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.
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/
Forgive me, but I couldn’t help myself. During some downtime in the services, I snuck outside where parents were keeping their younger children entertained. I love photographing babies and young children. So here are two sneak peaks of two adorable boys. In a few days, I’ll post two of some pretty, young girls I got to photograph. Thanks again, to the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island for letting me be a part of such wonderful moments in peoples’ lives.
Anna and Gerard Succes are the parents of two adorable daughters. Alessia, their oldest, is one of Walker’s best friends, and earnest advocates. They met last year on the playground and they attend the same nursery school here in Astoria. They’ve been as thick as thieves since the first day they met. Alessia is an energetic, beautiful, strong-willed girl who knows how to enjoy life.
Ilaria, Alessia’s younger sister, is a delightful bundle of baby cheeks and giggles. She just started to walk a few months back. She has a sparkle in her eyes, and her giggle exudes joy. She’s a giving, bright young girl who’s easy to get to love.
I had the pleasure of taking Ilaria’s portrait to commemorate her first birthday recently at Rainey Park here in Long Island City, Ilaria’s family managed to get into a few of the photographs themselves. Both daughters are so fun to photograph. So are both parents. I’m hoping they invite to take their portraits some more. They are a great bunch of people and it’s a pleasure to know them.
I met the Reverend Lindsay Lunnum over a decade ago when I was seriously contemplating the vocation of priest within the Episcopal denomination of the Christian faith. She was a good friend of a friend in our parish who recommended her to me as a good source of guidance on the whole vocation process in our denomination, which can be a daunting journey. I remember her as always being wise with her words and gracious with her time. So when she asked me to photograph her installation at Zion Episcopal Church in Douglaston, New York I was thrilled. It was an amazing day. I got to meet her family. She has a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. On this Sunday the sun shined soft but bright. The congregation celebrated with hope and expectation, and Bishop Provenzano gave an amazing sermon.
By the way, she is the first female Rector installed in the Diocese of Long Island. Congratulations, Reverend Lunnum, and thank you for letting me photograph such a seminal event for the Diocese.
When Christopher Schmidinger, the Regional Vice President and General Manager of the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City asked me to photograph a party held to honor his birthday, I was thrilled to take on the assignment. I was a bit nervous, too, because Mr. Schmidinger is a man who has run New York City’s iconic Five-star, five-diamond hotel for a decade now.
It was an intimate affair involving family and life-long friends. The food was top-notch. The band was sweet. The ambience was simply sublime, and for one night, I got to live the dream because I got to photograph it all. I thank Mr. Schmidinger and his family for allowing me to be a part of their party.