Maternity Portraits, Sunken Meadow State Park, NY

If you asked me a year ago if I could ever see myself photographing Maternity Portraits I would have said “no”.And, yet, here we are- three maternity portrait sessions down and falling more and more in love with them each time.

The truth is, I think there is something magical about pregnancy and I consider each maternity session a blessing. To be able to witness a mom at her strongest, and to be there to capture them at their most beautiful, it truly is a gift.

Melissa is due any second now, (no, honestly- she could be in labor right now. When we met there was no mucus plug. I don’t exactly know what that is, but, it sounds important.) but, through the hustle and bustle of the holiday’s forgot to schedule a maternity portrait session. Talking to her at the restaurant, I gently suggested that I could photograph them for her, just so she could have this moment forever and she agreed.

On a windy Tuesday afternoon, we met at Sunken Meadow State Park for some portraits. Yes, we met on the beach in January. Was it mildly insane? Probably. Do I love each photograph? Yes.

Melissa is a strong, beautiful, spirit who is going to raise the most beautiful baby. Her trust and her friendships are such a reflection of her, and I cannot wait to meet baby pup.

I am so grateful for that serendipitous Friday night, and I’m even more grateful that you trusted me with these moments, mama. You’re going to be incredible.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Maternity Photos in Islip

The greatest gift you can give a photographer is trust, and that is exactly what Mike and Heather gave me the day of their Maternity Photoshoot.

Heather knew she wanted to capture her expanded baby bump before Spud was born. Mike knew he didn’t want to shoot on the beach again ( I can’t blame him- it was windy that day.) I knew I wanted to use my last smoke bomb. Together, we created a vision.

While I have yet to experience what it is like to grow a human inside of me, and while I still envision it much like when Bella from Twilight was pregnant, there is something magical about the idea that one woman human is carrying around another human for nine months. Heather and Mike talk about “Spud” (they won’t tell me the name- I tried!) as if she has been around forever. And, maybe she has. After all, their love story dates back far, and this Spud is a creation of two people who genuinely, truly, love and respect each other.

Much like the novels that Heather teaches, I wanted Heather and Mike’s love story to be encapsulated in a magical way. I wanted their photos to have the juxtaposition of the darkness of the woods, with a whimsical element like the giant balloons. The balloons also serving as a pun because Heather is truly about to pop.

These portraits are not typical Maternity Photos, and for that I’m grateful to Heather and Mike. I wanted to capture them at their purest, happiest moment since their wedding day. I wanted to give them genuine portraits of their love, and I wanted to be able to show Spud one day just how in love her parents are.

Heather and Mike, thank you for trusting me with this moment, and for your friendship. I cannot wait to meet Baby Spud.

Family Portraits in Islip, New York

One of my favorite things about living on Long Island is how rich in history this little island is. Growing up in East Meadow, I was surrounded by the first suburbs; an extraordinary piece of history that has shaped our entire nation. WIth easy access to the Gold Coast, I have always had an affinity to historical sites and an appreciation for all the non profits that keep these buildings up and running.

Now living in Suffolk County, I have a whole new frontier of historical buildings to explore. This year, when Vitina contacted me to do her family photoshoot, I knew the exact location that I wanted to shoot at. The Brookwood Hall in Islip is a government building overlooking a lake. Operated by the town, the location has art pieces scattered throughout the landscape, a beautiful, historical building, a playground, and a beautiful little forest area. The versality of this location kept the boys moving, exploring, and not feeling constrained to one spot. We played with leaves, we saw a swan, we walked along a pebble path, and posed in a forest. This mini session was so much fun, and I’m so grateful that Vitina once again trusted me with her family memories.

Here are a few of my favorites.

That Time My Laptop Was Stolen

If there was ever an area about my business that I’m most insecure about it would be my portfolio. Not because of the quality of photos I take, my edits, or what I deliver to clients; I am so proud of the artistic photographs I am able to capture. That is years and countless of hours of practice and dedication. My style is a reflection of my soul and every picture I deliver is something I’m proud of. However, I am insecure because I lost 85% of my portfolio to a stupid mistake.

