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Summer 2014 Resolutions

S’mores are always on the summer list around here.

1. Get a drivers license. My Connecticut one expired on my birthday in March and because I don’t have a car, I never bothered to get a New York one. I *think* I can take off for a weekend upstate and take a drivers test in rural New York instead of trying to pass a test in NYC traffic – right? In which case, I have a dear friend in Rochester who I’m overdue to visit anyway.

2. Un-stick. I’m in a business slump, and I’m not quite sure how to fix it. Elopement inquiries are down this year, and I’m not working like I used to be. The clients that I have are lovely and amazing, but I wish I was shooting more. I’m also trying to Purple Cow a bit more. I read this book when it came out in 2003 and was so inspired, even though it would be years at that point until I started my business. Thankfully when I did start, I had these brilliant ideas internalized which made me much more fearless and daring that I would have been otherwise (if I get a chance, I’m going to hug Seth Godin so big!), and I’m re-reading it (on Kindle this time; my original copy has long since disintegrated).

3. Take the dogs swimming. We used to go to the lake when we lived in Connecticut, and I have so much guilt that I haven’t taken them since moving. They love it, especially Leeloo. Matty just likes to stand in the water for a little bit up to his “knees”.

4. A friendship bracelet party. I’ve done this two years running and still have loads of string left over, so I’ll be telling everyone to just bring a bottle of wine instead.

5. Go to the beach. There are tons of lovely beaches so close to the City, and I want to go swimming at them. Since moving here, I never have.

6. Stay put! I’m done with travel for now, unless it’s for a gig. I’m already planning an October trip to Palm Springs, though. There’s no Camp Mighty this year, but it just wouldn’t feel like fall without a trip to the Ace Hotel. Do you want to go, too? Email me, and we’ll coordinate. I’m finally going to Joshua Tree, too, and I can’t wait to show Marley where so many inspiring conversations happened for me.

7. Berry picking. My old friend Stu! has blueberry bushes in her backyard in the middle of the Connecticut woods. I’m going to pick them, and then I’m going to make a pie.

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Big Weddings for 2015

Something unexpected happened to me this weekend: I shot a big wedding and fell in love. Although I am most noted as being an elopement photographer, there are a few larger weddings under my belt since 2011. I loved the photographic results from these larger parties, but the evenings after left me feeling drained and had me executing an end-of-day self-baptism into a very large glass of merlot. I gave them up.

Last Saturday, I second-shot for Kelly Prizel in New Haven, CT. Second-shooting is where there is one hired photographer, and that photographer selects a colleague  to come along and shoot with them. We met up together right before the first look (where the couple sees each other all dressed up for the first time), and I stayed until the end of the reception.

Something clicked for me then. It was amazing and wonderful; by the end of the night I was tired to the bone in that fantastic way you only get after a job done well. I want to do more, with second shooters this time as a matter of course. The one I did do with a second shooter in 2012 was one of the best days of my career. It was a “big queer barn wedding” in Massachusets, and Leslie Fandric was with me. It was epic levels of fun and gorgeous, but at the time, I wasn’t ready to take on a large wedding business. (If you recall, 2012 was a bit challenging.)

In addition to being inspired to do more larger weddings here is a nearly-complete list of all the things I learned:

Sock buns. I know Kelly’s hair is as long as mine – just past our shoulders – and curly like mine, too, so I was side-eying her perfect doughnut shape and wondering how she got it. She spilled the beans: there was a foam thing in there! I already ordered one for myself. It’s displayed in the photo above, and you can see a silhouette of it on Instagram.

Canon’s 70 – 200 mm lens. It’s a big, intimidating lens which I thought no place at a wedding. It’s the lens wildlife photographers use to get shots up animal’s nostrils without getting into “lion snack” territory. It would be almost totally out of place at an elopement. But at this wedding, for me, it made taking sneaky dance floor photos easy, and I snapped so many fun shots of people without having to shove my camera up close and making them self-conscious.

