Archive for 'mel'

November 01, 2013

it was no surprise that a hurricane was coming – in this age of the 24 hour news cycle and bottom-of-the-screen panic feeds, it was impossible to ignore that a major storm was a brewin’ and it was heading straight toward the eastern shore. obvious evacuation plans were being made at the beaches and along the chesapeake. here in snow hill, the residents did what we do and stocked up on the essentials, put away the patio furniture and planned to ride it out. because our studio is located only 30 feet from the pocomoke river, we took some additional precautionary steps down there. in retrospect we were perhaps foolishly optimistic, but we weren’t stupid. important lighting equipment was moved to high shelves and covered, all image files were put onto additional storage and hard drives and removed from the studio – negatives were tucked neatly into a fire safe at my house. if anything we thought this would be more a wind event than rain and so we put our computers atop a high counter and under a large drop ceiling that would stay put if we lost a portion of the roof. we sandbagged the doors, we taped the windows and then we all went home.. and waited.


hurricane sandy made landfall on a monday and because I live here in snow hill, I walked down the 2 blocks to the studio that morning to look at the river. although I didn’t grow up here, the prior 5 generations of my family did – so before moving here 11 years ago, I had already been here during all seasons, through several major hurricanes and even a freak snow storm here and there. and never had I seen the south side of the river flood… it had gotten high and ‘ponded’ but the north bank of the river is much lower and as a result, they always get the water… even from a thunderstorm. so all morning and early afternoon I kept looking across the river to the north side and told myself that until it flooded over there, we had nothing to worry about. later in the afternoon the storm really started to get nasty and my dogs basically lost their minds when a large crack and boom was heard in the back yard.. I had lost a major tree that thankfully fell away from my house but another one was leaning precariously toward the lower roof. walking was now out of the question, so I ran to my jeep and again went down to the studio. I saw that the iconic willow tree at the riverhouse inn was gone. hundreds of weddings and dare I say thousands of family portraits had been photographed under that tree over the years. across the river, trees were falling left and right as the town tried their best to get them out of the way to keep the roads clear for emergency vehicles – but still no water over there. so maybe we had been correct, this would be a crazy windy day and we’d probably lose power due to downed lines, but that was going to be the extent.. right? high tide that night was at 11:30 so I made my last visit to the river at midnight. the winds had begun to calm and miraculously most of the town still had power and although she was high, the pocomoke stayed put. I came back home relieved, happy and I’ll admit, a little smug.

the next morning I leashed up my dogs and we headed into town to see everything in the daylight. a block into the walk, sampson stopped and stared down the road… he wouldn’t budge. as booker and I encouraged him to keep walking with us I followed his gaze and saw it.. the river.. flooded… everywhere. the walk turned into a jog and then a run – I tied up their leashes to the post office flagpole and kept running into the water. every step I took brought deeper water and once I was to the front door of the studio, it was to the middle of my thighs. the sandbags frustrated and taunted me as I tried to get the front door open and once I finally got in.. well, I was basically standing in the middle of the pocomoke river. several large canvas prints were bobbing face side down across the room as light boxes had blown apart and now looked like sails with no wind. at a loss as to what to do, I took a photo and sent it to kris. seconds later she called ‘what the hell is going on?? are you okay?!’ I told her I was fine but that the studio was completely flooded and we just sat there on the phone – both of us silent, trying to wrap our heads around it. for the next 4 days we had over 3 feet of standing water in the studio until the river finally receded. the weekend before the hurricane had been our busiest of the year so we had to all work from home, trying to accomplish separately what we did most efficiently when we were together. we were so humbled and grateful for the constant outpouring of support and love that never stopped rolling in, literally from all over the world. local photographers offered their studios and equipment if needed, people in town were ready to help with clean up as soon as the water was gone, and then there were our clients…. god, we are blessed to work with the best people in the world.  although we had made assurances on facebook and via email to them that we had taken steps to protect all images, their only concern was us. some offered from as far as missouri to drive in to help and everyone expressed that there was no rush for edited images from recent shoots. we also saw all of the footage from new jersey and new york and realized just how lucky we were. we do love the studio, but it’s not our home and it wasn’t destroyed. in fact, it’s a converted napa auto parts shop and as a result it has concrete floors and cinder block walls – we didn’t even have to deal with carpet removal or drywall replacement. as frustrating as our situation sometimes seemed, compared to other folks affected by sandy… for us it was merely a hiccup.

we got everything cleaned up and put reasonably back together by our annual santa paws event in december but once that was over we all worked from home until february. finally kris and I knew that we had to deal with it and soon we were picking out fabrics, paint colors and redesigning our space. we decided to make it more of a computer/office work and consultation space as we rarely shot there and we wanted each area to serve a purpose. we choose colors and patterns that directly reflected our brand and then we headed out to flea markets, antique shops and ikea to replace the all of the furnishings we had lost. by april, while it wasn’t exactly where we wanted it to be, it began to feel like home again and we moved back in full time. during the season, we have made some tweaks here and there and now have it exactly as we imagined – every day when I walk through the doors, it never fails to make me happy.

