I've decided to share the occasional blog that's about everything and nothing, just short & sweet and full of good things...the non-photography related ones. :) You'll recognize them with their "Bliss Blog" titles...this is the inaugural entry. :)
My weekend was pretty darned awesome. My husband Brian Doyle, a marvelous playwright, had an excerpt of his latest full length play, "Sounds in the Bowery" performed at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC on Friday night. It was presented in a series of 12 plays by area playwrights via The Inkwell Theatre, a wonderful group dedicated to helping new playwrights (and their works) find their way from page to stage. I was so proud that Brian's play made it through the first three rounds, chosen from over 300 entries. I'm not surprised, since *I* think he's brilliant, but it's always nice when others recognize it, too. :) He's written over 20 plays, each one a unique jewel
I'm a pretty harsh critic, and even though I love him, I wouldn't tell him that he has tremendous talent unless it was true. I know that he may not be as out there and avant-garde as many current playwrights that the DC theatres love to stage; instead, he does classic theatre with a modern spin, complete with richly drawn characters, natural dialogue, clever one liners, and creative plots. As an actress with over 20 years of experience doing bad theatre, good theatre, and great theatre...I know a good show when I read it. As an actress, there isn't a single female character he's written that I don't want to play...they all speak to me, they all appeal to me...there's never a moment of "Please don't make me say this trite line" or "No one would realistically do this or say this" with his work. I hope with all of my heart that his plays keep getting selected and that many of them get the full productions they deserve. He's not just a great writer. He's an amazing husband, friend, and person overall...he has the stuff that it takes to survive in the harsh world of theatre because he never takes himself too seriously, and is always gracious, humble, and grateful in all things.
AND...with all of that stuff sure to make him blush out of the way, the photo above is the one I took at the performance, with the fabulous actors who gave thoughtful, lively renditions of his words, the director who gave the reading an extra oomph with her careful staging in a limited space, and the dramaturg who recognized the intelligence and humor in his script and embraced it. What a great team!!! They all busted their butts for a week to make the weekend readings happen and they did a stellar job.
Please support The Arts: go out and see a new work being done, take your kid to see a musical, and consider donating to up and coming (and struggling) theaters that are trying to find the next Albee, the next Mamet, the next Miller. :)
Sunday was the perfect day to lounge around...we slept in, had breakfast at IHOP, went to McKay's Used Books for our normal stock up and managed a short walk in the glorious weather with Mr. Darcy & Whiskey, who basked in the sunlight. :) For avid readers, try McKays...they have a little bit of EVERYTHING at low prices. I bought a dozen books for about $24...and when I'm done I simply return them and get a small credit to use towards the next bushel of books I buy. :) I recently discovered Catherine Anderson and Sherryl Woods, the former who writes Oregon cowboy romances contemporary and historical, and the latter who writes various trilogies about big families (especially Irish ones) in Charleston and on the Chesapeake. They are uncomplicated and perfect for light reading when I'm stressed with classes. :)
Next up: photographing the art auction for the amazing PROJECT CREATE in DC on Wednesday night. It's a truly worthy cause that helps the poverty stricken kids in DC express themselves through art. If you can't make it out to buy some beautiful and original artwork, please consider a donation to the cause itself. There's nothing greater than helping kids find the beauty around them.
Hope everyone has a super week ahead!!! :)
I am not a fan of indoor photography. I love natural light and not having to use my flash, although these days I'll admit to use my flash outdoors to make up for the light my little crop sensor camera cannot give me on its own.
But because I know it's harder for me, I practice regularly. As I learn more and more about my focal points and shutter speed and aperture, I find that shooting completely in manual mode is for me, especially when it comes to an indoor shot.
I have a charity photoshoot in DC next week that's all indoors, at night, and so I'm prepping for that as best as I can by using my spare time wisely. Taking shot after shot in similar conditions, making minute tweaks to the camera and how I shoot as I go
Ultimate test? Our schnauzer, Whiskey. She's black with a really furry face...I usually cannot get a good pic of her even outside without a flash. But today I reached a breakthrough in my shooting. I shot a pic of her in our bedroom (which has warm, covered lights, bright blue walls, and is definitely not considered an optimal shooting location), sans flash. Woohoo! She looks amazing...every detail stands out on her face without the harsh wash of the flash. She has no lights aimed towards her...she's literally just sitting in the middle of the floor, looking up at me with that expectant little look she gets. :)
For funsies I took a pic of Mr. Darcy too. Being white and reflective, he's easy to take a great pic of, so I used some softening techniques and shot him in the light of our bedroom loft balcony, where there's a little bit of natural light from the skylights as well as white walls which help reflect. I got a great one of him with his little ears back (I kept promising a cookie and eventually he stopped trusting me!) I love the way he sort of just blends in and mixes with his surroundings, as if he's wandering through piles of snow.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to know where my strengths and weaknesses lie and more importantly, a chance to fix them. Photography is so technical and while I've never been a technical person, I find that I have to be, that I can't be content to not know how to fix something or improve upon it. I can't wait till my MarkII is in my hot little hands in T minus 15 days...then I will know what I've been missing. :)
Brian, Whiskey, McCall & Mr. Darcy...East 2012 :)
Because I am a wedding photographer, and I ask my engaged couples their story, I wanted to share ours. I am married to Brian Doyle, playwright extraordinaire, and we live in Manassas with our two doggies, Mr. Darcy the Eskie and Whiskey the mini schnauzer.
