An Interview with Bruce Barone

A few weeks ago, my friend,  Gretchen Smith Matthews,  an Inspirational Blogger, wrote on her website (Saving her words here on my site for remembrance.)
“Bruce Barone is a professional photographer I ‘met’ through Instagram and who I’ve followed for about 2 years. I truly enjoy seeing the joy-filled photos he posts of his garden, his wife Susan, and their dog Freddy (who actually smiles like my dog Frassie did when I was growing up) – as well as of more scenic vistas, as the one pictured here. Conversing with him made me think that an interview might make sense, and so here we are – the very first of its kind, a simple interview for Like the Dewfall.

“Sometimes a photograph is mesmerizing. The artist has captured the ineffable – that something just beyond the reach of words. When that force is goodness, I can’t stop looking. I want to see more of it through the artist’s eyes.

“And so it was that I discovered photographer Bruce Barone on Instagram. Born and raised in New Jersey, in his childhood Bruce was two great kids rolled into one: a baseball player who wrote poetry. He discovered his passion for creating images, stories, and combinations of these while still in middle school. His creations eventually led to a career as a corporate photographer, writer, and marketing executive at Hearst Magazines (Good Housekeeping, Cosmo, Esquire, House Beautiful, and Town & Country). He later moved to Massachusetts and started his own design and marketing agency, then an art gallery and photo studio in a renovated factory.

“Today, gorgeous shots of his garden, family, and everyday beauty delight me and all of his many, many followers and customers. It is my joy to interview him here on Like the Dewfall.”

You do weddings, portraits, nature, and documentary photography. How have you noticed your approach change in the years you’ve been working, and what experiences have contributed to maturity in your portfolio?

That’s a great question and required of me some deep thinking. I think my approach has been fairly consistent over the years, maybe because my love of people and nature has been consistent. The French philosopher and Jesuit Catholic Priest, (Pierre) Tielhard de Chardin wrote: “Seeing: We might say that the whole of life lies in that verb – if not ultimately, at least essentially.”  I think we can find, see, and experience an epiphany in the richness of the ordinary day. To see. To be astonished. To embrace truth.

Often, I ask myself, “What am I called to do?” and “How can I make the world a better place?” To paraphrase Rumi, the 13th century Persian, poet, Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic; I remind myself: you need to be permanently astonished–this is the real work of religion. Maybe of art. The second thing you need is love; draw upon love for energy. And the third thing is sacrifice–give the drop that is ourselves; we are given an ocean. To be astonished, to become more like a child. Gifts are all around us. Be nourished by being amazed–it is a great thing to be alive.

Simone Weil, the French philosopher and political activist, said: “Absolute attention is prayer.” Seeing. Astonishment. Prayer.

Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, writes:

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

We design the world by the way we choose to see it! Yes; I choose to see beauty and to share that wonder, that astonishment with all.

How would you describe your general philosophy when it comes to your work?

I believe my photography reflects my passion for life, a love of life, nature, beauty; a calling to share this vision, This, I believe, is my ministry. I believe I have been given a gift from God. A gift for seeing beauty–-creating artful, remarkable, memorable photographs. Drawing on a degree in Art and English, inspired by Nature, a passion for telling stories and years working as a writer and photojournalist helps me to follow my heart–bringing a heightened sensitivity to all my photography. I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography.

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened while you’re working?

True story. I was photographing a wedding one sultry summer day. As was my custom, I was wearing a dress suit and carrying two cameras. When the ceremony ended I made a dash for the outside so I could photograph the bride and groom leaving the church and walking down the 20+ steps to their limo.  My assistant stayed inside to photograph them walking down the aisle. Perhaps, my pants were too long. I’m not sure, but no sooner had I started to walk down the steps when I lost my balance and tumbled down a few steps. I was OK; just a bit shaken up. And my cameras were okay. Only a few people saw the tumble!

What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken to get a shot? Did it pay off?

