Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Photographer J.D. Casto remembers Pulse.

J.D. Casto is a filmmaker turned photographer. The day before the Pulse night club shooting on June 12th 2016, he was dog sitting. That evening he started to get texts asking if he was safe. He immediately started checking online news sources and once he found 3 sources that confirmed that there was a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, he packed his camera in his bag. at 10:07pm he found a report that the first shot was fired. at 11:20 he found a report that five were dead and others injured. He rushed out to shoot photos. He caught an amazing series of photos at The Center as everyone watched the news in disbelief. He watched the entire city go through the stages of grief. All city organizations became fatigued. As an artist he had a war board to keep track of all the events he shot photos of. He worked 20 hour days. The camera offered security. For him photos give some form of closure.

After Pulse crazies crawled out of the wood work. One con-artist used the outpouring of generosity following the Pulse shootings to convince organizations to give him money which he then pocketed. The same thing happened after the Boston Bombings. On Facebook, angry people sent survivors photos of victims. Gift cards were donated for victim's families and the FBI sat on them. Peoples moral compasses were off. On his right arm, JD got a rose pattern compass tattooed on his arm. The tattoo faces him and he considers it his moral compass. An event like this rips the blinders off and says look, the world is shit and I see it, but how do we make it better? He. wanted to be the one who who says no and stays on course, due north, while others manipulate an already horrific situation.

There was an after party for a Cabaret on the evening of the shooting. Two members walked out as the shooter walked in. A fraternity brother of J.D.'s escaped, but he lost a friend named Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado that night. He became extremely active n the Orlando Gay chorus after Pulse. He talked about a huge chorus gala held in Colorado shortly after the shooting. When the Orlando Gay Chorus arrived they found banners of support hanging everywhere. The performances were in a huge opulent opera house. When the Orlando Gay chorus performed "You Will Never Walk Alone", the entire audience of 5000 people sang along. Shocked by the outpouring of love, there were unexpected tears on stage. The Orlando Gay Chorus has performed over 400 times since the Pulse shooting. They sang at just about every event I sketched.

Six months after the shootings J.D. was still in triage mode, still shooting photos. Being gay shouldn't define a person. Intolerance is intolerance, is intolerance. This horrific event forced peoples hands so that perhaps some good can come of it. He hasn't had time to settle in here in Orlando. He still doesn't have a couch. However, Orlando has become his home. He has found his groove and is rooted in Downtown and found his place in the community.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: