Blog Category: Travel

Family portraits on Martha’s Vineyard: Locations, locations, locations

As a resident of Martha’s Vineyard for over twenty years, I have had the pleasure of exploring this beautiful, diverse island, and I love sharing this place with my clients. I’ve discovered so many picturesque locations for family portraits and am constantly amazed with the variety of unique settings our Island home offers. 

When a family portrait client first reaches out about their session, I do my best to get to know them in order to determine the most appropriate place to capture their family. Depending on the time of year, the age of their family members, and thetype of background that appeals to them, I can help a family determine the ideal location that best fits their needs.

Martha’s Vineyard is only twenty two by nine miles wide, not to mention it’s surrounded by water on all sides, meaning you don’t have to go very far to find the picture-perfect spot. “Down-Island” is what the locals refer to as the towns of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, and these are generally the most accessible family portrait locations, depending on where the family is staying. 

“Up-Island” or the west side of the Island, is usually a longer drive, but is home to some of the most scenic locations on-Island. Sometimes no traveling is required and a family determines that their home away from home is the ideal setting for their Martha’s Vineyard family portraits, offering an even more personal and nostalgic setting.

For those looking to get out of the house take a trip to the south-east tip of the island, In Edgartown’s Katama area, to South Beach, a three mile stretch of pristine beach, and one of my favorite family portrait locations. Separated from the parallel road by a vast swath of dunes, this location is convenient, requires minimal walking, and showcases the natural, raw beauty of Martha’s Vineyard–with expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Sound. I recommend this location for its sunsets and secluded, yet accessible location.




Nearby in historic downtown Edgartown is Lighthouse Beach, an iconic Island location with boats, beaches, docks, dunes and pathways, making it one of my favorite locations for its diversity of portrait backdrops–not to mention its stunning views of the Edgartown lighthouse, Vineyard Sound and Chappaquiddick Island. For those that don’t know, Chappaquiddick Island or “Chappy” as it’s called locally, is a small peninsula and occasional island (depending on breaches due to storms) located on the eastern end of Edgartown. The Chappy Ferry runs across Edgartown harbor, transporting cars and passengers across the short 527 foot stretch to Chappaquiddick, a rural island with only one main road.



Another “down-island” treasure is the town of Oak Bluffs, which offers a vast array of family portrait locations all within easy walking distance. From the East Chop marina to the Oak Bluffs Harbor, the Flying Horses Carousel, expansive State Beach, scenic Ocean Park, the charming gingerbread cottages and the beloved Jaws Bridge, Oak Bluffs offers a little bit of everything. The Steamship Authority operates seasonally out of Oak Bluffs as well as the Island Queen, Hy-line, Seastreek and Rhode Island Fast Ferry, making it an extremely accessible location for day trippers too.

The next town over, due west, is Vineyard Haven or Tisbury. Historically the area was called “Nobnocket” by the Island’s original settlers, the Wampanoags, and was first referred to by the colonial settlers as “Homes Hole,” and eventually Vineyard Haven. The storied town is home to one of my other favorite locations, Owen Park, a little-known spot with a casual intimate beach and boat dock. An ideal family portrait location, as it allows clients to relax in the sand, play on the grassy hill or pose along the harbor, offering a wide range of backdrops in very close proximity.



For those families who prefer to head “up-Island” and are looking for an authentically Vineyard experience, I recommend a family portrait session in Menemsha, the quintessential fishing village within the town of Chilmark. Classic and charming, Menemsha boasts a wide variety of nautical backdrops for photos: stacks of lobster traps, long-line fishing boats, colorful shacks along the docks, and beautiful Menemsha Beach.




Visitors flock to the beach in the summer for their breathtaking sunsets, where they get a front-row seat at these daily phenomenons, while enjoying the freshest seafood from the village’s local fish markets. A portrait session in Menemsha allows families to connect with each other while appreciating the timelessness and beauty of one of the Vineyard’s most historic harbors.





Even further “up-Island,” is the town of Aquinnah which lines the southwest point of Martha’s Vineyard and offers some of the best landscapes on the entire Island. The town was known as Gay Head until 1997 when it was formerly renamed to Aquinnah, which is Wampanoag for “land under the hill.” Aquinnah has become celebrated as a center of Wampanoag culture, and is known as one of the earliest sites of whaling, where the Wampanoag first harvested whales by harpoons, long before the 19th-century whaling boom on Martha’s Vineyard. Today, Aquinnah is most known for its colorful clay cliffs, perhaps the most striking and well-known natural feature of the Vineyard, and stunning views of Vineyard Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. For families that are up for a little hiking during their visit, Moshup Beach is a must-visit and results in a majestic backdrop that really captures the scenic beauty of Martha’s Vineyard.