I am not sure if this a risk, but I can be fairly outgoing and once on a lunch break when I worked at Hearst Magazines in New York City I stopped at a friend’s bar for a beer (It was very hot that day!) and a bite to eat and sitting at the bar were the members of the band The Clash. I was giddy with excitement. I loved them and had just seen them in concert. I sat down at the bar next to Joe Strummer, the leader of the band. After some small talk, I asked him if I could photograph him outside. He agreed. I must say he was a very nice man. He passed away in 2002 at age 50. He’s drinking the beer in the photo. Bandmate Mick Jones behind him. Actress, singer Ellen Foley on the left. I don’t know name of woman on the right.

In all of your life, professionally or otherwise, what are you most proud of?

First, my children and my wife. And second, my gift for bringing beauty into people’s lives.

A stranger once wrote to me the following:

“Thank you for making my life more beautiful with each of your photographs. Thank you for your art.”

Another wrote:

“You have shown me to see the world with a completely different set of eyes. Every single day you bring beauty, joy, depth and a new perspective into my life. I cannot thank you enough for being the beautiful, kind, loving, gentle, and soulful man you are.”

What personal qualities do you think you still need to develop and why?

Focus and persistence because these are tools to help me bring greater and brighter light into the world. I often find myself procrastinating!

What are you most grateful for right now and how do you express that gratitude?

My children, grandchildren, my wife, my dog. My gifts. I express this gratitude with love.

I understand that you are Christian. Was this always your faith? If not, when you did choose to follow Christ?

Some family history…My great-grandfather was one of the first Baptist ministers in America. My mom was a Sunday school teacher at our Congregational Church. One of my sisters was the Director of Christian Education at a Congregational Church. I taught Sunday school. (Funny story. One year I had my son and a girl named Julia in my class. They must have been in third or fourth grade. Years passed and they met again working at summer camp. They now live together in Denver.)

I was a Deacon. I often spoke in church. Once, after giving a talk about stewardship, people said you should be a minister!!!

So, yes. Faith has always been part of my life.

Why is your faith important to you and what benefits do you receive from pursuing this path?

It gives me guidance. Hope.

You recently gave a classic black and white photograph of Ducky’s Hot Dogs on the Asbury Park Boardwalk in New Jersey to Ducky Fornicola’s family after he passed and cited Luke 6:38 and Hebrews 13:16 in your blog post about it. The gift meant a great deal to the grieving family. How does Christianity affect the way you run your business and interact with people?

It truly is all about love.

What does the word ‘grace’ mean to you? 

Grace for me is God’s gift. It is always there. I think of it as the path in the park, the river nearby, the stars in the sky; it is always available to me, the good that is always present.

How do you see evidence of grace in your life?

Grace flows like a river to me and through me, filling me with hope and renewing my faith, guiding me, an ultimate gift of perfect love.

Thank you, Bruce, for your the time and love you’ve shared with us here.

A Garden Needs Weeding

Yellow Tiger Swallowtail
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
In my garden
I am
Weeding
I know not the names of the weeds
They surround my plants
I do know my back and leg muscles
Will ache the next day
I am on my knees
Two hours on my knees
I think this  is a form of prayer
Man On Knees Weeding
There is
The smell of basil
The smell of tomatoes
The smell of mint
Parsley
Thyme
Oregano
This all happened
On Saturday, late morning
Cloudy and breezy
I am filling a pail with weeds
My heart fills with Joy
I sing a new song
“You will be like a well-watered garden,
Like a spring whose waters never fail”
My hands are full of weeds
The garden grows more beautiful
This is why I worked
In the garden, to see
Myself weeding, letting go
Letting God direct me
This is a story about love
This is a story about growth
This is a story about beauty
Stay a bit longer
Listen
To wings of the butterfly flapping
The wings of the hummingbird whirling
Do you hear
Do you see
This all happened
On Saturday
On Sunday I rested

