As a photographer you live with the fact that you may have only one shot to make images of a subject or person that blows you away. Good or bad you make the best of whatever little opportunity you may have and you run with it. Actually sprint with it would probably be more like it. Then a second opportunity comes along and now you’re feelin’ real LUCKY!!! It just keeps getting better and better and the friendship grows every time you connect.
Nick “Batso” Maccharoli is that person in my world. I met Nick on a shoot when donating shooting time and post production work for the great cause of animal rescue. Nick has dedicated his life to animal rescue and it seems like every time we get together we make some kind of incredible imaging magic. The library of images along with our friendship continues to grow larger and stronger each time we work together. Although time passes quickly we still connect and now, yet again, we get to do it all over. Next week I’ll be spending the day with Batso on the way up to Boston to pick my son up from college for winter break. You can bet I’ll be following him, his dog Inka and new Miniature Pincher with my D4 and D800 everywhere from the gym, to church and around his home! The bonus; I’ll have the great opportunity to take pictures of him playing the bass, that he started learning to play at 78 years old. More important, I get to spend some amazing time with and amazing person.
Here are some facts I’ve pulled off of Batso.com where I’m proud to say many of the images we’ve made together appear. Can’t wait to post the next gallery!!!
Batso was born Nicholas Richard Maccharoli in Bridgeport Connecticut on the 5th of September 1933, and lived in what was called the old yellow mill village. Back then education was not the priority, making money for the large family was. He developed a lifelong love and respect for animals tending livestock when he was young, and at age 12, he had a job in the Barnum & Bailey circus working with the trainers who cared for the lions and tigers that led him into being an animal rescuer today. But not all of his childhood memories are pleasant. He admits his mother would hit him with a broom or tied him to a tree – because she could not control him. At 13, he was sent to a tough all-boys reform school in Connecticut for 1 year of hard labor picking tobacco. He got into trouble there often, fighting all the time, and quit school after the fifth grade. He never learned to properly read or write and basically managed through life as an illiterate.
At 14, he was shown how to hold a hammer and hit metal to learn the AutoBody business. He got into cars, learning how to fix and customize them. He says he could feel how much paint or lead to apply, trusting his intuition over standard methods of training. Who would have guessed this would lead him to being one of the best custom car creators in the automobile industry. He’s still in love with cars, especially the ones he customized for himself – a 1957 Ford convertible that says “Calling All Angels,” a 1950 Ford with a King Tut theme, and a 1951 Ford that he calls the Bat’s Revenge with bat-shaped parking lights and a front grill that resembles teeth. His artistic ability goes beyond auto body and onto his own body in the form of skin art.
Batso is tattooed from head to foot. Some of his unique pieces include a replica of his Bats Revenge car, a spider web in one ear, a snake in the other, a bat in flight on the back of his head and a Buddha on top. His art is from some of the worlds best tattoo artists such as Nomad, Crow, and Zee in the United States to tattoo Gery of Austria. Batso was perhaps the most recognizable of the Rescue Ink crew because of his myriad of tattoos.
Batso was considered Rescue Ink’s “spiritual father.” He is first-generation Italian-American but has assimilated Eastern culture and traditions into his life. With his Fu Manchu pigtail and penetrating eyes, his outwardly appearance is like a Mongolian warrior yet on the inside is a tenderness ability to sense things with animals. He can feel their energy and connect with their pain or their happiness. After losing one of his sons to Lou Gehrig’s disease, he is committed to living a full life and achieving new goals, like overcoming illiteracy, pulling a car with his neck at age 80, and devoting his life to helping people and animals whenever and wherever he can, in his own unique way.
Batso has an outgoing personality and is a real showman. At any gathering he is the center of attention. It is not unusual that people stop him on the street just to talk to him or to take his picture because they find him interesting. His individuality made him a celebrity in various multimedia and has received trophies for his many achievements.