Category Archives: 03-Events

Butterfly Wings The Play – Don’t Miss It

It is that time of year again where we can experience the powerful story of how Jesus Christ can completely change a person’s life.  The inspiration for this play was given to Rev. Shirrell McNeill.  The focus of the performance is to share how Jesus Christ can transform a lost soul into a man or woman of God.

I’ll never forget  the first season of this play where it was  performed by volunteer members of the North East Baptist Church members on NCCU’s campus.  It was a very powerful theatrical performance where one could tell that the actors went beyond just acting.  The 2nd season involved professionally designed sets and stage lighting and was performed at the Carolina Theater. As I watched the story unfold before my eyes I literally forgot  that I was watching a play because the multiple story lines were engaging. So here we are in the 3rd season. Without breaking confidentiality let me say that the newest play has infused some of the “rawness” from 1st season as well as providing us with “more” development of some characters that hasn’t been seen in previous versions.

Artistic Credits for Flyer:

Graphic Design by Jesse Maybin of Str84wrd Creative Design Group

Photography by Ivan Watkins (cast in front of white background & homeless scene)

We invite you to share this with others, purchase your tickets and experience this powerful play with a life changing message.


Friday  November 21, 2008 -  8:00 p.m.

Saturday November 22, 2008 – 7:30 p.m.

The play will be performed at Oven’s Auditorium in Charlotte, NC
Ticket’s GO ON SALE October 11th

Tickets are $25 from October 11th – November 4th

OFFICIAL NAME OF PLAY: “Claudines Story”

Tickets may be purchased from ticketmaster by clicking the link below



If you don’t want to drive then we’ve got you covered.  For transportation from Durham to Charlotte call  Bishop L. Gene Hatley (919) 636 – 0907 for details.

Visit the official website for more information





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The 17th Pastoral Anniversary of Dr. Wesley Elam, Sr. and Sylvia Elam

From September 10 – 14 North East Baptist Church celebrated the 17th pastoral anniversary of Dr. Wesley Elam, Sr. and 1st Lady Sylvia Elam.

“Where He Leads, I Will Follow” (Psalm 23) was the theme. The anniversary kicked off on Wednesday, with guest messenger, Rev. Shelton Miles, Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel AME Church (Durham).  Friday, Sept. 12 Family Fun Fest III included a talent and fashion Show.  The 11 O’clock Worship Service on Sunday featured Dr. William McCoy, Associate Minister, Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church as the speaker.

Below are groups of pictures from each of the three days.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT – Rev. Shelton Miles, Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel AME Church (Durham)








SUNDAY – Dr. William McCoy, Associate Minister, Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church




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Clarence Allen & Harold Martin Racing Join Forces

On Thursday, September 11, 2008 Clarence Allen , owner of Allen’s Wrench,  and Harold Martin introduced to the public what they call “The New Innovative Automotive Technology Showcase”.    Here you have two intelligent men that love Jesus Christ and love everything that has to do with the concept, design, fabrication and maintenance of high performance automobiles.


There were many people that came out to support Clarence and Harold new business partnership.  As you can tell by the photo below their attention was 100% on what was being shared.  Outside of interacting with vistors Clarence and Harold participated in two press conferences.


Below are a few images of Harold’s racing car and the rig that carries it.




Clarence Allen also offered a chance for local Hot Rod enthusiasts to showcase some of their sweetest rides.




At the end of the day Clarence and Harold signed many autographs, gave out firm handshakes and took pictures with the guests.  Below is a picture of Clarence’s hands as he signed a flyer for one of the guests.




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Duke University Welcomes The Freshman Class of 2012


On Tuesday August 19, 2008 I was hired by Duke University and Bon Appétit Management Company to photograph the cookout that welcomes the freshmen that will make up the class of 2012.  There were a host of vendors serving up everything from smoked cow to freshly squeezed lemonade.




Swarms of people attended this event and  filled their bellies with a variety of food items.  From the top of my head I saw hearty soup, smoked corn, hot dogs, hamburgers, chopped bbq, baked beans, potato salad, green beans along with a host of other foods.






As people enjoyed good food and company they sat down to listen to the tunes of the “Shady Grove Band”.


