I'd stay up late with her and we'd put on Lucy on Nick at Nite, while she chopped and added and basted. It always started with the stuffing, and that meant apples. Lots and lots of yellow golden delicious apples. Which she would peel in turn, in one big long curly cue. An unbroken chain like she had been doing for years. But we would always get to talking and she'd slice off that apple piece by piece with her knife and share it with me, until it was completely gone. And then she would have to start all over and peel another one. She never seemed to mind though. It was all just part of the process.
Eventually the celery and the walnuts and the onion that made her cry would all get chopped and added to the mixture. A base of cornbread dressing, chicken broth and her super secret ingredient that I'm still not at liberty to share. Because she swore me to secrecy. And thus began the longest night of the year. For the next eight hours, every hour on the hour I would hear my grandma jump out of bed and come shuffling down the hallway to check on Tom. She always called our turkeys Tom.
I would sleep on the couch by the light of Dragnet and Mary Tyler Moore, so that I could hear her coming. And then I would jump up too. And together we would peel back the tin foil tent and make sure Tom was still in there. And that he was gold & bubbly. So that, by the time 8am rolled around, we would have a fully cooked turkey on our hands. And we always started the day with turkey and dressing sandwiches for breakfast. If you have never had a turkey and dressing sandwich for breakfast, believe me when I say you have no idea what you're missing.
Throughout the day, we'd have turkey no less than three more times. And we'd put on all four hours of Gone With the Wind, so that Rhett Butler could keep us company while we played endless rounds of Sorry, Monopoly and Yahtzee. Those were good days. They were simple days, but they were ours. They were the kind of days that you just want to hold on to. To somehow freeze in time, so that you can live them over and over and over again. But time, as it does, marches on.
This year will be my first Thanksgiving without my grandma. And I am missing her so much. So I went out and I bought all the ingredients to make her stuffing. But the apples are not golden. We have pecans instead of walnuts. And I still can't peel in a curly cue. I have no idea how much celery to add or if one onion will be enough. Because she never had a recipe, she just always somehow.....knew. So it's feeling like there's something very big missing indeed. And a very large space to fill. Which is funny, because at four-foot eleven, there wasn't anything big about her at all. But then again, that was just my Grandma Goldie.
Whatever she did, wherever she went...she was always larger than life. And I'm so, so thankful for that.
Wherever you go tomorrow, whoever you're with...my hope is that you will burn those memories into your heart. That you'll soak in every second. Hug a little longer. Laugh a little louder. Play one more game of Yahtzee. Hold on to these moments as hard as you can. Because they only come around once.
It started over Dunkin Donuts. Hazelnut, sugar & cream coffee to be exact. And, being the huge Starbucks fan that I am, I can forgive them for that. Because every great love story has to have a start. And this just makes theirs a little sweeter. They were both interning for the summer at JPMorgan. And they found themselves passing in the halls, providing the same obligatory smiles and head nods. Never knowing just how their much their paths would cross in the future.
A quick senior year apart and they were back in those familiar hallways, working just a few floors apart. There were all the familiar smiles and head nods for sure, but somehow this time it all felt....different. As the long warm days of summer gave way to the chill of November, coffee and small talk gave way to dinner and movies. And the feeling of being inseparable. Until what they both started to realize was that it would be one path, their path together, stretching out into the future. Sure it may have started where they least expected it, over sugar & cream coffee to be exact. But that somehow just makes their story...
a little bit sweeter.
Meet: Kristy & TJ
We met up with these guys in the City over the weekend to do a quick shoot around their favorite baseball fields in Central Park, to spend time with their super cute pooch Buddy, and to capture these two just as they started. With plenty of sweetness. And it should be noted as a credit to how awesome these two are, that at the end of the shoot they gave us what? A starbucks gift card! K&T, it was our honor to spend the afternoon with you. And we can't wait to do it all over again this time next year!
After 4,586 failed takes, I finally have this video blog to share with you guys with a couple of really cool announcements!! :) Since I know some of you are reading this at work (you rebels, you!) here are the four main takeaways so you're still in the loop. For the rest of you, feel free to enjoy my 4,587th attempt!
1. We are putting on our first ever full length LIVE chat on December 3rd from 11am EST-7pm EST, and it will be broadcast right here on the blog
2. We are running a contest for FIVE lucky folks to join us here live in the studio and have their very own mini-mentoring session.To enter just email us your two minute or less video of why you want to join us to email@example.com by 10pm EST tomorrow!
3. We will then post the entries on our Justin & Mary facebook page on Wednesday morning where our facebook audience will vote & the winners will be announced on Friday.
4. Oh yea, and in case you didn't know, it is totally time to break out the cranberry sauce & stuffing.
Also, I would LOVE your help in spreading the word about the live chat!! Feel free to share on FB & Twitter!! xo
On day number one, he knew he liked her. On day twenty-two, he got her to agree. It started in a dive bar, if we're really being honest. A place where the NYU undergrads liked to go and hang out. A pick-up scene for the over-studied, if you will. And neither of them really knew why they were there. I guess it was because it was her friend's turn to pick the place, he was helping out a buddy. And life brought them together. But right at that moment, right as the plan unfolded....there were a thousand other places they could think of they'd rather be, when this boy stood next to this girl.
