My 2009 New England wedding photography season may be finished, but Samantha Warren Weddings is certainly not idle. In fact, I am busier than ever, booking 2010 weddings, editing images from my final three weddings of this season (one each in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts- phew!), creating/finalizing album designs and making regular runs to the post office to send off completed client packages on the way to their happy homes. (Oh, and furiously trying to catch up on my blogging, too!)
Earlier this month in a post that featured Amy and Mark's album from their July wedding in Thornton, New Hampshire, I told you how hard it was to part with these beautiful books. I had the same sentiment last week when I shipped off Erica and Danny's album from their August nuptials at Church Landing on Lake Winnipesaukee. The 12 by 12 blue and yellow signature album is 38 pages and I think captures so well both the people and the place that made this day so meaningful to Erica and Danny (and all their wedding guests, including me).
A close-up of one of my favorite spreads. I still get chills two months later, when I see the way Danny looks at Erica and I can remember exactly how I (and everyone else under that Sperry tent) felt the moment I took that picture.
Erica and Danny had just a few changes from the original proof I presented them. I pride myself on getting to know my couples well enough so that I get a strong sense of the style of album they will most like, whether it be more photojournalistic, or more traditional. I especially love this image so large, because it so captures what I wrote about above: the people -Erica and Danny- and the place -with those quintessential ceder shakes and prim white window sashes, plus the reflection of the lake in the window, there is no doubt this is New England.
The preppy blue and yellow cover reflects the colors used throughout the day (see how good that blue looks with Danny's tie and socks), and with black pages, the images really pop.
And, here is a sampling of some of the spreads I designed. It's a 12 by 12 album, which means each spread is actually 12 inches tall and 24 inches (yeah, two foot) across! It's an impressive presentation, and one that I know Erica and Danny will always value.
To see other album designs, click here to see Amy & Mark, Thornton, New Hampshire wedding album and here to see Leslie & David's Rangeley, Maine wedding album. And to read about why you should purchase an album of your wedding day (about 75 percent of my couples now purchase signature albums), click here to read why a wedding album is worth it from the perspective of both me as a photographer, and my couples.
I first went to Monhegan the month before Kyle and I got married, on assignment for the Maine Office of Tourism to photograph the island for an upcoming Sunday travel section story in the Washington Post. Located 10 miles offshore (and thus accessible only by boat), the intimate island -home to about 65 year-round residents- immediately became one of top three "happy places" from the moment I stepped off the mailboat beneath bright bluebird skies. (Aziscohos Lake in western Maine where we often camp, and Villeneuve les Avignon where we honeymooned in France are the others). I've since been back to Monhegan two times with Kyle - for our first and third anniversaries-, and each time, it has been pouring to the point where you actually have to wring your Grundens out! Last year, we even braved a hurricane - aptly named Kyle- and the 12-foot swells that came with it, as I keep swearing to my Kyle that nothing sparkles in the sun more stunningly than the waters surrounding Monhegan and no place is it more relaxing to curl up on a hot rock and simply stare at the sea.
Luckily, the third time there together was a charm, as our two-day/two-night getaway there to celebrate our fourth anniversary in late September was bone dry and oh-so-delightful. For two whole days, we disconnected (no Facebook, no iPhones, no cable, no nothing) and spent our days walking and witnessing and eating and exploring and reading on the rocks and reveling in the company of each other, and that of the people we met at the table during shared meals served family style at our B&B of choice, the Trailing Yew. We've stayed there these last two years, because we enjoy the company we meet there, and because no electricity in the bedrooms is an excuse to fall asleep early, as soon as you've blown out your bedside lantern. (The homemade donuts served at breakfast only sweeten the deal.) We're not one of those couples who has to do everything together, but we want to, and so Monhegan's quiet and quaint pace -no cars on the island, no cell reception and just a few small shops and eateries- makes it a perfect place to truly catch up with each other and do nothing and everything in the process.
