Archive for category Slideshow


>Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Nowruz, the celebration of the Persian New Year. The word Nowruz means “new day” and the holiday is observed annually in a number of countries, including Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbajian and Tajikistan.  

Persians living abroad such as U.S. attend a Nowruz party to celebrate the season of hope and renewal.  I was invited to a my first Nowruz celebration at the Rome Ballroom of UConn. campus by a good Iranian friend, Bernadette.  The party started slowly with the welcoming address from the Iranian Association of UConn., followed by a brief poetry reading and a classical Persian music performance on the acoustic guitar.

But when the DJ played the Persian music, it’s the women (and kids) that came onto the dance floor first.  The Persian dance itself is highly individualistic and heavily relies on solo improvisation.  And it is totally normal for women to dance with women.  In fact, it wasn’t until much later and the lights dimmed that the men joined the floor in a group based ensemble setting.  And well into the night, the dance floor resembled one big dance circle with everyone dancing together.

I had such a great time, completely immersing myself in the Nowruz celebration; eating delicious Persian pastries, taking photos and whirling away Persian-style.  Although, it took me by a huge surprise when I was approached by several Persians throughout the night and spoken to in Farsi.  Perhaps it was my comfortableness with the surrounding that led them to believe I was one of them.  Now that I think about it … it must have been my dancing. 

Here’s a slide show of the photos and videos I captured during the party. 
It was really difficult to divide myself between photographing and dancing. 
I wished I could do both at the same time.

Haft-sin, a traditional Nowruz table set up at the party. Each item on the table has a symbolic meaning.
Lit candles are for enlightenment and happiness.
Holy book.
Tulips represent Spring.
Painted eggs are the symbol of fertility.
Dried fruit of the lotus tree symbolizes love.
Bernadette with her parents.

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>The Szymanskas plus one take NYC

>Last weekend’s trip to NYC with the girls was nothing short of a blast.  The photos from the trip speak for themselves.

Check out the slideshow below and make sure to crank up the volume.

(Sidenote: All photos were taken with Viola’s Canon Powershot G12.)

Taking a train from New Haven to New York City.
Ticket? What ticket?
Grand Central Station
Dip your card? Hmmm. I’ve never seen such wording any card accepting machine before.
Subway performers putting on a break dancing show to Micheal Jackson’s hits.
Taking the Subway to Union Square for lunch and shopping.
Bundled up so warm, this guy fell asleep on the job.
A Gas Mask Bong?! I wouldn’t know anything about that.
Lunch at Cosi’s.
Barbecue chicken pizza was outstanding.
Viola and Marzena took the “come in from the cold” sign a little too seriously and made themselves feel right at home.
Shoe Department at Saks Fifth Avenue.
We stopped by Cafe SFA for late afternoon apps and drinks.
The next series of photos require some serious explanation. It’s not what it looks like.  It’s worse.
As Saks Fifth was closing down for the day and we were making our way out of the 8-story shopping center, Marzena noticed The Bridal Salon within the store was still open. And when we walked in, there was no one there.  The entire bridal salon with hundreds of designer wedding gowns at our disposal … Like OH, EM, GEE! 
Call us crazy but we wasted no time in grabbing a dress each and running to a fitting room.  Prancing around in expensive wedding gowns and taking photos seemed like a lot of fun at the time.  We feared someone would come in at any given moment and order us to stop this charade.  But no one came and we continued to try on dresses and loosing sense of time. We probably would have tried on every dress in the store if it wasn’t for the fact we suddenly got locked out of our fitting room.  Wearing just wedding gowns, and all of our belongings locked in another room we needed to get help.  Bernadette, the only smart one who didn’t participate in this dress-up, went to get help.  That’s when we realized there was no one around and the entire SFA store has been closed for 45 minutes.  Bernadette finally tracked down the store security who were already locking up the main doors.  The looks on their faces when they walked into the bridal salon and saw not one, not two, but three “brides” was priceless. They were confused and laughed and said they never seen anything like it.  Apparently, someone forgot to lock up the salon when they left home for the day. We changed back into our clothes and left the store with an exciting story and photos to remember it by. But I’m sure someone got in trouble the next day for leaving that door open.
Viola, Monika and Marzena
Party Bus on one of the streets of New York blasting lights and techno music and serving alcoholic drinks. We got home at 3 a.m.


>Twins Days Roundup

>Twins Days is the largest annual gathering of twins in the world. It takes place in a town of Twinsburg, Ohio and it’s open to all multiples; twins, triplets, quads, identical and fraternal, young and old.  Twins Days, Inc. was founded in 1976 and it’s mission is to provide a vehicle for celebrating the uniqueness of twins and other multiples.

