Thursday, October 23, 2008

One delicious deal

Grand openings are always such happy times. When a small business owner opens their store front, it's a day when a dream becomes tangible. That's an incredible thing.

Today I had the privilege of seeing a dream come true. I photographed the opening of El Nayar Mexican Restaurant on Frederick Rd. in Catonsville. We've been watching over the past weeks as the owners, the Flores family, and their friends transformed the space ~ building booths, painting, hand installing a large tiled counter. They worked tirelessly as the world went by on Frederick Rd.

Nathaniel & I were so excited ~ a Mexican restaurant within walking distance of our house is pretty cool stuff. We could not wait for today to arrive! And as it turned out, the local Chamber of Commerce needed photos from the event, so I ended up going as an official photographer, too!

So I know you are all waiting to hear about the most important feature of El Nayar ~ which is not the tile countertops. It's the FOOD.

The food was great! Their housemade salsa was fresh and delicious ~ a perfect blend of tangy and slightly spicy. The guac -- which I am totally fussy about -- was also wonderful and for us, there were plenty of vegetarian options, including Mexican delicacies, like cactus salad! See, the Flores family makes authentic Mexican food. Other folks at the opening tried the chicken mole, carna barbacoa and Nayarit shrimp soup. (The Flores' are originally from a region of Mexico called Nayarit and their hometown is El Nayar ~ the restaurant is named in its honor and their cooking style is local to the region.)

This is the real deal and speaking of deals ~ the prices are beyond reasonable. You can get a delicious & generous veggie burrito for only $3.99. Why bother stopping for fast food when you could stop at a small, family-owned eatery like El Nayar and for the same price have a homemade meal?? Dinner entrees start at the 3-taco plate for only $8.99 and the restaurant will feature daily & weekend specials as well as breakfast on Saturdays! Ever try a chorizo breakfast burrito?

We want to congratulate the Flores family on this monumental accomplishment and tell you all ~ seriously ~ stop by this wonderful little corner store in Catonsville! They're at 801 Frederick Rd, on the corner of Mellor Ave.

See you there!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pretty in Pink

The month of October always brings pumpkins, scary costumes and now… pink wedding dresses?

Okay, it may not make sense at first, but it has probably been impossible to avoid all the pink merchandise this month. The reason being that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

An article out of Brides magazine was brought to my attention the other day, and I knew I'd love it, what girl could resist the title Something Pink? As I read through, I was amazed by the concept of "the pink wedding gown." Brides magazine selected 21 designers to create pink-themed wedding gowns, the sales of which will benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). (And don't worry if pink isn't your color, in most cases, the wedding gowns are sold in more color varieties than pink, like white, ivory, or blue.)

Personally, breast cancer research and awareness is a cause very close to my heart. At the age of 33, my mother's sister, Auntie Marianne, found a lump in her breast while receiving a mammogram.

Me, Aunt Marianne and my sister Gina

Two years later, at the age of 59, my grandmother, my "nonnie", found the same lump; both had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Me and Nonnie

My aunt went through chemotherapy and radiation only to find out that her cancer had come back a second time. My nonnie refused chemotherapy because of her age, yet went through radiation.

They are both breast cancer survivors.

Being a woman who has a high risk of breast cancer myself, I appreciate the efforts of awareness our country sets out to establish. I love when brides support their most important charities through the little decorations they've chosen for their wedding. I love to find out that people, including magazines, small businesses, and even Girl Scout troops, are continually creating new ideas to support such an important cause.

Go Pink!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cocoa and Moving Boxes

Feels like it has been quite awhile since I've visited here.
It's all good though... we've been traveling, a lot, and more soon on that.
And we moved into a new office/production space!

Josie, Nathaniel & I, as well as Brittany's fiance´ Ryan, spent all day moving boxes and furniture and filing cabinets up to the new place. It's strictly for work, not for shooting or meetings. But wow ~ we love it already. So much room! We all will have our own personal workstations now. And 3 different rooms for computer production, office work and hand-assembly. We've never been able to spread out this much and it's really exciting.

Nathaniel spent a good deal of the evening converting a closet into dream-storage for negatives, hard-drives and back-up CDs. Josie was totally awesome and cleaned the break room and kitchenette area, as well as making something like 5 million trips up and down the steps with a decade worth of negative cases. And thank goodness for Ryan ~ he helped Nathaniel carry in desks, cabinets and a huge wood & steel worktable.

We'll post pictures soon. As soon as we wade through the boxes. : )

For now, Nathaniel and I are drinking cocoa in the new office. Lochrima is asleep on the floor by the new bulletin board. We'll hang it up tomorrow. No need to disturb the chill mood...

Hope you are all having as incredible a day as us!
Till soon

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Difficult Good-Bye

Usually when I see my friend Jan's name come up on my caller ID, it's like an early birthday gift. Jan is incredibly upbeat, kind and gentle-natured. She is, without question, one of the most positive people I have ever known. She herself is a gift.

Nathaniel & I met Jan because she is a fellow "crazy greyhound person," and though it was our mutual love of dogs that brought us together, her friendship has come to mean much more over time.

A few years back when we started our business, Jan was one of our first pet photography clients. She was one of the first people to have faith in us & our pet pictures.

I confess that initially I felt quite "Paris Hilton" about pet photography. I mean, I have always loved all my animals and over the years I have had dogs, cats, fish, frogs, a bird and even a horse. But pet photography? Still, we started a branch of our business exclusively devoted to documenting beloved furry & feathered companions and the lives they share with their people.

And of course, when you observe firsthand how much love is shared between animals and the humans they live with, you can't feel "Paris Hilton" about pet photography for very long. Our animals not only share our lives, they truly enhance it with their unconditional love, protection, companionship and incredible beauty.

