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Photography by Amanda Wilson

Blog Home

▣ change is good

September 24th, 2008

I've been making some changes around here because something BIG is coming.  Several big things actually.  As you can hear (for those of you with speakers hooked up) the sound no longer plays on the blog page.  This is because we are in the verge of *gasp*  VIDEO POSTS.  Oh yes. I'm starting with this one - because it's never too late to change the world.


The Girl Effect.  A non-profit organization investing in girls worldwide. 

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▣ Jennie & Roger 09.05.08

September 17th, 2008


Jennie and Roger were married a few weeks ago at Lingrow Farm on the most beautiful friday evening of the whole summer.  I think the best light out of the whole year is the first 2 weeks of september, all that beautiful gold of the summer with just a little crisp contrast from the fall that's to come.  Their wedding was relaxed, classy, unique, sentimental, emotional, and most of all incredibly fun!  From the simple wreath of flowers in her hair, to her handcrafted wedding dress, the day was filled with details that made it extra special for everyone who was there.

I had the pleasure of shooting with my friend and fellow photog Bill Shirley for this one and we had a great time at the ceremony!


Jennie and her mother getting ready in the carriage house.






Jennie was a seriously SERIOUSLY gorgeous bride.  Wow.






Guests at Lingrow can be seated inside the barn, or out here on the huge upper deck.  The weather was so nice they turned off the air conditioning and opened all the doors and let the breeze in. 




Roger, the flower girl and ring bearer, and the minister wait on the steps of the huge porch while Jennie gets ready. 

Image by Bill.



They were adorable.  Halfway to the end of the aisle the flower girl suddenly remembered her flowers and stopped to dump her whole basket out in one pile.  It was priceless!  Image by Bill.



Guests were seated quietly just out of the frame as Jennie came down the aisle.  Roger stood at the end of the aisle on the dock at the lake.  This is my personal ideal wedding, no stress, no pressure, just a beautiful day and beautiful view and the guy you can't wait to marry standing there waiting for you.



Just married - and so much joy!!



After the ceremony they had a cocktail hour and champagne toast.  They served wine, cheeses, rustic breads, whole beans and peas in the pod.  So of course - I just couldn't help myself.  Two peas in a pod.



This may seem like an unusual picture for a wedding, but the food was so amazing I had to investigate.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is filet mignon wrapped in bacon on a giant firewood smoker grill.  I think the two greatest smells on earth are campfire and steak - so I was in heaven.  Mitch's Mobile Barbeque brought in the smoker and cooked filet mignon, steak, and the best grilled chicken I've ever tasted along with all of the fixings. 


Jennie and her father out on the dance floor.


Roger with his mom.



No Bad Juju was rocking the house that night and everyone was dancing. 




We had a wonderful time!  Congratulations and thank you for having us!


Location:   Lingrow Farm

Entertainment:  No Bad Juju

Quisine:  Mitch's Mobile BBQ



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▣ rainy weekend away

September 14th, 2008


We headed to the mountains this past weekend to an undisclosed location of peace and tranquility.  Cell phone battery died sometime around lunch on Saturday and I just didn't bother plugging it back in.  I remember years ago you couldn't even dream of getting cell phone service in this area.  Grr..  it's the network.  Oh well, we all need a little time away sometimes.  Unfortunately the only weekend that Sean and I both had off - (no weddings can you believe it?) happened to be the weekend the hurricane ike rains decided to push north.  When we left friday night it wasn't just raining, it was a steady monsoon for the 2 hour drive.  People said to us - "you're going camping?  in a tent?  you must be joking."  Well the rain certainly didn't make it any easier, but I'm glad we went.

The rain drizzled to a mist and then a halt when we arrived at our destination and began looking for a place to put the tent.  We couldn't believe our luck.   It actually held off long enough to get the tent set up and everything safely under the rain fly.  Woke up Saturday morning to the sound of branches falling around us from the wind.  Went for a drive to look for some nature and explore.  The woods are so peaceful, just miles and miles and miles of green.  And when you pull over and turn the truck off, you hear absolutely nothing. 



Yay for four wheel drive - the road less traveled is often the road less flat, less dry, less cleared of debris, and definitely less responded to by AAA.  We ventured to the edges of where people regularly travel to a road that's actually been reclaimed from civilization by a colony of beavers.  At one point there was a dirt road that led to another skinnier dirt road, that led to an old gas well road.  There used to be a small creek (more than 10 years ago) that was only a few feet wide and flowed over the gas well access road.  Then the beavers found it.  And they dammed it up, and created this lake you see here.

