Kids and Families

Baby boy!

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Emily and Sean and their baby boy enjoyed a morning of photos in their impeccable Silver Spring home. I mean, sparkling impeccable. It’s like they had a newborn who couldn’t move around destroying half the house or something yet. For now, he lay around looking ornamentally cute on the floor and on their couch. Adorned by two loyal dogs, the family couldn’t have had a more picture-perfect holiday card. In the last shot, he was already napping soundly in his father’s arms.

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Kids and Families

Holiday: Stephanie and Jeff and the kids!

 

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Stephanie and Jeff have two little people with two big personalities, and it was just a riot capturing their pictures. The big brother doesn’t like to admit that he really, deep down, loves his little sister. His sister, on the other hand, spent much of the photo shoot chasing him around trying to hug him to pieces. Stephanie opted for an urban look to the pictures so we met in downtown Silver Spring at the artsy Christmas tree and then to the new Silver Spring library. Here are a few shots from their session!

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Kids and Families

Holiday: Blue Steel Toddler

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Remember this kid? Well, here are a few of my favorites from this session! We’ve actually met a few times at the local watering hole (i.e. the playground) and when his mother, Joan, opened the door, we both went, “oh! I recognize you!” Anyway, this child woke up on the wrong side of the toddler bed that morning, but still managed to put on quite a winning look. I’m telling you, this kid is going to charm his way through life. I had such a great time photographing this little family.

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A snapshot from one of my jam-packed weekend of family photo shoots, just in time for upcoming holiday cards. This little girl was a real riot, and her baby brother was just all toothy smiles and cheeks. The camera loved them.

 

Kids and Families

A Snapshot: Early holiday cheer!

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Special Events

Married: Erin and Dan!

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Erin and Dan were married on a chilly December day right in the middle of the holiday season, and what a joyful holiday it was! Erin, who apparently once declared she would never get married, did so at the Bier Baron in Washington, D.C. where she met Dan a year ago. To bring it full-circle, they invited a small group of friends and families to share a beer and watch them say their vows. Afterwards, more guests joined them at Dan’s childhood home in Derwood, Md. outside the Beltway, for a most excellent reception of oysters, Texas beef brisket, smoked salmon, vegan and non-vegan cake, dancing to Gangnam Style (and other songs) in the decked-out garage, and cigars on the back porch.

Since Dan’s mother, Calli, is actually a good friend of mine from work, I’ve witnessed (or heard many details of) the relationship and wedding planning since day one. It’s been super fun leaning over Calli’s shoulder at her computer screen as she picked out tealights, gift bags, flowers and talked about clearing out the garage for a dance floor and the food selection with the caterer. I had a great time being a part of the wedding celebration as photographer. Enjoy!

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Dan Erin Bier Baron

A girl and a boy met in a bar… and then a year later, they were married at the bar.

Special Events

A snapshot: Erin and Dan!

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Places

Spain! Part uno

The alcazar in Segovia

Finally! I have gotten around to posting some pics from our travels to Spain back in May. With this wonderful vacation time called maternity leave, Jon and I rushed to have a passport issued for baby and packed a travel crib, carseat, stroller, Baby Bjorn, and one giant suitcase of mostly her clothes and some for ourselves. We spent three weeks wandering through Spain, beginning with eight days in Madrid, followed by a train trip north to Basque Country (San Sebastian and Bilbao), then a flight south to Andalucia. It was more than just matadors and women in frilly dresses who danced with fans; it was a whole Arabian world, a land of late lunches and dinners, of narrow alleys and cultural perseverance, evenings of 2-euro wine and Picasso, siestas and economic turmoil and rapid-tongue language,  ever-changing scenery, roasting late spring weather, plasticky diapers, strong religion and historic cobblestone streets that ripped up our stroller wheels. I believe taking such a crazy trip with an infant forced us all to become very flexible, accommodating, patient and efficient – all of us. She’s been the easiest baby ever since, as well as the most well-traveled, and for that we were able to enjoy our time there. Here are some select pictures from the first week of our trip, through Madrid, Toledo and Segovia, at random.

