Wedding day first look planning

As a wedding photographer, I want every one of my weddings to produce great images that everyone loves and will let them remember it forever. Your wedding does not have to be grand in size, venue or dollar amount to be special. Whatever your wedding budget is there is a goal that all couples seem to have, and sometimes overlook the one that should be the most important. For you to have a great time spending your wedding day together!
I have found those who choose to have a first look before their ceremony or are willing to put a solid block of time between the ceremony and reception for a staged one seem to get a lot out of it. I try to set up at least fifteen or twenty minutes to photograph a first look and some of bride and groom formals. In the last wedding I shot it paid off with great results. Morgan and Mitch had a great country wedding and they set aside a good block of time for a first look in which they had a special spot picked out. There was a clearing with some old trucks parked in the backwoods where they would sneak out to meet each other in high school. So we got Morgan ready and had Mitch meet her where they had so many times before, it was a great spot because it had meaning and will remind of that forever, as a bonus it fit right in to their country theme.

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

After this short session, they had time to chat and relax together, while I shot what was going on. They had no trouble feeling relaxed in front the camera for the rest of the day. So when you are planning your wedding day don’t think of first look as just time for photographs think of it as part of your day to be enjoyed and a way to feel at ease in front of the camera. And if you are close to some place special between you two, feel free to tell me and if time permits I am always open to suggestions. Just make sure you can add in the time to make it happen, most photographers should be happy to assist with any photo related scheduling questions well in advance of your wedding day.
If your interested in having me photograph your wedding I do have some 2015 dates still available click this link http://www.joelgeistphoto.com/contact/
Feel free tell me about your first look stories in the comments section. (you can click “comments” on the top the article if you are in the blog roll instead of post page.)

Beautiful Country wedding in Mercer, North Dakota with Morgan + Mitch

I traveled to Mercer, North Dakota for a wedding two weeks ago. It was a such a pleasure to photograph a great couple. This country wedding was blessed with great weather, a setting that was very special to them, and a lot of friends and family who helped make this day so very special. Morgan + Mitch were high school sweethearts and the backyard where I photographed their first look was the same place where they used to sneak out and meet each other years ago. Here are some highlights from this great country wedding filled with good times.

country wedding, travel wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel wedding photographer, DC Baltimore Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland

country wedding, travel, wedding photographer, DC, Baltimore, Maryland
Congratulations! I wish the best for Morgan + Mitch and I was honored to share in this special day to remembered!








Feel free to leave comments below, tell me what you think.

Senior Photography Portrait Session

So it is time for Seniors of the class of 2014 to head into their final year of high school. I have a lot of fun photographing senior portraits. I photograph them on location to fit a seniors personality, because no two are exactly alike. Their senior photos should not be either.

I had the opportunity to shoot a session with Drake from Milford Massachusetts before my upcoming move to Baltimore Maryland. Drake is involved with wrestling, track, student council and is looking at architecture as his major. It was a great shoot and I was very pleased with his portraits. I had their proofing session and was very pleased that Drake and his family had a tough time choosing.

Senior Photography, portrait photographer, baltimore, maryland, dc

Senior Photography, portrait photographer, baltimore, maryland, dc

Senior Photography, portrait photographer, baltimore, maryland, dc

Senior Photography, portrait photographer, baltimore, maryland, dc

Senior Photography, portrait photographer, baltimore, maryland, dc

My thanks to Drake a really a great young man, best of luck in all you do!

Massachusetts FoamFest 2013

Every once in a while it is very refreshing to photograph a really fun event where people don’t take themselves very seriously and are just out to have some fun. I was contacted to help shoot this event as a sports photographer but it turned out that the photo booth got backed up and I ended up shooting groups for much of the two days.
It was a weekend about having fun groups of friends and families descended on Haverhill, Massachusetts at Kimball Farms where they set up a fun 5k and obstacle course. I was stationed at the finish line and had to pop back and forth photographing team and family groups. It was a long day but it was great having people, not worried about how they look in the photo and nearly all of them had fun poses that showed they had a great day. The finish line turned into a mud pit late in the day and many ended the 5k race with a foamy mud bath.

Here is a slice of last weekend at the New England Foam Fest.

