Scenes from Christmas 2015

Another Christmas in the books and I am so so thankful for my family – we had the best time celebrating the holiday together. It was the first time in quite a few years we could all just be together, unencumbered by distance or any other obligations. I hope everyone got to be with all (or at least a few!) or their favorite people for the holiday. There’s really nothing better.

With the weather so crazy warm, our evening included some grilling (on Christmas Eve in Massachusetts – seriously…), special cocktails by yours truly, lots of laughs, lots of puppy-spoiling, hungry hungry hippos, and a late night game of Cards Against Humanity.

After opening up so many toys and games, the topper was an envelope revealing a $20 bill inside, when my cousin Noah exclaimed “this is the best day ever!” Which cracked us all up. He’s pretty easy to please. 🙂

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Happiest Holidays to you and your family, from me and mine! 🙂

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Getting “ultra creative”

This is an in-camera double exposure of a colleague with fabulous hair and some flowers in a park in Boston.

This is an in-camera double exposure of a colleague with fabulous hair and some flowers in a park in Boston.

Back in September, I got an email invitation to join an “Ultra Creative” class at Firefly 53 Studio in Pembroke. I had been wanting to take a class to really open myself up and continue learning – and there’s really no better way than a collaborative-style class like this one turned out to be.

I’d the kind of photographer that typically likes crisp, clean, pretty, detailed kinds of photos. Usually taking photos of people, I like my subjects eyes to sparkle, their smile to be genuine, and their pose to be both natural and kind of like they could be in a magazine. In short – I’m a perfectionist. This class however, was not about perfectionism – and in that way it was perfect. I played with techniques that were brand new to me (in camera doubles) and took self-portraits (which I never do). The first time you try anything is never going to be perfect, but the experience of doing it and learning from it makes it worthwhile. Not only did I have my first try at something, each week I got to see my classmates’ first stab and I think we really all learned a lot from one another.

Each week, the question was: What did you do differently? At a time in my life when a lot of things were changing – reaching out into new photographic techniques and exploring a little imperfection ended up being the ideal creative outlet for a time when your future is in flux.

Engagement – Caitlin & Steve

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This session was SO much fun. I have a few stories to share about this couple and the day, but I’ll start with the romantic one.

We started off our session (a chilly but beautiful day in early November) at a special location in Pembroke, MA. When Caitlin and Steve met, neither was living in Pembroke, but discovered through casual conversation that they both had lived there growing up.

“Oh really, whereabouts?” I imagine Caitlin asking.

And it was then that they discovered that their families had lived in the same house in Pembroke at different times. ::cuethegoosebumps::

But wait! There’s more. Each with multiple siblings, Caitlin and Steve had both called the same bedroom their own! And now they’re engaged. That story gets me. Every. Time.

So we started with a few shots of these two in front of that house, where they both lived, at different times, without knowing that their new favorite person would be a part of that house, too.

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After our stop in Pembroke, we headed to World’s End in Hingham, where lots of people were also taking in the beauty of the day.

As I was taking photos of Caitlin’s gorgeous engagement ring on the stem of a little pumpkin, a mom with a baby carriage and a little girl walked by.

“Why is she taking pictures of that pumpkin?” the little girl asked.
“I think she just asked that pumpkin to marry her,” the mom replied, smiling at me.

It was the best reply, ever.

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Before & After – Lightroom editing progress

In March 2014, I did my sister’s engagement photos. It was one of my very first “gigs” as a photographer and I was very excited, nervous, and super new to the whole thing. I had literally *just* purchased adobe lightroom 4 and obviously didn’t have much experience with the editing thing, either.

On top of that, I had just finished a photography course at Firefly53 and was shooting in full-on manual for the first time.

I managed to get some good shots and at the time was pretty happy with what I was able to do. Now when I look back at all the shots I took (485!!!) I see so many things I would do differently: under-exposures, over-exposures, blown-out backgrounds, inexplicably high ISO when I was in sunny Houston, Texas, bad poses because I wasn’t giving my subjects enough direction – and finally, some horrible newbie editing on my part. Since this is the only thing I can change now, to some extent, I decided to take another stab at some photos that I edited then, reset, and re-edit them, knowing what I know now. Here’s an example!

SOOC:

SOOC Web-0327This sucker is straight of the camera, and aside from the background being completely blown out, it’s not too bad. They’re cute, the picnic table idea I borrowed from Pinterest, and with some editing, it’s a keeper.

2014 Edit:

Web-0327Yikes. I’m honest when I say I’m not sure what I was thinking with this one. Black and white? No. I jacked up the clarity, which makes the dark parts of this photo look harsh and you can literally see the spots on her legs where I use the adjustment brush. Woof.

2015 Edit:

Web-0327My approach this time is simplicity. I kept the photo in color to accentuate their natural skin tones, upped the contrast a little to make the colors pop, and used a little noise reduction – because once again I had the ISO way too high! There isn’t a huge difference from the SOOC version, other than it’s a little more polished, and it’s definitely less harsh than my first edit.

There are a lot of things I would do differently with this shoot if I were doing it now, but luckily I still got some great shots that we all love, they are my family and have to love me anyway, and thankfully, I’ve come a long way since then!

Happy Fall!

