Thanks for stopping by. Check in every so often to see recent photography sessions, weddings, and family fun. I also post little tidbits about my life and work so you can get to know me a little better. Take a peek, enjoy, and let me know what you think!
Michelle and Mikal are a super-eclectic couple; they’re expressive, emotive, creative, and they are clearly meant for each other. I had a great time doing their engagement session last month, which you can see on the big bright beautiful blog. Their wedding definitely reflected their personalities and their sense of humor and aesthetic. Their wedding invitation said, “Dinner, drinks and awkward dancing to follow.” The theme colors red and turquoise figured prominently, giving me great contrast and super-saturated hues to play with. Check out the wedding party’s shoes!
Michelle’s dad drove her to the ceremony in shiny (RED!) ’55 Chevy that also served as the couple’s wedding “get-away” car. It was a great chance to capture some emotional father-daughter moments.
Michelle is a local photographer. In fact, if her maid of honor, Vanessa hadn’t been in the wedding, likely she would have been shooting it. I was honored to be trusted to do this. I wanted to do a great job for her, capturing not only the whimsy but the powerful and sweet emotion of the day. Forest House Lodge was a wonderful setting: spectacular views for the ceremony (which drew some happy tears from Michelle and her dad), a comfortable getting ready suite for the bride and her bridesmaids, and a great set up for Mikal and his crew’s “Mancave.” Matt Brys (the DJ) of Extreme Productions and Alley Pappenberger and all of the staff of the Forest House Lodge are exceptional wedding professionals and it is always a pleasure to work alongside them.
With such a intricately detailed event like this, sometimes the bride can underestimate the time it takes to get herself ready for her big day. Things were running a bit behind schedule, which definitely happens from time to time. As a professional, it is my job to work with every situation and shift and adjust as needed to make the most of the day. So with the bridesmaids, we did most of their photography getting ready and at the ceremony site; the guys tromped around downtown Foresthill with me.
Shelley Morford, my assistant, did a fabulous job as always—thank you!
I just finished this year’s Graduation slideshow. I never know exactly how it is going to turn out or even what music I will use, but I have found over the years that if I just surrender to the creative process and let it happen, everything seems to fall into place. I am grateful for that.
This year sifting through countless images, I’m struck with the theme: Time Marches On. We have a brand new class of high school graduates, the Class of 2014: well equipped for the world, confident, and about to embark on their next adventures in life. Time marches on. This year marks my thirtieth year photographing graduation as well as my thirtieth reunion from Chatham Hall. As an extra-special reminder of the ticking clock, my nephew Cam, a recent college graduate and photographer, flew down from the Northeast to help me out this year. How lucky I am not only to have been a student at this fabulous school, but also to be in the position of seeing a place shift and change over time.
This year I lost a friend. In fact, we all lost a friend. Ann Beal, educator at Chatham Hall for twenty-nine years (once my English teacher too), lost her battle with cancer (see “My Friend Ann” http://lisarichmondphotography.com/blog/?p=11528).
I had known Ann since she arrived at the school. We arrived the same time. I have been visiting Chatham every year since my graduation in 1984. During all that time, Ann was kind enough to put me up in her home each year. The mixed blessing of my visit this year is that although I lost a friend, I got to see her the day before she passed. I am grieving her passing, but I am also happy to have been able to say goodbye to her at her home in Hillsborough, NC, to wish her well on the next part of her journey. I am truly grateful for that timing. It’s remarkable, actually.
While it was a tough time to sit back and feel sorrow in the midst of the excitement of graduation, there were unspoken nods and hugs among all of us who were experiencing the dichotomy of emotions of the weekend. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. There’s something so heartening about being among those who can share your experience without needing explanation. Even while carrying a sorrow, we could be joyful to do it in each others’ company.
Ann’s passing has made me recognize even more deeply the importance of my Chatham Hall family. All those classmates who I still keep in touch with on Facebook and who, through our common experience, could sit down with me at any time and enjoy a long conversation… It made me realize my continued acceptance by both the staff and students at the school even today, though my own graduation was decades ago. It made me realize the depth at which the staff and faculty care for the school and its students, whether present at the school currently or embarking on their own next adventures.