Veil swirling. Kelly had the bride play with her dress and veil, shamelessly having her twirl and “swoosh” it around. Of course it felt a little silly, which is why I tend to avoid asking people to do it, but then the results were SO worth it (and I only got to see back-of-camera on a tiny screen!). I’m going to start asking my brides with veils and slinky dresses to flounce them around a little. I was able to see how Kelly asked for this in a way that made it sound not-ridiculous, too, which was helpful. Plus, it was fun!

I’m not weird. There are two things I do when shooting a wedding that I always thought were odd. One is that I get so into posing people and thinking about the shot that my ability to form coherent English sentences leaves me for a few beats. At one point Kelly smiled at me and said, “I lose the ability to speak.” and I totally got what she meant. The other is that I get giddy over beautiful light. Kelly was “squee”ing at the sunset, and so was I.

“Sunseeet! Wooooahhh! Yeah!” We were both so goofy over it, and then laughing, because we totally understood how magical those last few golden moments of the daytime are. We got the bride and groom out into this magical light, and I can’t wait to see the results.

Anyway, I’m now shifting gears a little as I daydream about 2015. More big weddings for me! I want to build on my business the same way I always have: with authenticity, sincerity, and honesty. Now I have that little seed in my heart says I can, that I’m ready. It’s such a good feeling.

Thanks, Kelly!

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BRB: Under a Pile of Dirt

It’s been a frustrating few months over here business-wise, hence my general silence on my poor blog. I wanted some updates to my website, and turned to my usual people. They weren’t available as I wanted, so I sought out someone else. I kept getting in contact with people who each do one part of the vast process that is having and maintaining a website. There are “front end” people, “back end” people, and something called “FTP” which everyone understands but me. I have no idea what any of this means.

I broke down; metaphorically busting open my piggy bank, offering whoever would step forward to just DO IT.

Do the stuff that makes it work.

Do all of the stuff together. Make it go.

For the past few months, I’ve felt like I’m under a pile of dirt trying to make sense of this.

On top of this, my dogs are sick. Leeloo stopped eating, and it turned out a major tooth cleaning was in order. This involved her getting knocked out and having dental work done. Now I have to brush her teeth every day, a task that involves me coming away covered in dog spit and chicken-flavored tooth paste. Now she’s eating, but Matty has stopped. There was a glorious 24 hours where everyone was eating as they should. Now he is laying around the house listless. He’s nearly 13, and I’m fearing not-good things. We go to the vet tomorrow.

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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

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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.

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Amber Marlow, Destination Wedding Photographer

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.

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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?

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No Fee Destination Weddings

One of my goals for the coming year is to shoot more elopements and intimate weddings around the world. I’m daydreaming about Europe, Mexico, Hawaii, the Caribbean, romantic winter elopements in New England, rustic weddings in Colorado, and desert weddings in California. I have no idea how one gets started doing something like this, but honestly, I had no idea how someone gets a career like mine, and now I just… do it. So I’m just doing this, too.

I’ve driven and flown to other parts of the country to shoot weddings before and had my overnight accommodations/airfare/car rental comped, which is normal, but I haven’t traveled that much. So, to make hiring me for this a fantastic bargain – and to get a few destination weddings under my belt – I am waiving all travel fees for 2014. The only catch is that it has to be 200 miles outside of Brooklyn, and I’ll get myself there on my own. I have a few thousand dollars from the sale of my car sitting in a savings account, and this is what I’m going to do with it.

My accountant was like, “Whaaaat?”, but I’m really excited. I’ve got no idea if this is anything that I can actually pull off or not, but if I fall flat on my face, I’m fairly certain I’ll be ok.

Is this nuts?! Wait, don’t answer that.

If you know of someone getting married somewhere fun, feel free to send them my way. My professional website is here, and they can use the contact form to get in touch.

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