It’s that time of year again where I look back on all of the wonderful things I have photographed this year and attempt to compile my “best of” images. It’s never an easy task because I have emotional connections to so many people and images. But alas, I have narrowed down my images and got to reflect on each of these moments and how the images came to be. I narrowed it down to 20 images, and believe me I originally had over 30. A lesson in letting go…. I was so lucky to travel to awesome places and meet people who changed my life. That is why I love my job; it never gets dull. The images aren’t all necessarily my technical best, but moments that bring me joy, and that are so unforgettable for me. Enjoy!
This image was taken at Krystin’s bridal shower. It was a lovely affair and I was doing what I would normally do on a shoot. I noticed Krystin leave the room with her soon-to-be mother-in-law. I watched them out of the corner of my eye because I felt something was going to happen. I started to shoot not knowing if it was anything important until I saw the hug and tears. This private moment happened and Krystin was given a piece of jewelry that her late father-in-law gave his wife before he passed. It was a beautiful and sentimental moment and the family couldn’t believe I captured it. It’s my experience and intuition that knew to pay attention to all things around me and I had a feeling this was going to be a special moment. I am so pleased I captured this for the family to treasure.
This image was special because this session was for a fellow photographer. We drove to Ocean City to photograph her family and I wanted to be sure I captured her and her husband as well as they never get to have images taken together. She has been visiting Ocean City since she was a child and the beach and boardwalk are very sentimental. On this day it had to be 95 degrees and extremely humid. We were on the beach for sunset and terrible storms were headed our way. I think this image captures them perfectly in a place that means the world to them. Even though you can’t see his eyes you can almost feel how affectionately he is looking at her.
My kids….We entered this image into a contest to win my daughter a free birthday party at iplay america. We spent over a week getting everyone to vote for this image in the contest as it had to show the fun of school being out. Ana and her step brother were having a water balloon fight in our yard. After lots of stress and voting, she WON! She got to have her dream 11th birthday party and it was such an incredible memory for her. Both sides of her family were there and all of her step siblings and she was the happiest she could be. Made it all worth it! And I never tire of watching the children enjoy being together.
Miss Orianna. She needed some shots taken for her modeling portfolio. We worked so hard on collaborating outfits and location for her vision. We had a fantastic shoot and just when she was in her last outfit change, it began to rain. We didn’t have to worry about hair or makeup at that point so she was just carefree in the rain. It really was a perfect moment. Although we didn’t use any of these for her comp cards, I still love this one the best.
I don’t need to write much about this one. Their expression says it all. Wedding after wedding,I never tire of that joy. I love seeing that radiate not only from the couple but their families as well. It’s always an honor to be chosen to document a couple’s special day and hanging with The Jenn’s is a pure delight
Who doesn’t love a beach wedding. It was a perfect day at the Jersey Shore for Helen and Tom. But what they didn’t expect was the massive amount of onlookers as they said their ido’s. The crowd on the boardwalk cheered and it really was such a cool moment to witness.
I don’t think I could take a more perfect Communion image. This one just says it all. Siena made her First Holy Communion in October, which is rare. Usually First Holy Communions take place in the spring. I was so excited to travel to the Curtis Arboretum in Pennsylvania for this shoot. We got gorgeous fall foliage to work with and picture perfect weather. This image just speaks to me quietly and softly.
Probably one of my favorite boudoir images I have ever taken. Simple, no fancy lighting and it was almost an afterthought. But this client didn’t think she could pull this off and be sexy and fabulous. And this one image could be magazine worthy. Right here she proved she could do what she thought was impossible and that is a pretty extraordinary experience.
Weeks of planning went into this image. We had a vision for the perfect dramatic feel for Marc’s promo photos. He is a hypnotist and wanted something moody without being too dark. We researched other images and planned a location. Originally I wanted to shoot this in the woods so I was going to do one shot in studio and the other outdoors. But when I realized how difficult the dry ice was to work with I knew our plan for outdoors wasn’t going to happen. We decided to try and work with dry ice indoors which was a huge challenge in itself. The day of the shoot apparently there was a dry ice shortage in NJ so we had to attempt to find the only place within 50 miles to sell it to us. Dry ice billows down so to get the smoke high I needed extra hands to hold it higher and another fan to blow it. I had to call in my neighbors for extra assistance. Between using the gloves to handle the ice, fans blowing, then my trigger on my flash failed; it was a challenging day. But we got the shot. That is when I discovered smoke bombs and how they are so much easier to work with, it was just a little too late for this session.
This fall shooting with smoke bombs was all the rage for my clients. I loved how much fun they were and how different each session was depending on lighting and color. Most smoke bombs you light and they last a minute or two, but this particular brand literally only lasted 5-6 seconds as it lit and burst like a bomb and color exploded and then, poof, it was gone. What a challenge! I was only able to maybe take 7 frames per smoke bomb. I believe we had 6 pink ones for this shoot. This was for a Mitzvah pre shoot and we knew her colors were pink and gold and we wanted something soft and romantic. We went to my favorite location, Kip’s Castle in Verona, and for some reason on this day there was a Polish mass happening at the church on site and a gazillion people were on the grounds and cars and buses were everywhere. It was insane. But the chaos didn’t stop us. Once we figured out the wind and how long the smoke would last, we were able to direct this. Every time we would fire it off the loud bang was initially jolting but we quickly coached her to look peaceful and calm and created this one frame of her enveloped in the pink smoke. It really was perfect for her vision, it just took a few attempts to get it right.
