A Snowy Session with Akina | Berks County Family Photographer

You may have seen my recently blogged snowy session with Mika.  If not, be sure to check it out!!

Well, before we left the house for that photoshoot, Akina (my youngest daughter) asked to come along with us and have a quick session of her own!  I was ecstatic!!

The three of us ventured out into the deep snow together, and shot for as long as we could tolerate the cold.  They were both troopers in the cold and wind, but Akina was a beast!  When you see what she was wearing, you'll understand.  She was sporting long underwear and snow boots under her dress, but her arms were completely exposed - and she was totally fine with it!  I actually had to scold her to put her jacket back on and zip it up after we were done with our photos!  (Oh, how I miss my fearless and carefree childhood!!)  We were probably only outside for about 10-15 minutes total for both photoshoots, but it seemed so much longer than that!

Here are a few photos from Akina's snowy session.  Enjoy!  (Thank you for this late-winter treat, Mother Nature!)

 

A Snowy Session with Mika | Berks County Family Photographer

Last week, after winter storm Stella dropped almost 2 feet of snow on us, something amazing happened...

Mika (my typically camera-shy daughter) asked me for a quick photoshoot with her and her snare drum!  If you know Mika, you know just how momentous this occasion was!  She is absolutely stunning, but refuses to have her photo taken 98.5% of the time you ask her.

Needless to say, I jumped on this opportunity!  We ventured outside, drove around the neighborhood looking for the perfect spot (and a place to park nearby without getting stuck in the snow), and shot as many photos as we could before we both froze!

I had a blast!  I'm sad that winter is ending and that I'll have to wait until next winter for more opportunities like this one.  I hope you enjoy these photos from our super quick session!

 

An Exciting Announcement! (aka Everything Happens for a Reason)

Everything happens for a reason.

Last weekend, on a whim, I suggested that we stop by the GoggleWorks to see if there were any studio spaces currently available that would be perfect for setting up my studio. (I've been thinking about it for a while, but now the timing just felt right.)

As we walked around, I saw a few spaces on the 3rd floor that I thought might work, and I made a note to see if they were available. Then we made our way up to the 5th floor. Even though this area is away from most of the other artists and has a different "vibe" than the studios on the 2nd and 3rd floors (no natural exposed brick, less of the warehouse feel that I liked), I wanted to check it out anyway. I'm so glad I did!

As we arrived, the person who was currently renting Studio 541 was in the process of moving out. Literally, they were moving out that minute of that hour of that day. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't have timed my random visit any better! I had walked by this space a handful of times before and was always in awe of the size of the space (it's actually two separate rooms), and the gorgeous natural light that comes in through the windows. The wooden floor and high walls are pretty amazing, too. And, it was opening up THAT DAY! I had always pictured myself in that space, whenever I had walked by during previous visits. I thought to myself there was no way that this space wasn't already spoken for.

As soon as I got home, I emailed the GoggleWorks and inquired about the three spaces I was interested in, hoping at least one was still open (and hoping beyond all hope that 541 wasn't already spoken for). I heard back two days later - All three were open! Then I asked about the rent, hoping (but doubting) that it was something that I would be able to fit into my budget. It was. :)

And, since I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I jumped on this opportunity to rent Studio 541. It's happening! The lease is signed, the security deposit and first month's rent have been paid, and the lease begins ON MY BIRTHDAY!! How freaking awesome is that??? I get the keys on April 11th, and then the real fun begins! After I repaint the space and furnish it, I'm going to be hosting an Open House. You are all invited! I can't wait to celebrate and share my excitement with you!!

Thank you so much for your support over the years. I still can't believe this is happening! (And my family is pretty stoked that my photo gear is moving out of the house so we can reclaim a lot of space and start making our house look like a home again, instead of a studio.)

I am so stoked.

Everything happens for a reason.

 

 

P.S.  Starting April 11th, my studio address will be:

201 Washington Street
Studio No. 541
Reading, Pennsylvania 19601

Czech Republic | (aka I finally czeched Europe off my Bucket List!)

