And Baby Makes…Four!

It has been said that having a baby is a life changer. It gives you a whole new perspective on why you wake up every day. And after meeting the newest little member of the Roche family, I can see why! I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up to this sweet little ray of sunshine every day! She was curious about the world around her…including me! She stared intensely at me, so it’s my guess that she liked me!

It was a casual day at home with Mike, Luisa and little Abby. Oh! And let’s not forget Buster, who seemed eager to participate; only to find out he fained interest for a doggy treat — geez, thanks Buster! lol

It’s been such a pleasure cultivating a relationship with this couple! First in shooting their wedding (5/15/11) (you can read more about their special day HERE!🙂 )
and now in celebrating the birth of their little one (5/14/14) — a true blessing indeed!

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The Good Wife

The anguish was irrefutable. The anxiety was palpable. My 80 year old uncle lay in a hospital bed with acute pneumonia and was as frail as any of us had ever seen him. The beeps from the monitors and hollowed sounds of the respirator were a constant reminder of where we were in life’s timeline. We all sat perched on the edge of the question; what’s next? Doctors said plainly that things didn’t look good; it’s as if no one knew the answer.

She came to the hospital and sat at his bedside everyday. At times being able to recite their story from beginning to end, while at other times not knowing who the man was that was hooked up to so many machines. So we waited. And true to form and in His own time, God knew what the answer would be. Although a death had recently befallen our family, today God had given us His answer: “Not yet…”

Rafaela and Eugene have walked through many storms in their fifty four years together, but they’ve also seen just as many rainbows. Their children and grandchildren are a constant source of pride. Today she smiled saying “thank you, Jesus” as her beloved finally opened his eyes and looked at her.

She grabbed my hand, looked at me and said, “Ahhh thank you, God… I’m so happy!” Her eyes tell us her story. They often look tired and weary. Like a glitch of an aged t.v. set, her memory fades in and out. She may not remember anything significant about yesterday, but she can recall with vivid detail her days as a young girl in Panama and how that country and her own mother, my grandmother, shaped her into the woman she was to be.

But again she looked me, asking “Are you Silvia?” I shook my head. “No Tia, Silvia is your sister… I’m your niece, Lisa.” Her eyes smiled as if remembering my place in the family tree. “Ahhh yes, my Leeeeessssaaa! Thank you, Jesus! I’m so happy!” Her happiness and strength washed over me and with tears welling up in my eyes (happy tears, of course!) I said, “Thank you Jesus! I’m happy too Tia!”

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22

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[A Movement Grows In Brooklyn] – AfroPunk Fest

For almost a decade, it’s been called ‘The Other Black Experience’, the meeting of the minds, the Black Woodstock and even the greatest music movement of the new millennia, but most just call it AfroPunk! And for the second year in a row, I had the pleasure of connecting with other lovers of culture, fashion and music (Alice Smith’s vocals were amazing…Erykah Badu and the home grown surprise that was Mos Def tore the house down, the fans loved intensity of the Memorials and Janelle Monae’s crowd dive…EPIC! lol) This year’s lineup was just as insane!

AfroPunk Girls

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[Chicago] – Just Blew In From The Windy City!

If you talk to those who live there, it’s almost on cue that Chicagoans would proudly proclaim it as the greatest city in the world (Hmmm…as a native New Yorker, that title may be up for debate! lol), from their infamous deep dish pizza (Giordano’s pizza was good, but the best in the city is at the Cityscape Bar HANDS DOWN!!), and towering skyscrapers overlooking sandy beaches, to sun-filled baseball games at Wrigley Field, twilight concerts in Millennium Park and free fireworks at Navy Pier — there’s always something happening in Chicago!

