Like most women living in NYC, Meghan had long given up on the idea of meeting a guy at a bar. No matter how movies and TV shows like to portray it, living and working in the city is hard work. The hustle and bustle, while exciting, is also kind of exhausting. After a long day at work, the last thing Meghan wanted to do was go to a bar and try to find the one nice, good-looking guy in a sea of not-so-nice ones. And though she is far too modest to say it, Meghan is gorgeous and probably spent most of her time in any bar trying to politely turn away guys she wasn't interested in.
So during a particularly a long day at work, Meghan was looking forward to a quiet evening in her apartment, relaxing and de-stressing, when she got a phone call. It was her friend who had recently moved to the city from across the river in Hoboken asking if she'd like to go to dinner and possibly grab some drinks afterward. Not willing to dash her friend's hopes that living in the city involved a night out on the town every day of the week, Meghan agreed to join her. So she quickly stopped at her apartment, changed out of her work clothes into something more casual and threw her hair up in a pony tail. After a leisurely dinner, they decided to end the night at a wine bar nearby. A few glasses of wine later, Meghan and her friend decided to call it a night. As they were walking out the door they were greeted by a group of men who were walking in. One in particular caught Meghan's eye right away.
Marc, like a lot of men in the city, had no doubt that he could meet a woman in a bar. Whether or not he could find the woman he wanted to marry, well that was another question altogether. So when one of his friends suggested they stop by a wine bar that evening, Marc was skeptical. But, much like Meghan had earlier in day, he decided to go with it. What did he have to lose? He didn't even have to fully enter the place before he spotted her, about to leave. He had to do something to make her stay, he wanted to at least find out her name. So he started up a conversation.
They ended up talking for hours. Meghan says that they always had such an easy time talking together. Even from that very first conversation, nothing felt forced or awkward. It just felt right. When the evening came to an end, Meghan and Marc each walked through that door again, this time with plans to meet again and a renewed sense of hope. All of a sudden they knew that it was definitely possible to meet the person you want to spend the rest of their life with at a bar. In fact, they were each pretty sure they just did.
* * *
Since New York City was where Meghan and Marc met and fell in love, there was never any doubt that it was the perfect place to photograph their engagement session. We had plans to meet in Central Park and possibly hit up their old stomping grounds over on the Upper East side, but the weather had something else in mind. Like torrential downpours, all day long. This was the kind of rain that even an umbrella couldn't protect you from because it was coming sideways. So we decided to go with Plan B: the New York Public Library. A historic city landmark, it still gave us the quintessential New York vibe while providing us with two very key things - a roof and heat (because even though it was May, you definitely couldn't tell).
The library doesn't exactly encourage photo sessions so we had to keep our voices down and never stay in one place for too long. Oh, and one other thing - we are not allowed to use any additional lighting whatsoever, not even a flash. And although there are several windows, this building is pretty park inside, like most libraries. We weren't concerned about this because the lighting was very similar to that of most churches we go into, where the "no flash" rule is pretty much the norm. We have learned how to make the most of the light available. We have found that it encourages us to think about the light source in each room and how to use it to our advantage.
After exploring pretty much every room of the library - from the reading room to the basement stacks, we decided to finish up the session by heading out into the street for a few final shots. Because really, what is a NYC session without some shots with some traffic going by?
We love photographing on stairs because we they are filled with natural lines (the steps, the railing) that create so much more interest in a photo and draw the eye in.
So while these steps may seem empty now, they weren't like for long. It's NYC after all! Meghan and Marc just went with the flow sitting on the stairs, waiting for each person to walk by.
A chance meeting in the middle of the stairs, not unlike the night they met - she's walking out, he's walking in.
As far as staircases go, this is probably one of the coolest ones we have ever seen. Four sets of stairs in different directions?! (Are they sets of stairs? Would that mean eight staircases? Anyone know?)
Meghan and Marc are pretty much constantly laughing together. While by this window, Meghan was telling him not to make her laugh. Thankfully, it didn't work.
