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September 2014
In this Issue:
Senior News - Main Page
SNAP Benefits Put Food on the Table
DFTA Mourns Passing of Senior Advisory Committee Chair
Growing, Connecting and Having Fun through Art
"Stylin' Seniors" A Facebook Hit
The Brooklyn Public Library Beckons Seniors
Where the Action is: Senior Programs Liven It Up
“Stylin’ Seniors” A Facebook Hit
Stylin Seniors

Buoyant, sassy, elegant, spirited – the portraits of seniors posted on Facebook by Department for the Aging every Wednesday are attracting a lot of admirers. Shot at senior centers around the City by DFTA photographer Richard Henry, the “Stylin” Seniors” photos highlight vibrant, active center members.

“Our ‘Stylin’ Seniors’ are people you want to know, people who have fun!” says Jon Minners, DFTA’s Director of Public Affairs and Facebook editor. “Through this series we wanted to change the stereotype of senior centers and the older New Yorkers who attend them.”

The idea for “Stylin’ Seniors” was Henry’s. Every few months he emails a “casting call” to senior centers, encouraging fun-loving members who enjoy being photographed to sign up for a photo “shoot” and to dress with style and pizzazz – dress hat and accessories welcome!

From five to 25 volunteers show up at a typical session, some wanting to be photographed alone, others as couples or siblings. Henry arrives for the shoot with camera, lights and black or white background paper. Then the fun begins. In the room set aside for the shoot he snaps away, sometimes offering low-keyed suggestions about where to look or how to turn as his subjects strike poses. “I’m looking for a fun attitude,” Henry says, “but I work with what I get.”

Henry says he enjoys the post-production phase of technical enhancement as much as the actual photo shoot. He and Minners select the two portraits for posting on Facebook each week. A photo file of the shoot is mailed to the center director so that participants can have their own copies.

"Stylin' Seniors" now includes more than 120 photos, and it continues to grow. Minners has created composites of the portraits taken at specific senior centers to promote the series as a whole and the individual centers. Different composites serve as the cover photo for DFTA’s Facebook page.

The Facebook photos have received tens of thousands of views and thousands of “likes.” “How could you not like this picture?” Minners asks, pointing to a photo of gracious Dolly Ferrannini, 87, of Queens’ Angelo Petromelis Senior Center. “And people really admired this cool shot of Herbert Jackson, 70, of Alpha Phi Alpha Center in Queens, who didn’t let his recent cataract surgery stop him from participating in the shoot. He simply put on his shades and reminisced about the days when a basketball was magic in his hands.”

Noting an abundance of “fantastic” photos, Minners says he has too many favorite photos to name. Nevertheless, he confesses that some stand out. For sheer elegance and sophistication it’s hard to beat the hat - and its wearer - in the photo of Janice Bruce, 81, of the YM and YWHA Innovative Center of Washington Heights and Inwood in Manhattan. While for suave and stylish, there’s Walter Kehr, 88, of the same center. And glamorous Gloria M. Ortiz, 70, of Grand Street Senior Center, epitomizes a spirit that age cannot diminish.

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