Meet Our Couples: Nji and Russell

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Photograph by couples friend: Taylor Jewell

First Names: Nji and Russell
Current City: New York
Occupations: Associate at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the Global Credit and Special Situations Group (Nji); and MBA student at Columbia Business School and Summer Associate at McKinsey & Company (Russell)

Wedding Date: 8/15/2015
Location: Hanover, NH
Colors: Grayed jade, ivory, blush and gold
Vibe you are going for: soft elegance

Let’s hear your love story! 
We met 12 years ago at Stanford. We lived in freshman dorms across from each other. Nji was in the “more social dorm” and Russell was in the not so social dorm. We crossed paths many times within the first few weeks of school but never stopped to talk or introduce ourselves. A mutual friend introduced us one day at lunch. Nji’s first impression of Russell was that “he looked like Clark Kent’s younger, skinnier brother” and Russell’s first impression of Nji was “I didn’t know a girl like that existed.” After the lunch, we started to say hi when we saw each other.
Over the next few months, we had brunch together almost every Sunday with our friends. We both majored in Political Science and took many of the same classes and formed a study group that met many times a week.
The last day of freshman year Nji wrote Russell a letter telling him how wonderful it was to get to know him over the year and how she hoped to keep in touch over the summer. Russell was confused by the letter – was it a love letter or a friend letter? Russell thought the letter was ambiguous and Nji thought she was being crystal clear – sounds like we were already married! The rest is history and we are here today.

 

What’s your favorite thing to do on any given Saturday together?
We love lazy Saturdays – sleeping in, walking around NYC (when weather permits) and meeting up with friends.

What is one trait that you love about in your fiance?
Russell: I love how Nji has so much love for everyone – especially her family and friends.
Nji: I love how Russell sees the best in every person and situation.

How did you/he pop the question?
Russell: Nji and I spent a weekend at the Eagle Rock Lodge in Vida, Oregon in front of the McKinzie River.  Before we left, I asked Nji to take a walk with me. Towards the end of the walk, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me.

Who was the first person you told about your engagement?
We each called our parents at the same time and then switched phones. After that we called the rest of our immediate family and close friends.

How did you decide where you wanted to get married?
We are planning to have two ceremonies – one in the U.S. and one in Nigeria. Russell grew up in Hanover, N.H. and his family lives there. We absolutely love Hanover. A lot of Nji’s extended family lives in Nigeria – and we can’t wait to celebrate and have our traditional Nigerian wedding ceremony.

What has been your favorite part of wedding planning?
Our favorite part has been having the opportunity to connect with so many family members and friends. Our wedding will be an amazing reunion of all the people in our lives that we love…all under one roof.

What do you look forward to the most about being married?
We look forward to knowing that we have each other to share the future with.

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Anchorage Alaska to Raleigh NC – A road trip

Where do I begin, well at the beginning of course! Last December Bethany and I visited our friends James and Lauren in Anchorage. James has been my best friend since highschool, and I thought it would be the last time I would see him and Alaska for a while. About two months after we got back James calls me and says, “would you be interested in helping me drive from Anchorage to Georgia?”

In the two months since Bethany and I left Alaska James had been selected for a new job in the Army and they said they needed him as soon as possible in Georgia. Of course I said yes to helping him make the drive. That is not the kind of opportunity to pass up, road tripping through the continents most awesome roads with your best friend who you never really get to spend time with. Luckily, it took about an extra month for his unit to find a replacement and have the change of command so we set a date to leave on March 18th. We hoped this would be enough time for the Yukon to warm up a bit…

You might ask, why drive and not fly? James and Lauren’s dog Maggie has seizures and cannot go on planes so drive it was.

All for this little dog

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When we left anchorage and head to Tok. 350 Miles only passed 8 other cars…

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Always get the fuel! Headed into the Yukon. Luckily the weather was still good.

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It was a balmy -10 when we crossed the border into Canada.

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I really enjoyed this spot called “Destruction bay.” At the gas station here, someone landed a helicopter next to us and proceeded to order soup. Not many roads around these parts.

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A typical town along the way.

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We had great weather the first two days, this morning heading out of Whitehorse the weather took a turn for the worse. The next three days where what I call “White Knuckle Driving…”

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We did find an awesome hot spring!

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The weather got worse and worse as we crossed into British Columbia.

 

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They do have nice rest areas though!

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Snow for days! Our luck had to run out sometime.

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Due to the slow driving speeds, our 8 hour days turned into 12 hour days… Once night fell, the darkness was amazing!

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As we closed in on Jasper the weather got worse and worse. After 1000’s of miles in the snow and wind gust finally got the better of us and ran us off the road. Stuck. Hard. Luckily it was in a flat stretch and we were ok.

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Luckily, the local tow truck had to come out to rescue an ambulance a few hours down the road from us and stopped to help. Otherwise, we would have not gotten winched out until the morning.

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Shockingly, when we made it Banff the next day, no snow! Wahoo!

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We made appointments for some tattoos in Calgary, James got two new ones and I got Bethany’s signature on my right arm. You’ll have to see it in person.

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Once onto the plains, it looked like this for miles…

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Back to the US!