Senior Portrait Summer Special for Class of 2014

Class Of 2014 are you looking for great Senior portraits that showcase your style and personality? I am offering a Summer Senior Portrait Special* through 9/1/13.

How Much? Only $89- Your session will include a 1 hour location portrait shoot, 1 print each 8×10, 5×7, and 4×6. Prints can be from any poses you choose. Includes 25 mile travel from Milford, MA 01757.

Extra prints, files and upgraded packages are available for purchase at reasonable prices. Referral programs and back to back best friends sessions are available as well. If you have any questions please click here http://www.joelgeistphoto.com/contact/. Schedule your senior portrait session before 9/1/13 to get this great rate!

Senior Portrait, Photographer, Boston, Milford

*The details-Any senior portrait sessions scheduled after 9/1/13 will be at regular rates. Any shoots rescheduled due to weather or will be honored at Summer Special rate.

Boston photo shoot

Recently I shot with Marcus in Boston. It was a great portrait session on a beautiful day in Boston. I loved the contrasts and backgrounds that were available for this shoot in the golden hours, which is just before sunset. It is my favorite time to photograph for a portrait session.
boston-photographer-fashion-senior-photography

boston-photographer-fashion-senior-photography

boston-photographer-fashion-senior-photography

boston-photographer-fashion-senior-photography

boston-photographer-fashion-senior-photography

A special wedding in Rome, New York with Julie + Jeremy

Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing Julie and Jeremy’s wedding in Rome, New York. I have known Julie and Jeremy for a couple of years, they both live in Florida. Julie was originally from Rome and wanted her wedding in Rome where most of her family and friends were from. It is clear to see their love for each other and Rome was a great choice as the friends and family around them made this day very special.

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Boston Wedding Travel Photographer

Thanks to all who helped through out this great day. I wish nothing but the best for Julie and Jeremy. Congratulations!

Boston Strong! by Boston photographer Joel Geist

This week has been hard for the Boston area. First off my heart and thoughts go out to all the People injured and the families of those who were lost in this tragedy and law enforcement who worked so hard and gave so much to apprehend the suspects. I am not going to go through details that you have already heard what I am going to attempt to do is show you how the city is trying to get back to some state of “normal” although it is clear to see it will not be forgotten.

My story starts at the starting line in Hopkinton Massachusetts where this feather flower was placed along with others along the road.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
As I started to shoot I happened upon this quote from Benjamin Franklin along the starting line and I got to thinking about the history of Boston and how I didn’t really feel like I was a part of it, as the adjustment to the area has been slow. I took it upon myself to try to tell this story as I see it and I had hoped I somehow would come out feeling more a part of it.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
While the days events of Friday unfolded everyone was told to stay inside and the city was basically shutdown to insure the safety of the public. There was an all clear put out and people ventured out. Then shortly after a David Hennebury tipped off the police, sirens and gunfire rang out through Watertown Massachusetts. It had not dawned on me the impact this would have on the public until the next day.
I hit the T in the morning to go into Boston to do my photography walk, the subway was packed full with Fenway traffic. The Copley station was closed due to the proximity to the blasts and there were armed guards in the station. Unfortunately I was not prepared for that as my camera was still in my bag. I got off the subway and headed to the memorial sites.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist

Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist

Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist

This last photograph I felt was very powerful. This little girl was writing a message on her own, to put up with the rest of the messages on the memorial. When schools are closed and parents have to explain why, the level of fear this could impart to our children of the future is scary to think about. Yet this little girl is telling us to stay strong, and the she hopes Boston will be safe.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
I saw everyone holding there children a little tighter and snap to attention when there was a siren as if on high alert. It may take some time for people to get over some of that anxiety when they hear a siren, but Boston is not the city to give into terror and stay in their homes. I started searching for ways that people were trying to move on from this tragedy. There were multiple locations where people had placed notes, but a local sports store Niketown Boston had placed chalk on their sidewalk for people to leave messages.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Others looked for places to shop and have lunch these two were having what looked to be a quiet normal lunch at first glance, but if you look in the background you can see the crater where the second bomb was detonated, and signs posted on the barricades.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Others just needed to do something to show how happy they were the suspects were arrested and the mayhem was over. Walking through the city on three occasions I saw people bringing gifts as a way to thank law enforcement and National Guard personal that were dispatched.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Acts of kindness and gratitude are often overlooked in a large city but nonetheless they are out there if you look for them and one way for Boston to stay strong is to pull together and make them happen more.

