Over the summer I returned to Youngstown NY (where I lived when I was a teenager who had just moved to the United States from Canada) to photograph the reenactors and historical interpreters of Old Fort Niagara. The fort, first built in the 1600’s, played roles in a number of conflicts such as the Seven Years War The American Revolution, and the War of 1812. Every summer there would be an influx of reenactors who would descend on Youngstown for various encampments and events at the Fort, spilling out from the usually contained historical bubble of the Fort itself into the streets of the town. People in period dress would cram restaurants, and traffic would slow as drives watched the fife and drum corps march by — giving a feeling both anachronistic and otherworldly that stuck with me long after I moved away.
My portrait of Syracuse NY criminal defense attorney Ed Menkin is featured on the most current issue of Thomson Reuter’s Super Lawyers magazine.
Buffalo Spree celebrated their 50th anniversary this year, and I was honored to shoot a fun little happy birthday story to help commemorate this longstanding local magazine. Of course, It’s not a birthday unless there’s a cake (or three), so we called in some help from a few of the city’s best bakers and cake shops to help the team at Spree kick off their golden jubilee with a little style. And yes, the cast, crew, and myself absolutely devoured those cakes as soon as the shoot was done.
Why aren’t you listening to Chae Hawk right now? This Buffalo NY based rap cinema artist and founder of hip hop collective TeamRadio has been producing some of the best progressive hip hop to ever come out of WNY. Be sure to check out Dance Party for The Heavy Hearted on his website (especially his track Chin Ups featuring another past subject of mine – Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die.)
Guitar slinging, soul, blues, and rock singing badass Mick Hayes is the subject of one of my most recent shoots!
It’s always a treat to get to photograph someone who has shared stages and billing with stars like Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Steve Vai, and Los Lonely Boys, and I’ve been lucky these past few years to work with Mick on a bunch of still and motion projects the include the release video and cover art of his most recent album.
More than that, I’ve had the pleasure of actually seeing the man play a few times, and it’s a revelatory experience to see live. Mick can play, sing, and put on one hello of a show. His astounding stage presence, steeped in the influence of his musical roots and coupled with his raw enthusiasm and skillful playing , is one of the reasons he’s endorsed by brands like Hammond and Knaggs Guitars.
Newly completed portraits of professional fighter Jordan Speed Marwin. Specializing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu among other combat forms, Jordan has also worked as a strength coach to athletes of all stripes – including members of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres.
Most people know Grover Cleveland as America’s only President to serve two non-consecutive terms. Fewer know him as the former Mayor of my hometown of Buffalo NY, and later as a Governor of New York State who was praised for his honesty and constant opposition of political corruption.
But now a new story is being told about Grover Cleveland, one that takes a “mostly accurate” look at the life of this “near great’ President and mustache enthusiast who continues to fly under the historical radar. The Life and Times of Grovey Cleves is a collaboration between outspoken illustrator Mickey Thoren Harmon and writer Scott Mancuso that tells the story of Cleveland’s days as a young bachelor and foodie in Buffalo during the city’s rise to prominence; to his rapid and reckless political ascent from Mayor to Governor to 22nd (and later 24th!) President of the United States in just three years.
Originally envisioned as a small exhibition Harmon’s drawings that revolved around his fascination with the political figure, the concept later grew into a more fully fleshed out publishing project with the involvement of Mancuso and the fabulous Western New York Book Arts Center who helped produce the limited edition work.
While you may no longer be able to get your hands on a print copy of this unique examination of the history of one of America’s more interesting but lesser known Presidents, you can still learn a little bit more about the man himself by checking out a digital version of The Life and Times of Grovey Cleves here.
I consider myself pretty computer savvy, but sometimes I can feel pretty overwhelmed just trying to get files synched between the computers at my studio and my house. So I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to be responsible for the networking and information systems of a major city. But for Lisa Bobo coordinating the information technology for all of Rochester New York’s law enforcement, public works, and other essential services is just a part of the job. But as the role of information and networking becomes more important to the management of transportation, public safety, economic development, energy efficiency, urbanization and environmental stability in large urban areas Lisa has begun to network the experience and knowledge of other cities and CIO’s as the catalyzing force behind the Center for Technologies in Government – a coalition of information officers of the New York State cities of New York, Rochester, Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse, and Yonkers dedicated to improving the way that technology affects our urban experience.
