Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ariel and Josh:: Philadelphia, PA Wedding

I had the opportunity to second shoot a beautiful wedding for Rae Barnes. I've known 'of' Rae for a few years now, after a friend mentioned her as a photographer I might like to follow, but hadn't met her until I knew she was looking for an assistant. Rae's work 'pops'; it has this distinct boldness that I've come to love. When Rae and I met, she mentioned this would be her last wedding for awhile, so I was glad to be there for her last wedding.

Here are a few of the images I took for Rae on Ariel and Josh's wedding day.
Ariel and Josh got ready at the Omni Hotel in Philadelphia.

I love the fall flowers; the day was gorgeous too!

Woohoo! Look at those heels! I give Ariel a lot of credit for being able to wear those!

They took many of their pictures across the street, next to the Second Bank of the US.
With the leaves falling, it was a gorgeous backdrop for pictures.

Ariel and Josh were so playful with each other; their affection was a joy to watch!

I think it's safe to say Josh was a happy husband!

Their ceremony and reception were held at the Ballroom at the Ben...such a gorgeous venue.

Father-daughter dance:

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

90 years young

Today is my grandpa's 90th birthday.

I feel like it's more rare these days for people to live till their 90th....and I am grateful for his life.

Yesterday he had cataract surgery; the doc said his eye was one of the worst he's seen. But when my grandpa realized some sight was restored, he looked at my dad and said "I can see your face, Kenny...and I can see the exit sign." To think of my grandpa saying those things - the way the words were uttered - makes me thankful to have a grandpa like him.

I am thankful today for the man my grandpa is...for the marriage he has and the love that is shown in the care he has for my grandma. I am thankful for the four boys they raised, and for the sense of family that there is, even though they don't get to see each often. I'm reminded of the many holidays spent at my grandparents house and for the sweet memories that we have of time as a family. While my grandparents weren't the type to talk about sports or the latest fashion trend, or movies in the theaters, they showed me their love by the other ways that showed their care for me - asking about my job, my living situation, or praying for me. Those intangible things carry a far greater value.

Happy 90th birthday grandpa!

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Hummels:: Thompson, PA family session

Karl and I met sometime in elementary school...I think it was 2nd grade. And throughout our years in school, we probably said hi to each other, but I don't remember interacting with him much until high school. Karl became my 'big brother' and we'd often joke about how we couldn't be more different. We hung out in different social circles, and people used to ask us (separately) why we were friends with each other. After high school graduation, our school put on this event called 'Project Graduation' - an all-nighter at some sports complex. And we took a picture that night...a picture that would be hung in the room of my dorm freshman year of college. And Karl and I went to dinner one night while I was home on a break freshman year, but after that, Karl and I rarely spoke.

I have a knack for remembering birthdays, and each time September 24th would come along, I'd remember him in the back of my mind as my friend, but knowing little about what was going on in his life. One day in 2007, my mom mentioned she ran into Karl down town, and shortly thereafter we reconnected. Karl came over to my childhood home and as we sat on the couch, he told me he was engaged and getting married in a few months. We caught up as best we could - how do two people catch up on nearly 8 years of life events? - and promised we'd meet up soon. Soon was indeed soon and we met at a restaurant so I could meet Courtney, his fiance. She was super sweet and of course had been caught up on Karl's and my friendship over the years. And while I was there, they invited me to attend their wedding, now only weeks away, if I was free.

So I had the privilege of attending their wedding and seeing one of my childhood friends get married. I couldn't be more honored to be invited and see my 'big brother' so happy. I knew I wasn't going to let our friendship fall by the wayside again, so for the past five or so years, we've kept up with each other. When he comes into town, we try and see each other. Courtney and I have gotten together, and it's been great to develop a friendship with her too. Soon after they got married, they found out they were having their first child. Now they are a family of three....and their son, Trey, is just so cute.

I'm grateful to have a friend like Karl in my life. We've often said of our friendship that even if years go between talking, we've the type of friendship where if we need help from the other, we'd be there just as soon as we could. Karl came to see me after I had my back surgery last year, and it was such a kind gesture that he stayed true to his promise to come see me.

Well, this August, I was near their home photographing a wedding, and called to see if I could visit. I was glad to finally be able to see where they lived, and to spend some time with them. While I was there, we were able to do a quick family session and I was able to take some pictures of Karl and Trey as they walked down their long driveway to get the mail.

Karl and Courtney, I'm so glad I was able to come visit. Thanks for opening up your home to me. I look forward to the many more years of friendship....

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012


 (from l to r: Julie, Heidi, and me at Hallmark's graduation -- June 2011)

Yesterday I got a very sad phone call....I found out one of my roommates from photography school passed away.  Without going into it all, the details of her passing bring much sadness. I remember the very first email I got from Heidi and the very first time we talked on the phone. She was very simple, and didn't require much.