Boston is a proud town and many people take pride in their homes here and I met Jeff who was working on a landscaping project. I stopped and chatted with him for a bit. We talked about his project and the history of the his house that was built for John Quincy Adams family before he became the president.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
This image is close to the western memorial site where ladder 15 company fire department house has stood in front of every Boston marathon. It was built in 1888 and is still in use today and I just felt the look of the older gentleman is as classic Boston as the firehouse he was standing in front of.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
113th running of the Boston marathon was the center of the attack but it is clear the tradition will carry on and next year I foresee more runners than ever. As I walked along the route on the way to another steep tradition. I saw a man running holding the flag running towards the finish and snapped this image of him. As I walked away I could hear loud cheers as he neared the crowds of the memorial.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
As I headed further down the course, I heard the cheers in area that have been there in summertime since 1912. This is Fenway! Home of the Green Monstah.

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The tradition and pride housed in this green cathedral of our American pass time can not be matched. It is the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball and there is a unique feel to the stadium. The fans came out in force on the day after the suspects were apprehended to show that this city will not tremble in fear. There was an intensity as they beat the Royals and everyone was leaving. It looked like just as many came as a show of support to the city maybe more than to see the game, they were decked out in full Boston Gear and American flags were abundant in the crowd.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
There was a sense of pride some showed but there was also something different in the air, you could feel people were on alert and parents seemed to grip their children’s hands a little tighter.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist

Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
In the end the kids were happy to go to the game, get a win for their Sox and spend a day with their families.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
This week will live in the memories of many and the Bagpipe player on the way to the T station was a perfect ending as I was trying to layout my story in my head. His song rained sad somber notes, I was curious if I could do this story justice? Just then the tune changed to a more upbeat music as if to give a sense of hope and reassurance to all passing by and to my question.
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Everyone had different ways of mourning and bouncing back, mine was to do this piece. Some lives will be changed forever, it may be a tough road and that is why it is important to….
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist
Boston-Strong-Photographer-Joel-Geist

BE STRONG, BELIEVE Boston will get through this and grow stronger as a city, and NEVER FORGET!

Photography relates to Baseball?

So it’s opening day for Major League Baseball and I am always fascinated by the parallels to baseball and so many aspects of life in my case this is about photography. First and foremost good luck to my hometown Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox my new local team. While I was thinking of the upcoming season and how the faces of players come and go in the offseason, wondering who your team will sign, how much the front office will spend to get the big name players and if each player is worth the money they spent on them. Will they make a run for the pennant or will they an end up a .500 ball club? Will they call up the next phenom nobody knows about that vies for Rookie of the Year to give hope for the future? Will you remember this season forever like 1987, when I was ten and the Twins won the series, or will it end like most uneventful?
sports photographer, baseball,
All of this may seem unrelated to Photography but bear with me for a bit. Lets start with the payroll each team can spend as much their market can support or just enough to field a team. Which this year teams range is as wide as the Grand Canyon with the New York Yankees fielding a team north of 225 million dollars and the Houston Astros spending nearly one tenth of the Yankee payroll. The check New York cuts to Alex Rodriguez would pay all the Astros and give them 5 million more to buy every team member world series tickets behind home plate, which unfortunately for them is the only way they will get there barring the most shocking events in baseball history. Will the Astros win some games? Yes. Will they win a world series? No. Will the Yankees win a World Series for spending the most money? Most likely not this year with their highest paid player sitting on the couch for most of the season. The Oakland A’s of last year proved you don’t have to spend the most money to make a run into the playoffs, hats off to Billy Bean.

The payroll each team pays per year is very much like the gear and locations each person uses to make their photographs. Some can roll with systems that are in the $30,000 range for 3 flagship Nikon, or Canon bodies with an arsenal of pro lenses, some in the 500 dollar range using older bodies and maybe a kit lens or two prime lenses. Some photographers have gigantic studios with expensive Pro Pro Foto lights, beautiful brick walls and huge North Facing windows spending 4000 a month for their space. While some use a small bedroom in their house, a local park, clients own home or business and just use natural light and spend nothing but gas and use extra space. Does this have any bearing on the ending image? Do these things matter? Yes and no, while the photographer that spends a lot of money has a better chance for successful images merely because he has all options open. That does not mean he can make enough money to pay for all of those expenses and might be better investing in future marketing to build a sustainable business and not dump money into expensive lenses you might pull out 10 times a year. The photographer using less gear has to get more creative and work harder to get great images but they are still very attainable.They can then invest in marketing and add pricey tools when they can afford them. As long as you have the knowledge and the skill to maximize the tools you have anything is possible.

