Sponsored Post: Hart + Sol Photo In New York City (& Giveaway!)

I know I’m always prattling on about my favorite parts about writing APW (and I genuinely have so many), but one of my deep down really truly super favorite parts is when one of you guys starts a business, and it’s amazing, and I get to write about it. Or better yet, in the case of Hart + Sol Photo in New York City and the TriState Area, I get to encourage them to go ahead and start that business already, and then they do.

So, introductions are in order. Hart + Sol Photo is made up of Maddie and Monica, “two creative ladies with short hair and an uncompromising sense of personal style (thankyouverymuch).” You’ll remember Maddie from her Lazy (and Possibly Cheap) Blog-Chic Wedding. Remember her?

{This photo by Monica and Judson of Eve Event Photography}

Yes, rad, right? And also you know her from her endless awesome comments. So when Maddie emailed me a year ago to say that she was thinking of quitting her job in the indie film business and starting a wedding photography business? And then she DID it? I was super super super excited. And today I get to announce the official web launch of Hart + Sol Photo: affordable (their prices start at just $1000!!!) and beautiful wedding photography in New York City. Hooray!

I asked Maddie and Monica if they’d write a little about their business, and boy did they ever. What they wrote is so beautiful, I’m going to give it to you straight. And seriously, I know this post is long, but it’s so worth reading for it’s Team Practical love, and inspiring business starting story.

We call ourselves artistic photojournalists. We don’t think that brides and grooms should be poked and prodded anymore than they already will be on their wedding day, and that your photos should be a representation of the day as it unfolded. But we also understand that a wedding is about a feeling, one that we hope to evoke through a combination of careful digital post processing and some creative film (Holga, Diana, Yashica medium format, Fuji Instax, amazing camera with bellows) thrown in. At the end of the day, we want our pictures to make the viewer feel like they were there, and maybe had a glass of champagne or two.

What we’re really about is building a relationship with a couple over the course of their engagement that makes them comfortable enough in front of us to really let loose. I remember we recently shot an engagement session of an APW reader (whose pics are included in this post!) and at first her fiance was really, REALLY shy. But over the course of the hour or two, we started having so much fun that he actually began directing the shoot. It was sweet and funny and made us feel like we’d done our jobs. Then when that was over, they invited us in for tea and snacks and we met the bride’s grandmother. Over tea, Olivia, the bride, said that her goal was not to have any strangers at her wedding (including the vendors). That’s exactly what we hope for too.

I’ve found that the thing our couples compliment us on most is our ability to understand, without question, the different scenarios that make up a family. People will always start to apologize for their “complicated” family when explaining that their dad is remarried and the family isn’t exactly getting along with Uncle Ned, but can we get him in the pictures anyway? We won’t stand for the apology. We not only get that practical weddings will unlikely be cookie cutter, but we really, deeply respect the mutual coming together that makes a wedding possible. I’d even say that those weddings are possibly even more special. We love couples who already have children, couples who have children from different marriages, brides who have step-dads and biological fathers but refuse to grant preference to one or the other, same-sex couples, young couples, older couples. We really celebrate the uniqueness of people in love. And we really WANT those clients. They kind of melt our hearts. (As the child of a blended family, i.e. step-dads and siblings from other fathers, I promise you that if there are children involved with the marriage, I will cry).

At the end of the day, Monica and I are really creative individuals who, up until this opportunity, had been stuck in corporate or retail jobs that made us feel like the world was ending. Hart + Sol Photo is our opportunity to create beautiful art that is made out of pure joy. I literally can’t think of anything else that could be better. And I can’t think of a better audience than APW. Frankly, this business wouldn’t exist if A Practical Wedding didn’t have the kind of inspiring readership that it does. The sort of feeling I’ve described above is something I get with every Team Practical interaction I have.

Our prices for standard wedding photography begin at $1000, but we have smaller packages for elopements, or more intimate ceremonies (think 15 or less). And since we are committed to representing art, we are especially willing to work with brides and grooms who want a more creative approach to their photography (like a combination of film and digital, or an album made from reclaimed materials, or a multimedia enlargement on canvas). This is the sort of stuff we’re really looking forward to doing and we are willing to work special pricing for the first few couples who let us try this out.

AND, since I LOVE LOVE LOVE a giveaway, we of course want to offer not one, but two things for the Practical community:

1.) We would like to give away a free session (engagement, or just “we’re in love”) to a couple in the NYC area, to be chosen from the comments. And if you don’t mind Maddie flying solo, we’d be willing to offer a second session if there are any APW readers in Maine.

2.) For the first wedding we book from APW, we’d like to offer a free “something” worth up to $250. This can be an additional hour of photography, 150 instant photos in an album, an engagement session if you didn’t win the free one, basically we want to give something away, but we want the bride and groom to be able to pick something that is meaningful to them.

So go, ladies and gents. Go. Leave a comment if you’d like to enter the we’re-in-love-photo-session giveaway, and go browse Hart + Sol Photo’s brand new site. I seriously CANNOT WAIT till next fall, when I will get a million wedding graduates, as shot by Maddie and Monica. They will be a joyful collaboration to behold, I don’t have a single doubt.

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  • Jo from Reno

    I wish you guys were in California.. I would hire you, pronto! I love these photos, and the story behind it… EXCELLENT!!!

    • Poi

      Congrats on the new business! I love these photos – so real and so beautiful.

  • JEM

    You have posted several WONDERFUL sponsored photographers but Hart + Sol? Favorite. By far. Gorgeous.

  • CML

    What a great story — I’d love to work with you guys. Congrats on launching the business!!

  • Tae

    STUNNING photos! We live in Brooklyn, and would love to see more from Hart + Sol!

  • teresa

    This is my first comment–I typically lurk, but this just made me so excited to see this I had to! My boyfriend and I met during our senior year in college, most unromantically. I was literally the most drunk I have ever been in my life. It worked to my advantage, as I’m sure there was no way I would have blurted out “I think red-heads are cute,” if I hadn’t had a few drinks in me. We’ve had five years of growing up and figuring out what we meant to each other and how to verbalize those feelings (I’m not so good with the talking about my feelings). This summer, we were finally brave enough to say the words “I want to marry you!” In a few weeks (January 26th), we will celebrate our official 5 year anniversary, five years from the day we finally decided to admit to being in an actual relationship. Each year for our anniversary, I’ve made him a photobook of all the pictures we took together that year. The photos that were in this post were gorgeous and so full of love that I can think of no better way to celebrate the past five years and the fact that we have decided to take the next steps towards getting married(call us pre-engaged I suppose!). Also, as a non-engaged or married reader/lurker of APW, I really love that you called it a “We’re in Love” session–because we are and that’s something to celebrate! Cheers to you for taking the leap and deciding to do what you love!

  • teresa

    Also, in all that, I forgot to say I live in Astoria, Queens!!

  • madeleine

    I loved Maddie’s wedding, and Hart + Sol looks really great!

  • Hi!
    I’m Olivia, the bride-to-be wrapped in quilts in said post–I cannot tell you all how incredibly happy and excited I am that we have Hart + Sol doing our June ’11 wedding. Maddie and Monica are totally professional, kind, funny, creative, ingenious…the list goes on. Their eye for props, scenery, the relationship between people, and their ability to make people feel 100% good about themselves and in their bodies is unique and outstanding. We had the BEST day hanging out with them and shooting the engagement pics. They understood our vision and completely brought it to life! And yes, they turned my very shy fiance into a model; even he, now, is excited for the wedding pictures (he was super nervous about them before). Not only are they amazing artists and unbelievable photographers, but they have the biggest hearts and totally wanted to know everything about Eric and I and our love story. I’m so glad I already booked them because I KNOW these ladies are going places!! And, I am PUMPED to see them on APW as this website is my FAVE and gets me through those “I CAN’T FIND TISSUE PACKETS TO MATCH THE COLORS” moments. Ha.
    xx Olivia

    PS. I tried to submit a post before and it didn’t work, I think, so I apologize if it comes through twice!

    • Jo from Reno

      Olivia, I love the quilt photo! It is so beautiful…

      • Thanks, Jo! The quilt was made by my grandmother :) I love the pic, too!

    • <3 Thank you Liv.

  • JamieC

    The pictures are gorgeous, the back story is great, count me in as an entry for the giveaway! (PS…I live in Jersey City – just a stones throw from NYC)

  • Julia

    My love and I met while devoting a year to service in the South Bronx. New York, especially its forgotten underbelly, holds so much energy and so much love for us. It will always be the place where I came alive, and where we came together. Photos on those streets — of us in love with each other, with the city, with this life — would be wonderful.

    Congratulations on taking the plunge on starting your own business. You obviously have the talent to make it work.

  • Hi! I would like to add my sister in the running for the we’re-in-love-shoot. Is that allowed? If so, please read on:

    My sister, Steph, and her brand new husband, Jon, were married two weeks ago on December 27th. They were originally planning on a summer 2011 wedding, but in September, our father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Not knowing how much longer he would be with us, they moved their wedding to around Christmas time.

