Portrait of Paris


I met Paris at Big Sunday’s 5th Annual MLK Day Clothing Collection & Community Breakfast. He had come to lead a team of severs and cleaner-uppers, who volunteered at these types of events to “make sure that they were well-rounded.” He represented an organization that had a basketball and mentorship team.

In the mentorship program, Paris had a group of about 5-100 kids ranging from ages 4 to about 17. He worked with them weekly on basketball, life skills and character development. This had been the third time that his group participated in the Big Sunday event.

More than 1,000 people turned out and the volunteers collected more than 23,000 articles of clothing. Paris said, “It’s a great opportunity and a great day for me.”  At this event, various people assembled, volunteered, coordinated with the food serving and clothing collecting, all with love and cheer. The kids that Paris worked were called the Mambas and had great respect and adoration for him as a leader.

Paris, himself, had three children; a twelve year old, an eight year old and a nine month old. He lived in Redondo Beach, California, USA and was originally. from Stockton California, USA

Photo credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Claudia



This is a portrait of Claudia who ran track and attended Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, USA, as a Marketing and Spanish undergraduate. Her ambition for her future was talent management, particularly in the music field. She believed that Los Angeles, California, USA was the perfect place to get a foot in the door in that industry.

Claudia’s favorite music group was Earth Wind & Fire, which Blue Breeze Band (see previous portrait) was playing as we spoke. Earth Wind & Fire was the group that actually got her interested in talent management. Claudia noted that Charlie Wilson and other artists who influenced Rhythm and Blues (R&B) and Hip Hop today, helped her make this decision. Of course, she also appreciated contemporary R&B and Hip Hop.

Claudia defined Earth Wind & Fire‘s style as definitely R&B, but she also considered them funky. “They dabbled in disco a little, even though that wasn’t their preference. They are a feel good music. Everyone can get down to it no matter who they are,” she said.

Claudia was not from Los Angeles, but from Nashville, Tenn, USA, where she excelled at Hume-Fogg AcademiMagnet High School  Claudia came to the Martin Luther King Day Event because the team didn’t have practice and her coach asserted that each student/athlete had to volunteer somewhere. Claudia googled events for Martin Luther King Day, and the Big Sunday 5th Annual MLK Day Clothing Collection & Community Breakfast was one of the first things that came up. The event was accessible to her and a fellow teammate because Claudia had a car.

Claudia believed in the importance of helping out every single day and was hoping she could do more throughout the year as a volunteer. The two teammates were having a blast helping out on Martin Luther King Day.

It was such a pleasure to meet Claudia. At the time of the posting, I knew so many people her age who were cry babies, didn’t get things done, were chronically late, made excuses for everything, etc. Claudia knew what she wanted, was intelligent about it and expressed her views perfectly. Talking to her made me look forward to the future and to what young people could achieve.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Harold


I was fortunate enough to see and hear Harold playing guitar at the Martin Luther King Day event with his band Blue Breeze Band‎.  They were professional, inspirational, lyrical as well as entertaining. They played blues and soul music that was phenomenal and spot on, especially, Earth Wind & Fire, which was executed flawlessly. On the other hand, they also played more contemporary pieces, such as Blackstreet’s No Diggity

When they played No Diggity, young women got in front of the band, danced and waved their fists with the “Hey yo” part. It was cool to see to see 20 year old women get excited as 50 and 60 year old men played beautiful music.

Harold was born in Texas, USA but he was raised in Los Angeles, California, USA. Harold first wanted to be a guitar player when he heard Chuck Berry play on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. He had jobs outside of music, such as, working for corporate America for 23 years. When he got laid off, he went full swing putting together a band and has been at it professionally for 15 years now.

Harold was glad to be doing what he was doing and could not see himself doing anything else.”The thing with the music business is you have to be dedicated. This is my life. I work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. pretty much every day. I’ve been doing that for the last 14 years solid.”

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If you are in Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, San Bernadino, Riverside, Santa Barbara or any other county close to Los Angles, and have need of a band for an event, be it private or public, I highly recommend you book The Blue Breeze Band.

You can see more about Harold and his band on Instagram bluebreezeband.




Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Dustin



This is Dustin, originally from Gainesville FL, USA, but at the time of this posting, homeless, in a mini-tent city, on Selma Ave, in Hollywood, CA, USA, two blocks from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Dustin had his dog, Tubs, with him, see photo below. Homeless people who kept their dogs were heroes because so many gave their dogs up to a”shelter” when life proved to be difficult. “Shelters” murdered dogs when they were there too long.

Tubs was a seizure alert animal. Dustin had her for two years and four months. Dustin commented on her training, “She was basically born to it. There’s nothing that I have to teach her. She’s a natural at it.”

