The family that runs together…

July 4

These two finished the race near the front, pretty close to each other. Look at those eyes. If they aren’t brother and sister, I’ll eat my lens.

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Freedom Run

July 4

The healthiest crowd you’ll ever see. A thousand plus people wake up early on the fourth of July to run a race. Fit. Patriotic. Vibrant.

This gal was the happiest in the lot. Several years ago, she weighed 365 pounds. Today, she’s a lean, mean running machine.


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Freedom Fest

July 3

Not Alone is an organization that helps warriors and families reintegrate back into the civilian world after war. This year, they created an event downtown honoring warriors, policemen, firefighters and first responders.

All of these people put themselves into gruesome situations to guard our lives and our freedoms. It’s easy to forget they must live with a lot of memories of times when life wasn’t fair. And they have to suck it up and keep going, no matter what they’ve seen and experienced.

You can tell this guy, a Nashville firefighter, has seen his share of tough situations–but they’ve only made him stronger. Today, I salute his strength and the strength of all those others who put their lives on the line every day safeguarding us and our freedoms.

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June 18

I had just shot the Swan Ball and was looking to maintain a balanced perspective, so I figured the Roller Derby was a good bet to even things out.

So you can imagine my dismay when I showed up and heard the Jeerleaders were working their burlesque gig in Franklin and were not going to be in the arena that night.

I hung around anyway, and after the show (match? bout? derby?), I asked girls for their pic.

Miss 36DD here (read that off her arm) surprised me, because I expected the hard charging warriors to be a tad shy of the warrior princess mark. But not this girl. Genuinely gorgeous, glammed out with a fabulous scar on her cheek, she easily outshone many of her crosstown rivals at the Swan Ball.

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Swan Ball

June 11

One of the benefits of being a working photographer is the press pass. Want to crash the Swan Ball and not pay a cent? No problem. Go as the press.

Upon arrival, I snooped around pretty good and found a room off to the side decorated to the nines with flowers and gorgeous place settings. I figured this must be where the really high rollers got to eat, away from the maddening crowd. Wrong, bucko. This was the press room!

The meal was splendid, and the vibe was like that of the rowdies in the Titanic movie. I’ll spare you the details, but I promise there were no conversations under the tent like those in the press room.

Anyhow, another benefit of shooting faces all the time is I’ve gotten pretty good at understanding what beauty looks like. Now at the Swan Ball, anyone under age 40 gets shuffled off to the late party or works in the auction. Naturally, those girls were way prettier than the authentic Swan Ball ladies.

But this genuine Swan Ball patron really stood out to me. She was pregnant (can I say that in polite company?), understated, genuinely nice to talk to, had fabulous skin and a nice girl-next-door vibe. My vote for Belle of the Ball.

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June 10

The symphony was playing at the Bicentennial Mall, with the kickoff slated right at sundown.

One of the things professional photographers don’t tell you is how photographic magic happens. That’s because most of it is dumb luck. You take 100 pictures, you get two magical ones if you’re lucky. And if you’re a pro, you just show people the magical ones. So they assume pros generate magic at will.

Since I show almost all my shots, you can see what I mean about magic. That night, the light was a dream. I was feeling pretty good about what I’d shot, the band had finished the Star Spangled Banner, and the light was just about gone. I’m packing up my gear and take one more glance around. There she is. Sunset right behind her. Stunning look. Did the same thing I did 300 times before that night. Focus. Pull the trigger. Shazzam! Magic. That’s how it really works.

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Fan Fair

June 8

I always love shooting lower Broad, because I always get wildly unexpected shots, and the light is often real sweet.

This was Fan Fair week (only they call it Music Fest Week now), and for some inexplicable reason, there were hay bales sitting right on the street, in front of Roberts (best music on the strip).

These two comely lasses offered to pose for me on the bales. Right there in broad daylight on Broadway. Who woulda thunk?

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May 29

Ms. Cheap advised me the Laotian Fair was a good freebie that night, so I gave it a shot. It was hot as hell outside, so I waited till almost sundown, when the light was going to be getting good.

When I arrive, the party is over, and there’s just a few people left cleaning up. Couldn’t complain, Ms. Cheap’s usually gets the times right.

So I took this gal’s picture. This ia a natural woman. To me, she exudes quiet, authentic strength. Sometimes sexy is just being real.

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The $1 Picture

May 27

Working in a rough part of town. First ten people I approach, they are well into their Memorial Day Celebration by 3:00 Friday afternoon. When I ask to take their pictures, their answers are all the same. “What will you give me?” “A great picture of yourself”, I say. “No deal” they answer.

So I try across the street with this guy and get the same response. I was taken by the matching hat and shirt combo, so, for the first, and hopefully last, time, I shelled out a buck for the privilege of getting the pic you see here.

The street corner was divided in a holy war, with God’s warriors on one side, keeping away drug dealers with a combination of righteous zeal and indignation–and a police camera on the telephone pole.

I ventured to the front of the convenience mart, right under the police camera, thinking I was safe from the drug deals. I ask a guy (not pictured here) rolling his kid around for his pic, and he gladly agrees, but does not break his stride. So I follow him to the edge of the parking lot where he starts his negotiation with the dealer. In the middle of the negotiation, he asks the dealer to step back six inches so I can get his pic.

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May 27, 2011

Rain, shine, hot or cold, Ida patrols Charlotte Avenue at 37th, keeping the street safe for kids going to Park Avenue Elementary, once in the early morning and again in the afternoon.

Talk to Ida, and you’ll find her to be upbeat, bright, curious and fully engaged. But if  you dare go too fast, you can be sure you’ll get the whistle.