    With 3 months to plan and organize, we hit the ground running. Save the dates were ordered, she bought a dress, and the photographer was booked. Our dad started radiation and the family was spending every weekend together. Suddenly, on October 12th, our father passed away. It was sad and awful, but Steph remained strong. They toyed with the idea of going back to their original wedding plan of summer 2011, but knowing that Christmas was going to be a tough time anyway, they kept the December 27th date.

    The next two months were a flurry of wedding projects, Christmas shopping, and moving in together – all while overcome with grief. Those two crazy months did not leave time for engagement photos. Please consider Steph and Jon for a “we are crazy in love” shoot. They live near Phillipsburg, NJ, but always come into the city to visit me in Brooklyn. It would be a wonderful treat for them and a great way to honor the commitment they made to each other while dealing with a lot of pain.

    Thank you so much!

  • Yay for Maddie! We met at the APW NYC meetup, and I am so glad to see she is following her dream! Beautiful work!

  • Raquel

    I loved the pictures by Hart and Sol. I had been trying to get their contact info for a little while after a friend showed me her friends engagement photos that I thought were awesome! I would be ecstatic to have an engagement photo shoot with them. My wedding is in July of 2011 here in Brooklyn, NY. My fiance and I have been together for the past almost 7 years and are so in love and soo looking forward to our wedding. I come from a super traditional Mexican family and he’s Colombian. As the first child, and this being my first relationship (seriously, my first and only boyfriend!!!), my parents had some issues at first accepting that I was dating someone, but eventually after some time, they came around. When I saw my fiance for the first time, it was at a church event, and I saw this guy who was walking around helping out, but I can honestly say that the first moment I saw him, I knew that he would become somebody special in my life, I didn’t know how, but I knew it. I know it seems incredible, but I felt something really special. Within a few months we were talking more and more and he was really there for me during a very difficult time. My sister, who was 13 at the time, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and we had to go up to Boston Children’s Hospital for her last surgery. It was during this time that he really showed me how much he cared. And he made me promise that when I got back to NY I would have to have coffee with him. We actually didn’t have coffee, but went to the movies instead and it was the cutest and most romantic thing when he asked me to be his girlfriend. Call me old school, but I love that kind of stuff. And he really brought me and my family to tears when he came home and asked my dad for my hand in marriage. Like I mentioned above, my family is super traditional and in Mexico, the guy has to bring an offering when asking for his girlfriends hand. So there was my fiance, walking up a fourth floor building, with bottles of tequila for my dad, a giant flower arrangement for me and a basket of mexican bread for my mom. Needless to say, when he got on his knee, in front of my parents, we were all in tears. My sister thank God, is healthy now, my family is super excited about the wedding and me and my fiance are FELIZ! One of the most important things to us, are of course the photos, and Hart and Sol really seem to capture all those feelings that a couple has when they are in love and planning a wedding. Congratulations to Maddie and Monica for taking that leap to happiness, just like couples do when they decide to get married, by starting their own business in doing something that they love! Best of luck!

  • How fantastic — congrats on the new endeavor!

  • Melly

    The pictures are just full of fun! Love it. Congratulations to you both on starting something that you love! It’s wonderful to see more art in the world.

    It would be awesome to win an engagement session that is (frankly) not in the budget at all! My fiance and I are getting married outside of New York City, but our entire relationship has grown in New York, so it would be the way to represent our NY roots!

    If whoever wins the session agrees to it, I hope that we see a follow up post with the photos.

  • Jess

    What a beautiful company vision! And what gorgeous photos! I wish you all the best as your company takes off, and thanks so much for offering smaller photography packages for those brides who are having smaller weddings. Like me! My fiance and I are planning on getting married in the woods this spring with 12 of our most precious people by our side. : )

  • Beautiful, beautiful. So much.

    I’d love to enter the giveaway. My boyfriend lives in Providence, I live in New York City. We’re head-over-heels but not engaged at the moment. It’s certainly in the cards but our biggest goal at the moment is just to move in together.

    We have a lot of photos of us looking nicely at cameras and smiling, but almost no photos of us being around one another and in love. It’s hard to take those photos yourself. Once upon a time we had a friend take our picture together, but we focused then on getting a particular “feel” as a queer couple (difficult to accomplish as a heterosexual pairing of queer people, by the way).

    The result is gorgeous photographs that I can’t show my mother. Here’s the best photo I have of the two of us (with the advance warning that there’s upper-body male nudity, so the image may be a teensy bit NSFW, depending upon your definitions): http://www.saraeileen.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/puppy-kisses.jpg

    We’d love to do another session with someone more professional and get some loving, passionate shots that I can keep around for personal treasures and ALSO show the world.

