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Photography by Amanda Wilson

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▣ Christmas 2010

December 25th, 2010

A little re-post from last Christmas - my favorite commercial of all time.  It did not air on television in my region this year.  I guess after all these years Eat N Park got tired of it, but I never do.  I remember as a kid feeling bad for the little star struggling to get to the top of the beautiful tree, then feeling so good when the tree was kind and leaned down to help it up.



Please remember to remember folks this holiday - even if it's just with a card or a visit or a hello.  There's also no better time of year to say thank you, and so I thank YOU - all of the friendly faces I've photographed this year - I am always grateful and truly blessed to meet so many amazing folks who invite me to spend time with them and their families.






Things I love about Christmas

  • Slightly imperfect baked goods.  Every 4th pizzelle needs to be tested to maintain 'quality control' .
  • My family has always had a live christmas tree every year.  I love everything about it - the search for it - the smell - the needles all over the carpet - the fact that I can take a living thing and decorate with enough lights that it actually glows with a spirit all its own.
  • Wrapping presents really fancy.  I like to wrap with shiny papers and bows tied out of wire ribbon, pine cones, etc.  Even if the box only contains socks - they are a little more special when someone takes the time to really care and wrap it beautifully.
  • Christmas goes on for days.  It's only one day - but if you really know what you're doing you can make it last from a few days before the Eve - all the way to new years.  You can slack off during Christmas and everyone is ok - it's a time when you're allowed to relax.
  • Snowflakes - like when you're a kid and you still believe in fairies and love glitter.  Snow is magic - it's silent, you can't see where it's coming from and it falls like glitter transforming even the most mundane things into part of a landscape.
  • The frozen pumpkin on my porch.  Picked for Halloween but never carved (i had aspirations of making it a chuck norris pumpkin that never came to fruition) it sat there happily through thanksgiving as a harvesty decoration.  I waited and waited for it to get cold enough to frost over.  The day that it did I took tons of photos of it with snowflakes sticking to the glittering ice crystals on it's orange skin.  Then it got warm and it thawed and the whole pumpkin got very soft and settled in as a more squat looking pillowed version of itself.  Then it froze again.  Now it's sitting out there with the christmas lights.  I kind of want to keep it there.  To me it represents the passage of time this year.  Halloween carving pumpkins with my sister, thanksgiving where I cooked the meal this year, and now christmas where we are all together and healthy.
  • The things that stay the same.  My grandma puts up the same little tree every year with the same decorations.  Every year we get our live tree and the extra limbs we trim off, we give to her to decorate her mantle.  We always spend christmas eve at home instead of going out.  The lights outside which are probably a fire hazard are the same strings of lights we've put up for over 10 years.  The old beat up metal stand we put the xmas tree in is the same one we've used my whole life.  Even the box we store the decorations in through the summer in the attic smells the same.  It smells like the christmas box. 
  • Every year we make cut-out surgar cookies and ice and decorate them.  I try to skip it cause it's sooo time consuming sometimes, but they are a part of my family's christmas.  They taste the same every year.  They are the cookies we used to leave for santa when we were kids on the red plastic christmas plate I made in first grade with the note written on it in silver marker.


Merry Christmas from my family to your family, enjoy your time together this year :)

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▣ Tricia & Mike - gettin' hitched

December 18th, 2010


This story begins this past April when I met Tricia and Mike at Mary & Jim's wedding where Mike was the best man!  Fast forward a few months and Tricia and Mike were looking for a photographer for their own wedding and they called me :-)  We agreed to meet a nice coffee shop which when we arrived - had gone out of business and we had no choice but to go across the street to a McDonalds.  I can honestly say that's the only business meeting I've ever conducted in a McDonalds - but lucky for me it was newly remodeled and the new McDonalds' look more like a sports bar now than a kids restaurant.  No more Hamburgaler - and the big purple Grimace statue is gone too.  Now there are big tables, sports jerseys on the wall, and big flat screen TVs tuned to ESPN.  Who knew?  I'm normally in the drive-thru I didn't know they changed all that stuff inside !  I think I may have even been to a birthday party there 20 years ago..there is a photo somewhere of a bunch of us in a booth wearing Grimace hats..


But I digress.




Fast forward to October and we met at the park to shoot some engagement photos - we had fantastic weather after having to reschedule a week because of rain.  Holding off was a great decision because we got a day like this :-)




These two have such great chemistry :-)  The fall colors were perfect and you could tell the sunset was going to be amazing! 