Isn't Meghan gorgeous? You can totally see why Marc didn't want to let her walk by.
Like pretty much other room in the library, the reference room was pretty crowded as well. Thankfully we were able to head over to this little corner and take advantage of the large lights on the tables and have some fun with that giant dictionary.
This is the reference section. Super quiet. The perfect setting for some snuggling, which makes no noise at all.
We knew we couldn't stay long in the Rose Main Reading Room without attracting much attention so we kept it on the move.
One of our favorite things is incorporating the surrounding people into any session we photograph in the city because that's one of the things that really define the city - all the people around you at any given time.
This was our final stop in the library, the stacks all the way in the basement. Pretty sure all of the people doing actual research in that room thought we were a little bit crazy.
Didn't do this on purpose but gotta admit I was pleasantly surprised to see that Meghan's hand (with the beautiful ring!) was resting on the New Jersey archives!!
You can't quite tell it in this shot but it was really coming down here. Thankfully we had found a scaffolding that Meghan and Marc could stand under and stay somewhat dry.
In this one you can actually see the rain coming down! But we couldn't end a NYC session without a cab whizzing by. Doesn't get more New York than that.
Meghan & Marc, thank you for trekking out in the rain with us! We had a great time with you both and can't wait to see you again in July!
Every couple of weeks we have lunch with a few photographer friends of ours including Robert Norman, Vicki & Erik Souza and Robin Dini. We always look forward to these afternoons where we can step away from the computer and enjoy a little time with the people that have become our community. We talk about everything from what we are all doing in all of our businesses and what is new in our lives in general. We encourage each other, support each other and push each other to take the next step, try harder or whatever the case may be.
At our last lunch just a week ago Robin brought up how much she loves our travel photos and that we should not only post more on our blog but also sell framed prints or canvases of them so that they can be enjoyed. Robin is an incredibly positive person and so encouraging and we were so incredibly touched by her truly kind words. We are very lucky to have her as a friend.
So... first and foremost we put together a small post of photos from Florence which was the next stop of our Italy trip in April of this year. In addition if you haven't seen the photos we posted from Venice (also from this year) please click HERE. Venice is seriously an amazing city filled with so many textures, details and visual interest. Don't forget you can also click the view more TRAVEL PHOTOS link above and see photos from all of our travels including Paris, California, a ghost town in Nevada and of course Italy. Be on the lookout for our shots from Rome as well coming up soon!
If you are interested in prints or canvases of any of our travel photos just let us know by sending us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do all the work including the framing so all you need to do is have a hammer, nail and wall to put it on! :) We are considering putting up a space on the web where you can all view and get prints of anything you would like.
In the meantime we really hope you enjoy these shots from Florence. We were only their for a short period of time but were able to really get a great feel for what this city has to offer.
Kimber said he didn't believe in love at first sight until he experienced it. Even today, he talks about that moment when he first saw Valerie across the soccer field. At that moment he just knew she would be someone special in his life. It was his freshman year at Elmira College and in an effort to escape the crowded dorms cluttered with boxes, Kimber decided to explore campus a bit. He could have gone anywhere, down to the cafeteria, over to the library, but he ended up walking over to the soccer fields. There was a game in progress so he thought he would watch a bit of it. He couldn't pay much attention to the game, though. From the sidelines he spotted Valerie in the middle of the field and in that moment he felt something he had never felt before. Even though he couldn't really explain it, he knew he had to get to know her better.
In a weird bit of fate, Valerie had actually seen Kimber earlier that day. While waiting to load onto the bus with the rest of her team, she saw Kimber moving into his dorm. Clearly he caught her eye for a reason, but she wouldn't know just how meaningful that glance was until a few months later. When Kimber mentioned to his friends that there was a soccer player he was interested in, word spread pretty quickly. Soon Valerie heard there was a freshman named Kimber interested in her and she was intrigued as well. They saw each other around campus, him knowing that she was the girl from the soccer game, her knowing he was the guy she saw moving in that day - but no official introduction until months later. They ended up at the same party and finally got the chance to meet officially. They became friends right away and their feelings grew. By the time graduation came, they both knew with absolute certainty that they had found the one.