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of traveling to Europe to cheer for my oldest daughter as she represented the United States as an alpine snowboard racer at the Junior World Championships.  It was our first time visiting Europe, and it would be an understatement to say that we were both excited.

Kaiya had a fantastic two days of racing!  She finished 23rd on the first day and 16th on the second day, and was the the top American finisher both days!  It's such an honor for her to be so high-ranked among the top junior athletes in the world, and I'm so proud to call her mine (not just because she's an incredible racer, but because she's an incredible human being).

Her races took place at Klinovec, a ski resort right along the border of Czech Republic and Germany.  Before and after her races, I was able to take some time to sightsee and take a few photos of Prague and the spa town Karlovy Vary.  My time was not nearly enough to take in all of the history and sights that Czech Republic has to offer, but it was a good start!  I definitely want to brush up on my history and go back when I have more time to act like a tourist.

Anyone eloping, renewing vows, or looking to have portraits done in Czech Republic?  You know who to call! ;)

Here are a few of my photos from our quick trip to Europe.  Enjoy!!

Glasbern Inn, Fogelsville PA Wedding | 2nd Shooting

When I'm not shooting my own weddings and portraits, I often second shoot weddings for other talented wedding photographers.  I love getting out there and meeting new people, celebrating love, and being creative without always having to be in charge. ;)  A few weeks ago, I second shot this wedding for Jodi Chandler.  It was an honor working alongside Jodi to capture Emilee and Elliott's Day #1.  They were such a fun couple, and their day was filled with so much love and support.  The Glasbern Inn was the perfect backdrop for their wedding day!  Thank you again for asking me to be your sidekick, Jodi!  Here are a few of my photos from their day...

Jackson, Wyoming - Part 2 | Kaiya, Class of 2017 | Destination High School Senior Portrait Photographer

While Kaiya and I were in Wyoming in November, we decided to add a few photos to her ever-growing high school senior portrait portfolio!  Here are a few of our favorites from Grand Teton National Park, Mormon Row, and downtown Jackson Hole.

Here's a fun fact about the incredible antler arch that you will see in the photos...  Jackson is home to a National Elk Refuge, and the roughly 8,000 antlers that make up the four matching arches in downtown Jackson Hole all come from the elk's annual antler shedding.  No animals were harmed to obtain the antlers to create these enormous and iconic arches.

Jackson, Wyoming - Part 1 | Elk, Coyote, Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Waterfowl | Wildlife Photographer

A few weeks ago, my oldest daughter was supposed to have a snowboard race in Jackson, Wyoming.  The race was cancelled due to lack of snow, but our plane tickets and hotel were nonrefundable, so we decided to go on our trip anyway.  Neither of us had ever been to Wyoming, so I thought it would be a great experience for both of us.  We packed up our laptops, camera gear, and sense of adventure, and headed west.

On our first day in Wyoming, we went out in search of a grocery store and Starbucks... and found much, much more! My daughter noticed something moving in the tall brush on the side of the road, so I pulled over to check it out.  What we stumbled upon was a migrating herd of elk.  I grabbed my camera, hopped out of the car, and ran alongside the herd snapping as many photos as I could.  It was absolutely incredible and breathtaking to witness.  On a separate trip, we encountered bighorn sheep, moose, a coyote, and various waterfowl!  (We eventually did find the grocery store and the Starbucks.)

Here are some of my wildlife photos from our trip.  I definitely plan to go back again when I have more time to explore... and next time I'm planning on bringing some bigger lenses!

Kaiya's Nor-Am Races at Buck Hill, MN | Pennsylvania Snowboard Photographer

This year, I made a few big changes in my life.  One was resigning from teaching after 16 years and supplementing my photography business with educational consulting.  That big career change has allowed me to pursue both my photography and education passions simultaneously, and has given me increased flexibility in my schedule to support my family as they pursue their own passions... and it has given me more time to snowboard. ;)

Our entire family snowboards.  This shared passion is part of the glue that keeps our family so close.  All three of my daughters are alpine snowboard racers, and my oldest daughter, Kaiya, is now competing at the international level.  I was able to accompany her recently as she raced in her first North American (Nor-Am) Cup events of the year at Buck Hill Resort in Burnsville, Minnesota.