I just adored this image. It literally took maybe 30 seconds during the wedding reception. I found a corner of the room and set up my lights and did a few test shots so when the couple arrived I didn’t have to waste their time. It was the first day using a piece of new equipment so I was so excited when we nailed this image and the couple loved it.
More smoke bombs….I was thrilled when the groom contacted me 2 weeks prior to their wedding asking if we could try smoke bombs for their bridal portraits.I was overjoyed as I was so excited to use them as I hadn’t at that point. I had him do a test and make a video wearing a white shirt so we knew what would happen and if the smoke would stain the dress. Unfortunately their wedding day Hurricane Matthew had a different plan. It was raw and drizzly and we didn’t have the amount of time we planned for to do the photos we envisioned. We had to work quickly as it began to rain. I am glad we captured a few epic images with the smoke bombs for this wedding, but this one I think is so different from what I had seen done previously. The warm glow of my flash, the rich colors. It definitely was a lot of fun,
This may seem simple enough and indeed it was. My best work happens when I can collaborate with my client. They love this sign in the school and wanted to create an image that would sum up the school experience in one frame for their marketing material. The girls look happy, carefree and candid, yet it was posed so we executed it perfectly. And this image is used for a lot of their marketing. It makes me so happy every time I look at it and reminds me of my Catholic school days.
It’s not often I get to do as shoot that is bigger than life. During the election I was part of a “secret” facebook group (which isn’t so secret anymore) that supported our candidate of choice called Pantsuit Nation. The day of the election photographers from around the country volunteered their time and talent to photograph locals who voted in their pantsuits to document this historic time. I was one of those volunteers and I got to meet a few fabulous women who were proud and full of personality. It was something I was so honored to be a part of and I will never forget as it really changed me. That group, those men and women and being a part of something so much bigger than my little world has me thinking of doing things on a larger scale. That is what I hope for in 2017….
Another incredible boudoir image. I typically shoot boudoir during the late morning hours but on this day the hotel could only accommodate us in the late afternoon, meaning we’d only have 45 minutes to shoot before sunset. We worked diligently to use those few minutes of sunlight left and when we saw how amazing the sunset was, we had to take advantage. This was only a few weeks ago so it was freezing out. She was a trooper but it was totally worth it for this shot. And her husband got a Christmas gift he’ll never forget.
A second line down Bourbon Street in New Orleans. How can you forget that experience? My dear friend planned the most incredible wedding in one of my favorite cities and I was so honored to be able to document it. What I didn’t expect was a 12 block Second Line. To shoot this, I had to carry all of my equipment as I walked ahead of the crowd backwards and try not to crash into anyone. It is one of the most difficult things to shoot, actually. But to have experienced this moment with all of the back aches it brought on was completely worth it! There is nothing like it!
One of the first sessions I photographed just as the leaves began to turn crimson and gold. I love the fall and all of the families I get to document during that time for their holiday cards. I happen to just love this image. Nothing fancy, it just makes me happy. A darling family that I have only been photographing for two years, but the girls insisted I do their portraits because they love working with me. Coming from teenagers, Ill take it! They are fun and so easy to work with and being able to capture them as they grow means the world to me.
Another family I have been working with for 4 years. Each time I think we have the best session ever and we keep outdoing it and I don’t know how! This was photographed at my favorite spot, Kip’s Castle. How can you not love a dapper young man in a tuxedo? We had so much fun with this session. I loved how formal they were dressed yet the carefree moment of kids just being kids and playing in the leaves is such a cool juxtaposition.
This looks like a typical first look. But OMG how I sobbed like a child. My client turned dear girlfriend Linda didn’t want traditional wedding photos. In fact, she said no ring shots, dress shots, first look nonsense, none of it! But she knew in order for me to publish the images, I needed to do them so she agreed to do them for me, which was so sweet. So I planned the first look. Well the second Eddie saw her he began to cry (literally the next frame I took) and I began to cry and then we all laughed. The emotion in that moment was so incredible. Looking back she admitted it wasn’t until that minute that she got so excited for her wedding because planning it was so stressful and she was focused on making it so perfect. But the second they saw each other for the first time she said she was so glad I convinced her to do it. I will never, ever forget how that felt to witness as a photographer and a friend.
This is probably my favorite shot I took all year.I’ve shared the behind the scenes video and the story several times and it just never gets old. This session was for a Mitzvah pre shoot. This was taken the same day as the image above with the pink smoke bombs. The location was having some kind of mass service and it was packed with buses and cars and people. Just behind this brick wall are cars lining that driveway which are out of frame. We were so excited to work with the smokebombs. I set up my lights and at that second the sun streaked from the right side of the image and illuminated the smoke perfectly. Its was just a perfect image. Epic, really. But again, this session took weeks to plan and execute and the funny thing is the client bought only pink smoke bombs and this white one was left over for the shoot I had prior. So without that,this would never have happened. Funny how that happens sometimes.
So there is my top 20 favorites from 2016. So many unforgettable people and experiences. Professionally I really had an epic year; I was named the most published photographer in New Jersey, I was ranked in the top 30 Best International Wedding Photographers according to WedAward, was a Wedding Wire Couple’s Choice Winner and won the ILEA Gala Award for Best Event Photography for the third year in a row. I don’t know what 2017 has in store, but I don’t know how I’m going to top that this year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your trust and support this year and into the future. I am truly blessed to get to do what I love.