Best of The Knot & Wedding Wire 2011

posted on: February 27, 2011

Best of Weddings on The Knot
2011 Bride's Choice Awards | Best Wedding Photographers, Wedding Dresses, Wedding Cakes, Wedding Florists, Wedding Planners & MoreMy sincerest thanks to my clients, whose reviews of my work and service have honored me with The Knot's Best of Weddings 2011 Pick and WeddingWire's Bride's Choice Award 2011. I have to admit that I used to think these awards were only given to people who paid to advertise with the companies offering them (since there are quite a few companies where that IS the case even though they don't tell anyone), but since I don't have paid advertising with either site, I can officially get behind what an honor it is to receive these awards. There are HUNDREDS of wedding photographers in the Boston area, and only a handful of companies receive even one of these awards each year so I'm very grateful to be one of the select few to be honored by both for 2011!!  There are times when I feel like I should be blogging more or networking more, but I'll always take a step back from marketing if I need to spend more time serving my clients so that they'll have an awesome experience.  These awards are confirmation for me that all of that hard work does pay off in the end, and is ultimately the most important part of what we do.

I also received notification that The Knot's Ultimate Wedding Lookbook, which has been in the works for the last two years, has finally gone to print and I'm happy to share that you'll find some of my work featured in the book.  The editors sent me a sneak peek of a spread where an image of mine is featured - the flaming chef in the food collage below is from a wedding I photographed a few years ago.  I'm grateful that The Knot editorial team has continued to invite me to submit images from my client's beautiful and unique weddings for publication, especially since they are such a joy to work with- which is amazing when you consider how many images they look at every day!  I look forward to sharing more of my client's weddings with them in the future (with client permission, of course!)

Gratitude Journal #6 - Obstacles as Opportunities

posted on: February 26, 2011

I wake up and post to facebook, the first thing that comes to my mind, as if a message from a dream:

"Lucky people see obstacles as opportunities"

At that VERY moment, the universe responded with a very silent and cunning, "Oh yeah? Let's test that theory," and then dumped a big pile of Murphy's Law on my day.

I get out to my car and my steering won't work. It's so frozen tight I can't even begin to move it. Obstacle #1- an opportunity to take Alex's car instead. I get in Alex's car and text that my car isn't working- he may need to take the shuttle today. I start driving his car and the brakes give out. Like, completely give out. I'm not even a quarter mile from home and I have to turn around in morning rush hour without brakes just to get the vehicle back home safely. I coast into our parking spot just barely not hitting the brick wall of the building. Obstacle #2- an opportunity to test the public transportation. I talk to the people who drive shuttles and see the city buses pass by all the time. They point me to the bus stop and I go to wait. Thankfully I have some cash on me that I'd taken out the night before so that I can pay for the bus. As I'm waiting for an unusually long time- I text the people I'm meeting in Boston and tell them my situation and that I'm going to be there as soon as I can, but I will definitely be late.

I finally see the bus, only it's driving on the other side of the street and it's not stopping. There are no bus signs in this neighborhood so there's no way for me to even know where the bus usually stops- which is why I asked a shuttle driver. The bus has passed me by and I can't afford to wait another 20+ minutes for it to come around again. Obstacle #3 - an opportunity to call a cab. I call a cab and they arrive within a few minutes to take me to the commuter rail station so I can train into Boston. I had only planned to spend $1 on the bus, and end up spending $9 on the cab. The cab pulls into the commuter rail station just as the train is pulling away- and I think... if I'd called the cab instead of waiting for the bus, I would have made the train- lesson learned. The next train leaves in an hour. I don't have enough money left to buy a round trip ticket, so I have to use the ATM and pay an extra fee for my commuter rail pass. At least there's a Dunkin Donuts in the station so I can eat breakfast after a crazy start to my morning. I order my regular Iced Latte and they tell me that they don't make lattes at this location. Obstacle #4 - an opportunity to try the iced coffee. The iced coffee isn't nearly as good, but it's all I'm going to get this morning as I tackle everything else life is throwing at me. At this point- the entire morning is a complete wash, but rather than give up, I keep moving forward toward the obligations and commitments I've made rather than give up in pitiful despair that my day has been ruined every step of the way. I'll spare you the rest of the details, but just know that the day did not get any better or easier.