There were four events scheduled over the span of three days (three "big" Nor-Am parallel slalom races, and one "junior" Nor-Am parallel slalom race).  The temperatures ranged from a high of 20 degrees on Friday, to a low of -40 degrees on Sunday (including the wind chill).  It was so cold on Sunday morning that the races had to be delayed until the temperatures rose above -20 degrees so that the lifts could operate.

Kaiya finished 14th on Friday evening (her first ever evening event under the lights!), 2nd on Saturday morning (only missing first place by .02 seconds!!), 6th on Saturday afternoon (after a heartbreaking DQ), and 7th on Sunday.  I'm so proud of her performance in all of her races that weekend, especially considering that she wasn't able to train on gates prior to the races because of the lack of snow here on the east coast!  The last time she practiced in gates was last June at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon!  It's hard to describe the range of feelings I experience on race days.  Leading up to and during any given race, there's an exhilarating (and exhausting) combination of anxiety, excitement, joy, heartbreak, happiness, suspense, and pride.  Lots and lots of pride.  Looking through my camera and focusing on taking pictures during her races helps keep my anxiety (somewhat) under control.

Kaiya's 2nd place finish was her best Nor-Am finish to date, and resulted in her first time earning a spot on the medal podium (and the first time she won prize money)!  Kaiya's next Nor-Am race will take place at Steamboat Springs, CO in two weeks.  Her younger sisters have a race coming up at Camelback Mountain in the Pennsylvania Poconos next weekend.  I'm looking forward to an amazing season for all three "SnowSurfGirls"!

If you happened to be at Buck Hill and saw me waving and pointing like a crazy woman every so often, it's because I was signaling to family and friends who were watching the race via Buck Hill's webcam.  They asked me to wave whenever Kaiya was coming up next, and to signal which lane she would be racing in. ;)

Here are a few photos of Kaiya from her races at Buck Hill.  I wish you all could have been there in person!

Ren turned one! | A Star Wars themed cake smash session | Berks County Child Photographer

Ren turned one last week, and we celebrated this fabulous milestone with a Star Wars themed cake smash!  He is so freaking adorable - and I'm not just saying that because he's my nephew. ;)  Big thanks to Kim Nakonecznyj for creating this amazing R2-D2 cake for us!  Here are a few of my favorite photos (from the hundreds I took during our photoshoot).  Happy birthday, Ren!!

Everything Happens for a Reason | A Personal Session in Park City, Utah

A few years ago, I "met" @lindseasnow on Instagram.  She commented on a few of my snowboard-related posts, and we soon realized that she used to snowboard at my "home" mountain.  We quickly determined that we seemed to have a lot in common and joked that we were practically the same person - just separated by 10+ years in age. ;)  I hoped I would meet her in person one day, but that possibility seemed a bit far-fetched once she packed up and moved from Baltimore, MD to Utah.

Fast forward to this fall...  

If you know me personally, you know that snowboarding is kind of a big deal in my family. ;)  My oldest daughter is competing in the Nor-Am Cup for alpine snowboard racing, and had a last minute race added to the calendar for November.  The race was supposed to take place in Jackson, Wyoming.  The cheapest airfare we could find required that we fly in to Salt Lake City, Utah and then drive 4 1/2 hours to Wyoming.  I made our travel reservations, and then remembered that my Instagram friend, Lindsay, lived in Utah!  I reached out to her to see if she lived anywhere near the SLC airport, and as luck would have it, she was very close!  I told her that we would be in town and we decided to meet up for lunch while I was in Utah!

I also found out that Lindsay had recently undergone a prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstruction, and I wanted to use my photography passion to help celebrate her strength, positivity, and kick-ass zest for life!  So, I offered to donate a photoshoot while I was there.  I'm so glad that she immediately took me up on my offer!

