Local photographer Richard Esposito of Photographer RE calls Branford home but his work knows no boundaries. He is a four-time Emmy award-winning editor, photographs weddings across the U.S. and the Caribbean, and has spoken at conferences from California to London.
Each year, Richard likes to find a personal project that he can work on and this year he decided he wanted to meet some of the people who make Branford the remarkable community that it is. His thought was to give back to these dedicated volunteers by giving them a complimentary photo session and possibly displaying the portraits in a church hall to salute their efforts as community leaders.
This event quickly blew up into a at in Branford. Richard identified 25 volunteers to honor and with the help of his wife Kelley, found as the recipient of the night’s proceeds.
Over just a few weeks, the event took shape and tickets sold rapidly. The room was filled to capacity and brought in more than $8,000 for Branford Cares, a step in the right direction toward its $300,000 goal by Labor Day.
We sat down with Richard Esposito to talk about his experience with this wonderful event:
It was one idea after another that just all rolled together. I was looking for subjects for a personal project for a certain type of portraiture that I offer. At the time, Branford Cares had just begun. So my wife, Kelley, said I should incorporate the portraits with Branford Cares. Since it's all about community I thought let me photograph people who are involved in the community.
What was the original incarnation of the event idea?
I was looking for a place to showcase the images. My wife and I know Tony, who runs . But Kelley saw Joyce from Woodwinds one day and told her what I was doing. Joyce knew that this event should be held at Woodwinds. Tony made a very generous offer for dinner. And the event continued to grow.
How did it turn into such a grand event?
I know the kind of community that we live in. All of our neighbors help each other. Knowing what Branford Cares is all about made me think about the rest of Branford and how everyone should be coming together in town to support each other to keep this town an amazing place to live for all.
What most drew you to the mission of Branford Cares?
So many people came forward wanting to help. Guilford Savings Bank wanting to sponsor, my wife making the silent auction baskets, my assistant making countless phone calls, Jules from Magenta events took care of the silent auctions and some of the centerpieces, Candice Milliard offered to do the flowers, Eunice Lasala gave me a huge list of names to contact as subjects for the photographs. It became a community putting this all together.
It usually takes a year to put on event of this size. How did you pull this off in just a few weeks?
Seeing a community come together. It's something that I've never seen before. I've taken hundreds of thousands of photographs in my career, but these were different. It was like I was preserving history and a logs story for future generations of family and volunteers.
What was your biggest takeaway from producing this event?
Everywhere I go now I think about all the volunteers who do so much work in all the places that I used to just drive by and think nothing about. This town would not be what it is without its volunteers and we need more. It inspired me to do more.
Post event, do you have any new outlooks on Branford? Volunteers in general?
Unsold portraits will hang throughout town to continue to honor to work of these amazing volunteers.
For information on Richard Esposito’s work visit him online.
Branford Cares continues its mission of raising awareness about the crisis of residents who are not able to provide for their own basic needs. To get involved reach out to them through www.branfordcares.org.