I’m a fan of improbable things — Tiffani Moore
Today I’m sharing a new portrait I shot at the end of 2016 of the amazing celebrity stylist and creative consultant Tiffani Moore of Traveling Trousseau – a creative firm with social change as its core mission. Tiffani was also a recent NY1 New Yorker of the week for the work Traveling Trousseau has done with Susan’s Place – a homeless shelter in the Bronx. Tiffani’s other clients include Gbenga Akkinagbe, Alonzo Mourning, Lisa Price, Matt Barnes, McDonalds, Del Monte, Trojan, Neutrogena and many more.
Be sure to check out her fantastic Creative Mornings talk here.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of professional athletes who burn through their money and are left with nothing at the end of their careers due to poor financial planning.
Thankfully, that’s a fate the likely won’t be an issue for NFL players Rob and Glenn Gronkowski due to the money management lessons instilled in them by their father Gordon. Papa Gronkowski taught his boys (and three other professional athlete sons) smart financial planning skills that have seen to it that the NFL stars are making smart decisions about their future (in fact Rob has not spent a single cent of his NFL income since 2010 and lives solely off of his endorsements)
From an assignment that ran in the October 2016 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
After taking a much-needed break from social media, blogging, and the internet in general for the whole month of December, I’m happy to announce that I’m back, I have a ton of new work to share, and I’ve been spending the past few weeks planning, strategizing, and getting ready to hit the ground running in 2017!
The first batch of new work that I want to share is a personal project that I started back in November of 2016 in order to explore some concepts of simplicity in portraiture. I wanted to create something as simple as possible that puts the focus squarely on the subject. I was highly inspired by this quote:
“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” – Charles Mingus
A white wall, white wardrobe, a subject, and me. It’s about as basic as you can get, and yet working within strict limitations like these can be just what you need to stimulate you creatively.
David G Cooper of the Heritage Centers Foundation – A group dedicated to securing private funding to provide needed services such as educational opportunities, transportation, therapeutic equipment, and much more for the more than 8000 Erie county residents who are challenged with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Defense attorney James Harrington for Super Lawyers Magazine. This WNY based lawyer has, for the past few years commuted between his home office in Buffalo, NY to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where he has been involved with one of the most notable cases in recent American memory – the defense of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the man once known as “The 20th Hijacker”
Harrington is sometimes reviled by critics for his role in the case, but just as often celebrated for his dedication to the American legal system and the ideal that all accused, regardless of of how heinous that alleged act, deserve competent representation and a fair trial in court. I think his philosophy can be best summed up in a quote he gave to the magazine I shot tis assignment for: “If the law doesn’t work for the worst of us, it doesn’t work for the best of us.”
A sneak peek of one of the images I’ve been working on with Bureau for their upcoming 2016/2017 lookbook and promotions. This amazing custom menswear shop in Buffalo has been helping this city dress better (including yours truly – Joseph and Jon made the suit I got married in last year) for the last few years and I’m so happy to be working with them on this project. As you may remember Bureau was one of the small businesses featured in my Rust Belt entrepreneurs series and I am thrilled to see how they have grown since they first opened their doors.
Christine Gallisdorfer and Jodi Hamann of Les Amis Fencing Club – a member-owned and non-profit training club in Buffalo NY that has been offering classes and camaraderie to those interested in the sport since 1982.
Competitive fencers themselves, Christine and Jodi serves as the treasurer of the club and shares her experience as an instructor to the club’s intermediate students, while Jodi teachers the beginner level classes.
My latest editorial for Buffalo Spree Magazine had me creating portraits of designer Pamela Nichols at Buffalo SPACE – a creative and event venue attached to Buffalo’s historic Pierce Arrow Automobile Factory. You can take a look behind the scenes of this project below to see a little of what happens on set with me and my team.
Time to say goodbye to last year and say hello to a new one by sharing the very image I made in 2015 – this portrait of musician Ryan Moynihan. I’m looking forward to what the new year holds!
What’s your favorite comfort food? Is it homemade mac and cheese? Smothered meatloaf? A big breakfast of biscuits and gravy? Your mom’s tuna noodle casserole? When I’m craving something that’s filling and bad for me after a night at the bar or a day in the snow I turn to something that reminds me of my childhood in Canada – Poutine.
