The New York Press Photographers Association announced that the winner of the 2019 photographer of the year award goes to Thomas A. Ferrara of Newsday. The Photographer of the Year competition, sponsored by Canon U.S.A., is part of the NYPPA 84th Annual Photography & Multimedia Contest, where 16 first place awards were chosen from more than 1,700 entries. The contest was judged March 1-3, 2019 at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

FDNY Capt. Daniel Kudlak, center, who worked with fallen FDNY Firefighter Michael Davidson, is comforted by comrades as gather to pay their respects to Davidson during his wake at the Dalton Funeral Home in Floral Park on March 26, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Jockey Mike Smith throws rose petals in the air as he celebrates riding Justify to a Triple Crown victory in the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, 2018. Justify is the latest of only 13th horses in the history of thoroughbred racing to win the coveted Triple Crown.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Sebastiano Ricci with his collection of puppets in the bedroom of his Franklin Square home on March 5, 2018. Ricci, who has wanted to be a puppeteer since he was very young, is now majoring in puppetry at Adelphi University through a special program they offer allowing students to create their own major.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka during spring training photo day at George M. Steinbrenner Field on the morning of Feb. 21, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Members of the Ronkonkoma Fire Department brave a driving snowstorm to battle a car fire on the north service road of the Long Island Expressway in Holbrook on the evening of March 7, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Members of the grounds crew at Yankee Stadium work to clear snow off the field after the New York Yankees home opener was postponed on April 2, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

In a flurry of motion, members of the Long Island Roller Rebels Roller Derby League practice at the United Skates roller rink in Wantagh on June 21, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Before the start of the first game of the American League Division Series on Oct. 5, 2018, New York Yankee Brett Gardner chats with a scoreboard operator through a window in Fenway Park's famed Green Monster. 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

New York Yankee Aaron Judge is speckled with spotlights as he is filmed for promos by the YES network during spring training photo day at George M. Steinbrenner Field on the morning of Feb. 21, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

The crowd at George M. Steinbrenner Field is reflected in the batting helmet of Jacoby Ellsbury during the Yankees spring training in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 20, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

In an emotional farewell, New York Mets Captain David Wright salutes the fans as he leaves the field for the very last time as a player. Wright came out of the game against the Marlins in the fifth inning, closing out a storied Mets career at Citi Field on the evening of Sept. 29, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, guest instructor Ron Guidry, and minor league pitching coordinator Scott Aldred, watch during bullpen sessions on day three of spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 15, 2018.

Farmingdale girl welcomes diabetic alert dog home

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Emma Brussell embraces her long-awaited diabetic alert dog, Rufus, in the living room of her Farmingdale home on April 27, 2018. Diabetic alert dogs are service dogs that are highly trained to sense and alert their diabetic handlers in advance of high or low blood sugar events, before they become dangerous.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Emma Brussell anxiously waits by the window of her Farmingdale home watching cars go by as she awaits the delivery of her diabetic alert dog, Rufus, on April 27, 2018. 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Emma Brussell calls her long-awaited diabetic alert dog, Rufus, in the living room of her Farmingdale home on April 27, 2018. Here she is learning how to summon Rufus. 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

With her mother, Kelly Lynn Brussell, left, Emma Brussell checks on her continuous glucose monitor at her Farmingdale home on April 27, 2018. Emma has type 1 diabetes and has to wear two devices to help keep her blood sugar levels in check. The sensor she wears on her arm monitors her blood sugar levels and a pod she wears on her hip injects insulin as needed. The devices are not infallible though and she has worked to raise money to purchase a diabetic alert dog. 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Emma Brussell has her blood glucose level checked by her mom, Kelly Lynn Brussell, in the bedroom of their Farmingdale home on May 10, 2018. Emma has type 1 diabetes and recently received her Diabetic Alert Dog, Rufus. Diabetic alert dogs can provide warnings 15 to 30 minutes before problems show up in the blood.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Schoolmates watch as Emma Brussell walks her diabetic alert dog, Rufus, down the hallway at Woodward Parkway Elementary School on April 27, 2018. 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

