love this time of year…there is so
much to be thankful for…xoxo
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lovely styling by MERRYL BROWN EVENTS & scrumptious food created by VALERIE RICE of EAT DRINK GARDEN & the most delicious hand made organic chocolates by SWEET NUIT (i am so in love with these) & bakes good by the very talented ELIZABETH COLLING (formally the food editor/stylist for MARTHA STEWART) & beautiful florals by KATE HOLT of FLOWERWILD & the stunning location is THE VILLA AT SUNSTONE VINEYARDS – as i said so much to be thankful for – xoxoxo

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THE HUFFINGTON POST

 

Dear President Obama,

I have sat down to write this letter dozens of times and always end up a bit tongue-tied. Please bear with me as I attempt to explain myself. Nine years ago I watched the image on a sonogram and heard the words from my doctor: “It’s a boy.” In that moment, my first emotion was fear. How was I going to raise a man? It seemed daunting, but perhaps nervousness is not uncommon for mothers of sons to experience. I also felt extremely aware that as a Caucasian woman having a son with a man of African American descent, my son would undoubtedly face issues in his life I would never fully understand … deep breaths …

Truth be told, I was unprepared for the powerful love I felt when I held him for the first time. He was perfection, the way all newborns are. He was mine and any hesitation or fear about mothering this little tiny man was replaced with adoration and love. I am blessed to have a loving husband by my side who is also a wonderful father. Our son (and two other daughters) have been lucky to grow up loving two parents of different ethnic backgrounds. And yet there has always been the element of the unknown. Neither my husband nor myself would ever be able to entirely comprehend what it felt like to grow up bi-racial child in a world that is not always embracing of things and people that are different. I was faced with trying to figure out how to prepare my son for issues that he may face in his life due to his ethnicity that I had no firsthand experience with.

The election in 2008 had a profound effect on our family. As you pursued your dreams and became the nominee for president, there was a shift in the air. I was overwhelmed with the implications your success had for my children’s lives, particularly for my son. We watched the debates leading up to the election as a family. I lined up three small chairs and made the kids popcorn (admittedly, a bit of a bribe for them to sit and watch something they did not really understand). I explained that although they may not understand what they were watching, it would have an important impact on their lives, regardless of the outcome of the election.

We were watching history unfold, a story that had a direct impact on our children. I felt this was especially true for my son because he could see himself in your face.

He was 5-years-old at the time you were elected president. And although I realize you were in the midst of pursing your dreams, you inadvertently simultaneously changed my son’s life. Quite frankly, I believe you changed the lives of sons across the world. This, Mr. President, is no small thing. My son could see himself in you, the leader of our country, something no child of color had been able to do in America prior to your presidency. He was at an age when he had just become aware that my skin did not look like his. You gave my son in this moment something I could not.

My son is vibrant and funny, an incredible athlete, a well-balanced mix of tenderness and independence. I’ve loved him and raised him to the best of my ability. You gave him something that I could not, the possibility that he could actually be anything he wanted. This is a concept that far surpasses any political orientation; it is not a Republican or Democratic concern, it is purely an acknowledgement of what all mothers want for their sons — an opportunity to pursue their dreams, to be anything they want to be. Mothers of mixed-race children are often confronted with the limitations that subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle prejudices can bring.

As a photographer, I felt compelled to share visually in some way, the impact you and your political success had on my son’s life. I think perhaps this image says it, far better than my words could ever convey. I do not know where his dreams will take him, but I do know that the path you carved in your life will benefit him as he grows as a man, in ways he will probably never fully understand. I realize the possibility of my son and/or myself meeting you personally is quite unlikely. So I wanted to take this opportunity to share my gratitude.

Thank you on behalf of all mothers of mixed-race children for making the words “You can do anything you want in life” feel like the truth. You have changed the lives of children across the globe and that, Mr. President, is a wonderful gift. And more personally thank you on behalf of my son … thank you.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth Messina

 LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT ORIGINALLY
PUBLISHED ON THE HUFFINGTON POST

______________________

 ”I have a dream that my four little children will one
day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the
color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

a little more sweetness...

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i am so thrilled to share the WINTER 2012 COVER of THE KNOT magazine…
it is always an honor to have one of my photographs on the  cover of a magazine, but
this time it is especially sweet…you see the creative concept was entirely my idea…I had
dreamt of a girl floating amidst a sea of flowers…& then it became my mission to try &
make it become a visual reality…i love how the stone is the “water” of my dreams & the
florals float & frame the lovely girl as she looks up at me…thank you so very much to the
incredible creative team who worked tirelessly beside me…DOLCE DESIGNS – your florals
literally brought my vision to life…the VILLA at SUNSTONE VINEYARDS – your stunning
estate is a photographer’s dream come true…i am so honored to have shot the VERY 1ST
wedding THEIR last year….& to have shot the 1st BRIDAL editorial their when i worked
on the very talented CLAIRE PETTIBONE’S ad campaign…& now this…i am sure countless
brides & magazines are going to continue to flock to the VILLA, there is truly no place like
it…& my sweet & beautiful ERIN SKIPLEY – we have been side by side for so many creative
adventures…your calm presence & masterful makeup & hair artistry make my job so much
easier…thank you CATHERINE SHEPPARD your styling is beautiful & seemingly
effortless…a special thanks to CARLEY RONEY of THE KNOT for entrusting me with the
incredible responsibility of rebranding an iconic wedding icon & giving me the creative
freedom to do it…please go pick up your copy of the WINTER 2012 copy of THE KNOT -
the 14 page fashion story if delicious – with gowns from MONIQUE LHUILLIER to the
lovely CLAIRE PETTIBONE to MARCHESA to REEM ACRA & INES DISANTO – the
gown featured on the cover is by london based designer  SAMUELLE COUTURE…xoxo