We even got a couple of funny shots with their dog, Smokey :-)  I love his steeler collar.



We trudged up the hill to my favorite "grassy knoll" - I got a lot of use out of this spot this year!



The colors were fabulous as the sun was setting at the perfect angle in the background and highlighting the leaves and the grass.  It was like magic and we loved the results!  This is Mike doing the "staring in a manly way".  He was a pro.



What a joy to watch the sun go down through my lens in such a beautiful spot with such great people.  I have to say that it was difficult to get any work done because we were having such a good time laughing like crazy.






One of my favorite sessions of the fall !  I can't wait for the wedding in July !!



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▣ Rebecca + Chan | 5.22.10

December 13th, 2010


 I decided today was a great day to post this wildly awesome wedding from last May.  You may remember Rebecca and Chan from their rainy engagement session on the front porch.  As the weather man would have it, it rained just the same on their wedding day, but they didn't let it spoil the fun.  They are such a fun couple, you can't help but have a fantastic time when they're around :-D




Rebecca got ready at her family's home in Latrobe.  I met her through her sister Laura when we worked together for the Westmoreland Museum Gala in 2009!  While Laura helped Rebecca get ready, their furry family members (Buddy, Kitty, and Mr. Sniffy), kept watch always nearby. 



 So much care went into planning every detail of their wedding.




 Rebecca's dress actually made Anna and I gasp with glee when we opened the closet doors!  It was made of whispery taffeta with fabric flower details on the bust and at the waistline.




 Rebecca wore a jeweled headband and completed her look with an intricate Malis Henderson veil.



 Rebecca   :-)




 Since it was raining when we wanted to go out for photos, we hid under the same porch overhang where we took cover for their engagement session.  Each side of Rebecca and Chan's wedding party had guys and girl attendants.  Rebecca was psyched to get on the road to the ceremony in spite of the rain.






 When we got to the church, Chan was waiting with his half of the wedding party. 




 The kind driver from Vogue Limousine helped the bridesmaids through the rain and into the church, then it was time for Rebecca's Dad to bring her inside and take her down the aisle.  Images by Anna.





While the rain tapped on the roof, Rebecca and Chan exchanged vows inside.  Rebecca's dad sang "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban, and it was so moving that the hairs on the back of our necks stood up.






 Together at last!




Luckily, after the ceremony the clouds parted and we had no rain for photos!



 If you think this giant group of friends looks like the cast of a musical, just wait till you see what happened next!




Their reception was held at the stately Arnold Palmer Country Club in Latrobe, PA.  Their theme was birds and guests enjoyed cupcakes and a candy buffet!




 Arnold Palmer Country Club was designed by the famous golf pro and contains tons of history on its grounds.






 Ringbearer sweetness by Anna.



 Trying to beat the rain, we stole as much time as we could to finish all the photos on the course.




Such a glamorous couple :-)

Left image by Anna.







 Loved this location just by the clubhouse with the ridge in the background.



 Since we did this shot for their engagement session, we couldn't resist recreating it for the wedding!




 Love this image by Anna.



 Late spring and the rodedendrons were in bloom.



 And then it happened - Rebecca did a quick outfit change into a simple second dress with a beaded halter and she and Chan shocked the crowd by breaking into a coreographed first dance!  Image by Anna.



ANNA AND I MADE IT ON YOU TUBE !!!   You can see me shooting in the first video in the bottom left of the screen and I block the camera with my silly face at 00:33 seconds!    Then my big head bobs in and out of the right side of the frame for the rest of the video.  Make sure you have your sound on!













 Rebecca's sister leading the ladies in their portion of the dance.  Watch the video below to see it again from a different angle.  You can watch Anna working in the doorway on the far left!












Just when you thought the crowd couldn't get any louder and the party couldn't get any better - they did KARAOKE.  And this group could SING !    The bride's father and his twin brother performed a Blues Brothers number!






 The guy in the top left performed " Fat Bottom Girls "  while the guys in the other photos serenaded the couple with "Kiss by a Rose" .  It was totally intense.  The crowd went wild with applause!




One of the coolest weddings we've had the privilege to shoot!  Everything was awesome from the florals to the video crew.  (Anna and I were totally jealous of their headsets...)