    Maddie and Monica, thank you so much for offering this, and congratulations on your new business!

    P.S. Live in New York, but I was raised in Maine, so a. rock on for more NYC/Maine crossover, and b. the boy and I will likely be in Maine a couple of times this summer to visit my folks, and we would happily do a photo session there as well.

  • Madeline

    I would definitely throw my name in for the giveaway if I lived in the right area! For now, I’ll have to admire Hart + Sol from afar.

  • Amy Lustig

    My fiance Alex and I got engaged a few months ago in New York City (he surprised me at a karaoke bar!!!) and we weren’t able to afford an engagement shoot. This would mean the world to us! Our wedding is November 12 in Piermont, NY.

    We are a very silly couple and very much in love <3

    Amy Lustig

  • Amandover

    I’m throwing my hat in the ring because your photos are gorgeous, and I would love to hang one on our wall!

    My intended & I are currently enduring a varying-distance relationship, as I’m on a North American theater tour for 5 months, and he sometimes works in London. But we live in Brooklyn, and our wedding is 6 weeks after I get home!

    We’ve already booked a friend of a friend as our photog, but weren’t able to budget a “We’re-in-Love” session, and I would reeally love to have an artistically varied shoot. The wedding pics will be less artsy than some I’ve seen, and I’d like my sometimes shy manfriend to get comfortable in front of the camera (not to mention I’d like to know 2 rad local APW-ers!). Also, on a personal level, I’m currently living on a bus with gorgeous dancers (which I am not), and it would be nice to have pictures that help me feel beautiful leading up to the wedding.

    Thanks so much for offering! Congratulations on starting a great business!
    sea225 at nyu dot edu

  • Dena

    I’ve been lurking on APW for a few months, and this is my first comment — I got engaged on Christmas (two Jews getting engaged on Christmas!!) so I feel like I can be a part of this community without feeling embarrassed.

    We live in NYC and are so in love and can’t wait to get married. We don’t have many pictures of ourselves, mostly from family gatherings and weddings. My fiance got me a photo album for Valentine’s Day to encourage us to take more pictures, and print out the ones we have, but it’s still sitting on a shelf.

    Thanks so much for this offer of a free session!

  • Dan

    These photos are great. I love your work!

    I don’t have a tremendously sad story to try to entice you guys to give a free photo session for my intended and I… however, as I used to babysit for Monica’s boyfriend Drew, I can offer the possibility of amazing stories that tend towards the blackmail-ish instead…

  • Tasha

    Maddie & Monica,
    Just…wow! My fiancee and I just looked at the photos on your website and were blown away. We love your style! It’s fun, creative and really makes you feel like you’re in the moment!

    We just got engaged last month (I mapped out a huge treasure hunt for her across Philly and New york – all of our good memories! – for her to get to the ring), and we’re on cloud nine – everything is a blur and we’re so in love. We met in college on Friday the 13th of April, 2007, at what she calls, ironically, “a straight party” (a frat party).
    She thought, “I’m going to take her home.” I thought, “well, this could be fun!”
    We never thought we’d see each other again, let alone marry each other. Well – we’re getting married on Friday the 13th of April next year!
    …And that’s the only detail we know so far (that, and that I’ll wear a traditional Indian bridal sari and she’ll wear a white wedding dress!) …we have no idea how we’re going to plan this wedding! What it’s going to look like, or how it’s going to happen…
    … It’s a Russian-Indian-Jewish-Hindu-Lesbian wedding!

    And what’s more, we’re moving to Philadelphia in August (we live in New York City right now) for grad school! So we’ll both be students again soon…which means more student loans for both of us.

    Anyway, today we spent over an hour on your website. We absolutely love your style, and it makes us so happy to see such beautiful, non-traditional photography — because our wedding is going to be pretty non-traditional! We’re crossing our fingers that we’ll be able to do an Engagement Shoot with you in New York City!
    Congrats on your beautiful new business!

  • I completely applaud you following your dreams and launching this business! It takes guts and I have no doubts that although it may be tough at times the good will outweigh the bad and you will be WILDLY successful!

    My fiance and I would be thrilled, honored and grateful for a We’re In Love Session! We currently reside in Brooklyn and we are having a photographer-less wedding in California. We are a same-sex couple and we had two photographers turn us down because of that fact so we decided to scrap having a professional photographer (it stung!). I am sure we will have wonderful pics from our friends and family though so I am not worried!

