Mary Ann Gatty in the US Event Photos Podcast Stuido

Finding Your Spark During Covid or Cue the Tambourine

Chapter 2 

When one door closes, another door opens.  I just didn’t expect that door to be under my feet.

I fell through the trap door, sliding into a depression that was foreign.  An isolation I’ve never experienced.  A time when it seemed like the forces of darkness were overwhelming the light.  Star Wars level stuff.

That’s how I felt when my second — and third — and fourth — and now back to first– quarter of business was wiped out by COVID-19.  Event Photography doesn’t happen when there are no events.

Some mornings I’d wake up feeling good.  I’d work out, pick up trash around the neighborhood, go for a walk in Patterson Park.  Other mornings, my eyes would pry open to an overwhelming feeling of doom.  It was all I could do to stumble downstairs and use my little rubber workout bands.  The couch beckoned.  Those days I’d go to bed believing the last 24 hours were pointless.

I felt like 22 in Disney’s Soul, wandering the great beyond searching for my spark.  Any spark.  Something to bring pointless days and pointless nights to a clarity of purpose.  Meaning.

I’d call my mom, my Aunt Jean, talk to Matthew.  They all said the same thing:  find something creative to do.  A project.

Whatever.  Projects are boring.

My mom drove me crazy coming up with relentless ideas the way moms do.  But they all seemed banal.  Busy work.  Bland.

The couch beckoned.  I could watch the Avengers movies.  In order.  I’ll call it research.

Mike as an Avenger on a green screen photo booth set
Mike Gatty as an Avenger on a green screen photo set a few years ago

And then one afternoon on our near daily call my mom mumbled one word: “Podcast”.

“Wait, what was that?” I asked.  I’d missed what she said.  I was only half listening.  But now, like Scooby Do:  Whatwro!

Was that a spark?  More of a rock chinking against rock, quick as a blink.  A sudden teeny-tiney rush.  About the equivalent of winning $10 on a slot machine after putting in $5 worth of quarters.  Excuse me: “credits”.

“Why don’t you start a podcast?” She had asked.

Mary Ann Gatty in the US Event Photos Podcast Stuido
Mary Ann Gatty in the US Event Photos podcast studio

And with that, my life during the pandemic changed.  The door under my feet suddenly morphed into a fire escape.  Quarters started pouring from the slot machine in my head and onto the floor.  “YOU WON 500 CREDITS!”  A siren wailed.  The casino minion came over and…



that was that.  All faded.  Slot machine gone.

I bounced around for a month or two.  I ordered equipment (which was in as short of supply as toilet paper; apparently I’m not the only one thinking ‘Podcast’.)  But the back of my mind started working like it used too.  The upstairs green screen studio would be (temporarily) converted to a podcast studio.  I learned all about audio mixers.  I thought hard about what I wanted to talk about on the podcast.  I researched how podcasts are distributed.  I considered:  audio or video?  I ignored the digs on social media about all those podcasts no one can find.

When I was little, my mom would drag me to Catholic church.  However, being the good liberal she was, we attended the “folk mass” — a contemporary service where modern songs were sung instead of a traditional choir.  Think John Denver.  It was the only part of church I liked.  That and the candles.

One of the songs went:  “it only takes a spark, to get a fire going / and soon all those around will warm up in it’s glowing. / That’s how it is with God’s love, and once you’ve experienced it / blah blah blah / pass it on.”

That’s exactly how the song went, accompanied by a tambourine.   And maybe a guitar.  That part’s fuzzy.

My point is this:  the spark of creativity did ignite a fire.  I decided to launch a hyper-local podcast, bringing Baltimore neighborhood artists together during a time when art is being murdered by the pandemic.  I wanted to ask other creative people how they cope with the isolation.  How was COVID affecting their business?  I decided to distribute the episodes on our neighborhood Facebook pages.

I decided it was going to be a community project, and not something I wanted to monetize or leverage for anything other than giving voice to artists and neighborhood folk during a time of isolation.

When I started talking to my neighborhood artists, what I found shocked me.  It changed how I think about the isolation of COVID-19.  It literally shifted my perspective.  While I still have depressed days, they are fewer.  Even before the vaccines were announced, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“This little light of mine / I’m gonna let it shine! / This little light of mine / I’m gonna let it shine! / Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!”  I think that’s the whole song.

In the next chapter, I’ll pass it on.  (Sorry, back to the first song.  In case that was confusing.)

(cue the tambourine)

…To be continued.