Thoughts on Traveling


My trip to Europe was so amazing. I had no idea what to expect and was so nervous about trying to navigate three countries, three cities worth of sight-seeing, four flights, one international train ride, and two time zones, all with only one carry-on piece of luggage, and all in nine days. It worked out though.

London was because flights to Heathrow were relatively inexpensive, and I figured it was best to start exploring in a city where I spoke the language. I spent two days there adjusting to the time change and wandering around the northern part of the city which felt like Brooklyn. I ate in pubs mostly, and didn’t do any exotic dining. I also spent a lot of time in my impossibly tiny hotel room. It felt luxurious to lay in bed, five floors up, and listen to the street noise below.

Berlin was for fun. Two summers ago I had a brief-but-passionate fling with a musician who scuttled off to Berlin; it was nice to catch up now older, wiser, and less charmed by dashing but inappropriate lovers, even if they do play the saxophone. My favorite part was shopping up and down Kastanienstrasse and exploring the neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg where I rented a room from a gay guy almost my age – we gossiped about boys and his apartment was absolutely gorgeous. I promised to show him New York for his first visit.

Paris was for girlfriends. It was Esther’s 30th birthday, so four of us met in an apartment for four days, and there were fancy dinners with too many desserts, lots of girl talk, countless bottles of wine, and TONS of shopping, of course. We were also shameless flirts – after eating at the low-key, super delicious Au Passage one night, we sneaked into kitchen to thank the REALLY sexy Australian chef James Henry.

It’s me!

On her actual birthday, we took the train out to Versailles. The museum is closed on Mondays, so we explored the gardens on foot, via golf cart, and on bicycles. The weather was perfect, the bicycles were perfect, the light was perfect – it was magic. When I am looking over excellent days in 2014, this will for sure be in the top 10. Esther was radiant. You know how I feel about birthdays, and I got completely choked up after midnight when we began celebrating hers. Don’t laugh! Ok, laugh. I’m completely ridiculous.

Important lessons learned:

It’s not that hard to not speak the language. Lots of people I encountered spoke some English, I wrote addresses down when I needed to communicate to cab drivers, certain menu items are easy to spot using context clues, and by the end of four days in Berlin I was able to order coffee the way I wanted (side note: German seems not that hard to learn for English speakers, and I plan on trying). Pointing, trying to pronounce things as best as possible, and saying thank you  a lot got me pretty far as well. Also, most people are nice, which goes farther than anything.

Wandering is my favorite way to see cities. I did research on certain neighborhoods, as well as certain Tube/Métro/U-bahn stops (depending on if I was in London, Paris, or Berlin) and got off just to browse. It made me want to do this in New York, too.

Cheap airlines aren’t always worth it. Berlin to Paris was the worst. I left out of a crummy airport in Berlin far from where I was staying. My flight was early so I took a cab, and my carryon luggage was less than 1 cm too large, but they made me check it for a huge fee (meanwhile, my luggage was 1.5 kilos overweight on the oh-so-wonderful Virgin Atlantic, and they let it slide). In the end, I would have spent just as much flying out of the better, closer airport at a more decent time.

I want to go back to Paris next year, and now that it’s spring (kind of – it’s still so chilly here!) I want to go do more fun stuff in New York, too.

Asking flight attendants to make sure you don’t miss any snacks works! During both trans-Atlantics, I woke up every few hours to discover treats laid nicely on my tray table to eat at my leisure, and my seat mates and I exchanged dinner orders just in case.

Also, I do like traveling by myself, at least partially. I think if I were on a beach laying around I’d be bored, or if I traveled solo for weeks at a time I’d be lonely, but this was just about right. Staying in an Air BnB home with the host present was helpful, too.

April 15th, 2014 | posted in blah blah blah,fun | tagged

Travel For One

no comments

Boys’ feet in Berlin

Hello from Europe! I’m in Berlin now; before I was in London for two days where I just barely brushed paths with blog pal Sarah as she was coming into London and I was going out.

Solo travel is odd, and I’m not sure I like it. It has obvious perks like being solo navigator and doing whatever I want, and downsides like having to be solo navigator and constantly having to come up with new things to see and do instead of doing that thing where you’re traveling with someone else and they say “I really want to go here” and you say, “Yeah, sure, OK, I guess.” and go along with them, and it ends up being more fun than anything else you would have thought of.

Remember back in 2010 when I said I wanted to see every Brooklyn-like neighborhood in the world? For London, that’s Hampstead (among others, I’m sure), which I loved exploring. (I just took the tube to the Hampstead stop and began wandering, which worked out alright.) I found dogs, cute shops, and a pub that felt similar to my favorite bar in Brooklyn, which served me real English beer . Eventually I’ll come back and see the tourist things, I’m sure, but… I’ve seen them on TV, you know? Seeing Buckingham Palace this time around wasn’t my speed.

