Growing up in Cohoes and attending La Salle in Troy left me more connected to the suburbs than anywhere else. My closest friends came from North Greenbush, or Latham, or Clifton Park, and that’s where we chose to hang out (mostly because we were geeks that liked sitting in basements and playing video games. That’s a different post.). We were spread out all over the place, and because of this I never really had the opportunity to explore our more urban environs until early adulthood. Actually, attending grad school at UAlbany in the early 2000’s was my first real introduction to all that the city of Albany has to offer, and since then I have had a completely hopeless crush on our state capital. Don’t get me wrong! I enjoy living in Saratoga Springs, but whether I’m eating at one of the many ethnic restaurants, seeing a show at The Egg, wandering around the Empire State Plaza, or catching up with friends at a Lark St. watering hole, I am happy that I always have Albany to come back to.
I’ve given you this brief personal history lesson because this week I was able to hang my first photography show ever at the Spectrum Theatre. This independent movie house, an Albany institution, speaks to the importance of locally owned and operated businesses contributing to the revitalization of an area. I am so excited to display my work in the lobby of the theatre, to be a part of the downtown area that I have come to enjoy and so much want to be a part of. It really is amazing for me to think that my photographs are actually on display in a public place. It may seem like a small achievement to some, but for me it is the tangible realization of something that simply brings me joy. What more could a person ask for?
A little bit about the show – Faces of China
There are places in the world where I am fairly certain I will never set foot. They are completely foreign places where the people speak languages that bear no resemblance to my own, the smells are as strange to my nose as the language is to my ears, and the food touches taste buds that have sat around bored for my entire life. For some people a trip to China is a commonplace occurrence. For me, China was about as far away from home as I could ever think of traveling. If you had asked me several years ago what the likelihood was that I would be walking across the Great Wall on a damp April afternoon, my answer would have been a definitive “slim to none.” Two years later I am still regularly amazed at all that I experienced during that 10 day school trip with 15 wide-eyed American teenagers by my side.
In the end, it was the Chinese people who made the experience truly special. They were some of the friendliest citizens that I have encountered in all of my travels, and they were genuinely intrigued by our presence in their country. I’m sure we were a sight to behold: 21 Americans moving in unison, all with our cameras out, staring wide-eyed at everything we encountered. It was pretty commonplace for the Chinese to follow us around like paparazzi, snapping photos of us in many different states of tourist-ness. We were as foreign to them as they were to us, and it created a sort of sightseeing ballet. We would move forward and they would move around us, always smiling, always interested in where we would go next. I hope I have captured their welcoming nature and their quiet curiosity in these photos.
I hope you have the time to stop by, see a movie, support an amazing local business, and take a look at my pictures. The show runs through April 17th, and it will be up for Albany’s 1st Friday celebration on April 6th. Check out my event page on Facebook, too.
Many thanks to: My wife Amy for (mostly) happily supporting me every time I bring a new camera into our already crowded house and for always encouraging me to go after what I want in life; My friends who put up with me constantly sticking cameras in their faces; Sebastien and Bennett for encouraging some stranger from the Internet to go out and shoot and for setting the bar high for Capital District photography; and All Over Albany for giving me the opportunity to write, share my photos, and generally express myself in ways that seemed improbable in the past. You all rock!
P.S. My grandmother says hi to The Internet!
P.P.S If your mother shows up to your show early, this is what happens.