Archive for March, 2012

March 28, 2012

It was not uncommon for people on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to make a living off of the water.  As a peninsula, the Eastern Shore is surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean with miles of rivers and streams in between.   Many people still make a living off of the water and many local watermen have carried on a family business for more than 4 generations!  As I had mentioned before, my grandfather’s family grew up on a farm on the Nanticoke River.  Aside from farming, they too were watermen who utilized the Chesapeake Bay watershed as a source of income.  My grandfather’s dad and grandpa, whom he called ‘Pa’ both oystered- but had two completely different styles.  The photos below are a pair of their old oyster tongs and some old bushel baskets I found in the barn.  The tongs are massive!  The wooden handles stood 14 feet tall and the the claws at the base had huge metal teeth (they almost look like a giant pair of scissors).  Watermen would stand at the edge of their work boat with the a wooden handle in each hand.  They would lower the claw into the water until it hit the bottom of the sand.  Then, they’d close the claw shut and scoop up any oysters laying on the bottom.

Pa had a rowboat and oystered on a smaller scale dealing with local individuals whereas my grandfather’s dad, Fred, would oyster on a workboat that was kept at the Wetipquin Wharf and sold his catch to oyster houses located in Tyaskin, Bivalve and Nanticoke.  “My dad (Fred) would leave before daylight and wouldn’t come home til dark sometimes,” said my grandfather.  “We ate oysters and fish 2 or 3 times a week.”  I found my great-grandfather Fred’s old operating license below.  Check out the date! :) Also, there is a photo of Fred with other local watermen standing on the Tyaskin Wharf.

My great-great grandfather (Pa) had row boats instead of a workboat.  He kept these rowboats right on the farm tied up on wooden posts he put out in the water in front of the old house. “He’d take one of those out everyday and row up to an oyster rock where they accumulated naturally and would collect about 3 bushels and then head on back to shore,” Pop Pop explained.  “He’d take orders for the week or if someone said they wanted a bushel for the weekend, he’d go out and get them.”  Pa also had about 5 rowboats that he rented out by the day.  People would rent them for fishing, crabbing, joyrides, etc.  He’d take out fishing parties and get paid a little more to give a tour- he even had people from Pennsylvania come down on the weekends!  Below is a photo of Pa and his rowboats that I photographed in the same spot where the original photo was taken.   A lot of the sand has eroded over the past 80 years, but you can still see some of the wooden posts he tied his boats up to in the background. :)

Did you see what he charged?!  In the 1930′s you could rent a boat all day for a quarter!  He increased his prices to $1.00 a day in the 50′s.  I guess it was similar to our modern day paddle boats!  Below is a photo of what remains of Pa’s rowboats.

Aside from oysetering, they both were fishermen.  “During the Depression, it was hard to come by extra money.  Dad needed a net for when he dredged but it was hard to come up with an extra 25 cents.  A gentleman from Baltimore that went by the name, Grim, set up a deal with the local fishermen and would purchase them their net from the city and they could sell him back their catch and he’d take it off what they owed him until they paid him back completely, ” Pop Pop said.  “Grim took the fish back to Baltimore.  You just sold him the fish and he had to take care of cleaning and filleting them.  He could sell the catfish livers for more than the actual fish up in the city.”  He said that rock fish sold for about 12 cents a pound, perch sold for about 9 and herring were a half cent a piece. :)  (Fred is sitting in the photo below and Pa is standing)


March 26, 2012

i love the rain. to me, there’s nothing better than a good downpour. i love the sound of the rain pelting against my windows, on my roof, on the hood of my car, or hammering on the grass. i know that for a lot of people, seeing that the forecast is grey and rainy makes them tired and makes them want to stay in bed watching movies all day. i am the opposite of that, really. i am one of those people that gets up on a rainy day, looks outside and thinks, ‘yes! it’s raining!’ and find myself inspired and motivated to go out and do things

i like to go out and explore when it’s raining – i like to go for a drive, or go walking in the woods. i like going out to take pictures. the world just looks more vibrant when everything is wet and the background is grey or foggy white and it smells amazing – so fresh and earthy. i think it’s so beautiful and i find a lot of inspiration for my writing, and for my life in general, comes to me on these little adventures

this time of year is especially full of beauty as all of the plants are coming back to life – the grass is growing , trees are blossoming, the mosses are a vibrant green. i just love it and try to get out and enjoy it as much as i can!

