Tell me a bit about yourself. How long have you lived in Hyde Park? What do you like best about our community?
My wife, Cheryl, and I, bought our house in Hyde Park in 2000. Seems like yesterday. Our kids have grown and moved away, though they come back often to visit. Hyde Park is filled with memories of raising our teenage children who complained regularly about walking up the hill. I wish we'd found Hyde Park when they were toddlers. After living in very noisy Brighton Center for 25 years, we came to Hyde Park for the quiet and the space...there's no place like it in Boston. In addition I love the diversity...in fact it has a diversity of diversities, colors, cultures, incomes, ages, neighborhoods within neighborhoods, landscapes, types of activity, commercial and cultural...it is a really fine place to live.
What have you done over the years to keep Hyde Park clean, green and beautiful? What inspired you to take these actions?
I participate in the annual Neponset River clean-up that Martha McDonough and Barbara Baxter began. I've since joined Keep Hyde Park Beautiful, too, but without a doubt the most effort I put into improving our surroundings was a stint of 4-5 days a week for three years when I walked up and down Meadow Road, and into the edge of Fowl Meadow, picking up trash and pulling out much larger pieces like car parts, tires, furniture, construction debris, big bags of trash. It was disheartening to see the volume, but it is uplifting to get out there and try to clean things up...I felt like I was making a difference that I could see. A couple of injuries stopped my habit, but my coworkers at McCrea’s Candies have joined the effort in the annual Neponset River Clean-up.
At first, I didn't set out to clean the road. As a photographer, Fowl Meadow caught my imagination and so one winter I was spending a fair amount of time on Meadow Road trying to capture the splendid light and variety of textures and colors there. As the snow melted, the beauty took on a new cast...life renewed, but lots and lots of trash emerged, so much that I had to move it to get the photo I wanted. It was in that precise moment that I realized, this meadow gives me its beauty, I am going to give it my care in return. I guess you could say I was paid in advance.
I’ve started again this spring, twice weekly, but will soon be limited to the very edge of the roadside. When the brush gets really thick, the brambles and thorns and ticks stop me. Then it will become a pleasant walk on a beautiful road until the brush dies back again.
What advice/tips would you give others who want to keep our community clean, green and beautiful?
The only tip I can give people is to just pick it up. We are reluctant to pick up someone else's trash, their messes. Our egos get in the way. We ask why we should be the one. But when you can put all that aside, picking up trash is an act of humility and honors nature and the community. Carry a small trash bag when you go out for a walk. Put a large trash bag and some sanitary gloves in your trunk. When you see a bunch of crap, stop and pick it up. Don't overdo it, but do it repeatedly. Make it part of your life. Is that a tip? I hope it doesn't scare anybody away from doing it. Do it alone or arrange a small group among your friends or coworkers, join community clean-ups, join Keep Hyde Park Beautiful. Whatever you do, don't do nothing. If you need gloves, or trash bags, ask any of our neighborhood organizations...people do want to help. Call local businesses and political representatives, too. Change starts from the ground up, not the top down.
When/how did you become a photographer and learn to take such beautiful photos?
Thank you for saying so! My wife was a hobbyist photographer before I'd met her. I admired her photos, but I knew that I wouldn't do the footwork to get film developed and so I just admired from afar until digital photography came on the scene. My son, a software architect and a fine photographer, was very supportive and helped me pick out a "serious" camera. Since then, I have been taking photos non-stop. I am self taught, trial and error is my best friend, I read photography blogs and take tips from pros when I can get them. I am also an observer by nature...not that I am more observant than most, but I am probably more patient and thanks to digital “film,” I’m not afraid to make mistakes. I am also a very willing editor. I process all my photos in Adobe Lightroom and I enjoy the editing process as an activity on its own.
What are your favorite locations to shoot in Hyde Park? Why?
I love Fowl Meadow and Burma Rd Trail along the Neponset. I love the industrial roads and the train stations, the bus stops, the rich diversity of architecture both residential and commercial. I also enjoy Cleary Square, but these days I have to be in the right frame of mind because although street photography is a time honored art, some people object vociferously. I've been followed and threatened and one person near where I was shooting insisted it was illegal. Happily, the Hyde Park police officer called to the scene was supportive of my right. It is perfectly legal and rightfully so. In fact public photography is an essential right that helps maintain a healthy democracy. When someone points a big lens, it raises all kinds of fears, but the truth is we are all being photographed regularly by public cameras, cell phone cameras and secret cameras. I would argue that the photographer who is open and obvious about his efforts is treating his subjects more fairly than any of the others. I also enjoy journalistic photography, but as I have a full time day job, I just don't have the time. Oh, and I would be remiss not to mention that I love photographing the interior of my home. My wife has an exceptional sense of interior design and light and her arrangements in our home are inspiring. Did I mention that Hyde Park has remarkable sunsets? I guess you could say my favorite location is wherever the light is interesting and that is a very broad category.
What advice do you have for others who are interested in photography?
If you are interested in photography, getting involved is a lot like picking up trash, just do it; cameras are better and cheaper than they have ever been. Cell phone photos can be breathtaking. Your cover photo of the river, for example. Superb.
Last question...Why are you holding a cleaver in your portrait?
The photographer, Hyde Park’s own portrait master, Matt McKee has a roomful of props...he tried a few, not too bad and then handed me the cleaver. For 30 years I owned and operated Mississippi’s Restaurant, late of Kenmore Square, Longwood Medical area and finally Roxbury Crossing. The cleaver just fit.
Nominate yourself or someone in the community for a future Humans of Hyde Park story; nominees can remain anonymous in the story or use their first name only if they prefer: https://goo.gl/forms/qgTj1Rh8t2bSbh973.