I Promised to Share His 'Scar' with the World

Every time I walk around the city with my camera I meet new people. Some old, some young. Some rich, some poor. I have a gift of getting stories out of people. This past weekend was no different.

I was in the middle of a session with a model, for my Dead Roses project, when Junior approached me. He asked questions about my camera & what exactly I was doing in Chinatown. I shared some of my pictures with him & got to talking. We happen to be from the same neighborhood in Boston & even shared common friends.

Midway through our conversation, he shared his scar with me. Pointing out why he isn't worthy of a picture. I told him that every scar we carry comes with a story. That's when he told me about his fight with cancer & how he survived it. He said I can take a picture of his scar but with two conditions: I can't show his face & I have to share it with the world. Of course I agreed.


Unexpected Photo Sessions are the Best

On this day my client (and homie) Vanessa reached out to me last minute. Her friend, Susan, was in town visiting from Miami. I met them at their hotel & got to hang out a few hours with these two wonderful women. I'll be blogging my session with V soon but for now enjoy what I captured from Susan. Warning: she makes it look easy (giggles).

Sometimes the best way to live life is without any expectations or plans. Of course, you need to do some kind of planning but you know what I mean. It all becomes easier to handle when you just flow with it. Take every moment as it comes & accept what is.

Fried Bananas

Everyone knows that grandmothers are the best cooks. The other night, my grandmother surprised me with fried bananas (not to be confused with plantains). Literally a banana sliced, seasoned and fried. Crazy, I know! But I must confess... it was good. So good, I had to share.

I figured some of you guys would want the recipe or details. In all honesty, I tried my best to obtain as much info as I could. But it's pretty simple.

1. Slice banana into thin slices
2. Soak banana slices in salt/seasoned water (2-3 min.)
3. Fry banana slices until golden brown
4. Sprinkle Salt and enjoy!

I had mines with spam. Use #MrFlakoVeli or #ThinkAndCreate to share you creations.

14 Days of Valentine! (Couple's Portrait Package)

February is a month best known for hearts, kisses and chocolates. It's the one day of the year that is dedicated specifically to those who have been blessed enough to find love. I know it can be tricky finding the right gift or setting up the perfect date. Lucky you, I'm offering my services to make all this easier for you all. Set up a couple's portrait session and walk away with memories you can hold in your hands.

Package Details:
  • $100 $75
  • 1-2 hour session
  • Location of choice
  • 20+ edited images on CD
  • Valid February 1-14

Email me for more info CONTACT@MrFlakoVeli.com

The "Old School" Villa Victoria

Every chance I get, I try to remind people how important pictures are and the role they play in salvaging memories. As usual, I was debating between post this week. Not sure which direction I wanted to head as the new year takes flight. 

There's a FaceBook group dedicated to the history of my childhood neighborhood (The Villa Victoria). On there, people share pictures and stories on a weekly basis. As I browsed through the selection the other night, I decided to dedicate the first post of 2014 to the history of my community. It's amazing being able to travel back in time, even if it's for one second. Enjoy!

*ALL pictures are credited to "Old School Villa"

Rhode Island Comic Con (2013)

This past weekend I took a trip to Providence, Rhode Island. I attended the Comic Con with my colleague Dante Luna, who was working on a short documentary ("Contrast of Evil"). We were granted full media access, which included the privilege of interviewing big celebrity names. The documentary will be featured on his YouTube account as soon as it's ready to go. In between breaks I decided to capture some of my favorite costumes. ENJOY!

Forward With Felix Arroyo (The People's Mayor)

Felix Arroyo alongside his team & supporters.
Being born and raised in the city of Boston has been an amazing experience for me, to say the least. I've spent the last 10+ years of my young life living in the Historical South End. More specific, the Villa Victoria. A neighborhood that was formed in the late 1960s by Puerto Rican activists, who stood up against private companies who aimed to gain control over their urban development. After years of protest they were successful, and turned what was known as Parcel 19 into a healthy community for low-income families.
Growing up I've heard this story plenty of times but it continues to be an inspiration for me. Not only has Boston taught me to be strong, but the history in my neighborhood has taught me to unite and fight for what I believe in. Which is why today I come to you, not as a blogger but a person. Change can only come when those who desire it take action. 
If you're a Boston citizen, I hope you will be voting this month for our next possible Mayor. Although all the candidates have the best interests of our city in mind, I can promise you that Felix Arroyo is "The People's Mayor". I've been documenting his mayoral campaign since June (here and there). Today I met him and his team at Forest Hills Station, as he greeted people on their morning commute.
*For more Felix Arroyo pictures CLICK HERE

"Best Child Portrait" WINNERS!

After attending (and of course photographing) a family pool party last month, I was inspired to create a "Best Child Portrait" Contest. I figured it would be a good way to interact with my viewers and incorporate their work on my blog/site.

One BIG Thank You to everyone who participated. Originally I was only going to choose "1" winner. But- after seeing all the great work I decided to bend the rules and chose my favorite 3 instead.

Jayda Rose - Methuen, MA (US)

Krishiv B. Bharodiya - Mumbai, Mahatashtra (India)

Alexandro Gonzalez Jr. - Roslindale, MA (US)

Don't forget to photograph all the little moments. One day you will sit down and look back at all the memories you have captured. Blessings!

"Best Child Portrait" Contest!

I've experimented with all types of photography, but there's none that I love to do more then portraits! There is something about capturing the emotion, the spirit and energy of a human that gives me a natural high. Portraits can tell the story of a person, or highlight a certain time in their life. Things can get a little harder when the subject is a child, but it also gets fun. So, I challenge all my viewers (and inspiring photographers) to take a stab at it.