Everything was an obstacle- like I was on the biggest friggin' obstacle course of my life.

While the obstacles certainly didn't feel like opportunities that day- the challenges I faced and pushed myself through actually became beneficial to me later on. I learned how to navigate the public transportation system into Boston and to the school I was visiting. I learned that buses in Boston aren't nearly as scary as buses in other cities with less public transportation. I learned that commuting by rail is much more pleasant than commuting by car. I learned that when you're lost in Boston on public transport, there's always someone willing to be gracious and help you out. I learned that I can use my iphone to help me navigate closer to my destination via bus. I learned that there was a subway stop closer to the theatres than I had realized. I learned that WiFi on the train allows me to have a productive commute into Boston. I learned that sometimes WiFi on the train isn't available and it's better just to sleep. I learned that riding public transportation makes life more interesting and has many more people watching opportunities. I learned that I need to bring my own water and not rely on others to have it in their water coolers. I learned that I can make better Iced Coffees at home and bring them with me. I learned that my husband is willing to go out of his way to make at least one of our cars work. I learned that I can survive the worst obstacle course I've ever been on and that cheese & wine with friends is the best way to end such a "lucky" day.  I learned that if you laugh at the ridiculous comedy of errors, your day goes a lot better than if you begrudge everything that went wrong.

While obstacles rarely ever feel like gifts or opportunities- they are put in our life to help us learn and grow in ways that we normally wouldn't without them- and that makes them a gift worth being grateful for. If we aren't grateful for an obstacle and the opportunity to work through it the first time, it will keep showing up in our life over and over until we learn to accept it as a lesson and spend time learning how to conquer it.

Success comes from picking ourselves up over and over and over again and never giving up on our journey.

{If you appreciated this post, please join me in my journey to have a greater positive impact on the world by writing your own gratitude journal and sharing it or a link to it in the comments below. I would love to read your moments of gratitude and share them with others!}

Awesome People of 2010

posted on: February 9, 2011

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to meet amazing people every time someone steps in front of my camera. I do admit that I tend to fall in love with people as I'm photographing them- they become more and more beautiful as I study each little reflection of light filtering through my lenses. I've come to realize that everyone has something amazing to offer the world, and in each person lives more beauty than a camera will ever be able to capture. I'm just lucky that I get the full in-person experience, even if it's just for a few moments. Here is just a sample of some of those amazing people that make this the best job in the whole wide world...

Thank You For Being Awesome in 2010

My Dream For Lowell: Smith Baker Center [Anne-alysis]

posted on: February 7, 2011

Ever since I moved to Lowell, I've felt an intense energy to create change in the city and on a large scale. However, I am only one person and am limited in my personal resources. What I do have is vision; a vision so intense and so real that sometimes it's scary. When people hear me talk about all of my ideas, they are often overwhelmed, but when I lay them out visually and with clear examples of successful models already working, suddenly it all seems more possible and much less scary. So, here I share my vision with with you- with whomever the universe it calling to see this...

The Smith Baker Center becomes a Community Performing Arts Center

Current State:
This building is already owned by the city and is in grave need of roof repairs before the leaks do any further structural damage to the inside of the gorgeous craftsmanship of this building. It's an amazing acoustic space, thought by many in the city to be one of the finest acoustic spaces in the area, partially due to a unique grooved ceiling that allows the sound to only reverberate in necessary areas. The current seating has allegedly accommodated former Parker Lectures, New England Orchestra Performances, Community Theatre Productions, and even a national touring Cambodian Opera. The Lowell Plan showed me that they had created a vision for this space, but I have yet to see any financial backing or successful partnerships happen for this space.