Parque de Retiro, Madrid

Conservatory in Parque de Retiro, Madrid
Marche San Miguel, Madrid

Parade of giant heads, Festival of San Isidro, Madrid

Ceramic piggies, Madrid

Catedral Primada Santa María, Toledo

Sacristy, Toledo

Toledo train station

Tapas menu, Toledo

Aqueduct, Segovia

Alcazar from hiking trail, Segovia

City gate, Segovia

Segovia Cathedral, Segovia

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Places

A snapshot: Spain!

  A matador faces down the bull in Sevilla.

Apologies for the grand hiatus from updating this photo blog. I’ve been busy transitioning all my photo editing to a new Macintosh and – oh yeah! – had a baby girl in February! During this wonderful vacation they call “maternity leave”, we were able to embark on our first family voyage to Spain. The next several series will be photos from our trip as we traveled through Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Seville, Cordoba, Jerez and Cadiz, the Pueblo Blancos, Ronda and finally Granada. I am exhausted, happy and combing through several dozen gigabytes of photos to post here. Stay tuned!

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Places

Anguilla!

Shoal Bay East, Anguilla

The tiny British island of Anguilla, three miles from St. Martin in the Caribbean, is so exclusive that it’s like a country club in many ways. For one thing, anyone familiar with the island clearly has money, or has prioritized their annual budgets to include a trip here because they know it’s worth it. And members of this exclusive club can talk “island talk” to each other, as my doctor did to me today during my visit. “Ah, Anguilla, he sighed. “Uncle Ernie’s is the best,” referring to the little beach-front ribs shack that is so popular and famous on the island for reasons still unbeknownst to me (they’re just $8 chicken and ribs, they are tasty, and I suppose they come with an ocean view). It was once one of the best-kept secrets of the Caribbean, a beautiful strip of tranquility without the cruise ships, the mobs of tacky tourists, the noise of casinos and the drunken stupor of college kids at a strip bar. Anguilla is above all that, and on purpose, too: in the 1980’s, the island government made a deliberate decision to target the high-end customer and never to build a casino. In exchange, it welcomed travelers who would not only respect the island and beautiful azure waters and white sand made of crushed sun-bleached seashells, but to grow to love Anguilla as much as the locals did. Outsiders are “guests” of the island, not tourists, and everyone treats each other equally.

Sure, entrees at the award-winning restaurants start at $40 and it cost us nearly $100 just to get off the island back to St. Martin (taxi to the ferry, ferry ticket, departure tax). But why leave the island at all? Jon and I seriously contemplated never coming home while we were there on our ocean-front studio with kitchen, snorkeling and sunning and getting sand between the pages of our paperbacks. When the tide was fierce outside our studio, we took the rental car to a random trail and ended up at quiet Junks Hole Bay for a morning of swimming and seashell gathering. For a few days, we were island folk, people who lived a simple life out of a single carry-on suitcase and two backpacks. And of course, my ever-growing bulky camera bag, which caught a few Anguillan moments when I wasn’t too lazy on my beach chair.

Junks Hole Bay

Scilly Cay fishing village

Sunset over Shoal Bay East


Church in Island Harbour

Sunset over Shoal Bay Villas

Palm trees, Shoal Bay East

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Places

9/11 Memorial

World Trade Center Memorial

Even though I grew up a half hour outside Manhattan, I (shamefully) didn’t really know where the World Trade Center was. I never ventured below Chinatown. Years later I realized all I had to do was look up and that was the guiding symbol pointing me south, an obvious landmark I used to gather my bearings after emerging from the depths of the underground subway.

My clearest memory of the World Trade Center is the elevator. Particularly the one leading up to Windows on the World, taking me specifically to a bar known as the Greatest Bar on Earth, on the 107th floor. The elevator was the size of my room on the Upper West Side. My friend Marjorie, with whom I always went to Windows, and I would discuss how to arrange bedroom furniture around the elevator.

Other than the elevator size, the company with us on the rides were always was an experience. Many of the passengers donned name tags, usually out-of-towners in for their first Twin Towers experience. They didn’t just stare at the floor numbers lighting up. They gasped as the elevator took off. Riding to the top of the city took a New York minute. And as everyone poured out of the elevators to the top of the building, discussion about the incredible elevator speed always followed, maybe with a comment about someone’s stomach being left down below as the elevator shot upwards. And then they would all ooh and aah at the magnificent view, usually a festive sunset over the harbor. New Yorkers hustling about during rush hour disappeared far below, and the vast maze of Manhattan shone golden from the setting sun, in the same way the immigrants imagined golden streets as their boat approached the Statue of Liberty, also visible from our table. We would sit and sip wine and munch sushi while the city darkened around us from pink to orange to purple to navy, specks of light flicking on the city like a Christmas tree.

