Sunday, May 30, 2010

prayers and processions - the last one

here's the last picture from my series for the paper.


His heaven is almost done, but his hell is up next.

Leo Alvarado has more than 10 tattoos, but his most meaningful is in the works. “Right now I'm working on getting a big piece done called “heaven vs. hell,” said Alvarado. “It's going to go from my chest all the way to my mid-arm.”

So far the Norfolk resident just has parts of the heaven done, but he hopes to have the complete piece, including the images of hell, done by the end of the summer.

The Norfolk resident says the tattoo would be a source of encouragement. “If I've had a bad week, I could see the good side of the tattoo and realize that there's light at the end of the tunnel - that there's always a good that comes with the bad.”

Alvarado says he hopes the tattoo will be a good reminder of how to lead a moral life.

“The tattoo plays a big role in my faith,” said the 24-year-old. “When I look in the mirror I can always ask myself, 'Am I drifting towards the good side, or am I drifting towards the bad side?'”

It's a good reminder of where I'm at in life and where I want to go.”


i'll continue the series on the side adding to it over time with images that resonate on this theme. if anyone wants to see the broader work you can go to my website and look under the new section

Friday, May 28, 2010

repairing the torah

next to last one from the prayers and procession series


He's working in the book of Numbers, but he's concentrating on the letters.

“I can go two days straight doing this,” says Rabbi Moshe Druin, as he inks his turkey quill before returning to the scroll unfurled in front of him. An Israeli flag hangs behind him and sunlight seeps into the chapel windows. All is quiet except save the small scratches of his lettering on the aged scroll.

“A lot of people ask me, 'What's the thought going through your head when you sit for hours and hours? They ask if it's boring.'”

“Boring?” he asks in response to his own question and smiles. 'No, it's not boring. You can keep turning this thing over and over, and you'll always find something new. There's no time to be bored.”

Druin is a sofer, or a scribe, and is working at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk. The temple hired him to restore the lettering and repair four temple Torahs.

Druin says he finds his work fulfilling and advises anyone looking for the answers of life to look into the Torah.

“The message of the Torah is universal,” says Druin. “If ever you need a guide, it's right here in front of you.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

swan lake

from a recent ballet

Monday, May 17, 2010

mourning a loss

another from the prayers and processions series


“Daddy, which one is it?” asks Madi, 6, as she and her brother, Justin, 9, look downward at a line of gravestones.

Their father, Justin Young, replies quietly, “It's right over here baby, don't you remember?”

The three gather around the marker of Kathleen Young, the children's mother, and his wife. They have come on Mother's Day, to pay respects to Kathleen, who was killed last year in a car wreck. She's buried at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Norfolk.

Madi drapes herself over her father, and her brother sits by their side. A light breeze lifts Madi's blond hair across her face.

“I'm really feeling her loss right now,” says Justin, of his wife. “I'm the mom and the dad now, but a dad no matter how hard he tries, will not be a mom.”

Justin sighs heavy as he stares at her grave.

“I just want to reach in and pick her up and hold her one more time.”

Friday, May 14, 2010


feature shot from a bball practice - here a kid watches a drop of water bead off his face.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

prayers and processions - we gather together

Kayla Redick, 4, looks curiously across the gym floor at Angela West.

The song Electric Slide spills out of nearby speakers and West breaks into a dance, smiling as she spins to the beat. Redick takes her cue and begins rocking in her chair, and a smile wraps her face, too.

It’s around 7p.m. Church services held by the Faith Inclusion Network have just ended at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church Gym. The network aims to connect people with disabilities, and to help them share faiths of all backgrounds. The church, located in Virginia Beach, serves host this night to dozens of people with disabilities and their familes.

“I love to teach all kids that anything is possible, that they can do anything,” says West, of Chesapeake. “I want people to know that God loves them just the way they are.”

She adds, “My faith is everything that I live for.”

West, who is a Christian, often works with disabled young people. Tonight she is connecting with someone who shares her disability, cerebral palsy.

“I want her to know you can do anything,” West says of her dancing partner. “God will make a way for her to do it.”

Saturday, May 08, 2010

prayers and processions - a dance to ganesh

another from the prayers and procession series:


A shiver of light falls over Sangeeta Sharma's face. She fidgets with her necklace and her eyes cast upward through the backstage curtain.

“I'm kind of afraid I'm going to mess up - there's a lot of people out there,” the 11-year-old Virginia Beach resident says. “I'm really nervous right now.”

Her friends (l-r) Ritika Kaloji, 11, Sonia Deshmukh, 10, and Avni Malik, 12, huddle around and wait for their turn to take the stage with her.

They girls are part of the Dances of India, a non-profit dance school based in Norfolk. They are performing at the Taste of India festival at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Their performance is a classical Indian form of dance called Bharata Natyam.

Subhadya Desaraju, an India native who was in attendance, explains the significance of their dance. “They're basically praying to the Lord Ganesh. You pray to Ganesh whenever you start anything.”

The act they’re following comes to a close and the girls become more nervous. Their bracelets jangle as they move about. “Come on people!” Malik exclaims. “We're next, people! We're next!”

Strobes from parents' cameras sparkle in the distance as they step onto stage into a wash of light.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


portrait of a local guy who is 102-years-old, for a story we did recently.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


from a dog training class where they learn to be seeing eye dogs for the blind.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

head start

a portrait from a story about this woman who is trying to get her twins into a head start program, but is struggling to get them in.

one more from the farm family