Swoyer Photography: Blog https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog en-us (C) 2020 | Swoyer Photography (Swoyer Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:18:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:18:00 GMT https://www.lauraswoyer.com/img/s/v-12/u387508486-o439390025-50.jpg Swoyer Photography: Blog https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog 94 120 For Alex https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2019/3/for-alex I started this post awhile ago. When things were fresh and painful and raw. My mind was a jumble of thoughts and questions; contemplating mortality while trying to figure out the most graceful way to be present for my husband and his family while keeping my own emotions in check. I furiously typed out some of my thoughts, then took a breath and realized I needed to wait for a little bit of space and time before I could revisit those thoughts and put them together in a coherent story. A story for Alex, for his family and for the hundreds of people who have been a part of his life and his legacy of action and kindness. 

When I started this post last May I was sitting at my sister in law's table, looking out at Lake Erie, trying to do a little bit of work but feeling jittery and distracted. A few days prior, my husband and I had packed up a week's worth of necessities and taken off to Ohio. We had received a piece of news that was abrupt, upsetting and jarring. Mike's 30 year old cousin had passed away. 

I met Alex somewhere around ten years ago. I was at a family Thanksgiving in Ohio, meeting most of my (now) husband's family for the first time. I was nervous and a little anxious. Thanksgiving was a big deal. Things came out of storage, multiple tables were set, food was prepped, bar was stocked and by evening time the house was entirely full of people I didn't know. Mike's family is enormous by my standards.

I grew up with a handful of cousins who I saw once or twice a year at family holidays. We lived far enough apart that we didn't see each other much more often and our age differences meant that we didn't have much in common other than the fact that our parents were siblings. 

Mike grew up with a gaggle of boy cousins (and one brilliant girl cousin who probably wanted nothing to do with their shenanigans). I can picture them as a roving pack of mischief, with stinky shoes and that gangly, awkward lope that adolescent boys always seem to have. They are spread out around the country now but they are all still close, still call, still say "love you cuz" before they hang up. It makes me smile every time I hear it.
 

Five years ago Mike and I had a week long wedding celebration at our favorite spot in Baja, Mexico. Up until a few years ago when we landed in VT, we led a fairly transient lifestyle, moving every few years to a different place and a new adventure. It had been our dream to unite the amazing friends we had made in each of those places so that they could hang out and get to know one another. Our wedding was the perfect venue for that situation and for an entire week 50 of our friends and family members got to swim, snorkel, kayak, dive and drink tequila together. It was the best week ever. When we sent out our wedding invites I'm pretty sure (Aunt) Abby, (Uncle) Ray, Adam and Alex had tickets to Mexico the very next day. That's just how they roll. They are sweet, fun, supportive and are always there for family no matter what.

I will forever picture >6 foot + tall Adam and Alex flanking Mike's <5 foot tall, 80 year old Aunt Phyllis, acting as her personal safety officers, escorting her from event to event, helping her up and down stairs and generally keeping an eye on her. I will also never forget the dancing. We wanted to make sure there was no shortage of good music at the wedding so we hired a band for the welcome party, a band for the wedding day and then a late night DJ. Our wedding day band was a local reggae band and it makes me smile when I think of Alex dancing like a maniac to the band while everyone else chatted and drank margaritas on the sidelines. When I shared the news of Alex's passing with my friends and family every single one of them brought up the memory of him dancing at our wedding. That guy loved music.


 

Aside from being my husband's cousin, the one thing Alex and I found to bond over was photography. He was starting his program just as I was finishing up mine and having something like that in common to chat about was a comfort and a joy.

Alex lived the way every photographer wishes they could live. He took leaps, he explored, he got off the beaten path and he immersed himself in every aspect of local lifestyle and culture. He took the the back alley off of the road less traveled. He was always looking for a better, more interesting angle. He was rarely content with the obvious shot; the easy shot; the one most photographers would have taken. Instead he would seek out the most "Alex shot", usually striking up a conversation with someone in the process. Alex was extremely talented but his genuine interest in people and ability to draw someone out gave him access to a higher echelon of photographic opportunity. He stood out like a sore thumb but at the same time was able to fit in just about anywhere. He was special and truly gifted.

The news was shocking and devastating. Alex was outgoing and mellowly gregarious. He was easy to talk to and could carry on a conversation in a way that made his conversational partner feel interesting, validated and seen; which might be why it was so hard to accept the fact that there was a part of him hiding below the smiles and laughter. A part of him that was lost and hurting in a way most of us will hopefully never experience. Depression is real, devastating and insidious. It isn't the equivalent of someone having a really bad day or being moody or selfish. It is biological, physiological and emotional. It's hard for most of us to understand because we haven't experienced it and it seems easy to assign blame to the affected party, tell them they aren't trying hard enough or berate them for hurting the people they love. You wouldn't tell someone with cancer to stop complaining and suck it up and when someone says they are "gluten intolerant" we rush to accommodate them. We need to get involved in a bigger conversation about depression so that we can make those affected feel loved and supported instead of guilty or at fault. The harder it is for depression to hide, the better.

A few days after we arrived in Ohio and I started writing this post we headed to Alex's memorial service at the music hall at Lake Erie College. This is the best I can do to describe it: it was like walking in from the cold and being unexpectedly wrapped up in a warm, cozy blanket. Anyone who was feeling hurt and sad and lost in their pain was instantly enveloped in a loving community of people who were feeling the same way. The family gathered first and then I watched the hall fill with people until there was no room left and people continued to gather on the steps and the lawn outside. When I looked around the room my heart felt like it was going to explode. I saw so many tears but heard laughter, stories, and saw handshakes and hugs as people said hello to old friends or introduced themselves for the first time. Alex was an incredible human in life and he continues to be an incredible presence even now. It quickly became clear that Alex wasn't a brick in the wall. He was the mortar holding it all together.

Now, just shy of a year later, the time seemed right to finish this post. It began mostly as a therapeutic writing exercise; a way to consolidate my thoughts and clear my head. A way to deal with something terrible without stepping on the grief of those suffering on the front lines. 
The healing process has begun, however slow and infinite it may be. A scholarship was set up in Alex's name at Lake Erie College and family and friends have been sinking their hearts and time and energy into fundraising for the cause. Alex's parents and brothers are some of the strongest, most determined people I have ever met. They are surrounded by partners, friends and community who are wildly supportive, caring and invested in each others' lives. Alex's logo for "Stayin Hungry Productions" has been absorbed by his community and seeded out into the world on hats, shirts, bracelets and stickers. It has become a walking advertisement for love and camaraderie, a nod to art and music and a way of keeping the vibe alive. If you see a Stayin Hungry hat or t-shirt walking down the street don't hesitate to smile, wave or even say hi. I have no doubt Alex would be thrilled to have facilitated a conversation or maybe even a new friendship. 


A few months after the memorial Mike and I returned to Ohio for a scholarship fundraiser at the Driftwood Point Beach Bar on Lake Erie. It was a warm summer day with a perfect breeze sweeping over the water. A fabulous line up of local bands drew people in, some coming in specifically for the fundraiser and others pleasantly surprised when they wandered in for a lake-side cocktail. People were dancing, drinking beer and laughing in the sunshine. The mood was lighter and there were more smiles than tears. It was a day of celebration, gratitude, reconnection and fond remembrance in a way I think Alex would have wholeheartedly approved of. It was a perfect day to sit in the grass and picture Alex, camera in hand, dancing to the music.

To donate to the Alex Delamotte Scholarship Fund go to: https://www.lec.edu/giving     

At the "designation" tab pull the dropdown to "OTHER" and enter Alex Delamotte's name. 

To donate your time or $$ to those in need check out #RAKE at http://www.rakenow.org/ 








 

 

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(Swoyer Photography) https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2019/3/for-alex Mon, 25 Mar 2019 17:01:52 GMT
Hillary & Gabe https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2018/6/hillary-gabe Memorial Day weekend can be many things in New England. It is a weekend of cautiously optimistic planning for those of us hoping to host parties and BBQs. It can be sweltering hot and humid. It can be rainy, and chilly. Occasionally we find ourselves being buffeted by the tendrils of an early season Atlantic hurricane. In short, Memorial Day weekend is a total toss up which is why Hillary and Gabe's wedding was so spectacular. 

Hillary and Gabe booked their wedding at Alyson's Orchard three years ago. In this part of the country a year is pretty typical, a year and a half is playing it safe and three years is virtually unheard of. Three years is far enough out for my brain to think things like "will the venue even still be there?".  When Mike and I arrived I immediately understood. It is a beautiful location with spectacular views. It is the definition of picturesque. Rows of apple trees stretch in every direction. Ponds dot the landscape and a 360 degree elevated view of the entire region makes this venue unique. 

The weather was perfect. I mentioned in a previous post that while everyone else is hoping for a sunny day, your photographers are praying for clouds. Saturday was overcast enough to block the harsh sun, but still bright enough to let the most perfect, soft, etherial light I have ever seen shine through on the pondside wedding. I didn't have to hunt for shade or set up my lights to try to overpower the sun, which meant that the entire venue was fair game for post ceremony photos and the wedding party was ready and willing to walk from one beautiful spot to the next. 

In addition to the perfect venue and perfect natural light, Hillary and Gabe's wedding was full of incredibly gorgeous details, thanks to Hillary's mom Sam. The entire venue was covered with beautiful flowers; from the stunning arbor at the ceremony to the gorgeous bouquets inside and outside of the reception room to the tiny succulents Sam grew as favors for the guests to take home. The flower girls had enough flower petals to blanket the wedding aisle and then continue the flowery fanfare post ceremony as we took photos on the hill overlooking the pond. The entire day resonated with a sort of graceful but wild beauty that seemed to echo Hillary and Gabe's personalities perfectly. 

The evening closed out with a perfect sparkler exit. It was the perfect way to celebrate this lovely couple. Cheers to Hillary and Gabe and to a long, happy life together!

 

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(Swoyer Photography) alyson's orchard brattleboro bride cake" groom new england new england wedding photography orchard wedding photographer photography sparkler exit vermont vermont photographer waterfront wedding wedding wedding dress wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2018/6/hillary-gabe Tue, 19 Jun 2018 13:45:10 GMT
lindseyandjon https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2018/3/lindseyandjon What can I say about Lindsey and Jon? More like what isn't there to say about these two. They love camping, skiing, traveling, tracking down good beer, brewing great beer, and they love each other so, so much. They are a roving duo of awesomeness. They have a puggle named Lena and they are insanely smart. Like "rocket science" smart. For real. Basically they check off all of the boxes on my "perfect client" list. Ok so there isn't an actual list but if I had to sit down and make one I would probably draw inspiration from these two. Oh and I found out during a casual conversation that Lindsey's family gets together every year to stomp grapes and make wine. Whaaat? Best family bonding activity ever.

On top of all of the aforementioned awesomeness, Lindsey and Jon are, first and foremost, two of the sweetest, friendliest, kindest people I have ever met. They are quick to laugh and easy to talk to. By the end of our first cup of iced coffee together I felt like I had known these two for ages.

A few months after our first meeting we met again on a perfect fall day. We drove around the picturesque town of Putney looking for photo worthy locations and, after finding several, ended our trek at Green Mountain Orchard; one of the most beautiful places in Southern VT.  As we hiked around, chatted and took photos I found myself wishing the wedding wasn't a year away.

The wedding took place at one of my favorite southern VT venues, Mt Snow. There are lots of mountains in VT but Snow has THE BEST view from the top. It overlooks the 8 mile long Harriman Resevoir and a sea of other mountains. There are shady spots, perfect for a first look on a bright, sunny day and wide open spaces to experience the views from every angle. The ceremony location is conveniently located at the base of the mountain but set apart from the rest of the resort, out of the way of the hubbub and other events that might be happening. There is a beautiful courtyard for cocktail hour and then a bright, airy ballroom, fabulous for dinner and late night dancing. 

Lindsey and Jon had a perfect day. I could write a small novel about all of the thought and detail that went into this wedding but I will let the images speak for themselves. I do want to give a shoutout to Lindsey and Jon's friend Joe, who officiated their incredibly beautiful and heartfelt ceremony. The fact that they have a friend like Joe to speak on their behalf in such an eloquent way speaks volumes about their character.

The rest of the night flew by. Lindsey's sister Abbey and Jon's best man Nate gave beautiful toasts that had the entire room wiping their eyes while exploding in laughter. There was dinner and dancing just as Mikey and I were packing up our gear, the groom and his junior groomsman Bennet busted out an amazing dance they had choreographed. Mikey unpacked a camera just in time to get a few shots before it was over. It was a perfect way for us to wrap up the night.

Lindsey and Jon, we wish you were close enough to meet up for a few runs at the mountain but we hope you are loving your new home in Arizona and we think of you every time we ski at Mt Snow! You two are amazing and we wish you all the best in your life together! Also, your homebrews were delicious!!!

Vendors: 

Cake: Top Tier Baking

Dj: El Folio Entertainment, Arlington, VT

Fowers: Audrey's Flower Shop, Melodey Matthews (aka Bride's amazing sister), Gloucester, MA

Hair: Mountain Styles Salon, West Dover, VT

 

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(Swoyer Photography) brattleboro bride dress groom homebrew mountain views mt snow new england new england wedding photography photographer photography portrait september vermont vermont photographer vermont wedding photography wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2018/3/lindseyandjon Mon, 12 Mar 2018 16:59:31 GMT
Kathryn & Tyler https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2018/1/kathryn-tyler Katie & Tyler know how to throw a party. They also have the sweetest, most photogenic dog I have ever met. Double win.

I met these two last year at Katie's mountain home in Ludlow, VT. I met her parents, sister and brother in law and amazing pup Scarlet. We had a full afternoon of photos at the house and then took a little hike out to a beautiful waterfall. We toured the venue and peeked in at the reception area. Katie is a planner and I love it. 

A year later the wedding weekend finally rolled around. I got to be present for the welcome party on the eve of the wedding and then Mike and I were there for full wedding coverage the next day. Spending the weekend immersed in this huge, vivacious, gregarious group of people was amazing. I love getting to know the couples I work with but it is an extra fun bonus to get to spend time with their families and friends as well. I love being present for the toasts and speeches but also the little asides, handshakes, hugs and sneaky tears of joy. Seeing Katie and Tyler amidst their crowd of guests the night before the wedding made me realize how family oriented and beloved these two really are. There were over 100 people there to celebrate and somehow this amazing couple managed to spend time with each and every one of them. Every time I turned around the bride and groom were engaged in conversation with a different person, laughing like they had been chatting for hours and happy to let me snap a quick photo.

