Tales From the New World #11

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes a thousand words is worth a picture. This was one of those times.

I was standing in line waiting for my bucket of chicken. In front of me a grungy man and an elderly woman, with no relationship to each other , were “seemingly” having a conversation. He went on telling her about his last job, a very challenging floor installation he just finished, describing how he went about it , along with some pantomime to demonstrate the efforts he made (actually very funny).

She stood there intently, staring at him and said, “ I like their hot sauce, I always get it.”

Without skipping a beat he replied, “ I had to park my loaded truck by the door.”

This “ one hand clock” conversation continued until their order finally came up, and then they both left like an evaporating fog without a word.

There are no cameras to capture something like this, just a mental snapshot of what just took place. It struck me, don’t know why but I kept reviewing this scene. Were they talking to each other or just thinking out loud? Are most conversations in life like this, is anybody listening? Lost in thought, my order came up. A robotic girl handed me my bucket of chicken and said, “ Have a nice day ”. As I was inspecting the floor, in my own fog , I looked up and said “ I’ll try the hot sauce.”

The scene replayed… I guess I was listening and now became part of someone else’s picture.


Tales From the New World #10…Turning a Turtle

Turning a Turtle

It doesn’t take much to drive slowly on a backroad to nowhere, just a beautiful day, some great farm scenery , green hills, ( yes there are some in Central Florida ) , and a turtle struggling to cross it.

He was big, couldn’t miss him. He strained to push and pull his way as fast as he could, as a cars and trucks swerved around him. A carload of kids, pulled alongside to watch him strugggle…must have been lost tourists curious by seeing something wild, not from Disney nor in some small zoo , but in real life, a bigger zoo where the animals roam free, or at least they think they do.

I had to stop, right in the middle of the road, flashers on, doors open, arms waving like a bird in flight, to stop the next car or two. I had found a mission, to save this turtle. He was a little too big to lift and he looked frantic when I approached him. I tried to ask him where he was going, but he shrugged me off picking up speed, at least one mile an hour.

I tried to herd him away form the middle of the road, as another family stopped to watch through their car windows as though they were watching some TikToc episode, and for all I know I might be starring in it, thanks to one of the kids in the back seat. Then I started pushing him, until he finally made it to side of road and back into the woods. By this time, a line of very patient cars swung around us and I got back into mine.

Tada…A life saved, mission accomplished. I put away my super hero cape and returned to civilian life.

It was a few miles later, while I was enjoying the serenity that long drives on country roads bring, that a thought came to mind. What if that turtle was trying to go the other way ?

Isn’t life like that at times ? You head out one way and get turned to another? How often do we set out with a great idea, a goal, a project, when something or someone alters our path and we find ourselves going in an opposite direction?

Photography has those moments…you set out to photograph a given subject, maybe a place, then your original heading and goal gets altered. Now you’re on a new course and you discover something totally different, not your original plan, not what you had in mind, maybe even opposite from your initial intent. Something unexpected is revealed to you, a new road to pursue, a new subject so discover, that wouldn’t have happened had you not started going out in the first place and that’s what’s important….getting started.

Even if you don’t get to where you were going, going there is what counts. It becomes your point of departure and that is a necessary ingredient in finding something new.

As for the turtle, who knows whichever direction he was heading to, hopefully it became to be the right one.

Tales From The New World #9…Seeing

They say when you arrive in new place photograph the first thing that strikes you . Don’t study it, just take the picture and save it. When I arrived in Leesburg, Florida this was my first.

There’s a book by Miyamoto Murashi, called The Book of Five Rings, which are chapters. He was a Samurai who in 1643 was Japan’s greatest Swordsman, remaining undefeated with over 60 hand to hand duels. His manifesto for a Samurai’s approach in war, also became a popular read for many Japanese businessmen and executives today.

In one Ring, he refers to a moment when you come face to face with your opponent, at sword’s length, and in that moment you stop to think out your next move, rather than just trusting on your instinctive reactions, those that come from all your training and experiences, as well as the familiarity of the sword in hand. That hesitated moment he calls Mind Stopping, and In combat, the first one who Mind Stops looses.

Looking back at my travels, I have to wonder how many images I lost by Mind Stopping, over thinking what I’m seeing, questioning what it is, pre-judging and often moving on without taking action. How often have I not trusted my inner voice who knew and recognized a given situation?

I don’t know what it was that drew me to this image, still don’t…but I like it every time I see it. Somewhere it talks to me even if I can’t decipher its language. However today whenever I pass by this scene, I’m glad I didn’t Mind Stop, and took this picture.