March 23, 2012

My friend, Emily, and I had not seen each other since college so when she contacted me about photographing her family I was more than excited!  Not only would we be able to catch up, I would also get to meet her husband Tommy and their beautiful daughter, Boston!  We were hoping for a fun afternoon in the snow but as we kept in contact throughout our mild winter, we realized it probably wasn’t going to happen this year.  I’m almost glad it didn’t because for our session Boston showed up in an adorable sun dress and bow. :)

I’m so glad I got to see you all and to finally meet baby Boston!  She is absolutely amazing :)  Thanks for a wonderful afternoon!

March 22, 2012

what a treat it’s been so have such amazing weather in march! considering that early spring is often when we shoot a lot of e-sessions, to have the air warm and the trees blooming has been awesome. the only thing I was nervous about as I drove to baltimore for niki and mike’s session was possible rain – it was cloudy, it was partly sunny, it would drizzle, then dark ominous clouds. but as I parked on brewer’s hill, the sun was bright. we walked down to the harbor as I heard some of their plans for their belvedere hotel wedding and loved every single one – they are a couple after my own heart. as we were roaming around some of the old warehouses, we happened across this spiral staircase out of nowhere! this is one of the reasons I love shooting in baltimore – there is something different around every corner and happy surprises. I am so happy to be working with them and super excited for their wedding!

March 21, 2012

My first Way Back Wednesday post had a photo of my family’s rocking chair and I had mentioned that it has probably heard more stories than you or I could ever fathom.  Little did I know that it was used to make butter- yes, butter!  Well sort of. :)  I went over to my grandparents’ for breakfast and coffee one morning and as I was buttering my toast, my grandfather was telling me his grandma Maggie used to sit in that chair with fresh cream in a Mason jar and would just rock with the jar in her hand til it turned to butter. What?! Of course I had to know more ;) And so our story begins… 

His Grandma Maggie lived about five miles away from him on her farm in Wetipquin and my grandfather would go visit her every Sunday.  She had dogs, chickens, hogs and even a cow.  “She’d skim the cream off the milk of the cow and put it in the crock (pictured above, right) to save it,” Pop Pop said.  “In order to keep it cool, they had a six-inch trough by the pitcher head pump that they would put jars of milk or cream in and would pump in new, cold water three or four times a day.  That kept the cream cool until she got more than a quart.  She would rock in that chair and shake that jar of cream until it turned to butter.”  Then ‘modern technology’  came along…. 


Grandma Maggie got a stone jug (pictured left) with a wooden disk that went into it and she would pour half a gallon of cream in and pump it up and down til it got thick and turned to butter.    “Then one day she was looking through a Sears Roebuck mail order catalogue and saw this modern thing with a handle and a crank that you turned,” Pop Pop explained.  On Saturday nights all the farmers would head to the ‘big city’ of Salisbury and catch up on local news, new farming techniques, and would buy and sell things (I’ll have to tell you all about that one day :)) “After she saw this butter churn, she dressed a couple of chickens and carried them one Saturday night to the Sanitary Meat Market on West Main Street in Salisbury and sold them so she could buy it.”   She bought that butter churn and would put the butter in jars til it cooled and then she was ready to process it. 

