Wandering Along The Back Streets in Florence

Florence, Italy

Florence, Santa Maria Novella

 

 

Florence, Santa Maria Novella

 

A city bathed in the warm colors of rust and amber, A city where the artists Michelangelo, DaVinci, Donatello, Botticelli and Brunelleschi (just to mention a few) brought forth a collective body of the greatest works of art the world has ever known.  A city where artists attempted to capture the beauty, order and harmony of the human body as a way to glorify God and they excelled at this glorification. Florence is known as the heart of the Renaissance and in many ways the foundation of our modern world lifting us out of the dark ages. It is a city I go back to time and time again as it continually amazes me.

On a recent trip, I walked the far back streets where I had never been before.  There I discovered Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novellaone.  The Dominican Friars founded this center in 1221 as a location to make herbal remedies and potions to use in the monastery. “Their reputation became world renowned and the pharmacy, sponsored by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, opened to the public in 1612.”

Many of the Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novella’s products have become a part of history: the world famous pot-pourri is still hand crafted in large terra cotta vats using local essences and plants as has been the tradition since the 1200’s. The first “Eau de Cologne” has been attributed to the pharmacy’s creation in the 1500’s of Catherine de Medeci’s “Water of the Queen.” She used the citrus and bergamot scented water and shared it with all her closest friends during her reign as the Queen of France and one can still purchase this fragrance today.  There is  a quiet reverence which envelopes the visitor.  Vaulted ceilings, ornately carved dark wood and low lighting that somehow makes each vintage bottle glow as if holding a rich treasure.  Creams, soaps and perfumes all provide a glimpse into the past practices of the monks who were so attuned to the healing benefits found in nature.  Their original recipe ledgers can still be seen. While knowing that Santa Maria Novella has opened in Chevy Chase, Dallas, Los Angels and New York,  I was very happy to leave this special surprise discovery at Via della Scala, 16, 50123 with a small, beautifully wrapped “Angels of Florence”. Now the scent of white flowers from a far off place lifts my spirits  and I am transported  to a place I love and reminded to wander through the small, back streets.

Engagement Philadelphia Style

I am Aunt Francie to Mark…my tall and handsome nephew who recently announced his engagement to Kelly. This is the second wedding in the family and I wanted to create the tradition of doing an engagement shoot for each niece and nephew (selfishly, it gives me a full day to spend with them and the person who won their hearts!). Mark and Kelly had their first date at the Philadelphia Zoo so I thought that would be the perfect place to start and then continue with the city as the backdrop.  I asked Kelly what she loves about Mark and she said that he makes her laugh…she loves his sense of humor.  Then I put Mark on the spot and he related how much he appreciates Kelly enjoying his wit! How can a relationship go wrong when  the couple totally enjoys being with each other ?  They tease, they laugh and they love …all of which I tried to capture.

I couldn’t be happier for my nephew and his new bride.  They have found much happiness in each other and it is contagious to all of us lucky enough to spend the day with them!

Much love Mark and Kelly,

Aunt Francie!

I also want to extend my sincere thanks to my very talented student photographer/assistant, Intel.  He is developing his vision and helping others at the same time!  Much appreciated.

Mother’s Day. Celebrating Connections (that may not be Hallmark but are very real!)

Tender Moments

As a photographer , I believe one photograph can capture an entire story. One photograph can convey so much in just an instant.  Today being Mother’s Day, we celebrate women…those who are mothers,wives, friends, sisters, confidants. All they do and all they are for us.  A  few months ago, I attended the bridal shower of a great friend.  After all the gifts were opened and acknowledged, one more very special present was handed over.  Meg’s 97 year old grandmother was a quilter.  With needle and thread, she stitched pieces of fabric together and created a beautiful quilt every time a new grandchild appeared but she didn’t stop there, this woman also wanted to offer a gift which would grace the wedding bed too…one for the cradle and one for the start of a new life in love for all.

Several years ago, while visiting with her grandmother whose health was failing,  she asked Meg to choose the quilt she would like to receive for her wedding day somewhere in the future just in case she would not be with her.   The quilt in the above picture sat in the attic with Meg’s name pinned to the corner just waiting for that special moment when this granddaughter  would be a bride.  As soon as Meg held it, the tears started to flow and right away, her mom went to her and just held her daughter. Everyone was crying now…such a beautiful moment of tenderness and connectedness between the generations of women both present and with us in spirit… stirred the heart strings of all in the room.  The circle formed…a grandmother’s gift passed down and a mother by the side of her daughter.  This photograph speaks to me of what the spirit of today should be about…gifted connectedness.

PS…Meg and Steve had a beautiful wedding three weeks ago but her grandmother wasn’t able to be there…she drifts in and out of a knowing.  Next Sunday, the couple will be making a visit to the nursing home all dressed in wedding attire and will once more say their vows but this time with a very special woman in attendance.  Happy Mother’s Day to all!

PetPT

 

Madison Can Swim!
Madison Can Swim!

 

PetPT

 

PetPT, NJ
https://vimeo.com/89858263

Video Link

 

One night, a call came in  from a great friend, Carolyn Hannan Bell who was very excited to tell me about a place she had just been to and thought the story definitely needed to be told.  After having made several visits, I was in total agreement and would like to now share this.

In a small strip mall located at 1900 Greentree Rd., Cherry Hill, NJ, Dr. Russell Howe-Smith has created a healing haven…a very special place filled with incredible care and compassion for animals suffering from previous abuse, injuries, arthritis and spinal issues. During the time I was there, I met Reisling who had been chained and had his ears cut off, Bubba an abused pit bull, Peanut a minute spit fire, Axle with only three legs and Madison who was blind and could no longer walk.  When Russ gently placed Madison in the pool and guided the movement of her legs, this dog came alive!  Carolyn’s sister Jacqui Canter,  after receiving a recommendation from her vet, brings her dog Annie here each week. Out of the blue, Annie had a neurological event and now can no longer walk. Jacqui comes here to provide Annie with the necessary treatment and the chance to experience movement again. The dedication I witnessed from Dr. Russell Howe-Smith and his staff as well as all of the owners was an incredible connection of love and compassion. PetPT’s mission statement is the following:

“Our goal is to provide our patients with the best possible quality of life.  We work to maximize the physical and emotional condition of our patients and to provide a comfortable caring community for our clients.  We believe that the relationship between pet and owner is, at its best, a source of infinite joy and pleasure. It can, however, be damaged by the extremes of chronic pain and disease.  Our practice exists to protect and nurture that bond by providing the best possible care for our patients and the most compassionate support for their families.”

Trust me when I say that everyone at PetPT truly embodies this goal. Those who are unable to tell us where it hurts or were helpless victims  are held with hearts full of love and strong enfolding arms.  All the owners expressed how much their pets had given to them so this was one way to now give back. “Compassion truly is their passion.”

For more information:  PetPT

Holi at the Bharatiya Temple

Holi Festival

Holi Festival

 

 

Holi Video Link  <iframe src=”//player.vimeo.com/video/89756373″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

