The Amber Show

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What Can Amber Marlow Do?

I remember being little and wondering how on earth people let the Holocaust happen. I am devastated that this week, I finally figured it out, listening to people talking about what will happen if Syrian refugees come here. It’s Christians, too, that are up in arms about it, and it’s like, hello? Your entire religion is based on a displaced Middle Eastern family. What would Jesus do? Probably go, “Find room for my cousins, you guys.”

Somewhere along the way we messed up, big time, as a human race. I’m so sad, and I don’t know what to do.

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Benjamin Hardy’s 50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms

Gavin introduced me to Medium, and through it I have discovered so many quality articles and pieces of writing. This one in particular has me very inspired. It’s called 50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms, written by Benjamin Hardy.

Some I already do: get 7+ hours of sleep each night, say “No” to people, obligations, requests, and opportunities you’re not interested in from now on (which I do without even a speck of guilt).

Some I would really like to do: read 1 book per week and drink 64–100 ounces of water per day (Seriously, why the fuck is this so difficult? I have clean running water in my house, an innovation that is relatively new to humanity and a luxury that is not even afforded to roughly 663 milling humans around the globe, and STILL I fail at this. I feel so ungrateful.)

And some I’m not doing ever, ever, ever, like give up caffeine (although I’ve needed to cut waaay back, since my body gets plenty of rest at night most nights, which is a good thing.) My best life involves coffee.

It reminded me a lot of what I want to be. Maybe you’ll find it inspiring, too.

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Scratches and Soap Scum

Until late last night, I hadn’t looked at Marley’s wedding ring that closely since I slipped it on his finger at our wedding ceremony some weeks ago. I was not quite ready to go to bed, and wanted to practice some wedding ring macro shots using the $20 video light I had all but forgotten was buried in my “not really in use” gear cabinet. (This is what wedding photographers do, because we are all a tiny bit insane.)

I was surprised to see it has dings on it already. When I usually photograph my client’s wedding rings they are, of course, smooth and perfect, but his has scratches and dents already, the beginnings of a lifetime that will likely completely warp the gold in little marks of a life well-lived and well-loved. I got so sentimental about those tiny marks! There’s also a bit of soap scum, because he took it off for me while he was washing the dishes. I set myself up next to him in the kitchen, and put the rings on our slate cheese board.

I’m going to clean up the final image for use in my portfolio, which I would do with any new ring my client asked me to photograph, but here at the Amber Show, I wanted to show you the genuine photo of the dents, and the soap scum. Mine is leaning on his.

wedding rings


P.S. If you’re wondering, we chose to special order our rings in undipped white gold (sometimes called “unplated white gold”) which renders a shade warmer than what you see called white gold, and a shade cooler and brighter than yellow gold. There isn’t a lot of information about this on the internet, so I’m spreading the good word.

P.P.S. His is from Greenwich Jewlers, and mine is a custom modification of an existing design by Oliva Ewing.

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Random Thursday Thoughts

I completely forgot about about Daylight Savings Time – the bane of my existence – and told three clients scheduled for this week that “four pm will be gorgeous light.” No. No it won’t. By four pm it is dark; by four thirty it is pitch. Can we just stay in DST all year, please? It will be lots less depressing for everyone. I can’t work like this.

They’ve all been rescheduled.

These new pumps are part of my wardrobe. I don’t need them because I go from bare feet at home, to Chucks when I’m out, to my “shootin’ boots” when I’m running around town with clients taking photos. But they’re beautiful.

My pilates instructor chided me for not eating a hearty breakfast, but the thought of doing more than peeling a banana before noon makes me tired and queasy, so I have no idea what to do. We did stay in a bed and breakfast last year and flopping at a table and having chopped fruit and muffins presented to me with eggs and coffee was kind of heavenly. Conclusion: I need a butler to live my best life.

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Kukur Tihar in Brooklyn

If I had known a few weeks ago how much celebrating Kuku Tihar would mean to us, I would have planned for it way, way in advance. As it was, we spent a few months with it on our calendar, and realized we were really excited about it the day before. We bought holi powders from Amazon that arrived in time, but we had to wake up really, really early to celebrate and decorate the dog. Next year, we’re taking the day off.

Kukur Tihar is a festival that is part of Diwali in Nepal. Although no one celebrates here, we couldn’t resist the photo shoot opportunity, and Leeloo loved being loved and snugged on. She also got a LOT of treats, and made everyone we encountered on her afternoon walk smile.

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The Buddy, part 2

It’s ringing, and there’s this flash of hope that no one will answer, but of course, someone does. I explain that I’m very sorry, I’ve found their dog, and unfortunately he’s passed away.

