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I love photographing people. I love being able to meet new people, see their lovely families, laugh and play with little kids, see a bride all dressed up on her special day, be amazed when I see a newborn baby all curled up in front of me…and it brings me joy to capture it all in my camera so that a family or a couple can have those special memories that will last them a lifetime.

Thanksgiving will be upon us soon and this Thanksgiving, I decided to use my photography skills to give back to the community in my own little way. Here is what I plan to do – I want to photograph someone who has never dreamed of having their portraits made. It could be:

  • a child (or kids) without a family
  • kids at a children’s hospital
  • single moms who can’t afford to take a family portrait
  • a poor couple who can’t afford an engagement session
  • people with terminally ill family members
  • a poor  elderly couple
  • someone homeless

I will photograph this person (or people) for free and give them a set of high quality prints in an album that they can keep.

In addition, depending on who gets photographed, I will also involve local make up artists, hair dressers, clothing stores, etc to try and pitch in and provide their products or services for free for the shoot. So we will have the local community getting together to help someone from their community get photographs that they could otherwise never afford.

The only caveat is that the people being photographed should reside in Michigan or NYC/NJ area.

Why am I doing this? Because a photograph is timeless and it can bring happiness to someone. Imagine a single mom getting all made up for a day for a photo shoot with her kids. Or an elderly couple that can have a memento to pass on to their grandkids to remember them by. Or a terminally ill person who can live on through these pictures and bring solace to his or her family.

This is not about me or my photography. This is not about building my portfolio or about fancy lighting. It is about giving pictures, not taking them. It is about laughing and connecting with someone and serving for the pure sake of serving. It is about helping people see the beauty within and to help them appreciate what they have, even if they don’t have much at all.

But I can’t do all this without your help. Rather than pick people at random myself, I thought it would be nice to photograph people I get to know indirectly through my network of friends and family. I need you to nominate someone that you know. It could be someone you work with, it could be your neighbor or someone you go to church with. If you know someone that fits the bill, then please use the comments section below to contact me and tell me about them – who they are, how you know them and why I should photograph that person. If you don’t know anyone, then pass this on to someone that might know someone. I will read every comment and pick 2 entries that I connect with the most and co-ordinate with you to take their pictures a few weeks before Thanksgiving so that I can give them their free prints right around Thanksgiving.

Please help me spread the word by passing on this post to your family, friends and colleagues and requesting them to pass it on to others that they might know. You can copy and paste this link in an email to others or even make it your Facebook status or Twitter update for 24 hours:

http://wp.me/pkl1C-n6

Lastly, if you are reading this and you don’t know who I am, please visit my website to learn a little about myself and to see the kind of pictures we can help create for people in need:

www.photographybysuman.com

I hope to hear from you and with your help, I hope to connect with someone special this Thanksgiving.

Suman

We met up with Ajay and Shilpi in NJ yesterday to see their son Anish. He is such a cutie! He has the most amazing, large beautiful eyes. Here are a few random pics that I shot while we were walking around on the boardwalk.

Here’s one of him sulking:

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I love this shot of him making a funny face:

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His pensive face:

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Look at those big eyes!

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A shot of father and son:

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Me chillin’ with the little man:

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Yet another funny face:

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He’s gonna be a heart breaker – watch out Ajay! 🙂

Sharmila and I shot Patrick and Charisse’s engagement at the Book Cadillac in Feb of ’09. They got married today at the GPWM and I was photographing their wedding, so here are some shots from the day.

The weather was a mix of sun and clouds throughout the day. They got really lucky as the clouds cleared and the sun came out right before the wedding was about to start:

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Patrick getting ready – I like the moody lighting in the shot:

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A shot of the bride’s wedding gown:

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A fun shot of Patrick with his groomsmen:

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A few fun shots of Charisse with her bridesmaids:

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Love this shot of Clarisse by the garden:

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Another bridal shot:

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This little guy was running around all over the place and I had to get a shot of him – such a cute little kid:

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It got really cloudy once the wedding ceremony was over, allowing me to play with some flash photography and create some romantic shots with a bit of dramatic flair – I love this veil shot:

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Another fun shot, this time the groomsmen with the bride:

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After the wedding, Sharmila and I met them at the MGM Grand for their afterparty. Took this shot in one of the lounges in the casino – love the blue lights:

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Terrence Howard  (actor and singer  – he starred in Crash, Hustle and Flow, Iron Man) was staying at the MGM and we bumped in to him while doing the shoot. He was such a laid back guy and he was really nice enough to pose with Sharmila for a quick pic:

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I was exhausted by the end of the night, but Patrick, Charisse and the bridal party were a really fun crowd and up for anything, which made it fun. Hope the 2 have an awesome time in Paris for their honeymoon.

