Dear Mrs. Betty S. Jenkins
Where do I begin? The first day I drew breath was the first day that I celebrated a Mother’s Day…. your day. On February 27 of that year, you did what you have always done in my life; you put your child first. You literally weathered the snowstorm and found your way to the hospital in order for me to be born. Being the woman that you are, you decided to for go your college studies and join the work force full time to provide a life for my older brother and me. To this day, I can’t acclimate enough degrees or accolades to show my appreciation to you for your sacrifice.
As a child, you don’t understand why things are the way they are. You don’t understand the difference between “needs” and “wants”. All you want to know is “Why” and “Why not”. When you move us to our family spread in the country, I didn’t want to understand and as a child I acted out. Later in life after maturing and reflecting, I realized that we moved not only because of the availability to my grandparents and aunt, but because the LORD gave you the insight to see the path that I was heading. Trouble at school, fighting in the neighborhood, and the occasional legal situations, you knew there was more for me in life than becoming another static for the national census. You saw my potential even before I saw it. I thank you for this. You saved my life.
Growing up on a farm isn’t the glamorous thing that most kids would look forward to. The days seemed longer than usual. The work wasn’t that easy. You miss out on a lot of things that your friends got to do. As a child, I resented that. That being said, I would not change my past for nothing in the world. Your parents, through their own way, taught brothers, my sister, cousin, and me that there is more to life than taking; you have to do your share of giving. That farm helped build my character, helped me understand what is to “put in work” and reap the benefits from it. The respect that I saw in the eyes of men from different races toward my grandfather taught me what it was to be a man with dignity and honor. He also taught me that you should never come home with a clean baseball uniform.
“If you are clean… you didn’t play hard enough.”
He was a quite, strong man who rocked his work overalls Monday – Saturday, but was clean on Sunday. He put family first and made sure that everyone and everything was taken care of after he pasted.
Grandma and I didn’t always see eye to eye on most things, but she was my movie buddy when I decided to stay home and work while everyone else went on the family vacations. Yes, she had to have KFC for dinner and yes, she talked through all of the movies, but she was my partner. I wished I didn’t waste time arguing with her about the unimportant stuff life through my way. As a child you don’t understand the value of time and the importance of discipline. Reflecting, I can’t remember a time when she didn’t have breakfast, lunch, or dinner ready for an ungrateful child like myself. I thank GOD for the moments I spent with her before she passed. “You going to work?” and “You gonna bring me a scary movie?” was the meat of our last conversation. I thank you for your parents. They way people speak of them to this day is a testimony of who they were and who I wanna be.
You create an environment for your children to grow and flourish in. While you work hard to make sure we had a home, you entrusted our well being to the people closest to you; my grandparents and my auntie. Auntie made sure that we understood the importance of an education and sportsmanship. She drilled us in the summer with knowing the presidents (in order), the states and their capitals, math; pretty much whatever she could come up with. She also was a big part in my success a ball player. “Frankie, throw harder…” “Frankie, run faster…” “Frankie, quite being lazy…” was all I heard, but later realized that it translated into “Do your best.” “You can do better.” “Don’t give up!” “Push yourself.” “Focus.” I would not have these key ingredients to be successful if it was for you.
In closing, Mrs. Jenkins, I hope that you find your Mother’s Day fulfilling. I try my best to make sure you are celebrated everyday whether it is with a quick phone call to see how you are doing or just by representing you through my actions. Like you always said, “You represent the FAMILY when you walk out that door.” Momma, I love you with every ounce of my being. I made a deal with GOD that if he allows my children the opportunity to have you in their lives; to really get to know you before he calls you home, I will represent his will and influence through my deeds and my family.
