Like any residents in the Philadelphia area who know of Mother Katharine Drexel, I too made the pilgrimage in the last days of visitations before the closing of the shrine. The grounds of Saint Katharine Drexel will be sold in the near future, and I am told sale is imminent. They are now awaiting approval from the pope. I walked into the shrine from a bitter cold winter day and made my way through the chapel to the downstairs shrine. The first thing I noticed was how much warmer it is in the shrine area. Not sure if it is just because of all the people who have been frequenting the shrine since the announced sale and closing over a year ago. Or maybe it was the feeling of overall spirituality that overcomes you upon arrival.
The people I spoke with seemed upset at the closing, but understood why it has to happen. You see, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament are older and pretty much dying off one by one. The large residence and shrine is 42 acres and costs a lot of money to maintain. The sisters are also selling 2,200 acres in Virginia. Many of the nuns left the Drexel home as of this past May. The ones that remained were part of the day to day operations.
While I’m sad to see the shrine and property go, I wish the sisters a happy retirement.
In 1992, I spent a few days working on a story about the lack of affordable housing in the Philadelphia suburbs of Bucks County. The other day I read a post on Facebook about how a community came together to help place a family into an affordable home since they were about to lose their residence and it was so close to Christmas. I made the following images in June of 1992. Seems to me that there was a problem way back then that still exists to this day and folks need housing 365 days a year. Not just because it’s Christmas. It’s great that people banded together to help that family, but don;t forget that there are another 364 days a year that people in the Philadelphia region go homeless. So much more needs top be done.
Here are some of the images.
And here is a few clip from the Inquirer, 1992.
Every picture has a story behind the making of that image.
It’s June 28, 1999. A warm summer day. I pack up a single Nikkormat that had a busted light meter and an 85mm 1.8 lens along with a half a roll of film, hop into my Jeep Wrangler. No doors. No top. Warm air. Dreamy summer day for a drive into the upper parts of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I’m envisioning a long cruise with the radio on.
I leave the house. Head up Rt. 263 to Rt. 413. Make a left. Next thing you know I am in Bedminster. It’s about 11 AM.
The phone rings. It’s Bernadette Tuazon, who at the time was the Pennsylvania photo editor for the Associated Press. She asks if I’m available. I said yes, but all I have with me is a Nikkormat and two lenses along with a half roll of Fujicolor Film. It doesn’t matter. No one else was around. She asked if I can get to North Philadelphia…as soon as possible. Of course, I say yes. Apparently, Marie Noe, the 70-year-old woman who plead guilty to smothering eight of her ten young children was headed home for house arrest. I never in a million years thought I could get there in time and was very leary of the fact that I didn’t have much film (yes, this was way back when we shot film).
Somehow, in 60 minutes I made it from Bedminster to Noe’s home on American Street in Philadelphia. I arrived just as she was about to enter her home. I left out of the Jeep with my camera in hand. Luckily, it was loaded and ready to go. As I ran closer to the door setting my exposure. Remember, the meter did not work. I had to guess at the exposure. Overcast day, 400 ISO = 2000 @f5.6.
Luckily, she had a rough time with the lock. Her face was looking straight at the door, until Matt O’Donnell (God Bless Him!) from 6ABC in Philadelphia blurted out her name a few times. By that time I was standing next to Matt. I was able to make one image, turn the camera to the next frame and then one more click. She looked right at us with a scary look that I have yet to forget. At that moment, I knew I had the image I needed.
I then went and process the film. All two frames were perfect.
Years before, one of my old Philadelphia Inquirer colleagues, Akira Suwa, said to me at lunch one day that I should be able to feel the light. He then quizzed me on the different exposures and ISO’s in certain situations. I did get them all correct, but I never thought anything of that conversation until the moment when i was guessing the exposure for Marie Noe’s image. Boy was he correct. That lesson at an every day lunch made me think. I’ve never forgotten that and always try to guess at the exposure before I use my light meter to this day.
That said. Here is the image of Marie Noe. It is with thanks to Bernadette Tuazon, Matt O’Donnell and Akira Suwa.
