Many of you know that the end of May was particularly difficult for me and my family. For those who don’t know, among the issues – an I.T. nightmare wreaked havoc on my website, water damage at the studio from a burst water tank above me, but most heartbreaking of all, the unexpected passing of my father-in-law. After taking some personal time away from the studio to celebrate his life and grieve my loss, getting the website back up and running, and finally being water-free…I was glad to see June arrive. Only to be face-to-face with an impending Father’s Day and thinking this June is Jimmy and my first Father’s Day without him. And, I had one of those “grounding” moments…one when the frenzy of the obstacles has passed and you are left with the aftermath. One where you (as trite as it may sound) realize exactly how fleeting life’s moments are, how quickly your world can be thrown upside down. I think we all subconsciously know this, but it’s not until a jolting event occurs that the feeling bubbles back up to the surface and readjusts you. Jimmy and I are still in that shock and readjustment period…getting used to a “new normal” without Dad, and really, that will never be “normal” for us. And, I don’t think our grieving process ever ends. Rather, we settle into our readjustment and have to continue living life – that’s what Dad would want, anyway.
In the weeks since his passing, we have sifted through hundreds of photos from Dad’s house. Photos from him as a child, family photos, silly candids – thousands of fleeting moments immortalized. Photos that have induced laughter, started stories of Jimmy’s childhood, Dad’s childhood, stories that I had never heard before, provoked tears and everything in between. I hold on to those real life moments with my father-in-law and the memories we created as a family – ones that passed so quickly and unknowingly when we were living them – as a means to remember him. And, now from a recent, direct experience, I cannot emphasize enough how cherished all of those portraits are because they can transport me back to those times.
I recently completed an informal interview about me and my business (if you’re interested in a bit more about my background and Lovely Day – I will update this blog post as soon as the interview is posted) and one of the questions posed was:
“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
My answer: Stop being so critical of yourselves. Years from now, when your kids (or really anyone!) look back on those beautiful wedding portraits, family portraits and the like, they will never see that you didn’t finish losing those 10 pounds, or that you didn’t like your hair, or that you’re not perfect. To them you are perfect and I promise they will say something like, “Wow, look how young you were!” Embrace portraits of yourself and always take the photo – you’ll regret it someday if you don’t.
Gosh, did I ever feel that piece of advice resonate within myself recently. I am bearing witness to my own advice as Jimmy and I are the ones looking back today…on photos of a life that was cut short, on times that we will never experience again. One day, one hour, one moment can change your life’s trajectory. Not just with an unfortunate loss, but a job offer…a new baby…meeting the love of your life…anything. Breathe those moments in and take the opportunity (or in many cases simply remember!) to snap a photo. No matter how insignificant it seems at the time it’s taken, years down the line that moment will become monumental.
And recently, as if by divine intervention, I came across this article showcasing Dan Dougherty’s final comic for his Beardo’s series that highlights fatherhood:
Cue my entire tissue box. This must have been what it was like for Dad watching his children grow up. Just like the blink of an eye, not only are his children grown and living with families of their own, but now he himself is no longer here with us to be a part of future memories.
I hear from so many clients, particularly the ones who have growing families, that “the days are long but the years are short.” Nights of crying infants seem to drag but suddenly your little one is off to college and you have no clue how 18 years have passed so quickly, especially since you can remember so vividly rocking and rocking and rocking your little one praying for sleep to come. It seems often that perspective comes from fatherhood or motherhood – from the perspective of a parent to a child. And, while I am sure that is overwhelmingly true…same can be said for the perspective of a child to a parent, particularly when the child has reached an age when he/she truly understand the preciousness and value of life. That’s me….right. now.
So, I suppose Sunday – Father’s Day – resurfaced a few lessons for me:
Take the picture. Just do it, even if they don’t want you too. You’ll regret not having an overabundance of memories otherwise. And, of course, it would be crazy of me if I didn’t say – let me take those portraits for you! As a newborn and wedding photographer, I’ll provide you with quality images that will last more than a lifetime.
Life is fleeting and turns on a dime. Take a moment to tell a loved one how much he/she means to you. Give your dad an extra squeeze on my behalf. Jimmy and I sure wish we could.
Neither Jim or his Dad like to be in photos. However, this perfectly represents them. Together in the kitchen. <3
Boy, oh boy…or should I say, Mom, oh mom?!? …why is it that every time I sat down to write this I had the most difficult time finding words to put on paper? And, I realized, it’s quite possibly because trying to capture everything that a mom is to a son or a daughter and, most especially, what my mother is to me is basically impossible. As a Buffalo wedding photographer, I am privileged to capture the intimate and touching moments of a mother/child relationship during a couple’s special day – from a mother helping her daughter step into “the” dress, to a mother-son uniquely choreographed dance, to mothers lighting unity candles. To sweeten the deal, I often watch brides whom I have photographed on their wedding days become mothers themselves and commemorate their burgeoning mother/child relationship with newborn portraits. It’s an honor, to say the least.