the past year has brought so many changes..  mel moved to chicago and then shortly moved back :) liv, who had been married only a week before the hurricane hit, is now expecting her first child with her husband drew who is currently serving overseas. we have also welcomed 3 new full time members to the team: laura, curt and jillian who we are thrilled to have as part of our GPA family. as for me and kris, this past year has been one of a few lows, but many many highs! we have traveled all over the country as our client base has expanded. we have begun working with national brands. we (well, I) have become yoga-dependant –  kris finds her zen during runs in the city park. we are together practically all day almost every day and haven’t killed each other yet – haven’t even come close. in fact, I can’t imagine anyone else I could have or would have wanted to experience this past year with. we keep each other sane, we keep each other focused and we keep each other laughing… every single day. as this season comes to a close in november, we are so excited for all of the new opportunities and experiences that await us next year. if anything, the challenges of the past year have made us a stronger team, as close as family and grateful… more than words can ever express.

January 24, 2013

this is our final ‘best of’ post and we couldn’t think of a better way to wrap this series up. since the beginning of gillette portrait arts, we have been blessed to work with couples who have inspired us and this year was no different. the couples of 2012 were romantic, emotional, creative, hysterical, fashionable and most importantly crazy in love. we thank you so much for inviting us to capture such a special time in your lives. you made us laugh, you made us cry (in the best way!) and you showed us time and time again what true love looks like. it has been an honor and such a pleasure to work with all of you and we wish you SO much love, laughter and joy in your lives together! xoxo


January 22, 2013

everyone loves a good party and this year our couples threw some epic celebrations! from grand events held in ballrooms with 300 guests to intimate affairs at home with cherished close friends and family, we had the opportunity to photograph so much fun and love. there were touching and funny toasts, special moments between old friends, big bands + bluegrass trios and some of the best food we’ve ever tasted. 2012, you threw one hell of a shindig!



January 17, 2013

whether it was a big and boisterous gang of folks or just one best friend on each side, this year our couples had some of the coolest bridesmaids and groomsmen that we’ve ever worked with. they scaled towers and braced hurricane sandy’s incoming winds, they took care of the ‘dogs-of-honor’ and mixed the cocktails  - but most of all they provided our brides and grooms with friendship, laughter support and love.

January 16, 2013

this year our couples tied the knot everywhere from the beach and historic mansions to riverboats. we witnessed happy tears, spontaneous laughter and heartfelt readings. we worked at some of our all time favorite venues as well as having the opportunity to be introduced to some amazing new (to us) locations. as fun as it is to photograph the portraits and reception, ceremonies are our favorite because that’s really what the whole wedding day is about…. two people pledging their love in front of their friends and family (and in several cases this year, their pups!)

January 15, 2013

this year more than any other, our couples opted to either see each other before the ceremony or at the very least share their excitement via ‘around the corner’ exchanges or letters. we are suckers for first looks for several reasons – for one, no one is usually there except our couple and us and it’s such an emotional moment to photograph. but it also gives us the opportunity to shoot some of their portraits before the ceremony and depending on time of day and lighting, this can be essential. above all, it’s just so romantic and who doesn’t love a little romance??

January 14, 2013

since we started out ‘best of’ posts, we have received more than a few texts and emails asking when the wedding posts would start. well ask and you shall receive! and being that it makes the most sense to post them in the same order that we photograph them, we’re starting with the getting ready photos. every wedding we shoot, we like to be with our couples before the ceremony or first look – if only for a few minutes. these moments leading up to one of the biggest events of their lives is always filled with such emotion and anticipation so we feel that including these moments really tell an important part of their story.

tune in tomorrow for first looks!

December 31, 2012

what a wild and wonderful ride 2012 was! we traveled to so many amazing places, worked with the absolute coolest clients on the planet and grew even closer as a team. although I’m certain I’ll forget something, here are some of our highlights….

  • we photographed 62 weddings
  • we photographed 84 portrait sessions
  • we photographed 42 dogs
  • we traveled to 19 states
  • we consumed approximately 1,654,789 cups of starbucks
  • we finally converted studio-wide to mac
  • we added 3 kelly moore bags to our slightly obsessive collection
  • one of us got married – yay!
  • one of us moved to chicago – boo
  • we welcomed a new team member (a man… god help him)
  • we were featured in 16 blogs and publications
  • 9 of our couples welcomed little ones :)
  • we shot editorial sessions for south moon under and dryden dress company
  • we met martha stewart, austin scarlett and rock n’ roll royalty
  • we road tripped to lousiana
  • we got flooded
  • we cleaned up
  • we made so many new friends and reconnected with old ones

looking back at this year leaves us feeling so blessed and grateful. without all of you that trust us to capture your biggest moments, there would be no ‘us’. tomorrow will begin our ‘best of 2012′ posts and y’all made it SO hard to choose!!! we love and appreciate each and every one of you and look forward to a hopeful, healthy and happy 2013 filled with love, laughter and plenty of road trips! xoxo