Now I’m in Berlin, staying in Prenzlauer Berg, which also feels like home.

Have you traveled alone? Did you like it? Any tips for Berlin, and Paris, which is next? (I’ll be with girlfriends there.)

April 1st, 2014 | posted in blah blah blah | tagged

Life List: Throw a Surprise Birthday Party – check!


Kathryn is a fantastic friend. When I was slated to have a ridiculously crummy 30th birthday, she swooped in with some others and helped throw one of the most amazing dinner parties in my backyard, and we’ve been good friends since. When she was having a crummy birthday this year, I thought I’d get her back.

I had massages booked at my favorite spa a few blocks away from my apartment, and while we were getting the royal treatment, Johanna was in my kitchen, secretly cooking up a storm.

“Next is dinner,” I told Kat, “but I have to stop by my house first.”

We walked back, me nervously texting our location updates to Johanna back at the house. When we were two blocks away, I realized everyone would have left their shoes outside my apartment in the hallway, so I texted Jo “SHOES!” and she gathered them inside. Later, Kathryn told me I was acting normally, but it felt like I was ooozing suspicious behavior the entire time.

As I put the key in the lock, she remarked that “my neighbors must be cooking something awesome.” because of the smell.

“Yeah… they, um, like to cook?” I stammered, voice shaking, palms sweating. You have to understand, I had a grand total of 9 people over, this was NOT a huge deal, but it felt so exciting!

We walked into a semi-dark house. My apartment opens to a middle room that serves as an office/dinning room. It was empty, and then… it wasn’t. Friends came streaming out from the living room yelling “Surprise!”, and I burst into tears while Katherine burst out laughing, and then she got misty while I started giggling. It was a stellar moment.

I completely forgot to take any photos at the party itself, and only snapped this one shot of us in our robes post-massage, which will have to do.

March 19th, 2014 | posted in life list | tagged

Birthday Portraits, an Eight Year Tradition


This was ALMOST the final photo. You can see the one that made the cut, and that links you to years previous, here.

If you follow me on – oh, just about any social media platform – you know that yesterday, I turned 32. It was hard to miss; I pretty much refused to shut up about it for 24 hours straight, starting at 12:01 am when I showed the waiter the time and announced my celebration had begun. He gave me my beer on the house. (Yes, we eat late in New York.) I also took a photo of myself, a now eight year tradition I intend to keep up as long as humanly possible. It’s been so fun to watch my face change. I’m thinner and oh-so-slightly more wrinkled around the eyes. My hair has varied lengths in the photos but remains largely unchanged, as does my smile.

For the first time this year, I took my birthday photo in a non-bathroom mirror. I have a new, giant full-length mirror in my pink bedroom, and the light is gorgeous in there. I had so much fun doing my 20 minute photo shoot (featuring Matty, now twelve, who took my sitting on the floor as an invitation to get close.)

The concept that everyone has one day where they get to be special and have a reminder that they are worth celebrating just for being here is such a happy one for me, and I get bummed out by the “let’s not make a big deal out of it, you’re *insert adult age that doesn’t divide by 10 here*” narrative. Birthdays are AWESOME! I’m on a one-woman mission to get everyone else excited about them, too.

My suburban mom dance skills are unrivaled.

March 14th, 2014 | posted in blah blah blah,fun,photos,the dogs | tagged

Honest Boudoir


honest boudoir

I struggled so hard naming my boudoir company, and thank you so much for your input. Kinky Peach was a strong contender for a while, and I hope someone uses it for something, but as it turned out, all of the naughty, sexy, cheeky words felt wrong.

I’m calling it Honest Boudoir. The name has less sizzle and kick than the other ideas, but speaks to the message I’m trying to send. It’s not airbrushed, or judgmental. You can show up with hairy armpits, or chubby thighs, or dressed as a boy – or actually be a boy. You can be a couple, too, or gay, a person of color, or a “masculine of center” woman, or covered in tattoos. You can be nine months pregnant, six weeks postpartum, or fifty years old, and there will be room for you to be whatever “sexy” looks like to you.

As I said, right now, it’s strictly an art project. I’m not taking any money for portraits, and I’m going to fit it in with my regular work schedule.

My goal is to shoot on location in people’s existing spaces, both to save money and because I like the idea of doing a boudoir session in your own space or fun hotel room you’ve picked out instead of a studio.

