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“If At First You Don’t Succeed…”

* AUTHOR’S NOTE: Regarding this post (as with all my posts discussing strangers), should the person in these photos find them offensive or disruptive to their personal lives, please leave me a message or comment, and I’ll remove them. *


While in Amsterdam for King’s Day last year, I witnessed a very common, nonetheless teaching moment between a man and a young boy. For the sake of this story, as I did that day, I’ll assume the man was the father and the young boy his son. As the father walked, pushing a stroller, his son tentatively rode his bike a few meters in front of him. I could tell the boy had been riding without training wheels for some time, but he was still in the “uncomfortable” phase of bike-riding. Just as I was thinking this, the boy lost his balance and down he tumbled. As one can imagine, crying ensued. His father calmly walked over, knelt down, and began to speak in (what I like to call) the “it’ll be ok” voice. The “it’ll be ok” voice is used not only to calm and reassure a child, but also to give the parent a moment to assess the damage and make sure that the situation will, in fact, be ok. Although I don’t speak Dutch (again, assuming), I’m sure this is what was occurring, as I’ve used this same voice with my daughter on countless occasions.

(photo: Fidel Amos)


Speaking of my daughter, I began to think of her profoundly as I watched this scene. Did I use my “it’ll be ok” voice enough during her youth? Did I use it too much? Did I console her during her times of distress while simultaneously reinforcing her self esteem? I imagine these types of questions are on the minds of many parents. I’ve heard stories and read numerous accounts of communities throughout history who would raise their youth together; various community members teaching children (not their own) the skills and trades they knew, so that said children would gain a “general knowledge” of what the world was and how to survive in it. While I appreciate and applaud the idea, I don’t believe that would work in the current society I live in (I must say “I” here, as I’m sure there are still communities/societies around the world who practice this successfully). Our opportunities as adults (parents or not) to instill knowledge and share experiences with the youth of today are ever decreasing. With all of the social media, news, applications, rumors and falsities circulating, it’s no wonder they might have some difficulties understanding what will “be ok” and what will truly hurt them. Furthermore, with travel being easier, opportunities abroad becoming more common and communication across multimedia practically inescapable, we’re not always physically close enough to pick them up when they fall…like this father in Amsterdam was.

Try Again

Wiping tears from his eyes and straightening the brim on his hat, the boy pulled himself together, got back on his bike, and began tentatively riding ahead as his father followed, smiling slightly. That smile is also something I’m familiar with: the often sought but not always found “it actually was ok” smile. While we may want everything to turn out “ok” for those we care about, it doesn’t always end that way. I say this not only as a father, but as a college professor and humanitarian photographer. Our children won’t always be the best on the team, our students won’t always finish top of their class, and the situation of impoverished children in countries around the world often times do not improve. Are we as adults then liars when we tell our youth that things will “be ok”? Are we being deceitful when we encourage them to “try and try again when at first they don’t succeed”? I don’t believe so. I simply believe that achieving perfection shouldn’t be the true measurement of one succeeding or not. Although my daughter didn’t finish high school as the fastest swimmer on her team, she beat her own record and impressed her coaches on more than one occasion. While all of my students can’t finish at the top of their classes, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many of them go on to find jobs which make them happy and start families which make them even happier. A number of the children I’ve photographed in situations too bleak to describe went on to not only pull themselves out of those situations, but they’ve been able to volunteer and help give back to those communities in need. I’ve learned in life that few people achieve the “perfection” they strive for, and therefore may not recognize their own accomplishments. I think it’s our job as adults, parents, friends and family to remind them…it’s the “try and try again” part that is the actual success.

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“Getting Back To Traveling…”

* AUTHOR’S NOTE: I apologize to my readers for not having posted anything for such a long time. I was, for lack of a more exotic way of putting it, being lazy. Perhaps my move from NYC to Italy had something to do with it, or the ten kilos of pasta weight I’ve put on since then. Perhaps a life of teaching, traveling and photographing got in the way of writing about my life of teaching, traveling and photographing. Truth be told, I’m not sure where said stroke of laziness came from, but I’ll try not to let it happen again. *


Ladies and gentlemen, Covid-19 is everywhere.