The first time I visited Windows on the World was in 1999, with Marjorie, to deliver pamphlets for our law office who was participating in some conference there. As we stepped off the elevator, we were greeted by a vision of white. Tall white walls, tall white glass, white everywhere. Where were the alleged windows as indicated in the name, Windows on the World? Turned out they shielded us from the white puff clouds outside, so thick I was led to believe the windows were sheets of white glass. I felt like I was either in heaven or on a misty soap opera. Even if I saw nothing that day, I remember the strange swirling sensation of the clouds mixing white with white, and how within two minutes I could rise from several levels underground on the subway all the way up to the top of the world.

Today, all that’s left are two dark stone squares that mark the footprints where these magnificent buildings once stood, a memorial to those who died on 9/11/01. You can touch the names of the deceased, who are forever embedded into the ghosts of the towers that once stood there. I found the name of a high school classmate and old friend, Peter Alderman, who died while attending a conference at the top of one tower. His family created the Peter C. Alderman Foundation, dedicated to helping victims of terrorism heal emotionally. Peter was a genuine, kind, light-hearted and jovial individual everyone liked.  I like to think that Peter rode the elevator to the top of the world that day, and stayed there.

Peter’s name on the North Tower memorial

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Kids and Families

A snapshot: Babies!

Where have I been since China? I’ve been surrounded by BABIES, lots of brand-new people blissfully unaware that they’ve just embarked on the exciting adventure of life. I spent some time up in New York photographing two newborns and their siblings, a now 10-month old Tater, and my favoritest little ones splashing away summer in a grand old inflatable swimming pool courtesy of their aunt (me). At the request of the two newborn parents I will not be posting their photos on this blog, but I couldn’t resist this one’s little tiny feet. Congrats to the parents! Stay tuned for more pictures of my summer!

 

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Places

Jiangnan

Boats, West Lake, Hangzhou

The Jiangnan region is a picturesque area outside Shanghai that includes the growing cities of Hangzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou and Nanjing. Hangzhou is famous for its beautiful West Lake, Nanjing for its rockwork, Suzhou for its gardens and canal system, and Wuxi for its fancy new Lingshan Buddhist Temple.

We toured through the region in a quick week, sampling a garden here, museum there, and many factories/ stores since, after all, our tour guide would receive commission for everything we bought. Nonetheless, it was cherry blossom season, and the pink flowers were in full bloom, the tea was fresh, and the weather was picture-perfect.

Sunset, West Lake Park, Hangzhou

Lake through trees, Hangzhou

Boating dock, West Lake, Hangzhou

Guardian dog-lions on a bridge, Hangzhou

Buddhist lanterns, Lingshan Buddhist Temple, Wuxi

Giant Buddha, Lingshan Buddhist Temple, Wuxi

Bells, Lingshan Buddhist Temple, Wuxi

Longjing Tea fields, outside Hangzhou

Sun-Yat Sen Memorial, Purple Mountains, Nanjing

Rock garden, Nanjing

Canal, Suzhou

Window in Liuyuan (Lingering Garden), Suzhou

Student drawing a rock garden in Liuyuan, Suzhou

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Places

Shanghai!

Pearl Tower, Shanghai

Shanghai is China’s most modern, most populous, fastest-growing city. It claims to be the “youngest” city with the least history, although it’s been around since the 1100s. Once the city of opium and sin, the outlet to the Western World, a place where Europeans descended and built their empires on the Bund, the city is now open to all people, and all people have flocked to live, work and visit, including us.

Yu Gardens and Bazaar

Pudong skyline


Walkway, Yu Gardens and Bazaar

Wall of flowers, the Bund

Yu Gardens and Bazaar

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Places

Beijing, part 2

Door, Tian Tan

1,100 photos later, I’ve finally plowed through the first part of our China trip and completed Beijing. A few random shots and the Olympic Village round out the rest of this series. Check back when I start posting Guangzhou, Shanghai and the Jiangnan tour!

