Category Archives: musings

Gather The Spirit For Justice: Common Ground Cafe

It is one of my favorite places to volunteer.

One of the most remarkable people I have ever photographed in Harrisburg, Naed Smith, introduced me to Common Ground Café. Naed is a neighborly presence in Allison Hill—called to vocation as the manager of the Catholic Worker House on Market Street. He is a tall, burly man who always greets people with literal and proverbial open arms. And, of course, he is almost always present here…


Specifically, at Common Ground Café, they foster a safe, loving space to build community and the people who gather there embody the qualities that are essential to serve our homeless and underserved neighbors.

This is a mash-up of organizers, volunteers, and neighbors who come together for sit-down, restaurant style breakfast every second and last Saturday of the month.

And if it is a thing on your mind or on your heart, they’re always looking for volunteers. I hope you’ll join them.


Thank you to Jeff Sigel from Gather The Spirit and my bud, David Yancey who helped out and made it possible for me to make images in this space. You’re both real swell fellas and I appreciate you, for sure.
Email Clay Lambert at to volunteer.

New Year, Still Beating.

I’m going to level with you… 2016 was a weird year.

I felt a little lost, mismanaged my time, felt unnecessarily stressed, lacked balance, etc. And that’s a really difficult thing to admit to myself, but accepting that I have so many things to improve on actually feels good. Growth is exciting… and in the future, I know I need to stay focused and a little more structured. I need to give myself more time to work on personal projects and feel inspired. I need to take time away from work to be present with friends and family. I need to allow myself to be in more spaces where I am able to learn and grow as a photographer and as a curious person. Yes, all of these things, for sure.

That being said, this year wasn’t all bad. I still had a lot of beautiful experiences including the work I did on Marilyn Schlossbach‘s cookbook, seeing young people that I mentored show their work in Asbury Park with Jill Audra Bartlett, recording protest songs with my dear friend Koji & a water justice choir in Detroit, continued work with TheBurg, Sprocket Mural Works, Capital Region Water, Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble, and other wonderful friends and clients. I photographed some truly joyful weddings, had a summer intern (Morgan Crumlich, you are a treasure), taught photography at the Full STEAM Ahead Summer Day Camp at Marshall Math Science Academy, explored Acadia National Park, Portland, ME, and Pueblo, CO, and spent a week documenting in Detroit with Naïm at Voices For Earth Justice. All of these things make me immeasurably happy.

So now I’m onward to 2017:

The first thing I did this year was update the portfolios on my website! WHEW! WHAT A TASK THAT WAS! Ha! I hope you’ll take a moment to go look at the images there.

I will always be in love with people. They are so valuable and this is where I collect beautiful bits of them that they are willing to share with me:


This is a photo of Morgan. We stayed in a yurt in Maine. And drank a lot of tequila. That was pretty cool. (Thanks for going on an adventure with me.) Durham, ME. July, 2016.


Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble: HAIR!

As I get ready to shoot for the next Bare Bones show, The Graduate, I’m reminded that I never shared the images from HAIR. Doing cast photos for Bare Bones helps feed the part of my soul that is still madly in love with theatre. 

Last fall, Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble made their debut at FedLive in Harrisburg with the musical, HAIR and I was tasked with cast photos again. It’s a moving, cathartic show. And I wanted to create images that were intimate and part of the tribe… something that could convey real closeness to this group of characters. Lucky for me, many of them already were my friends and I spent an evening doing what I already love… being close to them. I’m so pumped on the final images.

I am immeasurably proud of everyone that was involved in this production of HAIR. It was beautiful. Each night, they packed the house and seriously knocked socks off every one’s feet. Their voices brought tears to my eyes. We are surrounded by so many incredibly talented people in this community. It’s something to celebrate, for sure.


Ole Punxsutawney Phil & Groundhog Day

It was like a weird wedding reception with a groundhog obsession… and I loved it. 

This may come as a surprise to you, but Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney is a big ole party. Most of the crowd may have been a little drunk and delirious… many pulled all-nighters. And I was one of thousands that celebrated the night before and gathered at Gobbler’s Knob before sunrise to see the famous 130 year old groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, awaken from his slumber.

As the story goes, Phil emerges from his hole, speaks “Groundhogese” to a group of old dudes in tuxedos and top hats called “The Inner Circle” to inform them, based on whether or not he casts a shadow, if we have six more weeks of winter or if Spring is arriving early. There were fireworks and flasks, lots of singing and dancing, groundhog hats and signs, and they even played the Star Wars theme for the groundhog. Yes, it’s bizarre. It’s absurd. It’s silly. And a lot of people like to speak ill of the holiday, ole Phil and his methods of prediction.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I love it. I think its incredibly endearing that this small town in Western PA gathers thousands of people on February 2nd to tell the story of the magical rodent who predicts the arrival of Spring. Whether he sees his shadow or not, Phil reminds us that there are so many small towns that have curious stories to tell… Traditions like these are the sweet bits of America.

Thanks to Nate, Annie, Joslyn, and Jory for all the hangs, beers, and delirious dancing. My first Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney was pretty rad.


Into the New Year with a Full Heart

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times in 2015 I stopped to think, “Holy shit, I can’t believe this is my job…”

I really love New Year’s… I think I love it more the older I get. Not because of the parties or the weird commercial holiday bullshit, but I love reflecting on the year–taking in all the good and bad experiences then pulling inspiration from all of it to carry into the next year. Oh, and I LOVE fireworks. Reflecting, I feel especially lucky. I kinda struggle with that word: lucky. I don’t mean the denotation of lucky, the definition that implies that everything is up to chance, but rather the connotation of feeling fortunate, fulfilled, loved, inspired, and immeasurably thankful. So in that way, yeah, I feel lucky.

