Lindsay had a unique way of making you feeling like you were the only person in the room. I supposed Simon found this trait to be intoxicatingly beautiful as the rest of us surely did. Her empathy was clearly her superpower and she didn’t know, or perhaps she did, know that her her tiny hands had the ability to make others feel what she was feeling. That every time she touched someone or brought their face close to hers, that it would unhinge their socialized resistance to emotion, crumbling their walls, instantly transforming them into waterfalls. Her petite frame holding a massive universe under her skin that seeped from under her pores that was palpable in any room she smiled in.
Stepping into their home with its white walls and floor to ceiling windows and beautiful views, you could feel the love radiating from the walls and the writing on the bathroom mirror . There was deep love in this home. I could feel the hardship they went through without putting a name to what occurred that gave them the strength of an 75 year marriage before any ring was ever on her finger. While Lindsay was liquid… creative, beautiful intentional , flowing with movement and tears, Simon… Simon was the rock, her rock. A kind, quiet boldness that makes you take notice in a room. A strong foundation for her to stand on that gave the very definition to ying and yang. In build his physical strength was obvious but in heart you could feel there were scars in his heart. Hardship that he would have faced alone if Lindsay didn’t stretch his scars so his heart would beat a little easier, she was his air so he could breath easier with her around. While keeping his strong face on, while I adjusted his tie, I could feel his excitement…just moments away from being close to his bride.
An explosion of tears and hugs that had no time limit, I looked onward through tears with hope that I would have someone someday that would allow me to hug them as long as I wanted. He never pulled away and she could have stayed in his arms all day, like some days I imagine they would. Wiping tears not fearful of smudging makeup that didn’t matter because they wanted to soak in every moment. She had his undivided attention and he was enamored with her. Far past her beauty, you could almost feel their soulful entanglement. That their patience, really paid off.
I’ve never seen a bride be so present. Albeit running my timeline a bit behind, I didn’t mind. She was making a focused effort not to let any second pass her by without touching it, acknowledging the moment and showing gratitude for it. She would look everyone in the soul, every loved one she gave them her undivided attention and let the love spill over. She stopped me for a second and said “ I want to look at my bridal party” and just watched them while they got in a line up for pictures so she could compliment them on how impeccable they looked. She chose black tuxes for the girls that gave them the sex appeal of super secret service agents about the save the world, it was unique and so much fun. While we were taking group photos, a bee flew close to her face and without hesitation , Simon jumped in and grabbed the bee with the reflexes of an olympic sprinter to save his bride the sting he unfortunately incurred. The price of being her night and shining amour, not to be confused with armor. He didn’t mind, I got to see the glimpse of his knee jerk responses to protect her.
Overwhelmed with love for each other they kind of revolved in their own little world. Paying little attention to my commands, camera and posed photos I felt we “ had” to get but I was realizing the opportunity to capture something much greater. This was who they were, and that was far better than anything I was about to construct for them.
Arriving on site to their venue, I got to see just how much from tradition they lovingly strayed. With the strong island vibes of Tulum, hookah and cigar corner and a dance floor that illuminated “ Love me lights out” rivaled any club , the reception felt so removed from the Missouri regionality and transported us into the deeply magically bohemian world they allowed us to experience. Lindsay with her creativity, you could see her intentionality at work in the functional details while Simon brought balance, his light hearted nature and knack to make others around him feel comfortable with a sturdy handshake and a joke or laugh, or a spontaneous floss contest with the flower girls .
The moments shared with family, so ardent , even my words can’t do justice to the feeling the photos exhibit. Too many tears to count I was happy to overhear the words spilling out to grandpa “ Because of your example, I waited for a love like yours and grandma’s, and I got it.”
Once the ceremony began, stopped in his tracks when she came down the aisle, a day he had actually been waiting for a long time was finally here. Finally someone that got him, understood his heart and let him being himself unapologetically. Someone he could tell his funny stories to, someone that allowed him to let go of his guard and taught him what love was, what not giving up meant. He had never known that kind of love before, selfless with no cap or conditions, and Lindsay was an endless waterfall that he was never scared of drying out.
With kisses before granted the permission to kiss, was exactly them. Not holding back, no rules, or appearances to keep up , it was refreshing to be in the aura of this kind of love. The vows peppered with inside jokes and sentiments that were just for them , the look in her eyes gave him permission to let out a couple of tears that were just for her. She couldn’t keep her hands off him as she delivered each word as it was released from her chest, letter by letter. Sheer joy of jubilation “ As you may now kiss the bride” she nearly fell over in elation. They were one. And once the festivities were over, the real party began. The outpouring to all the beautiful hearts that adored them mutually, watched on with heavy full hearts knowing they just watched someone’s fairytale come true.
