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Speaking at Javitts Center Tomorrow Tues March 4, 2014

So, tomorrow I am going to be bringing my Photoshop for Photographers Tour to New York City. It’ll be tomorrow at the Jacob Javitts Convention Center. If you want to come, click go to http://kelbyone.com/live/event/131522/ for details. While I always get excited to speak in New York, and I love the crowd that comes out. For me, Javitts and New York are incredibly personal to me.

I was raised not too far from here, in the South Bronx – the son of a Mexican immigrant mother, and a Puerto Rican father. He was a building Super. He and I had a.. how shall we say… tumultuous relationship. They both never went to school a day in their lives. I am one of 7 – second youngest. We grew up during the crack epidemic. Lets just be fair to say that statistically speaking, not many people would have given my family great odds.

Despite addictions, lack of money, no education, and everyone around us ending up either in jail or in a morgue, we marched on. Despite many of my Dad’s problems.. I feel that deep down, he loved me. My mother shared her unbridled and unwavering demand for respect, for focus, for ethic.

I spent my youth cleaning up other peoples trash and moping and sweeping a building everyone else lived in. We lived in the basement with a boiler room as a play area.

A couple of months shy of my 16th Birthday, I graduated High School – determined to not become a statistic. By then I had been working for 4 years… from packing bags at 12 to a Mister Softee ice cream truck. I drove out to long island to wash dishes and be a waiter for other peoples parties. All of my brothers did exactly the same. Each of them worked harder than the next. For me, I was destined to make the pen my salvation.

I went to a big school (JFK in the Bronx), and our graduations were held at Javitts. Shocked as I was, my dad got out of his normal uniform of black pants and a beat up camoflauged shirt (he easily looked like a homeless person youd pass on the street.. all the time) and got dressed in a suit. My mother got dressed up. They came to see two of their children graduate that day. Me, and my brother Jesus – two years older.

A few months later, I would be boarding a train at Penn Station with two duffel bags and a Brother Typewriter to start my adventure at Plattsburgh – my parents not even knowing what direction to point their car to get there.

That is just -one- chapter in an incredibly Happy/Sad/Sordid/Evil/Humiliating/Regretfull/Hurtful life I never really fully thought i’d see.

I am not better than any single one of you. I try my hardest not to let anything thats happened to me affect the fact that i’ll shovel shit if I have to to stay above water.

But if you told me that I’d be returning to Javits as a _*Speaker*_ ?

No. I wouldve called you crazy. Lord knows this is all i’ve ever wanted to do. I just never thought it would happen.

And I spend my time thanking all of you reading for that privilege.

11 comments

  1. RC,

    You can really tell it from the heart. It just shows what kind of man you are. I have enjoyed immensely following you on KelbyOne, Google+, Facebook and at Photoshop World. When you speak, you can tell that you care, that you love photography and teaching. I know you love your parents, it shows in your spirit. Keep doing what you do, there are none better. Hope to see you in Atlanta in april.

    Murrau

  2. Thanks for sharing, RC. I can relate to the tumultuous family relationship. Inspirational post about what hard work and perseverance means to get where you want to go in spite of hardships and lack of advantages other people might be lucky to have.

    Enjoy being back in NYC! Dress warm! It’s a bit nippier than Tampa! 🙂

  3. RC this sounds about normal for most of us kids who grew up in NYC. The thing we have as a bond to each other is the hard work and determination to do better. Like you said many friends are in jail or the morgue and I look in the mirror each day knowing I’m blessed for what I have. I never even knew my dad and you were at least lucky to know yours in some small way even if it wasn’t great. We certainly didn’t always make the right choices but we didn’t turn out too bad. It is an honor to know you and for both of us NYC will always be home!!! Be well dude!!

  4. Very touching story. I’m looking forward to meeting you tomorrow RC.

  5. We all appreciate your hard work and humility. We are proud of what you have been able to accomplish and like the way you respect your family. Thanks for sharing another piece of you.

  6. Truly inspirational story. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Amazing!!! This is the real American tale. RC I give you and your family all the credit in the world for everything you have. You didn’t ask for a handout…You didn’t act like it was coming to you…You just set your mind to it and earned it.

  8. You are a hero to more people than you could ever imagine! Very inspirational post! Thank you for sharing your beautiful and amazing journey in life with us!

  9. Glad I could share the expereince yesterday. I know you mentioned the blog but I did not read it till today. Powerful words and it was a pleasure to be at your seminar. Reading the blog today only made me see the depth of your sincerity when you present on stage. Your are a true educator and I just wanted say thank you. In very subtle ways you have answeared a lot of questions and hangups I had about art process in itself. They way you did it was through your pesonality. Absolute pleasure to take a seminar with you.

  10. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us. I was really impressed when I attended your class in Oklahoma city recently and you made a point of saying we all have the responsibility to not make young people feel bad about themselves in how we edit pictures. I came from a family of 6 and have 5 children of my own. Life is hard enough on it’s own. Thank you sooo much for pointing out to everyone about ethics. You seem to be a wonderful human being.

  11. Great post! I really felt your pride here. I love hearing stories of the real “american dream”. If we work hard and try our best, the dream is still possible. Thanks for sharing.

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