Our 5th wedding anniversary is on Saturday, 4/21/12...tomorrow!!! We're celebrating quietly tomorrow by exchanging gifts at breakfast, then having dinner at the restaurant (The Brass Cannon) connected to our reception site, Stonewall Golf Club at Lake Manassas. We've gone back every year except last year as we were in Florida over our anniversary. But because this is a big anniversary, we are celebrating in style this November by taking a Caribbean cruise. :)
This story, which started out as short and sweet, became a huge tome of information! I remember every detail of our meeting and courtship so vividly, and even though it might make a few of you gag, I hope the romantics at heart will enjoy hearing about our own little fairytale.
Brian and I had a bit of a whirlwind romance. We met in theatre, playing Alice & Tony the young engaged couple in the classic play, You Can't Take It with You, with McLean Community Players. I'd been an actress at that point for 15 years and had never had so much as a crush on a costar. Brian was doing his first show because his parents begged him...his parents (who met in theatre 30 years before!) were involved...his mom Beth was the assistant director, and his father Bill was cast to play MY father. There was a desperate need for a tall, young, handsome leading man...and because Brian was recently graduated from college and comfortable in front of an audience, he got sucked in. He had NO intention of dating anyone, especially not a "crazy actress". He'd recently gotten out of a longterm relationship as had I. Neither of us were looking for anyone...
but I will admit to doing something fanciful. I'd broken up with my boyfriend of 2.5 years that January and was enjoying being footloose and fancy free. By that summer, I'd finally seen the movie "Practical Magic" with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. In it, Bullock's character is mourning the loss of her husband and decides to cast a spell about the perfect guy...one with characteristics so specific and amazing that no one would ever really fit them, so as to protect her heart forever. I got the notion to do the same thing, because to this point, no guys I'd ever dated had ALL the qualities I really wanted and I was pretty sure no such person existed. So I started with a basic list of 10 things...you know, honest, loyal, funny, smart...and over a weeks' time, that list grew to 50 things. 50 qualities that this guy would have, some so specific as "eyes like the sea", "guitar playing", and "watching the stars with me". I tucked that list away and laughed to myself that no guy would ever fill ALL of those things, so I was safe.
I was performing the role of Gillian in Bell, Book & Candle with Vpstart Crow and late to the YCTIWY rehearsal process...they'd already been working and blocking for 3 weeks by the time I arrived, so I was definitely the newcomer when I walked into the room in Falls Church on 10/17/05 for my first rehearsal.
McCall & Jay in Bell, Book & Candle...Brian singing at a Bad Luck Idols concert. 2005
It was love at first sight for me...it was love at first hear for him. He heard me before he saw me...I was already in the rehearsal room chatting with my new costars and he was coming in from the hallway and stopped when he heard me laughing. He introduced himself with a firm handshake and I resumed my conversation with the man sitting next to me. His dad jokes that I "dismissed him" but I was really just trying to stay polite to the person I was already talking with at the time! But even at that tiny exchange, my heart skipped a beat when I looked up into Brian's ocean blue eyes. I noticed the nice dark blonde hair and the strong yet sensitive features of his face, and the dimple in his right cheek when he grinned, but I was completely captivated by his eyes...eyes that change from slate blue to aqua green depending on his clothes or his mood.
It's funny...when I'd sent an initial email to the cast letting them know that I was going to be joining everyone late, I forgot about the link to my website. But Brian had clicked on it, curious about his leading lady. So when we first met and got a chance to speak a little during that first rehearsal, he knew all about me! He'd seen my pictures, listened to me sing, knew where I went to school. All I knew before I met him was that I liked his email address, which was "IrishAuthor".
On our third rehearsal together, there was a scheduling issue and we got out of rehearsal early. Excited to get home early on a Friday night, I was surprised when Brian stopped me and asked me out for a drink. I told him I didn't drink drink but I'd certainly go have a soda. I assumed he was an actor asking out another actor...not a date. He was 22, I was 27...even more reason for it not to be a date.
We ran to an ATM since I wanted to grab some cash before going out. Even though the area is pretty ritzy and safe, Brian insisted on walking me from the car to the ATM...which earned him major brownie points. I remember having such trouble even finding my wallet since my hands were trembling slightly at his nearness and I felt like such a dork.
We went to J.Gilbert's, a little bistro in McLean. We shared an appetizer and a few sodas. And after two hours of talking, I assumed we'd head to our respective homes. And then he pulled out a really infamous line. "Want to meet my ferret?"
Marie the Ferret
I didn't want the evening to end so I said sure and off we went to meet Marie the ferret. She was adorable. Brian and I settled on the sofa to watch Family Guy, a show I didn't know at all but that he loved. We drank tea and talked...and talking lasted until 530am. INSANE! I'd spent 8 solid hours talking with a guy I barely knew. He walked me out to the car and the air was really chilly...he hugged me goodbye and noticed how cold I was, so he jumped up and down while hugging me and warming up my arms...more brownie points.
