A Post About My Passion

So I photograph weddings. To date, I’ve shot about 200 weddings. This July will mark my 10th year of being a professional photographer. Can you believe it? I can’t. I started off doing weddings for free in hopes of building a portfolio all while not being fully responsible in case my photos sucked. Some people go into the business being an assistant to an established photographer and others, well others, do what I did- tip your toe in the water and then dive in, fully submerging yourself all while having no idea what lies in those murky deep waters below you.

Wedding days are long, editing is exhausting and missing your weekends starts to make you feel like less of a human being. THAT being said, I wouldn’t trade my job for any other job in the whole world.

As a wedding photographer I make thousands of decisions all day. I decide where to take the photo, how to adjust our camera settings, who to put in the photo, how to pose the people in the photo, all while understanding where the light is coming from and how I want it to factor into the picture. I go through this routine about 2500 times over the course of eight to ten hours. So now you know what goes into making a great photograph but what do I photograph?  I cover the bride getting ready, her dress, her shoes and her jewelry. I have a second shooter that backs me up and also focuses on the groom. He or she needs to get the groom getting ready, his groomsmen and any details that are unique to him. Then I need to make sure we have the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, her family, his family, her on her own, him on his own and of course the two of them together. Then we need to make sure to have any details like favors, table decor, their flowers, the cake, the food and the rings. These are things we have to get OUTSIDE of what actually takes place during the day such as the ceremony and the reception where traditional moments take place.

*Photos from my first wedding of the 2016 season last weekend at Lighthouse Point Park in East Haven. It didn’t hurt to have a kick ass bride and groom 🙂

I also have a non-shooting assistant that is my superhero. She is a friend who became a bride and then became an employee. I shot Melissa’s wedding in Key West three years ago. Since then we realized that she would be an amazing asset to Capture Photography. During any given wedding day that is full of energy and sometimes straight up stress, Melissa keeps me in check. She’s the type of person that knows what I need before I even know! It’s hard to imagine my life before her. I’m not sure if other photographers have non-shooting assistants but I feel bad for you if Melissa isn’t part of your day. She no only helps me, but she is there for every possible need the bride or groom have throughout the day. No job is too big or too small for her.

*A screenshot of Melissa holding the plate of food that she got for the bride and groom who need a snack mid-shoot. It’s a long day and our bride and grooms need to be fed!

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The truth is, to be a wedding photographer  you not only need to be a talented photographer you also have to be very good at marketing, business, accounting, client relationships, finances, advertising, psychology, social media, sales and bookkeeping (just to name a few). My point is that unfortunately anyone who isn’t really great at most of this stuff, regardless of their talent, will soon find that wedding photography isn’t for them.

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I can say one thing: it is for me. I never second guess my ability at this point, 10 years into it I know I can handle anything that comes my way. Are there some aspects I am more confident in than others? Of course! But the main thing is, like anyone who is good at their job, I feel confident in the majority of what I do.

Have I mentioned that passion that comes with it? No? Well shit, lets talk about it. I love weddings. I can say that with a huge amount of honesty-I love weddings. I love that I get to photograph one of the most memorable days of people’s life. I love that these people’s family and closest friends are under one roof to celebrate true happiness! I feel like we should all have a lot more celebrations in our life that call for these wonderful people to gather, but alas, I will settle for a wedding.