I actually took this shot right out the window of the truck.  The dam is so high and so long that the access road now runs parallel to it along the one side.  The truck window was a few feet above the surface of the water, and the lower half of the truck was a good 3 or 4 feet below the water level.  There was nothing between us and all that water except a skillfully engineered wall of sticks and mud formed by generations of beavers.



This is another dam and pond upstream that we feel may have been abandoned.  No one knows why the beavers leave when they do.  Sometimes they overpopulate one area and tell the kids to find their own creek.  Or it could be all the mining going on in the next valley that could have polluted the water.



After our big drive around, we parked the truck and hiked in to an area where we knew their was a very active family of beavers enthusiastically taking over at least 500 yards of creek for their own water park.  I love this shot of Sean hiding out in the weeds waiting for the critter to swim by just a few minutes before dark.  Since the weeds were so high along the bank you had to be careful you didn't fall into the water.  The rain had left everything foggy and humid.  I'm just glad we didn't happen into any bears in the tall brush.  Although we did stumble right  into a hornets nest about a foot off the ground and it started vibrating and buzzing angrily and we ran for the hills.



Back to camp, built a roaring fire in the rain.  We cooked fire pies, sausage, and lipton noodle soup.  Right before we got to eating we were invaded by an unwanted guest.  A skunk had smelled our food and walked right into camp, almost right up to the fire to investigate.  This is pretty common thanks to people feeding wild animals and the magnetic power of harvest cheddar Sunchips.  Normally the problem is a nosy possum or a brazen raccoon.  You can chase them away, chuck a stick in their direction, or go on the attack.  A skunk is different.  You don't really want to SCARE a skunk.  I think this particular skunk was aware of this.  The more we backed up the closer he came.  Then we were hiding in the truck.  Eventually he went away after a desperate series of light flashing and cautious rock throwing.  We wrapped everything up and abandoned our fire in favor of turning in early.


The leaves are already starting to change up north, it won't be long now.





Besides the dirt roads, the only other swaths through the woods are made by gas line and power lines.  These high tension wires will go for hundreds of miles across the state.  Although you are not allowed to drive on them, you could park and walk a long, long way.


Back in the office now.  And ready to get caught up !  Have a great week everyone!


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▣ Efthalia & Lynn 08.31.08

September 12th, 2008


Efthalia and Lynn were married on August 31st at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Ambridge.  (What a long drive for us!  Parkway construction was a nightmare.  We finally gave up and took the turnpike after nearly chucking the TomTom out the window into the Mon.  Yes - it sent us across the Mon river . . .  "turn left, turn left, turn left . . . . make a legal U-turn"  stuff like that.)  Their wedding was beautiful!  The Greek Orthodox ceremony is steeped in tradition and held extremely sacred. 


Lynn's son's helped him get ready before the ceremony.




Efthalia was a stunning bride coming down the aisle with her eyes on Lynn the whole time.



During the ceremony we were able to take pictures quietly from the hallway behind the sanctuary so as not to disturb the service.



The Greek Orthodox ceremony is very beautiful.  The bride and groom hold candles symbolizing how God will light their way and their rings are blessed and placed on their right hands instead of left.  The Stephana, or wedding crowns are blessed and placed on their heads joined by a ribbon.  They drink wine from a common cup signifying that they will share the joys and sorrows of life together.  Then the Priest leads them around the altar table three times reciting prayers reminding them that God will lead their way through their life together.  Since the circle has no end, their marriage is meant to be eternal. 




After the ceremony we headed out to The Chadwick in Wexford for the formal reception.  The wedding party had a non-alcoholic champagne toast in the meeting room before being announced in the ballroom.  The staff at the Chadwick was fantastic!  Linda was right there keeping things running smoothly. 



Lynn and Ethel's very sweet first dance as husband and wife.


Then it was time for the ladies to get the party started with a traditional greek dance!  Whirling around the room holding their napkins end to end and the music just got faster and faster. 


We had a wonderful time and were honored to be with you !  Thanks for having us!



Ceremony:  Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Ambridge

Reception: The Chadwick, Wexford

DJ Services:  Mark Tishko



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▣ Lee '09

September 9th, 2008



When we shoot senior pictures we always hope that you'll bring props, instruments, pets, sunglasses, friends, etc.  When Lee called and asked if he could bring his kayak - that was right up our alley.  In keeping with our outdoor theme lately (seriously the weather has been awesome in the evenings) we had Lee meet us in Saltsburg at the boat launch last week.  Unfortunately I had the only camera so there was no one else to take the picture of this photographer standing in the river up to the bottom of her shorts holding $2,000 worth of camera gear hoping not to slip and fall in.  Honestly, these are the kind of sessions I LOVE.




