Perserverance & Passion: Harrisburg Hip-Hop and R&B

Maybe a year or two ago, I was coaxed into going to karaoke. A few songs in, the DJ broke up the requests and announced Nova… A young, handsome dude in a bow tie. What an incredible voice, what an awesome presence. This dude is from Harrisburg? HELL YEAH! Harrisburg rules.

When Harrisburg Magazine asked me to photograph the Harrisburg hip-hop and R&B artists, I wasn’t surprised that Nova was one of them. We’re so lucky to have talented people like him, E.P.O.C., Alonda Rich, Saint, and Young Swerve hailing from our city. They were just the best people to photograph… they were excited and engaged. It made my process so easy and a ton of fucking fun.

I’m really trying to not be too hard on myself for not getting around to blogs until much later than I’d like… being busy is a blessing. I’m very lucky. But the thing that was truly weighing on me is that I didn’t get to thank them. So:

THANK YOU to all the artists. You guys are literally the best. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re an inspiration and an asset to Harrisburg. I appreciate you so much.

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Black Lives Matter

One of the hundreds of articles that resonated with me over the last few months was written by a woman named Brittany Cooper, titled, “I am utterly undone: My struggle with black rage and fear after Ferguson.” She begins by saying, “If I have to begin by convincing you that Black Lives Matter, we have all already lost, haven’t we? So let’s not begin there. Let’s begin at the end. At the end there is only Michael Brown Jr.’s dead body, no justice, and weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Be still, my heart. Black America is speaking right now, and we should be listening…

So, this is Georgi.

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And this is what she has to say:

On Saturday I attended a Die-in for Mike Brown and other victims of police brutality. I was pleased that people of all ages, races and walks of life were willing to brave the cold in support of change. Though police brutality is an issue that has historically plagued the black community at higher rates than other ethnic groups, it is not a black issue. It is an American issue. We shout that Black Lives Matter not because any other life is less important, but because it is not something that is often said. The message that we are sent when we see images of black bodies laying dead and exposed is that black lives are expendable. We are here to correct that narrative. We, as Americans, must stand against the idea that any of us should be allowed to be treated this way. We must have the courage to have open, difficult discussions about our collective history. We must actively work to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones. We must learn to love, forgive and trust again. The conversations will be messy at first, sometimes we will disagree but if we cannot find the courage to begin the dialogue, nothing will ever change. The Harrisburg police department did an excellent job of offering us support as we peacefully protested and made our voices heard, and we would like to invite them to join the dialogue. Together we can build a brighter future, for Harrisburg and beyond. (Georgianna Hicks)

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Please, Be Well, Babes: A Four Diamonds Story

If I accomplish anything in my lifetime, may it be that my images help others. 

The Four Diamonds Fund has always held my heart. Well, I guess you could say that it’s the kids that have always held my heart. I am so flattered and grateful that Four Diamonds asked me to do work for them. As much as I would like to just hug those kids and love them and squeeze the cancer out of them, that’s not possible. So, I created images that will hopefully inspire people to help them…

Please, be well, babes. Dani Fresh wants to see you grow up to be big and strong.

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Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble: Blind Pig Creep Joint

I was perched in a corner of McGrath’s, maniacally processing photos of the Blind Pig Creep Joint cast when Caitlin was peering over my shoulder, watching me work. She laughed to herself and dramatically quipped, “Man, it’s such a shame we don’t have any friends doing cool stuff!”  She was, of course, dripping with sarcasm and beaming with pride. She’s right, friends. There are so many things going on in this city. There are so many absolutely awesome people here and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m proud to know them… I’m proud to know YOU. We’re doin’ alright here in Harrisburg. We’re doin’ alright.

The Blind Pig Creep Joint is an immersive 1920s theatre experience and musical revue taking place at McGrath’s Pub on Sunday, November 9th, 16th, and 23rd. It’s directed by Caitlin Graci Tran, Joseph Chubb, and Sally Bowman Keaveney of the Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble. It includes original poetry by Jeremy Ritch and a cast of dear friends…

Okay, how about I just say that everyone involved is awesome and you should go. Cool? Cool. See you there!

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Just Some Ladies Hangin’ Out: Jen Merrill & Audrey

There is always a special place in my heart for photographing friends at home. They are comfortable and beautiful; their souls are radiant and that space, home, makes it almost impossible not to capture their spirits. And while I’m on the topic of spirits, I’d say Jen Merrill and I are kindred spirits. Ever since I moved into Harrisburg, Jen has been a constant in so many different parts of my life, my work, my neighborhood, and my city… It’s almost as if the universe kept looping us back to each other to make sure we became friends. Thank goodness for that.