It’s been about a month since I got back, and despite some minor bumps in the road — this trip was a great experience! Although there were amazing sights in Chicago, I have to say the thing I enjoyed the most were the friendships I fostered there. Big shouts out to my friend and fellow photographer Chris Wilson! Although it had been about five years since we last saw each other (and he will tell anyone who’ll listen that during his visit to the Big Apple that I left him stranded down in the bowels of the NYC subway with nothing more than a Snickers bar and a bottle of water — LIES I TELL YA!😉 ), one would never know it as our laughs and the fun stories behind them picked up where they left off and it was just like old times! Thanks for lunch Chris and give my chocolate drops Mia, Colby and Miles big hugs and kisses for me!

Also thank you to Dana Winston who is, in a word: HILARIOUS! We’ve known each other for sometime through social media, but it was actually our first time meeting face to face and with a big hug, some encouraging words and a half dozen Sugar Bliss Mini Cupcakes, he won me over! Dana, your accents are hysterical, but I truly appreciated our talk and getting to know more of the real you! (“Yeah mon!” lol) And lastly, there’s the man whose patience and chivalry should be bottled and sold — Raymond Boyd! In the crunch that was the last few days of my time in Chiraq (the word is now stuck in my head — thanks Dana!), Raymond was one of the best tour guides a girl could ask for! From waiting in line with me at the Willis Tower to get a view of the city or that cheesy tourist photo on The Ledge, to getting eaten alive by mosquitos during our nighttime shoots around town, to having the get away car warmed up and ready to go after being chased by the Secret Service (YES! That really happened!), I am forever grateful! I would also like to thank my family (cousins Rudy, Evelina, Qwendolyn, Quawi and Qorvette) for their warm welcome, generosity and hospitality!! Love you guys!

Chicago is a city of paradoxes, known for it’s extremes. From the weather to even some aspects of city life. But after this experience, there will always be a warm place in my heart for Chicagoland. Oh! and let’s not forget Garrett Popcorn, with whom I should buy stock after all the bags of popped perfection I ate while there! Chicago Mix…where you at?! LOL!!! Feel free to send a tin or two this way on your next visit!🙂
Check out a few images HERE!

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[Harlem Vow Renewal] : Love Is…

Someone once said that love is friendship set to music! And for these two social activists and self-proclaimed music heads, no statement could be more true. Meet Detrel and her husband Thomas, who after meeting at a rally, have used their love of music and life to affect change in their community! So what better way to celebrate one year of love than with a “Love Is…” session in Harlem! With it’s rich and vibrant history in dance, literature and music, it was the perfect backdrop for our session this past weekend! Thomas and Detrel will be making beautiful music when they renew their wedding vows next month here in New York. I’m excited for what’s in store because after spending the afternoon with them, I know the day will be nothing short of amazing!

DandT2 Our first stop…the world famous Apollo Theater! With musical greats like Areatha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson having graced this iconic stage, it made sense that they paid homage but also made time to ‘get on the good foot’ themselves!

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bririzadaphoto1 Big thank you to Brianna of B. Rizada Photography for grabbing this photo of me during our shoot!

DandT1 Thomas is a man of few words, but that smile: GOLD!

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D&TDip And finally, a trip to Harlem would not be complete without a stop at the world-renowned soul food eatery known simply as Sylvia’s! Enjoy you two!

DandTDip2 As the sun set over the city, I walked down 125th Street and came upon the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. monument, which I thought is a perfect blend of admiration and advocacy for the people of Harlem! It kinda reminded me of Detrel and Thomas. Not only do they exemplify their love for one another, but also their love of their community and advocating for causes close to their hearts — bravo you guys!🙂

Prom Night!

