Richard and Skip Feed the Ducks

Last time we saw Richard, he and the sailor shared the set. Richard, today, came to feed the Ducks and mourn his sister’s death. He casts potato chips on the water attracting Ducks while remembering his sister. I tried to explain that potato chips weren’t good for Ducks. “…, they come right up to me and eat them. They like them.”

Skip aged since out last shoot. “Hard out here. Slept here last night …. You age fast on the street.”

Lot of effort goes into shooting on the street. Sometimes, you gotta find them. Sometimes, you gotta have equipment. Never know, as a street shooter. Then I gotta get them to stand still, which really isn’t easy if they are stoned, drunk, on meds or angry. I could go on. The biggest stressor? Do they trust me? Damn. I love seeing them. Fear their deaths. Questioned about the people I know or knew, I show them a portfolio of recent photos. Most of my notebooks have two copies, because I haven’t been able to find the person pictured. Never give to people who promise to deliver. Another thing to carry.

So, Richard talked, after he heard from me, “… about being alive, being alive, being alive.” “You gotta do what you gotta do, … even if it means doing what you can do.”

Lone Sailor Watches Over Richard North

Little nippy today in Burlington by Lake Champlain. Al fresco doesn’t suit me. But for a chronic drunk who hasn’t dried out lately, the feel of the Lake Breeze and warm morning mist offers sleeping opportunities few can appreciate and fewer would take advantage of.

But, there, in the shadow of ECHO lay Richard North.

And his vodka bottle.

I’m sorta glad the two of them look out for one another. Don’t you wonder what they talk about? We know the Lone Sailor watches for his ship, so he ain’t drinking. But what does he think about the mess, the bottles and the bodily fluids deposited nearby?

Aren’t you glad he has his gloves. Don’t want cold hands. Damn. I cannot sleep without a pillow either. You try lying on cold marble or granite. Got to passout not to feel the pain.

One day, I fear, he will end up like my friend Paul O’Toole, dead on a grate.

Burlington’s First Fall Day

New England shows its colors slowly, sometmes. This fall looks as if it will go on forever. Colors just coming out. I don’t involve myslef in reds and yellows. Send me blue greay. Matches my eyes.



Started at the fishing pier where no one catches fish. Moved to the sailor.

Went home for breakfast. Not much doing. Headed to the Water Treatment facility. Bike path quiet. People taking boats out of the water. Windy and sneaky chilly.


So, I meander down to the water to make this shot, sliding across the rocks. Totally into getting the shot, I left my I pad, phone and journal on a picnic table. A guy came buy, wondering who would leave such valuable stuff unguarded.

Evan. He had a dog. Shadow.

Recently, houseless. Ended long time relationship. We know many of the same people from the streets.

Ken and Virginia

Virginia live at Birchwood, an assisted living and more facility in Burlington. Ken lives in town on his own, for how long nobody knows. They have been a couple for ten years. Without each other, they don’t have anyone.



They met at Bill’s Diner in Winooski. She waited tables; her husband table hopped. Had kids, none of whom have anything to do with her. Lost one in a car accident. Then she bartended. They lost contact for a lifetime and then found one another. She has social skills, not yet lost in her pressing dementia, and a powerful look and smile. Doesn’t keep time or space like the rest of us. Has trouble walking and talking. Only complaints revolved around the diet at the facility and that she cannot do what she used to do, like drive or live in a nice place by herself.

Not sure she felt the cameras presence, but her head turned and her expressions changed in tune to my directions. She expressed her love for her man over and over, in kind and loving tones. When shown his pictures in the back of the camera, the few I thought worthy, she said “that’s the man I love.”



He and I have discussed this shoot for three years. Just didn’t work out. He takes her from the facility for a few days, caring for her at his place. The people there call him when she has some problems. He worked for years carrying stuff, shaping up, inserting at the Free Press. Has a sweet disposition that covers up a ton of pain. His back disintegrated, resulting in major spinal surgery. He lost his ability to walk and talk, which he struggles to recover. Walks with a walker; has trouble lifting his arm; cannot stand for long periods or walk quickly.

He found her after a long hiatus. Not sure why they didn’t marry; probably some SS reason. Spiritually, they seem as one. When he finishes her sentences, it’s to keep her connected, not to show how he has taken over her mind, but to stay in contact. His love for her gives him reason to live.


Stacey and Robert, Married

The skies emptied. We searched for the JP. Bride and groom soaked. All assembled. Vows and a kiss.


Rained like hell. Moved inside the train station. Helped by Melinda Moulton’s support.


Not planned, but a cool place.


Not ones to step up to the bar, anymore, but ones who have accepted the responsibility of marriage.



Will you please show me that you are about to be married and in love. Cannot force these faces. They just happen!



Not a big weeding. But everyone who attended, cared. No ring. No reception. They had to leave quickly to sign up for a place to spend the night. Still homeless and hopeful.

Stacey and Robert, Engaged

What does an engagement announcement look like? Usually, it contains a picture of the loving couple and some text about where they went to school, who their fathers and mothers are, and what they do for a living. Sometimes it ends with a statement of where they will live. None of that matters here.



Robert and Stacey don’t have a place to live. Their family history carries no importance to their impending nuptials. Positive, almost to a fault, about their future, they want enter a formal union which will announce their commitment to the community. Not important enough for the local paper, their engagement and upcoming marriage should receive some note and support. They will be married next week down by the Burlington Waterfront, though they don’t have money for a catered affair on the Ethan Allen, lunch at Splash or a spread in the backyard of a friend. Maybe, only a couple of parents, relatives and friends, none of whom have held office or operate any large corporations. But, you don’t need to know where they came from or what they wll do to survive to understand that they need each other enough get a marriage license and let everyone know they are one.





Money doesn’t buy happiness.




Photographers cannot make people look happy. The people have to do it themselves.

Foggy Morning


Chasing the sun brought great results today. Sometime you work for the shots. Sometime you just point the camera. Looked out the window. Couldn’t see the street. Washed my face, brushed my teeth. By the time I hit the street, the light had come up, but the fog hadn’t lifted. I could feel the wet in my face and smell the morning moisture.



Clouds covered the sun, just enough to rob the scene of its yellow. Birds screamed, unable to see their morning breakfast through the mist. Good day, if you were a fish.


Magic everywhere. Still a there, there. Clouds with nowhere to go. No wind pushing them. No waves or flutter. Water gently lapping up against the pier. It wasn’t cold and it wasn’t hot.



The sailor doesn’t care. He waits and watches. One day his boat will come. Already packed for the sea.



Burlington arises.


Burlington Fishing Pier Fogged In

Fog stopped the sun, but not the light, from hitting the pier. The moisture filled my nostrels and dampness coated my forehead. Near the water, two people sat and looked for the lighthouse. I came late to the show. It had crept in and was leaving.


Sara and Zaira.


The Moran Building looks better when it cannot be seen so clearly. Who knows what it will become.

I left and came back. The sun returned, too, playing tricks with the water and the mountains. Always about the light. No wind. No birds. No boats. No fishermen. I always feel a little guilty when I stand alone at the end of the pier. The city built this whole pier just for me, so I can look at the world, I tell myself. Ever changing. Ever amazing. But I really want my neighbors to see it too. Lake Champlain belongs to all of us. In the summer, it will all be different.


Nor’easter 2011 UBC Event Judges


No complicated rules. To solve the problem successessfully, climb to the top. Judges keep track of the ascent, recording each step. They don’t have fancy chairs or sit on ornate benches. Some know the climbers; they could even be related to or a close friend of one. Very fair and honorable crew, they are.