It has often been said that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Last November, my wife and I moved into a new home. We had been thinking about moving for a few years and opportunity finally knocked. We moved right before Thanksgiving. I knew the move would consume my schedule for several weeks. With Christmas approaching and lots of other year-end madness, I didn’t anticipate shooting much until after the start of the new year. At the time, it never occurred to me that I would be taking a six month hiatus from photography.
One of the best things about being a portrait photographer is meeting people. However, unlike meeting people casually in a social environment, meeting a model moments before a photo shoot can bring angst for both the model and the photographer. Models may feel a bit awkward at first about being photographed, and photographers feel the inner pressure that comes with desperately needing to get “the shot” that somehow (falsely) validates his/her existence as a photographer.
My brother Chris is a U.S. military officer. A West Point and Brown University graduate, he’s a hard working “achiever” in every sense of the word. He cares deeply about everything he does. He’s the type of guy that makes the world a better place. Although he has more academic and military achievements than I can recite, he would never mention them publicly. Chris is a man of honesty, integrity and humbleness. He’s also a dedicated husband and father. My brother lives a full life – one that comes from confident Christian faith. He loves the Lord like no one I have ever known. In fact, the relationship Chris shares with Jesus Christ is what first made Christianity appealing to me so many years ago.
It was July 4th, and I was out looking for American symbolism. I was hoping the American holiday would present interesting photography opportunities. As a military vet, I knew cemeteries were often decorated with rows of American flags on patriotic holidays. I drove across town and pulled into a cemetery not far from my home. I parked my car and quietly walked the grounds. It was a peaceful morning and most of the surrounding town was still asleep. Being that it was so early, I assumed I was alone. I would soon discover that I was wrong.
This is Alex Mastrolonardo. Someday, he may save your life. At age 18, Alex is on life’s “fast track” and will soon begin med school at the University of Pittsburg. I took this image as part of a small series of images to be used at his upcoming high school graduation ceremony. While Alex may have the outward appearance of a typical high school senior, there’s nothing typical about him. In fact, Alex is the most accomplished and humble young man I know. His entire life is about uncommon achievement.