I’m obviously usually in New York, but I’m traveling to Europe a bit at the end of next month. I’m also going to go to Milwaukee, WI as soon as it gets warm, and I’ll likely be in LA soon, as well as San Francisco at some point sooner or later; they can’t keep me out of that town for long. In the meantime, if you have friends in London, Berlin or Paris that would like to take photos with me, send them to my website and ask them to get in touch. My dates are:

London from 28 – 31 March

Berlin from 1 – 4 April

Paris from 4 – 8 April

March 5th, 2014 | posted in career | tagged

2013, A Dating Story “The Mixup”


As told in a bar, recently.

“So I was texting with the guy in my phone who was ‘Chris F.’, and it was getting kind of flirty, and then he invited me over. This was going to be my first official ‘booty call’, and I was excited. I got dressed and knocked on his door, and it turned out ‘Chris F.’ was NOT who I pictured. I thought I was talking to ‘Chris S.’”

“What did you do?” asked Emily, eyes wide.

I shrugged. “I fucked him!”

March 3rd, 2014 | posted in bits,pieces of my memoir | tagged

Western Light – a Photograhy Project


western light photography project

from Nicki Fietzer in Manhattan

western light photography project

from Erica Rose in Anchorage, Alaska

western light photography project

from Lauren McGlynn in Edinburgh, Scotland

I started a cool photography project with some other female photographers. We all live in the Western Hemisphere, stretching from Anchorage, Alaska in the US to Edinburgh, Scotland, so we call it Western Light. Every week, each of us contributes an image from where we are at the time (it’s on a tiny bit of delay for blogging purposes). I love seeing what everyone comes up with every week. It makes me feel connected with some of my smart, talented girlfriends spread around the world.

“Like” us on Facebook here.

February 25th, 2014 | posted in career,photos | tagged

Amber Marlow, Destination Wedding Photographer

no comments

nyc destination wedding packages

I spent the back half of last week in Rinòcn, Puerto Rico, where I photographed a wedding on Saturday. It was the first in my “no travel fees” destination wedding photography special I’m running in 2014 and it was AWESOME. I stayed in a cheap motel by the beach that was within walking distance of the private residence the couple had booked, so my “commute” was wandering up the sand for about 500 yards. I shot their wedding barefoot.

It was magic. The weather was flawless every day, the people were amazing, and the views… oh my goodness. Puerto Rico is shaped like a rectangle with a “nose” pointing out of the west side. Rincòn is right on the tip of that nose and is mountainous, so when you go up into the hills, you can see the sea in a 270 degree view, and because it’s on the west, the sunsets are glorious. Plus, there were pelicans, and watching them fish in the evening was exciting.

It feels lucky and amazing to call this my job. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know my background is that I come from a blue-collar family that discouraged dreaming big. My parents told me at one point that I should be a postal worker, and when I pointed out how boring I would find that, they said, “Who cares? You’ll always have a job.” So to travel by plane, even just three hours away, and photograph someone’s wedding on a beach is so huge for me.

Go dream big, friends.

February 18th, 2014 | posted in career | tagged

Join the Brainstorm


boudoir company names

Boudoir photography been brewing in the back of my brain for years; aside from an occasional toe-dip into it, it’s never taken off. Then, when I realized that there was a GLARING hole in the industry that was missing guys, masculine of center gals, larger girls, women of color, tattooed girls, boys in lipstick, couples – basically, anyone who isn’t female, thin, and white – I needed to get to work.

Naming a boudoir company is hard, though. The working title is Gentle Sting but I started to hate it, and now no friend can come over without being sucked into a brainstorming session (at least I keep wine in the house.) The above photo is of notes stuck to the door in my living room from about a week of fussing.

It needs to be naughty but not dirty, subversive without being obscure, and, most important (and most difficult): sexy but not feminine or masculine.

My instinct was to hold my cards close to my chest until a name was picked, but you guys did a great job with my middle name, so what say you? Any good ideas?

February 12th, 2014 | posted in blah blah blah,career | tagged

February is Better


February has proven to be a little easier than January was. I’m escaping the cold this week to shoot a wedding in Puerto Rico, and I’m going early, partially because flights were cheaper on Wednesday than Friday, but also, I want to take a few days and bask in the ability to stand outside without the air hurting my face.

Old Navy had these super cute, fitted sweatpants that I bought a few pairs of, and putting them on instead of staying in my PJs all day if I’m working from home makes a HUGE difference. Instead of slobby, I feel comfy, dressed, and put-together if someone comes to the door. I got rid of my too-small boots that worked last year because I only wore them a few times, and bought a comically gigantic pair of mens snow boots. They fit, but are the exact opposite of sexy. I can go charging through slush and murk in them like it ain’t no thang, though, and between them and my coat, walking miles in below freezing weather is no problem, so they’re making me happy. (I now look like a penguin with enormous stompy feet.)

In other words: I’m managing.

How you guys doing? Any better than January?

February 9th, 2014 | posted in blah blah blah | tagged