Nikki & Leila's Mother-Daughter Photos in NJ

Nikki & Leila | Family Photography | Fun and Sassy Toddler Session

We hate to play favorites, but sometimes we just can't help ourselves.  Nikki has been a close friend for the past four years and we have been lucky enough to photograph her journey with motherhood, from her maternity session, to Leila's newborn session, and pretty much once or twice a year since this sweet and sassy wild child was born!

It's been so fun watching her grow up, both in person and from behind the camera.  She is absolutely full of life and it makes it so easy to photograph her big personality.  She is a little chatterbox, full of opinions and curiosities.  Running all over the place and hardly stopping to catch her breath, she just fills any space with her huge persona.  

Even though we specialize in weddings and don't see that changing any time soon, we do love finding the time to help our friends document the most important parts of parenthood and other special milestones.  

The Importance of Capturing Your Family in Professional Photos

Kids grow up SO FAST.  Almost faster than we can fathom.  It's so important, especially in the first few years, to freeze these precious moments.  We encourage you to photograph it all-- the messes, the tantrums, the baths, the playtime, and the snuggles.  Looking back on those photos will bring you back to the memories, and is the absolute best way to honor your family.  

Venue:  Secor Farms | Mahwah, NJ

What's In My Camera Bag (That's Not Camera Equipment): Capturing Smiles Instead of Stresses

A little behind-the-scenes of me attaching the sleeves to a wedding dress in the midst of photographing my bride getting ready.  

Being a wedding photographer doesn't necessarily mean shooting pictures throughout the whole day.

It means getting the shot no matter what it takes.

Sometimes that means putting the camera down for a second to help my brides get into their wedding dresses. Sometimes it's folding pocket squares, opening bottles of wine, showing them where to sign their marriage certificates, or bustling a train.  The reality is, I am with my couples all day, and very much so on the front lines of whatever action takes place.  Weddings have a way of bringing out the best and worst in people – emotions are high, sometimes there is family tension, a lot of opinions, and various moving parts.  

My job is to take beautiful and compelling pictures.  

It is also to make sure that my couples feel excited, at ease, and most of all PRESENT in the moment.  The day goes by so quickly, and it is easy to get wrapped up in greeting guests, checking on the caterer, and obsessing about timelines.  Now, I am by no means a wedding planner.  I am not a day-of coordinator.  And I have no intentions of ever becoming one... but sometimes the planners are busy doing their jobs and situations arise.  In those moments, it's about serving my couple.  Sometimes that means taking pictures and sometimes that means lending support to keep things running smoothly, camera-in-hand.  

The Importance of Hospitality...

I've worked as a bartender while building my wedding business cause you know, girl's gotta eat, and I do believe that it helped me become a better photographer.  It has made me more sensitive to my client's needs.  It could be as simple as realizing that my out-of-town couple from sea level is getting dehydrated up on top of a mountain in the Rockies and grabbing them a few waters.  Basic needs sometimes go out the window when weddings are in motion and catching small stuff like that can prevent much bigger problems.  It has given me a better sense of where the action is at in a busy room while only visually seeing things through my small viewfinder on my camera.  

Additionally, being a great wedding photographer also means caring about your couples.  So many of our clients have become friends, and this has just as much to do with the pictures themselves as it does with the ability to provide good service.  It's also about empathy, understanding, and the ability to listen closely and read between the lines.  Being able to put small fires out as the day unfolds is oftentimes what sticks out to couples as above-and-beyond the call of duty.  It is something that really shows that we care about them as much as we care about making beautiful pictures.  As a result, I always throw a few things in my camera bag to keep the day running smoothly:

What's in my camera bag besides camera equipment?

