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Wednesday, 17 May 2017


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Congratulations on a job well done, both Son and Dad!


Damn, Mike, that's seriously good parenting. You allowed Xander's motivation to come from within, and there's no other place that real motivation can come from. He can take full credit and major pride in getting where he is. Congratulations to Xander and to you!

Congrats, (To both of you)
There is no greater pleasure than watching your children succeed and knowing you had a hand in it.
Especially so when the lesson learned is that hard , relentless work toward a worthy goal pays off.
He has given you a great gift as well--- the peace of mind that comes from knowing that he is secure and well on his way.
As my Mother-in-law used to say "Give yourself a hug"
You both deserve that as well.

Congratulations Mike; What an achievement by Xander and you.

My only daughter graduates from High School on Friday and has chosen to go to University in Scotland (My homeland but quite far from our adopted home, Belgium). I totally understand the pride.

Send best wishes and good luck to Xander.

That's awesome Mike, and congratulations to Xander.

We also have an only child and have taken a similar approach, fingers crossed, hands off but supportive. It's scary at times, but appears to be working.

Great story, great result! Thanks.

So it was a graduation for both of you, huh? On to the next stage. You wrote, didn't you, that this getting old is interesting? Do please keep us posted.

Things are pretty interesting over here too ...

As the father of two wonderful but non-studious boys (now men)I'm totally in your camp Mike. Sincerest congratulations to you, I remember the road you had to travel just to keep Zander. Wonderful, just wonderful. A monument to you, and your son will have (already has)a life of unique distinction, thanks to his decisions, and your dedication.

Heartiest congratulations to you both.

Congratulations Xander - and Dad!

I remember meeting Xander at the sushi place---I was gonna tell him to get a haircut, but he's already done it! Congratulations to the both of you.

Me? Two down, one to go... :)

Congrats to you and Zander both. I have a daughter graduating from high school this summer who will be attending Oberlin in the fall. All of the highs and lows (financial most especially) you mention are just around the corner -- and yet, like you, I couldn't be more proud. Life is good.

Congratulations to both of you!

Congratulations to you both! All that and good bokeh to boot. :-)

Congratulations to you both but I bet when he's reading this he's saying to himself "Dad, will you please stop embarrassing me"

Kudos all around! Well done!

My good wishes to your son. And congratulations to you.

What an adventure it has been! Congratulations to both of you.


Not bad; I'm not too old to figure out emojis on a Mac.

Mike great to hear someone talking with justifiable pride.

As I used to say to my wife when she despaired for her youngest son, "The intelligence never goes away". When they finally spread their wing and take off ... Pure Joy. Heartfelt Congratulations to BOTH of you.

Big heartfelt congrats to you. And your son! It's actually great that he had those other experiences, too few college grads do these days. They will stand him in good stead throughout his life, and he will always remain in some way connected to the rest of the citizenry at all levels. It will make him a better citizen and voter. Having raised two daughters through college and now through grad school, and one going on for a PHD, I know your pride, happiness, pain, and, uuuhhh, money issues.

Congratulations to Xander...and you! Whatever else we accomplish in life, our children are greatest legacy to the future. Great job, Dad!



Congratulations to Xander, and of course congratulations to you.

Congratulations to Xander... and to Dad! Wonderful post, Mike.


Mike, what a wonderful story. A fitting continuation of your history as a father.

I'm supposed to be going out NOW, but I just had stop here and say, you've done each other proud. Bløødy well done, the pair of you.

Congratulations to Xander, and to you!

Now, after he's settled in at his new job, see if you can lean on him for some marketing expertise and get your coffers re-pleted (like depleted, only the other direction!).

You have permission from all us parents to brag away, and to bust your proverbial buttons.

Congratulations, Mike! Having had brief glimpses of Xander being raised and growing up over the years via stories and photos on TOP, I can't help feeling a bit of something like pride--in both of you!

Hooray !!!

Wow. Given what you have shared about your son over the years here and in your days contributing to Black and White Magazine here in the UK, (which was the first time I came across your writing), congratulations to you and your son are in order. I'm filled with the same sort of fuzzy warm feeling that I get when an ex-student of mine gets in touch or bumps into me in a pub and tells me of their successes.

Congratulations to you both.