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After making it into the US, we were able to get out of the snow in Fargo ND and make some real time and get back to our families! If you get the chance to take a road trip with your best friend do it!

Trip Stats:

1 Accident

1 Mountain Lion

1 Lynx

1 Mule Deer (All my wildlife photos consist of a animal rear end running into the woods)

3 Moose

Countless Buffalo and…

4800 Miles Driven!

 

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One Response to “Anchorage Alaska to Raleigh NC – A road trip”

  1. Love this post. And consider this my formal and written request that you, Danny G, blog more often – it’s fun to hear your voice on here!

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The ART of Being Bold

Culebra Outex Nikon June 12 2014 0008Time for some real talk! Im going to tell you about one of my biggest personal challenges on a wedding day and what I’m repeating to myself in my head this year to overcome it. If you share the same fears let me know and we can internet hug-it-out ok? Time for a little vulnerability y’all.

The big hangup: I am scared of being perceived as annoying or pushy or insensitive by guests/family at weddings by being “in the way.” That may sound really simple but it can really throw a wrench in the gears when it comes to getting the photograph I want to take.

When I was a second shooter for Tracy Turpen Photography, I watched her take photographs that I really could only dream of taking. During highly emotional moment’s she stood right there… in it… with them. No worry of offending them. No backing away. A specific wedding you can even go take a look at had a particularly emotional moment, when the bride and her father did a “first look.” The bride teared up before he came to her, and they were both crying while they embraced. See it here: Kate and Kyle Married on Tracy Turpen’s Blog. I was standing on the porch of the house, watching in awe as she owned that position, alongside that moment.

To be front and center with that moment may sound like an obvious place to be for the photographer, most of the time it’s the exact place place to be for that matter! For my INFJ personality, those moments are paralyzing, exciting, pushing, pulling, inspiring, terrifying, and more. I rarely feel like I, a stranger, deserve to be there, no matter how kind the people are. Pushing to the front, perhaps blocking the view of “great uncle Joe” is the furthest distance from my natural instinct that you can get. What makes it more challenging for me is that I am a highly sensitive person. I find it very challenging to be bold and lean into those moments for fear of bothering someone. It may sounds small but it. is. so. hard. #thestruggleisreal

All this to say, Im really scared when Im sitting at the end of the aisle, sticking out like a sore thumb. My heart is racing… but not primarily because of the technical parts of the photography, but instead because of my worry to be bold when I need to be. When I want to be.

Here’s what I am learning, thanks almost entirely to the encouragement and feedback I received at a recent photograph workshop with Ben and Erin Chrisman. I had admired their work since before I was a wedding photographer. Their work has a wild, bold, edgy, and has REAL heart that is palpable for me when I see it. The number one aspect I love the most was that it just seems like their clients let them in and I always wondered how. Looking behind the curtain I saw that it was a combination of being “let in” but also being bold to get those images when you know they need to be taken, regardless of any personal hangups. No judgements, just take that photo! They gently told me that I need to just go for it. Those times that I did, they saw, and they could tell the difference. The images I personally love that I have taken.. are when I was bold, when I just let all that head-space-mental-block stuff go and just went for that photograph I knew I wanted to take. After just 2 days with them, I walked away knowing what my number one focus this year needed to be.

Instead of looking to subjects for some sort of permission to be there, I need to give myself that permission.

That was big. It was “crocodile tears” kind of big. It was a game changer. I cannot explain how huge it is to my work and my mind on a wedding day and I am forever indebted to them for that.

The vulnerability moment here with you is to encourage YOU to do the same. If you have any similar hangups, please know that the fact that you are aware, is what ensures you FROM being a jerk on a wedding day. They fact that you care to be respectful is not a bad thing, but a good thing. The important thing to remember always is that you DO deserve to be there. Your clients hired YOU. They chose YOU and your creative eye. When they picked you out, they invited you in and it’s your duty as their photographer to be bold and show their day as best as you possibly can. That means being you… fully… boldly… and with your head held high, leaning in to those sacred moments.

You deserve to be there.

And because we all need a little Ben and Erin wisdom here are the lines they said that changed me…

“You can’t let the random asshole stop you from doing what everyone else loves you for doing.” – Ben

“I can’t wait to see what you do when you bring yourself to the photos.”- Erin

 

 

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2 Responses to “The ART of Being Bold”

  1. Great blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused ..
    Any ideas? Many thanks!

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Life Lately List: June 3, 2015

Yay June!

If you can believe it, I am wearing my fuzzy slippers and a wool sweater right now in our apartment. Maine is still cold. What the heck? Amiright? It was warm last week but we’ve been cold for a couple of days.

Something about June really feels good to me. Perhaps since its the beginning of the budget, or the fact that wedding season is up and running, or maybe its just know that its the time of year that people LOVE in Maine. Whatever it is… Im feeling it. You?

Last month was wild. Dan was out of town for 2 weeks, finishing up the renovations in the trailer. It was the longest time we have ever been apart since getting married in 2008. I hated it.

Dans birthday was May 25th and we went camping and drove to the top of Mt. Washington. The rainbow was quite the “God Hug” as I like to call it. It had been a long time since we went camping and it reminded me just how much I miss it.