The wedding day was perfect. It was sunny, bright and beautiful. Luckily there was abundant shade for family photos and the sweet, unexpectedly emotional first look. The ceremony took place in a beautiful high clearing at the mountain, after which guests were shuttled back for cocktail hour in the Jackson Gore courtyard and the reception in the Round House. Katie and Tyler's friend DJ Mike Pitera and his 'Partners in Sound' team came all the way up from NY to throw one of the best reception dance parties I have ever seen. The uplighting was gorgeous, the playlist was amazing and every single guest was on the dance floor until Billy Joel closed out the night.  I would hire these guys in a heartbeat. Seriously. They are awesome. Even after the music stopped and the lights came up an adamant group of protesters refused to leave the dancefloor and continued to persuade Mike to keep the party going. Unfortunately curfews exists at most venues and the party moved along to the hotel bar.

Cheers to Kathryn and Tyler and Miss Scarlet. We wish you a long, happy marriage filled with adventure and dancing and endless games of fetch.

Venue: Jackson Gore

Flowers: Woodbury Florist, Springfield, VT

DJ: Partners In Sound LI - Mike Pitera partnersinsoundli@gmail.com

Cake and Confections: Irene's Cake by Design, Ludlow, VT

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(Swoyer Photography) brattleboro new england photographer photography portrait swoyer photography vermont vermont photographer vermont wedding photography wedding wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2018/1/kathryn-tyler Wed, 24 Jan 2018 22:15:45 GMT
Kaitlin & Scott https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/11/kaitlin-scott Kaitlin and Scott are a charismatic, adventurous, outdoorsy, dream team. They are sweet, thoughtful, laid back and love to have fun. I first met this dynamic duo last winter at Kaitlin's parents' home at the southern end of the White Mountains while they were in town visiting from Colorado.  We met in the warm, cozy house to discuss wedding plans and photo goals and then ventured out into the knee deep snow to take engagement photos. In preparation for the day, Kaitlin's dad had crafted a save the date sign and thoughtfully packed down a path through the fresh snow around the yard. He then proceeded to help me schlep my gear through the snow (thanks Tom!) while Reno the dog bounded around, chewing on sticks and wagging his tail as we laughed and trudged and got stuck when we stepped off the trail.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE the summer (paddle season!), have lukewarm feelings about the spring and fall and LOVE the snow (ski season!). Kaitlin and Scott seemed like a perfect fit from our very first emails but watching them laugh and wade through thigh deep snow drifts without hesitation made me realize just how much fun they were going to be to work with.

We met again in September at Stratton Mountain for the wedding. This time Kaitlin and Scott were surrounded by family and friends who had traveled across the country to join in the celebration. They got ready in bright, airy, immaculately clean (thanks to Joan and Cindi) suites conveniently located next to each other so that I could bop back and forth and capture both sides getting ready.

The ceremony took place in the beautiful, intimate Chapel of the Snows and the reception in the bright, open Stratton Mountain club. The entire day was filled with smiles, giggles, laughter, hugs, dancing and energy. Every moment, from the ceremony, to hilarious photos with the wedding party, to Jerry Springer t-shirts, speeches and dancing was a contagious celebration of life and love. Kaitlin and Scott's hilarious, fun, rowdy crew reminded me so much of my own fiercely vivacious, surf and snow loving friends that I just couldn't stop smiling. It was an incredible day.

Cheers to this fabulous duo! I wish you a life full of endless adventures. You two are amazing. I am so happy you found me and I sincerely hope our paths cross again!

Vendor Shoutouts:

Venue: Chapel of the Snows and Stratton Mountain Club. Special thanks to Sarah and Mary for your kindness, organizational skills and ability to keep the day on track while allowing me a few extra minutes for photos. You are beyond awesome and are always a pleasure to work with!

Kaitlin's Gorgeous Flowers: Green Mountain Floral Arts, Marlboro, VT

Sweet Treats: Squam Lake Inn, Holderness, NH

Kaitlin & Scott's Beautiful Wedding Bands: Scott's Grandpa Warren (the talent in this family knows no bounds)

Music: DJ Super Sounds

Hair & Makeup: Green Mountain Day Spa

 

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(Swoyer Photography) brattleboro photographer chapel of the snows dj dj super sounds dress flowers green mountain floral arts music new england photography portrait rings stratton mountain club suit vermont vt wedding wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/11/kaitlin-scott Thu, 02 Nov 2017 17:24:08 GMT
Olivia & Joe https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/9/olivia-joe Olivia and Joe are the coolest. They are one of those couples that I wish I had grown up knowing. Their families are incredibly sweet, their friends are kind, loyal and funny, and everything about their wedding day was absolutely lovely. I must have said it a million times throughout the day but it really was the most perfect, beautiful day.

I first met Olivia and Joe last November when multiple rainy days had thwarted our engagement session attempts until with we were left with no choice but to meet at 8:00 the morning before Olivia and Joe headed back to NJ. It was cold, brutally cold and intensely windy. There was snow on the mountain but the sun was shining so we decided to make the most of the morning. We trekked around the village, moseyed up to the covered bridge and took advantage of the empty golf course. The result was an adorable, windblown set of photos and my realization that these two were going to be so much fun to work with.

Of all of the indoor ceremony venues I have photographed, the Chapel of the Snows might be my favorite. It is quaint, a little cramped and there is little to no room for me to move around once everyone is inside and seated. The thing that sets it apart is the beautiful circular window on the wall above the altar, shedding beautiful, natural light on the bride and groom. It was the perfect setting for Olivia and Joe's sweet, heartfelt vows. At one point I turned around from my vantage point against the side wall to move to the back of the church and was totally shocked to see that every single person behind me had tears in their eyes. There literally was not a dry eye in the house.

The rest of the day was perfection. High, puffy clouds only added to the beauty of the expansive view from the summit and we made it back down in time for family photos before the sun sank completely behind the mountain. Photo time segued into toasts, dinner and celebration.

Thank you to Mark and Betsy and Mary and Joe for having been wonderfully helpful and easy to work with and thank you to everyone in the wedding party for having been so considerate and altruistic. Ladies, your bridal pit crew skills were unparalleled. Thanks to everyone in the wedding party for having kept the day on track and allowing us the time for so many amazing photo opportunities. 

And finally, thank you Olivia and Joe for your warmth, kindness and enthusiasm. It was a pleasure to have been able to document your day. We wish you a long, happy, healthy life together. You two deserve the world.

Vendor Shoutouts:

Florist: Bondville Bloomist (Stunning seasonal flowers as always.)

DJ: Premier Entertainment (Jim, you are amazing. Thanks for always keeping us in the loop!)

Venue: Stratton Mountain Resort (Mary and Sarah are the epitome of organization and we LOVE working with them.)

Hair: Stylz By Jenn

Makeup: Tiffany Martin

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(Swoyer Photography) brattleboro brattleboro photographer new england wedding photography photographer photography stratton mountain wedding swoyer photography vermont photographer vermont wedding photography wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/9/olivia-joe Sun, 10 Sep 2017 21:43:02 GMT
Hannah & Kofi https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/7/hannah-kofi I love working with super organized people. Not in the neurotic, bridezilla (or groomzilla) sense of the word, but with couples who are so excited about their wedding photos that they can't wait to plan, scout out locations and make lists of the special things, moments and people they would like photographed. Hannah and Kofi were a total awesomeness sneak attack. At first Kofi and Hannah seemed like a perfectly sweet, mellow couple (which they are - but better). Then I found out that Hannah is a botanist. (I love a good biology nerd-out.) Then Hannah emailed me with a few engagement session ideas that included teacups, The Princess Bride and Star Wars outfits. What??? (You had me at Princess Bride.)

The engagement session was fun, original, sweet and totally hilarious. After a cup of tea at my favorite bakery, some reading time in the park and a slow motion, Star Wars themed run through a field, I came away completely smitten with this amazing couple.  Side note: I could listen to Kofi read out loud all day and sincerely suggest that he attempt to break into the audio book readers profession. 

My photo list for the wedding day was just as much fun. A photo with Hannah's favorite tea set, a quiet moment alone having tea with her mom, photos in the river below the covered bridge, photos on a couch in the woods, and a request for a photo in front of a Hemlock - Hannah's favorite tree. 

Thanks to Hannah's planning, her super organized MOH Tegan and the rest of the 'ready and willing' wedding party, the wedding day was a series of picture perfect moments. Hannah's grasp of a realistic wedding timeline allowed us to fit in every single one of the images and locations Hannah and Kofi were hoping for. It was nothing short of epic.

The wedding was bright and beautiful; tradition perfectly balanced with Hannah and Kofi's own style. Every little bit, from the intimate, pre-wedding Ketubah signing, to the Tolken reading, drinking of wine and stomping of the glasses, was perfect. In fact, I cannot imagine any single thing could have made this day any better.

The evening wrapped up with dinner, dancing, drinks and toasts. Bt the end of the night friends and family meeting for the first time were laughing and dancing together like old friends. Cheers to Hannah & Kofi, one of the most refreshingly original, good natured, effortlessly fun couples I have ever worked with. I hope you two know just how awesome you are! (And if you didn't, now you do.)

Thanks to Stephen Laurie (www.stephenlaurie.com) for a beautiful ceremony, Allison Ellis (www.floralartvt.com) for some of the most gorgeous and unique floral arrangements I have ever seen, Premier Entertainment DJs for keeping me in the loop and being totally awesome to work with, and of course, to the Mad River Barn (http://madriverbarn.com) for the stunning venue and beautifully organized day.

 

 

  

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(Swoyer Photography) brattleboro floral artistry mad river barn wedding new england wedding photographer photographer swoyer photography vermont photographer vermont photography vermont wedding photography wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/7/hannah-kofi Wed, 26 Jul 2017 19:46:31 GMT
Graduation https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/6/graduation Yesterday I was invited to photograph graduation day for the Putney School. Last year the event was rained in and took place in the auditorium. This year, the sun was shining through a soft layer of clouds (a photographer's dream) and the festivities took place of one of the school's rolling, green lawns. 

The Putney school is not your average high school. It really isn't even your average New England prep school. The school focuses heavily on experiential learning, allowing students a multifaceted education, not only through academics, but through art, sports, theater, farming, and even building. The students learn how to work together, support each other, accomplish some pretty impressive large scale projects and in the process find their own voice, discover what they are passionate about and graduate with a much broader world view than most teenagers.

Graduation at the Putney School is a unique event. There are no caps and gowns, no sombre precession to Pomp and Circumstance. Graduation begins with a celebratory parade in which the seniors make an entrance in cars, trucks, atv's, tractors and even on horseback. The ceremony closes with the presentation of diplomas, each of which is a work of art, unique to its recipient.

Graduations always make me feel a little bit nostalgic. Although I graduated a very, very, very long time ago, I still remember what it felt like at that point when my life was equal parts excitement and anxiety. I remember applying to colleges and visualizing the endless possibilities in front of me with the romantic notion that I could literally do anything and be anything I wanted. I also realize how very privileged I was to be able to feel that way.

Watching the students yesterday also made me feel hope. No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself on, I think we can all admit that we are currently living in a politically charged world. It's not the first time or the worst time but sometimes it makes me want to bang my head against the wall in frustration. Every day we are totally overwhelmed by shocking and sad news reports and people tellings us what to think, what to be afraid of and where to assign blame. At the end of the day it is easy to feel overwhelmed and angry. Yesterday I listened as the senior class speakers talked about hope and change. They talked about using their voices and their educations to take action and make the world a better place. Right now we are sorely in need of new voices and better ideas. 

Cheers to the class of 2017 and to the endless possibilities in front of you!

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England brattleboro photographer graduation photography photography putney school graduation swoyer photography vermont photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/6/graduation Tue, 06 Jun 2017 03:38:04 GMT
Maura & Eric https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/6/maura-eric It occurred to me the other day that I have known Maura for almost 20 years, though admittedly I knew her as "Molly" and didn't actually know her real name was Maura until several years into my friendship with her older sister Tara. I met Tara my freshman year of college. We were in several of the same marine science classes and had both decided to join the rowing team that fall. We bonded over biology classes, 2am nights and 4am regatta mornings. I first met Molly (Maura) when she came to visit Tara one weekend during our freshman year. Having grown up with one younger brother, I was amazed at the sisterly bond the two shared. Tara and Maura spent time together whenever possible and "Molls" became a familiar face over the next four years. In the subsequent years Maura grew up and became a total badass; working in the Middle East and then back in DC in a job that my marine science/ photographer brain can barely comprehend. During that time she also met a sweet, crazy smart, beer loving gentleman named Eric. I was delighted when I received a message from Maura and Eric, asking if we would be interested in photographing their wedding. The obvious answer was YES!

Midnight before our departure found me furiously packing. It seems no matter how early I start the process I always end up in a state of methodical, last minute packing, unpacking and repacking. For days I had been charging batteries, eliminating unnecessary pieces of equipment and trying my best to consolidate what typically takes up the entire trunk of my car into one checked bag and two carryons. I like to be prepared. For anything. I like to have backups for my backups, enough gear for 4 photographers and anything else I might need to McGiver anything that might break, tear or fail during a wedding. When I show up to a wedding, my clients see my shoulder bag and gear bag but most of them have no idea what else is lurking in my trunk...just in case. The notion of having to fit my preparedness in a much smaller amount of space than usual was simultaneously daunting and liberating.

On Friday morning Mikey and I left cold, rainy, gray Vermont and stepped out into warm, green, sunny DC. We met the bride and groom and then left to check out the venue. The grounds at Riverside on the Potomac are incredible. The venue boasts a lakeside patio, an adorably tiny, restored log chapel and a gorgeous, massive, barn. We got a tour from wedding coordinator Jessica and then headed back to the hotel to grab our gear and make our way to the welcome party to mix and mingle and take photos of the guests as they arrived to greet the bride and groom.