Twenty-one days later, he was on a train bound for Boston. And, in his excitement that he'd gotten her to agree to see him again, he had forgotten to plan anything else. But a chance meeting with a generous stranger, and two hours later they found themselves with the kind of reservations that are the ungettable-get. As he sat across the table from the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, he knew exactly how that felt. The days turned into weeks, the weeks into months. And through laughter and loss they became inseparable. Despite the miles between them. So on a cold day in November, they decided to make it official. To take the next step just as it had started, with just the two of them. As life had brought them together. And right at that moment, right as the plan unfolded, they knew there was no place else either of them wanted to be....
when this boy stood next to this girl.
Married: Mel & Geoff
One week ago today, Justin & I drove into the City to photograph the wedding of Mel & Geoff. Not an unusual thing, except that,with the exception of the officiant, we would be the only other guests. Which meant that not only did we document the wedding, we were actually the witnesses to it as well and signed the marriage certificate & everything. That was definitely a first! A couple of days before the wedding, we had planned a Skype with Mel to go over some of the final details. And that's when she said to us "y'know since no one else is going to be there, your pictures are pretty much how everyone is going to live it." Noooooooo pressure, right?! But then it really hit me, what an incredible gesture of faith & trust it was that they put in our hands. All of our clients really. To trust that we can tell a story for the people who weren't there, and to preserve the history for the people who were. It's a gift. It really is. And as we closed out our season, it reminded me more than I have really understood in a while what an honor it is to do what we do. Mel & Geoff, there is no way we can ever thank you enough for that. We love you guys!
Recently we were having lunch with a photographer when, as it so often does any place photographers gather, the talk turned to marketing & branding. Specifically, she asked us 1) if we had heard of this idea that in building a successful wedding photography business the Photographer is much more important than the Photography and 2) did we agree with it. Our answers in respective order were yes....and not really.
Let me explain.
First of all, the philosophy major in me, requires that before we go any further we should first set out and really understand what this argument is about. Both how it first started and what it has now become. I think that the first people to talk about this idea were actually really on to something. And at the time, it was pretty groundbreaking. The original version of this argument, the Photographer over the Photography, went a little something like this: Clients aren't really looking to compare portfolios down to the tiniest fractions of technical differences. They don't really care who has the most accurate exposure based on an 18% gray scale or the most correctly calibrated white balance on an RGB platform. In most cases, they didn't go to school for photography, they're not planning on looking at their images next to a histogram, and they aren't going to break out the rule of thirds and start drawing grids on the screen.. They just know what they like. What speaks to them. And how they want to remember their day.
And given that this is the place where they're coming from, above a certain minimum threshold of quality & style that they're looking for, it will be who the Photographer is as a person and not the actual work itself that these couples will base their final decisions on. Not the gear, not who's been in the game the longest, not the number of industry convention awards they've received. But the actual person behind the camera. How much that couple likes them, connects with them, and....ultimately....trusts them. So while the work and the emotion it evokes are really important, they are not the most important.
Like I said, pretty groundbreaking stuff at a time when years in business and number of medals ruled the scene.
But the problem is, that like a bad game of telephone, this argument has gotten pretty corrupted the more it's been repeated and passed from person to person over time. So that it now sounds something more like this: "yea, yea have good work or whatever...but not until you've finished your promo video and blogged about the latest episode of Glee." :) Ok, ok so I'm clearly building up a straw man here and my philosophy professor, Dr. Shapiro, would not be proud. But I think you get my point. That marketing the Photographer has become the name of the game, while the work itself has taken a backseat.
Hold up, wait a minute, rewind. Isn't this coming from a person who has a promo video and blogs about the latest episode of Glee? Well....yes. :) That's because we do agree that it's the Photographer, and the level of trust and connection that gives us with our clients. But the problem is, we also believe it's the Photography. That in fact... It's Both. That the Photography is just as important as the Photographer, and over time....it becomes even more important.
The Photographer over Photography argument is only really looking at the lifespan of the relationship with our clients from couple gets engaged to album & final prints are delivered. And in that very short (typically around two year) timespan, it can feel very much like the Photographer is so much more important. Because that personality, that connection, that trust people place in you because of who you are, and how much they feel like they would like you....well, it gets you hired. It gets you the job and the chance to take your shot in the first place. And let's be honest, getting hired is half the battle. But it's more than that. A likable personality, people skills, good instincts, a calming influence....they will also all come in to play for making your couple feel comfortable in front of the camera, having them trust you with incredibly intimate moments, and inviting you in to one of the most personal days of their lives. So who you are as a person can play a huge role in what it is that you are able to capture. Make no mistake, the Photographer is important.
But here's where it breaks down. If all we're ever focusing on is splashier & splashier marketing of ourselves as the Photographer but don't have the work to back it up, no amount of likability will cover for that transgression. Because the other half of the battle is that once the wedding is over, the work is all our couples have left. And in the sixty years that follow album & prints delivered, when we really start to think about our relationship with them in that time span, we understand that the more time goes on the more their connection will be to the Photography. Did it capture life in that moment? Did it preserve love? Did it document a history for the generations yet to come? As two people stepped out in faith. Because they believed that life & that love were always work the risk. Can they look back at those images- your images- fifty, sixty, seventy years from now and go right back to that day? Because make no mistake about this either, the Photography is just as important. And over time, it becomes much more so.
Don't believe me? Just ask yourself this....
When was the last time you looked at that black & white photo from your grandparents' wedding that they keep sitting on their end table....and wondered to yourself what the Photographer's favorite tv show was?
Yea, I didn't think so. :)
** We just shot our last wedding of the year on Friday, and this one in particular reminded me of what's really important. I can't wait to share the full post and their story with you tomorrow.