Portrait of Jessica


When I met Jessica, she was on her second year working as a tax preparer for H&R Block. Ever since she was eighteen, and got her first job, she did her own taxes and found she liked filing tax returns. Her associate’s degree was in accounting from Antelope Valley College. She planned to get a bachelor’s degree in accounting at California State University Bakersfield.

Prior to working at H&R block, Jessica worked in warehouses, and assisted with family rehabilitation, specifically drug and alcohol issues. English was her primary language, she knew a little bit Spanish but also could speak her own native language in that she is part of the Pueblo of Zuni tribe, New Mexico. She was born on the reservation and most of her family still lived there.

When she was four years old, Jessica came to California to live with her aunt and uncle because a California education was better than the one provided on the New Mexico reservation. She grew up in Antelope Valley and went to Highland High School. At the time of this posting, she lived with her daughter, who wanted to be a veterinarian.

Jessica and her daughter had an 18 years old water turtle, a two months old little turtle, a Chihuahua, a Rottweiler, a Jack Russell Terrier, and a Russian hamster.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Peggy


Peggy was a groomer at PetSmart for a year-and-a-half, but was was a professional groomer for over 20 years prior to this portrait. Peggy was originally from San Fernando Valley and went to Cleveland High School. She studied grooming in the Valley from an individual who had been a groomer for over 30 years. She believed that was the best way to learn. Peggy at the time of this posting, lived in Palmdale, California, USA. She had two children and two grandchildren. She only had one dog, a Yorkshire Terrier.

Peggy hoped to get more dogs, and was affiliated  with Halfway Home Dog Rescue, who came to adopted out dogs on the weekends to PetSmart in Palmdale, CA.

What I like about this picture is the shape of Peggy’s body as one arm is up with elbow bent and the other down with elbow bent. I also like the Schnauzer in the back photobombing the pic.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Mercedes


Eight year old Mercedes, who also goes by the nickname “Kaley,” enjoyed anything artsy, craftsy, and especially loved dancing. She regularly tried new things at school and was a good third grade student. She participated in the school engineering club and drill team. No one in her family was an engineer; she simply was inspired by a robotics program at her school. It was encouraging to know that STEM programs in the local schools were motivating.

Mercedes had a brother and a sister. Mercedes and her brother were extremely tall, her parents weren’t very tall, but her mother said there were tall genes on her father’s side.

Because she was so cheerful and congenial, I enjoyed moving Mercedes around until I found decent lighting and a decent background. It was very windy and her hair kept blowing in her face. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a hair band or a hair Scrunchie. This was one of the few shots I got without her hair all over her face.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Penelope


This is one year old Penelope, a very calm baby who liked to watch trolls. She had one sister and she got along well with her.

The interesting thing about the shoot, was that I originally asked her mother if I could take the portrait of her. Her mother said, “No. I’d rather not have my picture taken, but you could take a picture of her,” and pointed to a baby sleeping in a stroller.

This was very strange to me because as I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard enough asking strangers to take a picture of them. It’s even more difficult to ask if I may take a picture of their child. I’m always afraid of how they will react.

I appreciate that Penelope’s mom suggested I take this picture because she was angelic. Yes, Penelope slept through the whole shoot. A truly calm little girl.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Barry


Barry was a dental hygienist since the year 2000 and worked at Valleywide Dental in Palmdale, California, USA. He grew up in West Los Angeles, and for his degree in dental hygiene, he participated in studies at Santa Monica College but graduated from West Los Angeles College. He maintained that West LA was a great program, “the best around,” and at one point, it was under discussion to install a four-year specialized-level program on campus.

Barry was wonderful, enjoyed being around people and was very funny. He loved what he did because it directly helped people. Many modern techniques preserved people’s teeth to a degree never possible before so it enthralled him to see people improve their health by participating in their own dental hygiene and then coming in regularly foe a cleaning.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Maggie


Maggie was six months old. She scooted, rolled, squealed and participated avidly in other such infant-activities. She played with her sisters who she loved very much. She had a dog, name Rocco, but according to one of her sisters, the dog was an English Bulldog and very rough with Maggie, so he was scary to Maggie.

Maggie gave me a big smile when  I walked up to her, but I could not get it out of her again.

I appreciate that Maggie’s Dad stopped to talk to me, let me take her portrait and also give me permission to post this portrait for my project.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Anthony


Anthony volunteered at Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary, located in Phelan, California, USA.. He came right out of high school to work there and planned to continue working with the exotic animals the rest of his life.

At the time of this posting, Anthony lived in Yucaipa, California, USA, but was originally from the Rialto-Colton, California, area. When he was 15 years old, Anthony met Joel, the founder of Forever Wild, at a reptile show;  Joel was there with one of his cats. Joel said that if Anthony wanted to come and volunteer to work with the exotic animals he could, as long as his dad signed a release of liability form. Working there so close to Joel, for so many years, made Joel like a second father to Anthony.

Joel and Anthony had a side job together, Snake Awareness for Dogs, to help generate income for both themselves and their animals. Snake training for dogs was necessary in the California desert because rattlesnakes were abundant, and people who either took their dogs to the desert to run, or just kept their dogs in their yards, faced the danger of their dogs coming in contact with poisonous rattlesnakes. Training dogs how to react and behave when they spotted the rattlesnakes was very important to protect a dog’s life. Joel and Anthony served an important function to the canine community of the Mojave Desert.