Now let’s look at one of the most important aspects of baseball and photography. Talent, hard work and the ability to work hard at improving yourself. Every player starts his career as a kid learning how to throw, hit and field fly balls. Some have innate athletic ability, some have to work from not being very good to being great. Both of those type of players still need to work hard at getting better, practice, have humility to learn from others, take criticism, be their hardest critic, bounce back from failure, have a passion for the game, and the ability to believe in themselves when everyone else says its impossible. There are 1200 people players U.S in major league baseball at any given moment (more in september) and about 6,000 people working hard in the minor leagues in North America to get their shot in the big show. I am guessing at this one but there is probably another million that would want their shot in the minor leagues. The road to the majors is very hard and if a player loses his focus or drive to get better there will always be someone there wanting to take your job.

Photography requires the same drive. From the moment everyone starts taking photos some people “SEE” and some people learn to see. But just being able to see a great photo is not enough. There is still a drive inside that you must want to get better. Once they start learning and taking better photos there is a point where one decides they want to get more serious. If you take courses in school, read every book you can find, or learn by talking to people who know a lot more than you do, or all the above, you still have to be able to apply that knowledge in the field. So now what? Shoot! Be your hardest critic because unlike baseball where there is an Umpire and a scoreboard to tell you if you won or lost there is no instant gratification. There is only the satisfaction of your final image, maybe a few people who comment on your photo, or clients that may say you did a great job. But is it enough to keep your interest? That is where you need to have passion for photography to stay with it. The people who can become great photographers take criticism well, ask questions, bounce back from disappointing outings, keep up on new and current trends, have a love for photography that transcends monetary value, and have an inner vision or style that comes out when they shoot. If you don’t do or have these things there will always be someone looking to push or surpass you.

On the road to the majors I am sure each player has hopes and dreams of making it into the majors if even for a few games. But on that road there are probably very difficult times for players when they get dropped down a level traded or worse cut. It takes a strong-willed person to keep at it and overcome those and keep walking onto the field and playing because their love of the game and their hopes of making it to the bigs. Every year I have guys that I love hearing the stories of a guy who played in minors for 10 years and finally gets his shot and comes out and has some of the best games in his life.

In photography it is not much different you can scratch and scrape to make it and then you can get that one job or make that one contact that can jump-start success. Some times you think you have made that contact only to find that the project gets cancelled. This happened to me last month and I admit it had a negative effect on me and my confidence. What to do? Get back out there and shoot I found a great story which was my last post about my neighbor and it turns out to be very meaningful to me and reminds me why I do this, because I love the story each moment can tell.

Play Ball! When the game starts in baseball the team starts down a path that was thought about before the game started. The manager makes a lineup and decides what game plan is best for the team. As the game begins this game plan changes to what the situation dictates; playing small ball by bunting runners over, letting your clean up hitter swing away on the first pitch, bringing the infield in or intentionally walking someone. At the end of season teams with great managers that make great decisions will win a lot more games.
sports photographer, baseball, joe mauer, Justin morneau

Once a shoot starts there was a plan; picking a location, deciding what gear to bring. Do you need to schedule make up artist, assistant, or bring candy to keep kiddos interested? No matter how much you plan something always changes the situation; bad weather, clients showing up late, wedding party not ready, no nap for the kids, wrong time of day, or equipment issues. Differences between great shoots and the mediocre are how we as photographers handle those changes. Having backup plans or equipment should always be common practice, explaining to clients why it’s very important to be on time so they understand why you picked that time. This planning will improve your success rate immensely so be the Manager for success don’t let the situation dictate success or failure.

Most important parallel NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM!

Just my take on baseball and photography there are many more but time to watch the game:)

Good deeds lead to a new friend and a new understanding.

