Reen Fitz Photography

Lifestyle Photographer: Hudson Valley / Westchester County, New York

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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!

Canadian Photo Challenge? Pardon?

Hey, remember when I entered that Canadian photo challenge?

Me neither!

But I found out just this week that the city of Burlington, Ontario featured one of my photographs on their Facebook and Instagram to show off the beauty of their city in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday!

It seems that when I posted it to Instagram, I used a hashtag that was associated with their photo challenge. How about that?

Thanks, Burlington, Ontario!

It’s an honor just to find out that I participated!

C&W’s Engagement Session

Meet Chrissy and Will, a really fun couple with Hudson Valley roots. A few months back, I had the pleasure of capturing their engagement portraits!

For the location, they chose a place filled with memories, that they had both enjoyed visiting when they were growing up . I was so excited to find that it had a ton of greenery, gorgeous views of the Hudson River, and plenty of room to play! Despite patches of rain and generally overcast skies, this shoot was full of lighthearted fun and excitement for the big day ahead!

My favorite shots turned out to be the in-between moments (as is always the case for me, honestly). If I suggested a pose (or if someone happened to find a giant flower pot that they just had to jump into…) I would snap away while they played around with it, often making each other laugh in a way that you just can’t pose.

I was honored to also be their wedding photographer! Keep your eyes peeled for my post about their wedding! It’s coming soon, and it is fantastic! Follow along on Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date!

 

Oh Canada!

We just got back from our very first trip to Canada and it was fantastic! So this year we’re celebrating Canada Day along with the 4th of July! Here’s a little glimpse of the awesome stuff we saw in Ontario:

We were both so impressed by the beautiful art everywhere. We took a stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens, which had an incredible exhibit of Lego sculptures (like this monarch butterfly- YEAH THAT’S LEGOS!) , as well as gardens planted by local children, a garden of medicinal plants, and a gorgeous rock garden.

 

 

We paid a visit to Jen Blackwood at Golden Axe Tattoo in London, Ontario and got some of her beautiful art prints. Local art is always our favorite souvenir, and Jen was so kind! It was definitely one of our favorite memories from the trip. 

 

 

 

I really liked this art piece in Prince Albert’s Diner in London.

 

 

 

We also caught a bit of the Sound of Music Festival in Burlington. The Burlington waterfront is so beautiful and downtown Burlington was a lot of fun too. If you find yourself there, head to Kelly’s Bake Shoppe! It’s a dreamland of gluten-free/dairy-free/egg-free/peanut-free/vegan confections- their treats are delicious and if you have any of those dietary restrictions, it’s overwhelming in the best way!

Of course we took a trip into Toronto and checked out Graffiti Alley there, a free space for expression through street art. 

 

 

And Toronto’s Music Garden, which included this spot called the “Gigue”. This description is quoted from the placard there (and I don’t think I could describe it better): “Giant grass steps that offer views onto the Harbour. The steps form a curved amphitheater that focus on a stone stage set under a weeping willow tree; a place for informal performances.” I thought it also offered a nice view of the CN tower- just look at this cool juxtaposition of cityscape and nature!

Of course, I took far too many photos and have far too many stories for one post, but I will be posting them to Instagram here and there, so make sure you’re following along!

Happy Canada Day/4th of July Weekend!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mamas out there!

And to my fellow step-moms, Happy early Step-Mother’s Day as well! (In case you didn’t hear, we get to celebrate on the Sunday after Mother’s Day!)

I wish I could send you all flowers, but this eye-candy will have to do for now. Please enjoy these sunshiney yellow flowers (and the fact that you don’t have to water them!) 🙂

Here I am with my mom! I’m sure that just out of frame, and right in my mom’s peripheral vision, my 5 older siblings were causing some kind of ruckus in the sand.

Are we connected on Instagram yet? This week I posted some of my favorite Mama & Baby portraits. Follow along to see what’s next!

How I Got the Shot: Cooper’s Birth Announcement

A couple of months back, I shared this photo that I took of my nephew, Cooper, for his birth announcement.

