When I arrived at Geno's house for our photo shoot, I could hear the strains of Roy Orbison playing from inside as I stood at the door. I knocked, and he answered shortly - dressed for the occasion in full Western regalia. He cut a striking figure in his turquoise jewelry and well-worn cowboy hat.
He ushered me inside, and offered me a cup of coffee, which I was happy to accept. The day was unseasonably cold and blustery for a Missouri November, and I was grateful for an indoor photo shoot.
I had met Geno a few days earlier at my daughter's school concert - he is one of her friend's grandfathers - and my camera had piqued his interest. We struck up a conversation and within moments, I found out that Geno is a well-traveled freelance journalist, and has been published by the likes of People Magazine and Missouri Life.
He had asked me to take his portrait right then at the concert, but I find that the best way to capture someone's spirit is to photograph them in their own home, among their favorite things. It is the essence of true lifestyle photography. I talked him into waiting, and so here we were.
After having a few sips of coffee, I brought a chair over to the window, asked him if he had a favorite side, and then motioned for him to have a seat.
We then started our session with a conversation.
I learned about Geno's life. It had been a life full of adventure - a writer's life - starting out in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. He had journeyed to the American West, and finally to the island of St. Kitts, where he caught Dengue fever and met the only photographer he had ever known who could write.
We talked about Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and took time out to give Sadie, his lovable Husky mix, plenty of attention too. My camera was down more than up. It was how I wish every portrait session could be - relaxed and full of simple inspiration.
I can honestly say that Geno is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met.
When we finished our session, and I started to put my gear away, I confessed to him that I had wanted to be a writer for many years. He asked me why I stopped.
I motioned to my camera and said, "I figured out I'd rather write with this."
He gave me a sage nod, and a smile.
Thank you for letting me tell your story, Geno. It's a story worth telling.