Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why I Adore Photographing Bat Mitzvahs and Bar Mitvahs

I get very excited whenever I am hired to shoot another bat mitzvah or bar mitzvah. I absolutely love the energy of this festive Jewish coming-of-age tradition which takes place on the occasion of a child's 13th birthday.

The 13th year is so significant in a child's life. It really is during this year that children start becoming young men and women. And yet, 13-year-olds still dance with abandon, laugh easily, and hug each other without care. Everyone still eats cake and piles toppings onto their ice cream sundaes without worrying about calories or cavities. I love recording those last few moments of childhood for families and friends.

Maybe I'm just too much of a softy, but I admit that I pretty much always tear up at some point during the services. When the parents come to the bema and talk about how proud they are of their child, I have to surreptitiously wipe the corner of my eye. It is such a warm and loving service, especially when the readings are done directly from the Torah, and when the child tells everyone in the synagogue about the mitzvah (or good deed) project. It always inspires me to keep doing more for other people in the world too. 

I could go on and on about what a wonderful tradition this is! Please enjoy some photos from a recent Bat Mitzvah at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe in New Jersey this past March.

I have photographed three out of four of the siblings from this family, so I admit that I shed some tears watching the youngest child enter into adulthood too. Or maybe I'm just a softy. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Designing Healthy Spaces with Teknion

Metropolis Magazine and Teknio Is Your Workplace Making You Sick
"Is Your Workplace Making You Sick?" 
Two weeks ago, I was hired to photograph a panel discussion for Teknion at the Metropolitan Pavilion. The night's theme was "Is Your Workplace Making You Sick?" and was also sponsored by the IIDA, International Interior Design Association and the super cool magazine Metropolis

At the studio, we are big fans of Scandinavian simplicity in design and ergonomics, and Teknion specializes in similarly sleek office systems and furniture products. So I was really looking forward to hearing the panel discussion and photographing the evening.

The panelists were absolutely fascinating, discussing topics ranging from how sitting and air quality affect our health to the meaning of an "active workplace". The discussion was moderated by the Editor of Metropolis, Susan S. Szenasy. 

The invited panelists were: Joanna Frank, Director of Active Design for the NYC Department of Design and Construction; Joan Blumenfeld, Global Interior Design Director at Perkins & Will; Dr. Karen Lee, Director of Built Environment at the NYC Department of Health; and Sue Schmidt, Senior Principle Well-Being Design at Healthways

In keeping with the theme, Teknion also gave out little pedometers that everyone could take home. We're all taking steps to design healthier workplaces. 

Metropolis Magazine and Teknio Is Your Workplace Making You Sick
Joan Blumenfeld and Susan S. Szenasy from Metropolis

Metropolis Magazine and Teknio Is Your Workplace Making You Sick
L to R: Panelists Sue Schmidt, Dr. Karen Lee, Joanna Frank, and Joan Blumenfeld

Metropolis Magazine and Teknio Is Your Workplace Making You Sick
Kay Sargent from Teknion

Metropolis Magazine and Teknio Is Your Workplace Making You Sick
L to R: Kay Sargent, Sue Schmidt, Dr. Karen Lee, Joanna Frank, and Joan Blumenfeld

Metropolis Magazine and Teknio Is Your Workplace Making You Sick
Cocktails at the Metropolitan Pavilion

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

American Cancer Society's 8th Annual "Taste of Hope" Event, Honoring Chef Marc Murphy

Chef Marc Murphy of
Benchmarc and Landmarc.
2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the American Cancer Society. Like many of you, I have tragically lost too many friends and relatives to cancer. My family and I still sometimes shed tears when they are not at the holiday dinner table with us 10 or even 20 years later.  The hole that cancer leaves in our lives is never really gone.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to donate my photography services for the American Cancer Society's 8th Annual "Taste of Hope" event, honoring chef Marc Murphy.  It was simply amazing to feel the energy in the room where all were united in the fight to end cancer.  The emcee of the evening was Chris Wragge of CBS News.

Although the cause was a serious one , this was one of the most fun events I have attended in years. The food was never ending, and wine and cocktails seemed to flow nonstop in the three beautiful rooms at the 82Mercer. But what else would one expect when the night is honoring the owner and executive chef of Benchmarc Restaurants and a regular judge on the Food Network's Chopped?

It was a great feeling to meet all the chefs and bakers in person — including Todd English — and shake hands (as well as sample liberally, of course). I left with so many new restaurants to visit for the first time (or return to again), and some fun pictures to share with you.

I'll be sure to make reservations at The Red Rooster in Harlem, and I'll definitely put the Parkway Bakery and Tavern on my list when I'm back down in New Orleans. How amazing that they traveled to NYC for this event!

Thank you to Erica Blum from the American Cancer Society for organizing this amazing event, and a special thank you to the UHY Advisors for connecting me to Taste of Hope for the evening.

Marcus Samuelsson (right) and his fantastic team from Red Rooster.

L to R: Erica Blum, Marc Murphy and friend.

L to R: Chris Wragge, Todd English, Marc Murphy.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Matchmaker, Matchmaker! Wedding at the Hotel Carlyle.

