Category Archives: People

With his left hand he pushes the wheel forward, at the same time stepping hard with his left leg on the ground. The wheelchair tends to move not forward but slightly to the left, so he constantly needs to readjust the direction. I cannot see his face, but his hair is long and greyish white. Yellow sweater.

It’s taking a painfully long amount of time for him to cross the narrow street; it seemed the wheelchair almost went opposite direction to what he was trying to achieve.

At last, he reached the sidewalk. With the slight hill. As a passerby, you wouldn’t even notice the incline, but for him that must have been a challenge. I thought I should probably cross the street and help him. While I was contemplating – and no, it didn’t last longer then 10 seconds which seemed like few minutes to me – he managed to overcome the incline and continue crawl along the sidewalk.  I could see his right leg, or whatever was left of it, trembling (or did I imagine it?), I could sense the whole body going tense. I could almost hear that desperation and determination at the same time. I cannot really explain my vision of this, but mostly it was brought by memories of my tortures during walking (or trying to) when I had my own health issues. And not a single passerby offered help: not blaming, as I looked more like a drunkard or stoner rather than young woman struck by chronic horrific pain. Would I be grateful to a stranger offering me help on my way when I couldn’t stand up or was simply stuck? At first yes, of course, but at second thought I would feel really depressed thinking that I did not have ability to go on anymore, to do it on my own. And I think mainly why I survived those couple years was that I knew I could do it on my own, that I was strong enough. So looking at that man with his right side paralyzed, I kept thinking that he would manage it on his own. That he must and that he will. I almost started to send him vibes “go on, don’t stop, you can do it.” I was ready to run and help if something went wrong but I knew that he’d make it.

This was very emotional for me to watch – and not only because I could relate to this man in his helplessness and yet determination to go on. The wheelchair he used was a manual one, as you already could guess. The manual one with two handlers on the top. It is meant to be pushed by somebody else, helping him to go over this hill and many others, too. They just looked so empty. Too empty.

In a sense, we all have these handlers behind us, and sometimes (or most of the times) they might seem empty. Should we rush to take them and push each other? I believe we like when we do it on our own, but when we cannot we appreciate when somebody is nearby ready to help us..

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Cracking Food Code.

I finally got the courage to attempt the food photography – one of the most mysterious and challenging (after portraiture) for me. As I thought, watching those videos where the whole crew of photographers, stylists and painters run around the table with dozen of dishes and props.  Of course, there is still that persistent element of lighting  – and, since I was told dozen times one should avoid by all means flash when working with food — that was in particular tricky. But I’m mainly talking about arrangements. Basically, what stylists are paid to do – for the commercials and fancy tv shows. What I had to improvise on my own.

It is not just about arranging the composition. It is playing with colour and taking into account all the nuances — light, props, table cloth, wrinkles, shadows, color of bowls and color of cups, plates and many more. I do not think in any way I succeeded in cracking even few of those dozen of different layers, but I’m actually satisfied with the result that I got. I thought I would end up with much worse photos.

I’m excited to mention Sushi Couture, that trusted me to play with their food — which was, by the way, exceptional in the taste and presentation. Hopefully next time I’ll bring on something new and jump onto the next level of this mouthwatering photographic experience:)

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It takes around 5 minutes to set up the composition: either chopsticks fall from the plate, meanwhile soup settles down and one has to stir it again, then the lighting changes its angle and… start all over again:)

Cheesecake — I felt it was asking for the plate with interesting color pattern, right? The simplicity is powerful itself, but with just a slight touch up/twist you can emphasize even more the beauty of that simplicity.

And finally, few moments to relax and sip a cup of strong coffee and have a bite of that very cheesecake!

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… of The Holy Land in America

Can you copy the heritage? I’d rephrase: for example, can you bring home replica of certain historical site and claim that this replica holds onto the same historical importance?

During my most recent stay in Washington, DC I visited its very own Franciscan monastery. I’m not a religious person, and Christianity is quite far from my spiritual journey, so to say. Yet I enjoy visiting temples and cathedrals, synagogues and mosques, as many of them capture that moment of unity with oneself and divine – whatever the divinity itself means to you. To my surprise, the fact of visiting the monastery, even the mere desire of doing so, left most people shrugging shoulders. “Why bother,” – They say, – “It is not a real Franciscan hermitage, it does not have the history.”

For me this is quite a surprising assumption. Even if it was built just a century ago and its beautiful shrines are mere replicas, even if it shines with clean, crisp golden paint, even it does not smell of mold and 800 centuries, this monastery has all the right to arouse interest not only among historians and religion scholars, but among simple tourists as well. At least that what I thought before my visit, and it proved me right. Mind you, this friary is not just a museum, it is a functioning monastery.

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Located in Brookland, relatively diverse neighbourhood, The Franciscan Monastery was built in late 1890’s, but the plans of “Holy Land in America” started way before. The monastery architecture is a beautiful design, in Byzantium style with slight Romanesque influences and inspired by basilicas in Jerusalem and two cloisters in Rome.

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The monastery is surrounded by Rosary portico, decorated with early Christian symbols. The whole landscape is exact replica of holy sites that were photographed meticulously for the construction.

All the details, small and tiny, on the entering the church, are worth attention.