Hair Design:  Ten Foxx Salon


Ceremony:  United Presbyterian  Church


Reception:  Arnold Palmer Country Club


Transportation:  Vogue Limousines




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▣ Little angel :)

December 11th, 2010


Such a beautiful, long awaited little angel - miss R.  She has such a beautiful name :-) 


The first thing to know about her is that she's small and pink and perfect, and the second thing is that she is a cat napper.

If you want to take her picture, you've got to do it between 5 minute naps !


When we first arrived, she was awake to greet the new people who came to visit showing off her first christmas dress  :-)



But we were ultimately not very interesting, and I brought my favorite baby photo fuzzy blanket - which she thought felt heavenly and decided to take a little angelic nap.




Awake again, we decided to get their first family photo :-)




After a quick outfit change into her christening gown, it was nap time again.  I love babies' eyelashes.





With her bonnet on, she smiled in her sleep everytime she heard her Daddy's voice talking to her.




Goodmorning again!  Five minutes later she was wide awake and ready for her close up finally getting to really snuggle into the fuzzy backdrop.  She has such bright blue eyes!




We decided to try the basket, but she's growing like a weed and she just barely fit !  She showed her enthusiasm by waving to us.




Which wore her out completely.  So when we zipped her into her warm fleecey lady bug costume for halloween - it was instant lights out.  We snuck some props in from outside and she slumbered peacefully surrounded by pumpkins and leaves in the corner of the living room.  In fact she liked it so much that her cat nap went on and on and broke her nap time length record!  So now her mom and dad know, if she won't sleep at 3 a.m. just bring her down stairs, zip her into her halloween costume and lay her on a bed of leaves in the corner of the living room.  Good night!


She's such a sweet, happy girl !  I can't wait to watch her grow up :-)



Happy first Christmas, R :-) 

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▣ Hellooo ooo ooo ?

December 8th, 2010



Hey!  Where did everybody go ??


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▣ Just one shot - Tiffany and Andy !

December 6th, 2010




Since I am almost done with their photos, I wanted to post just one shot of Tiffany and Andy's wedding on the one month anniversary of their wedding!  SPARKLERS for the last wedding of the year :-)


I just need a couple more days and I'll be all finished :-D



See how good you look ??  That's why the editing is so painstaking !  You look fantastic and happy in every shot!  Narrowing them down to the best takes serious determination - we shot SO MANY pictures!


I can't wait to show you guys!

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▣ The best part of the off season . .

December 5th, 2010

We have now officially entered the off season.  The wedding photography world's off season that is - and only if you're in the northern states.  In the south they are just kicking in for their busy season !


As I sit here with my hands all splotchy and burning from putting lights on the chistmas tree tonight, I just wanted to let you know that the fumble recovery in the 4th quarter that led to the game winning Steeler touchdown was totally thanks to my sister and I.  Our CONCERN RAYS were so powerful they actually MOVED THE BALL. 


Probably not just us though - as everyone knows - concern rays actually leave the living room and go out and link up with the other rays in the neighborhood and the rays in the county and the rays in the state getting stronger and stronger the more people join in - and the steeler nation's giant ray of concern can travel across the country and all million of us together with all of our might have the ability to move the ball several inches if we concentrate.  And by concentrate I mean shout and screech incoherently while gesturing wildly.


Everyone knows this.


Actually I think that the "Storm Tracker" radar that the news stations tout is actually just a focusing beam for the Steeler fan's concern rays.  We've cleverly hidden it in plain sight.


image courtesy of  (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)



Sweet.  Troysus.. 


During wedding season we're out shooting almost every saturday and thursdays, mondays and sundays end up being portrait sessions so this was the first game all year I've gotten to watch.


Go steelers :-)



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▣ Ann + Bill | 5.21.10

December 4th, 2010


Ann and Bill held one of the nicest spring weddings that I've had the honor to be a part of back in May of this year.  From the beginning, I knew they were a couple with a very special bond.  There were a lot of emotional moments, but I think if there was an overall feeling - it was joy.  And it all started with Ann.  She is someone who when you meet her, just radiates joy!  She's bubbly and sincere and full of energy - you can't help but be excited with her!



They chose a soft pastel color palette that complimented Ann's breezey Galina wedding gown.



Ann's mom and her sister helped to fasten the back of her dress, while she fought back the jitters.

Image by Anna




Ann wore a wreath of flowers in her hair designed by Vicki at Leechburg Floral.








I want to introduce you to Ann's son - he was thrilled to be a part of the wedding and couldn't wait to be part of a new family!






I love this image that Anna caught of the flower girl before the ceremony.




