Archive for June, 2012

June 28, 2012
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Aradia + Dave are true polar opposites.  Dave works in the corporate HR world + is a sports fanatic and Aradia is an interior designer + artist.  What do they both have in common? Their love for each other, their infectious laughs + love for their dog, Bella. :)  After reading through their questionnaire and coming to the part where they wrote- “we laugh a lot together” I was stoked for their e-session.  We met at Federal Hill in Baltimore and meandered our way down to the American Visionary Art Museum and over to the Baltimore Harbor.  I also found out that Aradia is a fellow Anthropologie lover!! I had so much fun with you three and can’t wait for wedding day!

Bella took a breather :)

June 27, 2012
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some people may find this hard to believe, but for years I was terrified of dogs. like run-away-and-hide scared. even a gentle golden retriever could throw me into a panic. although this was pretty much a baseless fear (I had been nipped at by a boston terrier when I was little but it didn’t even break the skin according to mom) it was very real to me for a long time. then one summer I was working at phillips on the beach and doug, the guy who was training me during my first day, said to me at the end of the night ‘it was great working with you and I’d hang out for a post shift beer, but I’ve got a pregnant bitch at home’. well I was horrified! but everyone I was sitting with had a good laugh at this statement. beyond baffled, I whispered to the girl sitting next to to me ‘why does everyone think that’s funny?’ to which she answered that doug’s dog was expecting her first litter of puppies and he really wanted to be there to help her when she started delivering. doug was suddenly transformed from a creep into the sweetest guy ever and a few days later, the pups arrived and he was loving it. doug and I discovered that I only lived a block from him and I started going over every night after work to watch this sweet dog care for her brood. to keep them straight, doug nicknamed all the pups and the one I had fallen in love with was dubbed dempsey after boxer jack dempsey because he bullied his way to his mother during feeding time, pushing his brothers and sisters out of the way. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but doug already knew that when he was ready, dempsey would come home with me – and he did. part lab and part great dane he quickly grew into a dog I would have previously been terrified of, but I knew his heart, his instinctive kindness and unconditional love for me and my life, when it came to dogs, was never the same. dempsey and I moved to baltimore and then to colorado together. sadly, I lost him at a young age but since I have had jake (husky/retriever) who drove cross country with me 22 times and was by my side during the hardest time in my life, sampson (rott/lab) who came into the family right before I met my husband and booker (bernese mountain dog) who is a big bear of love that joined us 4 years ago. all of these amazing dogs have given me love when I needed it most, laughs when I’ve been blue and no matter what, they are SO excited to see me – even if I just leave for 5 minutes. I admit.. I’ve had my fair share of days when I’ve preferred the company of my pups to people. I will always have a dog, probably always have 2… or 3 :) my appreciation for those who care for and help animals in need was the reason we started our dog days sessions and any opportunity I have to work with my four-legged friends I am thrilled. when I have someone contact me who loves dogs as much as I do and wants to schedule a session, well it’s like I’ve been given a gift. combining the two things I love the most – photography and dogs – is the ultimate way to spend an afternoon. stephanie and brian are an amazing couple who have rescued all of these fantastic pups and their love for ‘the pack’ was obvious as they all tumbled out of the two vehicles it took to get everyone to the shoot. all of the pups have such distinct personalities and are all SO sweet! the whole session I was laughing, rolling in the grass with them and documenting this big beautiful bunch – and is there anything better than that? so without further adieu, meet stephanie, brian, julep, happy, charlie, carmen and michael!

I had the best time with all of you! the whole session had me smiling hours after we stopped shooting and I hope to have the opportunity to work with you all again – maybe when you rescue your next one?? :) thanks again!

