Hope in Kensington – The Last Stop Recovery Program










  In the heart of Kensington, one can find drug addicts under the “L” but one can also find the birthing of possibility and new beginnings. One man is putting everything on the line for exactly that.  Ed Zapetelli, a former drug addict himself, has taken his life savings and is in the process of refurbishing abandoned buildings in order to provide both shelter and AA support to others struggling with addictions. He calls these buildings, “The Last Stop.”
 “In order to keep sobriety, you need to give it away.” 
“Eddie Z” as he is known in the neighborhood is doing much of the work himself.  Throughout the gutted buildings, inspirational messages and pictures help him continue on.
 “We have a long way to go but at least people don’t have to sleep on the streets.”
John was an addict who lived on the streets for 15 years. 
 “I was the guy you would see on the corner with the big, bushy beard and was rancid until Eddie Z found me on the rail tracks when I lost all hope.”
“I wasn’t easy at all but Eddie stuck with me.”
John is now in charge of running the Last Stop Clubhouse and has been sober for 4 years.
“There is hope!”

The Crepe as an Art Form

 In the heart of University City at 33rd and Market, there is one unassuming street vendor whose creativity and resilience knows no bounds. Mr. Chojnacki is a gifted artist.  His sculptures can be found in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian but unfortunately, the down turn in the economy has taken a toll on many artists.  Drawing upon his days in Europe, growing up eating delicious crepes, Chojnacki turned to creating another type of art…and his crepes are just that! I thoroughly enjoyed watching his precision in forming the crepe and being so thoughtful with each and every item placed inside.  He has quite a variety to satisfy the hunger pangs of those wishing breakfast or lunch.  For those just looking for something sweet, he has enough fruit and chocolate and whipped cream to hit the spot. If you are lucky enough to go enjoy the conversation and savor another form of art!

Moment of Zen


Even though I live in the city, I attempted to transform my small backyard  into a space filled with plants and a pond…it’s my moment of zen! (believe me, after doing all the digging for the pond, I needed that moment!).  I went out today with a camera and book.  The first photo would be called, “Imitation”  (I think Buddha has the right idea while the robin is still a bit too uptight) and the second would be “Merging” where flow and reflection create that gentle mood.

I also just bought David duChemin’s newest book entitled, “Within The Frame:  The Journey of Photographic Vision.”  I was mesmerized by his photography in capturing the vibrancy, texture and character of many cultures.  As Joe McNally states in the Foreword, “it is like a great photograph, once you view it and let it filter into your eyes, your head and your heart, you will never be the same.”

Las Vegas, Nevada



     I spent the past week in Las Vegas at the National Press Photographer’s Conference. Pulitzer prize winning photographers and many others recognized for their impressive work in visual storytelling shared their insights and talents. I “sat at their feet” trying to learn all they had to offer! After the conference on the first night, several of us decided to take a short 45 min. drive from town, passed the desert to Lake Mead for a dinner cruise on the Desert Princess. The colors became more and more vibrant as the sun set.  I kept jumping up from the table (which was very difficult to do because my prime rib was delicious!) to go and photograph.  The crew and the captain could not have been nicer – even letting me photograph from the “command center”. There were two couples from England, the Crooks and the Barbers, who renewed their vows after 40 years of marriage. Their enjoyment was contagious and good fun was had by all! After we docked, we drove a short 5 minutes to see the Hoover Dam all lit up.  There is a feeling of such awe looking out onto this marvel of engineering.

Boathouse Row



Last night the weather was perfect and the moon was full.  It was a perfect June night to be down by the river at Boathouse Row.  There is a spot on the West River Drive directly across from the boathouses that provides the opportunity to pull off the road and take pictures.  I was there a little after dusk when the night begins to darken and the lights begin to glow.  A perfect time to capture the colors and the mood of an easy June weekend.