Nearly seven years after that first meeting, after four years of college, several years of grad school and time to establish their careers, Kimber decided it was time to ask Valerie to marry him. Since this was no ordinary question, he knew he had to ask her in an extraordinary way. After loads of planning and many conversations with nearly all of their family members, he finally had it all set in place for a morning in June. For Valerie, it was a morning like any other. But when she walked into work that day she was handed an envelope by her boss before she even got settled in. Confused, Valerie opened it up and found a letter and a plastic ring inside. The letter was a riddle written by her mother instructing her to come see her for another clue. Still confused, Valerie's boss informed her that she now had the day off to see where the day would take her. Based on the smile her boss was giving her, Valerie knew it would be a good day.
Thankfully, she didn't have to drive very far to get the next clue, her mother was nearby. The smile on her mother's face made her start to wonder just what the final clue was. The other clues wouldn't be so easy. From Connecticut to New Jersey and back again, Valerie traveled nearly 300 miles that day (not including the stops for phone calls to family in Michigan and North Carolina). Kimber had made sure to include nearly all of their immediate family both near and far, so each of them knew what was in store for Valerie at the end of this journey. And all of them were beaming when she arrived - each of them grinning from ear-to-ear as they handed her the next clue. Valerie started to have an idea of just what Kimber was up to.
Her second to last clue instructed her to go to the Water's Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook. With a pile of plastic rings and clues sitting on her front seat and a sixty mile journey ahead of her to that final stop, Valerie had plenty of time to think about what would be waiting for her at the Water's Edge. Another ring perhaps?
She arrived at the Water's Edge and was given and a room key and a letter by the receptionist. This letter told her to go up to the room and put on a dress he had picked out for her. On the bed next to the dress was a note with just four words, "Go to the Beach." Valerie couldn't get down to the beach fast enough and when she stepped onto the sand she spotted him right away, much like she had seven years earlier as he was moving into his dorm. When Kimber saw her walking toward him he held that final clue in his hand a bit tighter and felt that same feeling all over again - the one he had first felt back on that soccer field. Those were the moments that had changed their lives and brought them together for the very first time. There were about to experience another life-changing moment. She walked up to him, each of the them smiling, knowing what was about to happen. He handed her the final clue with the real ring inside and said just four more words, "WIll you marry me?"
* * *
We first heard Valerie and Kimber's incredible engagement story well over a year ago and couldn't wait to see them again and hear all about it once more. They both still laugh about it, how much gas Valerie used traveling that distance in her SUV - how nerve wracking it was for Kimber waiting at the Water's Edge while she was stuck in traffic. But they both light up about it the exact same way they did when the first told us about it. Because it was very them. They love their families and they love adventure and he had figured out a way to propose that incorporated all of that. Plus it even included their love of the beach.
So when deciding on where to do their engagement session, the beach was a definite must have. Since Compo Beach in Westport also happens to be where Valerie and Kimber spent quite a bit of time together, it was an easy selection. We met them early in the morning for the perfect morning sunshine and walked along the beach together. Considering their wedding was just about a month away at the time, they were incredibly calm. They are both very organized people so they have all the plans under control - they are just excited for the big day to arrive. And it's coming up VERY soon! Just over three weeks to be exact!
We love when it is low tide at the beach because it really shows off the distinctive rocky shoreline of Connecticut and gives us the opportunity to go to other places at the beach that might usually be covered by water.
These are exactly the kind of rocks we are looking for when there is low tide. They are usually super slippery but Valerie and Kimber were totally up for venturing out onto them, they just held hands and helped each other along the way.
There were quite a few birds out this morning. Not gonna lie, I was afraid one of them was going to land on us (maybe I've seen a bit too many Hitchcock movies). Thankfully, they spent most of their time on the rocks. Watching us.
