Thanks, dad

While I’m writing this looking at my dad falling asleep watching Sunday Night Baseball in my grandpa’s office, I can’t help but think of all that went into getting us out to Connecticut these past five days.

For a journey that started on a December night near Christmas of 2016 when I blew a $200 hole in my wallet for a Red Sox game six months and a few days from the time I bought them, I couldn’t be more thankful for how it’s all happened.

My dad has made a lot of sacrifice in his life to make things better for us. After meeting my mom in our nation’s capital, moving to Ohio and 700 miles away from Putnam and the connectivity that comes with the Mass. Pike, sometimes he dealt with the ramifications of that. (i.e. the six year stretch that went from 2011-now after his 30-year high school reunion)

Vacations growing up were spent in a perfectly small rotation of places: Put-in-Bay, Disney World and Putnam. The first two greater than the latter, though all three places were visited multiple times.

But as my two sisters and I got older and commitments grew larger, stretches between time in New England grew further and further. Not because we wanted it to happen, but because sports and music and life in general took over. We were growing up. And because of that and where we lived, travel ball took precedence over the northeast and being at football camps and conditioning days took precedence over packing up the van and making the drive to Putnam for a week, or anywhere for that matter.

After graduating from high school and now entering into the final semester of my undergraduate studies at Ohio State, I was able to make up for that lack of visitation a couple times. The first spending a week in Putnam after a month-long European study abroad, getting here via Berlin to Oslo to Boston all on one-way airplane tickets.

The second was an alternative winter break in the winter of 2016 and what really led me to want to bring my dad here as soon as I could. In December, my group of students through Buck-I-Serv got a free day to explore Boston. My dad’s younger brothers David and Kevin picked me up early in the morning on Sunday Dec. 18 and I spent the day at my grandparents’ house in Putnam. A week of ten-hour volunteer days for eight hours with my family.

After my mom had her hemorrhagic stroke in March of 2016, my dad has made one of the biggest continual sacrifices I think I’ve ever seen anybody make.

Though working at the library part-time during the week, the constant and undivided attention comes through the support that he gives my mom at home. Feeding, assisting with the bathroom, giving her an extensive list of medications daily — waking up at all hours of the night to help her live somewhat of a life that she once did.

It’s a full-time job but he doesn’t treat it as such.

But for as many times as people have asked about my mom and rightfully so, my dad often gets left out of the consideration to those who don’t have any idea what he’s going through. And that’s perfectly fine because, again, it’s something people are unlikely to consider unless they’ve gone through something similar.

They’ve both suffered, but are both so strong.

So here’s you to you dad: thank you for everything you’ve done for mom the last year and a half. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, keeping me afloat and for everything that we did this weekend.

Thank you for being my best friend.

 


Friday in Boston

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When we first got into Boston, dad and I bought

T passes for the day, (THIS IS ME INTERNALLY SCREAMING FOR COLUMBUS TO BUILD A RAIL SYSTEM) and our first stop was across the harbor and over to Harvard.

There at Harvard we got our JFK fix with a free exhibit next to the library.

Speaking of the library, here’s a picture of Jim in front of it.

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We were going to count the books he’s read within its walls, but it was getting close to lunch time and I wanted to take him to the original Regina Pizzeria in the North End.

We got the Classico. Italians know what they’re doing with artichoke hearts on pizza.

After finishing at Regina we stayed over on the North side, getting to the Garden, a first for both us.

For what it’s worth, to me, on the outside it looks like a giant concrete shoe box but on the inside is sweet, sweet basketball and hockey lore.

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Finally, a moment we both had been waiting on for a really long time. The last time dad stepped foot within the green walls of Fenway, the place was moldy and smelly, I was not yet eight and sinker-baller Ramiro Mendoza and the Devil Rays at the time put up 22 runs on the Red Sox.

Fenway Franks also smelled just as bad then as they do now.

Other than the Red Sox getting absolutely bundled, the only things I remember from the game was screaming “Johnnnnnnnny” irrationally loud at Johnny Damon during his at-bats and missing a Trot Nixon home run while my dad and I were in the team shop. We bought matching Nomar Garciaparra sleeveless shirts in typical Jim Longo fashion.

Anyways, fourteen years after we last watched the Red Sox at Fenway together, Jim sat down for a game at 4 Yawkey Way.

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I’m not going to lie, Jim and I are some sappy dudes. Water from the eyes flows at seemingly any conceivable and inconceivable time.

So yeah, his tears weren’t about the putrid Red Sox offense that night, or the three-run bomb that landed a section over from us that hooked around Pesky Pole, or that the Red Sox fell out of first place and that organ tunes were played after the game in lieu of “Dirty Water” signifying a Red Sox win.

They were about what we’ve been through, where we come from, what we’ve done and where we’ve been, places and things we’ve seen and memories we’ve made together.

Sunday night driving to downtown Putnam to walk around my dad made the point that just because these trips and being out here hasn’t happened often doesn’t mean they’re any less meaningful, and that the memories made are further engrained deeper in our hearts.

