I recently got a call from my favorite, local non-profit, Arthouse Astoria, asking me to do some quick headshots for a group of talented and dedicated children involved in their musical theater program. I jumped at the chance and I’m so happy I did. These children were amazing and bright, and gifted and fun to photograph. Arthouse Astoria is a non-profit organization devoted to bringing affordable art and music education to Astoria and it’s surrounding neighborhoods. Operating since 2009, it has a variety of classes taught by dedicated professionals. Thank you, Arthouse Astoria ( arthouseastoria.org ) for making our neighborhood a better place for our children.
On April 22nd, at Astoria First Presbyterian Church I had the pleasure and the honor of giving 15 minute portrait sessions to families in the neighborhood for a $25 fee. I donated all proceeds from the event to Food Bank NYC. Hunger is an important issue to me. One out of 5 children in the United States goes hungry each night. In New York City, the stress is greater given the high cost of living. Renters in the city paid an average of 65.2% of their income on rent in 2016. That doesn’t leave much for food. Physical nourishment leads to a healthy mental and spiritual child. Having a beautiful, well-fed, intelligent and compassionate 6 year old, I know this intimately. Sometimes I can’t believe how much Walker can eat. We’ve been blessed to be able to provide for him in the first years of his life. I know some aren’t as fortunate as we are. It’s a difficult problem that doesn’t seem to be getting any easier lately.
I’m happy to tell you that we were able to donate $150.00 for the cause. And we had a great time doing so too.
I thank Astoria First Presbyterian for donating their space. Pastor Thia Reggio is a wonderful, articulate, caring woman who oversees a warm, welcoming congregation. Services are every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and they are child friendly so if you are in the area and looking for a place to grow spiritually I recommend Astoria First Presbyterian. I thank the families for coming and let me shoot their portraits. I thank my son, Walker Elijah, for helping out. He was awesome holding the reflector and getting people relaxed for their shoot.
First of all, I want to thank, again, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island along with Denise Fillion, its Director of Communication, for allowing me the opportunity to photograph special services for them. I am humbled each time I photograph in one of their beautiful churches. Each time I feel uplifted and full of hope. Over the years, I’ve fallen in love with the Episcopal Church and its liturgy. So photographing these services fulfills me in so many ways. Besides, there’s nothing better than doing what you love to do and feeling in the name of God.
Today’s post is a photograph I took last week at the Confirmation Service at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn. For those who remember this church was set ablaze by an arsonist back on December 23rd, 2012 during the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. It’s a portrait that I took of a distinguished, beautiful woman at the end of the service. I was putting my camera away getting ready to go home when I saw her sitting in the corner, her smile radiating with the sun awash all over her. Because as beautiful as the brick and mortar of a church may be, there’s nothing more divine than a beautiful person inside of that church. I had to go up to her and ask if I could take her photograph. Thankfully she obliged me. I hope you like this portrait as much as I loved taking it.
At one point in my life, I was seriously considering the vocation of the priesthood. Ultimately, I found out I wasn’t meant to be a priest. But it’s that spiritual journey that gives me a special appreciation and admiration that for anyone who walks the walk. So when Thia Reggio asked me to photograph her installation ceremony, I felt honored and excited.
Thia Reggio has been the minister at Astoria First Presbyterian Church for a bit over a year now. This ceremony just made it official. First Presbyterian Church is located in a small, intimate space at 23-35 Broadway. It’s a quick walk from the subway. I think it’s one of Astoria’s best kept secrets.
It’s got a super-peaceful, inviting feel. The vibrant congregation welcomes with open hands. The church is child friendly, too, which is one of the reasons we chose to make it our spiritual home. Our son, Walker, has made some great friends at the church, and he loves to be there. It’s not uncommon for him to ask to go to church on a weekday. (I don’t ever remember asking my parents that when I was growing up.)
The church shares its space with Arthouse Astoria, which is another one of Astoria’s best kept secrets. Arthouse Astoria is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing affordable music and art classes to the neighborhood. (http://arthouseastoria.org)
Here’s a few photographs from the event. I thank Thia Reggio and the First Presbyterian Church for letting me photograph such a special day.
Here’s a little retro black and white for the day. This is right near my home and I am fascinated with this wall. I take pictures all the time here in all weather conditions at all times of the day. And I can’t stop. Hope you all enjoy this one. It’s my kind of picture.
I had a nice, quick portrait session with a good friend. He’s a young and handsome man so it was easy getting a few good shots. It was a good night, and I had fun shooting him. My good friend and fellow photographer, Lisa Brown ( www.lisabrownphoto.com ) assisted with the shoot. She helped relax Victor with her bubbly personality. He was a bit nervous in the beginning but relaxed as the shoot went on . And she helped direct him too. It’s always a pleasure working with Lisa. As for Victor, well, I guess some people really don’t realize how photogenic they are. Here is a small sampling of the some the images with only minimum editing done.
This year a wonderful opportunity came my way. The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island has invited me to photograph a number of their confirmation services. So far, I’ve experienced a lot of gratification doing them. They have challenged me mentally while refreshing me spiritually. They’ve made me a better photographer and they’ve renewed my faith.
Many people confuse the act of baptism and confirmation. Baptism is the sacrament of being initiated into the Christian Faith. What then, is a confirmation service? The word “confirmation” comes from the Latin, confirmare, which means, “to strengthen,” “to fortify,” or “to complete.” The act of confirmation denotes a mature re-commitment to the vows of baptism. This is done during a public sacrament where one honors their spiritual journey and renews their commitment to Christ within a Christian community.
I took these photographs during a recent confirmation service at St. George’s in Flushing Queens. In this service, you’ll see that members of the congregation joined Bishop Provenzano for the laying on of hands.
For those who don’t know, St. George’s in Flushing has a long, storied history. It was chartered in 1702, and the present church was completed in 1854. Today, enjoying landmark status, it serves a strong, vibrant and diverse congregation. In fact, the Bishop’s sermon given in English was translated into both Chinese and Spanish. Lastly, the current rector, Reverend Wilfredo Benitez is an amazing, accomplished photographer too. Check out his website here http://www.benitezrivera.com/