Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wedding Scouts

One of the most terrifying and yet flattering things that can happen to a person is to be asked to be your friend's one and only wedding photographer. Having no professional experience, or really event photographing experience, before, it would be an understatement to say I was a nervous wreck. For months I stalked wedding blogs, read article, and even bought a new, very nice digital SLR in preparation for the event.
Only one problem remained, no matter how much I researched and prepared, I couldn't be in all the places I needed to be at once to capture each pivotal moment of a wedding. The procession alone has 4 angles that should be covered, at least. That's where my saint of a friend, Justin, came in. With previous wedding recording experience and after some pleading on my part, he agreed to my photographer in crime. And thank goodness he did. I could not have done it without him.
For being two non-professional photographers, I think we did rather well. From the location scouting the night before, to brainstorming poses, to scrambling together backup plans in case we got kicked out of the bridal party photoshoot location, I think we covered it all. (photos of the wedding itself are forthcoming on the Events tab. Still editing those....)
These are some of my favorite shots from our scouting adventures around DC.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Time is Here

When the only snow on Christmas you see is on your tv screen while watching White Christmas, something is wrong. The holiday world is off kilter. Things out of the ordinary are family came to visit me for Christmas and we spent the week wandering a very mild, very calm DC.
Instead of a Christmas eve spent watching holiday movies on my grandparent's couch, we wandered the Mall, Eastern Market, and some of the Smithsonian museums. Some traditions were upheld, my dad made pizza, my sisters baked, my mom played Christmas music, and I flitted between orchestrating logistics and those DC-y things.
So here are a few shots of our DC Christmas wanderings.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's Up to You New York, NY

One of the things I love about living on the East coast is how close everything is to each other. It's like Europe in that way. Drive 2 or 3 hours in any direction in most cases and you will find yourself in a new country or state, depending on continent. For example, this past weekend I was able to hop on a bus to NYC and arrived before lunch. It was fast, affordable, and comfortable. The perfect way to start a weekend in the city that never sleeps.

It was also exciting because this was the first trip to the city with my new camera. I'll be the first to admit I'm still figuring out the settings and how to function with a camera that weighs the same as a small infant, but I think I was able to walk away with some good ones.

The occasion for this trip was to visit my uncle who has recently moved from California to NYC. I could not be happier that I'm no longer alone in the Eastern time zone, and, bonus, I now have someone to stay with/visit while getting my Broadway fix. This blog has never had opportunity to unveil that side of me before, but I am a huge Broadway theater nut; specifically musicals. I grew up on the classics, Rodger and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Gilbert and Sullivan, spent my school years filling the chorus lines and minor parts of my schools' drama productions, and every year, to this day, I block off my night to watch the Tony Awards with a figurative Do Not Disturb sign on my forehead.

I love the music, I love the songs, I love the dancing, I love the jokes, I love when they make me cry, I love the lights, I love stepping out of my world for two and a half hours to live in a place where people really do breakout into song and where music helps translate the significance in an action or feeling the way words never can. I do love the lines and the lyrics, they too can be irrevocably true, but the level to which a swell of music can just make you feel and know something is true is as close to perfect understanding as I think possible. The escape from needing words to register an idea in the mind of someone and instead push that thought or emotion or choice through to the core so that they can feel it is true because it is sitting square in their chest; spreading from heart to fingertips and toes with the stroke of a bow or the croon of a horn. That, is an incredible feeling, and while imperfectly (and perhaps verbosely) described here, it is one that I will always keep coming back for.

It was a blissful weekend well spent loving every step along the NY streets: passing the crowds waiting at the stage door for Huge Jackman, along the holiday windows on 5th Avenue, and through the maze of subway lines. And there's one thing left to say: Sing it Frankie!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

North Woods Thanksgiving

I LOVE MY NEW CAMERA! Seriously it is the sexiest camera alive. I’m sure everyone says that when they make the giant leap from automatic point and shoot to a Digital SLR…but really, sexy sexy camera. I’m obsessed with my camera so much so that I chose it over my laptop for my carry-on on my most recent flight home for Thanksgiving.