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(p.s., Putnam is named after Israel Putnam, a Revolutionary War hero at Bunker Hill, Putnam County in Ohio is named after him the same. ~history is cool~)

 

Taking pictures in Columbus without common sense

I’ll be the first person to tell you that my book smarts far outweigh my legitimate, survival-based common sense. I can manage my life, my finances somewhat and dress myself, but some things I am just not adapt at.

Wednesday evening I didn’t have anything to do but I was feeling froggy and wanted to try out my new 50 mm f/1.8, so I scoured the internet for sunset locations around Columbus that I haven’t been to.

(for the record, the top of the CSCC parking garage, North Bank Park and anywhere along the Scioto Mile are prime locations for that kind of stuff around the downtown area — I encourage them)

Back to the point. I had read that the Overlook Deck at Highbanks Metro Park had an 100-foot elevated observation deck of the Olentangy and thought that would be a really cool spot. I’ve only ever been to the smaller parks around Columbus and figured it’d be a quick in and out spot and nice to get some fresh air. Yes, this is the part where it all goes horribly wrong.

For starters, I have never hiked in my life. The hills of Camp Ohio in Mt. Vernon have given me some kind of wherewithal to walk up steep paths, but other than that I don’t seek out to hike somewhere usually, it’s not my thing. I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea.

I’m not going to try and justify it — yes I am — but I also wasn’t wearing any socks. Yes, borderline disgusting I know but my feet feel overheated and worse sometimes with socks than when I’m bare-footing it inside my shoe. Giving them more airflow to breathe is so much more comfortable. Though with the added comfort creates an awful odor that normally only I or Emily have to smell. She tolerates me gracefully, bless her heart.

I got to the park around 8 p.m. and with golden hour about to set in I definitely didn’t give myself enough time to get where I wanted to. The Overlook trail is about two miles or so according to the park map, but I figured where I wanted to reach would only take me half that time.I was correct in that thinking, but the only part of that I got wrong was the entire thing.

Instead of going east on the Dripping Rock Trail and connecting with the Overlook right away, I went west, all the way down to the Big Meadows Picnic Area where it intersects with the Scenic River Trail and the Big Meadows Path. Carrying camera equipment with no socks on and a book bag on my back.

Fun stuff.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Highbanks layout (still probably more familiar than me) take a look here at the park map.

The point of this all is a few things:

  • Never take me hiking or go hiking with me, you’ll end up lost.
  • Prepare yourself camera-wise and direction-wise beforehand, sometimes it’s important to make a plan and not be sporadic like I was.
  • If you get going on the wrong way, take a couple pictures just to document that the hike wasn’t for nothing besides experience and exercise. Learn from my mistakes.
  • Finally, if it’s not too late, never give up on the night.

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So while it was almost 9 p.m. before I got back on 23 and headed south towards Ohio State, I definitely didn’t want the entire night to go to waste. Instead of heading back to my apartment, I went downtown to my favorite spot near the Scioto Mile and walked around a little.

This is where I achieved poetic justice.

Driving downtown Columbus at night you can definitely find a lot of things picture-worthy, but at this point I was just looking for something long exposure-related as that tends to be my go-to with Columbus’ bright lights around the Arena/Gay Street district.

It doesn’t really offer much of a story, but I found gold on a foot bridge that runs over Long Street, connecting with the parking garage for AEP and the U.S. Court of Appeals.

My feet still blistered, my inner-self feeling a little more humble, the night still turned out pretty cool.

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Long St. facing west towards North Bank Condos at dusk.

The last real thrill came when I went down the stairs the other way. There was a homeless man asleep on the stairs. He had to have been sleeping there before I even arrived.

I hope he gets the help he needs; it sure put my night into perspective.

Elyssa: Breather of God’s air, lover of this life

Nearly six months ago this girl came into my life. I love her sister the most, but I sure do love her too.

Elyssa is a free spirit, a lover, a dancer, a singer — a God-fearing woman. Helping take her senior pictures with Em was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. For as loud as she sings the Lord’s praise on stage Sundays at Family Life Church, her smile is still brighter.

Surrounded by a bevy of loving family and raised by incredible people and community, Elyssa shines.

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In shooting, I used my Canon 7D Mark I and rented a Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4. Easily the best lens I’ve ever used, I’d recommend this lens to anyone who wants a simple lens to use at a relatively low rent price (about $25 for the weekend.)

If you’re going to rent a lens around the central Ohio area, I highly recommend World of Photography in Grandview. The staff was knowledgeable and made me feel comfortable in picking out the Sigma since the lens I wanted had been spoken for. I even bought a Canon 50 mm f/1.8 after taking back the Sigma I felt so good about the place.

Anyways, after spending the first part of my Sunday afternoon training for Royal Family Kids Camp (please please please ask me about this!!!!!), I met Elyssa and Emily in downtown Marion, at the Main St. Professional Building. Elyssa and Emily had taken pictures at Marion Tallgrass Trail before meeting me downtown and for obvious reasons, that’s a really cool place to be around Marion, whether taking pictures or not.

We got started taking photos on top of the Main St. professional building. Thanks to my friend Alex Sheridan for helping me make the connection and to Mike Zucker for being so gracious in letting us get up there. They turned out to be really cool shots.