— Alea Lovely … The Wedding Journalist
I have a lot of inquiries as to whether or not I shoot family photos. You rarely see them on my social media or website, because to tell the truth, I don't often enjoy shooting them. It's not that I don't love kids or that I'm not good with them ( quite the opposite actually) but it's the stress that's always involved. "But aren't weddings stressful Alea" YES they are, but I'm still allowed to do the part of photography I love most, which is be a photojournalist and tell a story. Somewhere out there someone decided what "Family Photos" should look like, and I didn't get any say in the matter. So parents come to me with what they think they are supposed to do and the Pinterest photos they want, rightfully so, and I have to try to fit into the mold on what their vision is. That is not the part that bothers me, rather, it's the pressure tied to it for the children. The children are introduced to this stranger that is holding a foreign object in their face, they are wearing something they likely don't wear everyday, they are taken to a place they have likely never been before, its hot, or its cold, or there are dogs around that they just want to pet for the love of god, or its loud, or the energy is just off and it makes them cry. They don't want to smile or sit still, or listen to this stranger squeezing a loud toy to get their attention - all for a "good" photo. I have to try to reassure the parents that the kids always cry, they aren't the only ones and their " She never acts like this" or " I don't know what's gotten into him, he must need a nap" embarrassment isn't necessary but something makes them feel bad, like they failed at something. They are stressed that their normally well behaved and attentive child is acting out the one time they really need them to do them a solid ( especially since money is involved. )
The truth is, the kids read our energy and when we are stressed about "making something happen" boy o' boy that feels uncomfortable to them. There is too much pressure to have this picture perfect family, and from the likes of pinterest and instagram we've put in our heads this idea of how this little life should look. Personally, I don't like it. I've skimmed the surface of what I could do with families because the lack of photojournalism and authenticity makes it hard for me to do what I do best - which is tell a story. While some photographers are great with the setups and props and posing babies in the perfect little flower ( which is so darn cute I have to admit) I would make rather capture your kid playing in the mud or you guys having a real moment, that you always have when I'm not there. So when you look back at your family you remember "Oh, Indi used to love playing with cars...she would never leave the house without at least two of them." Instead of having a really cute photo but stressful memories of " Allie would not stop crying the whole time, but we finally got the shot."
I would like permission to change the expectation and let the kids be kids. For me to come to your home for a couple of hours and hang out and capture your family as you are...rather than what you think you should be. These are moments I feel like will be more important as the time they stay that little goes by so fast. The children grow up, and move on and what you have left of the story of your growing family changes at light speed. I don't believe those moments should be retrofitted into a box of what was trendy at the time, rather...how you would like to remember them.
We walk into people's homes and see the traditional family portrait gracing the walls in matching outfits, and while there is a place for that, is that who your family is? Is that what represents your life best in those moments? I'm not asking to get rid of the "family photo" rather, if you're reading this and coming to me for portraits that it is because you want me to tell your family's story. ...whatever the story is that day.
The first time I went to Paris I hated it. I was this 21 year old asshole American that yelped " Do you speak English?" at any French person we needed help from and we were met with snide "non"s and terrible service. I had never been outside of the USA let alone anywhere barely in Europe and I couldn't yet appreciate the value of getting to know another culture through travel.
Fast forward over 10 years and I have been to almost 30 countries and counting. But Paris remains to be one of my favorite places on earth. I've been here over 10 times and started learning French because of my love for this beautiful country. I'm a total Francophile now.
So I decided to make a guide for my American friends so they will love Paris as I do! So lets get started!
This one is a big one. The Parisians aren't necessarily "rude" but they get a bad rap like New Yorkers do ( albeit true New Yorkers love being known for being rude) but it's kind of like that when you live in a major tourist city. Living in New York has given me a better perspective on that, so when you come to the city - don't act like it's yours, you are a guest. Take some time to learn a little bit about the culture you're about to visit and most importantly learn at least a couple of French phrases to make an effort. Most French people who work in shops, restaurants etc. nowadays speak a least "un peu" (a little) English. The most valuable phrases to use are the French greetings "Bonjour" (Hello) during the a day and Bon Soir in the evening when you encounter someone. If you walk into a shops or restaurant or a taxi and say "Bonjour, Je Ne parle pas francais, Parlez vous Anglais?" ( Hello, I don't speak French, do you speak English?) it's going to go a LONG way. It shows that you're making an effort and the French will really appreciate that. I found a MAJOR difference in the way I was treated when I learned a little bit of French.
Meeting someone? The French are NOT huggers...they are kissers. I've discussed at LENGTH that touching someone's face to face is much more intimate that a hug! NON, for them hugs are reserved for close friends and loved ones. So when greeting or saying goodbye as scary as it might be to go in for a kiss, touch cheek to cheek ( then make air kiss) then do the other side. Don't actually kiss their cheek - that's "weird."
