Category Archives: fall

a semi-exotic breakfast that i only partially ruined

I was recently given something I have always wanted to try.  Mostly because they are semi-exotic, partially because they are so cute, fully because I love to try everything once.  In light of a particular writing style when the author announces the ending in the very beginning, I am happy to report they did not disappoint even though I almost ruined them.

Enough of the intrigue and mystery in pronouns – on to the specifics.

Quail Eggs.

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More specifically, quail eggs that were in the identical pattern of my counter tops.

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Chaos ensued from the moment I started prepping for breakfast.  Firstly, I had to do a lot of cleaning for this photo session to happen.  Second – upon pulling the quail eggs out of the refrigerator, I naturally knocked two of my farmers market chicken eggs out and on to the ground.  My dogs got a little extra treat this morning and I feel a twinge of guilt for wasting two precious, and expensive, farmer’s treats.

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There is nothing better than melting butter.

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As the pan heated, my excitement and my nervousness resulting from cooking something rare and lovely heightened.  My excitement turned to frustration when I soon realized I should have googled “how to successfully crack open and empty a quail egg shell” instead of “how to cook quail eggs”.  These little buggers, despite how adorable they are, have extreme defenses against being consumed.  The shell is the thickest I’ve ever attempted to break into, once the shell cracked, it shattered making it even more fun to manipulate the continued process of getting the edible part of the egg extracted from the outer protective layers.  Next, the outer and inner membranes, or the transparent sack that hold and protect the egg – (I just learned that, don’t feel bad) – is 1. not transparent and 2. is about 10 times more difficult to tear than a normal chicken egg.  In fact most of the time one doesn’t even notice that membrane in a normal egg.  I was attempting to handle these little loves with a gentle touch, when in fact I needed to match them in their strength.  I know for next time.

The pan was definitely warm by the time I wrangled these soldiers into secession.  Maybe a little too hot, because I may have over cooked them a tad.  The yolk didn’t run like my 4-year-old self still squeals for joy upon viewing.

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However!  They were still the prettiest addition to my breakfast plate – which is quite the honor with how I feel about avocado.  They were still as adorable out of the shell as inside.  And they were still delicious.  Though small, they were mighty from beginning to end.  From the dense shell and membrane, to the two bites each I had the pleasure of enjoying.  The yolk was thick and rich and the whites were soft and fluffy.

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I would not say no another experience with these delightful little delicacies.

a story from beginning to forever…

So I had the absolute pleasure of being a part of a HUGE day for two of my favorite people in the entire world.  Not only was I a part of their day in a HUGE way, but I’ve had the honor of being there all along.

My little cousin got married!  It is bittersweet watching your siblings and cousins grow up and become human adults.  You’ve been there all along for each other and all of sudden, in the blink of an eye, we are creating lives of our own.  It’s a bit scary, and not all too daunting, but it is also relieving too know… we made it.  We made it through being reckless teenagers (bwaha… I think Chas and I were the least reckless of our group during this time frame in our lives), we made it through school, and we are on really great paths to futures we have wanted for a long time.

I want to preface the next few photos by saying 1. I’m sorry for the quality and 2. I’m sorry these aren’t old enough, you know in this digital day it’s difficult to keep track of all of the older printed photos when you need them, and it’s a shame because the old ones are always the best ones.

Sometimes it is really hard to find the time to acknowledge anything other than the present and the future.  But the past existed and it was good… and it is even better to be all nostalgic and recollect just how great it really was.  Maybe one day I’ll tell you just how many times Chas and I watched the Lindsey Lohan version of The Parent Trap (while brushing our teeth), hint: the number is countless.  Or perhaps I’ll show you the obviously-parent-posed photo of all of us cousins on a tree limb arranged oldest to youngest from the year 1999 – of which I quite clearly remember rolling my eyes at before, during, and after the process.  (UPDATE: Oh Look… I found the picture, thanks everyone for helping me locate it.)

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Top to Bottom: Sam (me), Ernie, Ariel, Charlie, Jimmie, Chas!, Chelsea, Tiffany, Nick, Krista

But I digress, lets get on to why you are really here.  The recap of her big day.

Chas first asked me to photograph her wedding far before the date was ever chosen – and I was just elated she put that kind of trust in my hands.  It was only appropriate we also worked together for her Engagement/Save-the-Date photos, which turned out quite amazing because Chas is unbelievably photogenic and Logan is so patient and flexible.  Also, their relationship is so unique and genuine their personalities really shine through on camera.

Chas and I also worked together on a specialty photoshoot right before the wedding – somewhat of a glamour shoot.  It was so much fun and she looked fantastic.

