Hertel Avenue, North Buffalo Photography

Couples photography session with Katie and Sean around Hertel Avenue and their North Buffalo neighborhood.

This past weekend, my pals Katie and Sean were on the hunt for some fresh photos to gift for the holidays and I was ready to deliver. It’s always fun when friends call for photos, and I’m so glad these two did. We had such a great time wandering around their North Buffalo neighborhood during their couples photography session. Hertel Avenue is where they spend most their time, where they had their first date, etc. so it was only fitting that we had the session right in their neighborhood. We grabbed their pup Jameson and just started walking. I love when couples pick locations that are personal to them. From what I’ve experienced, people tend to photograph their best in locations that make them happy, and this was no exception.

couple walks dog in front of North Park Theater during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY

Jameson was a very, very good boy indeed!

couple plays with dog in front of North Park Theater during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY
couple smiles at each other on bench in front of North Park Theater during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY
couple smiles at each other on bench in front of North Park Theater during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY
couple smiles at each other on bench in front of North Park Theater during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY
couple smiles at each other on bench in front of North Park Theater during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY

Hertel Avenue and the North Park Theater truly make such charming backdrops for photography.

couple kisses in front of North Park Theater during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY

There’s no shortage of fantastic murals around North Buffalo, but this one by Chuck Tingley is really… out of this world…

couple and dog smile at one another in front of Buffalo mural during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY
couple smiles at each other in front of Buffalo mural during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY

My friend Mark Adamusik’s mural made for a colorful backdrop as well!

couple smiles for photographer in front of Buffalo mural during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY
couple laughs in front of Buffalo mural during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY
couple embraces in front of Buffalo mural during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY

Just a man and his pup. <3

man plays with dog during couples mini photography session on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY

One last mural photography stop on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo!

man kisses woman on cheek in front of Buffalo mural on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY
couple kisses while holding hands in front of Buffalo mural on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY during couples photography session
couple laughs while holding hands in front of Buffalo mural on Hertel Ave. in North Buffalo, NY during couples photography session

That’s all from this mini session! Thanks for the fun times Katie and Sean!

If you or someone you know is looking for a quick session for holiday gifts or cards, please reach out here!

Engagement and Proposal Photography in Buffalo

Jae Youn and Darren’s wedding engagement and surprise(!) proposal photography at Bidwell Parkway and Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY

Until couple weeks ago, Jae Youn and Darren were one of the many couples I’ve booked in 2020 who I had only been able to get to know through email. In an effort to limit my exposure to people and stay as healthy as possible for the actual photo shoots that are happening this year, I haven’t been meeting clients for consultations in person. As we all know, Zoom calls and emails are just no match for a real live hangout though. SO, I was very excited to learn that Darren was going to be able to come visit WNY (he lives in San Francisco) to see Jae Youn and have their engagement photography session at Bidwell Parkway and Tifft Nature Preserve here in Buffalo!

What I didn’t realize, was that this couple hadn’t OFFICIALLY got engaged yet! They were deep in planning their wedding, but with COVID-19 and living on opposite coasts, they hadn’t technically sealed the deal!

The session started as any ordinary engagement session would. We began at Bidwell Parkway where the rows of trees were just starting reach their colorful fall prime.

bride and groom pose for engagement photos among fall foliage in Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom walk holding hands during engagement photography session among fall foliage in Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom laugh during engagement photos among fall foliage in Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo, NY

From Bidwell Parkway we made our way to Tifft Nature Preserve for the next round of photos.

bride and groom pose for portraits during engagement photography session among fall foliage in Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom laugh during engagement photography session among fall foliage in Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom laugh during engagement photography session among fall foliage in Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY

As we walked to the next photography spot at Tifft, Darren flashed a ring box at me when Jae wasn’t looking. It was a really nice warm day (by Buffalo standards) and I had wondered why Darren was carrying around a down coat. Turns out he was carrying the coat so he could hide the ring box inside! I was extremely confused though. We were taking their engagement photos and the wedding was already booked, why would he have a ring now?! I rolled with it thinking maybe they just didn’t have the ring yet when they decided to get married. Perhaps the ring itself was the surprise. Turns out, nope, this was the real proposal!

man shows woman ring during wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
man wipes woman
man picks up woman and spins her during wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
man and woman laugh during wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
man and woman hug during wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride checks out ring during wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom laugh during wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom kiss during wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY

How sweet was that proposal?! They were so excited and relieved to finally be officially engaged! Jae had been worried she wouldn’t have a ring for their engagement photography, but for some reason she was just rolling with it too. The rest of their pictures look much more complete with that little extra sparkle, if I do say so.

bride and groom snuggle in the cat tails after wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom embrace in front of pine trees after wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom embrace in front of pine trees after wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom smile for photographer in front of pine trees after wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom embrace in front of cat tails after wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom hold hands on top of hill in field after wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and grooms arms around each other after wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride and groom embrace in front of pine trees after wedding engagement proposal at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY

That’s all for this one! I can’t wait until next year when these two tie the knot and we can celebrate at The Foundry!