June 25, 2012
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I always seem to be late to the party… or it’s a party I don’t think I want to attend - only to find out that all of the ‘cool kids’ are going and I don’t want to miss out. such was the case with twitter, instagram and even facebook. I thought all would be a waste of time and had a ‘why does anyone care what I’m doing?’ attitude about them – still do a little bit when I find myself posting over 4 instagram photos a day. but when I discovered pinterest, I was in heaven. I have always been a hoarder of magazines, spending complete afternoons going through them and ripping out tear sheets of clothes I loved, design ideas, recipes and knitting patterns. so not only did I have these x 1,000 at my virtual fingertips with pinterest, I got to see things my friends thought were cool too!! if I’m honest, this winter it would take me A LOT to tear me away from my computer when I found a category I loved (5 hours spent looking at tattoo ideas alone!) but as the weather warmed and we got busier, my pinterest time was all but non-existent. then I heard rumblings of copyright infringement and potential lawsuits where it concerned photography on pinterest that caught my attention and to my computer I went (maybe I found the best salsa recipe ever during this time, but that’s neither here nor there) now I had known that brides were ‘pinning’ GPA images on their boards long before we created a page specific to the studio and I didn’t mind – in fact I loved it because they were pinning from the blog so therefore our watermark was on the image and if anyone else clicked on that image it took them back to our blog – win win right? at least I thought so. I know that not all photographers love or appreciate this and I totally get it, I’m just speaking for me. in everything I read, the basics were the same in terms of permission and copyright and as a photographer all of that makes sense to me. the slippery slope to me was if I had a photo of a beautiful blanket pinned to my knitting board, when I click on it and it takes me to the knitting blog or yarn manufacturer who initially posted it, haven’t they purchased the right from whichever photographer shot it to use it commercially? I’m assuming yes to which I could be completely wrong but it was all making my head hurt. as I tried to make sense of the ethics of it all (while finding an adorable hat pattern) I decided that for me, I would only be concerned about our images and until I see them misused, I’m cool with it. so kris and I have our own pages and we also have a page for GPA – on the GPA page we have boards that are clearly marked that they contain our images of family, wedding, brides, etc. but we also have boards relating to what we love in terms of wedding decor and style and clothing/hair ideas. none of our pages have ‘inspiration’ boards where I’ve seen other people pin posing ideas that other photographers have shot. for me, photography is all about light, composition, exposure and subject and all of our ‘subjects’ are different so why would I want to duplicate someone else’s posing idea for my couple or person? we are being hired for our eye, our vision – not someone else’s. if a bride asks me to shoot something she saw on pinterest, will I? absolutely! this has been happening to me for years as brides have seen images they loved in martha stewart weddings or the knot – nothing new….. but I can happily report that theses images almost never make it to the album and they fall in love with our initial vision for them. I must say however, that I have noticed many more inspired DIY favors, centerpieces and wedding decor specific to our couple’s personalities and locations since pinterest’s popularity and I love it! just like etsy, it’s allowing our couples to make their special day that much more about them as a couple which is great and from a visual perspective, really fun to shoot. so until late-november my time to hunt down the perfect back splash tiles will be limited, but to any of you that like what you see on here on the blog, all I can say is ‘happy pinning!’

June 21, 2012
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I have known mom katie for quite a few years – her parents own a beautiful waterfront home in saint mikes and several of my brides have gotten ready there on wedding day. together katie and I have participated in I think 5 weddings together :) so when I heard that she and husband mike were expecting their first baby I was so happy for them! I was even happier when my bride emily who is also one of katie’s best friends got them a session with me as a baby gift. while they currently live across the bridge, they were down in saint mikes to celebrate the birthday of katie’s mother so I took a drive to one of my favorite towns to meet the little guy and photograph all of that cuteness!!

can’t forget the ‘furr-baby’ ricky!

thank you all for such a wonderful morning! it was great seeing the whole family again and meeting the new members for the first time :) I can’t wait until the next time I get to see your handsome boy!

