Weather or not, the shoot must go on

We all know we can’t predict the weather, but over the last thirty years we’ve become really, really good at planning around it. As photographers on Martha’s Vineyard we need to be flexible, adaptable and ready for anything! When we first engage with clients when initially booking our shoots we’re all hoping for the perfect weather. Partly cloudy, partly sunny, dry, and a comfortable temperature. 

If you’ve booked a photo shoot or planned a special event, you’ve likely visualized the same thing. You’ve crossed your fingers a hundred times and obsessively checked the weather for the weeks and days leading up to it. But no matter what you do, ultimately Mother Nature will have her way, and no matter what you’ll still end up with fabulous photos with RBP. 

So how do we do it? Firstly we always build in a rain date as a backup in case the weather turns especially bad. We’ve become really good judges of the weather, and have learned how to interpret it hour by hour. As the date approaches we utilize all of our favorite weather apps and make an assessment based on the forecast to determine whether or not we should postpone the shoot. 

We work with our clients to determine their level of comfort with the weather that is being predicted–it’s often an exercise in seeing how adventurous people are! Here on Martha’s Vineyard we frequently experience microclimates, so the specific location of the shoot is important to assess as well. It could be beautiful on one side of the island while a storm is brewing a few miles away. 

If it’s only a chance of showers we keep calm and carry on. First and foremost we want to have fun with our clients. If the weather is going to be a stressor and the clients are not going to have a great time, we postpone it. Some of our favorite photos have been those that we’ve captured in unpredictable weather, where our clients have rolled with the punches and embraced the skies!

Plus “bad weather” can often make for some really fun times. Umbrellas are a fantastic prop in the rain, we especially love the clear umbrellas that you can see through! We always have a couple on hand and love when our clients come prepared as well. If rain is predicted during a wedding shoot we always suggest our brides and grooms provide umbrellas for their guests–it makes an impromptu wedding favor they’ll be sure to reuse and never forget!

Remember, sometimes the most ominous looking weather gives way to the most stunning photos. Here on-Island the colors that make their way through our sky are simply breathtaking, especially before or after a storm. Often it’s the weather you’ve feared the most that makes way for the most epic photos, not the perfect sunset you meticulously planned for. 

The long and short of it? Don’t stress about the weather. Keep an open mind, embrace the skies, and know that no matter what the weatherman says you’re in good hands with RBP.  

Love is love, this month and every month

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month and we’re proud supporters of it!

The occasion is marked each year to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City that sparked an international gay rights movement.

“Stonewall” served as a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States, and across the world, and we’ve come a long way from it.

Over the last fifty years millions of people have spoken out and spoken up to defend the rights of the LGBTQ community, and we’ve been right there with them, firmly believing in equality for all, no matter your sexual preference!

As Lin-Manuel Miranda famously said in his 2016 Tony award acceptance speech “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”

This month we honor those who have paid the price for standing up for themselves and others, for simply wanting to live and let live.

Today we live in a country where same sex marriage is legal, and many of our politicians and influencers are openly gay.

We’re grateful for the progress that has been made, and we know there is still work to be done.

Here’s to looking back on all of the beautiful love we’ve witnessed over the years and here’s to looking forward to even more.

It’s strawberry season, a berry special time of year

Oh, the sweet taste of summer strawberries, is there anything better? Sinking our teeth into the first perfectly ripened farm fresh strawberry at peak season is something we look forward to year after year–and it never disappoints. Strawberries are Island Grown School’s Harvest of the Month for June and for good reason, they’re simply delicious and now is the ultimate time to indulge.

If you happen to be growing your own you’re probably as giddy with excitement as we are at the sight of seeing fresh strawberries pop up around town. On Martha’s Vineyard Morning Glory Farm (MGF) is the go to spot to satisfy our strawberry cravings, but we’re not the only ones fiending for them and they go quick. Arrive first thing in the morning to score some of their coveted bounty, they often sell out almost as fast as they can bring them in from the fields!

We asked MGF head farmer and CEO Simon Athearn to break down this year’s strawberry production for us and the numbers are staggering. “This year I estimate we have 24,000 linear feet of strawberries bearing fruit of seven different varieties, planted for sequencing ripening and all chosen for flavor! And an additional 10,000 linear feet growing on for next June harvest,” said Simon. He estimates they grow about 10,000 pints of strawberries during strawberry season, which runs from June 5th to July 10 or so, with heat speeding them up.