Twins Days packs an array of exciting activities for the two-day festival.  There’s a Double Take parade, golf tournament, twins contests, twins talent show, twins research, 5K race, wiener roast, raffle, twins group photo, fireworks display and much more.  And when the sun goes down, adult twins get together for karaoke and dancing, followed by an after party, and an after-after party.

We, meaning Viola and I have known about such festival for few years and always wanted to attend.  Luckily, this year we were finally able to go. We have enjoyed our time in Twinsburg and the festival so much that we plan on making this event an annual destination in the years to come!

Souvenir from the Twins Days Festival: photo pin.

How many pairs of twins can you spot in this photograph?
Putting a pin on the map.
These identical triplets were a sensation even at Twins Days festival where triplets are less common. From left, Becca, Emily and Molly.
Violet (left) and I with twins contest winners of “Least Alike Females 5-6 yrs old.”
Fraternal twins showing off matching tattoos.

The tattoos of course means TWIN in Hebrew.
From left, first, second and third place winners in the “Most Alike Females in 25-29 yrs.” category.
Marco and Miguel came to the festival from Miami.
Every year numerous research companies gather at the Twins Days Festival grounds to perform tests on twins.  Participating is entirely voluntary and nominal compensation is usually offered for participation in a project — possibly a bag of goodies, or a small amount of money.
Biometrics research such as finger prints, voice, hand geometry, face and iris study to help improve Biometrics recognition system and fraud alerts.
Inside the Biometric Research Tent: After my photos are taken, the technician tries to align Violet’s face with mine. The computer image on the right is the combination of both our faces.  All our key facial features; the eyes, nose and the mouth line up almost perfectly.
Violet and I participated in several different research projects.  If was a fun to learn about our similarities and differences while contributing to research.
Below we’re having 3D Photographic Images taken for research on the similarities and differences in skin aging.
Our names and photos might possibly be published in a magazine like these twins who previously participated in the study.
We also participated in Monell Senses Center’s taste and smell test.
Monika during the taste and smell test where tasting alcoholic content was involved. Swallowing was not allowed. 😉


>New Haven Fun

>A casual photo shoot with good friends in New Haven on a beautiful Spring day. Marzena, Mashal and Monty are the victims of today’s shooting.


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>CJ Modeling Shoot


Christian is a young boy that loves ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’, ice cream and modeling. He has been professionally modeling for Kids ‘R Us, JC Penny and other catalogs since he was two years old and is quite an experienced little model. Today, I photographed CJ as he turned four years old for his new modeling portfolio.
I’ve never photographed a four-year-old, much less a model. So, I figured, it can’t be that difficult, right? It can’t be more difficult than photographing a baby, I thought. Well, let me tell you, I worked my butt off with CJ like never before. He was a sweet little boy and the camera just loved him but I underestimated the power of this youngster. After about 20 minutes of shooting, CJ lost his interest in posing and all he wanted was to play with his Thomas train. He refused to stand still, got upset with me for calling him CJ, and stuck his tongue out for photos. But with his mom’s help, I managed to squeeze out another 20 minutes of shooting, and CJ even agreed to pose in the cold outside.
At the request of parents, I captured CJ’s playful and sort of in a good way devilish personality.

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>Adamek vs. Estrada

>There is only one sport I can tolerate watching. In fact, I actually enjoy it. Ever since I was little, ten, eleven-years-old, I’ve been watching professional boxing with my dad. I think it all started when I saw my dad and his friends watching a Mike Tyson fight. And I think it was the bloody punches and the stunning knockouts that grasped my interest in the sport. But I also like it because there’s nothing scripted about it, nothing choreographed or staged. Boxing is very real and very gritty.

I especially enjoy watching boxing if a Polish boxer is in the ring. I’ve watched and cheered on Andrew Golota’s every fight but now Poland has a new champion – Tomasz Adamek. Tomasz Adamek is currently the best Polish fighter and a holder of an IBF International Heavyweight Title.

The Prudential Center was electric on Saturday night, February 6, as Adamek took on Estrada in a fight to defend his IBF International Heavyweight belt. The overwhelming majority of attendance was there in support of the Polish-born Adamek, waving the Polish flags and cheering wildly for him. Enthusiasm and happiness for seeing him win was outrages. Polish people love their patriots. And in the end, the Polish fans were not disappointed. The bout went to all twelve rounds with the unanimous decision in favor of Adamek.

Crowds of Polish fans cheering and screaming as Adamek makes his entrance into the ring. The bars are barely holding up as the overflowing fans try to reach out and touch Adamek and snap a photo.  I was nearly crushed to death by people behind me.