When it was time to venture down the aisle, Ann arrived in a white horse-drawn carriage where she was met by her father.  Her Dad walked her halfway down the aisle, then they met up with Ann's son who took her other arm to help walk her the rest of the way.



With a big smile, Ann was escorted by the two most important men in her life towards the man of her dreams.




I have to admit - I held it together until Bill cried.  When men cry, I just go to pieces.  Bill met them at the end of the aisle with tears in his eyes as Ann's father and her son gave her away.  They exchanged emotional vows between fits of laughter.





Three bottles of sand waited on a table, white sand for Ann's son, and yellow and lavendar sand for Ann and Bill to represent their lives blending together as a new family.



Such romance :-)

Image by Anna



They ran up the aisle and we whisked away in the carriage for a short ride together around the lake.

Image by Anna




This is Geronimo :-)  He's such a good horse!  Ann even brought him carrots!





Inside the barn, the tables were decorated in soft pastels with a three tier cake covered in flowers. 

Middle right image by Anna.




This was hilarious, more of Ann and Bill's great sense of humor.  When DJ Rockin John announced the new Mr. & Mrs. Long to a thunderous round of applause - nothing happened.  He called for them again - no one came up the stairs.  Finally, on the third time Ann and Bill playing a funny prank stumbled up the stairs with their clothes in disarray ;-)  The crowd roared with laughter and they played it up :-)




When everyone had sat down and the best man and maid of honor had given their toasts, Ann's son stood up and asked for the microphone because he had something to say.  Everyone was surprised and sat in silence with tissues in hand as Chris welcomed Bill to their family and told him how much he appreciated Bill taking him camping and teaching him about horses and spending time with him and how he was so happy that they could all be a family now.



I was not the only one who cried that time. 

Anna got teary, John got a little misty, and most of the guests were wiping away the tears with me.

During dinner, Anna and I pulled Ann and Bill outside for some additional photos and some time to relax. 

They are so in love, they needed no suggestion from me - we just stood back and let me them be themselves.




A happy husband and wife.



I loved the back of Ann's dress with it's delicate embroidered lace.



Looking at these photos from May, I can't believe how green everything was outside. 

The word that comes to mind is " lush " what a great time of year for a wedding when all of the plants are fresh and new.




A sweet image by Anna, it's very representative of a Lingrow wedding.  Guests always enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.




Later on, Bill kicked it up a notch for their first dance together.

Image by Anna




Ann and her new husband on the left, and then later in the evening with her Dad.




At the end of the night, Bill hoisted Ann over his shoulder and proudly carried her out of the reception to more applause and cheers!




Mr. and Mrs. Long have LEFT THE BUILDING :-D



I hope you two are having a great time looking forward to your first christmas as a married couple!







Ceremony & Reception Venue:    Lingrow Farm


Floral Design:  Leechburg Floral


Entertainment:  DJ Rockin John


Catering:  Garda's Restaurant

Comments added to this post

▣ The Wells Family

December 3rd, 2010


 Fall - it's always a season for family photos and 2010 was no exception!  As the year comes to a close we all want to update the family photo to mark and record the passage of time and have new smiling faces on the wall when relatives come to visit for the holidays! 

Thanks to my friends the Myers' - they referred me to their neighbors across the street, the Wells family  :-)


And they are a beautiful family !  We met at the grove for a fun afternoon in the leaves with their daughter, E.



E is at that age where she is very independent and likes to do things herself ! 

But she has a serious weakness for the swings  ;-)



The weather was crummy the first few times we wanted to schedule their session, but this day was perfect.




E loved to stare up at the waving brightly colored branches.  At not quite two years old, she is already very much her own beautiful little person.






Perfect :-) 





(The family I mean, not the photo - although the photo is pretty good if I do say so myself ;-) !

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▣ December

December 2nd, 2010


December.  I shot this image last December near Ligonier, PA.  I remember because Sean was my driver on this photo mission and he waited patiently in the truck idling on a side road while I ran up the highway, no coat, shoelaces waving.  The composition seemed to get better the farther away and up the hill I walked.  It's amazing how when you're staring through the lens, you don't feel cold.  You don't feel danger either - learned that standing too close to the edge of cliffs, fires, and dangerous animals.


So here we're back to it.  Snow.  We've woken up to snow here in PA two mornings in a row.  This is nothing compared to Laurel in Colorado ( Hi !! ) who emailed to report the first snowfall there back in SEPTEMBER.


Only 23 days till Christmas.

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