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.
Gwen Thomas, 24, combs her 4 year old daughter Dionna’s hair the George Washington Motor Lodge Tuesday June 23, 1992 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. (WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For The Philadelphia Inquirer) (William Thomas Cain/Cain Images)
4 year old Dionna Thomas looks out the door at the George Washington Motor Lodge, where she and her mother are living Tuesday June 23, 1992 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. (WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For The Philadelphia Inquirer) (William Thomas Cain/Cain Images)
Stevie Nicole Painter, 3, clings to her mother Debbie’s leg as her she holds son Brandon, 7 months at the George Washington Motor Lodge, where they are living Tuesday June 23, 1992 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. (WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For The Philadelphia Inquirer) (William Thomas Cain/Cain Images)
(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.)
Elizabeth Marion (L) shares a moment with her daughter Marguerite Marnien of Levittown, Pennsylvania during a Mother’s Day luncheon on the grounds of Spring Village at Floral Vale for their patients and their families Saturday May 9, 2015 in Yardley, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Cain Images) (William Thomas Cain)
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.
Participants enjoy each other’s company during a Mother’s Day luncheon on the grounds of Spring Village at Floral Vale for their patients and their families Saturday May 9, 2015 in Yardley, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Cain Images) (William Thomas Cain)
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)
(Above – Studio headshot with grey backdrop and highlight on back of head)
2: Good face (it should show who you are and your face needs to fill a good portion of the frame)
(Above – Outdoor headshot with background out of focus)
3: No hands (no hands in face. hands are a distraction that take away light from the face)
(Above – Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry in front of tan wall)
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.??
(Above – Studio headshot on Grey Backdrop with no highlight on head)
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.
(Above – Portrait in home)
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.
(Above – Studio portrait on white backdrop – 3/4 length for client website in which the 3/4 view was requested)
(Above – Studio portrait on white backdrop – full length for client website in which the full length view was requested)
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.
(Above – Headshot with more dramatic light on burgundy backdrop as per client request)
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.
(Above – more casual headshot outdoors with available light)
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.
(Above – In office on location portrait with studio lighting)
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.
(Above – Outdoor portrait lit with a portable strobe and backlit from the sun – the key here was to have the background in shade to make it recede in space)
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.
(Above – Just for fun – Portrait of dogs outdoors)
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!!
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 was even able to have stuffed versions of Sister Bear, Pappa Bear, Momma Bear, and Brother Bear in the image for fun.
What was supposed to be a 30 minute shoot turned into a 3 hour gab fest. We got to chatting and I mentioned that I had actually studied illustration and painting at University of the Arts, and it turned out that they had gone to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art with my old high school art instructor, Ed Smith. If not for Ed Smith, i may not have been accepted to the school. He wrote me a hell of a recommendation when I applied and also helped me receive a partial scholarship. They told me old stories about their days with Smitty at college and what the school, which eventually became Philadelphia College of Art and inevitably The University of the Arts of today. What a day. What glorious people. Sadly, the Berenstains have both passed on, but their son continues the family business.
As for Smitty. Well, he’s still around. Probably making someone laugh, listening to the Grateful Dead and sketching.
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
Long before Teen Mom hit MTV screens, way back in 1989, while working for the Philadelphia Inquirer I spent a few days at William Tennent High School in Warminster, Pennsylvania making pictures of a program geared to keep Teen Moms in school. The school, and mostly, Centennial School District, set up a day care program so young women that had children while in high school could keep on attending school and get their diploma. It was pretty simple. The girls would drop of their child before classes started, then go to school. They could come back to visit the children any time during the day. Then would pick them up after school and in some cases, actually do their homework in the day care while waiting for the bus ride home.
Here are some of the images from the package I did in 1989. Images were shot with Tri-X film and probably pushed to 1600 ISO in most interiors with Nikon F3’s as camera of choice.
A teen mom does her homework while her daughter has a snack.
Teen mom and her daughter leave for school as her mother says good bye.
Teen mom and her daughter play during lunch break.
A group of teen moms share a laugh in the lunch room.
During lunch, a teen mom sets her daughters hair.
A young boy and girl play in the day care area of the high school.
Diaper changing time for a young child of a teen mom.
Teen mom drops off her daughter at day care at the school.
Lunch time in day care.
While her daughter is in day care, a teen mom chats in class with a friend.
A teen mom pours milk into her daughters cereal before leaving for school.