Rather than being in the midst of falling white snow, I was thrilled to be in the midst of multi-colored powders falling over a thoroughly joyous crowd! Holi is the Hindu Festival marking the coming of Spring, light and hope and after this winter, it was so appreciated!  This exuberant festival also commemorates the immortal love of Krishna and Radha and is spread over 16 days in Vrindavan, India, at the temple of Lord Krishna. It is one long colorful love fest! Who would not want to photograph this?! When I was there a few years ago and happened to mention that I definitely wanted to come back for Holi, they all just laughed at me and told me I must not like my camera very much!  This year, I so wanted to travel with a friend, Tewfic El-Sawy, The Travel Photographer,  as he lead a photographic expedition and workshop to this sacred site (click on the link to see amazing photographs!) It was not to be but as fate would have it,  I received an special invitation through a student (Thank you so much Anika!) to come and celebrate with the local Hindu community in Chalfont, Pa. From the moment Conrad Louis- Charles and I walked in, we were taken right into the midst of the celebration.  We were offered delicious food from Bombay Spice – II (just looking at their website could make you hungry!) We were then escorted into a tent and instantaneously felt the spirit of community and just sheer fun!  Winter was finally over… and now it is time to CELEBRATE and that we all did!  As the day went into night, a bonfire was lit to chase away evil.  This was now a time for the Hindu people to reflect and offer gifts of thanks to the gods. Roses, oils, rice and coconuts which are considered the perfect food having the drink, meat and bowl together were the gifts given from their hearts.  While the people were offering their appreciation, I was offering my sincere gratitude for the welcome and the care people took when painting my face and not my camera! I am not sure my friends were as lucky! Finally, I was able to celebrate and photograph Holi!  Life is so good!

Bringing a Focus to Human Trafficking and Slavery

Inspiration

Inspiration

Inspiration

Inspiration

We can  never know how expansive the rippling reciprocal effects can be when we make the decision to use our talent for others simply  because we have been given so much. The VERY talented and generous  film makers of Stillmotion had no idea how one article in the Huffington Post and one decision would be transformative in so many ways.  The article related the story of Vivienne Harr, a nine year old girl  from Fairfax who saw the powerful and striking photography of Lisa Kristen documenting present day human slavery.  This one little girl believed that she had the power  to make a difference and so began her quest to raise $150,000 by simply selling lemonade. Others  then began to gather together to give voice to those who had none.  From one article on line, the film #STANDWITHME  was brought forth…from a little one’s belief and enthusiasm, $150,000 was raised.  The film makers discuss how this endeavor unfolded in a very honest and well done brief  video entitled, The Making of #standwithme  A Stand Against One of the World’s Darkest Evils.

Last Friday here in Philadelphia, the film had its premier.  It is one that should not be missed.  It provides a witness to what has remained in  the silent dark recesses of almost every country on earth.  I had no idea how pervasive this is. There are 27 million slaves in the world today…more than any other time in  human history.  It exists behind brick kilns, carpet looms and closed doors of motels. $90. is the average cost of a human slave around the world. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking and reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. The film provides the springboard to both knowledge and action. Paul Rice shows how poverty is intimately tied to the issue of slavery and speaks to the power we each have to cast votes with every dollar we spend when we shop.  Maurice Middleberg (originally from Philadelphia), Executive Director of Free the Slaves, educates villages and communities around the world how they can protect themselves from the chains of forced labor. It provides an awakening, a call and a challenge to share your voice and stand together.  What we do matters.

After attending the premier, the next day I was then fortunate enough to learn from these film makers as they took a small group through a day long, intensive and brilliant workshop entitled, Story Telling With Heart because as they say, “When you tell a remarkable story, the world opens up!” I sat at the feet of masters. They touched that knowing that for me, holding a camera and telling stories  is as life giving as breathing. Then the week unfolded. There is a saying that goes, “Nothing ever happens by accident!” Through sharing  about the movie,  I was invited to have dinner with a group of very articulate and dedicated young women from Cornell College who were here in Philadelphia.  After driving 20 hours through the night, they wanted to be of service to  women who were trying to break free from the bonds of sex trafficking.  The college students shared their favorite moments and most difficult ones.  They shared their great respect for these women and described their sheer strength of character in trying to break free even under the threat of death. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 -14 years of age. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year.  More than 70 percent are female and half are children. Just this week in the Philadelphia news, there was an arrest of a man who forced and threatened multiple women into sex. Due to the very nature of  our discussions, the conversation from that evening must be held as a sacred sharing and honored, respecting the privacy of all. As I was leaving though, they pointed out all sorts of post-it-notes placed at eye level throughout the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen.  The women were breathing in these bits of inspiration when they began their day to then take that out to others.  Yes, we are stronger together and hopefully through many different conversations and conscious acts, we will join with those who are asking, #Standwithme!