Parisians smoke, a lot. Get over it. It's very normal for people to smoke in public places, on terraces right next to you, even if your eating. If you're going to app date while your here, you've got about a 75% homeboy or girl is going to smoke, and while that is usually a deal breaker for me...the sexy accent usually makes up for it. While we would usually consider this very rude, don't be offended if they roll a cig right in front of you. They will usually offer you one.
For myself I don't want to be easily pegged for a tourist. I don't like being targeted by people stopping me to sell me a package, or ask me for money or the worst part... a possible pick pocket. So if you're coming to Paris and don't want to look like a tourist, don't wear a giant back pack or workout outfit with trainers. The French are known for their sense of effortless style, so if you want to blend while you explore the city, wear comfortable well fitted clothing and "fashion"sneakers ( not the ones you would run a marathon in ). HERE is some inspiration. Ladies, purses with a firm zipper without being "open". I've been lucky enough to never have anything stolen but this is something to just be aware of.
When enjoying the weather outside, maybe you're having a glass of wine or a croissant on a terrace (the seating outside of a restaurant). Keep your wallets or phones off the table and purses in close vicinity, not hanging or sitting on a chair out of direct site. My friends here constantly warned me of this bad habit, because that is how you get your stuff stolen. There isn't the mounds of violent crime like we have in America, but a lot of petty theft. Tourists are easy targets, so keep your purse zipped and in front of you in crowded or touristic places. Don't keep your wallet / phones in back pockets and leave your important documents like passports, in your hotel safe or Airbnb.
If you're not into great food, you're in the wrong place. Try not to eat at places around the major tourist attractions. That is usually where the crap food is, and well over priced for the quality. Paris knows how to do food VERY well and you're going to usually pay more at the Brasseries around tourist attractions. Here are some places I liked, where locals go. Season, American cuisine with a French spin. Rice and Fish, if your craving some Saki and bomb Sushi, Pizzeria Popolare, the closest to real Italian pizza, Salsamentaria di Parma for amazing Italian food - Please try the burrata, Depanneur if you're craving some tacos or burgers. Barbes for instagramable coffee and typical bites. For true Authentic French food Chez La Vieille, not only great food but a tiny and beautiful place that embodies everything great about French culture. Another great French spot with more modern cuisine is Les Fous De L'ile, on the Famous Ile Saint-Louis which you should definitely walk around.
Also better be ready to try dessert city. Paris is where some of the best pastry chefs are in the world. Definitely hit up a Pâtisserie or boulangerie shop and gawk at all the amazingly gorgeous sweet treats that look too pretty to eat. I don't like Chocolate, peanut butter or Nutella ( I know I'm weird ) but I could write an entire blog post on "Tarte au citron" or Lemon tart. Essentially like a tiny lemon meringue pie. I could eat these everyday unapologetically so, try it and thank me later. My favorite ones are from The Patisserie by Cyril Lignac, Stohrer which is the oldest bakery in Paris located in Montorgueil which is also a cool street to stroll along, and Bontemps. OH, I can't forget Angelina for not just its amazing desserts but the venue is gorgeous. Just be ready to stand in line for a bit to get a spot, but it's worth it. And duh, you're going to get Macarons from Ladurèe for your instagram. My very Parisian friend added that the BEST one ( he's the authority on this) is Cedric Grolet, I haven't been there personally but he's credible when it comes to the Pâtisserie game.
Eiffel tower bien sûr. Go see it, pack a picnic and eat lunch at Parc du Champ de Mars. Walk to the other side at Trocadero and see it from another angle. Take a million pictures of it, Eiffel is bae. Personally I don't think it's necessary to go on it, unless you're one of "those" people that wants to climb all the stairs for bragging rights ( they do have an elevator so I'm not sure why people want to do this.) But Paris without the view of the Eiffel Tower just ain't Paris, so this might be a long and pricey attraction to skip.
The Lourve. As an artist, I feel this is worth it but to be honest, the first time I went to Paris we only had time to go in real quick just to see the Mona Lisa. And just a heads up, she's a lot smaller in real life. If your not going to see all the other amazing art in there, you're missing out ( as I found out later ). But Paris has soooo many amazing museums to explore, so if museums are your jam, you're going to be in heaven. Don't skip the Tuileries Garden next door with all the gorgeous sculptures and flowers when in season. My personal top recs, other than the Lourve, would be Musée d'Orsay or Musée Rodin.
Palais de Royal. That area where everyone takes pics with the black and white columns is free! So go here to get some rad instagrams and then go into the beautiful gardens they have and take a stroll. Sit in a chair and enjoy the flowers and fountain.
Arc de Triomphe. Also free to view, unless you want to go to the top. Don't get hit by a car crossing the street, it's at a major roundabout. The Champs-Élysées is the big shopping street nearby and to be honest not my favorite place to shop. Chocked full of tourists and people trying to ask you for money etc, this wouldn't be where I would shop or eat, unless you really need to hit up stores you could find at home. Stroll down it just to say you did and end up at The Big Ferris wheel at Place De la Concorde.