Total troopers, they didn't even flinch when we asked them to get this close to edge of the water.
Not sure what Kimber was whispering to Valerie here, but whatever it was made her smile.
We took a break from the sunshine with a trip over to the tree-lined parking lot. Only in Westport would the area where people park their cars look this good.
Seriously, part of the parking lot!
Part of Compo Beach has a marina filled with boats. A lot of it is private so you can't really go down among the large boats but there we a bunch of colorful smaller boats not in the water that we could have some fun with.
Walking back toward the beach we spotted these cute little baby ducks. We didn't actually get this close, we shot this with a zoom lens - don't think the parents would have liked us getting too close to their babies.
Valerie and Kimber have this really sweet calm energy about them, especially when they are right next to each other. It makes you feel good just being around them.
After a quick outfit change we headed over to downtown Westport for a change of pace.
This is the way they look at each other pretty much all of the time. They have this sweetness in the way they interact, we are so happy to be able to capture that.
Valerie & Kimber thank you for a wonderful morning. We loved exploring the beach and downtown with you and look forward to seeing you both again very soon!
When Katie and Jim started planning their wedding they had three words in mind to describe what they wanted in the day: classic, fun and relaxed. What they probably didn't even realize at the time was just how perfect those words were since they not only described their wedding day but themselves as well. She is a ball of energy - fun to be around and sure to make you smile within moments of being with her. He is relaxed and easy to talk to - one of the those people that just make you feel comfortable. Together, they have this completely unique energy that draws you in.
From early in the morning on, Katie was laid back and ready to take the day in - to soak up every minute and not let even a second pass her by. This was the day they had been planning for months, the day she dreamed of since she met Jim and she was going to enjoy it all. Jim was very much the same way. From the moment he saw Katie walk down the aisle to him his whole face lit up. There she was, walking to him to become his wife - the most important part was now complete - the rest of the day was a total bonus.
While at the beach for some photos, Katie and Jim were totally in to one another. He was holding on her to her tight, she was looking up at him sweetly - it was as if none of the rest of us where there, as it should be. Because this was a day that was truly all about them. And that's exactly what it was the rest of the day (especially once the reception began), classic, fun and relaxed. Just like Katie & Jim.
* * *
We started the day at Katie & Jim's house in Fairfield. It's a beautiful house they have worked on for the last several years, really making it their own. Katie's family was all gathered in the house, buzzing around and getting ready making for a fun morning for everyone. Once Katie's sister had completed everyone's hair and make-up, it was time for Katie to get into her Galina Signature gown. With the help of her bridesmaids, she was laced up and ready to go to the church. The ceremony took place at Assumption Church in Westport. It was a traditional Catholic ceremony filled with emotion and a few tears.
From there we headed just across town to Compo Beach for some shots of Katie, Jim and their wedding party. We totally lucked out with a bright sunny day - perfect for some time on the beach. After some time on the sand we headed over to the reception which was held at The Water's Edge at Giovanni's in Darien. As soon as we arrived, we grabbed Katie and Jim for a few minutes to get a few more shots of them before cocktail hour in the greenery behind the building. By the time the party started up, Katie and Jim were totally relaxed and spent nearly every song on the dance floor together.
Our first order of business once we arrived was getting some shots of Katie's beautiful gown.
Katie decided to do simple black and white for their bridal party colors, with the girls in black dresses carrying white flowers. She incorporated some bright colors with her own pink and white bouquet.
It took a couple of tries (lacing up the back of a gown is not easy!) but thankfully Katie had a lot of girls to help out.
Katie was just standing like this naturally while her girls were lacing her into her gown, but we had her hold it for a minute once she was all ready since she looked so beautiful.
We always feel it's really important to get some timeless bridal portraits, the kind of thing your children and grandchildren will look at decades later.
This is Katie's nephew and the ring bearer. Everyone was amazed that he put on the tux and he actually kept it on most of the day.