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Now… have I seen some crazy shit? The answer is 100% yes. But you know what, that crazy shit is what makes the story of the day. And at this point in my career I’ve never encountered a wedding that had so much crazy shit it couldn’t take place. Remember, the only thing you TRULY need for a wedding is the bride, the groom and a justice of the peace. But just for fun’s sake, here are some of the things I’ve encountered over the years and once again none of these ruined a wedding, no matter how bad they were. I was at a wedding where the maid of honor fainted during the ceremony. I was at a wedding where the grandmother passed out in the bathroom and was taken to the hospital via ambulance during the reception. I was at a wedding where I wasn’t allowed to go in the church because I was a woman and I was wearing pants (I can’t make this up.) I was at a wedding where the best man was so drunk he gave a 17 minute inappropriate speech and had to be cut off. I shot a wedding where a hurricane prevented about 75% of the people from attending the ceremony, not to mention the reception hall had to close because of the storm. One time, in January, the fire alarm went off because it was faulty causing all the guests to stand outside on the coldest day of the entire year (bride and groom posed in front of a fire truck because they were kick ass!). I had a bride find out the morning of the wedding that the florist had no receipt of their order and wasn’t able to fill it the day of— leaving them with no flowers! I had a father of the bride show up to reception standing and carrying a sign that said, “I wasn’t invited!” One time the limo driver go so lost the bride showed up 45 minutes late to the church. Another time while I was shooting on a grassy area of Mystic Seaport, all the sprinklers went off soaking the bride, groom, the entire wedding party AND my equipment. On the way to a Newport wedding we stopped at subway. When we got to the wedding I realized I left my purse and wallet there and neither my second shooter nor my assistant knew how to drive stick so I had to have my friend from Newport find the subway, find my purse and deliver it to the wedding. I had a wedding where they weren’t sure if they should do it outside or in because the forecast was iffy. They decided to do it outside and I kid you not- as soon as they said, “I now pronounce you man and wife,” thunder and lighting came over the ceremony site and rain poured down. As if that wasn’t enough the fire alarm went off in the building, making everyone who ran inside— come back out into the rain. Oh did I mention the bride and groom who posed with their guns pointing at me for a photo! I could go on and on! I think one day I’ll just have to write book.

*The bride and groom who rolled with the punches that cold winter night when the fire alarm went off!

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*The bride and groom packing. I have to admit it was a pretty f*cking badass pic. Identities concealed of course!

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As crazy as that stuff was none of it could have prepared me for the news I got earlier this year. One of my grooms had died. My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach when I heard. I remember him being one of the most ecstatic grooms I had ever met. I remember his overwhelming happiness was contagious. At one point while everyone was dancing, he stopped and took the microphone from the DJ to simply express his feelings of gratitude and happens. Everyone stopped what they were doing and listened to his words that were clearly so genuine.

I suppose I can say I’m happy I was able to photograph one of the best days of his life but it’s hard to see any positive to a crazy situation like that one. Neither me or any of his friends or family should have to be thankful for those pictures for that reason.

I will say that news hit me like a ton of bricks. I can say that now, every once in a while when I’m shooting I remember what happened to that couple and I shoot a little harder. I work a scene that is already over, I shoot a detail that might seem insignificant to me but probably means the world to them. I remember to get shots of everyone by themselves, especially the older folks as its so important for us all to have a photo that truly represents us and remind us of how beautiful we are.

So is my job all rainbows and butterflies? Well no, but sort of. I would happily take all this craziness as a part of my job everyday because it’s what I love to do. Photography makes me feel alive and when I can capture some of the greatest  moments of someone else’s life I thank god for giving me the talent to do what i love. As I mentioned before, these moments all become part of the story of the day. I try to remind my couples ahead of time to not sweat the small stuff. I try to remind them to live in the now and take each moment as part of a greater experience and truly treasure it. So for now, well who are we kidding? Forever — I will do this job and be grateful that I can call my passion my career.

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And this post is brought to you by a song that I loved when I was growing up and I love even more as an adult.

When Mary Beth Got Her Groove Back

So I’m sure as you can tell by photos and posts, Greece was the most amazing trip of my life. I’ve done a lot of traveling but nothing compared to that trip. The timing was perfect, the culture was amazing and the number of weeks I was there was just right. So when I came home, I expected a rejuvenation that would make me sparkly, happy and ready to rock. I was wrong. I’ll explain how I quickly I realized I was not so happy to be home. I get off my flight in NY and grab my bags and walk outside to look for my ride. As soon as I walked outside I heard a man on his cell phone go, “No f*ck that man, f*ck you and your bullsh*t motherf*cker.” At that point I literally almost turned around and bought a ticket back to Greece.