Wonderful news Mike - I wish Xander the best.

Its always good to see a WI native do well.

As an former instructor for the UW system in Career and Life Planning, I have helped hundreds of student launch their careers, & might be able to offer a few additional insights for Zander is he is starting his position in WI.

Let me know if he is interested - I'll buy the coffee!

Thanks - Chris

As a father of two I know how it feels on that days -and on the bad ones, unfortunately. My warmest congratulations to you both, really.

Congrats to you both! Doesn't always work out well- despite the best intentions, and effort. Enjoy when it does...

I'm very happy for you both, well done Mike and Xander ye've both done good.

I'm so happy for you!
I wish my daughter will be as intelligent as you son.

I'm happy for both of you. Nice to hear such good news.

Congratulations to the both of you. What a wonderful story.

Love the joy in this post. It's so true, isn't it? "A very good day"

Congratulations Mike and Xander! May you both continue successfully in your careers...and I'll continue to read and ponder your words. Thanks.

Outstanding! Well done to Xander and to Xander's pop. Nobody does this alone.

Good for both of you!

With best regards,


Congratulatios Mike. I can relate to your story since I was the worst student ever. My poor parents must have suffered a lot. Only when I finally got to study and work at what I loved, things changed for the better.

Un abrazo.

Congratulations Mike! And thank you also for sharing, parenting is not easy by any stretch. How nice to have gotten through to the other side, enjoying the moment, and sharing with friends. Awesome.


I also attended my son's college graduation. He's headed up your way, to Ithaca for yet more school.

Congratulations on a great job with your son and the perfect way you let him discover the value of college!

That's great news Mike. Congrats to both of you!

Congratulations to you both! It's been fun to witness Xander's growth through your lenses over the years. I think my favorite is still the shot of him next to the Clayton odorles fixer in "The 50mm Lens and Metaphysical Doubt." I can't really voice why that one calls to me so much — maybe it's that it tells the story of a photo dad raising a kid by himself with some lovely tones and "glow" (Leica induced or otherwise) — but that's one that has always stuck for me.

I wish you both the best on your continuing journeys and hope to see many more photos of him on the blog in the years to come!

That's gotta feel good. Congrats to Xander for a stellar showing and a good start, and to you for being there.

Now, on to the "TOP post-college print offer and fundraising extravaganza" so you can join Peter Turnley in Havana and tell him how proud you are of your son working at Target! ;-)

Great story Mike, Congratulations to both of you.

Congratulations to Xander and to you too Mike. Reading this article...all of a sudden smoke got into my eyes. I know how it feels to have an only child/son (as I have Alif, my only child/son) achieve something in life. Congratulations again.

"Oh the places you will go ..."

Congratulations to you both!

Congrats to Zander and you, Mike, for a job well done! I remember meeting him at the TOP diner where he waited our table. Your did an outstanding job as a parent, all the more challenging since you were a single parent.
Our daughter is graduating this coming week from Cooper Union with her BFA and already in a job at the Frick, with her twin brother in Japan studying abroad for a year, due back to finish one extra year here next fall to complete a double bachelors. And our oldest is back in school in the midst of an MD/Phd in PA. I never thought the three of them would be so driven when we went through the dark teenage years. That said, I could not be more proud of all three of them, the are the most priceless gift of life we could have.

Congratulations to both of you! The story continues and gets better and better.

Congratulations Xander and Mike! This story made me feel happy too!

Congratulations Mike! My kid, Ben, is one year behind Xander and I'm hoping to make good on my plan to have him graduate from Skidmore College with no debt. It's a tough challenge for parents but one I think both of our kids will appreciate for the rest of their lives.

Congratulations, Xander and Mike ~ wonderful accomplishments!

And, if I may say so without being presumptuous or giving offense, Mike, I'm extremely proud of you for making sure that Xander would have the opportunity to show his stuff in this way by giving him a home and a father and your deep and ongoing love...

That's such a nice story! Congratulations to you both.My daughter graduated this year, as well, and it's a very special moment.

Congratulations to Xander and you both!

Mike, I felt real pride in Xander and you because I, like dozens, perhaps hundreds of TOP readers have been involved with your journey, and your rocky road to Fatherhood.
I wasn't surprised at the outpouring of joy and congratulations - I've always felt that your readers are unique, and this is living proof. You're indeed a fortunate man, you've made a life of quality for your son and yourself - that life is good and you are the center of a very real community.