Not sure which ones to pick? While visiting MGF recently we scored some great advice from India, a MGF farmer who’s been busy picking this season’s strawberries. “There are three distinct flavors of strawberries… the pink ones are a bit tart, the red ones are sweet and the crimson very ripe ones are like wine.” So no matter your taste there’s a strawberry for you, and a million ways to enjoy them.

Summer strawberries are so beloved on Martha’s Vineyard that there’s two annual festivals devoted to the sweet berries each year. Both MGF and the West Tisbury Church will host their own Strawberry Festivals on Saturday June 22, meaning you can spend an entire afternoon indulging in the beloved fruit. We know we love them, but all of the excitement around these beautiful berries got us thinking, what didn’t we know about them?

Firstly, strawberries aren’t true berries, like blueberries or even grapes. Technically, a berry has its seeds on the inside. And, to be really technical, each seed on a strawberry is actually considered to be its own separate fruit. Imagine that? The average berry is embellished with approximately 200 seeds, making for a whole lot of fruit.

Secondly, strawberries are actually members of the rose family, and the fragrant aroma of a strawberry bush is an obvious indicator of such.  If you’ve ever tried to grow your own you might have found that they’re easy to grow but hard to grow well. They grow best on raised beds where they have room to spread. Strawberries are a perennial plant that will come back year after year. It may not bear fruit immediately, but once it does, it will remain productive for about five years.

Strawberries have international appeal. Belgium has a museum dedicated to strawberries where you can buy everything from strawberry jam to strawberry beer! Native Americans ate strawberries long before European settlers arrived and the ancient Romans thought strawberries had medicinal powers (they used them to treat everything from depression to fainting to fever, kidney stones, bad breath and sore throats). In France, strawberries are believed to be an aphrodisiac, strawberries are served to newlyweds at traditional wedding breakfasts in the form of a creamy sweet soup. Oh là là !

Here in America we eat an average of three-and-a-half pounds of fresh strawberries each per year. It’s closer to five pounds if you count frozen ones, and we’re a big fan of freezing them this time of year. Strawberries typically have a short growing season, so buy locally grown and freeze to help avoid fruit out of season that has been subject to heavy pesticide use and contributed to a large carbon footprint. Strawberries consistently rank at the top of the list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residues, making organic and locally grown ones that much sweeter!

If you buy them fresh and plan to keep them in the fridge for a few days, wait until before you eat them to clean them–rinsing them speeds up spoiling! If you’re freezing them choose berries that are dark red, firm and fully ripe. Wash and drain the fruit carefully, then remove the stems and caps. Dry berries on towels in a single layer and then freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Doing so will keep them from getting stuck together later on. Once they’re solid, place in freezer containers or bags. Try to remove as much air as possible by completely filling containers or pressing extra air out of bags before sealing to avoid freezer burn.

Freezing strawberries as soon as they are picked locks in the vitamins and minerals strawberries are known for, including vitamin C and K, folate, potassium, manganese, magnesium, fiber, antioxidants and polyphenols. Strawberries can be frozen for up to six months and make for tasty smoothies, milkshakes, muffins, jams, and sauces.

How will you indulge? Get inspired with these scrumptious strawberry recipes from some of our friends and favorite chefs and bask in the glory of strawberry season!

Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta Cream by Ellie Krieger

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam by Gabrielle Chronister of Island Grown Schools

Gingery Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Brown Sugar-Pecan Topping  by Susie Middleton

Capturing Best of the Vineyard, the best of times

In between all of the weddings and engagements, family portraits, architectural and editorial photo shoots that consume most of our days, it’s refreshing and rewarding to do something a little different. Enter Best of the Vineyard, a local event that celebrates the best and brightest in local food, shopping, entertainment, outdoor adventures, and more across Martha’s Vineyard.

Last week the Best of the Vineyard event went down at Farm Neck Cafe in Oak Bluffs, and we were there to take in all the action. A product of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, the Best of the Vineyard serves as an official kick off to the summer season on Martha’s Vineyard and a chance to honor and recognize those businesses and organization on Martha’s Vineyard that make it what it is for all of us to enjoy.

