Day 7

Posted: August 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

Well, my last day working in London is finally here. It was another great and easy day. I had only one shoot scheduled. Today, my model was Yasmine from the Royal Ballet. We met at the opera house and wandered about some. We used some spots I had done previously, but in different ways and using different poses. Yasmine was a sweet girl and I loved working with her. We walked around, seemingly, aimlessly. In our excursion, we found a lovely park which yielded some great images! Then we started walking back towards the opera house when we found an old building with great pillars! This was just wonderful! As we shot, we talked and shared stories. She was another one who was clearly appreciative of her good fortune and to be where she was in her life and career. This is always nice!

We wrapped the shoot, very satisfied with the images captured. She walked me up towards Leicester Square and we said our goodbyes. I made my normal journey back to Watford and fortunately, it seemed quick.

As I sat in my room, I was on my laptop chatting with my wife, recounting things and looking forward to getting home. By this point, I had several friends inquire on my safety due to the riots. I assured them all I was safe and well away from the nonsense. That changed, if only for a brief moment. My room overlooked a busy street, so I was quite used to hustle and bustle, loud and vulgar language, domestic disputes and even the nightly game of stick ball. So, when I heard some commotion outside, I thought nothing of it initially. Something caused me to peek out the window and when I did, I saw 20-30 black kids walking, throwing things, uprooting barricades, yelling about how they can move it anywhere. By the time I realized what was happening, they had left the street and countless police cars and vans went flying down the street, following by close to a dozen cops on foot.

I did get dressed and ran out with my camera only to find no action. The one cop asked me what I was doing to which I answered and she kindly told me to mind my camera so it doesn’t get looted. I took her sage advice, told them both to be careful out there that night to which she replied, you too. With that, I headed back to the safety of my room and continued to chat with my wife.

After saying goodnight to my wife, I found myself very anxiety ridden. I did not want to go to sleep as there was part of me that did not want this trip to end. But alas, I had to be up quite early to catch buses, etc, so I gave way to this and took my rest. Even as I am typing this, I am reliving that same feeling of not wanting it to end!


Monday was a great day for me. It was very laxed. I did not have to be in town until the afternoon so I was able to take my time and ease into the day. It also marked the near ending of my trip, which was bittersweet for me.

Today I had a shoot @ 1pm with Tom Whitehead, soloist with Royal Ballet. This was actually for Barre Boys, but may use an image or two for Londons Calling. Tom and I met at the stage door of the Royal Opera House. We greeted each other with warm smiles and handshakes as we made our way over to the old police station. Our poses were simple yet very impactful. He was in jeans, sneaks and a white tee, so we had him hanging off the railing and such. As we were shooting, Sian Murphy, also of RB, walked by with her sign class. We all exchanged hellos then resumed shooting. One of her friends saw the shot I was composing and needed one so he sent Sian over to recreate that pose with her, which I grabbed a shot of. Then I asked Sian to play photographer and grab a shot of Tom and I as *I* recreated that pose, hanging from the railing as Tom posed in a chill fashion behind me. What a fun thing to have a member of the RB take your picture with another member of the RB. Sian was a very sweet & warm person! I made sure to message her later on saying a proper hello and introduction.

After the shoot, Tom and I headed to a local restaurant and enjoyed a very engaging conversation over a couple of beers. This was just awesome! We talked about how he got into ballet, his life, goals, etc. We talked about me, my story, Dominic and Hope Dances and of course, my wonderful family. I was very touched by the fact that Tom was as interested in learning about me that I was him. We chatted about hip hop and how we are both working on some paralells with ballet and hip hop. After close to two hours, it was time to say good bye. We walked to the opera house and parted ways. The one amazing thing about working with Tom and our lengthy conversation was there was never at one point where it felt awkward. I immediately felt comfortable and it quite resembled two old friends chatting over a few pints. I very much enjoyed the comfortability this encounter presented. Tom is a wonderful guy and I am truly honored to know him. I very much look forward to working with him again and strongly feel that as he and I have similar passions, it is envitible that we will be working together in the future!

What a very great day this was!!!