A few years ago, when I was just starting out on this photography journey, I was traveling out in Washington State when my computer and camera equipment were stolen. Being new to the game, I didn’t have a back up system in place. I had some photos in a large dropbox file, but, I never imaged that there would be a day that I didn’t have my laptop or my portfolio.

Weddings where I was a second shooter, gone.

Early family portraits, gone.

Personal work of landscapes and concerts, all gone.

I was twenty three and had just realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and I lost all of my work. It was a devastating blow. Fortunately, I had my camera body on me that night, so while I lost most of my work and equipment, I still at least had a camera. Perhaps a sign that this was still something I needed to pursue.

I stopped photographing “people” for three years after that. I still had the bug, but, I felt like I wasn’t responsible enough to hold their memories. I moved, would capture events here and there. Slowly, I gained my confidence back. And, about a year ago, I started photographing events, family portraits, engagements and even weddings. Within eight months, I photographed more portraits and weddings on my own than I ever imagined.

I now have a very thorough and sensible back up system in place. Photographs immediately go on onto a hard drive, and, as soon as they’re on that hard drive, I then make copies into a large cloud folder. Every photo meticulously labeled. I hold on to RAW photos for at least 8 months after any event; just in case a client thinks I missed something.

The moral of this? If you’re ever thinking “her portfolio seems limited” it’s because it is. It’s not reflective of the ten+ weddings I shot before my equipment was stolen. It’s not reflective of the early portrait sessions I would do. It’s only reflective of my work in the last year. The last year where I’ve fallen in love with the art of photography all over again. Every shoot, every frame, every image is another moment to fall in love with what I do.

IMG_2580.jpg

Family Portraits in Sayville

Three years ago, my husband and I moved into a little apartment on the water in a town called Sayville. Under 700 square feet, this apartment was our home, our refuge, and the start of many of our dreams. Every morning, I would wake up to the smell of sea salt from the bay, and on my off days, I’d explore this quaint little town with our dog, Emmett. Our favorite spot ended up being this park called “The Grange”. A collection of old buildings that the town wanted to preserve, the Grange is one of the most inspiring places I’ve ever walked around.

This year, when Alison and I were planning her family portraits, I was excited that the Grange became our location. We wanted to make sure the day “felt like fall”, we planned the outfits, and on the day we initially planned to do the shoot, it was too windy to even consider. So, we re-scheduled to the following day, and, truthfully, had the best two hours together. With a few props in hand (including a pumpkin and hand collected red leaves, haha) we made our way to the Grange. It was one of those moments that just felt so full circle.

I’m grateful that Alison and Ryan trust me with their photographs. They trust the process, and, we are able to navigate working with the children really well together. Anytime someone appreciates your creative process, well, it just makes you want to work harder.

Here are a few of my favorites from that day.

Shelby; Model Headshots

Shelby is a young, inspiring model who needed some headshots for her portfolio. My friend, Sam, over at Samantha Walker Make up Services is a crazy talented make up artist, and I, am the middle woman. I thought it would be amazing to have a day where three people can truly benefit from. I, get to shoot underwater (a serious love of mine that I don’t do enough), and, Sam & Shelby get some photographs for their portfolio.

Here are a few of my favorite headshots from that day. Unfortunately, the underwater ones didn’t come out exactly how I envisioned, but they are still gorgeous! It just leaves to keep chasing that photo. It’s fun having a concept in your head and trying time and time again for it to come to life. Nothing in life worth having happens easily, right?

Kevin & Stephen: Engagement Shoot

Kevin, Stephen and I became fast friends on the first day I officially met them at my family restaurant. They were regular customers; always ordering virtually the same meal, and they always had my then crush, Mark, as their waiter. Well, one day they came in and Mark wasn’t there. I figured I would take them, make them like me, and they would put a good word in for me with Mark.

