There’s just something about bridges that makes me want to photograph them. I’m not quite sure what it is; maybe it’s the ability to play with different types of symmetry when composing the shot or it might be the availability of some typically cool backdrops. Either way, I can never pass up the opportunity to snap some pictures of these feats of engineering. Have you ever thought about how these old school bridges were built? Imagine putting one of these suckers up at the turn of the century; neither a simple nor a pretty process. Meanwhile, this is the one shot from 2011 that I’m most proud of. Out of all of the pictures I took last year, this is my favorite.
So you were promised a story behind every picture, and this one definitely has a story. However, the story actually has nothing to do with the bridge itself but rather why I was standing over the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn alone on a frigid, blustery morning in February. I had traveled to the city that particular weekend to participate in a fundraising event for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Specifically, I was part of a team (the cheering part because I signed up too late) that was riding stationary bikes in something called the Cycle for Survival. This is an annual event, basically a large scale spinning class, that happens all over the country as a way to raise money that will help to fund research into very rare cancers. One of my closest friends who was being treated at Sloan-Kettering had recently passed away, after a 2 year long fight, from one of these cancers, and I needed to make amends.
Sure, I was there to cheer on my buddy’s family as they rode, but I was also there as a way to seek forgiveness for not being the type of friend that I expected others to be to me. You see, it’s very easy for me to put things off. I am a procrastinator at heart, and unfortunately I missed out on the chance to support my friend when he needed me the most. Every time that I had an opportunity to visit him in New York City something else would come up, or nothing would come up, but I was just lazy. And he would always understand. And I would always convince myself that there would be another time, a better time, for me to go. I made promises that I didn’t keep, and those are the worst kind. For whatever reason or no reason at all I waited until it was too late to finally commit to drive down and see him. He died the day before I could get to him. I never was able to tell him so many things. I’m not sure he knew how much fun I had those nights during high school, nerding out in his basement playing video games and watching movies, or that I actually looked forward to the rounds of golf that we shared on sunny summer mornings, not because I love golf but because he didn’t care if I cheated. I never got to really tell him how much I respected him for earning his PhD in engineering at 28 years old, a degree he was never able to use. I never got to tell him how lucky I was to have him as a friend.
And here I am standing on the Brooklyn Bridge alone before the event, talking into the wind, hoping that it will carry a message for me; a message of sadness; a message of humility; a message of apology.
That’s what this picture means to me.