This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Meet Michael Bardsley. Behind him, the skate park he helped to create.

An amazing aspect of being a photographer is getting to meet a wide variety of people. Some are more dynamic than others. Michael Bardsley is one of those people. In case you don’t know, he’s running for Mayor of Northampton in November. We met up at his photo shoot on the streets of Northampton for an upcoming political campaign to feature images of Bardsley at various hotspots which will be highly recognizable to most Northamptonians.

Bardsley has lived in town since the 70's.

It’s part of an effort to let people get to know the real Mike Bardsley. I had the chance to do so as we drove around town, taking some shots on the fly and stopping to talk to a friend on a park bench. Walking the bike trail to the Skate Park, he informed me he was one of the original proponents of the park and worked hard to get it off the ground. At Northampton High School we saw the renovation that he had a hand in. Begs the question: what has this guy not done around town?

At Northampton High school

He’s lived in Northampton since the 70’s and has seen the town’s various transformations. When asked why he is running for Mayor, I expected the canned and rehearsed speech of CSPAN politics, but what I got was a down-to-earth, honest answer. Imagine that. He says Northampton is an amazing community and should stay that way. Simple, succinct. No long winded speech that made me feel ill-informed and under interested. That’s what you get with Mike: simple and down-to-earth honesty.

Dashing out into the street to grab the right shot.

I rarely publicly align myself with politics, but if you live in Northampton, get to the polls and vote for Mike in November.

Exactly one week after tornadoes ravaged parts of western Massachusetts, United Way of the Pioneer Valley volunteers put their efforts not into helping clear tree limbs and clean up streets, but meticulously erect various game stations on cocktail tables in the ballroom of the Log Cabin banquet facility in Holyoke. These are no ordinary games, however. This is the United Way Lame Games, where ‘contestants’ get one minute to complete each game in order to rank and become the grand champion. Pictures of homes and lives ripped apart hang in the entryway to the event and it wasn’t until then that I realized the full extent of the impact caused by these storms. Confused yet? I was too.

Dora Robinson works with volunteers to set up 'Lame Games'

You might ask: what does stacking three golf balls on top of each other or floating soda cans in a bucket of water have to do with the rare June 1st natural disaster that left many of us stunned and some of us homeless? At first glimpse, it seems insensitive. But it’s for a good cause. No, really. All proceeds of this whacky event went to the relief efforts of tornado victims in western and central Mass. On this night, another storm rolls through the valley on the night of the event and attendance is less than expected as lighting cracks outside the banquet hall’s windows and people rush in shaking drenched umbrellas.

Senator Kerry and Governor Patrick swing by to lend their support.

Coincidentally on this night, The Log Cabin is also hosting a fundraiser for United States Representative John Olver and the halls filled with soggy democrats, everyone wondering if another round of tornadoes could be on it’s way. For the participants of the Lame Games, a little wind and rain doesn’t stop the fun or the donations for a cause that hit so close to home.

Just about the time when Dora Robinson, the president of the United Way of the Pioneer Valley is frenetically shaking her limbs strapped with pedometers, trying to clock in as many ticks as possible in under a minute, we are notified that we are about to receive a visit from Senator John Kerry and Governor Duval Patrick who want to lend their support.

My flash can’t keep up with the politicians and their entourage as they enter the room. As Governor Patrick takes the mike and addresses the room, commending us for their support, it makes the stormy night seem not so dismal. Just a nice reminder – at least for this photographer –  that it only takes a minute to do something to help others who really need it.

Here are some other fun photos from this event:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

No one light a match. Millions of matches assembled on a seemingly never-endings conveyor belt

Have you ever looked at a match? Really looked?

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Ok.

It’s pretty nondescript right? A benign looking red knob on top of a cardboard stick. Nothing too exciting. Folks at the D.D. Bean and Sons Company would disagree with you – especially Carol, who has worked at the same station for over 40 years.

40 years at the same job. In the same seat.

This week, I got the chance to photograph the inside goings on of the largest product facilities of matches in the world. You might be yawning about now, but wait: there’s more than meets the eye, you just have to look closer. The company is set in the sleepy hamlet of Jaffrey, New Hampshire where colonial houses set far apart on town common remind me of an earlier time. The factory itself is an 1800’s mill, and still uses the churning water of creek to harness power.

Some of the machinery used in the factory is from the turn of the century. Why fix or replace what isn't broken?

Approximately 100 workers fill this antique structure, each with a different job. They seem happy. The work quietly. I am in awe. In the basement, the air is hot and damp, an ideal climate to stabilize the sulphur in millions of match heads that are mounded to cardboard strip slowly chugging by on a maze of conveyor belts. Machinery laden with tarnished oak sits high up in a loft, churning out cardboard boxes for the matches to sit in. The machine is older than my grandfather who was born in 1912.

Then the matches march off to be cut, packaged, sealed and shipped to companies all over the world. If you’ve ever received complimentary matches with tobacco products at a store, it’s almost a sure bet they are made by D.D. Bean and Sons. You still haven’t checked your kitchen catch-all drawer yet, have you?

Marketing with real people doing real work. Imagine that.

So why the publicity over these little red-headed fire makers? It’s part of the new campaign for D.D. Bean and Sons, spearheaded by Darby O’Brien Advertising. Match packaging and marketing will not feature tan men clad in J.Crew about to light up the BBQ, but the hard workers of this factory. The motivation behind this initiative is to show that yes, there are actually products still made in America, a fact on which D.D. Bean and Sons proudly hang their hats.

Sometimes it takes a photo assignment like this to appreciate the little things you take for granted. Like a match.

See other shots from the D.D. Bean and Sons shoot:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Click above to view New Zealand Galleries

THE WEDDING

Tensions were slightly elevated on the morning of the wedding (and rightfully so) as the wet weather arrived, quite ornery to say the least. Tables were rushed inside along with centerpieces and linens as caterers rearranged serving trays and relocated the delicate wedding cake, it’s fondant perspiring in the humidity. Umbrellas sat like dark sentries awaiting battle in the foyer and the bride grimaced through rain-streaked windows as her guests scurried down the slick driveway seeking refuge and a cold drink.

Interestingly enough, the rain and wind hurling off the Pacific allowed for people to gather indoors where it was much easier to rub shoulders with those one may not have on a sunny day. A sociological study might be in order. In the end, the rain tapered off and the sky was painted with a truly jaw dropping sunset that brought people out to the tiled lanai, where colors of orange and scarlet scorched the horizon…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Having been in the apparel industry, getting to photograph an actual fashion model for Savoir Flair Magazine was a dream come true. Meet Randall Harris, a hard-working Eastern Mass native who desperately wants to be a fashion model. He plans to move to New York next month to participate in the highly coveted runway spot of Fashion Week. It was an honor to craft this fashion piece and to work with Randall.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.