[a once and a while series telling the story behind the image]
In May of 1990 while working for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I spent some time with the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great who founded St. Basil Academy in 1931. The sisters also established Manor College in 1947. What I photographed in the times I spent at the school was the sisters at morning prayers and then followed them through their teaching day at St. Basil. I also was able to photograph some of the retired sisters as they worked on the farm, gardened, cleaned furniture and did some crafts.
The sisters were very open about their lives on the campus and pretty much allowed me to make images showing whatever I felt was necessary to tell their story . You see, their numbers had diminished from about 50 strong in the early days to 35 when I visited them.
I recently photographed and made a video of the 103rd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Doylestown, Pa.
Here is the video I put together.
Last night I photographed John McCain receiving the 2017 Liberty Medal from former Vice President Joe Biden at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Embed from Getty Images
In overtime on Friday, Neshaminy defeated Central Bucks South 21-14 at South in Warrington to move to 6-1 on the season while Central Bucks South drops to 5-2.
I asked these emerging leaders in Bucks County what it takes to be a leader. These are their answers.
Come and visit with Santa Claus at this revolutionary photo experience, where we step outside the box of the traditional “sit your children on Santa’s lap” photographic session. Santa will interact with you and your family during a 30 minute appointment. The dates available are November 18 from 10am until 2pm.
Santa Claus can check your children’s Christmas list at his workshop table, check his naughty and nice list, share cookies and milk, read a story, decorate the tree, and if time permits, he will even pose for a traditional portrait session. The goal for you and your family to have an interactive and pleasant experience with the jolliest of all elves. Our goal for us is to provide you with the highest quality of photojournalistic images for you to enjoy for years to come.
This special photo session comes with a print package. You will receive (1) 8×10, (2) 5×7 and (16) wallet sized custom color prints of the same image which your can choose in an online gallery.
We are also offering USB drives of all images made for you to print as many times or sizes as you like for a special early booking price of $250 ($150 reservation and $100 for the USB). On the day of the shoot those USB drives will be available for $200 for a total cost of $350.
Delivery dates for prints and USB drives will be as follows:
Tuesday November 28th 7p-9p (Yardley)
Thursday November 30 12p-2p (Yardley)
Saturday December 1 11a-2p (Yardley)
After the session, all images will be available in print form only as individual prints or packages.
Reserve your appointment time now. (Click Here To Reserve Your Time)
(Recently, I wrote about Spring Village at Floral Vale for the Bucks County Courier Times Best of Bucks 2017. Since I have been there many times over the past few years on photo assignments, I decided to write from my first hand experience of the facility. A few pictures are included.)
As a photojournalist, I get to see and photograph a lot of different things. When I see an assignment for any kind of event at Spring Village at Floral Vale, I get very excited. This is a great place. The staff is extraordinary with all of their residents. Every time I photograph an event here, everyone is always happy, from staff to residents this place is top notch.
As their website explains, “There is a place where the best care along with a home-like and quaint environment come together to provide memory care at its best. One visit to Spring Village at Floral Vale and you will understand why our community is the number one choice of families seeking secured memory care.”
They provide individualized care and the entire community is the resident’s home. The residents here are not confined to an area or locked behind closed doors.
The family atmosphere is also amazing.
That starts with leadership.
Spring Village at Floral Vale for the last eight years has been under the leadership of their Senior Executive Director, Deb Bodnar. Her experience in senior care, insight and insistence that this community be ever-ready to change with the needs of their residents, is the driving force of the community goals. Deb and her department head team understand the responsibility that is part of the privilege and honor given to them as a family chooses Spring Village at Floral Vale.
A while back I had the privilege of photographing a Mother’s Day brunch outside on a beautiful spring day. The families arrived first and were seated under an enormous tent. What I witnessed and photographed next was amazing. It was a parade of residents escorted by the staff out to the tent to meet with their loved ones. I’ve never seen so many smiling faces, or witnessed so many hugs and kisses in my 30 year career as a photojournalist.
And the hugs and kisses weren’t just for the family, but staff as well. The staff and residents at Spring Village at Floral seem to have a bond that is equal to family. The care and comfort I see there amazes me. It was an experience that actually brought a tear to my eyes as I was making pictures.
“Spring Village at Floral Vale has a commitment to actively recruit and retain staff with “Serving Hearts”. This is the key to good memory care. Anyone can give care, a “Serving Heart caregiver stands out. They are proud of their work. Each and every day they know they have made a difference for our residents.