    That being said, after our private (just the two of us) civil ceremony in CT, which is happening VERY soon we plan on taking a couple of pictures around Brooklyn (specifically in front of graffiti covered walls in Bushwick (our neighborhood) and a local favorite haunt) and we figure we will just ask a stranger to snap a photo while we strike a pose and hope that they don’t abscond with our Canon Rebel.
    How extremely fortunate would we be to have your talents to capture and document such a momentous occasion for us!

    That being said, I think Dan should win! Blackmail stories trump all! haha!

  • Ginna

    Love how creative, beautiful and unique the shots are! We would LOVE an engagement session in New York. I lived there for a few years and was really hoping to get married just outside the city, but am having to admit it might not happen due to budget. Getting to take engagement photos there would be the perfect compromise!

  • Jessie

    Hi all — thanks to Maddie and Monica and of course, thanks to Meg! It’s so sweet of you guys to give away a photo shoot, and it dragged me out from my general lurking state to comment. Your pictures are wonderful, and we would love to have you take ours in New York.

    My fiancé and I have been together for 7 1/2 years now. We got engaged over a year ago, and we started planning a destination wedding. We were hoping to make it very casual, fun, nontraditional and keep the numbers down. It was going to be held at a place that we had often visited, liked a lot, and where my parents had a house. Along the way, we ran into all sorts of problems that I never expected and had more arguments than I could have ever predicted, mostly with our families about the nontraditional nature of what we wanted to do but also between ourselves. Last summer, a dear family friend whom I considered my surrogate grandfather died unexpectedly, and number of wedding agreements that we thought we had settled fell apart.

    We realized how important it was to us to have the older members of our families (who wouldn’t be able to travel) be able to attend our wedding, so we decided to change the destination to New York, where we live. The problem then was that we couldn’t agree on what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it. It became clear that, as much as we love each other and want to get married, we actually had very different ideas of what our wedding would look like. By the time we got around to redoing our plans, I was so fed up and frustrated that all I wanted was to go to City Hall with a few important family members and get it over with. He wanted a big party, and a lot of people to witness, which I definitely did not want to deal with or plan. While all this was going on, I was also trying to struggle through my first insanely busy and stressful semester of law school, so the timing was less than ideal.

    We’ve figured things out, more or less, or at least we’re in the process of doing so. Our wedding will be sometime over the summer in New York. I guess if we were to win this photo shoot, it would technically be an engagement session, but I’d like to think of it more as a “we’re in love” shoot. My fiancé and I have had a really rough year relationship wise, probably the worst we’ve had in all the time we’ve been together. My parents keep telling me that planning a wedding is supposed to be joyous, but our experience has been anything but. I would want to use the photo shoot, if you guys were to pick us, to remind my fiancé how much we do love each other, even if we disagree on a lot of wedding fundamentals. In the long run, I do think that it’s the marriage that counts, not the wedding, and I’m confident that we will have a solid marriage.

  • Stephanie

    I’d like to throw my hat in the ring for a “we’re in love” photo session up in Maine. My fiance is finishing up law school in Portland, and I’m finishing up law school in Boston (but spend as many days a week as possible up north with him). As two law students, we’re both pretty broke and a bit nervous about our futures (bar exam, lousy job prospects, oh my!), but thrilled to be getting married on August 27 in a semi-furnished warehouse on Portland’s working waterfront. As of now, our “wedding photographer” will probably have to be an amalgamation of friends, since it’s just not in the budget, but we’d love some professional shots of the two of us before the wedding to celebrate the budding creation of our “baby family.” We’ll also be in Maine while we’re studying for the bar exam (living with my future in-laws, another “oh my!”), and so could be available for Maddie anytime between now and July :-).

  • Amy

    Yay for Maine! I would love to be considered for a chance to have Maddie work her photography magic with me and my mister. I grew up in Maine, and would love a chance to get some beautiful pictures of my beloved home state and person. Congrats on the new business ladies, you make absolutely beautiful art!

  • shorty j

    as a Brooklyn gal, I’d like to throw my partner and I’s hats (oh yeah, we’re both wearing ’em) into the ring for this one! We’re not getting married until early 2012, but our decision to get hitched (‘engagement’ just sounds weird when I say it, but not as weird as ‘fiance’) made us realize that we have literally 2 photos of us together, ever, and one of them was taken on a crappy disposable camera at my best friend and her husband’s post-elopement reception where I look like Casper the Mildly Cranky Ghost and he looks like a deer in headlights. The other one is when you can sorta see us, blurry, in the background at his brother’s wedding, and the only reason you can really tell it’s us is because I’m wearing bright orange. It’s a bit pathetic, all things considered (not to mention driving our moms crazy, heh).