While Rufus's trainer, Ahmed Hassan, not pictured, introduces Rufus to Emma Brussell's classmates, she leans over and gives her new diabetic alert dog a kiss in her classroom at Woodward Parkway Elementary School on April 27, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Rufus sits under Emma Brussell's desk in her classroom as she talks with her teacher at Woodward Parkway Elementary School on April 27, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

As part of Rufus's service dog training, he is brought to public places with Emma Brussell to help acclimate him to his new job watching over her. Ahmed Hassan, left, Rufus's trainer from Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, eats lunch at the Farmingdale Diner with Emma, her mom Kelly Lynn and sister Lily, far right out of frame, while Rufus watches from under the table on April 27, 2018. 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Emma Brussell brings her new diabetic alert dog, Rufus, to meet her softball team as they prepare for a game in Levittown on April 28, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Lilly, left, and Emma Brussell, play with Rufus, Emma's diabetic alert dog, in Emma's bedroom on May 10, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

At the end of the day, a tired Emma Brussell lies on the couch of her Farmingdale home with her arm around Rufus, her diabetic alert dog on May 10, 2018.

Charles Rufino makes masterpiece violins and runs a violin shop

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Master violin maker Charles Rufino, 66, sits in the light of a south-facing window at his carpet-covered workbench on April 4, 2018. The tools of his craft surround him. “I’m trying to do this one thing well,” he says, “I enjoy the awareness when I’m working and shaping and cutting the wood. I’m the luckiest man I know.” Rufino has been crafting string instruments since 1974.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Master violin maker Charles Rufino uses a tiny thumb plane to carefully carve out the wood of one of his violins and give it its arched shape at the workbench in his home studio on April 4, 2018 where he practices his craft.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Making a violin takes six to eight weeks of work, all told, Charles Rufino, seen on April 4, 2018, estimates. “It’s not in a straight line,” he said. “You’ve got to be totally on your game. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing it. That’s what makes it art.” 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

A detail photo of the tools on the workbench of master violin maker Charles Rufino in his home studio on the afternoon of April 4, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Rufino has been crafting string instruments since 1974. “It’s not a formula,” Charles Rufino, seen on April 4, 2018, said. “When you discover your voice or soul as a maker, you discover it’s OK to bring your life experience to creating this violin.”

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Violins hang on a rack in the workshop of master violin maker Charles Rufino on April 4, 2018.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Some of Rufino’s handcrafted violins can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Rufino, seen working on April 4, 2018, said he considers the instruments he makes to be inspired by works of master luthiers in earlier generations, but not copies. “I want to be a maker of instruments for today and tomorrow.”

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Rufino, seen on April 4, 2018, has been crafting string instruments since 1974. “I’ve never looked back,” Rufino says. He first explored different options, visiting furniture makers, harpsichord makers and the late New York City guitar maker James D’Aquisto. “I knew I wanted to work with wood, and then I got bit by the violin bug.”

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Charles Rufino signs and dates his instruments on April 4, 2018, writing “Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam” (To the greater glory of God) inside his violins. The tagline ties back to his faith and family — both his wife and daughter have master’s degrees in theology — and his fondness for his wife’s uncle, who was a Jesuit priest. “We are a family of God-lovers,” Rufino said.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Charles Rufino, seen on April 4, 2018, who also plays viola in the North Shore Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers and is on the executive committee of the International Society of Violin and Bow Makers. 

The Mermaids of Long Island

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Shown here swimming at the Long Island Aquarium on July 16, 2018, Kai Wagner, 27, who identifies as a transgender man, joined the Long Island pod three years ago but has been interested in the mermaid lifestyle for five years. The Lindenhurst resident has gender-specific mermaid personas. As a woman, she is Mermaid Pearl, as a man he is Merman Atlas. “I love the aesthetics of both lady mermaids and male mermaids,” says Wagner.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

