Man Crush Monday | Brad & Maggie Humberstone

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Tell us the story of how you met...

After moving to Rochester, I wanted a way to casually meet new people and explore my new town.  Being your typical millennial with a "What's the worst that could happen?" kind of attitude, I joined Tinder.  If all else failed, at least I would get a nice meal every now and then, right?

And then Brad happened.  The one who changed it all.  

We agreed to meet on a dark and and cold Tuesday night in October, at a tiny bar called Half Pint.  We sat on bar stools for hours, talking and laughing like we had been friends for years.  From the moment I met Brad, he made me feel like the most special person in the room.  Our first date was so easy and comfortable, I was hooked. 

Two and a half years later, Brad would take me back to Half Pint on a summer evening and ask me to marry him. 

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What was the first date like?

Our first official date was an afternoon of hiking through Letchworth State Park.  Everything about that day was perfect.  After our hike, we stopped for cider doughnuts and apple cider.  We took the long way home on back country roads and grabbed dinner at one of his favorite spots.  I went home thinking about what life could be like with this amazing man by my side.  

What makes him crush worthy?

Brad is such a special human.  Not only is he an amazing husband, he's an incredible friend, brother and son (and doggie-daddy).  His warmth, unconditional love, relentless positive-attitude and sense of humor make being his wife an absolute privilege.  Brad is the best man I've ever met and I consider myself a pretty lucky lady to have him as my daily crush.  

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What are you looking forward to most in your future together?

I am excited for the whole journey.  To watch Brad evolve and change and grow.  I can't wait to start a family and watch Brad transition into the role of being a new Dad.  I can't wait to see our how love evolves and changes and grows.  Brad has never loved me like I'm ordinary and it's made my life better in so many ways.  

Tell us about your wedding day

In October 2017, Brad and I married in front of our family and friends at the Woodcliff Hotel.  We were blessed with seriously the most beautiful sunset during our ceremony.  The clouds literally opened and a beam of light lit us up as we said our "I do's".  You can't make that stuff up!  

The whole day had "us" written all over it.  It was super romantic and full of love.  

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Anything else you'd like to share??

I was twenty minutes late to our first date.  He will never let me forget this and even managed working my tardiness into his proposal when he said, "although you were late to our first date, Maggie, you were right on time."

Ladies, find someone who sees the best in you and hold on to them forever.  

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Spoleta Perri Wedding | 04.28.2018

Yesterday, two of the kindest souls pledged their lives to each other - and it was stunningly beautiful (in more ways than one!). While we could make an entire slideshow dedicated to the decor and details of this wedding - from the flowers to the napkins, the dress, and the place cards designed by Celebrated Events at The Wintergarden by Monroe's - the most gorgeous thing witnessed during this powerhouse couple's wedding was the incredible love that Michael and Jennifer share.

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One of the most special moments as a photographer was getting to capture Mike and Jen's new beginning at the place they first met - City Grill. After a busy morning of getting ready, the ceremony, and family portraits, the whole bridal party went to City Grill and it was a great time of looking ahead while appreciating how everyone got to this moment. Seeing Mike and Jen sit in the very seats they met in was so special. 

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Finally, as the couple and their guests danced the night away, nothing could take away from how much these two are head over heals for their daughter. Their little family could not have been any more bursting with love.

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Lindsey, Jennifer's sister shared that she has always said the one thing she could eat every day was pizza - so marrying the owner of Rochester's best pizza brand - Perri's Pizza -just makes sense :) Congrats to Jennifer & Mike Perri!

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Bridal Boudoir | The PERFECT wedding treat (for bride and groom!)!

 BRA & PANTY SET: SOMA INTIMATES 

BRA & PANTY SET: SOMA INTIMATES 

While preparing for your wedding day can be about many different things; dress shopping, choosing the perfect florist, sending out all the invites, and doing just about everything under the sun besides spending some (probably much needed) time on yourself, we've created our boudoir sessions to be a complete celebration of YOU from start to finish. This shoot also makes the perfect groom's gift - many of our brides use their boudoir album as a gift to give to their soon-to-be-life-partner on the wedding day. And we think that's wonderful! But what YOU will receive out of the experience is such a gift in and of itself, and that is what we're always most excited about for our bridal boudoir clients :)  

 LACE TOP: LOVELY BRIDE

LACE TOP: LOVELY BRIDE

 LACE GOWN: LOVELY BRIDE

LACE GOWN: LOVELY BRIDE

 BRA & PANTY: SOMA

BRA & PANTY: SOMA

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We know what you're thinking. "This is great.... for other women" or "I could never do that - I'm too [awkward, un-photogenic, need to lose 5-30lbs]." And while you may feel some of those nerves the night or morning before your shoot, or maybe don't normally describe yourself as "sexy", by the time you see yourself on the back of that camera within the first 5 minutes of your shoot, we promise there won't be a trace of those nerves to be found. This is one of the most special times in your life, to celebrate who you are to yourself, and to your future partner. Your fiancé sees you as the most beautiful, strong, compassionate goddess in the world (he put a ring on it, didn't he?!), so why shouldn't you?

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Trusting a professional to find your best angles, understand lighting and lens choices and to help you choose the outfits that will photograph best will ensure your photos come out just how you've always wanted to see yourself. As we like to say, “you can't mess this up.” We take the entire day to celebrate your style and personality, and pamper you with our on-site hair and makeup services by Special Occasion Hair Design, and of course, a bubbly mimosa as soon as you walk through the door!

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 BRA & PANTY: SOMA 

BRA & PANTY: SOMA 

 VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

 VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

 LACE TOP: LOVELY BRIDE

LACE TOP: LOVELY BRIDE

We love incorporating unique details, like the shoes or veil you'll be wearing when you walk down the aisle, or your man's favorite shirt and tie. Floral designs can also add some bridal feels to your shoot (we love working with Stacy K)! And of course, a ring shot or two never hurt anybody :) But in the end, you'll be the star of this show – we want to capture your most authentic self at this extraordinary time in your life.

 VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

So get that Pinterest board going, and have FUN with it! We can't wait to meet you and create the bridal photoshoot of your dreams together :)

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 LACE GOWN: LOVELY BRIDE

LACE GOWN: LOVELY BRIDE

 VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

 LACE TOP: LOVELY BRIDE | HEADBAND: HAIR COMES THE BRIDE

LACE TOP: LOVELY BRIDE | HEADBAND: HAIR COMES THE BRIDE

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 VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE

Thank you to Stacy K Floral for the beautiful floral designs, Chrissy from Special Occasion Hair Design for being our hair & makeup guru, Lovely Bride Rochester for the stunning bridal wear, Hair Comes The Bride for the bridal headpieces, and Revival Rentals for her killer vintage furniture collection that rotates in and out of our studio. And of course, our wonderful models!

 VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE | BRA & PANTY: AERIE

VEIL: LOVELY BRIDE | BRA & PANTY: AERIE

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 WHITE SLIP: LOVELY BRIDE

WHITE SLIP: LOVELY BRIDE

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 LACE TOP: LOVELY BRIDE | HEADBAND: HAIR COMES THE BRIDE

LACE TOP: LOVELY BRIDE | HEADBAND: HAIR COMES THE BRIDE

LaVoie Haenisch (Surprise!) Wedding

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It's always an honor to shoot someone's wedding. Even moreso when it's a friend. Add to that the fact that your friend is also in the wedding industry, and you've done dozens of weddings together - and now it's her turn?! Honor doesn't cover being chosen for such an event. It was truly one of the high points of my career as a wedding photographer to be able to shoot such a special occasion for Brittney LaVoie and Coby Haenisch. But in true wedding planner fashion - her own wedding had to be a bit out of the ordinary....  so while most of their guests thought they were attending an engagement party last night - their closest family members joined Brittney and Coby earlier in the day as they exchanged their vows in a private ceremony at St. Joseph's Park. You'll have to stay tuned for the reception photos at the stunning Arbor Loft, but in the meantime please enjoy this Same Day Slideshow that we created just after their ceremony, and played as the surprise-newly-weds entered their "engagement party" reception to share with all their very surprised guests :)

 CONGRATS BRITTNEY & COBY!!!

CONGRATS BRITTNEY & COBY!!!

Man Crush Monday | Jared & Tabatha Vander Weel

Tabatha's everyday #ManCrush is her husband, Jared Vanderweel.

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Tell us the story of how you met...

We met in May of 2013 through Jared's sister Brigitte. I had just moved to Rochester from Chattanooga, TN, started working with her and we became instant friends. She invited me to her house for a cookout which Jared was also invited to. We both liked each other but wouldn't admit it for months until he asked to take me out for my birthday to Tapas 177.

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What makes him crush worthy?

His confidence when he walks into a room, his heart of gold, and his trusting eyes. 

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What's your favorite story about the two of you?

Getting caught in a storm in the Caribbean Sea. We were on our honeymoon island hopping on a personal catamaran for a week (a wedding present from my in-laws.) Jared was the captain and I was the skipper. Just the two of us on this boat without a care in the world, and we see the storm up ahead. But like most tropical storms, you are in it for a few minutes and just a few miles ahead it is nothing but sunshine. The rain was coming down but we still had our reggae music playing and drinks in hand laughing because nothing could bring us down. It was a perfect imperfect day.

When did you know you wanted to spend the rest of your life with this man?

The first Christmas we had together. Jared went out of his way to make everyone happy including me. I realized then that he was the most selfless person I had ever met.

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What are you looking forward to most in your future together?

Retiring in St. Thomas US Virgin Islands

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Tell us about the proposal...

December 8th, 2015 we were at Disney World in front of Cinderella's Castle watching the frozen show with my sister, brother-in-law and niece. Jared was standing behind me and when the show ended - I turned around and he was gone. I looked back to my sister and said "I don't know where Jared went," she looked past me and said "he is right behind you." When I turned around he was in a Prince Charming costume, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I of course said yes!

Tell us about your wedding day!

April 5th, 2017 we got married at the Sand Dollar Estate in St. Thomas USVI. I couldn't picture a more perfect day than what we had. Surrounded by friends and family we said "I DO" on the deck of the Little Sand Dollar overlooking the bluest water you have ever seen without a cloud in the sky.

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Anything else you'd like to share?

I am the blessed one that gets to call him "mine". 

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Real Women of Rochester | Lisa Ostrander

 

Lisa Ostrander   |  Age: 50  |  Profession: Pharmaceutical sales specialist

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Q: Tell us about your journey through womanhood

A: How much space do I have (lol) - my journey through womanhood has evolved. As a young girl I had a very clear vision of my life and what I wanted it to be. I wanted children, a husband, and  a successful career. I was not always sure I would have any of that. I have been a late bloomer throughout my journey. I went back to school at 32, started my amazing career in pharmaceuticals at 33, was married at 40, and had my daughter at almost 41. Prior to going back to college I had doubt that I was ever going to accomplish much in my life. The truth is that I did not feel I had a clear identity of who I was anymore. It had been mixed up in the relationships I was in, and those had been my focus. However, I had a desire in my heart to accomplish as much as I could. I am not really sure where I found the courage to go through the obstacles it took for me to finish school and break into a very difficult industry - but I did, and I persevered. I refused to give up and every door that slammed in my face made me more determined to keep going. That time in my life showed me that I had one quality that would carry me through my life above all else: courage. 

Q: What would you say to another woman who may be going through something you've been through?

A: I have had a lot of experiences that have molded me into who I am today. I sometimes feel I could really write a book! For anyone going through any difficulties whether it is self-doubt or a career move and or cancer, which I was diagnosed with last May, the single best thing that helped me was having someone who would listen. We all go through seasons in life where we hit rough patches and speaking to someone who will simply be there to listen allows you to sort out your thoughts and be able to dig within yourself for the answers. And while it's helpful to have a listening crew, ultimately the momentum and action to create change has to come from within ourselves. 