The International Beauty Show, NYC

IBS, 2014

IBS, 2014

IBS, 2014

IBS, 2014

 

IBS, 2014

 

One week, I am perusing travel brochures from the NYTimes Travel Show and the next week, I am back up I95 to capture all that is new in the beauty and spa industry.  Tyra Banks said, “I love the confidence that makeup gives me.”  Roberta Gately said, “Lipstick is really magical.  It holds more than a waxy bit of color – it holds the promise of a brilliant smile, a brilliant day, both literally and figuratively.” I would say that thousands would agree with her.  After only two hours, it was a very tight squeeze to see all the latest and best from beauty insiders definitely breaking the 61,000 attendance in 2013. With over 500 exhibitors , IBS  is the longest running, professionals only beauty show in the nation.  The International Esthetics, Cosmetics and Spa Conference is the largest spa show in he Northeast and provides a complete spa business-building event for the thousands of spa and medical spa industry professionals who attend.  Some of the notable exhibitors included: Redken, Sassoon Academy, Essie, La Brasilliana, Farouk, Pibbs Industry, Brazilian Blowout,  Eve Pearl, Clarisonic, Hydrafacial MD, Farm House Fresh.  The hair trends for 2014 seem to be the unrefined, slightly disheveled looks that showcase natural textures.  Women were having their hair cut into the popular waif-like shapes, going from locks to ponytails with casual looks emphasizing understated elegance.  Modern romance still reigns with braids and sweptback chignons adorned with flowers.  Hair hues run the gamut from vibrant reds (thank heaven I am still current!) to bold platinum blonds and the ombre trend has transitioned to one where the color is placed higher up. Thousands of products were on display, from protecttive UV blocking hand guards for gel manicures to formaldehyde-free keratin treatments, oils from India and South American rainforests replenishing moisture in hair, styling tools, body wraps,  and many green and organic products. Eminence Organic Skin Care introduced its Artic Berry Peel and Peptide Illuminating system while Etienne Raff Paris  introduced products which are a combination of scientifically proven peptides with natural, non-traditional ingredients such as Dragon’s Blood extract, honey , Royal Jelly and Mimosa Tree extract. Technology has it’s place from lasers to a new app called “Go Panache Look-Book-Go” which allows the consumer to book an appointment on line and be able to locate their favorite professional if they happen to move to another location.  As I sit here writing, my ankle is wrapped in a Tourmaline Nano-Tech Auto Heating Wrap which creates a great deal of heat and promotes better blood circulation and detoxification.  It feels better already and the people selling this were just the nicest around!

I have had the great fortune of photographing the very poor and the very rich, presidents, popes and orphans, those who live on communes and share their clothes rather than buy new ones,  those who thread flowers for adornment and those who paint henna on their hands and feet in such exquisite designs.  I have photographed people who pray in temples, mosques, and churches. Life,  beauty  and cultural norms are so multifaceted.  It is like looking through a kaleidescope and constantly turning it to see the new patterns of light/darkness and color, each unique and a true reality for some while totally out of the norm for others.  For over 60,000 last weekend, NYC provided the professionals, products and proposals for beauty and wellness.  Definitely an interesting mix of light, darkness and color!

The New York Times Travel Show, 2014

Dreamscape
Dreamscape
Dance in China
Dance in China
Joseph Rosendo
Joseph Rosendo
Guide Please
Guide Please
Malaysian Welcome
Malaysian Welcome

 

Have I mentioned lately how much I love what I do?  ‘Tis the time of year when I received one of my most coveted press passes…a pass that leads to planes, trains and automobiles (river boats and luxury cruise ships) as well as every continent on earth.  The New York Times Travel Show consistently satiates my wanderlust!  It is a three day feast with photography of the most beautiful sites on earth, music, art, dance, cuisine and some of the best travel adventures offered at discounted prices.

