Photographer Angelo Merendino; The Battle We Didn’t Choose

As I scrolled down Facebook, aimlessly reading some of the status’s from my friends, I stumbled upon a link to an article written about photographer Angelo Merendino.

The title of the article read, ‘This guy’s wife got cancer, so he did something unforgetable. The last three photos destroyed me.’ With a heading like that I found difficult to ignore.

I clicked on the link and scrolled down the page looking at these heartbreaking photographs of Angelo Merendino wife’s battle with cancer.

The black and white tones bring out the sadness and hardship that possess the images. The love this man felt for his wife is demonstrated in the candid shots of them both together.

The simplicity of capturing a few pieces of hair in somebody’s hand speaks volumes, demonstrating one of the devastating effects cancer brings with it.

I had to share these incredible, yet tragic photographs. In the face of such sadness, Angelo Merendino has set up an organisation called The Love You Share which aims to help women with the costing struggles of breast cancer. In order to help spread the word, please share this post or one’s like it and visit Angelo Merendino website.

Here you can find the full set of photographs that tell the story of Angelo and Jennifer’s love and her battle with the horrible disease.

Website 10_31_2013 (3 of 26) Website 10_31_2013 (5 of 26) Website 10_31_2013 (17 of 26)

“Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino

Advertisements

Travel: Final week at camp and the beginning of my American journey.

The last week of camp was tough as I had lots of things to edit and finish up. The slideshow needed to be completed as did the calendar and ODs twice in a row was not pretty. I felt mentally and bodily exhausted from late nights and early breakfasts and yet I still had fun.

I spent most of the final week in the office driving Steve insane with my sudden outbursts of frustration at the computer. I think he will miss it really!

Walking back and forth from Teenside to Mainside suddenly didn’t seem as annoying because I new I wouldn’t be doing it for much longer. I guess I was making the most of hearing the goats and looking out for turtles in the lake.

I have truly enjoyed the experience and I will never forget all the amazing things camp has taught me. It felt like everyday I was facing a new challenge, doing something I never thought I would or simply laughing until tears dribbled down my face.

Yes, the days are long and you sometimes feel like you don’t have a minute to yourself. The food isn’t amazing and you are lucky to go back to your bunk to find no spiders making new homes on your walls, but the friends you make and the place you wake up to every morning definitely makes up for any negative points.

As the bus pulled away and I slowly watched the lake and my friends disappear behind a tree, it was a very bitter sweet moment. Bitter because I was leaving behind friends I may never see again and sweet because I was going to meet friends from home in NYC to explore America.

When I got off the coach on 8th Av and started to drag my luggage along the busy streets and up and down subway stairs, I immediately wanted to arrive at the hostel and see my friends.

When I finally made it, amazed that I managed to find the place with no map, I was relieved to find that the hostel was very clean and newly refurbished. I was then extremely happy to see Josh and Siobhan who were all ready to leave for something to eat.

With no time to relax I quickly changed and we headed towards the Rockerfella. At the top, the views of NY are incredible. I looked over the busy city and couldn’t quite believe where I was standing. The lights of all the surrounding buildings glistened and the sound of the traffic hummed below us.

We chose to go up the Rockerfella as opposed to the iconic Empire Estate Building because we had heard that you could see more of NY at the top. It certainly did not disappoint and I am glad I was able to view such a lively city from above.

We then headed to a roof top bar in Brooklyn. One that Josh and Siobhan had been taken to by a local a few days ago. It was sort of hidden away above a hotel in the middle of a part of Brooklyn that you wouldn’t expect a swanky bar to exist.

A lovely evening, free from camp curfews and bugs, was had by all.IMG_0579 IMG_0590 IMG_0591 IMG_0606

The following day Siobhan, John and I went to explore Central Park. We rented bikes and Siobhan and I thought it would be funny to rent a tandem and it was. We had a blast trying to manoeuvre ourselves around the park without knowing anyone else of their bikes. There were near misses but we survived.

Central park is beautiful in the sunshine, the ducks swim in the ponds and we found a few turtles along the way.

IMG_0629 IMG_0631 IMG_0634 IMG_0648 IMG_0650IMG_5352 IMG_5346 IMG_5342 IMG_5337

 

 

In the evening we got the subway to the Yankees stadium to watch a game. I am no baseball follower so I had no real understanding of the rules but just the atmosphere and the view of the pitch itself was great. We walked into the staidum all wide eyed and excited which I think is what attracted attention to us.

