Welcome to the :e: picture journal. Within these walls you'll find a mix of commissioned and personal work so feel free to subscribe or to just swing by whenever you're seeking... [hint: click on a big image and then use the L and R arrows on your keyboard to navigate through the rest]
It has been almost a year and a half since I've properly blogged a wedding or specific shoot. I'm not apologizing or explaining or justifying anything - just informing you. I have all the posts written, lined up ready to go - it's over 2 years of posts if I post 3 times a week. I've had a new blog coming for a while - finished the design may moons ago but ran into a slew of problems in coding and development which is still where we're creeping along. It's coming. I wouldn't hold your breath, but it is coming, I promise.
This year has been truly fascinating so far. It has brought along with it a whole host of changes, both personal and professional, and much growth. The fall in New England is always my favorite time of year and encourages much pause and reflecting - all the miraculous stories I have documented, faces I have seen, sounds I have heard and food I have tasted. You wouldn't really know because have pretty much abandoned Facebook and pay very little attention to Twitter and the rest of the internets. Maybe I will get back into it at some point, maybe not. We will see what the off-season brings. There is just so much noise out there and I don't have the patience, time, or desire to be sifting through it all in front of a screen when I could be spending time with the people I love outside or taking pictures or building things.
Anyways, I just wanted to let you know I am here. I am still documenting family history. I still love it. Brief and to the point. Enjoy the images.
seek the joy.
by Michael Gallagher from Hope, Maine
as read by Stewart McLean on The Vinyl Cafe
In movies and television, whenever someone meets a married couple, it seems the question "How did he propose?" comes up. At least that's how it seems to me. Fifteen years ago I proposed to the woman I loved. But in fifteen years, not one person has ever asked the story of how I popped the question. Being a good and somewhat typical American, despite not being asked, I am going to tell the story anyway: not because I am full of myself, but because I think it's a good story.
In September of 1996, my lovely girlfriend, Kim, and I had just graduated from college. We had both studied Biology and were both setting out a plan for graduate study. We had the world at our feet. Our grand plans came to an abrupt and unpleasant halt when Kim, who couldn't seem to shake a nasty sore throat, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. I don't think I need to elaborate on what a diagnosis like that can do to a 22 year-old who thinks she is just beginning her life as an adult.
Kim immediately began receiving treatment for the disease, treatment which at times felt more dangerous than the disease itself. For the next six months, Kim spent over half of her time in the hospital, stuck on the "cancer floor". For a month at a time, or more, she wasn't allowed to leave the corridor - not even to go outside to breathe fresh air. Anyone who has ever had the rotten misfortune of receiving chemotherapy doesn't need to be told what it does to your body. Somehow, she very rarely complained about her condition or her circumstances. She was the doctors' and nurses' most favorite, and most heart-breaking, patient.
I spent that six months driving to the hospital, sitting by her bed, watching television with her, and pacing the halls with her. And worrying about her. Whether it was denial or stubbornness or pigheadedness, I will never know, but I had a deep belief that she would be alright. I believed to the center of my being that she would make it through. That belief kept me sane during the one-hour drives to and from the hospital, during the lonely nights when I was not allowed to stay with her, and during all those moments that snap you back to reality after you've allowed yourself the luxury of thinking of something else.
Unfortunately, that belief was not shared by her physicians or by the disease itself. After three aggressive rounds of chemotherapy, the leukemia kept coming back. The treatment was not working. Kim needed a bone marrow transplant, but a donor had not been found yet. Time was running out.
After the disease came back for the fourth time, Kim was hospitalized for more chemotherapy. Her father caught me on my way into the hospital one day and took me to a waiting room. Looking utterly exhausted and defeated, he shared with me some dire news: Kim's physician believed she needed a transplant now and that she would not survive this fourth round of chemotherapy. He suggested we all prepare for the worst.
I sat back against the chair, stunned. My deep belief that Kim would be fine did not jive with this news. I looked at Kim's father and repeated that time-worn phrase that many men uttered before me: "Sir, I would like to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage."
Kim's father, being the big, strong, macho man that he is, immediately began to cry...tears of joy. I'm not sure what he was thinking, but I can only assume he felt some relief that his daughter would at least get to have a bit of happiness in all of the gloom. It didn't take him long to agree with the idea and offer any help I needed in doing the deed.
The next morning, my mother took me to the jeweler where she and my father had purchased their wedding rings. My mother, the jeweler, and the jeweler's wife spent hours with me finding just the right ring. Whether my mother had shared with them the circumstances, I don't know: either way, they were incredibly kind, generous, and genuinely happy for me. After all, I was about to propose to my lady.
That afternoon, I drove the hour-long drive to the hospital, practicing the perfect speech. I kept my hand on the ring box in my pocket for the entire walk from the parking garage up to the fourth floor where Kim was staying. My heart was racing and my hands were shaky. When I entered Kim's room, my heart fell. She was sitting by the window, crying. This was not something she did often.
