Hello, San Francisco
July 3, 2014
Last week, I took a trip to San Francisco. It was a great opportunity to escape some of the stress of home, as well as a chance to explore and network.
On my first night there, I went to check out an Artists-in-Residence exhibition at RayKo Photo Center. It was wonderful getting to see so many different styles of work in one place, and what made it even more amazing was that the work was all printed at RayKo. I went back the next day to take a tour of the facility, and I was half in awe, and half jealous that there isn't a place like this in New York. It would take several places combined to offer what they do, and I doubt the price would be as competitive.
RayKo has both color and black & white darkrooms available to be used, and I was shown the enlargers that not only make traditional sized prints, but private rooms used to make mural sized prints. The front of the facility has film cameras and gear for sale, and it's pretty competitively priced. A Leica or a Zeiss rangefinder were both very tempting, as were a few 4x5 options, but I kept my wallet in my pocket. Getting back to the tour, the upstairs area is where digital printing was done, with several large format printers, as well as dedicated film scanners.
On top of all this, RayKo offers classes and workshops. I did some shopping around when I got back, there are few places offering the same learning experiences at the same cost on the East Coast...that would be where the jealousy came in. They even have a functional photo booth from 1947! A big thank you to Ann Jastrab, gallery director at RayKo, for showing me around and for all your hospitality! Not only did she show me around RayKo, but she was kind enough to take me around to a few more galleries and introduce me to new people at each one. That's an opportunity I'm very grateful for.
Right before my guided tour, I did some exploration of my own and walked around the area nearest my hotel, which was a couple of blocks from Union Square Park. It was early in the afternoon on a weekday, so most pedestrian traffic was scarce, except for lines of people trying to get lunch. The light was amazing, and it felt a bit reminiscent of home. I set out with my camera, and snapped some shots, the two above this text being among them. I'm really happy with how these turned out!
The rest of the day was just as eventful. I managed to get to shoot a concert while I was in San Francisco. I dropped by Mighty on Utah Street and grabbed some shots of Pharoahe Monch, 9th Wonder, and Rapsody, which really made my night. Pharoahe Monch is originally from New York, 9th Wonder has produced some of my favorite tracks, and Rapsody was a new listen for me, but coincidentally, she's from North Carolina, where my dad's side of the family is from.
I spent the rest of my vacation exploring more, and catching up with a couple friends, as well as meeting a new one. I'll admit, I spent a lot of time alone on my trip, but I wasn't lonely. The experiences I had were so fun, and so full of energy that I wouldn't trade them for anything. Sharing them with someone in real time is nice, but I think that if I wasn't alone for a lot of this, I wouldn't have been able to capture what I did. Solitude is kind of my creative element, you know?