Q: What surprised you most about your photography experience?

A: How comfortable I was. I felt confident and relaxed. Natalie did an amazing job of putting me at ease. 

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Q: How do you feel when you look at your favorite photo of yourself from your shoot?

A: Proud. Not because of my appearance, but because the image captured who I am today. It captured my true essence and that is what I wanted to portray.

Q: What would you share with a woman who doesn't think she is beautiful enough to be photographed?

A: First, this question makes me sad. I see many women struggle with self-esteem and it’s not an easy society we live in with so much emphasis on appearance which is a real thing, but I would share with women my favorite quote which is to "walk in faith and not fear". Beauty has such a spectrum . I teach my daughter that when she is around people to pretend everyone has a spacesuit on ...if you could not see their appearance- would that person still mean the same to you and would you want them in your life. Our exterior is only here while we are here. Our soul and the legacy we leave behind is what will shine on, and we all have something to share. 

Q: What message would you like to share with other women?

A: It is never to late to chase your dreams and impact others lives. Do not let others discourage you from achieving what you desire, and have the courage to follow through. Also surround yourself with like minded people who will elevate you. 

Q: What are your thoughts on beauty?

A: This is a tough question. I am the only daughter in my family and as a young girl growing up, my father put a lot of emphasis on my appearance. As an adult looking back now and as a mom I know he did not do it to be harmful and that he was proud of me - but a lot of that commentary really stayed in my brain for a long time. For many years I felt that the value I brought was based on my appearance, and so I worked really hard at looking good. It was not until I was much older and began to get recognized for my achievements in my career that I was able to separate myself from that thought process . I do still work hard at taking care of myself and the truth is that there will always be that young teenage girl inside me remembering those comments, however the difference is that my appearance does not define me. It is just one part of the big puzzle that makes me who I have become .

Q: What are your hopes for the next generation of women? What advice would you give to them?

A: To have courage. To not allow fear to hold you back from following the journey that was meant for you. Leap in, and take a chance - when you do amazing things will happen. I know this to be true because they happened to me!

Q: What would you say to your sixteen year old self?

A: I would tell my 16 year old self that your gonna have a rough journey and you will be tested in many different ways, and just when you think you may not be able to overcome a challenge you have to dig deeper - because you will overcome it. Don’t let fear stop you. It is going to hard and you will want to give up but don’t do it, and most importantly remember to live in the moment. 

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Q: What empowering message would you like to share with young women today?

A: Be prepared for every opportunity that comes your way and go for it. It was brought to you for a reason and you never know where it will take you. 

Q: What's the biggest hurdle you've overcome career-wise as a woman?

A: If I am being transparent it would be appearance. Unfortunately we still live in a society that judges you very quickly on how you look and so I have had to show both men and women that I deserve to be where I am. 

Q: What's the most empowering experience you've had as a woman?

A: My most empowering experience has been speaking at the Angelo del Toro Hispanic youth leadership program in Albany. I was able to share with this amazing group of future leaders the importance of melanoma education. Being of Hispanic descent I always felt that I was "safe" - that melanoma would not occur in me, but it did and I'm lucky to be alive. Having these future leaders resonate with my journey and understand that they should advocate for their own health was so important to me. Cancers from melanoma have increased over the last 30 years and it all starts with education. When you are aware then you are prepared! One person dies every hour of every day from melanoma and Hispanics and African Americans typically get staged higher when diagnosed because they have missed the signs. I am absolutely moved to action to continue to help educate and continue to spread the message of awareness. Don't forget- it all starts with a skin check!

Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?

A: I feel the most beautiful on a Saturday morning with a great cup of Spanish coffee and reading the newspaper . 

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Q: What do you love about being a woman?

A: I love the possibilities that are still out there for women to make an impact in our community and in the lives of others. 

Real Women of Rochester | Jenny Thomas

Jenny Thomas  |  Age 42  |  Profession: Motivational Mentor

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Q: Tell us about your journey through womanhood

A: My journey was filled with hills, valleys, and mountain peaks. I lived under the radar and my worth for many years due to overwhelming feelings of rejection, and lack of identity. For many years I felt like a lost little girl looking for love and validation. I made a lot of mistakes; however I got married and raised (still raising) four children, and managed to attain the career (Nursing) that I felt I needed to be in. As an adoptee I always felt like a human question mark. I finally received the gift that I’d prayed for, and that was finding my biological family. Only, finding them didn’t bring the love and peace that I’d dreamed of. The quest to find the answers about myself brought me to a place of awareness and understanding. Realizing the answers that I’d sought, I’d always possessed. My journey unearthed my purpose and passions that had been buried by shame, and abandonment for most of my adult life. 

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Q: What would you say to another woman who may be going through something you've been through?

A: Let faith be your catalyst. Everything that you’ve endured has given you everything that you need to be the pioneer that you are. 

Q: What surprised you most about your photography experience?

A: How fun and relaxing it was!

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Q: How do you feel when you look at your favorite photo of yourself from your shoot?

A: Empowered 

Q: What would you share with a woman who doesn't think she is beautiful enough to be photographed?

A: We don’t give ourselves permission to be our own kind of beautiful. Not the beauty that we compare ourselves to. Remove the labels and allow YOUR beauty to be released and exist. 

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Q: What message would you like to share with other women?

A: There is nothing that you’ve done, or endured that can cancel who you are destined to be. Don’t ever dim your light to fit in. Instead hit them with your high beams. 

Q: What are your thoughts on beauty?

A: Physical beauty is totally subjective. Kindness, love, and the ability to make people feel special are the most beautiful.

Q: What are your hopes for the next generation of women? What advice would you give to them?

A: I hope women will be innovators, and no longer live within limits. If you haven’t found where you fit in, create it.