IMG_0655 IMG_0673 IMG_5363 IMG_5369 IMG_5381

A man approached us and asked if we would like to be ungraded to VIP, we politely declined by saying we couldn’t afford it. He quickly mentioned it was free and he would like to offer it us if we simply smile and look happy when a presenter hands over the tickets. Quickly getting excited we agreed to appear on the big screen to accept the VIP tickets. With beaming faces we stood and accepted the tickets, on camera, in the comfort of the air condition VIP area with prime views of the pitch. The whole evening was a whirlwind of excitement, buttery popcorn and cheers from the supportive Yankee fans. What an amazing way to experience an American baseball game.

 

Travel: I love being a tourist

On Wednesday the rest of the campers arrived for session two. As usual I took pictures of all the arrivals and later in the day I officially moved into a new bunk with Ashley.

I am extremely happy with my new bunk, mainly because I share it with Ashley but also because I no longer have to walk all the way up the hill, battling against all the flies!

The rest of the day was pretty relaxed as all the new and old campers unpacked their stuff and made their bunks their homes for the next month.

I cannot quite believe that session one has already finished. Orientation week seems so long ago but the whole of my time at camp also feels like it has flown by.

That night I sat OD but was relieved fairly sharpish so I was able to get an early night.

The next day I took pictures in the morning and then caught up on a lot of different things in the office. I planned what I am going to do with the campers as I now know what to expect having learnt from session one.

In the evening Ashley drove Casey, Dan, Nick (a lovely guy from England) and I to Walmart and then the diner. I bet you can guess what I had…French onion soup for $4 :).

On Friday I met the campers that have chosen to learn photography whilst they are at camp. I am so impressed at how well I managed to remember their names this session. They all seem like a good group and I am looking forward to seeing what they can produce.

In the evening Ashley and I watched a film and ate all our junk food. I ended up falling asleep half way through the film though so we will have to watch it again.

The next day my alarm went off at half 7 and somehow I immediately got out of bed to get ready for my day in the city.

IMG_2288

When we arrived we got the tube straight down to downtown New York as we wanted to go and see the memorial for 9/11.

We queued for about half an hour but none of us seemed to mind. When we got inside I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of people that lined the memorial. The huge waterfalls that mapped out the foundations of where the building used to stand were beautiful and I am glad they got chosen to represent such tragic losses.

IMG_2294 IMG_2295 IMG_2296 IMG_2297 IMG_2298 IMG_2301 IMG_2303 IMG_2306 IMG_2312

Even the sound of the waterfalls made you feel detached from the city. It was as though they drowned out the hustle and bustle of city life, allowing you to really think about the people who lost their lives that day.

I was also shocked to discover that a tree had managed to survive such a disaster. The stump of the tree was found by workers amongst the wreckage. They removed it and New York City park nursed it back to health. In March 2010, the tree was uprooted by severe storms and still managed to pull through yet again. Then in December 2010, the tree returned to the World Trade Centre plot. It was a honour to be able to touch the leaves of such a magnificent plant. As the guide points out, it really does embody the story of survival and resilience.

IMG_2319

I am glad I was able to visit the memorial to pay my respects.

We then all walked towards the Statue of Liberty. Looking across the sea I was wondering where the statue was and then suddenly, as I walked past a column, there it was. It was one of those moments were I stopped and thought, wow I am in New York right now. These moments happen a lot!

IMG_2320 IMG_2321 IMG_2322 IMG_2324 IMG_2325 IMG_2327 IMG_2329 IMG_2331 IMG_2332 IMG_2335 IMG_2336 IMG_2339

I have to say, it was a lot smaller than I imagined it to be. Unfortunately we were unable to get the ferry to Ellis island to actually see the statue as we were to late so I will have to do it another time.

IMG_2340 IMG_2342 IMG_2343

As we walked towards the Brooklyn bridge we passed a lively street filled with small shops and stalls. True to his nature, John Teva wanted to explore and I was happy to go along with it. We wandered through the streets and ended up in a sweet shop. I was pleased with myself for resisting the urge to buy anything.

IMG_2345 IMG_2347 IMG_2348 IMG_2351 IMG_2353 IMG_2356 IMG_2357 IMG_2358 IMG_2360 IMG_2362

We wondered further and found ourselves a small garden so John decided to water the plants.

IMG_2364 IMG_2365 IMG_2366 IMG_2368 IMG_2376 IMG_2377 IMG_2379 IMG_2385

Finally we made it to the bridge and started our trek across. Lots of people were walking across it, many of them looked like tourists. Mid walk we saw lots of people had signed their names on the bridge and some had put padlocks inscribed with their names on. Without a padlock at hand, Mia and I decided to use a trusty sharpie to sign our own names.