These images of Jen and Audrey are just to document their love… and let Audrey run around the house in a leotard. Yep, that’s it. I made these images to warm my little Freshy heart.

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Harrisburg Women

There are literally five different posts that are sitting in my poor, neglected blog’s dashboard just waiting for me to muster up some time to write something to accompany the images. I’ve been running around shooting a million photographs and unfortunately, I don’t always have the immediate time to write and showcase the people that I want to here. But life is happening and it is full and satisfying and I love all of it… All in due time, right? Now, time for some ladies!

I understand that Harrisburg Magazine uses the the word “Harrisburg” loosely, but “Women” is spot on and strong women are my jam! Sure, not all of these ladies live in Harrisburg, but they are all certainly the like of steady, kind, inspiring people that I admire. I’d hang with them, for sure.

I felt like I was going to photograph the Women Entrepreneurs (Linda Green//Reinventing Spaces by Linda//Harrisburg, Jai Delp//Esaan Thai Restaurant//York, and Nicole Vasquez//That Shuu Girl Boutique//Lancaster) just to become a woman entrepreneurial sponge. My photography business is young. I admittedly have a lot to learn and I wanted to soak up as much of their bright existence as possible. They’re so sharp.

I watched Linda work with clients that were staging their home for sale in Hershey. She communicated so objectively but not without compassion for how difficult it must be for a couple to sell a home that was so dear to them for decades. Linda was kind, but firm with which colors were going to help buyers see the potential of the beautiful historic home and frankly, which furniture was just not going to work. When she stood out front of the house for me to take her portrait, she guffawed and I loved her heart.

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Jai Delp proudly invited me into her restaurant that is blazon with red walls and beautiful wood furniture that she and her husband built together. I shot her photo and it seemed like no time or effort for either of us. She was comfortable, confident, and joyful in her business. When I was finished, she sent me off with pink guava gelato. It was absurdly delicious. Methinks she knows the way to my heart.

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Nicole Vasquez was just about finished getting her hair and makeup done when I arrived early to her boutique in Lancaster. She was incredibly prepared (a trait I feel we all should mimic)–having every detail taken care of to ensure that she was ready: the shop was meticulously neat, her outfit had been steamed, jewelry and shoes picked out, etc. I’m pretty sure that opening this store was her dream and you can see how much work she put into it. It just seems to me like her soul radiates outward from that bright blue wall.

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“Cultivating Individuality” resonates with me a lot more than just “Women’s Style.” For each woman, this is her taste. It is, quite literally, for herself. This is how she is confident, comfortable, and outwardly unique. Respect that for them. Respect that for all women.

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My Heart Still Beats Steady in Harrisburg: a Local Magazine Story

Our hearts are beating steady in America.

We want to be the people to share this American tale, one at a time… each town or city where cultures are incubated and incinerated. Where people are creative and lovely with what they can make of their own community. You know, the destinations that aren’t NYC or Boston or DC or Philly. Where there is so much left to be uncovered by medias that neglected the good and in turn, demonized every “other side of the tracks” and consequently, the people that live there. There are gems of history that lest we talk about it, we will forget. And some topics are less heavy but so unique to each region and nurture a great source of pride and local affection. Look with us at the big picture and the grains, the pixels, all at the same time. Follow the dart we’ve thrown at the map. Dart #4 is Harrisburg and for most of us, we were home.

My heart still beats steady in Harrisburg… but you probably already knew that.

I’m so proud of Local: Harrisburg. I’m proud to work with such incredible people. They are infectious. I’m proud that I was a part of chronicling our fair city. Harrisburg rules. I really mean that. I’ve lived in this area for the majority of my life but I stayed here because I found myself surrounded by so much love, inspiration, and friendship. So maybe I am a bit of a sentimental wimp, but doing work like this brings back memories of every genuine exchange I’ve had within the city limits. This is a good city. And this issue of Local is my testimony to how much it means to me. I hope you can pick it up and let it foster your Harrisburg love too.

http://www.localmag.us

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Michael’s Flowers

“Hiya, handsome! Can I buy some flowers?”

“Ah! Sure! You’re just being nice though. Handsome… My aunt used to call me handsome. She said that I looked like that actor, what was his name? …Dennis Hopper. But I think she just said that to make me feel good.”

