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A father's love, one snapshot at a time

Jon Schusteritsch, 36, of of Cutchogue, took a

Jon Schusteritsch, 36, of of Cutchogue, took a picture of his 5-year-old daughter, Zoey, and 2-year-old son, Max, at the Boy Scouts Car Show in Peconic. Credit: Instagram / Jon Schusteritsch

Newsday recently asked readers to post Instagram photos that illustrate the best Long Island life has to offer. This week we're telling their stories.

Jon Schusteritsch took the first picture of his daughter moments after she struggled to enter this world. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, forcing doctors to resuscitate her.

He snapped at least one a day for the first year of her life. Holding her first library card four years ago. The start of kindergarten on Tuesday.

The Cutchogue resident, who works for PSEG Long Island, taught himself photography about seven years ago to satisfy his creative side. He also wanted to master the craft for Zoey, now 5. "Once my daughter was born, then it really hit me. How can I make these photos special?" he said. "She was like my muse."

Schusteritsch, 36, has taken so many pictures of Zoey that she has declared that's enough -- "No more photos."

Sometimes she gives him a fake smile. An ugly face.

His 2-year-old son, Max, doesn't mind having his photo taken. Yet.

Last weekend, Schusteritsch took a picture of Zoey and Max standing next to an old red Chevy at the Boy Scout Car Show at the former Peconic School.

Growing up in Wantagh, photography fascinated him. His late grandfather always had his Minolta. Together, they dropped off film at Cameta Camera in Amityville. "It was just something that we did that was special," Schusteritsch said.

Albert Miller was a rosy-cheeked man with silver-gray hair, the one in his grandson's peripheral vision at family events, eye pressed to the viewfinder, finger at the shutter button.

Schusteritsch later took a job in PSEG Long Island's electric mapping department, helping to maintain the company's electric grid. But he had not explored that creativity. Photography allowed him to do that.

He started to learn the craft from seminars, online forums and tutorials. He studied other photographers' work. He now owns a small custom photography company, shooting birthdays, engagements and other precious moments part time.

On March 4, 2010, he took that first picture of Zoey after she was born at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead.

In the photo, she had a breathing tube in her throat and intravenous tubes in her arms. The first night, doctors weren't sure she'd live, said his wife, Terri, 32.

"Once I saw her in that condition, I instantly fell in love. I had to do what I do -- take pictures," the father said.

He wanted to document her first hours to "remember that she had a rough start, and we should be thankful for it every day that she made it through."

His wife said she is glad they have photos of Zoey's many moments. The time she plopped her daughter in the snow in her pink snowsuit. Her husband's favorite: when Zoey posed for him last year, proud of her new haircut.

"Every photo tells a story," Terri said.

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