One day – camera, lights, microphone and drone in hand – in the lower Florida Keys on the continent of North America, I met a young man in a wetsuit – he stood there all – wet – and gave me an eloquent un-rehearsed interview about a debris clean up project with which he was involved.
That was 18 months ago.
Recently, in the middle Florida Keys, on the same continent, I met that young man again – this time he was – dry – and wearing clothing.
He wore business attire – except for the shorts – and his hair had grown. He’d styled his hair in the fashion of the day – it was a good 2 inches longer than the last time we met.
He was looking very professional. And he sort of smoldered. Making him super easy to photograph – oh if only we could always have such a model!
We were in the perfect spot, shooting with the sun to one side and low, easy to find shade but bright enough. And against the backdrop of the ocean at Plantation By The Sea in Islamorada
This young man was a perfectly charming model. He and I agreed he would compensate me for my services by providing me with alcohol at a waterfront bar. It started out as possible Martini’s but ended up as Prosecco and Mojito (s) becoming conscious of the need to drive I made a large effort to stop at 2!
I knew this young man was unique the day we met. His next stop, he said, was Jordan, visiting a good friend and his family.
He told the camera and me the story of the debris he’d cleaned up and how many were in the company commercial dive team. Where they had been. He described the different kinds of debris and his passion for a cleaner and healthier ocean, kinder humanity, healthier planet in general.
Commercial diving and English As A Second Language, ESOL have been his two income streams. For the last decade or so. With a healthy dose of photography and film supplementing his creative Instagram and visual social side. This kid gets around! Japan, Jordan, China!
When you travel a lot you just absorb and know things. Things none of us stagnating people know! He is a true gentleman – having garnered a unique skill set not often encountered in the Florida Keys!
Mr D benefits from all that global cultural osmosis – the traveling or possibly from his loving upbringing – native to Ohio – he speaks fondly of family culture – and seems to apply that wherever he goes on earth or below it.
The way he speaks of his parents struck me, in particular, I say he is lucky to have them – and hope he makes the most of their presence – having just buried my last remaining parent.
The life we have is fleeting and we must make the most and best of it. That is something he was full of when we first me and after that first encounter it was evident I’d be using the excellent minute of footage of him – laid it over poignant shots of rooftops and trailer parts loading on to barges. A moment of time in which disaster brings out the best and worst of us.
The piled debris hauled off to the ‘big pile’ nearby. Closely watched for correct procedure and monitored by Wood Environmental – they keep an eye out for consistent safe practice as well as measure – using photography and constant monitoring, the amount and type of debris.
The environmental monitor, the dive team and the AEI family run business in synergy here – when their work is truly finished – we will tell the AEI family success story.
BUSINESS PROFILE PHOTOGRAPHY
Once over we talked over the Prosecco bubbles and rum and ice and muddled mint – relaxing on the waterfront.
He’d been in China teaching ESOL – for 3 years. He is young, and the things he knows about that country would put any foreign secretary to shame. What a wealth of insight. If he was given a Google Local Guides Level it would be 10 for China.
What is unique about that? What is evident when you speak to the persona that is the ‘Mikey D Show’ this ones mind is tilted – at slightly odd angle.
Mikey D is one of those it’s ‘ok – I can do that!’ types. Not the fearful type – his head is at that odd angle that sees possibility the rest of us miss. He isn’t afraid to leave the comfort of his own borders and couch.
See the impossible pathway as a journey of possibility and the destination and the pathway become – no less treacherous – but infinitely more approachable.Wise Owl Nada
He revealed he had returned from Jordan recently where he found it hard to adjust back into American mindset. That was a deeply meaningful statement. Because he loves this country.
Whilst there he snapped GoPro shots like the ones below, of all the brilliant places you’d visit over there: Petra, Wadi Rum, Lake Nasr, diving on the beautiful Coral Reefs Of Aqaba and more.
It just so happens that the portrait photographs don’t do this incredible human any justice at all.
Photography Tells A Story
It’s people like him – working hard and pushing towards human rights for all – prepared to travel and put their lives on the line in order to photograph and write about the injustices they come across worldwide.
It’s people like him who have it right. He is fearless. He travels and he learns. Fear of the inhuman acts doesn’t close his mind – it spurs him on to more understanding.
He is the real deal: only hesitating for a minute while he worries about the safety of those he may put in danger by writing about their terrible plight.
They are disappearing over there, he says, about the Yuighur people. Turkic – Chinese people who are relocated to ‘internment’ camps systematically by the Chinese authorities in the region.
Not a lot of room for tolerance in Communist China. Then. Apparently. He says the Palestinian people are suffering a plight that is similar.
Brave hearts – this is the generation I am so proud to know. But I want this young man to be the norm. Not the exception! Travel to all the countries of the world! Free yourself. Please don’t hesitate. They aren’t as scary as we are lead to believe! I lived in Dubai, UAE – managed the dive center on the beach – a girl – in a bikini! I lived in Egypt in the Red Sea – ran the 2 week live-aboard scuba trips out of Marsa Alam and Sharm El-Lulli and Hurghada – a girl in a bikini – and the Sudanese and Eqyptians were at wat over border territories – which we managed to criss-cross multiple times. Surfacing from a dive to the black tips was a piece of cake – compared to the gun ships pointing their tackle at us.
Yes these are the sensational stories: but remember there are millions of humans with the same needs as you. Love, acceptance, security, shelter, food, community, heating.
It doesn’t matter what color or language they bring – I put myself in other peoples she’s for years living on different continents and loving their cultures. Unconditionally (no – I never wore a hijab ) but got travel especially if you are able to stay open minded, in good shape physically and street smart – don’t go down a dark alley with cash in your hand:)