There is more to be said but instead of me telling you about I’ll do this the easy way and let you experience the atmosphere for yourself.  The most relaxed way to do that is to take a few moments and watch the slideshow below.




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The 75th National Gospel Choir/Chorus Convention – 2008

The images presented here were captured to preserve the historical importance of this trip for members of the Raleigh-Durham Triangle Chapter and North East Baptist Church which is pastored by Dr. Wesley Elam, Sr. The images cover our entire trip and not just one aspect of it.


During the week of August 3rd through the 9th I had the opportunity to travel with some other church members to Chicago, IL. We attended the “75th National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses” and we explored the Windy City when time permitted.

Note: I’ve tried to arrange this blog entry in such a way that it makes it easier for you find and view the images of interest to you. However, I encourage you to PACE YOURSELF and visit each photo gallery over several days so that you can experience the entire story.

Here is an index of the various sections that you will find within this blog entry.

  1. Getting There
  2. The Hotel
  3. Exploring The City
  4. The Convention (Monday – Friday)
  5. Shoe Care Specialist
  6. Kids Playing & First Meal
  7. Miscellaneous Pics



Our story begins in Durham, NC where we attended church and then made our way to the airport to catch our flight on SouthWest Airlines. We had a good time just sitting around in the airport and our flights were very peaceful. Upon arrival in Chicago we quickly secured our luggage and then focused all of our efforts on finding a shuttle to get us to our hotel. To our surprise, we ended up getting on the wrong shuttle and had to back track to the airport to catch the correct shuttle. Once we arrived at the hotel we were met by Minister Roland Perry II and he filled us in on what was to take place for the week. I invite you to take some time to view the departure and return photos.



Our home away from home was the Hilton Chicago which is located in the downtown area. This was a very nice hotel and became our 2nd home at the end of a our busy days. If I remember correctly there were 24+ floors to this hotel. Certain elevators only went to specific floors and it took some getting used to. After getting lost several times we soon got our bearings and became comfortable learning our way around. There is much more to the hotel than what I was able to capture but it will give you an idea of what parts of it are like. I invite you to take a peek into the hotel by viewing the hotel picture gallery.


The scene above was captured one morning as we walked out of the hotel to make our way to Dunkin Doughnuts to grab some breakfast. Since this is my blog then I can say that I don’t care if I don’t see another Dunkin Doughnuts for a few years. Okay, moving on . . . Chicago, IL – The Windy City. The ironic thing is that while we were there there wasn’t any wind at all. For the majority of our days we spent our time in convention classes, rehearsals and service. However, we made sure that we had enough time to explore the downtown areas of the city. We made our way down to the shoreline of Lake Michigan, explored downtown stores, ate authentic Chicago Deep dish pizza at a place called Pizano’s, we visited a park to take photographs, jumped on the free trolley to get a tour of the city, briefly visited the art institute and more. There were many visually interesting sites to capture and I invite you to take a look at Chicago through my eyes.


If you spent the time to view the galleries before this one then you were probably thinking “When is he going to get to the convention pictures”. Well here we are! The image above is a powerful image which gives you an idea of how many people were involved BEFORE all the seats got filled and people were forced to stand in the aisle. If you think the scene in the picture is moving then think consider what the book of Revelation says in Chapter 7 verse 9 “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” There is a lot of symbolism in the picture above and it is one of many images captured during the “Consecration Service”.

I’m not here to teach but to share the images and therefore I will keep moving.What can I say about the convention? (sigh letting out air). It was AN AWESOME JESUS CHRIST FILLED EXPERIENCE!! It had such an impact on me that when I was post processing the pictures I felt a sense of sadness because I longed for the environment that one experiences when they are surrounded by a multitude of people praising and worshipping God. Why was I saddened? I missed the fellowship, the high praise environment, the young people that love God and aren’t afraid to express it, the energetic but bible based preaching and the diverse music. Just realize that the ambience lasted for SEVEN DAYS without end. Don’t take this the wrong way because we should all praise God in our homes by ourselves and in our churches but when you’re surrounded so many other people doing it “all the time” then that is a different experience all together.Belows these quick directions you will see the days of the week Monday through Friday. There is a SINGLE gallery for each day of the week. The bulleted topics beneath each day are QUICK LINKS to specific sets of photographs WITHIN each gallery.