The Seine. Take a walk along it, cross the bridges, it's a beautiful part of the city anywhere you go. Eat a baguette and sip a glass of wine near it so you can look French AF. If you're here when the weather is nice and you're feeling hipster and want to rub elbows with the cool elite crowd head to Monsieur Mouche . A rooftop boat hang out where the people are pretty and the view is prettier- just get there before 6:30 if you don't want to wait in a long line.
Notre Dame. Go in, and be quiet. The church is beautiful and has a crazy energy, sit and take it in for a least a few minutes. When you leave, wander to the left and take pics with the bird man that asks for 5 euros to give you bird feed. Take the picture and risk disease from the pigeons for something actually quite cool.
Montmartre. Beautiful little hilltop village vibe in Paris. Another place I wouldn't suggest eating if it's around where major tourists are (unless you're there for the sweets, then dig in). Don't buy their souvenirs in the main square (in any major tourist area) because they aren't from Paris, they are from China unless magnets and shot glasses are your jam. Walk around and take a thousand pictures in this beautiful quarter. Wander over to the Sacre-Couer and enjoy the view.
Le Marais. A cool neighborhood with great food, small shops and bars. The Jewish quarter is also here so check out that history along with the challah bread or falafel... yum. It's a cool slower medieval vibe with beautiful buildings that anyone would enjoy and shopping that would rival the hippest New York boroughs.
If you want to see Paris in style, I strongly suggest you take a Parisi Tour! It's the most fun way to hit all the spots in one day or even in a few hours! You drive around in this cute vintage Citroën 2cv ( for parties of 3 or less) and you're going to pay about 250 Euros+ depending on the tour you get but it's WORTH it. This is not your momma's tour guide and champagne is involved. Ask for Quentin and tell him Alea sent you!
It's super easy to get around Paris. Whether you want to ride the Metro, bus, taxis or uber, you have many options. Paris isn't a huge place so if you're really up for it you could walk the whole city if you were feeling ambitous . Traffic is a little bit congested because of the smaller streets but you can get just about everywhere in the city within 30 mins. Don't be afraid of the Metro. You just buy these little paper tickets at the entry kiosk, which you can operate in English, for single rides that can get you just about anywhere. If you've never ridden in a Metro system, don't worry, it is likely one of the easiest to navigate in my opinion ( at least much easier than New York's subway).
Not so Tourist attractions.
The 9th arrosdiment is my favorite. Lots of the shopping, passage ways, and lively evenings for the young singles. It's the more chill and hip area where you can find a lot of locals, little bars, or good eats. Feels like the Williamsburg of Paris ( well not quite, everyone here is impeccably dressed). Looking for some cool bars with great wine or cocktails? Rivie at The Hoxton Hotel , The Grand Pigalle Hotel, or the Night flight at Hotel Bachaumont . The hotels in this area seem to get it.
If you're in the mood for some Caribbean vibe dancing with a casual dress code, check out Le comptoir general. It's kind of hard to find (behind what looks like a boarded up construction area) but right across from Canal St-Martin, free to enter just make sure you wear something light because it's HOT in there. The dancing is on point so don't come to stand on the wall. When you leave, if the weather is nice you can stroll along the canal where many locals like the hang in the evenings. Another great dance place is Le hobo for a more hip hop vibe of dancing. Super diverse , so you won't feel out of place and despite some not knowing English everyone will be screaming every Drake lyric perfectly.
For live street music and a crowed spot filled with locals south of the Seine, great food and drink try Rue De Buci, in St. Germain.
Want a tattoo to commemorate your trip? Hit up Dimitri Felony, He was super nice, his shop is super clean and professional and he did great work on my impulsive birthday tattoo.
And that about sums it up for now! I'll be adding to this post more things as I personally try them but I hope you find this useful on your next trip to Paris! Bisous Bisous!
Intimate Tulum, Mexico Wedding.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn ( On the windiest day of the year).
The thing I love most about intimate celebrations, as well as destination weddings, is the inside view I get to have into a couple's life. I spent a week with these two exploring the region, playing with their baby Indi, learning a little Italian and getting to pleasure of eating the grooms mother's home cooking everyday for a week! It was a dream. But best of all getting to be around two people that love each other more than I can describe...so I'll let the photos tell the story for me.
I've never had a bride come to me and say " Make as many photos black and white as you can." I loved that so much because it caused me to focus predominately on the moments and emotions than the details- which is something I've shifted to over the last few years. This couple I can't say enough about - salt of the earth kind of people that I wish live close enough for me to hang out with everyday. Congrats John and Maddie - your love shines through so evidently. :*