If you read my last blog post, you know that I was recently on a road trip to do some family photos for my friends Nick and Lindsey. After I said goodbye to my friend Crystal in New Jersey, I jumped back in the car and continued to Braintree, MA which is located just outside of Boston. I typically associate the state of Massachusetts with freezing temperatures and countless feet of snow, but upon crossing the state line I was reminded just how gorgeous New England truly is in the Fall.
I met my friend Nick at an audition for a performing arts high school in Baltimore when we were only 13. There had only been a few boys attending the audition and the two of us immediately gravitated towards one another. Nick and I were both accepted into the school and four years later had formed a very close friendship, sealing a bond that we share till this day. No matter how long we've spent apart from each other, it always feels like no time has passed once we see each other again.
After high school graduation, Nick remained in Maryland to attend college, while I moved down South to Miami Beach to join a professional ballet school. While at college, Nick met Lindsey, a fellow dancer and student. From what I've been told, they started off as "only friends", but by the time I first met Lindsey on one of my trips back to Maryland, I could instantly tell just how fast Nick was falling for this girl. And as his good friend, I was falling for her, too. They were a couple that, from the beginning, you wanted to root for.
A few years into their relationship they became engaged and got married. I was invited to be one of Nick's groomsmen, which had been a huge honor for me. Interestingly, I believe theirs was the first wedding I "shot", all with a point and shoot camera on auto and obviously only when I wasn't needed for groomsman-type responsibilities. You know, like the actual wedding. But minor details like that did not stand in my way (apparently) and snap away, I did.
After residing for a short time in Maryland, the newlyweds relocated first to California and then eventually settled in Massachusetts, where Lindsey is originally from. This meant that even if I was able to come home for vacation, I would no longer see Nick. Instead, our friendship was kept alive through long phone conversations and of course, through social media. As the years started to pass, Nick and Lindsey grew up (as people do) and the inevitable happened: they became parents.
When somebody you've known since you were 13 becomes a parent, it blows your mind. Even stranger was never having the opportunity to meet the little girl that I was always seeing photos of. But this visit was finally going to change that! When I arrived in MA, it was very late at night and the little princess in question was already sleeping. I had scheduled our photo shoot for the next day, so I wanted to be sure to go to bed immediately upon arrival to be up bright and early to get a good start.
Instead, Nick, Lindsey and I sat up talking. FOR HOURS.
The three of us are all Gemini's, so there was at LEAST the energy of six people in that room. Seven, if you count the baby boy growing in Lindsey's belly! Nick and Lindsey had ordered me local Indian food (as opposed to Indian food shipped from India) as a welcome meal. As I bit into a piece of cauliflower drenched in curry, I said, "why does it taste like there's a bone in this?" And Nick, remembering that I'm a longtime dedicated vegetarian, dryly responded, "oh, it must be chicken. Our mistake."
Ok, fine. You had to be there. But I'm telling you, we laughed for a LONG time over, "Why is this cauliflower so good? Because it's MEAT." You totally would have, too.
We also laughed about countless other things, from old high school memories to hilarious stories from their wedding day. They are the kind of friends that I absolutely and whole heartedly adore. I can be completely myself around them and we just sit and banter for hours without realizing that time is passing. I showed them an Amy Schumer stand-up video that I've seen dozens of times. Somehow, though it was a million times funnier with them watching over my shoulder. Here's the video...and yes, it's adult in nature. Let it go.
After laughing my signature cackle until I had tears streaming down my face, it was finally time to go to bed. We had a big day to wake up to, after all. I told them about the incredible importance of doing our photos during the "golden hour", or about two hours before sunset. If we started earlier than that, there would be harsh shadows in their images; if we waited too long, well...I mean it would be dark. Hello. So as we said goodnight, I once again reminded them it was imperative that we be awake in time to start shooting at exactly two hours before we lost light.
Fast forward a bunch of hours. No more. More. There you go.
As I heard a door creaking, I reluctantly opened my eyes from my very soft and warm bed that Nick and Lindsey had given me to sleep in. At the entrance of the room stood the person I had been waiting to meet for so long...the person who, up until then, only existed in stories and pictures.
NO, IT WAS NOT SANTA. KEEP UP.
Nick and Lindsey's gorgeous daughter Charlotte was standing there, sent in by Lindsey to wake me up. Apparently, Uncle Mark had slept in...no, I mean WAY in...and the golden hour was almost upon us. Without taking time to have a proper introduction to Charlotte, I bolted out of bed as Lindsey said, "I'm sorry...we didn't want to wake you, but....well, you said that the golden hour is..."
"I know, I know, I know, I know...let's go, let's go, let's GO...."
As I threw some clothes on, I sensed that the three of them had been dressed for HOURS. Their ensembles were coordinated flawlessly, as if Martha Stewart and Fall had thrown up on them. Everything about them screamed hashtag Fall Photo Shoot, and so that's why in my frantic attempt to get out of the house, I grabbed my camera and paused to capture what I saw unfolding.
As Lindsey was fretting about Charlotte's hair and began redoing it, my first image of the day was captured. Nick tried to assure her that everything was fine and hinted that we should get moving, but Lindsey shook her head and said (just loud enough for me to hear), "well, it was perfect SEVERAL HOURS AGO."
Point taken, point taken. Alarm clock, even when it's your friends you are photographing. Let's move on.
After a joint effort, Charlotte's hair was perfect. We all got into the car and headed towards a local park. One in MA, not India. Ok, never mind.
Despite the fact that I felt incredibly pressed for time, I immediately breathed a sigh of relief once the first images started appearing on the back screen of my camera. The light was just perfect and I was incredibly happy with my selected exposure settings. I had chosen to rent the lens I was using (which I have since purchased!) to test it out and was ecstatic over the sharpness and quality that it was producing. And so there in a beautiful Massachusetts park on a perfect and gorgeous Fall day, I captured moment after moment of a day in the life of one amazing family.
As the sun started to set, Lindsey had the idea to take our final images near the beach. So we got back in the car and with time to spare (!) arrived to watch the sun set over the ocean.
The day felt almost magical to me. The weather was incredible...just crisp enough to wear a lovely warm sweater and sip hot coffee...and the company was, as always, amazing. And as Charlotte and I became more and more acquainted by the end of the day, I realized that she is truly all I imagined her to be and so much more. She has just as much of a magnetic personality as her parents, if not more. At one point, responding through gritted teeth to Lindsey asking if she was smiling, Charlotte dramatically said," I'm tryyyyyyyyying."
It is no surprise to me that such an amazing child would come from such amazing parents. Nick and Lindsey are, as individuals, absolutely incredible people. But somehow, they're even better together. They are that rare kind of couple that brings out the MAGIC in each other. The kind of couple you stare at and say, "I wish I had THAT." Nick has, without question, married his best friend. And while some people's love grows stale as time goes on, their love has only grown stronger.
So for anybody reading this who is single, please believe me when I say: true love...the kind you read about in fairy tales...DOES exist. And I know because that love happens every single day under the roof of a beautifully warm home, in a quiet little town in Massachusetts. So when you start to feel hopeless and say that falling in love with your best friend only happens in movies, stop being so cynical...
...and start believing.