Wednesday, July 17, 2013

La Casa De Maria Dedication of "The Shalom Garden" In Honor Of Roy Mankovitz

Sunday June 30th Dedication of "The Shalom Garden" at La Casa De Maria In Honor of Roy Mankovitz

*Enjoy the slideshow at the end of this blog and Kathleen's Love Letter To Roy. If you'd like to watch it in full screen, click on the box icon in the lower right side of screen. If the music doesn't come on when you click "play" then refresh your screen and click "play" again.
 **There was a beautiful bluejay which I noticed during the Dedication that flew over and started singing throughout the whole Dedication. I included a photo of it in the slideshow.

The world knew him to be a rocket scientist, lawyer, inventor, health researcher, and author but his family and friends were blessed to know a man who was more than the sum of his parts. He was a charimastic, big-hearted friend, father, and husband full of life and his death took all of his loved ones by total surprise.

I was incredibly blessed to have been invited (thanks to Ray Estrada, Cindy Faith Swain, and Kathleen Barry) to photograph the Dedication of The Shalom Garden at La Casa De Maria to honor Roy Mankovitz's Memory. I have been to many Memorials and Tributes over the years and have never heard more eloquent words spoken in honor of a passed loved ones as I heard on that hot summer day. Many of us were brought to tears as his friends and family shared their memories of Roy over the years. 

It was a fitting tribute for a man so full of life that I can only imagine he must have been proud to see.

It's difficult and downright impossible to process the sudden loss of a loved one. I think that Kathleen Barry (and friend of mine), Roy's wife of 23 years, captured all of the mixture of grief, gratitude, and love we feel with the loss of a soulmate and loved one. She was willing to share the poignant Love Letter she wrote to him recently and read to us all that day.

 In honor of his love of the famed Hawaiian singer Brother Iz, I've used the song "Kamilani" in the slideshow below. Please feel free to share this with any of Roy's friends, family and loved ones. 

"Love Letter to Roy Jack Mankovitz"

June 30, 2013
 Dear Roy,

I love you. I miss you. Where are you? Are you OK?

Perhaps these four short sentences composed of three simple words say enough of how your sudden and unexpected death has affected my life.  There have been 720 sunrises and sunsets since we last saw one another, since I last heard your voice, since you told me you loved me.

Life has been tumultuous, painful, and bleak without the regular and reaffirming presence of

1)  Your love for me,
2)   Your commitment, love and dedication  for your children, grandchildren, and extended family,
3)  Your passion for ideas and knowledge, AND
4)  Your respect and dedication to the few lucky ones you called friend. 

We miss you.  We love you. We want to know where you are. 

Roy in case you don’t remember, this coming August 28th will mark the 25th anniversary of our first meeting.   On that hot summer night in Woodland Hills,  my life changed forevermore.

A quarter of a century leaves me with millions of memories of our wonderful life together.

I recall the many aspects of our life together where we harmonized. 

I also recall those areas where we didn’t harmonize so well.

I savor the sweet remembrances of our loving and fun times with our families and friends in Hawaii, at the Hollywood Bowl, in Tucson, Chicago, Paris, Jerusalem … and most certainly here in Montecito … your last port of call.

I recall the many exciting AHA moments when we had a sneak
preview of one of your or my dreams coming to fruition. 

I hold close to my heart the tender moments when we shared our passions, our worries, and our hopes for our future.

I have thousands of pictures that remind me of our varying hair styles, our evolving body sizes and shapes, our changing styles in clothes, our lovely homes, our phenomenal trips, and our family holidays. 

From all of these memories and photos what I recognize most vividly is the abundance of LOVE and RESPECT that you shared with me, your family, your friends, and your beloved
inventions and ideas.

Roy: You can count on me to love you forever and a day.
Please continue to accompany me in my life as it unfolds  towards the future.  I will call upon you with questions.  When I have a question,  imagine something like this: I will whine ever so slightly as I did throughout our relationship “Dear” and you will wryly respond  as you typically did “Yes Dear … what now?  

I will smile and laugh when I repeat one of your funny expressions. 
I will save your two favorite Hawaiian shirts until I am no more. 
I will continue your legacy and keep your memory alive until I am no more.

You see we are in it for the long haul my dear Roy Mankovitz ….

Through multiple lifetimes and galaxies, know that I have your
back.  I will count on you having mine. 

I promise you that I will continue to live a fulfilling life and make good on the many dreams I have had for my life as well as on the ones we shared together.  I will love your children and grandchildren enough for the two of us..

Wherever you are now and in whatever dimension you have landed, my wish is that your time is filled with incredible explorations, adventurous learning,  peaceful grace, and enduring LOVE. 

Most importantly when you whiz by your beloved Mother Earth, please remember each of us who were left with broken hearts and unrealized conversations in the wake of your hasty departure.

We miss you. We love you. We wish you Godspeed.

You know dear, I had a hard time choosing the right song for the  opening of today’s dedication. Then as though you were tapping me on the shoulder, I realized that you would like us to listen to the beautiful lyrics and melody from one your favorite Hawaiian songs Kamalani sung by Brother Iz.

Roy, Mr. Smarty Pants, did you know that in Hawaiian, kama means child of a chief and lani means sky? 

I don’t know if you were a child of a chief, but you were certainly a chief in your own right. You loved the night sky and often remarked at its wonder when we sat in our yard gazing at the stars.  No doubt you are regularly cruising through the night skies because at your core you ARE a rocket scientist. You are my Kamalani … chief of the night sky.  As the song states, “Kamalani, We will be together again”.

Until that day when I recognize your soulful essence in whatever form it is in and in whatever place I will find you,for now it is here in the Shalom Garden, that I will connect with you on this earthly plane … in the presence of Nature, underneath  these beautiful oak trees and glorious blue sky, on this spiritual land once graced by the Chumash Indians.

Roy I love you. We love you.  Be safe.

Signed me/us … Missing you terribly in Montecito,

 *Enjoy the slideshow and feel free to leave your comments at the end. If you'd like to watch it in full screen, click on the box icon in the lower right side of screen. If the music doesn't come on when you click "play" then refresh your screen and click "play" again. 
**There was a beautiful bluejay which I noticed during the Dedication that flew over and started singing throughout the whole Dedication. I included a photo of it in the slideshow.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Vega's Gorgeous Pregnancy Photos

There is a magic that happens to us as photographers when everything comes together at once in perfect synchronicity....the ethereal light converges with  perfect softness and vibrant color....and we are connected with the people we're photographing in that moment in time and space in complete perfection.

It's something that we aspire to everytime we shoot and feel incredibly blessed when we achieve. It's a sense of ecstasy that is captured in mere seconds but immortalized forever.

I had all of these feelings throughout my entire shoot with Vega....our lighting and venue were perfect and we worked together and understood each other perfectly. She was willing to trust my vision while also having an empowered and liberating sense of herself and her body. She has a femininity and electric magnetism that translates so well through the lens. It was an absolute joy to co-create this shoot together!

She was fearless and open to trying just about everything we both could come up during the time we had. One of my specialties and favorite types of photography is Goddess Photography in which I celebrate women of all shapes, sizes, and ages throughout the various stages of our lives. What more amazing way to celebrate Vega's "Goddess-ness"than to celebrate her body's ability to create life and to watch her transition from Woman to Mother.

I have to add that there has been more serendipity involved between Vega and me than this shoot. We met around twelve years ago through mutual friends and had such an unforgettable conversation I never forgot about her. It was the time before Facebook and social media and cell phones were just beginning to be used and we either lost contact info for each other or never asked for it. I never forgot her and always wondered if she still lived in Santa Barbara. There are many people we meet throughout our lives and never forget and Vega was one of them. Over the years I wondered where she was and if I would ever see her again.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I was shooting an event with Association For Women In Communication and there she was again....twelve years later. I was so excited to reconnect with her and was happy to know she hadn't forgotten me either. I didn't realize it at the time that she was pregnant and was overjoyed when she asked me to be her photographer for the final leg of her pregnancy.

Life has a funny way of connecting us at just the right moments. I so look forward to seeing Vega become the amazing Mother that I know she will be....and I definitely hope I have the opportunity to continue photographing her throughout her Motherhood.

Wishing her a sublime and beautiful birthing experience!

Life is truly magical.

*Please make sure to check out the slideshow I posted below of our shoot together. There's a comment thread below as well~

*If the music doesn't come on at first, please refresh your window/browser and click "play" again. Enjoy!

Monday, July 01, 2013

2013 Rockin' Santa Barbara Writers Conference

*Please feel free to leave your comments below the slideshow. Enjoy!

Owner: Monte Schulz
Director: Nicole Starczak
Director Of Volunteers: Grace Rachow
Rockin' Multi-Media Team: Rachel S. Thurston (r.s.thurston photography), Lisa Angle (Ninety Degrees Media), Ginger Swanson (video), and Jane St. Clair
Rockin' Volunteers: You all know who you are!!! Great volunteer pic in the slideshow below.

The third week of June has come to punctuate my year with the same special occasion that Summer Solstice, Halloween and my spring birthday all do. It's not summer or a complete turn around the sun without the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. I think I've lost count of the number of years I've been involved with the conference--at first as a fledgling student both bewildered and inspired and then over the years as a part of the staff and lead photographer for the conference).

It's difficult to explain exactly how special this week is or even why it has become such a magical part of the year. As writers, we all struggle with challenges of isolation, self-doubt, and self-criticism and during this gloriously full week we gather from around the country (and a few from abroad) to support and inspire each other. The six days of the conference are so gloriously filled that one could easily spend 17 hours immersed in all things literary...from 9 a.m. til 2 a.m. 
There are morning, afternoon, and evening workshops, afternoon panels, evening speakers, a wine and cheese event (one of my favorites even though tequila sadly hasn't yet been incorporated into the event), opening and closing night dinners, an annual Talent Show (which I've somehow inherited the leadership of ;-) and an agents and editors day in which writers can rub elbows with the pros and have the opportunity to actually pitch their manuscripts (Fannie Flagg of Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe credits the start of her literary career to SBWC!).
Stephen Chbosky, author and director  of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower pictured with
SBWC Owner Monte Schulz and Director Nicole Starczack.

But my favorite moments of the conference are actually those moments in between. When you stick a couple hundred brilliantly talented, company-starved literati together for a week and fill them with literary inspiration, deprive them of sleep and provide a daily happy hour, you never know what kinds of magic will ensue. I have met several lifelong friends at the Conference over the past 10 plus years...some of whom I only get to see during this one precious week of the year.

For this week, we all put our lives on hold to reflect on our lifelong dedication to the craft of writing and the precious connection we have with one another. The Conference has grown into an invaluable community of men and women of all ages, shapes, colors, and sizes who have found their "tribe" of fellow misfits and miscreants at long last!

This past year was also one of reflection and sadness as the Co-Founder and Beloved Figurehead of the SB Writers Conference, Barnaby Conrad, passed away. In addition, his dear friend and internationally renowned author Ray Bradbury (a dear friend of SBWC and a huge inspiration to many of us in the literary world) also passed away this past year (and is also as deserving of his own slideshow if I had the photos for it).
Best-Selling Author Sue Grafton photographed along with Journalist and
Presenter Susan Gulbransen and SBWC Owner Monte Schulz

Many of us attended a beautiful tribute dedicated to Barnaby during the conference week to share stories about his life and celebrate all of the ways that Barnaby impacted each of us over the years. Because I was able to take so many amazing photos this year and at the Tribute, I thought that Barnaby's Tribute deserved to be a slideshow of its own. I'm hoping that his family and friends can share these photos and stories and help Barnaby's legacy live on through each of us. 

I want to give a huge shout out to Monte Schulz and Nicole Starczak for putting on the Best Conference yet this year (it is like a fine tequila anejo and seems to only get better with every year!) A big thank you to Grace Rachow and to all of our incredibly, hardworking team of volunteers who do everything in their power to make the Conference go smoothly and stress-free. Mahalo Nui to all of the Workshop Leaders for the inspiration and passion you bring into each of your workshops every year. Big Thanks to each of the panelist and speakers who delighted us with insight and humor this year and found room in their heart to share some tips with writers like us who are still in the trenches... A big thank you to Lorenzo and the Staff at The Hyatt for making all of us at SBWC feel like we have a second home there during the week of the Conference. And Big Thanks to all of the Attendees for continuing to support the SB Writers Conference!

I have deep gratitude for the "family" and community I have found in many of you through the Writers Conference. I've been working my butt off to edit these photos and put together a slideshow which hopefully is testament to what a magical week the third week in June is for all of us!

Our Fearless Workshop Leaders!

*I hope you have fun reliving these very special days...if the music doesn't come on at first, just refresh your browser and click "play" again. Also feel free to leave your comments after each of the slideshows. If you'd like me or anyone else to see the comments, please make sure to "tag" me and anyone else you want. Feel free to share this link with your friends as well!

"SBWC 2013 Rocks!" Slideshow

"Tribute To Barnaby Conrad" Slideshow