    I’ve never entered one of these giveaways before, and what made me realize I have to at least try to put us out there for this one is the line “What we’re really about is building a relationship with a couple over the course of their engagement that makes them comfortable enough in front of us to really let loose.” That was the part that made me sit bolt upright and go “yessss!” The main reason B + I are never photographed together is that, while we’re totally awesome people, we’re also both reeeeeally introverted. He’s a photographer and filmmaker (and chef… yeah this is why I’m marrying him, but I mention the first two to explain why we appreciate Hart + Sol’s use of eclectic materials and techniques) but we’re both just terrible in front of the camera, in large part because we never seem to have enough time to calm down and act normal (whatever that is!).

    We would love to have a photographer who is interested in establishing a relationship and having fun with us; in fact, I think that is exactly what we wish we could find because we’re sure it’ll lead to happiness for all involved!

    thanks for your consideration :)

  • Erin

    Hart and Sol – what a great name! I would also love to be considered for a “we’re in love” photo session. My husband and I were married in June, and while our wedding pictures are beautiful, they do not really show our personalities. I would love to have more casual shots (like the one of the couple wrapped in the quilt – love it!) of us, maybe in an old library, or drinking coffee in a cafe.
    We are really lazy when it comes to taking pictures, so besides our wedding pictures, and a few honeymoon pictures, we don’t have too many pictures of us together. I have been thinking of doing a trash the dress (although not actually trashing the dress…) or post-wedding pictures, similar to engagement pics, but haven’t really looked into it. Now that I see your beautiful work, I think I should definitely start!

    I am in South Jersey, but would be willing to go to New York. Thank you!

  • Mainon Schwartz

    I am so impressed by these photos — they evoke exactly the feeling of warm, cozy, come-see-how-much-we-love-each-other-ness that I hope to get from my engagement and wedding photos.

    My fiance and I met in Alaska. We actually met in the photography section of Barnes & Noble, and many of our dates consisted of his guiding me on amateur wildlife photography junkets in Denali National Park, so photography has been essential to our love story from the very beginning. I was only there for a year (and was thus in no way looking for anything long-term); he was in the U.S. Army, being trained in cold weather survival (in case Russia invades through Alaska, perhaps?), but already scheduled to move to DC in several months. Nevertheless, we decided to enjoy ourselves for those few months… after which we discovered that, despite our best intentions, we had fallen deeply and irrevocably in love.

    We got engaged in August 2010, and booked our venue for September 3, 2011 less than a week ago. We’re paying for the wedding ourselves — between the two of us, we only have two parents left in our lives, one living on Social Security, and the other on disability. We haven’t managed engagement photos yet because we were unsure whether we could afford them on our budget. In fact, we’ve talked about trying to do them ourselves, with a tripod and a self-timer.

    Yesterday, he called me with the unexpected and unwelcome news that he’s been re-assigned to a new company, one that’s deploying to Afghanistan at the end of March. He won’t be back in time for our September 3 wedding, so I find myself suddenly facing the thought of re-planning a wedding for next spring, knowing that he’ll be on the other side of the world, in an active war zone, in the meantime.

    That phone call convinced me that it’s imperative to get our engagement photos done before he leaves — not only because I’ll want to have the photos for save-the-dates and such, but also because I want both of us to have beautiful photos that capture our love for each other, to help both of us get through what is going to be an unbearably long separation.

  • In the 3+ years that my fiance and I have been together, we have maybe 3 decent pictures of the two of us (notice how even the photo posted on our wedding website – which is one of the best given that we’re both smiling and neither of us looks lost – is blurry). There’s good reason for this: the first year that we were together, I was very guarded and not willing to accept the idea that I could actually be in a healthy, sustainable relationship. Not many pictures were taken during this time. Toward the end of that first year, as Matt was preparing to leave for Russia for nine months, I realized that he was the one for me. We spent a couple of months being in love before he left the country. For the next nine months we Skyped and somehow managed to grow closer despite the distance. After his stay in Russia, we met up in Europe and toured around for the summer; there are one or two decent photos of us from this time, but since it was just the two of us, we don’t have many couples shots. We returned to the US, moved in together, and started graduate school at Rutgers. A year and a half later, we’re still living here in New Jersey and planning for our wedding in May. Our budget is modest – especially since we’re hoping to move to Philadelphia before next fall – and at this point I don’t think we can afford any professional photography at all. I would love to have some pictures of us as we prepare to move on to this next chapter of our lives. Everything goes by so quickly, it would be nice to have some clear moments captured amid the chaos.

  • emily

    Beautiful photos! Count me in on the giveaway! We live in New York and are recently engaged, and we are looking for insightful photographers who can really capture “us”. Good luck on your new business!