Walking through the exhibit floor, I tasted bubble tea, learned how to salsa with Danza Fiesta, heard the spiritual sounds of the Himalayas from Sonam Adventures and received a sample of a new product, “LiveLeaf Traveler Protect and LiveLeaf Traveler Rescue” which provides “fast, natural relief from digestive distress”. Christmas came early! Seriously though, this company has also developed a program called “Lifedrops” dedicated to saving children’s lives by reducing the burden of diarrhea in developing third world countries and have very interesting technology behind their products. I will let you know if it is yea or nay on my upcoming trip abroad.

Some people speed date, I speed travel! Delving into  intimate details,  one exhibit to the next, I gathered every brochure, postcard and pen in site.  This time around, the Asian continent won my heart.  I want to walk (and dance) along the Great Wall of China, photograph the world’s oldest and most historically important trade routes known as The Silk Road and not just watch the wonderful PBS documentary entitled, “In the Footsteps of Marco Polo”.  I want to explore Malaysia with a video camera showcasing  their healthcare and be one of the many tourists now allowed into Myanmar.  If exotic and far off places are calling to you but a fear to explore on your own is holding you back or if you realized that some of the most memorable moments of travel are when one goes off the beaten path with the locals then Tours by Locals.com  should be your next click on Google!

Armed with the maps and collages of my dreams, I then spent the afternoon in the travel seminars taking in the sage advice of experts in the travel field.  The Frommer’s revealed their top destinations for 2014.  Joseph Rosendo, award-winning travel journalist and Emmy-winning director, had an eloquence that wove together philosophy, mysticism, reality and a La Joie de Vivre! Joseph captured the soul of many beautiful places around the world. Having been in India, I sat in full agreement with him when he described this land in the following way: “India is waiting to grab you with its color and humanity. It shakes you up and delivers gifts. It is a constant invitation to live with joyous , unexpected life changing experiences around every bend.” Andrew Evans , National Geographic’s Digital Nomad,  detoured from the common held creation of a “bucket list” but rather suggested that, “Travel shouldn’t be a list we are working through but rather it should be a constant surprise!” “Spontaneous moments occur when we put ourselves out there and let things happen!”  He spent 300 days on the road last year and had amazing stories about moments…still, adventurous, scary and beautiful.  These moments are creating a life so well lived.

Mr. Rosendo began his talk with something I will use to end this piece.  “If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” (Thoreau).  The New York Times Travel Show establishes the path of beginnings; beginnings of dreams to travel, to gain wisdom and insights about the world  and in my case, to photograph. If held close, then I think we will live a life far greater than we could have ever imagined.

 

My Work and My Hope

 

A Mother and Her Child

 

 

Engagement

 

Family

Family

The Past and Present

 

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Silk Weavers

 

John Denver made famous the term, “Rocky Mountain High” (little did he know how high Colorado will be starting today!) but he also created another song which I recently heard and the words keep repeating in my mind as I stand at this threshold of a new beginning with hopes for a life well lived.

“There are children raised in sorrow on a scorched and barren plain

There are children raised beneath the golden sun

There are children of the water
And children of the sand
And they cry out through the universe
Their voices raised as one

I want to live I want to grow
I want to see I want to know
I want to share what I can give
I want to be I want to live

Have you gazed out on the ocean
Seen the breaching of a whale?
Have you watched the dolphins frolic in the foam?
Have you heard the song the humpback hears five hundred miles away
Telling tales of ancient history of passages and home?

