2014 – what a year

So much excitement, but so little blogging. Here we are headed into 2015…I hope for just as much love and happiness as 2014 brought, along with a little more time for personal projects!

Lefteris and I had a magical afternoon on Treasure Island the first time he came to visit. It was after I’d spent a summer in London and decided to move there for another year or so, so I had to come back to California to pack up my stuff. Lefteris joined me for a week, and we like to say that California seduced him on that trip – it wasn’t at all hard to talk him into coming here with me after my London time was up. (Of course, by then, we were already married, too…)

We brought our kids out this weekend, along with the lovely and talented Emily, who made my vision of this photo a reality. I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile, but we needed an evening where there were clouds in the sky, and it got dark early enough that we wouldn’t have to keep the kids out past their bedtime (winter!) – but not freezing or raining, of course! I think we got it. More pictures here.

Welcome, Idalia Kai Grammatas!

On February 24th, at 12:30 am, I gave birth to a wonderful, beautiful, healthy baby girl. She came about 3 weeks early, catching us a little bit off guard, but Lefteris is a veteran dad now and he got the house, and Perry, in order while I labored at home for a few hours. We had a wonderful experience at the hospital, and truly couldn’t have imagined a better labor and birth overall. Now we’re home with our daughter and her big brother, settling into our new normal family life and loving it.

She’s an amazing baby – so good-natured and a champion eater. Most astounding, though, is her smile…she smiles often, especially right after eating and while she’s falling asleep. She was only five days old when I took these photos.

Perry is one!

Perry’s first birthday was on Friday, and I can’t believe it…like I REALLY can’t believe it. He’s so much fun these days, and I am so, so lucky to be able to spend so much time with him. I love our little family, and I love my son like crazy. I’m extremely thankful.

Since this is a monumental occasion, I felt that we needed a “formal” portrait. Did you know you can get a baby-sized tuxedo on Amazon for twenty-six bucks? Yep.

Anna, Teo, and Chloe family portraits

On our way back from Anastasia and Panagiotis’s wedding, we shared our ferry ride with Anna and Teo and their beautiful daughter Chloe. I was thrilled to do some photos of them, but definitely less than thrilled with the light on the boat. Surprisingly these ferries often have tiny windows and sad flourescent light inside. And outside, there’s plenty of light but it’s not ideal for a baby! In any case, that made for an interesting challenge photography-wise, which I suppose is just keeping things interesting since this family is so terrifically beautiful that it would all just be too easy if the light was good.

Teo’s absolutely lovely mother was along as well – she was a great traveling companion and it was obvious that Chloe loves her…

A few more in the portfolio or here!

Anastasia and Panagiotis’s wedding in Skopelos

This wedding experience was a multi-day affair on the Greek island of Skopelos – most famous as the island where Mamma Mia was filmed. And, I feel I should start out by saying that Skopelos is every bit as beautiful as you’d hope in real life – honestly, even better than in the movie. Guests arrived on ferries and stayed in the beautiful town.

On the Thursday before the wedding, there was a traditional ceremony at the bride’s family’s house where the older female relatives of the bride and groom came together to make traditional sweets. The sweets were made of ground almonds, sugar, and rosewater, which was formed into a paste and then sculpted intricately into small birds and detailed flowers. Seeing all of these beautiful women sharing this experience was just utterly fantastic…

At the end of the night I caught this image of Panagiotis sitting outside Anastasia’s window.

We had some time to explore the island in the next couple of days, and every minute of that was heaven.

Finally, the evening of the wedding arrived. Greek weddings traditions are (no surprise here) different than what we see in the US in a number of ways…I have to say, the more I see, the more I enjoy them!

Anastasia and her family got ready at her family’s house in Skopelos. Meanwhile, a crowd gathered outside, including a trio of traditional musicians.

Finally Panagiotis arrived.

The “first look” happens when Anastasia comes out of her house to see Panos along with their friends and family.

…and then the musicians led the way through the town to the waiting cars, which took us all to the church.

At the church (which was inside a thick stone wall that was build nearly 1,000 years ago) the wedding was held just outside the tiny chapel. People waited there, and outside the wall, for the couple to arrive.

Lefteris was my second shooter at this wedding, and he did an outstanding job! Looks like his photography education paid off. This is one of his shots.

The stefana are the most important symbol in the Greek Orthodox wedding.

The bride’s mother wore her own grandmother’s earrings; I caught this moment as the bride’s mother and father whispered to each other during the ceremony…

With the stefana on the bride’s and groom’s heads, the priest leads them, along with the koubari, around the altar three times. The koubaros, or best man, holds the stefana on their heads. This was a rice-happy crowd – the rice-throwing was nonstop!

After the ceremony, the rice-throwers got ready for Anastasia and Panagiotis’s all-important steps across the church threshold.

Finally, we had a tiny window of time for bride-and-groom photos. The light was waning, but there was an absolutely beautiful corner nearby…

The reception was gorgeous too, at an open-air bar nearby. Dancing went, literally, until dawn, when we saw the sun rise in the port.

My absolute favorite shots from the wedding are in the portfolio, here. There are also plenty more here.

I’ll end with one more shot…I took this on the other side of the island the day before the wedding. I think this symbolizes a great start to a marriage.

Peter K headshots

En route to Greece for a couple of weeks, we stopped off in London to see old friends and visit old haunts. Four days in London was exactly right…all of the good stuff and we were gone before I got too irritated at all the things that used to bug me. :) Now if we can only convince our friends to move closer to us…

One of the highlights of the trip was doing a quick headshot session for my very very good friend, the talented artist Peter. We had a 30 minute window between a stop at the flat where we were staying and a reunion dinner, and chose that time to knock this out. The building has a nice central courtyard with covered parking spaces around the perimeter, which was perfect for what we needed. We stood in a parking space and used the light from the courtyard that bounced up into the covered area, creating a soft, flattering light:

After a couple of those angle shots, I pulled Peter further from the back wall and closer to the courtyard. this let me balance the amount of light hitting his face vs hitting the wall itself, and gave beautiful catchlights in his eyes.

Everything until now had been shot with my 50mm f/1.2 lens, which makes everything it touches look gorgeous. To process those photos above, all I did was fix the contrast and white balance from the flat RAW look – everything else is straight from the camera.

While we were there, we did some full-length shots. It’s always good to have variety in a shoot like this – it took an extra 5 minutes to get these while we were at the others. At this point I switched to my 100mm f/2.8 lens and got very low to the ground to get that magazine-y look. If I’d had a good longer lens I would have used it here.

At that point we needed to head to the party. I wanted to get another look or two, ideally something more dramatic, so I swapped lenses again for my 16-35mm. The alleyway on the way out of the building gave a great opportunity to use converging lines:

Finally our walk took us past Tower Bridge, so we went for a couple of quintessentially British shots. For the first I went back to my 50mm lens to get a more classic look:

…and for the second, the wide angle again for maximum ridiculousness:

The whole portfolio is here – a big thanks to Peter for being my model that afternoon, and here’s to seeing friends again soon!