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Q: What would you say to your sixteen year old self?

A: I need you to know that you were born with purpose. There are no mistakes, and you will understand everything you’ve endured. I love you!

Q: What empowering message would you like to share with young women today?

A: Don’t wait to be told how great you are. Know your worth for yourself, and if people don’t acknowledge that, let your success leave them with no choice. 

Q: What's the biggest hurdle you've overcome career-wise as a woman?

A: Realizing that what I initially chose as a career wasn’t ultimately what I was born to do. Overcoming the fear connected with “letting go” and becoming an entrepreneur. 

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Q: What's the most empowering experience you've had as a woman?

A: Understanding that I can conquer fear. One of our biggest setbacks. My saying is: “be scared and do it anyways”.

Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?

A: When I’m happy 

Q: What do you love about being a woman?

A: Our ability to battle back. 

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Real Women of Rochester | Ryan Shear

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Ryan Shear  | Age: 35  | Professional Fundraiser

Q: Tell us about your journey through womanhood

A: Let’s begin with the fact that my name is Ryan. I have spent my entire life correcting people who make the assumption that I am a male until they meet me in person. I can see how some girls may get upset and grow to resent the name or her parents for giving her the name. Not me. I love my name. I embrace my name. I rock my name. Who made the decision that the name Ryan had to be limited to a boy? My parents certainly did not (actually, my older sister made the final choice) and I’m thankful for that. So, that’s where my journey began – as soon as I was born! The rest of my journey through womanhood, similar to many others, has been a rollercoaster of emotions; a constant battle with myself trying to figure out who I am. I struggled with body image for several years. I never saw myself the way others did. I was, of course, my own worst critic. I had low self-esteem and it took many years for me to come to terms with it. When I became old enough to date I found myself in back-to-back relationships that were all severely unhealthy. Couple this with low self-esteem and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. I endured years of emotional (and some physical) abuse and convinced myself that this was totally normal. This is love, right? As I was trying to figure myself out I would lose what little of “me” I had and find myself molding to whatever it was that this guy needed or wanted me to be. You would think that after the first relationship like this that I would have learned a lesson, right? I finally came to my senses when I was about 26. I spent 10 years in this never-ending cycle. Thanks goodness for a supportive family and many years of therapy. It would be very easy to look back on all of this and be angry, but I would not be the woman I am today if that were the case. I truly believe that every opportunity is a learning opportunity. If I can use my past to help better another girl or woman’s future, then you best believe that I will. I am so glad that I found the strength within to walk away. Now, instead of following, I lead. I speak my mind. I stand my ground. I am woman, hear me roar!    

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Q: What would you say to another woman who may be going through something you've been through?

A: I’ll defer to the late, great Janis Joplin – “Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got.

Q: What surprised you most about your photography experience?

A: I was surprised at how comfortable and natural it felt. There I was stripping down in front of a (then) complete stranger to be photographed. Had I completely lost my mind? Well, if I had, I’m glad I did! Natalie has an amazing ability to get people to let their guard down. If I was being hard on myself because a little bit of fat was oozing out here and there, she first assured me that I was being crazy and then made me laugh in a way that enabled her to capture incredible photos. Wow – do I really look like that? Awesome. The experience was a huge boost of confidence.

Q: How do you feel when you look at your favorite photo of yourself from your shoot?

A: Damn, girl! But seriously, I feel sexy and beautiful. I clean up well. 

Q: What would you share with a woman who doesn't think she is beautiful enough to be photographed?

A: Don’t be silly. We are all beautiful in our own ways. You will look back on these photos and be so glad that you took the time to do it. The experience alone instills confidence in a way that words just cannot describe. Do it. Do it now.   

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Q: What message would you like to share with other women?

A: You are not alone. Stop thinking that the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Ask for and accept help from others. 

Q: What are your thoughts on beauty?

A: Beauty comes from within – confidence, strength and a great sense of humor are beautiful. 

Q: What are your hopes for the next generation of women? What advice would you give to them?

A: Don’t rush things and take time for yourself. If you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, that’s okay. I’m 35, a new mom and I’m still figuring it out, but you know what - I'm happy, I’m loved and that’s all that matters.  

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Q: What would you say to your sixteen year old self?

A: You look great. You just got your driver’s license and you need to be having fun. You don’t need a boyfriend – you have plenty of time in life for that – you do you. 

Q: What empowering message would you like to share with young women today?

A: Be kind. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Stop obsessing over your outer appearance and stop allowing others to make you feel poorly for who you are. Confidence is beautiful and will take you far in life. Additionally, speak your mind. Choose your words wisely and make your words count.

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Q: What's the most empowering experience you've had as a woman?

A: I brought a tiny human into this world. Okay, so my husband helped, but I worked HARD. It still amazes me that our bodies are capable of everything that goes along with childbirth. I have a very, very low tolerance for pain and was terrified of labor and delivery. Fortunately, my body did its thing, I needed very little intervention and after one hour of pushing the hardest I have ever pushed in my life, my son arrived, which was a very surreal moment for me. I did it. My husband was beyond impressed with how well I tolerated the pain. About two weeks later I found out that he was trembling the entire time I was pushing! He was a rock for me, but it was kind of cute to hear him say that he was scared.  

Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?

A: My past self would tell my present self that I am crazy for how I am about to answer this question, but I truly feel beautiful after working out. A handful of years ago I started working out with a personal trainer. She helped me discover a physical strength that I never would have imagined. My confidence level skyrocketed as I found something that I really enjoy.  

Q: What do you love about being a woman?

A: I am grateful to be a woman right here and right now. Our world still has work to do toward gender equality, but right now, it’s pretty cool to be a woman. I appreciate that we are emotional creatures who are able to sympathize with the pain of others or cry because we are laughing so hard. Our bodies can create and sustain another human life and then produce the nourishment needed for that baby to grow. That is pretty damn incredible. I love that I can vote, drive a car, dress how I choose…anything…I can do anything I want and I can be whatever I want to be – and that’s amazing.