Day 5 ~ Ahhh…. a day off!!!

Posted: August 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

I already blogged about this day on another site, but here it is…

I always admire those who seem to have that formula down and seem to be at peace, not hurried or tense.

A good friend of mine, Cheryl, had reached out to me on Facebook about meeting a photog friend of hers who lives near where I am staying in Watford. David and I became friends on Facebook and soon began to plan a meeting. I mentioned to him that my day off was Sunday and I would love to meet him, but was not eager to hop back on any trains as I am worn down from the traveling. He offered to pick me up at the hotel and show me around his studio and general area.

Sunday came and he swung by and picked me up. We headed over to his studio and he gave me a tour. Along the way over, we had a nice chat about business and how we each got started, etc. I have a lot of take-aways from this car ride alone! I was fascinated with his success and business acumen. What struck me more was how grounded he was. He was very humble and appreciative of his success and blessings. He was very warm and affable.

After the studio tour, which was fabulous, we went to his home for a quick bite and tour the country side. We made a quick stop off to pick up his daughter and toured the public school she went to. Amazing architecture! Finally we got to his house and grabbed a bite to eat. Here, I met his wife properly and his son. We went for a walk with his dog and chatted some more, sharing stories and I inquired about his business some too. Finally, as we were heading out to take me back, he was telling me how good his son is at songwriting and asked him to play his new song for me. He didn’t think he would, but he sat down with this guitar, playing and singing. David also had a guitar and wound up joining in. What a fun time that was.

This was an amazing day and just the kind of day I needed! I sensed early, the strong bond the family had. They were so in tuned with each other and you can sense their relationship and harmony. His kids are also 20 & 22, which certainly helps.

I needed this day. God gave it to me. I needed it because I needed some relaxing down time. I needed it because it gave me cause for reflection and inspection. My take aways? I need to have more down time, I need to take more time to enjoy my family, I need to relax and find a release that is not work or charity related. Usually, when I get antsy, I take on a new project and over-extend myself. So, I need to find some kind of hobby that doesn’t lead me to another crusade. Need something that will relax me or at least give me an outlet. I am also jealous that he can play guitar. I just need to slow down some. I also have some nice ideas for my business.

So, thank you to David and his wonderful family for their hospitality and sharing their day with me. Thank you to Cheryl for making this connection for me. I am anxious to get home and enjoy my family and find a release. We have a crazy life and I love it, but we need to find ways to settle down some and enjoy it more!

Saturday. I had two shoots lined up for today, both with ENB girls. First one was to happen at 10am at the Somerset House. Sadly, she woke with some agonizing back pains and had no means to reach me as I did not have my phone. So after spending two hours there, I packed up my stuff and headed to the next location. Sadly, the handle for my camera bag broke and decided it did not want to fully extend. I was back and forth trying to locate my means of travel and put my bag of souvenirs down to look see at the camera bag. As I continued on my blind way, I felt water dripping. I broke Dominics snow globe which also ruined Michela’s gift. Great. Super. Lovely.

From here, I wandered around aimlessly, trying to find my way to my next shoot. Seems everyone working in transit had a different take on how I was to get there and they were all wrong until one bus driver put me on the right path. Frustrated and cursing GOD himself and wanting to cry in my mothers arms, I arrived at my next shoot and began the search for my model. We did eventually meet up and I was so overjoyed, I was about to pledge my undying love. Kidding (going for some dramatic flare there…). She did however, hear ALL about my day. Poor thing!

We got to our location and I pulled out my camera to get my settings. My wide zoom would not work. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND EVERYTHING HOLY IN LIFE!!! WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO??? Clearly, I was going through it some… Fortunately, Ruth was a doll and really helped me turn my spirits around. She was adventurous and very fun, funny and bubbly. We laughed quite a bit.

Then we ventured over to what would be our final location, St Pauls Cathedral. We got some fabulous shots and really enjoyed some great laughs and stories. We then walked to the tube, hugged and said goodbye and went our separate ways.

I had nothing left in the tank when I got to the hotel. Fortunately, the next day was my day off. THANK GOD!

