This project began after I photographed an elder—a distinguished Black gentleman. I remember thinking that it was rare to see a healthy and happy elderly Black man. “Why was that?” I thought. After further exploration, I came to the conclusion that Black males over the age of 80 were like an “endangered species.” If we didn’t protect their lives in their prime from violence, police brutality, incarceration, as well as physical and mental health conditions caused by living stressful unfulfilled lives, then they’d eventually become non-existent.
I decided to go out into the community and look for men over 70 to photograph. To my dismay, I discovered that my assumption had truth to it. Though I did find a few great gentlemen. One shared this quote that drove me to continue the work: “I’m here because I was saved by grace; we don’t deserve any bragging rights.”
This visual story sends the message that our communities need Black male elders to nourish our ecosystems. We need to go the distance to protect their lives.
I’d like to give thanks to all of the men involved in helping me tell this story.
Nataki Hewling has been a photo professional for over 20 years. She has worked as a photo editor/researcher and photographer for top publishing and media houses including Scholastic Inc., TIME Inc., Meredith Corp., and currently The Week Junior. While at TIME, Hewling photographed notables such as Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander, author Chelsea Clinton, Pharrell Williams, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, and many more. As the owner of HERShot Productions, LLC, Hewling has acquired a diverse clientele that continues to grow. Her recent work can be seen inside the print and web editions of the New York Daily News, City & State New York, Crain’s New York, and the Staten Island Advance. Hewling also founded HERShot NYC in 2018, a grant-funded program to empower young girls to tell visual stories that educate, entertain, and inform their communities.
A vibrant cultural center, the Alice Austen House keeps the bold spirit of the early American photographer alive by presenting changing exhibitions of Austen’s pioneering historic photographs and of contemporary photography, providing education programs for students, offering a range of cultural programs for the public.
Saved By Grace
Featuring: Nataki Hewling
LocationsView Location Details South Beach Promenade
656 Father Capodanno Blvd
Staten Island, NY 10305
- Monday 6:00 am - 1:00 am
- Tuesday 6:00 am - 1:00 am
- Wednesday 6:00 am - 1:00 am
- Thursday 6:00 am - 1:00 am
- Friday 6:00 am - 1:00 am
- Saturday 6:00 am - 1:00 am
- Sunday 6:00 am - 1:00 am