Sophie’s Bat Mitzvah!

Here I sit, one month after Sophie’s Bat Mitzvah, trying to find the words to describe the feelings of that day and the week that followed when Kevin and I were still “aglow” from what was undoubtedly the best day of our lives. There was nothing in the world like the feeling of sitting behind our daughter as she lead the service with incredible poise and self confidence, chanting Hebrew with the voice of an angel, surrounded by our dearest loved ones who came from far and near to fill the sanctuary. My friend Liz told me that she felt like she would burst with pride at her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. That’s it. That was me. ABOUT. TO. BURST.

When I fear that the memories of the day are beginning to fade, I just look at these incredibly beautiful images by Jenna Walcott, Arianne Teeple and Alison Harbaugh. With the portraits and moments they captured, these photographers and dear friends have created memories that will be etched in our minds forever. My parents wrapping Sophie in her talis, a gift from Israel. My 98 year old grandmother dancing with Ben, her first great grandchild. Me about to burst on the bima, after I made it though my speech without getting faklempt! Editing through these images was such a joyful discovery of one gem after another. That’s when I remembered why we all became photographers.  What we do is A GIFT. We give hundreds and sometimes thousands of gifts to every client. But why do we have to beat ourselves up over everything ~ the composition, the focus, the lighting, the exposure, the moments we missed? They don’t care. We captured their love and joy hundreds of times over. We were the ones they chose, and we showed up  ~ our cameras, minds and hearts at the ready, and we created these portraits and moments which will be cherished for generations to come.

And of course, the details are important, too…. the product of a creative process that I enjoyed every second of, and can’t wait to do again for Eliza when her time comes. Fortunately, Sophie is very decisive and has great taste. She wanted a preppy Bat Mitzvah after seeing Kelly and Ryan’s Annapolis wedding on my blog. The fun began with our first visit to Paper in the Park for the invites, and continued with daily discoveries of cute preppy stuff online over the following six months, culminating with the incredible creations of Cynthia of Flower Follies and Ken Upton of Ken’s Creative Kitchen. Finally getting to work on an event of my own with these vendors after so many years was such a treat!

Here are the other vendors who brought so much beauty and joy to Sophie’s big day. We can’t thank you all enough, and are already looking forward to working with you again in 2018!

 

NYX Entertainment (MC TK & Jay)       The Prop Stop Photo Booth         Spoonflower (preppy paper and fabric)        Mystic Knotworks (rope bracelets for boys)         The Flag Chick (Sophie/Shalom banner)           Star Monograms (hankies)    Gracious Bridal (monogrammed cups)

 

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Carolyn - Amy…what a wonderful day for your family !…it was interesting for me to see what choices you made in vendors, etc, as you have experienced them all !…it all turned out so BEAUTIFULLY…Sophie is a lucky girl…the photos captured the joy of the day …Mazel Tov !…I can’t believe in 3 days, Mark and Kim will celebrate their 1st wedding anniversary…where did that year go?…good thing I have some gorgeous pictures to remember the day !April 10, 2014 – 12:31 PM

Steve + Kirby = Madeline

This fall has been a whirlwind of incredibly gorgeous weddings ~ including a local farm wedding (complete with cows, cornfields and a red barn!) just this past Saturday. And as much as I cherish my Sunday afternoons off after a wedding, nothing was more satisfying than photographing a beautiful family like the Boyers the next day. I have years of fond memories and gorgeous images from the first weekend of November. The foliage is always peaking, and the weather is always perfect.  I photographed Kirby’s sister Morgan’s wedding on this same weekend back in 2007.

This session with Kirby, Steve and Madeline was part engagement, part family portrait, thanks to the help of Madeline’s Auntie Alex. Kirby just emailed me to say how much fun they had, and that the few moments she and Steve had alone yesterday rekindled their connection and gave them precious time to focus on their love for each other which is so easily taken for granted while parenting. So true… and it only gets harder as the kids get older!

The session was super easy since Kirby, Steve and I all live about 5 minutes from this park, and I am very familiar with it in all seasons of the year. I drive or ride my bike through the park several times a week to check on the foliage and the light at various times of day for upcoming sessions. To my surprise this year, each time I rode through the park there were several photo sessions in progress, but all of the photographers had chosen the darkest, shadiest spots possible. Yesterday I arrived about 30 minutes early to stake out my “special spot” for the Boyers, but alas, not a single photographer had dared to go near the sun. Maybe they had all watched the same webinars that instructed them to always go for open shade. Or maybe they literally didn’t even have the first clue about lighting.

