The Amber Show

life list

Life List: See the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular – check!

I’m going to be catching up on my Life List items now until the end of December 2016 – I’ve done so much this year!

I finally went! It was corny in parts, and also very religious in parts, which I wasn’t expecting, but which was fine. I wouldn’t recommend it for non-Christian families without an explanation. The Rockettes were absolutely fabulous, though. I wasn’t able to take photos, so this is one I found on the web, of the best outfits they wore.

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I’m Still Here

I’m slowly making the divide between my business and personal life more defined. I began accepting friends on Facebook from other wedding vendors – a space previously used to just goof off – and my Instagram account got more professional, with only small, curated glimpses into my personal life. (I also unfollowed a ton of people – please don’t be offended. I just can’t keep up.)

I refused to share my own wedding photos publicly and requested guests keep their phones away for the day except to take photos of themselves, a move that inspired an Associated Press story. I showed one on Facebook for our first anniversary.

I’ve really fallen in love with running a business and having a personal life that’s more… er… “personal”. My parties have turned less “bring all your friends” and more “my friends only”. It’s why I haven’t written in this space too much, either. I don’t need to process everything out loud any more, and if I’m being encouraging, I want it to be for business reasons. I’ve been journaling privately, but I’m still here from time to time, I just don’t think in the same capacity I was.

It makes sense: I started this blog at age 22, and that was 12 years ago. To say “a lot has changed since then” is an understatement. I like myself more, and life is better than ever, although more wrinkled. Seriously, I have one wrinkle! It’s a small, horizontal crease in my forehead now that wasn’t there least year WHAT THE FUCK?

Anyway, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and I still cut up on Twitter, too.

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life list

Life List: Visit Joshua Tree – Check!

This year has been my year to just Be. I’m not getting married or divorced or buying or selling real estate or moving or dealing with my dog dying or running around trying to find my place in this world or working on losing weight or changing my name yet again or struggling to build a business or dealing with any sort of drama or… anything. For the first time in years. 2016 has been my year to just Be. I took that to mean “travel”, I guess; since the beginning of the year, we went to Maui, and then I went to Paris and Dubai, and Nicaragua, and we just got back from Palm Springs, and we’re going to Malaysia and Thailand in a few months, and I haven’t been blogging ANY of it, but oh man. I have some photos.


Last week in Palm Springs was a photo workshop, and Marley joined me for five days after it ended. On our list for certain: Joshua Tree. After several years of going to Camp Mighty in Palm Springs and never making it the 20 miles or so over to the park, I finally did, and I was so glad I got to go with Marley for the first time.

On Sunday, we headed there just at the tail end of the sun being high in the sky. We drove for miles, stopping to get out of our car frequently to take pictures of the Joshua Tress and plants and rocks. We stayed to watch the sun sink and the heavenly bodies to emerge: first Mars, Saturn and Antares in the usual place just as soon as the sun dipped down, then five, then ten, then a million at once. There were meteors, too. I’ve never seen stars like this.

Shout out to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs for loaning me the pool robe, which is perfect attire to see Joshua Tree in. Paired with their provided in-room walking stick and my own scarf-turned-headwrap, I was perfectly dressed to be a freckled, enthusiastic cult leader.

p.s. We made a playlist:

Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 1

Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 2

Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 3

Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 4

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Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 18


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Amber Marlow Joshua Tree 38

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I’m With Her

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s speech was one that made my heart swell with pride.

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”

It’s here, in case you missed it and want to see the whole thing.

I don’t align with any major political party, however, today, I’m pleased to say that I am wholeheartedly behind Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.

Do you need to register to vote? Go here.

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Summer Slump

I have to admit something: I’m feeling a little stuck. It’s wedding season… for everyone else, it seems. I am not nearly as busy now as I was last year. Reports are coming in from all over, too: everyone “in the middle” is feeling the pinch of weddings not booked.

There’s a bell curve in the wedding industry. There are low budget people and large budget people in almost equal (smaller) numbers, but most couples – and most wedding vendors – are right in the middle. There are a LOT of really amazing couples and weddings, and a LOT of really talented vendors in the middle, too. Still, talking to almost anyone who has been in business for a while will reveal that staying “in the middle” will result in burnout after a few years, and I’m watching it happen as my peers round the curve then stall out. The push to high end clients is tricky and takes a lot of work.

I’m trying to do the work, of course. My photography is stuff I’m really proud of, but I don’t have a lot of variety in my portfolio. I do the same handful of things very well. I am trying to fill in the gaps while learning new skills that will help push me over the edge. I really want to be able to take care of my family on my own with wedding photography as my full time job. But right now, I feel like I’m in a bit of a slump.

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Life Hack: Multiple Emails

I have four email addresses:

One for business and personal use. I was going to have two, one business, one personal, but Gavin talked me out of it, and I’m really glad he did. There is, at this point, so much overlap in my business and personal lives as other photographers and wedding vendors have become friends (the wedding industry is full of really wonderful people) that it would have gotten hard to manage.