Many of the images I capture over the course of a wedding day include special gifts and/or letters given from bride to groom and vice versa. Frequently, similar exchanges occur from child to mom or mother-in-law. I often wonder as my camera clicks, what did that letter say to make mom cry or laugh or feel whatever emotion those words evoked? I can imagine many notes have similar and resounding themes, but also carry distinct and unique memories, inside jokes and the like. Here’s how I imagine a number of letters could start from any son or daughter, on a wedding day or any day, for that matter.
Dear Mom…thank you for the advice.
Dear Mom…you’re my best friend.
Dear Mom…you were right.
Dear Mom…I couldn’t have done it without you.
Dear Mom…thanks for always backing me up.
Dear Mom…I never truly understood everything you are until I became a mother.
Dear Mom…your sacrifice made my life better.
Anyone else share the same sentiments? What would yours say? On a side note, a few weeks ago I was in Papyrus and saw this amazing Letters to Mom notebook. How great would it be to write notes throughout the year to your mom and present her with this on Mother’s Day or your Wedding day?!
I took the liberty to imagine a few letters to correspond with some of my Buffalo weddings, as well as for clients experiencing the newness and joy of motherhood during newborn portrait sessions:
Dear Mom, You have prepared me for this day and I couldn’t be happier. While I may be walking down an aisle out of one phase of my life and into a new and exciting future, please know that I will never forget what you’ve taught me, where I come from and what you expect of me. You’ll be with me, as you always have been, to share in my bright future and I trust that you’ll be proud of the woman you’ve raised. Thank you celebrating my happiness with me.
Dear Mom, We did it! You are my foundation. You planted my roots, nurtured my growth and even when I may have raised a bit of hell, you knew I’d grow into the strong person I am today ensuring I can create a similar foundation for my own family. I love you with the strength of the tallest and biggest oak tree. Always remember, you are the woman that I’ll have love the longest.
Dear Mom, I promise to carry on our traditions. I promise to instill in my children what you have instilled in me and what Grammie has instilled in you. I recognize that my past helps create my future. Sunday dinners will have a new home to rotate through! Today a bride, tomorrow a wife, forever your daughter. I love you.
Dear Mom, I am new here, but I already know that these smiles – the ones that go from ear to ear, can’t seem to get any bigger, make your cheeks hurt kind of smiles (that I will have in, let’s say, about 6 weeks from now) – are thanks to you. You’re the glue that holds us all together. The cornerstone. The light of all of our lives. P.S. – I dig these jeans.
Dear Mom, I have entered unchartered territory. This world is bright and bold and pretty scary for a small nugget like me. But, it’s also beautiful and full of wonder and amazing things…things that I can discover because you’ve been with me since day one. Your embrace makes me feel safe. My heart is in your hands. I trust you and love you always.
Although my wedding day has passed, I thought: what would I say if I wrote a letter to my mom right now? Well…
As I think back to my own wedding, I smile fondly remembering the moments between my mom and me that day. But, I also have a tinge of sadness knowing that I don’t have those moments captured. Unfortunately, my own wedding photographer didn’t get a single picture of my mom and me together and it breaks my heart. I tried my best to relinquish control, enjoy being a bride and just have fun but that turned into many images missed. Luckily, the photographer who trained me (20 years ago) taught me well. He taught me the importance of all those parent and family photos. So, not only do I make it a priority to capture those moments for my clients, those are some of my favorite images from a wedding day. I promise these are the moments you’ll cherish years after your wedding.
Thank you for parenting me. And, that doesn’t just mean thank you for being my mom (which I am very much grateful for). That means, thank you for choosing to parent me: choosing to teach me right from wrong, choosing to discipline, choosing to never speak poorly of yourself or others. Your choice to be a mom first, even in the moments when you probably wanted to be a friend to me, has proven to be my biggest gain in life because you now have become my very best friend, with the understanding and knowledge that you can and always will continue to parent me no matter my age.
You have illuminated a path, without entirely paving it for me. You’ve allowed me to fall and offered your hand when I was ready to get up – and at the right times, you only let me trip and not completely fall. You always had my back, even in the rare moments when I thought you didn’t. I know better now. You are my fiercest advocate.