And as these photos will show, I am so glad I made that choice. Hayward is and forever will be my favorite place on earth. It’s calm, quiet, beautiful, and endlessly interesting with its wildlife, winding roads, and forest paths. I took these wandering down our (very long) driveway with my sister and my uncle. You’d think with everything being brown, dead, and unfortunately not wildly snow covered, there would be little of interest to photograph. Oh contraire with this camera. Its detail is amazing and opens up my “artistic eye,” if I’m able to even it that, even more to the random photo ideas that jump into my head.

This was the vacation of abandoned chairs, “snow balls,” tree climbing, pinwheel finding, blaze orange, breaking ice, and candles. All while trying to figure out a fancy new camera that I’m pretty sure is smarter than me. I’ll get the hang of it eventually though…I hope.

I hope even a quarter of my photographic excitement shines through these because, believe me, I was having a blast.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Goofing Off in History

I’m a sucker for RenFests. Ever since I went to my first one in a far off cornfield in Ohio during undergrad, I was hooked. As I’ve said quite frequently, I’m a big history nerd. I was that little 5th grader giggling into a book about Greek mythology or the 7th grader who begged her parents to take her to Medieval Times for her birthday or even the 20-something seriously looking for a partner in crime to go to the Colonial Williamsburg living museum. Any opportunity available in which I can get my hands on some shred of history (even commercialized or slightly bastardized), I’ll do it. And I’ll jump in with as much gusto and dedicated enthusiasm as my 5th grade self all those years ago. This year’s trip to the Maryland Renaissance Festival was no different.

Step one for a RenFest is absolutely the costumes. I fully expect myself to have a complete costume eventually, but for now I settle for the cheap target tavern wench costume with an upgraded bodice I found at a garage sale. There’s no better way to get into the period of it all like physically putting on the clothes of the time. Not to mention, ladies, who doesn’t secretly want to know how skinny your waist will look in a corset.

The other reason for dressing up, besides getting to wear something other than modern clothes for an afternoon, is that you blend in with the crowd; allowing for the best people watching you will encounter. There are all kinds, shapes, and sizes wearing all kinds, shapes, and sizes of outfits. And you can tell that everyone is just having a great time. No judgment, no worries, just unadulterated character egged on by the very interesting people who run the stands and put on the shows.
For example, if you’ve ever wondered how a Medieval court functioned, all you have to do is sit on a bench and take up a yellow sign. Labeled as a Witch or a Thief or, in our group’s case, a Traitor, you can watch the full extent of the law (complete with red ribbon guts and wooden stocks) reign down on those you know or drunken strangers you don’t.

I get a lot of different responses when I tell people I go to Renaissance Festivals—usually jolly and supportive (though skeptical), but everyone has their own preconceptions about what they are and what type of people go there and I’m certainly am not going to change with a few pictures and a blog post. Maybe that means more jousting tournament room for me, or maybe it just means you’ll have to go with me next time. I certainly hope it’s the latter. So please, prepare thyself for merriment!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Weddings of 2011

The summer of 2011, it seems, was the summer of weddings. I went to one in Maine (which I’ve previously posted about here), then July brought a wedding in Illinois, August a wedding in Toledo, and September a wedding in Oxford, OH. And that’s not even counting the wedding in Connecticut or Seattle that I unfortunately had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. Apparently now then was the time to get married, who knew.

The wedding in IL was for one of my best friends. I’ve known this kid since I was born and I could not love him more than as the brother he practically already is. Brother from another mother, sister from a different mister. I was honored to be a bridesmaid for his lovely, now, wife. And, even though pink is not my favorite color in the world, I had an amazing time dancing and smiling and celebrating my “baby bro” and new “sister-in-law.”

Wedding 2 of this post was in Toledo. A Yankee Ohio gal married my Alabamian coworker and it was a blast. For this one I was free to watch from the congregation as he glowed at the sight of her walking down the aisle. Chris is a bit of a goofball so to see that moment of pure, all-encompassing joy for him was priceless. Not to mention they really know how to throw a party, dancing the night away till the wee hours of the morning. I sadly sustained a dance floor ankle injury when one of the very tall, very large groomsman fell on top of me, but even then (after a lot of ice and pain meds) I was able to watch the rest of those boogying down on the floor with pleasure.

