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nyc ’85

September 11th, 2012

In March 1985, I made one of the more pivotal decisions in my life, which was to attend a summer high school program at Parsons School of Design in New York City. I was sitting in my art class in high school, in Pasadena Texas, and up on the wall, above the chalkboard, was a poster depicting a huge apple*. The program was four weeks long and offered courses in Illustration, Communication Design, Fashion, Photography, Fine Arts, and probably other studies. When I told my mother, who had never been to NY and was from small town Arkansas that I wanted to do this, I don’t remember her having a nervous breakdown but now, 27 years later, and being a parent of two kids of my own, I’m sure she had one. Seventeen years old, four weeks in New York City.
Luckily, mom was pretty good at saying okay to crazy schemes and somehow the application got filled out, financial aid was applied for, and in late June of that summer I climbed on a plane at Houston Intercontinental Airport and headed off by myself to LaGuardia. I took with me my sister’s Pentax K1000 and several rolls of film. I knew nothing about photography, and knew less about f-stops. So it made sense that I ended up in NY with a fully manual SLR camera. Little did I know that in addition to the design stuff I learned, this four weeks turned me on to a lifelong love of taking pictures.
Upon arriving in NY, I stood at the taxi stand and tried to figure out what to do. I was standing there with a duffle bag and a portfolio case, and I suppose it was obvious that I was an art student because I heard a voice over my shoulder ask “are you going to Parsons?” Next to me stood the second most fashionable sophisticated-looking girl I’d ever met in my life (I’d meet many more of these boys and girls over the next few days). She’d also just got off a plane, was also attending the summer program, and apparently knew what to do because she got a cab, put us in it, and we headed off to Union Square, where Parsons had a dorm (there’s a restaurant there now called the Blue Water Grill, in case you know the area). We paid the cabbie (I felt like I was on a tv show) stepped out onto the street.
I looked to my left, down Union Square West and University Place, and for the rest of my life I’ll never forget seeing those two towers poking out between other downtown buildings. The next afternoon I went down and stood on the Union Square sidewalk and took a picture.

Union Square, 1985

A week later, on July 4, I went to the top.

The story of that full four weeks is a much longer story, but it goes without saying that it opened doors and showed me a path that I would otherwise never have known about. It should also go without saying that I made a beeline for both the Empire State Building and The World Trade Center, making my way to the top, and taking a lot of pictures. I just figured today would be a good day to post a few of these.

This view no longer exists. That's weird.

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge (a view that no longer exists)

*I believe the reverse side of the poster had a huge orange, and focused on the programs offered at Otis/Parsons in Los Angeles (which is now just Otis).

United 0646

June 2nd, 2011

Two days ago I flew from Little Rock to Philadelphia with a layover in Chicago. The reason for the trip was to visit my family in Arkansas. But it also worked well for work since I’m in the middle of the sketch and research phase of Everything Goes book 2, entitled “In the Air.” As you can imagine, the book deals with things that fly, and takes place for the most part in an airport. Needless to say, I took a lot of pictures.
This collection here was taken on the 90-minute flight between Chicago and Philadelphia, in seat 17F. I really like the changes in the colors as the flight progressed.

If you like pictures of airplane wings, there are a lot more where these came from.

published in Traveler

October 29th, 2010

When I was around twelve years old, I really really wanted to be a National Geographic photographer. More generally I wanted to be a travel photographer and imagined myself hiking the world taking pictures of exotic cultures and cities. Alas, I drew pictures instead. But this month I can at least put something like that old dream on my resumé, as National Geographic Traveler magazine published one of my photos on page 26 of the current Nov/Dec 2010 issue.

National Geographic Traveler!

Not exactly an exotic locale, this image was taken in the Philadelphia Airport on Christmas Eve 2006.

Santa in Philly on Christmas Eve