Lee, a true rennaissance man, rugged yet refined.


Have a GREAT senior year!


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▣ take me to the river

September 7th, 2008


Yesterday we spent the day with the fine folks from Northwest Kayak and Canoe as they helped the Lonestar Inn host its first annual Canoe Run on the Kiskiminetas River.  If you've never been to the area and never tried to kayak - you've got to get out and try this!  We've had kayaks for years and are very lucky to have one of Pennsylvania's Wild and Scenic Rivers right in our own backyard. 



The folks from Northwest getting set up for the big event early in the morning.  When you give them a call, they'll help you plan a trip on the river for a few hours or a whole day!  Each rental comes with your boat, paddles, life jackets, transportation to the beginning of your float and a comfortable ride back to your vehicle when you're done.  Bring along a picnic and some snacks and spend the day outdoors!


We love our kayaks!  After spending years in a tippy silver canoe, dragging on the riverbed in the shallow water, discovering kayaks was awesome.  There's a common misconception that if you roll over in a kayak you'll get stuck.  That's only true with whitewater kayaks which are designed to keep YOU in the boat and the water OUT no matter how rough the rapids.  The kayaks that we have and you'll see at most outfitters are called touring kayaks and have an open cockpit.  So if you roll over, you'll fall out easily just like a canoe.  However, you have a WAY better chance of capsizing in a canoe than you do in a kayak.  Thanks to the kayak's low center of gravity, it's extremely steady and therefore MORE RELAXING for you!  You have to actually work at rolling one over to get it to finally flip.



There's lots to see a long the river!  This is an old iron bridge still in use at Tunnelton.  You can launch your trip under the bridge and float along past the old canal system and see remnants of the train bridges that carried coal to the city.   Many of the railroad grades have been refurbished by the rails to trails organization into incredible bike paths. 





Besides the local history, there's plenty of wildlife to be found along the river!

Miles of forest surround you as you drift past whitetail deer, turkeys, beavers, muskrat, blue herons, and lots of fish and waterfowl.  Some paddlers have even spotted a black bear!




Besides kayaks, you can also rent  canoes from northwest .



You can paddle, float, stop for a swim, take pictures of the scenery, or just relax in the sun.


We took some shots when the whole 30 boat floatilla pushed off from tunnelton and then went down to saltsburg and got on our bikes and rode up river and sat around on a rock for a while till they floated by.  There was about 4 feet of water off the end of the rock we found to sit on.  I think with some rain it would have been a nice swimming hole.  Once we waved to the group again, we rode past them down the river to the foot bridge where the bike path crosses the water.



Canoes floating under the foot bridge that used to be a train bridge.  Converted by rails to trails to have a solid deck it connects you to the section of the trail to Slickville that will eventually connect to Trafford. 


Thanks Northwest for asking us to tag along for such a fun and relaxing event!





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▣ Mindy & Mike 08.23.08

September 4th, 2008


Mindy and Mike were married at Puckety Presbyterian Church on August 23rd.  After their Steeler themed rehearsal the night before everybody showed up on time and ready to rock at the church.  Mindy and her bridesmaids got ready at her parent's house, she needed plenty of help with the train on her dress it was soooo long!  Luckily her bridesmaids were fantastic and didn't mind the heat. 




One bride, one groom, 7 bridesmaids, 8 groomsmen, 1 usher, 1 ringbearer, 2 train bearers, and 2 flower girls. 

And NO SHADE anywhere!



Mindy and the girls "backstage" in the crying room before heading down the aisle.



After the ceremony, we stopped off at Memorial Park for a photo op.  (Had to leave the comfort of the limo bus and the AC.)



Relaxing in between shots - we were the live entertainment for a family reunion going on under the pavilion that day at the park.  Image by Sean.






When I say the limo bus was tricked out - I meant it.  There was even a giant flat panel TV behind Mindy & Mike.



We arrived early at the Clarion and they cut the cake when we walked in. 



Mindy and her Dad shared an emotional father daughter dance before the party really broke loose.



Maxwell -  "THE PEEKER" - sorry guys I just had to post this one.



After the bouquet and garter toss, Maxwell the peeker, the train that rolled all around the room, the cha cha slide, the macarena, the twist, the shout, the twist-and-shout, we ended the night with one big group picture! 

See if you can spot the guy wearing the chair sash on his head :-)




Church:  Puckety Presbyterian Church, Lower Burrell, PA

Reception:  Clarion Hotel

Transportation:  Tortorice Luxury Limousine


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