Here are some images from today


Day 3

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

I went into today somewhat optimistic. I felt that I had things lined up well and we were all set. I got up at a decent time, got to the ROH early and had a cup of Joe. At least I think his name was Joe. HA! Kidding. Eventually went over to the ROH to meet my model only to not find them. After an hour of waiting, I decided to take a walking tour of London. I hiked all the way to Buckingham Palace.

Along the way down The Strand, I stopped off and took some pictures of Benjamin Franklin’s house for my son. He loves that stuff and I was excited to be able to capture an image of something that would interest him.

Once I got to the palace, I was pretty happy. It was neat to see where the queen does her work (queening and vacuuming). Insert Laughter! From there, I wandered around aimlessly it felt. Saw some other old buildings, a statue of Florence Nightingale and some other cool things. I got tired and had enough so I made my way back over to Covent Gardens, stopping first at Mickey D’s for some fries and a pie.

I hung out at the ROH, eagerly and frighteningly (worried it would not happen) awaiting my model for my next shoot. I paced. I checked my watch. I paced. I saw a pretty blonde check her watch then sit down. I passed by her and tried to (as creepy as this may be) get a glimpse at the content of her travel bag, on the look out for a leo. Alas, none that I could see. So I eventually asked her if her name was Kelly. I’m sorry, no. After some time, I made my way into the lobby of the box office and saw a girl in the corner in a leo, pointe shoes and stretching! THANK GOD!!!!!!!!

We said hello then walked to our first location. Her sister, Jamie, was also with her which was nice. Its an extra person to talk to, help us, etc. So, we traveled around, shooting in various locations – Piazza, Skate Park and ended up over by the eye. I really enjoyed working with her. She was adventurous and very sweet. Jamie, her sister, was a doll too. Definitely makes the day go easy!

It was night time when we wrapped and said our goodbyes. I took, unintentionally and par for the course as always, the long and seriously round about way to get to the tube. What would a long tube ride home be without 4 drunken sailors, wearing sailors hats, singing and serenading the other passengers with horrid renditions of Beatles tunes?? Quite amusing and of course they got off on my stop.

Here are some pictures from the day. Time to rest up and prep for tomorrow, because… Londons Calling!

Thursday proved to be interesting and much the roller coaster. I woke up, still suffering from jet lag. Woke up a lil late. Did my normal 15-20 walk to the Overground line which I take to Euston and hop on the Northern to Leicester Square then walk about 15-20 more to covent gardens. It is a good 90 min commute as I am staying in zone 7.

I arrived at Covent Gardens and it seems as though, we got some mis-cues as I had no model. Quite bummed out about this and not having a phone to communicate on the fly sucks. So I just hung out in the area and met Igor Kolb around 12:30 and he brought me to his dressing room where I dropped off my bag and we went down to the theater. Once I sat down and took my position, I remember looking around in amazement. I mean, here I am in the ROH shooting Mariinsky’s dress hearsal.

During this time, I was supposed to have a shoot with Deanna who is a ballerina I met while shooting the BIBC. She was finishing up at the Royal School. I ducked out of the theater quick to see if she was there. I did not find her so I went back in but had to through the stage door area. Lady gave me a little bit of a hard time but allowed me in. I knew once I was in, I needed to hop on a computer in the staff lounge. I needed to check fb and message the girls from the ballet bag about our meeting. So as I was finishing up, the stage door lady was yelling at me again, now about this being a staff only area but since there was no one waiting I just needed to be quick. I was.

I then went and asked her for directions to the actual stage area which she could not give me. Nor could she escort me and also said she would get in trouble for me having my camera out. she suggested I try the lobby area with one of the ushers. I sweet talked my way with him and told him I knew where I was going. I didn’t but would find it. All of the doors I was trying, were locked. I did not want to go back to that lady again. Finally found one that led me to the orchestra pit, so I went in, hopped a railing and finished shooting the rehearsals.

At 5pm, I met the girls of the Ballet Bag for a quick bite and chat. It was a lovely time and enjoyed meeting them and getting to know them some. Before we knew it, it was close to 7 and they had to go pick up their tickets for Mariinsky that night. So I walked them up to the theater, said good bye then went home.

