Saturday, November 12, 2016

Build gardens. Not walls. Pt 4

Dear King Willem-Alexander,
In light of the recent events in my country, I am writing to you to inquire as to whether you might consider the creation of a new and very forward thinking position within your royal court; that of Royal Flower Photographer. It occurs to me that yours is a country filled with millions of hectares of rolling beauty and color, and that you might be willing to partake of my particular set of skills and extreme passion. Wouldn't it be nice for you to rekindle the Renaissance tradition of patronage of the arts during these tumultuous and unsettling modern times. As magnificent as Rembrandt and Vermeer were, I'm sure you would agree they did not do justice to your country's flowers. Flowers which lift our spirits and unify us while we celebrate their individuality, beauty and uniqueness...providing a metaphor for what is possible as a global community.
I wonder whether things here might have taken a decidedly different turn had someone...anyone... spoken of building gardens rather than walls. But sadly, hindsight gets us nowhere. And we must move forward...so here I stand contemplating safe haven in your beautiful country.
(As a brief aside: may I ask whether your famed windmills were more active given the fierce, gusty rhetoric that swept out of my country as the metaphorical dams (and more literal "dames") were burdened beyond measure and could not contain it all?)
I will await further instructions as to what additional credentials or letters of recommendation you may require of me.
I stand here committed to the role with high hopes of making the world that much more breathtakingly; or at the very least, your particularly beautiful corner of it.

Respectfully yours
Alan Wright Shapiro
Your humble (future?) servant.

#seekingasylum #fromthemadness #findingnewgardenstotripin #hollandorbust

Build gardens. Not walls. Pt 3

Dear President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson
No doubt you have heard about recent events in my country and I am writing to you to see whom I might speak with in your government about a special project that would run approximately four years but result in a huge influx of new export trade for your country as well as an influx of tourism.
As a budding flower photographer, I have long since felt the Icelandic Poppy has not gotten the global attention it deserves when compared to other papavers like the headline-grabbing Papaver somniferum or the showy but incredibly shallow Papaver orientale (which bears a foreboding resemblance to our new leader when he is speaking loudly). My proposal is this: let's create an ongoing campaign celebrating the purity, strength and fortitude of your countries most awesome blossom, (not unlike your people i might add.) I see this campaign driving global export business for this cottage industry (Let's give Holland a little healthy competition) and see if we can't grow a tourist industry to come capture these beauties in addition to all the icebergs, ice flows and icicles. I know many of my friends seem to consider your country a home away from home but they are merely snowbirds compared to what I am suggesting.
Now you may be wondering "Alan, why would this take 4 years?" To that I say we must be thorough! As one who has personally spent great lengths of time translating Stephen King's works into your native Icelandic, I am sure you can appreciate the patience required. Not to mention the fjords to ford and glaciers to galavant over to document these magnificent creatures while talking to farmers, botanists and PR executives about the huge potential I see. What say you, Mr. President?
I look forward to your response

Sincerely
Alan Wright Shapiro
Icelandic Poppy Fanatic

#poppy #forpeaceandprosperity #notpoopheadswhogropepussy #lookinfornewplacestotripthrough #icelandorbust

Build gardens. Not walls. Pt 2

Dear President Pena Nieto,
It's been a rough few months for our countries' relationship, with all the talk of building walls, deportation and ending NAFTA. Dark and turbulent times are looming for us all. It is unfathomable to me that we can suggest such over-the-top (hint. hint.) isolationist acts particularly with one of our two closest neighbors.
   So here's a counterproposal: let's offer to build a ginormous garden. The world's largest and most succulent of gardens. Filled with species of all shapes, colors and political leanings. Yes there will be some thorns and barbs but that is to be expected. And we shall need tens of thousands of people from both our countries to plant, cultivate and weed this new place thus providing jobs in the most positive of work environments. After all; who doesn't love a beautiful garden particularly one that will run for 1,989 miles. Now here's where I come in...I would like to offer my services to you as the official photographer of our new NAFGA* proposition. I promise to exceed your every expectation and provide an unlimited supply of images for you to share as part of Mexico's ongoing Goodwill messaging (and perhaps as a metaphor for all the beauty that comes from your great country.) All I ask for in return is asylum, a small hacienda filled with some healing spirits (of the agave variety) and a weekly shipment of churros from El Moro. Simple enough, si?
   I have but one concern to share. While there will be a few poisonous creatures that roam our beautiful new garden, there will be but one particular snake whose venom and bite has the potential to do irreparable harm. The good news is that he will be taking up residence in our mid-Atlantic region and travels with such a large entourage that we can take precautions in advance.
   So, Señor Presidente Peña Nieto, what do you think? Shall we build a garden rather than a wall?

