Reen Fitz Photography

Lifestyle Photographer: Hudson Valley / Westchester County, New York

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Monochrome: A Winter Ritual

“You get the same thrill with any negative; with art, as someone once said, most of what you have to do is show up. The hardest part is setting the camera on the tripod, or making the decision to bring the camera out of the car, or just raising the camera to your face, believing, by those actions, that whatever you find before you, whatever you find there, is going to be good.” –Sally Mann, Hold Still


I know I’m not alone when I say that winter can take a toll on my motivation. There’s so little of that gorgeous golden sunlight we photographers love so much, and I just want to make a never-ending pot of tea and hibernate under mounds of blankets.

But I am getting better at winter! Little by little, I’m finding ways to embrace and enjoy the season more. This often includes taking part in special winter photo challenges and creating my own photography projects.

A few winters ago, I was inspired by Sally Mann’s memoir ‘Hold Still’, to switch my camera to monochrome and explore familiar spaces. Without color, the photos became focused on the light and the way it bounced off of things and created contrast. Everything had new life. Faucets, doorknobs, and kitchen utensils now had “moods”.

It’s a small project I can do to flex my creative muscles, even when I don’t want to go outside, or if I’m feeling under the weather. It’s purely for myself and my own enjoyment, and it reminds me that the light is still there. It may not be glowing, warm and golden, but it is there. Right alongside the shadows.

I’ve also found that my cat is a great subject for black and white photography. He has long, shaggy light tan fur and naps in interesting positions, often on our black couch, which makes for great contrast. Here’s one of my favorite black and white shots of my big sleepy cat:

 

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas,

and may you find light wherever there are shadows.

 

Over the Rainbow & Over the Moon

We just have so much to celebrate these days! I recently posted about my nephew’s first birthday, and here we are again, celebrating yet another new member of the Fitz family!

Last week I posted a couple of outtakes/behind-the-scenes photos from the gorgeous autumnal family photoshoot I did with my brother Dan’s family. I’ve gotten to document so much of their story, and I was so happy to be a part of their very special announcement too.

And here it is…(with behind-the-scenes footage of our session!)…

Oh my, becoming an Aunt never gets old…not even the ninth time! 😉

Autumn is the perfect time for family portraits! Everything’s so sun-kissed and beautifully colored, and holiday cards will be going out so soon! (If you haven’t booked your Fall session yet, there’s still time!)

A little creative editing to celebrate Dan and Lex’s rainbow baby!

See more in the Flickr album!

All in the Details

A little while back, I wrote about my first wedding photography gig (which, if you’ll remember, was AWESOME). I was so in awe of the decorations that I knew I wanted to write a post dedicated just to the details. And without further ado, here it [finally] is!

It was like an Easter egg hunt for me. There were handmade details everywhere, and each one was just wonderful in its own way. Chrissy, the master DIY-bride, had a vision that turned the grounds of her local Rod and Gun Club into a breathtaking wedding venue.

The ceremony space for this wedding was a gorgeous natural pond-side landscape, and didn’t need much additional adornment. A simple archway  draped in fabric and flowers  created the altar and gave it such an airy, bohemian vibe.

 

Hand painted signs guided the guests through the wedding. From directing people to the ceremony, laying out the plans for the evening, and even showing them where all of the fun activities were at the reception! I just can’t get over the creativity, talent, AND attention to detail that went into all of it!

Now, let’s take a look at the Pavilion.  Where others may just see a shady spot to have lunch, Chrissy saw a reception hall. Not only did she have the idea, but she pulled it off in fabulous DIY-Bride style! Just check out these before and after shots.

Initially, I was a little nervous about was how well the space would be lit after sundown. It was in a wooded area, and seemed dark even in broad daylight (see “before” photo, above). But I was so impressed at how well twinkle lights and paper lanterns created the perfect warm glow. And not only that, but  every light bulb in the pavilion was removed and replaced with rustic-chic Edison bulbs just for the reception- and afterwards, the happy couple took their Edison bulbs home to reuse! How smart is that?

Love the warm glow of this dance floor!

 

 

 

 

 

15 Minutes of Family Photo Fun!

Autumn is the perfect time for family portraits! The sunlight and foliage are so beautiful, and soon enough you’ll be sending out your holiday cards! (If you haven’t booked your Fall session yet, there’s still time!)

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to work with Baby Wearing International of Rockland-Westchester (BWI Rock/West) in their mini-session fundraiser. The group offers support to new moms and dads by teaching proper baby wearing techniques and letting members borrow different carrier styles from their lending library. I have family and friends in this group, and I think it creates such a great community and resource for parents.

 

During the group’s mini-session fundraisers, photographers from all over Rockland and Westchester offer 15 minute family portrait sessions (5 final photos), for just $50.

So in the span of just 2 hours, I photographed 6 beautiful families. It was such a wonderful whirlwind of bright eyes, squishy cheeks, and so much personality. Ages of the children ranged from newborns to zooming toddlers (and one little sister that was just a month away from being born!). There were kids that LOVED the camera, and ones that wanted nothing to do with it. There were also some that held the attitude “Sure, you can photograph me…but you have to catch me first!” (Honestly, these are usually my favorites. They get the best action shots with big, bright, mischievous smiles!)