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The Wedding:  I first have to mention just how hard they worked on every single detail from beginning to end.  Chas worked tirelessly to make it exactly how she wanted, and being the creative she is – she designed and created most of it herself.  That kind of attention to detail is hard to come by these days, when in fact it is much easier, efficient, and less time consuming to hire someone else to do it for you.

She did have our cousin create her wedding cakes, whom also created all 20 of my wedding cakes, and has her own cake creation company she runs right out of her home in Michigan.  (Need a cake designer?  Contact me for her details).  As you can see in the photos, one cake rolled with the theme and the other, it is apparent, was strictly designed just for Logan.  Appropriate.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention two other extremely important family contributors to her wedding.  Dalene Bielat not only did all of the girl’s hair but anyone else who wanted to look all fancy with a gorgeous updo.  AND Tim Richards and Family did the catering and fed so many people that night… successfully.  Thank you for the reminders everyone – it is difficult to remember everyone who worked dedicatedly to make this event happen.

(Aunt Teresa – I’m not going to give you a special mention here just because you birthed the woman all those years ago.  Yeah yeah – you’re awesome… blah blah blah.  ❤ 🙂 )

The wedding was Nightmare Before Christmas themed.  But it wasn’t on Halloween or Christmas, it was in fact an early October day.

The attendance was miraculous.  Friends and family came from all over the country – and even our great grandma made it for the ceremony.  She’s a trooper and she completed (and extended) their generational photo – which are always fun and extremely valuable to family documentation.)

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The family rented a gigantic house in Northern Michigan instead of utilizing the hotel industry in the area.  When I say this house was gigantic, I mean… it was gigantic.  It had an indoor swimming pool and hot tub pool house attached to the house, a weight room, a squash and racket ball room, and something like 15 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms?  Insane.  It was quite amazing to have the majority of our closest family in one house all at one time and actually not be able to see (or even know where) everyone was all of the time.

My favorite part of the house though, the view.  It captured Michigan in one panoramic view and created an amazing backdrop for the Bride and her side of the bridal party in all of their photos.

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The house also provided a perfect space to for the getting ready process that takes ever so long, is time consuming, tedious, and also creates marvelous photo ops.

Another detail to this wedding is in fact, her dad (my uncle) officiated the wedding (he also officiated mine).  He’s retired from the Navy (ah, there’s the rationale for the strapping uniform), and is the best officiant I have ever seen conduct a wedding.  It proved to be  extra special because it was his daughter’s wedding.  The happy-tears were flowing all the way through the day.  He met her on the porch with a view for first looks, walked her down the aisle, gave her away, and also pronounced them man and wife – man of a couple hats and definitely a saint for being able to pull it off without breaking down every two minutes.

I guess I should mention Logan in here too, (but no one judge – everyone knows the wedding industry is heavily marketed towards the bride unfortunately).  He looked dashing as always and made for a very calm and collected groom at no surprise at all.

The ceremony was beautiful and sincere – filled with tears, so much laughter, and moments that I will certainly remember.  I will admit I had to hide my own couple of tear drops behind my camera a few times.  Uncle Ernie did say something I hope to remember for ever.  It involved the idea of what Chas and Logan had to go through to find each other in life… it certainly makes one think.  Chas and Logan also painted a canvas for their union part of the ceremony – instead of sand or candles or tying rope.  Fitting.

The wind was chilly, and the sky fluctuated between sunny and overcast, but the rain held out until we were all warm inside partying it up.   The Bride and Groom First Dance was done, the Mother-Son dance, and of course the Daddy-Daughter dance during which they didn’t even look at each other the whole time (I’m guessing to prevent more tears, but that’s just an assumption).

But THEN… about a minute into the Daddy-Daughter dance the song screeched to a halt and the bridal party broke into a flash mob on the dance floor to the song by Silento – Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).  Which was comical in and of itself, however the best part was the practice run through the night before (sadly, those photos are forbidden to be distributed in a public forum).

And of course, the camera went away, the photographer finally got to play, and we all partied well into the night.  It was a success!  The couple got married, the photos turned out pretty good, everyone had fun, and we can officially call Logan part of our family (officially I said – he’s been putting up with us for many years and earned that title a long time ago).  Sorry everyone, two more amazing people are off the market.  What more could you ask for (unless you’re single and pining over either Chas or Logan, well in that case you’d be asking for them to be single again).

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I got to sneak into a photo too… ironically I didn’t get one with the bride and groom.  But, it was fitting I was with two more amazing cousins that I get to watch grow (far too fast) and turn into amazing young men from an adult perspective.