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Real Woman of Rochester | Pia LoRusso

Pia LoRusso | Age: 41 | Profession: Brow Sculptor at browbiz.cm

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Q: Tell us about your journey through womanhood

A: I have always been one to color outside the lines.  When I was 5 years old, I was playing with a friend outside in my yard and I had a stick in my hand, waving in front of my friends face and my mom yelled out for me to stop before I hit her in the face... well I continued and eventually hit my friend in the face.  My mom came out and yelled at me, which in turn embarrassed me.  So I yelled back at her and stormed off to my room where I cried and cried. My mom came up to calm me down and she said to me ‘now what it is that I always tell you?’  She was hoping my response was... ’that you always love me’. I responded ‘don’t drink and drink and drive!’

Never following rules except to never drink and drive... I’ve always been a bit anxious and ADD but these are truly gifts!  it has given me more compassion (because I never want anyone to feel anxious) and has allowed me to notice everything, like feelings, energies in a room or situation... very aware of my surroundings.

Q: What would you say to another woman who may be going through something you've been through?

A: Oh if you are anxious my dear.... look at it as a gift!  It gives you more emotional intelligence than you ever thought you could have!  Once you are on the other side of feeling bad (because the feeling always does go away) the magic happens!  

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Q: What surprised you most about your photography experience?

A: Just how beautiful Natalie made me feel!  Like deep down inner beauty.... whoa. It was such an amazing morning working with Natalie..

Q: How do you feel when you look at your favorite photo of yourself from your shoot?

A: OMG - I can’t believe that is really me!

Q: What would you share with a woman who doesn't think she is beautiful enough to be photographed?

A: Everyone is beautiful. Everyone. 

Q: What message would you like to share with other women?

A: Be easier on yourself, life is hard enough sometimes, give yourself more credit. 

Q: What are your thoughts on beauty?

A: It must come from the inside - true beauty cannot be photoshopped!  We never really see what other people see anyway.  because think about it... what do we see?  A one dimension reflection? That’s 2 whole dimensions that are missing!  Everyone sees us in 3D, but to look at our 1D of yourself?!? Believe the person that says you are beautiful- they see something you will never see!

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Q: What would you say to your sixteen year old self?

A: Always be kind, everyone has story that would break your heart. Look for the goodness in this world and that is what will always surround you. The universe has your back - seriously. what you put out there (including social media) comes back - put out kindness and love and compassion- that’s what you will get in return. Your fear is full of shit.

Q: What empowering message would you like to share with young women today?

A: Some one is always watching you! (Not in a creepy way)  Be gentle with your words but fierce with your message. 

Q: What are your hopes for the next generation of women?

A: Everyone needs to know they have power!  One of my most favorite yoga teachers at breathe, Theresa, reminded me of the Viktor Frankl quote:

“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Viktor Frankl

In my career I am able to talk to all different types of people and when I tell people they have power, they look at me funny... kind of like I just gave them a gift that they never expected... For me, sometimes the goal of my meditation practice isn’t just to quiet my mind, but to give me a chance to pause, give myself some space to get my power.

Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?

A: Right after doing yoga!  Do it - then when you get in your car check out your reflection in your rear view mirror. It’s amazing- I can see my eyes are lighter. 

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Q: What do you love about being a woman?

A: Everything!  But mostly my boobs... (can I say that here?)

Real Women of Rochester - Tiffany

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Q: Tell us about your journey through womanhood

A: Wow! What a question! I guess that would have to start with what that means to me.  My whole life, I have been surrounded by strong women. My mother, my grandmother, my aunts and cousins have all shown strength emotionally and physically. To me a being a woman is, finding that strength within you to be yourself--to live freely. It is to be graceful with each challenge you face but with tenacity and confidence. It is to not cower in the shadow of a man.

 My journey starts with college. After many years of partying, and fulfilling my biology degree requirements I was left thinking what every twenty-something thinks, "What am I doing with my life? Is it even meaningful?" I had goals of being a doctor, and OB/GYN. I wanted to deliver babies and inform women about their sexual health. My passion was deep, but it was also clouded. After many attempts at standardized tests, denied applications and hours of shadow experience I had to throw in the towel. It's hard letting go, I wandered this earth pretty aimlessly. That time even though I had no career goals; I had goals of becoming the woman I have always envisioned myself, just without the job. It took work, to find my confidence, my drive, and myself. But like a strong woman, I pulled through. To be honest, I still have no clue what I am going to do for the rest of my life but that is OK. I will figure it out, or most likely it will appear in my life kicking and screaming.

Q: What would you say to another woman who may be going through something you've been through?

A: To all the women worried about what they are "supposed" to be doing for the rest of their life:  Are you kind to yourself? Are you taking the best care of yourself? Do you leave conversations without doubt or feeling like you had to pretend to be someone? STOP with the smoke screen. Because the more we live authentically ourselves, the more we will be open to what we are actually supposed to do. And I am a firm believer in if we all do something we love, this world will be better off for it. Let your calling actually CALL you.

Q: How do you feel when you look at your favorite photo of yourself from your shoot?

A: I love it! I love that even though I was lost at that point in time, I was still figuring out who I am. It is a time marker, it reminds me all that happened and all that is still left to be. 

Q: What would you share with a woman who doesn't think she is beautiful enough to be photographed?

A: Do you genuinely think that? Because even without seeing you, I know you are beautiful. Be kind to yourself, being you is what this world needs. Photographs are reminders of that. Let the world see how amazing you are. 

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Q: What are your hopes for the next generation of women? What advice would you give to them?

A: It's ok to be lost. It is ok to not have every detail of your life figured out. Don't rush the process, but also don't wait for things to happen to you. 

Q: What would you say to your sixteen-year-old self?

A: Oh, girl! Men are not everything, you are everything and more. 

Q: What empowering message would you like to share with young women today?

