Engagement

Fall sunset engagement photos – Kelly & Ben

I can’t believe it’s finally here!!  Happy wedding week to Kelly and Ben!  They are getting hitched in just four days!  We had the perfect weather when we met up this past November for some fall sunset engagement photos.  I knew just where to go to find the best leaves!

Things to know about this awesome power couple, Kelly is a dog mom to an adorable morkie named Harley, she has a great laugh that makes other people want to laugh too, she’s a girl boss, and she ain’t afraid to hustle to get the job done.  Ben is the perfect partner for her.  He is definitely the strong silent type and can make Kelly smile just by looking at her.  They love to get outside, go wine tasting, spend time with family and hit the gym together.  They are treating their wedding guests to all of their favorite foods this weekend, including grilled chicken sliders and steak fries !  I can’t wait to be there when they tie the knot and make their forever official!

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See you soon!

Summer Schenley Park Engagement | Leah & Glenn

Leah and Glenn are getting married this weekend and it’s time to look back and celebrate their engagement one last time before they tie the knot!  One of their favorite activities is going for a run together or taking a long walk with their dog, Kaia.  Last summer they were living in Pittsburgh and Schenley Park was one of their frequent evening hang outs.  We met up and walked the trail near Panther Hollow at sunset and caught the last vibrant colors of the evening on top of the overlook.  They even used the first photo below as their save the date they sent out to their wedding guests!

 

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Kaia frequently stole the show till their friends came by to pick her up so they could continue with photos dog-free.  Kaia happily trotted off to their car leaving us to feel like the parents whose kindergartner runs off with a smile and zero separation anxiety.

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That moment when you’re trying to smile and look casual and take some photos and your dog suddenly starts digging a giant hole to China in the middle of a public park!  I love outtakes!

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This might be my favorite photo of the three of them as a family.  No faces, but a great moment celebrating how they love to spend their time together.

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The best view of the city from Schenley Park is on the hill dubbed the overlook.  We made it there just as the last rays of sunlight were fading and the sunset colors lit up the clouds.  The city skyline in the distance begged for a silhouette shot.  I love how it turned out and will always be symbolic of the time they spent living together in Pittsburgh.  Since last year, Glenn has taken a position at Penn State and the three of them moved across PA and are now exploring trails and park together near State College!

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They’ll be back this week though for their wedding ceremony and reception at the Pittsburgh Aviary!  I can’t wait to hang out again 🙂

Point State Park Engagement Photos | Christina & Corey

Christina and Corey are getting married in just two days!  Today, we flash back to their engagement session last July in Pittsburgh.  We started out shooting with the skyline and dodging the geese along the north shore and then finished out the day with a spectacular sunset at Point State Park!  By the time we were done, we had crossed two bridges two times, walked from the science center to allegheny landing twice, highlighted their love of baseball at PNC park, and put in a total of four miles on the fitbit!

 

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We loved shooting through sunset because we could play with the light.  A good sunset yields soft natural light photos, colorful silhouettes, and the opportunity to use some off camera flash for special effects.  It’s a great reason to schedule your engagement session and your wedding photos to shoot through the golden hour in the evening!  (Bring snacks though, shooting hungry and walking four miles is not for the faint of heart!)

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Christina and Corey are tying the knot on friday at Succop Conservancy in Butler, PA!  We can’t wait to share their wedding!

Oakmont Engagement Photos | Carrie + Jimmy

Carrie and Jimmy are getting married this coming weekend and last fall we met up at Dark Hollow Park in Oakmont, their favorite spot to walk their five (yes 5!) bulldogs.  I loved their story from our first meeting when Carrie pulled out her phone to show me photos of Jimmy popping the question with a puppy proposal at the airport!  He told her that they were going to pittsburgh international to meet some friends who were flying in for the weekend, but in reality Jimmy had secretly purchased a very special puppy from out of state and it was arriving by plane that evening.  While they waited outside the arrival area, (Jimmy had a friend stationed inside the airport lounge with a camera at the ready) a man walked up to Carrie and said this is for you [from Jimmy] and handed her a beautiful little ball of fur with a pink collar and a tag that read “Will you marry me?”  <3

I had such a great time getting to know the whole gang!

 

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Getting five dogs to all look at the camera and smile is no easy task next to a busy street!

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^^  This was the shot I pictured from the first time we met to book their wedding, all of the dogs, on the street in Oakmont with their wedding date!  In just four days, the date that was saved will be here!  Carrie and Jimmy have also made a wedding album registry so that friends and family can gift them pages for all of their photos to go into a beautiful book to be enjoyed for years to come.  If you’d like to contribute, check out their homepage: Carrie and Jimmy’s wedding album registry .