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What a real “Family Photoshoot” looks like

Lets be real for a few moments (and then we’ll get to the photos…)

This can be categorized as a “behind the scenes” type of entry.  Bear with me for a minute.  You can look at it as the outtakes of the movie; the shots you don’t ever get to see because your photographer weeds through and hands you a final product consisting of only the best of the best.  But with these photos you see the story, you get to know your clients, and you understand who they are just a little bit more.

I’ve had this conversation three times in the past two weeks.  I feel like I have to explain my preferred style way more than I hear other photographers doing so.  But my explanation is justified and prepares my clients for what they will receive at the end of the editing process; because its not what the typical client expects, even though they may have seen it before.

Photography is for documentation of reality.  We want to remember the moments and capture them to tell the stories years down the road when anyone ends up opening our photo albums… (those still exist, yes?).  It’s a difficult concept to grasp when we are trying to “document” every moment of our lives already, yet the details always end up vague and disheveled.  Its a difficult concept to grasp when the times we pull out the actual camera we are in our best dress, best setting, and are forced to wear the best smiles; but where is the story, what is there to remember, and doesn’t that create moments of tension, exhaustion and resentment rather than happiness and fondness?  I get it, we just want at least ONE photo to hang on the hallway and put in the Christmas letter (that still happens, yes?)  And that one shot with everyone looking at the camera, eyes open, smiles bright, and intentions true can be so precious and miraculous at times that we are amazed and ever so thankful it happened.

The client expects a “good” photographer to capture the moment as they’ve been hired to do.  As the hired photographer, we know (and are sometimes terrified to even consider) the moment may never happen; and should it be the case, we pack up our equipment and start heading home knowing we’ve already let you down and we haven’t even culled yet.

It’s intensely important to understand that moment is only going to happen IF it is normal for your family to have it.  The chaos that may ensue in your every day life won’t allow for a moment on the couch, next to the fire place with everyone believing they are The Clever Family.  That moment in most families is going to look more like an interaction, an experience: parent reading a book, son playing with a toy, other parent smiling, daughter trying to interrupt to ask a question.  That is real.  That is what we want to remember.  That is the moment that describes, defines, and summarizes that family in that moment (and in many moments of that phase in their life).   And that may be the moment they are the most calm all day long – but it was captured, in real time, and in a real fashion.  When someone looks at that photo they will believe it, they will understand it, they will want to know more about it.

As a photographer I want to document the time I am with you.  Sometimes it’s super easy and some times its not so super easy.  Sometimes the family photos are too many to count, other times the family photos end up in bits and pieces.

As a client, remind yourself of two things before, during, and after the shoot and finally when you’re looking at the final product and handing prints out to all of your most beloved: 1. it’s real and 2. it shows the beauty in the chaos.  I search for the beauty in the light, the color, the setting, the intensity, the serenity, the love, the laughter, and the reality of who you are as a client and I document it.  That is my job.  That is what I hope you look forward to receiving.

This family’s story is beautiful.  It got me a little teary eyed just editing this few photos and remembering those couple hours we spent together; and I’m not sure how I’m going to make it through the rest without doing the same.  But I was there, with them, and I found the beauty to capture from the very start.  This is a real family and these are their bits and pieces that make them whole.

Sometimes this is how a family photoshoot looks… real and beautiful, (or really beautiful; beautifully real).

Normally comfortable pastimes create smiles like this: smiles that count…

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and proud moments such as this…

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Group interactions bring sincerity and contentment.

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And when at least two adults ask the kids to look and smile at the camera, sometimes they do as their told, but most of the time they won’t (and that’s okay)…

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But most of the time, the best moments are captured when they’re not looking…

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and maybe not even smiling…

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Sometimes, when you least expect it, there will be a shot (believe it or not) that doesn’t look half bad…

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And just when you think you can adjust and make the next shot a little better, most of the time something like this happens…

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And after a while, all hope is completely lost…

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until they just can’t take it anymore…

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And because, after all of that, the family pets just wouldn’t sit still or stop barking you have to add them into the mix individually and at their happiest…

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But the moments to document (and remember) continue, even when the shoot is over, it’s time to call it a wrap, and the camera is SUPPOSED to be turned off…

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Because there are always times like this, when mom is not-so-slyly tricked into giving a piggy back ride the rest of the walk home, because walking became impossible after an old scratch on the leg was noticed…

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And at the end of the real madness and the beautiful chaos, somehow your partner can still make you smile and make you remember that this beautiful insanity is real; real enough to be experienced and real enough to be captured.  Its so real, it deserves to be remembered forever and maybe even hung in a frame or sent in a Christmas letter.  Because after all this is your history, your legacy, and the footprint you leave for all who travel behind you to see, admire, learn from, and possibly to follow.

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