A centro, adentro!
Y Churros para todos.
Alan Wright Shapiro

*North American Free Garden Attraction

#buildgardensnotwalls #seekingasylum #fromtheasylum

Build gardens. Not walls. Pt 1

Dear President Hollande
I have long been a fan of lavender. Also of baguettes, foie gras, Les Miserables, Napoleans and Napolean as well as a vast assortment of fromage français. Also pommes frites about which I could wax poetic endlessly but that shall have to wait for a future discourse.
Today, I am wondering if there might be a hybrid position that would represent a win/win for both of us. I am nearly certain that I might be able to trace some lineage back to Henry IV (by way of Murray I, Ellis I, Morris VIII and Abe the Terrible) and have been wondering if there might be a place for a ceremonial and practical figurehead for the seemingly forgotten House of Bourbon. [Mmmmm…bourbon.] I say ceremonial because I will make a solemn commitment to celebrate and toast all things trés belle et trés beaux throughout your country on a daily basis. As for the practical side, it has been a long while since Monet’s time at Giverny and I fear your great museums needs some freshening up. To the end, I promise that a great part of my new position will be capturing the vast and varied numbers of spectacular flowers that your country produces. And not just lavender…oh no. (Although remind me to tell you of a skirmish I recently got into with some friends across your channel about English vs French Lavender. Pfffft…how ugly things turned around such a beautiful topic. Ahem…not unlike the foul stench that seems to hover over my country of late.)
I shall spend weeks on end with the Lilies, Gourdon and Iris Flowers that grow wild across your country. The Rosemary and Cacti Cours Saleya will bat their petalled eyelashes at me and blush as I capture their souls for all eternity. Then on to the myriad Multicolored Roses, Poinsettias, Sunflowers, Daffodils Gerberas, and Castile.
Sound like a plan?
If it helps my case, my many friends at the House of Coty will vouch for me.
I await your reply.
Passez une bonne journée
Alan Wright Shapiro

#seekingasylum #escapingtheasylum #buildgardensnotwalls #makelavendernotwar

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Another day, another weary but joy-filled gunfighter who works at keeping the peace amongst the good, the bad and the ugly in a rough and tumble prairie town with the help of a cripple, a drunk and a young gunfighter who dances with wolves...

Another day, another weary but joy-filled gunfighter who works at keeping the peace amongst the good, the bad and the ugly in a rough and tumble prairie town with the help of a cripple, a drunk and a young gunfighter who dances with wolves, passes the time waiting for a long overdue stagecoach carrying his one true love by watching cattle drives with his pet dove (who always seems lonesome) and his seven magnificent border collies (named Shane, Butch, Sundance, Josey, Maverick, Tonto and Mongo) and perfecting his prize-winning "muy loco" bacon-wrapped Rocky Mountain Oysters recipe (despite the "blazing saddles" that follow the day after).

Editor's note: do not think of the theme song from "Bonanza" (http://youtu.be/IsypUGOyhz4) now. Seriously, don't do it.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

New Yorkers aren't always in a hurry.

New Yorkers aren't always in a hurry.
(And if they are, it might be to get someplace off the beaten path so they can be still for a bit.)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Can you hear it?