We are looking forward to all the shoots and weddings we have planned for this month. Its going to be a good one! Woot Woot!

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Meet Our Couples: Katie and Luke

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First Names: Katie and Luke
Hometowns: Ipswich, Massachusetts (Katie) and Lewiston, Maine (Luke)
Occupations: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (Katie) and High School Social Studies Teacher and Brunswick High School Varsity Baseball coach (Luke)

Wedding Date: August 1, 2015
Location: Portland, Maine
Colors: marine blue, white and light yellow
Vibe you are going for: Gritty Maine industrial meets soft and romantic.

Let’s hear your love story!

We are the product of a Match.com connection, which was simply a stepping to our first encounter. We met at a coffee shop in Brunswick, Maine, the hometown of our alma mater, Bowdoin College. Luke was so nervous that he almost left the coffee shop (in fact, walked out 3 times) after Katie was 10 minutes late. We sat for two hours getting to know each other as we nervously picked the lids of our beverage cups to pieces. From then on, we did not go more than 3 days between dates. There were so many moments that began to surface that made us realize that love was inevitable, like the time we just brushed fingers while watching a Red Sox game at a bar, to finishing each others thoughts and sentences. Katie had a particularly emotional moment while they shared a beer in the Old Port when she and Luke heard a obscure song begin to play and both, in unison, said, “I love this song!” To Luke’s surprise, Katie began to weep, right there in the bar. She told Luke months later that it was that moment she realized she was in love with him. Luke was also wrestling with avoiding blurting out those three inevitable words. The evening after his first encounter with Katie’s parents, the night before Thanksgiving, Luke and Katie went for a walk on the East End with their corgi, Penny. Luke became unusually quiet during their stroll. When Katie inquired, Luke finally said, “Do you really want to know? I love you!” It was clear from that moment on that we were destined for a life together.

What’s your favorite thing to do on any given Saturday together?

Our best Saturdays start with homemade brunch that we make together, picking at broken pieces of bacon while listening to music of the Rat Pack genre. Our most memorable days are the ones when we break free from our usually over-scheduled, structured workdays and go where the day takes us. We have found ourselves picnicing by the ocean, enjoying cocktails in Portland, strolling city streets, and discovering microbreweries.

What is one trait that you love about in your fiancé?

Katie (about Luke): There are so many things I love about Luke, but I believe his warmth and selflessness are among the most notable. He is committed to both his students and baseball players, and focused on finding ways to enhance their potential in the classroom and on the field. That said, family remains the most important to him, including mine. He has already so warmly and easily welcomed my family to his. He does not hide his emotions and he wears his heart on his sleeve.

Luke (about Katie): It’s simple really. I love the way that she lives. This woman doesn’t waste a moment of her life. Everything she does is approached with vigor and liveliness and love. She loves adventure and she loves to take care of others. She is remarkable in her love and she is remarkable in the way she enjoys everyday of her life. If I could be more like Katie, I would be in a heartbeat. I guess that’s why I’m marrying her and that’s why I love her. The more time I spend with her, the better I become.

How did you/he pop the question?

The weekend prior to our engagement, Luke and Katie went to her parents’ house in Massachusetts, when Luke took Katie’s dad out for a ‘birthday drink’. It was over the course of two hours that Luke got up his courage (after two heavy pours of Jack Daniels) to request for her father’s blessing in asking for Katie’s hand in marriage. Her father, in sarcastic fashion, said, “Now why would you want to do that?” With his blessing, and a ring that Luke designed, they returned to Maine. Luke had created a number of excuses to be delayed in his return home one afternoon later that week. Katie was beginning to wonder where he was. When he finally came home, he was dressed to the nines, telling Katie to put on a coat and keep her eyes closed. He led her to his car and drove her to a scenic spot by the ocean in Portland and sat her at a picnic table. When she opened her eyes, there was a tower of Jenga pieces stacked in front of her. “We are playing Jenga?” she asked, puzzled. They began to play for a few minutes, until the tower finally fell and the ring box was revealed, which Luke had carved into the tower. Luke knelt down with the ring and proposed.

Who was the first person you told about your engagement?

We called our parents and siblings soon after Luke proposed, then enjoyed our engagement bliss over dinner before leaking the news.

How did you decide where you wanted to get married?

We chose the Portland Company, an old railroad factory overlooking Casco Bay, for our venue, with the vision of showing off the best of what Maine has to offer, beyond the images of lobster and lighthouses that tourists associate with Vacationland. We plan to continue this theme with local foods and breweries, and small mom-and-pop venders.

What has been your favorite part of wedding planning?

We have most loved trying all of the foods! Because brunch is our favorite meal together, we had a wonderful time trying numerous variations of eggs and other brunch specialities. Our caterer was equally excited to break away from the usual dinner menu and try out some new recipes for our wedding. We loved our cake tasting as well, though admittedly, Luke went into the tasting a bit tainted with the inevitable choice of carrot cake.

What do you look forward to the most about being married?

We are most excited to share the adventure of life together, particularly traveling. Who better to taste, smell and see the world with than your best friend?

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