I always try and find things around the house to practice my photography and lighting on.  Sharmila got tired of me taking random pictures of her, so now I use a stuffed Ernie doll that I gave her. Today I decided to go out and shoot some pics of one of our cars. I am thinking of selling the S55 and maybe get a convertible instead. I needed some good pics of it to post online, so I decided to practice lighting and flash photography on the car. Wanted to create some strong black and white images. Here’s what I came up with:

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One color shot just for the heck of it:

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Sharmila came to NYC this past weekend and 6 of us headed off to the Poconos for 2 days, where we had booked a cabin. The drive was a little over 2 hours, but we left late and by the time we got to our cabin, it was really late and quite dark. The cabin was in the boondocks and was surrounded by trees, making it quite spooky at night:

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To add to the eerie feeling, we noticed this truck parked right outside the cabin – why was it there? Was someone else lurking in the trees waiting for us? If you’ve watched the Hills Have Eyes movie, you know what I’m talking about 🙂

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All of a sudden, the girls gave out a gasp and I look around and we see this a few feet away in the woods:

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From far away, this statue of Mary and baby Jesus looked like someone standing and watching us. A few feet away, there was also a big status of Jesus in the woods.Why would you surround your cabin with religious statues?  A little weird……it definitely added to the spookiness.

It the outside wasn’t eerie enough, we walk in to the cabin and see crosses hanging from the wall and religious references all throughout the cabin:

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We were all thinking that someone would come in the dark of the night and perform sacrificial rituals around our bed or something!

The inside of the cabin was really nice:

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Fatema was trying to heat up some food and forgot to take it out in time – here is what a burnt piece of bread looks like – Fatema, please leave the cooking to the rest of us 😉

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The next morning, I decided to wake up and take some pics of our surroundings.  This was the view from our deck:

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I went exploring in the woods behind the cabin. Saw this really cool looking tree with moss growing on it:

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Here is the Jesus statue that I talked about earlier. In the daytime it hardly looked spooky, but nonetheless, it’s a bit odd being surrounded by these statues everywhere you turn:

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It was a hot summer day and the view from the woods was really nice:

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Looked down on the ground and saw this little guy being a “busy bee” 🙂

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Also saw this little guy – he froze when he saw me, allowing me to snap a quick picture:

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The next day, Sharmila and I went hiking in Bushkill falls:

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The main falls above were just ok…nothing super impressive, but as you climb down the stairs that you see in the picture above, you get to the bottom of the falls where there is a creek and the creek was really impressive – the combination of the water flowing, rock walls jutting out from the sides and the greenery made for a really pretty scene:

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A pic of Sharmila taken with her camera phone:

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On the last night, the 6 of us wanted to check out this show (it was visited by the travel channel and chosen to be the most haunted place in PA) where they do weird things like summon spirits, perform seances and bend spoons and pennies with their mind – if you know us, you know that both of us really like doing spooky things. So it was a perfect show for us 🙂 Apparently, the house is haunted since there were 3 deaths that took place there – Walter (who was killed by his), his wife (who committed suicide) and their daughter (who was electrocuted)! The place was also where Houdini performed many live shows, so they paid homage to Houdini all over the place:

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Look at those eyes:

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The show, for the most part, ended up being more theatrics and magic tricks and not enough spirits and ghosts. But we all got to participate in the show in some form or another.

Here’s Sid shuffling a deck of cards:

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And Fatema putting tape (lots of it!) on the poor guy’s face:

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This is what happens when you give rolls of tape to women and tell them to go wild on your face:

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The guy trying to predict the contents of the envelope while his eyes are taped shut.  He also guessed a few things about Sharmila….he called it mind reading:

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The part that was sort of cool was when he bent coins and forks without touching them:

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Shivani channeling her powers to help bend the fork 🙂

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Rohit is proud of his wife’s powers, as long as she doesn’t use it on him 🙂

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Sharmila, with a picture of Walter, the spirit that apparently haunts the building:

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A shot of the girls and the hostess outside the haunted building:

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After our Poconos trip, we came back to NJ and the next morning, headed out to NYC to see India’s Independence Day Parade. It was another hot day and the streets were lined with tons of Indian people walking around, eating food and watching the dancing on stage. Here is a shot of people sitting on the streets, having lunch:

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Lots and lots of people out on the streets:

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This guy was showing his patriotic side:

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Richie and Shalu happened to be in NYC as well so we met up with them at the parade:

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I noticed something very interesting as we walked the parade – I kid you not, every Indian guy walking the street had the same hairstyle! I don’t know what style it is, but the back of the head is spiky and every where I looked, all the guys were sporting it. As proof, I took shots of random guys who walked by me:

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Jay Sean, a UK based Indian singer who recently had a top 10 song on the U.S. charts and Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood actress, were the guests of honor at the parade:

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After the parade, we went to Spice Market in the meat packing district for dinner.

