Archive for 'monday moments'

May 28, 2012

6 amazing days

9 states visited

2 cameras

10 flash cards

3 historic landmarks

7 new friends made

2,400 miles driven

1 fried pie

5 hotels

3 happy coffee dances

1 trolley car rescue

2 nitrogen milkshakes

1 living legend photo op

countless amazing meals

10 hours with friend/bag designer/photographer extraordinaire

1 trusty suburu (lois)

an abundance of memories, laughs and girl talk

May 21, 2012

Being a wedding photographer has changed how I view so many things, but none more so than how closely I pay attention to each and every detail that goes into making a truly memorable wedding. Perhaps it’s because I am now really getting into the planning stages of my own wedding. In today’s age, pinterest is all the rage at helping us all envision just about anything imaginable, including wedding ideas (see my wedding board here) As many people can attest, some things that you find on there are not easy to duplicate, and it’s difficult to distinguish what will be easy to replicate. I have definitely been swayed and won over by some of the ideas on there, but nothing compares to seeing an idea in person. It is incredibly nice to have the opportunity, as a wedding photographer, to be a part of so many amazing weddings each year. It’s a great chance for me to see great do-it-yourself ideas that work in real life as well as what is best left for more skilled individuals. Some aspects of our wedding planning process are rather easy. Both my fiance and I adore Smith Island cake, so there was no doubt about what kind of cake we would have at the wedding. We also are very close with a wonderful selection of vendors that we’ve met over the years. However, one of the hardest things for me to decide was the photographer. Crazy, right?! When I got engaged, it was obvious to everyone who would photograph my wedding, but when it came right down to it, I was hesitant. I love all of the amazing women I work with and I struggled with having them there in a work capacity and not as guests enjoying the day along with us. Not too long after I had this dilemma, I got to work a beautiful wedding and, shortly after that, be a guest at another. I realized that I felt like I truly enjoyed and was a part of every moment of the weddings I shot, but when I was a guest, I never truly relaxed because I was constantly framing shots in my head and wondering if the photographer was capturing everything that they should. After thinking about it I believe that I have undoubtedly made the best decision: they will be their happiest capturing all of the moments and I will be my happiest knowing that they are the ones I trust to capture everything I could ever want and more. Over the years of working here at GPA, I have taken numerous notes about all the little details I especially enjoyed or liked, and what made lasting impressions for wedding party members and guests alike. How many other jobs let you ‘crash’ weddings for ideas?! The only problem I have now is how to consolidate all of these great ideas to fit one perfect day. I have a ways to go and many decisions left to make, but I know I’ll like my cake and, rain or shine, my photographers at GPA will help make my day picture perfect.

May 07, 2012

there are so many decisions and plans when it comes to a wedding – color choices, flowers, flavor of wedding cake, etc. one of the items on the top of my agenda were the songs. I have been surrounded by music since birth – my grandmother was a music teacher for most of her life and both of my parents had large album collections when they met that combined into an impressive collection of everything ranging from broadway musicals and jazz to classical and bluegrass – so my tastes are pretty eclectic and music is a huge part of my life. I think that the songs played throughout a wedding give me a glimpse about my couples and their families that I may not always see through my lens – some are romantic and sentimental, others are classic and upbeat and some just plain hysterical (‘bad to the bone’ anyone?). our choices weren’t very traditional but perfect for us on that day

processional of bridal party: in my life – the beatles

my walk down the aisle: if I had the world to give – the grateful dead

recessional: god only knows – the beach boys

first dance: steady as we go – dave matthews band

father/daughter dance: the way you look tonight – frank sinatra

mel had some fun choices as well…. as she walked out there were celtic bagpipes and her first dance with mike was don’t let me fall by lenka. after shooting over 300 weddings… we have heard it all. while some of the classics are great (who can really hate ‘at last’ by etta james? even if you’ve heard it 1,000 times)  but I prefer original and sometimes offbeat choices because you know that either it’s ‘their song’ or a song that says everything that they feel on that day. so with no further adieu, I have compiled a small list of some of my favorite choices of our fabulous couples!  :)


  • here comes the sun – the beatles
  • viva la vida – coldplay
  • somewhere only we know – keane
  • happy together – the turtles
  • I will – the beatles

first dance:

  • all I want is you – barry louis polisar
  • no place to fall – isabel campbell
  • it must be love – madness
  • harvest moon – neil young
  • come by me – harry connick jr
  • #40 – dave matthews band


father/daughter dance:

  • father and daughter – paul simon
  • daughter – louden wainwright
  • how you’ve grown – 10,000 maniacs

mother/son dance

  • loves me like a rock – paul simon (again!)
  • sweet child o mine – sheryl crow
  • you are my sunshine – ray charles

and when your dad writes you a song just for your wedding day? and performs it at the reception? well it doesn’t get much better than that!

we can’t wait to hear what this season will bring!

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!

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 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 :)

March 05, 2012

Ever since I can remember I have enjoyed painting. From the beginning with finger painting, to my first watercolor set and then in high school when my mentor Marge Coyman taught me about painting with oil paints. There has always been a sense of freedom with paint, everyone expresses what they see in their own style, and no one can say whether it’s right or wrong.  Painting has taught me so much about myself. There are days when I get so frustrated I put my brushes down and say that I never want to paint again, but I always turn around and work on the piece for a few more hours, and every time I am surprised by the result. I find that  the smallest part of a painting is often my favorite; it can be a brush stroke or a use of a certain color, but it’s almost  as if it speaks to me from the canvas.

Through the years I have taken many painting classes, learned a few tricks of the trade and I in no way view myself as a great painter, but I enjoy it. There is something deeply satisfying about going into the studio with an idea and being free to explore it in many ways with color and a brush. Pablo Picasso once said ‘one never knows what one is going to do. One starts a painting and then it becomes something quite different.’ I like to think of life the same way, we go in with all of these ideas and in the end it’s not at all what we expected, but it’s lovely nonetheless

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 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 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?’