We love it when our couples bring other family members along for their engagement sessions – more specifically, the furry kind with wet noses and floppy ears. And if by some strange coincidence, your Uncle Joe fits that description, that’s fine too :). Samantha and Rich had originally scheduled their engagement session earlier this Spring – but our seasons have been very unusual around these parts, and we didn’t quite get the greenery we wanted. There was a slight risk it would be ridiculously humid and buggy at the NJ Botanical Garden around this time of year, but we couldn’t have asked for a more awesome day!
Several years ago, I took my wife out to dinner at a nice restaurant in the West Village. We had come across this particular restaurant on one of those restaurant documentary shows in Netflix – so we were both super stoked to be finally experiencing this restaurant in person.
The hostess greeted us warmly, and welcomed us to the bar as we waited for our table. The drinks were honestly some of the most delicious concoctions we’d ever had in our lives. Dinner was even better, which looked/tasted better than anything we could’ve ever imagined. Then arrived the dessert menu, which presented itself with 2 options:
1. Chocolate cake a la mode
2. Homemade apple pie
I kindly asked the waitress if I could have the apple pie with vanilla ice cream instead – a request which was flatly denied without any hesitation. I even offered to pay extra for the hassle, or even both desserts as separate items – and was denied again.
At this very moment, I was (mildly) peeved – why would they deny such a trivial request? Pie and ice cream just makes perfect sense, right? What could possibly be so objectionable about that? “I’m sorry sir, but we don’t do that here.” she said, before politely smiling and walking away.
It took several years of introspection (because my ability to hold a grudge is surprisingly uncanny) to finally conclude that maybe the restaurant’s policy on customizing desserts wasn’t so bizarre and strange after all. This revelation occurred to me as I was dining omakase at a Japanese restaurant, where a chef pretty much decides what you’ll be eating. Just imagine this: your personal chef would have spent his entire professional life combining textures and flavors in order to bring about the most incredible culinary experience you’ll ever have – and you’ll simply be there to receive all that yummy amazingness, no questions asked. Granted, there is a boatload of trust involved, and this probably isn’t the most ideal dining arrangement if you have food allergies/preferences. So while you don’t necessarily have to eat everything in front of you while dining omakase, it’s universally accepted that the chef will always offer his culinary creations on his own terms, period.
So why am I telling this story?
Having been a professional photographer over these past 8 years, we’ve seen all kinds of advice and special requests to alter the way we shoot/edit our images, write our contracts, and even how we run our business. In the beginning of our career, we would honor most of these requests because we were genuinely new to all of this and simply didn’t know any better; our portfolio would pretty much be all over the place in terms of style and color, and we’d have 6 different versions of a contract going out to the same group of friends. To say it was a chaotic first few years would be the understatement of the century. It took us several years of “experience” to finally build up enough confidence to say “Enough was enough – these were our products/services, this is how we’re going to produce/deliver them, and based on that information, prospective clients can decide whether or not we’re the right fit for them.” Once we decided to build a business and brand on our terms, our lives were forever changed for the better. After years and years of struggling, there was finally consistency, growth, and most importantly, appreciation.
Just like in the omakase restaurant story above, our clients fully understand what they’re getting themselves into when they invite us to document one of the most important days in their lives (it also doesn’t hurt that our online reviews read like a Carfax report). We understand and appreciate that many of our clients relinquish a great deal of control to a person they barely know, for one super important day that happens only once in a lifetime – but they’ve read the reviews, seen the work, and have reasonably concluded that they’ll be in good hands one way or another. In these 8 years of blood, sweat, and tears, we’ve developed a formula that’s done a wonderful job for our portfolio, clients, as well as our business. So why on God’s green earth would anyone want to mess with that?
Probably for the same reasons why some nincompoop in the West Village is demanding ice cream to go with great-grandma’s 90 year-old apple pie recipe:).
At this point, I’ve spent more time at the beach this past month than I have the 12 months preceding it. I’m certainly not one to complain, especially when hanging out with Justine & Gerard. We started their super-fun engagement session at a home that pretty much stepped out of a Martha Stewart catalog – these homes actually exist!!! Along with their two cats (which needed just a tad more coaching than their humans), we kicked off their engagement session in this gorgeous home, and made a beeline towards Asbury Park for part 2 of their engagement session down the Jersey Shore. These two met down the shore, lived there together for a number of years before hanging their hats down in Southern Jersey. So it was a little bit of nostalgia snapping these images on their old stomping grounds in Asbury Park, before wrapping up this engagement session along the boardwalks and beaches in Seaside. Beaches, cats, and champagne – seriously, what more could I possibly ask for?
Hair & Make-up: Marialena Minardi
Where do I even begin? When we arrived on site during the early wee hours of Natlie & Mihir’s wedding day in Philadelphia, I already knew it was going to be a doozy; with multiple ceremonies, elaborate dress changes, and all kinds of intricate, moving parts – there were enough details & coordination on this single wedding day to make most heads spin. From one of the most gorgeous mandaps I’ve ever seen in my career, to the incredible Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, to all the elaborate floral arrangements that were adorning the reception tables; everything was simply perfectly planned and executed. Throw in the family photographer, some crazy-awesome choreographed performances, one of the cutest dogs in the universe (hi Franklin!), and now we’ve got ourselves one helluva party! (And don’t even get me started with all that delicious food!)
Venue: Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia // Catering: Chand Palace // Ceremony: Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul // Officiants: Father Eugene Squeo (Catholic) and Maharaj Kaleshbahai Shukla (Hindu) // Hair: Dawn Gomez // Make-up: Marissa Pascone // Dress(es): Western – Bijou Bridal, Indian – Magic Mirror (ceremony) and Roopkala (reception) // Shoes: Badgley Mischka // Groom’s attire: Kora (Indian), Common Wealth Proper (Western) // Jewelry: rings- Uhr Jewelers, earrings- Kenneth Jay Lane, bracelet-Ben-Amun, Indian jewelry-Magic Mirror // Floral/Décor: Wedding Design // Entertainment: DJ Raj Minocha of DJ Sunny Entertainment // Stationery: Classic Creation // Favors: Donation to Hands Up For Haiti // Cinematography: Inzi Films // Planner/Coordinator: KM Management // Cake: Classic Cake
For Katrina & Stephen’s engagement session down the Jersey Shore, we had the chance to hit up the beaches before the crazy rush of Memorial Day weekend. We spent the afternoon near Stephen’s family summer home, which was just a hop, skip and jump to Lavallette’s beautiful sandy beaches. I had previously met these two lovebirds at Katrina’s brother’s wedding just last year, when she approached us after we’d just wrapped up family photos; it was then she promised to come find us when it was her turn. We probably thanked her for her kind words, and we pretty much forgot about it – that’s because guests say all kinds of nice things to us on a typical wedding day, and we’re certainly not one to chase folks down for promising us things when out and about, especially if emotions and alcohol are involved :). But sure enough, less than a year later, we found ourselves running around Casino Pier and the beaches of Lavallette & Seaside for one helluva fun engagement session. Bonus points for that sweet, sweet cruiser that was just hiding in Stephen’s garage, just waiting to make its photo debut!