I don’t know many of the American Idol contestants.  I rarely watch the show.  But for some reason I had heard of Scotty McCreery.   Not sure why – he’s a country singer (I don’t listen to that genre), he won last season’s American Idol (I didn’t watch it) and he lives in Garner, just outside of Raleigh (I’ve never been there).  So, when I got the call to photograph him at his high school (Garner Magnet School) I was thrilled – I love new experiences.  Photographed on location in the library of Garner High School for TeachersCount, we took portraits of Scotty alone and with his teacher/mentor Derek Goffena.  I also had a little help from the high school yearbook staff and my assistant Elizabeth Larson and stylist Claudia Gunn.   Here’s the poster:

Watkins Grill

During our road trip to photograph Scotty McCreery (American Idol fame) in Raleigh we stopped for lunch at Watkins Grill – a classic diner built in the 1920’s.  Great menu, fantastic food (not fat-free), better atmosphere (Civil War generals’ photos hanging on the wall), and very nice owners.  I think everyone living in Raleigh, at one time or another, makes it to breakfast or lunch.  It’s the place to be seen.

Owners Judy and Rhonda

The Metropolitan

What I love about photography the most is having the opportunity to learn about new things.   I didn’t know very much about the Russian Orthodox Church here in America, so when they called and asked me to photograph The Metropolitan it was my chance to further educate myself.
Here’s some interesting info about the Church and Metropolitan here in the US:
– Started when, in 1794, eight Russian Orthodox monks traveled to Alaska (then part of Russia).
– By the late 1800’s,  due to the large immigrant population from Europe and the Middle East, the Church grew and spread to other areas of the United States.
– There are now estimated between 27,169 to as high as 1,064,000 members of the Church in the United States.  I’m not sure why the numbers vary.
– The Metropolitan is the head of all the bishops in the Americas (US and Canada).
– The metropolitan is elected by the Holy Synod at an All-American Council.  There are no age or term limits for the metropolitan, and he may retire at any time, but usually does so only for health-related reasons.  He is similar to the Archbishop in stature.

Other than lugging equipment through and on the Subway (always a fun ordeal…), there weren’t any obstacles to over come on this shoot.  We shot at his residence.  Rearranged some of his furniture and set up the lights.  As with many official portraits of clergy, the Metropolitan stood with a very stoic look.  He is, in fact, a very friendly and pleasant person.  As I usually do after the shoot is finished I ask if he wanted any less posed shots.  He said “I was just in Florida with alligators and got some shots with them.”  I asked if he blessed the alligator before holding it.  “No”, he said, “I blessed myself.”  I don’t blame him.

The Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in New York