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

I AM

On Friday
In Springfield, Massachusetts
I waited in the waiting room
At the urologist’s office.
I waited and I worried.
I prayed and I meditated.
I said my Mantra.
I said the great I Am.
There were a handful of us there
Waiting with our masks on;
Our face-coverings protecting us
From the virus. I was told
I had a number of large kidney stones.
The shock wave procedure did not work
And here I sat worrying, wondering
If I would need another operation.
My mind wandered as I waited.
I asked myself what is the meaning of life?
Jesus said “You must love
The Lord your God with all your heart:
All your soul, and all your mind.”
This is the first and greatest commandment.
A second is equally important:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
And I remembered this:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry
About your life, what you will eat or drink;
Or about your body, what you will wear.”
Someone calls out my name, “Bruce.”
And I remember this:
“I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me
Shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The physicians assistant says,
“Bruce, there is not much we can do now.
The kidney stone is too deep for surgery.
Let’s wait six months. If pain and problems arise
We will try shock wave therapy again.”
We don’t shake hands and I can see only
His eyes and I say Thank You.
And this I remember leaving
The waiting room, “I am the light
Of the world. Whoever follows me
Will not walk in darkness,
But will have the light of life.”
I return home to my other guiding light;
My wife, Susan, and our dog Freddy.
I go outside to our garden.
Freddy following me.
I see a Tiger Swallowtail.
And all is well here.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

God’s Tiny Flying Ballerinas

Thursday morning
A hummingbird
At the feeder
I imagine
It is God’s
Tiny flying ballerina
Dancing from feeder to flower
The garden of zinnias
Pink and yellow and red and orange
I must hurry
To photograph
The tiny ballerina
The tiny dancer
Moves so quickly
Here then gone
Not like the swallowtail
Spending all morning
In the garden
At the purple butterfly bush
And hovering at a zinnia
Gifts this morning
Beauty
I wait
In the garden
To see
To contemplate
New ways
To extend my voice
And bring beauty to the world

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

Greetings From Asbury Park

I am thinking about Asbury Park, New Jersey. Not specifically this album, although it is one of my all-time favorite albums and dare I say one of the best rock and roll albums of all time. Certainly in the Top 100. This album, this artist, Bruce Springsteen, I’ll save for another Blog post. But let me just say I am blessed that I got to see him in concert at small clubs when he was first bursting onto the music scene. As Jon Landau wrote: “I saw my rock ‘n’ roll flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me fee like I was hearing music for the very first time.” Truth.

Okay. Back to the theme. I am thinking about Asbury Park because of this photo I took years ago when I spent a day photographing on the boardwalk.

A few weeks ago I received this message: “Are you the Bruce Barone who took this photograph of Ducky’s? My uncle owned this and he recently passed away. Could I purchase a print from you? It would mean so much to me and my family.”

I wrote back: “I am so sorry for your loss. I would be happy to send you a print. Free.”

I sent her an 8 x 10 and received a hand-written thank you card from her a few days later:

“Thank You SO much for your generosity. Your beautiful act of kindness is greatly appreciated by me and my Uncle Ducky Fornicola family. Your work preserved his history and your actions honored his life of giving. Be well.”

I was speechless when I read this. Tears in my eyes. Isn’t this about love and giving? The Bible says:

“Give, and it will be given to you.” Luke 6:38

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

I recommend taking a minute to read Ducky’s obituary. Here is a man who gave and loved. A man who “made a difference in the lives of anyone he came across.”

Reading from The Asbury Park Press:

“Donald N. “Ducky” Fornicola, 85 beloved and respected, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend, passed away peacefully from prostate cancer at his home surrounded by family on May 30, 2020. He was born on May 22, 1935, in Neptune, N.J., and was the son of the late Theodore and Mary Fornicola.

“Ducky attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Grammar School and Asbury Park High School. He was a communicant of Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC Church in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

“He was the proprietor of Ducky’s Hot Dogs on the Asbury Boardwalk for 30 years and then employed with Monmouth County Superintendent of Elections Office. He employed many local youths who he later mentored throughout their endeavors. Ducky took great pride in his family and visited them daily. He enjoyed the successes of his children and assisted them in any way he could including managing Dino’s in Long Branch and the Grateful Deli in Loch Arbour.

