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Just recently I have had the chance to reconnect with a man who was responsible for the reasons you are reading these words. Back in late Fall of 2005 a man I worked with encouraged me to begin a blog where I could display my photos for the ‘world’ to view. He also encouraged me to enter online photo contests and in the beginning, we spoke about how difficult and ‘scary’ it would be to photograph people who were strangers in public spaces. We both got our Canon Digital Rebel XT cameras at about the same time and were both as giddy as teenagers when they arrived; mine from an eBay purchase, his from a mail order house. I remember the very first photo I took with that camera in my office just after I unpacked it from the cardboard shipping box.

Paul left the company we both worked at over two years ago to live his dream pursuing a career in music. Three albums and a new ‘real’ record label later, he and Karate High School are well on their way to success. So last Sunday I got a call from him telling me he was in town and wanted to reconnect, since we had not seen one another in over a year. He only had one day as he was leaving for a vacation to Europe before heading out on his fourth North American tour. We had but a little window of time that Sunday since I was meeting another photographer in the morning and shooting a theatrical event that evening.

When we got together it was like old times, those moments we all cherish with friends who can be gone for long periods of time, yet the connection never falters. This was very poignant, as I have recently had an experience with a long time friend who I have not seen for some time, yet I barely know who he is anymore. So as we began to catch up on a year’s worth of events, I found that the amount of time we use to speak of work was relegated to only five minutes. No, instead we spoke of things that mattered to each of us, friends, connections, our own dreams and thoughts of the future. We shared common thoughts and feelings about art, the pursuit of art and the perils we both encounter. I was especially relieved and calmed when I told Paul that once I have captured a piece and posted it, I often forget about that piece of work. My goal is the next piece, the next instant I can capture. I conveyed that it was only a year later that I began to view some of my ‘older’ pieces and thought to myself that they’re not bad. Paul laughed and said that now that his new album is complete, he doesn’t listen to it anymore, much like I feel about my own work.

I sighted that the difference is I can put an image away and not view it, but he and his group play his art each and every week. It was then that I learned one of the differences between performing and fine art. He said that when he performs, the music captivates him, that he feels each note, each venue is unique and special. Unlike a static image, music and I imagine any performing art is a living, breathing entity. I was happy to have such an epiphany after our conversation.

But the most important part of our get together was the reconnection. I told Paul that my world continues to expand as I encounter and in some cases befriend individuals who I would have never known before my hobby. He laughed and told me “What you do is no longer a hobby Mark, but a lifestyle. You’re not out every other weekend taking snapshots, you’re creating art, human art.”

In those few short hours we reconnected, I was again reminded of what is truly important in my life, the relationships we form and the people who without knowing have influenced our lives. Tonight I was thrilled as my own son brought home the photographs he took of an art project for a friend. He said, “Dad, you won’t be proud of me because my pictures came out shitty.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Thank you Paul. Your encouragement has led me and others to more than you’ll ever know. Have a great European vacation and break a leg on your new tour.

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Hey Babe, I forgot to ask you how it went when you hooked up with Paul and I was sorry that I did not get that opportunity to meet him. He is right that it is a lifestyle and no longer a hobby. And I am so grateful to be a part of it. xxxot

At some point you’ll get to meet him. Had it not been for Paul, we would not even know one another.