It's not a demand. It's a challenge! A contest!


1. Create a single child portrait (must own all rights)

2. Email no more then 2 pictures to MrFlakoVeli@gmail.com 
(Include your name, city and state, and the name and age of the child)

3. All entries must be submitted by September 16, 2013 (12:00 P.M. *EST)

4. The winner will receive an email response within 48 hours after closing time

5. The winning picture will be featured on my site on October 7, 2013!


1. Start the session with a conversation. Sit down with the child and break down the wall of shyness.
(conversate about their favorite cartoon, snack, activity or super hero)

2. Step away from the subject and let them dive into the moment.
(this will let them relax and be their natural self)

3. Once you are ready to start shooting, go for it, but do it in a relax manner.
(try not to bring attention to you, or interrupt their current state of being)

4. It is ok to get up close and personal, but make it snappy and continue to build on trust.
(this way, they continue to feel a sense of "friendship" with you)

(Kids are unpredictable... enough said.)

5. Get creative! Snap away! Look at the photos AFTER the session!
(You're going miss great spontaneous moments if you over analyze every shot)


If It Wasn't For Pictures

I spent my 4th of July like most did: eating juicy hamburgers off the smoking grill, sipping amazing mixed drinks and enjoying great conversations with friends and family. The weather was perfect and fireworks decorated the clear sky. But everyone knows a cook-out isn't complete without good music. Luckily that same day, American rapper, Jay Z, released his 12th studio album, titled Magna Carta Holy Grail. Although I like all the songs, "Oceans" (featuring Frank Ocean) stood out to me the most. To be more specific, it was a line in Jay Z's verse that inspired this article. The song deals with his personal and ancestral journey from slavery to millionaire. In one line he refers to pictures being the only reason why some people have been able to see him. His exact words are "If it wasn't for these pictures they wouldn't see me at all".

This got me thinking; he was right! Without photos, how else would some of us witness certain events, people or places the world has to offer. Thanks to pictures, I have a clear mental image of the Eiffel Tower in France and of the Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Kids can experience the jungles of the Amazon and couples can relive their wedding day. Photography has played a key role in the process of sharing not only our (human) history, but also our personal lives. This simple realization left me in complete awe!

It brought me back to a conversation I shared with a special friend of mines, when she told me the story of how her parents met. Her father was living in New York city (1970s), when he saw a picture of a beautiful women during a visit to his friend's home. After learning she was single and living in Puerto Rico, he set his mind on conquering her heart. They began exchanging letters and photos; getting to know one another, despite the distance. After months of communicating via mail, they finally had the chance to meet, and proceed with their love. Me and my friend laughed about how that photo brought her to existence. Although we joked about it, it was true. If it wasn't for that picture, her father would have never seen her mom (at least not when he did). It wasn't the quality of the picture or the photographer. It wasn't the scene or the composition. The subject was all that mattered.

As a photographer, I am aware of the power I have. To capture and share my life with others. Every second I spend with my camera is an opportunity to freeze a moment worth remembering.

So, if it wasn't for pictures... what would you have missed?

The Pictures. The Winter. The Camera.

My mother has always been the type to take pictures. She's always owned a camera. During family vacations, she would photograph EVERYTHING. She would tells us to "stand here", then "stand there" and "get closer". My brothers and I (and my father) hated it. We use to make funny faces in almost every picture. My mother would sometimes complain about not owning a single "good" picture of us. But after we would return home, she would develop hundreds of pictures and place them in albums (or boxes). Those are The Pictures that I now sit down to look at.

Years later I have come to realize the significance of a picture. The fact that each picture is a specific second captured in time. A memory in the mind of the photographer. Pictures allow a person to share what they see and how they see it. You can learn about a person's life by looking at their pictures (memories). Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Which is why I would never forget The Winter of 2005.

That Christmas, my mother received a brand new camera as a gift from my father. An upgrade from the point-and-shoot she had for a while. I don't remember what I felt or what I was thinking at the time; I just remember asking her for the point-and-shoot. She didn't even think about it and handed it to me. At first I photographed everything around the house and played with the features. Didn't think much of it.

One snowy morning I decided to walk around the city; due to a case of boredom. It would be the first time I bring the camera with me anywhere. I started taking pictures of what ever I found visually attractive. I can recall snow covered sidewalks, snow covered parks, snow covered streets and snow covered buildings. Basically, snow covered everything. Those will always be my first pictures. Unfortunately, I soon after lost the camera during a trip to New York, so I never had the chance to develop any of the pictures. Including the ones from the trip itself.

At first it troubled me. Not only was I excited about certain images I obtained, but it was my new camera. Luckily, as if the Universe stepped in, Tax season came around not a second too soon. I invested that year's tax return on a Canon PowerShot S5 IS. Little did I know that this would be The Camera that would shape my career.

That's when I truly began expressing myself through photography. The camera would come along with me anywhere I went. My eyes would see pictures in the things I saw. I was developing my work and putting portfolios together, which I still have, somewhere. When I got my first apartment, I even took a bunch of pictures I had laying around, and covered an entire wall. Seeing my work posted up was inspiring. 

Now at this present moment, years later,  I sit here and think back to those pictures, that Winter and that camera. Each one represents a moment in my life that somehow got me here, speaking to you, the reader.

Join me, on my journey, as I share my thoughts and show you and the rest of the world my point of view through my work.