Time marches on. Good-bye to Gary and Missy Fountain. Through warmth and personality, they have always made me feel welcome at Chatham on my annual visits over the past decade. I remember the first time I heard Gary’s graduation poem in 2004 in which he humorously crafted a verse about each graduate. I thought, “How awesome to have a Rector recite something so personal and funny.” He really had to know each student–he would have had to make it a priority to get to know each student–to write something like that. I instantly felt a connection with him and looked forward to his annual offering.
Time marches on. Whether you’ve been associated with the school for half a year or half a century, doubtless you feel the same kindred spirit with Chatham that I’m talking about. The cycles of seasons and years and graduating classes continue, shifting and changing with the addition of new faces and the tender parting of others. But Chatham’s sustaining character remains as one of home, family, supportive challenges, and acceptance.
Special thanks to Abbi Plemmons who was my student assistant this year and did a fantastic job, to La and all the CH staff, for being great team players, to Owen for his beautiful image of the old oak tree, to Cameron Held, whose beautiful photography is throughout the show and to Schay and Hunter for their warmth and hospitality!
Enjoy the slideshow. And remember, it is a show that requires Adobe Flash, so put down your iPhone or iPad and watch it on your main computer or one that supports Adobe Flash.
I made this photograph of Ann in 2011 as she was retiring. While I too had Ann as a junior English teacher, strangely it is not what I remember about her. You see, I was fortunate to spend a few days with Ann every year since my graduation from Chatham in 1984. I stayed with her up until 2011 in her cute little home at the bottom of the hill in Chatham, Virginia. Each night after a day of my graduation photography and her end of the year grades, we would retire to her living room to chat about school news, her growing family, my growing family and California life too. News about alumni- who was where- who married whom….Oh sure, there was just a bit of left wing politics and sports thrown in too- it was a perfectly comfortable place to be. She was a smart lady and I admired her strong will and voiced opinions.
She usually had a drink with me while I enjoyed a glass of California Zinfindel which ironically I often picked up at the Wine Shop in her town of Hillsborough. I think she enjoyed a little bourbon on occasion…right? (I can’t figure out after so many years I can’t recall some details). Anyway, it was perfect just the way it was every year for 27 years.
While working on this years graduation slideshow, I dug up this image that I remembered making of her. When I see this photograph, while I know she had some health issues before her retirement, I see in this image a beautiful woman ready to go out an enjoy her retirement. I see my friend. She is not sick, she survived and is strong and pushing through to the next phase of her life. I love this photograph of Ann. It’s the Ann I remember for so many years outside of being my teacher.
I continued to visit with Ann at her new home on my way through Hillsborough each year after she retired on my way to Chatham for graduation, but our visits seemed rushed due to my schedule. In addition, each year I visited, her health was not good- though still, it was always good to re-connect with her. You see, Ann retired and basically did not get one. She battled with her health continually in all of her retirement years. I kept waiting for the year where she would be healthy again so that we could go out, maybe for dinner in Hillsborough, or visit my friends at their pool in Chapel Hill but she was never well enough to leave each year I visited. She was given more to handle than any one individual could or should have to. Ever.
I made plans this year to come out to Chatham a day early in order to have the evening with Ann- maybe catch some dinner and spend some time on her couch in Hillsborough- her with her bourbon, me with my glass of zin- family, politics, alumni, sports. Perfect just like always. I really wanted to connect with her about Jonathan’s passing. I can’t even imagine the pain and trauma of losing a son and I know I needed this time with her. After contacting Ann earlier this spring, she was up for it and I booked my flights.
A week before I was to fly to RDU, I attempted to contact Ann and her phone wasn’t working. And, like an <informed> social media person, checked her Facebook page and realized that she had been checked out for some time. The last post was from Mary Edmonds whom I contacted immediately and she passed along her new number.
I spoke with Ann on the day she found out her cancer was terminal. She sounded distraught but mostly resigned and her voice was a little slurry likely due to the meds she was using to manage her pain, not to mention the emotional upheaval of realizing that THIS was it. She said she had spoken to Madeline earlier that day and expressed how hard that was. I told her that I would be coming by to see her and that I would not need a place to stay- but I would be there. She said she was unsure of what would be going on or where she would be but heard in my voice that I would be there. I guess after all these years she knew me to be strong too and that “no” wasn’t going to work for me. I’d be there.
I did not know that it would be just one week later that her beautiful spirit would leave her ailing body.