This is the inside of the church, look at the colours of the dome!

Interestingly enough, the main altar is located right in the center of the church, just beneath the central dome.

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However, the main treat is not even the main hall but rather the “catacombs.” One has to descend just few stairs and enter miniature door (one of many in monastery, which is the height of child of 6 years old: sometimes I felt like Alice in Wonderland wishing for cookie that would make me tiny and fit comfortably into the door space) — and voila, one find themselves inside the shrine of Bethlehem, which is the replica of Grotto of Nativity form the 4th century Church of Nativity.

 

Through the long tunnels, dimly lit by electrical candles, you touch the rough walls while passing by the shrines and bones of different saints and for a moment you feel that heavy history of medieval ages.

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At the end of the tunnels and various hallways you enter the Catacombs, which are the copy of early Christian catacombs of Rome. The wall decorations are copies of original frescoes.

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As I strolled through the land, lost within infinite silent gardens and captured by various solemn statues of St. Francis, I was immersed in the whole replica of history. It was replica from outside, but to me it succeeded in preserving the whole period of history, its essence and meaning.

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Children’s Manifesto

I wanted to make post about kids. Children. 

Why always so serious? Let’s get bit childish, because as a matter of fact I’m only pretending to be an adult. I am the one, I might be — but, I think, emotionally (and, on special occasion, intellectually) I’m just a child. That being sad, I do not mean anything bad — many children are much smarter and wiser then most of us, spoiled “adults.” And I would like to toast this with my memories of one light-hearted demonstration.

I call it demonstration because of the nature of this event, which was sparkling with flags, signs (something against of, something in support of) and thousand(s) of people, I’m not exaggerating here. The official title was “Walk for Israel”, it was back in 2011, Toronto, and I still remember it vividly… I was amazed not only at the amount of people but rather at the whole participation: all 4 generations passed by me — parents brought their children, their babies, their toddlers, their own parents, their grandparents — yes, the entire families, sometimes with pets (dogs; no parrots on the shoulders spotted) decided to forgo the Sunday sleep and came out on the streets altogether.

Now, this is not a political blog (yaaay…), and I’m not a political commentator. While I was taking pictures of this event, I was mostly interested in a) practicing photo journalistic skills in capturing portraits in motion b) unusual faces and/or moments. And just a couple minutes later I realized who should be the number one subject in my photographs — kids. They do not try to hide their emotions, they are very natural with their feelings and face expressions, their wishes and desires. Sometimes curious and wild, sometimes sleepy and lazy, they definitely made my day back then.

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While adults are busy demonstrating, children are left with classic boredom, longing for the sleep and their comforting plush toys:)

The Walk is few kilometres, no wonder somebody gets tired and impatient while riding dad’s shoulders… ah, miss that time with my dad! Love the last two pictures– these girls are true princesses.

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Although here I managed to capture mostly the hat, I still like that smiling feel the photo gives.

…Seems like the most passion and fire happen in the lower levels of the Walk: the kids get serious with arguments, freeze with astonishment and sometimes become quite pugnacious..

Maybe for somebody this was a happy day, spent with friends and pride — for some it is yet another Sunday spent not exactly they way it was planned earlier…

Flags. They give the sense of pride, purpose, meaning.. and direction. maybe.

Maybe not. Maybe they mislead us. I took pictures of kids, trying to grasp their emotions and feelings during such event. They don’t care about politics, they have their own brother-sister conflicts over things like a toy, popsicle or seat in the rolling bin. Some do have fun, some are getting bored… They don’t understand why they have to carry on that blue and white piece of cloth; they would rather worry about not losing their mom’s hand out of the sight and enjoy their children’s world while adults keep fighting over it. And I’m talking in general, not in particular about the above mentioned event that actually appeared to be very joyful and cheerful in its essence.

Momentum

Single work of art – be it a visual piece like painting or sculpture, or rather physical like dance or theatre – is not alive till the viewer sees it and, by analysing (often unconsciously) starts interpreting it. The painter might have a certain meaning for his entire work, however, as an audience, we usually only take small, separate details out of it. The more we analyze the painting, the less it stays the whole for us — the more it breaks into pieces, each having its own meaning and interpretation. One could say that a viewer develops the work of art further, into its “life.”

These details and tiny moments worth of second that we notice, sometimes can be discovered in newer works and can show the whole piece in completely new light..

The following represents one such intimate experience of mine with works of art, particularly Henry Moore sculptures and dancer Benjamin Kamino performance of Nudity. Desire – long drawn.

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Floating in the Air.

Floating in the Air..  The enormous while balloon slowly raised into the night sky above the grasping crowd, dragging behind a tiny delicate figurine.

Floating in the air.. I thought it would be interesting to visualize the acrobat not hanging under the balloon’s bottom, but rather playfully kicking the ball in front of her, both floating in darkness nowhere and in no time.

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They were clowns in blistering, silky unappealing costumes– rather resembling medusas than snowflakes (which, I’m quite sure, was the intention at the Winter Festival)..

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These snowflakes, or whoever they were, had apparently very difficult relationship– sort of expressing the same old swings “push-pull”. Well, what you can say, flaky creatures, flaky feelings.. ))