IMG_2388 IMG_2390 IMG_2391 IMG_2394 IMG_2395 IMG_2397 IMG_2398 IMG_2399 IMG_2400 IMG_2401 IMG_2403

We also bought the most amazing mango which happened to be on a stick, it was lovely!

IMG_2405 IMG_2406 IMG_2408

Just before we made it into Brooklyn we passed a herd of Amish who stood out in their hand made clothes. I found it a little odd especially as all the younger children were crying.

Stepping into Brooklyn felt like a small victory. Once there we found a subway and made our way back to midtown New York to meet Dan and Steve in the MET museum.

IMG_2413 IMG_2414 IMG_2418 IMG_2420 IMG_2421 IMG_2422

It was about 7pm by this point, I was hungry and my feet were hurting so I don’t think I fully appreciated all the art that filled the building. I did enjoy the photography exhibits, especially when I recognised some photographers work, such as Sally Mann, William Eggleston and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. My favourite piece was by an American man named Larry Sultan of his grandfather reading a newspaper. Something about the mystery of who hid behind the paper had something to do with my attraction, I think.

1071797_10151586264834538_2085748937_o

As a group we all went to shake shack and I had fries for dinner. For desert I had some amazing custard, ice cream stuff that was really smooth and creamy. I loved it!

IMG_2422

After eating we all began the tiresome journey back to camp. I think we all slept on the train home. City life is tiring but not as bad as camp life.

As usual, on the following day, my eyes refused to open and I begrudgingly got up out of bed to head to breakfast. It was a rainy day at camp so taking pictures was slightly mundane. With the hobby kids I set up a white background and taught them about portraiture. I also started the calendar which I have to create before camp ends. In the evening staff from a different camp came to compete in a basketball game against staff from our camp. There entrance was something I will never forget as they bounded in equipped with their hippy gear on. They all seemed very friendly and certainly weren’t taking any of it seriously. I am glad Steve made me go and watch.

IMG_2500 IMG_2501 IMG_2505 IMG_2508 IMG_2509 IMG_2510 IMG_2542 IMG_2553 IMG_2555 IMG_2578 IMG_2579 IMG_2584 IMG_2620 IMG_2624

Monday was a good day. Camp turned into a carnival and all the specialists had to be in charge of a certain booth. I got to run a face painting booth and I had tonnes of fun doing it. During the break from the kids, John painted a glorious rainbow right across my face! I looked like part of gay pride and I am proud to say I left camp and entered the real world with said rainbow still intact.

IMG_2661 IMG_2663 IMG_2664 IMG_2666 IMG_2671 IMG_2682 IMG_2683 IMG_2690 IMG_2698 IMG_2704 IMG_2712 IMG_2734

In the evening Ronny Ron, a hypnotist, came and hypnotized some of the staff members for the viewing pleasure of the campers. It was hilarious, especially when ‘Big Poppa Korn’ slumped to the floor due to be so relaxed.

IMG_2861 IMG_2863

The next day consisted of usual camp activities, I took pictures and taught speciality.

The weather at camp has also improved! It is no longer humid, just nice and sunny with a bit of a breeze. I hope it remains this way because I don’t think I can handle the heat again. As soon as I would get out of a shower my body would immediately feel sweaty. It was not a pleasant experience and I am sure all of camp would agree!

For the first time since I left England, camp provided us with a good meal; chicken, potatoe and green beans. I was happy!

I am also not sure if I have posted a proper photograph of where I am currently living, it is a lovely place…

IMG_2743 IMG_2745

Travel: American adventure begins…

Waking up in New York city finally become a reality. I had approximately 5 hours sleep but as I lay in the dark, on a huge blow up air bed, I felt ready for the day ahead.

I sprawled out in bed and messaged home, as I managed to connect to the hotels wifi. Every time I interact with my dad over Whatsapp it always seems to amuse me. He has limited texting experience and I therefore get very little in response to my long and excited messages. Luckily this morning my dad must have handed the phone over to my mum so I got more than a ‘ooooo’ or ‘nice one’.

At 5am I rolled off the air bed and began getting dressed. By quarter to 6 I knocked on the other girls room to see if they were ready to head down for breakfast. I was starving.

In the hotels dining room, I was amazed at the sheer size of the bagels. Tasha took on the challenge and managed to consume the whole thing.