The week before the race was supposed to take place, it was cancelled due to lack of snow.  And when I say lack of snow, there was literally no snow to be found in Jackson, Wyoming.  Winter got off to a very late start in Wyoming this year, so there was no way the race could go off as scheduled.  They got a few inches of snowfall right before the race was supposed to happen, but it was too little too late.  Our airfare and hotel were prepaid in order to get the best rates at such short notice, and were nonrefundable.  So, my daughter and I decided to make the best of a crummy situation and take our trip anyway.  And, I'm so glad we did!  Not only did we manage to see some incredible wildlife while in Wyoming (one day I'll post those pictures when I find the time), but we also managed to meet up with Lindsay for lunch, incredible conversation, and an amazing photoshoot.  We even managed to squeeze in one more dinner (and dessert!) with her on our last night in Utah before we flew back home!

Here are some of Lindsay's blog posts that discuss our online friendship and our in-person meeting, since she's way better with words than I am:

https://lindseasnow.com/2016/11/09/woman-crush-wednesday-the-amazing-women-ive-met-via-blogging/

https://lindseasnow.com/2016/12/13/using-social-media-to-actually-socialize/

If you browse around her page a bit, you'll learn more about her story and her incredible outlook on life.  I highly recommend that you pour yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea and check it out!

Since I'm much better with photos than with words, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite images from our brief time together.  (Her photoshoot took place at Jordanelle Park and Jordanelle Reservoir, some of her favorite spots in Park City.)  Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Lindsay!  I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I know that our meeting was meant to be.  I have a feeling our Instagram meeting years ago was just the beginning of what is to become a long friendship.

Thievery Corporation + The Reminders | The Fillmore, Philadelphia

Photographing a Thievery Corporation concert has been on my Bucket List for a while now... and this year I was finally able to cross it off - not once, not twice, but three times (and in three different states)!  This was an amazing year to cross this off, too, because it is was their 20th anniversary tour!  I can't believe I have been a fan of their music for 20 years already.  It seems like just yesterday that I listened to them for the first time when I rented minidiscs containing their songs while living in Japan.

Back in May, I photographed them at Red Rocks, my all time favorite concert venue.  In August, I photographed them in Maryland at the Hot August Music Festival.  And, this December, I photographed them at the Fillmore in Philadelphia.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from their December show.  I also photographed their opening band, The Reminders.  The Reminders were incredible - they were so full of energy and positivity!  I'm definitely a new fan, and highly recommend that you check them out!  And, if you haven't heard of Thievery Corporation yet, you definitely need to check out their work as well.  They put on one of the best live shows I have ever seen - every show is a different experience and is performed with unmatched passion, energy, and style.

Thank you for the opportunities, Thievery!  And, thank you for providing many of the songs to the soundtrack of my life over the past 20 years.  I'm looking forward to many more shows to come. :)

Naples, Florida Family Session | The Vishio Family | Destination Photographer

A few weeks ago, I returned from a trip to the mountains of Wyoming and Utah and less than 24 hours later hopped onto a flight to sunny (and HOT) Florida!  The Vishio Family flew me to Naples to photograph their family in time for the holidays.  It was my first trip to Naples, and after an amazing weekend, I hope that it won't be my last!  Even though I'm a snow lover, I admit that I fell in love with the sunshine, scenery, amazing food, and generous people I met while I was there.

I snapped photos for them at the beach, at their home in front of their Christmas tree, and at the Naples Ritz Carlton.  On my last day there, I went on a short adventure in search of wildlife and snapped a few personal photos for my own collection. 

Here are a few of my photos from my quick trip.  Thanks again, Vishio Family!

Gring's Mill Couple Session | Lexie + Connor | Berks County Photographer

Connor, a 2016 Wilson HS graduate, has spent the last few months in California participating in Basic Training for the U.S. Air Force Academy.  His high school sweetheart, Lexie, was at the top of the list of people who were eagerly awaiting his visit over the Christmas and New Year holiday.  Lexie's mom wanted to surprise them with a photoshoot during his quick visit home over the holidays, so that they would have some photos to help make future separations a little bit easier on them both.