The ceremony took place in Assumption Church in Westport. This was our second time here, after our first time we got a very sweet e-mail from Katie, she was very excited to see her church on the blog. This time, it's for their wedding!
Katie was walked down the aisle by her father.
One of the things we love to watch during the ceremony is all of the guests taking pictures as well, like the woman in the front of this shot leaning in to get the picture.
Katie gave one quick look to her maids of honor (her two sisters) right before the ceremony began.
Usually it's not until this moment at the ceremony that the bride and groom really get to face one another, as soon as Katie and Jim were face to face exchanging vows and rings in the front of the church they both couldn't stop smiling.
A final blessing before heading out of the church as husband and wife.
Always the gentleman, Jim helped Katie out of the church before we headed off to the beach.
Having their wedding in April, Katie and Jim were a bit nervous that it would rain on their day. Thankfully, they had nothing but blue skies.
We saw it first at their engagement session, Katie and Jim are just so sweet when they look at one another.
A fun shot of the bridal party at the beach, decked out in classic black and white. Really makes Katie stand out even more with her pink and white flowers, such a great idea!
When we pulled into The Water's Edge at Darien we spotted this tree right away and knew we just had to get Katie and Jim for a few more shots.
Once we were back there we spotted, you guessed it - tall grass!!! Just sitting there behind the building like it was waiting for us.
Their DJ "Big Daddy" got the party started from the beginning of the night and kept it going for hours. At one point the entire dance floor was bouncing. Clearly one very lively party.
Katie & Jim, thank you so much for inviting us to be a part of your day. It was wonderful to be their celebrating with both of you and your families. We hope you had a wonderful time on your honeymoon!
For a lot of people the Fire Island ferry is simply the way to get to their destination. For Courtney and Michael, it was the beginning of their journey together. They met while working together on the ferry, spending several summers together in a row before perfect timing and opportunity presented itself. From even before they were a couple, it was clear that they worked well together so they were often scheduled to work the same shifts. They got to know each other slowly. Courtney discovered that Michael could make her laugh like no one else. Michael realized that nothing made him happier than seeing those big dimples every time they worked together. A first date was clearly in order. While Courtney may have been the one that bit the bullet and asked him out it was Michael that totally stepped up the plate. Because that first date wasn't your typical dinner and a movie, it was a family wedding. But Michael didn't let the prospect of meeting Courtney's entire immediate and extended family phase him one bit. And after that day was over it was clear that Courtney's family thought Michael was wonderful. And she couldn't agree more.
From then on they spent more than just the summers together. They discovered they had a lot in common, particularly a shared love of the outdoors. They created their own tradition of going on regular trips to scenic locations in the Northeast. Knowing one was coming up, Michael decided this was the perfect opportunity to pop the question. Total bonus points for doing it will on a trip, of course. And even more because she wouldn't see it coming. She'd even be the one planning the trip! So Courtney went about her usual task of picking the location and setting it all up. To her, Michael seemed just as he always was. But inside, he was plotting the perfect time, location and words for that moment.
By the time they arrived in Rhode Island a few months later, he had it set. He had read about a beach that had a beautiful sunset and decided they would take a long bike ride that afternoon, arriving just in time to watch the sunset after he proposed. Of course, it wasn't so easy. The ride was longer than he thought and Michael had to discourage Courtney from stopping anywhere along the trail for fear of missing the sunset. They passed a beach that Courtney wanted to visit, but Michael insisted they continue on. Courtney was confused. He was peddling faster and faster and she was struggling to keep up. Finally, they arrived. And The beach was closed. Closed! But, just as he did on that first date, he didn't let what could be a bit of a curve ball break his stride. They caught their breath and headed back to the beach they saw a few miles back arriving just in time to watch the sun set.
Michael pulled out the ring and finally spoke the words he had been practicing over and over in his mind throughout the entire bike ride. Of course Courtney said yes. There was never a doubt in her mind that Michael was the one for her. She laughed when she realized the reason for all that crazy peddling and she knew it was totally worth it. Thankfully, they had the rest of the weekend to relax. And start dreaming up the plans for their big day.
