Olives & Grace
Do you ever look at the Instagram accounts of lifestyle bloggers and wonder how anyone actually has the time to live that lifestyle? Same. It’s easy to see it all on social media and begin to feel a sense of guilt that you don’t have something like that. Sometimes I imagine myself in the future looking back in disappointment that I didn’t take the time to document more of my life. What else will you have to look back on when those memories fade? As someone who typically only brings the camera out for planned shoots, travel, or large events this can be troubling.
To combat these feelings I’ve tried to be more purposeful when going to new places, or even hanging out with friends. I try to think of the experience from a photojournalistic standpoint and anticipate the places and moments I’ll want to look back to or write about. What I enjoy about it is that it has caused me to look at things a little differently and take a new approach to my photography. What I don’t like that I’ve begun to compromise the very thing that made me want to start taking this more seriously - the ability to live in the moment and fully experience it.
Fog x FLO; The Fens
A great example of this was my most recent trip to Chicago. When it comes to planning trips (and my friends and family will confirm this) I’m very meticulous. Every detail of every day must have a plan as I feel the need to fill my time with activities. I spend a couple days researching where I want to eat breakfast, lunch, grab a coffee or a cocktail, and spend time sight-seeing. And you better believe aesthetic is a large part of that research. Don’t get me wrong - I’m choosing places that I truly want to experience and think I will enjoy, but there’s also a large part of the decision making that is purely for making content. I chose my Airbnb just so I could spend an hour or so taking interior shots for my portfolio and blog. Ben and I took the CTA 40 minutes to the outskirts of the city to the most blog-worthy hot dog establishment Chicago had to offer. We suffered through admittedly mediocre drinks at The Signature Lounge just so I could get shots of the city from a great vantage point without having to wait hours in the line at Willis Tower. (Not a terrible backup plan, but you get the point.) I went out of my way on this trip to make content. We had an amazing time in Chicago, but part of me looks back and wishes I saved more time for myself.
Another example of this is in smaller moments. If I have an event or party to go to, in the past I would leave the camera at home and just go do the thing. More recently I’ve been bringing my camera along to document and grab a few shots. Sometimes I’ll even plan to arrive hours before to wander around looking for photo opportunities. Where some might say it's just forward thinking, it can take away from my overall experience. Most of the time I would say I was happy to have done it, but there are times when I feel as though I’m giving myself assignments for my personal life. It’s not the best feeling to walk away from a fun night out with friends and be disappointed you didn’t get a specific shot or think of a concept at the time. While it makes me work harder as a photographer - and I can appreciate that - it ultimately takes away from my ability to truly experience.
So while this new effort isn’t entirely bad, it can be a double-edged sword. You look at the Casey Neistat’s of the world who seem to document their lives so beautifully and effortlessly, it’s hard not to make comparisons. We live our lives through a filter - it’s a fine line and I’m learning how to find a middle ground. It helps to know that even when the pressure to make content can be high, photography is not work for me. At the end of the day I’m happy to be putting in extra effort and working towards my best self. I just need to rememeber to also give myself time to put the camera down and live it, too.
I'd love to hear from anyone that struggles with the same thing - I know I’m not alone in my thoughts on this. How do you balance it all?
Remember when I mentioned how much I love hot dogs? Well, I took the ultimate test to prove that love by embarking on the Worcester Hot Dog Safari. We tried and ranked six different hot dog locations in the span of four hours. The struggle was real, but the safari was a great time. Read on to see my experience, rankings, and the winner of the safari!
We started off the day at Ralph's Diner in downtown Worcester where we grabbed our score cards and some merch. I got this great pin to add to my growing collection. All proceeds from the event went towards support for local food banks, which is a great cause!
We started our safari at the renowned winner of 2017's safari; Sully's Dog Shack. Famous for their 'Passion' (which has pineapple on it!) and chili dog, we got off to a pretty good start. Sully's has so much character and care for not only the hot dogs but also their customers. It's no wonder they were the winners last year.