Bryn Athyn Cathedral



This weekend was so beautiful and even though things are really busy right now (which is all a good thing!) I decided to go out and shoot for a bit.  In the mail, I received a flyer on Bryn Athyn Cathedral Sacred Arts – “Painting with Light”- creating medieval stained glass art as well as “The Emerging Vessel” – handbuilding and throwing pottery.  So I thought this would be the perfect new spot to explore.  Upon entering the grounds, I felt like I was back in England with the majestic cathedral spires and the absolutely beautiful, pristine gardens.  It is truly a place of peace and tranquility with the unspoken invitation to people to just come, relax and be a part of this serenity for a time.  The website provides very informative and interesting information on the history and symbolism, architecture (“there are no right angles or straight lines in the cathedral”), museum and the many programs offered integrating art and spirituality…a fascinating and beautiful spot right outside of Philadelphia.

The Magic Garden

A t 1022 South Street, Isaiah Zagar began “what could be called a life’s work, making the city of Philadelphia into a labyrinthine mosaic museum that incorporates my varied knowledge and skills.”  When I recently walked through this “garden space”, I was surrounded by an explosion of color and ideas which drew from Isaiah’s time in South America with the Peace Corps and it was truly magical!  I spent hours exploring every ceiling, wall, floor and tucked away corners…no space went untouched by Isaiah’s vision!  Dennis Harvey of the San Francisco Bay Guardian stated, “Because Isaiah’s epic mosaics of tile, paint and embedded detritus are so remarkable, you’ll want to book the next flight to Philly to see them.”  I highly agree!  His son, Jeremiah, created a documentary on his father’s work entitled, “In A Dream” which is now playing throughout the US.








Wildwood, NJ

Memorial Day is the official start of the summer and my memories drift back to all those summers when my parents would pack up all my brothers and sisters and I to go to Wildwood, N.J. for the day.  We would spend what seemed to be forever walking the longest beach around to get just that right spot within walking distance of the ocean, food and the bathrooms!  Not an easy task!  Then, we would spend the night on the boardwalk amusement piers.  Hunts Pier was always one of my favorites.  Who needed Disneyland when you have Wildwood!  



Memorial Day




While at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, all visitors are asked to observe complete silence. Silence is such a powerful tool in that it asks one to draw the experience inward without trying to search for words to speak.  I was very grateful that was required because there were no words in my vocabulary that could ever convey the depth of that experience. I sit here in silence and remember my father, my uncle, my friends and all who put the freedom and safety of others before their own…there are no words.

Mother’s Day

On this very special day devoted to honoring our Mothers, I would like to take the time to do just that.  My Mother was truly my best friend…she was the woman I was named after (which is a lot of pressure but what a gift!)…she was the woman who watched me when I first saw the photography from a “real” camera and worked very hard so that I would have one as a Christmas present…and she was such great fun to be with!  My Mother was a gatherer.  She loved adventures and the more people who could be a part, the better.  She showed me by her example how to embrace it all, appreciating the good times and facing the most difficult challenges with true courage.

Tonight, the History Channel will be showing a film, “Angels and Demons Decoded”…Tom Hanks’ character is based on a true genus of creativity here in Philadelphia, John Langdon.  I had the opportunity to spend time and photograph him at work.  My images will be in the feature tonight.  Since my Mother was the first one to place a camera in my hand, I hope on this day, I and my work will continue to honor her!

Shaping and Capturing the Light



Several weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be in the presence of greatness.  I spent the day with David Tejada in one of Philadelphia’s “must see” sites – The Eastern State Penitentiary.  David is truly a master of lighting and he developed a workshop entitled, “Small Strobes, Big Results”.  Exploring spaces of muted peeling paint, texture and historical character in each cell with vaulted sky lit ceilings, David shared his expertise in controlling, modifying and shaping the light using only small strobes.  Along with the faint voices of the prisoners past, one could hear the collective sigh of relief that amazing results could be achieved without having to carry huge lighting equipment!  Three to four small strobes attached to a hot shoe with a pocket wizard coordinating the firing served to create the big results David promised.  The goal of every photographer is to continually become more attuned to the light and at the end of this day, our goal had been achieved.

To see more of David’s work, visit www.tejadaphoto.com   
Belito Garcia was the model in the photo above.  His entire presence was one of strength, character and intensity…what a pleasure to work with him!

Philadelphia Flower Show



With 9 inches of snow here in Philadelphia, I could not pass up the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Flower Show and be transported to Italy.  Flourishing gardens, villas, free flowing fountains and wine tasting…these sensual delights enabled me to experience the fullness of spring and know that the true fruiting of that promising time was not that long off.  Ciao!