We all know by now, the east coast (especially NY and NJ) have suffered a terrible disaster and there are many good people out there that need help. So if I may offer some advice, instead of buying that new iPad mini with 32GB of storage, you could get a 16GB version and take the extra money and go to RedCross.org and help them out with the aid they are providing.

As for my story, to say I was lucky is an understatement. Just over a week ago I sat at Newark Airport looking at the plane I was boarding with very dark stormy skies ominously approaching in the background. It was Sandy, and even though I could see the storm, the idea of leaving seemed a bit much as the last hurricane to hit NY (Irene) was about as rough as a windstorm in Arizona. However, I had to be on the west coast a few days later and wanted nothing more than to stop by my house for a day to see my wife.

The week in NY was a hectic one, full of meetings and speaking engagements. With as much as I have shot in NY, this was actually the first time I have ever seen Time Square, rode on the subway, and visited B&H. I was fortunate to stay with a good friend of mine and have the guys from Fstoppers to hang out with at the Photo Plus Expo.  Yet through everything, I found myself a bit lonely without a camera for once. What I wouldn’t haven’t given for a D800E, a Nikkor 50 f/1.2 and an hour in my schedule to walk around and shoot some pics to relax. There is a mystique about Manhattan that makes one crave the history and look less at a building for how it looks, but rather look in wonder as to what it has seen. While I spend my life craving every bit of modern comfort I can get, there is something romantic about a building from the 1800’s that has a restaurant that was once a hotspot during prohibition.

However, the day after I got home, I found myself glued to the television as the places I had been were now underwater, all while getting texts from my friend that he was in Manhattan in an apartment without power that was starting to flood. Over the next few days the situation only got worse as his phone battery died, we couldn’t get him a hotel, and the airports had shut down. For someone who travels for a living, I felt useless to help as I sat there watching the scale of the disaster. It would be five days before my friend was able to fly home to San Francisco, smelling from the lack of a shower, yet grateful for a new outlook and respect for what he had.

This all brings me to the point of this blog…  What does it take for you to look around and be grateful? Whether it is being grateful to have water, power, a house, or it is grateful to have food everyday. It is very easy to take this all for granted, and we all do it, so don’t feel bad when it happens. But take some time to think about it and when you do, I strongly encourage you to help those that are in need. I tweeted this week about helping other photographers that were without power, water, or a place to sleep, and you responded, from people offering up studios to sleep at, to others offering to let complete strangers take showers at their place.

Humanity lives at the doorstep of tragedy, and is an opportunity that presents itself when we see someone in need. So to those who have given shelter or aid, or volunteered to help complete strangers (like my friend), thank you, truly thank you.

Again if you can help, please visit RedCross.org and check out the ways you can assist in the relief effort for the east coast.

Thank you.