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Getting thrown back into American culture and New York culture, nonetheless, was quite a shock. I had imagined that upon my return I would be so excited to share my stories and see my friends and family but I found myself pulling back from all of that when I returned home. I will say that getting Pixel back was by far the highlight of my first week home. That little nugget makes my heart happy. I really wasn’t prepared for what I now know as post-vacation-blues. I learned that this is a real thing by doing what anyone does these days when they want to learn about something, I googled it. Wikipedia says, “Post vacation blues may result in tiredness, loss of appetite, strong feelings of nostalgia, and in some cases depression. Jet Lag may intensify the post vacation blues.”

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I found myself not wanting to leave the house and not wanting to talk to anyone. I felt like every time I talked to someone and tried to explain how amazing the vacation was, I was taking away a small piece of what I experienced. Nothing I said was doing my experience justice and therefore I wanted to keep it to myself, keep it safe and keep it sacred. And I felt like a real jerk because I had all these wonderful people who wanted to see me and hear about this once in a lifetime experience and I didn’t want to share. I wanted to keep it all to myself in fear of losing it.

One night I found myself explaining my feelings to my friend Steve- – over text of course because I hadn’t left my house except to go to work for about a week. I explained to him this feeling and how I wanted to snap out of it. He said, “You don’t have to snap out of it, you have to carry Greece with you and carry the way you feel.” It made so much sense. It was so simple but it made so much sense. My time in Greece was never meant to be explained in one conversation or one blog post or one photo. It was something that would impact me for a lifetime and my job was to slowly allow myself to understand it and then like Steve said, carry it with me.

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Since then I slowly but surely came out of my funk. I started seeing more people, going out more and talking about my time. I knew that not every conversation could do Greece the justice it deserved but I also knew that it was an experience that didn’t necessarily need to be explained, it would be seen. I am finding new ways every day to put Greece in my life. I’ve already done three day trips to small towns in New England to remind myself that travel is a necessity in my life and it can be as simple as a two hour drive to discover a town I’ve never been to before. I’ve taken time out of my day to stop and lay down in the sun. I am doing things like reading and writing on an almost daily basis- things that normally I only save for vacations.

IMG_2907 *one of my day trips was to the Lizzie Borden house in MA. If you don’t know her, she killed her mom and dad and we toured the house where it happened!

IMG_2956 This is another day trip to Shelburne Falls in MA

So the fear that I would lose Greece has been just the opposite. Greece is becoming a part of me more and more every day. I have even found ways to bring it into my work. I’m seeing things in a different way and can feel myself photographing from a different perspective and it’s pretty amazing. So if I see you out and about and you ask me about my trip, know that I might not have the exact words to describe the incredible experience I had but I’m learning each day how to carry it with me.

IMG_2881* Reuniting with my nieces was probably my favorite reunion!

Todays Post is brought to you by the song that always puts me in a good mood 🙂

A Non-Travel Related Blog Post

So here it is, my very first personal-non-travel-related blog. For those of you that don’t know, I had originally intended to go to school for photography and when that didn’t work out (2 weeks prior to the first day of college!) I ended up at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. I first realized how much I loved writing during my creative writing class in high school taught by Mrs. Corvino. For all you teachers out there don’t forget your impact on students. I give so much credit for what you do and there are probably so many students out there who never get the chance to tell you how you affected their life. In fact, I’m going to look up Mrs. Corvino and tell her!

So I’ve decided that I need to keep up with this writing thing and start a weekly blog. I don’t have an exact science as to what it will be about but you could probably ask anyone I know and they’ll tell you that I always have something to say. Like the description of the blog says, “If you ever heard a story about a friend whose friend had this crazy thing happen to them, that friend was probably me.”

This post is basically my announcement to the world that you’ll be seeing and hearing more of me and honestly, who doesn’t want that?! 🙂 Also, as much as I want these posts to have personal interest to me, I’d be intrigued to hear what you all would want to hear about. SOOOOOO… if you go back to Facebook after reading this, under this post please post A, B, C or D based on what you think would be most interesting for you to read.

A. My life as an entrepreneur, the events that surround the life of a photographer and running a small business

B. Stories about personal events such as love life, family, friends and general day-to-day adventures

C. A how-to blog about kicking ass, taking names and pursuing your passion in life with personal experience/stories to back up these inspiring posts

D. A combination of all of the above

While I’m speaking directly to my readers, I’ll say thank you! I can’t tell you how many people helped me realize that a personal blog would be a great addition to my creative lifestyle. I got these amazing texts, emails, and in-person comments about my writing. Thats a great thing to hear and I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that these people felt compelled to share their thoughts with me. In fact I had a complete stranger come up to me the other day in Essex and somehow she knew me but I did not know her. She explained that someone had shared one of my posts on their feed and that she was head over heels in love with my writing. Now thats a pretty killer compliment!

Don’t forget to go back to Facebook where you originally saw this post and underneath it type the letter associated with what you think would be most interesting to read about on a weekly basis. A-Life of photog, B-Personal stories, C-Inspiring/motivating ideas D-All of the above. Cheers to the future of this blog and the support that comes along with it!

Blog Post #7, All the Sh*t that happened in Greece

So by now after you’ve heard all the amazing and wonderful adventures I had on my trip, so aren’t you ready to hear all the crap that happened?! I figured it would be fun to tell the other side of the story! So lets go from once in-a-lifetime experiences to some crappy shit that happened while I was there 🙂

Here is a quick rundown:

  • After driving the ATV that day, I left it at the top of town, went to dinner and when I returned it wouldn’t start. The gas had been siphoned out of it, and I was literally stranded and had to hitch hike my way back to the hotel.
  • I forgot to pack my flip flops. I FORGOT to pack my flip flops.
  • I attempted a selfie with a selfie stick (I know, I know) and proceeded to drop my brand new iPhone 6+ which then cracked into about a million pieces on the third day I was there making it next to useless the rest of the trip.
  • My brand new phone case magnetically holds my phone in place and has a space on the opposing side for my credit cards. The upside is thats perfect because I hate carrying a purse. The downside? The magnetic strip of my credit cards was literally stripped which made them impossible to use. I was left with the small amount of euros I originally came with and a bunch of “broken,” credit cards that were useless.
  • The adapters I brought over to charge my electronics were for Italy, not Greece.
  • When I finally found an ATM that accepted the chip of my debit card, the machine ate it and refused to return it to me, leaving me with 2 broken cards instead of 3.
  • I overslept the morning of my flight. Like I don’t mean sort of overslept, they said they knocked on my door 4 times before I answered. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the numerous Jameson on the rocks I consumed the night before. I made it to the airport with about 15 minutes to spare.
  • I followed a road trip I found in a book with my car which was clearly outdated. The car and I ended up on a cliff with no way to do a 3 point turn which left me reversing for over a mile on a space about 5 feet wide. When I went to get help a donkey approached me and I ran back to my car. It followed me back and walked about an inch in front of it as I drove backwards — for the ENTIRE MILE, making it impossible for me to go forward even if I wanted to.

Now wait for it because you knew it was coming… all these things happened and guess what? Not only did it make the trip more interesting and yes even stressful at times but none of it impacted my health or overall happiness and here I am telling you about a story where a donkey basically hijacked my car because I went down the wrong road and he wasn’t having it! Who else can say that?!

I am home now and I have to say it was fun to reflect on these things. I think the people at home whom I spoke to while I was there and heard about these stories, were way more stressed than I ever was about any of it. A lot of people have said to me, “I can’t believe you went to Greece all on your own, I could never do that.” But here is the thing, you can! My motto is, whats the worst that can happen? And please, really think about that. Do you think that none of this stuff would have happened to me if someone else was with me? I mean maybe someone would have said to me, “Hey MB, maybe we shouldn’t go down this very narrow road that has a cliff on the side because we won’t be able to turn around or even worse, perhaps a donkey will be pissed we intruded on his space and try to back us out on his own!” Other than that, the rest would have happened and it would have all been part of the story and if our whole lives were perfect blogs about a Greece vacation, what would the fun be in that? You gotta live a little and let life test you. These little adventures only made me more confident in traveling in the future! So the next time you see someone doing something and you think, “I could never do that,” consider what the worst thing is that could happen. I mean I could not go get my morning tea today because I have a higher chance of dying on my way there than I do on my flight to Greece but what kind of life is that? Go out and live!

Another thing people said to me, “Oh my god, you are going to Greece? But they are in economic/political turmoil, are you crazy?” Guess what, Greece sure is in a really bad way today, but now more than ever, I am so happy to spend my hard earned money on a country that deserves it. The people, the places and things that I saw- I want them to be there for a LONG time, long enough for me to bring my own children there someday. So yes, they are dealing with political unrest within the country but they love their tourists and I can’t imagine a better group of people to take my money than the Greeks.

Thanks for keeping up with all of my adventures. If you missed any, you’ll see there are little arrows on the bottom of this page that will let you scroll through all the blogs. But for now, I’m signing off and leaving you with one last song. I listened to this song every single day on my trip and it will forever be associated with the best 3 weeks of my life, enjoy.

Click on the picture for the song.

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PS- I just got this update on George today!

“Mary!

George can walk normally now and he is enjoying his life at the farm. I have attached one more picture of him!

-Georgina”

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Greece, Blog Post #6, Holding out for a Hero

I walked into the reception area of the gorgeous hotel I was staying at, Dream Island Hotel (http://www.dreamislandhotel.gr). I had a question for the owner. While we were chatting I heard a tiny cry and she mentioned “baby,” and asked if I wanted to see. So of course I said yes and that is when I met George, the baby sheep.

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The owner of the hotel runs this gorgeous place and also owns a farm on the island. In her spare time she takes in any animals that need a little TLC. She recently acquired two baby sheep; one was at the farm and one was at the hotel. George was the hotel, he was two days old, as cute as a button and having trouble walking. They weren’t sure why he was like this but you could tell he hung on to every word the owner said, as if she were his real mom. He would follow her voice everywhere it went. George became a really big part of my trip to Santorini. I found myself habitually going into reception to check on him, see if he was eating and gaining weight. One day while I was there her daughter mentioned they need a new box for him because this one they had wasn’t cutting it.

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Here’s one thing about me you may or may not know. If I have something in mind that I need or want to do, I make it happen. It can be becoming an owner of a photography business or finding a brand new box for George. Both will happen with perseverance, time and patience and both will be worth it in the end 🙂

That day I rented a car to explore the island further. I’ll describe driving on these islands to you like I told my dad, “You know how in Ireland they have super tiny roads in the old towns and the only way to get by is for someone to pull over? Well it’s like that except no one pulls over. Both people go at full force and somehow make it out on the other side.” Driving here reminds me of the scene from Footloose when Kevin Bacon and that other dude get on tractors and “Holding out for a Hero,” by Bonnie Tyler is playing in the background. That song played as my own background music in my head every time another car was coming towards me in the other direction. Thanks to that this post is brought to you by,

The good news is that neither me nor any Grecian ended up in a dirty river. Not that I know of…

So the journey, although tense at times, was awesome. I came across so many places that you wouldn’t normally see and tons of places the normal “tours,” would miss. I like have my own means of transportation so that I can stop and go as I please. By mistake I came across this beach with black sand. It had some sort of bar that had been closed down for quite some time. There, I found a moment of reflection when thinking of all the horrible, drunken decisions people probably made in this very space and while I was imaging those scenarios I found an old crate. BOOM! George- young 20-somethings and their tainted ways led me to your new little home.

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My days in Santorini were up but leaving George was the hardest part. The hotel lady, Georgina even told me they named his sister after me- Mary. Did you hear that? Mary and George- just like my own aunt and uncle 🙂 She also promised to send me updates on him. I think part of why he hit home with me so much is because they told me the reason the vet thought he wasn’t walking was because of a muscle disorder and of course I thought of my Bella. I saw the same strength in his eyes that I constantly see in her and I will be sure to update you all when I hear from them. If he follows Bella’s footsteps, even just one, he’ll be A-Ok.

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