Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘There’s that moment when you look through your camera and there’s a jolt of adrenaline.’


“I started shooting 35 mm film when I was in 10th grade. I was on varsity cheerleading, and I dealt with a sexual assault. That shattered my whole world, my identity. So, I leaned into the other side of me, the creative side. I quit cheerleading and pursued art. I was in the photo room before school, after school. My teacher would let me come; she knew it was a safe place for me.

“I was able to recreate myself as I was creating my art. A lot of artists use their tragedy and their pain for something beautiful. My mom found my first camera on eBay for $70, a Canon Rebel, a ’90s film camera, and someone stole it out of my locker.

“Now I have a Canon AE-1, which was my friend’s uncle’s from the ’80s. Photography gave me a reason to go outside and look around outside myself, sort of meditatively. I started taking my time looking at things closely. Film is a more artistic experience than digital. Technology takes a lot away from us. When you shoot digital, you don’t have to know the camera as well.

“I just appreciate taking my time with photos and investing in my film. It’s always a surprise getting the film back after being developed. In three weeks, you don’t remember you took a random photo of this thing you walked past.

“I don’t remember the photos I take, and that’s one of my favorite parts. It’s cool, those little moments you get to experience again. With film, you don’t have a lot of chances to get things right. I think, ‘I hope these came out well; I tried my best. Then you get them back, and they’re stunning or terrible, but you’re happy regardless because you’re learning.

“When I take a photo, there’s a reason for each one, and I try to capture things that are beautiful and interesting. I like to shoot my friends. They and I struggle with self-image, so when I can look at them in a moment and capture them, that’s special because they’re stunning. I like giving them photos of themselves so they can see themselves the way I see them.

“There’s that moment when you look through your camera, and there’s a jolt of adrenaline. You’re capturing something so specific that no one else will ever capture. It’s vulnerable to share because these are my moments; this is my life.”

Interviewed by Rachel O’Brien – Morano

‘I always had a strong faith in God and always asked him for help, which he always gave me.’


I have nine children and my husband had a good full-time job as a computer systems administrator for the IRS. He was also a part-time pastor of our church, and I homeschooled, so we were crazy busy. He was a big help in raising the kids; he was a hands-on dad.

“For the babies, he would change diapers. He would help the kids learn the capitals of states. He was better at science and math than I was, so he would help with that. Occasionally, he’d have to take weeklong trips for work training and that was difficult.

“I always had a strong faith in God and always asked him for help, which he always gave me. Miraculously, I’d get through those weeks where he [my husband] was gone for work. And then a day came when suddenly he passed away at age 54. He passed away from a heart attack, and we had no idea that he had heart trouble.

“My children were ages 5 to 18. I remembered back to those weeklong periods, where I would say, ‘Wow, can I do this by myself?’ and God gave me the grace to do it. So, there I was with nine children that I had to continue raising myself. My whole married life for 20 years, I’d have an anxious thought: What if Bill was gone?

I always had a strong faith in God and always asked him for help, which he always gave me.

“At one point, I had that thought, and God spoke to me and said, ‘If you lose Bill, I’m going to help you with everything.’ That was a day or two before he passed away. Until that day, I never felt God speak to me in response to that thought.

“My husband has been gone 20 years now, and I have always remembered God assuring me, and that has helped me go forward. My husband was a very responsible person. He had very good life insurance, and he had a good federal pension, so I didn’t have to go to work or lose my house.

“When my kids got older, I wanted to work because I had time, so I started volunteering, and now I’m a preschool teacher’s assistant. People laugh at that. They say, ‘Really? You had all those kids all those years and you still want to work with kids?’

“The truth is, I’m really cut out for that. I have the patience you need when you work with babies and preschoolers. It’s very rewarding because I love those kids when I’m there with them, and I want to help them, give them whatever they need.”