Monhegan is a magical place, one that even as a skilled writer, I cannot find the words to describe. Some of America's my celebrated artists have attempted to represent its allure on canvas, and though the paintings of Rockwell Kent, Jamie Wyeth and so many others convey the look of this place, even they are unable to completely capture what the feeling of the island- at once intimate but isolated, charming but not contrived, raw yet regal, home but so far from it. From anything.
Here is a map of the island, to give you your bearings.
The view from our bedroom window.
Our first morning there, we hiked out across the island (which is only a square mile or so) to the cliffs on the backside. Our first stop along the way was the lighthouse atop the island. I love the juxtaposition of the modern solar panels with the nearly 200-year-old lighthouse. Those contrasts are what I love most about the island, which is accessible by public boat only three times a week in the winter.
The Monhegan Museum is located in the former lightkeeper's home.
And the view from atop the hill where the lighthouse sits, looking down onto the village.
We kept hiking across the island until we reached White Head, a 160-foot cliff where we sat (often in silence) looking out onto the ocean for more than an hour, in hopes of seeing a whale. No luck, though we did see seals and a pair of porpoises, and we made friends with this cheeky gull.
Looking north to Black Head (notice how the passing of the clouds changes not just the appearance of the sky, but of the water).
A compromise that allowed me to bring my camera allowed Kyle to turn it on me.
We continued our hike after a self-portrait session (see our best take at the top of this post). Here's looking back at White Head.
And then south to Burnt Head, another craggy cliff on the back side of the island that comes about 140 feet out of the water (though the cliffs actually go several hundred feet below the water as well).
Any idea why they call this Gull Cove? ;)
A benefit of being in bed by 8 p.m. is that it's much easier to get up in the morning. I ran down to Fish Beach to capture the sun coming up over the harbor and the small island of Manana, where rock here is purported to contain Norse or Phoenician inscriptions. Look how golden that morning light is!
While waiting for the breakfast bell, we took a few more self-portraits, coffee in hand. We tried to look fierce, but ended up just looking fierce.
After breakfast, we walked down to Lobster Cove at the island's southern end, where Rockwell Kent's house is located. It was formerly owned by a Wyeth, though I can't remember which one. What a view.
Back at the Yew, people were painting on the lawn as laundry dried on the line. Just as it has for the past 100 years, Monhegan continues to draw artists from around the world. There are several dozen studios around the island - mostly landscape painters- and on every flat spot, you're likely to find an easel set up.
While our first full day on the island was devoted to exploring, our second was to staying sedentary. With books borrowed from the Yew's common room (I read Olive Kitteridge, which I highly recommend), we settled on some rocks on Deadman's Cove on the northwest side of the island and read for much of the morning.
As we discovered while staying on the island last year, late September is when Monhegan plays host to a migratory fallout and the hundreds of binocular-toting birders who come to the island during the two or so week period as a result of the thousands upon thousands of birds - some of them rare- that fly over the island during their annual commute. Not knowing what to look for, we spotted a few eagles, some hawks and plenty of seagulls, as well of this flock of geese (flying over Nigh Duck) heading south for the season.
Before heading home, we took a ride round the island on the Balmy Days. For $3 a person, they provide a half hour guided trip circling Monhegan each day during the summer season at 2 p.m. I was nervous because we were one of the last to board the boat and the viewing deck was already full of people. Kyle assured me we'd be ok, and sure enough, we sat on the bow deck -easily the best seat in the house- all by ourselves!
Monhegan Harbor from the water.
Rockwell Kent's home, from the water. It's one of my top five if-I-ever-win-the-lottery-that-I-don't-play or invent-the-next-Spanx I'll buy this houses.
And, coming back into the harbor and looking at Manana.
Finally, waiting for the boat back to Port Clyde, and reality.
The first time we went to Monhegan it just for the day, then the next time an overnight, and this time, two nights. On this trip, we repeatedly discussed our desire to add an additional night to our trip for each additional year we are married, with the idea that eventually, we'll be able to summer here, and have our children and grandchildren come stay with us for stretches. We've also talked about returning to southern France for our five year anniversary next September, but even if we do, I suspect we'll still see Monhegan in 2010.
10 miles out at sea, it grounds us.