Ming Tombs

Climbing a Great Wall Tower

Cherry blossoms at Jing Shan park

Kite flying at Olympic Promenade by the bird’s nest

A relaxed parent on vacation, Tian Tan

Bird’s nest, up close

The Water Cube, Olympic Village

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Places

Beijing, part one

The Great Wall of China – the Greatest Wall in the History of the World

The Middle Kingdom, indeed. You can feel the 1.3 billion people as soon as you descend on the newly rehabbed airport in Beijing (thanks to the 2008 Summer Olympics), and as you pack into the subway like sardines, and as you wander through the streets. Yet you can find such quiet and solace in the parks as people silently move through their t’ai-chi and sword practice, or at the highest point on the Great Wall, where tourists in high heels can’t reach and pushy souvenir vendors don’t want to haul their goods.

The concept of Beijing is difficult to grasp: the sheer size, the amount of people, the hugeness of the buildings (from the Forbidden City to modern day architecture), the length of history (nearly 3,000 years – with a unified “modern” China beginning in the 1200s), the promise of its powerful placement in the world.

The next few series of photographs will all be dedicated to our recent voyage through China, beginning with Beijing, to the southern Cantonese city of Ghangzhou (Canton), up to the European influences of Shanghai and its surrounding cities in the Jiangnan province.

Wall, Tian Tan (Temple of Heaven)

Man writing with water, Jing Shan park

Moat outside the Forbidden City

Dragon kite, Bei Hai park

Wangfujing night market

The Great Wall

Tian’an Men, entrance to the Forbidden City

Lady dancing with ribbon at Tian Tan park

Buddhist Temple at Bei Hai park

Rooftop at Forbidden City

Tomatoes at early morning street market near Fuli cheng

Tian Tan

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Places

Guatapé and Cartagena!

Praying Mary, halfway up El Peñón

We took off on a bus from Medellín to El Peñón de Guatapé, this giant monolith rock which offers a great hike and spectacular views, with a praying statue halfway up to mark just how spiritual the place can be, even for non-religious types. Afterwards we headed into Guatapé to check out the brightly painted streets. It is actually a zoning requirement to paint your house loud colors with pictures of animals or plants.

The next day we jetted off to the seaside UNESCO World Heritage city of Cartagena, where we walked the old cobblestoned streets (often flooded from dumping rain), explored the city wall and ate a lot of ceviche. Olé!


Overlook from El Peñón


Typical street in Guatapé


Church in Guatapé


entrance to old city in Cartagena


Statues playing chess


At the fort

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Places

Medellín, Colombia!

Botero’s work, Palacio Municipal

Here’s a city I never thought I’d visit… Medellín, Colombia. I mean, this is where drug lord Pablo Escobar made his fortune ruling the city and country with cocaine, and created such a horrible reputation for the city that nobody ever really visited. Today, it’s still not flocking with tourists (at least not yet, anyway), but it’s a vibrant city, pushing its residents into the parks, gardens, markets, restaurants, and promenades featuring the bulbous art of Ferdinand Botero and the wonderful public transportation in the form of metro and gondolas. Here are some pics I snapped while in town staying at the excellent residence of Noah and Marcela, at Su Casa Colombia.

Getting around town by gondola

Catedral Metropolitana, made entirely of bricks

Botero’s Bird of Peace, ironically destroyed by a guerilla bomb

Crates of mangos at the fruit market

Noah, Marcela and Jon peer into the stadium at Unidad Deportiva Atanasio Giradot

These avocados were as big as our heads

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Places

Zanzibar!

Zanzibar – the name alone evokes exotic images of old buildings, spice merchants, long stone alleyways and people shuffling by with silky scarves fluttering behind them. A page out of Arabian Nights, which I admit I’ve never read, but I imagined both would be the same. And that’s exactly what Zanzibar was like! Amazing! A step back 100 years, except with cars and cell phones in hand.

Photographing people was quite difficult because they really don’t like it, and will even get angry or throw things at you and I didn’t want to ruin hundreds of dollars in equipment. I tried the “Hey Jon, stand over there” and pointed the camera anywhere except at Jon. They’re not dumb, but they left me alone, since at least I tried to be discreet. However, I didn’t have the luxury of composing grand images of the women in colorful scarves and skirts, or the men in their traditional robes. I did manage to get some guys playing soccer who were happy to show off their skills for the camera. Here are a few select images from this mystical island off of Tanzania.



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