Summer Solstice Meets Downward Facing Dog

The Mental Health Association of Westchester hosted an “empowering and energetic” yoga event on the first day of summer this year.

The event, held in Turnure Park in White Plains, and led by yoga guru Beryl Bender Birch, inspired others to get on their mats for Mental Health.

The mega-yoga event,  featuring meditation, music and movement, helped raise public awareness and support for mental health issues.

The young and old alike coordinated their breathing and mindfulness on a picture-perfect evening.

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The Rehearsal

Most synagogues prohibit photography during Shabbat, so those most cherished moments during one’s bar or bat mitzvahs ceremony are left only in memories.   It is for this reason that I love photographing the rehearsal before the actual rite of passage.  Not only does this give the bar/bat mitzvah a chance for a run-through without pressure, but it allows those meaningful moments to be captured digitally: The proud parents and loving siblings, the grandparents practicing their aliyah,  the reading of the Torah and the tenderness between the rabbi and student. 

So though I was not able to photograph on Shabbat, I had the special honor of witnessing and recording the next best thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes, which means hot waters in Spanish, is often referred to as Machu Picchu Town.  It became popular in the 20th century when the railroad was constructed through the mountains. Most tourists arrive by train from Ollantaytambo, all wanting to visit Machu Picchu, located just a few miles away.

The town itself is not very large, and most visitors there are hikers and back packers who completed the Inca Trail.  For those less amtious, buses travel up the mountain and back on a continual basis. Today more than 1500 tourists arrive by train every day, all wanting to explore this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Though Aguas Calientes exists solely for tourism, I wanted to photograph the daily life, far away from the restaurants, shops, and massage parlors that line every street.

 

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Machu Picchu

Perhaps placed first on most traveler’s bucket list, is Machu Picchu.  Having visited this 15th century Inca citadel recently, I can see why this is so.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, built on a mountain ridge 8,000 ft. above sea level, is an amazing  sight to behold.

About 200 buildings are arranged on wide parallel terraces around an east-west central square, while stone stairways set in the walls allowed access to the different levels across the site.  Most archeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest.  It was not known to the outside world until 1911, when the American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention.

Though altitude sickness and tough terrain  may deter some visitors, it is certainly worth the effort!

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Hitting the Nail on the Head

Every once in a while, I like to go back and revisit some photos from my travels abroad.  One of the most different and interesting places I visited in 2014 was Transylvania in Romania.

Though I didn’t catch a glimpse of Dracula, I did meet an incredible carpenter who  was amazingly skilled at his trade.

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Prom Surprise!

While photographing at the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Connecticut recently, I happened to witness to an exciting event.

Amanda Silva, who was working that day, was surprised by her longtime friend Jaden Williams with a smile and a homemade sign.

In front of friends and children, Jaden proudly displayed his invitation, inviting her to the junior prom.

Luckily, yours truly, was there to capture the reaction.

“I’ve known Jaden since 1st grade.  I’m a grade above him but we worked together last year at Camp Simmons here in Greenwich.  He was a lifeguard and I was just a staff member.  We spent our days cracking jokes (he’s a funny guy but I won’t admit it to him),” Amanda told me.

“Jaden’s a cool person to hang out with and always has a cheesy smile on his face whenever I walk with him and past him.”

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Our Local “Cheers”

Within the large and somewhat impersonal city of White Plains, there exists our own  little piece of Americana.

A local grocery store (started as a Gristedes, but now known as Rooster’s Market, is hangout for locals, in the Gedney area of White Plains.

On any given day, at any time, Rooster’s is abuzz with lots of activity.  Those who take their daily coffee with their  newspaper (still the print version), workmen having breakfast, middle school students gabbing and grabbing lunch, families enjoying Sunday brunch, retirees just shooting the breeze, and moms with kids in tow, are all part of the ambience.

The local butcher cuts the brisket, while the short order cooks are hard at work, trying to keep up with the constant demand.

And no matter who you are, as in TV’s Bar at Cheers, everyone knows your name.”001002003004005007009010011012013014015020