As a general rule I don't post too many personal things on my business blog - I keep a separate blog for my personal projects/photography. However, these photos mean a great deal to me. My grandmother is 94 years old; she survived World War II, Stalin's repressions, a decade of life near the Arctic circle, and immigration to the United States. She is one of the most important people in my life. Unfortunately, because my grandmother lives in Norfolk, VA, I can only visit her 3-4 times a year. Every time I visit, when I say goodbye, it always feels like I'm saying goodbye for the last time. Every time I visit, we have the same argument about photography - she hates being photographed and I try to document every memory. These photographs are from my most recent visit - May 9, 2015 (which is coincidentally the day when World War II ended). Hopefully I'll have many more moments with my grandma.
I'm like the proverbial shoemaker without shoes. I spend my time documenting other families' lives, but rarely do I have the opportunity to photograph my own family. This is one of those rare times when everything came together - weather, free time, hanging out with the family, and having a camera in my hand.
My grandmother Olga is 93 years old, soon to be 94. She is an amazing woman and one of the most important people in my life. Even though I talk to her on the phone about 3 times a week, I only get to see her 2-3 times a year. Every time I take the drive from Pittsburgh to Norfolk, I promise myself that I will take a ton of photos of her; when I get to Norfolk I get caught up in shuttling my kids between my mom and my dad, doing family things and essentially not taking any photos of my grandmother. This time I actually managed to stick with my intentions and over the last week I shot over a thousand digital frames of my grandmother and 4 rolls of film. About half of the photos below were shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and processed with VSCO presets. The rest were shot on Kodak 400 CN pushed to 800.
My maternal grandfather passed away in 1998; he spent 11 years of his life in Soviet labor camps and I spent the past 15 years researching his life and trying to find out what happened with his family. In doing that, I completely neglected the other side of my family.
A few days ago I sat down with Daniella (my older daughter) to show her the contents of my keepsake box. As I opened the box, I came across a ziplock bag full of Soviet-era medals. I completely forgot that I even had these medals in my possession - my paternal grandmother gave them to me before moving to a nursing home in 2011. My paternal grandfather - David - passed away when I was 5 years old, and I have very few memories of him. Seeing these medals and explaining what they are and what they mean to Daniella made me feel terribly guilty about knowing virtually nothing about my grandfather David's life.
Given my grandmother's mental state I have a very short window of opportunity to find out as much as I can about my grandfather. I guess I know what I'm doing over Thanksgiving holidays.
A few photos from today's trip to Soergel Orchards in Wexford. They brought in an antique fire truck and the kids had a blast climbing all over it for about two hours. I used this trip as an opportunity to shoot a few rolls of film. The ones in this post were shot on Fuji Reala 100.
My good friends Dilyara and Alexey are having a baby in a few weeks and they asked me to photograph a mini pregnancy sessions.
This man's name was Gherman. He used to visit my grandfather a few times a year, and I always looked forward to his visits. He had encyclopedic knowledge of pretty much everything; he spoke German, French, English and Yiddish; best of all, he was as obsessed with photography as I was. Years later, after I immigrated to the United States, I found out that Gherman spent 15 years in GULAG. He met my grandfather in 1947 at Mine 7 in Vorkuta where my grandfather saved his life when Gherman's right arm was torn off by heavy machinery.
When I began to research my grandfather's life, I found out that Gherman immigrated to Israel shortly after I moved to the United States. I called him and we talked for almost 4 hours. He told me about GULAG camps and about my grandfather. He sent me a 35-page handwritten letter with first hands accounts of his life in Soviet labor camps.
Yesterday I found out from my grandmother that Gherman passed away a few weeks ago. He was the last of my grandfather's friends who were in prison camps with him. When I heard the news, I cried. Rest in peace...
I met Jillian and her family a little over a year ago when I photographed her brother's Bar Mitzvah. It's not often that I see siblings that get along as well as Jillian, Josh and Drew! Jillian's Bat Mizvah was one of the funnest events I've ever photographed. The party took place at the Heinz History Center; the theme was winter wonderland. Barbara Rosenberger (event planner) and Micki Cohen (designer) made the place look absolutely amazing! Kim Palmer photographed the party with me as a second shooter and she did an absolutely beautiful job - thank you so much for your help!
This has been an absolutely insane year and we really needed to get out of Pittsburgh for a few days, change the scenery and do something fun. We usually take one big trip (usually abroad) every year; this year we picked Ireland by pretty much pointing blindly at the map of Europe. We were a bit concerned about traveling that far with two small children - Daniella is 3.5 years old and Sophia is only 11 months old. We weren't too worried about Daniella - she is a seasoned traveler. She's traveled to 4 countries outside of the US and has been on at least 20 flights. Sophia is a travel noob and we weren't sure how well she would handle the trip. We had a blast! The trip was incredible and we managed to see and do way more than we expected, even with two small kids in tow. Instead of rambling, let me present to you - Ireland: 6 days in 6 minutes.
If you prefer to see individual images, you can see photos from the entire trip on Flickr
My wife always makes fun of the fact that I'm like the proverbial shoemaker without shoes - I am a professional photographer who doesn't have any photos of my own family. A few weeks ago we finally decided to fix this issue and asked my friend and amazing photographer Jenny Karlsson to photograph our family. She was incredibly patient with us and the photos are absolutely amazing. I have been looking at the slideshow at least 5 times a day!