Cookie Expeditions

Some people dream about climbing Everest. Others want to go skydiving before they die. Me? Well, I had a much loftier vision: To create the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

It took me over a year, dozens of recipes, and about a hundred baking sessions to figure out textures and taste. (Above photo is the NY Times recipe, below is mine)

A warning before I release my special recipe. This is a really soft, gooey cookie. If you’re into crispy and thin, run along now, this ain’t for amateurs. Also, when I tell you that this can’t be made in a day, it is non-negotiable! You must, yes, MUST…leave the dough overnight for 24 hours. Do not sass me. I am pumped full of sugar and in no mood!

My favorite recipe:

Fellow sugar lovers, enjoy!

Bob Allen - I want a dozen. Now.

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Family Documentary: Old Forge, NY

The enduring memories of any family are often the activities that happen repeatedly. It could be baking cookies or swimming at a nearby pond. One of the things that draws me to documentary photography most is the honesty of it all. (It’s also why I don’t do the, “let’s go to a park, all dressed the same and smile at the camera” type photos. When we take pictures inside of the home, the family furniture is a character in the background, reminders of the fun moments that happened there. We are taken back to the every day clothes we wore over and over, a favorite old t-shirt that was a childhood staple.

When this family contacted me to do a hike, I was filled with excitement. Hiking as a family is something they have done all over the country, so to get pictures of it actually happening is something really special! As much as these photos are for the parents, I truly believe they will have the most impact decades from now. The kids will be grown and will remember great family hikes, with photos that transport them to cherished memories. It also gives a nice break to mom, who is inevitably always recording the family pictures with a cell phone, which means she’s usually missing from the great family moments that unfold.

Really appreciative I could spend the day with this family doing my two favorite things! Here are a few from an Adirondack hike with this wonderful family…

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Opinions Not Welcome

A few years back I was shooting an actor’s headshots in New York City. We made images for hours; some in studio, others in unique nooks we discovered. We had a great time, exploring different outfits and expressions. As I was shooting, I was showing him some of my favorites, asking if we were on the right track. We both agreed the pictures looked awesome and he would have a ton of variety for his website. The actor received his edited photographs and loved them. Case closed.

Or so I thought. Fast forward a few weeks later.

He had put up a lot of his favorites on social media sites. In turn, many of his actor friends felt inclined to weigh in on them. Some said they didn’t like his facial expressions, others said the pose/clothes/look wasn’t quite right. In the end, he hated every single photo. All 200 of them. His peers’ opinions completely overtook his initial reaction and he wanted a full re-shoot.

Believe it or not, I’ve seen this too many times to count. A bride gets her hair or makeup done and loves it, minutes later the bridesmaids convince her it’s not right and she goes back to the chair to get it totally redone. Or, she’s excited about the jewelry she picked out weeks in advance, but on the day of, after unsolicited advice from the group, decides it’s not quite right and wears something else.

I’ve often wondered why we like what we like in the first place and how we can so easily be dissuaded. (Especially when it happens in mere minutes.) We would be extremely reluctant to change our attitudes on politics or religion, but, when it comes to appearance, everything seems to be up for debate. Are we that fragile with how we look? Can we not make our own decisions without others’ opinions? Do we just have too many choices?

I’m not offering any answers here, I’m as stumped as anyone.

It’s a frightening prospect to a photographer for obvious reasons. I dread when someone hates certain wedding photos because, after they’ve released their gallery to friends and family, their relative thinks they don’t look thin enough (and tells them so). It saddens me when someone can’t see the joy or other beautiful emotion radiating from a photo, all they see is the shape of a nose, the size of an arm. Our bodies are capable of amazing things. Those arms embrace in love, they give comfort in grief. That nose came from your grandfather and is a beautiful family legacy.

I wish love and acceptance to everyone. My response when people ask me about something related to their appearance? “If YOU love it, I love it!”

Case closed.

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Jason P Wentworth - Oh, Kid C…human beings are just the worst. : D (Kidding. Mostly.)

I have this same problem in the world of radio advertising. I’ll make a commercial to the exacting specifications of the client. It’s approved, starts airing, and a day later I get The Call: The client’s (brother-in-law/spouse/barber/whoever) doesn’t like it.

These are the things that make creative people all f#$%ed up.

Erin Covey Creative - OMG SO SO TRUE!! I used to see this happen all of the time in broadcasting!!