Of course, I came with a few tricks up my sleeve (or, more accurately, in my Mary Poppins-esque tote bag). I was joined by my lion and elephant puppets, my little shaker egg, and a set of juggling balls, which my husband would juggle behind me to catch the attention of an unfocused toddler.
(Whether babysitting, teaching, or just being “Aunt Reen”, juggling has always been my favorite way to catch kids’ attention. No matter what age, they will always stop and stare in wonder. Unfortunately, I can’t do it while holding a camera…yet…)

Behind the scenes…employing the help of my elephant friend!

If you’re a new or expecting parent, check out BWI Rock/West to find out when the next mini-session fundraiser is happening. Maybe I’ll see you there!

For info on having the full, total-package RFP session experience, contact me!

Happy Birthday, Cooper!

My nephew Cooper just turned one, and it makes my heart so very happy that I’ve gotten to photograph so much of his first year!
I photographed his mama anticipating his arrival…

I was so psyched when this photoshoot was featured by Rock & Rollick in their blog series Rockin’ The Bump! (See more on Facebook and Flickr)
Then some sweet ‘Fresh 48’ photos…
(More on Facebook and Flickr)
We also had a shoot for his birth announcement. I wrote about the editing process of his announcement photo here.


And in the blink of an eye, he’s demolishing his birthday cake!
You can see the official smash video (and catch a glimpse of my camera and the top of my head) over on The Fitzgerald’s YouTube channel

And just like that, his first trip around the sun is complete! Happy Birthday, munchkin!

If you’re a new or expecting parent, contact me about booking sessions to document your baby’s first year! It goes crazy fast, so don’t wait!

Walkabout 2.0 – Ossining!

I was so delighted to be asked to photograph 2 events for Walkabout last weekend! The first event was the Ossining Matters 5k, supporting the Ossining school district- where the re-establishment of Walkabout is officially beginning in September 2018! The second event was a community outreach/alumni reunion event in Ossining’s Market Square.

The original Walkabout was a senior-year (and occasionally junior-year) high school experience for selected students in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties. Some students came in as high achievers seeking an extra challenge, others were disinterested in school altogether, but still had a hunger for knowledge (Raising my hand). No matter where the students came from, Walkabout offered unique challenges that truly prepared them for adulthood. To learn more about the Walkabout Program, check out Walkabout.org

Ready to run!

The original Walkabout program ran for 36 years. Fortunately, an effort by alumni and staff to restart the program has finally come to fruition thanks to the Ossining School District! This year, Ossining students are being given the chance to start shaping their Walkabout experience, and then September 2018 officially begins the next phase of Walkabout at OHS!

The starting line in downtown Ossining

For this event, we started at sunrise. Marc and I are both Walkabout alumni, and we were so happy to help out with the events. Marc worked a Walkabout water table on the 5k route and the raffle table at the community outreach event, while I documented the day in photos. We were part of a team of alumni who gathered early on a Saturday morning to do what they do- photograph, film, talk to people, or just be examples of the wonderful, smart, helpful humans that Walkabout churns out. (Speaking of, remember Gardiner Liquid Mercantile? Owned by Gable Erenzo, a Walkabout graduate!)

Marc at the raffle table

We really had such a fantastic time getting involved, connecting with alumni, and just getting to spend the day in the heart of the city that Walkabout will be reborn in. We know that it will have an incredibly positive impact on OHS students and in turn, the whole community. I just can’t wait to start meeting “Walkabout 2.0” alums at reunions!

Jon and Kyle, 2 photo/videographer alums joining forces to film alumni testimonials

Walkabout staff and alumni from all years (yes, even some who graduated in the 70’s!) often come together for reunions, hikes, and just to show support at events like this. It’s incredible to think that a high school experience can create such a diverse community that is always ready to help each other out.

Some of the companies and organizations that Walkabout students have worked at

To see more photos from these events, check out my Flickr!

And to connect with me and get some sweet eye-candy directly to your feed, follow along on Facebook and Instagram! See you there!

Only at the Merc’

I swear, my shoots just are just getting more and more fun! The latest was this Small Business session I did for Gardiner Liquid Mercantile in (where else?) Gardiner, NY. If you haven’t checked this place out yet, you need to. It’s like no other bar I’ve ever been to.

I was really excited about this shoot because in its 2 years, GLM has become a sort of hub of local collaborations. Their menu and house made liquid concoctions are full of local ingredients, local artists’ work can be purchased right off of the walls, and there is a (quite adorable) desk of local information (business cards, brochures, etc.) right next to the front door. Those are just a few examples of how the Hudson Valley is infused so richly into everything at GLM. Naturally, I was psyched to contribute my own talents to such a neat place.

