Archive for February, 2012

If you follow the blog, you know that I love history and one of my favorite pastimes is listening to my grandparents’ stories.  I could listen for hours upon end about how life was growing up in the country and learning about my ancestors and putting a personality to the old, scratched photographs I have of them.  I told my granddad that I was going to start sharing his stories on a ‘blog’ and he just gave me a blank expression and said, “Hmm. It must be some of that new technology.”  I smiled to myself because if you knew him, you’d know he’s not one for change or complex technology- and definitely not afraid to tell you about it.  :)  But he agreed and on one of the warmer days we had this winter, we sat out on my front porch and I listened to some stories.  I grew up in an old farm house in the little town of Wetipquin.  He grew up three miles down the road.  This was home to both of us and was a perfect place to talk and for him to reminisce.      

I pulled up an old rocking chair for him- which was actually his mother’s- and I sat on the old, uneven porch.  With my notebook in hand he began telling me about this chair.  “No one visits like they used to anymore.  Back when I was growing up- everyone had a rocking chair in their house.”  He explained how people could only communicate by visiting and that’s usually what occurred every weekend.  “People just visited,” he said as he rocked back and looked out into the field.  It took a minute for that to sink in but then it hit me. With the convenience of the Internet, smart phones and Facebook we have people at our finger tips.  I still make time to visit with my friends but rarely will you find me without my phone.  I love the ability to reconnect and to keep in touch with friends and family around the world but it makes me wonder if we lose something without the human interaction.  “Visiting forced you to slow down and to enjoy yourself,” he said.  “We weren’t preoccupied and had an excuse to relax and catch up.”  He told me about the hand-carved chair he was sitting in and how it was given to his mother.  I got on my soap box about how amazing it is to have the world literally at your fingertips, but trying to convince this man who was born in 1927 that an iPhone is valuable is like telling him pigs can fly.  He wasn’t buying it, but I tried. :)  We talked some more and then went in for the day.  I told him how I want to know everything- from holidays on the farm, childhood toys, going to school in a one room schoolhouse, living through The Depression, his time in Europe for the Second World War and even about the country store his family owned.  He said he’d love to tell me all about his life and the past.  I’ll just have to come and visit. ;)    

   This old rocker and worn out floorboards have heard their share of stories and memories over the course of 150 years- and there are many more to come. :)  I can’t wait to share them all with you!

February 27, 2012

this morning i got up at 6, got ready for work and left an hour earlier than i had to. mike and bella were sound asleep (and would be until a while after my shift started, for sure) so i kissed them both goodbye and drove past my work, across the rt 50 bridge, and pulled into the inlet. there’s something about being there super early in the morning during the off seasons – when the sky is clear and the beach is completely (or almost completely) deserted. when the sun hasn’t fully risen. it’s beautiful. a lot of times, depending on the time of year, you can see dolphins. i spent a few minutes there, snapped a few pictures, and just took some time to enjoy the beauty of it. sometimes it hits me, when i’m there early in the morning, that that THING right there, practically in my back yard that i’ve seen my whole life and have taken for granted from time to time, is the OCEAN  – this huge, wonderful, awesome, powerful thing that touches other continents and houses some pretty beautiful and magnificent creatures.  today was one of those days when it hit me and i just had to stand there a minute to appreciate it. it made me feel appreciative and lucky. it made me feel calm and happy.

then i drove to work, ordered a delicious cup of coffee, and sat down to spend my last thirty minutes before my shift to work on my book. i started working on this particular writing project a little over a year ago, but the idea first came to me in 2007 in a dream. as of right now, typed, it’s 156 pages long (not to mention the thirty or so handwritten pages i have) and growing. i let myself get lost in the story line that has been crafting itself in my mind, heart, dreams and under my hands. i spent time with characters, i let them tell me their story, i drank my coffee, and i felt fulfilled.

after work i got in my car and came home to my wonderful husband and daughter. we snuggled and laughed and played (and drooled). we laughed and learned new things. i felt overjoyed and accomplished

i feel lucky because my life is so full of ‘favorite things’  … i have a great family, two fantastic jobs that i love and have fun doing, the opportunity to drive to the ocean from my house in under ten minutes, wonderful friends, things that i enjoy, am passionate about and that make me feel fulfilled emotionally, mentally and artistically.  it makes me want to tell everyone i know – do things that you love! find things you feel passionate about. take time to enjoy things, people and places that make you happy, healthy and content because in the end, those are the things that matter the most.

