Bob - Street Portrait of a Street Portrait Photographer

by Jamey Firnberg

While walking on River Street in Savannah, Bob Dein saw me taking photos of a girl he assumed was my daughter. It was not my daughter. A little later he saw me approaching a couple offering them the “once in a lifetime opportunity” to have their photo taken by a Rockit Surgeon. The “once in a lifetime opportunity” is the last ditch part of my pitch that comes after the usual two no’s. He witnessed a rejection. It comes with the job.  

Bob approached and asked what I was doing. I explained that I enjoy shooting what I call, “street portraits;” photos of random strangers on the street. He proceeds to explain that he is also a street portrait photographer and shows me some of his work on his phone.

We were both a bit surprised because permission based street portraiture is not a very common photographic genre.

I am familiar with the Humans of New York photographer, but I’ve never actually met another photographer who approaches street portraiture with the same passion that I do. That is, until I met Bob. 

Bob is a retired pathologist from Florida. He started shooting street portraits about 4 years ago after participating in a weeklong street portraiture workshop.

In an email exchange, Bob explained to me that this was so different for him. He says he never was a people person. "It's a kick," he says. His sister left a comment on a blog post, "Who are you, and what have you done with my brother?"

Bob has created a very impressive body of work. His blog,, currently hosts over 900 street portraits. In addition to the portraits, he includes a little background on the shot and each of his subjects. He has inspired me to do the same.

Of course I took Bob’s portrait and he took mine. I am portrait #905.

This is Bob. #rockitportrait

by Jamey Firnberg

The Tree

It’s the home of ornaments handmade by my daughter, my wife, her grandmother and my mother in law. It’s layered with souvenirs from various travels from around the world and ornaments that have been gifted over the years. It also includes an assortment of stuff that should technically be classified as junk. There is a McDonalds Happy Meal toy, an Elf on the Shelf, a Chupa Chups KitPop…

Most of the ornaments are between 20 and 60 years old. They have lived in many houses and survived the destruction of my garage by hurricane Gustav. 

To a stranger they would be considered trash. Even in my house, only a few of them could stand alone, but together they are part of a tradition that brings my family together at a special time. 

For the past 27 years Karen and have I pulled them out of storage and carefully piled them on the tree. Paige joined in 25 years ago.

For the past 7 years, the tradition marks a time that Paige comes home for the holidays. Her presence has a huge impact on our home. For several days Paige and I join together to leave articles of clothing draped on chairs, clutter on the dining table, hair in the sink, and beds unmade. Her fingerprints are everywhere. She fills the house with love and laughter. 

I pull the Christmas decorations from storage and we unpack the boxes and decorate the tree. We put the ornaments on the tree one at a time. Maw-Maw’s handmade balls, Paige’s toilet paper roll candle, the Happy Meal toy, the Elf on the Shelf…

Many have names, like the Christmas Butt Witch, Bah Humbug Angel, and Wooden Canoe. We have the inventory in our heads. If one is missing we diligently hunt it down. We don’t stop until every ornament is on the tree.

I (Scrooge) have not always shared an appreciation for the Happy Meal toy, the Elf on the Shelf and many other assorted “ornaments.” It was a collection of junk that took up space, collected dust, and had to get lifted, toted and stored. I do the lifting and toting. 

However, every year my appreciation for the tradition grows. The Elf and I have come to terms. 

Every year the season ends. 

Paige will load up the Honda and head back to the east coast. 

Karen and I will pack up the ornaments one at a time. Christmas Butt Witch, Paige’s toilet paper roll candle and my old buddy, Elf on the Shelf. We will treasure the memories they have come to represent.

No more clutter on the dining table. No more hair in the sink. The beds are made. There is one less laugh in the house.

My baby girl is gone.

The Conspiracy Revealed

by Jamey Firnberg

It's one of the best kept secrets in Nashville. It's got everything that makes a good story. It's got intrigue. It's got conspiracy. It's got coverup. It's got conflict. It all revolves around four characters... Hmm. Check it out.

A bird made this

by Jamey Firnberg

A bird made this. I found it in a park on one of my morning walks. It was on the ground under a tree. No eggs, no baby birds. The next morning I noticed the grass had been cut and this nest had been placed on a nearby picnic table. A bird did not put it there. 

I considered moving it for a better photo, but it was very delicate and moving it just a little would damage the structure. So, the person who put it there did so with extreme care. I am guessing whoever cut the grass, noticed it and moved it. I wondered about the thought process of that three-option decision. Mow around it? Mow over it? Move it.

Bird Nest.jpg

When you think about it, this nest an amazing piece of work. Large sticks on the bottom and outside. Smaller twigs lay on top of the large sticks. Grass and pine straw finish out the bed of the nest and a touch of greenery decorates the outside. It was ultimately designed to be a habitat for raising baby birds. It was meticulously constructed stick-by-stick and twig-by-twig by a very small creature with a very small brain. It was built in a tree, no less. You have to think even seasoned architects would marvel at the construction.

So, whoever was mowing the park yesterday recognized this bundle of grass and sticks as something more. Over time these construction materials will disappear back into the earth, but before that happens perhaps a bird can recycle the materials? Maybe walkers on this path will appreciate the time and effort that went into building the nest and give Mother Nature credit for a kick-ass work of art? Who knows?

I, for one, appreciate the gesture and I’m glad they did it. 

The Free Paper Towel

by Jamey Firnberg

I found this paper towel in my room at the Best Western in Nederland, Colorado. It was free! Thinking this was too good to be true, I confirmed it with the front desk before taking it out of the room. Sure enough, it was free. And, in fact, there were no restrictions on what I could do with it. I could use it for anything I wanted. Absolutely anything. So I took the paper towel with me on my travels. I needed it. I used it. It came in very handy. It was at that moment that my thoughts about the free, imprinted paper towel, that I could use for absolutely anything I wanted, changed from, “Whose dumb idea was this?” to “What a great idea!”


My Les Paul got close to a flame

by Jamey Firnberg

I added a Les Paul to my guitar collection. It’s a fixer-upper. I got a good deal on it. It appears to have been in a fire. Based on the surface damage, I’ve determined it was in very close proximity to the flame. I watch CSI and I‘m good at science. A new neck, body, electronics, hardware and set of strings and she will be as good as new. I know how to make a deal.


Les Paul Burned-2.jpg


by Jamey Firnberg

This is for my friend Steve "Q" Quartano. I shot this 3D Q, made from scrap metal, at an antique store in Liberty, Tennessee while visiting my friend Kevin Casey.

Q for Steve.jpg

Schooled at the Dance Mission Theater

by Jamey Firnberg

On my trip to San Francisco I spent an afternoon in the mission district.

I got off the BART at the 16th street Mission station, and started walking south. I had 4 hours to burn. No agenda, no destination.

I stayed close to mission street most of the time but wandered down the back alleys and side streets when something caught my eye.

I ran into lots of funky shops, art galleries, front porches, street art.

I stumbled into cool little restaurant and bar called Little Baobab where I met Marco and Bongo. Marco ran the bar and Bongo, as you might have guessed, was a drummer. We shot the bull for a little while and I headed back out.

After wandering around for couple hours taking photos, I was making my way down Mission, and who do I run into? My friend Bongo. He is getting ready to drum for an African dance class at the Dance Mission Theater. He invites me up to shoot some video. We walk in together and he tells the class He’s with me. He is here to shoot video. Cool, no problem. Here’s what I got.