A: Don't take change for granted. You are all witnesses to a lot of changes happening, politically. Don't forget all the people that have had to fight for equality before you. Do not take anything for granted. 

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Q: What's the biggest hurdle you've overcome career-wise as a woman?

A: Not knowing what my career is. I still don't, but my heart is open. I'm currently work for lululemon, and it has been such a great company to work for. Many people I work with say this company has helped them find what they are good at. So at work I take every opportunity to talk to interesting people, to do things i never would have done before. My hope is by putting myself out there and making myself uncomfortable, I will eventually find my dream career. Secretly, I would love to own a donut shop. But let's be honest, not many of them would make it into the case ;)

Q: What's the most empowering experience you've had as a woman?

A: Realizing my value, realizing my inner strength and my possibility. It wasn't one experience but a collection of many. A year ago my husband Andrew got matched to a program in Long Island. Let me preface, I knew no one and had no job prospects. The only thing I knew about Long Island were the Hamptons, the horrible traffic and the ice coffee was good. Being in this new situation I made a conscious decision to just put myself out there and see what happens. I set low expectations but high standards. I definitely gained self-love, learned what I am good at and became inspired. I spoke up more, did things I never would have done, talked to random strangers. I think the moment you decide to step outside your fear, is the moment you give yourself a little more out of life. 

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Q: When do you feel the most beautiful?

A: Working out, because somehow my inner strength (my self-confidence, my lack of doubt, my fearlessness) is matched by my outer strength. It is pretty euphoric. 

Q: What do you love about being a woman?

A: Everything, my body, my mind, and my soul. The fact that I get to dress the way I want. That I get to make love to my husband. I can be a mother someday and have a special connection with another human. My strength, we are so much stronger than men. 

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Real Women of Rochester | Natasha Scrivens

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Natasha Scrivens  | Age: 36  |  Profession: Pharmacist

Q: Tell us about your journey through womanhood

When most teenage girls where worried about if the cute boy would be in their English class or what clothes to wear and how to do their makeup for school, I was faced with an entirely different problem in my early teens.  I remember laying in the back seat of the mini-van while my mom sped down the road to get me to the ER.  The doctor had called her moments earlier, my blood sugar was so high it was unreadable on their machines.  She was told I had to be admitted to the hospital ASAP. As I laid in the back of the car crying, it took too much energy to keep my eyes open - all I wanted to do was sleep.  What did this mean?  What was happening to me?  Was I going to die?  All questions that went through my head. I knew I was sick, I knew I didn't feel well.  While my friends where chasing boys that summer, I was in a hospital room learning how to test my blood sugar, draw up insulin and give myself shots to stay alive.  In many ways being diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic has molded me into the woman I am now.

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I come from a family of immigrants.  I grew up listening to languages that most people do not recognize.  I have two grandmothers (and grandfathers ) who immigrated here as young adults.  Although both came from different countries, both left everything they knew for a better life.  Both women were/are strong willed and determine.  l carry on their determination.  I would not let diabetes hold me back in what I wanted to accomplish.  I've heard so many times I could not succeed in the path I was walking.  I would not listen.  Like my grandparents I knew anything was possible with a little hard work.

Q: What would you say to another woman who may be going through something you've been through?

Hang on, things will get better.

Q: What surprised you most about your photography experience?

I was surprised by how comfortable Natalie made me feel.  I am one that likes to be covered up, so the thought of being in my bra and underwear and having my pictures taken was horrifying. Natalie's personality put me right to rest.  We ended up laughing through the shoot.  

Q: How do you feel when you look at your favorite photo of yourself from your shoot?

I feel beautiful, strong, and sexy.  I also feel like passing them out to to all my classmates in middle school and high school that used to make fun of me.  

Q: What would you share with a woman who doesn't think she is beautiful enough to be photographed?

You are beautiful!  Everyone is different, our differences make us beautiful. 

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Q: What are your thoughts on beauty?

Beauty can come in many forms.  You don't have to be blonde, blue eyes, and 90 lbs to be beautiful.  Beauty comes from the inside and how you hold yourself.  You can be beautiful in jeans and a sweatshirt or a gorgeous wedding gown.  

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Q: What are your hopes for the next generation of women? What advice would you give to them?

My hopes for the next generation of women is to hold high-power positions. Yes there are a lot of women already in high-power positions, but if you look at the top companies in the US they are mostly run by men.  There is no reason why a women shouldn't be running these companies.  My advice would be pull your shoulders back, chin up and get what you deserve.  You know you are capable of it, attack it! You deserve it.

Q: What would you say to your sixteen year old self?

It's okay to fail, and you are beautiful.  You will find someone one day, that loves you and puts up with all your short comings.  And listen to your parents, hard work when you are young will pay off when you are older.

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Q: What empowering message would you like to share with young women today?

Nothing is easy.  If being successful was easy we would all do it.  Hard work and determination is the only way you will succeed.  Find something you love, make goals and work towards them.  You may fail, it may take you longer to reach them, but the feeling you get when you meet your goals is the most fantastic feeling in the world.

Q: When do you feel / have you felt most beautiful?

On my wedding day.  Or on date nights when I see my husband smile as he introduces me to his friends or co-workers.  

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Q: What do you love about being a woman?

The opportunity it has given me.  I can be the powerful woman at work that has the answers to your questions. I can be the competitive women that makes bets with you and does everything I can do to win.  And I can be the woman that walks into the room who turns heads. Strong, fierce and beautiful.  :)  

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Real Women of Rochester - Samantha Miles

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Q: Tell us about your journey through womanhood

A: The first image of a woman in my life was my mother. She had eight children with my father. She is Mexican-American. He is a mix of Irish and Mediterranean roots. 

She home schooled my siblings and I. Watching her raise eight kids, I adopted the idea that I too, would have at least four kids. Until high school, I didn't really know what life was like outside motherhood. But my mom is such a dreamer, and she always encouraged me to go after anything I was passionate about. I respect her so much for that, because though she didn't know how to help me make my dreams come true, she was my biggest cheer leader in everything I did. 