The final wedding of the season was easily the most perfectly suited wedding for my friend Joy that there ever possibly could be. Everything from the people she surrounded herself with to the church to the programs to the calico bows tied around the pews were so quintessentially Joy that it made my heart burst with happiness for her. It was all so simple and pure and true. It’s the kind of day that anyone would be absolutely blessed to experience as their own.
A lot of people say that they hate going to weddings. And I can understand how they can be stressful, the amount of work and time just to be a guest let alone a participant is exhausting but I always have such a great time when I’m there that I can never understand the “hate.” They are celebrations. They are unabashed fun. They are, even in the smallest way, surrounded by signs of the happiness that is to come. I know they say most marriages end in divorce and that for me to be so optimistic for myself and my friends is naïve, but I can’t help but disagree. Everything happens for a reason and their, my, our steps down the aisle are leading us to the next chapter of who we are meant to be.

I prefer to stay that optimistic, as there is nothing naïve about the power of hope.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hey, it's the 4th of July

My 4th of July this year was significantly better than it was last year. Mostly because, I didn’t have to work a part-time retail job on the days surrounding it effectively killing all excursion potential and reducing me to watching movies alone on my couch because everyone was out of town. No, this year was filled with friends and void of work, where one of the best things is the cook-out. I’m a sucker for burgers and my friends make some of the best (yet another plus to being friends with guys with grills).

It is a day of good food, drink, and, my personal favorite, sparklers. Contrary to, hopefully, unpopular belief, they are not childish but in fact integral parts of an Independence Day celebration. Those metal sticks getting hotter and hotter as the wildly sporadic and very incendiary sparkles get closer and closer to your fingers. That’s the stuff birthdays are made of. I sadly don’t have any photos of sparklers this year, but they are important enough to warrant mentioning in this post.

One aspect of this year that was wildly different from any other 4th I’ve experienced, were watching the DC/Mall fireworks from the rooftop of an apartment. Every resident and friend of a resident were sardined onto the patio an hour before the first firework in hopes that they would be able to snag a spot that didn’t include a 6’+ dude standing directly in front of you. We were pretty lucky to have found a spot close to the edge and I, being on of the shortest of the group, was also lucky enough to slide even closer to the front as most everyone could still see over my head.

The really lucky people, however, were those in the tower next door that had sunrooms facing out to the river. They were able to stand, un-sardined and crowded and unobstructed in their air conditioned apartment while watching the fireworks. I would call that an unfair advantage, my friend would call that a need to get different friends with better views. Clearly I need to be more social this next year so that I can have a better vantage point for 2012. Tick*tock*

Regardless of my firework viewing location though, they were just as beautiful as ever and pleasantly only caused me to jump a handful of times. (Em = easily startled. Use this knowledge wisely.) It was unfortunately soundtrack-less, unless you count the smarta**es playing Party in the USA on their iPhones, which I don’t, but like I said before, still beautiful. I hope everyone had a great 4th with family and/or friends and paused for at least a moment to hum a line from 1776. “I say vote yes, vote yes, vote for independency…”

Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

White Rapids and Brick Towns

So I don’t know about you, but I love white water rafting. And after this amazing trip, I have officially gone twice. Practically an expert, right? Well, at least I didn’t fall out. The first time was the summer before high school with my Girl Scout troop, yep Girl Scouts. The Rocky Mountains in Colorado meet tweenagers from Illinois, GO! Ha. I remember being entirely drenched by the end and fearing for my life the majority of the time but still, it was awesome. Flying down the river with white waves lapping up the side of a seemingly flimsy rubber raft definitely gets the adrenalin pumping.

This time was a slightly different story, I’m older for one, though not more coordinated, calmer waters, sitting at the front of the raft (not my idea), and a significantly larger group but the biggest difference was me completely not thinking about what rafting actually entails (namely getting wet and sitting out in the sun for hours) and forgetting to wear a swimsuit and sunscreen. Opps. This time was (occasionally) flying down the scattered rapids, while having thoughts of a nice life jacket burn and a wet car ride home buzz around the back of my mind.

We did luck out however, on the wet clothes part at least, as the major sunburn for both of us could not be helped. The historical little town of Harpers Ferry, WV just so happened to be a few mins away so we jumped in the car after our water ride and set out to dry out while exploring a living piece of history.