When Dustin was about to have a seizure, Tubs whined, cried and climbed on his lap. Dustin interpreted this behavior as Tubs telling him to sit down before he would fall. Dustin loved her and fed Tubs before he fed himself.

Dustin was homeless on and off since he was thirteen years old. When he was able to work, he worked as a construction worker or a cook. He was in the Marine Corps, from 1999-2007, as a forward Observer, doing surveillance, and target acquisition. He was physically disabled: had a blown his knees and shoulders, had fractured ribs, slipped disks, and had seizures.

He received nothing from the VA (for those of you who don’t know, the VA stood for The US Department of Veterans Affairs that provided patient care and federal benefits to US military veterans and their dependents.) He received  no assistance because he “got fired for doing the wrong right thing.”

Dustin does not get benefits because he interrupted a full colonel, in a flight suit, on the flight deck of a carrier, attempting to rape a female. After Dustin intervened, the Colonel acquired numerous broken bones. Thus, Dustin was dishonorably discharged. The offender was retired. The female received the billeting of her choice.

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The day I met Dustin, I calculated I would post this portrait up on Inauguration Day. So I’m going to get a bit political.

To my fellow Americans who hate Trump, who are afraid of Trump, who mislabel people who voted for Trump as “Trump supporters” when we just knew, inconclusively, that Hillary Clinton did not qualify for public office, I want you to know, we are as afraid as you.

All of us were put through the ringer for the past eight years, “the reign of terror.” Due to your unpredictable, immature reactions, we had to shut up and pretend everything was fine as the world destabilized around us.  If you think this is inaccurate, don’t just criticize or argue with me. I can go to Facebook for that. Please, research first; but not on main-stream media. Please, go on Twitter, or on any platform where you can reach out to random, individual people from Africa, from Europe, from the mid-East, and yes, from Russia and find out what they think of Obama/Hillary and the past eight years.

When an American votes for President, it’s not like voting for local office. One should not be selfish, thinking only of your own needs and beliefs. One must at the needs of the whole world, because we are world leaders. We impact everyone. Hillary was a terrible candidate. That’s why she lost.

We, the ones who voted for Trump, have no idea which way this will go, but we try to be positive. The next 100 days will be crucial.  I just heard the Inauguration speech, and I would like to quote our new President, “When You Open Your Heart to Patriotism, There Is No Room for Prejudice…You will never be ignored again.”

As I spoke to Dustin I asked him if there was something he wanted to tell the world, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Having met someone with such a good heart,  who was SHAT on by the Obama administration, by the policies brought down by Obama, the former commander-in-chief, I just hope that President Trump doesn’t “ignore” the homeless, the disabled and the ALSO non-humans of our nation.

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Thank you for being part of my blog and my Portrait Project. It is my honor to share these phenomenal experiences of these amazing people. I’m giving people who may never have an article written about them an opportunity to be spotlighted online. When I wake up in the morning, I look at my WordPress stats, and someone from India, Africa, Germany or Iceland read my blog. It’s exciting. Thank you so much for being there, wherever, whenever you are.


Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Dave-1


I met Dave when he came to install cable internet for me as a cable/internet/TV installation technician for Charter® Spectrum‎. As a soldier at Fort Lewis for the United States Army, Dave was a Communications specialist. At the time of this posting, he lived in California City, California, USA, with his mother, two nephews and a cat named Felix. Guess what the cat looked like!

Dave felt privileged that he could use his military skills and translate them into civilian skills. David wanted to let people who planned to join the military  know that it’s important to look at your job before you actually start it, that is, “people should get MOSs (Military Occupational Specialties) that they can get a job in when they get out. You take demolition, there’s not a lot of demolition jobs out there in the civilian world. You have to watch what you are doing and know what you’re going in for.”

Bottom line, people called for cable service a lot more frequently than they called to get stuff blown-up. Dave advised that one must look ahead at one’s possible civilian career when choosing an MOS.

Dave demonstrated a high level of morality, sensitivity and kindness as well as tech-savvy. He was a light-hearted, pleasant man who had the amazing ability to attach a BCN to a coax in such a short time, it seemed like magic. Move over  balloon twisting tricks; BCN connecting is the wave of the future.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Jose


I was driving to the library when I noticed an individual randomly walking around with a bass drum. No marching band. No group. For that matter, no groupies. Just him. Solo.

I had to make a U-turn and stop to ask if he would be part of my portrait collection. He was kind enough to say yes.

This is a portrait of Jose who played the bass drum for Antelope Valley High School. He was playing for two years at the time of this posting, that being, from his first semester of sophomore year. He loved band, was very dedicated to it, and focused on it to the point that it comprised the majority of his schedule. It was clear that he was close to the other band members and they were his primary social circle.  He was planning to go to band camp for the first time the coming summer and anticipated getting very sore and burnt.

