Naturalization Ceremony in Seattle

This is the second year I have photographed the naturalization ceremony that takes place at the Seattle center on the 4th of July. This phenomenon happened to me during the ceremony; this year and last year. While watching the people cheer and take the oath of citizenship, I felt myself setting aside my own mixed feelings about being an American to just share the excitement and hope felt by the new citizens.

In the photo above (welcome home friends), sat Sara Patterson who came out to welcome the 501 new Americans as they exited the ceremony area with her sign. I talked with her a bit and came to find out that she doesn’t know anyone in particular in the ceremony but that she goes there simply to be supportive and experience what she described as “a beautiful ceremony”.
I understood where she was coming from when talking with her. One of the reasons why I like making pictures is that it feels like it is my way of honoring the people that I photograph. I’ll never be able to explain that to make people understand – if you know, you know. I felt like I connected with her because in our own ways, we were honoring the people that day.

It was my first time photographing the Naturalization Ceremony in Seattle. I did not know what to expect from this event. Over 500 people from 80 different countries. Over 500 life stories. That is quite a crowd and a tale of its own! I was wondering what was everyone’s story, what battles they had to go through. Suddenly it was not about getting the best shot anymore. It was about hope, honor, emotions, family, freedom. Welcome home, friends!


  • Iustinian Popa

    Just another street photographer wandering the streets of Seattle and surrounding areas.

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  • Ryder Collins

    I am a photographer living in Seattle Washington that is in love with photographing those fleeting surprise moments. I have always been a people watcher, and when I picked up a camera for the first time my natural inclination was to go out on the street and photograph people. I've always been attracted to photographing the emotions of people and the oftentimes absurd nature of the human experience. At this point I am becoming most interested in visual storytelling through documentary style photography. My current work involves documenting the people of Seattle - how they live, find excitement and resiliency in this city that feels equal parts anxiety and hope.

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