that occurred. The power of the camera to record these moments is handed off as the image is uploaded to the computer from the card, shared with friends, family, and even neighbors. It was a sad sight to see the landscape having changed so quickly. It will take some time to rebuild, but brighter days will shine, as less trees are in place to block the sun.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wednesday Evening Walk Through

Wednesday night was beautiful out. After doing a little bit of work in the studio, I took a stroll with my business partner through downtown capturing the setting light. We happened upon the site of the former Mastex building. During some of the demolition a portion of the building came down onto the sidewalk that was on the same side of the street as the building. As the heat broke, so did a section of the building, causing an issue that needed to be cleaned up. In a conversation with a police officer, he gave us a quick synopsis of what happened. The unit was stationed outside of the site to ensure no one would enter the site. As I stood next to the bright, almost glowing caution tape, I could hear the uneasy sounds of the building. It was a sad moan. The remaining fragments of the building stood sad, creaking, and moaning in discontent from having partially collapsed onto the sidewalk. The aroma of mill and post industrial manufacturing filled the immediate area. For me, that stench is familiar, as an explorer of a city rebuilding itself after its economical and industrial fallout, I have stood in many buildings that have similar sights, sounds, and displeasing smells. In a very short time, the landscape will, again, be permanently altered, as the new construction will soon rise in its place. 

The cool air that filled the city created some wonderful colors that helped illuminate the soft clouds. The light passing through the clouds was as much a subject matter as the elements of the city that were half lit by the setting sun. With the sun coming to a quick setting, our time seeing the city through the lens was also coming to an end. Dinner plans were in the works and we had standing reservations to get to. It was another beautiful evening in the city that turned to a great night.


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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Holyoke City Hall Tower

It was very late in the afternoon on a warm Monday when I headed over to city hall. I parked my car next to the parking garage and threw some change in the meter. I slid the side door open to my van to access my camera and my equipment. I turned and made my way to the door crossing the street and the parking deck. After a conversation, an elevator ride and a few flights of stairs, I stood at the base of the tower. The wooden stairs, worn with foot steps, stood as a testament to the highest man-made point in the city. The worn wooden stairs are not a heavily trafficked path, but rather a path made by foot steps of people that came before us. History has climbed the stairs one creak, board, and step at a time. Names and dates carved into the wooden railings, beams, and occasionally a step marked the sign of who has been there and when. Inscribed in the wood not as a form of antique graffiti, but as a means to show for one having been there, almost like a clue or a trace back to their existence. I began documenting what I was able to witness in the area where the bell lays. One of the fascinating and exciting finds was the discovery that the bell was made just for Holyoke City Hall. Stamped with the date 1876, I stood facing a piece of monumental history. The shutter echoed around the room as I fired away. Shooting downward views from the mesh covered openings. Periodically I would make a snapshot with my cell phone, as a means to upload quickly or send to someone to verify where I was at the time. Less than a handful of people knew I was exploring the upper most portion of the city. Only during the time I was up there did one image get sent out to someone.

Taking the time to walk up every step and admire the beauty and craftsmanship of this monument was breathtaking. The amount of time, effort, and work needed to produce this building was both impressive and inspiring. I said aloud to the friend that escorted me in, "Imaging standing on the outside of this and being the one building it?" It was a scary thought to contemplate, but nevertheless, a thought that some people didn't even consider when standing on the outside of this massive building. Not to be compared to other buildings in terms of height, but still a tall structure nevertheless. It can be seen from a far and admired for its grand appearance in the way it peaks above the rest of the city. I spent nearly an hour and a half exploring the spaces I was maneuvering through. By the end the heat had soaked my shirt with sweat and I had filled an entire memory card up. I stood in such fascinating locations as directly behind the clock faces. I was watching time, from where I was standing go in the opposite direction. One of the clock faces is not working. Disconnected for a reason unknown to me. I made a photograph of time frozen. Pressing the shutter and freezing the stopped clock face through my lens was a metaphor that left me with a more surreal feeling than the first few steps I took up the tower. It wasnt long before I stood at the upper most, very highest peak of the building. I was able to look out over almost the entire city. I saw views that took my breath away. I stood for a moment. Just stood there to reflect on where I was and the steps I just climbed. It was a secluded spot that yield such breath taking views. It was a great place to stand and think for a few minutes. Everyone always has someone on their mind, that one person they would like to share something like that with. I made that my final thought while grabbing my camera to make some images of where I stood. In the course of an hour and a half, I had made it to the top of the City Hall Tower with my camera. I left behind my foot prints and took back with me sights that not many people get to see. Below is the link in which you can view the gallery of images from my time in the tower.

Holyoke City Hall Tower Photos