Thank you to every last one of you who helped me grow this year, has given me opportunities and work that I was excited about, has helped me find ways to help others through my imagery, traveled with me, put up with me when I was frustrated, told me to take a nap when I was tired, welcomed me, gave me a bed or a couch to sleep on, gave me hugs, encouraged me, made me laugh, loved and inspired me… I am entering the new year with a full heart.

All the best to all of you in 2016. I can’t wait to photograph it.



Harrisburg Chefs

I love all the people who make delicious things.

You know, just a bunch of cool chefs hangin’ out here… It was awesome to meet and hang with Joe, Sean, and Michael, but of course, I was absurdly sentimental about photographing Qui Qui, Christian, and Emi because they are dear to my heart!

Qui Qui has the wildest spirit. She’s one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met and an incredibly strong woman. I could listen to her tell stories for hours… but she would never be able to sit still for that long. Her food is always extraordinary, but more recently, I am blown away by her hospitality and kindness. And it always happens when I’ve truly needed a little nurturing for my soul. Thank you for that, Qui.

Christian is super talented and Troeg’s, I am sure, feels very lucky to have him. The dude just gets it. “It,” being food, of course. I always eat the best cured meats and cheese and the best conundrum of flavors in my mouth at Troeg’s. He’s a wealth of knowledge and good vibes. And, not to mention, he’s a fucking sweetheart. Best dude.

And Emi is one of my favorite human beings, ever. I’m not exaggerating. She is a genuine, beautiful, joyful soul. This lady is an awesome chef and one of the easiest people to work with in a restaurant… and if you’ve ever worked at a restaurant, that shit is important. I value her friendship to the max and when I hang out with her, I laugh with my whole body. I appreciate you, Emi.




Eric Moon//Salon Edjii

We grow in tandem. 

Eric Moon is a constant in my life. He may also have been the first person in my adult life to show me that life in Harrisburg can be a truly wonderful one. We could talk for forever about putting ourselves out there in this big, crazy world, loving the work that we do, traveling to dope places, the mentors that impress us, inspirations, all things that are delicious, our goals, our many loves, etc… but the one thing I want YOU to know about him is this: Over the last ten years, I have never doubted him. Not once. I trust his friendship. I trust his work. I trust his heart. I couldn’t be prouder of him for all the things he’s accomplished. And I am especially proud of him this year for opening Salon Edjii. Check him out, darlings.

Congratulations, dude. Life is way good.

Thank you to theBURG for highlighting Eric in print this month. I think the world of him and I’m so glad to see other people think he’s pretty cool too.


Here’s the salon:


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…


Fresh Travels!

I’m so glad that a lot of Harrisburg people have been asking, “How was tour, Fresh?!” since I got home last Sunday… It was awesome. And it’s not unlike me to be excited about a photographing to the point that I’m crawling out of my skin—itching to tell anyone that will listen to me—but I really think this trip was great.

A few weeks ago, Brian Marquis asked if I would travel with him for a short tour on the east coast. It was four days, ranging from DC to Boston, of Brian opening sold out shows with Downtown Fiction for Never Shout Never. I basically knew diddlysquat about both bands. They seemed charming but very young and I cringed when I found out that they were only between the ages of 21 and 24. It’s hard to admit that I cringed—I felt like a jaded, old jerk in a room of vibrant young dudes. I knew needed to take a deep breath, stop acting like an old lady, drink a beer, open my heart a little more, and just be kind. Everything was way good.

Each crowd was generally 14-19 year olds and mostly girls. They were there early.  Some sat outside the venue as early as 1:00 with blankets. Oh, they were so fucking excited! And by the time Brian was getting up on stage, they were cheering him on and then shushing each other to hear him play. They were so attentive. We heard them shout things like, “I LIKE YOUR SHIRT!” “I LIKE YOUR BEARD!” and “I LOVE YOUR SONGS!” and I think Brian felt like he had on a self-esteem jetpack. The energy only skyrocketed as the night progressed. Of course, they were so stoked to see Downtown Fiction and Never Shout Never. After all, that’s who they were here to see! Kids sang at the top of their lungs, smiling from ear to ear, and some even cried. Not a single show was a bummer, not one lacked energy, no crowd was small, and no enthusiasm was spared.

The second night I was really warming up to the tour and I felt decent enough to start shooting. In any case, I hate shooting the first day… It’s so nerve-racking to have someone you don’t know running around with a damn camera in your face.  After all, I didn’t go on tour with Brian to be a nuisance to everyone else, I went because I wanted to spend time with him, enjoy some music, and make good images on the road. I shot live and that was cool, but the images backstage are always my favorite. And the green room at The Note in West Chester is roughly the size of a fucking postage stamp. It’s… tiny. But I think the images I got look pretty intimate and warm. This is probably a direct result of being practically on top of each other. Well, I’ll take it. Hopefully, you can gather from the photos that night and every other night, they were very much themselves.

Cheers! To Chris, Taylor, and Hayden from Never Shout Never, Cameron and David from Downtown Fiction, and of course, Brian Marquis for an awesome Harrisburg hiatus and allowing me photograph. You guys are pretty alright.


Dani Fresh

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The Burg, The General, & Frank McManus

Did you see this month’s The Burg?! So excited to see my portrait of Harrisburg Receiver, Bill Lynch on the cover!

The General was definitely the most personable political figurehead I’ve ever met. He’s a pretty fascinating person. Good images and great chats. Or, let’s put it this way, I haven’t been lacking interesting subjects!

The Burg also revisited one of my photos of Frank McManus this month. But of course, I love seeing Frank get local support! I’m biased! He’s my friend! But he’s also an incredible artist. If you haven’t seen his work, you should probably check it out.

Cheers, Harrisburg!