On Friday morning Matt and I flashed our family pass at the gates to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and entered a floral paradise in the company of two delightful guests and several bags of contraband. I knew right away that (almost) two-year-old V had a rebellious streak and would approve of the grown-ups’ civil disobedience. We were not allowed to bring in a stool, but we brought in a stool. We were not allowed to bring in a change of clothes, but we brought in a change of clothes. We were probably not allowed to sprinkle handfuls of pink cherry blossom petals all over the lawn, then roll around in them, but somehow that happened as well. Spirited little girls always bring out the rascal in me. And V had a HUGE personality. She was one of the most playful, entertaining, independent kids I’ve ever worked with. It was a joy to tumble around in her world for the duration of a sunny morning, high on her lively energy and the smell of spring flowers.
Last Friday night Matt and I had the good fortune of photographing a dress rehearsal of the musical Hairspray produced by the Brooklyn Players Community Musical Theater. The evening was a bit of a departure from our usual weekend habits. The previous few Friday nights had seen me deeply ensconced in our sofa cushions with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at 9pm, not singing along to rousing musical numbers about racial injustice in Baltimore in the 1960s while a diverse cast of thespians in crinoline skirts dance around me.
Last weekend I left the Brooklyn Music School Playhouse with a newfound appreciation for community theater. The nearest institution I can compare it to is church, where fellowship and pageantry can combine in mysterious ways—sometimes out of gd nowhere—to make you love your neighbors. At both assemblies you find yourself deeply curious about the people on stage, the people in the pews, and what drives them to sing and dance and come together. On Friday I was moved by Hairspray’s freewheeling and infectious enthusiasm, the visceral sense of the actors as they dashed down the aisle (so close I could smell their perfume and feel the shaking of the floor), the stratum of white bobby socks that someone had put so much thought into, and the artistic drive that had brought the whole talented cast and crew to that particular moment in the spotlight. In short, it was a special night, and I hope that lots of folks will exchange Cherry Garcia for community this Saturday in order to support a tremendously uplifting production. You don’t even have to wear your church clothes.
FINAL TWO SHOWS:
Saturday, April 16, at 3 and 8 p.m., at Brooklyn Music School Playhouse, 126 Saint Felix Street, around the corner from BAM. Tickets are $20 (or $15 for children and seniors) in advance, or $25 at the door. You can reserve your seats here.
Slowly but surely, our child models are putting me through clown school. I am learning to make silly faces, work hand puppets, climb on Matt as if he’s a jungle gym, and goof on Mom and Dad. These crash courses in buffoonery are necessary to the child photography art form, but they’re still somewhat painful for a person of my natural grace and dignity. For example, before Matt and I started Park Life Photography, it had been at least two months since I’d done cartwheels in public.
But look at the smiles! Admittedly, I had very little to do with them. This little boy is magic all on his own. And those adoring gazes are meant for his parents, not for me. Still, I like to think that one-year-old K appreciated my clowning efforts.
I’ve known K’s mom Diana for almost 18 years, so for me this shoot was like a playdate with an old friend. Diana is one of the best moms I know. She works full-time, she makes jewelry, she’s raising K to be trilingual, and she loves her child to distraction (the feeling is reciprocal).
Diana’s husband Jack is also an extraordinary parent. And he’s already taught his son so much, including the smoldering gaze left over from Jack’s days as a model.