Our next stop: Grumpy's Dogs. This hot dog truck had great design and unique flavor options on its side. We decided to keep things simple and stick to each establishment's most popular dogs, so we went with their sauerkraut dog with spicy brown mustard - and it did not disappoint.
After that, we ran down to Marty's Pub on Canterbury Street. They had your basic, run of the mill offerings in terms of toppings, but all that said it was a pretty good hot dog. It's a casual spot to catch the game and have beer and a dog, but if you're looking for more exciting options, Marty's isn't for you.
Next was The Dogfather. I may be biased as I've been to this truck before, but they have the best chili dogs. The addition of mustard and parmesan cheese makes for the perfect combination. I'd love to make another trip back to try out their other Godfather related flavors! The Dogfather ranked the highest on my list.
At this point we were in the home stretch, and definitely feeling it. We headed over to Lakeway Hotdogs in the old Spag's location. I used to work right down the street and had always wondered about their hot dogs - I'm so glad we got to try them as they were great and the owners were so friendly! They stayed open a little after hours for us to serve us their last few dogs. We ordered their BBQ dog with onions, and although the presentation doesn't look very promising, it was a great hot dog. Their BBQ sauce was tasty, and they even had their own homemade hot sauce (which I didn't try, but heard was very good.)
For the final leg of our safari, we headed back to Ralph's to finish and submit our score cards and hang out for the live band and winner announcement. We mustered (no pun intended) everything we had left to get in this one last hot dog: a chili cheese dog - and it was a great one to finish off with. Ralph's is a awesome space with a ton of character packed into it.
That concluded our hot dog safari. After much debate, here is my final score card and rankings:
1. The Dogfather - 34 pts.
2. Grumpy's Dogs - 33 pts.
3. Sully's Dog Shack - 32 pts.
4. Ralph's Diner - 29 pts.
5. Lakeway Hotdogs - 29 pts.
6. Marty's Pub - 26 pts.
Factors in the ranking were toppings, dog, bun, presentation, and value. For me, dogs that warranted a higher ranking were grilled and had toasted buns. I also used overall atmosphere and experience as my own factors as it definitely added to my opinion.
(Side note - if I could have it my way, Coney Island would be part of the safari and be my number one choice. But to keep the competition fair, they have been removed from the list as they were winning almost every year.)
The official 2018 Hot Dog Safari winner was Sully's for a repeat win! It was such a fun day, and I look forward to the next one. Although I'll probably be taking a hiatus from hot dogs for the time being...
A couple weeks ago my boyfriend Ben and I vacationed to Chicago for the first time. Oddly enough, I've been wanting to make a trip out there for years but never got around to it. We planned to go this summer on a whim and I'm so glad I was able to finally experience such a great city.
First Impressions: Chicago is a old city with so much character and incredible architecture. I loved walking the streets and taking in the scenery. There's no shortage of curb appeal in this city. After taking the necessary visit to Millennium Park to see the bean and get my fill of tourist-y shots, we headed to our gorgeous Airbnb over in Wicker Park.
Since leaving my job at Wayfair, it had been some time since I had photographed interiors. I knew I'd want to set aside time to photograph this incredible space. Nathan has created a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city and we really enjoyed our time there. So please enjoy this little home tour I shot! If it doesn't convince you to book a flight and a night or two in Chicago, I don't know what else will.
Every inch of the space is so thoughtfully decorated. I'd move in if I could.
If you're still here, thanks for sticking around! Now for the rest of our trip.
Naturally a good chunk of our trip was devoted to exploring the best food Chicago has to offer. Yes, we tried deep dish (to be honest... not a huge fan. Sorry not sorry. Hands down the best restaurant we ate at was called Fat Rice - SO good. But if there's a thing you need to know about me, it's that I love hot dogs. Like, it's a problem. I've recently made it a personal mission to taste test as many of America's signature hot dogs as possible. (I'm thinking about developing a ranking system, too.) So it goes without saying that Ben and I took the 40 minute train ride to the outskirts of the city to find the best Chicago dog. Research brought us to Superdawg - and it did not disappoint.