As soon as they received their gift certificate for their photoshoot, Lexie reached out and we set it up for the next day.  They wanted it to take place at Gring's Mill, since that is where they went on their first date together.  Lexie and Connor, I had such a great time making these photos with you.  I hope you have a fantastic visit together!  Connor, best of luck on your remaining months of training.

Pine Barn Inn, Danville PA Wedding | 2nd Shooting

On weekends when I'm not busy shooting my own weddings or portrait sessions, I can often be found assisting other photographers.  I really enjoy the freedom (and lower stress level) that comes along with second shooting!  A few weeks ago, I second shot a wedding for Alisha Taylor of A Mack Photography.

My day started in Elysburg with sunny skies and temps in the 70s... and ended at the Pine Barn Inn in Danville with sub-freezing temps and snow!  Mother Nature was up to some shenanigans that day, but it made for incredibly diverse photos!  Nate and Alaina were so kind, so in love, and so much fun to hang out with all day!  I hope you enjoy this selection of photos from their wedding day.

Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel Scranton Wedding | 2nd Shooting | Pennsylvania Wedding Photographer

Even though I keep myself pretty busy shooting my own weddings and portrait sessions, I really enjoy second shooting for an amazing group of talented photographers who I am thrilled to call my friends.  A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of second shooting again for Aly Martin.  I always have a great time working with Aly!  She's so talented and fun, and her clients always throw amazing celebrations!!  This wedding took place in Scranton at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel.  The hotel is such a cool venue!  It used to be a train station, and the architecture is so unique.

Without any further delay, I'm just going to show some photos from this incredible day.  Thanks again for inviting me to assist you, Aly!

Cork Factory Hotel Wedding | 2nd Shooting | Lancaster Wedding Photographer

Even though I run a successful wedding photography business myself, I really enjoy second shooting for other photographers on days when I don't have my own weddings booked.  It keeps me fresh and feeds my creativity, and I love being surrounded by so much love and happiness that are guaranteed to be overflowing on wedding days!

I recently had the honor of second shooting Alicia and Rachel's wedding with Ashley Gerrity.  They were married at the Cork Factory Hotel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  The venue was gorgeous, but not as stunning as these two brides!  Their smiles lit up every room they were in, and within seconds of meeting each of them I instantly knew why they were both so loved by everyone attending the wedding.

Here are a few of my photos from the day.  Thanks again to Ashley for asking me to shoot with her!

New York City Public Library & Bryant Park Headshots | Mike | New York City Photographer

In addition to being the owner of a photography business, I also work as an education consultant.  My consulting work has taken me to New York City 2-3 days a week lately, and I am falling more and more in love with NYC on each visit!  I don't think I could ever live in the city, but I do love visting often!  So, when Michael Peloso asked if we could meet up on one of my visits and update his headshots, I was thrilled!

Mike is not only super nice, but he's also a very talented lyricist!  One of the songs that was co-written by Mike is currently on the Grammy Ballot!  To learn more about Mike and to follow his work, click here:  http://www.mpmpmusic.com/.

I hope you enjoy this small selection of the photos we created at the New York City Public Library and Bryant Park.  (If the library looks familiar, you might recognize it from the Ghostbusters movie!  I was even fortunate enough to get shushed by a librarian while I was there for being too loud!  Unfortunately, it was a living librarian and not a ghost...)

Longwood Gardens Engagement Photoshoot | Jess + Sean | Berks County Wedding Photographer

Last Sunday, I met up with Jess and Sean for their engagement session.  They picked Longwood Gardens for the backdrop because it's one of their favorite places to visit together... and I was really excited, because it's one of my favorite places, too!  They booked me as their wedding photographer a few weeks ago, and this session was the first time we actually met in person.  I was so excited to meet them, and I had a very strong feeling that they were going to be really fun in person.  Oh, was I right!!  We were chatting and laughing during their entire session, and my face hurt when I left from smiling so much!  For every serious pose I got out of them, there were about 15 more silly poses - which I think is awesome!  My favorite pictures are always the ones where I capture my clients being themselves!

