Captured by: Victoria + Angelo for Michelle Gardella Photography
Venue: Haven's Kitchen, NYC
Hair + Makeup: Done by the bride herself!
Florals: Sachi Rose Design
Dress: Nicole Miller
I have forgotten how to write. How to unfold and unravel the protective barriers once in a while and reveal what lives inside of my ribcage. I could say that I don't know when or where it happened, but I do. It was the day my name was spilled out in the middle of a stranger's hate-filled tirade, the moment I discovered I was on the receiving end of the symptoms that only a diseased heart can present. When I was little I would chase around these bugs in my grandmother's backyard that we always called roly-polies. I was always fascinated by them because when you poked them, even just a little bit, they'd curl up super tight into a ball, like a tiny pill. And looking back on the trajectory of my writing, it seems I have exhibited the exact same practice. The second it seemed I was about to be publicly shamed or made fun of, there'd I go, tucking and hiding, wishing so hard it was all just go away.
And that tucking and hiding? It's actually quite painful. It feels like suffocation and sadness. It feels the opposite of alive.
I don't have an answer. I don't have a happy ending (yet). But what I have is the knowledge that even though I still have my linguistic wings clipped, I can unfurl my spine and stretch-out my soul, and let the poetry go. I can open my hands, and close my eyes, and let my songs sing, through these images, the way that words once did.
They come from the same place, I now see. They are the same thing, manifested into different variations, but of the same vibration and bone. A photograph or a paragraph, identical in weight and meaning. Identical in how I feel once I've released them from my fists.
The Allegrettos reminded me. In a time when I felt cornered by silence, they cracked it all open and granted me permission to step, all be it wobbly, back into the sunlight. I will never forget this family or this day or this river revelation:
My voice is never really gone.
(side note, I just realized that these images uploaded backwards and bit out of order, and just as I was about to fix it, I realized I quite love it this way. And so, it stays...)
I first met Laura when she was modeling for an ad campaign I was shooting for the gorgeous Hotel Granduca. We spent the entire day laughing and at the risk of sounding super creepy, I honestly adored her from minute one. She is a brilliant, hilarious and crazy gorgeous (that smile!!) mover-and-shaker and while I didn't meet Ben that day, I had a feeling he was going to be equally as incredible. My goodness was I right! This couple is a force! Not only do they have a love that could truly move mountains, but they have the support of some of the most fabulous friends and family I have ever come across. Thomas, Janica (our third shooter extraordinaire) and I did not stop smiling for one second this entire day. It was like we stepped into a fairytale land, and we found ourselves asking, more than once, "Is this even real? Is this real life?"
Everything, from the gorgeous Temple completely blanketed in fresh flowers, to the impeccable Houstonian Hotel, was flawless.
While we don't specialize in a particular type of wedding, we do specialize in the most beautiful, brave, enduring love stories in the world. And Laura and Ben are the perfect example of just that.
Wedding Planning and Design: Piper & Muse
Ceremony Location: The Houstonian Hotel
Reception Location: Beth Israel, Houston
Flowers: Darryl & Co.
Dress: The INCREDIBLE Joan Pillow
Hair and Makeup: Jackie Rosales & Ronnie
Bridesmaids Dresses: David Peck
Videographer: Robert Oberg
Band: Ken Mondshine Band
Third Shooter: Janica Day Boles
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Firstly, I apologize for the photo quality of this image. I got super excited and couldn't wait for the actual print magazine to land on my doorstep, so I took a screenshot of the online digital issue. I promise to replace this fuzzy version with a real photograph the second I get it!
Here's the thing with this blog post: I have tried to write it every day for the last week but each time, my fingers just float about the letters. I have been featured on the covers of incredible magazines. I have been featured on VH1 and Good Morning America. And nothing, not one other mention, means as much as this one.
My biggest dream has always been to teach. Even when I was studying law, I'd spend my afternoon library breaks fantasizing about teaching future attorneys, and inspiring the hearts of the next generation of change makers. Some people think being a movie star is every girl's dream, but for me, I couldn't even utter the words, "I want to be a teacher," without feeling the flips begin in my core. All of my personal heroes were/are teachers: Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Pearl Buck, Robert Frost, Rita Dove... (I could seriously go on). When I got a 4.0 in college, it wasn't a fluke. I am madly in love with learning, and education, and I guess my point is, this recognition is a big deal. Perhaps, the biggest.
As my photography career continues to rise to new heights, many people find it odd that I remain so steadfastly loyal to the business of building fires in other people's hearts and I wish I had a clear way to articulate exactly why. It is a passion that consumes me. I can't begin talking about it in public, because I get so emphatic, talking super fast, quoting academic articles, nerd flag waving so super high, and I suppose I start to sound more crazy that capable, and that's not what I want. It's kind of frustrating! I am a writer, I love language, and yet, I don't know how to assign words to this most powerful calling.
So, no, I don't have a beautiful poem, and I don't have a symbolic image that comes close, but I do know, and want to share, this: I was born to be a teacher, it is my most sincere and profound honor, and being selected by professionals whom I highly respect, as a top 10 educator in the whole wide giant world to watch this year, well, this moment is pretty much everything. At the end of the day, I don't feel successful based on the number of celebrities I have captured, or the number of popularity points I've racked up, even though I am profoundly grateful for all of the blessings I have be afforded. It is the moments spent sharing my passion with others, on the shoulders of my idols, that will forever be the hi-lights of my career.