The Lake

To My Family - 

As 4th of July approaches, I know that we are all wondering about what this year will bring after the end of an era at the cottage on Lake Erie.... 

The cottage at Angola on the Lake is a place that holds many of my cherished memories...to the point that the end of an era almost seems like an understatement. The thought of cramming 15+ people into our humble outdated minuscule cottage is almost laughable - yet we did it. We did it year after year, we drove thousands of miles collectively to do it, we spent hundreds of dollars on flights to do it. If you look back and think about the specifics of the scenario, you might be able to begin to appreciate just how special it really was. 

In a world where it is far too easy to focus on the negative (seriously, just think about how you answered the last question you were asked....), a family of 15 people who live in various parts of the east coast not only chose to come together every year for 4th of July to stay in our cottage, but we all looked forward to it - probably more than Christmas morning. And the reason I say that it was such a magical place, is because if you look at the reality of the situation from the outside- it would be hard, if not impossible, to understand why we religiously did this every summer.....

At the cottage we slept in pre-civil war bunk beds in the kitchen, on air mattresses, in our vehicles and other outrageously uncomfortable spots, with no AC. We waited in line, for hours sometimes, hot and sandy just to take a 2 minute brutally hot or ice cold shower and then dry off with a damp towel. We annoyed each other, we pushed each other's buttons, sometimes we yelled, and we definitely woke each other up. That snack you were looking forward to, someone else ate it. Those drinks you brought, better plan to share. And privacy? Forget about it! But obviously none of these things are the first things we think of when we compulsively book our $200+ flights or start our 9 hour drive on a holiday weekend....somehow the cottage made all of us forget to put the negative first. 

At the cottage we all laughed, a lot...sometimes until we cried. We reminisced. We heard stories about our family members that we had never heard before. We created new memories with each other, stories that will be told for years to come. We all sat down and ate dinner together. We played games for hours. We sat on the beach, people watched, and chatted around the fire. We each created our own "lake rituals" that we looked forward to. We transitioned from 3 separate and different families to one big family. I watched all of my "little cousins" turn into impressive young ladies and gentlemen. Everyone went from playing together to becoming true friends. We have also built real relationships with "the grown ups" and bridged the gap between the kids table and the adult table.  We upheld existing traditions and created new ones along the way. We learned life lessons and gave our own meaning to family values.

From the outside, the cottage may not look like much...but it was ours. It was "Zanett's Slice of Paradise," And it was always overflowing, with people and with love. Personally, a part of me thinks that maybe we needed the cottage to make us who we all are today. As a family in general, we 're not perfect and we don't pretend to be. We sometimes lack in the communication department and could benefit from being more open and direct - similar to most families. And it doesn't help that we are all spread out geographically. However, being together for days at a time in such close proximity year after year forces you to create those bonds, open up, and build a different kind of closeness. So, I want to thank the cottage, not only for the memories we will all cherish - and will someday reminisce with our children about - but for loving all of us unconditionally, for being a part of the family, and for helping us grow into the family that we have become. We will miss you dearly Angola on the Lake, but we will be forever thankful for everything you have given us....

They always say that when one door closes another opens. In reflecting upon this past year since last 4th of July we have had so many exciting changes…new jobs, residences in new cities, 3 engagements! Our families are growing, and in a way maybe we have all outgrown the cottage. The ending of a large chapter of life is always sad, but it also provides so much opportunity for new beginnings and new traditions. The cottage has bonded us all together – and now that those bonds are established, wherever we all go on our own journeys as adults, we know we will always come back together.  My wonderful family, you all will always be home to me no matter where we are! And I would like to believe that maybe we are the ones that don't need the cottage any more - maybe now that we have grown together, the next family needs the cottage more than us. 

Love you all - looking forward to old and new 4th of July traditions! Xo - Tara

2015 Year in Review

I have a confession to make…..I have been really ready to say good riddance to 2015 and welcome the New Year. However, upon my annual reflection and “year in review”, I realized that overall, my year wasn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, while looking back at the highlight reel, it actually appears that it was…dare I say….good! Granted, 2015 did bring a handful of trials and tribulations, but it also brought so many amazing experiences with incredible travel adventures, tons of new friends, new babies, weddings, many reasons to celebrate, and fantastic reunions with old friends. So in 2016 I resolve to not let the lows over-shadow the highs, because I really do have so much to be thankful for! Without further adieu, I give you my 2015 highlight reel!

January, I spent most of my time on the sunny west coast while Boston dealt with their first wave of Nor’easterns.

CES 2015

In February, I travelled to Dublin, Galway, and Killarney with two of my wonderful best friends! If you haven't been there you must go!! I can't wait to get back to Ireland and explore the North. 

On April 7th, two of my closest friends welcomed their first baby, Archer.  I was lucky enough to be one of his first visitors and sneak in some newborn photos!

In April I also explored Paris and Barcelona with my college freshman year roommate, Liz. Both cities are so unique and wonderful in very different ways!

In May I was asked to photograph Martha’s Vineyard Winefest, thanks to my wonderful friends at Vintage MV Wine and Spirits (http://www.vintagemvwine-spirits.com/) You should plan to attend in 2016 – the food and wine are incredible – and I’ll be there too!! http://www.themvwinefestival.com/

Sara and Kevin got married on a perfect day in May at Singing Beach Club. (Click here for more photos: http://tlzphotography.com/blog/2015/9/20/sara-kevins-manchester-by-the-sea-wedding)

In July, two more of my closest friends welcomed their first baby, Bradley, presenting another opportunity for a photoshoot!

