Whole Hog Pig Roast to Benefit Braking AIDS Ride

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This weekend I will photograph Braking AIDS Ride, the 285-mile charity bike ride from Boston to New York benefiting Housing Works. It’s my fifth year volunteering to photograph the ride. I actually rode it the previous four years. A few weeks beforehand, I teamed up with three other riders to host our second annual pig roast as a fundraiser for the ride. We raised $12,000, fifty percent more than last year! Here are some photos of the preparation and the festivities.

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The Largest Group Shot I Ever Took at the Plymouth Church Picnic

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Every year in early June I photograph the Plymouth Church picnic in Brooklyn Heights. This year, in addition to the normal shots capturing the spirit of the event, I was asked to make a group photo of everyone at the picnic. We scoped out two vantage points, one from the roof of the arcade just above the statue of Henry Ward Beecher in the background of the photo above, and one from an eight-foot-tall ladder on the sidewalk just outside the garden. It’s important to photograph groups from a high vantage point so fewer people are blocked by others.

The roof view included cars parked in the street in the background in addition to some other issues, so we chose the ladder view. The ladder view was better anyway because it included church architecture, especially the famous statue of Plymouth Church’s historic first minister. Not surprisingly, the greatest challenge was asking the congregation to put down their hot dogs and assemble for the photo. Everyone graciously cooperated.

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Preparing for a Pig Roast

WARNING! This post contains some graphic images of an intact pig being prepared and roasted. Vegetarians and squeamish people may wish to avert their eyes.

At the end of September, I will volunteer to photograph Braking the Cycle, the 285-mile AIDS ride from Boston to New York to benefit Housing Works. I teamed up with some other participants to stage a fundraising pig roast to support the ride. We raised more than $7,500.00, and though it was very hard work, it turned out to be more fun than I imagined.

Chef Pete is an expert pig roaster, and he set up a cinder block roasting pit in the back yard to slow-roast a 100-pound heritage pig for 24 hours. He took only two one-hour breaks during the night to nap. The meat turned out delicious. Also on the menu was cole slaw, collard greens, baked beans, homemade pickles, and banana pudding.

Stay tuned for my next post which will include photos from the party.

 

A Day at Plymouth Church: Children Take Center Stage

The third post in my series on my day of photographing Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights focuses on the children. I’ve discovered through working with Plymouth over the years that I love photographing kids. They’re a huge challenge since they’re constantly moving and they don’t take posing instructions well, but they’re so free with their emotions and have few inhibitions in front of the camera.

In most of these photos from the annual barbecue, the children were aware that I was photographing them, and they were willing to smile and pose, sometimes to the point where it got in the way. But it was gratifying to work with them up close instead of having to try to ambush them from afar with a long lens.

The festive atmosphere of the barbecue combined with the great weather and the children being able to play with their friends while eating hot dogs and ice cream created beautiful moments for me to photograph. Some of these children have been with Plymouth as long as I’ve been working with the church, and it’s terrific to watch them grow.

Posts in the series “A Day at Plymouth Church”:
1. Sunday School
2. Annual Barbecue
3. Children Take Center Stage
4. Upstairs at the Underground Thrift Store

A Day at Plymouth Church: Annual Barbecue

I love it when a photography assignment takes me outdoors on a beautiful day. The weather was perfect for the annual barbecue in the Beecher Garden at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights. The sense of community that characterizes Plymouth really shows in the photos. In addition to candid and posed shots of church members enjoying the barbecue, my client asked for wide angle shots to be cropped very long and narrow on their website. For the photo above, I waited until a critical mass formed at the tables, then I stood atop a tall ladder just outside the garden’s gate. For the rest of the barbecue, I mingled with the families, and I especially enjoyed photographing the children, which I’ll cover in the next post in this series.

Posts in the series “A Day at Plymouth Church”:
1. Sunday School
2. Annual Barbecue
3. Children Take Center Stage
4. Upstairs at the Underground Thrift Store

A Day at Plymouth Church: Sunday School

This is the first post in a four-part series about a day I spent photographing the activities at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights. The church’s director of communication needed updated photos for the website and various print materials. Luckily for me as a photographer, children grow up, members come and go, and the church continually adds new and innovative programs. There is an ongoing need for fresh photos. The director of communication worked beside me all day, and determined that we needed photos of DiscoveryLand Sunday school, the annual barbecue, the new thrift store, and a few others.

Before Sunday school started, we tried to photograph two scenes. The two photos directly above and below are the best our failed attempts. The annual barbecue followed the regular Sunday service, so we expected a large congregation. My client wanted a wide-angle shot of crowds of people entering the church to show the wonderful sense of community at Plymouth. So I staked out on a tall ladder across the street and waited. And waited. And waited. Normally, everyone enters the church through the main doors to the sanctuary. As luck would have it, that day they entered from the other side. Before we realized this, I passed the time photographing two teenage ushers and their mother in the doorway (above).

Next we went to the arcade between the sanctuary and the church house to shoot the barrage of children and adults exiting after the service. If I had more time to prepare, I may have done better, but as I was almost done setting up, the children rushed passed me, and it was over in an instant (below).

I did much better in DiscoveryLand Sunday school, where in one room older children read and discussed Bible stories, and in another room younger children made necklaces from Cheerios and listened to stories read by adults.

Posts in the series “A Day at Plymouth Church”:
1. Sunday School
2. Annual Barbecue
3. Children Take Center Stage
4. Upstairs at the Underground Thrift Store

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