I hope you enjoy this collection of photos from their engagement session.  I'm looking forward to their Florida destination wedding next fall!!

Linwood Estate Wedding | Kristen + Joe | Carlisle Wedding Photographer

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of photographing Kristen and Joe's wedding.  Their wedding day was absolutely incredible!  I knew it would be, since we had such a blast at their engagement session!  (I just realized that their engagement session took place on one of the hottest days of the year, and their wedding day on one of the coldest!!)  There was a threat of rain in the morning, but it disappeared - and the sun helped keep everyone warm while Kristen and Joe exchanged their vows in the Linwood Estate courtyard.  The bridal party and guests were such great sports in tolerating the wind and the chilly air, and we have so many incredible photos as a result!

Linwood Estate is one of the most gorgeous venues that I have photographed, and their staff was incredible!  There are so many great backdrops for photos there!  I was extremely fortunate that Kristen and Joe created a timeline that allowed for ample opportunities for photographs and chose to add a second photographer to their package so we could capture even more beautiful and candid moments together.  (Big thanks to April Westhafer for second shooting for me!)

This was my last wedding of 2016, and I can't think of a better way to end my wedding season!  The dinner was incredible, the drinks were flowing freely, the speeches were heartfelt, the dessert bar was AMAZING, the dancing was epic (this might be due in part to the free-flowing drinks), and the Bruce Springsteen serenades were perfection.

It was hard to choose just a few photos to share here, so I'm going overboard and sharing way too many.  I hope you enjoy these moments from Kristen and Joe's Day #1!  I know that I enjoyed reliving them as I edited the photos and typed this up.

Congratulations again, Kristen and Joe!!  I am sure you are enjoying life together as husband and wife!

Venue:  Linwood Estate

Wedding Coordinator:  Michelle Hare, Linwood Estate

Florist:  Sarah Klunk, Sarah's Floral Designs

Cake Artist:  Kyrsten Willits, Kyrsten's Sweet Designs

DJ:  Josh Vaughn, Complete Weddings + Events

Hair Artist:  Anna, Dulci's Salon

Makeup Artist:  Chelsea Nolan, Makeup by Chelsea

Wedding Dress Boutique:  Allure, L'Fay Bridal in Chatham, NJ

Bridesmaid Dress Boutique:  David's Bridal

Groom and Groomsmen Tuxedo Boutique: Joseph Abboud, Men's Warehouse

Sinking Spring Backyard Wedding | Hillary and Eric | Berks County Wedding Photographer

I have a Starbucks problem - I need at least one "venti no water chai" each day or I can't function properly.  While feeding this addiction and becoming a Starbucks regular, I had the honor of meeting Hillary.  When she asked me to photograph her upcoming wedding to Eric, I was ecstatic!!  Fast forward to a few weeks ago -- Hillary and Eric got married in their backyard in Sinking Spring, PA and threw an incredible party to start their marriage off properly!  I had such a great time documenting their day, tasting incredible food, and laughing along with their friends' fantastic stories!

This was one of the most intimate, casual weddings I have ever attended, and I loved every second of it!  I enjoy photographing all types of wedding ceremonies, but my favorites are the ones that really reflect the couple and their unique relationship and love for each other.  Everything about Hillary and Eric's wedding day did exactly that - from their DIY decorations to their self-uniting marriage to their iPod music playlist to Eric's blue velvet sport coat.  Everything was about them and their personalities and their loved ones, and it was perfect.

I hope you enjoy a few photos from their Day #1!  I'm so honored that I was able to celebrate with them!

 

Catering:  H20 Kitchen (Jason Hook)

Cake/Cupcakes:  Secrets Bakery

DJ:  Spotify and bluetooth speaker ;)

Hair and Make-up:  Hillary did them herself!

Bride's wedding dress:  Kimono purchased on Etsy!

Groom's suit: Velvet sport coat purchased from Kohls!