E6C62366-5DF5-4AF9-8FD8-B857FE6518DA

I decided on some bacon, scrambled eggs and then fruit with some apple juice to wash it down.

Once breakfast was done and dusted, a few of the CA lot gathered outside the hotels entrance to wait for the shuttle bus that would take us to Grand Central station.

Driving in America is very interesting to watch. They don’t use lanes the same as us, everyone just seems to head for their destination with no real regard for what is going on around them. I am sure the drivers do know what they are doing, it just looks very crazy and dysfunctional. It is making me question whether I will be capable of driving over here in a few months!

America has so many different things to look at all at once! I found myself turning my head from side to side trying to take everything in. As we neared the center of New York, before entering the Lincoln tunnel, we got a great view of the concrete jungle amongst some mist. It really was an amazing site to see!

02099751-ADF0-402C-97BD-87F3956F0032

On the other side of the tunnel we got a quick glimpse of Times Square as we sauntered through on the shuttle. Now I look back at this morning I can picture my facial expression, jaw dropped and eyes wide with excitement!

The shuttle dropped us off outside the entrance to Grand Central and I practically skipped, with heavy suitcases in tow, towards the mass opening that the station is famous for.

It was huge, lovely stained glass windows towered above everyone and a pale blue ceiling with delicate drawings shone above me.

6BC1DE51-6388-46B3-8B85-F1165691FAF6 9D1F4794-2418-4D5B-8963-52CC9D928831 0839AE2F-477C-4659-A253-F58FD967228F CC5486EE-144F-41DE-BD91-6CAEE7413292 CE4BB2A0-C1B0-460E-AF7C-37D67DC32C3A

I really wanted to stay awake in order to take in more of the American scenery but unfortunately tiredness got the better of me and I ended up drifting into sleep whilst on the train. I blame the gentle jogging of the carriage and, of course, jet lag!

We finally arrived at Cold Springs station and after a little mini case and lift mission we made it onto the mini van.

Steve, a fellow member of the SLC staff, gave us a running commentary of the local amenities Cold Spring has to offer. Oh, if I haven’t mentioned already, it is very very humid here and on the bus it was almost unbearable. That was until we cracked open two small windows which allowed the breeze created by the driving to filter in.

As far as I can see, Cold Spring is like your typical American town. Many of the houses had American flags, in fact everywhere I turn I tend to see the American flag. The houses also had letter boxes at the end of their drive and white picket fences.

After a 10 minute drive I finally saw the Surprise Lake Camp sign. We drove through the trees on the rocky road heading towards the reception area. The lake looked lovely and there were a few people digging away at the lakes edges whilst some sat and relaxed on the grass.

DAEB425B-4401-4CF2-9C1F-275D5205A1F0

After an hour at camp I was driven to the cabin I was to sleep in. The cabin is a short walk away from the main reception on a different part of camp called Teenside. The golf cart ride to my bunk was bumpy and fun and we spotted a snake and turtle near the side of the lake. Once we arrived, I climbed the stairs and enter into were I will be sleeping for the whole summer. I don’t really know what I expected but I was shocked when I saw the place. The cobwebs were not a welcoming site and freaked me out slightly. I didn’t really fancy sharing my bed with all the creepy crawlies that lined the bunks so I simply left my luggage and decided to deal withit later.

Hopping back on the golf buggy we wizzed back to camp just in time for lunch; pizza and salad. After eating, I was shown the office that I would be working in throughout the summer with Steve. It was full of cables, computers that needed to be plugged in and general mess so we spent the rest of the day tidiying it all up.

At 5pm we headed to the dinning hall for dinner, it was a strange looking lasagna but without the meat. The cheese sauce sort of mixed with tomatoe paste and turned it pink. It was slightly odd but I gave it a go, the salad and garlic dough sticks were good though.

Later on in the evening we went on an adventure with a guy named Jared, on the buggy he showed us were the staff canteen is that contains a cinema room and games. Jared’s bunk was amazing, he had kitted it out with TV, double bed and fairy lights. It made me realise that the bunks can be good, I just have to decorate it.

I then found out who I was to be sharing with, a girl named Hanneke from Holland. We decided to spend the night on the Mainside part of camp with Tasha, Becky and a girl named Casey who I met today.

Even with the bugs in my bunk, I am still enjoying camp life.

Things I saw today:

The Lincold Tunnel,

American cars have red indicator lights,

A McDonalds sign that was lit up like you would expect a theatre sign to be,

A million yellow taxi’s,

Grand Central Station,

Times Square!