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Annual Gratitude Sessions

THE WHY:

Nothing makes me happier than having a camera in my hand. It is an unparalleled love. On wedding days, when I have the opportunity to document something for 15 hours, there is no greater feeling. I love the intensity, the energy and the emotion. I cannot believe you pay me to do this. In an industry that highlights fairytales and “picture perfect” poses, I never would have thought that people would support my documentary approach. I’m so grateful and humbled that I’m able to find my little tribe of humans who believe that real moments beat staged ones, every single time.

You allow me to live my dream, every single day. For that, I owe you a massive thank you. This is why each year I host free mini-sessions for my past/current/future couples. If we have shot (or are going to shoot) your wedding, this is for you! Last year, we expanded to Boston with gratitude sessions. This year, we’ll be setting up in D.C. area!

THE WHEN: 

October 19th,  26th, 27th. I’ll be shooting day and night, all 3 days, sign up for a spot that fits your schedule.

THE WHERE: 

Downtown Clinton (October 26-27) and DC area (October 19)

THE WHAT:

The session can be whatever you want, but we will only have 30 minutes together. Keep it to one outfit and let me know if you want a holiday session, studio, headshots, family shots outside, pets, etc… (It gets dark at 5pm-ish so keep that in mind if you want outside!)

The sessions will be 30 minutes long, you’ll end up with at least 10 hi-rez non-watermarked fully edited shots that you can download in a week.

This is a once a year thing, I do not offer mini-shoots at any other time, they just don’t fit the type of documentary, relaxed style that I offer.

T0 grab your spot, sign your name right here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1P9MKCt5eFHz2mOpwP4V4MTJz2hhAGckJs5bNYUlN9yE/edit?usp=sharing

So much love and appreciation for you!

THANK YOU!

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A Break

It’s been exactly three months since I stopped blogging daily. I needed a total break to thoughtfully analyze whether I should continue this blog in its current form. It’s been chugging along for almost ten years! Woah! Now, I love blogging weddings because it gives me a chance to tell other people’s love stories, showcase my clients’ unique perspective and celebrate human connection. I’m obsessed with what I do and want to tell you all about the people I meet and their cool love stories! But, can I be brutally honest? There’s a nagging feeling that I’m complicit in supporting the wedding industry’s materialism. I never want couples to think they need expensive “stuff.” I don’t want them to compare weddings or be pressured to outdo their friends. I loathe that part.

I also wondered if blogging was dead and if I was just adding to the perpetual noise. Does anyone really care what an out-of-touch, rapidly aging Hippie thinks? (Random tangent: did you know that term comes from “Happy Individual Person Pursuing Individual Enlightenment?” Or, some say it’s, “Helper In Promoting Peaceful Individual Existence” Either way it suits me.) After thinking on it for a few months, here’s what I came up with. I DO want to highlight weddings and photo shoots, but in a different way. I don’t want to add to the, “Ohhh look how pretty this expensive pretty object is” racket. That shit makes me cringe. I do not want to advocate buying $400 shoes. My goal is razor sharp: I want to tell honest love stories exclusively through real moments.

I used to reluctantly blog centerpieces, signage and place cards, even though it didn’t feel quite right. Why do we do things just because other people do the same? I need to work on this! (Add it to the mountain of other faults I carry) Now, let me be totally clear, I will still shoot the hell out of these things for my couple’s private galleries.

I will style their details like a boss because they’re part of their unique story and they put time and energy into them.

But will they show up on this blog or my website? Not anymore.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m embarrassed to be part of an industry that values buying new “stuff.” I just want to be over here in my little corner of the Internet covering Moments. Family. Relationships. Connection. As a result, you won’t find that kind of aesthetic inspiration here anymore. There is a ton of that elsewhere. I’m stripping everything down and focusing on human experience.

That’s the only “stuff” that fuels me.

I’m also going to get a hell of a lot more honest on this page. I think there’s an authenticity lacking in blogging, the wedding industry, life in general. From here on out, it’ll be more like a journal, things will go off the rails with other topics: running/baking/philosophy/reading/society/thoughts on photography or life. If you’re into that, awesome. If you’re not, that’s cool too. I’ll just be sitting here in a mismatched outfit I bought twenty years ago, searching for my tribe.

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Lisa Sharp - Perfect! Moments matter and people matter. People over things!

Michelle Stevenson - I love this post, and I look forward to reading more “off the rails” posts in the future!

Bob Allen - Good for you Cov! Looking forward to future musings…

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