Now centuries later, I hear his message. Thank you Miyamoto for the lesson.

Tales From the New World #6

It sits on my desk reminding me of my home away from home. Seems like long ago and far away but I still feel its pulse, and see myself there…just a a croissant away.

It was a Friday, another one of those “date nights” and we found ourselves at my favorite place in town, a small wine bar called Two Old Hags, where everyone knows your name.That ( apart from the wines) might be why I like it so much. As we sat talking over a glass or two and reminiscing all of our adventures ,we started planning the next one, ( as if this move wasn’t enough) when a man, overhearing us, came over to join in. Taking interest in our travels, he added his. He also told us a lot about our downtown Leesburg,Florida, and asked how we liked it when I said,

“ I love it here but it’s a long way from Paris “
Really, he said, a broad smile came on his face,
“ then you have to meet my wife “

She came over with a big BonJour and I heard the Marseilles. We exchanged where we were from and it didn’t take long before I could taste French bread and melted Camembert once again. There we were sitting in a cafe in Leesburg while our souls walked along the Seine. The next morning at my desk I looked at this picture and felt as though I was just there. Distance is just a state of mind.

You never really move away. You just change location. You don’t live in a place as much as it lives in you.

#photography#paris#france#travel#moving#meeting people

Weston Made Me Do It:

It’s Christmas and I’m sitting here wondering what the next year will bring judging by what the last one did. Work being more than slow hasn’t been too encouraging and my camera has taken the vow of silence to boot. I keep thinking of all the places I traveled to and fantasizing about all the places I want to go to, mostly in hopes of finding new images and the thrill of finding them. Meanwhile I sit as my thoughts become more and more complicated as to what to do next.

I decided to go food shopping when I came upon them, big beautiful Poblano Peppers, sitting lustfully against each other. I had to have them, and so I did. At first I thought of a recipe I had experienced in California, a Southwestern dish that I could try, but for the moment I just left them sit for a couple of days in the fridge. Every time I opened it I thought about them…what to do what to do… then somewhere I heard Edward Weston… ( at least I like to think that ) and how when things were down he bought a pepper and photographed it multiple times by his window with very long exposures before he finally came to Pepper#33, a signature shot that I had the opportunity once to see the original. 

With that in mind I eagerly pulled out the poblanos and started to shoot and shoot ( thank God it’s not film ) until I came up with my final composition, pretty much what I had pre-visualized to start with…. keeping it simple in a complicated time….and maybe that’s the lesson here. Despite what’s happening, don’t complicate things by over thinking or worrying…just go simple. 

Thank you Edward…. 


High and dry sits the mighty Bozo echoed over the crowd at the annual fair. Above them, an insulting clown sat on top of a plank suspended over a large barrel of water. He would always pick on a couple, usually the one with the girl clinging onto her boyfriend’s arm….

” Hey muscles” he shouted,” how did a guy who looks like you get a girl like that?” the crowd roared and that started the barrage of insults until the macho challenged guy buys the 3 balls for $5 to throw at the target hanging just below the sitting clown.

With an angry pitch, ball one would go whizzing by, ” You call that an arm…the only thing its good for is for your girl to hang onto to..” and with a mocking laugh, once again he shouts,

High and dry sits the mighty Bozo

One challenger after another stepped up until at last the target was hit and down the clown came….the crowd cheered as he came up from his plunge standing there like a soaked mop. Gathering himself, he adjusted his orange wig and straightened his rubber nose, and the dripping wet clown stepped onto the ladder and returned to his perch… shaking the water off, he started again…

“high and dry…” and the beat went on.

Like many of us, Bozo sat high and dry some months ago never thinking that we would take the plunge into a barrel of water, but we did and many of us are still standing in it. Like Bozo, we just have to fix our wig and re-adjust our rubber nose, climb back up the ladder to the plank above the crowd, a little wetter, looking out and eventually say…

High and dry sits the mighty Bozo


The Seven Day Black and White Challenge

Remaining creative in a down period while being engulfed in a world of negativity can drown your spirit. Every day a whirlpool of bad news keeps one’s head under from catching a breath of air. Creativity becomes exhausted, and seems to fade away but it’s just at those moments when a life preserver appears.