The next morning we awoke to rain. We split up to spend time with the bride and groom while they got ready and then made our way to the venue where the guys sipped whisky in the rustic stables while the ladies put on their finishing touches in the owner's stunning farmhouse. Despite the rain, we found enough cover for family photos (thanks to my amazing husband for holding and umbrella over me and my camera so that I could step back into the rain for the best vantage point). There ceremony took place on the stable porch, out of the rain but with a view of the lawn and flowering trees in the background. After the ceremony the rain let up enough to scoot out for photos with the wedding party and we were even graced with enough light to sneak in some sunset photos.

The rest of the night involved toasts, dancing and beer brewed by the bride and groom for the event. How cool is that???

Mikey and I headed home early the next morning, exhausted but ecstatic. Thanks to Maura & Eric and their families for a fantastically fun weekend! We wish you a lifetime of happiness. You two are the coolest!

Venue: Riverside on the Potomac

Coordinator: Jessica of JEM Events

DJ Mark: www.djmaskell.com

Makeup: Lena Turner

Catering: Smokin' Willy BBQ

Florist: J Morris Flowers

Special thanks to Jessica and Mark of JEM Events and DJMaskell for being such a dream team and for working with us around the wacky weather!

 

 

 

 

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(Swoyer Photography) barn wedding destination wedding photography new england wedding photographer riverside on the potomac wedding vermont photographer vermont wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/6/maura-eric Fri, 02 Jun 2017 15:52:57 GMT
Kristin & Jordan https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/1/kristin-jordan I love fall weddings! In the past few years I have seen a dramatic booking migration from the traditional June wedding season to the September/October wedding season. Beautiful, crisp, sunny days with glowing, golden afternoons and chilly, clear, starry evenings make fall pretty loveable around here. Hearty fall mums bring a splash of warmth and color to reception venues and even humble pumpkins and gourds occasionally find themselves surrounded by a group of well dressed guests; ambassadors to the coziness of the coming season. 

Kristin and Jordan's wedding took place on a stunning fall day at the Colonel Williams Inn in Marlboro, VT. It was a perfectly lovely day for a truly wonderful couple. The sun was shining, foliage was at its peak, and then Inn was completely surrounded by vivid reds and golds. I spent a little time with the ladies while they put the final touches on the already beautiful bride and then Kristin and I went to meet the groom before the ceremony. A series of little walking trails around the inn proved the perfect location for a sneaky first look, away from the inquisitive and eager eyes of arriving guests.

The ceremony was set up on a green lawn with a glassy pond and rolling hills in the background. The late afternoon timing was perfect and the ceremony gave way to the best light of the day, just in time for golden hour photos. The heartier guests remained on the lawn as the sun sank, embracing the brisk fall air and enjoying the serene beauty of the rural location. When the sun had set and the cold started to creep in the guests moved into the charming barn for toasts, dinner and dancing.

Cheers to Kristin and Jordan, two of the kindest, sweetest couples I have met. You two are such a lovely compliment to one another. I wish you bundles of happiness in your future!

And thanks to the fabulous vendors:

  • Venue: Colonel Williams Inn
  • Hair and Makeup: Enright and Co 
  • Cake: Top Tier Baking Co
  • DJ: Pete Chambers DJ & Event Services
  • Catering: Catered Events by Chef George

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England VT brattleboro photographer new england wedding photographer new england wedding photography photographer photography swoyer photography vermont vermont photographer vermont wedding photography wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/1/kristin-jordan Tue, 31 Jan 2017 22:33:03 GMT
Michelle and Raymond https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/1/michelle-and-raymond Truly wonderful couples tend to surround themselves with only the coolest, kindest, most helpful people. They are laid back but organized and once they see their beloved all dressed up in their wedding finery for the first time, any stress they may have been harboring tends to melt away. They don't sweat the small stuff and they know that as long as they are together, they are basically unstoppable.

Michelle and Raymond fit this description to a tee. 

My first encounter with Michelle and Ray happened on a miserably cold, rainy spring day. We met inside one of my favorite cozy coffee spots, complete with cushy leather chairs and a crackling fire. We sipped warm beverages, chatted and got to know one another. I found out that Ray is actually a humble but incredibly talented photographer and has lead workshops at the Cooper Hill Inn in the past, which explained their ties to the venue. I also learned that Ray's mother Sharon is also a talented photographer along with several other members of the family. 

When our cups were empty we bundled up and ventured out into the chill to take some engagement photos. Ray had already scouted some beautiful locations in the area so we caravanned around town until we had a solid set of images of Michelle and Ray laughing and cuddling together for warmth with their pup Jackson in the cold rain. I have never seen two people look so soggy and so adorably happy at the same time.

A few months later I met Michelle and Ray again for the big event. It was my second time working at the Cooper Hill Inn and I sincerely hope it won't be my last. It is a beautiful location with an incredible view, delicious food and wonderfully kind owners. It was a perfect, sparkly bright September afternoon; a perfect day for a wedding.

Thanks to Michelle's planning and attention to detail, I had a great photo outline for the day. When I arrived at the venue Ray's mother, Sharon, had already laid out the dress, shoes, rings and accessories for me to photograph in a clean, uncluttered room. Swoon. The MOH Danielle had a schedule and photo list and functioned as an amazing logistics coordinator throughout the day, making sure the bride, groom and wedding party were all in the right place at the right time and later shepherding family members in and out of group photos. (Danielle, if you ever decide to move to VT and need a job...)

The rest of the day was photographic bliss. The sun was shining but there was plenty of open shade and flattering light for one of the loveliest first looks/ couples photo sessions of all time. I got to spend a solid half hour with Michelle and Ray before being joined by the rest of their super fun, cheeky, and extremely cooperative wedding party. I think it was one of the quickest, easiest, smoothest wedding party photo sessions ever. 

Other highlights of the day included a gorgeous ceremony, huge group photo on the hill, perfect golden hour light for family photos, an amazing sunset over the expansive vista and an awesome dance party.

Thank you to Danielle and the rest of the super cool bridesmaids and groomsmen for being awesome, ridiculously photogenic and just the right amount of goofy. Thanks to Sharon, Laura, Scott and the rest of the family for being incredibly sweet and helpful. You all made my day so much fun. 

Thanks most of all to Michelle and Raymond for having chosen me to be your photographer and for having been so much fun to get to know. You two are such a great team. I wish you a life filled with adventures and happiness!

  • Venue: Cooper Hill Inn
  • Cake: Top Tier Bakery
  • Hair: Twin Valley Creations
  • DJ: Peak Entertainment

 

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England Wedding photographer brattleboro photographer cooper hill inn wedding fall wedding new england wedding photography photographer photography vermont vermont photographer vermont wedding photography wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2017/1/michelle-and-raymond Fri, 06 Jan 2017 20:12:44 GMT
Joya & Chris https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/12/joya-chris Joya might be one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. She is kind, well spoken, has a wild, amazing laugh and the best facial expressions. She is a feminist, a champion for human rights and an advocate for women's safety and equality. Beneath her placid blue eyes and demure smile is the soul of a warrior. Growing up in a UN family Joya has lived, traveled and seen more in her early years than most of us will see or do in a lifetime. She and her brothers and father share a deep bond and she has made lifelong friendships throughout the world. She is a fierce, beloved friend and a total badass. Christopher is strong and soft spoken. Behind kind eyes and a warm smile lies wisdom and confidence. He, his brother and his parents are a small but tight family unit. 

When I think about Joya and Christopher's wedding I am struck by the depth of joy and emotion that radiated throughout the ceremony and celebration. It was a day filled with poignant words and meaningful actions where nothing was taken for granted. It was a celebration of life, love and friendship. Perhaps the thing that speaks most to this couple's character is the fact that friends and family flew in from all corners of the world to celebrate throughout the weekend. To see that much love and comradery in the middle of rural Vermont was truly extraordinary. These two have an astounding international support network and an incredibly cool group of friends. 

The ceremony took place in a clearing in the middle of the forest surrounded by tall, stoic conifers. The silence and seclusion of the forest and the late afternoon sun sparkling through the treetops gave the clearing a warm, enchanted feel. Guests put away their phones and electronics in order to be fully present in the moment with Joya and Chris as Joya's brother Jonathan lead the couple through the ceremony. It was one of the loveliest ceremonies I have ever seen.

After a gourmet dinner, first dances, heartfelt speeches, toasts and cake, the whole crew scooted onto the dance floor for a night of celebration.

Congratulations to Joya and Christopher. You are a truly incredible team. You are the type of people who inspire others to be better and do better. I am so happy to have met you and I wish you a long, happy, healthy life together. 

Special thanks to the Inn at Weathersfield for making Joya and Christopher's day truly extraordinary and, as always, for being such a pleasure to work with.

 

 

 

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England brattleboro photographer new england wedding photography photographer swoyer photography vermont photographer vermont wedding vermont wedding photography wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/12/joya-chris Wed, 14 Dec 2016 14:00:13 GMT
Elizabeth & Peter https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/11/elizabeth-peter I'm not gonna lie. Peter and Elizabeth's wedding had me seriously wishing I was Irish. Sure, I'm proud of my New England roots and although the Vermont side of my family used to get together regularly for family dinners where they would eat, drink and laugh until my grandpa retired to fall asleep on the couch in the sitting room, those celebrations paled in comparison to Elizabeth and Peter's wedding festivities.

A lot of my clients travel from out of state to get married in the beautiful mountains of VT but Elizabeth and Peter raised the bar and came all the way from Ireland. The wedding took place on the sunny shores of Lake Champlain where Elizabeth's darling parents, siblings and sweet, sassy grandmother still reside. Peter's family and an impressive contingent of friends also traveled across the Atlantic to join the bride and groom in a spectacular celebration.

I met Elizabeth, her sister, niece, mother, and grandmother at her parents' home in Alburgh, VT, way, way up near the Canadian border. The ladies did their hair and makeup, sipped wine and chatted with Grandma Lorraine while Elizabeth's dad prepared his nerve calming, specialty grilled cheeses.

After spending the morning with the ladies I scooted over to the venue to meet Peter and his family for a few photos before the ceremony. When I turned into the drive for the Turner Farmhouse my jaw dropped. It is one of the most beautiful venues I have ever seen. The stately farmhouse is warm and inviting but beautifully decorated and opens out onto a picturesque lawn peppered with well placed trees, looking out onto the lake. 

The rest of the day was amazing. Peter and Elizabeth's families were funny, sweet and so much fun to work with. It is incredible to see two families who live on different continents laughing and celebrating together like they have known each other forever. The weather was gorgeous, the sunset was perfect and the party was unparalleled. I have seen some epic dance parties at weddings. This one blew them all out of the water. The Irish can dance. Like really dance. There was an energy and enthusiasm that was hard to describe so I think I will let the images tell the rest of the story.

Cheers to Elizabeth and Peter! I wish you a lifetime of love, laughter and dancing!

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(Swoyer Photography) . New England brattleboro photographer isle la motte wedding lake champlain wedding new england wedding photography photographer photography swoyer photography turner farmhouse wedding vermont photographer vermont wedding photography wedding wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/11/elizabeth-peter Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:35:49 GMT
Amy & Adam https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/9/amy-adam I love Vermont. I love the mountains, lakes and rivers. I love our farm stands and epic farmers markets. I love the people who live here and despite the fact that many people think of New Englanders as surly and cold, they are, in reality, kind and genuine and always have amazing stories to tell. I love the sense of camaraderie that binds people who work hard for a living and I love Vermont celebrations.

Amy and Adam were married in a beautiful field on a hill. I met Amy at the tail end of the getting ready process, just in time to photograph her ladies helping her into her tall socks and purple converse sneakers. (If there is one thing Vermonters know it is that it is silly to try to wear stilettos when getting married in a field.) 

The day was perfect, bright and sunny. We arrived at the field to see Amy's horse headed down the hill to meet us. For years I have dreamed about photographing a bride with her horse. Thanks to Amy for finally making it happen! The rest of the day was a giant celebration. Friends and family gathered on bales of hay as Amy and Adam said their vows under a hand hewn altar. After the ceremony, guests made their way to the tent to fill up a commemorative mason jar with a cold beverage, eat local BBQ, talk, laugh, dance and celebrate.

Cheers to Amy and Adam and thanks to their sweet families and friends for making it such a fun day!

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England VT brattleboro photographer new england wedding photography outdoor wedding photography summer wedding swoyer photography vermont photographer vermont wedding photography wedding https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/9/amy-adam Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:01:12 GMT
Kerri & Charlie https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/8/kerri-charlie Once again I am astounded by the kindness and sincerity of my clients. I find myself digging deep, searching for the perfect words to describe this lovely wedding and this amazing couple.

Kerri and Charlie are artists in every sense of the word. As individuals they are sweet, quick witted, self possessed, poised and humble. Together they are a powerhouse of intellect, talent, confidence and charisma. They live their lives in notes and words; inspiring hearts, empowering minds, bringing joy, and provoking thoughts and feelings. Kerri has a soft voice and a commanding presence. Her melodic words and exquisite phrases draw you in and wrap you up. Her lyrics and poems are thoughtful, meaningful and beautiful. Charlie is debonaire and affable, with a spring in his step and twinkle in his eye. I can picture him seated comfortably at a table sharing a laugh and a drink with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye or Dean Martin. The two bear depth and talent beyond their years. 

Friends and family gathered from around the country to celebrate the lovely couple in the idyllic Vermont countryside. The bride stepped out in a beautiful flowered dress that would make any bride think twice about wearing a traditional white gown and the groom looked dashing in a grey linen suit. Simplicity was perfection and each little touch allowed the rustic charm of the farm to shine through. There were beautiful flowers, a gorgeous cake complete with custom toppers crafted by the mother of the groom, and a station for each guest to create a personalized card for the bride and groom. The wedding was full of toasts, speeches, music, love and laughter.

Congratulations to Kerri and Charlie and cheers to a long and happy life together!