Jose was born and raised in Lancaster, California, USA. His parent were from Mexico. He had one older brother and one younger sister. His favorite movie was Where the Red Fern Grows. He followed the Harry Potter series and was enthusiastic about the fact that the producers were using the Harry Potter franchise to make new movies about other characters in that fantasy world.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of TJL-2080


This portrait is of TJL-2080 (hereinafter to be called TJ) that being his professional name. TJ is a fascinating person who I knew from a group called the Antelope Valley Thespians, “an incorporated 501(c)3 nonprofit theater company” that supported playwrights and screenplay writers.

Because TJ and I both came to their meetings to have our screenwriting supported, and he was a very good photographer, loved sci-fi and virtual reality, and had so much in common with me, I thought we were alike. Then I read his Twitter profile, “Special Education Teacher, a Futuristxe, a Technoutopian, a Transhumanist.” Since I didn’t know what two out of five of those things were, I realized we were not identical twins.

TJ’s fiction writing had very interesting/ironic twists, which was a sign of excellent storytelling. As of the date of this posting, I had been looking forward to working with him on short-film production.

TJ was not just a fiction writer. He studied the use of technology to help people with disabilities, then wrote about his research and experiences.

You can learn more about TJ on the TJL-2080 blog. You can reach him on Twitter @tjl2080.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Aeowyn


This portrait is of Aeowyn, named after the Lord of the Rings character Éowyn . I was so excited that Aeowyn’s mom allowed me to shoot this and post it AND that Aeowyn was cooperative. So here you go, my first child in this series.

Aeowyn is an energetic, cute, affectionate three year old. She loves to draw, build with blocks and dance. Recently she discovered she liked singing. She primarily sings Disney songs, but since she’s seen Moana, she is obsessed with You’re Welcome. She saw Moana a few weeks ago with her mother, brother and aunties.

BTW, in case you question when this was shot, it was shot in January, for sure. The sky cleared, the rain stopped, it was still chilly, but not enough to make a little girl who can’t stop moving cold. So. Yes. This is a California girl in January, and it’s shot with my DSLR and not the point and shoot.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Arteasha


This portrait is of Arteasia, who I had known previously from my local Lancaster Costco  in Lancaster, CA, USA. She worked for CDS (Club Demonstration Services) Costco Food Demonstrator as one of the sample ladies, everyone’s favorite people at Costco. She had been working at this position for four years and loved the job. She believed Costco employees were fun and the customers were terrific. What she enjoyed the most about her job was meeting and speaking with people, “a lot, all day long.”

Arteasia’s favorite item to serve were sweets, “everyone tends to like sweets so I get all the customers when I have sweet things.” Arteasia found that the customers “stuck around” and talked to her more because they wanted more and more sweets. In other words, on sweets day, she was able to talk to even more people.

I took this portrait with the point and shoot. I used Costco overhead lighting, but because of the shadow on her face caused by her cap, I looked for a box with a white bottom. You know all those empty boxes in Costco? Well I didn’t use one of those. I emptied out a box full of chocolate covered some non-GMO fruit.I had Arteasia stand under a light, had her hold the box, at her waist, like a tray, pointing up, and it reflected the light into her face to give her even lighting. I darkened up the background with Photoshop.

This was a fun shoot not only because Arteasia was tickled from being chosen to be in my project, and because she is so “sweet” (pun intended) in the first place, but because I enjoyed being creative about improving the available light.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Nancy


This portrait is of Nancy, who I met at the Lancaster Public Library  Lancaster, CA, USA. She was sitting next to a table with pencils configured in a very strange way. (See picture below.) I asked her if she did that and she laughed and said, “No.” I told her I thought it looked like something you’d see in a Stephen King movie.

Nancy found that amusing not only because she saw the scene in the same way before I had walked over and mentioned it, but because her husband was wandering the shelves searching for a Stephen King book. At that point, I thought I should ask her about using her for the portrait project.

Nancy came to the library often with her three children and her husband. She liked Stephen King also, but didn’t have time to read much because motherhood duties. She had seen all the movies adapted from his books. Carrie, Misery and Sleepwalkers were her favorites. As for his books, Cujo was “probably” her favorite.

In general, Nancy had always loved horror movies. She enjoyed “wondering what is going to happen next and the mystery of it all.”

Nancy was originally from Los Angeles, CA.She moved to the Antelope Valley area several years prior to the posting of this blog post. At some point, she moved back to Santa Clarita, CA, to work. Then, after her eldest daughter was two years old, the family moved back because Lancaster area was smaller and because of the numerous friends they had left behind; she also said it was a better place to raise children.

Computer HopeImage Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.