In the real-life mermaid world, pod members, seen on July 8, 2018, have alternate identities which they call "Mersonas" and speak in mermaid jargon. They choose names such as Mermaid Sammei, Mermaid Aria and Mermaid Rose. Assistants are known as mer-tenders or merwranglers, Cellphones become Shellphones, Selfies are Shelfies and if you are a member of the mermaid collective, you are merfolk.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Mary Grecco, 26, seen on July 8, 2018, who goes by the name Mermaid Rose, said she turned to swimming and video games as early as elementary school to cope with being bullied. The combination, along with her childhood fascination with the movies “Splash” and “The Little Mermaid,” pulled her into a life of mermaiding. “My demons tried to drown me, but they did not know I could breathe underwater,” said Grecco, who lives in Centereach and credits the mermaid community for helping her feel better about herself.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Members of the Long island Mermaid Pod, seen on July 8, 2018, meet throughout the year for group swims at aquatic facilities, public pools or members’ homes. They gather for the camaraderie and to practice technical swimming and theatrical performance stunts, such as front and back flips, barrel rolls and fluke stands — which involve them standing on the tip of their mermaid tail. 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Shea Alvarez, 4, watches Long Island Mermaid Pod member Sinead Atkinson, aka Mermaid Mist, swimming in an exhibit at the Long Island Aquarium on July 16, 2018 as part of their "Mermaid Mondays" program. “I’ve always had a childhood connection with mermaids and water,” said Atkinson, whose younger sister, Mairead, aka Mermaid Caylis, is also a member of the pod. “This is my way of reconnecting with that.”

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Pod member Mary Grecco, aka Mermaid Rose, is helped by her boyfriend, Alan Kupidloski, as she prepares for one of the pod's "Meetups" in her apartment on the morning of July 8, 2018. In Mer-speak, helpers or assistants are known as merwranglers or mertenders.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Crafting is a big part of the mermaiding lifestyle. Many members craft their own headdresses, shell bikini tops, and accessories. Shown here is a detail of Mary Grecco working in the basement of her Centereach home on April 5, 2018 creating a clamshell top.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

As a kid, I’ve always been a pretty good swimmer,” says Nicole Oliva, founder of the Long Island Mermaid Pod, seen here on March 30, 2018. “When I was younger, I would tie those detachable Velcro skirts that come with bathing suits around my legs and practice swimming like a mermaid.”

About six years ago, while designing a costume, Oliva, set out to create her own mermaid’s tail. Her research and Google searches revealed an entire community of mermaids, in pods from North Carolina to Singapore and at mermaid festivals that have sprung up in Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and include the annual Mermaid Parade on Coney Island. 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

In everyday life, Mary Grecco, whose mermaid persona is Mermaid Rose, works with children with disabilities. “They call me Miss Mermaid,” Grecco, seen on April 26, 2018, said. “To them, it’s not a hobby. To them, I’m a mermaid and I leave the water and take care of them every day.”

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Pod member Kai Wagner, aka Mermaid Pearl, carries Mairead Atkinson, aka Mermaid Caylis, to the water as they prepare to swim in an exhibit at the Long Island Aquarium on July 16, 2018, as part of their "Mermaid Mondays" program. Wagner's company employs four mermaids, plus Wagner, to perform in exhibits at the aquarium in Riverhead. "Mermaid Mondays" began in 2016 and attracts visitors from as far away as New Jersey, said Darlene Puntillo, the aquarium’s spokeswoman.

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Mermaids need to look good underwater, but they also need to be strong swimmers. A strong core is an important part of performing the signature dolphin kick, the only viable swim movement for mermaids, whose tails impede the movement of their legs. The whipping motion propels them forward while their legs are bound by fabric. All the mermaids in the Long Island pod, seen on June 2, 2018, said it’s important to stretch for three to five minutes before entering the water. 

 

Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Kai Wagner, aka Mermaid Pearl, left, and Daniella Tiranno, right, aka Mermaid Marina, shower off at the end of the day after swimming at the Long Island Aquarium on July 16, 2018, as part of the Aquarium's "Mermaid Mondays" program. The aquarium mermaids said their relationships extend beyond just being co-workers. “It brings everyone together,” said Tiranno, who recalled having to lie face down as her co-worker wrestled with the zipper on the back of her mermaid tail. “It feels good to swim with people you know and trust,” she says.

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