Before we said goodbye, he gave me a demo cd of his college band, the Bad Luck Idols...he'd been the lead singer, songwriter, and a guitarist. I worried because I figured it would break the spell...that I'd listen to it, hate it, and have to tell him because I'm always honest about music. :)
I popped his cd in the minute I got in the car...mainly because I wanted to get the torture over with...and found myself loving it. Really loving it. I loved the tunes, the lyrics, and most of all, Brian's voice. I listened to it two times through on the ride home and couldn't stop singing my favorite song.
I got home that morning and couldn't sleep. Glad it was a Saturday! Later that day, I had an email from Brian, sharing with me his first play, a Historical Irish piece. (It was brilliant, of course.) And on Sunday...just as I was drifting off to sleep, he called. Again, there was a cheesy line...something about giving my digits a spin. Dork. ;) And we talked for two hours before I fell asleep. Yup, in love...with a guy I'd only known a week.
We continued being friendly and flirty during our rehearsals that week, chatting on the phone and texting, and exchanging emails during the days. Bonding over our mutual love of music, we made mixed cds for each other and discussed them at length every time we were offstage. I spent hours driving my friend Marcus crazy with the emails I was writing to him, wondering if Brian felt about me the way I felt about him, scrutinizing every sentence and look we exchanged like a 14 year old hoping to be asked to her first dance. :) Brian told me later he was dressing up for rehearsals and wearing cologne in the hopes I might notice. I was sprinkling cinnamon and sugar through my hair and wearing all my sweetest perfumes in hopes HE might notice. Goofballs, both of us. :)
That Friday night after rehearsal I came home with him again...and this time we chatted until 330am before I had to call it a night. We went to mass together at the local church on George Mason's campus on Sunday night and I got to meet his best friend, Adam, who was awesome in every way, too. :)
After Adam left that night, Brian looked up and noticed that the sky was full of stars. He asked if I wanted to lie down on the hood of his car and watch them with him. So we did just that, in the church parking lot. Our pinkies were touching. I remember that like it was yesterday, the feel of our hands so close and the way the air was heavy with silence of unspoken things we both wanted to say but couldn't, not yet.
A few days later, I flew home for my Dad's 70th birthday bash in Florida. Brian and I had only known each other two and a half weeks at this point...but as we took a sunset cruise, I remember feeling an acute ache in my heart...wishing he was there. Of course, I thought I was nuts...but I whipped out my cell phone anyway and called him, wanting to share the sunset with him somehow. His phone went right to voicemail...and I felt so sad. He didn't answer a text, either...and I figured maybe I'd gotten the whole thing wrong, that he was just a nice guy and that I'd been totally alone in my feelings.
When we got home, I had an email from him...his phone had died and he wouldn't have his new one for two days...but he wanted me to know so I wouldn't worry. Happy sigh. He wasn't blowing me off, and he was thoughtful, too. :)
I got home from Florida, and hugging Brian that night at rehearsal was probably the best hug ever. That weekend, I had a benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues with Hard Bargain. I'd done the show in August, and we decided to do a November benefit at Port Tobacco that Saturday evening to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Because I went to college in New Orleans, I had a particular affinity for N'Awlins and was all about doing this benefit.
Rehearsal was canceled that Friday, so Brian asked if I wanted to grab McDonalds and see the movie "40 Year Old Virgin" and then come over to run lines with him (since I hadn't done the show in months). Then he asked if he could drive to La Plata with me that Saturday to see the show. I was thrilled.
We stayed up that Friday night until 730am, giving no thought to the fact that I needed sleep to perform well! Brian played his guitar for me, I ran lines, we laughed. Always the laughter.
During our daytime rehearsal for Vagina Monologues, I ran across to the 7-11 with some of my castmates, Karn & Charmian. Karn asked me who the hottie was that I'd brought with me. Without missing a beat, I said "That's Brian...I'm going to marry him." When the words were out no one was more stunned that I was! I quickly laughed it off and went back to rehearsal. The performance that night was a success...we went to the local pub with the cast and the night air was a little chilly and we stayed up all night talking...again. The difference was that we couldn't seem to say goodnight to each other. So we agreed to get up in the morning and meet one of Brian's dear female friends and her boyfriend at the mall. When I woke up that morning, however...Brian was stretched out next to me! He'd come back downstairs after I'd fallen asleep and laid down (on top of the covers, people!). His eyes were the first I saw when I woke up and I'm pretty sure my heart stopped entirely. :) We couldn't stop smiling at each other...something that continued when meeting his friends, eating lunch at the mall, even when we were leaving and Brian slung an arm across my shoulders. I really felt like I was back in high school and the star quarterback was paying attention to me.
We went to mass that night. The first reading was Matthew's Parable of the Talents. Basically the idea was the brass ring...if you don't reach out and grab it, you'll miss a whole lot of wonderful. The second reading was Proverbs 31: The Worthy Wife...and when the priest began reading that passage, Brian reached out his hand and took mine. And then we looked at each other and everything else seemed to melt away.
After church, Brian asked me to come in before I went home because he wanted to talk to me. I thought for sure that he was going to tell me he was going to reach for the brass ring...with someone else. Not that there WAS anyone else but I couldn't know for sure. And then instead of talking, he kissed me. My parents, who have been married almost 50 years, told me that when you know, you know. And when Brian kissed me, I knew with every fiber of my being that this was the person I was supposed to be kissing for the rest of my life.