Anthony was a pleasant young man. He had so much love in his heart, it just made me feel great. He loved the animals, and it was such a joy to see how happy the animals were to see him, and come over and nuzzle all over him.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Anthony getting licked by a White Tiger, Kismet and rubbed on by a Bengal/Siberian mix, Sakia

Anthony getting rubbed on by a Bengal/Siberian, Taj

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Wordless Wednesday

Portrait of Joel


Years ago, Joel, along with his wife, Chemaine, were in the habit of taking in animals that needed homes. Consequently, they then founded of Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary. Located in Phelan, California, USA, it was established in 1997. Joel loved managing this establishment and everything that went along with this task. However, he noted, “it’s hard and it’s rough, and I often feel like pulling my hair out, and that’s why I have so little of it.”

Joel always had an interest in animals and he claimed, “they are my whole life.” Joel’s grandparents had a pet store where they used to sell exotic animals. They stopped selling them when they realized people were not caring for these types of animals properly.

Joel loved all the animals at Forever Wild and could not say which was his absolute favorite. He had a certain affinity for the cats, and aside from them, he had a special fondness for the new Black Bear named Honey. Honey was a year old at the time of this posting and Joel said she could potentially grow a little bigger, maybe up to 250- 300 pounds, “a pretty good size for a female.” I asked if the Black Bears were rare; and Joel said, “they are all over California; there’s a good population of Black Bears in California.”

Forever Wild did not breed any of their animals. The animals had not been DNA tested, so without knowing their genetic background, “there isn’t a benefit to breeding them to help the species out.”

Joel also believed that breeding the animals in his menagerie would be like “the pound breeding dogs.” His sanctuary was a place where animals could live out their lives. Most of these animals were not wanted by someone, were not cared for by someone, or were confiscated. They had nowhere else to go.

The animals all looked happy, until the food was on it’s way, and then of course they were very anxious to get their meals. Joel and his staff gave the big cats enrichment programs, so that they wouldn’t pace back and forth, bored and miserable. There were gigantic balls in some of the cages for the Tigers. The lion, named Wazu, was roaring the whole time I was there; he had a gorgeous loneliness with him.

I was jumping around with glee and excitement to be around these animals. The day that I was at Forever Wild, I got to hear a lion roar and tigers purr.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Joel with a Capuchin monkey named Baby G

Joel with a <a href="Macaw Parrot named Big Bird

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Wordless Wednesday

Portrait of Bob-1


Bob was the owner of the Souza Family Vineyard, in Tehachapi, California, USA. He established The Vineyard thirteen years prior to this posting and The Tasting Room five years after that. Bob and his wife started their business when they took a Sunday drive and saw the Cummings Valley Road ranch for sale. He realized that he was eleven-ish years from retirement and decided to buy the property. Upon retirement, he started from scratch, that is, got into the wine business himself, that is, without any help or advice from experts. He said, “I dug holes in the ground and put the plants in the holes.”

Bob was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. When he was in junior high school, his parents moved from Boston to the Los Angeles area, where he mostly lived in Chatsworth, California, USA. He graduated from Notre Dame High School, in  Sherman Oaks and attended Los Angeles Valley College, in  Van Nuys, but quit to go work in the business sector. He was an insurance broker for 41 years.

Bob primarily sold retail out of his Winery. Sometimes he did wholesale transactions with local markets. He used to sell wholesale to restaurants in the area, but those restaurants either went out of business or changed ownership, so he stopped doing that. He did not have the license nor the inventory to export. Besides, he preferred retailing his product himself at his little Winery.

It was such a pleasant nice place, with a beautiful view. The customers seemed more like guests and were all happy drinking wine, having cheese and slices of apple. I could see why he didn’t want to sell his wine anywhere else but from his little bar.

Bob’s Bar

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

A view of the he vineyard through a vine.

Wine racks in retail store/tasting room.

Portrait of Carrie


Carrie worked the wine tasting room on the weekends at Souza Family Vineyard in Tehachapi, California, USA. She was originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically from Walnut Creek , California, USA. She went to high school in Delano, California and attended UC Davis, Davis, California, USA majoring in Communications for her university studies. At the time of this posting, Carrie was 27 years old.

Carrie came to Tehachapi because her boyfriend was a facility engineer for Lockheed Martin. They lived in the Bear Valley Springs area of Tehachapi. Carrie liked to be outdoors, and liked to ride horses. She had two horses, a quarter horse Arab and a Mustang she acquired thorough Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Internet Adoption, which she called a “BLM Mustang.” She also had three dogs: a German Shepherd Husky mix, a beagle mix and a a Golden Retriever mix.

This is my 50th posting. I’m really glad I was able to have such a beautiful portrait for this Jubilee. I’ve been wanting to get a portrait of someone with a wine glass at a winery that looks like something that could go in a magazine, an ad for a cruise or an ad for a winery. It seems I accomplished that goal.

It hasn’t been easy to do this every day. Taking the pictures is fun; I like doing that. But doing these write-ups and editing them towards perfection is the hard part and I don’t like doing it. I also don’t like having to do it every single day. But I committed to doing this so I’m going to keep going for the full 365 days. Thank you for staying with me.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.