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Boro Grads

May 23

Shooting the Hillsboro graduation, everyone looks pretty similar, so it’s hard to get an edge.

I get people asking me all the time how they should pose to look especially good, and I rarely have an answer for that. I can find the good light, and the rest is up to them.

So I’m methodically going down this jammed hallway in the Allen Arena basement, shooting the grads as they line up for their procession. This guy, probably the shortest guy in the class, is totally focused on his cell phone game the whole time. I ask to take his pic, he raises the cell almost to his ear, and that’s the shot.

I hear murmurs all up and down the hall. “Damn, cell phone, how cool is that? Why didn’t I think of that?” Little guy, he got game.

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May 19

This is Louie Palu. One of the sweetest souls you could ever meet. Obedient son to an old school Catholic Italian mom. Nose like a bloodhound. Sly smile makes women weak in the knees. Chivalrous Canadian, son of a quarryman.

Acclaimed war photographer. Five years in the nastiest parts of Afghanistan. Over 100 helicopter medic missions, countless firefights. Astonishing resiliance, amazingly sane.

Courageous. Raconteur. Artist.

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May 14

Lots of people looked at the people in their finery at the Steeplechase, but few saw my favorite gallery, the jockeys and stable hands.

The jockeys had their own tent just downhill from the finish line, where they carried their saddles to the scales under the watchful eyes of the stewards after the race. The stewards made sure the jockeys, with their saddles and blankets, weighed the same as the start of the race, to verify they were still carrying the lead weights assigned to them for handicapping. The stewards made sure girlfriends didn’t give jockeys a hug on the way to the scales and slip weights back in the saddle blanket that didn’t make the trip around the track.

Anyhow, the mood in the tent was relaxed and cordial. Most jockeys were from the UK, and this fellow was no exception. Straight out of a Dick Francis novel, he had a cast on his leg. Since he couldn’t race, he was looking marvelous in his suit. I think those eyes are Irish, but that’s just a guess.

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Easter on Mt. Zion

April 24

Surrounded by hundreds of choir members, thousands of church goers, and cameras everywhere, Bishop Walker hits his stride with Power. “Power over poverty. Power over depression. Power over grief.”

His tabernacle is a modern day Ryman, replete with the upper deck placing another thousand people under the spell of his voice.

Yet after the service, as people queue to load the buses, there’s a simple, dignified calm. Nobody looks at their watches. Nobody resents those who left in the buses before them. Everyone is protected by a communal shroud of peace. Just like the fellow in this picture. That’s great power.

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Mrs. Brown, you’re lovely

April 21

I was invited to visit Mrs. Brown’s kindergarten class at Westminster Presbyterian Church today. Talk about kids getting a head start on life.

First, Mrs. Brown is the sweetest, most encouraging human you’ll ever meet. She makes you feel like a million bucks, just being in the room with her.

Then there was the music teacher, who sings for the Nashville Opera. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

You can say all you want to about equal opportunity and equal rights–but those kids there–they are the most privileged people in Nashville. Because of the lovely Mrs. Brown.

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Lady Gaga

April 19

The front entrance to the Bridgestone Arena is my favorite place in Nashville to take pictures. The building shades the sun going down, but light bounces around everywhere like crazy. And people are in a festive mood as they go to their events, open to having their pictures made.

Then just across the street, in front of Tootsies, when the sun has gone below the horizon, the neon lights create another perfect light storm for pics.

Shooting Lady Gaga fans was a real fish in a barrel deal for a photographer. Everywhere you turned, there was another character who had worked hard on getting their look just right.

Now I come from the rock era of the 70’s, when concerts were drunken drug fests, and I assumed Lady Gaga fans would be a pretty wild crowd as well. I was totally wrong on that count.

While the fans looked wild, they were, in fact, among the most innocent you could ever hope to meet. I did not see a single drunk or inebriated person in the crowd. They were there to dress up and have a good time, but they were sober, upright and sweet.

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Track Meet

April 16

Lots of high schoolers at the track meet. Some look fast, some look slow, and some, like this girl, look really pretty.

I was watching the shot put when out of the corner of my eye I saw a streak accelerating for the long jump. It looked like the fastest human I’d ever seen. I went over to check it out, and to my surprise, the speedster was this girl. I don’t know if she won or not. But for pure subjective appearance of speed, this girl took my prize.

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Rites of Spring

April 16

It’s 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon, and I head over to Vanderbilt to catch people going into the Rites of Spring concert. There’s a fair smattering of people over college age, like the gal in this picture, and another bunch of high schoolers waiting in line.

In the distance, there’s sounds of revelry coming from Frat Row. I investigate, and sure ‘nuf, that’s where the collegeans are.

I can confidently say I have never seen so many drunk people on one street. Not so great for taking pics, because clearly, these future leaders have figured out they don’t want an employer to see them on Facebook, getting their drunk on in the middle of the afternoon.

Hodonite city, it was.

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March 23

Got to shoot pics of the Preds in their locker room today. All the guys were very easy going and affable.

Blake was the center of media attention, because of his recent hat trick. They had collected a whole can full of hats and presented them to him.

He had some trouble figuring out how to hold three pucks in one hand, something hockey players are not called on to do very often.

I hope he gets lots more practice with the three puck hold!

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Off to Monarty

March 17

Faye just got back from Mardi Gras and is off tomorrow for Monarty, a little piece of heaven 30 miles east of Albuquerque.

It’s a one light town with not much but the big sky and a mountain range to the West, ringing Albuquerque.

Why hitch all the way to Monarty? Because she can. And because the stars expose the universe in a way we never experience in Nashville.

Sounds like a pretty good gig to me.

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