I was in my best friend since kindergarten’s wedding in August – and obviously had to sneak in a few photos. You can take the bridesmaid out of the photographer, but you can’t take the photographer out of the bridesmaid!

I got to photograph and attend one of my best High-School friend’s shibori workshops. She is incredibly talented, passionate, and a wealth of knowledge. I strongly encourage you to check it out if you’re in the Rochester area: http://rochesterbrainery.com/collections/classes/products/shibori-dye-table-runners

I spent most of the summer 2nd shooting with so many of my incredibly talented photographer friends: Megan Braemore (http://www.meganbraemore.com/), Tara Lynn Sen (http://taralynnsen.com/), and Janelle Carmella (http://janellecarmela.com/).

Rachel & Eric's wedding - with Megan Braemore

Sheila & Sam with Megan Braemore

Nina & Ed with Tara Lynn Sen

Nicole & Rocky with Megan Braemore

Ann & Brendan with Megan Braemore

Sheri & Shawn with Janelle Carmella

I travelled back to Rochester in October to photograph Nicole and Clifton’s wedding at the Radisson Downtown, and also reunite with friends from high-school and college! My long time college friend and sorority sister Jacqueline Mix (http://jmixphoto.com/) joined me in shooting this party crew! *full blog post coming soon*

While I was in Rochester, I got to spend the afternoon with adorable Celia and her wonderful parents, Sara and Dan.

I wrapped up my wedding season on Martha’s Vineyard again, photographing Amy and Howard's stunning fall wedding at Atria in Edgartown (http://www.atriamv.com/).

I finished up the year celebrating Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, and Christmas in different states with different parts of my family and friends (the family you choose). It was the perfect way to wrap up the year with my loved ones!

Thanksgiving in Rochester, NY

Friendsgiving in Barnard, VT

Christmas in Hopelawn, NJ

Thank you to everyone that made my year so special. I am lucky to have so many caring friends, family, and clients in my life! Here’s to making 2016 even better and having a much more appreciated highlight reel! Happy New Year!!

Xo –

Tara


Appreciation

The other day I was in a particularly cranky mood for no good reason aside from being stuck inside during this gorgeous August weather. I randomly received a comment on an old blog post from one of my incredible future brides stating “These pictures are breathtaking!!!!” She was referencing images from my California Coast Road Trip (bucket list item – complete!) in January 2014. Not only did this small act completely change my mood – but it made me realize that I should be appreciating my own images more often.

As a photographer I thoroughly enjoy SO SO many things about capturing images. I have been so lucky to attract such wonderful clients who all let me into their lives for a few hours, a day, or multiple days to not only capture, but experience the full range of emotion during their once in a lifetime moments. Every single part of me enjoys that more than words can describe and it is truly why I do what I do! On the other side of the coin, photo editing is the bane of my existence – not because I don’t enjoy re-living the magical moments of a wedding day or other significant events – but because it can be tedious and time consuming – and it is a solo activity at the computer, which is quite the opposite of my social butterfly nature.

After seeing the comment, I looked back at my 2014 blog post and was filled with happiness from reliving a variety of the sensory elements of the California coast trip through the images. Then I decided that my images are just as good as my MacBook Pro’s default desktop background images, if not better, since they trigger so many wonderful memories for me. I immediately decided to find as many of my images that I love, and may have forgotten about over the years, and make my own “desktop” folder so that my images come up as my desktop background every day.

The reason behind my long-winded story is that since then, whenever I open my laptop (most likely to do some editing), I get an immediate sense of joy when I see which random landscape image is going to fill my screen and flood my heart with memories and happiness. It was just one perfect reminder that finding joy in little things can shift your mentality and make you happier over-all. I probably will never come to love countless hours of editing, but I can find ways to enjoy it more and smile. Also, look at what a big change one comment can make – the small act of saying one nice thing that you are thinking really can turn someone’s day around.

I also saw this article that same day – which fit in perfectly with my state of mind! 104 Little Things in Life we Should Take the Time to Appreciate More

I hope that you decide to appreciate something small today and go out of your way to make someone else smile! Below are a few of my "new" old desktop background images for your enjoyment!

Xo –

Tara

After staying up all night with the band in Oaks Bluff on Martha's Vineyard, my photographer friend and I were thrilled to witness this incredible sunrise!

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is truly a stunning experience

Waking up early with all 3 of my sisters in Myrtle Beach to watch the sunrise together, bundled up and hugging in our hoodies - April 2013

Fun times on the farm in Maine! FYI - cows are huge and it's mildly terrifying when they come running straight at you because they think you are feeding them

Paris in the Springtime - an amazing view with even better company!

One of my best friends letting me photograph her "trash the dress" at 6am the morning after her wedding day to support my (at the time) ridiculous dream of being a photographer - September 2011 in York, Maine

The 'haunted' castle that we trespassed to get to and immediately following this photo I dropped my camera and broke my only lens for the trip - Ireland 2015

Honoring the loved ones we've lost at the Japanese Bon Festival. It is celebrated each year when a door opens to the world of their ancestors allowing loved ones to send messages to the other side

 Visiting an old friend in Pacific Beach, CA

Visiting an old friend in Pacific Beach, CA

Family vacation in Jamaica for my Mom's birthday

Annual Fourth of July gathering at Angola on the Lake

My first time in Colorado with a bunch of my longest high-school friends for one of their weddings

Light chasing in the cold

Girls trip to Tulum, Mexico

First signs of life again after a long winter