catskills wedding: molly + derek

It was probably a random Tuesday afternoon when my friend (and super talented photographer) Amy Winningham asked if I’d second shoot a wedding in the Catskills with her in June. (A thousand times yes, because shooting with your amazingly talented friends is the best.) I didn’t have much intel about the weekend until I’d picked Amy up at the airport (she’s based in Portland, OR) and we were prepping in person for the big day between bites of Pepe’s pizza.

The basics were pretty easy. We’d be shooting a wonderful California-based couple named Derek and Molly, the ceremony and reception would all on Molly’s grandmother’s creekside property in a little town called Claryville, and maybe (if there was time) a quick little jaunt up the street for sunset photos to a spot that Molly really loved. Easy and sweet. A joyful day. I’d probably cry a few fat happy tears, like usual.

This magical day, though. Nothing like the usual at all. Molly’s Grandma? Total badass, and kinder than the day is long. Molly and Derek? Two of the warmest, most loving people I’ve ever met. That creekside property? Magical, because of the decades of history of Molly’s huge family returning to the same place and space to celebrate and laugh and love and share time together - I swear, you could feel all that time they’d spent with one another in the air and the trees.

And that little spot down the street? Molly told us on the way there that the family called it the Top of the World, and when we finally made it up the last massive hill, you could see why. You could see for miles - rolling fields and hills in every direction, with a pink and blue sunset edging beyond the horizon. It was breathtakingly beautiful in every way - and so were Molly and Derek as they danced and played and laughed through the grass until it was too dark to see.

There were so many details that made that day amazing - the way the entire family came together to build stuff, and design stuff, and prep the space, and support Molly and Derek on their way to their vows. The flower girls in the leaning afternoon light. The stars when the sun finally set (one of the many benefits of being in the actual middle of nowhere). The homemade s’mores around the coziest bonfire at the end of the night - and yes, I probably had at least one too many.

I’m so grateful that Amy asked me to assist her that weekend - to be a witness to all the love and joy and laughter with Molly and Derek and their families that day was a total honor.

And, gravy on gravy, I’ll be back in Claryville next June, in that very same magical spot, to capture Molly’s sisters wedding. Eily and Tim, I can’t wait!

outdoor family session: the cepeda family

I met the Cepeda’s last summer when we did an extended family session at Waveny Park, one of my favorite spots in Fairfield County. Truth be told, I love family sessions that include grandparents! I am super close to my grandparents, and any time there’s s a chance for kids to be photographed with more than one generation I’m totally game. We had a gorgeous night to play together, and this whole family was so much fun.

What I love most about extended family sessions is creating the space for the various relationships to unfold themselves. Who is really closely knit? Who likes to be independent in the group? Who takes charge and keeps the whole rodeo together? And, most importantly for my heart, what is it about the adult couples in the family (parents, grandparents) that is really special to the family’s generations-long story?

I loved my time with this bunch - the light was magical that night, and I might have laid in the grass more than once to get a shot just because it smelled so perfectly summer-ish. Summer evenings feel a little far away now (because sometimes it takes months to blog a session!) but this one still lingers in all the right ways.

summer engagement session: faviene + felipe

Let’s be honest: a good stylist is hard to find. Like, really hard to find. When I met Faviene a couple years ago (yep, I was sitting in her stylist’s chair while she worked her magic) I think I might have heard angels singing in the rafters. Sitting in that very same chair, I’ve heard all the stories about her classy gent Felipe, the house they bought together, the puppy they both totally adore (more on him later), and all the details as they’ve planned for their September wedding. I was so excited when Faviene asked me to shoot an engagement for them (and if we’re honest I’ll admit that I didn’t say yes until I knew that Oliver the dog was coming too.)

We met at one of my most favorite local spots - St Mary’s by The Sea in Black Rock. The weather was magic, Felipe and Oliver were both wearing bowties, and Faviene looked like a dream brought to life. It was a total delight to be with these three that night, and I’m so excited about the images we captured together! I’m starting to think maybe every four-legged family member should wear a bowtie, pretty much all the time. 

Here’s a secret - my favorite part of this session isn’t the magic light, or her gorgeous dress, or his dapper (monogrammed) button-down. It’s them. Settling in to each other and just being themselves. Almost every couple I shoot starts out our sessions by saying “we’re SO awkward in front of the camera” and by the end, we’re all laughing and crying and just having a damn good time. Whether you’ve had your photo taken a million times or you’ve never been in front of a lens bigger than an iPhone, it’s all good.  All you have to be is you, together, and as Felipe and Faviene proved on that lovely summer night, that’s more than enough to make some magic together.

outdoor family session at yale university: the cretellas

Sometimes running a business and raising a kiddo can feel totally overwhelming. Some days I feel it a hundred times over! There are so many great resources (and ways) out there to find and feel supported and encouraged and one of my most favorite is Motherhustle is a totally honest, inspirational community started by Emily Cretella, a CT neighbor and badass entrepreneur in her own right. Emily and I connected last year when she needed some images for the soon-to-be-launched Motherhustle community - I got to hang out with her super fun family in their North Haven home for a few hours on a spring Sunday morning. There was endless coffee, legos, couch jumping, piano playing, and yes, even glitter. My kind of session!

When Emily reached out this year to do another session with her kiddos, we decided it might be fun to capture all that magical energy her daughters have in the sunshine. The Yale University campus is a special spot for Emily and her husband Bryan and I love shooting in New Haven, so we made a date to meet in one of my favorite green spots on the campus - near the School of Music. Lots of people think you need tons of room and endless green for a fun outdoor session, but add in a college campus with gorgeous old architecture and you’ve got some really great opportunities to use line and shape alongside light to create beautiful images of a family being their wild, joyful selves. 

We lucked out - the weather was gorgeous, the kiddos were ready to go, and Emily even brought cupcakes for the girls as a post-session snack! I think I’ll add that one to my client prep guide…

I love this family, and I love the way they love too. It was such a joy to capture them two years in a row - and to celebrate how much the girls have grown up since last year’s session!