Pink Initiative's 2012 donation recipient


As we wind down the hours of 2012 and look forward to the year ahead, I'm happy to share with you one of the highlights of my year as the founder of Pink Initiative, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to raising funds and awareness for breast cancer among wedding professionals. It's always a thrill to share where the board of directors has chosen to gift the monies we have raised as a group, be it for an action day, an organization or in the case this year, an individual.

More than a decade ago I had the pleasure of meeting and working with one of the most spirited, talented, loving reporters at USA Today, sweet Olivia. Tho my stint at that paper was short-lived, we have maintained a close friendship over the years and she has been instrumental in Pink Initiative's success as an advisor and inspiration given her recent battle with breast cancer.

During one of our visits last year when the prognosis for Olivia's cancer was not looking so good we talked about immediate goals, her darling little family, and how to maximize our time on this good Earth. Going to Disney World was something she dreamed of, yet wasn't sure how to make it happen. Having just returned from bringing my own family there, I completely understood her perspective as a mom and wanted to help.

After a slower year for Pink Initiative donations than usual, it was a no-brainer for me and the board to decide to gift the emilie inc. photography donation money (we donate a portion of each one of the wedding day creative fees we collect to this important cause- THANK YOU for your support!) to Olivia and her family, surprising them with a trip to meet Mickey in the spring of 2013. It makes my heart so happy to have the chance to do this for someone so special in my lifetime and I'm so glad for you to learn a little about Olivia's journey below.

Love you, Olivia! Keep fighting!!

On Dec. 29, 2010, I was mugged at the bus stop in my sleepy Pennsylvania town. I thought it was worst day of my life. And then January came.

On Jan. 22, 2011, I was diagnosed with stage 3b/c (nobody really knew for sure which) triple negative, BRCA 1-positive breast cancer. I had nearly two dozen positive lymph nodes, a 14-month-old son and a terrified husband.

So began my journey into cancerland: preoperative chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, radiation. My son, Henry, turned two days after I finished my last round of radiation at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. But my cancer was so severe, so aggressive that I bristled when anyone suggested I was “cured.” I knew better.

To wit: March came. And my cancer came back, into my left supraclavicular node and several masses in my left chest. I was now considered metastatic – stage 4. I returned to chemo, combining the traditional taxol treatment with an oral drug typically used for leukemia patients, and waited. After some months of stability, the cancer progressed into a mass under my left armpit.

I took the radical step of changing my medical team. My new doctor at Dana-Farber in Boston immediately put me on a trial involving an oral chemo so experimental it had only letters and numbers for a name. It had showed promise in women with triple-negative cancers. It didn’t work for me: My cancer progressed to the point where in early August I was found to have a blood clot on the left side of my neck.

I was put on an anticoagulant, and my doctor switched my course of care again, this time putting an old-school chemo – cisplatin – to novel use. Cisplatin has seldom been used to treat breast cancer, but recent evidence has shown its efficacy in helping women with BRCA 1-positive cancers. Nearly two years into my cancer journey, we had found something promising.

Today, my cancer has shrunk, but it has certainly not gone away and it likely never will. I will always live with it, but, despite losing my hair twice (one perk of cisplatin: you get to keep your hair) and changing my body shape forever, it will never define me. I remain a mom, a wife and a journalist – who happens to travel to Boston every three weeks for a few hours of very important medicine.

I feel strong. I am doing well for now, but I know the future will always be uncertain. That is why more than ever I’ve been living in the moment, enjoying my job, my friends and, most of all, my family. And that is why I am so grateful for this Disney World adventure. For me, there is no greater gift than bringing joy to my Mickey-obsessed son and a sense of normalcy to our little trio.

I wish you could see me smiling now. Thank you.

(picture courtesy of Olivia)

early morning beach walk


Everyone knows that going to the beach in Maine during the summer is sublime.  That's why so many people come here and enjoy peering into tide pools, digging their toes into the sand, and being lulled by the crash of the waves.  But for those of us that live here year round, we know that the winter brings a chance to have all of that practically to ourselves.  It is a different experience to arrive at the beach and look out across the sand and see only one or two people- and dogs- dotting the landscape.

I woke up early on a recent morning and had an immediate idea in my head: go to the beach.  It was chilly and still dark, but I just felt the need to go.  So my husband, Jon, and I took our Shepherd Collie mix, Louise, to Higgins Beach in Scarborough.  There were only two other people there when we arrived and the water was calm.  Louise trotted along, stopping to sniff driftwood and seaweed that had washed onshore.  The sun had risen on our drive but was still casting an intense, warm light across the sand.

We strolled along talking about how much fun Louise was having, how surprisingly light the winds were, and the bakery we'd stop at after for steaming cups of coffee and delicious bagels (Scratch Baking Co. in South Portland is soooo good).