Well, fast forward four years, I married that crush, Mark, and we’re all still very good friends. The best part of having these two in my life is their ability to inspire me. Stephen, an author of (hold on, let me count them all in my office…) SIX books is an imaginative, funny, smart and compassionate person. His drive is contagious. Kevin, doesn’t just stop at being a very successful Software Engineer/Architect. Oh, no. Kevin has developed photo editing apps, games, and is currently getting his Masters. Even with all that on his plate, Kevin is an intentional listener, and goes out of his way for all in his life. I cherish these two people, deeply.

After they’re engagement, they asked if I could photograph some engagement photos for them. They were getting married exactly six months after Mark and I, and I was honored to be a part of their wedding party. Their day was beautiful, and even better, their book that they created about their wedding is just as fantastic. (I think that brings Stephen’s published book count to 7, actually)

We photographed their engagement photos at Coindre Hall in Huntington NY, the place they were getting married. We chose right before sunset, and honestly just had fun together. Even with friends, you have to break the wall of comfort with the camera. It’s natural for people to feel self conscious, or wonder “if they’re doing it right.” Once you’re able to break that wall, and, tap into the genuine nature of a relationship, well, that’s when the magic happens.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from a day with my two favorite people.

Why Pricing Matters

Recently, I have been speaking to a lot of different wedding professionals about the official launch of my business. Like any business owner, I am yearning for instant results; immediate bookings, a full wedding season next year- the works. But, like someone who has run her own business for five years now, I know the importance of time and patience.

One of the "hot topics" that inevitably comes up during these conversation is pricing and what I give clients.  Most of the time, the "professionals" suggest I lessen what I give clients. "You could make more doing it a la carte." "You should charge $20 for a photo after 30 photos." And, while I respect their advice, I refuse to take it.

I have had two very good friends get married recently and end up disappointed in their wedding photos from a different professional. Having done both of their engagement photos, they expected their wedding day to have the same personal touch as their engagement photos, only to be disappointed by the professional they hired. Both friends used the same photographer, and both friends were only given 30 photos in an album and were going to have to spend an extra $700 to get online rights to their photos. (And, yes- I did gently advise my friends not to use that photographer- even offering to do their photos for free! They wanted me in their wedding, not a vendor.) 

I myself, was not thrilled with the delivery of my wedding photographs. Haphazardly sent on a thumb drive with very few edited photos, the overall feeling was that it was not an artistic approach to my day like I had hoped. I'm fortunate in that I have over 1,000 of my own wedding photos- even if they're not edited. 

One of the things I am most adamant about is the amount of pictures I give clients. I believe my photography is my art, which is why I believe in delivering high quality, edited images. While it does take more time, I've developed a beautiful workflow that allows me to work through photos efficiently and effectively (it's the Catering mentality- everything has to be done quickly in the restaurant world so you have to work smart)

More importantly, I believe that your wedding is your day, which is why I want to take that time edit your photos. I never want anyone to be disappointed in my work or the amount of photographs they were delivered. I also want my clients to have full rights to their photos- after all, it was their day, and, it's their family, friends and love that is being featured. Why should I hold that prisoner from them for more money? 

This post is not to bash any photographer who does a la carte pricing. It's not to say their practice is the wrong way- it's to say that I would rather do something off the beaten path, even if I could make "more money" doing it their way. I respect their businesses and one day want my business to be a preferred vendor at over 6 Catering Halls on Long Island. But, I also value what I give clients and, I think transparency is the most important thing you can have when you run a business. I put it on the table, and, by doing so, it builds trust between us. 

 

 

 

Family Portraits on the North Shore

I've outlined this before, but, family portraits were always something that made me nervous. That is, until I started doing them.

The truth is, I love family portraits! I love hanging out with the kids, I love pulling the parents aside and doing a mini portrait session just of them, I love the inquisitive nature of kids who want to touch and hold the camera (and, ::gasp::, I always let them hold it!) and I love the moments between a little nucleus that connect them. 