Fortunately, when I got home, I was able to chat with my wife for a bit, so that was very nice to end my day with. Got some neat shots of Charles Dickens Coffee House which is where he lived and worked for many years while running the newspaper. There are some shots of costumes on display in the ROH lobby, the Royal Ballet School, the police station building across from the ROH, a group that was performing in the Piazza, my room and other random shots.

Enjoy… Londons Calling!

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Day 1

Posted: August 4, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Well my first day was interesting… I got into Heathrow around 10am. I didn’t sleep well on the plane though I slept most of it. Eventually I got through customs and went to retrieve my luggage. When I finally got off the shuttle to pick up my bus, I realized I missed my first one. Fortunately, the driver was kind enough to let me on the later one with my old ticket. the cab drivers are out of their god loving minds. 90gbp for a ride to my hotel which keep in mind, the exchange rate was 1.82 usd for a pound. Yeah… over 100 dollars. No spank you!

I finally got to my room and needed to shower quick. Hopped on FB to message the dancer I was to be working with, to let her know I was running late. I was told it is a 15-20 min tube ride by the girl in the lobby. We were to meet at the Piazza in Covent Gardens. Sadly, I got there an hour late. GRRRRR. I hate that! Never caught up with the dancer. Hung out for a while hoping to see her to no avail.

From there, I walked up to the Royal Opera House and met with Igor Kolb of the Mariinsky. We did a shoot for Barre Boys. This was a blast! We shot on the rooftop of the ROH on their balcony.

the view from where we shot… Basically, this was my backdrop…

After our shoot, he invited me back to shoot rehearsal the next day. We said goodbye then I left. Before heading back to Watford for the night, I did manage to see some of Don Q. I was falling asleep and had a nasty headache so I left at first intermission. Seats were HIGH up there!!!

Off to the underground transport then the above ground. I don’t recall what time I got back. I stayed up for a while talking with my wife intermittently. I was glad to be able to chat with her some before I went to bed. As much fun as I am having here, I do miss my family terribly. Interesting start to the trip!

YIKES and WOW!!!! I can’t believe I leave in 5 days!!!!

So, the room I thought I had in Kensington is apparently not booked by me. Woooopsy! I am now staying at a Best Western in Watford?

Day 1:
My flight departs Philly at 9:50 Tuesday night. I arrive in London, Heathrow at 10am Wed morning. I will find my way to the hotel to check in then head back over to London to shoot. My first shoot is at 2pm with Desiree Ballantyne of ENB. Then I have some down time and go to see Mariinsky at 7ish do Don Q!

Day 2:
I have a shoot with James Burcher for Barre Boys in the morning then I meet up with Deanna Pearson for a shoot at 1pm. I met Deanna at the BIBC in May. She will be at the Royal School. Later that evening I will be meeting up with the gals from the Ballet Bag.

Day 3:
As of now, this is a slow work day, which is good! I will be working with Max Westwell of ENB for Barre Boys.

Day 4:
I am working with Ruth Brill and Araminta Wraith both of ENB.

Day 5:
I have a day off, completely??? WHAT? Odd.

Day 6:
Shooting with Elsa Goddard of ENB and Tom Whitehead of Royal Ballet.

Day 7:
I am working with Laura McCulloch of Royal Ballet. this one is very special to me as she was in the RB when I shot them back in 2007. she is in my RB gallery from swan lake. So this is a wonderful moment for me!!

Day 8: I come home. My flight leaves London at noon.

*** There are others I am still working on that haven’t been confirmed yet…

This London trip has a very special meaning to me! The first ballet I ever shot was Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake. I wrote a blog about it a year or so ago and have posted it below. While I am in London next month, I get the distinct pleasure of working with a couple of the girls that were on stage that night! Little did I know when I took the job at the Mann Center, how life changing that show would be for me. So I am very excited to be experiencing this circle of life moment over there!