A child kisses her teen mom goodbye after being dropped off for day care.
John Burdick loves what he does for a living. He is the premier carpet and upholstery cleaners in Bucks and Montgomery counties and attributes that to his training and professionalism. John and his wife Meg Burdick are the owners of Burdick’s Cleaning, which has again won Best of Bucks Mont for 2016 in the Home and Garden category.
They have won for five straight years.
Meg Burdick, co-owner of Burdick’s Cleaning, says she attributes it “to many factors, but ultimately it’s great customer service, integrity and trust.”
For Burdick’s Cleaning, great customer service provides value to their clients. A customer can easily schedule for their services via phone, email, text message or Facebook. Meg said, “We educate our customers both over the phone and through social media in an effort help them through a problem and eliminate a service call when possible.” Once they come out for a service call, they offer tips to the client that will help prolong the results and show how to properly care for their carpets as to not void the manufacturers warranty.
The staff always wears booties and lays tarp over flooring, uses corner guards while using a temporary door allowing easy access without letting cool air out or warm air out while stopping bug entry into the home. The company offers warranties for carpet protection and will also do free spot and spill touch ups for one full year.
The words most frequently used to describe Burdick’s Cleaning in feedback from clients is knowledgable and professional. They care about their clients and it shows. The staff attends multiple industry events each year to keep up with the latest innovations to best serve their customers. Meg has even presented to other cleaners at conferences sharing what the company has learned in the industry.
The business is mostly word of mouth and referral based. Meg said, “If you’re not exceeding peoples expectations, the won’t tell others about you.” They have built trust and credibility with their clients and are happy when new customers learn abut them from others. Burdick’s is always straight forward and honest with their customers and stand behind their work while owning up to mistakes. According to Meg, “We aren’t perfect, but it’s all in how you handle the mistakes that sets you apart and sometimes results in even better customer loyalty.”
Burdick’s understands the disruptive nature of having a service provider in your home. They strive to make sure the process is as seamless a disruption as possible. They love hearing a client say “It was a pleasure to have them in their home.” Meg said, “Pleasurable isn’t the first word that comes to mind when it comes to carpet cleaning, but we hear it a lot!”
Their custom software keeps records of all services and email invoices and estimates quickly. They accept various forms of payment.
This is a company that has grown tremendously over the years due to their success and community recognition. They still offer the personal touch to clients as they’ve grown. Meg adds, “We have a phenomenal team. They are vested in our values and represent Burdick’s Cleaning in a way that makes us proud.”
Five years ago, after the avid runner broke her big toe, Paige Shumskas was signed up for cycling lessons by her father at the Velodrome in Allentown. Her plan was to use cycling as a way to stay in shape until she could get back to running. Then she found she had fallen in love with cycling. She joined a junior development road team that summer. This season she has competed in 50 races.
Come September 11th, Paige will be competing in the women’s pro race Bucks County Classic as the junior development rider of the Fearless Femme pro cycling team. Yes. Pro.
Paige competed in the Bucks County Classic last year, but she said it was at the end of her season, and that she was tired and didn’t fare was well as she would have liked. She then added, “This season I’m more prepared cause I’m racing for a professional team.” She is their junior development rider. She explained that “I mainly work as their domestique” where her basic role is to clog the front of the pack and set the pace for her teammates so they can pull ahead and be in position to win the race. “I do whatever I can to help my teammates win.” said Shumskas.
Paige likes Criterium racing. She is excited about the Doylestown race. “This is like my hometown race. Everyone is going to be there. So I’m really excited for that.” She said last years was different because it wasn’t a pro race. This year the women’s pro race features some of the best women racers in the country.
The season starts between March or May to September. When asked how she manages doing schoolwork during the season, she smiled and said, “I am really good with time management.” Last year she had 3AP classes all with honors. Her instructors will give her work ahead of time so she can manage racing and school work.
The farthest she has traveled for a race was California to compete in Junior Nationals. In that race, someone in front of her purposely took her out of the race, causing her to crash.
She eventually hopes to race internationally in the pro women’s circuit.
She loves Billy Joel, Elton John and Boston.
Today Paige is only doing an hour workout. She’s taking it easy today since she suffered a crash this past weekend when a racer in front of her did something she should’t have and caused a crash from which Paige need 7 stitches. She was happy to report that nothing happened to her bike in the crash and that other then the stitches, she only suffered minor scrapes.