You have two ways to view the photographs associated with each day of the week.

  1. You can select your topic of interest and go straight to those pictures.
  2. To guarantee that you see all the pictures for a particular day just click on the “Click Here To View Photos” button.













Since I know that people were getting anxious to get to the convention pictures I decided to continue with “other” pictures at this point. As I walked around the Hilton Chicago I ran into a man named Donald. He was very soft spoken and was patiently waiting to get some business. I wore sneakers most of the time and my dress shoes were already in good condition but I still wanted to capture the essence of his setup in a respectful manner. Donald gave me permission to photograph everything and in return I tipped him for his cooperation and time. I invite you to view more images of Donald and his setup.



A trip to a different city wouldn’t be fair for the children if we didn’t just let them break free and have some fun. This gallery is devoted to some of that activity because if the truth be told the children had a demanding schedule as well. Brent hooked up with some other teens and would be gone for hours on end. A few of our church members even ran into him a local eating place. Speaking of eating.. this gallery also contains images of our first meal in Chicago.





The picture above was taken of me and the children eating breakfast at Dunkin Doughnuts. This miscellaneous gallery contains a few random images that didn’t really fall well into any of the other galleries. I invite you to view them.



I hope that you have enjoyed this documentary of our trip to Chicago.

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Duke University’s – Children’s Classic 2008

On Saturday, May 31, 2008, I was hired by Duke University’s Bon Appetit company to capture the dinner for the “Duke Children’s Classic 35th Anniversary” dinner. When I received the call earlier in the week I thought that this would be similar to other events. However, this event was in a class of it’s own. It turned out to be one of the most visually interesting and technically challenging shoots that I’ve encountered in a while.

After walking through the doors of the Brian Center I was given a quick brief that my task was to capture three floors full of food, decorations and people. As I surveyed my surroundings I felt like a deer stuck in headlights because it was that visually mesmerizing.

There were spot lights of various hues painting dazzling color on the walls, the food, the ceilings and everything in between. For the ears there was upbeat music playing to assist in creating a festive mood. Many of the workers were moving around in a frenzy getting ready for the crowd to arrive. There were 6 or 7 distinct themes masterfully blended to create a diverse environment for the guests.

(Photos captured with a Sony Alpha-700 DSLR Camera coupled with a Carl Zeiss 24-70/2.8 lens.)

(Photo collage designed by Ivan)


As I realized the magnitude of the task at hand I decided that I’d eat this elephant one piece at a time.

1. Capture the important details from the first , second and third floors.
2. Back track and capture the larger atmosphere and surroundings.
3. Start capturing “some” of the people and minor details.

Here are a few photographs but in order to experience the complete atmosphere you will either have to watch the slideshow or visit the full gallery. Both are located at the end of this blog entry.


Ice sculptures with ocean blue hues being used as cleverly designed platforms for chilled shrimp.


Oriental fare arranged by masterful chefs and food artists.


Sophisticated bars waiting to provide a variety of beverages to thirsty guests.


Succulent beef with “fixins” served up in a South Western Style.


Cozy coves that were perfect for intimate conversation.


Artistic desserts designed to be visually stimulating and pleasing to the pallette.



I encourage you to take a few moments and view the slideshow to experience all of the photographs. You will find an eclectic assortment of music to accompany a visual feast.

View The Slideshow By Clicking The Video Window Below


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AJ And Shelby’s NCCU Graduation Event Group Photos

Today AJ and Shelby celebrated their major accomplishment of graduating from North Carolina Central University. They hosted a party and had me to come out and take group photos of various people in attendance as well as print and sell them on location. For the pictures, only a single octobox was used to keep the light simple and flexible.

Below are just a few photos which contain pictures of

1) AJ and Shelby with their mom Evangelist Sheila.

2) AJ with his sweet heart

3)Shelby with her big sister.




If you would like to host an event and have group pictures captured and printed on location then contact me through

Duke University’s Bon Appetit “Eat Low Carbon” Day

On April 22, 2008 the Bon Appetit cafeteria at Duke University observed “Eat Low Carbon” Day.