Can you hear it?
The two ladies arguing across the street in Xiāng about who sells the freshest ginger (yep, I asked)
The clacking of dominoes and gutteral laughter with a background foreground soundtrack of the Chinese Opera being played out in the park.
The polite requests to "Save Nina" (who has 2 months to live) by a group of her sorority sisters asking me to get swabbed for a potential bone marrow match.
Can you hear it? The wail of the ambulance stuck in city traffic, the sizzling of noodles hitting a hot wok, the squeals of children running in and out of the open fountain, the street vendors offering watches and handbags...
I heard all of the above; the quiet cacaphony of a city in motion. And then I heard none of it as it was engulfed and drowned out by this man (Liang) and his overwhelmingly loud inner thoughts.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Love(?) on the Brooklyn Bridge

Him: She loves me. I am the best thing that's ever happened to her.
Her: If I break up with him now and he jumps off the bridge, am I responsible?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Another day, another man battling with the earth

Another day, another man battling with the earth by alan shapiro photography
Another day, another man battling with the earth
Malcolm isn't just a gardener. He is a Knight on a crusade. Each day he battles with the earth; fighting vile, disgusting creatures and the elements themselves, cruel as they can be, to make his kingdoms the most beautiful in all the land. Fortunately, Malcolm and I are really good friends.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

This bad photo could be my favorite photo ever

This bad photo could be my favorite photo ever
It's terribly grainy and not as well composed as I'd like but this photo taken two days ago speaks to me more than just about any other. Rocco Moretto is a WWII Vet that I've known for years from my frequent shoots of the Veterans on Veteran's Day. When Lockheed Martin approached me to shoot their new ad campaign featuring Veterans, Rocco (or Rocky as we all call him) was one of my first submissions for casting. We began shooting the campaign several weeks ago and Rocky and I got to know each other even better. I adore him and we speak quite often if only for me to hear his voice and thank him again for being a new hero in my world. Rocky was in Company C comprised of 220 soldiers that landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D Day. Of those 220, only 2 made it to the Czech border for VE Day. Rocky called me a week or so ago to tell me that his VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post in Queens was being renamed in his honor and would I be his guest. I gave Rocky a large print from our recent shoot (and also one for his post) and he cried. Which made me cry. And then I hugged this 90+ year old man and thought of all the unsung heroes living amongst us.
I took in the event and watched as an aging hero was celebrated. This particular moment had a truly incredible singer recreating a USO show (for one) and I can't look at it without smiling and getting kinda mushy because I have a true hero in my life and he is as humble and gracious and magnificent as I could imagine (and then some).
So here's a bad photo that could be one of my greatest photos ever.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

So whattya think it is, Liv?
"Uhhh...hmmm, it's not an elephant"
"Nope. Too small. And it's not a pig. Kinda smells like a pig, though."
"It's not an anteater"
"Yeah...not with that stubby snout. And it's not a hippo"
"Seems friendly enough. Hey look; it's a girl. Let's name it Prudence"
"No...that's a stupid name. Let's call her Ethel."

Excerpted from "Adam and Liv; Two Gibbons contemplating Darwin's Theories of Adaptation and Natural Selection" a very short film (Actually, more like a single frame. But if you move you're head fast...) presented at the Briarcliff Manor Society for the Creative Deconstruction of Creationism on December 20, 2012. All Contrarians, Dysfunctionalists and Dyslexic Agnostics (wondering if there really is a dog) are welcome.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This is Malik. He asked me if I believed in reincarnation. I said I wasn't sure but hoped so as I wanted to "come back to get it right next time." This led to a whole long conversation about his past life as a hunter and a warrior. 
And led to my processing him as one of his ancestors. Can't wait to share these with him.


Finer Feathered Friends



Friday, June 1, 2012



I love meeting new people. Talking with them. Hearing their stories. Sharing with them in hopes that they'll share back.  Watching the transformations from wary to friendly. From cynical to approachable. From closed to open.
Approaching people is not as hard as it seems and is so incredibly rewarding.
My friend +Mike Shaw and I talk about this a lot.
Stay tuned for something special he approached me about that I think will be meaningful, transformational and wonderful.
In the meantime,
Stay inspired.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


A creative exercise regimen: One flower; multiple ways.

It's not about which you (or I) like better. 
It's about looking at all the opportunities a single image provides.
It's about experimenting, 
honing your processing skills 
and studying composition, framing and texture.
Most of all, it's about seeing what's possible and having fun.