One of my favorite parts of living on the East coast is the old winding road that ends up in an equally as old and winding town. It’s like driving back in time. I loved how the buildings grew together and how the stone steps have learned to bend under the feet of so many years. Every corner has a texture or a detail of how things used to be and I find that entirely mesmerizing. It makes me feel small and it makes me slow my step, feeling literal weight on my shoulders and in my chest to run back into time. Feeling insignificant or spoiled to have benefited to all that time has discovered but at the same time honored and challenged to become a part of what time has yet to discover. I’m certainly not going to build a city but I could just maybe carve a detail on a street of a time, now wouldn’t that be something good.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Maine-ly Beautiful

Being from the Midwest, I know very little about the East coast...not to mention New England. This was my first trip to NE in years. You'd think for the first return trip, fate/life would go for something more modest like a major city. Nope, not in this case. As life would have it, this trip I was going all the way up the coast to Maine for an absolutely breath-taking destination wedding. And wow was it beautiful. It had all the dark beauty of northwoods Wisconsin but it was mixed with the ocean to add a heavy feeling of age and wisdom. The rock formations alone were unlike any I'd ever seen. And the lobster was just as good as I imagined it would be.

Maybe my wonder with Maine was because of the sleepless night driving it took to get there, but I doubt it. I love sleepy little towns, and this one was covered in mist. A charming little tourist trap "downtown" with candle bowling, fudge shops, and tshirt stands and, of course, the harbor with countless fishing skiffs bobbing. I only wish there was enough time in the weekend to have gotten a harbor tour in, but I suppose that will have to wait for the next (more extended) trip to the coast of Maine. I say this and laugh because the homegirl I am can hardly imagine another trip to Maine since it had taken me this long to go for the first time, but I guess you never know with these sort of things. Even this trip wasn't something I could have imagined or plotted on 2011 till it was all of the sudden there, a wedding in Maine, but all the same, it was beautiful and absolutely somewhere I would go again given the chance.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Flying Friendly Skies

I know many people say they hate O'Hare airport, but I really rather like it. Thousands of people running, walking, and tripping that maze of terminals and concourses. The buzz of conversation is constant, the energy and excitement (or anxiety for some) is contagious, and the pierce of that Sweet Home Chicago accent is music to my ears.

I've slept there, I've sprinted down the halls, and spent from 5 mins to an hour with friends when our paths had fortuitously crossed. Sure, I've gotten stuck there a few times and had a heart attack there once or twice, but you love a place for all of it; the ups and downs, right? For me, the bottom line is that no matter where I go, no matter what I do, I know I'm one flight away from home.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Virginia Gold Cup

To anyone who hasn't been to a horse race like the Virginia Gold Cup, May 7th was a day of pastels, hats, and grass stains. What a fabulous display of preppy clothes and great times. I've never been to a horse race like this before. All previous times were spent in a glass box, watching horses sprint around a oval dirt track. This was a huge grass track with water jumps and hurdles. There were beagle races and hat contests. Junior rider races and gold cup champions. I've never seen so many elaborate tailgate set-ups. Flowers and ribbon and finger sandwich platters. People playing corn hole and drinking from small beach pails, while wearing everything from a polka dots seeksucker suits to some of the largest and tallest hats I've ever seen, on both women and men.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spring is Here

I can't say I have a favorite flower but I certainly like them when my path crosses with them. From surprise bouquets to highway-side landscaping, there really is nothing like a flower to brighten up the area.

It's only unfortunate that they don't last. DC is beautiful without its pink blossoms but what isn't better with some rose petal tinted glasses? The Cherry Blossom Festival was beautiful this year and it's over but on that same token they've moved aside for the tulips of the flower beds outside my building and the clover buds in the kickball field.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Food is Beautiful

I have no idea why I like taking pictures of food so much.

Maybe it's because I think entirely with my stomach. I'm out with my friends getting a drink, I snap a shot of the condensating glass in the dimmed candlelight. I'm out with my boyfriend and make us both wait to diving in in order take a picture of the cheese sampler. I love food. And I also think it is beautiful. When a photo is so well done that you can't help but salivate at first glance, it's done its job. Not to say that these will do that for those who weren't there...which would be all of you. But for me anyways, they preserve the senses of the moment for that much longer.

The twinge of the cheese. The spray of a bursting sparkling wine bubble. The clink of fingernail on glass.