Our first couples pic...November 2005
As Alice & Tony in You Can't Take It with You...January 2006
And there it was. We were a couple. He told his parents, and I told our director, assuring her that our relationship would not get in the way of the show. Our cast members were really sweet, encouraging us. Roy, who played Grandpa, caught us kissing behind a curtain one evening and laughed and said "I could see that coming a mile away!" Carl, who played Donald, offered to DJ at our wedding...no one thought we were crazy. Everyone just accepted that this wasn't another theatre flirtation, that it was real. And they were right.
On our second date, Brian and I talked about the wedding we'd have, the children we'd have, the plans we had for the future. Everything was natural and normal.
From then on, we were completely inseparable. He flew to Florida with me a few months after we met to meet my family, who loved him instantly. Unbeknownst to me, Brian had been shopping for a diamond shortly after Christmas (yes, 6 weeks after we first kissed) and had found THE one, but had no idea what kind of band I wanted.
Spring 2006...just being happy being together
A Doll's House...summer 2006...we were playing Nora & Torvald when Brian proposed. :)
In July, he came home from work (I'd all but moved into his apartment since neither of us wanted to spend a night apart) and breathlessly asked me what kind of Irish band I'd want for an engagement ring. I laughed and told him that I wanted matching Irish wedding bands, that I wanted a plain band for an engagement ring. He was so happy that he raced out to the jewelers and had them set that precious diamond into a simple band.
The next day he brought it home...it was Friday, 7/7/06, we'd been together just shy of 8 months, and we were getting ready to go to a party. He asked me to take a walk...I initially resisted until he told me that it was the perfect temperature, a gorgeous sunset, and that he'd been cooped up in his office all day and needed to stretch his legs. So I agreed.
We walked to a little bridge over a pond where we often fed crawfish (I'd named my favorite Tom) and Brian asked me to go over to the side and find some sticks to throw in since the crawfish liked to play with them. I was bent over gathering a pile of little sticks when I heard his voice say "We've been talking about marriage since the beginning...we should make it official." I turned around and there he was, on one knee, cream leather box outstretched in his hand. The sparkling diamond was blinding me...I remember turning in a dazed circle so that Brian had to ask me to marry him twice. And then I said yes. :) And there was much screeching and whooping and tears and kisses. The emerald cut solitaire that I'd envisioned my whole life was slid onto my finger where it fit perfectly. Just like we fit perfectly. :)
Our engagement party...10/8/06...Shouse Village, Vienna VA
The flurry of planning began and it was exciting. We had a great engagement party that October with my parents and siblings flying in to Virginia...Brian came to Florida for Christmas with me that year...we starred as newlyweds in a British doorslammer called "No Sex Please, We're British" mere weeks before we got married in real life...I had a surprise bridal shower...I roadtripped to NJ to get fitted for my gown (which I'd designed and my childhood dressmaker and dear friend Frieda was making for me as a gift)...it was insane. I completely didn't know there were things like engagement sessions and bridal portraits...ah, to turn back time. Speaking about turning back time...
in retrospect, I think that left to our own devices, Brian and I would've run off together just then and gotten married...somewhere on the sea, or at a castle in Ireland. Instead we were traditional and had a Catholic service in Brian's childhood church. Because of the classes required for a Catholic marriage, called pre-cana classes, we couldn't get married until the following year. We originally set it for the autumn 2007 since we both love fall, but then couldn't wait another minute and got married the very first date the church would allow us to do so...April 21st 2007. The nine months we had to wait seemed like forever, but it did lead to a beautiful time to get married, during cherry blossom season.
Brian and I playing newlyweds three weeks before our actual wedding in No Sex Please We're British...March 2007 at FCT
Surprise Bridal Shower...fittingly on April Fools Day 2007!
Wedding prep! Mani/pedi, dress fittings, and the aged shamrocks from my Irish granny sewn into the hem of my wedding gown.
The weather leading up to our wedding was the worst in years...we had hurricanes! And then the tragic Virginia Tech shootings also happened that week. I wondered if there was any chance that our wedding would still be beautiful.
Friday, the day of the rehearsal dinner (given as a wonderful gift to us by Brian's mom & dad), dawned beautifully. It was the first calm, nice day in weeks. We felt the stirrings on hope that the pall that had been cast over the week would have a nice resolution.
Rehearsal dinner...our last night as not yet married people. :)
Best man Adam giving his awesome toast. :)
We were right...on our wedding day, everything was perfect. The day was the most beautiful day of the year...a brilliant blue sky, 70 degrees with a light breeze, and sunshine streaming everywhere you looked. As our best man Adam put it..."If the weather is any indication about how God feels about this marriage...you guys have got it made." :) He was right.
I kept my autumn color scheme of cobalt and copper even though it was hardly ideal for a delicate spring wedding. My two sisters, Brian's younger sister, and three friends were my attendants. Adam was Brian's best man and his cousin Sean, and our friends Eric and Marcus were his attendants. Most of our money (we paid for the wedding ourselves) went to the ceremony musicians (being an opera singer and a lover of classical music, it was really important to have a string quartet and an excellent soprano soloist taking part)...we planned the music in every detail. Totally worth it. I walked down the aisle to Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (my favorite piece of music ever) and the moment when I saw Brian's face was unlike any other.
