Sunday, December 16, 2012

Help Portraits - Free Holiday Portraits for Rockaway Residents

On Saturday, 100+ volunteers gathered in Staten Island and Far Rockaway, Queens to provide free holiday portraits to victims of the hurricane. Over 500 families enjoyed music, food, companionship, makeovers and hairstyles, time with Santa, presents and portrait sittings. This day was life- changing for the residents as well as for us volunteers. 

I spent the day in the Rockaways, documenting the event and witnessing people's stories.

There were many incredible moments throughout the day, but my favorites included:  

1. Giving my microphone to three Muslim sisters so that they could interview Santa, and hearing the oldest ask Santa what he wanted for Christmas; 

2. A conversation with a young Dad who shared, "The hurricane reminded me how important it is to be better and to do better, for myself, for my family and for my community. There is no better time, not tomorrow, not next week, now is the time".; 

3. Talking with a Mom while she was waiting for her portrait to be printed. Her son got very impatient, tugging at her sleeve and whining "Let's go Mom, let's go; it's just a picture!", to which Mom knelt down to his level, lovingly smoothed his hair, and replied "It's not just a picture sweetie; it's a photograph that starts the rest of our lives".

The reply that she gave to her son still makes me weep, and it sums up the entire day.  Our actions big and small truly are ripples.  We never know how far they will reach...  

Here are some of my favorite images that I shot.

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