I was challenged by another photographer, a friend, to create one original B&W image a day, for seven consecutive days. I gave it some thought first if I wanted to attempt this, if I actually could, given the limitations we all have during this pandemic. Four months of inactivity had gone by and the most places I had been was either upstairs or downstairs at home. I looked at all my heroes for inspiration wondering what they have done… Ansel, Yosemite…Kenna,Japan…Watson, Scotland.

What format would I use, is my scanner still working, where would I go? A few days went by, still unsure, I sat over morning coffee when the first image came to me and that’s when I realized a few things. I hadn’t drowned yet.


If you stop struggling and just let go, creativity will float to the top. Creating isn’t a hunt but a discovery, without searching for it. It’s sparked by the realization of the moment you’re in, and reacting to it, what I called in another post, Reactive Realization, to your surrounding. Prejudgements put aside, acting on the moment at hand, an inner voice can speak on its own, and even if the Why isn’t understood at that moment, it might reveal itself later when viewed with a distance in time .

Also, you don’t have to go half way around the world to find images. Your own world is big enough. Sit and quietly watch. Turn off the outside noise and hear an inner voice.

One more thing… It’s not the equipment that makes you nor the lack of that brakes you  ..it’s you.

these were all shot with my Iphone…on my dining room table…lighting provided by a master.

I challenge you to take up this challenge:

Create one B&W image a day for 7 days consecutive and post a link to them

#7 day challenge#miami photographer#matthew pace#black and white#Iphone#photography#B&Wphotos

Father’s Day

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I know better…I’m a photographer..it’s worth a lifetime. My father passed on recently. We were very close, having spent most of my life by him. We had walked a long way on this plane and at times I still feel his presence from another one. When it came time to place his ashes in the niche, I tried to find things to say about him that would talk about his life and what he really meant to me. Never really being at a loss for words, I couldn’t find enough of them.

Looking through the many photo albums both sides of my family collected, I embarked on a journey taking me through many lifetimes, a century’s worth. Some photos were high end studio portraits, individuals whose ghost remained on paper to introduce themselves to those who hadn’t yet arrived ; families that would later through fate and happenstance come together and give reason to how and why  we’re here; events that serve as ear markers to fill the spaces left behind in the dust of life; memories on paper, for those who forgot and  needed moments refreshed , and those who would yet come to see who came before them.

For me it was a moment refreshed , that I had completely forgotten about, buried deep by all the moments gathered after that. It sat there held by corners, framed, a frozen piece of time, a magical doorway that opened to a massive garden kept in the same condition as the day we left it and I now returned as time traveler. I sat a long time staring at it remembering that day, the things we did, where we lived, even how I felt. It was a defining moment, standing as the sum total of what my father meant to me.. the man who stood by my side all of my life and still does now,  though thick and thin, no matter what, a buddy, a sponsor, a guide…a hero.

I photographed a whole lot of people in this career and still do, paying proper attention to the world behind and in front of the camera. Behind, I am conductor, producer, director…witness. In front, I am the object or part of a moment. From behind I deliver results and walk away leaving the product of our trade and move on to the next. My judgment of my work is based by my professional standards, not by my personal emotions… but that is where the real impact of photography lies, not how I did it nor what it might mean to me but what it means to another.

Pictures say more than words. They have a life of their own superseding the ones who took them. They are keys to doorways of time spent making those who create them its locksmiths. Inside they speak. This one did to me..It spoke for all good dads, what they really mean to us who were lucky enough to have and have had them.

#Father’s Day#Dads#father son

Another Job

I went to Catholic school. It was small in size, smaller in thinking but I was a wise guy, so for my sins, my parents sentenced me there. My public school brother took shop, made cool things,worked on cars; I marched through Gaul with Caesar and said the rosary. As a small school it gathered large characters from all over the county, some by choice, some by last choice, me…only choice. The teachers, a mix of nuns and laymen formed the base of education…mostly theirs. I learned some things from their school books, which I mostly forgot, but everything from its people whom I still remember.

One, a dynamic physical ed coach was influential on a lot of us, boys that is ( don’t get the wrong idea here!) .   It was his philosophy on life and achieving that talked  to me. I repeat it every time I fail and it gives me reason to continue. He gave it with your last name first, a typical Jersey thing at the time :

“…LaBatts,  ya godda pay the price…”

True words he gave us on one hand.  In the other hand however he carried a golf club that he used like a walking cane and caned the ones with a swat that didn’t walk the walk. He was a real ” driver”. I liked him deep down. He wasn’t parochial, he was a stand up guy straight talking guy. He was also ambitious.