My love for you knows no bounds. Thank you for raising 3 men and a lady. Thank you for being a 2nd Mom to my cousin. Thank you for being an involved grandparent. Thank you for being my mom growing up and my friend later in life. You are my inspiration and my lighthouse in the storm. Your sacrifices are the foundation of my success. I will honor your gift of life to me every day on this earth. I always joke that I am your investment and it is time for you to start receiving dividends. All I every want is for you to be proud of the man I turned out to be. I still have some polishing to endure, but I assure you that you will be more than pleased with the end results.
Happy Mother’s Day
I knew this was going to be an interesting wedding assignment from day one. From the multiple phones calls, schedule arrangements, and wardrobe inquires, Chris and Candace had this photographer going the distance. This dance started off with their engagement session. For some reason (global warming), the weather was very unpredictable this year. The initial engagement session ended up being shot during the transitional period between Winter and Spring. We shot in snow flurries at Piedmont Park. It was COLD! This photographer will shoot in practically any weather for a great photograph, but I wasn’t sure the couple would feel my enthusiasm. There is a lot to say about YOUTH and an adventurous spirit. We had a great time freezing out butts off.
Now if you don’t know Candace, she like every bride has a vision. Her vision did not include being bundle up in the cold dodging snowflakes. Her vision consisted of a cute, flowing A-line dress and a lot of PDA in the park at dusk. Well, everyone knows I like a challenge photography wise, so I did what I do and made it happen. We meet again when the weather was a little better and held our second session at Atlantic Station. Easy enough right?! Well, dealing with traffic on a Saturday night in midtown during prom season, basketball season, and baseball season, everyone made it to the location.
“Is it enough light out?”
“Do we have enough time?”
Somebody forgot who they were working with.
Winter engagement shoot… check.
Spring engagement shoot… check Check!
Wedding day… check Check CHECK!
In September of last year, I was asked to provide The Bow Tie Photo Booth for Kyla and Aaron’s wedding. The couple were the winners of Essence Magazine’s Storybook Wedding Contest. Essence pulled out all the stops and asked Celebrity wedding planner Diann Valentine to oversee this dream production. Along with Diann, several of my favorite local vendors contributed to this wedding such as The Perfect Creations + Design (floral) and Camicake Cupcakes.
I also had the privileged of providing the bridal shoot for Kyla. Her gown was a custom creation from west coast designer Kevan Hall. She stayed local with the hair and makeup (Rhonda Peterson of Faces by Rhonda (makeup) and K. Micole (hair). We shot on location at the Georgia Freight Depot located downtown next to the historical Underground.
Here are some of the great shots from the photo booth.
I would like to thank Diann Valentine and Charreah K. Jackson (Essence Magazine) for creating a magical evening.
Once the party was in full swing, the Valentine staff stopped by the photo booth to show some love.
Special thanks goes out to Tiffany Pompey and Katlyne Hill for representing Delta Sigma Theta and UGA in full effect! If it wasn’t for these ladies, the Bow Tie Photographer would not have been in effect!
You can see additional images from the wedding by visiting Bridal Bliss on Essence.com or pick up February’s issue of Essence Magazine.
On a February day where snow blanketed the ground, it was just me and you and you made a way. In return, GOD blessed me with breath and my life’s joy… You. I want to wish you the very best birthday today. You are my sunshine, you are my inspiration. My I be granted the time and privileged to share with you all of the blessings that you have shared with me. My siblings and I are who we are in the world greatly due to who you are and the people you have exposed us to.
Words can not express how much I love you. I hope a day doesn’t go by that you do not feel the love we have for you. Each one of us, shows it in our own way and you know I have always been the more flashy of the bunch.
Until we dance at my wedding, I will be practicing my steps so I can enjoy your smile and wipe your tears.
Love forever and always.
Omari Hardwick… for most in the Atlanta area (especially the UGA folks), this name resonates talent. Now the world has been privilege to get a taste of what this Atlanta native has to offer. He has held his own with heavy hitters like Kevin Costner and Nicolas Cage. He has been directed by icons in the industry like Spike Lee and Tyler Perry. You can find him on the big screen and little screen. This weekend, he was the ambassador for the Peachtree Village International Film Festival.