I can’t wait to celebrate with you guys, see you saturday morning!

Laurel Highlands Engagement | Kristie + Chuck

When Kristie and Chuck told me their proposal story, it was clear there was a special place we needed to go for their engagement session.  Kristie has so many happy memories with her father from Deer Valley YMCA camp. They spent many weekends there for Daddy-daughter camp when Kristie was a little girl.  She and her father would go out on the lake, hike to the spring, and climb up the mountain to the big overlook.  Sadly, Kristie’s Dad passed away when she was fifteen and they weren’t able to continue making such beautiful memories.  Fast forward many years, Kristie had met a great guy named Chuck at Hofbrauhaus while she was out with some friends and they had been dating for over a year.  Chuck knew that he wanted to ask Kristie to marry him but he wouldn’t be able to ask her father for his blessing first, so he did the next best thing.  Chuck asked Kristie to take him to see the summer camp she had loved so much and go on a hike with him to the overlook he had heard so much about.  It was there overlooking the lake in the place where she had made so many memories with her dad that Chuck got down on one knee and proposed.  I was so glad that they shared their story with me and wanted to go back to the place where it all began at Deer Valley.  Thanks to Mother Nature putting on her best fall colors, the view from their proposal spot over the laurel highlands was a show stopper.

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Plenty of Mountain Laurel in the Laurel Highlands!

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We shot all the way through sunset and into the dark the night of their first session.  It was a long drive home and the area was so remote, we saw a baby bobcat cub cross the dirt road in front of my car!  Since we weren’t able to include Kristie and Chuck’s two fur kids in their first session, we met up again a few weeks later at Northmoreland Park.  I got to meet their two rescued greyhounds, Miles and Chloe.

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I love Chloe’s one ear in the air.

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I can’t wait for saturday to shoot their wedding at Lingrow Farm!

 

 

 

 

Schenley Park Engagement Session | Becky & Matt

Two great people are getting married this week and they are sporting possibly the greatest wedding hashtag I’ve ever seen!  Meet the soon to be Mr. & Mrs. Matt Slippy who rolled onto facebook this week with their social media moniker #Slippywhenwed – BOOM!  Not only is it fabulous, but it’s Pittsburgh fabulous because when it’s icy out – other cities become slipp-er-y but here in Pittsburgh – roads and sidewalks get “slippy”.   Enough about our western Pennsylvania verbiage, let’s flash it all the way back to last fall when we met up in Pittsburgh for their Schenley Park engagement photos!

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There’s a hilarious story behind this photo.  As we’re standing there, (having scaled a small stone wall in order to position Becky and Matt with a bright orange tree behind them) wearing two cameras and with an assistant holding a flash and umbrella set up, a strange woman approaches us and proceeds to tell us how we can really improve the photo that we are taking.  She goes on for 5 minutes explaining that she just took her daughter’s engagement photos herself and that if you have the couple really stare into each others eyes and just make the best expression while they hold the ring out towards the camera, that it’s the best photo you can take.  Once she stood there and waited for us to follow her directions she approved the shot and then continued down the sidewalk.  Nothing like a Pittsburgh mom to want to help EVERYONE.  I didn’t mind, I just felt a little perplexed that even with all that gear that we didn’t look like we knew what we were doing?  Oh well, a little unsolicited advice never hurt, right?  Plus, the shot did come out pretty cute 😉

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A stop at Phipp’s conservatory’s hall of botany is a must as part of any schenley park engagement.  I told Matt to whisper something romantic in Becky’s ear.  Not sure how romantic whatever he said was, but it was definitely entertaining!  phipps-conservatory-photo-session

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We ended the night at Flagstaff Hill overlooking Oakland.  It was a great night and I can’t wait to celebrate with you all this weekend!

Surprise proposal revealed!

This story starts with a ring under the Christmas tree in station square on New Years Eve 2015.  Megan had been working as a wedding coordinator for Lingrow Farm, that’s how she and I met, but she met Johnny in Station Square years before that.  They were both attending St. Vincent University and working for the Event and Conference Services Department.  If I remember the story right, Megan was driving the shuttle and saw Johnny waiting to be picked up on the curb.  It wasn’t long before they were back at Station Square on their first date, and three years later I got an email from Johnny that he had a plan.  These two St. Vincent alumni were getting married, Megan just didn’t know it yet.  Johnny explained that he would be home from DC for New Years and was going to take Megan out to dinner in Station Square and pop the question under the big Christmas tree outside the Hard Rock Cafe.  When he asked if I was up for secretly photographing the surprise proposal ninja-style and keeping it a total secret for over a year, I said ABSOLUTELY!

