A Quick Trip to Dallas

Dallas-2.jpg

Two weeks ago I took my first trip to Dallas, Texas. I’ve been to Texas many times before - Houston, Austin, San Antonio - but not up to the place that perhaps coined the phrase “everything’s bigger in Texas.” It was…different. Everything really is bigger - roads, buildings, my anxiety…

The reason for my trip was for the biannual board meeting for the professional fraternity, Alpha Rho Chi, I am a member of and volunteer for. We rotate around the country for our meetings and this time went to Dallas where another one of our members lives. Dallas is far from my first choice of places to visit, but we don’t particularly choose our meeting locations for sightseeing, since it’s about business first and foremost, and most of the time is spent in a hotel room, making plans, reviewing policies and discussing goals. There was a high school music conference going on at the same time in our hotel and mid-day on Saturday we heard something in the atrium that made us pause our business and go investigate. On the third floor balcony, surrounding the interior of the hotel by 360 degrees, the student choir was singing hymns, their conductor on the ground floor, their voices echoing through the 12 stories, a perfect acoustical design, while guests came out of their rooms on all levels, memorized by their harmonies.

APX Winter Meeting 2019-1.jpg

We finished out work in the early evening on Saturday, and heading downtown from Richardson, where we were staying, to see a bit of the cultural district in the West End. At Pioneer Plaza, my friend and fellow board member, Hao, graciously agreed to model some of Todd’s bow ties, so we had a mini photo shoot among the native grasses in the garden where great Yucca stabbed me in the legs and bronze Longhorn Cattle statues looked on. From there we wandered to the John F Kennedy Memorial - a monument that from a distance looks like a giant Lego block. Designed by architect Philip Johnson, it is described as “an open tomb, that symbolizes the freedom of John F. Kennedy’s spirit.” The closer I got to it, the more powerful the feeling it invoked. Inside, you are all at once surrounded and unbound, tethered to earth by the monumental concrete and connected to the heavens as you look skyward.

Dallas-7.jpg
Dallas-8.jpg
Dallas-9.jpg

We admired the rest of the historic architecture of the area, including the Dallas County Tax Office and County Records Building and walked to the Grassy Knoll, the spot by Dealey Plaza where Kennedy was assassinated; a white “X” on Elm Street marks the spot.

Dallas-14.jpg

After a dinner of homemade tacos and playing with a yellow lab named Marley, four of us headed to the Uptown district to go out (not just stay out) AFTER my bedtime to go dancing at the Round-Up Saloon. If you have never been to a country and western bar and dance hall, you need to stop what you are doing and find yourself one. I have never seen men dance so well in my life and I left determined to learn out to at least line dance and maybe two step a bit more. At some point in the last decade I lost a bit of self consciousness and stopped caring what others may or may not think about me and decided to dance because it makes me happy, talent be damned.

I’m not sure when or if I will go to Dallas again in the future, but I’m glad I got to see a few things while I was there. My next Texas trip is in less than 2 months, this time back to Houston. Onward!

Bowties_Dallas-5.jpg
Dallas-1.jpg
Dallas-16.jpg
Dallas-4.jpg
Dallas-5.jpg
Dallas-6.jpg
Dallas-12.jpg
Dallas-11.jpg
Dallas-13.jpg

Thoughts on January

Each year, after the midwinter blizzards, there comes a night of thaw when the tinkle of dripping water is heard in the land. It brings strange stirrings, not only to creatures abed for the night, but to some who have been asleep for the winter. The hibernating skunk, curled up in his deep den, uncurls himself and ventures forth to prowl the wet world, dragging his belly in the snow. His track marks one of the earliest datable events in that cycle of beginnings and ceasings which we call a year.
— Aldo Leopold, "A Sand County Almanac"

The first of these 12 months of 2019 has come to an end and if felt like it could have been two months instead of just one. It started out with a good deal of art, helping inspire me for things to come. I took a visit to the Walters Art Museum one lunch and unexpectedly came across an exhibit on Japanese printmaking and the restoration of a large Buddha. The first weekend of January was the last weekend of an exhibition of the work of John Waters, a Baltimore icon and filmmaker - one such as Hairspray - and it was…interesting. He’s a weird dude. His art isn’t for everyone (probably not for me) but it is still inspiring to see someone who totally did his own thing, regardless of how others undoubtably felt about it. Plus it was a chance to visit with one of my girlfriends who came with me. Later that night I went to a gallery opening of some artist friends at a bar down the street - awesomely talented people I’ve been able to meet through volunteering at the Creative Alliance. I had several volunteer shifts at the CA as well, for Mdou Moctor and Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club. EBFC is an experience, what more can I say? Take some theater, mix in WWE and a dash of burlesque and you may have a vague idea of what to expect.

I had my first mentoring session with Kimberly Wilson and my iEvolution women’s group, a date with a friend to watch Anne of Green Gables, and a ladies dinner for an expectant friend. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many inspiring women.

Halfway through the month I took a trip for “the most low key bachelorette party ever” to Nashville with my bestie Cait. Apparently Nashville is the bachelorette capitol of the US, but we opted more for music, pedicures and vegetarian food than pedal cabs and rowdiness. Cait helped me to slow down and enjoy having a relaxing vacation rather than rushing to see all the things. We made candles, went to the Ryman, discovered new music at a little venue called Analog, ate great vegan food, drank wine, got pedicures by a fellow Pittsburgh native, and meandered our way through East Nashville for tacos and coffee.

The following weekend I headed to Dallas for my winter board meeting with Alpha Rho Chi, 2 days of prepping and planning for the upcoming semester and enjoying my last meeting on the board before my term comes to an end in June. We managed some time Saturday night after finishing our business to visit downtown Dallas to see the Kennedy Memorial and the Grassy Knoll and two-stepped at a cowboy bar later on that night, probably the latest I have gone out in quite a few years, now that I’m more the “be asleep by 10” type rather than the “go out at 10” kinda woman. No regrets! I was also able to take some of Todd’s bow ties and do a quick photo shoot with my friend Hao at Pioneer Plaza.

Unfortunately I was sick for the last 2 weeks of the month (still am actually) so I tried to take it easy after Dallas, reading and watching movies and just one night out to see the Tony award winning musical Fun Home at the Baltimore Center Stage.

February is a full month so I’m reassessing some of the goals I set in early January to see what is actually doable instead of berating myself for not being as “productive” in my down time as I feel like I should be. I read an article recently that talked about millennials always feeling like we have to be doing some kind of side gig or hustling in our spare time and though I’ve never really identified with the stereotypes of the millennial generation, that article did resonate with me. The things that have been hobbies have turned into jobs or work and I don’t know how to just relax and have pure leisure time. I realize that may be a very privileged thing to say in a world where many people are scraping by, but it’s a realization that I need to consider.

Stay warm this winter and enjoy this winter season!

(Photos: Buddha at the Walters, preparing my desk for the start of the year, great sign in Nashville, Cait and I at the Ryman, at candle-making, believe in Nashville, Caitlin Canty, me in my new coat, Dallas photo shoot, Alpha Rho Chi Grand Council in Dallas, dancing in Dallas, Fun Home playbill)

Federal Hill Baltimore Wedding - Second Shooter | Wedding Photography

KEP Wedding-70.jpg

Back in September I had the opportunity to work with the amazing Katherine Callahan at a wedding here in Baltimore. I was joining her for my behind the scenes photo documentary on her work as a wedding photographer but when she came down with the flu the week before the wedding she asked if I would also help her by assisting and do a bit of second shooting. I nervously agreed and was both more exhausted and had more fun than I could have imagined!

Kristina and Adam’s wedding was in Federal Hill, with a later reception at the National Aquarium, and I got to help photograph the women getting ready, the ceremony, and some of the bridal party portraits. The bride and groom and everyone in the bridal party was incredibly sweet and easy-going and you’d never know how bad Katherine was feeling during the day because she completely gave it her all! All the best to Kristina and Adam in their life together and thanks to Katherine for having me join her!

Here are some of my favorite photos from the day!

KEP Wedding-7.jpg
KEP Wedding-24.jpg
KEP Wedding-26.jpg
KEP Wedding-41.jpg
KEP Wedding-38.jpg
KEP Wedding-53.jpg
KEP Wedding-46.jpg
KEP Wedding-59.jpg
KEP Wedding-64.jpg
KEP Wedding-150.jpg
KEP Wedding-134.jpg
KEP Wedding-140.jpg
KEP Wedding-137.jpg
KEP Wedding-146.jpg
KEP Wedding-153.jpg
KEP Wedding-159.jpg
KEP Wedding-156.jpg
KEP Wedding-166.jpg
KEP Wedding-168.jpg
KEP Wedding-194.jpg

Before you leave, check out the following!

Pittsburgh - Where the Bridges Run Free

Pittsburgh-2.jpg
Pittsburgh-15.jpg
Pittsburgh-5.jpg
Pittsburgh-7.jpg
Pittsburgh-8.jpg
Pittsburgh-10.jpg
Pittsburgh-5.jpg
Pittsburgh-2.jpg

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Allegheny County, Western Pennsylvania. Point Breeze, East End. Allegheny Plateau. Not quite East Coast, not quite Mid West. We practically have our own language and to this day my brother and I can have an entire conversation in Pittsburgh-related references to old mayors and WDVE morning show bits and city neighborhoods and places and memories that no one around us can understand if they too weren’t born and raised there. I left the city because while I loved it with all my heart I was afraid that if I didn’t leave right away that I never would and I wanted to see something different, even if that was another working class town just a single state away.

I loved that I could live in a city but at the same time could walk down the street and be in the woods of the 500 acre Frick Park - nature more easily accessed than most of my suburban friends. All of high school was spent running in the parks where my dad would quiz me on the different types of oak trees and the difference between a Red Tailed and Red Shouldered hawk. When I was old enough to drive, I’d spend late nights driving across the bridges just to see where I would end up and watch the lights of the city fade and then come back into view in my mirrors. I’d drive up to Mt Washington where you could see all three rivers come together at the Point, the rest of the city spreading backwards from the axis. Instead of hanging out at bars, I stayed at the 61C coffee shop until it closed at 11pm writing and watching the world go by over cups of regular with cream and sugar and a piece of biscotti.

After I left the city, it became my favorite place to fly into because of all the green opening up under the wings of the plane - the hills and valleys making so much land undevelopable (tho we try anyway and have streets of only steps to prove it). It’s one of the grayest places in the country, but there’s something comforting to me in that grey and it makes the sunny days all the more cherished because of their rarity. When you refer to the Strip in Pittsburgh, it has nothing to do with naked girls and is all about the neighborhood along the Allegheny River where the barges used to empty their food related goods to be sold. The only place I know of where they have a cheesemonger and traditional Greek and Italian and Mexican and Chinese along with Prestogeorge’s coffee and tea and all the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates merchandise you can want.

I love that each neighborhood has a story and I have something new to learn every time I come home. I love that no matter where I’ve been or where I go, it will always feel like home. It has been imprinted on my soul, and I like to think that I’ve left little pieces of mine scattered around the city, like stardust or breadcrumbs, waiting for me to run back into one day, or for someone else to pick up along the way, and when they get that feeling of “just right” they will know that they have connected with that place on a deeper level, that they have met another soul there without ever even knowing who it was.

Best of 2018 | 10 Favorite Family Photos | Baltimore Family Photography

I felt blessed to be able to work with so many great people this past year and I love being able to help tell their stories! I knew I wanted to do a little round up both to thank those who trusted me to capture their family moments and to remind myself of the progress I’ve made in my work. It’s hard to pick favorites because I want wrap up all my photos like kittens and yell “I love all my babies!!!” (Except the ones I don’t. You’ll never see those. Pictures, that is, not babies or kittens. I love all kittens. And most babies. I’m getting off topic…) Anyway, thanks to all you wonderful people who help me do what I love!

ONE

Kim&Mark Engagement-29.jpg

Kim and Mark were one of the first couples I worked with and I am ever grateful for their patience with me! I was super nervous and they were super nervous, but we eventually relaxed into it. They sent out their Save-the-Date cards a couple weeks ago using a few of my photos which is the biggest thrill to me! I picked this as my favorite from their session not because it doesn’t show their faces (they have lovely faces!!) but just because I really love the composition of their hands together, the bright pink of Kim’s skirt, and the water of the harbor fading in the background.

TWO

Oberkochen-26.jpg

Visiting my friend Jordana and her son in Germany this spring was one of the highlights of my year. Since she’s a single mom she doesn’t get many photos with her in them and so I tried to keep my camera close through most of the trip. She’s such a great and expressive mom and I couldn’t stop laughing during this lunch one day! I love her expression and the pure joy on her son’s face from eating mac n’ cheese.

THREE

Stump Family-38.jpg

Brice is 4 and a RUNNER. Jeff and Christie wanted a few family picture of them and their 2 kids, but knew it would be tough to get Brice to stay still for more than a couple seconds at at time. We did get some of the 4 of them, but generally just him do his thing and I captured him in the moment, like jumping out of this mini car. It’s my favorite way to photograph - just do your thing and let me document it!

FOUR

Harrisburg-8.jpg

Obviously, this is going to be my FAVORITE couple because they’re my parents! We went to this awesome restaurant and brewery, Millworks, in Harrisburg this fall for my brother’s birthday and of course I was toting my camera around with me. The light was so beautiful, filtering in through the windows of the old building, and I assure you NO ONE FELT AWKWARD while I was taking pictures of them pre-lunch (lies, they were like WTF are you doing can we just drink our beer) but they are clearly the cutest ever and sometimes you just have to go with it. Trust the process….

FIVE

French Creek-65.jpg

Another biased claim that this is the cutest kid ever because A. he is, and B. he’s my nephew. No worries to all the other parents out there, your kid is the cutest too, but for real - just look at this guy. This was the first cold weekend of the year back in October and we were all out camping in Pennsylvania where I guarantee he is warmer than I am at the moment of this photo. I don’t know who is swinging him around, and he doesn’t seem to care, he’s just immensely delighted at the activity!

SIX

Chinnis Family-1.jpg

I felt truly honored to take pictures for Sally and Jeremy this fall. Sally had a hard pregnancy with Taryn and they wanted to celebrate finally being all home together. They have a beautiful home with tons of light here in Baltimore with their two girls, baby Taryn, and 3.5 year old Cora. I love how the focus of both the photo and Jeremy’s attention are on Taryn.

SEVEN

Miller Family-12.jpg

Derek is one of those people who when you ask how I know him I have to stop and think because there are so many random ways we came to meet 10 years ago. He and his wife Kara are some of the most compassionate people I know and a little over a year and a half ago they decided to start the process of fostering. It’s an intense process that demands much patience and faith and they do it beautifully with this little girl. For privacy purposes I can’t share any other photos from their session, but we had a wonderful morning in the park walking around the boat lake and then playing on the swings and slide.

EIGHT

Dillenburg Family-4.jpg

Can I just leave this photo right here? No explanations needed, right?? I photographed Niki, Ted and Sammy when I went back to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving at Hartwood Acres. Niki and I have been friends for over half our lives, I was in her wedding, and she is a balm to the soul to be around. I just love this picture of them smooching little Sam, who is clearly less than delighted, and everything in his expression sums up the “tough life of a child”. He then wiped his face off and went back to looking for the ball my husband was throwing behind me.

NINE

McNamara Family-6.jpg

Back-to-back images that make me want to scream “I.CANT.EVEN!!” Chuck and Rachel exude such a natural and genuine love for each other that they settled right into the shoot and every photo was more precious and genuine than the last. What is it about this one?? The light enveloping them? Their gaze at each other? Their love for this little girl? All of the above? Yes, all of the above and more.

TEN

Anderson 2018-6.jpg

Christina and Nate braved the cold of New York City all the way from Arizona in December. They went through some extremely tough times this fall and I wanted to help bring them a little joy , so we did photos in a sparkly lit parklet on the Upper East Side of Manhattan while all in town for a visit with friends. They still have each other, and there is magic in that.