Stay inspired.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Okay, I just really wanna KISS you

You show us everything you've got
You keep on dancin' and the room gets hot
You drive us wild, we'll drive you crazy
You say you wanna go for a spin
The party's just begun, we'll let you in
You drive us wild, we'll drive you crazy
You keep on shoutin', you keep on shoutin'

I wanna rock and roll all nite and party every day
I wanna rock and roll all nite and party every day
I wanna rock and roll all nite and party every day
I wanna rock and roll all nite and party every day

You keep on saying you'll be mine for a while
You're lookin' fancy and I like your style
You drive us wild, we'll drive you crazy
You show us everything you've got
Baby, baby that's quite a lot
And you drive us wild, we'll drive you crazy
You keep on shoutin', you keep on shoutin'

I wanna rock and roll all nite and party every day
I wanna rock and roll all nite and party every day....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Another day, another person fighting off more than the cold

When we look at portraits, what happens?
Is there an instantaneous spark of recognition? 
Or a sputtering flame of empathy?
Do we make an immediate call whether to linger and somehow get to know the photographer's subject or quickly move on based on our mood at that very moment?
Do we tell ourselves stories pulled from our own experiences and world views? Or do we rely on the photographer to provide context and substance?
Is the power with the subject or the viewer?
And what is it about certain images that seem to leave an indelible imprint in our mind's eye.

This image is of a gentlemen named Chris and the more I look at him...look with him...at his reality, the more questions I have.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another day, another vet recounting too many battles and nowhere near enough victories.













I met Richard this morning on my morning walk to my office. He had set up a small oasis and was napping. I was across the street and saw some youths approach him with questionable intent. He woke as I was telling them to leave. He looked at them, sprang to his feet and started a hobbling slow motion run at them. They laughed and walked away. I stayed.

Richard is 87 years old (last Tuesday was his birthday, which he spent in a New Jersey VA hospital). He served in WWII under Patton (way under Patton...but the pride never left his voice as he talked about their victories). We spoke about his life in the military. His new life in the shelter. And the girls at the Hooters in Times Square who bring him chili and soup late at night after their shifts are over. We talked and talked and I took picture after picture while too many people walked by wondering about the interaction. Not sure whether it was the moments of boisterous laughter or the painful moments of silence as he shared the more tragic parts of his life in short story form while I fought the waves of despair. At one point he asked whether I needed to get to work and I told him this was far more important. I was not lying.

I have a special place for Veterans. I never served but I do have a profound appreciation for those that did and do to this day. I remember hearing a fact at last year's Veteran's Day Celebration that a full one quarter of all US Veterans are homeless at one point in their lives. Perhaps that number has changed in the year but I am not an eternal optimist.

I am now in my office but quite distracted. By our conversation. By the sad reality that touches me so deeply. And by the positive thought that Richard agreed to have dinner with me this evening. I expect there will be lots more stories. And with his permission, I intend to not let them go unheard.

Don't spare change. Make change.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sheep

The lambs weren't silent.
Nor were the sheep.I walked in on what sounded like the most disharmonious, dischordant, cacophonous soundcheck imaginable complete with Sheena, the snow white sheepdog barking furiously as if to organize her anything-but-symphonic flock.Then a large cloud passed overhead throwing the barn into darkness and for a moment, everyone got terribly, ominously silent.




Saturday, October 22, 2011

Here kitty, kitty...



























Here kitty, kitty
Nice kitty, kitty

My what a deep and resonant purr you have. 
Oh hey, that got loud fast.
And what perfectly sharp teeth you have. Why, they're as long as my fingers.

What a pretty, kitty
Hey 
HEY
stop looking at me that way
and...and...and licking your lips

Yo, when was she fed last?

I know I look delicious and well marbled 
but I'm really quite bland
and tasteless 
(go ahead everyone...have a field day)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another day in Chinatown

Another day, another attempt at diplomacy rebuked.

Another day, another King Crab reveals a small glimpse of what's under his tough exterior shell
Another day, another walk through a distant, smoke-filled and mysterious land
Another day, another family too far away
Another day, another fishmonger who sells mackerel, tuna and crab all day long but keeps the dried shrimp and oysters all to himself (to go with his stash of ginseng, velvet deer antler, ox and goat penis)