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Wake Up and Be Awesome

June 5, 2016


I made the above picture last week on High Street in Holyoke (2016). On my first trip to Holyoke in 1970, I photographed the Holyoke Police Station (below).


I haven’t gone far in 46 years. The above 2 pictures were made a block apart from each other.


Children of the Wild performed Wastelands in Holyoke last month. Walken Schweigert directed and wrote the opera based on Dante’s Inferno, and they sang it in Italian. These thespians actually fit my blog theme of Wake Up and Be Awesome. 


Also in the “awesome” category, I photographed Big Fish, Angie and Matt in 2006. My wife, Vivian Leskes, asked them what they thought they would be doing in 10 years. The text is enlarged below. If anyone knows them, help me get in touch for another picture.  






In Search of Holyoke

April 14, 2016

JenRosa-041.jpgJenny Rosa was about 14 years old when I took this picture 26 years ago. Jenny, If you see this, send me a note. I would like to make your portrait at 40.


I spent a lot of time hanging out on Center St. with my 8X10 Deardorff camera in the 1990s. All the buildings are gone now; they were replaced with smaller houses. Below, Wanda is hanging out with her children.


I felt welcome in “the Flats” of Holyoke. Carrying around 70 pounds of view camera equipment made me part of the entertainment in the neighborhood. I always handed out pictures created from my earlier visits.  I don’t think my little digital camera makes the same impact when I photograph now.

BayWindow_014.jpgI tried to photograph inside as much as possible. I wish I could remember where this apartment was. I like the face in the lower right corner of the photo.

Below, a young man and his stereo.

stereoman-042.jpgA friend pointed out how the absence of people holding smart phones and portable digital screens makes these scenes from 1990 more poignant and intimate.  ManRing-044sm.jpgEven while this gentleman, a well known personality from around Center Street, is posing for his formal portrait, I feel connected to him through my large box camera. And he is addressing the camera, not distracted with a digital device.

If I am remembering correctly, Vivian Leskes interviewed his grandmother Antonia.

AntoniaAlvarezSm-045 copy.jpgAntoniaAlvarezTxt-046.jpg

Stuff Happens

March 21, 2016

SPDP052.jpgIt may be too late for the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (It happened yesterday as of this writing). But it is not too late to participate in several other events.


These two guys were waiting for the Holyoke Parade to begin on Sunday. I asked a nearby cop when he expected the Parade to arrive at this point along the route, he said, “in about two hours”. Here’s what to do while you are waiting for the next parade:


ZEKE Magazine is now available by subscription! Why am I telling you this? I am on the Advisory Committee of the Social Documentary Network (SDN). The organization that recently launched ZEKE. Check out and consider subscribing.

The next issue of ZEKE won’t be out until late April. If you want some photo action sooner than that, you can come to the Ashfield ArtSalon. It happens this Friday, March 25, 2016 at the Double Edge Theater in Ashfield on Route 116. The presentations start at 7. Admission is $5. Who are the artist’s showing their slides? I will be joined by my favorite expressionistic photographer Sarah Holbrook, premier ceramicist Mary Barringer, and New England’s number one artist, Jane Lund. Hayley Wood, the Managing Director of Double Edge , is also presenting. I suspect she is fantastic, too.

GirlsBishkek.jpgI will be showing slides from both Central Asia and Holyoke. The above picture is from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The picture below is from


The Puerto Rico Day Parade, Holyoke, MA.,2006.


Professor Robert Aller (Left) disguised as a professional at Deb and Chris Lizon’s wedding.

If you have read this far down the page, you are probably one of my past students or a friend. If you are also a friend or student of Bob Aller, please come to his retirement party to be held in conjunction with the Holyoke Community College Annual Student Art Show Thursday, April 14, 2016 from 7-9 pm at the Taber Gallery next to the HCC Library. There will also be festivities at the Media Arts Center in the HCC Campus Center.

All pictures Frank Ward© except for the ZEKE Magazine spread.

The art of the field trip.

March 10, 2016

01Quantum10FT7613.jpgField trip with my students, Holyoke, MA, 2010

I am amazed at some of the crazy places where I have brought my students. This is Quantum Properties along the 3rd Level canal. Quantum had us all sign legal waivers before they would let us wander around.