St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Great Falls, VA. Stonewall Country Club at Lake Manassas in Gainesville, VA
Cobalt blue delphinium, coppery tigerlilies, and Bells of Ireland
Pre wedding...notice how calm and happy the two of us were. :)
Walking down the aisle with my Daddy
I got choked up during the vows. Brian stopped the tear flow by whispering a private joke in my ear which made me laugh and get back on track. :) You'd think a 23 year old would be nervous getting married so young, but not this guy. Cool as a cucumber and he couldn't stop smiling.
Because of traffic, our ceremony got off to a late start...ending up with us pronounced husband and wife at 11:11am. That number has become significant to us...it was the date of our "official" first date according to Brian (11-11-05)...when we landed safely in the US after our honeymoon, the pilot announced the local weather and time...11:11am. The cruise we'll be taking in November? 11-11 sail date. :) It's our lucky thing and we do all sorts of sweet goofy things like call each other at that time when we're apart, or kiss and dance around the house when we're together.
The vows, the kiss, the joy. :)
from Cinderella's glass slipper to bridal sneakers :)
In the limo ride over from the church to the country club, I traded my high heeled glass slippers for bridal sneakers...Brian had fancy sneaks made for me knowing how much I loved Annie's wedding sneakers in Father of the Bride. Mine were white keds with seed pearls, crystals, and white lacy laces. There have never been happier feet! :)
1st dance with my hubby, 1st dance with my daddy
We had a lovely reception on Lake Manassas...where I danced with Brian to Moulin Rouge's "Come What May" (how true!) and with my Dad to Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight". We rode in golf carts with the wedding party to get our photos taken which was definitely a blast. We ate delicious food and everyone enjoyed that as well as the open bar. It was very traditional and not as creative as I would've imagined our wedding and reception looking back, and yet, it was still really pretty and a success. We had a perfect day with no problems.
Our cake from Heidelberg Bakery, was a gorgeous 3 tier buttercream cake scattered with shamrocks...yellow cake with fresh raspberry preserves inside tasted heavenly. We fed it to each other nicely and neatly, per our agreement...signed in blood. ;)
After the reception, which ended at 5pm (our ceremony was a morning one)...we went over to my in laws for an after party. Because there were so many out of town guests, they graciously opened their house, and in grand Irish tradition, had a party. Brian and I hadn't planned on attending, but because so many people came such a long way to celebrate our special day, we really wanted to spend a little more time with them. So we made an appearance. :)
With my parents, Brian's parents, and then Brian's grandparents. :)
Our romantic pics :)
We booked a cute B&B for our first night as a married couple...it was a Victorian, with dark blue floral walls, lace curtains, a fireplace, and a gorgeous brass bed. The owners were a charming older couple and we had a wonderful time, waking up in the morning to an amazing breakfast, wearing the Bride & Groom shirts from my sister that we also wore on our flight that afternoon to Ireland. We also put in a final appearance at a brunch at the hotel my family was staying in...we felt a little like celebrities. :)
Our wedding gifts to each other? Well, we loved The Office, so of course I got Brian a Dwight Shrute bobblehead doll. :) I also got him a signed copy of the script from the movie "Misery", as Stephen King is one of his very favorite authors. (We actually took turns staying up each night during our engagement and reading our two favorite books aloud to each other.) Lastly, I got him a signed poster of one of late musician Elliott Smith's last concerts.
Brian got me a most cherished gift...a digital camera that was really awesome to take on our honeymoon. It was a point and shoot, but the nicest one I'd ever had. Not that I used it much...I only took 800 photos. ;) That was my serious gift. My silly gift was the entire series of 80s tv show The Golden Girls on dvd...which seems like a goofy gift but I LOVED it. I have watched the series so many times over our 5 years of marriage that I know them all by heart...the Girls are like having a posse of my grandmas always hanging out and giving good advice.
He also bought me a stunning Irish watch on our honeymoon. All in all, some darned good presents!
1st married couple morning pic...courtesy of our innkeepers
We spent an enchanted 10 days in Ireland (courtesy of my awesome parents), dividing our time between Shannon, Galway, and Dublin. We did a mix of lounging around and relaxing by the sea as well as taking the tours to the Aran Islands, to Connemara to see the wild ponies and the Cliffs of Moher to take in the Irish sea. We bought presents for each other, ate new foods together, and just let our heritage wash over us in a calming, meaningful way.
Cliffs of Moher
In the 5 years that we have been married, we have weathered many storms. We bought a home, rescued two dogs, changed jobs. Brian lost both of his grandparents. I had a family member with significant problems. We performed together a lot, playing dysfunctional couples onstage so that we rarely fought in real life. :) Brian wrote plays and had them performed. I went back to school. Most importantly...I got sick. I'd had health issues off and on for years, but nothing like this.
"For better or worse"...we took those vows seriously. Brian has exemplified those vows. He looks at my illness as an enemy he must fight, and he never blames me. Instead, he treats me like a princess. Every day, no matter how I am feeling, or acting, no matter how awful I may look...he loves me a little more than the day before. He is so beyond compassionate, empathetic, loving, joyful...he makes me laugh through my darkest days. He is the fairytale prince I dreamt of as a child, everything I could have hoped for and then so much more than I wished for.
