Libraries offer more than good reads

Vertical black and white portrait of my friend Anil in the courtyard of Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan

Books brought Anil and I together. He had one of those highly coveted library jobs during college and I was a paranoid geek who wanted to befriend the desk staff to avoid pending late fees. Years later, despite different cities and time zones, we still find time to catch up on good eats, good reads (naturally), good movies and the like. I was lucky enough to make a short visit to his new home in the great state of New York this past February.

I admire Anil’s quiet endurance through life’s challenges. It makes his sense of humor that much more unexpected. He has a great smile when he laughs, as he did in this photo taken in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.


Grandpa Jim

Vertical black and white portrait of my grandfather smiling at the kitchen table

A former schoolteacher, constant gardener and devout correspondent, Grandpa Jim made himself a regular part of my life through letter writing (we lived on opposite coasts for 18 years). He regularly mailed packages, filled with LA Times newspaper clippings that tightly sandwiched a typed letter. Grandpa Jim’s correspondence was painstakingly personalized; he only chose those articles that aligned with my hobbies – music, art, travel and the like – and diligently edited his writing. Any typos were neatly whited out and corrected with his penciled handwriting. He only ever used capital letters.

While I credit many educators for my development as a writer, I feel I owe him the greatest debt in this capacity. Were it not for him, my interest in writing and indeed, the power of words may never have been born.


Starry eyes studying the skies

Portrait of Jean-Rene leaning forward with his head cocked towards the camera in front of a brick wallTwo side-by-side vertical portraits with Jean-Rene leaning against a fence and a brick wall, arms crossed on left and a closer crop on his face on right

This handsome chap and I met through a mutual friend over the summer of 2011. Born in Montreal, Jean-Rene eventually made his way to the states in pursuit of astronomy. After completing his PhD at the University of Chicago, he left the windy city for a highly coveted post-doctoral fellowship at CalTech in Pasadena.

While his resume speaks to his intelligence, I wanted to use this portrait session as an opportunity to highlight those less suspecting qualities of a math and science whiz: his integrity, his independence and most importantly, his gentle and kind nature. Though we spent some time indoors with a studio backdrop, my favorite images and his most genuine expressions came from our outdoor adventures in the local neighborhood. In retrospect, I would have swapped out his patterned button-down for a solid color to bring even more attention to his face.