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It serves “street style food” from Asia. The ambiance was nice, but more importantly, the food was really good. Everything we ordered was excellent. Here is the inside of the restaurant:

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We ordered the Chef’s tasting menu, which was a 5 course meal. We started with some shaved tuna with chilli tapioca and avocado salad with tempura onions, before moving on to char grilled chicken and beef skewers with ginger fried rice. We also had spiced chicken samosas, which were excellent. Dessert was Ovaltine kulfi with caramelized bananas and pop corn!

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After dinner, we headed out to see  Amar and Neeta who live in Harlem. On the way back, we stopped by and took this picture of the Empire State building, which was lit up in the colors of the Indian Flag in honor of India’s Independence Day:

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The next 2 days,we took a bus tour of uptown and midtown NYC as well as Brooklyn. I had bought the tickets as part of a package including the helicopter tour that we did a few months back on Sharmila’s birthday weekend, but when we went to the ticket counter to collect our tickets, they would’nt give them to us due to some confusion in their system. After spending 3 hours with them, we finally got out tickets and set out on our bus tour of NYC.

We did the Brooklyn tour first. It was a HOT summer day and we were sitting on top of the bus which had no shade (there was no lower level seating). I actually had an umbrella for a good part of the ride to give me some relief from the heat. I don’t know how the others on the bus managed to stay on for the ride with the sun beating down on them – it was 96 degrees!

These kids on the street were playing around in the water gushing out of the fire hydrant. When they saw us coming they mischievously directed the water at us and we all got soaked! I guess it’s a tradition for them during the hottest days of the summer:

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The rest of what you see here are random shots that I took as the bus went through Brooklyn and NYC – some of the images are funny, some quirky, but that’s what I was trying to capture – all the cool things that you can see only on the streets of NY.

A cool shot of one of NY’s bravest:

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A funny poster behind a bus:

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Times Square in the evening:

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Anyone that has been to Times Square might know about the Naked Cowboy. He stands on the streets in his tight shorts, guitar in hand, and entertains the crowd. Get this – he has decided to run for mayor of NYC and apparently, he is 2nd in the polls! I couldn’t believe it! Remains to be seen if he wins or not, but I captured these 2 images that I thought were funny – him playing on the streets:

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This funny poster:

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We drove through South Street Seaport:

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We also went through China Town – took a shot of this funny store sign:

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The Brooklyn Bridge:

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A cool sign outside a building in Brooklyn:

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I saw this grungy looking building and thought it was really cool and added character to the streets:

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Ok, this next picture is a bit revolting, but somewhere during the tour (which is a hop-on, hop-off tour, meaning you can get on and off anytime you want), this guy gets on and sits down in front of me. He is one of the hairiest guys I’ve ever seen in my life and I could not resist taking this next shot:

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Love this shot of  the mailman in his colorful turban and headphones going about his day:

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Another cool wall with grafitti on it:

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It was a really hectic, but fun few days which we ended with celebrating Sid’s birthday!  We were on the move a lot and didn’t really get to relax since we did so much, but it makes for fun memories. Both of us now need a few days to nap and recover 🙂

A bunch of us got together to play volleyball this weekend. It was a beautiful day and people were out with their kids and dogs. We all just got together, ate food, hung out, played some really bad volleyball and had a fun, relaxing afternoon before heading over to Amrita and Binesh’s BBQ. A few pics from the day.

A beautiful, summer day in Michigan:

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Cute lil puppy:

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Headed over to Amrita and Binesh’s BBQ – they had their backyard bonfire going:

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Had a lot of fun playing with the kids. The kids loved this flashlight and had a lot of fun taking scary pics with it:

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Sharmila found this in Amrita’s fridge…don’t ask 🙂

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Another fun, summer weekend in Michigan…

Went over to Charlie and Tamanna’s for Amaan’s 5th birthday. Didn’t get a chance to take pics of the birthday boy, but here are a few of some of the other cuties:

How cute is this little girl?

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Here is Amaan with his pensive look:

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A fun shot of Zach – he loves to pose for me whenever I shoot him (if only he would pose for his mom) 🙂

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And lastly, a shot of the drama queen cutting the cake – it’s a tireless job, but someone’s gotta do it:

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It turned out to be a beautiful evening. Thanks guys for having us over!