Charlotte, North Carolina. I spent the last two years of my life here after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill. Now, I am located in Fuquay-Varina, outside of Raleigh. Despite changing my location I cannot help but be drawn back into the city. Maybe it’s because I have made lasting connections there, or there are amazing things to photograph but I personally think it boils down to opportunity. The one thing a city offers is opportunity, a chance for you to act. People talk about New York and LA as these grand places and “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” and in my opinion that is partially true. The ones who make it these places are the ones who are brave enough to step outside of their comfort zone and do. Not talk or think or tweet, but do. I developed my photography skills in Charlotte because the city was full of opportunity. This post will allow you to see what a good day in Charlotte can be like, if you are willing to just flow without fear.
The morning began with a music video shoot at sunrise. Railz, Jake and myself sat on top of a roof in Southend, waiting for the golden hour to come. As we waited for the sun to rise I wrote this:
Came in around 4AM to climb up on a roof.It wasn’t the highest roof, and it was actually far from the skyline. But it was a roof that I could climb now. We hopped up onto the building, using an electrical generator as a stepping stool. The first time we tried during the day the smoldering metal burned my palms. This time however night kept the steel cool. Upon arriving I found myself standing atop of a building. The feeling eventually set in as I examined the skyline, but honestly, the moment was not initially grand. In fact the grand moment snuck up on me right before the sun rose. In the faint darkness, I realized that this was another milestone in my journey with art. Here I was, waking in the middle of the night to make a music video. This idea kept me up at night, the feeling of actively pursuing my dream. And now real sleep had been sacrificed, proving to myself how far I am willing to go. The sun finally awakened and the city shook off the twilight dust. A passenger train could be heard in the distance, reminding us that the world never really stops, only we humans do. I think have unlocked the secrets of my camera, constantly reading and toggling with the settings in order to get better. I make mistakes, often. But I practice when I do, and even when I don’t. I practice so when it’s time to perform, like that morning, I will excel. I work on my own so when I work with others I am not slowing them down. My eyes are developing, the small details, the symmetry between spirits and the grand picture are becoming clearer. Slowly, but surely. I wonder what exactly I will be able to see when they are complete. Everything is in transition, my friends, my fears and my future. There is a degree of instability that rests under my skin, however I learned to accept it’s help. I’m slightly anxious the moment before I leave the house, before I open my mouth and even before I release the shutter. I stood on this “not so tall” roof, yet found my head in the clouds. The view, although not much, was still enjoyable. I was finally off the ground, figuratively and literally. I didn’t look down, all I could see was the city behind Railz. Viewing the city from the roof made me want to climb. To go higher, to toss equipment up and then my body. To risk the scrapes from the brick walls that will appear, or survive the burning metal again. I decided that I was willing to go up, that only I would take me up. And that God’s path was heading upwards as well so it had to be real. So here was the rooftop, the sunrise in the horizon with the three of us standing atop soft gravel. It didn’t feel that much different from the floor, but when you look around, you see less of what you know and more of what you want. I think I’m okay with that for now.
After our video shoot I headed to UNC-Charlotte to sleep and practice piano. I’m terrible and I know I annoy anybody in the union, but I still try. I happened to play a few notes until a girl approached the piano and taught me a song. It was the intro to a Catholic Hymn, a song I catch myself playing on invisible keys. In return, I assisted her in editing a video for her class (I do hope she got a good grade). I stayed around the University area and ran into Joseph, a fellow Tarheel in the grocery store.
On University City Blvd is a shop next to the Harris Teeter called Save Point Video Games. It’s a vault full of classic video games and systems. Being a frequent visitor I asked the staff if I could take pictures of their store and they both nodded almost simultaneously.
I decided it was time to edit some images, so I drove to Amelie’s Bakery located in NoDa. After enjoying a delicious treat I burned through some Dogwood images and left to be greeted by Anarrah, a fellow Tarheel and my Project Uplift counselor from once upon a time. It’s always a GDTBATH.
The day began to drift and I did too, eventually meeting up with an upcoming photographer named Brandon Washington. Today was the first day we’d met up, so we took our cameras out into the park and snapped away. We shared advice and stories and vowed to continue living side by side with our cameras.
By this time it was nightfall, but the adventure still continued. I headed to campus one last time (college campuses are a safe haven for me) to snag a picture of the landscape with my brand new tripod. A fellow poet and good friend of mine, Brandon Woods, was on campus as well and we spent the evening conversing, free-styling and eventually writing pieces.
I finally headed home, aka “Casa Amaya”, where I found a plate of Pollo Campero and some well-deserved rest.