June 20, 2012
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My grandfather has always been an amazing story teller.  I have grown up on his memories and adventures and have always been particularly interested in his stories from when he was in the service during the 40′s.  For some reason I’ve always gravitated to the patriotism and the travels and of course the photographs he took along his journey.  Those photo albums from his adventures overseas are prized family possessions.  He had his Argus C3 camera, plenty of film and an artistic eye.  I could spend days telling you all his stories about the service, but today I am going to start from the beginning. :)

“I was working on the farm at the time when I got a letter saying, ‘Greetings, you’ve been selected to serve your county’ ,” Pop Pop began.  He seemed to have mixed emotions about being drafted.  A lot of his friends were in the service but he recalled his one classmate that had passed away.  My grandfather sat and stared out the window for a minute in silence.  “I was lucky to be a couple years younger.  I don’t know how a country boy from Wetipquin ended up in intelligence and offered a commission.  It still amazes me, but it’s something I’m proud of.”

“Mom worried herself to death because I was her only child.  I always tried to find time to write.  Even if it was to address the envelope and say ‘Hi, I’m okay’ to help ease her mind,” Pop Pop explained.  He headed off to Ft. Meade where he took his oath of office and then headed to Indiantown Gap, PA.  From there, he was shipped to Camp J.T. Robinson, AR for basic training.  Above, you can see the barracks.  “I wanted to be a sniper, but I couldn’t keep my butt down crawling across the field.  Got spotted,” he chuckled.  “I had a good shot, I hit the bulls eye from a thousand yards away.”  He left Arkansas with the MOS (Military Occupational Specialties) of an infantry rifleman.  From basic, the whole outfit was to leave from Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.  Pop Pop didn’t make it in time to leave with the guys in basic (because he took a 15 day leave home instead of 10) and stayed in Ft. Dix for two weeks until he had orders to be shipped out.  I love the photo below.  It shows some guys playing cards on and passing time in the bunks on the ship.

Pop Pop is on the far right (this was his room once he was in Germany). :)

He was shipped out on the SS George Washington.  Soon, I’ll tell you about his return voyage home in 1947 on the USS General Stuart Heintzelman and how they were 9 degrees from capsizing!  Pop Pop took photos of the damage to the metal of the ship and has a newspaper clipping of the scare.  Below is a photo of the USS General Stuart Heintzelman and a boxing match on deck of the SS George Washington.

It took 10 days to get over to Le Harve, France but from there they got on a cattle car and went to Erlangen, Germany.  “I had to take my IQ and aptitude test over again because my records went over on the first ship.”  From there, he and four other men went to a train station and the next thing Pop Pop saw was the photo below.

“I realized I was in the 3rd Army Headquarters, G2 (Intelligence) at the Patton Barracks.  The five of us were separated there and a Staff Sergeant carried me into a building and said ‘this will be your room’.  It was larger than what I was used to.  I had always shared during basic.”  Then Pop Pop was taken into the main building where the officers were and was pulled in front of the Colonel and told to raise his right hand.  “The Colonel said to me ‘What comes here, stays here under $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison.  You have been cleared for confidential, secret and top secret’.”  The Sergeant carried Pop Pop to coalition and introduced him to 1st Lieutenant Jenks and pointed to a desk.  “He said that desk was mine and pointed to a typewriter and said that it was mine.  It may as well have been an atomic reactor!”  Now I had never heard of that before so I asked my grandfather what it was.  “Something I knew nothing about!” he busted out laughing.  “I was assigned a clerical job and I couldn’t write worth a damn.  I had seen a typewriter but had never touched one.”  Pop Pop told his Lieutenant that he didn’t know anything about typing.  His Lieutenant looked up from his desk and said he didn’t know anything about typing either.  “He told me to use the ‘Hunt + Peck Method’ which was hunt for the letter, then peck the key.  Then I saw his fingers dance over the keys and he typed out ‘Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country’.”

Below is a photo of my grandfather at his desk and the typewriter.

