My photo blog… visual thoughts around me.

“Blessings Come In All Shapes And Sizes”

I get excited when I hear of an event in my area that I have never photographed before. My thought process is even more stimulated when the event is of a culture that I am not very well versed in. The celebration of the Chinese New Year in Philadelphia was one such event. It was to be the “Year of the Dragon” and the SJ meet up group was organizing this venue. It helped me get into the thought process by taking a train into the city and then walking up to Chinatown. As I approached my destination, I could see an arch that stretched from one side of the street to the other. I felt like it was welcoming me into a world and culture very different from mine.

"Dragon Fire"

As I meandered through Chinatown, the many signs and unique smells almost made me forget I was still in the city. The “Suns”, a local group of dancers and musicians, were preparing for the parade. They planned to stop at various businesses in the area and offer a blessing for the coming year. There was a brightly colored dragon which was serpentine in its shape and length. To create movement, there were dancers under the dragon that bobbed and weaved from sidewalk to sidewalk. The other elaborately decorated dragons were manipulated by groups of 2 that made their way to designated store fronts throughout the morning. This signaled a whirlwind of choreographed movements that symbolized bestowing a blessing onto the stores. The deafening sound of firecrackers mixed with drums, moved me in a crisscrossing pattern. Crowds were led by the smoke and the undulating progress of the dragon dancers while I attempted to capture the essence of what was happening. Looking around at the people watching this spectacle, I could see wonder and awe in the children’s faces, contrasted by a sense of pride from the older hierarchy.

Whatever way the new year is celebrated around the world, in Chinatown, the “Year of the Dragon” was set to a drum beat and punctuated with a bang. Whether a participant or spectator — just being there and sharing the moment was a blessing in itself.


20 responses

  1. Blessings in their truest, most beautiful form. Well captured my friend from the generous smiles to the amazing dancing movement of the performers. Beautiful images that makes you appreciate life. Thanks. Have a great weekend.


    July 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm

  2. Love the photos.. ones with the children are my favourites inparticular the b&w one with the kid blocking her ears. We have lot of chinese here but never seen this celebration. What an diverse world we live in. Thank you!


    March 1, 2012 at 8:18 am

  3. timetales

    Your art is wonderful! In passing the year of the dragon should be a good year,it’s said the dragon is the only fantasy figure in the Chinese calendar. I interpret that as a good year for the imagination.


    February 26, 2012 at 10:20 pm

  4. TayabIqbal

    Had a catchup of your entries and as ever, great shots.

    I realised something else too – have you seen a film called Vicky Cristina Barcelona? If sir, have a strong resemblance to one Javier Bardem!!!


    February 22, 2012 at 11:52 am

  5. Zelmare

    I’m a new blogger and browsed through some of your entries. Amazing! Your images really are so filled with detail and emotion. Love it.


    February 16, 2012 at 11:15 am

    • Thanks Zemare for your visit and comment… let me know when you have your blog up and running.


      February 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm

  6. Susan Spitz (Argiro)

    Hi Mike, I really enjoyed viewing “Blessings Come in All Shapes and Sizes”. I especially liked the black and white shot of the little girl in her daddy’s arms, holding her ears! I have a love of photography, and had recently joined this group, as I am just beginning to look for ways to get more involved in the Art/Photography community. It was so great seeing that you were also a member, since we went to high school together, my maiden name was Susan Argiro. I have so much to learn in regards to this medium, and am hoping to expand my love and enjoyment of photography into a refined skill. This forum seems to be one way for me to achieve that goal! Your work is awesome and it’s also wonderful to see a familiar face!! Take Care, Susan


    February 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    • Susan so glad you liked the photos, got very lucky with the lil girl and dad. Good to see you joined the group, it gets me out shooting in places I would not normally shoot.


      February 16, 2012 at 1:16 am

  7. Mike, that Dragon Fire image is just dynamite.


    February 14, 2012 at 10:59 am

    • Big smile….. I caught it at just the right moment. Street pics are not my strong area but I sure did have a good time.


      February 16, 2012 at 1:14 am

  8. denisebushphoto

    Wonderfully colorful! You captured the flavor of the celebration and some great portraits. Nice processing and true to the strong style you have developed. I’m going next year!


    February 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    • Thanks Denise for the comments…. if we both go next year I think we have a chance of not putting our tripods in the same place… 🙂


      February 16, 2012 at 1:12 am

  9. Those pictures are worth a million words each! I have many friends who are Chinese and they were telling me about their celebrations, but I could not have imagined the vibrancy of the colors and the diversity of the people. My favorite was the shot of the red leaves on the ground with people walking, simple yet profound.
    You are inspiring!
    Andrea xx


    February 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    • Hate to burst your bubble but those leaves are what is left of the fireworks….they were everywhere!!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and especially your comments.


      February 16, 2012 at 1:10 am

  10. Fine sumary of a festive day…


    February 13, 2012 at 10:29 am

    • Thanks Maru…. it was definitely festive and LOUD.


      February 16, 2012 at 1:07 am

  11. WOW!!! Mike, what a beautiful set! The Dragon Fire image is one of those few that stay in the mind for recall at any time. And the children’s faces you’ve captured–especially #7– are just wonderful. Thank you!


    February 13, 2012 at 12:43 am

    • Thanks Gary… I tried to go back and forth with the spectators and the dancers.


      February 16, 2012 at 1:06 am

  12. Bonnie Rovere

    It was a great day! Your photos really captured the spirit!


    February 13, 2012 at 12:32 am

    • Thanks for organizing a great place to shoot….I did have a good time.


      February 16, 2012 at 1:05 am

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