Thea modeling for my class in the old factory next to the building above, 2010.  This interior picture was made about a week after the above field trip. One of my students returned alone the following week to photograph more. National Geographics (TV) was there making a documentary and they recruited him on the spot to take pictures for them.

03shoetree15-2902.jpgFor almost a decade I have brought students to this large “shoe tree” in Holyoke. Last winter there was so much snow from plowing the adjacent parking lot that a student and I crawled up the icy snow pile to get an elevated view of the tree.

04ShoeTree15-2869.jpgAs I was photographing I heard a yelp. My student slipped, flew off the snow mound and landed, head first, 15 feet below me. No one was injured in the making of this picture.

05Warehouse2010_4977.jpgThe Wherehouse, along the 1st level canal, is another favorite Holyoke destination. This is an area with odd and interesting stuff displayed everywhere. A student became fascinated with an old fire alarm box and pulled the lever to see if it worked. It did. All we could do was wait while the fire trucks arrived.

06AlarmBox2014-00035.jpgFire alarm box, corner of Dwight and Main streets, 2014.  This box is a couple of blocks away from the alarm my student set-off. These things look non-functional, don’t be fooled.


I photographed this dilapidated building in 2008. That is my student walking across the nail and needle scattered floor in her sneakers. Others were wearing sandals.

At times I feel the need to return to the relatively safe environment of the studio.

07Studio2008-1662.jpg I like to engage with all the studio has to offer. This picture from 2008 incorporates photograms, mannikins, a student and a projected slide.

08Studio0288.jpgThis session with a hired model in 2013 was going really well, then one of my students undressed and joined in the activities. This usually doesn’t happen.  All I could do was run and get her to sign a model release.

The train next time/To walk or to ride?

February 17, 2016

This overview from Depot Hill in Holyoke, photographed in 2016, is of the Amtrak platform built in 2015.

Holyokedepot150 sm.jpg

January 2015, the day a worker first  marked construction plans in the snow. Depot Hill is in the background.


In 2014, the view from Depot Hill could benefit from a train depot in the foreground.

Walkway06sm1654.jpgTen years ago, there was an old walkway from Bowers Street on Depot Hill (left off camera) to the intersection of Main Street and Dwight Street. If the walkway existed today, it would be next to the new Amtrak train platform. In my mind that generates the question,  to walk or to ride?

DepotHillSnow100.jpgAccording to my picture from winter 2015, the walkway is closed. Based on what the picture sees, the walkway is more than closed, it has disappeared. Setting time aside, Pulp City is entering the realm of “magical realism”.

nil I photographed standing in the walkway in 2006, near the “walkway closed” sign pictured above.

OldTrainStat00200sm.jpgIn 2014, I photographed the Historic Register worthy train station located several hundred yards north of the new Amtrak cement platform. Renovating this station would have cost the big bucks. That’s not happening soon, considering there is only one train daily. For a lot less money, Holyoke could purchase a few hundred tons of cement and make another elevated walkway. It could also be a community skateboard track. Now that’s something that enhances the question, to walk or to ride?.


While I was working on this post I came across this wonderful picture by Dorothea Lange from 1937. Over 80 years ago, to walk or to ride was the question. Now, the answer is still based on the same reality. If you want the answer, simply check the price of an Amtrak ticket.




HeyLook, HoLyoke

February 1, 2016



Zoning Map of Holyoke, Massachusetts

HeyLook, HoLyoke is the working title for my most recent pictures from the “Pulp City”. HeyLook is an anagram for Holyoke. The map on my workroom wall is inspiring me to consider all the possibilities of Holyoke.

I began photographing “the jewel of the Connecticut River Valley” in the early 1970’s while I was a student at UMass. I also made a series of Black and White 8X10 inch view camera portraits there in the late 80’s and early 90s.


Fernando Gonzales, The Salvation Army, 1989

My wife, Vivian Leskes, conducted and transcribed interviews in Spanish and English with the people I photographed. Here are a couple of my favorites.


I was concerned about Paco (Luis). He was the guy who helped me to not get ripped off or not have my car stolen. He was a youth at risk. I ran into him several years after this picture was created and he had turned his life around. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up going to Holyoke Community College.