My grandfather also travelled during his time in the service.  Some of the trips were for work and others were for pleasure.  He went everywhere from England, France, the Scottish countryside, to the mountains in Switzerland and all over Germany and even out to the Azores Islands.  He took so many photographs of his journey and a few years ago I went over to Europe with his old photos in hand and went to some the same places he went and stood where he stood in the same location.  I photographed how they look today so I could bring them back and show my grandfather.  I’ll show you those side by side in another story.  He even befriended one of Patton’s horses and gave him the name ‘Dammit’ but I’ll save that one for another time. :)

Above is where he bought cigarettes, soap, etc. Below is a random photo along his travels of people enjoying the view from the plane.

Although my grandfather travelled and saw some amazing sights, he also saw some of the damage caused by the war.  Below is a photo of damage done in Weisbaden, Germany.  When we got to this photo he looked up at me.  “When you see an American flag, think about how many millions have died since we gained our independence to defend that flag and our right to display it.”

“You can say anything you want about any politician or anyone running the country- but don’t knock my flag or my country,” my grandfather said.  Ever since I can remember I have heard his stories and my grandmother’s stories about WWII.  Both of her brothers were in the Navy.  Her one brother signed up for the Navy on December 5, 1941- two days before Pearl Harbor was attacked.  She also has stories about life in the US during the war- which is just as fascinating.  Her family actually moved from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Alexandria, Virginia so her father could work in the Torpedo Factory.  I will definitely get to all these stories and show you the many photos that go along with them.  One of the things I found most fascinating was when Pop Pop told me about the major depreciation of the German currency.  Everyone basically traded on the black market and bartered because the German Frank was worth next to nothing.  He told me how trading cigarettes and soap for things was a common occurrence and a means for living while he was in Germany.  I’ll also elaborate on Mom Mom’s stories about ordered curfews and painting car headlights half black so that submarines in the night couldn’t see the shoreline.

***** My grandfather, Russell C. Cooper from the 3rd Army Headquarters G2 , who rode across on the SS George Washington and returned on the USS General Stuart Heintzelman is asking that if anyone made either one of those voyages or was stationed overseas during that time with him could contact me at kristie@gilletteportraitarts.com.  He would love to talk.  Thank you!  -Kristie Cooper

June 19, 2012
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there are just some people that you know you were meant to work with and when I first met nettie this was the case. what started out as a basic consultation turned in to a 2 hour conversation. we learned that we had taken similar paths in terms of extensive traveling, even moving across the country before both finding love with an eastern shore boy here at home. to hear her speak of bryan made me look so forward to meeting him myself and photographing this day for them. they were married on the family farm on the perfect summer day surrounded by so many wonderful friends and family. kristie and I were blown away by this amazing group of people who all loved each other so much that you could see it in their smiles, hear it in their laughter and witness it through every photograph we shot.

nettie and bryan, your wedding was so full of love and friendship and we were so happy to be there with all of you. we wish you so much joy in your life together xoxo

this was the question on everyone’s mind the week prior to our second annual bridal shoot for the perfect dress bridal salon. last year we were blessed with a sunny (if chilly) day but this year’s forecast was gloomy and wet. kris and I took an hour in the morning to drive around finding location alternatives in and around snow hill as we had a crew of 12 lined up and unless we had to, we didn’t want to cancel. thanks to breaks in the weather and 2 great indoor options, we had a sucessful and super fun day! thanks to ALL who helped especially our hair + makeup artists courtney and meagan, sarah from the perfect dress and our models: payton, lexie, prescilla, lindsay, noelle and dani! you all were amazing and so great to work with – thanks for all of your hard work and making this year’s shoot fabulous! see you in 2013 :) xoxo

June 15, 2012
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there are definitely some beautiful places to get married – my favorite seems to change every season! but there is something about getting married at a family home that makes it extra special and personal. such was the case of donna and joshua’s beautiful wedding day. josh’s parents have a gorgeous home on the banks of the pocomoke river and it shined as I traveled up the drive on this perfect early summer day.as I walked upstairs of the main house to find donna, I heard the bustling around of busy bridesmaids, the hair dryers buzzing and the laughter of donna’s daughter. donna was the picture of calm as she was getting her makeup done, occasionally looking outside and getting increasingly excited. after a little girl time, I went over to the guest house to seek out josh. like donna, he wasn’t nervous – just excited! as all of the guest assembled on the lawn for the wedding I just soaked in this gorgeous day and the love of this wonderful couple.