For the last five years we’ve been lucky enough to photograph the event, and we just have the best time capturing all of the excitement and hoopla of the evening! Each year we look forward to the fun and fanciful affair, where we get to snap the smiles and expressions of pride that spread across the faces of our friends and colleagues. We love to get the winners in front of the camera and really play up their personalities, while highlighting their professional skills and accomplishments. For us it’s a chance to toast our peers and honor the talented individuals that help to weave the fabric of our community. Year after year it’s a memorable event and we’re honored to play a part in the festivities!

A full list of Best of the Vineyard winners can be found in the current issue of  Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, on newsstands or available by subscription.

A homage to herbs, May’s Harvest of the Month

Flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping and Martha’s Vineyard is getting busy–it must be spring! One of the ways I love to usher in the new season is by reintroducing fresh springtime herbs into my diet. The light herbs of spring add unmistakable flavor and beautiful fragrance, not to mention freshness and green to our lives!

Herbs are underrated, so I’m happy to be singing their praise and shouting them out as Island Grown Schools’ Harvest of the Month for May. Not only do they provide beautiful scents and scenery, but they lend themselves to delicious food and helpful medicine, while attracting pollinators and beneficial insects, like bees and butterflies. When it comes to cooking, herbs are often an afterthought, when I think they should be the cherry on the cake.

Fresh spring herbs boost flavor and nutrition, while providing aromatic splendor and a good-looking addition to our plates. Trying to cut down on salt? Looking for new ways to intensify the flavor of a sauce or dress up a salad? Look no further than fresh herbs.

I love greens and eating salads this time of year. I’ve started sprucing them up with fresh dill, chives and parsley–which bring natural, nonfat flavor that add a lot of taste and complexity. Mint is another springtime herb that delivers an extra dimension to dishes too. It’s clean, refreshing taste and cooling effect make it a welcomed ingredient to a number of sweet and spicy dishes, drinks, and of course salad. When I was traveling through the Middle East, it was common to see mint incorporated into salads and ingested after a meal as a palate cleanser and digestive. The flavor packed such a bright punch I’ve been incorporating it into my salads at home ever since!

(Grilled Whole Branzino, a sustainable fish, stuffed with garlic chives, oregano, parsley, thyme, dill wand wheels of lemon)

Herbs sure are tasty, but they’re also loaded with a wide range of health benefits as well. Herbs have powerful antioxidant properties–with oregano, dill, thyme, rosemary, and sage among the most potent–and they’ve been used for centuries to ward off disease. Herbs in general are rich in vitamins and minerals, and each herb offers its own healing power too. Sage can improve brain function and memory, peppermint has been linked to reducing nausea, and rosemary can help prevent allergies and nasal congestion. Embrace herbs in all their glory and your body will thank you!

Here’s some helpful tips on enjoying them to their fullest:

  • To store fresh herbs snip off the bottom of the stems and wrap a wet paper towel around them and cover with a plastic bag while refrigerating.
  • Add fresh herbs at the end of cooking for maximum flavor.
  • Grown your own to cut down on food cost and waste. Herbs like mint, oregano, chives, thyme, rosemary and sage are perennial and come back year after year.
  • Purchase starter plants from local nurseries, plant and water. Snip just enough for each recipe while you are cooking.
  • If you have an abundance of fresh herbs, chop them, fill an ice cube tray with water, wine, or stock,  and place herbs in the liquid. Store frozen ice cubes in a plastic bag and use in the winter for salad dressing.
  • Enhance your cocktails or mocktails with fresh herbs, and go beyond standard mojitos and juleps. Pair a botanical gin with fresh basil and cucumber, or add thyme to your lemonade. Sage, raspberry and lime make a great flavor combination, as well as cilantro and lime too (vodka optional)! Lavender and rosemary make gorgeous, floral additions to your glass, but handle them delicately so not to overpower your beverage.
  • Prepare your own homemade salad dressing by adding chopped fresh herbs like basil, parsley, dill, marjoram or oregano to a simple mix of oil, vinegar and lemon juice.