My Vision:
The wood seating needs to be removed and updated for modern accessibility. The theatre seats and pews, which are uniquely curved, handcrafted, and made from gorgeous woods, could be auctioned off to providing funding for updating the seating options.  There's a beautiful set of organ pipes which I've been told are disconnected and is likely to be worth more sold as parts to get a new sound system, than repaired. Youth Build could invest time and energy into cleaning the place up and helping with some of the repairs that they are capable of doing. Music Business students at UMass Lowell could invest time in creating feasibility studies for the usage and marketability of the space and maybe even take on event management internships of the space with a dedicated managing supervisor. The UMass Lowell Off Broadway Players are also an amazing college student run and managed group that are quickly outgrowing their 500 seat Comley-Lane Theatre, and would make fabulous use of the opportunities afforded by a more inviting, innovative, and publicly available space.

Fantasies Fairytales 540
The former classrooms on the lower level under the stage area could be outfitted for sound insulation and used as private music teaching rooms rentable by the hour and the larger community music/theatre rehearsal space could be used for rehearsals to save energy when the larger space isn't needed. It might be an ideal place for cabaret performances, like those put on by The Miracle Providers Northeast and for film screenings, like those put on by Lowell Film Collaborative.

The larger space is ideal for folk and acoustic performances which would allow the Lowell Summer Music Series to become a year round folk music series and a place to hear local bands without needing to buy a beer or be 21+.

If you're interested in learning more about the opportunities involved with this space, please contact paul_marion @ or lznunn @

Superbowl Sunday Artistic & Ad Review [Anne-alysis]

To preface this "Anne-alysis" with some street cred- I was once a marketing girl by study and by profession, as well as a professional musician and music educator (among many other things.) Through these experiences, I've come to despise manipulation in ads when it's done in a way that makes people feel inferior or inadequate in order to boost sales, however I equally enjoy cleverly done humor and artistically or emotionally inspiring ads. Even though everyone looks forward to the Super Bowl Commercials - I haven't been all too impressed in the past with the advertiser attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator- as if all SuperBowl watchers are mindless meat-heads. Because of past experiences, I've always preferred the Oscar commercials more because they are designed to appeal to a more creative mind- those of filmmakers, producers, directors, and appreciators of the visual arts.

However, this year the Super Bowl ads stepped it up a BIG notch. Maybe it was a reduced budget for the luxury brands that made it important for them to create a commercial which could be sold at both the Super Bowl AND at the Oscars- but there were quite a few very artistic commercials in the mix that were complete surprises in between the meat-head spots. I welcome this smarter use of resources and I'll test my theory by seeing if some of the same ads get replayed at the Oscars. After watching the entire series of national spots, I have two stand out favorites and I'll tell you why:


WIN #1: Highlighting a unique product experience
The Doritos cheese dust is a unique experience to Doritos and any mention of it will make the ad memorable- both reminding previous consumers what their prior experience is like and informing new consumers of what they can expect from their experience with the product.

WIN #2: Making a negative experience a desirable one
If you've ever had even one Doritos chip, you probably remember that it's no so convenient to do anything else with your fingers after holding onto a chip, unless you have a regular supply of napkins nearby. Most people have associated this dust as a messy and unnecessary feature of a Doritos chip, so to create an ad that takes this often "inconvenient" trait of the product and makes it something desirable, is clever and brilliant, and exactly what marketing SHOULD do.

WIN #3: Socially unexpected and shocking behavior
In order for an ad to be effective, it must be memorable, directly connected to the uniqueness of the product, and create added desire for the product. Since we've already covered the uniqueness and desire part - that leaves only a memorable hook. With ads for erectile dysfunction permeating even our dentist waiting lobby, it's hard to shock Americans anymore... except when you enter the business office realm where we're all supposed to uphold a certain level of professionalism. Enter: unexpected and shocking behavior for the win. What makes it super awesome is that we don't know if the guy is gay or straight and it doesn't even matter- only that he LOVES Doritos dust and will break the unspoken laws of social grace to get it. Bravo. Seriously, truly, brilliant.