For those not to speed on this cheesy, gravy drenched mound of Canadian comfort food – here’s an overview. Poutine is a dish that originated in Quebec and at its most basic is composed of three primary ingredients: french fries, hot gravy, and cheese curds. And within that essential structure a million permutations exist – allowing an individual plate of poutine to exist anywhere on the spectrum from late-night heart-attack bar food to fine dining fare featuring a host of luxurious add-ons. The fries should be crispy and in that perfect medium between too thick and too thin – I’m partial to the hand cut kind that leaves the occasional bit of potato skin intact on the fry. The gravy will often be a thin turkey or chicken gravy, though veal and beef-based gravies are also popular. This gravy needs to be served just hot enough to soften but not totally melt the final element, which are the squeaky tangy fresh cheese curds (which, if you live in Canada or any of the US border states, you are probably already intimately familiar with. And for those of you who aren’t, it’s something you should seek to remedy as soon as you can – I suggest ordering some from Western New York purveyor Yancy’s Fancy or even trying to make your own at home, because when it comes to making the perfect poutine the freshness of the curds is key.)
Prior to opening Allen Street Poutine Company, Jake Fraser owned two chip trucks at Sherkston Shores in nearby Port Colborne, Ontario, just across the Peace Bridge from Buffalo. He spent his summers serving fries to tourist crowds on the beaches and hitting the bars with friends at night, nights that often ended with a late night plate of Poutine. He wanted to bring that experience to a more permanent venue, so he teamed up with business partner and longtime friend Konstantine Kentros to bring poutine south of the (Canadian) border. “I knew that poutine was the late night bar food of choice in Canada, but was something of a novelty in The States. Despite being known as The ‘All America City’ there are a ton of expats here and there’s a strong connection between Buffalo and Southern Ontario. There’s a great bar scene, the weather is cold, Buffalonians love to have fun, and there was a need for more great late night food options – Poutine is a great match for that culturally. On top of all that, being in the heart of a bar and music-rich area like Allentown is such a natural fit for us.”
When I first moved from Canada to the US as a teenager it was a rarity for me to come across poutine. What had once been nearly ubiquitous everywhere I went was now mostly relegated to a rare treat that I got to indulge in on family trips back to the homeland. I spent a lot of time trying to explain to my friends exactly what this mysterious dish was, and convince them that “no, you’ll love it if you try it” (I also spent a lot of time wondering why so many of my friends, despite living mere minutes from another country, had never set foot in Canada – though that quickly changed when we all approached adulthood and started taking advantage of the fact that the drinking age in Ontario is 19, at which time poutine became everyone’s favorite post bar food). Thankfully, Jake and Konstantine are changing that perception – Poutine is becoming less of a here-and-gone trend as it has been in the US in the past and becoming a true fixture of the WNY late night bar scene – just as it should be.
As the dish has evolved it’s become something of a framework, much like hotdogs and pizza – a basic structure that’s informed and reinvented by the experiences of the people preparing and eating it. Much as I’ve enjoyed Sonora dogs that capture Southwestern/Mexican flavors, or binged on amazing Georgian Khachapuri, I’ve run into poutine that pulls flavors from all over the world: Indian Poutine with butter chicken and paneer, Trinidadian inspired versions with curry goat, poutines featuring foie gras and foraged mushrooms that would be at home in a fine French restaurant, and Jake even told me of a Korean remix of the dish with kimchi and bulgogi that he’s come across. As a dish that originated in a country that often celebrates its diversity and multiculturalism, it’s no surprise that those varied experiences and palettes have had an influence on its cuisine.
Allen Street Poutine Company’s menu features both the classic rendition of the dish as well as regularly updated offerings based on a variety of regional and international influences. Among the highlights are Buffalo-centric versions like a Buffalo chicken poutine and a beef on weck variety featuring slow roasted beef, caraway, and coarse salt as a topping. Sloppy Joe, Philly cheesesteak, and a pulled pork with red cabbage slaw poutine round out the slate of American inspired flavors. Poland is represented by a poutine adorned with pierogi and sauerkraut, Greece comes strong with a rich poutine seasoned with feta, tomatoes, and oregano. A spicy General Tao’s chicken represents the Asian flavor profiles, and a nacho-style poutine brings little Tex-Mex heat to the party. And of course Canada brings it strong with what, in my opinion, is the restaurant’s signature dish – a Montreal smoked meat poutine covered with the restaurant’s signature cured brisket and pickles (and it’s one of the few places in the States I’ve come across that you’ll even see Montreal smoked meat on menu). There’s even a vegan poutine available to make sure no one is left out of the fun.
After a few rounds of drinks on a cold winter night in Buffalo, it’s comforting to know that there’s somewhere me and my friends can go that hits all the right notes: open late, warm, welcoming, and with great food and beer. It doesn’t hurt that for me it’s like having a little slice of Canada sitting right there inside one of my favorite Buffalo neighborhoods.