December 06, 2012

this is going to be a long one… so grab your favorite beverage and settle in. why you ask? because this is a first for us. this is the first time that a member out our team got married while working here at the studio. many of you know that mel was initially one of our brides who came onboard after her wedding. but with liv and drew, we have been there every step of the way. when liv first came to our old studio to inquire about an internship, drew was patiently waiting in the car as I reviewed her portfolio and we chatted. I noticed her engagement ring during our first meeting and she blushed a little and smiled…. a lot.  she a told me that she and drew had been best friends forever and had been together since high school. once she joined the studio she would share little stories about something that drew had done, or a place they visited always with a giddy excitement of a girl in love. although we met a couple of times, I didn’t really get to know drew until their esession and immediately saw why liv was so head over heels for him. he’s hysterical, not afraid to be goofy, a gentleman and melts a little every time he looks at liv. so we always knew there was going to be a wedding, but the adventure with liv was when? where? due to drew’s military service, this made planning interesting.. I think there have been 4 dates, 5 venues and countless dresses. kris and I basically told her ‘tell us when and where and we’ll be there’. when they had made their final decision, I think all of us were a little bit surprised because the date chosen was only 2 months away! her dress was of her own design, using several other gowns as inspiration and the assistance of the amazing sarah from dryden dress company – but it was being custom made in time for her previous date next april. needless to say, we were all crossing our fingers for the perfect dress to arrive in time for the perfect day with hopefully the perfect weather… and it did :) this was also a GPA family event as obviously kris and I were shooting (not something we’re able to do together a lot, so we were loving it) but also, the officiant was mel and I thought it was so cool that all of us were playing a part in the happiest day of one of our own. so let’s talk about wedding day – I met liv at the marriott where her girls were getting ready. she got dressed and we were off to the courdrey center. I had never shot here before and to be honest I was a little nervous because in additional to having a beautiful ceremony and reception area, it’s also a garden center. like liv, it’s a totally original venue :)  I parked as kris and mel were waiting and we went to scope the grounds. there was no lack of color with all of the beautiful flowers but with liv’s dress, I wanted something a little more simple. as kris and I were walking down one of the rows, I did a double take and saw an empty greenhouse. 2 seconds kris said ‘the greenhouse!’ this is why I love working with her, we don’t even have to talk to know what the other is thinking. it was PERFECT – like a big soft box and we were thrilled. we even decided that the grass house would be ideal for first look and down the drive there was a rusted out structure full of hay bales – LOVE! now because liv is the studio’s fashionista and photographer herself, but also because she’s worked with us for 3 years, she was the ideal client. she definitely covered all of our ‘loves’. because her dress was such a statement, she kept her accessories to a minimum (well with the exception of the over 100 broaches she collected for her stunning bouquet). she and drew did a first look. she kept time of day in mind when creating her photo timeline. she had family members help organize different groups to keep family portraits efficient and she gave us ample time for her and drew’s photos. god, we had a blast! from first look all the way through the final dance, everything was simply perfect and represented you two as a couple.I can’t even begin to tell you how happy we are for you, how grateful that we are that you shared this day with us and that you are a part of our little studio family. you and drew are so well matched and glow when you’re together and we were so honored to document every moment of the day you became man and wife xoxo

we love you both and are so excited to witness all of your happiness in your new life together xoxo

November 06, 2012

to steal a line from jerry maguire’s ‘you had me at hello’ I know this much is fact for me… susan and mike, ‘you had me at our dog is going to be in our wedding’ seriously folks, it doesn’t take much to make me happy, but when I hear that someone’s pup is going to play an active role in you big day, I am over the moon! I think the best decision roland and I made was having jake and sampson with us as we tied the knot – it simply wouldn’t have been right without them. so I was already excited as I packed up and headed to ocean city on this gorgeous fall morning. susan had a beautiful condo right on the boards where she was getting ready and mel joined mike just 5 blocks up the beach.  because they met and fell in love in OC, they wanted their wedding to be all about our little resort town – from their beach wedding to their transportation to their venue…. all was so them and so perfect!  after everyone was ready, mel and I headed down to sunset park to shoot their first look and were shortly joined by the rest of the bridal party who were so much fun. the ceremony was performed by susan’s brother and was equal parts hysterical and touching as pup lucy stood by (warning… there are a LOT of photos of lucy, but really… would you expect anything else from me??) after a slight delay by the boardwalk corvette parade :) we all boarded the tram and headed down the boards to take photos at an arcade and on our walk to the reception. the OC theme continued at harrison’s where the guests got a great view through the floor to ceiling windows of the sunset over the bay. this group was beyond fun and had the place jumpin’ I even got coaxed out onto the dance floor for a spin…. or pulled out… maybe gently pushed… either way, it was fun lol. as susan and mike left the reception and walked though a path of sparklers down the boards I was just so happy for them and their perfect day!


susan and mike, thank you for such a wonderful day! you, your friends and families (including miss lucy of course!) made for such an amazing wedding that will be remembered as one of our favorites – we wish you so much happiness is your life together xoxo