Catch ‘Em All

Pokémon Go trainers have taken to the streets worldwide hunting down virtual monsters. I downloaded the game on the day it came out to see if it was worth all the pre-release buzz. And as soon as a cute little Pidgey hopped onto my desk a few minutes later, I was hooked. Mind you, I am not a gamer. I cannot tell you the current console versions or the last game I played with a controller. The only system I ever owned was a Sega Game Gear. I did play the original Pokémon (red?) but it was on a computer emulator years later. That said, this game is pretty special. Technology is actually forcing people to meet and interact with one another, and, in the wake of so many awful shootings and disturbing protests, players seem keen to keep in-game rivalries friendly; I’ve seen opponents share playing tips and noticed numerous “…but it’s just a game” remarks on Pokemon Go forums. It seems to be one of the few things in the news lately where people have found common ground.

Fad or not, Pokémon Go is a milestone for AR-style (augmented reality) games and the interactive app industry that will be talked about for decades. The unprecedented number of users (estimated at 20 million in the US) has developers scrambling to beef up servers to keep the game functioning. Yet even with the occasionally frustrating glitches and lags, the excitement of catching a not-yet-seen Pokémon keeps people out for hours, glued to their phones, telling themselves “just one more…”

While out filling my own Pokedex, I’ve been collecting photos of players in action. Already ridiculous, I can only imagine how these photos will look in 10, 20, 50 years.

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Charleston Strong

I was in Charleston over the weekend on a personal trip and found out about the “Bridge to Peace” unity walk. They expected 5,000-6,000 people to cross the iconic Arthur Ravenel Bridge at sunset to symbolize the city’s unity after the horrific massacre last week. I decided to go along and photograph my experience. Seeing so many people all come together at the same time with the same peaceful purpose was powerful and energizing. The local paper estimated 10,000-15,000 people attended.

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Rendezvous in the Woods

Over the weekend I attended my first Rivercane Rendezvous in Georgia. My friend David, whom I met while he was living in a wigwam in Virginia, told me about the week-long event several years ago but other obligations had always prevented me from going. He is a regular at several similar gatherings in the region and I was eager to not only see him again but also to get my hands dirty practicing some of the ancient skills that are central to these groups. Classes, taught by unlikely experts of all ages, range from bow and arrow-making to fire-starting and birdwatching

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As I do, I had my camera over my shoulder but I was intentionally not treating this as an assignment. I wanted to be an active, engaged member of the group to experience the things that brought this community together. They call themselves a family, and, as this was the 30th annual rendezvous, many of these people have literally known each other their entire lives. Although I only spent one full day in the camp, I felt immediately embraced by the community of conscientious, positive, free-spirited people from around the country. As I stopped by various lessons in progress, I inevitably I found myself in some special situations where I was able to make some photos; many, many more scenes ended up as mental snapshots. I thought, if only my school days had been more like this, where every class has a clear purpose, a tangible outcome, a passionate teacher and a warm breeze. (Class sizes were generally limited to 10, as well.)

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It’s always inspiring and humbling to learn about something you never knew existed, which happened frequently throughout my short stay. To me, any experience that offers a new perspective has value, especially one that does so in such a constructive and respectful way. If you are curious to learn more, there are earthskills gatherings around the country and they are always looking for new participants.
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Out in the Snow

I started this series of portraits in the snow last year and I didn’t know what chance I’d have to keep it going. This winter, I found myself out with a camera when some flakes started to fall and decided to try to add to it. It’s partly an exercise in approaching strangers and photographing in unplanned situations but I also love the serenity of fresh snow and seeing how people dress for it.

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Recent Faces

I’ve taken a ton of portraits this last year and I try to keep experimenting with different styles. Sometimes the location inspires the feel of the shot, other times I use my own light and try to create a mood. I enjoy the challenges with each shoot and I am always left wishing I had more time or equipment at my disposal. This is a very broad set and there might be a re-post or two here.

 

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International student move in day 2014

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