If you or someone you know is looking for proposal or engagement photography in Buffalo, have them contact me here!

Policing the Rochester Police – Silvon Simmons

Supporting photography from a Reuters investigation in to the policing of the Rochester, NY police in the wake of the 2016 shooting of Silvon Simmons and the recent killing of Daniel Prude.

Silvon Simmons poses for portrait in front of driveway where he was shot by police in Rochester, NY

I’ve made the drive back and forth between Buffalo and Rochester, NY quite a few times this year to cover an array of stories for Reuters, all revolving around the black community. From grassroots COVID-19 education to Black Lives Matter protests, I’ve got to know Rochester on a new level through these assignments.

Yesterday, Reuters released one of these stories. It’s an exhaustive investigation by writers, Lisa Girion and Reade Levinson, in to the very complicated topic of policing police. This is a very good, important and tough read (and not just because of its length and depth.) Without sensationalism, it breathes life in to the issues through the story of Silvon Simmons, the innocent victim of a 2016 Rochester police shooting. I highly recommend setting aside some time to read the article. It can be found here.

As part of this complex story, I had the opportunity to photograph and even interview some of the folks involved. This allowed me to experience the humanity behind the tragic events that have transpired between members of the black community and the Rochester Police.

Pictured above and below is Silvon Simmons. Silvon was shot three times in the back by a Rochester police officer in his driveway (pictured behind him) upon returning home from the store with his neighbor. The officer claimed he thought Silvon was someone else. Without checking his license plate, calling for back up, turning on sirens, etc. he pursued Silvon who ran for cover in his driveway upon seeing a backlit figure running at him with a gun.

Silvon Simmons poses for portrait in front of driveway where he was shot by police in Rochester, NY

Silvon survived the shooting, but suffered a collapsed lung among other injuries. He still has bullets lodged in his body and feels pain every day. To add insult to injury, Silvon was arrested for trying to shoot the police officer, despite there being no evidence. Silvon spent years in jail before he received a not guilty verdict at trial.

This was Silvon’s first time back at the scene. He lived in the gray house seen in the background with his partner and their three children. That snack run changed his life forever.

Loretta Scott, Rochester, NY City Counsel President, poses for portrait in city hall

More recently, a video surfaced of a man, Daniel Prude. Prude was being restrained by the Rochester Police while suffering a mental health episode. Prude later died of complications due to asphyxia. These events caused an uprising of rallies and protests in the city of Rochester and an amplified outcry for the policing of police. Seen below are the early makings of a memorial for Daniel Prude on Jefferson Ave., where the fatal restraint went down.

memorial to Daniel Pride in Rochester, NY

Community leaders like Mayor Lovely Warren and Rev. Lewis Stewart (pictured below) among others spoke out against the events in an attempt to unite the community.

Mayor Lovely Warren speaks to press about the killing of Daniel Prude in Rochester, NY
Rev. Lewis Steward speaks during vigil for Daniel Prude in Rochester, NY

They were met with frustrated, fed up community members for whom comforting words were no longer enough. Below, as a vigil for Daniel Prude was about to begin at First Church of God, Jordyn Smith (pictured) and dozens of other protestors stormed the scene, demanding the people there join them in marching for real change.

Jordyn Smith during Black Lives Matter protest in Rochester, NY

Protestors eventually gathered by the hundreds on Jefferson Ave. and demonstrations lasted for over a week.

people stand with signs during Black Lives Matter protest in Rochester, NY
Black Lives Matter protest in Rochester, NY
people kneel around memorial to Daniel Prude during Black Lives Matter protest in Rochester, NY
person lights candle at memorial to Daniel Prude during Black Lives Matter protest in Rochester, NY
child says prayer in front of memorial to Daniel Prude during Black Lives Matter protest in Rochester, NY

The incidents surrounding Daniel Prude’s death felt all too familiar for other victims of police violence. I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Silvon Simmon’s parents, Frank and Sharlene. They were living in Memphis at the time Silvon was shot, but immediately packed their bags for Rochester and have been there to support Silvon ever since. Frank and Sharlene were incredibly hospitable and welcomed me and all my big questions with open hearts. We poured through family photos together as they recalled all kinds of great stories about their family history.

Frank and Sharlene Simmons, parents of Silvon Simmons, pose for portrait in their home in Rochester, NY
childhood photos of Silvon Simmons

As the afternoon rolled on, we laughed, we cried… It was really touching to better understand what their experience has been through all this, and to hear their hopes for progress.

Frank and Sharlene Simmons, parents of Silvon Simmons, during a Reuters interview in their home in Rochester, NY
Frank and Sharlene Simmons, parents of Silvon Simmons, pose for portrait in their home in Rochester, NY

I also met with Rochester City Counsel President, Loretta Scott, pictured below. The city counsel is currently fighting to create a police accountability board. This volunteer board would help investigate complaints against police and review policing practices.

I urge everyone to read this Reuters piece. This is no easy subject, but one we hope will continue the conversation about accountability and help to save black lives like Silvon’s. Here’s the link: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/section/usa-police-rochester/

Silvon Simmons poses for portrait in front of driveway where he was shot by police in Rochester, NY

All inquiries, please contact me here.