On our way back we saw more people, and many more dogs, and were glad to have enjoyed the tranquility of the earlier hour.  But, I know that at beaches across Maine, we locals will have the pleasure of quiet visits like these for many months to come. 

merry, merry to you


The staff and spouses/significant others of emilie inc. sat down together this week to toast 2012 at Carmen at the Danforth in Portland. Over a yummy 8 (!) course meal, this foodie group reminisced on what was, talked about holiday plans, babies on the way (our designer Alina and I are due just four weeks apart!) and of course, the wedding world among other things. We all have much to be grateful for.

Aside from a few client meetings, the office is closed until January 2nd. We will be peeking in on emails and voicemails, tho, so if something urgent comes up don't hesitate to be in touch.

From all of us to all of you, we wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with magic and memory-making. Cheers and thank you!

coastal Maine engagement sessions at French's Point


French's Point is a wedding venue located on a private peninsula in mid-coast Maine with 15 acres between two properties, Beach Rose Farm and the Estate. The Estate offers a commanding 280-degree, unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean and Penobscot Bay. Beach Rose Farm, which can house up to 30 people at a time, is a great complement to the property for weddings.

I have been working with the management team there for some time as a consultant. One of the marketing campaigns that we run is a Stay and Tour, where engaged couples can stay at the Beach Rose Farm property and get a tour of the Estate while they are in the area. We have added to that concept by running promotions where couples not only get to stay and tour, but also get an engagement session shot by yours truly. It is a great opportunity to introduce the amazing property to newly engaged couples and also have them leave with images of the weekend. We are able to have the run of the property, so from headshots indoors, to the front lawn, to the Beach Rose Farm to walking on the private beach, the photo opportunities are plentiful. The backdrops are great, from the green shingles of the building to scenic vistas.

The engagement session promotions are so popular they are becoming a regular happening, check out French's Point blog for details of the next one if you or someone you know might be interested. The couples we have hosted come from all over- native Mainers to true destination clientele who have traveled great distances for the weekends. The staff at French's Point is second to none when it comes to pulling off weddings and events, every couple I have worked with in the shoots has been quite impressed!

Juliette and John's winter wedding at the Harvard Club in Boston


I was so excited for a December wedding in Boston at the Harvard Club.  It was a classy winter affair on a surprisingly warm day.  If it had been cold enough, all the rain would have been inches of snow!  But then again, bride Juliette and groom John wouldn't have been able to ride in style in the old Packard -- in mint condition -- from the beautiful ceremony at St. Cecilia Church.  A few years ago, the church underwent a year-and-a-half long renovation. It is stunning and a popular Beantown place to get married- Juliette's grandparents were married there. There was even a 9:30am ceremony before Juliette and John's afternoon wedding!  Reverend John Unni delivered a meaningful, refreshingly inviting ceremony, making everyone feel welcome in St. Cecilia, regardless of one's religious beliefs or choice to worship or not. 

Juliette and John sat side by side during the ceremony.  I caught John stealing glances of a radiant, giggly Juliette.  She looked gorgeous in the wedding dress she designed!  Fashion is, after all, this lady's forte, starting her own shoe company from the ground up called the Cape Cod Shoe Supply Company.  I loved her forward thinking with her dress, creating a beautiful, yet removable, embellished lace top layer that she plans to have made into a short dress she'll be able to wear again.  John looked dapper in his classic tux.

The rain fortunately stopped by the time the ceremony ended and we were able to grab a few portraits outside the Harvard Club.  Lots of car horns beeping and congratulatory yells and yays were showered upon the newlyweds as I snapped away at the busy intersection of Mass Ave and Comm Ave.  Two friendly gentleman playfully jumped into some of the photos and Juliette and John were great sports about it.  Really, it was all smiles all day for these two.

Jennifer Sepulveda and her team at the Harvard Club did a wonderful job with the celebration.  The venue is a busy place and when I showed up earlier in the day, it was decked out in balloons and kiddos for visits with Santa.  With little time for turnover, I was amazed when I arrived post-ceremony and the place was transformed into an elegant wedding reception.  The holiday hints around the Club were tasteful and I think put everyone in the wintry wedding spirit.

Cocktail hour was upstairs and the reception on the main floor in the grand ballroom.  Guests enjoyed a multiple course dinner and sipped on red wine compliments of Rocca Family Vineyards -- friends of the bride and groom, they shipped all the wine out from Napa!  Heartfelt speeches filled the room with love, reminding everyone how special a connection Juliette and John have with one another.  As formal as the touches were to the wedding day, the event itself was laid back.  Some traditions were honored like a first dance for the couple and a father daughter dance, but there was no cake cutting.  Juliette and John just wanted to enjoy a memorable night with their guests on such a momentous day.  Of course, there was dancing to a talented band, East Coast Soul, comprised of all Berklee or Boston University grads.  Funk and soul, and they even belted out my girl Whitney Houston!