When we first worked with Jan, she had two male greyhounds, Ben and Jerry. They were from the same litter and had never been apart. Until today.

Ben (in blue) and Jerry (in cherry red) go for a wade.

The boys pose pretty! This picture has been published in magazines, calendars & even a book!

Jan called me today and immediately from her voice I knew it was not the usual upbeat Jan I have come to know and love. Jan was crying. Jerry died this morning. He was eight years old with no known or discernible health issues.

While there is nothing I can say or do to take the pain away or make Jan hurt less, I still wish I could. It is never easy to say the last good-bye to a dear friend, no matter if they are a dog.

And even in the midst of her loss, Jan gave me a gift. She thanked me and told me that though she always valued the photographs of Ben & Jerry from the past several years, they mean more today than they ever have. In that moment I felt silly that I ever even thought for one moment that pet photography was "Paris Hilton." Jan gave me the gift of knowing that Nathaniel & I's pictures would keep Jerry with her always.

Jan ~ you are so, so welcome. I wish I could do more to make you hurt less!

Good-bye Jerry! Thanks for being such a sweet boy & providing my dear friend Jan with your friendship, protection and love for the past several years... I'll miss you!

~ Rissa

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happy 4th Year, Baby ~

10.02.04 was our wedding day. At this moment four years ago, we were newlyweds. We were still dancing, seven hours into our reception.

Photo by Paul Conrad

We got married in Brentwood, TN (just outside of Nashville) on Nathaniel's family farm. It rained all morning, but the sky cleared up in time for our outdoor afternoon wedding. Everything was so pretty, crisp ~ perfect autumn wedding.

Photo by Paul Conrad

About 250 of our friends and family attended the wedding. To date, we have only been at three weddings larger than our own, so when you all talk to us about "out of control guest lists," well... we get it. But having that many people all there for you is an incredible experience. There is nothing in my life I can relate it to.

Our first dance was to "At Last" by Etta James. My long time friend Leslie Gray Streeter sang it for us. She's not just a great friend ~ Leslie truly could have been a professional vocalist. This photo from our first dance is still one of our favorites from the entire day.

Photo by Paul Conrad

Being wedding photographers ourselves we really went overboard on color and decor. We wanted the day lavish in visuals to make for wonderful photographs. After all, many of our friends and family are photographers. Though we hired a photographer, we ended up with several thousand pictures ~ all from amazing photogs. Talk about lavish!

Photo by Amy Deputy

To my Nathaniel ~ Happy Anniversary, Baby...

I found a dream that I could speak to, a dream that I can call my own. I found a thrill to press my cheek to. A thrill that I have never known. You smiled, and then the spell was cast. And here we are in heaven for you are mine at last...

Photo by Amy Deputy

xoxo, Your Bride

Full Speed

Nathaniel loves this.
Seriously loves it.
He asked me to post it on here so everyone could watch this video clip.

If you have ever doubted for one second how fast a greyhound runs, you won't after watching one outrun a sports car.
~ Rissa

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting Out of the Virtual Casket

It seems now-a-days, you can do virtually anything...well - virtually! Pay your bills, buy anything you need, even find your soul mate, all online. So naturally, photographs evolved for our virtual world - making film cameras nearly obsolete. We've moved onto digital cameras which equal digital images - and usually not much else.

Before, when you would capture a great shot you couldn't wait to finish exposing your roll of film and get it developed. Remember how exciting it would be to pick up your pictures? You'd be lucky to make it to the car before tearing into them and feverishly flipping thru each one. Then you'd go home and repeat the a calmer pace. Now - with our digital cameras - we snap a good shot and the first word(s) out of the "photographer's" mouth is "MYSPACE!" or "FACEBOOK!" ...Really!?! Is that really all our great shots are worthy of?? *sigh* Believe me - I do love the instant gratification of a digital capture, but what irks me is what follows....usually nothing! You upload the image to your computer and it lives out its life on your hard drive...forgotten about amongst the hundreds, maybe thousands, of other images.

The true beauty of a photograph is not always what has been captured - rather it's ability to become eternal. (my philosophical thought for the month ;-) )

Think about that shot of your parents at the altar, perhaps your grandparents. The paper may be tattered or yellowed - but it's tangible. You can hold it in your hands and feel its impact. Now think about showing YOUR grand kids your wedding pictures while posted up in front of a computer screen. Kind of takes away from the nostalgia...doesn't it?

So getting to my point (yes I do have one), Rissa and Nathaniel got me an adorable photo album a few weeks back. Turns out that DAY I got engaged! My fiance had arranged for my mom, brother and best friend to be at his proposal site to capture the moment - with tons of pictures of course! So my mom burned me a CD, I uploaded the pics to my computer and looked at them over and over on my 12" macbook screen. I finally decided the momentous pictures deserved more than just their own album in my iphoto. I dropped them onto my zip drive and set off on a mission - I was going to get prints made! My first stop (Walmart) was quite unsuccessful -- seeing as every machine was mysteriously "down" and the photo lady pointed me to a nearby Rite Aid. What a hassle this was turning out to be! 10 whole minute of driving!? Were these prints really worth it?? Rite Aid reassured me and lifted my spirits by having an incredibly easy to use machine and good prices too! I got 50 prints for about $5. Feeling quite satisfied with myself I immediately went home, sorted my picture chronologically, and inserted them into my adorable album!

Photo by Liza Hettherington (my best friend!)

Talk about being worth a few minutes and a few bucks! I absolutely LOVE my new album with my REAL prints in it! I look at it constantly and show it off to everyone i possibly can. The ooo's and awww's are so rewarding :-)

Don't let your pictures die in a virtual casket. Bring them to life - have prints made - whether they're 4x6's from your local Kodak machine or 24x36 metallic display prints that adorn your wall as a work of art. It's worth it...try'll see ;-)