His plan was to surprise Megan on the morning of their wedding with a framed photo from their secretly photographed surprise proposal!

So I had to invent a secret email account so that I could communicate with Johnny in the days leading up to New Years.  Pittsburgh weather was abnormal as usual.  The temperature was about 20 degrees with a windchill near zero and there was no snow on the ground.  In keeping with wedding off season tradition, I had come down with pneumonia a few days prior and felt like I was slowly dying of the plague.  Like all fabulous productions though, the show must go on.  My normal plan of attack when it comes to a surprise proposal is to blend into the crowd of strangers until just the right moment then jump out and start shooting.  It worked great for Chad & Leslie’s proposal at the fountain at the point!  Of course Leslie had never met me before and had no idea what I looked like anyways.  Then there was the time I shot Brad & Kylie’s proposal after dark at the Christmas tree in Saxonburg, but again – Kylie had never met me , it was dark, and the town Christmas parade was going on so I had some cover.  This time would be different because Megan knew my face and there would be no jumping out and yelling surprise – we would have to stay out of sight the whole time and be completely under the radar for a whole year.  We were going to need disguises.

Remember that scene from Jim Carrey’s Fun with Dick and Jane when he goes out to rob the convenience store?  That’s the look I was going for.  I got pretty close, right?

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So the day arrives and it was colder than frigid.  Sean offered to drive me to Pittsburgh and sit with me on the stake out since I was so sick.  We parked in the garage, snuck around the side of the building 45 minutes early hoping to scope out the perfect spot to blend into the crowd of holiday shoppers and party-goers.  We rounded the corner and this is what we saw:  AB-SO-LUTELY nothing.  The crowd of people I was supposed to hide in obviously hadn’t gotten the memo or all had better things to do on a -3 degree windchill afternoon than stand in the wind by a freezing river.

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Our disguises were good, but they weren’t THAT good.  It was going to be hard not to be recognized when we were the only other human beings in the entire plaza when Megan and johnny showed up.  We needed to take cover.  Luckily, irony provided us with the perfect location – the abandoned photo booth outside of Bar Louie.  It was the only thing to hide behind other than a trash can so that had to be it.  So there we were, squatting inside a run down photo booth in the cold like a homeless James Bond waiting for our targets to show up.

Meanwhile, Johnny had received my text that we were on location ready to go and was trying to nonchalantly convince Megan to go stand around in the cold by the Christmas tree without giving away the fact that he was about to ask her something VERY important.  We saw them enter the plaza from our hiding place.  I was so afraid Megan would spot us and ruin the surprise.  They stood there and talked a minute, took a few selfies, then Johnny took Megan’s hands and I knew he was going for it.  In this moment he was totally running on faith that we were in the right spot and ready and were going to get all of this since he hadn’t seen us and had no idea where we were.  Megan’s eyes widened a little even before he reached into his pocket.  When he dropped down to one knee, her hands covered her face in disbelief.

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At this point, I wish we had the go pro with us because there was only enough room for me to poke one eye and my camera lens through the opening to shoot, so Sean couldn’t see a thing and didn’t get to watch any of it unfold.  Luckily, I can read lips and was narrating for him under my breath.  “Ok he’s going for it, he’s on the knee, she’s covering face, *lip reading* “Is this for real? o my god, o my god, is this really happening?” Ok the ring is on her hand, he’s up, they’re hugging, there’s a lot of crying.”  You have to keep it together when you’re shooting a surprise proposal even though you feel like every hair on your head is standing on end willing you to get the shot.  Did I mention it was -3 degrees out?

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Once he had asked and she had enthusiastically said yes, they hung around for quite a while enjoying the moment.  Johnny’s sister, Kathleen, had been standing by to capture the proposal by phone for instant photos and was hiding out inside the hard rock.  She stepped out got some photos of them together and they talked for a while.  By this point I think I had lost feeling in both of my hands and was just gripping my camera with a frozen claw.

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We knew they were headed to dinner afterwards nearby and was afraid of running in to them on the way to the car so we skittered into Bar Louie to warm up a minute.  When we had thawed out, we left and Sean drove me directly to Med Express for antibiotics.  Later that night, Megan called to tell me Johnny had proposed and I had to pretend I had no idea and asked a ton of questions about how it happened.  Megan had no idea we had been there the whole time.

