Today, I’d like to tell you about three people who either indirectly or directly had an impact on my view of the world as well as the characteristics they had which inspire me daily to be a better person.  They are no longer alive but they’ve left a priceless legacy behind.

****

I’m sure many of you heard President Obama’s recent revelation about a drone attack mistakenly killing this past January an American and an Italian being held hostage in Afghanistan. The American was Warren Weinstein, who, along with his family were dear friends of my family when I was growing up. My mother taught piano to both of his daughters, and we also spent time together over some lovely dinners at their home as well as ours. As the years passed, and his daughters grew up and moved on from studying piano, we saw less of them except for the occasional times my mother would bump into his wife and catch up on how all the kids were doing and what new adventure they were embarking upon. Life was normal until he was taken captive in 2011.

His abduction made no sense at all. Worse still was that he only had four short days until he would be reunited with his wife and family. Unfortunately, his story did not have a happy ending. I was left, like so many following this nightmare, speechless at how his life came to a senseless and tragic end. Mr. Weinstein was a gentle and profoundly intelligent man who dedicated his life to his family as well as to improving the lives of others.

***

This past Sunday was, as we all know, Mother’s Day. I enjoyed being pampered by my family but at times had to stop myself from trying to jump in and help. It’s not because I felt like they couldn’t handle it. It was purely out of habit and a desire to keep some sense of order in the house 😉

Anyway, that morning, as I waited for my breakfast, I texted all of my friends and family to wish them a Happy Mother’s Day. I heard back from all but one. It was not like her, but I dismissed it. Then last night I received a late night call from her to let me know found she had lost her husband on Saturday. He had passed away from natural causes. To say we were fond of him, would be a massive understatement. He was a stand-up guy and a supportive husband. Both of them had previously been married and when his wife need to moved back to Hawaii so that she could care for her dying daughter he packed up and left behind his children and grandchildren so that he could be by her side.  He was selfless and always had a smile no matter how things were going.

***

Recently, my parents attended the Bat Mitzvah of the granddaughter of one of my mother’s closest friends. It was a bittersweet day as she had passed a handful of years ago and wouldn’t be there.  When I was growing up, our families had lived within 3 houses of each other.  She had two sons, one of which was my age, and we (including my younger brother) were all inseparable.    That didn’t change when they moved on to another neighborhood.  I remember how I used to sneak away from playing with the other kids just to keep her company as she prepared lunch for us. She treated me not like a child but as a friend.  It made a huge impression on me that I carry with me to this day.   She was also incredibly selfless.  As an only child, she shouldered the responsibility to care for her elderly mother.   She cared for her to a fault, even neglecting her own health.  Her passing was sudden and only a few months later her own mother would also pass away.

***

I read on a daily basis about how we must treasure each day and try to lead a life that is fulfilling. Some days, it makes perfect sense. Other days, I just want to tell who ever said that to shove a sock in it. But, inside, I know it is sound advice and I try to be mindful of my actions; how I treat my loved ones and friends and the choices I make. I have also realized that leading a life with anger and regrets is not living at all.  It accomplishes nothing exempt making us more angry and bitter.  We owe it to ourselves to live fully and to give openly of ourselves no matter how scary the prospect of getting burned or hurt might be.  Kindness is always remembered and can only positively impact each and every one of us.

I’ve always been convinced that things happen for a reason and that God always puts us where we need to be.  So, when I was doing my daily ritual of skimming through the internet, I came across an article which truly hit home.  The article, “This is 45: The Eye of Life’s Storm” , is one woman’s reflection of her life and her current age.

These are not articles I typically read because they all tend to sound the same and/or hold no relevance whatsoever to me.  But this was different.

“Forty-five is the eye of life’s storm. The emotional drama of growing up is behind you, the physical perils of aging are still to come. In these years of quiet, it is easier to be grateful… and fearful. You are an expert on more things than you care to be, and you realize that most of your life has been of your own making. Yes, you are dealt cards that are both good and bad, but you are the one who plays them. With that realization comes a feeling of late great responsibility. You come to terms with how many moments, days, months have been squandered. You vow to do better; you know that you won’t.”

I found that paragraph to be so powerful and true.  Where we are in our lives is of our own making.  It’s tempting and easy to blame others for our own failures, but accepting that we are the ones who determine (to some degree) the direction of our lives and the choices we make is the deal breaker in determining the remaining course of our lives.  It’s deciding to stop being afraid of taking risks and stop allowing fear to derail us from what we truly want and where we want to be. It’s accepting that everyone screws up and that’s ok.  There’s always next time…

Life isn’t perfect; it’s downright messy at times.  But I take solace in knowing that each step I’ve taken has ultimately led me down a better path even though it never feels that way when I’m in the thick of the turmoil.  And I am certainly less tolerant of others trying to impose themselves and their ideas on me in their effort to control.  I’m focused on being in control of myself and how my actions affect those around me.  I can’t say that I’ve always been that way.  I had to bang my head against a brick wall many, many times to learn and to accept.  At 45, I’ve got so much more perspective and I’m grateful I recognize that.  I’m grateful I have those bumps and bruises for my children to see and learn.

PeachRising by Gabriella Wright, CPP

 

As an artist, I find it’s sometimes good to step outside of my comfort zone.  This tends to be where my best work happens.  I also do my best when I’m having fun and not overthinking things.  Unexpectedly, something really cool happens and it does so organically.  It was that attitude I took  with  my recent portrait assignment where I was supposed to somehow shoot a Sarah Moon inspired portrait.  Where to begin??  She is a legendary fashion photographer whose career has spanned decades.  Those are some very big shoes to fill.  As intimidated as I was, I pushed forward.  I told myself  to have fun with no expectations and I think it payed off.  The purist may have a differing opinion and that’s fine.  To read about and see Sarah Moon’s work click here.

Gabi-Wright-8w-assign3

 

Nickweb

As a personal challenge, I decide to become involved in an 8 week portrait course to study the lighting and portraiture of some of the greatest portrait photographers past and present. It has been equal parts inspiring and challenging. Each one of these icons has a style which is immediately recognizable. It’s something all photographers strive for, to create their own unique and recognizable style so as to stand out in the vast sea of professional photographers.

The first photographer on my assignment list was Victor Skrebneski, a legendary fashion photographer from Chicago who has been a major force in fashion photography for over 40 years.  He is well known for his stark lighting and moody black and white portraits.  While he has other lighting setups, this one in particular caught my eye and inspired me.

Below is my portrait which with a little influence of Victor Skrebneski.  Hopefully, I’ve captured the spirit of his style.  To read  more about this legend, check out this link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The museums of Washington, DC were my stomping grounds as a child and so on the rare occasion I have time to visit any one of them I feel a sense of home and nostalgia.  A few months ago I was given the opportunity to photograph one of the more important and historically significant museums in our Nation’s Capital, the National Gallery of Art.  I had no particular goal in mind except to try to capture the beauty of the building.

The original building, the West Wing, was designed by American architect John Russell Pope. Between the classical architecture and the infusion of lush tropical plants and gardens inside, it’s a feast for the eyes and the soul.  The East Wing of the museum was the design genius of famed architect, I. M. Pei.  It is thoroughly modern yet doesn’t clash with the West Wing.  The two somehow manage to work seamlessly together.  It’s a building which is instantly recognizable with  I.M. Pei’s  iconic glass pyramid skylights rising above ground (they also serve as sculptures complementing the exterior of the museum).  Below those fabulous skylights you can dine in what has to be one of the best museum cafes in the city.

As a child wondering through the museum, I was always fascinated with its immensity.  I had no understanding of the artwork at the time, but it didn’t matter.  This place was special.  It was part of the art.  So, it was with much excitement that I embarked on photographing a small portion of both wings.  My time was limited that day, but I made it worthwhile.   For me, it was important to show the interaction between the museum and its visitors, the symbiotic relationship, if you will.  I didn’t want to do just another typical interior architectural photo.  Overall, I was pleased with my results.

assign-45-Gabi-Wright-Tues