I got a lot of compliments on the photo (Why, thank you!), and even a lot of “Were you on a ladder?” and “Where did you find a blanket that big?”

In short, the answers are: No, and I didn’t.

When I took this photo, I was standing right on the floor, directly over Cooper. No ladder needed.

And believe it or not, that blanket did not come close to covering the whole floor.

Here is the original shot:

Way too bright, and the background is busy and distracting. But let’s make it work!

Enter: The magic of editing!

I started by enhancing the color tones taking down the light a bit, which brought out the details that were a little washed out in the sunlight.

Then I zoomed WAY in and, using the Clone Stamp Tool as a virtual lint-roller, removed any fuzz and dog hair from the blanket (Cooper’s big sister is a white bulldog named Mush!), until the blanket was totally black.

Now you see it…

Now you don’t!

Once the colors were all set, I used Clone Stamp again and a TON of patience to carefully “stretch” the blanket to the corners of the photo. I had the tool on 100% opacity and a fairly large size brush, adjusting when I needed to.


I began to realize that I was, at times, forming wrinkles and creating a distracting and busy background (see: lower circle in screenshot below). I was able to remedy the situation by carefully fine-tuning my stamp usage and cloning in flatter areas in a way that “ironed out” a lot of distracting wrinkles. And, as you’ll see in the upper red circle on this screen shot, the clone stamp will copy anything in its path, including the wood floor, so I had to keep on top of that as well.

While I was super close up in this photo, I also noticed that the bright light on the black blanket created some green tones- and I did not want to enhance those by spreading them throughout the photo. Just as I did with the “ironing” portion, I was sure to go back over the greener areas with clone stamps of darker spots.

I’m a minimalist when it comes to editing, so I don’t usually do quite this much post processing, but I saw potential in this photo and learned a lot in the process!

Check it out, before & after:

Email me at ReenFitzPhotography@gmail.com today to book your session!

And if you’ve got a baby on the way, check out my “Bundle of Joy” package and save when you book multiple baby sessions!

In the Footsteps of Ansel

This week, I lent my photography to a cause near and dear to my heart. The gorgeous reptiles in my recent Instagram photos live in Pace University Environmental Center’s Nature Museum in Pleasantville, NY. It was officially named “The Marty McGuire Nature Museum”, in memory of a former student/naturalist, after renovations in 2011. In addition to a beautiful array of reptiles, the museum is also home to prairie dogs, chinchillas, and an Eastern Screech Owl. Most, if not all, of the animals in the museum were surrendered by previous owners.

Pace’s Marty McGuire Nature Museum

It was recently proposed that the museum and all of it’s animals and teaching space be eliminated and converted into space “to store portable field equipment” (Source: The Pace Chronicle). This greatly saddens me, and I am not alone. At all. When word of the proposal got out, students started petitioning, and that petition now has over 550 names on it.

The Environmental Center includes not only an indoor museum, but also an outdoor farm area, and a variety of hawks, owls, and falcons. The center welcomes students of all majors, as well as the public, to come and learn about the animals and the environment. It is a rare gem in Westchester County, and it’s impact on environmental education as a whole reaches far beyond the Pace campus. My husband and I worked at the Center for several years, beginning in high school (it’s where we met!), and we still continue to go back and visit.

Morrocan Uromastyx

Losing the Museum, which is half of the Environmental Center, would be terrible in itself, but would ultimately put the whole center and all of its animals at risk for eventually being cut by the University.
I hope that sharing these photos brings attention to this issue and what could be lost if the University follows through with this idea. If you would like to add your name to the petition, you can do so here: Save the Environmental Center Museum

Thank you!

 

A note on the title: For anyone unfamiliar with the photography of Ansel Adams (you would probably recognize his work, if you don’t recognize the name), he is a legendary landscape photographer and naturalist. Beginning in the 1920’s, his photos of the natural landscapes of the United States served to share their beauty with people who may otherwise have never seen them. He used his skill of photography to say “Look at what we have. This is what we stand to lose.”

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