A fresh reply to a dead and buried email thread hit my inbox. The Subject line: “Harvard Yard Pics.” The original message marked as delivered on August 11, 2013.
Maddie F. reached out to me from the past as she and her partner, Michael, had recently gotten engaged at a contra dance festival. She outlined how I had taken a photo of them in Harvard Yard and they wanted to know if I would be willing to take formal engagement pictures of them.
My head; entirely cobwebs. What the hell was I doing in Harvard Square in August of 2013? That was a year in which my local editorial work really took off, and I worked regularly around Cambridge, primarily as the principal photographer for the “Scout” series of hyper local magazines.
I dug further into the threaded messages. A couple lying on a lawn blanket in the Yard. A tousled haired guy working on a Macbook and a red-haired woman in a sundress reading alongside him. I recalled snapping a few posed-candid shots of them quickly as part of a monthly “Around town” feature for the Cambridge magazine.
Those were my free weekends. I’d recruit a pal or two to wander around town to bar hop. Drinking interspersed with pauses to take photos of anybody that looked interesting. A systematic method of obliteration and editorial. The next morning, often while nursing a bloody mary at a favored brunch joint, I retraced the previous night’s steps through photographs. On this day in 2013, I took 187 frames, and at 1:30 AM had burst into a 24-7 laundry mat to photograph the vagabond frontman for the west coast I’m-not-sure-if-they’re-fucking-with-me band, the Wet Chins.
My initial response to Maddie reflected the maw of depression that can threaten to envelope me. Silence. Maddie reached out again. “Your pictures are famous amongst our family. Are you still around Boston?”
It was the impetus I needed. I fired a response back. Assuming the coerced-cheeriness that slips on like a mask when working with clients, I let them know that I no longer photograph full-time, but was excited to chat and possibly provide a referral if I proved the wrong fit.
Cut to last week. I parked next to my now-wife’s former apartment on Hanson Street. Upon meeting with Maddie and Michael, we do tequila shots at Dali, then take off on a quick tour of Somerville before chasing sunlight into Harvard Yard.
Collaborating with folks like Maddie and Michael is the lifeblood that I too often stray from. It was an absolute thrill to spend time with these two remarkable humans, and I’m very grateful that we were able to share this experience together. I frequently lose the thread of my past, and how it’s relevant to today. These two reminded me of the importance, and I am eager to work and create with more folks soon.