That day is coming up pretty quickly. At the end of this summer, Courtney and Michael will board the Fire Island ferry once again. This time not in their work clothes but in something decidedly fancier. After their ceremony but before their reception they'll go back to where it all began. Safe to say that when they boarded the boat for the first time many years ago, they had no idea that this would be the destination it would lead them to.
* * *
We met up with Courtney and Michael out on Long Island for their engagement session, totally lucking out with one of the clearest and brightest (not too hot) days we've had so far this spring. They selected the Sands Point Preserve in Port Washington because it had the perfect mix of beach and park which just a touch of fancy mansion. Sounds like the perfect kind of place to us. We all joked that we would each like to take one of the mansions on the property. The grounds had several trails in addition to the beach areas, so we decided to start the day off by venturing down one of the trails.
Of course, we couldn't just follow the set path and Courtney and Michael were totally game for whatever we had in mind. Right out the gate we were led off the trail with the sighting of a dilapidated garage. Surely not what Courtney and Michael had in mind while they were looking around at the beautiful trees and greenery, but they trusted us. And we were so glad they did because it was definitely worth it. Walking further down another path we noticed that the trail itself was okay, but over to one side down a bit of a hill filled with brush was WAY better. Looking over the side, we knew it wouldn't be easy to trek down into the shrubbery, but again - Courtney and Michael were game. We climbed down watching for poison ivy all along the way (hey, you never know). Michael was a complete gentleman, leading the way for Courtney and pulling branches aside for her. By the time we got the the beach, there was nothing but smooth sailing (sorry, had to do it). No shrubs or poison ivy to avoid there. Courtney and Michael even got to relax a bit and take in the view of the ocean a bit. Not a bad way to spend a day off, huh?
Who knows, maybe we'll get to visit their together again someday. Living in the neighboring mansions? We promise no more off-roading! Ok, well maybe on your wedding day... :)
We spotted this ivy-covered wall on our drive in and knew right away it would be where we would start the session. (A side note, this is one of the blessings and curses and being photographers - you are always spotting perfect places for pictures. Great when we have a camera in our hand, frustrating when we don't.)
Courtney and Michael didn't hesitate getting in the middle of all the ivy and snuggling up together.
Rob having some fun with some of the architectural details of mansion.
Just a bit more architectural detail on the property - we couldn't pass up the opportunity to incorporate these medieval-looking arches.
While still on the trail, we spotted some really beautiful light and Courtney and Michael got close for a few minutes.
Then they had a little bit of fun, making each other laugh as usual.
The dilapidated garage - you see why we had to stop? They totally look like models here. We know how the formula goes. Beautiful clothes, beautiful people, ugly backdrop = great ad!
This one really sums up the dynamic between Courtney and Michael - her happiness and his sweetness. It all comes out even more in quiet moments like this one.
Believe it or not, both Courtney and Michael were nervous about having their pictures taken. Totally wouldn't know it from this one, huh?
Or this one. Courtney brought out her inner model.
One last one by the garage before exploring the rest of the preserve.
This tree had grown nearly sideways, almost begging for someone to come lay on it. "The Giving Tree" always makes me cry (go read it if you had a chance), so we had to make sure this tree got some love too.
Now for the easier (less poison-ivy potential) part, heading down to the beach.
Gotta love a rocky shoreline, perfect for black and white.
Michael swinging Courtney around in the sand - not the easiest task to keep footing while doing so.
But it definitely makes for some laughs.
We had walked around quite a bit, time for some good old-fashioned relaxing.
This was the pathway back up to the mansion from the beach, not a shabby commute home.
Solid newspaper announcement worthy shot? Check!
This was one of the few trees already in bloom on the grounds, gotta love those soft purple blossoms.
That would be the fancy mansion in the background. Courtney & Michael look great at home there, no?
* Courtney & Michael thank you for a wonderful afternoon. We loved getting to know you better and can't wait to see you again in August! *