The Admiral Room – a Buffalo, NY Wedding Venue

Inspiration and highlights from weddings photographed in the Admiral Room

I had the opportunity to tour the Admiral Room at the Marin several years ago when it was up for sale. This Renaissance Revival style high-rise built in 1913 was formerly a bank and had been sitting empty for many years. Sad remnants of the building’s past remained in the form of abandoned cubicles and office carpeting. At the time, a friend of mine had visions of turning it in to a wedding venue and wanted some feedback from a few of us in the industry. I took one step inside the building and it was an instant, big time YES from me. My friend inevitably passed on the opportunity, but I’m SO glad someone else went through with this project and converted the space in to a wedding venue. The Admiral Room is a truly special place and an important part of the history of Buffalo, NY. It deserved all the amazing renovations it has received and all the smiling faces that now celebrate within its walls.

It has been so exciting to experience the rebirth of the Admiral Room at the Marin as a wedding venue. From a vacant building to a stunning space filled with joy and celebration, it’s been a transition for the ages. I’ve had the opportunity to photograph a few events in this space so far. I’ll be adding more pictures to this feature over time, but please enjoy these highlights to date!

Julie stopped in to the Admiral Room before heading to her wedding ceremony to check out her decorations and get a few portraits with her bridesmaids and sweet flower girls.

Kelly and Sean had their wedding ceremony in the Admiral Room

The Admiral Room doesn’t need much dressing up, but a little decor never hurts! Here’s some inspiration!

Guests typically gather in the front of the Admiral Room for cocktail hour, right after they pick their jaws up off the floor upon seeing this beautiful space.

Cocktail hour can also be a great time to gather extended family for a portrait!

Couples are often introduced in to their wedding reception from this amazing little balcony high above the ballroom floor.

Dinner is a great time for couples to sneak away for a few portraits outside the Admiral Room. Buffalo’s Main St. provides a most charming urban backdrop.

Back inside, it’s time to dance (and eat cake)!

To be continued! Here’s looking forward to documenting many more happy memories in the Admiral Room in Buffalo, NY!

To see some of these weddings in their entirety and peep the vendors involved, check out these links:

Julie + Chris

Kelly + Sean

Engagement Photography at City Hall and Tifft Preserve in Buffalo

Courtney + John

When I first met Courtney and John for their engagement photography session, the typical small talk began. “Soooooo, how did you two meet?” I asked.

“Do you want the real story or the story we tell people?” Courtney asked in return.

Of course I wanted to hear BOTH stories, and then ask many follow up questions about why they have TWO!

“We met in a bar through mutual friends,” John told me.

But the real story, as Courtney told, was that she saw John on American Idol back in 2004 when he was just 16 years old (!) and took an interest in him. Some seven years later, as a newly single Courtney sat around her college dorm room, she wondered, “hmmm wonder what John from Idol is up to” and decided to look him up on social media! She found him on Facebook and they connected! WAY better story than, “we met in a bar!”

As it turns out, Courtney is a jazz singer as well and these two share a deep, common love for music. Ah music, the great uniter. They also have Buffalo in common! John is originally from the Buffalo, NY area and Courtney went to college here. Buffalo holds a special spot in both their histories and was a meaningful place to have their engagement photos taken. And this is of course how we end up here on this blog!

We began Courtney and John’s engagement photography session in the Lafayette Square area of Buffalo. This square is a great spot to get many different urban backdrops between the glorious Hotel Lafayette, the “Wildflowers for Buffalo” mural, the iconic views of City Hall and more.

Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Wildflowers for Buffalo mural in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Wildflowers for Buffalo mural in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Wildflowers for Buffalo mural in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Wildflowers for Buffalo mural in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at City Hall in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at City Hall in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Lafayette Square in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Lafayette Square in Buffalo, NY

Buffalo City Hall would have been a perfectly wonderful pinnacle for this engagement session, but we wanted to mix it up with some more natural settings and Tifft Nature Preserve was calling our names. Tifft is one of my favorite locations for photography. This preserve suits my style very well and offers a ton of variety between the woods, fields, pond, etc.

Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
bride laughs as groom hugs her from behind during wedding engagement portrait photography session at tifft nature preserve in Buffalo, NY
groom kisses bride on cheek during wedding engagement portrait photography session at tifft nature preserve in Buffalo, NY

As we walked from the forested area of Tifft Nature Preserve to the open fields, the sky started to do some crazy magical things. I knew we were in store for some special light for the main event of this photo shoot. Late summer in Buffalo always tends to produce the most magical cloud formations and sunsets. Lucky for us, this night featured one of the best shows of the season!

Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY
Courtney Woods and John Stevens wedding engagement portrait photography at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo, NY

That’s all from this one! Many thanks for Courtney and John for hiring me to be their wedding engagement photographer! It was so fun getting to know these two and sharing such a beautiful night with them at City Hall and Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo.

If you or someone you know is looking for an engagement or wedding photographer, please have them contact me here!