When the northern region of the county built a new regional high school, he got the job as the head coach and when I moved onto a new larger newspaper, I got the job to shoot a feature spread on him. I had left one Perry White type editor behind to find another, but a better dressed one more interested in pleasing advertisers than reporting news. His constant concern was that I was charging him more than I charged his friend which amounted to nothing really, but he had to put on the show. It came with his territory.

” Get me some good stuff this time”…were always his encouraging words and insightful direction. ” What’s the assignment ” I asked. It helps to know that at times. They were featuring the new county school and part of it was their new star coach…the golfer and when I heard that, in my mind I shouted…” FOUR!!”

He had a winning football team and still a par swing no doubt..A few years had gone by since my high school but not enough not to recognize him from a distance as I approached him on the field.  He looked smaller for some reason, and very surprised to see me. I was glad to see him as well. He was still the same guy, a great colorful character and after spending a couple of hours photographing him in action, we walked back to his office for the feature shot.

A few more snaps clicked by, sitting on his desk, standing in the doorway etc when he asked ” Is that it? got it all? ”
” I think so..”  I said turning and stopping next to his  famous golf club leaning against the wall….” Hey ” I said with an innocent tone ” how bout you hold this club for one more shot??? ” ( a real pulitzer prize in the making.)  He stood up walking towards me… caught in the act  ” No ! ” Smiling I slinked away quickly and so did the shot …but I still liked him.

His shoot ran two pages. I never got that Pulitzer…but I’m still  “paying the price”.

This one’s for you Mr.Scrog




My First Photography Job

Many of us hold deeply that first photography assignment. It was the one that ignited your fire and started your dream. Mine was to be working for National Geographic…now a fantasy ( if it’s that) .
My first one happened when I walked into a county-wide weekly paper to see if they could use a stringer. I was much younger and a whole lot less experienced but a lot braver then. I put down my portfolio, a handful of B&Ws glued to black boards, my works in progress. The editor looked up at me and either liked my hutzpah or just felt sorry and took pity, and offered $20 an published image to string. Back then $ 20 seemed good  and  I  really wanted the break.
They had a staffer or two. One, the main one. carried a Speed Graphic so he could contact the large 4x5neg multiple times and pump out  “Handshake”  shots or “The Ribbon Cutting” event for the paper and its attendees. He had three names so his credit line took up a lot of space. Maybe that was clever on his part. He got the “choice” jobs, grand openings, town meetings, check donations.
The other photographer, a lady, part time got the cutesy shots…the dog wearing a raincoat on a bad weather day, the grandma who paints Easter eggs in her basement to raise funds for her society, the amazing baby who could sit up and happened to belong to the biggest advertiser the paper had..
The editor couldn’t have been cast any better if it had been from Disney itself. A robust, snarly, grumbling guy with a desk full of random sheets of papers and clippings, half full coffee cup and a totally full ashtray. He was always sitting sometimes leaning back and often leaning forward growling. Typical of Jersey , you were just a last name… ” hey Pace”.
Among the cast of characters, I stood there with my samples, my Nikon and two lenses in hand as he told me to come back in a day or two to see what he might have. I did.
My first assignment was to go up to a reservoir in northern New Jersey, ” Something’s going on, the Perry White styled editor growled, ” see if  you can get a shot.”
I was on my way , when the three named man smiled standing at the door, ”you’re wasting your time”, can’t do anything with that. he sneered. Of course not, I thought, who would buy contact prints of a reservoir? None the less, I went charging out like Jimmy Olsen from the Daily Planet…
When I got there to cover the reservoir event, a bulldozer had uncovered a overly large bone. Building had halted, no one was talking and nothing seemed to be happening. I left wondering how would I tell the editor that I just got a shot of a guy sitting on bulldozer. Worried that he would never use me again, the next day early I returned to find a staff from the Museum of Natural History along with some state officials on hand as they laid out an uncovered skeleton of a mastodon. I couldn’t believe it but was thankful I had a lot of film with me.
The only thing missing in their find was the head which they were furiously digging for, to the dismay of the builder. I couldn’t crank the Nikon any faster. At day’s end I raced back to my converted by night bathroom darkroom , enlarger on the bowl, trays in the tub, prints in the sink. Printing out my day’s coverage, I laid out my  prints on boards as a story  hoping the editor would like it. He did with a casual air. It ran 3 pages and I collected $200. To me it was a gift  from the universe that welcomed a young guy into what became my fever.
They never found that head…but I found mine, and every once in while when I lose it, I think back to this story.
What was your first job…what got you going?