It would be hopeful to think that it’s nowhere near you, but that would be completely unrealistic. Sweeping from east to west, it has gripped its “stay inside or risk dying” claws into all of us. For those of you who were already staying at home and not risking death, life may not have changed much. For those of us who crave the outside world however, staying at home for months on end was nothing short of tragic. To the former: I wish you many cheerful hours of TV-watching, video game-playing, recipe-trying and family life-living. To the latter: I offer a few of my ideas and experiences on how to go about returning to life as wanderers, explorers and travelers. As cities, counties, states, regions, countries and continents worldwide begin to “open back up”, I think it’s important we take a moment to acknowledge what that means exactly.


Let’s face it, there are rules to be followed.

While most of these rules might entail simply not standing near others, some might turn out to be more frustrating. Here in Italy, the government opened itself up several slices at a time, like a big, bureaucratic cake…a time-locked tiramisu if you will. Initially, it was “stay inside or risk dying”.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Over the course of the last two months, “stay inside or risk dying” turned into “stay inside unless you have to go to work”, which later became “stay inside unless you need groceries”, followed by “stay inside unless you’re wearing gloves and a mask”.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Many other countries in Europe have pretty much followed the same timeline, bringing us to where we are now. I believe this slice is called “fine, you may go back outside, and even travel to certain countries, just wear a mask on the plane and keep washing your hands”. As tourists and travelers, adhering to the rules will make your transition from couch potato to backpacker much easier.


In short, know how you’re supposed to move around before you start moving around.

Almost all of the information you seek regarding travel in this time of Covid-19 can be found online or by making a short call. Some airlines require you to wear a mask at all times (a few require gloves as well).

Screenshot 2020-07-24 at 17.45.19, my go-to for air travel.

Many hotels and B&B’s are now required to maintain daily (hourly in some cases) practices regarding disinfecting, cleaning and general day-to-day activities. Just about every travel homepage and accommodation website I’ve come across has clearly posted messages describing their policies and limitations during this pandemic.

Screenshot 2020-07-24 at 17.46.00, my go-to for accommodations.

Nearly all restaurants, businesses, stores and public transportation require the use of masks and hand sanitizer prior to entry. Some places will even ask you to sign in/out of their establishments, so that they may have your info should you or other patrons become contagious during your visit or stay. Sure, you may have the right to complain, refuse and vehemently review on Yelp, but it won’t help you to get where you want, when you want. As an added drawback, you might find yourself in a viral video online, pointlessly screaming at an employee for simply doing their job of asking you to cover that offense-hurling mouth of yours. Be informed, be prepared and you’ll be allowed to travel more freely.


My first instinct when considering traveling is usually to get as far away as possible not only from my current home but also from my everyday life.

I decided that perhaps this summer might not be the best time to do so (see: everything I wrote in the previous paragraphs), so instead of jumping on a plane and taking in the sights in a foreign country, I planned a weekend trip to Venice for my girlfriend and I.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

While Venice might seem like an unobtainable goal to many, it’s only two hours away for us. You might be thinking, yes, I happen to have a somewhat fortunate, “geographical advantage”, but the truth is, everyone does, and everyone doesn’t, it all just depends on who you are and where you’re from.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Through my upbringing, which required my family to move often due to my parents’ professions, I’ve learned that “geographical advantage”, like many other things in life, is simply a matter of perspective. To someone who has never seen it, Venice might be an oasis of sorts, a magical place where people fall in love, classical music plays softly over loudspeakers, and everyone rides around in gondolas eating gelato to their heart’s content.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

To someone who was born and raised in Venice, however, it might be a tourist-swallowing pit of despair, filled with flooded streets and the smell of sea life, where everyone rides around in gondolas eating gelato to their heart’s content. When I moved to Verona five years ago and told people I was from NYC, the response was almost always “I would give anything to see it,” to which I always replied, “That’s funny, because everyone I know there is dying to come here!” In short, people generally want what they don’t have.

For the past fifteen years or so since realizing this, I’ve been basing my travels on one particular ideology…


Everything new is good; no matter how new, no matter how good.