When someone asks me for the best piece of advice my mother has ever given me, I always draw a blank and can’t think of any anything to verbalize. And, I realized why – there isn’t just one piece of advice that’s been the best (they are all that good). Or, even more, there isn’t one that you’ve needed to give over and over because I know to trust your advice the first time and I learn from it right then and there. So, my actions moving forward never need that specific advice again.
You have taught me to become a responsible and mature adult who others can and will trust to be reliable, honest and compassionate. Giving, too. Because you gave everything you had for me, often sacrificing yourself and what you wanted on my behalf. You celebrated my accomplishments as if they were your own and on those days when you beamed with pride, those are my happiest days.
Aahh, cherry blossoms. You, fleetingly perfect bloom, you. All I can think about when I think of cherry blossoms of the Japanese cherry tree (aside from their beauty, their picture-perfect quality for portrait backdrops and the renaissance of spring) – is avocados. Yep, avocados…because of this:
If that’s not also indicative of how cherry blossoms act, I don’t know what is. We wait and we wait and we wait then…BLOOM, GONE.
If you have the patience and time it right, capturing portraits with these stunning blooms will give you a magical experience and images that will reflect their sheer springtime beauty, even during the darkest winter nights.
Where are the coveted cherry blossoms in Buffalo?
One of the more well-known spots to find cherry blossoms is the Japanese Garden at Delaware Park. The garden is located next to the Buffalo History Museum (corner of Elmwood Avenue and Nottingham Terrace). As part of the Olmstead Parks, the garden is free and open to the public during daylight hours. There are a few other lesser-known locales to find these gorgeous blooms, but for now, I’ll keep those spots my little secret so I can surprise you during a session!
When are the cherry blossoms in bloom in Buffalo?
As with avocados, the cherry blossom’s lifespan is fleeting. Despite the flower’s short bloom period, Buffalo is in a bit of luck that the blooming locations in our area tend to bloom one after the other, rather than simultaneously, slightly extending peak season. On average, cherry blossoms burst into life for approximately a week to two weeks between the end of April and the beginning of May. Buffalo’s Cherry Blossom Festival is May 4-5, 2019.
What should I wear during a cherry blossoms portrait session?
Wedding parties always look great with the blooms! For family sessions, engagement sessions or senior portraits, when you are selecting your attire think of these descriptors for your clothing: light, airy, fresh, open. For a classic look, opt for plain or light attire. Choose muted neutral tones, classic white or spring pastels like light pinks, light blues and gray tones. For a more romantic and ethereal look, select textured clothing like tulle or lace in those springtime pastels. Chambray shirts or dresses would be great options, too. If you choose patterned clothing, select a small and tight pattern rather than a big and bold pattern. And, while I love avocados, I suggest shying away from their olive green color and bright vibrant tones for your attire, both of which do not photograph well with the blossoms. The last thing you want to do is to clash with the blooms. Their beauty will enhance yours when you choose an outfit that doesn’t compete with them.
Alright, you’ve convinced me…I don’t want to miss the chance to capture my special moments with these timeless and stunning flowering trees. What now?
I am opening 5 full portrait sessions for any current or new clients with flexible schedules and a willingness to be patient for the perfect blooms. The sessions will be weather and bloom dependent. Sessions will be booked for the beginning of May, only in the morning or evening. Contact me today to set up your session!
I might be mildly regretting my recent Instagram poll that overwhelmingly requested more about me and behind the scenes at Lovely Day Photo.Because, here I sit…a blank screen in front of me, not really knowing what to say and realizing I haven’t blogged since April 2016.YIKES.You see, I am more of a behind-the-camera person so this is waaaaay out of the “Melissa comfort zone”…but when I realized that I don’t even have the same name as 2016, I figured it was well past due that I reintroduce myself.
Portrait by Afterglow Images
So, HELLO!I’m Melissa Sorrentino.You. Read. That. Right.
I have finally changed my name from Parrish to Sorrentino, so I am literally a different person than when I last blogged.Funny story about that…
While on a vacation in London, my husband and I walked into our hotel lobby where he was promptly greeted with: “Hello, Mr. Parrish!What a great English name that is!”He graciously accepted the compliment, but I noticed the side-eye glare he gave me and the sense of disappointment he felt since I had booked the entire vacation for his birthday, and it was all in my name…my maiden name.Jimmy really wanted me to take his name after we married in 2011, but I figured “I’m a business owner…people know me as Melissa Parrish…it would be silly and a pain to change my name.”Well, MR. Parrish didn’t find it so funny and I finally realized just how much it meant to him.I started my name change process after we got back. I definitely cried in the car at the Social Security office, it’s seriously so hard to change your name!It’s been my identity for my whole life.But, here I am – Melissa Sorrentino – BLOGGING again and loving my last name.Who would have thought?!?!