For the worker and the warrior the lover and the liar
For the native and the wanderer in kind
For the maker and the user and the mother and her son
I am looking for my family and all of you are mine

We are standing all together
Face to face and arm in arm
We are standing on the threshold of a dream
No more hunger no more killing
No more wasting life away
It is simply an idea
And I know it’s time has come

I want to live I want to grow
I want to see I want to know
I want to share what I can give
I want to be I want to live”

This past week did not take me to far off lands.  I was local with a camera in hand.  I was invited in to capture the tender moments of a family, a wonderfully happy  engaged couple, a 99 year old mother and her daughter keeping memories alive and getting her mom to enjoy an afternoon. Then, I was with a courageous, generous woman who is a breast cancer surviver raising two beautiful daughters.  At the same time all of this was going on, I was working on a story about silk weaving in Cambodia and the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange catalogue arrived from those  who live on a commune in Virginia and are dedicated to saving the past for the future.  Whether far or near, all so unique and yet we are all seeking the same …health, happiness and prosperity. So many are voicing their longing for world peace, but I believe it comes one person at a time…one person who opens and tries to understand another, one person who reaches out, one person who looks within and decides not to take themselves too seriously and try to find the humor in the midst of humanity. As a photographer, it would be my hope that my visual images and storytelling will act as a path, a bridge bringing one person together with another, dispelling those boundaries and borders which serve to negatively separate us.

A friend sent me a wish for 2014 that I think we all share…”May your eyes continue to see beautiful and significant things, and your soul dance to good music!”

Happy New Year everyone!

Francie

Leave Taking

Marilyn and her daugher
Marilyn and her daugher

 

Music surrounded Marilyn day and night
Music surrounded Marilyn day and night

 

The Power and Simplicity of Touch
The Power and Simplicity of Touch
Acceptance and Preparing
Acceptance and Preparing
Sending Messages of Love
Sending Messages of Love
Between a Mother and A Daughter
Between a Mother and A Daughter

 

Bonds Forever
Bonds Forever
Truer Words Never Spoken
Truer Words Never Spoken

 

A moment of silence and one last touch.
A moment of silence and one last touch.

She took her last breath at 6:45 last Sunday morning, just as the sun was coming up.  There was a soft light that crossed her face and Marilyn’s leave taking was done as gently as she had lived.  The window was open to allow her spirit to take its flight. Dying is one of the hardest things in life to watch.  The  person’s body  fights against it . One  tries to breathe in oxygen, gasping for that life giving substance we all take for granted  and finally in the end comes a releasing acquiescence to what no longer can be deterred. But Marilyn Lemke’s death was a bit different.

The first time I met Marilyn, she told me that during her first bout with breast cancer,  she took on the attitude of a fighter and a warrior,  but when it returned after 10 years, she decided to move with it…to become the master akido practitioner. Marilyn Lemke began to play her harp during chemo treatments and to picture it as cleansing rather than a toxic material killing off cells.  This spirit was what drew me to ask a new found friend  if I could accompany her to Fox Chase Cancer Center and share her unique story. I had never met anyone like her before. One could not help but be touched by her quiet grace, faith and dignity. When her hands stroked the strings of  the harp, she was able to  bring a palpable calmness into a room which could be fraught with such fear.  This wellspring of serenity was present throughout  her illness.  However, I have to admit that I was always impressed when she spouted out very quickly  a string of curse words …she could make any sailor blush and made us all proud! (Her daughter Amy is a close second in our esteem !)  Marilyn knew she was dying.  We all knew she was dying and there was no tip toeing around this. One day when I went to visit, she was sporting her crematorium t-shirt which she had been given after planning her funeral.  She wanted me to have Anthony Robbins’  tapes and I told her I would return them after I listened to them when she made a funny face and said, “What do I need them for?”  Her courage kept us all going…and coming.  So many friends dropping by to be with her and take her in.  Everyone of us wanted to touch Marilyn, to kiss Marilyn, to feel connected with the hope that she too could feel our deep love for her.  These simple acts symbolized all that is treasured in life.  Countless friends stopped by with homemade dishes, all wanting  in some way make things a little bit easier. Jerry who was by her side for years traveling the world, was now there with her during these most difficult times.  Annette and Nancy are the two most dedicated friends anyone could have and were wonderful storytellers. They all shared the meaning of living life to the fullest with Marilyn. Terry, a hospice nurse with a huge heart and also a harp student of Marilyn’s massaged her hands and feet so tenderly with lavender oil.  Mary Anne, a gentle and beautiful woman, sat by her bed day in and day out, giving back from deep within her heart as she played the same songs Marilyn had taught her.  The hospital bed sat in the living room – it could be so cold and sterile but Marilyn’s children Mike and Amy formed a deep circle of love with their Mother. Amy laid beside her Mother in the bed, wrapped together in a warm blanket shielding off aloneness. Mike reached under the covers and held Marilyn’s hand and placed his head gently beside the first woman he gazed at  in life. She was so very proud of them both and they showed us all the tremendous bond which can exist between a mother and her children. Marilyn’s family  granted me the  great privilege and daunting task of photographing during this time.  It was an entirely new experience but then again, knowing a woman like Marilyn was an entirely new experience. I lived in each moment looking for the light and  for the tenderness and found them both.