Sound absurd? Let me explain. Instead of saving up my money to take these elaborate trips to places I felt or heard were mind-blowing, I started taking day trips to places that were reachable by car in two or three hours, then coming back home that night. When I didn’t think I could do it in a day, I’d pick places that were four or five hours away, stay the night, then drive back the second night. In essence, I was only a city or two away from home, but the fact that I had never seen that place and was there an entire weekend fooled my mind and body into thinking that I was on vacation in some far away land. This “self trickery” helped me to realize that I was vacationing incorrectly! I had somehow fallen into the trap of believing that vacations were something for which I should save up ludicrous amounts of money and sick days. They were two-week-long trips to places like Paris, Tokyo, Milan, Rio or London, where credit cards would be charged and diets would be ignored simply because “I was on vacation”. Looking back upon it now, I suppose I should hold the hustle and bustle of NYC life responsible for that way of thinking, because that’s not how I was raised. The earliest vacation memories I have are being in the backseat of our family’s car with my two younger brothers while my parents drove us to some lake, beach, town, mountain or campsite nearby just to “get away for the day”. I remember enjoying the sights, sounds and people of those places simply because they were new to me, and seeing new things reminded me of how large this planet of ours really is and how much I had yet to see.

So what are you saying?

Get out there! You’ve been cooped up in the house for quite some time and could probably use a change of scenery. If you haven’t been cooped up in the house then coop yourself up in the house and order delivery. That would be something new, wouldn’t it? I suppose what I’m trying to say is, don’t refrain from getting away or doing something different simply because you’re saving up time and money for something BIG. You can find the same joy by adding up smaller things. Hop on a bus and head somewhere that’s an hour away. See what the people are like. Breathe the air. Baby steps. Take a friend or family member with you if you need the company. Go somewhere that’s two hours away the next time. Take a walk around that new city or town and maybe have lunch somewhere. Check out the local shopping areas. Baby steps. When you’re ready, try jumping in the car and going somewhere that’s farther, but not too far. We’re going for stressless. Spend what you would normally spend on dinner if you were back home. Don’t splurge. You’re only a few hours from your house. This isn’t a vacation. Walk along the pier. Hold your loved one’s hand and mention something about how interesting it is that the two of you happen to be in this new place together. Rent an absurdly cheap room for the night because seriously, you only need the bed to sleep for a few hours. This isn’t an actual vacation, remember?

Have breakfast in the morning, possibly in bed.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

You never do that at home right?

Take it easy. Get lost downtown. Head to the waterfront and take your shoes off. Try something new. You don’t have to work today, right? Try two new things. Hell, maybe this IS a vacation after all. See? “Self trickery”. Find out if they have gondolas and gelato…


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“Give Me Your Poor And Tired…”

One of the beauties of being a photographer is being able to bring awareness to a certain subject matter via photographs.


NYC (photo: Fidel Amos)

Years ago when I was first starting out, I used to do just that in the worlds of fashion, weddings and red carpet events. Somewhere along the way I realized that high society was not as ‘need to know’ as the everyday goings ons of life around me. People already knew about celebrities, they knew about money and cars and designer couture.


BOSTON (photo: Fidel Amos)

What I wanted to show my friends, family and followers was not something they had already drowned in visually thanks to modern day media…but something they had never seen before. At the very least, I could show them more of the things they had only seen a little of.


NYC (photo: Fidel Amos)

This began my career as what I like to call a ‘life photographer’.


DELHI (photo: Fidel Amos)

The series of photos displayed in this blog entry serve as a small example of a particular part of every day life. They show the unfortunate living conditions of so many of our world’s homeless.


NYC (photo: Fidel Amos)

Taken in different cities across the globe, they show that those in need are everywhere. There are hundreds of organizations and websites that you can look into regarding how to help these individuals, one of my favorite locations for information is, where they break down in a nutshell multiple ways to help.


NYC (photo: Fidel Amos)


– F

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“When In India…”

They say “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”…a saying I’ve tried to adhere to in every city in every country I’ve ever visited. To truly experience a culture (especially as a  photographer) one must allow oneself to become immersed entirely, to try new things, to fit in.

Often times in my travels I’ve noticed foreigners in other countries acting like, well, foreigners. More specifically I see Americans abroad complaining that it’s too hot, or too cold, or too dirty. They walk around upset because they can’t find a McDonald’s, Burger King or Budweiser. In my opinion, finding myself in a country lacking the “comforts of home” is exactly the reason I went to that country in the first place! Tasting the local cuisine, walking the streets and soaking up the essences that make that particular country what it is…that’s what traveling is all about.

…and that is exactly why on assignment in Delhi, India, I found myself meditating, yoga style, for the first time ever.


I can’t wait to go back.

– F

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