But, I only started to love family portraits when I stayed true to myself. Enter, this beautiful family.

((Side note: As a privacy to the kids, I do not share their name, and will use aliases. I know the parents are okay with it, but, the internet is weird so it's a personal choice!))

When Nancy (not her real name) first contacted me about doing their family shoot, I was so excited. We met at sunken meadow state park two hours before the sunset giving us optimal time to enjoy the beauty of that light. 

Admittedly, we were both pretty nervous to start; I always say it takes a few shots to get everyone comfortable. By the end, I don't think any of us wanted to leave. This family was just so beautiful, and, in a few short weeks I get to work with them again! The best part about family portraits is that you get to see as families grow and kids get older. 

 

 

 

allisonphotos(20of106).jpg

Chelsea & Lindsay: A Love Story

Back in October, Lindsay reached out to me and asked if I would photograph her upcoming wedding in June. Hesitant, because it would be my first wedding as a solo photographer, I asked "Are you sure?"

If you're a reader of these blog posts, you might see a common thread. Many people have seen my talent before I have, haha.

"At Tricia's wedding, you said to us how you loved the way Chelsea looked at me as I walked down the aisle. You observed something we didn't even knew we were doing." And, that is how I got my first wedding; I observed a love story. Actually, scratch that, I marveled at a love story. The truth is, I remember watching their eyes at my friend, Tricia's, wedding. Chelsea, who is a little shy at first, beamed with happiness whenever Lindsay was around. And, Lindsay, well, you've never seen someone more proud to call someone their partner, and now wife, than Lindsay. Together, their soul signatures are magnetic.

Their wedding was in Fenton, Michigan. And, to be honest,  I couldn't have been more excited for this adventure. My first wedding, and I was gifted the opportunity to travel to a new state. Little did I know I'd end up driving through multiple states overnight to get to it.

The week before their wedding, I was diagnosed with three tears in my shoulder. While it's something I'm still dealing with, that week, the pain was another level. "I'm not going to give up this opportunity" I said to Mark as I sat icing. "The new shoulder strap rests on my left, so all I need to do is use my right to click. I can do that."

We arrived at the airport 2 hours early as a precautionary. We got through security with only one odd moment (I couldn't raise my hands above my head, so I had to go through a different check) and we rested at our gate. Sitting there, I had a feeling something was amiss. I looked up to see our flight had been delayed. "We'll still catch our connector, so we're okay." Ten minutes later, I looked up to see our flight had been delayed again. Eventually, our flights were cancelled. 

Frantic, I pulled out my phone and mapped the drive to Michigan. It was 7PM New York time; if we were on the road by 8 we would make it to their house by 9am the next day. After renting a car, grabbing the ez-pass out of our car (we didn't want to take our own car since we were definitely taking whatever flight available back) off we went on a 14 hour journey, with no food, no energy drinks, no water, but with a lot of determination. Playing Oregon Trail all those years ago truly benefited us :) 
 

We arrived in Detroit at 6 a.m. (before schedule!) traded in our first rental for the rental we had scheduled (a red mustang) and drove up to Fenton. After an hour of sleep, we were soon in the bustle of everyone getting ready. And, from there, all I had to do was shoot a wedding. My first wedding. No pressure or anything.

Two months later and I still fly high from that day. To think of all the things that happened, and, to be able to successfully capture their love, well, it's a feeling not all of us are fortunate enough to experience. I am grateful for this day, and for all the people who made it happen. Tricia, for introducing us, Chelsea and Lindsay for trusting me, for the woman at Avis who got us a really good price on the rental car, and for Mark, for letting go of his normal inhibitions and flying by the seat of his pants with me. 

Without all of this, who knows if this website, if this calling, if this business, would be off the ground like it is now. 

Thank you, Lindsay and Chelsea. You have given me the greatest gift; the gift of finally following my dreams. 

Here are a few of my favorites.