Over the past couple of years, I have developed a really wonderful working relationship with the Autism Speaks organization. The founders, Bob and Suzanne Wright, have been bringing me in to photograph some pretty amazing events. They have even invited me into their home on Nantucket to capture their family, their amazing grandson, and the Autism Speaks community as a whole.
The Autism Speaks Celebrity Chefs Gala at the New York Stock Exchange in November was another event they invited me to photograph. This popular fundraising event consisted of about 100 chefs, each with their own table. The guests were able to purchase a seat at one of the chef’s tables and enjoy a custom 4 course meal created especially for that evening. All proceeds went directly back to Autism Speaks.
I headed to New York the night before the event to scout Cipriani’s Wall Street location inside the NYSE where the gala was being held. When I arrived on the night of the event, I was able to meet many of the chefs as they were setting up at their stations. From there, we set up a shot of all the chefs and Ted Allen from The Food Network show Chopped.
After a tiny break to set up more lights, I set myself up on the “blue carpet,” which is their version of the red carpet, and I was tasked with photographing guests as they were arriving and greeting Bob and Suzanne Wright. From there, it was time for the dinner, but not before a very talented and intelligent young man named Andrew Duff took to the stage and gave a talk about what it was like to be a high-functioning adult with Autism. (He and I went out for a drink afterwards, and I must say—he is an amazing man. He has written and is starring in a play called “Square Peg in a Round Hole.”)
After the blue carpet, I was able to mill around and really enjoy the night. I loved getting to photograph some of the attendees, including Robert DiNero and his lovely wife, along with Christopher Plummer and all of the featured chefs. Reconnecting with Bob and Suzanne was super fun and of course one of the highlights for me. And I was so fortunate to get to spend time with one of my best friends, Billy Mann, and his wife, Genna. They are on the board of Autism Speaks and also attended the event.
It was a great event, with a lot of money being raised for a cause so near to my heart. I can’t wait to share the next Autism Speaks event with you here on the blog!