“Ducky excelled at basketball throughout his life. His love of basketball led him to become the director of the Monmouth Ocean County Parochial Basketball League. He later formed the Mt. Carmel Men’s League and also the Allenhurst Summer Recreational Basketball League. His involvement in basketball allowed him to coach and inspire many young men with their accomplishments.

“Ducky also had a passion for golf. He was an above-average golfer playing at least weekly up until last fall; an avid Dallas Cowboys fan loved Dean Martin and the New York Yankees.

“His charisma and charm impacted the lives of many forever. He had a lasting impression on those that met him and made a difference in the lives of anyone he came across. Ducky went above and beyond in trying to help anyone he encountered, and his smile was contagious. He knew how to brighten your day and had enough personality to fill the room. Ducky was an inspiration to those around him…….

“He is survived by his wife who was his grade-school sweetheart married 64 years, Ursula (Aldarelli) Fornicola; his four children and their spouses Kristie Linington (Gary), Mary Kessler (Scott), Ursula Carkhuff (Chris), and Dino Fornicola (Caroline). Grandchildren, Ashley Linington Ludwig (Ryan), Joseph Linington, Kaitlyn Lougee (Michael), Donald Kessler, Austin Carkhuff, Myles Fornicola, Bryan Linington, and Kevin Coyle; his great-grandchildren, Asher and Addie Ludwig, Michael Lougee; his brothers, Theodore Fornicola, Robert Fornicola, and Fredrick Fornicola (Marie); his sister, Joan Aldarelli. His Sisters-In-Law Fran Giacone, Sister Christina Aldarelli, IHM; his Brother-In-Law Ralph Aldarelli and his life partner, Phillip Degenstein and many nieces, nephews and friends too many to mention.

“Thank you and we will miss you Ducky, Coach, Mentor, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Role Model, and Friend.”

What a Legacy!

Here is another photo from that day on the boardwalk:

And here’s a link to Springsteen on Broadway on Netflix. I highly recommend watching.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

 

There Is A Balm In Gilead

There are pages in a book I am reading
Dog-eared. I don’t know why.
There is a photograph too.
People say it is amazing. Beautiful.
Spiritual. A Japanese print.
Joyous. The year is 2020.
May 1. Susan says we are skipping
Spring and running right into Summer.
The forecast is for increasing clouds.
A chance of afternoon showers.
A rumble of thunder.
In class this morning we learn
About the Balm of Gilead.
With patience, blossoms are sure to come.
I, too, am ready to blossom
In the garden of life.
A storm is on the horizon.
We open our hymnals and we sing:

There is a Balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole;
There is a Balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain.
But then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again.

Don’t ever feel discouraged,
for Jesus is your friend,
who, if you ask for knowledge,
will never fail to lend.

If you cannot preach like Peter,
if you cannot pray like Paul,
you can tell the love of Jesus,
who died to save us all.

She Laughed When I Read Her My Poem

(Long post. Mostly photos. With a surprise ending.)

This post is mostly about January 2020.

Susan and I began coughing and sneezing on New Year’s Eve and continued coughing and sneezing throughout the month of January. My doctor said, “Let it run its course.”

I must admit I was mostly worried about my urologist appointment which was scheduled for January 31. I had an operation back in November and I was concerned I might need another one. The doctor said, “We may have to go in through your back.” My back!

I was more of a fear worrier than a prayer warrier during the month of January.

What’s that verse from Thessalonians?

“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~Thessalonians 5:16-18

Let’s say it out loud: “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I had forgotten to say this to myself during the month of January.

And then I read this from The Daily Word, which helped to put me back on the path of well-being. It was entitled “Healing:”

“I focus my thoughts on health.

“When faced with a health challenge, I may be tempted to keep my thinking focused on what might be wrong with my body, but keeping my thoughts and feelings focused on disease keeps my attention focused on illness, not wellness.

“I can make a new choice. While caring for my body with proper exercise, rest, and nutrition, I focus my attention on those parts of my body that do feel well. From there, I feel gratitude for the healing thoughts that are filling my mind and inspiring me, crowding out all thoughts of illness or dysfunction.