Fast forward now through a whole year – we celebrated their engagement with photos in all four seasons.  We traveled to Washington D.C. where Johnny works and would turn out to be their future home for a sunrise engagement session at the cherry blossom festival.  In summer, we honored Pittsburgh tradition with a night time photos under the lights at Kennywood (they actually got featured around valentine’s day this year for Kennywood love stories!).  When the leaves changed, Johnny was home for the weekend and we all got up early the morning after a wedding double header and hiked a mile into the woods for photos inside a waterfall along the Allegheny river.  The winter photo session was the hardest.  Megan’s plan was to go back to station square in the snow under the Christmas tree, but Mother Nature was uncooperative.  Wedding planning was kicking up a notch, work was busy for Johnny, and it just wouldn’t snow.  Then we postponed because the high temperature for the day was zero degrees. Then postponed again, no snow.  By the time we shot their winter Pittsburgh engagement session at Station Square, the Christmas tree where they had gotten engaged had been taken down for the year.  I knew Megan was a little disappointed, but I also knew she was just a few months away from a great surprise!

So what happened when the surprise was finally revealed?

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Megan’s reaction when the surprise proposal photos were finally revealed,  “are you SERIOUS?” followed by joy, followed by happy tears.  It was fantastically rewarding to see a year worth of planning and secret keeping come to fruition.

If you or someone you know is planning a surprise proposal, you don’t have to trust your memories to a dark blurry cell phone photo that can never be blown up.  I’ll hide out in the bushes and capture it all in crystal clear detail so that you can frame it and always look at it and remember 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This morning I woke up with this image on my mind!  Sometimes the behind the scenes story of an image is just as good as the image itself.  I actually spotted this heart shaped tree on instagram when searching hashtags last year to keep up to the minute on when the cherry trees were blooming in Washington DC.  I knew we had to find it!  Just a few weeks later, the stars aligned and we drove 245 miles from Pittsburgh to DC for photos at sunrise on the tidal basin.  We were shooting in a beautiful grove and in the background of the shot a few hundred feet behind them, I spotted it.  There was the tree!  We could not believe that out of the thousands of trees on the tidal basin that we found this one.

 

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Just a few more months till Megan & Johnny’s wedding!  If you’d like to see more photos from their Washington DC engagement session under the cherry blossoms, click Here!

Courtney & Matt | Hartwood Acres engagement photos

Courtney and Matt are getting married this Saturday!

I know that they are hoping for snow, but here’s a look back at their summer Hartwood Acres engagement photos.

 

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I asked Matt to describe Courtney in three words.  His first response was Mother of Dogs.  He was kidding!  *sort of*   Even though they are a family of five including their three pups, Koda, Tootise and Tanner. Matt says Courtney would save every dog she met if she could.  “Loving, pure-hearted, and genuine,” is how he describes his future wife.

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Proof that Courtney can be serious!  For about 2 seconds 😉  We all know she’s a giggler.

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Courtney said the first thing she noticed about Matt was that he was so tall!  Then she fell in love with his wit and his dry sense of humor and he charmed his way into her heart.  (Who couldn’t love a guy that wants to have three dogs with you!!)

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Fingers crossed for a pretty snow flurry for saturday and clear roads to get everyone safely to and from the party 🙂

It’s going to be an excellent weekend!

Justine & Chris | fall engagement photos near Portage, PA

 

When you find the one, you just know.  I didn’t believe it till I met my own husband, but I can tell you that if you aren’t sure – then you haven’t met the one yet.  Justine and Chris met just a few years ago and the first thing she noticed about him was that he smiled all time.  A fortune cookie from one of their first dates of take out Chinese forecast the future.

It read, “stop searching forever, happiness is right beside you.”

For their fall engagement photos, Chris and Justine invited me to Chris’ family home near Portage, PA.  We explored acres of woods and fields, visited Wilmore Dam for photos by the water, and ended  at sunset on top of the hill underneath the tree where Chris proposed.  We even included the third member of their family, their golden retriever puppy, Camo.  From the tree swing in the yard, to the view from the hill, we had beautiful weather capturing the first of many happy chapters of their lives together.

 

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The perfect family photo 🙂

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And proof that not everything always goes perfect LOL !

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What a gorgeous spot to always remember the place where he asked and she said yes, forever.

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Just a few months of snow in between us and the wedding!  I can’t wait to celebrate spring with you in April at Lingrow Farm.