Travel: Cold feet, hundreds of bodies and a place at camp…

tumblr_mhwuqejPM31s5vcodo1_500

The summer of a life time is slowly creeping up on me.

A few months ago I attended the London, Camp America Recruitment fair in the hope to be placed at a camp I had chosen. A few days prier to the event I searched through all the camps that were attending online to see which ones appealed to me the most. With my heart set on Camp Westmount I got on the train to Reading to meet my friend, Siobhan, who was also hoping to get placed.

The alarm was set for 7am and when it went off on the morning of the big day I couldn’t believe I had even had an hours sleep let alone 8. Begrudgingly I rolled out of bed and got dressed, wrapped cold pizza in tinfoil and left the house. The cold, winters walk to the station woke us both up and we boarded the 9am train to London Paddington.

Arriving in London to be greeted by the hustle and bustle of early morning travellers we headed for the underground to join the monotonous clan. Luckily once we took to the surface the sun was poking its head between clouds but this did not deter the cold effecting us.

As we approached the building, that was playing host to the Camp America fair, queues were already forming. At this point it was 10am and there must have already been 200 young adults chatting and shivering in line. Donning a green #iamCA sticker we joined the back of the line and was handed a large booklet filled with information.

With frozen fingers I sifted through the booklet and circled, for the second time, the camps that looked most appealing. In discussion with Siobhan we each changed our minds on wanting to go to Camp Westmount. Siobhan liked the idea of spending her summer in California whilst I liked the sound of Surprise Lake Camp (SLC). The destination of the camp wasn’t my priority because I new, if I got placed, then I would travel America afterwards. It just so happened that the camp I found most tempting was in New York. What drew me towards SLC was the short right up that described what they were all about. The paragraph sounded friendly and fun which is what won it over for me.

It must have taken us a good hour and a half to come to our final decision about the top 5 camps we would look to get placed at. We both figured that we had best decide on a few favourites because the likely hood you will get placed at any is ambiguous. Once we had sorted this out it was a matter of waiting for the doors to open at 12am.

Without anything to occupy us the impending feeling of frozen toes and red noses came to the forefront of our minds. I don’t think my toes have ever been as cold as they were that morning. In the end I walked down the street to get a cup of tea and as much as I love tea, I didn’t want to drink it because it was keeping my hands warm.

At 12am the que surged forward and the nervous really started to kick in. As we slowly crawled further towards the entrance I realised how hard it was to walk. The frozen toes were truly getting to me and getting a place was ever more paramount.

After what felt like an eternity we finally entered the realm of warmth. We were ushered up a flight of stairs and motioned to sit on chairs facing a big screen. The man spoke and I half listened and half revelled in the fact I could feel my body defrosting. After watching a short video we were left to fight to the deaths to try and get placed at a camp.

I spotted the SLC stall as I was walking down the stairs towards the main room that held all the other stalls. Once I reached the bottom I wished Siobhan good luck and headed towards slot 61 where SLC was based. I smiled at the camp representative and asked if I could collect some leaflets. Reading through them clarified for me that this was the camp I wanted to spend my summer at.

Avri, the camp representative introduced himself to me and I returned the pleasantries. He carried on talking to another girl and it looked like the interview was going well for her. This made me more determined to try and have mine go the same way. After he had finished he invited me to sit on the hot seat and he began asking me interview style questions. I answered them with honesty and enthusiasm. I tried to demonstrate parts of my personality as I was advised on the introduction video. After answering all the questions my heart quickened as I watched Avri write down a few notes. He then turned to me with a smile and said he would like to offer me a place. With a sigh of relief and a shake of his hand I already felt like part of the team.

What I felt was so lovely about Avri himself was that he didn’t sit behind the table like every other camp representative did. He sat opposite me whilst he asked me the questions making me feel more at ease. The fact that he chose to sit on the same side as the people he was interviewing says to me that he is presenting himself as an equal.  After speaking to him for more than a minute I felt comfortable in his presence.

Once the forms were signed and I had bid Avri farewell, I made my way towards the que to have my photograph taken and to pay my deposit. Standing in the line I nervously rang Siobhan to ask if she had also been placed. Luckily she had so we both were able to leave with smiles on our face.

The entire day consisted of lots of queing and many excited people drifting from stall to stall. It was definitely an experience I wouldn’t want to relive in a hurry but it was all worth the nearly frost bitten toes and cold pizza for lunch. I am one step closer to being able to wake up in New York City.