“As a spiritual being, I know that wholeness is my divine nature, and I gratefully welcome my healing. Today I think health-producing thoughts and speak words of healing into being.”

And at my doctor’s appointment on the 31st the doctor said, “We’re not recommending another operation. Rather, we recommend shock wave lithotripsy.”

This procedure doesn’t require any incisions. Instead sound waves are sent through your body, crumbling the stones into tiny, sandlike pieces. The pieces can then pass through the urinary tract more easily.

Good news, indeed!

Early January Susan suggested we have soup for dinner as often as possible to help with are coughing. And we did.

I made Fish Chowder:

I made Spicy Shrimp Tomato Soup:

I made Mushroom Barley Soup:

I made Kielbasa Collard Greens Soup:

I made Turkey Lentil Soup:

January wasn’t all about soup. I also made Lasagna:

I made a Mushroom, Roasted Red Peppers, Red Onions and Spinach Pizza:

I made Apricot and Olive Chicken (This recipe from Nick Stellino.):

The month wasn’t all about coughing and sneezing—and sleeping.

We thanked God every morning we were alive and many mornings beautiful sunrises greeted us. Here are two:

And beautiful birds to behold out our window brought us great joy during the month of January:

Freddy brought us joy every day! He does every day! He’s a very good boy!

A few nights ago, February 1, I believe. I got sick; I think from goat cheese. The dinner was delicious but I think the cheese might have gone south. We had Roasted Salmon, Roasted Beet, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad, and an Orange and Fennel Salad.

I wrote a poem about being sick:

Diarrhea can really wipe you out.

And if you have kidney stones they might move about.

So when you wake you will probably see

Most likely blood in your pee.

~~~

Who laughed?

About October

I began the month with great expectations. Read the Bible daily. Practice yoga daily. Write daily. This I didn’t accomplish.

But Susan and I did begin a new season of volunteering in the Bridges Together Program .

Here are two of our students–4th graders.

I made some delicious food.

Here is a meatloaf with mushroom gravy.

Blueberry Scones.

Cranberry-Walnut Scones.

A Berry Galette.

Fig Chutney, which was so good served with chicken and oven-roasted Gen Tso’s cauliflower.

And since we have both fighting colds this past week, chicken soup.

Susan made a wonderful white chocolate cake. YUM!

One night we went out for dinner at 99 Restaurant and I had a sweet potato crusted haddock. I tried to replicate it at home with cod. Not as good, but still special.

Our garden continued to bring us great joy.

As did our Freddy. And Susan continued to sponsor the Nepali children in soccer.

I also had the opportunity to photograph my friend Beth and her family. I photographed her family last winter and I photographed her wedding a number of years ago.

 

And my friend Hajer.

And here is your humble author and friend. A self-portrait with my better half from October 3. She is my rock and inspiration. She is helping me get through some medical issues; this week I am having the first of two or three operations to remove kidney stones. Earlier in the month I thought I might have one as I have had them before; my back hurt and there was some blood in my urine. A CT Scan and Cystoscopy this month revealed two large stones and numerous small ones.

The long and short of all this is I AM reading the Bible, practicing yoga, praying, writing every day for now on. Thank You Susan for your continued inspiration. I love you. Keep smiling.

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

 

 

 

 

My Cup Runneth Over

One of the first things I do every morning is read from The Daily Word, and I often return to it throughout the day, reflecting on the message.

The message on Friday, August 2:

Prosperity
I happily share my abundance with others.

Created as a reflection of God, I already have everything I need. Like an overflowing cup of tea, I am filled with more than enough. I am prosperous because I am one with God, the infinite source of all that is. When I align my mind with this truth, I feel abundant and find joy in sharing with others.

In order to ensure that I have plenty to give, I replenish my cup by taking care of my physical, mental, and spiritual needs. That way, I am not depleted and am able and eager to share from my abundance. I nurture the gifts that God has given me so they can grow. My cup runneth over, and I have plenty to share with others.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.—Psalm 23:5

The highlighted a reminder to myself to continue with my spiritual reading, walking, yoga, healthy living.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23 New International Version (NIV)

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.