There is nothing more exotic than being on the equator. Add some warm afternoon light and mix in beautiful gardens, great play spaces, and the unmistakable connection between siblings: love at the middle of the world, delivered. Isn’t it remarkable that human beings occupy so many miles, land divided by ocean and mountains and, yet, when it comes down to it we are so much the same? We are each – big and small – characterized by our unique personalities and individuality, but as human beings we are inherently the same.
Like many of the families I am so fortunate to work with, I have known the Davalos-Romero children since they were just days old. Living farther away from them only makes me revel more in our sessions and the opportunity to record how they have grown and changed since our prior visit. An “Hola Tia Ginny” never ceases to melt my little heart after months between visits. And how I love playing with them during our meetings and capturing their perfect little personalities.
During this session, I particularly enjoyed witnessing how each child expressed his and her independence and individuality. But I was also touched by those moments between brother and sister – the playing, the hugging, and even the escaping. At this young age, there is such a frankness and realness to relationships between siblings. And an uncanny ability to have fun and adventure – up north, down south, or right in the middle of the world. Gracias a mis queridos amigos, la familia Davalos-Romero!
Last month I was lucky enough to photograph the warm and loving Webb family – it happened to be during that brutal hot spell but you wouldn’t know it by looking at these expressive family portraits. I was dazzled by the way the Webbs embraced one another, played, and enjoyed a morning together at their home – it was as if they were somehow sheltered from the heat.
I have also had the good fortune to see these boys grow up from babies. No matter how long I work with families to capture fine art portraits year after year, I am always amazed at how quickly children change. Preparing these portraits, I was struck again by these little people who will be grown before we know it….leaving the nest.
These reflections were driven home as my own Brooklyn Birds left their nest. No sooner did I post last week’s baby bird portrait than the little ones sprouted wings and quickly disappeared from the plant in which they had taken up residency. I was so grateful I had taken the time to record this special moment at our home. I find that I miss the squeaky chirps, the visits from parents, and the messy scattering of nest on my front steps. I wonder where they have settled and whether they are staying close to home.
I realized that I sometimes take for granted the portrait experience and this week I was reminded that we aren’t just having fun with families and a camera. We really do stop time for a moment. We capture magic. We create art in the portraits and the memories. Thank you so much to the Webbs and all of the families I work with, for welcoming me into your lives and giving me this incredible opportunity.
Who says there isn’t nature in Brooklyn? While replacing the windows in our Brooklyn Brownstone, the workmen disturbed the nest of three little baby sparrows. We relocated it to a large potted plant on our front steps and they seem to have settled in quite nicely. Mom and Dad come to feed them with great frequency and they are getting stronger – and louder – everyday. Will try to post progress reports of birdy development.
Coming soon….adventures in Nebraska and colorful portraits from Webb and Mehta-Shah families!
Over the last day, the skies have let loose and hurled raindrops the size of stones on our heads. The sun is shielded behind thick and, at times, threatening clouds.
Venturing out between torrents, I was reminded that sometimes flowers are their most beautiful – colorful, rich, glowing – in the middle of the ugliest of storms. Even when it’s gloomy, we can always find something bright.
One of BBCS' clients. I was so moved by this young Brooklyn man's strength and determination.
As I prepared to send a collection of desk portraits to volunteers and clients of the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service (BBCS), I wanted to share some of those same images with the Virginia L. S. Freire Photography family.
BBCS is a terrific non-profit organization doing important work throughout the Brooklyn community. Founded in 1866, their staff of more than 500 work with 300 plus volunteers to deliver their diverse array of social services and programs at 17 sites throughout Brooklyn. They support Brooklyn residents with vocational training and job placement, social support and mental health services for persons with disabilities, and child welfare and family support services.
These three grandmother's leave their own families at home and volunteer at one of BBCS' day care facilities.
In May, I was fortunate enough to spend a day volunteering to photograph several members of the BBCS community. What a wonderful and personal introduction to the difference that this organization is making in so many lives. I don’t have a favorite part of the day. I was moved by the challenges overcome by a benefactor of BBCS’ mental health services, touched by the group of grandmothers who leave their own families to volunteer their time at one of the BBCS day care facilities, inspired by the workers with disabilities who fulfill important tasks like arranging test tubes for research facilities, and impressed by the commitment of longtime Brooklyn residents turned volunteers with BBCS. It was also a great pleasure to meet the director of BBCS, Alan Goodman – he is sincere, enthusiastic, and passionate about the work that he does.
Test tubes ready to go to the lab. Tasks like these are carried out at the BBCS offices by dedicated workers with disabilities.
As a Brooklyn native, I feel very fortunate to be able to support this organization that has helped members of my hometown for nearly one and a half centuries. We are working to bring images of the volunteers and participants to the public – these portraits serve as a reminder that we are all human and each have a story to tell. What a special experience to be involved in telling some of those stories.
Learn more about BBCS at www.bbcs.org and keep an eye out for their upcoming on-line 2009 Annual Report in which more images will appear.
I have to admire the zeal of the Webb family – we had a wonderful shoot yesterday despite the heat. We hunted out plenty of shade and took well-earned breaks to refresh and re-hydrate in the AC. When there is that much love and warmth in a family, you can always manage to have a great time regardless of heat waves! Many thanks to the whole family for making the shoot so much fun!
And the heat blazes on! It is so hot in New York City. The only good thing about keeping the shades closed is that there is not an ounce of breeze outside so you don’t feel like you are missing anything. The basement is seeming like a pretty nice place to be right about now. I keep flashing back to winter – it feels like just yesterday that we were clearing all the snow from the city. Doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?
We are back from the equator. We had a wonderful trip – photos from a fun family session in the Andes coming soon – but no rest for the weary! We arrived to New York summer weather at its best and hit the ground running to prepare for our family portrait session on Sunday.
After a great – and hot – session in Queens’ Kissena Park on Sunday, we had the opportunity to enjoy a Sunset Cruise of New York’s Jamaica Bay hosted by the American Littoral Society (http://www.alsnyc.org/) and Don Riepe. What a great reprieve from the hot and humid weather.
We traveled past the Brooklyn College Campus and an evolution of historic houses and duplexes to end our 20-minute drive at Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay where our vessel awaited. It is so close to home, and yet feels like a different world. Once out on the water, you begin to forget that you are in the midst of New York City until reminders flash across the skyline in the form of subways, a hazy silhouette of the Verrazano Bridge, and planes taking off from JFK International Airport. Local communities like Breezy Point, Mill Basin, and the Rockaways dapple the coast intermixed with the greenways of Jamaica Bay and Riis Park.
Sometimes it is worthwhile to adventure in your own backyard. It is easy to forget the treasures that lie right beyond our front door. I started the day in Queen’s picturesque Kissena Park (portraits from the session will be posted soon) and ended up cruising New York’s waterways to enjoy wildlife from the bow of Brooklyn’s Golden Sunshine. The final stop of the tour was dinner at Randazzo’s – literally a taste of Brooklyn waterfront history.
A New York City Subway passes an enclave of homes in the Rockaways before whipping across the bay to Queens.
The sun makes its descent behind the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. Facts of note: The Marine Parkway bridge was built in 1937 and was the longest vertiical lift span in the world for automobiles. The span to the right of the tower pictured here raises up to let tall craft pass below. In 1978 it was renamed for Gil Hodges who played first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Taking to the air over Jamaica Bay and the marshes that are home to birds and other wildlife.
The sun hides behind a cloud hovering over Jamaica Bay.
A glimpse of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge through the thick summer haze as we return to port in Sheepshead Bay.