In my teens, my mom introduced me to Oprah. I watched her religiously on my moms bed every day at 4:00 PM, enamored by her presence as a woman in media. I started watching other news outlets simultaneously, and became addicted to watching breaking news coverage on the front-lines. 

I had these ideas of being a correspondent, but had no idea where to start and no mentors, much less women to help navigate the world of TV news. So, I went after my other interest: hair styling. My father ran a women's halfway home, and I volunteered styling hair for women who stayed at the home. I interacted with women who had been through domestic violence and substance abuse. They truly did not believe they were beautiful. They taught me a great deal about women and self-esteem.

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At 17, I went to Cosmetology School. I learned how women can be each other's motivation, but we can also be each others harshest critics. In the beauty industry, physical beauty is everything. But it can also be a threat to women when they feel like another woman is more beautiful than they are. It was very eye-opening in how women sometimes miss out on great relationships when we envy each other's beauty.

In college, I competed in pageants, and eventually won the title of Miss Colorado. Pageants are a whole other ball game when it comes to "womanhood." It's an environment that can make women feel like if they don't win, then they must not be beautiful enough to be chosen for the title. Add more makeup. Get in better shape. If you don't win, it can make you feel like you're "not good enough." It's all pressure that comes with pageants. Through these experiences, I learned that for me, beauty as a woman is about being strong and healthy, and confident appreciating the body I have, and all that it is capable of. 

What would you say to another woman who may be going through something you've been through?

Self-awareness is really important to feel confident as a woman. Yes, we have our moments when we feel insecure, and we don't feel beautiful. But if you have a deep understanding of who you are and what's important to you, that will ground you and get you through self doubt and feelings of insecurity. Having a go-to routine that lifts your spirits if you're feeling down on yourself is a great way to bring your self-perception/appreciation back up.

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What surprised you most about your photography experience?

I've worked with photographers in the past, and always felt anxiety looking at the final product. 

Working with Natalie, I was surprised to enjoy the entire process, and really like the way I looked. She has a way of making you feel totally at ease, and you'll even catch yourself naturally laughing because it's such a fun experience. She has a way of holding up a "mirror" and saying "Hey, you're amazing. Let's capture your unique energy on camera."

Being photographed by a woman was a new experience as well. It made me realize how women can make those around them see each other in a better light. Natalie does that. 

How do you feel when you look at your favorite photo of yourself from your shoot?

It's refreshing. It makes you walk a little taller. Natalie manages to capture how friends and family see you. We as women tend to be hard on ourselves, but Natalie has a way of saying, "You're gorgeous. Celebrate being you." I really felt beautiful looking at my pictures, because it wasn't just posing like my past experiences. She captured my personality, my joy.

What would you share with a woman who doesn't think she is beautiful enough to be photographed?

We are our own worst critics. Take a chance, and be open to experiencing seeing yourself in a new light. Guaranteed, being photographed by Natalie will be different from anything you've done in the past. You won't want the shoot to end!

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What message would you like to share with other women?

Be kind to yourself. Believe in yourself. Go after what inspires you, and really enjoy it. Know that femininity is a gift. Our presence changes the energy of a room. 

What are your thoughts on beauty?

Beauty is from within and the authenticity of the person that you are, and being proud of that and taking care of that. Your culture, all of your identities. Even your flaws, being proud of you is most beautiful. 

What are your hopes for the next generation of women? What advice would you give to them?

Reach out to women that uplift you. Get a mentor, someone who builds you up in a variety of ways. Practice good self-care, make sure you take care of yourself especially on days when you feel low. And never take the rejection of a relationship as a reflection on your beauty or worth or that something is wrong with you. We often try to change ourselves to make it work.

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What would you say to your sixteen year old self?

I was battling eating disorders and self-mutilation when I was 16. I would tell myself to go easy on my body. I would say, "Stop downplaying who you are. Just enjoy being you. Dream big and really believe in those dreams and enjoy the simple things right in front of you." My mother has told me this a thousand times and I'm still learning! 

What empowering message would you like to share with young women today?

We're living in a time where there is a major shift happening for women's empowerment through media. It's incredible to see. This is a time when our voices are being amplified, telling our stories, demanding more respect. What a time to be alive as a woman, a time when telling our stories is quickly building into an uplifting movement spreading our truth around the world. Sharing your story of beauty and empowerment is going to add to our momentum. You will make a positive difference. You may not know how, but you will.

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What's the biggest hurdle you've overcome career-wise as a woman?

I work in TV news, so over the years working in broadcast, I've learned to protect myself as a woman in the public eye. People have the ability to comment and criticize my appearance. That can be tough, as some comments are down right cyber bullying to try to make you feel bad about yourself. I learned quickly that I need to block out those hurtful comments to focus on my work. The criticisms online can be very distracting and damaging to self-esteem. It's a strange thing to hear mean comments from people you may never meet. I told myself early on that I will tune out those comments and only pay attention to feedback that will actually improve my work, my craft, which is good journalism that helps people. 

What's the most empowering experience you've had as a woman?

More experiences than I can write in a brief paragraph! I think if we pay attention and really be present in all areas of our lives, we can have empowering experiences often, so that your life just feels full and empowered. 

But, I will share two moments here. 

I studied abroad in Morocco and Tunisia during the Arab Spring Uprisings. I was the first woman in my family to travel outside of the country, and into North Africa during a time of revolution. Being a woman in these countries is exhausting. You are constantly trying to protect yourself from harassment. I was able to work with other women in the region to document how they were working to make sure women's rights did not go backwards during the revolution, and document their process re-writing the Tunisian constitution. It was a chance to help tell their stories at a turning point in history. I'll never forget this experience.

The other moment that was pivotal for me is going to Columbia Journalism School, an Ivy league. As a first generation college student, I clawed my way through college in Denver, and I never conceived I'd go to an Ivy League. Stepping foot on that campus was a moment to really believe the words: "You belong here. You are worthy." 

