I’ve been a race fan for the better part of my life (trust me, longer than you think! ;-) ) and I had the opportunity to join my sister and a friend down at the Daytona 500 this year. First, I was just SO elated to be going to the race. I mean, it’s the Super Bowl of NASCAR racing, all in the first week of the season! Second, let’s face it, we’ve had a bit of snow in New England and well, I’m over it. Yeah, I’m done with it. More than done with it. The thought of sun, fun and racing sounded fabulous.
We all arrived on Wednesday, a few days before the weekend events and it gave us an opportunity to not only “set up camp” in the infield but also catch the fun “Twin 125s”, qualifying and meet some of our neighbors. It was cold. I mean, really cold, the first few days. Thank goodness for neighbors with awesome bonfires! We had Sprint Fan Zone passes which got us out onto the field and in the pits before the big races, as well as watch the opening act with fellow Michigander, Kid Rock!
When it came to the big race day we moved around a bit, catching the start from the Fan Zone, watching parts of the race from the back stretch at the tiki bar (oh yes, really), moving back to the motorhome for lunch and then finishing up the last 40 laps or so with our friends, the notorious “Daytona Kentucky Boys”, on top of a motorhome between turns one and two. My only regret – not bringing my camera up on top of the motorhome! What a finish! We saw them just feet away from us going three wide at 200 miles per hour around the corner. It was amazing. There was a big wreck in the last lap and Joey Logano was first to cross the finish line … classic stock car racing!
What will I remember from this experience? The racing was amazing, but the people I was with and the new friends I made were what really made the experience memorable. I’m thrilled my sister, Jessica and her uber-generous friend, Jen, invited me to join along. Jen – you’re a rock star. THANK YOU!!!! :-) The people we met, from the folks next to us that shared their campfire, to the guys down the way that let us curl up close to their heating lamps the first night when it was SO cold, to the Daytona Kentucky Boys that entertained us and introduced us to “goeta” (so yummy!!!)…. they are what really made the experience what it was. I can’t wait to go back!
For the second year in a row, I volunteered my time, talent and gear as a photographer at Boston Symphony Hall to support Mission Gratitude. This event is an annual fundraiser for the Home Base Program, which helps returning war veterans heal the “invisible wounds of war”, like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and brain trauma. I can’t think of a better organization to support. They are partnered with Massachusetts General hospitals and the Red Sox Foundation to support these veterans and their families, all at no cost to the veterans. When I hear the stories and think about what these soldiers have been through all while protecting and defending our beloved country and our freedom, I feel grateful, thankful and inspired to do whatever I can to help.
The schedule of events for the evening was a bit different this year, but still just as fun as last. Last year, there were several performers while this year, there was one, Mr. Harry Connick Jr. himself. The night started with a meet and greet with Harry and distinguished guests. There were roughly 40 guests invited for that meet and greet, including the most recent Medal of Honor recipient, Ryan Pitts, and his wife. What an honor it was to shake his hand. At the end of the meet and greet, you can bet that I quickly handed my camera to the other photographer and went in for a quick photo with Harry. I’ve been a fan of his for over 23 years! His album, Blue Light Red Light, came out in 1991 and it forever changed my perspective on “big band” music. Needless to say, I was thrilled. :-)
After Harry went backstage to prepare for the concert, I made my way out to the more general cocktail area to spend some time with Red Sox Legends Tim Wakefield and Jim Rice. They were so gracious to spend a full hour out on the floor with folks, chatting and snapping photos. I lost count of how many photographs I took of them with guests that evening. Folks were so thrilled to just shake their hands! Spending an hour with them was super fun too. They have such great senses of humor! Of course, I totally snuck in for a selfie with them before they left!
At the end of the cocktail hour, I noticed a very tall man to my right who looked to have a very large body guard with him. It turned out, that was the newly elected governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker. He took some time to chat with Tim and Jim, and then shortly after that, Ryan Pitts. I was thrilled to capture a few images of their time together.
The program started and was kicked off with introductions and a call to action to support Home Base, followed by a wonderful standing ovation and a very moving speech from Ryan Pitts. He is one of nine living Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. His story is amazingly moving and gut wrenching. The trauma he experienced is unimaginable. I can only hope that his story helped push even more people to donate to Home Base. After he spoke, Tim Wakefield and Jim Rice joined one of the hosts of the evening on stage and had a call to action for donations. It was absolutely fabulous watching hands raise and considerable donations being provided. They were even lucky enough to get a baseball signed by Tim and Jim!
There was a short break and then Harry Connick Jr and his big band joined the stage. What a performance they provided! It was also wonderful to hear Harry speak of his personal connection to the military with his sister being a career officer. He appeared to be more than happy to help support the program and really engaged the audience with some of his classic songs, going as far back to the score of When Harry Met Sally. Yes, he wrote the music for it! I have a few awesome photos from his performance that I’m waiting for approval to share… in the meantime, I’ve been approved to share two from his meet and greet.