Omari accompanied himself with his mom and dad, who seemed to be seasoned pros on the carpet. As you can see, Omari comes from a great, supportive family that he adores above all else. As I keep telling people, there is a difference between a momma’s boy and a MOMMA’S BOY. The passion and sincerity you see on film is what you get in real life with Mr. Hardwick.
During the awards ceremony, Omari introduce a project that he worked on that was featured at the Sundance Film Festival titled Middle of Nowhere. This film was written and directed by Ava DuVernay. The film is about the journey of a young lady who has the dream of becoming a doctor, but drops out to take care of her incarcerated husband. Among the award recipients were Naturi Naughton, Vivica A. Fox, and Ms. Marla Gibbs.
After all the awards were given and farewells were floating in the air, Omari took the time to congratulate a young man who won the “Best New Director” award. This young man was 16 years old and made his short film in 11 days between homework and football practice. Being a football player himself in high school and college, Omari offered him words of advice and encouragement. He also gave advice to a brother and sister from Alabama who attended the awards gala.
“Work on your skills. Your resume is not as important as what you can do when the opportunity comes.”
Here are a few images of Omari with songstress and actress Naturi Naughton, Arrested Development’s Montsho Eshe, actor and UGA grad Theida Salazar, and premier casting director Mrs. Jaki Brown-Karman.
The Hardwick family with honoree Ms. Marla Gibbs and her daughter Angela.
Final thoughts… anything you do in life, strive for excellence. Rather it be, acting, photography, teaching, or parenting. Make a promise to GOD and yourself that you will not waste his blessings by not being excellent. Your ministry is not only through your words, but your actions.
Take care, stay blessed, and keep smiling!
If you follow my blog, Facebook, or Twitter, you will remember me mentioning the “next coming” in women’s tennis… the Parks Sisters. These young ladies (Mikayla – 13 years old and Alycia -11 years old) bring the next level of excitement to women’s tennis at a young age. Individually, they are forces to wreckoned with. Together, they are like an Arizona electrical storm to the competition… too beautiful to run from. You just watch and hope you survive it.
With smiles and personality, you can’t ask for better young ladies to interview. Happy parents, Erica and Michael, just sit back and watch the smiles and laughter knowing that they both have created something special. The girls success has given them the privileged to play and visit events and camps across the country. During these trips, they have had the prievelege of meeting a lot of well known people such as Justin Bieber, Usher, Boys II Men and a few decent tennis players such as John McEnro, Chris Evert, Maria Sharapova, and Venus Williams.
On this occasion, the young ladies had an opportunity to share the court and spot light with tennis enthusiast Sam Crenshaw from Atlanta’s 11Alive and actor Boris Kodjoe. What a lot of people don’t know is that Boris was a top ranked tennis player before his modeling and acting career began. According to Boris, he plays as much as his family and work schedule allows. Boris was accompanied by his beautiful wife Mrs. Nicole Ari Parker and their two children Nicolas and Sophie. Before the match began, Boris shared some useful information about their foundation SOPHIE’S VOICE FOUNDATION for spina bifida. It was game time and the Parks sisters were ready and focused.
As the players were paired and match play began, Boris quickly let everyone know that he hadn’t lost his touch on the court. What he did forget was how team play worked because he was a recipient of a return from young Alycia’s square in the back. I think it was retaliation for the strong serve he sent her sister’s way prior.
As the match continued, the Parks sisters displayed why they are a force to be noted when they show up to tournaments to dominate. Did I mention that they play above their age to ensure they get better competition.
As the match concluded, the Parks sisters gave the crowd a show before the main match that event at the ATP Championships. Boris and Nicole concluded the evening by signing a few autographs for a few spectators. Stay tuned for additional coverage of the Parks Sisters. They will soon be household names just like another sister team… Venus and Serena.