4:47pm Rush Hour – Abby near O’Connell, Dublin Ireland

When I walk a city, Dublin in this case, I make a list of what seems to me to be unique. I try to use these features as the back-drop to the stories going on around me. It is easier if you are new to the city. I also like to string small series of images together to provide a haiku-like narrative.

While walking Dublin, when I hit upon O’Connell Street, I couldn’t help but notice the hubbub. Shoppers, tourists, and students; walking, riding, and taking busses. Whether they are in a hurry because they need to be somewhere or because it is just too darned cold to lollygag along, the energy is palpable.

4:47pm Rush Hour – Abby near O’Connell, Dublin Ireland

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The Burren – (Gaelic: Boireann, meaning “great rock”)

Another stop on Day One was The Burren. I had a difficult time understanding the name until Conn told us that it simply meant – Great Rock. 250 square kilometers of granite in County Clare which took time for me grasp how unusual this was for Ireland. Seeing large expanses of rock – white, red or otherwise – is hardly a rare occurrence in the Southwest USA, but in Ireland this area is indeed unusual.

Ireland – The Beginning

County Mayo, Ireland

If my job as a photographer is to report not just what it looks like, but what it feels like, then let me start at the beginning. Spring, Western Ireland, County Mayo, the sheep had given birth just a short time before we arrived and the weather was predictably chilly, damp, and variable. It might be bright blue skies at 7am only to turn to heavy clouds and rain an hour later.

On our first day we traveled from Ennis, a small town just north of the Shannon Airport, to our home-away-from-home in County Mayo, just outside of Westport. I was traveling with three other photographers from southern California and our guide the venerable Cormak (Connie, or just Conn) Cullen. Connie would tell us, in his lilting Irish brogue, to just ask to stop if we saw a scene we wanted to stop and photograph. It was all new to us. It was all green to us.

On the side of the road we saw our first, of many, ruin sites. An abandoned stone house, now used as open grazing land for the sheep and cattle. This is the beginning of how Western Ireland felt.

County Mayo, Ireland

County Mayo, Ireland

County Mayo, Ireland

Ralph and The Hotel Baltimore

Downtown LA

As part of the Downtown LA book project, John and Scott Free assigned each of us an isolation challenge. We were given a specific location (address or street corner) and challenged to spend an entire hour photographing just from that location. This challenge forced us to slow down and to wait for the stories to come to us.

I was assigned “501 S. Los Angeles Street”, just two blocks north of skid row at the corner of 5th Street and Los Angeles. When I arrived I found the Hotel Baltimore.

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There is not much history for the Hotel Baltimore on the internet, but I did find out that this is the “new” Hotel Baltimore built in 1910 by Thomas Ashton Fry and designed by architect Arthur Rolland Kelly. Across 5th Street is the King Edward Hotel which is apparently famous for the King Eddy Saloon. There is a brief history on their website which reads:

Not many people remember a time before the King.
We’ve been open since 1933 and we were around before that too. Bootlegging empires were born below this place.
Today we keep it upstairs, “where nobody gives a shit about your name.” Cheap drinks, some food, and a dart room.

In the early 1900’s, 5th Street was lined with hotels leading from the Southern Pacific Railroad Central Station at 5th and Central to the downtown core of Main, Spring, Broadway, and Hill Streets. Even though Central Station was demolished in 1956, many of the 5th Street hotels still stand.

Now the Hotel Baltimore is but a shell of its former glory. No longer a hotel for traveling business men, it serves as low-rent apartments. The security guard indicated that there are two kinds of people at the Baltimore, the old timers and the new folks who rarely stay past their 6 month lease.

The Baltimore presents itself visually as a large open, and empty, foyer with nondescript windows and a couple of doors with signs reading “Do Not Knock”. At first I watched for people to come and go and looked for opportunities as people walked the street. Some ignored me others thought they were having a little fun.

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A woman came down to mop the floor. She waived but then went about her business.

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As I started to think about finding layers, I worked on shooting through two sides of the windows, to appear as if I was shooting from the inside out.

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I looked for reflections to create depth and interest, to overlay the stories inside with the environment outside.

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On Sunday afternoon, the door with the label “Do Not Knock”, was propped open with a tall and friendly security guard. We chatted some.

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Residents started to come and go.
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Then Ralph came out for a smoke. He had recently fallen on bad times and was “back at the Baltimore”.

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He wondered if I would take a picture of him that he could send to his sister. I hope his sister likes it.

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A Morning at Venice Beach

Plastic Friends

January 3rd, Venice Beach morning, enjoying the last days of my winter days off. I walk through joggers, dinners, vendors, and tourists with pithy mantras running through my mind, placed carefully, I hope, by those I’ve chose to study with: “Compose and wait”, “Not so literal”, “Be open”, “You are responsible for every millimeter of the frame”, “All I’m watching in the bottom layer of the curtain”.

I find myself drawn to reflections and scenes perceived through optical filters. I wait for the right gesture and for the right moment. I look at the relationship between objects. I look for unusual compositions and perspectives. In most attempts I fail.

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Piano Tuner #2

Through the Looking Glass

Streisand and Me