Marilyn died in the most peaceful way…just as she had lived. Weeks before, she told me that she was learning how to let go…she learned well. Marilyn was surrounded by all those who loved her and she softly and without any struggle just “went with it”.

A simple cardboard box, nothing fancy, nothing ostentatious, this was all Marilyn requested… a funeral not taking from the environment. She was again bringing a entirely new experience into my life and many others.  Even with so little, dignity and intimacy reigned.  We all had the opportunity for another touch, another kiss and then we  gathered around to write loving messages which would go with her and become a part of her.  We went as far as any human being can go with another and we wanted to walk beside her each step of the way, lifting her body into the crematorium, closing the door with one last touch.  We said goodbye to what had brought Marilyn’s spirit to us but now we are embraced by her…she is above us, she is beside us, she is limitless and her music will continue to play  for us all in our hearts. A chance meeting brought this amazing woman into my life and I will be eternally grateful…next week, I am taking my first harp lesson!

The Link to the first video I did of Marilyn.

 

 

<iframe src=”//player.vimeo.com/video/50952280″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

Kickstarter Project: Update and Thanks

Kickstarter Link

Hello,

A bit ago I posted about Joe, a former student of mine who just amazed me with his insight and vision. He could choose anyone in the world to be his hero and yet he chose his brother, Andrew. Andrew has CDLS…a syndrome which in so many ways limits one. He is not able to speak and requires a feeding tube. So many aspects of life many of us take for granted, Andrew requires one on one assistance around the clock. I was so touched by Joe’s heartfelt words and realized how much of his energy must be directed towards his brother, I, which quickly became a “we” thought that it would be a great thing if there could be the possibility to provide him (and his two friends who worked on the power point with him) something just for them which would enable them to find their own strong voices and relate the story as a teenager with a brother who has CDLS through the medium of film… to convey both the challenges and the joys. In order to do this, we went to Kickstarter which is an amazing site helping those with a creative passion achieve dreams. We created just a short introductory video in the hopes of raising enough funding for all the equipment and learning required to tell a short documentary through photography and film, audio, lighting, editing and post processing for the three amigos of the initial power point. We are not sure if we will be able to achieve this with the time remaining but we would just so like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have offered their support for this project…through kind emails, forwarding the link, and generosity of heart. We so appreciate it all. One of the ways we wanted to say “Thank You” is an acknowledgement on this site and whether we achieve our goal here or not, we can’t miss an opportunity to follow through with this. So to the following who have pledged financial support please accept our sincere gratitude:
Luis Cadavid, Paul and Beth Pattitucci, Judith Field, Julie and Frank Mairano, Conrad Louis-Charles, Steve Mullholand, Mary Jarvis McGee, Janice Miller, Dave and Ann Lauder, Michael Feehan, Patricia Todd, Carolyn Bell, Ross, Itamar Kerbel, Allison Memmo Geiger, Joyce Munyan, Joe Chmielewski, Kathleen Gillespie, Karen Sellman…we are so glad you wanted to walk with us!