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Elyssa wanted pictures in her tutu on top of the building, showcasing her love for ballet. She’s really good at it too.

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One of the coolest things about the roof of the professional building for me personally was to see the revitalization of downtown firsthand. Good and bad vibes are a real thing, and while I have always loved Marion deeply, to look down Main St. and see all that has been done in the last few years to improve our city was really heartening. The vibes are good.

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After the leaving the professional building area, we walked across the street to the mural on the north wall of the Merrill Lynch building where I kind of jimboed on that set, but here’s one with a little bit of the mural in the background.

 

After leaving downtown, we went and had dinner, and then headed out to a quiet itty bitty of Marion, a place I have grown to love. At this point it was near golden hour and with the combination of the company, camera body, the Sigma lens and Elyssa being pretty pretty made the end of the day come together really well.

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Golden hour, hay bales and a full field makes for pretty pictures. Elyssa too.

~outfit change~

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Elyssa Kristine Sayre

Senior pictures for any girl is arguably one of the most exciting times of a young life. For Elyssa it was just the same.

There was a little added bonus this time though, furry and small.

After chasing them around for what seemed like hours and seeing which one warmed up to her the most, convincing Angie Sayre to let her take it home to Wild Bill Sayre, Elyssa became a cat mom to Marcus. There’s nothing better than taking a barn cat home. They turn into the best ones, believe me I know (RIP Boo).

Marcus came home and Wild Bill Sayre instantly turned into a softie.

Though her day came to an end and the camera shuttered for the last time, the fun has just begun.

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For more from Sunday’s pictures, click here.

OHSAA State Championships, Dec. 1-3, 2016

This being the first time I had ever covered football in any capacity, I found myself getting caught up in the moment a lot. For that first instance to be inside Ohio Stadium as a professional, it was something quite unforgettable.

Though the 105,000 seats that the ‘Shoe holds were still there, the lack of capacity that Friday night and Saturday morning were slightly daunting, fully well knowing as a spectator what it must be like to cover a game for a paycheck with a sold-out crowd in a press box with a hundred individuals covering the game instead of the seemingly ten there that night.

Throughout the nights I toyed with camera settings a lot, wished I had brought another battery, spent too much time focusing on photographs instead of the job I had been assigned to do … but I had fun.

I tookccc game winner-2.jpg entirely too many pictures, I grew in confidence strides than what I had at the start of the games. I saw a state championship winning touchdown, capturing the score and the reaction of the home fans, the first real gratification that I wasn’t totally clueless with a camera.

 

I reflected on the way the runner-ups felt, reminiscing on my younger years and always wondering what it would’ve been like to play here.

I also witnessed the last game in Ohio Stadium for two former Ohio State commits, albeit sooner than all three of us thought.

Danny Clark, a southpaw quarterback from Massillon and then Akron, was all the buzz of Ohio State recruiting for a couple years before Urban Meyer took another quarterback — Tate Martell — and Clark saw the silver-lining, de-comitting before deciding on the University of Kentucky.ohsaa-5

 

Still brandishing a “Block-O” tattoo on his throwing arm, it was hard not to wonder what Clark would’ve been like playing there on Saturdays. Though the Ohio State offense didn’t really conform to Clark’s strengths, he threw a pretty and a pinpoint accurate ball that night and you knew that he was destined for major college football.

Alongside him was running back Todd Sibley, the evident MVP of the final for Hoban and the second de-commit from Ohio State. Clark threw the ball only nine times, and with Sibley carrying them the rest of the way against Trotwood-Madison, the score was never really close.

Sibley had been committed to Ohio State shorter than Clark, but still a lengthy stretch of time as recruiting goes. Sibley according to reports was going to be grayshirted, forced to delay his enrollment until the spring of his freshman year. He found a new home at the University of Pittsburgh, replacing a juggernaut in former Panther and now Pittsburgh Steeler James Connor.

The silver-lining of the relationship between Clark and Sibley was an interesting one. Sibley had been there from the start, joined later by Clark at Hoban with more of an opportunity to win a state title — they won two together in their time at Hoban — but also a chance for two teenagers to develop a relationship in the backfield that would springboard them to what I’m sure they thought would be success on Saturdays in the ‘Shoe.

Regardless de-commitments and different destinations couldn’t bind the joy of winning a state title.

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Capturing this journey along the way, a couple nights in December was something unforgettable, I doubt any experience like this truly is.

For someone like Danny Clark, who has gone through a wide range of emotions along his journey to college football, I think in some respects we share the same opinion. In the last time he spoke to the media at Ohio Stadium, when asked by me about what he’d take away from the last time he’d play within these walls, Clark answered with sincerity.

From scout.com

“It don’t matter where we’re playing. It don’t matter if we’re playing here (Ohio Stadium), Kent State or if we’re playing at Alabama,” he said. “We’re here to win with our teammates and we’re blessed by God that we got to have a great victory today. It meant the world to us. It don’t matter where we’re playing. We’re out here to win with our brothers, and it was a great night.

“God was on our side, we were executing, and doing what we needed to do. It doesn’t matter where we were playing.”

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For more from the state championships, check out a gallery here.