Some say it’s a grand tradition…or a rite of passage…or maybe just an awesome night out with friends who’ve made your high school years loads of fun (or dare I say it, maybe just tolerable!); call it what you want, but going off to prom (whether you’re the jock, the cheerleader or the leader of the NACO group) is ALWAYS memorable!! So I was totally excited and honored to see Aysia (whose parents I’ve known since she was a little girl) get all dolled up for a night of fun!! There were corsages, sparkles from head to toe, a stretch limo for the ages (it was in a word: SICK y’all!) handsome young men, beautiful young ladies and magnificent memories to be made! This was also a night to celebrate being young while having the world at your feet! Aysia is off to college this fall and I have no doubt that success is squarely within her sights — you go girl!! AsiaProm5tag

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Growing Old Gracefully

It’s been said that the best part of the art of living is to know how to grow old gracefully. And in 93 years, her faith, strength and the love of her family (along with a healthy dose of spunk and laughter!) has served her well! Happy Birthday to the woman who lives to laugh and loves to share some good sesé! (Ella siempre usa esa palabras: “¡Dejamé desirte este bochinché, chica!”)

I love you for your wisdom, your gracious spirit and your no nonsense attitude — let’s continue to love and laugh together!
Forever, your Lily

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The Dizzying Heard…

So, today I found myself amongst the swarm of New Yorkers who love satisfying their appetite for art (particularly if its FREE! Score!) and this morsel came in the form of horses!! But not just any horses… These horses are vibrant, whimsical and can drop it like its hot! Missouri sculptor, dancer and performance artist Nick Cave first introduced us to “Soundsuits” almost a decade ago and now there are stepping stallions; namely young dancers from the renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Company in Chicago bringing his vision to life — literally!!
If you want to see this amazing performance, check out them out here:
http://youtu.be/dSh571iu02U

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Embracing The Big Picture

How does someone express love? With a hug? A kiss? A kind or encouraging word? There are many ways that one can answer that question, but the one thing that is certain is, no matter the way one may express how they love; the most important thing to know overall is that they love. Love is meant to be shared. Given with one’s whole heart. And in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the recent storm that wrecked havoc on the Northeast (and continues to have rippling effects), love’s greatest expression was needed in some of our most devastated neighborhoods in ample supply. And with that, a little over a week ago, local photographers, make-up artists, volunteers and even Santa and his elves gathered at the Goldie Maple Academy in Far Rockaway, New York.

Lights, camera, community! With over sixty volunteers and almost two hundred families in attendance, this school gymnasium located in one of the more effected areas of the city, became the site where joy, compassion, goodwill and healing found it’s place. A great example was when after making portraits of a small family of four, the mom pulled me aside, hugged me and said, with tears in her eyes, “This is amazing! You have no idea what you’ve done for us…” Now, I have to admit…I had to do everything in my power, y’all not to burst out into tears on the spot! LOL!

I want to say thank you to all who found it in their hearts to give, including El Puente and the local chapter of the Police Athletic League. But I want to send a special thanks to Will Salomon Orellana and Kendra Alexis for their incredible work in putting this local effort together! And of course, Jeremy Cowart for his innovation in giving. I was blessed with the most amazing hugs, smiles and kind encouraging words and this experience has done more for me than I could ever express — thank you! And I just wanted to let you all know what a tremendous honor it was to participate in this year’s Help-Portrait campaign for Hurricane Sandy Relief. Even a week or so later, I find that I am still brought to tears at what an amazing testament of giving this was, and to know that God has used us all a vessel to serve!!

Don’t ever forget that you’re a citizen of this world, and there are things you can do to lift the human spirit. Things that are easy, things that are free, things that you can do every day. Civility, respect, kindness and character. Happy Holidays, everyone! Continue to be a blessing to people in your life and embrace the big picture!🙂

20121223-184639.jpg Photographers Daniel and Joe doing their thing!

20121223-184658.jpg I’d like to thank Christina Whiting for making these two images. Photographer at work! LOL!

20121223-184746.jpg Help-Portrait CEO and Founder, Jeremy Cowart and the jolly old man from up North — Santa!🙂

Help Portrait 2012 Group Shot The amazing group that I was so happy to have gotten to know and work with! Photo by Michael Dote

Feel free to have a look at how wonderful and life affirming something so simple can be: