Coffee Love at Astro Coffee

This is one of my favorite engagement portraits of all time. It took place at Astro Coffee, a wonderful little spot in the Corktown district of Detroit. Corktown happens to be a small, up and coming so to speak, neighborhood. It’s uncharacteristically filled with colorful Victorian Houses. Astro Coffee is not just for locals; people come from far and wide to visit this cozy little café. I didn’t try to coffee, but it took a while to make a cappuccino. That’s a sign that it’s great coffee, no? I loved the lighting and decor. After that, we went to Supino’s Pizza, at my suggestion. (Pleading?) As a New Yorker, or at least honorary since I lived there for so many years, I can say that Supino is just as good as the best NYC pizza place. Viva la slice.

CISA Taste the View

CISA Taste the View

I’m from Detroit. As a kid, I had no idea that food grew. I thought that it was made in magical food factories that delivered to stores. Moving to the suburbs, people were most interested in chemical fertilizer, spraying weeds, and flowers. Not vegetables. In fact, it was probably against code to grow food on your property.

Now, I live in the Valley. What valley you ask? The Pioneer Valley, whose soil is the envy of the world. I’ve been here now for a couple of years and I’ve learned about local farms, and food producers in general. There are dozens, even hundreds around here. I reached out to help, and I’ve been commissioned to photograph some of these places through a Local Hero Program by CISA. Farmers markets, pastry shops and cafés, fancy restaurants such as Bistro les Gras that source local ingredients, Smith College who uses local farmers, farm shares (By the way, I will hereforth always have a farm share. They are simply awesome.) dairy farms, cheese makers, and even raw wool at New England Felting Supply.

I decided  to go to the annual fundraiser, Taste the View. And I took some pictures. And ate. The bruschetta, the orange infused fennel and the kale/quinoa pan fried in lots and lots of garlic were my favorites. These are just a snippet of how very beautiful it is around here in Western Mass.

wedding venue northampton ma union station

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s Amore!

Wedding venue Northampton MA Union Station.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I wanted to re-iterate how very lovely Union Station is for holding an event or wedding. It’s the real deal, the original wonderful station for this original wonderful town. If you find yourself searching for a wedding venue Northampton MA this is one to consider.

Corey’s new there, and he organizes events. He’s professional and kind. You’ll very likely enjoy working with him.

The DJ for this wedding was also very nice, though his name escapes me. I think he said he’s on thumbtack.

Abbey Chappel at Mount Holyoke College is amazing as always. I do admit that that campus is superior to my alma mater’s, Smith. I do have a special love for Helen Hills Hills (sic) Chapel. But I digress.

Last but not least, the couple. Oh my goodness. Couldn’t have possibly been more lovely and nice to work with. The end of the night included an Italian music set. First, the noodle roni song, very festive. Then That’s Amore … the bride happened to be hugging her grandma, and when that song began, they held their embrace. The crowd noticed and formed a circle around them. It became an impromptu bride/grandmother dance. Just thinking about it gets me all teary-eyed. How people could not love photographing weddings, when things like this happen, is beyond me. These are the most important things to experience, and photograph. It’s what makes us human. I was close to both of my grandmother’s so this dance was especially sweet for me.

Speaking of sweets, I ate two cannolis (pictured) but could have easily gone for more. If you hire me, I make sure to put, “allowed to eat cannolis” in my contract.

Valley View Farm, a new Northampton wedding venue

Valley View Farm, Haydenville, MA

I am based in Northampton, and I photograph a lot of things, including weddings. There are a lot of lovely venues here, but it seems like the area is growing, and that there’s a need for more choices for couples.

I discovered a new venue, Valley View Farm two weeks ago.

It’s in Haydenville, just a few minutes from Northampton. I drove up a hill, and of course said to myself, “Oh that’s why they call it Valley View.” It’s a family run business. You’ll see pictures in this gallery, sprinkled in, of the couple, wife in a cool hat and on the golf cart, husband with a Paul Newman vibe pictured separately with his spouse, daughter and watering can. Kids — a boy and a girl, and employees, whom they appear to treat like family. You’ll see how warm and fuzzy the whole place is: an employee posed with the kids.

It’s hard to call the place new. It’s an old farm. What’s new is that the barns have been moved from other locations and reassembled. It feels like more than a barn wedding venue, because the grounds have several usable spaces: The farm house where people can get ready, and incidentally there’s a museum of furniture on the main level. On the wrap around front porch there’s an antique scale, pictured below and a highlight for me. There’s the main barn, with a place called Love Nest up a loft type stairwell with a big sliding door entrance. Inside Love Nest, you enter into a lush living room with deep velvets and haunting portraits in guilded frames. It offers natural light, though it’s dark —  really really wonderful place for pictures. And totally original to this region. A good place for bridal parties to congregate and prepare. There’s also an open barn, which the owners say they may protect from wind and rain in the future. This is a perfect place for ceremonies, offering valley views.

Horses graze near a red stable, fire pits blaze on the huge patio, and the barn carves a beautiful shape into whatever sky you may have the day of your wedding. It’s overall a great place.

Okay, enough is enough about the venue. The couple, and their adorable seven year old, in addition to friends and family were the true highlight of the day. That’s how it always is for weddings, and that is why after so many years I continue to photograph them. I loved working with them and getting to know them.

For food, they chose a food truck from Mission Cantina. They affectionately call the truck Tacotina. It was amazing. Such great Mexican food. Worth the drive for me from Northampton to Amherst every time.

Spinning was Chris from Cloud Nine Productions. Hope you like Motown, I do. He’s very kind and friendly and pictured below in a fuschia shirt.

 

 

hasselblad: summer in MA and NH

Hasselblad Summer 2016

As always, you will find us on the beach in Boston and on the little strip of beach with friends in NH. These pictures are from last summer, because this summer, I’ve been far to busy to take a vacation. I take pictures for two theater companies: The New Century Theatre and The Chester Theatre. I also work for CISA, an organization that promotes local agriculture. That and weddings and Camp Elizabeth, otherwise known as Camp Mommy to my six year old, and there’s no time to take a vacation, even a weekend one. I will be missing the Irving Penn show at the Met. Still coming to terms with that. Maybe I’ll be able to take a little trip in August. Though school starts at the end of August. Shortest Summer ever.

We also picked blueberries, went hiking, and visited Paul in Cambridge. When in Cambridge, we also visited the Semetic Museum at Harvard.

When I am with friends and family, I give the digital cameras a rest and use my vintage cameras. These were taken with a Hasselblad 500C. It has since broken, in several places, and I spent about a year upset about the future of film cameras. I went a long time without the camera, and considered repairing it. I decided not to though, because the old parts are hard to find and the cameras are phasing out. Still though, it’s the most fun camera to use, and the camera I have used the longest in my career. I love everything about the camera, and especially the lenses and act of picture taking. Someone described it as a zen moment. They are right. As an aside, Hasselblad official on instagram continually posts images of the V-Series (old film cameras) and plays on our nostalgia, yet refuses to re-introduce them, despite their popularity.

Desperate, I spent months looking for a vintage Hasselblad on ebay. Finally, the dream came true. A retired couple cleaning their attic. He bought several cameras in the late 60s. New. Thought he might want to be a photographer as a second career. (Don’t know what his first career was.) According to his wife,  “never got into the Hasselblad.” I miraculously won the bid, and the camera, along with accessories in an original aluminum suitcase, came to me professionally packed from Eagle Idaho. I wept at the sight of it. It really was essentially new. I had to unwrap original packaging off certain accessories. That was a few months ago. I’ve been afraid to use it. I’ve run a few rolls through it but have been scared to process the film. Well, we also moved house and I haven’t unpacked my equipment for processing yet. So yes, dreams do come true. I’ll let you know how the film looks. And show you the pictures.

hotel northampton wedding july 2017

This Hotel Northampton wedding gave me a new appreciation for the place. The last wedding I photographed there in October offered me little light to show off the beauty that the huge windows offer. This summer, I barely used a flash at all in the atrium, in the lobby and even in the “Grand Ballroom.” I was able to see the details of the historical hotel.

The bride is exuberant in nearly every single picture. I don’t think I even took a picture of her when she didn’t look like she was floating on air with happiness.

I made sure to include some pictures of the lovely town of Northampton, MA. The picture of her on the balcony of her room is one of my favorites.

I always like to take pictures at night, something most people forget to do because they’re in full dance mode. The couples are always to have a break and get some fresh air for a couple of minutes. The town is lively at night. The pretty turn of the century patterns along the street are especially nice at night.

The bride got ready in one of the rooms, which featured a big round window and two story high ceilings and balcony (pictured).

They had a traditional Mass at Elizabeth Ann Seton parish on King Street, just steps from the hotel.

One of the best things about photographing weddings is getting to know the key players: the wedding party, the family and cherished friends. The family was especially nice. The mom of the groom is pictured below serving me a cup of ice water. What a sweet lady. The brother of the groom got me a candy bar from the corner store. What a sweet guy.

 

 

Hotel Northampton wedding  July 2017

red barn at hampshire college wedding

The Red Barn at Hampshire College Wedding July 2017

This wonderful Wedding at The Red Barn at Hampshire College was my second at this venue. The grounds are perfect. A majestic oak tree is where the couples say their vows. The tree reminds us of all of the beauty and strength of the natural world. It protects the couple and it empowers the words of the ceremony. It really is breathtaking.

It’s a bit of a walk to the tree especially for people wearing heels so there’s a golf cart to bring people.

The catering is always great. I heard  it was Seth Mias. He does catering in the area for Smith College events and many many more. There were delicious potatoes, grilled vegetables, fish, and most tasty butternut squash ravioli with walnuts.

There’s a permanent Cornhole set that guests enjoy. Reminds me of my days in Michigan and Ohio.

I wish I knew who did the flowers and cake, because as you can see from the many photos, I really liked them.

There’s always something very unique about every couple. This bride looked adorable and pretty in her choice of tea length dress, crown of flowers, and floral pumps.

And the barn, oh the barn. One of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. That warm, old wood. They cut out these cool windows to create pictures of the landscape.

The DJ was Northampton’s own Joan Holliday from the River. A station that is located just steps away from my new home. She, like me, loves special weddings such as this one.