The above photos are of my family’s butter press.  Every family had their own design and it was more for show and dinner parties.  “She would take that stone jar out of the water trough and dip butter out of it and put it in this box.  When she got it full, she would press down and it would leave an imprint.  Then you’d slide it out of the box and put it on a saucer for a dinner party.”  Sometimes she would sell the butter or trade it for a sack of flour or some other essetials at the market in Salisbury.  “But she would always have enough money left over for a pack of cookies.  I know that because she would share them with me when I came to visit her on Sundays.”  :) 

I never knew how much went into making butter!  I couldn’t imagine having enough free time on my hands to be able to rock long enough to turn cream into butter.  Maybe when I retire… :)

March 20, 2012

in working with couples on their wedding day, we get the opportunity to get know them really well. between planning meetings, e-sessions and venue visits we have formed friendships leading up to their big day.we are blessed by just how many of our clients remain in our day to day lives as cherished friends after wedding day and kelly and alex are no exception. since their wedding, we have had the pleasure of photographing kelly’s brother kevin’s wedding to katelyn in philadelphia – and speaking of that wedding, it was the beginning of a wonderful surprise. kevin and katelyn’s july wedding day was hot – and not just ‘july’ hot - records were set that day for heat index and humidity. so while we were shooting the bridal party in love park in downtown philadelphia, I knew everyone was, let’s say, overly warm. but suddenly I looked at kelly and it was clear she was going to pass out at any minute. alex steadied her and she drank some water and was better, but still a little shaky. I wrote it off to the heat and was relieved when she seem just like new at the reception. fast forward a few weeks and I get the best news in my inbox – she and alex were expecting! they had known at the wedding, but were saving the news for a little while longer. I was so honored when she asked me to photograph her maternity portraits and as the time grew closer, we started talking clothing and locations. baby daniel, however had other plans. a week before we were thinking of shooting her maternity session, daniel decided he wanted to meet everyone a little ahead of schedule and made an early appearance. kelly told me later that while she was in labor and delivery that she told the nurses that she couldn’t be in labor because she still had maternity photos to take and that she had even bought a dress just for it :) needless to say, I was just as happy that the maternity session had turned into a newborn session and meeting this little guy with the full head of hair was the perfect way to start off spring.

I am so happy for you all and can’t wait for our next session! xo

As Raye mentioned last week and according to my allergies- spring is in the air!  I love when the weather warms up and I can finally drive with the windows down- in my new Subaru no less. :)  This always gets me in the mood for traveling and road trips!  I enjoy visiting other countries and immersing myself in different cultures but I also think there is so much culture right in our backyard.  I’ve camped up to Canada and down to Key West on the East Coast of the States with family and friends throughout the years but I am itching to see what else this beautiful country holds!  There is only so much a song or post card can tell you about a place. :) Last year I was forunate enough to merge my love of travel into my professional life as well.  Raye and I travelled everywhere from the beaches of Jamaica to the mountains of the Hudson Valley, working with our amazing clients at their destination weddings.  We can’t wait to see what this year brings! :)

March 14, 2012

As a kid and even now I still spend many hours at the original farm where my grandfather grew up on the Nanticoke River.  I always refer to the farm as “the river” even though its name is “Hog’s Quarters.” (that is another story that I’ll save for later)  We have family BB Q’s, go fishing, target shooting, stargazing and I take my dog swimming there all the time.  It’s a peaceful escape on the water where I go for ‘me time’ and it’s only 2 miles from my house in Wetipquin.  My grandfather would find arrowheads and pieces of pottery growing up in the 1930′s and still finds them after every storm scattered along the shoreline.  He told me that when he had the main field on the hill plowed to turn up deep soil one year, he found rich, dark, composted circles bigger than a basketball in diameter.   They are spaced evenly apart that he believes this is where long house posts once stood.  To this day you can still see huge mounds of oyster shells all over the property which also indicates that a village might have existed here. The following photo is of the ‘hill’ on the farm where the long house might have stood and of one mound of shells we found.   

I thought they were ‘cool’ growing up but didn’t fully understand the value of his findings until I got older.  Native American names are  common on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (and sometimes very difficult to pronounce! ) and Wetipquin (wet-ip-kin)  is one of them. You see, my grandfather is a history buff like me and has always been one of my main sources for information.  My grandmother has been apart of the Lower Delmarva Genealogical Society for years and can tell you your family’s history and where they came from if you simply give her your last name.  They reads books, have tons of  history magazine subscriptions (which I get when they’re done with them :)), research old articles and have a quarterly newsletter on local history that is made for the Genealogical Society.  When you walk into their house it’s like walking into a museum and everything has a story to go along with it.  So after trying to research the meaning of ‘Wetipquin’ and the town’s history online, I figured I’d just go to the source :)