 

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(Swoyer Photography) brattleboro photographer new england wedding photography non traditional wedding dress photography summer wedding swoyer photography vermont vermont photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/8/kerri-charlie Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:07:48 GMT
My Sueperhero Mom https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/5/mysuperheromom For the past 6 years my mother has been living a double life. Well, not really a double life so much as two lives crammed into the amount of time it would take the rest of us to live just one. For the majority of the past six years my mother has been working a full time job, driving three hours to Boston every week for an excruciatingly long day or two of classes and then coming home to read hundreds of books, write hundreds of papers and do the rest of those little things people need to do like mow the lawn (or shovel the driveway), do the laundry, eat and sleep. Somehow through all of it she has managed to find time to spend with our family, host sleepover weekends with her adorable granddaughter and watch our pup whenever Mike and I are out of town. If there was an award for multitasking, my mom would most definitely win.

Hundreds of books, papers, cups of coffee and chocolate espresso beans later, my mother can finally take a breath and live the one life that she has been working so hard for.

Two weeks ago our family and friends converged in Newton, MA to attend my mother's graduation. I cannot express the amount of pride and joy I felt as I watched my mom climb the steps to receive her masters hood and diploma. She has supported my brother and I through everything we have been through over the years; lending support, giving advice, visiting us in the far away places we have lived and worked, and mothering like a champ. This time we were able to be there to support her as she took her final step toward a whole new chapter of her life. 

Cheers to my mom, her newly earned master's degree, and to all of the other parents and grandparents out there who are constantly working to better themselves and the world around them. 

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro brattleboro photographer graduation photography photographer photography portrait portrait photographer vermont vermont photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/5/mysuperheromom Sat, 28 May 2016 15:03:32 GMT
A Touch of Whimsy https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/5/a-touch-of-whimsy Let me preface this post by saying that I have heard the word whimsical used in different contexts and connotations. In this circumstance I mean it in the best, most sophisticated sense of the word. Occasionally the word attaches itself to other slightly degrading adjectives like "kitschy" and "childish". My intended use of the word is to convey unexpected, enchanting beauty and refreshing creativity. Playful but not childish. Fanciful but sophisticated. 

My afternoon with Kerri and Charlie was fun, happy, light-hearted and yes, mildly whimsical thanks to Charlie's little table in the field. It is true, not everyone can pull of a little table in the middle of a field but these two did it with such charm and conviction that it didn't feel over the top or out of place. A vase of flowers, two glasses of wine, Kerri's beautiful dress and Charlie's handsome jacket made me feel as though I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. 

I appreciate couples who aren't afraid to bring ideas and their own personality to a session and I love working with couples who can smile, laugh and don't take themselves too seriously. I couldn't stop laughing during my first edit when I got to a set of photos of Charlie sweetly lifting Kerri and then the subsequent set of Kerri lifting Charlie. 

In addition to the table in the field, we took advantage of the beautiful, charming, centuries old farmhouse and barn. The rustic background contributed elements of depth, history and texture to the images of this laid back, stylish couple; helping to showcase their appreciation for the beauty around them.

I can't wait to see what lovely things these two dream up for their wedding. So happy to be working with Kerri and Charlie!

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro VT brattleboro photographer engagement photography new england wedding photography photographer photography portrait spring swoyer photography vermont photographer wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/5/a-touch-of-whimsy Wed, 18 May 2016 12:29:51 GMT
Laughing In The Rain https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/5/laughing-in-the-rain May has finally arrived. It's that wonderful time of the year when our days become noticeably longer, the trees take on a vibrant neon green hue as they prepare to unfurl their new leaves, and our yard is suddenly awash in color as tulips shoot up overnight to stretch their petals and bask in the cool, spring sunshine. This is when Vermont starts to come alive. Suddenly the streets are crowded, the local farms are setting out flowers for mother's day, and I get to meet with new clients and get outdoors for for portrait and engagement sessions.

Yesterday I was excited to meet one of my fall wedding couples to chat over a cup of tea and then venture out to take some engagement photos. Unfortunately the weather had ideas of its own and decided to bestow upon us a steady stream of (much needed) rain. Fortunately it was more of a chilly drizzle than a torrential downpour and Michelle and Ray and their pup Jackson decided to put on their rain coats and make the best of the situation. 

Ray, a talented nature photographer (http://www.klassphoto.com/), has lead photo workshops in Southern Vermont and had some great, less traveled locations up his sleeve. Working with these two sweet, adventurous souls made me so happy to be able to do what I do. They embraced the day with smiles and laughter and a true appreciation for Vermont in all of it's soggy, seasonal glory. We parted ways and I headed home, very thankful for my seat heaters and so excited to work with Michelle and Ray during their wedding this fall. 

I have the best clients.

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro VT engagement photography mountain view engagement session new england wedding photography photographer photography swoyer photography vermont photographer vermont wedding photography wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/5/laughing-in-the-rain Wed, 04 May 2016 16:03:18 GMT
Heather and Mike https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/3/heather-and-mike Sometimes the best things are the simplest.

Every couple is different. Some couples dream of a huge, extravagant wedding; pulling out all the stops to give their 300 some-odd guests an incredible festival-like experience. Other couples go smaller and more intimate with a close group of friends and family, a great band and a backyard BBQ. Some couples go smaller still, choosing to keep the day pure, simple, and just as memorable as any of the largest weddings out there.

Last Saturday I met Heather and Mike at the Inn At Weathersfield to photograph their mini wedding (only 5 other immediate family members present). It was a beautiful, sunny, February day and as I turned down the drive to the inn the stately, plantation style front porch, complete with rocking chairs, came into view. Despite the gorgeous southern-style exterior, the interior of the inn was filled with beautifully maintained New England charm. I was greeted by owner Marilee and escorted to the beautiful, bright room where the ceremony was to take place. She and assistant Jessica were busy rearranging and putting the final touches on the room to make it ceremony ready.

I made my way to Heather's bridal suite for a few pre-ceremony photos and then headed down to meet Mike and his mom and wait for the entrance of his bride and her family. The room was small, bright and warm, thanks to a glowing fire in the hearth. Heather and Mike held hands and exchanged vows and rings while their family members sat around them, radiating love and support.

After the ceremony we ventured out into the chilly sunshine for a few photos on the expansive porch. A few more with the bride and groom and then they were off to relax and celebrate the rest of the evening with their family, sampling the inn's renowned cuisine.

I was absolutely enamored with the impeccable simplicity of Heather and Mike's choices for the day. Heather looked stunning in a simple, lace dress with cream colored shoes, a gorgeous blue coat and a pop of complementary color from her fuchsia bouquet (plus a second pair of awesome blue shoes and a chic pair of Sorels for our venture down onto the icy lawn). Mike looked hip and handsome in a navy suit with a matching fuchsia boutonniere. It was a beautiful, memorable afternoon with a lovely couple who, once again, made me so happy to do what I do. I have the best clients!

Cheers to Heather and Mike!

 

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(Swoyer Photography) diy weddings elopement elopement photography green mountain photographer inn at weathersfield new england photographer new england wedding photography perkinsville vermont wedding southern vermont photographer swoyer photography vermont bride vermont groom vermont photographer vermont wedding vermont wedding photographer vermont wedding photography wedding photography weddings https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/3/heather-and-mike Thu, 24 Mar 2016 16:17:17 GMT
Weddings...The good, the bad and the hilarious https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/2/weddings-the-good-the-bad-and-the-hilarious A few years ago I started my own business. It is a dream to work for myself, choose the clients I want to work with, and do things the way I want. Over the course of this journey I have learned many things. I would like to share some of them here with you.

Weddings are awesome. From the guest's point of view things are perfect. They are surrounded by their favorite people, free booze, and good music, all in the comfort of a perfect, fairytale-like bubble made of burlap, mason jars and adorable chalkboards. The ladies sip champagne and wonder, in awe, how Jane found the time to make it all happen as they peruse the scene for pinterest-worthy ideas they might like to use for their own wedding someday.

Anyone who has actually been married knows that during the two months before the wedding, Jane was up until 3 am every night frantically tying twine around jelly jars, bleeding from papercuts, desperately trying to separate fingers accidentally superglued together in a moment of exhaustion and poor judgement.

Weddings are a lot of work. 

Good couples do their homework. They whittle down a list of vendors, trying to find the magic combination of availability, style and price point. Once a vendor is booked, the couple can relax and breathe easy (or go back to glitter glueing designs on tiny candles).Vendors are professionals. They do what they do for a living. They should be good at it. Right?

Do your research. Read reviews, meet in person if you can and make sure you know what you are paying for.  You don't want to end up with the DJ with faulty equipment, the mc who publicly embarasses you in front of 200 guests or the photographer who just got their first camera for Christmas and can't wait to try it out at your wedding. Budgeting is important but booking a vendor solely on price can hurt in the long run. Make sure you like your vendor's style and personality as well as their product. You want your wedding day to be fun and go smoothly. 

The term "wedding photography" sounds so sweet. It sounds like the most romantic, fulfilling job in the world. We literally get to photograph people being in love. Yes... and no.

Wedding photography is one part sugar and spice, two parts adrenaline, three parts endurance and four parts problem solving.  

When I wrote this blog I knew there was the possibility that no one would read it. I think I just needed to put into words some of the funny things I have seen and experienced in the world of wedding photography. If one of these little gems of wisdom helps even one couple, I feel my mission has been accomplished.

So, take my advice with a grain of salt if you like but here we go. A peek into the dark underbelly of wedding photography...

The night before a wedding, I don't sleep. I just don't. I am excited and a little bit nervous and spend 8 hours mentally setting up gear, putting together shots, and preparing for the day ahead. I worry about everything from a flat tire on the way to the venue to the state of the weather. Clouds. Always pray for clouds. Full midday sunlight is the enemy. It is harsh and unflattering, creates crazy shadows and turns suit-clad groomsmen into sweaty puddles. While you all are hoping for a sunny, beautiful day, I am praying for clouds.

Giant wedding parties. Nothing looks cooler than a huge array of color coordinated ladies and gentlemen but please, be patient with your photographer. We know you are hot and just want to get to the bar for a much deserved wine spritzer, but a 30 person wedding party = 60 blinking eyeballs. Every time one of you sneezes, makes a weird face, blinks, coughs etc... means we have to click the shutter button one more time. Yes, there are photoshop techniques that can remedy a blinky eye or two but it is time consuming. The more time we spend retouching, the more $ we have to charge to survive. 

Outdoor, summer wedding, Stowe, VT.Outdoor, summer wedding, Stowe, VT.

Can't you just photoshop it? I hear this one A LOT. Thanks to the internet, people generally think that photoshop is a magic world where one click of a button can make every couple look like Will and Kate. The truth of the matter is, photoshop takes time, effort and skill to use. Things do not magically appear. They must either exist somewhere else or be created by us. A lot of the photoshop stuff I do literally involves changing individual pixels. How many pixels are in a photo....? Millions. Are we incredibly lucky that photoshop exists? Heck yes! Every time I have to swap out a blinkey eye or remove the glare on someone's glasses I thank the tech gods of mount Adobe for the ability to make digital alterations. Is it something I want to spend 80 hours a week doing? Heck no. In the interest of time, cost effectiveness and our sanity, please show a little mercy and resist the urge to utter the words "can't you just photoshop it". Help us get it right in real life and you will get your images a lot sooner.

Talking while I am trying to take your photo. It usually makes me laugh. Everyone is looking dead on at the camera but one person is moving their mouth, making a comment or a joke. Unless you are a professional ventriloquist, I can see your mouth moving, which means the camera can see your mouth moving, which falls into the weird expression category. Just give us a minute to finish and you can chat away.

Backseat drivers. I am always happy to hear suggestions for photo setups and will always, always listen to the bride and groom if they ask for something. I even love it when an auntie darts in to fix an errant collar or hemline. It is, however, not super helpful to have someone standing next to me (or worse, in front of me) yelling at the wedding party and telling them what to do or how to stand. I'll take care of that thank you.

Along those lines...other cameras. Team, when we finally have the 30 person wedding party set up and ready to go, I want to get those photos done as quickly as possible. It is the opposite of helpful when someone is standing off to the side harassing a member of the wedding party (all in good fun of course) or trying to take their own photo, causing some of the members of the wedding party to look at them instead of me. That just means it takes me even longer to get the image I need. Give me a few minutes and I will step back and happily pass the baton to guests who want to take their own photos. I know I don't have a monopoly on photos of the bride and groom but I am the one they are paying. Please, please wait your turn.

Social media frenzy. Nothing makes me sadder than looking back at my photos of a stunning bride walking down the aisle to meet her handsome, teary-eyed groom, with a wall of cameras, phones and ipads behind her. The tech revolution has allowed us to completely detach from human interaction. I love social media as much as the next photographer but I also firmly believe that a wedding is a very intimate and meaningful event. Please, for the love of the bride and groom, put down your electronics and give them your attention. They invited you there to be a part of a momentous and special occasion. They invited me there to take pictures. Put down your phone and be present in the moment.

Photo credit Andrew McNeaney (from my very own "unplugged" wedding).  Notice, not an iphone in sight!

Poorly dressed vendors. It sucks when your caterer looks like a hot mess and is standing behind you while you cut the cake. What we would like to be wearing when we shoot a wedding = track pants, compression socks and a sweatband. What we actually wear...a nice dress and a suit. Vendors should be dressed for a wedding or stay behind the scenes.

Mini Lasers. Thats right, lasers. This is one I had never thought about as a guest at a wedding. It was only when I started shooting them that I realized lasers are a menace. DJ with cool, colored lights = awesome for photos. DJ with the tiny spinning laser ball = looks like a sniper is trying to take out the father of the bride.

Unhelpful wedding party. Dear brides, please do yourself a favor and select your bridal party based on people you know are going to be fun and helpful on your wedding day. Choosing a bridal party can be tricky. Maybe you have a huge group of really good friends and don't want to leave anyone out. Maybe your parents are pressuring you to include the awkward cousin (you only see once every 5 years) just because she is a relative. Perhaps you know that if you don't ask Liz, she will complain to Becca and then Becca will complain to Sally... Brides, please remember that this day is about you. Keep it simple. Choose friends who live near you and won't mind coming over at midnight to help you cut out place settings, select a small group of really good friends, or, keep it close and make it siblings only. Surround yourself with the ladies (or gents) you know are going to keep you calm and relaxed on your wedding day and leave the caddy, snarky friend out of it. If they are truly your friends they will be happy for you whether they are amongst the "chosen" or not.