We never stop our search for Serving Hearts.
“The disease of Dementia/Alzheimer”s is a reality in our world. We don’t apologize for it but rather work instead toward having each of our residents validated, affirmed and understood. It’s a challenging job but our staff at Spring Village regularly receive hands-on training in safety, care and progressive communication techniques that set us apart.”
Visit them and you’ll see why we they are the best of the best!
Next time you or someone you know needs a new headshot, take the time to ask yourself, “what makes a good headshot?”
To me, and I’ve been working as a professional photojournalist for over thirty years, a good headshot needs three things.
1: Good light (light that shows 3 dimensionality of the subject)
2: Good face (it should show who you are and your face needs to fill a good portion of the frame)
3: No hands (no hands in face. hands are a distraction that take away light from the face)
This are three basic rules of thumb. Another factor that needs to be thought about is, what image are you trying to portray in your headshot? Is it for business, acting, modeling, etc.??
Your headshot should portray what you need it to for whatever the ultimate usage.
Most times what I see that photographers tend to provide for clients is not a true headshot, but a nice portrait. That’s all well and good, but if it doesn’t suit your purpose, it is useless.
In my last year working as a staffer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, I worked on the picture desk for a time. In that time, I had many business portraits come though the desk for profiles or news blurbs of people ‘s comings and goings from companies. I’ve seen them all. Nice simple images with a solid grey background to outrageously lit (overlit) headshot with a background of all different colors, cloud backgrounds and lots off what says they are not to be taken seriously. Many of the worst looked like high school portraits. Trust me, you don’t want that.
That said. Here are my thoughts on what makes a good headshot for various uses.
I believe that a serious business headshot should generally have the subject fill the frame in a diagonal pose, with their face towards the camera. Hands should not be anywhere near the face and mostly be at your side or folder in front of you and never be part of the composition. And, a grey backdrop is appropriate. A cloud or various color backdrop is highly inappropriate for any kind of business headshot. If you ever go to a photographer that offers you that, run. By all means run like there is no tomorrow. That will not help you to be taken seriously in business.
A more casual business portrait can be made outside, in a shaded area and either lit by available light or strobes (that means flash). Positioning should be the same as a serious business portrait, but in a nice outdoor setting.
I believe that an acting or modeling headshot should have the same good solid light in the subjects face. Maybe not as three dimensional, but more frontal lighting. Maybe the composition should be slightly more diagonal.
One of the things that many people mistake for a headshot is an image that is more apporopr=iately used asa portrait. A portrait generally shows more of an upper torso type of image which can or can not include hands. Generally, I always prefer that people rarely place their hands up to their face as the light tends to land on the hands and become a distracting plane in the image.
In the past when I was casting for a photo shoot, I would ask models for headshot. You would not believe how many models think a headshot is a three quarter length image or even worse yet, a full length photograph. I probably don’t need to tell you that those were the first ones tossed in the can because they couldn’t follow directions. So, when someone asks you for a headshot, please, please, please, make sure that is what you provide. And make damn sure that your photographer can provide what you need to put your best foot forward, whether for business or modeling and acting. If you feel they can’t, move on to a photographer that can do it. Correctly.
When I do a headshot for anyone, the first thing I ask is what is their end goal? What do they want to headshot to show? How would they want to be portrayed? Once I have an idea, we can then plan on wardrobe. I always suggest keeping things simple. In many cases dark earthy colors tend to work best. Stay away from any kind of patterns. That might take away from your face.
The way we’ll set up headshot shoots is either individually or have a headshot day where we’ll block out a four hour time slot at a company and they’ll have 8-10 people set up a time for pictures. We actually just did a few headshot shoots over 7 hours where we were able to shoot 35 and 45 respectively.
This is done by bringing my mobile studio on location. It’s pretty simple. Lights, reflectors and a stool. People.
Each of the shoots takes maybe 15 minutes. The subject them will receive a link to a gallery of images for them to choose their favorite. In some cases we’ve actually had them choose the image they prefer on location by providing a laptop and showing the images as we shoot live.
Next time you have to get a headshot, think of some of the suggestions I’ve made here. The most important thing is to keep it simple. Show your best self and your headshot will be golden.