I met Paige at her 14 acre family home in Pipersville. That is the area where she generally trains for races. How can you not? It is beautiful scenery to ride through.
As Paige rides up the road, one doe crosses the road, then another. Further up the road another doe crosses the road following her mother. A car comes closer to Paige. She cautiously waves the vehicle around her. Once past she gets back to work. The Fearless Femme steadily pedals up the scenic hilly road on her way to the next race.
Paige doesn’t want summer to end, saying, “I want to keep racing! It’s so fun!”
If you are walking the streets of Doylestown on September 11th, that nice breeze you feel will not be from the wind. The cause will be from hundreds of cyclists speeding past as they circle around the criterium during the Bucks County Classic.
Held in conjunction with the Doylestown Arts Festival, it is billed as The Biggest Weekend in Bucks County.
Considering that this year’s race will take place on September 11th, Race Director John Eustice said they will have, “At the minimum, a moment of silence,” in remembrance of those from the area that lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
This year’s Bucks County Classic, sponsored by The Thompson Organization, will feature six races.
Kicking off the day of racing at 8:30 a.m. is the Cyclosportif, which features either a 31 mile or 60 mile scenic course through Bucks County.
At 9:30 a.m. the Amateur Men’s Race, which is returning for 2016, features cycling stars of the future competing on the same course as the pros.
Children’s races will have youngsters wheeling to the finish line at 10:30 a.m.
High wheel bicycles will be used in the Lenape Scorcher at 11:30 a.m. The race lasts 40 minutes and is limited to only 20 cyclists.
The Doylestown Pro Women’s Race is up after that at 11:45 a.m.
The final race of the day will be the Thompson Criterium of Doylestown Pro Men at 1 p.m.
This race, which was founded in 2003, is part of the US Pro Cycling Tour and features teams riding on the 62 mile course through Doylestown. Total prizes for each Pro mens and Pro womens race is $12,000.
The course itself is designed around the Doylestown Arts Festival, which is taking place September 10 and 11.
Racers will start at the old Bucks County Courthouse, head north on East Court Street and then make a right onto Pine Street, then E. Oakland, Main Street, Ashland, Lafayette, W. Oakland, Clinton and back to Court Street. They will do this for 62 miles until the winner passes the Thompson VIP tent to a checkered flag. Pro men will make 45 laps around the course and pro women about 22 laps, according to Eustice, and 150 pro men, 25 to 30 pro women and about 60 amateurs will compete in the races this year.
The race itself originally started when the Souderton Grand Prix, which took place on a Saturday, left riders with an open Sunday. He convinced the Arts Festival people to give him a corner of town to have the first race. Three years later, Eustice came up with the idea to, “circle the Arts Festival.”
Some of the best places to watch the high speed cycling race is Clinton and Court, Clinton and Mary, Court and Harvey, Court and Pine, Pine and State and Oakland and Pine.
Awards ceremonies are scheduled for Amateur Men 10:40 a.m., Pro Women 12:50 p.m, and Pro Men 3:20 p.m. This time will vary based upon the race finishes.
Streets will be closed on the race course from 8:30 am until 3:30 p.m. If you attend the event, free parking is available in the County Parking Garage, the VIP Lot and Fanny Chapman Park. Shuttles will be available from the garage and Fanny Chapman Park.
When asked what the best aspect of having the race in Doylestown is, Eustice smiled and said, “The people of Doylestown.” He explained that anything he needs to make this race happen, any issue that arises, the community has been there for him in any way they can to help him put on a fabulous race every year.
In the past 14 years since they started that race, it has become “One of the biggest special events in Bucks County,” said Eustice.
Over the last few days I’ve photographed a few baseball games. It’s actually one of my favorite sports to photograph. Mainly, because of the love I had playing the game in my early 20’s. Although, I pretty much rode the bench, except for that one time….
Picture it: 1987. I’m at the plate. First at bat ever in organized baseball. Take a called strike. Then take another. Count is zero balls and two strikes. And just before the next pitch, the umpire calls the game due to darkness. And that was that. Never played again. It took me a year to make the team, and finally got a shot and it was gone like that.
Anyhow back to shooting. Here is some video and stills from the past weekend. Slide shows and videos.
Actress Eve Plumb, best known for her role as Jan Brady in The Brady Bunch, poses for a photograph at the Bucks County Playhouse Monday June 10, 1991 in New Hope, Pennsylvania. (William Thomas Cain/Cain Images)