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.
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?