I hate being that person that jumps into the next season when the last one isn’t over yet – but it’s post-labor day so I feel like I can start to talk about how excited for this Fall I am!

Even though it’s 90 degrees today, I’ve already had this season’s first Pumpkin Spiced Latte (can’t you feel my coffee buzz from there?) and I have some definite plans for Fall this year. I’ve been working on a list, because that’s what I do, and I figured I’d share it here now and post pictures as I make my way through it all the way into November.

Part of my real focus on enjoying each season to its fullest this year is that right now I am pretty settled in where I am and what I’m doing. Last year at this time I was moving to Quincy, starting a new job, and jumping some personal hurdles that kept me busy and I didn’t get around to doing some of the things I love the most. When it was March and I looked back I was so disappointed that I hadn’t gotten around to apple picking or eating cider donuts! I didn’t pay attention to the leaves changing colors and I didn’t make it down to my favorite cranberry bog around harvest time. So this year I decided I would make a list of all the things, big and small, that I love to do as the air turns crisp in the Fall, to make sure I kept my focus on being here now and not getting caught up in the rush to the holidays.

I am also very excited because one of my very best friends recently got engaged and we’ll be doing her engagement session this fall – which is really such a special bonus to my favorite season! 🙂

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  • Apple picking
  • Leaf-peeping drive/road trip
  • Dress up for Halloween
  • Watch Hocus Pocus
  • Carve a pumpkin
  • Drink apple cider
  • Eat cider doughnuts
  • Watch the cranberry harvest
  • Make soup
  • Celebrate my birthday
  • Make fall sangria
  • Make a pie
  • PSL (check!)
  • Shipyard pumpkinhead
  • Pumpkin muffin
  • Cheer at the TV during a Patriots game
  • Take a family portrait
  • Go to one of my cousin Noah’s soccer/flag football games
  • Go to the Pembroke vs. Silver Lake Thanksgiving Day football game
  • Wear boots with tights & scarves
  • Go for a walk in the woods
  • Go for a walk around Boston/Cambridge
  • Have a cinnamon latte at Bourbon Coffee
  • Run a 5K
  • Visit Reed Hollow Farm
  • Sit by a campfire (fire pit)
  • Go to the wine festival/grape crush at Boston Winery
  • Give mini-pumpkins to friends & co-workers
  • Paint my nails dark
  • Watch all the season premieres

Paddle Your Own Canoe

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Last week I got to spend a few precious days up in Maine – Balch Lake (Pond), Shady Nook, West Newfield. It was so refreshing to be out of the city, listening to loons & the gentle waves, feeling a fresh breeze on my face. We kayaked, read on the dock (me), did some fishing (BF), jumped from the monkey swing, sat by the fire pit and enjoyed a few mid-afternoon cocktails. It felt SO good to be outside so much & I definitely did not want to come home to my stuffy Quincy apartment. I’m trying to head up again for a weekend this Fall!

Now that I have a back up camera, I was more comfortable taking one out on the water with me this year – so some of these are from my kayak or from a canoe while someone else paddled. 🙂

At one point I got soo lucky, because a loon literally popped up right in front of my kayak. It was awesome.

Borderland State Park

Last Friday I had a family shoot in Sharon, MA and since I have explored nearby parks lately, I looked up the nearest one for me to check out afterwards – and it was Borderland!

It’s a beautiful park, clearly well-maintained, with marked pathways & plenty of open space to wander. I took the “swamp path” down to the lake where there was a ton of overhead tree covering – no sunburns for me!

It would be a great place for portraits or an engagement session. Landscaped archways, small decks overlooking the lake, the architecture of the Ames Mansion, and areas of nice filtered natural light.

It was a great way to start the 4th of July weekend. I’m already planning a trip back for a round of disc golf. 🙂

Some photos from my walk. I was a little pre-occupied with the vegetation and capturing some close-up details.

Middlesex Fells Reservation

Medford, MA – This was a fun one! This is a regular stop for my sister and her two pups, but was totally new to me. We visited for a walk/hike on a very over-cast Saturday, spending more than 2 hours wandering the grounds. I’ve been really savoring any time spent outside lately, and this walk in particular felt almost therapeutic!

The Fells features heavily wooded areas, as wells as open fields and water (not for swimming, it’s a water supply). After walking all around, we stopped and sat by the water and watched some baby ducks. A great way to spend a Saturday!

Stodder’s Neck

My sister’s pups are swimmers. Especially Layton, the irish wolfhound mix, loves the water and will swim toward a tennis ball any day of the week. So one Sunday afternoon I joined them at Stodder’s Neck dog park in Hingham. It’s a beautiful park & I love playing with the pups! My sister took some photos of me for my website and caught a couple shots of me during silly laughs post-inappropriate jokes.

YouTube Video: A health & fitness journey

See my photos featured in this video about my friend Emily McLaughlin’s health & fitness journey on GirlishWritings.com.

If you’re in the Boston area, Emily’s classes are a must!

“Emily’s Zumba classes gave off an energy that was both empowering and addicting… Once you mastered Emily’s routines, you felt sense of pride and belonging that kept you coming back for more.”

Stay Healthy, Stay Happy

Also enjoy this wicked old photo:

(2008) A photo of Emily & I during the summer post high school graduation. Such babies!