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When do you feel the most beautiful?

Photo shoots are so much fun to play and just get lost in the art of photography and self-expression. But the other parts of life when I feel most beautiful is when I'm with close friends, just appreciating each others company.  Spending time with family, and feeling their unconditional love makes me feel beautiful. Family and friends are a reminder that beauty is not always about appearance, but it's a place of feeling love for each other. 

I also feel most beautiful when I'm with a loving partner, grateful for each other. 

What do you love about being a woman?

I love that we are dynamic creatures. Femininity is a gift, like a superpower. We see the world in a way that is infinite with possibilities. There are so many facets to us, and we can pretty much do anything. 

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Lenhert-Maxwell Wedding

It's always an honor and a pleasure to photograph my wedding couples - it's what I do. I've structured my entire life around it, and devoted the last ten years of my life to doing so. But to photograph the wedding of someone who is near and dear to you? Someone who actually shoots other people's weddings with you day in and day out? Honor doesn't really cover it. Witnessing Anna Lenhert and Braden Maxwell marry each other was one of the highlights of my professional career. Being able to provide Anna (literally the most self-less person I have EVER met) with the care, support, love and photographs that she bestows upon others every other Saturday of her life was absolutely thrilling. And if you've ever met Anna, you might think "wow, no one could possibly be as nice as Anna" -- and you would be correct. Unless of course, you've met Braden.  These two are truly a match made in heaven, they bring countless smiles to the faces of those around them, and we here at NSP could not be happier to see what life has in store for these two! And also of course to play with their gorgeous images :D XOXO Love you two!!! <3

Arazoza / Fishman Wedding Slideshow

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Sometimes a wedding is so magical and electric that words really can't describe it. From start to finish, Bethany & Lenny's wedding at Oak Hill Country Club was simply indescribable. Almost 300 family and beloved friends travelled from all over the US and the world to attend the union of these two families, cultures and religions. Their wedding party was comprised only of siblings / sibling-in-laws, and their parents were present and proud every step of the way. These two love each other fiercely, and their celebration was infused with as much exuberance and adventure as they exhibit in their daily lives. These two families could not be more loving, supportive, joyful, and frankly hysterically funny, it was an honor and a pleasure to spend the day with them :) 

Shout outs to their incredible vendor team: Britney LaVoie at Black Label Events, Jessica Tran at Oak Hill, Lindsay & Kristin from Rock Paper Scissors, Kittelberger's Floral, friend Renee Paulson for ceremony flowers, and Brad from Jaqueline Daley Videography. 

Severino-Brown Same Day Slidehsow

Andrea & Chris truly had the fairytale wedding day they have been hoping and dreaming of. Chalet of Canandaigua and Country Club of Canandaigua provided the most picturesque settings you could ever dream of on a perfect summers day. These two truly are best friends, and could not be happier to be starting their lives together as Mr. & Mrs. Brown :) Please enjoy this slideshow that we produced and displayed at their reception!

De-Alwis-Lee Same Day Wedding Slideshow

Tiffany & Andrew were surrounded by the most incredible friends and family when they tied the knot at Woodcliff Hotel & Spa. Never has a room been filled with SO much love - they even had a song written about them! We are thrilled to have been able to incorporate that song into their slideshow below, both of which were performed live at their reception. Thank you two for letting us be a part of such a memorable and love-filled day. You will certainly live Happi"Lee" ever after :)

Music by Katie Lynch, performed by Grace Weinstein & Katie Lynch

Marone-Palmer Same Day Slidehsow

This wedding at Woodcliff Hotel & Spa simply took our breath away. If you've ever met Jared or Wendy, you would not be surprised to know that their wedding was absolutely brimming with (300!) people who love and cherish them deeply. While they never demand the limelight, everyone present could not have been happier to put them front and center to celebrate their unquestionable love. The sunny weather and beautiful background made for the perfect setting for this celebration - and the Skycoasters kept the party going all night long :) Congrats Jared & Wendy! Enjoy this slideshow we made and displayed at the reception!

Chancey-Vander Weel Wedding Slideshow | St. Thomas Destination

It's a unique privilege to have a front-row seat to some of the most significant events in people's lives.... but to be able to witness and photograph this event with the couple and their family in nothing short of PARADISE was an opportunity I will never forget. The love and generosity Tabatha & Jared share opening and freely with their friends, family, and anyone them come in contact with is truly awe-inspiring. And I couldn't have done this one without the eye, brain and support of my best friend Ms. Whitney Warne from Ivory House Photography. Enjoy...

Valentine's Day Inspired Boudoir Shoot!

Hand-lettered valentines, tulle, lipstick and kisses... what's not to love?! Enjoy this bright and fun little Valentine's Day inspired styled shoot that we put together for you :)

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ROSE: STACY K FLORAL | HAND-LETTERED VALENTINE: SUGAR & TYPE

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 HAND-LETTERED VALENTINE: SUGAR &amp; TYPE

HAND-LETTERED VALENTINE: SUGAR & TYPE

SHOUT-OUTS TO OUR INCREDIBLE TEAM:

Model: Gina Mattice
Hair & Makeup: Special Occasion Hair Design
Nails: Sunless2Go
Rose: Stacy K Floral
Valentines: Sugar & Type
Video: Julia Hart Productions
Photography: Natalie SinisgallI Photography

VIDEO BY: JULIA HART PRODUCTIONS

Klein-Cohen Same Day Slideshow

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Such an honor to photograph these two.... And especially to treat this incredible bride to the same care, love and attention she showers her own clients with on their wedding day! Shout out to Jess (the other main member of this marriage lol) - the three of you are an unstoppable team. And the biggest shout out goes to Chris for letting me and Alyssa parade him around Buffalo in 20 degree weather for these incredible photos ;) Love to you and your families - you guys are the best!!! XOXOXO -Natalie + team!