1st and 3rd anniversaries on top, 2nd and 4th on the bottom. :)
A lot of people say that having mystery is the key to a good relationship. We have no mystery. We've seen each other at our best and our worst, have no secrets, and
For us, the key is knowing each other so well...being best friends as well as lovers. I still get tingles when Brian calls me from work (usually 2-3 times a day) and see his name in my email box. He says his heart actually clutches when he looks at me and tells me how beautiful I am.
We exchange wedding rings every single day since our marriage. Yup, really. Sometimes we make it formal and say real vows. Most of the time it's a quick silly made up exchange of words and rings. But it's a reminder every single day that we have a commitment to each other, that we choose, every single day, to be married, to be in love, to be partners in crime. We support each other's every dream, love each other when it's easy, love each other more when it's hard. Love never fails.
Remember that list? He fulfills 48 out of 50 things on that impossible list. The two he "fell short" on? One is that he's 5 years younger instead of 5 years older...the other is that he's messy instead of neat.
And you know what? I couldn't care less. :)
Thank you for indulging me on this trip down memory lane. It was nice to revisit all those sweet things, mainly because they've only gotten sweeter and better as the years have passed. I can't begin to image how much more in love we'll be in 10 years, 25 years, 50 years...I am just hoping that God gets us there, healthy, safely, with the same fantastic love and joy and laughter we hold so dear.
I'll wrap this up with a few lines from the Corinthians reading we had at the wedding. The other reading, of course, was The Worthy Wife. :) But this reading...we have this one framed on our wall:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails."
Happy 5th Anniversary, my Brian Michael Matthew Doyle. I love you with all of my heart and will love continue to love you...all the days of our lives.
Our own little fairytale.
I had the honor and pleasure of doing a maternity session for our dear friends J&D, who are expecting their first baby, a girl, in May. They are wonderful people, in love with each other and life, and they will be AWESOME parents. We spent a weather glorious few hours on Saturday in a local park, having fun with props. And sewer tanks...but we won't talk about that. ;) Can't wait to meet their little one!!!
So when I first started out as a photographer, I only wanted to do headshots. Headshots for actors, musicians, artists, etc. It seemed the most logical since I spent most of my life as a performer and certainly know a lot of 'em. Then I took some kid pics. Then some family pics. Then some artsy fartsy landscape pics with special editing. Then I did a few stylized shoots. Then some couples. Then some event photography. Small business photography. Then a wedding. Ahhhhh.
Since launching my business in October 2011, I've experienced most kinds of photography and have changed my mind at least a thousand times. :) I think I just love it so much and always feel good during & after a session that I can't say no to anything!
BUT...I finally made the decision to focus on engagements & weddings. It's a super competitive industry, and I am going up against people with infinitely more experience, better equipment, and major connections. And it's a little daunting. Ok, it's terrifying. I look at the portfolios of people just in my immediate area and get intimidated. Although I can spot weakness in certain photos, I don't usually look at the pics of others and immediately think I can do better. I simply look at the photos and wish I'd be there to capture something different. Or wonder what angle I would've used or what lens.
I get excited going through magazines and creating pictures in my head of the next wedding I'll shoot. The bride from the first June wedding I shoot this year just sent me a photo of her wedding dress...and that inspired me so much. I now know exactly what vibe this wedding is going to have, and I already have a series of poses for her AND for her groom that will fall perfectly into place
I did my stylized bridal shoot this past weekend with the intent of getting better at what I do...so that my 2012 and 2013 brides & grooms will benefit from that practice and work. I want them to have an incredible experience. I already feel confident in my ability to take good portraits when time is on my side and I can manipulate certain elements (and get a few do-overs if needed!), but working with different lighting, being quick on the draw with several lens lengths, action shots, etc...those are the moments at the wedding that require a fast eye and a deft hand.
I plan to continue taking headshots and pursuing the couples/engagement/marriage/loveydovey kind of photography because that's my true passion. I'm a gooey person and I love photographing other gooey people. :) My other sessions...family and kid portraits, pets, maternity, etc. will mainly be reserved for family & friends. I will continue to take other projects (for small businesses and other random possibilities) as they come, and I hope to take on volunteer work whenever I am able. What's the point of doing this all if you can't ever give back to the community?
I hope I've chosen well. I know that no matter what, I will love what I'm doing, and give each session I shoot 1000% every time.
Wow. I'm tuckered out. Yesterday was an amazing day even though it was mentally and physically exhausting. The experience was amazing, and I'm really excited about the photos.
My models Jocelyn, Becky, Krystal & Jess couldn't have been more perfect. They came with beautiful makeup and hair, three with their own gowns and Jess modeling two antique gowns graciously donated to us by Katy O'.
In mid April, I was not expecting the temperature to hit 90 degrees. And the cloudy day I was promised became full sunshine. Both things are photography setbacks. And yet, you'd never know it from the final results...the sun hid behind clouds as needed and at other times gave us brilliant, stunning light. The brides in spite of the heat and their heavy gowns managed to look cool and beautiful in every shot.
The ladies attracted quite a bit of attention as they wandered the cemetery in their gowns from passersby...they got honks and waves and smiles. The Antioch Baptist Church in Haymarket is a lovely, quaint, peaceful spot, and much gratitude goes to Mrs. Gardner at the church and Lisa N. for suggesting the area in the first place!