Low Carbon day brings attention to how our handling of different foods can contribute to global warming. This could be a result of unused food being discarded in landfills or it could be directly related to how much fuel is burned to transport food to various locations. “Did you know, the food system is responsible for 1/3 of global greenhouse emissions? With every meal you eat, you have the power to reduce climate change.” (quote from

The goal of this photoshoot was to capture the food, surroundings, students and staff members as they were educated on how our everyday choices can impact greenhouse emissions.

(Below is one of several large posters that greeted students as they walked into the cafeteria)


(This apple display caught my eye as I walked past the signs)








In the full gallery there are more pictures of the various foods that were served.

Below you will find a few captures of the students and staff members.




(This lady was just as sweet as could be. She was very easy going and enjoyed having her picture captured. She shared with me that she wanted a few photos so that her grand babies could get to see where she works. When I dropped the DVDs off with the director I also brought along some 4 x 6 prints for this woman. The director jokingly said that I was about to start a ruckus with the rest of the employees lol.)


This group picture came as a surprise for me because it was a spur of the moment request. As I was capturing photographs of food and people the director asked me to capture a group photo. Normally I request 30 minutes before a group photo to get the lights setup and metered. However, they were only giving me 5 minutes to get setup. To add to the challenge I only had one studio light and a large umbrella to work with but in the end we got the shot.


(Below is a slideshow that I created for directors over at Duke)


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Free Easter Cookout – Changing A Generation Outreach Ministries

(Note: There is a link to the full gallery of pictures at the end of this entry)

On March 24, 2008 Changing A Generation Outreach Ministries hosted a free Easter Cookout for the community of Durham. Rev. Rodney Green heads up this ministry.



The main mission is to supply life’s essentials to the needy, provide shelter for the homeless and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They help people  through the entire year not just on holidays.

The King James Bible states the following:

Matthew 25:34-40 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Rev. Dr. Wesley Elam, Sr., Pastor of North East Baptist Church, helped to kick off the event by blessing the food.


Pastor Elam was supported by Roland Perry – Minister of Music, Mrs. Graham and other NEBC members.


A multitude of people came out to take part in this event. The lines seemed to continue without end. Coleman’s Catering provided the food for this occasion. There was a large grill preparing hotdogs and hamburgers to perfection. From within the red trailer Mr. Coleman served fried fish dinners.






There were activities for the children and the adults had a brief chance to relax.(Disclaimer:North East Baptist Church is not an endorser of Easter egg hunts. However, we do stand behind sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, helping the community and feeding people in need.)



By the end of the day the ministry had fed many hungry mouths. The children were excited and the picture below helps to convey the appreciation that many families felt.


A lot of people give to large charities. Unlike large national charities you can drive up on any day and see how your donations are helping people in need.

To donate, or to learn more, contact:

Rev. Rodney Green
Changing a Generation Outreach Ministries
P. O. Box 1061
Durham, North Carolina 27702
(919)824-2740 (cell)


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42nd J.W. Smith Family Reunion Video & Pictures November 22, 2007

Note: At the end of this post is a link to complete gallery of photographs that were taken. 

I’ve been asked how could this be a Smith reunion and my last name is Watkins.  This reunion is on my Mother’s side of the family.

This past Thanksgiving my family held their reunion.  The location was Winston-Salem,NC and the hosts where my cousin Brian and my two sisters Eileen and Benita.  We had a joyous occasion and there was plenty of fellowship, laughter, thoughts back to the past and new moments to be remembered.

   One major surprise to all of us was the appearance by our cousin Pete from St. Croix whom we haven’t seen in years.  During the reunion I was busy running around with my camera to try and capture all the people and highlights of the evening.  This will allow us to revisit our reunion for many years to come and it also serves as a historical record of who was in attendance.


The hosts for this family reunion where my cousin Brian and my two sisters Eileen and Benita.  During the family reunion we decided to show a documentary on our family history.  It was an honor putting this documentary together. Visiting with my great aunts so that they could share history with us was invaluable.  Special thanks to cousin Patty for having the foresite to videotape the older generations many years ago.  Some of her footage proved to be priceless for this project. I thank all the family members that sent in pictures for the show.

You can view our family’s documentary/slideshow by clicking on the video below. 


Click on the link below to view the pictures.  Note: If you want a picture for yourself then you can buy them straight from the website or download it to your computer.   Just click the “buy photo” or “multiple photo” link above any picture.