“I knew this would happen one day,” she says. “He’s a runner. I tried everything; our electric fence was new and it still wasn’t working. But yeah, I knew; the police called me this morning. Are you at the police station?”

Apparently he had been dead for hours, and the police called her that morning to let her know. She was under the impression they were taking him and she would be able to go get his body later night, but they either hadn’t done it yet or weren’t planning to after all, and she was heart broken to hear he was still laying where he died. While I was on the phone, she tried to figure out what to do.

“Maybe my neighbor can take me,” she mused. “I can’t imagine going to get him myself.” I advised her to not, and tried to tell her, gently, that he was tough to look at.

She then kept me on the phone while she told me her buddy’s entire life story, while I “mmm-hmmd” and made sympathetic sounds and shrugged at Marley who likely saw the rest of his life stretching out before him in that moment, a series of running late and making detours for hurt things that need me. I think she concluded that she’d get someone to go with her, and I agreed she had made a good decision. I don’t remember her name, but I’ll think about her a lot for a really long time.

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The Buddy, part 1

So we’re driving home from our wedding having been married less than 24 hours and I see a dog laying on the side of the highway, dead, only my brain doesn’t register it as “dog” or “pet”; it’s the word “buddy” first, slamming into the back of my forehead and lighting it up. Someone has lost their buddy. We drive by, and half a mile down the road I realize I am, of course, going to turn around, because all I can think about is someone with a tear-stained face hanging up lost dog posters. Everyone else on I-87 is driving by thinking everyone else is going to do something, because this is the way people are unless you make an effort to not be that way, which I try to do.

So I turn around, going through a toll, and then back through that toll on the other side, and then back through a third toll that we’ve just gone through, knowing I will have to go through another toll again, and being so thankful that I married someone who wouldn’t grumble about a wasted twenty dollars when someones peace is at stake. We pull up to the buddy, and I take a few breaths before getting out of the car.

He is a beagle, and his ear is flipped back over his name tag with the phone number, which means we’ll have to move it. In the time it takes me to screw up the courage, Marley has found a piece of road debris and flipped it over. I dial.

to be continued.

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My Human Lightstand

My friend Laura laughs every time I complain about wanting my photography to be more “crispity”.

“What does that even mean?” she asks.

I was finally able to put into words that I want to make those sharp, crisp editorial-looking portraits that you see in Vanity Fair for my clients, but I want to do it while still maintaining an organic sense of place and posing that is why a lot of people hire me in the first place. This is where I am creatively, and it is so exciting to be “somewhere creatively” (I am so cool!) but also kind of frustrating because I’m not “there” yet.

I do know, though, that it has a lot to do with proper lighting, and I’m trying to make it work with what I have before I move on to the more expensive stuff. This morning “what I had” was Marley, who I asked to stand off to the side and hold an off camera flash, like a human light stand. I’d never done this before, and it’s not totally perfect, but it’s a really solid good start (my clients this morning met on the subway, and they wanted to take their engagement photos underground, which would normally strike fear into the heart of a photographer, but I was super excited.)

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Amuse my Bouche

And here we are, at the most difficult part of keeping up with NaBloPoMo: remembering to blog on the weekend. It’s 12:51am on Sunday 8 November, and I haven’t written for the 7th yet, but since I’m still awake, and it’s still Saturday in California, I’m going to count it as not missed. Okay? Okay.


We went to the most amazing meal tonight. Adam and Cecily gave us a gift card to the Union Square Hospitality Group of restaurants, and I left it up to Marley to surprise me with where and how we would use it. He chose tonight, a random date where we weren’t celebrating anything except ourselves, and we went to the Modern for a 9pm reservation.

The service was wonderful, the food was wonderful, too. They sent out an amuse bouche compliments of the chef, of pumpkin and sweet potato soup. The presentation was lovely; they served it with the spices, sauce and sweet potatoes in the bowl already, and then poured the plain soup over them after it was set in front of us. Then the waiter then opened this tiny copper pot and gently spooned a tablespoon of hazelnut foam on top. It felt special, almost like a ritual, and I was so inspired with this reminder to present things well to my clients, and make them feel special and appreciated. I know this is dorky, but it was actually really moving.

The best part of the night was when they offered a special that had “dehydrated grapes” to which I responded “So, raisins?” and then Marley and I started giggling inappropriately, and then we couldn’t stop because we were overtired and there were gin cocktails while we were waiting to be seated.

The rest of the food was amazing; Marley sprang for the addition of truffles shaved on his gnocchi, I tried a new fish called turbot that I loved, we spit two desserts, and then they rolled over a cart loaded down with truffles, and were were invited to pick whatever we wanted, and we did the whole thing overlooking the garden of the MoMA. I felt fancy.

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