After an hour there, we headed to my in laws beautiful home in Vienna, VA. They along with their neighbors opened their yards, porches, gazebos, etc. to our shoot...what a blessing! The flowers, bushes, and trees made the backdrop of the photos look like an enchanted garden.
*I need a stylist. A person to not only come up with the concepts based on my vision but to help me execute them. Someone to shop for everything and then organize it all. I spent far too much time yesterday running around in the heat changing tablecloths and place settings than focusing on taking the photos. Brian's a darling but he doesn't know how to set a pretty table. :)
*I need to pace myself better. I get carried away talking to people and enjoying their company and completely forget that there ARE time constraints.
*Even with all the poses in my head that I've studied and come up with and planned for in two months of prepping for this shoot...more than half of them didn't even come close to happening. I may start out with all kinds of ideas, but then when I'm actually there, with the models, in the setting...new pictures form. And there's only so much time to execute those new ideas.
When all was said and done, I was tired beyond belief, but also really happy and satisfied. I got to shoot in a few different locations, with four beautiful women who are different and exemplified different types of brides, using my new lenses. I learned more about shooting in direct sunlight, about dealing with the heat (always a problem for me), about making things work when the things I want to happen can't quite get there because of x,y, and z. I learned more and more about going with the flow, not spending too much time trying to capture any one photo, and even more about composition.
I feel like I'm starting to paint pictures with my camera, and that makes me happier beyond anything. Photography is an art and should be treated with respect and joy and the utmost care. I still have so much to learn but I feel like I can go anywhere as long as I never forget to keep practicing, keep learning, and keep having the same joy in it that I have now.
Many thanks to all who made it possible, especially Brian, Bill & Beth, their sweet neighbors, Jocelyn, Becky, Krystal & Jess. :) XOXOXOXO!
Sunday's the day! The day where I photograph beautiful ladies in wedding gowns all day long. :) I'm so excited We're shooting at a historic one room church/cemetery for the first part of the day, then a local set of lovely yards where I'm doing some table settings and more formal shots. My in laws and their neighbors are kindly donating their space to us and I'm really grateful.
I've purchased the items for the place settings and gathered all the bridal stuff I could find (many thanks for the donations of special items such as antique wedding gowns and decorative items from Katy O'. and Lisa T) and now I just hope everything runs smoothly this weekend. Becky, who has a peacock theme to her ensemble, made this gorgeous barrette for her hair...I can't wait to see it! Jocelyn has a Cinderella theme and we've got a little pillow and a dazzling shoe and a tiara for her. Jessica is my LOVE bride...so we've got hearts and roses for her...and if Krystal is able to join us, I plan a Snow Fairy type of theme for her. :)
It's supposed to be overcast, which is dreamy for shooting...but this beautiful 60 degree weather is supposed to increase by 30 degrees. 90 degrees in mid April??? That's not a happy thing because I don't like the heat myself plus I don't want my ladies in gowns fainting or being uncomfortable! So I'm hoping Mr. Weatherman is wrong (per usual) and that it's more like 70s hot than 90s hot. :)
During the day tomorrow I have an all important maternity session with my friends J&D who are expecting their first baby next month. I can't wait for that!!!
Tomorrow night I make the bouquets...yay! I'm sticking with simple flowers and ribbons but I hope they turn out beautifully. The next time I do this type of group shoot I am enlisting the help of my darling friend Erin, who is extremely talented in all things beauty and craftsy and would totally be an asset to a project like this. I'm just the photographer. :)
It's hard to do this type of thing on a tiny budget (especially when you've got big vision)...but it makes all the help everyone has given that much sweeter. Someday I hope we'll be able to do this all in grand style, but I won't ever forget the people who made the little things happen. :)
I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!!!
I loved this pic of my husband Brian and I dancing at our reception. It was a sweet moment that our photographer caught. This formal pic of me as a bride I love because it's not me at all. I'm the smiley type, bordering on goofy. This reminds me of the old fashioned formal bridal portraits a la "Father of the Bride" that they used to do, and I feel all classic and important. ;) The last one I adore because even though my face can't be seen all that well, you can see the lift of a smile...and the huge smile on Brian's face...this was right after my Dad gave me away and we linked arms for the first time to continue our walk to the altar. You can see our joy. I also love the little face of our flower girl, Tiffany, as she looks to see what all the fuss is about. :)
Everyone has a favorite wedding photo. Or, if you're like me, several favorite photos. :) Our wedding photographer did an adequate job...he got all the important moments, he was pleasant and unobtrusive, and he caught a few pics I really loved. But he wasn't involved. He didn't get any really romantic pics (except the few that I specifically requested), and there were some crucial pics missing. But I think that's because I didn't get a chance to chat with him. Our photography company (a commercial unit that randomly assigned photographers to weddings) didn't offer engagement sessions or meetings with the photographer, so we didn't meet him until the day of. There were no pics of me getting ready (which is personally my favorite wedding photo segment)...or detail shots. There weren't any artsy or dreamy photos, nothing in black and white or with any type of editing at all. I found out later that he hated wedding photography and it was just a stepping stone to doing what he really loved, which was international landscape photography and celebrity portraiture...which he's really good at. :) But weddings weren't really his thing and I wish I'd known that before hiring him.