I spent most of the month of May photographing, interviewing and videotaping citizen scholars.
Here is the video put together with the graphics. Which were merged together with the raw footage perfectly by Eric Arbore and the video team at the Intelligencer and Courier Times. Thanks to Eric and the rest of the team there. Fantastic job!!
A slide show of the portraits follows below:
One of my favorite photographic subjects, and clients @crayola, has decided to retire the color #Dandelion. Wishing him well in his travels and waiting to see what color will replace him. Although it’s hard to replace that shade of #yellow in any #artwork. Hopefully, he, or she will be just as #colorful as Dandelion. This image attached is a photograph I made a few years ago of him coming off the production line at the Crayola #Factory for the first time. If you look real close you can see him on the very top of the dandelion stack. #NationalCrayonDay #CelebrateDandelion #crayons #crayola #childhood #fun #celebrate #retirement #crayolafactory
Back in 2001, on this date as a matter of fact, I had the coolest assignment to photograph Jan and Stan Berenstain, creators of the “Berenstain Bears” childrens’ books.
I believe this image is from some time in the mid 90’s. I was assigned to shoot an Iamy, or David Iams society assignment. The event was at the home of #Chef George #Perrier (2nd from left). It featured some of the greatest chefs in Philadelphia history cooking on the grill. The one I most remember though, is Chef Tell (left), born Friedman Paul Erhardt who owned Chef Tell’s Manor House in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania. It was a place that my wife and I frequented often and got to know Chef pretty well. He was a wonderful, jovial fellow always looking to put a smile on your face as well as feed your tummy. I recall one assignment where he was teaching a grilling class at his restaurant. He was showing the folks how to grill steaks. While I was photographing him, after one demonstration he handed me a fork full of steak and wanted me to taste it. As politely as I could, I declined because I don’t eat red meat. He snickered, then put his massive hand upon my shoulder, and squeezing the back of my neck said, “You’ve got ball my friend. No one tells me no.” Uh, oh!! I thought. Scared to death because he was a big imposing fellow. Then he busted out laughing. Received that he didn’t kill me, so did I. He never let me forget that night. Teased me whenever I stopped by.
I have to tell you. I always had the best doing experiences at his place and wish he was still around today. What a nice dude. To this day, I miss that guy.
That said, I can’t recall who the other chefs are in the photo. #cheftell #erhardt #perrier #dining #masterchef #genious #cook #dine #philadelphia #restauranteur #legend #manorhouse #greatfoodgreatcompany #easterbrunch #grill #barbeque
Going through my archives recently, I found some old negatives from one of my first Philadelphia Inquirer assignments. It was August 11, 1987, and I was assigned to make your typical grip and grin photo of Jennifer Hai-Ying Tsou as she accepted a sponsorship from the Jenkintown Rotary Club which enabled her to spend a year in China studying music. I recall making images of her address to the rotary, but not really digging the images. Since she was studying music in China, I felt the need to actually show that in a photograph. Luckily, after the luncheon, she agreed to allow me to make some images of her at the piano of her parents home in Jenkintown. These days Jen Su is an accomplished TV and Radio Presenter as well as Corporate Master of Ceremonies and and Actress/Singer. In the days of film, we had to type a caption for every frame we made, because many times we had a lab person, most likely the late, great, Gervase Rozanski, processing our film and then printing the images. The caption sheet was zeroxed to the back of the print and then the correct caption was circled with marker. If was a much, much different process back in 1987. According to the assignment sheet I made exposed 5 rolls of film for the assignment and got to work with one of my favorite writers from back in the day, John Ellis. I also got to meet a very nice young woman who has gone on to accomplish great things. One of the reasons I got into photojournalism was because of the cool people and things I get to meet and do. Beats being stuck in a studio working on an illustration night after night and being isolated from everyone.
In what other career would Bono of U2 promise to have a pint with you when you visit Ireland?
#flashbackfriday #bw #blackandwhite #jenkintown #rotary #pennsylvania @jensu1 @phillyinquirer #phillydotcom
Chase Rosade, who is an exhibitor at the Philadelphia Flower Show, clips down a Bonsai in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Attended by not only residents and faith leaders, but local lawmakers as well, an interfaith prayer service was held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Maple Shade.