Superdawg is a still functioning drive-in, and although we did not have a car we still enjoyed eating inside. In case you're not familiar with the classic Chicago dog, it's an all beef frank topped with fluorescent green relish, onions, tomato, an entire pickle wedge (yes PLEASE), celery salt, and sports peppers tucked lovingly into a poppyseed bun. Some styles of Chicago dogs place their french fries right inside the dog (this is called the Depression Dog), but Superdawg tosses as many crinkle-cut fries alongside as possible, which is fine by me. The other thing to note about the Chicago dog is that you better not even think about putting ketchup on that hot dog. In fact, some of the hot dog places there don't even stock ketchup. It doesn't need it, anyway. The Chicago dog ranks up there pretty high on my all time favorites. And yes, I bought a shirt.
We had so much fun exploring Chicago. Some of my highlights were just admiring the architecture, the fact that the trains run above the city (huge fan of this), all the amazing food we ate, and taking a few days to dive back into my personal work to shoot some images I'm really fond of.
Oh, and the Chicago dog. Can't mention that enough.
I'm back! I've taken a much needed break from social media while starting a new job (more details on that soon!) and I'm so excited to get back into the swing of things with another installment of my Featured Photographer series!
August's featured photographer is
Suzanne is an artist from NYC specializing in her own particular brand of still life photography. Her focus is mostly on the visual relationship between her subjects and glassware. What draws me to Suzanne's work is that she has managed to find such a niche of her own, but the work she produces within these perameters is varied and has so much depth. It's amazing to see how far she can expand upon a seemingly simple idea, yet each time it's a fresh new take with a familiar feel. You could pick any one of her images out of a crowd - they all work together but are incredible standalone pieces of art.
Suzanne's work has inspired much of the new minimal aesthetic you're seeing on Instagram with her color palettes and strong but purposful use of shadow. I can really appreciate the time spent and attention to detail she devotes to each image. I'm frequently inspired by Suzanne to think outside the box when it comes to still life photography and try to create something new - but to also keep things simple.
It's amazing what Suzanne can create! Check out more of her work:
I was briefly tempted to make a blog post with a super clickbait-y title like so many others I've seen before for topics like this. Something along the lines of "I Quit My 9-5 Job for the Career I Truly Wanted" or "I Dropped Everything to Pursue My Dream." But that's hardly the truth for me or most people. I did quit my job of almost 7 years last week - which is insane. But it's less of a "drop everything and go" situation and more of a new chapter in my journey. New things are scary but I couldn't be more excited.
Working with Wayfair for the past 7 years (give or take) has been an incredible ride. I'm so lucky to have had this opportunity to take a giant leap of faith and watch it manifest into something larger than I could imagine. I succeeded, failed, tried damn near every new trick I could think of, had incredible mentors that have made me laugh until I cried more times than I can count, and learned so much more than I thought I could about photography and myself. I rolled up my sleeves and devoted my entire early career into taking a tiny little makeshift photo studio in a conference room and helping to develop it into the 50,000 sq ft studio behemoth that it is today. Here's a few highlights and a look at how much I've grown along the way.
The beginnings of my career and the start of Wayfair's photo studio back in 2012.
Our big move to the first real studio space in Framingham.
The current Wayfair photo studio.
I wouldn't be where I am without the incredible friends and artists I've met along the way. They taught me what it truly means to be a successful creative: to really care about my work, to support each other, and to always deliver the best work you can acheive. They gave me the confidence I never had before as a photographer and the push I needed to take this next step, and I'll forever be grateful for everyone. I look back on my time at Wayfair with nothing but happiness and inspiration to never stop pushing myself forward.
I don't think I can go on much longer with such a sentimental post - I'm too much of a wimp. That being said, I want to leave those of you that actually read this whole thing with the exciting news that there is a whole bunch of new things on the horizon. I'm not going to share all the details yet - but stay tuned! Things are about to get really good.
I'm excited to share my photos featured in the latest issue of Boston Weddings! The entire issue is gorgeous and features the winners of the Best of Boston Weddings. Photographer and winner of 'Best of' Elizabeth LaDuca shot an incredible series of still lifes for the issue that you'll want to look over for sure.
