Photo by Jordan Harmon.
Frank Lloyd Wright said, “We create our buildings and then they create us.” I believe as an artist and a long time student of design, I am most interested in the invisible hand that guides humans through spaces. Through my imagery I try to capture the spaces human beings occupy and the (ethereal hand) that these spaces use to guide our behavior. At the most basic level I am trying to see how different spaces change human behavior. Can a empty beautiful vista change our brain chemistry and make us nicer to our companion? Can a narrow dimly lit hall that opens up into a grand atrium make us feel born again? I have also struggled with accepting myself as an introvert my whole career as a public school teacher. Daily, I find myself running away, and then running back to humanity. I am constantly traveling between too much, and not enough. When I run away I tend to choose quiet natural spaces for their restorative nature. When I am feeling confident I choose to inhabit loud vibrant cityscapes. My work focuses on that journey between the two outposts of humanity: freedom, alone, escape and then inclusion, togetherness, support. When I think of my body of work on a lifetime scale I imagine it most closely resembles a family with a city home where they work, live, and go to school, and a quiet cabin on the lake. My images are taken metaphorically on those Friday nights heading up to camp and again on Sunday afternoons heading home.
My life has a very interesting seasonality and cycle to it. I get to see the world from blue collar, white collar, and free of the rat race for small snippets of time on my yearly cycles. This flow gives me a pretty diverse overall-40,000 ft perspective on life, which makes me lose interest at the fine details pretty quickly. (Maybe this is why I always shoot wide angle?)
From September to June I am a teacher. I teach all things design, drawing, photography, building, and the creative suite of apps on a Mac. I have been a teacher for 15 years, and recently completed a leadership degree from LeMoyne which focused on communication and systems in large organizations.
On weekends, I find myself studying and practicing the craft of photography. Usually, Sunday mornings I get up before sun-up and head out to an abandoned building, street scape, or landscape to shoot. My biggest dream is to lead photography tours around the world to amazing destinations, or even just ordinary ones. I want to show others the way out of the rat race.
During the summer I own and operate Stein Property Services and I am proud to say I am going into my 11th year. I design, build, and maintain outdoor spaces. I love to draw and think creatively about plants, soil, and stone, so this suits me well. I like to tell people, it’s like being a sculpture artist but actually getting paid for your work! Hop over to www.steinpropertyservices.com to see more.
I also love to travel and my wife and I try to spend our money on experiences and not things. We live in a smaller, older house, and while we sometimes want to compete with the Joneses, we work really hard to keep each other grounded. We currently are going through a kick of minimalism and are selectively getting rid of the “stuff” in our lives. It’s not easy and we are not perfect, but it is a start. Having a three year old makes it tougher, but she is well worth it.
I love to spend time in and around nature. I think there is something beautiful about silence, and if I don’t get enough of it, I lose track of myself pretty easily. I am an introvert and need recharges after hectic days or lots of demands on my plate.
I fall down rabbit holes of obsession pretty easily, and my wife has seen me go through quite a few of them lately:
- Business, business systems, and how money works. (2005)
- Photography (which is easy to stay with because it is such a vast discipline). (2012)
- During my C.A.S. I worked really hard to understand what leadership was and wasn’t. (2014)
- Writing stories (See the stories tab) (2015)
- Coffee in all of its various forms (I even have a Turkish coffee setup!) (2014)
- Cooking (2007)
- Camping (2015)
- Vlogging (2017)
- Illustrating a book (2018)
And the list just goes on and on. Seriously, ask me next week and I may have fallen down another rabbit hole. This site is a space to share all of those things!
Photo by Chris Stein.
Tell the Story, Damn It!:
Recently graduating from SUNY Oswego a few years back, I found myself buried in job applications from here to California. Every one I applied to was geared towards my passion of storytelling. Whether it was through photography or video production, all my bases were covered. One thing they don’t tell you in college is that experience prevails over grades (that goes for any broadcasting major).
That being said, I landed my first job out of college as a Photojournalist for 9 WSYR-TV. There, I was the camera guy, the editing guy, the live-shot guy and the guy asking all the questions. Though the pay and the hours were not the most ideal, it really was a life-changing experience! My main responsibility was to ask questions and tell stories through the lens. At Channel 9, I honed my storytelling skills: from dealing with violent interview subjects, to talking face-to-face with the one and only Ringo Starr, I got it down. Murders, fires, horror; it gets to you after a while.
About a year and a half in at WSYR, I decided to take my career in a new direction…Advertising. I was fortunate enough to land a gig at a local advertising firm as their photo and video guy. This is right after one of the scariest nights of my life (Skiddy Park Officer Involved Shooting). It was a blessing in disguise. I now had a job where I could shoot photos on the weekends and have regular “human hours” and would not see the gruesome down-side of news, not that it was all bad. Since then, I have been putting in the hours at the office and spending time with my wonderful girlfriend, Nicole, outside of that. Also, using every weekend I can to shoot with Chris, exploring everything we can in this wonderful area.
Where my Heart is:
You can ask Chris, I am a man of many hobbies and interests. It’s often joked about quite often because, being in my mid-20s, I am into so much. I am a major blues/rock music fan; Eric Clapton is God and the Kings of Leon are, well…Kings of rock! Bartending my way through college landed me a liking for good, local craft beer and spirits. When not shooting photos, you’ll find me touring local breweries or at the local coffee shop with a black cup of joe (thanks, Chris).
Photography has been my bread and butter passion, hands down. Film, digital and even motion picture film, I’ve shot it! Starting with an Canon GL2 and an Olympus E-510 SLR, to a Canon 7D, I’ve moved now to a Fuji X-T1 mirrorless camera. I have a love for the gear, too. I find myself researching new and old film gear for hours on end just to widen my knowledge of photography. The type of photography I love to shoot is called “Urbex” (urban exploration). In simpler terms, it’s shooting photos of abandoned history. The idea of documenting and telling the story of a place that stopped existing in the public eye is one of the most fascinating and difficult forms of storytelling I have ever encountered. In one photo you have to tell the story of what was there and what has it become. You must make the viewer perceive and visualize the past through the ruins that lay there today. Urbex gives not only the viewer, but myself, a sense of life behind the photo. At first glance, you may see rubble, but an Urbex photo can shine a light on what was once.. lively.
I could go on and on about photography, since the dream is to make this the day job. Live, talk and shoot photos…the life. If we get the chance to meet on a tour, feel free to ask about some old war stories about the local news scene!
Other Passions (If you’ve made it this far *high-five*)
- Apple Computers
- My house I own with Nicole in the City of Syracuse
- Syracuse and Oswego history
- Camping and Kayaking