  • A wine key.  No, I'm not a raging alcoholic.. this is actually out of utility.  I've had countless couples want to pop a bottle to celebrate or toast with, and find themselves without a bottle opener.  Pulling one of these out on a whim is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and keeps the good times rolling!  Also, the knife edge on them has come in handy for a myriad of non-alcohol related tasks.  
  • A lighter.  Another crowd-pleaser!  Sometimes, it is as simple as somebody wanting to step outside for a quick smoke.  But mostly, I find this super helpful for staging my detail shots before the room is actually set.  Venues and rental companies usually prefer to light the candles last (because they don't last that long), but I cannot wait until last minute to do my room shots and details because it is already too late.  So I'll light a few candles on the table, snap the shot, and then blow them out.  No hassle and no harm. 
  • Oil blotting sheets.  Summers are hot and sometimes wedding dresses are even hotter.  Nothing ruins a shot like a shiny face, but after your makeup is set, the last thing you want to do is take a tissue or cloth to your face.  Oil blotters are easy, compact, and so helpful in these moments.  
  • A sewing kit.  Why would a wedding photographer need a sewing kit?  You wouldn't believe me if I told you how many dresses that I have last-minute mended!  Nothing puts out a fire like being able to repair a dress right before the ceremony is about to begin.  Buttons pop off, beads snag, zippers jam.  Knowing how to solve these mishaps can prevent a full blown crisis in the moment. 
  • Bobby pins, hair spray, safety pins, small scissors, and rubber bands, fashion tape, and white duct tape.  I literally wear half of these on my expodisc around my neck when I shoot!  This is how frequently I find myself needing these items.  Hair pops out, wind takes over, bow-ties are too big, tags need to get cut off... And the white duct tape?  Let's just say that sometimes wedding dresses are more see-through than we realize and the built-in bra doesn't do the trick ;)  A little square of duct tape can work wonders.  


Again, stuff happens.  To be able to put these fires out quickly keeps my couples happy and on schedule.  If they are happy, the pictures are better.  If we stay on the timeline, we have more time for pictures and we capture smiles instead of stresses.  

Mary & Brad's Hudson Gardens Winter Wedding in Colorado

Mary & Brad's Winter Mountain Colorado Wedding | Hudson Gardens | Apollo Fields Photojournalism 

Springtime weddings in Colorado can mean flower blossoms, cherry trees blooming, tulips sprouting, or blizzards.  Mary and Brad got a little bit of everything on their wedding day in March at Hudson Gardens.  The day began with full blazing Colorado sun, and by the afternoon had grown ominous and cloudy, then the skies broke into rain, which became hail, which became snow.  It was crazy, but sort of perfect for them because they got SO many different looks for their photographs.  And Mary, especially, wanted snow.  So when the sun went down and we finally got these big huge snowflakes, we couldn't help but to run outside and snap some dreamy romantic snow pictures. 

I loved the modern and simple touches of Mary's lace wedding dress.  Personally, I've always loved lace sleeves, I think they are so classic and surprisingly sexy.  Less isn't always more, and I just love the way that a delicate sleeve can flatter our brides.  Her veil was also simple and classic, it was so fun to photograph through because of the shapes and textures that it creates, and her updo looked great with it on and off.  Modern boho braids showed off her blonde highlights and beautiful cheekbones. 

Their friends and family gathered for a sweet and heartfelt ceremony.  We got to snap fun photos of their friends all gathering together to celebrate and toast their new journey, while kids got to run around and play, and a big fireplace kept everyone toasty as the weather began to turn.  A cozy dinner and then dancing wrapped up their perfect night together, and everyone had such a great time coming together to celebrate their love. 

Hudson Gardens is a great venue for weddings year round because they have acres of countryside gardens with awesome mountain views.  There is a quaint red barn in the back of the property, which is one of my favorite rustic looks.  The farmhouse feeling on one side of the property is perfect for country brides and the cabin in the front of the property is a warm and rustic mountain look.  When the weather is nice, they have plenty of space to celebrate outside, among the trees and flowers and gardens.  With manicured paths and woodsy retreats, there are so many different looks that can be photographed at this venue!

Hudson Gardens Winter Wedding

The day started out as many Colorado days do in March:  A strong sun brought the daytime temperature well into the 60s and I got to ride my horse outside before heading out to shoot Mary and Brad's wedding.  

By the time the afternoon rolled in, so had ominous rain clouds that lingered, but stayed at bay while Mary and Brad arrived at Hudson Gardens with their family and bridal parties.  They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck, but Mary had her heart set on snow instead.  

Here's what I love about shooting in Colorado though.  By the time the night ended, we seemingly had all of the seasons in one day.  Soon after the ceremony, the skies opened up into a hard rain that felt like every element of spring, which was right around the corner, as the little flowers that have recently popped up through the mulch have suggested.  Then, for just a moment it seemed, the rain turned to hail, and then as soon as it started, morphed into big beautiful snowflakes.  Mary got her wish. 