Punctuality and planning. Your wedding day is about you so obviously people are going to wait for you if you are running late. You may even make it to your ceremony on time but if you have to rush and get all stressed out and sweaty in the process you are doing it wrong. Leave yourself enough time. Calculate the amount of time you think you are going to need and then add an hour or even two. Some of my favorite photo moments come from brides who are ready a little bit ahead of schedule and have a few extra minutes to take some really beautiful bridal portraits or impromptu photos with their ladies, mothers, grammies, pets and anyone else who might happen to be hanging out in the bridal suite. Leave yourself time to take a deep breath, have a glass of champagne and make your way out to the ceremony with cool, calm dignity. The first day of your married life shouldn't start with stress and frustration. Give yourself plenty of time.

Winter wedding at Stowe Mountain Resort, VT.Winter wedding at Stowe Mountain Resort, VT.

Solidarity. The day after a big wedding I usually feel like Mike Tyson beat the crap out of me. My whole body hurts. We are literally doing shoulder presses with up to 15 pounds of gear for 8 to 12 hours. The adrenaline and fast pace throughout the day keep us going but eventually we feel it. Just know that when you wake up with a headache from too many cocktails, blisters from wearing heels all day and sore muscles from dancing like a maniac, breakdance fighting and jumping up and down singing "Don't Stop Believing" we are right there with you. And we can't wait do it all over again:)

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(Swoyer Photography) New england photography VT brattleboro photographer brattleboro vermont helpful wedding tips photographer photography swoyer photography vermont photographer vermont wedding photographer wedding hints wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/2/weddings-the-good-the-bad-and-the-hilarious Mon, 15 Feb 2016 20:02:21 GMT
Kicking off 2016 with a huge thanks to my amazing clients! https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/2/coupleschoiceaward
Swoyer Photography Reviews
 

 

Thanks to all of my clients who have taken the time to write a review and share their experience with new, potential clients. You made 2015 an extraordinary year for me and I am eternally grateful to all of the couples, families and individuals who have made my job so much fun! Cheers to a wonderful 2016!

 

 

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(Swoyer Photography) New England wedding photographer brattleboro photographer photographer photography portrait southern vermont wedding photographer swoyer photography vermont family portraits vermont photographer vermont wedding photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2016/2/coupleschoiceaward Mon, 01 Feb 2016 15:10:43 GMT
Claudia and Pat https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/12/claudia-and-pat This 5th of December certainly did not feel like the 5th of December. When I met with Claudia and Pat last summer I was excited about the idea of an outdoor winter wedding and even had my fingers crossed that there might be a nice little blanket of snow to make everything look clean and sparkly. When the December wedding day finally arrived I packed up my gear and headed south under clear, balmy, blue skies.

Claudia and Pat are an amazing couple. They are sweet and soft spoken but have a very clear idea of what they want out of life. They are two skilled, talented, hard working people who look forward to building a life together with their own hands. I respect that tremendously. 

The ceremony took place in a field that Claudia farms in the warmer months. It was peaceful and quiet; the only sounds coming from a hawk hunting along the treeline. A handful of family members sat facing a beautiful arch, hewn by the groom himself, while the stunning bride was escorted toward her waiting fiancé by her father.

The officiant, Irv Sideman, complimented the elegant simplicity of the setting with an eloquent and heartfelt ceremony. When Claudia and Pat had officially been pronounced husband and wife there were hugs all around and then a round of family photos. Eventually family trickled back to the warmth of the house and I had a few minutes alone with the bride and groom. As the fleeting winter sun began to sink behind the hill the light grew softer and softer. Summer has its' charms but winter in New England can be breathtakingly beautiful.

Cheers to Claudia and Pat as they build a life together.

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro VT brattleboro photographer photographer photography swoyer photography vermont vermont photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography winter wedding https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/12/claudia-and-pat Tue, 29 Dec 2015 21:46:11 GMT
Lyndsay & Will https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/12/lyndsay-will My relationship with Lyndsay and WIll began on a soggy, wet "spring" day. We had worked hard to find a day to meet for their engagement session and to see their venue and when the day finally arrived I woke to the steady tap, tap, tap of rain outside my window. I checked the forecast and it didn't look like there would be much of a reprieve except for a brief window in the middle of the day. I headed out to the south western corner of VT and met Lyndsay and Will and their exuberant pooch Lucy at their beautiful home. We darted outside for photos whenever the downpour let up and ran for cover when the sky let loose another volley of fat, splashy raindrops. Lyndsay and Will were great sports through it all and, despite the weather, we managed to capture some beautiful, moody, misty images.

The fall is an amazing but tricky time to get married in Vermont. It can be sunny and warm or gray and rainy with the looming potential for an early snow.  I met Lyndsay and Will on their wedding day in late September. I had the pleasure of spending the entire day working with my wonderful husband and photographing the bride and groom from hair and makeup until the band bid their farewell and packed up for home.

It was a perfect, sunny, warm, fall day. The weather was on it's absolute best behavior and we spent an amazing morning photographing the bride and groom with their wedding party and family. After the first look and group photos we scooted up the the venue I was blown away. My previous visit took place on a gray, rainy, day. The whole world looked dark and dingy but Lyndsay assured me that behind the looming bank of fog, there was an amazing view. When we arrived we could see for miles across a vast expanse of mountains and valleys.

The view behind the bride and groom as they said their vows was unparallelled. The ceremony gave way to cocktail hour and cocktail hour gave way to the first dance, a welcome from the father of the bride, heartfelt speeches from the sister of the bride and brother of the groom and then dinner. As soon as the plates were cleared the band started things up and kept everyone laughing and dancing for the next few hours. 

Not only did Lyndsay and Will end up with perfect weather, they also happened to be married on the eve of the "supermoon". We snuck out just before the sunset to take advantage of the incredible view and the huge, full moon. 

The rest of the evening was a blur. There was dancing, laughter and lots of hugs. Before the night drew to a close I think Lyndsay had managed to dance or spend a moment with every single one of their guests. It was a magical night for a very sweet and deserving couple. Cheers to Lyndsay and Will!

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England VT brattleboro photographer fall wedding photography new england wedding photography photographer photography swoyer photography vermont vermont photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/12/lyndsay-will Wed, 23 Dec 2015 13:39:18 GMT
Leila and Tim https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/12/leila-and-tim Couples like Leila and Tim are the reason I love my job.

From the very first email, Leila was sweet, funny, and wonderful. We chatted about common interests, their hopes for the wedding, and of course, their pup, the magnificent Huckleberry. When I opened the next email from Leila, there was an adorable photo of the three of them. I knew, right then, that I wanted to work with them. 

Leila and Tim were everything I could ever hope for in a couple. We met in Dummerston, VT at Grandma's house to see the wedding site and take some engagement photos. The charming, old Vermont farmhouse, surrounded by rolling hills and tall conifers, brought back memories of my childhood and my grandparents' house. The house, such a significant part of Tim's childhood, had become a refuge for Tim and Leila; a quiet place away from the bustling city that they now call home. 

We caravanned around the area stopping to take photos at the river and the Grafton Cheese barn. We ended the day drinking wine on my lawn, chatting and laughing. The best days are days when work doesn't feel like work. 

In September I returned to Grandma's house. It was full of people and excitement. Friends and family from all over the world had converged at a farmhouse, in the middle of rural Vermont, to celebrate Leila and Tim. Amazing.

I entered the bridal suite to find Leila, already dressed and radiant, amidst of group of beautiful women, some family, some soon to be family, drinking champagne and laughing. After a lot more laughter and bunch of photos I ventured out to find the gents, drinking scotch and beer on the lawn, ready for the festivities to begin.

The ceremony was beautiful. A table, laden with symbolic Persian foods and traditions sat atop the hill behind the house. Leila and Tim stood together at the table and family circled around them. Vows were spoken, rings were exchanged and honey was eaten as part of a tradition symbolizing the sweetness of life.

During the reception, Leila and Tim's love of good food and beer took center stage as Chef Tristan and the Rigani catering team filled the table with grilled kabobs, persian rice and veggies. 

More photos with cousins, aunts, uncles and friends and then...epic dance party. One of my moments of the day was watching Tim's grandma and Leila's grandma sitting together, lovingly watching over their family and sharing the day like the best of old friends. I took my leave after the grandmas were called onto the dance floor, accepted the challenge and were affectionately swarmed by the entire group of family and friends. It was a beautiful day with a beautiful couple. 

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England VT brattleboro brattleboro photographer new england wedding photography photographer photography portrait swoyer photography vermont vermont photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/12/leila-and-tim Sun, 06 Dec 2015 17:57:06 GMT
Monica & Matt https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/9/monica-matt Monica and Matt. Warm, sweet, funny and kind. In the grand scheme of life, these two are crushing it. They are amazing. The have a loving, supportive family, a group of friends who, seemingly, would do just about anything for them, and an extremely charismatic, hilarious, ten year old son.

After I dropped Mike off with the boys, I arrived at a large, beautiful house where the girls were staying. Monica greeted me, glowing, with a huge smile on her face. Her hair and makeup were already impeccable so we went upstairs to find the dress and the rings. The dress was gorgeous with a simple, classic silhouette, a beautiful sash, and, my favorite feature, pockets. After a few detail photos, Monica's ladies gathered while Maid of Honor and best friend Darlene helped Monica into her dress. There were laughs and a few tears as the zipper was zipped, the sash was tied and everyone stepped back to see their beautiful bride. From that point on, for the rest of the day, the smile did not leave Monica's face. After a quick dab with the favorite perfume, gifted by a lovely bridesmaid, and a lipgloss touch up, the ladies were ready to go.

Typically this is the point in the day when a switch is flipped and the ladies go from lazy mimosa drinking to warp speed, frantic rushing around to be ready in time so I asked Monica how she was feeling. With a serene look on her face she turned to me, smiled, and said "I'm ready to go meet my groom". 

A well planned first look can be a wonderful thing. It can be a few moments for just the bride and groom or an entire hour with the bride, groom, wedding party and family. This was the latter and it was awesome.

Monica and Matt chose a sweet little covered bridge for their meeting. It was off the beaten path with no traffic and lots of room for photos. The gents came down the road on one side and the ladies came down the road from the other side (think Sharks and Jets). Matt entered the bridge alone and turned toward the groomsmen as Monica approached from the other end. It was suspenseful, sweet and perfect. After the first look the bride and groom were enveloped by family and friends and we spent the next hour taking photos on the bridge, on a beautiful porch and then a quick but worthwhile stop at Bromley for a little mountain view photo op.

The ceremony was gorgeous and the cocktail hour and reception were perfect. The floral arrangements were absolute perfection and Monica put together the most amazing, hand-crafted, pinterest worthy decorations I have ever seen. 

I could write all day about this meticulously planned event and this amazing couple but I would rather leave room for the images. 

To Monica and Matt, I wish you a long and happy marriage. Thank you for being so gracious, easy going and fun to work with. Your love and friendship are inspiring and you are an incredible example for your very sweet son. You two are the real deal. 

Thanks to Lily of the Valley for the incredibly beautiful florals. You made the venue absolutely stunning! Thanks to the Perfect Wife Restaurant for the beautiful venue, friendly staff and delicious food!

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England VT manchester vt new england wedding photography photographer photography portrait vermont vermont photographer vermont photography vermont wedding photography wedding photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/9/monica-matt Wed, 23 Sep 2015 21:06:48 GMT
Allison & Jonathan https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/9/allison-jonathan Summer is finally winding down a little bit and I am desperately trying to catch up on my blog posts. There is just too much to write about these fabulous couples! So, here we go. Allison & Jonathan.

Allison and Jonathan were married in one of the most picturesque locations I have ever seen. There wedding was pure Vermont, from the little maple syrup favors to the cows looking on in the background while they said "I do". Family and friends stood to form an aisle for the wedding party to pass through and the ceremony took place under a large shade tree atop an expansive field with an amazing view.

Allison was a photographer's dream; effortlessly beautiful in a long, breezy dress with simple curls and a crown of flowers, her groom a perfect counterpart in a handsome gray suit. 

I met the girls at the house while they were getting ready. While they were hunkered down in the bathroom, doing hair and makeup, I photographed the dress, the rings, and Allison's riding boots. When the bride was done she threw on her dress, put on some lipgloss and we headed down the street to meet her groom at the stables for some first look photos.

The wedding was beautiful. I am always amazed when I see something completely different than I have ever seen before. In this case, the aisle created by guests in the middle of the field and the fact that everyone remained standing, surrounding and supporting the couple, was absolutely perfect. The hundred or so guests seemed like a much smaller and more intimate group.

The reception took place under and around a tent outside the new, beautiful barn. Kids and dogs bounded through the field while the adults talked, drank, laughed and danced. 

This wedding was the definition of "Vermont fancy". There were suits and suspenders, boots and bowties, kids, cows and tractors amidst mason jars full of flowers, torches lit at dusk and an incredible view. I think if Mike and I had been married in Vermont instead of Mexico, this would have been the wedding I wanted. It was perfect.

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(Swoyer Photography) brattleboro photography new england wedding photography photography" putney vermont wedding swoyer vermont photographer vermont wedding photography weddings, photography, https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/9/allison-jonathan Fri, 04 Sep 2015 18:00:00 GMT
Lauren & Chance https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/8/lauren-chance Lauren and Chance. There is just something about these two. It is hard to put into words. The best I can do is "cool". I'm talking James Dean, Marilyn Monroe kind of cool wrapped up in a Bogie and Bacall kind of romance. The ceremony was elegant and perfect. The cocktail hour was on a lovely, open lawn with a refreshing mountain view. The reception was F.U.N! This crew knows how to dance! The whole day was a perfect marriage of elegance and class and raucous, rowdy fun.

Lauren and Chance were married at the Red Fox Inn in Bondville VT; the same place where Chance's parents met. The Inn's proprietors and family friends, Cindy and Tom Logan, were on the move all day long. From the moment we arrived they were busy setting up, moving things around, manning the BBQ, giving toasts and greeting friends. They truly made Lauren and Chance's wedding extraordinary. 

While I photographed the stunning bride and her ladies getting ready, Mike was out and about, photographing tables, flowers and other details. The grounds were bustling with staff, friends and family moving chairs, arranging flowers, and locking down the final touches on the decorations. In just two hours, the entire scene had morphed into one of the most beautiful wedding venues I have ever seen.