  • Savychacha

    First off, I want to say just how lovely these photos are. They evoke emotion from the viewer, and you almost feel like you’re spying on some of the couples intimate moments together. I think that’s a great accomplishment for any photographer.

    My fiancé and I live in CT and we met on Myspace almost 3 years ago. I sent him a message, he sent me one back, and it pretty much goes from there. He is the most loving and nurturing man I have ever met in my life. Both of our pasts are filled with junky relationships and feelings of untrust. When we first started dating we took it slow, got to know one another, and were utterly surprised when we realized that we liked each other as much as we did.

    Fast forward to October 2010 when he asked me to marry him. I said yes, and then freaked out because everything was REALLY happening. He is the rock that keeps me grounded when I start trying to run away. We have two small dogs and he treats them better than some people treat their children. To see such a big hunk of a man fawn over two tiny dogs, and never complain about having to walk them all over while they wear pink sweaters, well…he makes my heart melt.

    We decided that we are going to use the “Red Room” from Twin Peaks as the theme and inspiration for our wedding. We both love that show so much! I’m draping the hall in red satin, and making black and white zig zag table runners. We are trying to do the wedding as inexpensively as possible and are having a friend or two shoot the wedding for us. We would love to be able to do an engagement/”We’re in Love” photo shoot dressed up as characters from Twin Peaks! We plan on doing one with a friend taking photos, but it would be fabulous to have it professionally done!

    Good work and good luck with your new endeavor!!

  • Leanne

    I was going to write a comment and enter myself in this giveaway. But then I read Mainon Schwartz ‘s comment, and I think you should consider her instead!!!

    • Mainon

      I just wanted to say I really appreciated your comment — I’m kindof in this horrible state of shock still, and when a friend unwittingly sent me the link to this contest, I somehow ended up pouring my heart out on it… and to my surprise, it was actually a little bit therapeutic. And having votes of support (even from total strangers) just warms my heart.

  • April Joy

    Gorgeous pictures! My fiancé and I met 8 years plus some change ago in the photo lab at a local university in California. To say the least, that day, October 21, 2002, things already started to develop. It’s been a crazy time these past years. Always supportive, we stayed together during my brief stint in Japan where I lived for a little over a year. This happened 5 years into our relationship. Then, my job transferred me to New York in December 2009. With constant traveling back and forth to keep the fire burning, he made the giant leap and bought a one way ticket to New York in June 2010 and we’ve been Brooklynites since. For our 8 year anniversary/Christmas gift/any type of gift for who knows how long, he took me to Iceland and at the stroke of midnight on the highest peak of Rekyjavik with fireworks illuminating the sky and my favorite Perry Como song playing on his iPod, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Smiles for days. We are madly in love and have not once left the honeymoon phase, please count us in for the “we’re in love” photo session.

  • Leah

    Your creativity and way to capture life is beautiful. We would be honored to be your muses!! My fiance and I lived in New York for the past year. On our last night in NY before moving to San Francisco he proposed to me in a gazebo off the lake in Central Park. It was a proposal that fairy tales are made off. Candles, champagne, a carriage ride, friends hiding in the bushes taking pictures. A little cliche and a lot perfect. He gave me the most amazing proposal and I would be ecstatic to give him the gift of beautiful photo’s. I am a flight attendant and we go back to New York almost every other weekend. To have our photo’s taken in NY where our love blossomed would make our Love story even better!!! Thank you for the consideration.


  • Stacy

    My fiance Nick and I got engaged a few months ago in Northern NJ (he surprised me while we were kayaking!!!) and we weren’t able to afford an engagement shoot. This would mean the world to us! Our wedding is December 17th 2011.
    We are a chill fun loving couple and we have a super cool dog named Todd!

  • MJ

    I’d love to try out for this contest!

    My fiance, Aaron, and I met in 2005. I was at a Brooklyn rooftop party, heartbroken over an incredibly intense, long-distance, on-and-off romance that I’d just broken off (I hoped for the last time) when the guy told me he “wasn’t sure what would happen” at his birthday party, where the other girl he was seeing would be. I told him to forget about it, enjoy himself, and decided to go to this rooftop party to forget my troubles.

    Fast-forward to three in the morning. I’ve been depressed about the guy all night, but I made a new friend, a very cheery gay man, and as the party was winding down we set out to find a man. I spotted an incredibly handsome bearded boy standing shyly by himself by the roof’s edge and we set out. “Are you gay?” I demanded by way of introduction. He shook his head (but didn’t say a word) and so my new gay friend and I parted ways. “Do you have a girlfriend?” I asked, and the bearded boy said no. I grabbed his hand and dragged him to a far corner of the roof and that was that.