I had such a great time with you all and wish you such a happy life together!

June 14, 2012
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as a photographer, there’s nothing I love more than seeing a family grow. to be there for the milestones, the different seasons and the first time on the beach are such great moments and it’s an honor to document it all. the wilson family are some of my favorite clients and their daughter catherine has been such a joy to photograph! those big blue eyes, her infectious giggle and just being an all around happy and wonderful girl make her so much fun to work with. for this latest session, we decided to shoot at their home because it was important to parents jessica and bryant that their ‘fur-babies’ chloe and toby be included. one of the coolest families I know AND dogs?! well now… that’s my kind of session!

to see all of our session with the wonderful wilsons, click here, here and here  thank you all SO much for such a wonderful morning! xoxo

Farming + agriculture are a major attribute and staple to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delmarva community.  You will find plenty of friendly farmers and countless fields of wheat, corn, soybeans, strawberries, watermelons and so much more!  I love going to the local Farmers’ Market during the summer and picking up some fresh veggies.  We also have many CSA farms in Maryland that support local farmers.  Chicken houses and irrigation systems are sprinkled all over the Delmarva peninsula.  For many locals, a sure sign of summer is that first whiff of fertilizer as you’re driving down a back country road on a sunny afternoon.  So when I learned that our family farm used to grow and sell sweet potatoes- I had to know more!  Mom used to always make mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie and no family dinner would be complete without some sweet potato biscuits! :)  I even see local restaurants now serving sweet potato fries instead of regular.  After learning that sweet potatoes were what this farm primarily harvested, the huge four-story building on the back field made sense to me!

My dad always complained that we lived on a sand hill.  Which is true.  Most of farm’s fields do not have the ideal nutrient-rich soil needed for crops.  But the sandy soil is perfect for growing sweet potatoes! :)  After the potato farming boom, ‘potato houses’ were where farmers stored their harvest.  Before, families usually stored them in their basement to keep them cool and from freezing in the winter.  “Mom used to put her potatoes in a tall wooden basket and bury it in the dirt.  When she wanted to cook with them, she’d go outside and dig one up.  We were too poor for a basement,” Pop Pop began.  Then he shot me a grin.  “But we survived.”  The Riggin family, who lived on the farm before my family, used to store the sweet potatoes in bushel baskets on all four floors.  Below is an old photo of when they used the potato house.The basement, which I wouldn’t dare go down to, kept the sweet potatoes cool in the summer.  The ideal temperature for storing them is between 34 and 36 degrees Farenheit.  There are wooden ladders to get to each floor and there is a door on each level. If anyone wants to climb down there- be my guest! :)  I wasn’t going down there with any lights.  In the basement is the furnace that was fueled by coal in the winter so that the potatoes wouldn’t freeze.  The chimney went to all the floors and when the house was built, there was about an 8 inch gap left between the outside and inside walls to let the air circulate.  Also, they intentionally built the house with slatted, wooden floors to help with circulation.  In the photos below, you can see the original brick and mortar of the chimney and a spot in a door way where someone did a little book keeping. :)  Numbers and tally marks can be found all throughout this potato house from doorways to the wooden support beams.In the photo above I am on the third floor looking down to the second.  I love that this building is still in tact and that there are still a few more on Delmarva that are still in decent shape.  Farming has been and always will be an important element in this community.