What a night! If you’d like to learn more about the Home Base Program, please check out their website: http://www.homebaseprogram.org. Please do consider supporting this wonderful organization!
I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for dogs, especially labrador retrievers. I used to have two, a yellow named Kacy and a black named Tucker. They were my babies. Seriously, like kids for me. If you’re a pet parent I have no doubt you understand. When I discovered Kacy had cancer it was the most heartbreaking news I had heard in ages. I really didn’t know how I was going to get through it, but of course I did. When I learned of Diezel’s diagnosis with cancer and his “parents” asked about my rates, I jumped up right away and volunteered my services for a photo shoot. While I can’t do it often, I do think it’s important to help out, especially during such a difficult time. I wanted them to have photographs that they could cherish for years and remember the wonderful times with Diezel.
We had a late afternoon session planned at a local establishment, Wagon Hill Farm in Durham, New Hampshire. What a pleasure it was to see the great trails, the waterfront access and of course, the old wagon up on the hill! At the time that we met, the sun was starting to lower and provided a nice glow. We went for a nice walk, played catch and even did a bit of “sit, stay!” work. I think it’s safe to say we had a wonderful time.
To date, Diezel is still doing well. Let’s all send a few prayers out for him and his wonderful parents!
One of the most fun and challenging subjects to photograph is a one year old. They’re adorable with their goofy faces and expressions, sometimes looking like someone 70 years their senior and sometimes looking like a doll. They run around with no sense of time, responsibility or worries and just enjoy the moment. Or hate the moment and scream and cry. Thankfully the session with Charlie was wonderful and he was a real trooper, making his way through a pumpkin patch and then ripping apart a birthday cake. I’ll bet he was thinking “dang Mom and Dad, it’s GOOD to be one!!!”!
Our day started at a local pumpkin patch and apple orchard. We planned it out and called around to see who allowed photos and thankfully Mack’s Apples (Londonderry, NH) was more than accommodating. Charlie and his parents arrived, looking dapper, and we had some gorgeous sunshine to work with along with some super fun fall colors. With a one year old we need to move fast while we have smiles and we certainly did. Fall colors, pumpkin patches, apple orchards… doesn’t get much better than that!
After leaving the orchard we headed back to Charlie’s house for a little cake smash session. Thankfully, I’m fully portable and I was able to bring a backdrop, stands, lights and all right into their home. It’s hard to travel with a one year old, especially when they’re covered in cake. :-) Portability is key! I decided to work with a white paper backdrop for two reasons. First, we had great color with the balloons, confetti and the cake and we wanted that to come out. Second, it’s fully disposable! Cleanup involved lifting Charlie up (carefully and at arms length!) and then just cutting the paper and wrapping it all up to capture the mess. Easy! Charlie got a quick bath in the kitchen sink and we were done!
Happy first birthday Charlie! Huge congratulations to Kristen and Pete on making it through year one!
When I first learned of the date of Kris and Andrew’s wedding, I wondered just how the weather would work out for us. Mainly, because they chose to have the ceremony and reception on a fabulous boat in the Boston Harbor. Umbrellas? Winter coat? Sunscreen? You just never know that time of the year! As it turned out, the day was gorgeous, unusually warm at 80F and sunny and they had the PERFECT late September wedding day!
The day started with the ladies getting ready at the Westin, just a few blocks from the Seaport wharf downtown Boston. With a suite and plenty of space to move around in, I had a bit of time to capture a few details with huge windows and great natural light before we moved on our way to the Seaport Elite vessel. It was wonderful watching Kris’ two daughters, along with one of her best friends (and also the officiant!) help her get ready. I could tell they were just as excited as she was and they were so attentive to her needs that day. They helped carry everything out to the SUV that drove us over to the vessel and then onboard.
Once we boarded the boat, we found our way to the small (and I do mean small!) suite where the ladies could get dressed and hide until it was time for the ceremony. The nerves were building and everyone was getting SO excited! Kris had a few moments with parents and close family while I grabbed a few photos of the groom. Soon, it was time! As Kris walked to the top deck of the boat with her mom, walking her down the aisle, she simply radiated joy in the sunlight as she looked at Andrew with the gorgeous Boston skyline in the background. One of my favorite moments was when her mom gave her away. It was so touching!
After the ceremony, the introduction and first dance was followed by the toasts and then a tasty buffet dinner and cake cutting. That’s when the DJ started to really kick up the tunes and get the crowd moving! It was nearly all 80’s rock and roll and it’s safe to say that the guests loved it (ok, so did I!). I’ll bet there were some sore feet at the end of the night! The night ended with a final heartfelt dance by the bride and groom as the boat docked. The last dip of the bride by the groom says it all!
Huge congratulations to Andrew and Kris!