This was such a fun shoot, and I had a blast working with Michele sipping on mimosas and getting each boutonniere just right.
You can find the my work alongside other amazing images and the winners of Best of Boston Weddings in the newly released Boston Weddings Fall/Winter 2018 magazine!
This month's featured photographer is Luca Piras!
Luca is a fashion and editorial photographer based in Cesena, Italy and I am blown away by his work. Luca's approach to fashion is timeless and yet modern. His use of lighting and minimal but thoughtful composition makes his work stand out from the crowd. Luca's ability to photograph fabrics and movement is masterful, each photo feels effortless and well composed. He uses color sparingly, but with intention.
Luca's work serves as a source of inspiration for my own portrait work - it's helped me to see that portraits do not need to be overly complicated to sell a look and feel. I also love his unique pairing of images in collages. Some of my favorites:
A few weeks ago I was invited to photograph a tour of Joss & Main Style Director Donna Garlough's home. Donna is a kickass woman and always busy working on exciting projects. She recently published her first book, 'Your Home, Your Style' (it's fantastic - you should pick up a copy!) and collaborated with Boston based ceramicist Jill Rosenwald on her own custom line. When Donna asked me to photograph the new ceramics and her beautiful home, I couldn't refuse!
Donna has spent the last few years feverishly remodeling her vintage townhouse in Charlestown, and it shows. Every inch is designed beautifully with her personality sprinkled in, from her Bunker Hill flag hanging out front, to the amazing powder room with navy marbled wallpaper and gold accents. So scroll through and enjoy the photo tour!
Featured in Rue Magazine's Summer 2018 issue - read the full interview here.
This isn't necessarily new, but I've been so excited to share this with you all! I finally found the time to photograph my photo studio in Hudson. I fell in love with the space back in February and since then I've been acquiring equipment, outfitting the space, and shooting as much as possible. There is still work to be done, but I'm so happy to have a dedicated shooting space. So take a tour with me! Here's my space, and some of my favorite parts of the mill.
My studio is located in the Hudson Mill Business Center at BlueSkies Studios, and is a shared space with a few other amazing artists.
Naturally mill buildings come with a healthy amount of character and "old charm" - and my building doesn't disappoint. I'm obsessed with the color palette just outside our doors.
Here's my studio space! It's small, but perfect for tabletop, still life, and has great natural light for portraits.
I've created a small work station for tethered capture and guests to chill. (Definitely need to decorate this space with some plant friends, but that'll be for another time.) For my shooting space, I have a background stand with a couple seamless options and a handmade shooting table.
My shooting table was pieced together using old sawhorses I "borrowed" from my sister and brother-in-law, and a beautiful top my dad handmade for me. It's perfect because I can break the whole thing down when I need more space. I have also put together a handy-dandy equipment cart. This stores all my lights, modifiers, gaff, A-clamps and other miscellaneous objects I'll need while shooting. This system works well as I can easily transport my gear for location shoots. (And if you have more awesome stickers for me to decorate my cart with - hit me up.) In the back corner I have some awesome set pieces for shoots, cleaning supplies, and a great piece of decor from the best of friends. I'm looking to re-do this space and create some better equipment storage solutions - but that'll be the next project!
It's a work in progress but I love the flexibility of having my own space and shooting whenever new ideas strike. It's allowed me to work on new lighting techniques and collaborate with awesome people for fun projects.
Here's some recent work I've shot in my studio. There's more exiting projects on the way, too!
I'd also like to share my favorite details from the rest of our space. BlueSkies is home to incredibly talented artists. From painters to photographers and more, each artist has an inspiring workspace!
We also have this great brand new communal space where we can all feature our work!
Last but not least, some of my favorite architectural features from the building. I'd love to explore and shoot portraits in some of these spaces.
I also have a strange obsession with the restrooms in the building. The one by my studio has the most awesome tall mirror (ladies - you have to see it in person). And there's just great lighting in the others!
I love how each floor has a different color palette.
That's it for my studio tour! I love this space and the freedom it gives me to explore as an artist. I'm excited for all of the projects to come, and to collaborate with more awesome creatives. So come shoot with me!