Jenny was only 13 or 14 when this picture was made. I love the interview she gave Vivian. She said, “I’d like to live in Detroit. I’ve heard about it and it seems nice. They have a curfew and if they catch you outside, they bring you home. That would be good for my kids.” She didn’t want another boyfriend until she turned 17. “I don’t want to marry anybody from Holyoke. I want to marry somebody who’s built, has a good job, and he better buy me the furniture before we get married.” I asked about her several years later. The block of Center St. where Paco and Jenny lived was demolished, she had moved out, had a child, and was living in Springfield.


I photographed this guy in the Center St. neighborhood. We couldn’t find him again to do an interview.

I did rephotograph a few of the people from this original Holyoke Project in 2005. I had donated the original 40X60 inch mounted prints with text to the Holyoke Library. They didn’t have room for them anymore and gave some pictures to a woman I had photographed. She also acquired my huge photograph of her husband. She was now divorced and took great pleasure in destroying the life-sized portrait of her ex with a wrecking hammer.

2 Magazines, 2 Eggspressos

April 27, 2015
Digital Silver Image Gallery

Glenn Ruga, founder of ZEKE Magazine, speaks with photojournalist Scott Brauer at the Magazine launch party outside Boston.

Thursday April 23rd was the launch for ZEKE: The Magazine of Global Awareness, the new semi-annual digital and print publication from Social Documentary Network. Subscriptions are available HERE.

Digital Silver Imaging Gallery

Social Documentary Network founder and publisher of ZEKE Magazine, Glenn Ruga, speaks  at the Digital Silver Imaging Gallery in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Here I am holding the first issue of ZEKE. It is available in print and digital form.

Frank Ward photo by Lomanno

The Boston portrait photographer Lomanno photographed me with ZEKE and my new old camera.

I’m holding an Olympus Pen E-P2. I just found it at the dump last week. It needed a new battery. I love the dump.

I’m on the advisory board of Social Documentary Network, but I am not in the magazine. I am in the second issue of Holyoke Transfer Magazine.

Depot Hill, Holyoke

Holyoke Transfer 2 is a 169 page magazine of art. I have three 2 page spreads covering recent and older pictures from Holyoke.

Torsten Zenas Burns is the creative juggernaut behind Holyoke Transfer 2.


Discarded remotes found in and around the drained Holyoke canals last year.

I love Holyoke. If it was in Italy, it could be Venice. It is one of just a few US canal cities. With some scrubbing and several million dollars, it could be the paradise of the Connecticut River Valley.

Holyoke Canals

Holyoke’s canals get drained once or twice a year. I try to schedule a class field trip to coincide with the process.

You can get a copy of Holyoke Transfer Magazine HERE.

Now, I want to talk about eggspresso.

Now, I want to talk about eggspresso.

Yes, my home rebuilt espresso machine is doing dual duty as an egg maker.

Poached eggs

Thanks to The Daily Coffee News, I’ve discovered two great methods for cooking eggs with a steam wand.

First, is the 3 minute poached egg. I set up a mug with a small stainless bowl for the egg. Add a little oil so the egg doesn’t stick in the bowl.

When everything is aligned, I cover the mug and steam wand tip with tinfoil plus several towels to keep the steam in.

When everything is aligned, I cover the mug and steam wand tip with tinfoil plus several towels over the tinfoil to keep the steam in.

Three minutes is a lot of steam and a consumer espresso machine may not be able to produce that much heat. Make sure you blow out the extra water from the wand before you start steaming or scrambling your eggs.

Poached egg

Voila! Poached egg in a bowl in a mug.

Flip the little fellow over into a small plate and add salt, pepper and olive oil (or butter). Enjoy.


Now, we’ll get fancy. Scrambled eggs, parmesan cheese and prosciutto on toast.

Scrambled eggs are easy. All you need is a porcelain pitcher to mix 2 or 3 eggs with a spoonful of oil and some salt.

Steam the eggs

Whip the ingredients with a fork , purge the water out of your steam wand, insert it into the eggs and turn it on. 30 seconds (or less) later you have the lightest, fluffiest scrambled eggs you can imagine.

I like quality olive oil drizzled on my toast and on my eggs. You may prefer butter.