February 23, 2012

so several weeks ago, liv sent me a text which I am guessing she knew the answer to before she hit send:  “would you like to do an editorial session for my friend sarah’s new album?” ummmm… YES! I always love working with new people for different purposes and although I’ve worked with musicians before, this was our first cover shoot. needless to say – I was a bit stoked. fast forward to the session and my excitement was only reinforced when I met sarah. she is so nice and was open to all of our suggestions – and even with the near-freezing temperatures, she was awesome! the clothes, makeup and just her general approach to the session made our job easy as we brought her from location. she has sent me the mockup for the CD art and I hope to have my hands on the real thing soon – in the meantime, her album ‘eleven’ is available on itunes and at her website and you guys should go check it out! I have a feeling that this won’t be the last of working together as I’m sure this talented girl will be singing for years to come!

we had so much fun on this shoot – it was amazing to work with you and we can’t wait to do it again soon!

When Meredith + Tanner first told me they were expecting their first child I was so excited!  I was even more ecstatic when they asked me if I could photograph the experience.  Last summer we photographed the maternity session and in July, Laila made her appearance into the world.  During her newborn session I knew that it wouldn’t be the last time Laila would see my camera :)  After she turned 6 months old, Meredith and I decided it was time to capture some more memories.  We met at the park and later made our way to Laila’s great-grandmother’s house.  Laila was a bundle of pure joy and was so happy for our session.  She loves to play and was “talking” up a storm!  At one point I just had to put my camera down and play- she is so cute!  We all had a fun filled day and shared many laughs. :)




I always have a great time when I see you all!  Laila is such a joy and a precious gift- I can’t wait to see her again :)

Last November we welcomed a new addition to our GPA family.  She was all of 8.6 pounds and 21 inches.  When Mel first told me she was pregnant we both joked that this would be the most photographed baby ever- and it holds to be true :)  Raye documented Izabella Claire’s birthstory  and I had the privilege of photographing her newborn session.  Due to unexpected events we weren’t able to photograph her til she was 2 months old but by then she had her own personality and was able to smile :)  I met with Mel + Mike at their house and was greeted by their gorgeous Husky, Atreyu.  He is Mel’s first baby and happened to get a little jealous for attention during our shoot.  However, he is so protective of Bella and was so gentle around her.  Bella is so beautiful and her little smile just lit up the room.  I’m so grateful we were able to welcome this little joy into our family.

Bella had bath time and Atreyu got play time :)

Mel + Mike- I’m so incredibly happy for you both and can’t wait to see the young lady she becomes.  Thank you for inviting me along to photograph her journey through life.  I love you both!  xoxo

February 20, 2012

You might say I have a slight obsession with collecting old cameras and photographs- but to me they are prized possessions.  Photography has been around for almost 200 years and has evolved tremendously since the first 8 hour expose on a pewter plate in the 1820′s. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  I smile whenever I hear this saying because it is more than true.  My love of history and passion for photography work well for me because I see photographs as our lifelines to the past and future.  (my major in college was initially history :) )  I love rushing home from the antique store to research my new find and to tinker with it.  I also have a weird problem in the sense that when I see old photographs of people and families in the antique store I immediately think, “How could someone not want these!?”  and take it upon myself to bring these ‘abandoned’ people home with me. 

   People around the world hold family photos dear to their heart because they are something you can’t replace.  Photos evoke memories, emotions, laughter and even tears.  They promote story telling and bonding.  A photo can even tell you a story in itself without any words.  Not only are they visuals of our loved ones, photos and film have documented history and helped evole our society in more ways than we can imagine.  How can we put a price on the first image of Earth taken from outter space?  A scene from Paris in the 1850′s?  Even X-Rays and documentation of wars and iconic people have been made possible through photos.   Photography started out as and truly is a passion for me- I have never considered it as a ‘job’.  With every photo I take I think about the history I’m preserving and memories I am creating.  I wake up everyday and am so thankful I have found a way to do what I love so that I never have to work a day in my life. :)

February 15, 2012

if you remember jane and joe’s esession blogpost the you know that I’ve known jane almost 20 years! we worked together a looooong time ago and happily reunited via facebook. I was SO happy not only to learn that she had met a wonderful guy but that they were getting married and she wanted to photograph it. their venue was amazing and totally them – the sports legend museum in downtown baltimore. her suite at the hilton had a breathtaking view of camden yards and the city and as I got my gear out of my bag, I knew it was going to be a great day! this wedding was one filled with more laughter than I can remember. at times, their friends and family had me doubled over in unstoppable giggles and then there were such tender moments. jane’s brother sang this a cappella medley during the ceremony that was like nothing I’ve ever seen at a wedding. their guests were laughing one moment, tearing up the next and singing along as ‘take me out to the ballgame’ made it’s way into the song. I loved every minute of this day and am so happy for my friend and her fabulous new husband!