I did get to sit with Ann the day before she passed. She did not look good. Having recently been with my Dad, his body riddled with cancer right before he passed, I knew what the end looked like. This looked like the end. She was sleeping, her breathing was labored. Madeline was there and told me that she had stopped eating and drinking. I understood that this is what happens at the end.
When I walked in to her room, I announced to her that I was there. She opened her eyes wide and big for about one second – maybe I startled her, I’m not sure but then she closed them and was back to sleep. I’m not sure if she knew I was there or not. I hope that she did.
I am so grateful that I got to be there to say goodbye, to hold her arm, to help move her pillows for comfort, to speak to her, to watch her as her labored breathing led the way to a place less painful and more comfortable.
As she said on the phone just one week earlier, “I don’t know, I guess it’s my time to go”. And I guess it was.
Ann passed away the next day while I was at Chatham photographing graduating seniors. The weather looked like rain, so I decided to stay somewhere close to the Arcade covering just in case I needed a plan B. I was in Curtis’ garden amongst the flowers and the pond and that lovely statue of the bold, young girl with so much youth and promise in her eyes.
I love you Ann. Rest in peace, my friend.
Kailey and Matt met back in first grade at Pinewood Elementary School in Pollock Pines—the same school my girls attend—and Kailey admits to having a crush on Matt even back then. Obviously they haven’t been together ever since, but serendipity was clearly at work when they met again recently.
Matt’s father was in the hospital where Kailey works as a nurse and she recognized his last name while caring for him. Kailey mentioned knowing Matt from school to his dad and, before you know it, Matt’s hospital visits turned into dates and dates turned into a Bodega Bay engagement… and here we are celebrating their Bodega Bay wedding. What a sweet story! It also makes all the sense in the world, because the sweetness of their story is only emphasized by their sweetness as individuals.
Kailey, Matt, and I have many friends in common and we hit it off instantly. I was so excited when they asked me to join them in Bodega Bay this past April to capture their nuptials. (Funny side story—I was the photographer Matt’s mom hired for his senior photographs many years ago.) Here’s the link to their engagement session .
Their wedding day was a beautiful and windy ocean-fresh day. Scatter in some oyster shooters and a lodge full of very close family and friends, and you have a pretty good idea of what a great time it was. I love the image below of the whole wedding party laughing.
Bodega Bay Lodge is a fantastic venue with views of the northern California coast at its finest—fishing boats, sea birds, salt marshes, and the spectacular changing colors in the dusky sky. Even so, the bride and groom decided on a spontaneous 20-minute drive up to the cliffs after the ceremony. With Jerri, my assistant at the wheel, I quickly shifted gears into some lighting equipment that would compliment the natural light while pulling out the subtle sky, for our very brief session up there. That constant sea breeze played with Kailey’s veil, and the outcroppings, scudding clouds, and light were really dramatic. It amounted to all of about 5 to 10 minutes of photography, but it was totally worth it. Kailey is also a photographer and documenting this time in their lives was important.
Jerri was my assistant and after a long day of satisfying work, I was happy to kick back with her and put up my feet, catch up, and enjoy a beer in our Bodega accommodations. We actually drove back up to the cliffs the next morning after breakfast to watch the seals surf along the rocky shoreline. A northern Cali paradise!
I love all the laughter captured in this image
Spontaneous shooting locations…the kind where you walk by and say “wait a minute, let’s stop here for a few….”
One of my favorites- northern cali coastal at its finest
This sums it up- I adore how casual it is and that he is carrying her shoes
Congratulations Kailey and Matt!
Lots of fun and a little bit of friendly competition! That’s how our session with Kristin and Jason was filled. They’ve been together for two years and clearly enjoy playing together on and off the courts. They live in Redondo Beach, where Jason has fun high-fiving people bicycling past. (He says he was practicing his “Calvin Klein look” for this shoot.) Jason works as a motion camera assistant. Kristen is a physical therapist. Her folks have beautiful home in Placerville and that’s where their “big day” will take place.
It’s usual to wonder just how the wedding event will go off, and maybe even worry just a little! Jason said he felt much better after our session—this was a relaxed, really affirming time where they could just focus on each other and look forward together. Congratulations, Kristin and Jason—they say teamwork makes the dream work, and you are a great team!
Big thanks to my assistants Ashlynn and my NEW summer assistant, Reily, who experienced her fist session in the field. Ashlynn heads off this August to school in Monterey and lots of new, amazing experiences.