One day I got home after a heavy snowfall of about 16 inches. I had noticed my neighbor, who I had never met, had not shoveled her walk yet. I had seen her once or twice peeking through the window and I could see that she was over 70. I grabbed a shovel and just thought I would clear it quick and just feel good for doing it. I was about half way done when the door opened and this little old lady stuck her head out the door, I introduced myself and told her I moved in next door a little bit ago we chatted for about ten minutes. She asked why I was doing it. “I just felt like it was a nice thing to do”. Can I pay you she asked? “Nope I don’t want any money I just wanted to do something nice.” I said with a smile and thought that would be the end of the payment discussion.

“ You’re going to make me cry you have to let me give you something.” She pursed her lips for a second in deep thought. “Can I bake you some cookies or brownies?” I could see that she clearly just wanted to return the favor, and it was a while since I had some great homemade treats. I told her brownies would be great, and I was heading to Boston the next day but I could stop in on Sunday. Little did I know this chance meeting would help me very much over the next few weeks.

I showed up with my camera bag and knocked on her door in the afternoon. She invited me in and asked if I wanted some tea, and she gave me a big tin of brownies. As she whipped around her kitchen we started talking and she told me all about herself and her story of her children and grandchildren then she told me she was 89 years old. She was full of life and was remembering dates and specific things from days 40 years ago. I was amazed.

My tea was ready and she went to her china set and grabbed what looked to be the best set in the hutch. And she placed it in front of me very meticulously. She asked if I wanted anything else and I said I wanted to try one of the brownies she made. I took one bite and was amazed these were some great brownies! It was a bit over cast outside, the setting, colors of her china and the brownies were great . I took out my camera and shot one or two frames.

Portrait of elderly woman, Milford ma, photography,

So I started to tell her my story and that I was a photographer and I asked her if I could take her picture. “NO! My hair is a mess and I will break your camera!” I told her she looked great and I shoot in a real life style but still got a no. “You will waste all your money on that film” she exclaimed. I smiled and said there is no film, and that I just loaded them onto my computer. She told me she did not have a computer and didn’t understand any of those “whosy whatzits”. It seemed as though all the talk of technology brought her spirits down a bit so I quickly changed the subject and put my camera away.

She began to tell me about her life living in Milford and that she had lived in her house all of her life, she bought the house from her Father. Which just seemed so interesting to me as I have lived in five different states and probably three times as many cities. As the conversation went on I could just see how she lit up as she talked about her life her children and grandchildren.
Portrait of elderly woman, Milford ma, photography, black and white portrait

I finished my tea, she asked if I wanted some more I said sure as the conversation was very interesting. It reminded me so much of afternoons spent with my Great Aunt and Grandparents, where I would just stop in and talk for hours to them as they all lived alone after they had lost their spouses. They would just love to have some company every once in a while and wanted to find out what you were doing and such. Now years later I regret not taking more time than I did stopping in and now living a long ways from my family now I can only go back occasionally. Things like that you only seem to realize when it is too late. I stayed for a second cup of tea and some more conversation. I thanked her for the brownies and I told her I would bring her tin back her tin she had packaged the brownies in.

So three days later I stopped back with her tin and I had my camera bag in tow hoping she would say yes to being photographed. I rang her bell and waited patiently and then I knocked not knowing if the bell worked I heard the tv on so I thought she was home. I went to the front door rang the bell and knocked after a few minutes I went back to my house and thought she must not have been home even though it struck me as odd her tv was on.

I returned the next day as I was a little worried about my neighbor and it took a few minutes of knocking but she finally answered and when the door opened I felt relieved. I presented her tin with a smile and I said , “I told you I was going to bring it back.” “Come on in, do you want some tea?”