congratulations! I know your life together will be filled with so much love and laughter and I am so happy for you both! xo

February 13, 2012

about 3 years ago I was in a very different place. gillette portrait arts was growing to the point where I couldn’t do it by myself – there was an easy solution to that by bringing kris on full time. although she had been with me since the studio’s early days she became my teammate and took a very active part in GPA. but then there was the palette – I loved it but trying to both do everything I wanted to do to grow GPA plus run a restaurant began to take it’s toll. so much so that my doctor noticed – I was asked if I was sleeping, what my eating habits were, how much caffiene I was drinking, etc. then she asked me ‘what do you do in your downtime?’ to which my response was a puzzled stare followed by a semi-manic laugh – I hadn’t had ‘downtime’ in years. she asked me if I had a hobby or did yoga and I didn’t have/do either at the time. then she asked what I thought was the strangest question ‘have you ever knitted?’ grandmothers knitted, women expecting babies knitted – that was my perception. but then she shared with me that when she was in med school and the stress that all of that entails began to weigh her down, her roommate taught her to knit. she told me how it quieted her mind, relaxed her tensed muscles and refreshed her. I nodded but was looking at the clock across the room knowing that I had to be at the restaurant for a wine order. 2 weeks later there was a fiber festival here in snow hill and I wandered down the street – there were baskets and bins full of colorful yarns of different textures and sizes. before I knew it I had armfuls of the stuff and a pair of needles and I brought it home clueless as to what to do with it. let’s be clear… I am self-taught from books and youtube videos plus some basic tips from friends. I am not whipping up sweaters or anything complicated – the most sophisticated I have gotten are ponchos and neck wraps but it’s not really the final products that I’m seeking. now that the palette is in someone else’s very capable hands, life and work has become much easier to balance but I continue to knit because my doctor was right – my mind is quiet as my fingers move and I truly relax and I really love it. it still cracks me up when my friends exclaim ‘you KNIT??’ but then almost always it’s followed by ‘could you teach me?’

February 08, 2012

meet megan and chris! megan is actually yet another member of my ‘natgeo crew’ who are an amazing group of women who work at national geographic and have become amazing clients and cherished friends. so I knew when megan contacted me about photographing her and chris’ wedding, that automatically they were going to be fun – I think being awesome is a job requirement at natgeo ;)  we met in georgetown on an unseasonably warm afternoon and immediately they made me smile. both of them are so nice and their laughter is contagious – in fact, at one point I asked chris not to smile and the man couldn’t do it! their love and happiness just radiates. as we walked the streets of georgetown, they shared stories of their travels together, their cat MC and a ‘bride wars’ type competition that megan participated in (hysterical!). I was laughing the entire session and I am SO excited for their april wedding

thanks for such a great afternoon and I will see you soon!

February 07, 2012

there are just certain things in life that are beyond explanation and I could spend paragraphs attempting to convey what it’s like to witness a new life coming into the world. although I am a firm believer in the power of words – there aren’t enough for this experience. twice before I’ve been given the honor of being asked to photograph a birth and I was left exhilarated, thrilled, grateful, wondrous and so much more each time. so when a member of our GPA family first, tells you that she’s pregnant and then says she wants you there every step of the way to document the whole kit and kaboodle… well needless to say, I was humbled and excited. in previous births I hadn’t been there for the first sonogram or the appointment where they found out if it was going to be a boy or a girl but mel and mike invited me to tag along with them and I loved every minute. I swear, I think I was almost as anxious as mel’s mom and sister when we found out it was a girl! so when miss bella decided her time had come to join us, I got the call. once they got to labor and delivery at the hospital, mel’s sister brittany kept me updated to the progress – at first it was right on track but then it slowed WAY down. by the time I got to the hospital, mel wasn’t making the progress that her doctor was hoping for, so a c-section was imminent. mel didn’t even seem nervous! she only had one thing on her mind.. holding little izabella claire in her arms

mike and mel – I can’t tell you what an honor it was to be there as we all met your beautiful daughter. your family here at the studio love you all so much and are SO happy for you! xoxo as for our blog readers, stay tuned for kristie’s beautiful newborn session with miss bella!