The bride and groom, the guests and the wedding were all so photogenic I'm just going to let the photos tell the story. Cheers to the lovely, cool, suave, magnetic couple. Lauren and Chance are, first and foremost, an amazing team and I wish them a life-long, epic romance.

*Special thanks to Cindy and Tom Logan and the staff at the Red Fox Inn for their hard work, friendliness and general awesomeness. Thanks to the Bondville Bloomist for the floral arrangements, bouquets and boutineers. Their flowers were beautiful, fresh, and the arrangements were gorgeous! I highly recommend these ladies to anyone looking for flowers for any occasion whatsoever. A special shoutout also goes to the band The Shifters for their amazing talent. It would have been hard not to dance to this fun, upbeat, brass band.

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England VT bondville bloomist new england photographer photographer photography portrait red fox inn vermont vermont photographer vermont wedding photographer wedding photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/8/lauren-chance Sun, 02 Aug 2015 15:43:13 GMT
Nicolette & Timothy https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/6/nicolette-timothy

This weekend I had the pleasure of photographing a beautiful wedding with an amazing couple at the picturesque West Mountain Inn.

I began chatting with Nicolette (Nicky) last November. Her emails were peppered with exclamation points and smiley faces and her enthusiasm, excitement and sincerity were palpable. When I finally met Nicky in person she was the absolute incarnation of the exuberant personality I was expecting. Her fiancé Tim was cool, calm, and collected but excited about the upcoming wedding and happy to chat about photography. They were both refreshingly open with thoughts and ideas and together we formed a plan to capture the images they wanted while allowing them to spend the maximum amount of time with their guests. 

 

The day began in the bridal suite. There was no official bridal party, just family. The room was beautiful, bright and open. It was quiet and peaceful and happy. I have never seen a bride so calm, relaxed and unrushed. We took a few photos in the room and then went to meet the groom for a "first look". There were smiles and hugs when Tim turned around and saw his beautiful bride for the first time. The two had a moment together and then went to meet family members for pre-ceremony photos. The group photos were quick and efficient thanks to Nicky's super organizational skills and we had plenty of time left for couples photos before the ceremony.

Nicky and Tim are two of the most photogenic people I have ever met. When they looked at each other they laughed or smiled and every single smile was genuine. Nicky was fearless in her wedding dress and we ventured from forest to field and then back to the barn. 

Nicky and Tim were married at the West Mountain Inn under a clear blue sky, surrounded by the mountains, the forest, their family and friends. They walked, together, into the center of a circle to exchange vows and rings with the love and support of those closest to them. The ceremony was personal and heartfelt.  It was the first time I have ever seen a circle like this and I hope it won't be the last. It powerfully symbolic of the neverending love and support a bride and groom promise to each other on their wedding day. No one had to move around for a better view or dart into the aisle for a photo. All eyes were on the bride and groom. It was absolutely perfect. 

The rest of the evening was a giant party. There was good local beer and cornhole boards. There was a wonderful solo guitarist for the outdoor ceremony and cocktail hour and a fantastic DJ for the dance party inside the Inn's gorgeous barn. There were speeches and hugs, a delicious meal and a Ben & Jerry's cart, cigars on the lawn and the macarena.

At the end of the evening as the light was fading I snuck the bride and groom out for one last photo. It has quickly become one of my favorite images from the day. 

I wish Nicolette and Timothy a long and happy marriage from the bottom of my heart. They are an extraordinary couple with huge hearts and great smiles.

 

Special thanks to Terry and the West Mountain Inn staff for being so kind and working so hard to make Nicky and Tim's day perfect.  Thanks to guitarist Dayve Huckett for his talent, repertoire and for seamlessly transitioning from "Greensleeves" to "Led Zeppelin". That moment literally made my day. Thanks also to Jim Severance, the DJ who actually played music that made people get up and dance!

http://westmountaininn.com/ , http://www.dayvehuckett.net/ , http://www.partyvermont.com/

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England mountain wedding photography portrait rustic wedding summer wedding vermont vermont wedding photographer wedding wedding photography west mountain inn https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/6/nicolette-timothy Mon, 22 Jun 2015 14:30:03 GMT
The Fine Art of Photographing Art https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/6/thefineartofphotographingart The past few weeks have been full of challenges and photographic diversity. While in the process of trying to get a bunch of little details buttoned up before wedding season ramps up, I received an inquiry from a former wedding client asking if I ever do real estate photography. I said sure. The very same week I received an inquiry from her daughter in law (a bride from last year) asking if I could do some cataloging for a gallery she works for. I said sure. 

A few weeks ago I was at Artemis Global Art in Woodstock, VT. It is a beautiful space inside an old New England style building. The space is bright and airy with gorgeous light wood floors and crisp white walls. The colorful pieces seem to glow in such a bright space and the zen like experience is only heightened by the option to appreciate the radiant art from strategically placed leather couches and chairs. 

I entered the gallery not fully knowing what to expect. My previous experience photographing art has been limited to smaller privately owned pieces. This was very different. The challenge came in three parts. Part 1, the gallery is full of beautiful, natural light. It looks amazing as you stand and experience the gallery as a whole but from a photographer's view window light = glare on glass, metal and even shiny paint. Challenge part 2, squishy corners. Some of the largest, most beautiful pieces are situated in stairwells and hallways no more than 3 feet wide. It is tricky to photograph a 5'x7' painting in a 3 foot hallway on the stairs. Part 3, white balance and color correction from 3 different light sources.

After two days of shooting from odd angles, setting up, breaking down, and setting up a screen to block the windows, balancing precariously on stairs and ladders, and taking small images for composites to later be pieced carefully together, the art on the walls had been photographed. Now, two weeks later I am in the process of editing. I returned to the gallery one more time to color check my images against the actual pieces with a little help from the gallery manager Jacqui, who has an amazing internal color detection system (more sensitive than most of us).  I also got some background info on the Dutch artists and the stories behind some of the individual pieces, which gave me a greater appreciation for their work. 

I love my job. I never know what is around the next corner. I love being challenged. I love doing something different every day. I love the people I get to meet and work with. 

I highly recommend a trip to the gallery. If you are in the mood for a little quality story time make sure you go when Jacqui is working. She is the best!

You can also check out www.artemisglobalart.com

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Gallery photography art cataloging art photography artemis global art brattleboro photographer new england photography photography portrait and wedding photographer swoyer photography vermont vermont photography woodstock gallery https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/6/thefineartofphotographingart Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:03:30 GMT
Impromptu Island Adventures https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/4/impromptu-island-adventures Three weeks ago winter was hitting me hard. I love snow and winter sports. I don't even mind shoveling when I know the snow is just going to make the skiing and snowshoeing better. I don't, however, love the in-between season when the cycle of melting and refreezing beings, creating a treacherous layer of ice; testing both my balance and my patience whenever I have to take the dog for a walk.

Two weeks ago our friends Mike and Mistral were visiting and mentioned that they were headed to the islands to scout for boats and contacts for Mike's non-profit summer program Common Tides. They casually suggested that I should tag along to keep Mistral and the baby company while Mike and his business partner worked. I was amused by the idea but my amazing husband immediately put his logistical wonder brain to work, scouring the internet for tickets in an effort to alleviate my winter angst (and possibly to have an entire week to himself to watch March madness games).

One week ago I found myself on a beach in Tortola snapping photos of my friend and her adorable baby, soaking up the warmth and appreciating how lucky I am to have married such an amazing, kind, thoughtful guy (and to have the type of friends who would invite me on vacation with them).

In the spirit of "working" while I was on vacation, I took the opportunity to test out a new lens that I had brought along on the trip. Koa's first ocean adventures seemed like a worthy milestone to break in my new 85mm (and the old 50mm 1.8 got some love on the windier beach days when I was too chicken to take the 85 out and about).

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England family photography infant photography new england photographer photographer photography portrait photographer travel photographer vermont photographer wedding photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/4/impromptu-island-adventures Fri, 03 Apr 2015 16:33:19 GMT
Bali Below https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/3/bali-below

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England VT brattleboro photographer new england photographer photographer photography southern vt photographer swoyer photography vermont https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/3/bali-below Tue, 10 Mar 2015 14:47:03 GMT
Resolutions Part 5 - My Resolution https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/3/resolutions-part-5---my-resolution I know it has taken me a few months to get this whole story out. More often than not I write things in my head and then edit, edit, edit them down until they are appropriate for the general publics' eyes. I won't lie, Bali took an emotional toll on me. I felt grief, anger, despair, hopelessness, and more anger. It wasn't until our second to last day on the island that I started to see a grain of hope.

The end of our journey took us to the Green School. The Green School is literally just as it sounds. Situated in the middle of the forest, the school is built from bamboo and other natural materials. In addition to standard school subjects, the students garden, compost, save seeds, create things with their own hands, learn about their surroundings and organize and implement programs to help with the trash problem on the island. It is a community lead by brilliant, driven, enthusiastic people.

After nearly two weeks in the depths of despair, disgust and loathing of our insatiable plastic consumption, this little oasis of conservation, education and action was like a cool breeze in a hot desert. We had a tour of the campus and I was blown away. The bamboo buildings weren't quaint huts, they were architectural feats. Each structure was built thoughtfully, functionally and gracefully to mirror the jungle around them. Students are international and local which means that kids from the island will actually be able to help heal their own land. These kids are learning how to solve some very serious problems and are probably the best hope the island (and the rest of the world) has.

When I mentioned that we were going to Bali, people told me I was going to fall in love with this "amazing, magical, spiritual, life changing" place. I might have a different selection of adjectives to describe the island but I do agree with the "life changing" part. It is hard to imagine what the island was like as little as 20 years ago. I'm afraid the amazing magical isle my predecessors spoke of it now buried under mountains of trash. While I honestly believe that things will never be the same, I truly hope that the island has a chance to heal and move forward.

How has Bali changed me? Before our trip I tried, to the best of my ability, to cut plastic and unnecessary waste out of my daily life. Now, I try harder. It isn't easy in this era of safety and sterility but I try to remind myself that every little bit helps. No plastic bags at the store. I shop in the bulk section as much as possible. Mike and I hit up the farmers market for everything from veggies to soap so that we can avoid as much extra packaging as possible. Biodegradable poop bags for our dog. I will reuse or recycle the plastic containers I do have and suppress the urge to throw out things in my car at the gas station if I can recycle them when I get home. 

This is the part where I am tempted to get really preachy but a wise friend once told me that in order for people to make a change they need a reason not a lecture. So find a reason. Get out of your comfort zone. Do some research. Make a change. Make a difference.

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro Brattleboro photographer New England VT Vermont wedding photographer photographer photography portrait vermont vermont photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/3/resolutions-part-5---my-resolution Mon, 09 Mar 2015 15:51:20 GMT
Resolutions Part 4 - The Reef https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/2/resolutions-part-4---the-reef Every once in a while I still dream about the ocean. I dream about hovering in the still, peaceful blue, surrounded by reef with sharks and mantas gliding silently past me. The dreams are less frequent now than they were when I worked on, in and around the water. I love VT but I do get homesick for the ocean.

After my disappointing sunrise photo session, Mike and I ate breakfast and prepared for our first day in the water. We walked over to the dive center and, to our surprise, were loaded into a van that took us down the road to the traditional marina (aka one hundred charming, rickety, traditional outboard boats). We loaded up and puttered out across the little channel toward Menjangan Island. Luckily it was a beautiful day and the water was calm. We passed mangroves, skimmed over deep blue water and set our sights on the beautiful turquoise patches of reef in the distance. As we neared the island my heart sank. Our divemaster directed the captain toward a floating mat of garbage and smiled eagerly as he explained that this was one of his favorite dive sites. A wave of disgust washed over me as I looked around us at the floating refuse. The thought of snorkeling through garbage was repulsive. (Later in the day we would pass below a temple high up on the cliff above us, partially obstructed by a massive trash midden, spilling over the cliff directly into the water.)

I set up my camera and we bailed out over the side of the boat. I hit the water and pushed aside a chip bag and a travel shampoo bottle. Then I looked down and was astounded. We floated above a wall that dropped off into the dark blue depths. There were hundreds of reef fish, beautiful, bright corals, glowing sponges and clams. The ocean was alive! For the first time I felt happiness and hope. We drifted along the coast for a little over an hour. I had used up most of my camera battery by the time we met our boat for a brief rest and some lunch.

Our second snorkel was even better. Cuttlefish camouflaged in the shallows, huge schools of silver fish cruised the deeper areas of the wall, pursued by several large iridescent bluefin trevally, clownfish nestled in giant anemonies. We saw more diversity in that one day than we did the entire 3 years we lived in Hawaii. Somehow, amidst the garbage and pollution, the reef still flourished.

    

Can you spot the cuttlefish....

So, perhaps hope lies below the surface. 

The question is, what can we do about it?

                       

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(Swoyer Photography) bali brattleboro photographer conservation ocean ocean conservation photographer photography underwater photography vermont vermont photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/2/resolutions-part-4---the-reef Mon, 16 Feb 2015 19:12:19 GMT
Resolutions Part 3 - The Beach https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/2/resolutions-part-3 Imagine you are cozy at home in your cute little two bedroom house when suddenly the doorbell rings. You get up and answer it to find college kids as far as the eye can see. You don't want to be rude so you invite them in and they enter like a tidal wave with pizzas, cases of beer and of course, those red cups. You let yourself have a little fun, eventually they all leave, and in the morning you wake up to a disaster. Your favorite antique lamp is on the floor, the whole house smells like stale beer and there is trash everywhere. You don't even know where to begin so you sit down for a minute and just cry.  This is what Bali felt like to me. 

The other side of the mountain lead to the north shore of the island; the place we would have our first aquatic adventure. We bumped down the narrow road and turned into our hotel. We were greeted with cool towels, delicious smoothies and the gentle hospitality I had been craving since our arrival. We were guided to our villa, which was built in the traditional style, out of wood, with a thatched roof, gorgeous carved furniture, a beautiful walled in outdoor bathroom and an open air sleeping platform. I felt like I was in heaven. That evening we had a delicious meal, next to a beautiful beach where the last of the days adventurers were enjoying a crepuscular snorkel. We polished off our deliciously cold Bintangs and made our way back to our villa to fall asleep under the mosquito netting on our gigantic bed. It felt like we had finally made it to the real Bali.