“Well, since I think you’re handsome, can I take a portrait of you?”

“Sure! Are you sure I won’t break the camera?!”

“No way! Thanks, Michael.”

“Hey, you have something on your nose!”

Michael was grinning as I reached up to touch my nose and felt my nose ring… Again. He got me with that one a couple months ago too and I’m dumb enough to fall for it a second time. Silly, Fresh…

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Elena Jasic

Sometimes people ask me, “Aren’t you and (insert other photographer’s name) competition?” and I usually answer with slight indignation, “NOPE! We all have different jams!” 

Now, don’t take that out of context… Girl’s gotta eat. We all do. But the fact of the matter is, we all have different focus points. (Dammit. Photography puns never get old to me.) Between fashion, boudoir, photojournalism, interiors, weddings, architecture, branding, music, cars, etc, we all have a favorite subject or things we’ve gotten pretty good at photographing. And there is a network of photographers in the Harrisburg area that are challenging each other in a healthy arena, sharing knowledge to help each other grow, and there is always someone to turn to for advice, a second set of eyes, or just plain help. No, I’m not talking about ego maniacal photogs looking to stroke their proverbial gear… I’m talking about genuine, warm hearts that are able to make images in tandem–growing, learning, and inspiring. Everything is way good.

Elena Jasic is one of the aforementioned photographers. Serbian born, self taught, buffalo sauce on everything, and loves cake. Emphasis on the cake. Elena is a friend, colleague, teacher, and inspiration all wrapped up in one sweet package… She’s the best of us, for sure.

Treat your eyeballs:
http://elenajasic.com/
http://jasicimagery.com/

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Harrisburg Dudes. Harrisburg, dudes.

So far, so good. I haven’t run out of excuses to photograph interesting people.

Back in March, Harrisburg Magazine asked me to photograph Harrisburg area dudes for their men’s issue that came out in April. Cool Harrisburg dudes.

Cool.

Some I hadn’t met before, some are good friends; all were pretty darn handsome fellas. All are active and community-conscious: they are the kind hearts that we want to keep in the Harrisburg area.

Here’s my unabashed introduction to “the dudes” in which I will repeatedly, purposefully, and a little obnoxiously, overuse the words “dude, man, and guys”:

-Bob Welsh, a heart of gold who was unapologetically wearing an “ANALOG” t-shirt. (Hell, yeah. Let’s keep this real life, guys.) Responsible for Jump Street. Do you know it? You should, dude.Bob
-Louie Marven from the Harrisburg LGBT Center, who continually inspires me and so many of our friends. Also, one of the most well spoken people I know–knowledgeable and articulate. Always a dude doing some kind of good thing.Louie
-Jordan Hill, a kind, patient, soft spoken, giant… no really, he’s tall, man. Pennlive recently spotlighted him training with the kids from Steel High in his off season after a very successful rookie year with the Seattle Seahawks. Roots, man. He has them.Jordan
-Mike Landis works for Dickinson College and is a loving family man–but I grew up listening to him play music in fire halls, youth centers, VFW basements. Man, those nights shaped who I became.Mike
-Graham Hetrick, the Dauphin County Coroner, the man with the bow tie, the first one to arrive. He’s been the coroner in Dauphin County since 1990 and I think it takes a special kind of man to be around death all the damn time and keep his wits. Good on him, man.Graham
-Jack Moore, the best dude. He asked me, “Say, you’re a photographer–so that’s your job, huh? What does that mean?” I told him that it just meant that I got to hang out with cool people and make portraits of them. He wants to hang out sometime. He has a lot of cool people for me to meet and make portraits of… perfect, man.Jack
-Eric Moon, the man behind my coif. HA! A talented stylist that laid his roots in Harrisburg but continues to travel and share his brilliant colour knowledge with other people. The best guy, the best of friends. He hasn’t just “taught me”–he has SHOWN ME that professionals in creative fields grow and change and continue to learn. Dudes, he’s one of the best guys.Eric
-Peter Allan, not a Harrisburg enthusiast, he is THE Harrisburg enthusiast. A Temple graduate, a boomerang, a mover and shaker, a friend, a musician, a kind and familiar face at Little Amps, and a damn good high-fiver (you know the kind). He’s the man with his finger on the pulse of Harrisburg. Thank goodness for that man, man.Peter

ALSO, did I mention that I got the cover? Friends, seeing one of my images on the cover of a magazine will never cease to bring great joy to my heart.

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