When I first arrived at school in August 2010, Heidi was away for a few days, then when she got back, I had left for a weekend trip. So by the time we met each other, it was only a few days before school was to begin. While she was gone, my other roommate - Julie - and I had gone through the (then gross) kitchen and did major cleaning. We noticed some pots and pans that weren't ours and decided to throw them out. While I was on my weekend trip, Heidi called to ask where her pots/pans we had thrown them out with a few other things we thought were 'junk'. Great way to start off with a roommate you've not yet met. Fail.

I'd realize throughout the year that Heidi liked to live in peace. She was easy-going and often I'd come home to the smells of delicious food she was cooking, frequently using garlic and doing up veggies. She wasn't very good on the computer - well, with technology in general - so I helped out a lot with teaching her simple things. She liked to be in nature and while her photography was very different than mine (style-wise), I came to appreciate her unique approach to life and photography. And although we saw much of life through different lenses (both literal and figurative), I grew to love Heidi and celebrated the differences between us.

We have kept up since graduation. I tracked her move to Oregon a number of months ago, and watched her new photography take on a fresh liveliness. It's difficult to process (as is with any death) that we won't ever speak again, but I'm thankful for the time we had to share as roommates. I marvel in the people that are brought into my life - if even for a short season - and I'm grateful to have met Heidi.

This morning a friend sent a video to me - to lighten my mood. I ended up liking the video so much, I clicked to see if the creator had other videos. Sure enough, there are many. And randomly I clicked on another video entitled Gratitude, done by the incredibly gifted Louie Schwartzberg. I thought it would be soothing music with awesome video footage. But around minute 1:05, narration begins...Brother David Steindl-Rast (complete with an accent) begins to talk about this day - today - that we are given. And I found it so powerful that I wrote out the text of what he narrates.

Here is what he says:

You think this is just another day in your life?
It’s not just another day.
It’s the one day that is given to you – today.
It’s given to you; it’s a gift.
It’s the only gift that you have right now.
And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.
If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response through the great gift this unique day is;
If you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life, and the very last day,
then you will have spent this day very well.
Begin by opening your eyes, and be surprised that you have eyes you can open.
The incredible array of colors that is constantly offered to us – for pure enjoyment.
Look at the sky; we so rarely look at the sky.
We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment…with the clouds coming and going.
We just think of the weather; even with the weather, we don’t think of all the many nuances of weather.
We just think of good weather and bad weather.
This day right now…its unique weather may be a kind that will never – exactly in that form – come again.
The formation of clouds in the sky will never be the same as it is right now.
Open your eyes; look at that.
Look at the faces of the people we meet.
Each one has an incredible story behind their face – a story you couldn't fully fathom.
Not only their own story, but the story of their ancestors; they all go back so far.
And in this present moment, on this day, all the people you meet, all that life of generations and from so many places all over the world….
Flows together and meets you here, like a life-giving water, if you only open your heart and drink.
Open your heart to the incredible gifts that civilization gives to us – we flip a switch and there is electric light.
You turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water…and drinkable water.
It’s a gift that millions and millions in the world will never experience.
So these are just a few of an enormous number of gifts, to which we can open our hearts.
So I wish that you would open your heart to all these blessings, and let them flow through you.
That everyone you will meet on this this day, will be blessed by you – just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch, just by your presence.
Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you.
Then it will really be a good day.

(Brother David Steindl-Rast)

So while I am extremely grateful for today - THIS day - I am also grateful for the many 'todays' that I got with Heidi....and I will continue to pray for her family in this incredibly difficult time.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Books, books, books

The other day, I walked out of my bedroom to see Lewis on the floor, surrounded by books. I hesitated for a second before realizing I'd be so upset with myself if I didn't grab my camera and take a few shots. I don't know if he became more interested in me or in the books he could continue to grab off the shelves. This little guy is so cute and has such a curiosity. We sit as opposing ends of the table at breakfast...and we have this little exchange between us where he'll wave at me. It's so cute...I wish I could bottle up his cuteness!

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Walsh Family:: Washington Crossing, PA

If I could pick two things about the little boy in these pictures, it's his eyes and his sweet demeanor. I've been able to photograph Caleb and his parents a few times already - for his 6 mo old pictures and his 9 mo old pictures. And while this session was supposed to be his one-yr old pics, we had to reschedule the session. In a way, I'm kind of glad we did, because the day we ended up meeting up was gorgeous. The leaves were at their peak, the weather was gorgeous, and I had a busy weekend of sessions - a wedding, an engagement, and two family sessions.

Josh, Amelia, Caleb, and I traveled to Washington Crossing. You can be on both sides of the river - one side is NJ, the other is PA! We began our session on the NJ side, and then ended our session - as the sun was setting - on the PA side.

Caleb is quite simply a cute little kid. When he smiles, you can't help by saying "Aww..." and as the photos are taken, and you can see his eyes glistening in the images on the back of the camera, my heart just melts. I continue to be blessed by being able to photograph this wonderful family.

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