Today is Tu’s birthday. She turned 30 today, but to me she will always be Tu. Get it? That’s a joke. Well we are on our way to the airport to go to Las Vegas. This should be a nice weekend. Will she gamble away our life savings? Will she play the $500 dollar slot machines. Odds are that she won’t because she does not like gambling. Happy Birthday Tu!
I just went up for a visit to my sisters Kathy. She lives in Central California along a beautiful stretch of beach called Pismo Beach. I am from a large family of 12 kids and Kathy was the oldest, although you would never know it since she looks much younger than I do. Kathy was a special person in the family. She just has a very dynamic and cheery disposition that draws everyone to her. I remember when we were younger and she left the house finally to go to college. We were left traumatized as she drove away as we felt the family would never be the same without her around the house. Well it was true – everything did change after she left. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the same without her there.
I had never really had the opportunity to visit Kathy in many years and check out her home or the area that she lived so this was a special experience. I am not sure how to describe what it is that Kathy does since it is so eclectic and original. I would say she is part collector, part stylist, part decorator and part food aficionado all rolled into one. She just has a knack for creating a feeling in places that she goes. Her house is an amazing collection of beautiful vignettes and pieces done more tastefully and originally then you might find in any place in the world. It is french shabby chic but much much more. I was lucky enough that she let me photograph the rooms of her house – something that she has not allowed anyone else to do.
Kathy let me take some pictures of her too while I was there. She was very easy to take pictures of because the camera loves her, but she even changed her outfits and let me take pictures of her in various settings. Kathy is pretty amazing and I really enjoyed my short but eventful time in her house.
A few months ago, I convinced my nephew Charlie to let me take some photographs of him in San Diego’s notorious Chicano Park. For those of you not from San Diego, Chicano Park is located underneath the Coronado Bay Bridge and is home to the worlds largest collection of outdoor murals. The park is dedicated to the hispanic heritage, whose people make up a large part of the San Diego population.
The park area was originally known as Logan Heights and was formed by Mexican settlers that were trying to escape the Mexican Revolution. Over the years, the primarily hispanic neighborhood was decimated by the creation of bridges (Coronado), highways (The 5) and lots of industrial buildings. It stirred up a lot of resentment between the hispanic people that lived in the area and the City Council.
The San Diego City Council promised the community a park but instead secretly planned on building a parking lot. On April 22 1970, a boy named Mario Solis noticed bulldozers in the area where the park stands today and started knocking on doors to get the neighbors to start protesting. He was successful in getting a large congregation of people to go to the park. They ended up staying there and protesting for 12 days. The result of their effort was the development of Chicano Park and it is a place where hispanics of all countries congregate each weekend for BBQ’s, Events and to just hang out with friends and family. It is truly a remarkable place.
I like to photograph in Chicano Park because of the authenticity of the place, and because of the brightly colored murals that provide and urban and unique setting.
She is a great girlfriend and she loves pictures, I guess that is a bonus because I follow her around everywhere snapping photos of her all day long. Her name is Tu. Not one, not three, but Tu (2). Everyone likes it when she says that. In fact everyone remembers her name, they never forget it. I guess everyone needs something like that. I always imagine telling people my name is Frank Sinatra when they meet me. I imagine if I said that they would never forget my name.
I guess I take so many pictures of Tu because she is so beautiful and because she always has this really nice warm smile. Her mom once asked me who did I think she looked like, her or her father. Well I thought she had her mom’s eyes and her dad’s smile. Her dad has this huge smile, and I think she has it Tu. One great thing about Tu is that she said she will never fake smile, so if you ever see a picture of her and she is smiling, it is because she is genuinely smiling. I think I have thousands of pictures of her smiling. I think it is pretty great to have a girlfriend that is so understanding and let’s me take so many pictures of her.
My nephew Geno is one of the most interesting people to photograph and that is why he is the subject for many of my portraits. He has so much personality and life that it really shines through when I take a photograph of him. The challenge is that Geno is constantly in motion so I need to keep in constant motion to keep up with him. Photographing kids is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you can do in photography and well, Geno is a great example of that.