And, here’s a fun little-known and related fact:
I started my business in 2006 as MSP Photography (my initials) but everyone thought my company was pronounced as “Ms. P Photography” (turns out Parrish didn’t lend itself well in this instance, either) so I set out to find a new name. Remember your fifth-grade days when you’d doodle your classroom crush’s name on your notebook??… I did that with business names.And, Lovely Day Photo was born.
Portrait by Afterglow Images
The name fits me and my business perfectly.I’ve chosen a career where I have the opportunity to celebrate my clients’ happiest life moments…engagements, weddings, maternity, newborns, growing families…these are all such magical times.I love bearing witness to these moments and having the chance to watch my clients grow in so many different ways.I still have a few clients from when I started my business and they have kids who are 10+ years old now.It’s amazing!Sounds cliché, but it really is a “lovely day” every single time I pick up my camera.
So, who is Melissa Sorrentino…beyond the camera?
My husband, Jimmy, and I live downtown and have two dogs – Oliver, a rescue dorky (Yorkie and Dachshund mix) from the city shelter and Magdalena “Maggie” our English Bulldog pup.If you ever stop by the studio you may find Oliver hanging out under my desk.He’s only at the studio when I don’t have any scheduled appointments, but is always happy to entertain visitors, so let me know if you’d like to meet him when you come by!
I have a scooter and Jimmy has a Harley.We look absolutely ridiculous riding next to each other but love every minute of it.Beep, wave, and laugh if you see the black motorcycle and tiny yellow scooter coming your way – it’s us!And, we’re probably on our way to one of Buffalo’s great restaurants because we are serious foodies.We even plan vacations around restaurants and chefs we follow on social media.
When I am not photographing, I absolutely love being active.You’ll find me kayaking on the lake, running, cycling, hiking at Devil’s Hole (a favorite spot of mine!)…basically, anything outside during the warmer months, slathered in SPF 100 because, well, red-head.Proud ginger, here!And, to keep me sane in the looooooong winter months, I am one of those crazy Peloton spinners.
Most of the images above taken by my crappy iphone. ;)
Jimmy and I are a no-kid family, not by choice, but life doesn’t work out perfectly, right?And, that’s okay.We have so much to enjoy and be thankful for.Plus, I get to snuggle babies and play with kids every week.It’s a pretty sweet deal.
And, there you have it.A 2019 re-introduction.More to come, promise!And, if you made it to the bottom of this post, thank you – I truly appreciate it.
Okay Mom’s, this ones for you! Mother’s Day is just around the corner and it’s time to celebrate you! Whether you’re a mom to a little one, multiples, or the grownup kind of kids, it’s time to have your portrait taken with them. I realized this year that Mom’s rarely have their portraits taken. While it may not seem important now, someday it will be important, not only to you, but to your children. Let’s make the time to show off that love.
Starting Monday, April 11th through Saturday, April 16th, Lovely Day Photo has dedicated the entire week to Moms! These sessions are limited to Mother’s and their children, whether it be multiple generations, Mom’s of adult children, or new Mom’s. (sorry, Dad’s. You’ll have to wait your turn, but this would make a nice gift.) After your session I will create a beautiful piece of art, and have it framed. Ready for you to display in your home by Mother’s Day.
Session notes/limitations. Session times are first come first served. Limited evening and Saturday appointments are available for this specific event. Up to 4 people are included in the price of the promo. Please contact me if you have more than three children or would like to organize a much larger generational session. Clothing suggestions are monochromatic, all white/light, or all dark. Payment is due at the time of booking. Promo includes time in the studio for the session, viewing appointment, an 8×10 framed in 11×14, and 1 low-res files of the selected 8×10 image to share on social media. 6 frame colors/styles to choose from.
Saturday was Valentine’s Day eve, and the (almost) perfect day for a wedding in Buffalo. As you know, we’ve had a pretty mild winter, I was actually nervous we weren’t going to have any snow for Teresa & Jay’s wedding pictures. The week of their wedding the temps dropped, it snowed, and then temps continued to drop. I said “almost” because it was -19 degree on Saturday and it made for extreme conditions, in which Teresa & Jay braved for about 10 minutes. I didn’t dare keep them out any longer, it was too cold!
It seems like every year I photograph a wedding on Valentine’s Day weekend there is some extreme weather conditions. The last time was a few years ago in the Pocono’s during a storm which landed them 3+ feet of snow, two days before the wedding. I personally love winter weddings and my heart sings for snowy portraits, but I’m starting to wonder if Valentine’s Day weekend is cursed weather-wise. But hey, this weather definitely beats mild temps and boring grey/muddy photos! =)
I’d be happy to work in -19 degree again if it means portraits like this!