As soon as I walked in, the staff was so welcoming that it almost felt like I was visiting a friend’s house. They were all so proud of and excited to show me everything- from the décor, which included an antique plow suspended from the ceiling, and turquoise inlays on the wooden bartop- to some seriously cool cocktails that were like chemistry projects- like a botanically blended purple lemonade.

A peek into the flavor playground

I was given a tour of house made flavor syrups- a huge variety of flavors that can be mixed to your tastes. I tried a raspberry jalapeno soda and I seriously could have hung around all night trying every flavor. There really are too many possibilities to be listed on the menu, so chatting with the bartender about your favorite flavors will open up that playground!

And I can’t end this post without mentioning one of the best parts of the day- a tiny puppy! This sleepy little guy belongs to a staff member, and was just hanging out at the bar during the shoot. Of course I had to get a few snaps of that sweet face!

There is no better surprise than unexpected baby animals while you’re working.

Honoring Ireland’s Gold Medal Team

I recently had the pleasure of photographing an event at The Rambling House in The Bronx, celebrating the Irish Jr. National Baseball Team’s gold medal victory in the 18 and Under European Baseball Championship, which was held in Zurich, Switzerland in July.

I had really enjoyed watching the games from home via live stream, so it was great to see the team, the coaches, and their families coming together for one last celebration honoring not only their victory, but the entire experience of playing on a European national baseball team.

The team was largely made up of high school students from the Irish communities of The Bronx and Yonkers. Coach Gary O’Connor was presented with a well-deserved Appreciation Award, for helping to recruit a number of eligible and talented Irish-American players to the team.

Check out The Baseball United Foundation to learn more about their mission to share the game of baseball around the world, and how you can help too!

Solar Eclipse (of the heart) 2017

Did you see that Solar Eclipse?

We were able to get eclipse glasses from a friend just in time, and I am so impressed with the pinhole viewing tools I’ve seen people make for it! It was a really cool thing to experience.

But by far my favorite part of it was getting to share my glasses with people that thought they were going to miss it entirely.

The first were my parents. They had expressed no previous interest in the eclipse, but I happened to be at their house when it started. I asked if they wanted to come see, and they excitedly accepted the invitation.

My dad took one look and exclaimed “HEY! That’s cute!” And I could tell that it brightened their day and they were happy to have been a part of it.

Later on, we shared the view with some neighbors that walked by as we were out watching it. It put smiles on their faces, and it’s a nice gesture that you certainly can’t offer every day.

Next eclipse is in 2024, and can be viewed in totality from Maine to Texas! Pack your popsicles! (But you gotta call ’em eclipsicles)

PS- Yes, OF COURSE I was bursting into rooms yowling “It’s a Solar Eclipse of the HEARRRRT” for a month leading up to it. How else do you mentally prepare for such events?

C&W’s Gorgeous Summer Wedding

I recently shared a bit from this lovely couple’s cute Hudson Valley Engagement Session…and here it is, THE BIG DAY!

It was, of course, a big day for me as well! This was my very first wedding photography gig, and it couldn’t have been better! I was fortunate enough to be working with a really wonderful couple, so it was a really great experience from start to finish.

But first, let’s rewind a bit. Back when I met with Chrissy and Will for their engagement session, I noticed a lot of vintage autos driving around. Also, it poured for about 5 minutes as soon as I arrived. Like heavens-opened, buckets and buckets, pouring. They explained that there was a car show that day, and the old joke around town was “It always rains on the car show”.

…Then they told me that they hadn’t realized it, but their wedding happened to be scheduled on the same date as the biggest car show of the year.

Me, about to photograph my first wedding! Cool as a cucumber…

Naturally, as the day approached, I began checking about 4 different forecasts periodically. I prepared for rain, and hoped for sunshine. The only thing the weather sources agreed on seemed to be that there would be some rain at some point during the day, and it would start as soon as the bride came walking down the aisle. (Because, of course…)

The day finally came, and the weather could not have been prettier. No clouds, just sweet summer sunshine. Exactly what you would want for an outdoor summer wedding.

Not a drop of rain fell the entire day.

BTS- Getting some shots out in the woods!

Oh, and speaking of “as soon as the bride came walking down the aisle”, did I mention that she did so to the Jurassic Park theme song? Yeah. How cool is that?

There were personal touches everywhere you looked. For starters, it was held at the same venue where Chrissy’s parents had celebrated their wedding reception. And the ceremony was officiated by the Mother-of-the-Bride herself! How great is that for “full-circle”?

I was totally in awe of the DIY details that transformed this pavilion space into a gorgeous reception hall.

As the sun went down, the dance floor went from catching the golden sunset to glowing with candles and twinkle lights. And all throughout, I was snapping away at friends and family having an absolute blast, playing games and dancing the night away.

The closing number of the night? The Ghostbusters theme song. 100% my kind of party.

I had so much fun at this wedding, and every time I sat down at my computer to work on retouching the photos, I felt like I was reliving the good times over and over again!

My absolute favorite shot. Such infectious joy!

There were so many creative personal touches and beautiful details that went into this wedding and I’ve decided to share them in their own post. You won’t want to miss it, so make sure you’re following along on Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates!

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