My present to myself: Happy 27th Birthday

A couple of months have past and I don’t feel much different than when I was in New York. But, I do see my life in a different light. In the overwhelming borough of the Bronx, I never had much time to put my thoughts on paper. Now, after a day of hard labor on the farm, I can look out into the valley and take a second to breathe. Ahh…; breathe. That’s why I came out here in the middle of nowhere: open space, fresh air, no one knows me or where I am; it’s great. With my never ending questions, I made sure to have writing material everywhere I go, whether it’s in my back pocket working through the vineyards, in the kitchen while eating with a mix of other workers, or just by my bedside as I am dozing off thinking about the day that had passed. Every thought goes on paper, and every question became less and less complicated to answer. It’s a new feeling to be able to get things off my chest, whether it be on paper or aloud. I sometimes walk down into the open channels, where there isn’t a soul around for miles, and scream at the top of my lungs just to hear my voice echoed back to me from the mountain peaks and untouched terrain.

 My walls are being used for notepads. 

My walls are being used for notepads. 

Even with this new environment, job, and group of friends, I can’t say I “found” my purpose as a photojournalist, but I did narrow down genres that define my message as a photographer. As someone with a story of her own, my goal is to show other human stories through my images, documenting the real story after the “camera crew” leaves. Opportunities arose and I was able to meet and network with several leading photographers of Israel; two of them being my most influential, Ziv Koren from Canon and Oded Wagenstein of NatGeo Creative. After having an in-depth discussion with both of them, I was a bit deterred from what I thought was the direction I wanted to take. But, I left the discussions with precisely what I had been in search for, advice.

Taking the guidance with a grain of salt, I decided to keep moving forward in the direction I had always been, just with a bit more awareness of the obstacles at hand. Being impenetrably stubborn had finally shown me the shed of optimism I had vigorously been hunting for. With my birthday around the corner and 27 being a number I didn’t contemplate much, my hunger for undertaking a new direction had only grown more prevailing but with a bit more caution.

Stiffening up my upper lip and with a vessel full of coffee, I began to reach out to non-profit organizations that were designated and focused on the topics I wanted to portray. From ‘Photographers Without Borders’ to ‘UNICEF’, emails were flying from my fingertips every chance I could get. Thinking back to my first internship in NYC, a mentor and good friend of mine, revealed the ugly truth that out of every fifty emails sent, only one will be in your favor and sometimes, none at all. But, even with this knowledge, it still didn’t hinder my thirst.

The week of my 27th birthday, I received the email that I’d been anticipating. With my heart pounding and an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment radiating through my body, I was quickly able to schedule a Skype call with the director and founder of ‘NGO Photographer’s Alliance,’ an organization that helps aid other nonprofits with their collective group of photographers, writers, social activists, humanitarians and other creatives whose common bond is a shared interest in photography relating to the NGO. By the end of our discussion, I acquired a new title; Sydney Pensky, newest member and mentor for ‘NGO Photographer’s Alliance’. 

http://www.ngo-photographers.com/mentors/ 

 I'm listed under the Mentors' page at NGO Alliance. 

I'm listed under the Mentors' page at NGO Alliance. 

Closing my laptop with a mile wide across my face, I went to the kitchen and decided to reward myself with something sweet. There were leftover cupcakes from the previous night’s gathering. I rummaged through the drawers and found some candles. They were the child-like kind with the bright colors and flared flower tops. I placed them in a circle and lit each one. I blew them out immediately for my wish had already come true.

 Some of the images I submitted to NGO Photographer's Alliance from Be'er Sheva. 

Some of the images I submitted to NGO Photographer's Alliance from Be'er Sheva. 

 Be'er Sheva submission photographs continued. 

Be'er Sheva submission photographs continued.