Here is a pic from the show:

Here is the blog I wrote for

I began my dance photography career with my first shoot in March of 2007. This was also my re-entry into professional photography, period! A year after graduating from photography school in 1997, I had put down my camera for a long time. I actually despised it. This was in part due to a bad job at a local mall studio doing cookie cutter portraits. That is not why I got into photography. I wanted to create social pieces – stories & essays that made a difference in society. I wanted to collaborate with poets and spoken word. I also think it was due in part to a sense of failure in my new chosen field. So a defense mechanism it was. At the birth of my son in 2001, I began to fiddle again. Mostly just him crawling, etc. My daughter arrived in 2003 and I found myself without time now with 2 children. I felt I always maintained a “passion” or eye for it. I tinkered off and on for a few years.

Fast Forward…

I was managing a produce department for a local market and the store manager was adjusting lights in my department which led us to talk about photography. Turns out he was also an avid photographer and also shot with canon, my brand of choice! Through various signs I received, I knew I was being called to photography in a serious way. Not as a hobbyist, but to pursue whole heartedly and see it through. So, I bought a digital camera from Bill, the store director and decided to invest in studio equipment.

In March of 2007, I was approached by my best friend who was the Artistic Director of a local hip hop dance company. They had a concert coming up at the Wilma Theater as part of their DanceBoom series. His show was titled “Look Ma No Feet.” We were at the shoot til 1am, but it was fun. To date, it garnished some of the most ground breaking images I have been a part of creating! The buzz and acclaim that came from that shoot, gave me the direction of dance photography. I started working with the studio he rehearsed out of – photo day stuff mostly and some stuff for the teachers.

That July, I heard a radio spot that the Royal Ballet was coming to Philly. I contacted the presenter and asked if I could shoot the show. I was fortunate to be granted permission to shoot the last performance of Swan Lake. What an amazing experience!! The sets and their grandeur were breathtaking. The beautiful dancers filling the stage with their eloquent articulation of lines were nothing short of magical. It was my first ballet I ever attended let alone shot. Little did I know the impact this performance would have on me and my career!

I was hooked on ballet!! That show was a major influence and impact on the direction my career would take. I knew nothing really about the Royal Ballet and never really followed them after it. I would check the site from time to time. I bought a behind the scenes book and would see if they were heading back stateside. Ok, so perhaps I did follow just a bit. That show, for me, was the equivalent of a child at Disney. It was magical and whimsical – bigger than life!

So I spent the next few years working with ballerinas, learning and understanding lines, etc. I was determined to be successful at it. One of the things that fueled my determination was the precision of it but also the challenge of that. It is very black and white. There is no hiding in ballet. It forces you to be on top of your game. I love that structure. I crave it. I need it. For me, there is no more beautiful or truer art form then ballet. For me, it’s like home. Royal Ballet did this to me!

The other night, I was online chatting with a dancer and we were talking about our upcoming shoot. She asked how I got into dance so I gave her my back story. In it, I mention that I had the good fortune to shoot Swan Lake and I forwarded her a link to a gallery of images from the shoot. Ironically, she recognized one of the dancers from it who now dances in ABT with her. I was sooo excited!!! I immediately established contact by “friend requesting her.” I then followed that with a private message and link to one of the images of her and inquired whether or not that was in fact her. She responded with equal excitement!!!

OH WHAT AN AMAZING MOMENT!!!! I mean it was sheer luck I shot Swan Lake to begin with. Then randomly, 3 years later, a chance encounter with one of the dancers that were on stage for the single show that changed my life and molded my career. I conveyed to Caroline just what kind of impact that performance had on me and my career. You can’t write a better script then that!!! It’s kind of bringing my career around full circle again. I am always grateful and humbled by the opportunities presented to me and the wonderful people I have been fortunate to meet and work with! I have accomplished a lot and grown a lot in a substantially short period of time. It has been fun though.

As I always say, it is about the experiences you have along your journey. In my case, a ROYAL JOURNEY!

Here is the gallery of images:

Wow!!! Only 18 days til I leave for London!!! I so can’t wait!!! We have shoot lined up with dancers from ENB, RB and more!

I am exhausted and kind of blogged out for now. I will give something heartier soon!