When I asked her what was wrong, she said that the case manager had just left. The case manager shared with her the opinion of the medical staff: that time was running out and that a bone marrow donor had not materialized. The end was near.
Not knowing what else to do, I said, "I have something for you." Kim looked up, puzzled. There was a faint look in her eyes that said, "Did you hear me, you doofus?" I went over to my jacket and pulled the small box from my pocket. I walked back to the chair she was sitting in, knelt down beside her, and gave her the little box. She said, "What is it?" I didn't answer. She hadn't yet opened it, but simply looked at me.
I took off the surgical mask I was wearing, that was meant to protect her from me and my germs. I looked deeply into her eyes and said, "I believe in you."
So much for my practiced oratory.
Upon opening the box, Kim began crying all over again. But this time, just like her father, the tears were mingled with smiles and laughter. For the first time in what felt like ages, we kissed. The nursing staff found out what happened within about a nanosecond. Joy, which was not a common emotion on their floor, spread through the unit.
I would like to be able to tell you that everything worked out okay. That a donor for Kim was found. That she got her transplant. That she got better. That we married, went to graduate school, bought a house, and started a family.
So I will. Because that's exactly what happened.
When looking back at that time in our lives, some folks like to say that Kim's survival and recovery was due to divine intervention, a result of some unimaginable number of prayers said and whispered on her behalf. I mean no disrespect to anyone, divine or otherwise, but I politely disagree.
I believe the turning point had more to do with that modest, pretty ring than just about anything else. Not because of me or what I did or didn't do, but because of what that little ring represented: hope.
So I was going to wait to share this until my new bog was ready and done and all that good stuff, but I decided in the interest of time and maybe something a little Memento-esque, I'm posting my 2011 Best of Love now - before the majority of my 2011 wedding posts go up. It'll be sort of fun this winter and spring to deconstruct the year as an entity and look indepth at the pieces that made up the whole. Bass ackwards. The way I do most things anyways...
So in the words of one of my favorite man crushes [yes, that's plural], Kai Ryssdall, "Let's do the numbers." [start: We're in the Money, jazz trio/piano melody, med swing]
- couple's wedding night was their first time. Yay! It's awesome, right?
- of this year's grooms had lovely English accents. Wot, wot. Jolly good, old man.
- of my 2011 couples saw each other before the ceremony. I love that this number is so low!
- grooms were younger than their bride. Damn cougars.
- Number of my 2011 couples that didn't live together before they were married. 'Honey, is this soap or deodorant or toothpaste? All your stuff looks the same...'
- brides walked down the aisle with their bouquet but up the aisle without it. Flowers. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
- drunk bridesmaids tried to make out with me. Take a number, ladies. yeesh.
- is how many minutes my shortest ceremony was this year. Do you? Yes! Do you? Yes! Good! You're married. Kiss her.
- handmade chuppot this year. Mazel Tov! May you have many babies. Or something.
- receptions that played Lady Gaga and Don't Stop Believing BACK TO BACK. I'm hoping this number shrinks to 0 next year. Better yet, -10 so I get some redemption from the punishment I suffered.
- rainy wedding days this year. Call me awesome, but I love rain. Rain is only liquid sunshine. The wetter the better. That's what sh.... never mind. This is a family friendly blog.
So now, without further ado, I humbly and most graciously present to you...
Be Joyful. Seek the joy of being alive.
I don't do pretty. Pretty is a crutch. Pretty is I couldn't think of anything better to do so I decided to try my best to make myself just like everyone else. Pretty is stuck in traffic in rush hour. Pretty is not beautiful. Pretty is over processed and over romanticized. It's washed out, back light, vintage, and the same thing you've seen hundreds of times. Pretty is I wasn't paying attention, so I missed it. I have no patience for pretty.
Here's the kicker - I don't care. I don't give a shit about pretty because pretty doesn't make me feel, It makes me bored. It's shallow. You cannot see who is in pretty, you can only see what is in pretty. What is boring but who is fascinating. I do not waste my time with pretty.
I do honest. It isn't making or creating, there isn't a creative bone in my body. I observe and I fall in love. I wake up every day and I fail just a little bit more than I did the day before. My failure rate increases exponentially as I grow and every single day I struggle to the point of exhaustion and though in the end I emerge trampled, I have just enough strength to forge ahead because I believe in what I do with the utmost conviction. I believe in the power of honesty and truthfulness to show us a reflection of individuals' actions [and thusly of humanity as a whole] that fundamentally asks us to question who we are and why we behave the way we do. Behavior defines character. Environment shapes behavior. Don't be a lemming. We have enough of those.
Plus I like cake. Actually, that's a lie. I'm a pie man.
seek the joy