This past January, I was thrilled to shoot a wonderful wedding for my longtime client, Sarah. Over the years, I have photographed both her son's bar mitzvahs as well as other family events.

The affair took place at the elegant Hotel Carlyle on the Upper East Side (where Woody Allen and the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band play every Monday night).

In keeping with this musical theme, iconic actor and singer Theodore Bikel gave a private performance during the reception including a rendition of "If I Were A Rich Man" — which he originally performed in Fiddler on the Roof in 1967. The whole room was enraptured, to say the least. It really was a treat! 

Special thanks also goes to Catering Manager Kevin Huang, who created a lovely day for two terrific people.

The celebration ended with a stunning cake and edible favors of colorful butterfly and bird-shaped cookies supplied by Eleni's New York.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Preservation Adoration with National Preservation Week

Did you know that your photo albums, documents and family memories could be at risk of permanent damage? Not from a sudden tragedy like flood or a fire, but from seemingly innocuous packaging materials like acidic paper, acidic adhesives, old photo albums, or improper temperature control! 

Inaugurated in 2010 by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALA), National Preservation Week is geared towards raising awareness of how easily items decay, and why preservation is such a vital part of our humanity and history. 

This is a celebration of our most beloved artifacts and the people who work meticulously to ensure they remain safe.

In honor of the art of preservation and all of our colleagues, Cyndi Shattuck Photography & Archiving will share tips about our favorite archiving tools on Pinterest. We can’t get enough of these tools—like the finest-point glue pen we’ve ever used—and wholeheartedly recommend them for photo album preservation and safekeeping of your documents and collections. 

We hope you will follow our Pinterest board, blogs, Twitter feed and Facebook pages to learn some new tricks, and hopefully find these tools as indispensable as we do! 
Follow us for National Preservation Week and make sure to check back each day for new items! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lowering Our Flag to Half-Mast

Today is one of those days in New York City where the sirens going north past our office on First Avenue sound different than they did a few days ago.

We first saw the news of the bombing in Boston yesterday, and realized that my cousin Janet was probably running the marathon or cheering her friends. She is a consummate marathon runner and supporter, and so the search for Janet's whereabouts began. We finally heard from Janet in the early evening—and although shaken, she was okay. Some good news and goose bumps; she had been a block away from the finish line at a bar with friends cheering on the runners. I received the email from her on my way downtown to Broadway and Maiden Lane in Manhattan, and my eyes welled with tears of relief in the back of a cab.

As I got out of the cab facing the new Freedom Towers under construction, I realized how eerily quiet the streets were. Not one person was talking on a cell phone. People walking together were not speaking to each other. Even the children were silent. It was the end of a work day and rush hour was pretty much silent. I stood on the corner to observe the palpable hyper-alertness we were all feeling, but especially in that area of the city.

It brought back strong memories for me. I worked at that time for The Wall Street Journal Online, where I was the Creative Director for the Daily News Graphics Department. My 12th story office windows in the World Financial Center faced the Statue of Liberty and my colleagues in the newsroom faced the World Trade Center. I was one of the lucky people fighting a head cold, and running late to work on September 11th. I remember crying for a year every time I looked at the revised skyline of Manhattan as I drove back in from our temporary offices in New Jersey. 

My heart goes out to the people of Boston who will now forever feel what we felt in New York City. They too, have unfairly experienced the deaths, the injuries, the fear, and most of all, the unwarranted hate of others. It is a painful sting that leaves a deep scar.

My husband is a native New Yorker, born and raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. On my father's side of my family, I am the fifth generation of our family to live on the Upper East Side. We are New Yorkers deep down in our bones with a passionate love of urban life, the arts, and freedom—fighters of equality for all races and genders. However, yesterday's events did, in fact, stop both me and my husband just a little bit. I took cabs instead of the subway. By 10:00 pm last night, watching the news, we were both in tears. 

I know that we are supposed to stand strong, "keep calm and carry on."  I think that sometimes we all move on too quickly from sadness. Then again, I also come from a long line of people who take time out to sit shiva and mourn when people die. We embrace our grief and surround ourselves with family and friends.

We know first hand that hatred never wins in the end. But for now, the people and the city of Boston are in our hearts. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 "Gold Gala" to benefit St. Jude at The Bowery Hotel

This past February, I had the honor of shooting the second annual Gold Gala and Silent Auction for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, presented by Land Rover of Long Island

The eventwhich raised over $60,000 for pediatric cancer treatment and researchtook place in the lavish Bowery Terrace on the second floor of the Bowery Hotel. This is the first opportunity I have had to photograph here, and I hope I will have many more; the space is just exquisite.

Delicious hors d'eouvres were provided by local caterers including Cake Pops by Lena; Baked By Melissa; Pop Burger; Burke Candy & Ingredients; Luke's Lobster, and many more. Meanwhile, DJ Matt Douglas delivered great music to keep the party rocking all night (anyone who plays MGMT has the keys to my heart).

A special thank you to Land Rover of Long Island, Lauren Jaynes of Bowery Hotel, Samantha Levitan, Christina Strong (in photos on right and below), and many others for including me in this gala evening. 
It was a great time for a great cause!

Below are a few highlights from this "golden" evening: