#32 .... SYDNI...... The Thief

This is the photo ^^^^   "image"  that tugged at my heart....... I knew her....and her family from afar.  How could you not?  If you live(d) in Powhatan, you had  or have heard of the Brawleys.  They came in like a storm and made their mark....all over the place.     A single mom with 5 children each with a unique talent of some sort...and ALL with a closeness that my own family that I was born into never had, no matter how much I tried.

"Paddy" was her nickname for her IPAD ,  the very expensive IPAD that was hard for any teenager to obtain ..... was hers.  It was a gift I learned later,  for her birthday from her Mom and newly acquired Step-Father, Tony.   I think it was her  sweet 16th.   She loved her IPAD and took it everywhere she went.

The story was ....she was in class,  ART CLASS?  not really sure but sitting with a group of  trusted friends.  Her beloved friends...the friends she connected with in PHS.   I may be "off a bit" on the story but I think she left to go to the rest room or somewhere and returned to find that her "PADDY"  had been stolen, GONE.

She posted "the photo" and it came up in my facebook feed.  I don't believe I was her facebook friend at the time, but I was her mother's facebook friend and she (Beth) also pleaded for this treasured item to be returned.    There was ,  of course,  no response.   No One stepped up to the plate and returned this item to her ,  and no one "gave up"  the thief.

I looked high and low for ways to replace her IPAD,  it became my mission to blow up her mother's email with differing ways she could "earn" another IPAD .   She could join several online programs and refer her "million" friends (that she did and still does have, actually she has a huge following in the church and online)  or she could enter contests,  she could do all sorts of things that takes Time and Energy to do to replace her IPAD for her daughter but her daughter couldn't do the same things as she was not 18....she was only a couple of weeks past her 16th ....PADDY WAS BRAND NEW.

Mom professed they could not afford to run out and buy a new one, and well.....it just wasn't in her schedule to do anything about it except "pray" and "put it out there."

Well........I am a contest person and I also wanted an IPAD...... so I was entering like crazy and low and behold.... I was "picking fries from Wendy's" online game and I won one!   It came several weeks later and I was ecstatic.... YEAH I WON AN IPAD......  and I looked at the box ....and I thought of NOTHING but  "THE PICTURE" ^^^^^^^   I could not own that ipad in good faith....I had to ...well I had to bring it to the high school and put her name on it...... I wasn't the thief,  I didn't know the thief, heck I didn't even really know Sydni....but .... I became her friend.... quickly.....

   WHO COULD NOT LOVE THIS GIRL ?  ^^^^^ WHO COULD STEAL FROM HER ?  The more I was around her on the side lines  of the pep rallys and football games the more I loved her from AFAR.

THIS ^^^^ is the only photo I know of ....that shows the two of us together..... I smiled proudly at her my camera pointed to the floor making eye contact with Sydni who would sit on stage during the graduation ceremony 2011.  WHAT a SMART BEAUTIFUL TALENTED YOUNG LADY SHE WAS AND IS !   my heart beamed as she passed and smiled at me....and it was captured on film , that moment that I saw her walking by....

^^^^ this photo is the only one that I have personally taken of sydni (alone)  I took others in groups on stage and at school........... this fact is quite strange because I am a photographer and she is not only an actress but ALSO a model.     This photo was taken the day of graduation and just shows her inner and outer beauty as I see her ^^^^^ as I saw her that day.   Of course after the "paddy" incident we became and still are facebook friends.  I have followed her journey as she starred in many plays from Pocohontas to Snow White to just about every major role you can image.... she always shined and STOLE the SHOW......

Jenni Chung Photography.

Jenni Chung Photography took this GRIPPING image of Sydni and my heart stopped when I saw the serious gorgeous side of her.  I am sure her parents cry everytime they see a new photograph of her .  The images show so many sides , so much emotion......

Preston Tran Photography!
This is her newest image that I have seen of miss sydni.   AGAIN JUST STUNNING and BLONDE ?  what the heck this girl can pull anything off.  She is vivacious, serious, stunning and a gorgeous actress and model.  I sure hope she is now getting paid for her work, because as you can see .....she deserves to be.   I have seen her in 3 wedding dresses and she has never been married.  I have seen her as characters, happy, sad and everything in between.  She is in college now and having the time of her life.  The middle child.  The youngest daughter. The supportive sister.  The traveler.  The Carpe Diem girl.  The missionary.  The trusting friend.