Adamek fought against Estrada to retain his IBF International Heavyweight Championship in front of 10,000-plus supportive fans, wearing Polish red and white.
Sneaking through two different security guards, I made my way down, as close to the ring as possible.  My great view was short-lived as a roudy Polish fan behind me got us both ‘kicked out’ back to our seats. 
A chorus of A-DA-MEK resounds from what seems to be 90% of Polish fans.

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>NHSO: Fiddle Faddle

>New Haven Symphony Orchestra held a its third annual family concert on Saturday, January 30 at the Omni Hotel in New Haven. “Fiddle Faddle” a child-friendly perfomance offered children and their families a lively introduction to the orchestra and its music. Half hour before the concert children had the opportunity to meet the musicians and play with the instruments in what is called the Instrument Discovery Zone.  Kids experimented with fiddle, banjo uulele and the bass.

A young girl learns how to pluck the banjo ukulele.
Violin and Fiddle

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>Karmic Justice

>Karmic Justice is “anything but your typical cover band”. They mix rap with metal and hip-hop performing songs of popular artists such as Linkin Park, Incubus, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, just to name a few. On their MySpace page, they refer to themselves as “a breath of fresh air from all of the same “party bands” playing all of the same songs.” Karmic Justice performed at Toad’s Place, New Haven on Friday night and I was invited to the event. But, of course, I couldn’t just sit in one place during their high energy performance. I was right up there next to the stage, enjoying the band. And what better way to watch a band, than through the eye of my camera.

Tony, KJ’s lead singer a.k.a. Messenjah

Tony and Melissa Renzoni

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>Fair Season

>The end of summer is my favorite part of year. A time of year that holds a lot of meanings for me. It means Fall is near. The air becomes fresh and crisp and leaves change color. It means school is about to start. And best of all, it means that fair season has arrived.

I go to fairs to see the animals and exhibits. I go to eat fried dough and drink freshly squeezed lemon juice. I go to take pictures.

The Haddam Neck Fair is over for this year, but there are plenty more still to come. I know for sure that I’ll be at the Big E fair in a couple of weeks. And if I’m lucky, I’ll find one or two more to stop by.

Pig lickers are treats made by coating cooked bacon in chocolate.

Chocolate covered bacon. Rub your eyes if you must and read it again.

The flavor combination in pig lickers unites sweet and salty in one mouthful.

A cross-section is ideally partly crunchy, from the bacon and the salt, and partly soft, as the chocolate starts to melt in the mouth.

“The Simple Life”

We head straight for the food stands as soon as we push through the turnstiles.

One of the best things about fairs is the fried, greasy, fatty FOOD.

Fried dough is a must at a fair for me.

BBQ Pork sandwich

During lunch we sat across from two Santa Clauses.

After meeting them, I again believe Santa Clause slides down my chimney at Christmas Eve and drops off the presents. Even though, I don’t have a chimney.

They were all up for taking pictures with us.

Bernadette gets her stress out shooting darts.

Poor guy went down too many times.

Pie eating contest. Need I say who won?

This is a cow.

Say cheese.

Isabella’s first time encounter with farm animals.

Me and Vazzer have something in common.

Thank you for the goat cheese guys.

Hey honey, hug a bunny.

I went on a bunny shooting spree.

I’m sorry, but this one is just a fugly bunny.

The lazy bunny.

Polish cock

Chicks just wanna have fun.

Isabella with Bernadette’s hair

Best friends

Bernadette, Viola and a Haddam Neck fireman.

Watching the tractor pulling competition

The Ferrari of tractors

Pulling weights from 4,500 lbs. to 10,500 lbs. When all the firman have left, Bernadette and I snuck into the Haddam Neck firehouse to try on some fireman outfits. Firewoman with the helmet on backwards.

I was a little more daring and put on the fireman jacket. Just then, the firemen came back…oops

On the way home, I spotted these beautiful horses. The scenery was picture perfect.


>Northwest Brewfest


The 2009 Northwest Brewfest presented by The Cork Fine Wine and Spirits was held Sunday, August 23rd at Elks Pond in Torrington. The event was attended by over 425 people, including Bernadette, Marzena and me.

The day offered samples of over 100 different beers from close to 50 breweries and pubs from all over the world. Bernadette, the designated driver, had the most beer samples out of the three of us. Good or bad, she chugged them all. Me, being a non beer drinker, I actually found a beer I enjoyed – Framboise Lambic. It’s a raspberry flavored beer. It tasted very smooth and refreshing.

After the beer tasting, (slightly intoxicated) we walked over to the nearby beach to relax by the water. That’s where we found a perfectly old looking shed – the ultimate photoshoot destination.

Check out the slideshow and photos below.

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