Don't apologise for a joyful off-topic post, part of what makes yours the best-written 'Photography' blog.
My son nearly ruined his own education at high school; he succeeded because his wonderful mother - a teacher - knew how to keep his options open. With our support and his intelligence he graduated in English and is doing well in the world of work (journalism). And here's to more very good days!

Mike, thanks for sharing. That was my goal also to get my son out of college debt free. It felt good when we accomplished that together. Congrats to Xander.

Congratulations to Xander and you both. I know it is a big step. Our son graduated last year and got a good job. This past year has been surreal in not having to write that monthly check.

Congratulations! Living through high school, college and grad school with two children I know that self motivation is, in the long run,the best way to go. We, somehow, managed to get both through school without them having any debt - something that they didn't fully appreciate until they were older and listened to the laments of their contemporaries,
Although the "kid" gets the credit, those of us that have been there recognize your role. Take a well deserved bow.

Big congratulations to you both, Mike! A good day, indeed. You're a lucky dad.

I can completely understand your pride. Every time I have worried about my son, who's only 12, it's helped to realise it's just a moment in his life, something to look back on. There's always movement and progress. At the moment he's stressed about not understanding algebra, and the moments of breeak through, and relief on his face, comes when he realises not undertanding it is just a thing now, not for ever. It will pass.

It warmed my heart to read this. Congratulations to you and Xander. I hope you patted each other on the back several times. You both deserve it. Jobs well done, lives well lived!

Well done Mike. Words cannot fully describe a job well done at fathering. And Xander has now done you proud.

Congratulations to you both.

Well done by both of you, from a parent who's been there. Most of my other work in life has been easier, and I wasn't as emotionally involved as in parenting and watching my children grow up.

Watching graduation is definitely a great joy.

So good to hear this Mike. Xander sounds like a smart young man, congrats to both of you. A

And the GF? You introduce a character then let her disappear into the miasma of time without trace! Tut, tut, Mike, a serious author does better than that. :)

Congratulations on helping Xander move forward so well. We start with no training and get one go with a child which can be enormously rewarding or heartbreaking (well, mostly something ordinary in between, I suppose). You did your stuff and Xander did his.

So far, so good!

Cheers, Geoff


Congratulations to Xander and to you!

Congratulations to Xander - and debt-free as well! I have similar stories about one of my daughters (the elder) who backpacked for a year and then worked retail for quite a while before finding her vocation - nursing. (The younger daughter did it all regulation - school, bachelor's, master's, by the time she was 23.)

[Hi Tom. Speed in education is fine if you're sure of your direction. Believe it or not I have a family member who finished school too fast! She did high school and college in three years each and by the time she was 22 was working on her Ph.D.

The trouble was, she was too young to have really had enough time to sort of what she wanted to do for her career, and she got her Ph.D. in the wrong subject area. I think it was microbiology. After a few years working in that field she realized it wasn't for her, and she had to go back to school to get another degree in a different subject. I think she now works in magnetic resonance imaging research, which she likes and enjoys.

'Course, it took me eight years to finish college, and I don't recommend that either. :-) --Mike]

Congratulations to the both of you - excellent parenting and good job Xander for figuring it out and putting in the work to make this great achievement happen.

Congratulations to Xander (and his dad of course).

I used to teach high school many years ago and I always thought it sad that so many kids had to make choices at an age where they had no idea who they were or what those choices would imply.

A bit of experience and maturity gives kids can change everything, even ones interest in studying.

Right back then, I realised the education system was deeply flawed. Education should be ongoing, not something that ends in your teens.

Well done, father & son! My admiration for Xander for being his own man in such a positive way, and for you Mike for being a father in the best sense of the word. When you have a child / children I think by far the most important task in your life, is to help them become healthy, self-fulfilling adults. Congratulations to you both!

Great day, great goal achieved!


Congratulations to both you and Xander. It has been a privilege to be a virtual fly on the wall these last 23 or so years. Thanks much for sharing your life with us, it is what makes TOP the community it is.

Wow, seems like just yesterday that Xander was heading off to college. A belated congrats to you both!

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