I have been a photographer since college. At my 25th UVM reunion next year, my classmates will not be surprised to learn that I have been making a living as a photographer since graduation. In college I studied all kinds of art, and art history, in Italy. My awakening to how to capture and create light came as I discovered the luscious Renaissance figures popping out of dark, ancient paintings in the back of cold churches in Florence. Rembrandt’s technique, “Chiaroscuro” literally means light and dark combined. Definition: the use of strong contrasts between light and dark to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects such as the human body. Three dimensional volume is suggested by the value gradation of color and the analytical division of light and shadow shapes.

A photographer is an artist who paints with light. At times when the light actually wraps around my subjects, I feel like I am sculpting with light. I position them in front of the sun, pop a little light back into their faces with a flash or reflector when necessary, and they are wrapped with light which separates them from the darker background, giving the image the third dimension of depth.

The colors in the trees are incredibly vibrant this week, but they actually look like they are ON FIRE when the sun is behind them; shining through the leaves. This is called backlighting. Remember the old slideshows? The pictures came alive because they were backlit. The reason why pictures on your digital devices look brighter than an actual print ~ backlighting. “How do you get those sparkly circles in the background?” asked my daughter while I was editing these images. “That’s the light shining through the leaves, honey.” It’s that simple. An 8 year old kid can understand light.  It’s not rocket science, luck, or Photoshop. It’s knowing one’s craft.

 

 

The Iliff Kids

Last month I photographed the precious Iliff kids again, almost exactly one year to the date from last year’s session, and eight years from their parents’ wedding. (sorry, no link ~ back in the olden days of film) These kids may just be the most beautiful and well behaved children on earth. I just adore this family. Here are a few of my favorites from both sessions. It is such a joy to see them every year and to watch them grow!

Jennice & John

Looking back at my notes from my first meeting with Jennice, I recall forming some vision of how her Brittland Manor wedding would look and feel, but never could I have imagined such an incredible event. With a fabulous Maryland crabfest rehearsal dinner and classic Southern Belle wedding color scheme of “blush and bashful,” (pink and more pink) a red velvet armadillo cake, singers, musicians and dancers on both sides of the family, and a fiance who plays Jerry Lee Lewis on Broadway, I probably should have brought a third shooter, but alas, the invincible Arianne played the part of two people!  We didn’t want to miss a beat with this fun loving and talented group of people, but there were so many details and so little time…such pressure! What a fun and crazy day it was. We wish the love chickens John & Jennice all the best for a lifetime of happiness together, and also for their Broadway tour together with  Million Dollar Quartet!

 

 

Ken’s Creative Kitchen        Monachetti         Blue Vanda Design          Rhonda Kaplan Floral Design          The Paper Trousseau        DC Synergy        Andrea Heilman       Amie Decker Beauty

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Great Frogs Winery

So there’s this beautiful vineyard in my neighborhood on Harness Creek Road. I ride my bike past it all the time and wonder who is making wine here, and how can I get in to check it out?! Then I meet Ben at the farmer’s market. He is wearing a Red Sox cap and pouring wine out of the back of his awesome green truck. I buy a bottle of chardonnay with the classic sepia toned Charles Emery image of the Chesapeake Bay oystermen on the label and bring it to an amazing sunset dinner with my family on a friend’s boat. The next week I go back and am smitten again by their dessert wine served with caramel & sea salt covered chocolate chunks. Now it’s high time I use my photojournalistic skills to weasel my way onto the property.

As luck would have it, this is a great time to come out. They are harvesting the grapes right now! Unfortunately most of the work is done in the dark; from midnight to sunrise, but I work with Ben’s brother Nate to find a time when they start picking early so I can photograph it. More great luck ~ it’s a gorgeous evening, and a few friends and neighbors are already there helping with the harvest. I only had an hour to stay since I had to go home and fix dinner for my family, but I had such a great time learning all about what’s happening on the other side of the fence, and I will be back to capture more images of how this fabulous award winning wine ~ Great Frogs ~ is being made right in my backyard.

Thanks Nate for leaving the gate open for me!