On a mission trip , unsure of photographer and shamelessly stolen image from Facebook.


right from the beginning ... from the time I saw that PHOTOGRAPH.... THE  PHOTO.......the one I  have related to the most ...... the one where she "trusted too much" ......

I know if you are reading and viewing this blogpost you also just fell in love with her.

I know Sydni is going places..... literally and figuratively .... and I would like to think that some how my little encounter with her stays with her .... and if she ever has the chance ....to connect with someone in a kindred way ....she will.   I know she will.  

Maybe one day ,  I will spend some time with her and REALLY PHOTOGRAPH HER .... and I think I will probably need her autograph.  <3 br="" nbsp="">


RUSS.....#31 ... A diamond in the rough

Russ is in a nursing home,  his earthly belongings have been sold and he is sick.  He is very sick.

I met him for a moment ,   a day in fact....the day I was photographing the Brown wedding at OBX.   He was there.

He limped just a little but he smiled a lot .    He was one of the groomsmen - The "Best" Man and he was happy.

I didn't know anyone before I arrived at the beach but I tried to get to know everyone that was there before I left.    There was less than 50 people there at OBX at milepost 18.5 but everyone that was there truly loved this couple,  there was no one there that was "an aquaintence" or a person that had to be invited because they were "related."   This was very refreshing,  everyone there knew them,  knew them well and was there to support their choice to join their lives.

In the spirit of the beach and all that it symbolized, down to the matching abalone wedding rings.... the wedding was special.  The pirates, the bounty , the sand and the peacefulness of it all and the souls of the people that I did not know ,  I tried to capture  on film.


Russ stood out.  I wrote about him shortly after the wedding date:
"This is one of the nicest, most laid back human beings I have ever met in my life. He is a happy soul. I really enjoyed meeting everyone at this wedding.  —"   

He impressed me that I put him in a category ....."have EVER MET IN MY LIFE"  now that is saying a little something considering that I have met a lot of people....a whole lot of people in my life...... but he stood out.... not that the BRIDE AND GROOM DID NOT MIND YOU ... but we sat with Russ at the dinner table and he smiled and smiled.  He was full of Positives..... he savored his food, he savored his moments and he talked about a bit of his life.

He seemed very knowledgable about bikes.....motorcycles and everyone called him "brother" ....a kindred spirit to many that were there but different.   I couldn't put my finger on what exactly was different but .... he was.

He had on a beautiful ring that I commented on..... it had been a gift from his son (he smiled as he accepted my compliments)  I could tell he was proud that his son had chosen him as the wearer of the stone ring  of turquoise ....one of his most prized possessions like him it was weathered,  and a little bent....but I was mesmerized by his ring, his stories and his smile.

Nothing bothered him.  His body was sore, he was aching , it was a windy day and he was a bit unsteady but he smiled and did not complain.  He appeared to take everything with a grain of sand.... and made glass... he shimmered.... if a turquoise stone could shimmer his ring would too...

He ate his dinner, and he tasted from the plates of others....I loved that about him....you know eating and feasting bring people together, well this was no exception.  He sat at the foot or the head of the table, however you would want to look at it....and I sat very near to him.  I couldn't help but smile as he commented on the day and how it was one of the best in his life..... he shared the sentiment of the bride and groom.  He packed away the cornbread from the table to take home, 4 hours away.....for later...as it was his favorite.

He looked at photos on his friends telephone of bikes and bike wrecks and reminisced about days gone by.   He smiled.   He smiled with the good and the bad.   His memories appeared to all make him happy even the bad ones.  I secretly wished I had that same gift.....

I found out later that we have another mutual friend and that friend, Morris.  He tells a funny story about Russ, and how Russ shocked him one day on a dare of sorts.....I chuckle and can imagine this guy, the guy they call Russ....being the giver,  the giver of smiles and the taker of cornbread.

Today .... I hear his health has failed him even more and his friends are rallying to be by his side for the last 6 months.... I hear that he was told he would not make it through the weekend....but I also hear he has been told this before....