DREAMS DO COME TRUE

if you want to some some more of this loveliness,
go to GREY LIKES WEDDINGS to view exclusive
photographs of this swoon worthy fashion story

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“will you marry me?”
he asked….or she asked….well, someone asked &
the answer was a resounding & heartfelt “YES”….there is undoubtably a ring, perhaps tears, or laughter, or both….
kisses, lots of kisses…phone calls….and then at some point the wedding panning
begins….You have now entered your “engagement” period….a very special time…
now you know, for sure, that this is the person you are going to spend your life with…
maybe you had an inkling of it along the way, but now you KNOW…there is a beauty, a peace
in knowing….whether a brief or very long engagement, this is a very special time in every couple’s
relationship….chances are many discussions & most of your focus becomes the plans
for your big day….& certainly a wedding is a wonderful heartfelt celebration….
but what about your engagement?? a wedding is a day in our lives, a special day to be sure, but in comparison to an engagement (most engagements that is), it is a brief moment in time…that as we all know is most likely going to be very well documented…of course as a wedding photographer this is a very important part of my life…to be absolutely clear i LOVE weddings…i am a true romantic & love the variations of affection & vows & decor from couple to couple…i feel very lucky to photograph so many weddings….i just feel the need to point out that an engagement is just as important as a wedding…it is in my humble opinion, a right of passage… & as such must be honored & treated with respect….it is not merely a “waiting” period….but rather most couples are navigating the treacherous terrain of each other’s families & customs, & seating preferences, oh my….couple’s that stand side by side through this process  & remain reasonably unfettered are laying the foundation for a strong marriage…for we all know how complex family dynamics can be….anyhow, my point is this….
ENGAGEMENT is to MARRIAGE
as
PREGNANCY is to PARENTHOOD
i think we most will agree that pregnancy is a significant part for many people of becoming a parent…& birth all though a rather important moment in all our lives, is just a moment….pregnancy, just as an engagement is a vital period of growth before the special moment in time, your wedding…the life of a child & our journey as parents is most like a marriage, it is longer a more complicated than anyone can really imagine or explain…(i realize some people adopt & become parents in different beautiful ways, i merely trying to make the point that an engagement period is an important one)….with that said….i hope you view the the time before you exchange vows…..
your engagement is a vital magical part of your relationship…i believe that documenting this time in your love story is absolutely worthwhile….if you are able to set aside the time & are financially able, by all means hire a professional photographer to capture engagement photographs of you & your betrothed…if you are not, do not throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak, & scrap the idea of engagement photos all together….instead recruit a friend or family member (preferably someone you feel comfortable showing your affection to each other in front of) to take engagement photographs of you….treat it like special occasion….photographs are art, whom - ever creates them…so be sure to honor your love & make a little art of your life…carve out some time, so you do not feel rushed….be thoughtful about your outfit…& pick a place that is beautiful, or has special meaning to you….do something that celebrates this incredibly meaningful time in your life….please…
i speak not only as a photographer, but as a former bride who did not do any engagement
photographs….at the time of our engagement, life was busy…plus i was trying to scrape together
every penny we had to put towards our wedding (which was indeed magical)…but i could kick
myself for not taking the time to do engagement photos…it was such a happy time for us…&
seriously i have so many friends that are photographers…what was i thinking???
in any case, let me leave you with this…no matter how beautiful & amazing your wedding is, & your subsequent wedding photographs are….you can only blow up & frame so many images from your wedding before you freak your friends out…engagement images have a more day to day feel & you can display here & there i think with more freedom….on a more personal note….after our wedding, on a trip to france, a dear friend took some sweet photos of my husband & i embracing…. last year i framed one & gave it to my husband as a gift….it now sits on his bedside & we both see it every day….the image captured a tender moment between us, one that reflects the sweetness of days gone by that are reminiscent of our courtship….which as most married couples will understand has now been replaced by the demands of day to day life & the realities of marriage…now don’t get me wrong, our marriage is wonderful, but it does lack some of the subtle & not so subtle sweetness of courtship…i secretly think that seeing this photo of us hugging every day before we go to sleep & again when we wake up in the morning helps us remember to “hug” everyday….
& please don’t tell but, i pretend it IS our engagement portrait…xoxo….elizabeth
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this article was originally published on THE HUFFINGTON POST

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