Her elegant and timeless dress was so flattering, and classically beautiful.  I am a sucker for lace dresses with sleeves because I just think they photograph so well, especially when they flow on the bottom without being this big cumbersome and heavy dress.  Mary was able to dance and move effortlessly in her wedding gown.  And her veil was light, simple, and classy.  

The cabin at Hudson Gardens is cozy, with big fireplaces that were adorned with eucalyptus and other woodland greenery.  The floral design was modern, with little roses peeking out around the bolder flowers.  The gardens are beautiful, even in the off-season.  It seems rare to find cactus growing around the evergreens, but feels natural there.  

The big red barn in the back of the property rounds out the property to remind us of the working landscape and rural nature of a garden.  With big open fields and manicured tree lines, we just loved this space for bride and groom portraits.  Rustic details weren't forced in this setting, and the wedding guests had an amazing time celebrating and dancing the night away with their friends.  

Photography:   Apollo Photojournalism shot for Laura Anderson
Venue:  Hudson Gardens 

Callie & Josh's Intimate Mountain Wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park

Callie & Josh's Intimate Mountain Wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park

There’s something special about reaching high altitudes after traversing treacherous terrain that rewards tired legs and beating hearts.  It could be as simple as endorphins being released from the exercise or something more complex like measuring our mortality against the backdrop of conquering massive mountains.  Either way, climbing mountains and taking in epic views defines the meaning of awesome.

Alex & Rae's International Wedding in New York State

Alex & Ragnhild's New York State Wedding | International Weddings | NYC Wedding Photography | Norwegian Dancers | Apollo Photojournlism 

I met Alex on the Upper West Side in NYC at a restaurant.  We got to chatting at the bar and I told him that I was a photographer, and as it turned out, he was engaged to his fiancé Ragnhild and looking for a wedding photographer.  After talking a while longer, we realized that we had quite a few mutual friends from the neighborhood, and it all fell into place right after that. 

Alex is a personal trainer and a former professional basketball player.  He met Rae on the court, when her professional dancing career took her to one of his games.  Rae and her daughter, Denise, were from Norway and literally packed up their lives to live in New York City with Alex.  They have such a loving and playful relationship that made my job so easy!

Their wedding day kicked off with the guys hitting the basketball court, which was a fun alternative to traditional wedding mornings.  Terrence was out there playing with the groomsmen, and it really reminded me of how much fun we have on our wedding days!  The ceremony was officiated by a friend, who spoke of them so eloquently that it made me cry behind the camera.  Yes, I still get emotional when I shoot!  

The reception was one of my favorites to date.  Rae's bridesmaids were all on her dancing squad and had planned a secret dance special for the couple.  A room full of professional Norwegian dancers is just as much fun as it sounds.  Oh my god they were talented!  It was such a great party.  

The importance of memories:  

When you’re in a particular industry long enough, it’s easy to forget the importance of your job.  You wake up on Monday, meet deadlines, schedule future goals, work through the drudgery, finish the week, and if you’re lucky, do it all over again on the following Monday.  Wedding photojournalism is no exception.

Then, once in a while something happens, something that jars you out of your automatic work setting and you take a step back.  Sometimes it’s good news like a family member is having a baby and other times it’s something tragic like someone has passed away. Whatever the case may be your life is drastically different than what it was just a few days before.

One of the defining things about wedding photojournalism is that we capture particular moments in our client’s lives where happiness and celebration are center stage.  We have the luxury to see people at their best, laughing among their family and friends, assuming the roles they’ve carved out their who lives by sharing the stories that have made them into the persons they’ve become.  When things inevitably change in their lives in the months or years that follow, we watch their stories unfold through the photos we’ve taken and we’re drawn right back to the happiness of that day.  

Each story we relive is a jarring reminder of the unpredictability of life and the importance that weddings hold in bringing people together, rekindling relationships, and the celebration of love and happiness.  From budding romances to lost love ones, our photos travel across time, telling our present selves the story of our past, hugging our hearts with tangible memories and familiar feelings.  It’s borderline wizardry how our inanimate pens and lenses can animate our past so vividly.

As wedding photojournalists we professionally tell love stories, but it’s as friends that we remember our client’s personally.  Connecting with you all is what makes us remember that our jobs are important and our happiness immemorial.  Thank you for your love.   

New York State Wedding Photographer:  Apollo Photojournalism | Erny Photo CO