    He is Shy and Introverted; I am obviously Loud and Not. I’m a chatty writer, working with language, while he’s a taciturn filmmaker who works in images. There are a lot of other things that make us seemingly mismatched, and for a while, I assumed that because he and I were so different, he’d just be a very cute boy on my way to The One. But he treated me so kindly and with such sweetness, and we got along so well, that I slowly began to realize that he WAS the one. That for the first time, I wasn’t able to imagine the end of the relationship while I was still in it.

    (Too mushy? Sorry.)

    June, 2010: I think I’m on my way to a rooftop reading of an acquaintance’s recently released novel. At the entrance to the rooftop are 24 jasmine-scented candles. I open the door and instead of a bunch of hipsters sitting down to listen to a book excerpt, I find only my nervous beau and our little dog, Oscar. He (Aaron, not our dog) got down on one knee and asked me if I wanted to marry him. The sun set, Oscar scavenged, we drank wine, and celebrated.

    We will be married six years to the day from that original rooftop party where we met: September 17, 2011.

    We don’t have a lot of money for the wedding, but with the help of our friends I think we can put together a nice DIY in a barn close to NYC. At this point, all I know is that our first dance will be to Harvest Moon.

    It would be so, so great if Maddie and Monica could work with us on special pricing for our wedding. Their work is beautiful. My husband-to-be is a filmmaker and photographer, who loves his Holga and adores all kinds of film (though he works mainly with digital for his work), so different formats would be a big plus. He also prefers candid moments for his own photos and film shoots, over staged stiff shots, and I have to say I agree, so Hal + Sol Photo sounds like a great match for us.

    I hope to hear from them! Thanks for letting me share our story.

  • Hope

    Add another reader living in Jersey City to the pile!
    I got engaged in October and my fiance and I are both teachers. Our plan is to get married in July and our reception venue is a club where everyone from Sonic Youth to The Strokes have played, which is perfect for my ex-rockstar fiance.
    We don’t have a photographer yet and I’m loving your look and your prices!

  • Ms. K

    YAY for wedding elves being (even sometimes, a little bit) in Maine! After reading through all these, I’m not throwing my hat in the ring, I think.
    Don’t get me wrong, I would love to get photos in Portland (where I grew up, where we are sometimes, and where we’re getting married). We’ve been long distance in varying cities for 4 years, and our current east coast/west coast time split is the closest we’ve gotten to being in the same place so far. This year has been HARD. But you know what?
    I have the right and and opportunity to get married in the state I grew up in, and a lot of folks on here can’t do that. This makes me: sad, angry, and part of a privileged group who doesn’t have to worry about what state will marry us.
    I don’t have to worry about my fiance deploying- him on the road 4 days a week, and me 2 weeks a month, is bad enough. Mainon Schwartz, my heart goes out to you two.
    We both have jobs, at least for a few more months. That gives us a little more wiggle room than some, and I am grateful.
    So- thanks, APW, for reminding me again how fortunate we are.
    Maddie and Monica: Congratulations on a great business and your gorgeous photos- and Maddie, next time you’re in Portland, drinks are on me.

    • Mainon

      Thanks so much — and I sympathize with your situation too. Having to be apart, regardless of the reason, just isn’t good or fun or fair. [I keep thinking of some silly article I read in some silly magazine when I was a teenager about a celebrity couple who vowed never to spend more than 3 nights in a row apart… I had no idea that one day I would give just about anything for the luxury of being ABLE to make such a pledge!]

  • Erin

    I love these photos! Congratulations to both of you, Maddie and Monica, for starting so lovely a business!

  • Paranoid Libra

    I was wondering if you gals are willing to travel out to PA at all? My boyfriend and I aren’t engaged….yet…and I know there is a ring hiding somewhere in this house as we ordered it together. I am the obsessive planner of everything and actually have started research things online for the sake of figuring out how much do we need to save up for a wedding. Your photos are just beautiful and your pricing is practical and I am just in love.

  • Lacey

    My fiancee and I originally thought that we’d forget hiring a wedding photographer to save money on other things that are important to us like the meat and vegetables we’re buying direct from local farms. But these pictures are so beautiful, and more and more we’re thinking it will be important to us to document our day without relying too much on friends and family who we don’t necessarily want to trap behind the lens the entire weekend (we’ll be relying on most of our guests to help at many points in the day). We’re located in Philadelphia right now, but we recently moved from NYC, and our wedding will take place on a beautiful old farm/summer camp in New Hampshire – so we’re mobile!

  • Kristi

    It would be so amazing to win a session with you!!

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