My cousins Winter and Bella modelled for me in their backyard in south Philadelphia a couple of years ago. We had a lot of fun playing dress up and I let them use their imaginations to play pretend. They were such amazing little models. These were all shot on iPhone.
One of my more unusual shoots came about by chance when I was heading back to Central PA for Christmas. I happened to be on a bus with Serge, a musician who was returning from NYC. (He currently lives a town over from my parents.) I asked if he wanted to do a shoot and he asked if I could do one with his ex-wife Monica for their podcast about co-parenting after divorce. They remained friendly and were both a blast to both photograph and chat with. It’s funny how these portraits look more confrontational than the subjects actually were! Side note: Serge told me a couple months later that I photographed him smoking his last-ever cigarette. Hope he’s still holding up!
Another group of fun images from my old Harlem apartment. The previous tenant left all her knickknacks when she passed away, and I used them extensively as props. She even had a collection of liquour that was pretty ancient. Heather, who is a comedian, came over with her amazing collection of darling 1950s dresses. The bizarre knickknacks accentuated her look perfectly!
It’s always such a treat working with Leah. We did these portraits in my bedroom in my apartment in Harlem. I had the good fortune to live for 9 months in a place that served well as an indoor photo studio, and could do some more conventional portraits. Leah, who’s trained as a dancer, brought some great fabrics and outfits for the session. One of my favourite models to work with!
My friend Andi and I were both going through some very difficult situations, so one day we decided to do an impromptu shoot in our Flatbush apartment living room. Andi hardcore channeled her Italian strega ancestors in this series.
The band Bear Hands licensed a black and white version of the featured image from this series for their song Backseat Driver (Spirit Guide), released in 2018.
Model: Nina Isabelle
November, 2015 Woodward PA
One of the most important influences on my work ethic is Nina, a painter and performance artist in upstate NY. We grew up over a field from each other, but I never knew her growing up (although I went to high school with her sister). We met officially almost a decade ago at a craft show. We have since collaborated on many projects and I did a performance art residency with her in 2016. Her life philosophy has helped shape my artistic focus and I am very grateful for her support and guidance over the years.
Nina and I did this interesting shoot in her parents’ backyard in our home village. Using her mother’s vintage furs and boas and a giant spotlight from the stable, the backdrop of the pine trees serve as a great David Lynch-y vibe.
Model: Vincent Fuentes
Taken in Coney Island, Manhattan and Roosevelt Island, 2015-2016
I randomly met Vinny one day when my friend Jess and I wandered into his former place of employment, a high-end perfumerie. We hit it off immediately and became fast friends. A photographer and a model! We all saw that coming.
His beauty is tangible as hell, yet ethereal somehow. He’s “a good old-fashioned American mutt,” as he once cheerfully put it, but damn, his genes wield a potent mix in front of a camera lens. I’ve accompanied him to open calls and learnt early on fashion photography isn’t really my bag, but we’ve had a lot of fun doing shoots together. He taught me a lot about learning direction.
Vinny is also highly entertaining and his stories will leave you in tears from cry-laughing. Don’t be fooled by that serious Blue Steel, this guy is a goddamn riot with a heart of gold and will flash the Britney horns at the drop of a hat. Highly recommended model.
Truly one of the most interesting roommates I’ve ever had was my friend Wesley, who is a choreographer, has a Nick Cave-ish presence, and possesses an intellect of Niles Crane brilliance. Wesley came over to my Harlem sublet just before he headed across the Atlantic to Avignon to study, and after sampling some ancient whiskey stored in the previous tenant’s eclectic liquour cabinet, a really bizarre series of him doing some gothic movement work. If you ever want a thoughtful and honest suggestion for quality NYC theatre, Wesley’s your guide.
In autumn 2017 I had the pleasure of working with bestselling thriller author Cate Holahan on a book trailer for her novel Lies She Told. We shot the book jacket portrait at her home and had a lively chat about music and the art life. Not only is Cate a respected author, she’s also a talented musician who composed and performed the eerie music for the book trailer herself! She was imaginative and fun and had a terrific sense of humour. I really enjoyed working with her.
When I was a college student, most of my clothing money went to thrift shops in town. The best vintage clothing came from The Rag and Bone, run by Shelley. I first met her in high school, and came to become friends and eventually worked at the shop for a few years here and there.
Shelly taught me a lot about vintage clothing and how to date it. Many of her customers were local theatre groups and yes, cosplayers. One day we decided to do a series at the local bookstore where we made her look like the era of the clothes in her collection. I love the portrait of us side by side, we look like ghost sisters.
My friend Rhiannon is one of my go-to models when I have an art idea. She has a great look that transcends time and she’s always open for interesting ideas. We shot this series in Gantry Park, Queens, along the East River. The old Pepsi-Cola sign threw off an amazing neon red light, and with her 1940s clothes we managed to throw together a fun modern film noir vibe. I love shooting mini stories like this, especially with actors, and would like to explore more of it.
I’ve known and collaborated a lot with my friend Erica for almost a decade now, she was a student at PSU when I met her and she modelled for an abandoned book project. We reconnected when I moved to NYC and have gone on some wild adventures since. Once I had her dress up like a penguin and we walked around Midtown; she walked into Magnolia Bakery asking for brine shrimp. We’ve gone on excursions in the Bronx, Kingston, the Whitney, and the Bushwick open studios. One of my all time favourite people, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to have pudding at Rice to Riches with her sometime.