The band was so good, I had to convince Juliette and John to sneak out for a few portraits of the two of them before the night ended -- all too quickly, I might add!  I didn't want the night to end either.  Not only because of the killer tunes, but because it was sadly my final wedding of season made a little more sweet by seeing two emilie inc. couples there, Juliette's sister Katie and husband Chris, and Scott and Hillary (who just welcomed a bouncing baby girl! Congrats!). 

Juliette and John, thank you again for allowing me to photograph your wedding.  It was the best way to celebrate the end of the 2012 season!  I hope St. Lucia brought you lots of continued celebration!  Congratulations on getting married.  What a way to kick off 2013!


How they met, in their own words:

In October 2010 Juliette was still adjusting to her new life in the slow lane on Cape Cod after 10 years spent roaming the canyons of New York City.  She hadn’t moved to the Cape exclusively for the easier pace of life however. Nor was it for the Peanut Butter Blast at the Harwich Dairy Queen or the sweet, sweet sounds of Cape Country 103.9. No, she was there to start her own company – Cape Cod Shoe Supply – a Cape inspired fashion company. So in between consulting trips to China, she was full speed ahead on her company! The only problem – how does a gal who just moved to the Cape and takes weeks-long trips to China find a quality guy?

In October 2010 John was sailing the well-charted waters of his life in Boston. When he wasn’t traveling (when wasn’t he traveling?) he was picking up hoidy toidy Northeastern sports like squash and coercing his friend Pat to go to barbecue and wine pairings in North Cambridge. His job covering North America for a British investment company kept him busy and on the move, which suited him just fine because it helped him in his pursuit of the perfect burrito.  He was exacting in his requirements – the right amount of meat, beans, rice, and pico de gallo. He was no less discerning in his search for the perfect woman. But how does a guy from Boston who travels constantly and is always busy find a quality gal?

Juliette and John had the same problem – what does it take for two busy people who travel a lot to meet and fall in love? The answer - $30. Yes, 30 bucks gets you a three-month membership to a well-advertised Internet dating site and, in this case, provided the catalyst by which our protagonists met. Juliette and John spied each other online, emailed briefly, and then met at the Franklin CafĂ© in Boston for drinks. Drinks turned into dinner, and dinner turned into more drinks, which turned into Juliette giving John the cheek when he went in to give her a kiss at the end of the evening.

Undeterred, John e-mailed Juliette the next day. Juliette’s response was warm and gracious, however she was writing while packing for another two-week sojourn to China! Whatever chemistry was generated the night before would now be at the mercy of time and distance. What emerged, however, was a remarkable 19th century-esque writing campaign over e-mail. They wrote each other every day of the two weeks that she was gone – covering every topic imaginable, from the boxed lunches they serve in factories in China to John’s incredible insight into particle physics and quantum theory. 

These e-mails set the stage for an amazing reunion on Juliette’s return to Boston. We quickly hit our stride as a couple and never looked back.

photographer: Whitney J. Fox, emilie inc. photographyceremony: St. Cecilia Church, Boston • officiant: Rev. John Unni • reception: Harvard Club, Boston • florist: Juliet Prenney, Flowers by Juliet band: East Coast Soulhair: Patrice Vinci Salon, Boston • transportation: Local Motion of Bostongown: custom designed by bride, made by Anahit of Newton (617-795-1940) • invitations: bride and Nelia Designs (Canada) • honeymoon: St Lucia

cancer patient makeover day


Once a month for nearly 10 years, Joanne McDonough of Joya Beauty and now Lena Hartford of Hair That Moves pack up their black cases stocked with beauty supplies to participate in a program called Look Good Feel Better at the Seacoast Cancer Center at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, New Hampshire. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, this is a gals-only group for women undergoing cancer treatments to learn about caring for their skin and applying make-up, as well as managing their hair and/or wigs no matter what stage in the process.

Longtime friends and colleagues, I was truly touched when Joanne and Lena asked me to help them do something a little extra special for their friends this month: makeover photos! This time the ladies wouldn't be learning a lesson like usual, but were pampered by the pros and each was treated to a new wig.

We gathered in the cancer center's hospitality room and as Joanne and Lena did their thing, the group of women gathered around a table sharing stories and information, offering encouragement and asking questions as they went along. Two women realized they would be in treatment together at the same time the next week, the first time for one of the women. They swapped numbers and talked about what to expect. Another woman was struggling with losing her hair and hadn't yet tried on a wig. Fighting tears (she and the rest of us), she retrieved a wig from her car and decided this would be a safe setting to conquer that step. Another was just finishing her treatments so this was a celebration for her. The emotions ran the gamut.

One by one, I guided the women through a quick headshot to showcase their finished results and they received prints to share with loved ones for the holidays. The nervous ladies who started the morning as strangers, later sat in front of me with beautiful confidence. This program is certainly aptly named.

Joanne and Lena, you are simply the best. Thank you so much for sharing your hearts with me time and time again. And to these lovely women, your bravery has inspired me beyond words. I will forever remember our morning together. I'm rooting for you!!

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