Wetipquin was home of the old Nanticoke Indians (used to pronounce the tribe as NantiQUack) that belonged to the Algonquin Tribe.  The main Nanticoke village was located in Vienna.  It stretched clear up to Laurel, Delaware and was an ideal location for settlement because of the waterways, open fields and wild game.   The actual Indian interpretation of Wetipquin is “land of skulls” or “burial ground.”   I’ll have to save the history of these Indians for another time but my grandfather told me that this town wasn’t always called Wetipquin.  In the 1800′s this town was called ‘ Wanamaker’ and was on the east side of what was Somerset County (Wicomico County didn’t come about til years later).  My grandfather grew up in the town when it was called Wetipquin but told me he wrote an essay for his senior year in high school in the 40′s about how it was called Wanamaker.  His only source was his great uncle and he couldn’t show his teacher any proof of his research.  It wasn’t until  1995 when he bought an old house in Wetipquin that he found his proof.  In the attic was an old arithmatic book that had and inscription on the inside cover. “Maddie Riggin, 1881.  Wanamaker, MD.”  There was also an old doctor receipt from February of  1889 with Wanamaker, MD written on it. (the total bill amounted to $5.00 including 19cents interest ;)) 

The history of the town of Wetipquin and the people that once inhabited it still amazes me.  I have copies of writings from John Smith’s journal and his documentation on the Indians of the Chesapeake Bay region and the Nanticokes.  Soon I will share with you how they kept their history, ceremonies they used to hold, tools they used, why they left the area and so much more. :)

March 13, 2012

I first met Denise + Gary at our January wedding show in Annapolis and couldn’t wait to work with them!  When it came down to choosing a location for their engagement session Denise suggested The University of Maryland.  Denise + Gary were long time friends and reconnected when they both went to college there- not to mention they are both huge MD basketball fans- so this was the perfect spot!  We even made our way over to ‘Testudo’, the good luck terrapin.  Everyone rubs his nose for good luck ;)

I had so much fun with you both!  I can’t wait to see you on wedding day!  Go Terps! :)

March 12, 2012

is it just me or am I the only one asking “where was winter?” I know most folks around here are celebrating the early arrival of spring – and don’t get me wrong. I am loving having my office windows wide open as I type this, but I am a cold weather girl. growing up in syracuse, it’s basically all I knew and when true spring did come, it was in may. on the flip side, what I truly love about spring is that it feels likes a fresh start, a blank canvas. new flowers, buds in the trees and for me, new goals. lists are always a big thing for me, but in the spring they take on a life of their own and this year, albeit a bit premature, is no exception. we have been hard at work fine tuning what this wedding season will bring in the studio – we are making exciting changes in our editing workflow, packaging, and the physical design of the studio. but my lists are not exclusive to my life at GPA, nope. there are master lists and then sub-lists to those  and I thought, with the arrival of the season that I would make myself accountable and share some of my sub-lists. the stuff I should do for me year-round but that always get lost in the shuffle – they certainly did last year! so just maybe by putting them out there and revisiting them to track my completion rate, I will have a more well-rounded and balanced year. it can’t hurt – so here we go

  • finish the hunger games series: I swore to my friends who were on fire about these books that I wouldn’t get into them – didn’t sound like my thing. well..I was wrong. halfway done with the second and purchased the third today #addicted
  • do yoga once a week: we have an amazing yoga studio right here in snow hill, a mere block from my house. I have no excuse.period
  • paint my dining room and/or living room: if you’d like to see what colors I’ve been kicking around, check out my “winter (lol) house ideas” board on pinterest by clicking here
  • have a non-business related lunch or dinner with a friend at least once a week
  • spontaneous date night with the hubs
  • figure out a place close to home but somewhere I’ve never been to spend a couple of days for my birthday: I’m thinking new hope, pa? charlottesville, va?
  • schedule phone dates with my 2 life long friends – both of whom live out of state

not too bad right? a blogpost on april 12th will be the decider :)