I woke up before dawn, happy and refreshed. I grabbed my camera and made my way down to the beach to capture the sunrise. It looked exactly the way I hoped. The tiny crescent bay was dotted with small boats and canoes. The air was still and silent. The first, deepest reds were just starting to illuminate the horizon. I crouched down and braced my camera against my body to compensate for the lack of tripod in the slow shuttered light. I tried not to breathe and squeezed the shutter, again and again as the light changed with each passing minute. As the sun rose higher I saw glimmers on the sand. In another heartbeat I realized that those beautiful glimmers were plastic bags and bottles, washed up with the lazy morning swell. 

In 3 minutes my sunrise session went from perfect to horrific. The higher the sun rose the more trash I could see. Two men from the hotel were coming down the beach, picking up trash as fast as they could before the rest of the guests stirred and started their day. I slunk back to the villa, my briefly elevated hopes squashed.

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England VT bali brattleboro photographer photographer photography portrait travel photo blog travel photography vermont vermont photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/2/resolutions-part-3 Mon, 02 Feb 2015 15:04:00 GMT
Resolutions Part 2 - The Other Side Of The Mountain https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/1/resolutions-part-2---the-other-side-of-the-mountain

It was our second day on the island. We left the temple on the lake and continued up and over the mountain. I had expected to see charming houses built in the traditional style, from wood and bamboo with thatched roofs and beautiful carvings. Instead we drove past town after town constructed entirely of cement boxes. Unfortunately cement is cheaper, easier and quicker to build with, an ideal material for a densely populated island in the throes of a major transition from agriculture to tourism. 

We reached the highest point of the mountain and stopped at an overlook with an incredible view of two freshwater lakes at the base of a series of old volcanoes. A man stood to the side of the pullout, offering tourists the opportunity to have their photo taken with a snake for a small fee.  We looked out over the misty mountain jungle and then got back in the car for the descent. By this point it was apparent that the island had an undeniable refuse problem. Wrappers, cans, bags, and other plastic trash littered every inch of roadside. 

One of our local drivers explained, heartbreakingly, that 20 years ago the rivers were the source of life on the island. People bathed, swam, played and drank from the river. In the blink of an eye the island's sacred source of life has become toxic. Rivers and streams are choked with plastic bags and styrofoam containers. Some of the more densely populated areas of the island feel like they have been constructed in the middle of a landfill. Shopkeepers sweep trash away from their doorstep and when they go inside the neighboring shopkeeper sweeps it right back. It is a futile, endless cycle.

People used to have compost piles behind their houses because the hot humid weather was capable of degrading their organic waste quickly and efficiently. Now people pile trash behind their houses because they have nothing else to do with it. Plastic came to the tiny island before it was ready. How can a culture that has been self sufficient with organic materials for hundreds of years possibly even grasp the concept of a material that simply doesn't break down. Ever.

Now for the conundrum...

What do you do with millions of pounds of trash on a tiny island without the infrastructure to deal with it? What do you do when, even if there were a place to bring your trash on the far side of the island, you only have a scooter and no way to get it there? 

Answer: you throw it on the ground and go on about your business. The responsible folks on the island burn their trash, creating sticky, melted piles and leaving the air heavy and noxious. 

It was halfway through day two on the island that I began to realize this was going to be a very different trip than I had planned. I was angry and frustrated but sympathetic. I wanted to do something but there was nothing to be done. I couldn't even curb my own plastic consumption because the only drinkable water on the island comes from plastic bottles. Even the islanders don't drink the water, it's that unsafe. For the next week and a half, plastic would be my savior, the only barrier between dehydration and crippling intestinal illness. Let the moral wrestling match begin.

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England bali brattleboro photographer indonesia photographer photography portrait swoyer photography travel photography vermont vermont photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/1/resolutions-part-2---the-other-side-of-the-mountain Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:51:33 GMT
Resolutions Part 1 - Journey To The Other Side Of The World https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/1/resolutions-part1 I realize that in all of the holiday madness I haven't put out a new blog post in awhile. There are two reasons. One, holiday craziness. Good craziness - the busy, happy kind where I got to see a whole lot of family and friends in a short amount of time. The other reason...I have been working over a post from our trip to Bali in my head for weeks now, trying to figure out how to say the things I want to say without being overly preachy and obnoxious. I finally figured that it is January, the time of year when everyone is making some sort of resolution, hoping to be healthier and happier in the coming year. Is there a more symbolic time for life changes? I think not. 

I have also decided to put this bad boy out in installations. No one wants to read pages and pages when they click on a blog post. When I read a blog I want a short, sweet paragraph or two along with some pretty pictures. It will be more than a paragraph, but I'll do my best to make it as captivating as possible.

Here we go.

Part 1. Journey to the other side of the world.

On the evening of November 16 I found myself straining to see the polar ice through the inky darkness below. No luck. The little airplane icon on the seatback screen taunted me as it slowly moved across the very top of a global map. The extreme cold and polar regions of the world have occupied a fascination in the back of my mind since I was old enough to have read Never Cry Wolf and White Fang and it was torturous to know that the north pole loomed just below us, invisible in the darkness of the endless night.

I was nearly finished with the book I had toted along and we were only halfway through our 16 hour flight from JFK to Hong Kong. Mike and the rest of the plane slumbered as I wiggled impatiently, ready to land and connect on our final flight to Bali.

My husband Mike was headed to Bali to scout and put together a trip for high school age students this summer for National Geographic Student Travel. The objective was to find lodging, safe dive outfitters and interesting activities to occupy the group for the duration of their stay. His wonderful boss was allowing me to accompany him as a belated honeymoon of sorts.

For years I have heard about Bali, the most magical, spiritual, wonderful place on earth. I have always pictured lush, green jungle creeping up to pristine beaches and vibrant coral reef, fishermen up at dawn, casting their nets in the red glow of first light, children frolicking in the surf and women selling handcrafted fabrics and exotic produce at village markets. Those thoughts retreated the moment we stepped outside the airport and were assaulted by a cacophony of people, motorbikes, cars and trucks.

I was aware that Indonesian countries are famous for their scooter culture but this was beyond what I ever could have imagined. We saw entire families stacked on one moped. There were mothers and fathers with newborn babies just resting on their laps while they careened in and out of traffic. We saw people riding with chickens, televisions, speakers, and ladders tied to the back. We even saw one man driving while his friend dragged a wheelbarrow behind them. My greatest regret might be the fact that I didn't get a good scooter photo due to the fear of losing my camera had I been brave enough to stick it out the car window.

(Photos - Beautiful day in Kuta and my trip planning, traveling, dreamboat partner in crime of a husband Mike)

Our driver took us up the coast to Kuta, one of the coastal towns close to the airport. The beaches were gorgeous, the surf was perfect and the streets were crowded with tattoo parlors, convenience stores and cheesy boardwalk shops. It was as if we had flown for two days and landed smack in the middle of the Jersey Shore. One night was enough to see what there was to see so we packed up, met our driver and moved on. I had assumed that once we left the crowded coast life would slow down and I would catch a glimpse of the island I was so excited to see. We wound our way up the side of a mountain, behind scooters and trucks full of watermelon, cement and dozens of people. Produce stands lined the roadsides but the prospect of pulling over seemed impossible. We were like salmon fighting our way upstream. It was a tight squeeze on small roads and after 2 hours of winding, beeping, honking, we arrived at our first stop, the temple on the lake.

(Photo - In past years a larger temple has been constructed to accommodate the masses that come to visit and worship at the temple each year. The old temple still stands at the edge of the lake offering visitors a stunning glimpse of old Bali.)

(Photos - meticulously crafted bamboo and palm decorations prepared for an upcoming ceremony)

The location was stunning but the atmosphere was akin to that of disneyland. Vendors lined the entrance, hawking cheap plastic souvenirs, knockoff sunglasses and packaged snack foods. There were absurd statues of cartoonish animals placed oddly around the gardens; the paint peeling from thousands of children climbing atop at the request of camera clad parents. The temple itself was beautiful but surrounded at all times by tourists wielding "selfie sticks", reluctant to miss an opportunity to capture themselves in front of the gorgeous Indonesian architecture. From time to time I tried to step back and imagine what the temple looked like before the influx of tourism the island has received in the past 20 years. The intricate carvings and statues spoke to the immense talent of the island's craftsmen. The temple was an odd blend of the old and sacred and the new and lucrative.
 
As we pulled away from the temple I remained hopeful that the Bali of my dreams still lay on the other side of the misty mountain.
 
(Photos - Temple guardians at one of the outer, unused gates)
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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England bali brattleboro photographer indonesia photographer photography portrait swoyer photography travel photography vermont vermont photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2015/1/resolutions-part1 Thu, 08 Jan 2015 20:13:00 GMT
Elizabeth & Jake - Stowe Mountain Wedding https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/10/elizabeth-jake Oh my, I just realized this blog has been hanging out as a draft and that I never published it! Well here it is. Still topical as we are about to head back into winter wedding season. Winter weddings are so much fun!

Elizabeth and Jake are amazing. They kicked off my 2014 wedding season with style, grace, and an epic reception.

I first met this lovely couple last summer at another wedding. Elizabeth was part of a 12 woman bridal party and Jake was part of a 12 man team. It was a big, boisterous, fun wedding. Needless to say, in the midst of a wedding that large and charismatic, I regretfully did not get to know Elizabeth and Jake on a very personal level. The fun surprise came when I received an email asking if I would photograph their wedding in February.

I met the two of them in a small, quiet coffee shop in a town where I was working that week and that they coincidentally had to pass through on their way home from a weekend up north. When I arrived at the aforementioned cafe I was delighted to find that it was nearly empty, had great coffee, a very friendly barista, ...and then my heart plummeted down toward my ankles when I realized that the entire place was covered in Red Sox photos, gear, and other paraphernalia. There was no time to move the meeting and I assumed that, being from CT, Jake and Elizabeth might just be Yankee fans. The meeting could have gone many different ways but Jake looked around at the walls and said, "Wow, this place is great". That was the moment I knew they were going to be great to work with.

...and this is why Elizabeth and Jake are amazing....

They are truly great together. Their vows were handwritten and from the heart. Every touch, glance, and smile they exchanged throughout the day conveyed their excitement and appreciation for each other.

Jake gave his groomsmen the coolest "man crates" I have ever seen.

They looked stunning, like a couple straight out of Old Hollywood.

They love their families so much and included them in every part of their weekend. So many hugs and so much dancing.

Their families are amazing.

Three days of wedding fun.

I feel like you can tell a lot about a couple by the way they interact with their guests and by the way their guests interact with each other. These guys had a rowdy crew (and I mean that in the very best way) who mixed, mingled, laughed, drank and danced together all weekend. It was an epic event in a beautiful setting. 

I'm extremely happy for these two and wish them the very best!

Cheers to Elizabeth and Jake!

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro Brattleboro VT wedding photographer Brattleboro photographer New England Stowe VT wedding VT Winter wedding photographer photographer portrait stowe vt photographer vermont vermont photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/10/elizabeth-jake Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:49:48 GMT
Cheers to women over 50! https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/10/cheerstowomenover50 This one goes out to all the ladies - over 50!

Last week I had a very interesting conversation with a client about the lack of older women in photographs. My client made the point that it is hard to look at a photo of yourself as an older woman and be ok with it because everything you have to compare it to is so drastically different - so much younger. It is discouraging. It is hard to accept that we just don't look the same as we used to and the media isn't helping.

Any woman who has rounded the corner on her 30s knows what I am talking about. Things just change. It is hard to look in the mirror and suddenly see little lines, wrinkles, spots and gray hairs where, perhaps just yesterday, there were none. We lose our our baby faces and smooth skin. Evidence of days spent in the sun and years of laughing and smiling appears and we suddenly realize our dresses are too short and our pants are too tight.

I see those self-acceptance articles on Facebook; empowering women, telling us that we have earned our wrinkles and gray hairs and it is ok to accept that we are aging. These articles are wonderful, true and inspiring - until we open a magazine and see the beautiful 20-30 somethings frolicking in bathing suits or lounging around, perfectly lit and groomed, not a hair out of place.

Where are the older women? I'm not talking about the "how to look fabulous at 40" women, or photos of Hilary and her "hair faux pas of the week". Where are the beautiful older women living normal lives? We all crave someone to look up to. We want to know that we are doing things right. We need to see our demographic in the headlines so that we feel validated. If we don't see it, it can be hard to feel accepted (and acceptable). 

In honor or my client and women everywhere, I have decided to post a few images of beautiful, extraordinary women I have met over the past year. They aren't in their 20s or 30s but they are real, amazing women who have led wonderful, interesting, complex lives. These are the women we need to look up to and, in all honesty, we should all be hoping that someday we look this good.

 

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro Brattleboro VT photographer Brattleboro portrait session VT VT Photographer VT portrait photographer photographer windsor VT portrait session https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/10/cheerstowomenover50 Sun, 19 Oct 2014 19:09:21 GMT
Radiance https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/9/radiance

Mistral is amazing. She and her husband are directors at New England Science and Sailing (NESS) in Stonington, CT and keep hours that I could barely have kept up with when I was in college. They have an island rescue mutt, Ninga, who is about as high up on my list of favorite pups as one can be without being my own dog. They are also expecting a new human member of the family very soon.

In addition to being one of the hardest working women I know, Mistral is beautiful, talented, creative, a great cook, surfer, fire spinner, and has a really cool Australian accent.

About a month ago I had a wonderful maternity session with Mistral a family session with Mistral, Mike and Ninga. I have been bouncing around the globe and slacking on my blog posts since then and realized it was high time for a new photo feature.

Here it is. Pure radiance.


 

 
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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro Maternity photography in RI New England baby photography family family portrait maternity maternity photography maternity photography in New England maternity photography in Rhode Island photographer photography portrait pregnancy summer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/9/radiance Mon, 08 Sep 2014 15:52:38 GMT
A Breath of Fresh Air https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/6/a-breath-of-fresh-air

We all know how it feels to become a little bit stagnant. I may have more internal conversations about it than most people because working for myself - by myself gives me a lot of time to think (and overthink). It is easy to trudge through life putting in the hours and simply "getting through" each day, but to what end?