After the Storm

Last night was a night of tornado warnings but this morning is glorious! Gives meaning to the words, “Hang in there!” These photographs are from a recent real estate shoot and just make me happy for the weekend! Hope you all have fun and easy moments!

Copyright 2012 Frances Schwabenland. Images may not be copied, printed or otherwise disseminated without express written permission of Frances Schwabenland.

www.worlddocumentaryphotographer.com

Last week, Joe McNally sent out word announcing his new website.  He said that most people spend approximately 2 1/2 minutes looking at a site.

I am so happy to finally have my new website up and running.  It was my goal to create a spot entirely focused on travel, separate from my portrait and wedding photography.  There are two people I must thank. Dan Creighton who was there with me every step of the way sharing not only his keen photographic perspective, honed after 22 years as a photojournalist,  but also his amazing technical knowledge. No matter what, Dan always knew the answer and not only that, it was usually around 1 am that I was texting him with my usual plea for help. He has the patience of a saint and is a great friend.

Also,  I want to sincerely thank Tewfic El-Sawy, The Travel Photographer. When I discovered his blog, it was truly a pivotal moment in my life. I sat in awe looking at the truly incredible imagery he presented.  Tewfic inspires me day in and day out with his very powerful and compelling work as well as the work of others he features. I pour over it. I get lost in it and I aspire to that level of photographic acuity and insight.  I am so grateful to him for walking with me, sharing so generously his wisdom and great wit!

So, if you have only one minute of time (2 1/2 minutes should be for the “greats” like Joe McNally!) and can stop by, I send along my heartfelt thanks to you also!  Your support and taking the time to comment on FB when something strikes you means so much!

Hope you enjoy it!

Francie

 

The Influence of a Father

I spent most of the day painting my porch. Each step of the way, I was remembering all my father did when he was painting…how to prepare, how to clean the top of the paint can and brushes, etc. and how often through the years, I did the same things without even thinking twice.

My father was the strong and silent type. I used to love it when I could make him laugh! I was fortunate to grow up in a family of storytellers so I was able to know my father’s heart as a young man on.
My grandfather died suddently when my dad was 14 so he had to leave school and help run the family butcher shop at the Reading Terminal Market. My grandmother had no money to pay for the funeral because it was during the depression but all the vendors at the Market took up a collection for the family. This had a very long lasting effect on my father. I grew up watching this man sharing so generously…time, money…whatever was needed, he was there.

He enlisted in the army during WWII and was stationed in California. At the age of 21, my mother travelled cross country to marry him. I have the letters he wrote to her every day until she was able to go to him..reading them is a sacred glimpse into a young man who was so in love and concerned about the world. I would read them on the same day and month, just 68 years later and felt like the time traveller…I knew the answers to all of his questions…I knew he would have the children he hoped for, I knew my mother would get there and I knew he would never be sent to Normandy.

My father was always there for me. He enveloped me with his hugs. When I turned 16 and started driving, he woke me up one night and took me outside to change a tire…mind you it didn’t need it, he just wanted me to be prepared day and night in case I ever found myself with a flat. (It took me a few years to fully appreciate that one!). He loved to fish very late at night and would talk about how much he enjoyed just being still and listening to the sounds of nature. When my mother became very ill, he kept us all going, putting aside his worries and grief. After she died, his heart was literally broken. He died soon after from a heart attack on what would have been their 39th wedding anniversary. Unbeknownst to my brothers and sisters and I, he had written us a letter to be read right before his funeral. As a father, he was still sending us his deep love and guidance and wanted us to know he would always be with us. I had him for a brief 25 years and yet, his influence is still keenly felt. Fatherhood was his highest calling and he so honored it. I was blessed with this incredible man’s unconditonal love and I will forever be grateful.

Happy Father’s Day!