One connected to this blog. It’s where your lovely comments go when you leave them on my blog posts, which you can FINALLY DO NOW, after months of not being able to. Leave me your comments! I’ve missed them.

One for shopping. Whenever I sign up to get promotional emails from companies, they go there, as well as all of my receipts. It’s heaven to not have to pick through them to get to emails from clients.

One for “bacn“, which is a word we should use way more often. It’s mostly newsletters I really want to read from smart people, but not while I’m in the middle of my work day, and I open it a few times per week and read them all at once over coffee.

I’m writing this, because every time someone mentions inbox overload and I tell them my solution, they literally have never thought about it. It allows me to not have to compromise on what to sign up to read and what stores I to allow to email me.

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Why I Like Donald Trump on Facebook

I read “Number the Stars” in 4th grade. It a fiction book set in Copenhagen in the early 1940s. The story is of a 10 year old girl whose family hides her friend Ellen, a Jewish girl, from the Nazis, by pretending she and Ellen are sisters. Concerned that Nazis might rise to power again, I promised myself way back then that if they ever did, I would help fight them.

It didn’t occur to me that it wouldn’t be Jews, but Syrian refugees running from ISIS, but the promise still stands.

I follow Donald Trump on Facebook by “liking” his page. It has been a controversial move when my friends click that stupid “See who likes Donald Trump” link. Some have “called me out” to explain myself, and I’ve gotten “unfriended” by others who didn’t care enough to ask, which is fine.

His page is full of people who subscribe to his ideas, and I get a first-hand look at the posts of his followers. Never in history have we been able to peer into the conversations of others who believe differently without filters, and the fear of “others” (especially when those others are Muslim) is really strong. Sadly, I can now see exactly how Nazis came into power after a few decades of living my life not being able to understand it, and it’s brutal to read, but it feels important to read, too. The world needs good people to stay awake.

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So New Years resolutions. I always review on my birthday to see how I’m doing. This year, mine were a little

Standup comedy shows
Live storytelling shows
Live music
Dinner parties
Wine with friends

Messing around mindlessly on the internet instead of doing those things.

So far so good (more wine with friends? Easy.) although I still mess around mindlessly on the internet. But I’ve seen Broadway and live music, read lots of books, made nearly every Friday movie night, and am watching fun TV on Netflix and Hulu.

How are you doing with yours?

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Twice As Good

I’m “settled” in my personal life for the first time in… ever? There was that time in 2009 where I thought I was settled (ha ha ha… oh, Amber. You had no idea.) and I can sense chaos on the horizon because there’s ALWAYS FUCKING SOMETHING that rocks the boat, but now? Right now? I have a good solid home life, and it feels like we’ve been married way longer than we have, in the good way. It just works. And my career is… oooo. Ok. So, after being a wedding photographer for five years, I figured out that it’s ok to press in and harder than “Oh, we’ll see what happens.”

Do other people work this way? When you realise how hard to have to actually work? Or did everyone else already know? And not that I haven’t been trying hard in business, but I haven’t been trying that hard to GET business.

Why? Because my entire life was so tumultuous that I would just take what comes. Because I never knew when a barrier would fly up from my overbearing parents, and I learned to just not have cognitive problem solving processes, because it didn’t matter anyway. Someone was always there to tell me what to do, what to think, and trying to make sense of the world myself was wasted effort.

When I started having business success I tried not to question it, or keep too close of a grip on it. I mean, I’m still there sometimes to my detriment. Doing my taxes last week, I said to my accountant, “Ok, let’s see how much money I made this year!” and she blinked at me and was like, “You mean you haven’t been keeping track?” And I hemmed and hawed, and admitted that I was only gauging it based on how I felt like I was doing, not looking at the hard numbers, and she shook her head, and I was like, “Yes. I know.” We’re going to start doing quarterly taxes now. (BTW, it was almost exactly double of what I made in 2014, and I certainly didn’t feel that, so yeah. Using your gut as an accounting method is bullshit. I know you knew this. I didn’t.)

I’m friends with a lot of wedding professionals. A lot of them are also taking the more relaxed approach, letting their businesses float as they will, and I thought that was fine… but this week it all kind of clicked for me: it’s not. I want a business that will totally support my family. Of course Marley has an income, but my dream is to have the option to have him be a stay-at-home dad if he wants to be… and if not, I want an income that makes sense as a full-time business, not part-time supplemental family income.

I have to press a lot harder, and be better. Raise my prices to a level that demanded I deliver an enormous amount of customer service and talent, in a sea of wonderfully talented vendors who also deliver excellent customer service. I’m black, a woman, living in New York City and I don’t come from shit. I have to be “Twice as Good“.

This is all very exhausting.

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