When I made the decision to move east and go back to school, it was with hope of turning photography into a career. I was driven by the desire to finally love what I did every single day. I was tired of living for my weekends. I wanted more. The past 2 years of being in business have had their ups and downs. It is hard work with many of the same frustrations I have experienced before. My consolation is that they are MY frustrations to deal with. I now appreciate the term "labor of love" and I find that I live for the weekdays as well as the weekends (and really any day I get to spend behind the camera).

Even so, us creative types can start to feel antsy. I love my job. It is amazing to hear people say things like "Wow, I have never looked good in a picture until now"... BUT sometimes I just need to get out there and go a little crazy. Luckily I have a PIC (partner in crime) who feels the same way.

I met Katlyn when I was in school. A friend had scheduled to shoot with her and invited me to jump in. We clicked, our styles meshed and the rest is history. Three years later we still try to get together a couple times a year when we are both in sore need of some creative time. As much as we try to plan, our sessions never quite wind up the way we intend, which is half the fun. We collaborate, feed off of each others' ideas and push ourselves to create better and better images. Oh, and did I mention that Katlyn is fearless? Huge plus.

Yesterday we found ourselves scrambling over rocks and shimmying down cliffs to get to the perfect location. We shot from mid-afternoon until the last rays of sun slipped below the horizon. We came away with 16 gigs of images that give me goosebumps. 

Here's to not settling, becoming complacent or ever letting life become stagnant!

 

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(Swoyer Photography) CT photography New England photography RI RI photography black and white photography fashion photography ocean portrait personal project photo photographer photography portrait summer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/6/a-breath-of-fresh-air Sun, 29 Jun 2014 14:29:10 GMT
Jacqui & Aaron - Scott Farm Wedding, Brattleboro, VT https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/6/jacqui-aaron I met Jacqui and Aaron for the first time 2 days before their wedding. This is highly unusual. Normally I like to get to know my clients face to face well before the wedding day so that I can get an idea of their style, what sort of photos they are looking for, how the day is going to play out - all of the important details that pertain to wedding photography but with the added bonus of some insight into their personalities. I guess it is sort of like a first date. 

This time circumstances were different. Fortunately other forms of correspondence allowed me to gather some basic information...they met at Marlboro College, they love to read, they love their dog and they don't really like having pictures taken of them - especially the posed kind. Truth is, they had me at dog and I decided they sounded like they would be easy going and fun to work with.

Two days before the wedding we met for coffee and a chat. The day before the wedding we met to check out the venue. The day of the wedding I showed up and was blown away. Where had Jacqui and Aaron been all my life!?! If I could have planned a VT wedding, this would have been it!

First of all, if there are any potential future VT wedding clients reading this, I highly recommend you seriously consider Scott Farm for your wedding. It is beautiful, pastoral, bright and there are 101 places to take amazing photos. 

The ceremony was set to take place outdoors next to a quaint little pond and the reception was set up in the most immaculate, beautiful, open, airy, naturally lit barn I have ever seen. The gents looked dapper in bow ties and suspenders and the ladies looked fabulous in deep green dresses with matching feathers in their hair. Then came the bride. 

Jacqui looked like she had stepped straight out a vintage bridal magazine. Her cream colored satin dress, matching fascinator and perfect curls were stunning. She looked amazing. She looked perfect.  

The day flew by. I took more family portraits than I think I ever have at a wedding. On a good day I have to fight to steal the family away for just a few moments for a whirlwind portrait session before they are consumed by the excitement. There was something wonderful and relaxed about Jacqui and Aaron's event. Family groups sought me out throughout the day and for the first time ever the bulk of my images consist of family photos. It was wonderful. Every time I look back at the images from the day I end up grinning from ear to ear. The day was full of love, hugs, and so many smiles.

I could write another 10 pages about the perfect little details from the wedding. Instead I think I will let the images speak for themselves.

Congratulations Jacqui and Aaron!!!

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro Brattleboro VT Wedding Photographer New England Scott Farm Scott Farm Wedding Brattleboro VT VT Vermont brattleboro bridal family flowers in photographer photography portrait spring summer vermont wedding wedding photography winter https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/6/jacqui-aaron Wed, 11 Jun 2014 14:52:39 GMT
Molly & Kenyon https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/5/molly-kenyon I have known Molly Wood for the vast majority of my life. Our families spent a great deal of our childhoods together during that amazing time in our lives when everything was an adventure and there was comfort in knowing you had wonderful people to share it with. As we got older we went off to different high schools and then colleges in different states. A lot has changed between now and the days of swimming until it got dark and racing wooden boats down the brook. I am now married. Molly's brother and my brother are both married with beautiful daughters. Molly is an extraordinary woman. She is talented, determined, sweet and thoughtful. She is a chef, a nurse, and, in her father's footsteps, a member of the town fire department. She and Kenyon risk their lives to help others. It might be that quality that binds them so tightly.

A year ago I received an excited message asking if I would be interested in taking engagement photos because Kenyon had just proposed! I was thrilled at the invitation and excited to meet the man who had made my friend so happy.

Our engagement session was wonderful. Molly had the same contagious, bubbly giggle that she has had since she was 5 and Kenyon opened up as our morning of photos at one of my favorite secret spots unfolded.  Through all of the posing and smiles and goofiness it was apparent that Molly and Kenyon were crazy about each other.

Last weekend I met Molly to take pre-wedding photos. I walked into the house where we had spent so much time as children. The house was warm and cozy thanks to the stove that used to thaw us after long days spent playing in the snow. A swarm of bridesmaids and flower girls buzzed around in a sea of tulle and blue. A black cat entered the room to investigate the dress I was photographing while another lazed on the bed, taking in the scene. It was as if nothing had changed and everything had changed.

I took pictures of stunning Molly in a wedding dress next to the bannister we used to slide down. I took pictures of Matt's gorgeous little daughter in the house where we used to play hide and seek. As I was editing images of Molly in the parlor a lump formed in my throat and I thought about her father sitting in that room listening to Bye-Bye Miss American Pie.

In the exuberant adrenaline filled atmosphere there wasn't much time to think about anything except getting the bride ready and out the door to meet her adoring beau. Now, as I am going through the images the memories are flooding back to me.  

Periscopes and puppets, swimming, sailing wooden boats, playing kick-the-can (often times with their amazing Grandmother Goodie-Good Wood), filming news broadcasts and commercials with Matt, riding to piano lessons in Dave's old minivan with the wonky speedometer, Matt and Molly harassing their father to put the siren on the roof and turn it on just for a minute...and Dave, sitting in the parlor listening to Don McLean sing about the day the music died.

The wedding was perfectly Molly and Kenyon. With the help of loving friends and family, they transformed the Cornish town hall into a little wedding oasis. Mason jars, hand-made napkins and glass milk bottles adorned the tables. A table full of candy greeted guests at the door and beckoned them toward the guest book/photo booth, complete with goofy props. Molly's father's old fireman's jacket sat alone on a chair at the family table surrounded by those he had known and loved. Lines of pale pink rose petals formed the aisle where Molly would be escorted by her mother to the place where Kenyon stood, waiting to see his beautiful bride for the first time.

The ceremony was short and sweet but poignant and heartfelt. The day was filled with laughter, hugs, dancing and giant infectious smiles. Kenyon Lord has an amazing smile; one to match that of his beautiful wife. They are two peas in a pod; two people made for each other. They are bound by love and strength and honor. They are fearless and selfless and will continue to be heroes not only for the people they help and the lives they save, but for each other. I am so happy that my friend has found her counterpart and I wish them many years of love, happiness and adventure.

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro Brattleboro VT wedding Cornish NH wedding NH wedding photography New England New England wedding photography brattleboro wedding photographer brattleboro wedding photography photographer photography vermont wedding wedding photographer https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/5/molly-kenyon Mon, 05 May 2014 19:21:43 GMT
Mother's Day Special https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/4/mothers-day-special

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England VT canvas" free mother's day mother's day gift photographer photography portrait promotion, spring portrait session vermont https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/4/mothers-day-special Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:25:47 GMT
This Is Why I Love Weddings https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/2/this-is-why-i-love-weddings  

I love weddings. Ten years ago I never could have imagined that I would be photographing weddings. I was a self proclaimed nature photographer specializing in underwater critters. People (as subjects) weren't even on my radar. If I was going to an event, I didn't even think about bringing a camera. If I was going diving, I packed every ounce of camera gear I owned and rarely had room in my bag for much else.

Oh how things have changed, which is why I had to laugh at myself this morning when I realized I was positively giddy with excitement to go through images from Elizabeth and Jake's wedding.

This weekend was my second time working with the Benoit family. I had the pleasure of meeting them last summer at their son's wedding. Now, after an entire weekend with them, I can honestly say, they are extraordinary people. It was wonderful to see familiar faces at the wedding and even more wonderful to be treated like family ourselves. The groom's team turned out to be a dream to work with as well. The Hanley/DeLucia/Cimmino family was simply awesome. We couldn't have asked for a better crew!

So what do you get when you combine two awesome families, amazing people you have worked with before, amazing people you just met, the best wedding band of all time and 80 people from all over the country at the top of a mountain in a lodge you can only get to by gondola???

Epic Danceparty.

Every single Auntie, Uncle, Cousin and Grammy was out on the dance floor moving like a pro. At one point I looked across the room and noticed Mike "photo dancing" (which is my new term for the phenomenon that occurs when the music is so good that even the photographers can't refrain from shaking their hips and bobbing their heads). I think it's safe to say that everyone in attendance had a fantastic time (including us!)

Now to bring it all back around... I love weddings. I love weddings because of the warmth and contagious, electric excitement I feel when I am in the midst of a group of people who are genuinely thrilled to be together. I love seeing two families come together in celebration of two people they love more than anything in the world. I love knowing that I get to capture beauty, hugs, tears of joy, and moments of genuine emotion. I love knowing that the bride and groom will be able to look at my images and catch up on the moments that flew by when they were caught up in the locomotive power of their wedding day. I also love epic dance parties. 

Cheers to the Benoits and to Mama DeLucia and all the Aunties for a perfect wedding weekend!

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England cliff house stowe inn at the mountain new england wedding photography photographer photography stowe mtn resort stowe, vt wedding vermont vermont wedding photography wedding in the mountains wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/2/this-is-why-i-love-weddings Mon, 24 Feb 2014 19:58:29 GMT
An Unplugged Wedding https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/2/an-unplugged-wedding This Friday marks the official start to Swoyer Photography's 2014 Wedding Season!

My wonderful husband and I will be venturing north once again to the beautiful mountain town of Stowe, VT. Our bride and groom have requested our presence at the rehearsal dinner as well as the wedding day events. I have to say, I am extremely excited to be completely immersed in this event and to be able to capture the whole thing, from start to finish.

Weddings are one of the biggest, most exciting parties we will ever have. Back in the day your family may have lived right down the street from your fiancé's family and you probably got married in the town church and had a reception at the town hall. These days family and friends are spread out all over the world. It is much more difficult to get everyone to the same place at the same time. We live in an amazing time for travel and weddings seem to have taken on a life of their own.

When my husband and I got married we decided to make a week-long party out of it. Our friends and family were spread out from New England to Hawaii so we chose a location in the middle. It was one of the best weeks of my life! Our friends and family came together in Ventana, Mexico and we spent the week playing in the ocean, diving, snorkeling and hanging out all together. It was amazing to see our favorite people in the world meet each other and form new friendships. With everything we did that week the actual wedding ceremony seems like a small blip on the radar but luckily we have beautiful photos taken by our photographer and friend Andrew McNeaney of Andrew James photography.

When I look back at the images Andrew took of the ceremony there is one thing that makes my heart very happy. Our guests were focused on us. It was amazing thing to have all eyes on us and to be able to see the emotion felt, not only between my husband and I but throughout the entire group. Not one single face was hidden behind a camera or cell phone. 

In the digital age it is tempting to post everything. There is something addictive about checking Facebook to see how many "likes" an image has received. It has become a way of quantifying our value and social standing. I am just as guilty of the next person as showing off all of the fun I am having all the time but where do we draw the line?

The night before the wedding Mike and I gathered our friends and family, thanked them for coming and told them we wanted to try something. We asked that during the ceremony people put down their cameras and phones and just be in the moment with us. They had travelled thousands of miles to celebrate with us and we wanted them to truly be present.

It was powerful. I have been a guest at dozens of weddings and always feel distracted when people are darting out into the aisle to snap a photo,  looking down at their camera back to see if they got the shot or posting photos of the bride before she has even said "I do".  I was elated to have our friends there with us, taking in the beauty, feeling the ocean breeze and even shedding an errant tear with us.

After the ceremony people talked, drank and took photos with each other. It was perfect. I love looking back at the photos that our friends took and posted of the reception and I really love the photos that Andrew captured of our friends not taking photos during the ceremony.

This weekend our bride and groom, Elizabeth and Jake will ask their guests to put down there cameras and phones and immerse themselves in the moment that they travelled so far to be a part of. I can't wait.

Here's to unplugged weddings!

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(Swoyer Photography) Brattleboro New England Stowe Mountain wedding VT photographer photography ski resort wedding stowe wedding unplugged wedding vermont wedding wedding photography https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/2/an-unplugged-wedding Tue, 18 Feb 2014 16:35:42 GMT
Happy New Year! https://www.lauraswoyer.com/blog/2014/1/happy-new-year Somehow 2014 crept in and booted out 2013 with an unsurpassed ninja stealth that only seems to be growing as I get older. Christmas went by in a blur and Chanukah snuck in and out before I even realized the holiday season was upon us.

The good news is that I had 2 wonderful sessions to wrap up 2013 and make the snowy, slushy, chilly end of the year as memorable as the warmer seasons. 

A few days before Christmas I met with the Madden clan at one of the coolest houses I never knew existed in Guilford, VT, where they converged to spend a few days all together as a family before they diverged for the remainder of the season. They were patient, hearty (we held the session outside), and most importantly, photogenic. We managed to capture 3 generations of charm and good humor. 

My final session of the year took place in Windsor, VT where I spent the afternoon with the Kreiger family, documenting gingerbread baking, and the interaction of 4 generations. We ended with a family portrait next to the fireplace with Great-Grandma in the rocking chair surrounded by her loving family.