I spent both afternoons this weekend (November 19 and 20, 2016) photographing bowling for the Special Olympics of CT at Milford Lanes.  Whenever I give them a day of my time, I am amazed at the “heroes” that I meet.  I have met volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, coaches, partner athletes in unified sports, and families who give their children with intellectual disabilities opportunities to shine.

This weekend was no different — the heroes were all there, every direction that I looked.  But this weekend, four really stood out for me.  They came from different walks of life and had their reasons for being there, but they all treated the athletes with genuine care and affection.  These four, one teenager and three adults, all had a special skill, they knew how to “read” each athlete.  They gave each athlete exactly what that athlete needed at that time and from them.  And they were “real”; they didn’t paste on a smile for the athlete and then turn their back as though that had been a play act.  Let me introduce them to you:

Sergeant Luke  Stark, US Army National Guard, came fully armed with hugs and handshakes.  To the athletes, he was larger than life, dressed in his Army BDUs and he maintained that dignity but broke down the barrier.  The poor Sargeant had to have returned hundreds of well-intentioned salutes over the weekend, every one of them returned tall, proud, and crisp.  I missed the athlete in this photo because of the angle; the story is that she hugged him for a photo-op and reached around and gave him bunny ears.  Miss Wolcott, 2017, Alyssa Anderson, another of my heroes of the weekend, jumped in and gave him bunny ears, too.  The smile on Sargeant Luke’s face is the same one that he wore all weekend, I swear it got bigger as the weekend progressed.

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And that follows logically into Miss Wolcott 2017 and Miss Teen Wolcott, Alyssa Anderson and Victoria Audibert.  Miss Wolcott is part of the Miss Connecticut and ultimately the Miss America Scholarship program.  These two young women wore their crowns with dignity and grace this weekend.  They had fun with the athletes at the athletes’ level — what super people to give up their weekend to hug and support the athletes.  Here are a couple of pictures, one of Alyssa with an athlete after an awards ceremony and the other of the two hamming it up to bring some laughs to the athletes.

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And finally, one of Milford’s finest.  Like Sargeant Stark, this man in his blue uniform stood larger than life to the athletes.  Like Sargeant Stark, he treated each one at the level that they needed, understanding when one athlete was looking for a hug and another was uncomfortable having their ribbon put around their neck.  At the end of the day, I thanked Officer Joe Dempsey for spending his day with the athletes and he told me that he had never enjoyed a day more.  I think the same was true for the athletes who interacted with him throughout the day.

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To Sargeant Stark, Officer Joe Dempsey, Allysa and Victoria, thank you for showing me, through simple goodness of spirit and open hearts, that there are heroes that cross our paths every day.

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On my website, I mention memories of sitting at family events with old photos.  Some were in boxes, other in albums with black paper and white corner mounts that had yellowed and started to fall off.  Most were scratched and creased but it didn’t matter.  There were people in those photos, some I remembered fondly and others that I had never even met.  And the photos prompted stories, some brought laughter and others brought tears.  But in the end, the family holiday was enhanced by this ritual. We learned about our past members and our history, we learned more about those who were sitting at that very table.  No, family photography is not out of style, photos on your smart phone and tablet will never replace those family gatherings around the dining room table.  Do your children, and their children, a favor and hire a professional photographer to capture these memories periodically.  That photo of the 80-something great-grandmother with a 13-year old dressed for her eighth grade dance have more value printed than hundreds of selfies in the smart phone.

This family represents three generations.  The matriarch/patriarch have two children, a son and a daughter.  They and their significant others have three grandchildren.  The brother and his wife live in China with their daughter and the distance makes it difficult to get together.  So, while they are visiting for four weeks, they chose to get together for family photos.  They were a great family to work with and I enjoyed how close the cousins are regardless of the miles and time that separate them.

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Family photos at Edgerton Park in New Haven

To learn more about this fantastic setting, visit www.edgertonpark.org/

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I had the opportunity to photograph Becca today for her High School Senior photos.  As always, it is crucial to know what the client expects and what makes them click.  Becca told me that she’s more of a jeans girl, not so much into dresses.  She told me that she and her friends enjoy hiking in the area where we agreed to take her pictures.  Basically, she opened the door to getting off of the beaten path and taking photos that many others will not have because we went to some settings that required some climbing and jumping.  It was a blast!

Becca Southbury Falls Senior PortraitBecca Manzer Senior Photos160925_becca-119160925_becca-127160925_becca-132

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I had the pleasure of photographing the C Family on Saturday night in Suffield.  I was originally contracted to shoot older daughter, Sofia’s, Senior Yearbook photos but the contract was expanded to include family photos.  I enjoy all of my clients but really enjoyed the chemistry among this family — they had fun in the experience and brought a genuine affection to the photos.

I only hope that I am invited back for other family occasions with these people!

family photography, senior photography, yearbook photos

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It’s summer, your little princess is two, and you all love the beach.  These are memories that can be captured and kept special in photography.  Who hasn’t sat around a table with family and looked at old dog-eared photos and laughed (and cried a little, too)?  Call me, let’s capture the memories together.  Mention this post to receive your free framed print.

Summer Offer 2016

Don’t let these memories escape you — they will never happen again.

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