Portrait of elderly woman, Milford ma, photography,

We had a good conversation and got her phone number so if she didn’t hear me at the door in the future I could call and I gave her my number so if she needed help with something she could call me. After much convincing she agreed to let me photograph her, the following Monday. She kept saying, “Testa Dura!” It is an Italian phrase that means hard-headed or stubborn. Which I guess was warranted as I was not going to take no for an answer unless she had a good reason.
Portrait of elderly woman, Milford ma, photography, black and white portrait
Monday afternoon I came back and there was no answer at the door. I called and left her a message hoping she would answer the door. I went back home after waiting a couple of minutes. A few hours later she called and I told her I would be over the next day. I showed up with my camera bag and a reflector, this was the day I was going to be able to photograph my new friend. I was invited in and she asked, “What’s all that stuff?” I said today is the day I was going to pictures like we talked about last week. I started shooting a few frames as she was getting some tea ready. She poured me some tea and I kept shooting. “Put that whosy whatzit down” she said referring to my camera. I put it on the table and she went on telling me her stories. All the while I was snapping a few frames not looking through the viewfinder. Some snow had fallen the night before and she had shoveled it herself and had a lot of pride she did it herself. “I didn’t do the front because I didn’t want to fall on the stairs.

I grabbed a shovel and cleared her front walk and was glad she didn’t do it herself as it was very slippery and the rain that was now falling made the snow very heavy. I came back in and then she had some money in her hand and insisted I take it. I said I didn’t want her money I just was doing you a favor. “Testa dura” she exclaimed! “You’re going to take this, and that is that.” I took the money and put it in my pocket as I knew refusing would just make her feel bad. I grabbed my gear and headed out, as she saw me out there was some great light by her doorway. I stopped and grabbed this great image on my way out.
Portrait of elderly woman, Milford ma, photography, black and white portrait
I got home and started the edit. I received a call as I was working, it was my sister. She told me my grandmother’s fight with cancer had taken a turn for the worse and she had stopped taking her meds because she felt they were not helping and she was still in a lot of pain. She has been fighting cancer for a few years and recently it had spread to her liver and was moving aggressively now and the doctor has given her a week or two. At 88 years old I had been ready for this call to come at some point but I was struck by the timing and instantly felt bad that I was not in a position to go home and see her.

I wanted write this post solely about meeting Rita but I had to think about the timing and how she kept asking, “God what did I do to deserve this?” as she was convinced somehow god was punishing her by me wanting to take her picture. Through my many visits talking with Rita I gained a new perspective and understanding on the journey which is life. Rita says she wants to live by herself as long as she can but hates feeling like she is a burden to others. It was uplifting to hear her say she had a great life but it was sad to hear her say all that she wanted now was a good death when it came and that she prayed not to be a burden. “I am 89 years old how much longer do they want me stick around?” It was then I realized the reality of that statement and I got to thinking how long would I want to live?

After some thought I guess there is a burden of grief for longevity of life. She had answered the phone on one of our visits and someone she knew had passed. It was almost as if there was no surprise and it was a relief as the person was ailing for some time. As everyone around you continuously makes their journey away from this world, I guess there comes some thought to your own passing and the longer you live the more prominent it becomes. The reality of it is this if you were suffering daily and had outlived your spouse and most of your siblings and friends, I can empathize with the feeling of asking for a good death.
Portrait of elderly woman, Milford ma, photography, black and white portrait
I have always spoken very matter of-fact of mortality and would not want to be kept alive by machines or anything like it. If I was ready to go and in pain constantly I may feel the same way 40 years from now so I guess I can’t question my Grandmother’s choice. Don’t get me wrong I am not condoning giving up on life, but I now see that side of the argument more clearly, and our own want or need for them to keep on at some point can become rather selfish.
I really hope I can get back soon to see my Grandma Lou before she makes her journey in the near future. I have spoken with her and she said she understands I can’t come back right now. She knows I love her very much because I told her and I guess that is the most important thing. This photo is of my Grandma of Lou last year when she was at my nephew’s baseball tournament.
Portrait of old woman I am happy to have a good photo her on a day she was so happy as her grandkids and great grandkids mean so much to her.

So my new friend Rita has in a way given me a lot of comfort indirectly, and the timing of this seemed like a little more than coincidence. I am very glad to have met my new friend and I hope her family will get much enjoyment from these images as I am very pleased with them.

Update- 3/29 Last night my Grandma Lou lost her fight with cancer and is suffering no more. I am sad to find out the doctors were right in their time frame and that I did not get to see her one last time. I am filled with emotions of the news sad for my own and my families loss, but happy to know she will no longer be in pain and suffering. I will never forget her caring heart, the laughter we shared, and she made the best Kuchen ever. She was a hard worker, and loved her whole family dearly. I am happy she was able to have this post read to her, it means a lot to know she was proud of me.

We will miss you Grandma Lou!