WIN #1: The American Dream
As Americans, we love promoting our American brands and we have pride in helping those who are struggling- this ad taps into feelings of inspiring Americans to achieve and reclaim the same greatness and luxury we once had. Being born in Detroit, and having most of my family still in the area, I know what a bad rap the city has on a national level, yet how amazing it is if you actually take the time to discover all of the luxury hidden and preserved within the historic buildings- most of which stemmed directly from the auto industry turning the United States into one of the most innovative and powerful countries in the world during the 1900s. That's no small feat and no small history for a city full of profound luxury built by the sweat of blue collar workers.

WIN #2: Motor City Born
Chrysler is a Detroit born brand, and has been a Detroit (area) based and made product for its entire life. When I lived in Rochester Hills (a northern suburb), I would regularly see test cars painted in matte black with tape on the headlights and grill to cover up which model Chrysler was testing on the public streets at any given time. Considering the movement and souring of the American auto industry, it's refreshing to see a product taking that negative vibe and turning it into a point of pride. This sells a reason to support Chrysler products for the money they will keep in the American economy, in a time when so much of what we own is produced elsewhere.

WIN #3: Unexpected Combinations
The first two take care of unique and desire, but we still need something to make it memorable and stand out against many of the other car ads played during the Super Bowl. By juxtaposing the negative visions of Detroit against the luxurious locations, artisan craftsmanship, and fine arts that Detroit has to offer, they present a vision that American cars aren't just for the working class- they're actually for luxury owners as well. That, combined with the recognition of a well-known Detroit native millionaire who basically rose up from the ashes of old and broken Detroit neighborhoods to a life of luxury and power, makes this a memorable and inspiring commercial that instills desire for the American brand. Total win.

Now - the music...
While I'm not excited by seeing people smash their heads into each other, I do appreciate that this huge publicly watched American spectacle supports the arts in some small way. From the camera crew on the field, to the painters of the field, to the fashion designers of the uniforms, and the sound production team needed to support a combination of field and newscaster noise in a balanced and audibly pleasing way. Let's not forget the musicians, dancers, designers, and choreographers for the entertainment aspects of the pre-game and half-time show as well. Now that I've shown my appreciation for how they support the arts and all of the artistic effort that goes into it, let's move on.

So, Christina Aguilera missed some lyrics in the National Anthem. This is obviously not the first time she's done the National Anthem at a public sports event, so it was just a mistake. Having sung the National Anthem myself in front of a HUGE crowd of people, I can tell you that this is not an easy thing. It is a song designed to be done WITHOUT accompaniment and the vocal range required to pull it off successfully is quite difficult and a bit of a mind-game when you're in the middle of singing it - determining whether you've got the guts to go for some high notes or improvisation opportunities. Because of that, I totally understand how she could have fudged up the lyrics. She still has a great voice and at least she didn't slaughter the music itself. The sad part is, I'm sure most Americans wouldn't have even noticed the missed lyrics if it weren't for social media.

Dear American public - can we please stop insisting that studio musicians perform live without a recorded vocal track? I actually enjoy the Black Eyed Peas as entertainers and how creative their music production team has been with renewing old pop and rock tunes through various sound recording and mixing techniques, but this live performance suffered greatly from the fact that the sound was being mixed and produced live as it was happening. In all likelihood, they didn't have enough rehearsal time to work out the kinks of being in that space and setting everything up on the spot to create a professional performance in like 15 minutes or less. If it's OK for Glee- a TV show which could be recorded with choreography and multiple rehearsals- to allow lip-sycing over their own recorded tracks - why isn't it OK for the performers with limited time at the Super Bowl? These aren't improvised performances or true concerts - these are very planned, crafted, and highly choreographed events designed to fill a very specific time slot that is being broadcast to millions of people at once. Seriously, I'm over the need for a live performance - unless it's a musician who is actually a live musician at heart with a sound that doesn't need to be overproduced just to sound good. Thanks, but no thanks. There were a lot of great and amazing things about that halftime show- but all I'll remember is how bad the sound was, and that's unfortunate.

What do you think? Did anything stand out for you? Feel free to disagree with me - it makes life more interesting. ;-)

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