NY Woman: Sara McDonald

I took the summer off from my NY Woman project but I'm thrilled to jump back into it, presenting Sara McDonald; creator of The NYChillharmonic. She is a brilliant jazz composer and I've been in awe ever since I saw her 20+ member jazz band perform a few years ago. Like damn. She was so gracious and let me photograph her in her stylish Brooklyn apartment. I loved learning more about her background and journey to where she is now. As always, the challenge of working in small or uniquely colored spaces is the best. Give me a pepto bismol colored staircase and I'll give you this: 

Allen + Stef Wedding // Dartmouth, MA

Allen and Stef's wedding was fun, unique and intimate. Everything about it reflected the things most important in their lives; a short and sweet ceremony under a stunning oak tree, an amazing clam bake dinner, homemade pies, beer from the local brewery, dancing and simply being together with their closest friends and family. There's something very special in traveling to a destination celebration with fun-loving people committed to making every moment the best. 

The Amaro Families

The hardest thing for me to say goodbye to with the turning of Summer to Fall is parting from these faces. I don't get to go home very often but every time I do, I have a photo session with the kids, my sisters and their husbands and this time it was with a new little nephew to pose with. I've loved photographing my family over the years. They are the ones I feel most confident, safe and spontaneous with and I do my best to treat other clients and friends with the same uninhibited freedom for that's when I create my best work. 

Street Photography in The Village

Two things have inspired me to embrace the wandering I do in the city.

The book Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin // I always felt like I was wasting time wandering aimlessly through my favorite neighborhoods, feeling like there are other, more productive things I should be doing. But this book gave me permission to participate in and embrace this activity that has inspired many woman to write and take beautiful photos like --

Street photographer, Paola M. Frankqui // I never really thought of myself as a street photographer (or seriously tried to be one) but I ventured out and am thrilled to have had such a beautiful night on which to start this photography practice. 

Thanksgiving in Richmond

One reason that I love Friendsgivings (other than avoiding my own delightful family awkwardness), is seizing the opportunity to road, visit faraway familiar faces and experience a new charming city. Last Thanksgiving, I visited my friend Morgan in Richmond, VA and was delighted to find warmer-than-New-York weather and a fall that extends as long as the calendar date. It felt like how Thanksgivings should be. Here are some photos from our adventure day around town. 

2016 Halloween Party

In the start of this Thanksgiving week, I am thankful for wonderful friends and the fun memories we made this year. Here are some highlights from our progressive dinner Halloween party. These dinners are so much fun, especially on an unexpectedly warm Halloween night. This years costumes were so fun too. And no party is complete without a little baby chicken! 

Jordan Matter Book Release Party // Rizzoli's Bookstore

On an abnormally warm fall day, anticipating guests trickled into the rear of the charming Rizzoli bookstore in NoMad Manhattan. Many attendees consisted of the dancers within book as well as non-dancer admirers, all were in anticipation of the artist talk and the opportunity to have their very own book copy signed by the creator of Dancers After Dark. 

See the Behind the Scenes video here.

This was my third time seeing or meeting Jordan in person and the release of this book in particular was especially exciting. I had met Jordan almost two years ago at a previous art show. I had just moved to New York and I had admired his work long before I had arrived. Photos from this project began to be released as they were photographed around notable places of the city and beyond. It was very cool to follow his work along with discovering increasingly familiar places to myself. As I got to know this town better, I recognized more and more of those images. I felt excited knowing he had used New York as his canvas on which to display his brainchild with all of the incredibly talented and dedicated dancers.

I think that what draws people to his work is the fact that, while not all of us are dancers, there is a reliability to the messages he sends; everyone has a dancer inside of them and we are created to follow our dreams. His thought behind photographing naked dancers in rough cityscapes is to display a contrast of vulnerability and rawness against a harsh, unknown, dark and sometimes unwelcoming city. Pairing the two creates powerful images which inspire and move the viewer to hopefully experience empathy, hope, love and empowerment. 

As a photographer, I am inspired by Jordan to search for a vision and to work hard, relentlessly to achieve it. As he jokingly boasts of zero arrests throughout the process he proves that anything is possible despite threats and obstacles to achieving your goals. Creating beautiful work is not only for your benefit but also for those who desire to be a part of it; those who desire to promote something greater than themselves to inspire and encourage other dancers - or artists of all kinds. 

A Trip to Tarrytown

Besides being in bed with a good book, what could be better than a trip to upstate New York on a rainy fall day? Just 45 minutes north of Harlem Tarrytown is a couple stops off the Metro-North Railroad. It is a charming little town that is very reminiscent of Stillwater MN. After a quick walk up to Main Street, you find yourself surrounded by darling storefronts drawn right from a storybook. It has just about everything you'd want in a small town; multiple coffeeshops, a vintage consignment store, ice cream shop, a post office, library and even a yarn store. What a perfect getaway to see some changing leaves and be inspired by the peace and quiet. 

Judson College

One year ago, I quit my office job to officially follow my dreams. This was prompted by my first travel editorial assignment in Marion, Alabama. It was an incredible trip photographing the beautiful campus of Judson College and visiting friends in the place I once lived. It left me wanting more assignments gave me reason to believe my dream job could be a reality. 

Happy Birthday, Cherish!

My little sister is 20 years old today! She has been the constant muse in my lens as she's graciously allowed me to experiment and photograph her over the years. While it's sometimes painful to see the pictures I used to take and be proud of, it's also fun to see how both of us have grown -- especially her, into a beautiful woman. 

Happy Birthday Cherish! 

Winter Wedding

After doing my very first wedding, I had immense respect for all wedding photographers that I admire. I absolutely did before but even more so after going through the responsibility and THE day that feels like ten events or photoshoots rolled into one. I couldn't have done it without my friend Kim Veldhuizen who has hundreds of weddings on me. Thank you for being by my side and for letting me grow, experiment and lead even when there were probably lots of ways I could have done things differently. Thank you so much Ellen and Ramon for welcoming me to be a part of your day. I hear photographers say this all the time but it truly feels like an honor to document your day, especially when there's endless amounts of talent out there. I am humbled and thankful!

A Lifelong Friendship

This day was perhaps one of the sweetest documentation experiences I've ever experienced. My Grandma's wish during her east coast trip was to visit her sister-in-law and friend Ruth, on Long Island. Despite threatening dementia, the loss of spouses, and the thief of time, the reunion of two friends with a lifelong of memories was precious beyond words as they sang and chatted the day away. 

 

This Year's "Reflections"

Welcome to my new blog hosted on my website! You may have been following me on wordpress blog. Due to size and space issues, I've decided to start over here. I'll be bringing some images back from old posts for an occasional TBT as I move forward.

I've been a freelance photographer for nine months now and it's incredible to look back and see that I've done roughly 50 photoshoots this year - some paid, some not. In every one though, I've found joy in creating artistic documentation of memories. As I look back on 2015, I am blessed and blown away at the places I've been and people I've met because of photography. It is with much hope and anticipation I welcome the new year with all of it's lessons and successes to be had through increased curiosity, faith and bravery. 

Since one rarely sees the photographer, here are some of my "reflections" of the year. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!