As I come up on celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary, I realize that while photos were terribly important to me, I was really passive in finding a fantastic photographer, one that understood us and our special relationship. I knew what I wanted, but I didn't know how to ask for it. I didn't know I was SUPPOSED to ask for it. Now being a professional photographer, I look at things very differently. I had no idea I had to edit all the pics myself (lifting shadows off faces, fixing little imperfections, getting sharper or more colorful images)...I assumed that my pics would look like the ones they presented on the website. Haha...so naive!. Photographers often show their best work that's been fully edited/retouched, and clients don't realize that there are extra fees that require that level of editing.
For my photos, including engagement and wedding pics, everything the client gets has had post production work. I ensure that there's the highest quality in clarity, color, and a flawless finish to the best of my abilities. What you see on my website and in my portfolio is what you get.
For my brides and grooms, I recommend that you come up with a list of "must have" photos to give to me. We'll definitely talk about the style and vibe you're going for during your engagement session as we get to know each other, but it's really great to write down the photos that you can't live without ahead of the wedding. :) It's also good to have a little "wishlist" of photos...it's not a guarantee that I can capture all of them but I will absolutely make it my focus to do that. A lot of photographers focus so much on getting something in THEIR artistic vision, their own must have shots...and they forget about things that are the most important to their clients.
Our photographer did get some of the Must Haves below...like my Dad and I smiling at each other pre ceremony...Brian and I smiling at each other amidst the chatter at our reception...and between my two older sisters outside on the bluff overlooking the lake. These are the photos that are framed and on display in the house because they hold the most meaning.
I don't mind the occasional photo snap from a family member or friend during the ceremony, but I would advise the bride & groom to ask them in advance to be respectful of the person you actually hired to take the wedding pics. I had an event I photographed back in December and literally had parents and random people shove me with my camera and equipment out of the way to get a photo with their cell phones! I'm not by nature a combative or competitive person, so I'd rather just calmly and professionally do my job without the flash interference or having to ask people to move...I try to be polite and unobtrusive, esp. during the ceremony, and don't want anything to take away from the main event...you & your vows!
That said, people taking random photos during the reception isn't a problem for me. There's a lot more leeway in taking photos then for me, and sometimes a family member or a friend gets a fun moment that I might not be able to get...
Like the one above of us laughing in our limo...our friend Pam snapped it and we love it. Or the one of us in black and white walking away from the crowd...our friend Andrea (now a professional photographer herself) which I adore. Or the pic I took of us in the limo...our first married couple "Greencard". Those pics are important and wonderful.
So as you're choosing your wedding photographer, it's not really about how much experience the photographer has (although they need SOME experience!), or how much it costs (remember that you're investing in something that will last a lifetime)...it's about choosing someone you feel comfortable with...someone whose work you respect and like, someone who understands what photos mean to you, someone who gets your unique relationship, and someone who you know will be calm, cool, collected, fun and dependable on your wedding day. The photographer you select should be the one you trust to make your magical day last forever in the images he or she captures.
It's a big responsibility, and one that I cherish. I look forward to talking with you about your special day. :)
*Please note that all the photos displayed on this blog were hand edited by me and not the photographer who originally took them.
There is a box in our living room. It sits, taunting me to open it. I wish I could. It's an anniversary gift from my husband, Brian. We celebrate five amazing years of marriage...on April 21st. That's 12 days away, people! 12 days of watching that box in the living room. I KNOW what's in the box. It's something from Kelly Moore...if you're a camera enthusiast, you know why I'm salivating. :)
I don't know exactly WHICH beautiful Kelly Moore camera bag is in there, but I know it's in there. And I want to tear open that box and hug that bag, badly.
Brian's gifts should be arriving soon as well. I know he will also want to open his, but because he's a grown up and not a small impatient child like myself, he will be able to resist temptation. I suppose I could rip open the box, gaze upon the loveliness that is inside, then tape it back up. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, my hubby reads me like a book and no matter how good of an actress I am, he would still know that I'd peeked.
The great news is that I will have that bag in time for my May engagement shoots, when I definitely need my whole array of lenses. It's not that my little camera bag that I have now isn't good, but it's not the fabulousness that IS Kelly Moore. I pointed out numerous styles of her bags that I liked to Bri, and then trusted him to pick out which one he thought fit me best.
Now, to wait 12 long days to seize my prize! Brian Doyle...you better find ways to keep me occupied! ;)
Need a large, stylish, durable camera bag to protect your lens babies? Kelly Moore has your bag: http://www.kellymoorebag.com
I got to revisit my friend Deb in her home workshop this past weekend and photograph new pieces of her beautiful jewelry collection. I was so excited to shoot rings, bracelets, pins and necklaces in natural light this time and the weather was perfect! I shot the rings on traditional pillows, the bracelets on a traditional leather piece, and the necklaces on a bust, but with the earrings, we used vintage glasses to showcase them. It was a lot of fun and I think it really brought out their beauty without taking away from it.
Deb does handcrafted pieces that are very intricate. Her pieces don't fall into any one style or category. She uses a mix of metals (sometimes chemically treating and/or hand painting them), gemstones, crystals, antique pieces, whimsical touches, beads, pearls...everything under the sun.
Please visit her website at: http://www.naturaltreasuresbydeb.com/
or her etsy page at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/NaturalTreasuresbyDe
I put some of my favorite pieces below...and I got a few snaps of the lady herself at work! ;)