Sometimes it’s hard to believe that so many unique settings exist on our small Island–it really is a photographer’s dream. I’m so fortunate to have access to such amazing locations, and nothing makes me happier than sharing them with my clients. Over the years I have collected dozens of other secret spots to keep in my arsenal, and along with the more popular locations, those hidden gems really show off the diversity of the Vineyard, while complementing a family’s dynamic.

Visiting the Island this summer? Get in touch and we’ll work together to discover the most picture-perfect spot for your family’s portraits. 

A trip of meaning and purpose to the beautiful country of Morocco

I love to travel the world as much as I love to capture it with my photography. I am most happy when I am able to embrace both of my passions at the same time. Earlier this year I set off to Morocco, a gorgeous, diverse, Muslim country in North Africa that I have been wanting to visit for years.

 

Traveling Morocco, Marrakech at sunset

Djema el-Fna is the main square and market place in Marrakesh. 
 
For me, the pleasure of traveling is derived from having the most authentic experience I can in a new place, especially when it’s so different from my own. I take the time to learn its history and politics, meet its people, eat its food, and practice its customs. Like I do with my work, I immerse myself wholeheartedly and I’m rewarded with the most meaningful experiences. My trip to Morocco was no exception.

 

Morocco

Right Photo: “Free Man” the symbol that represents the Berbers, living in harmony with their land.

 

 

My husband Philippe, son Elie, and I explored various parts of this historic, breathtakingly beautiful country, even traveling part of the road that served as the original Trans-Saharan trade route. Trade routes across the Sahara Desert were a crucial part of the global trading network in the medieval era, crossing between the Mediterranean coast of Africa to the empires in the Niger River basin. Similar to those that travelled this route thousands of years before us, we relied on caravans of camels and native Moroccan guides to assist along the way.

 

Morocco

Our guide, Afrahim, Philippe, a Berber nomad, his son ,and Elie on the ancient trade route near Zagora, Morocco.

 

Our memorable journey took us from the bustling city of Marrakech to the remote Sahara Desert, the coastal resort of Essaouira, and trekking through the majestic High Atlas Mountains. The incredible culture and landscape of this historic country can not be overstated.

Leather oddments from slippers.

 

Marrakech, Morocco’s capital city, is a truly magical place, overflowing with markets, gardens, palaces and mosques. We walked along the bustling streets of the Medina, meeting local vendors and indulging in the sweet and savory aromas of the city’s vibrant spices and the gorgeous textiles and handmade fabrics draped throughout. We stopped to hear the monotone sounds from nearby mosques calling for prayer, reverberating across the Medina’s maze and up the mountainside.

As customary, we were often greeted with a Moroccan mint tea offering–green tea steeped with lots of spearmint and noticeably sweet–any time we met someone or visited a new place. Our love for tea deepened with this symbol of hospitality, not to mention the flavor was simply delicious. We further enjoyed the country’s traditions by visiting a Moroccan bath house known as a hammam, tasting delicious tagines or slow-cooked stews packed with things like lamb, prunes, cinnamon and chili, while also respecting the Muslim custom of not drinking alcohol. We soaked it all up.

To further appreciate the local culture we hired a friendly tour guide and anthropologist named Afrahim of Atlas Journey Tour Company to escort us from Marrakech to the Sahara Desert. Afrahim was an immensely valuable resource and educated us on many local traditions we otherwise wouldn’t have known. Figs, he said, must be eaten with olive oil, and are a known remedy for high cholesterol and digestive health. Nuts and dried fruit are incredibly popular across Moroccan cuisine and are readily found lining the city markets. Afrahim informed us that its also customary to eat dates in odd numbers, as it creates balance in one’s physical and mental state, ensuring a happier life. Food is essential to Moroccan culture, and as Afrahim stated “when your stomach is empty your mind does not work,” to that we fully agree.

Morocco is known for its food, but above all its landscape, especially the majestic Sahara Desert. We began our journey there with a drive to the edge of Erg Chebbi, one of Morocco’s Saharan ergs–impressively large seas of dunes formed by wind-blown sand. As we approached, the landscape turned from a rocky, gray mixture to a brilliant, orange colored sand. A line in the sand was literally drawn before us, signifying the beginning of our journey on camelback.

We trekked to our camp as the sun went down, the sky first changing from pink, to orange, then blue, to purple–warming up then cooling down as we rode on. We passed quaint oases and amazing dunes–smooth, perfect, uniform colored crests against the striking blue sky. The peaceful silence of the desert was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and the absence of sound so overwhelming it felt as if I was underwater.

Eventually we arrived to our camp, a comfortable, colony of tents nestled among the sand. We approached the main entrance, and a pathway of colorful woolen carpets led the way to a dining tent where we gathered to eat and enjoy a hanging fire. As the almost full moon rose up, we sat back to enjoy the soothing music of djembe and conga drums under the stars. According to Afrahim, the desert can be navigated by the sun, the color of the sand, the smell in the air and, when the sun goes down, most accurately by the stars. Luckily for us we had him to show us the way and we were able to appreciate every moment.

From the desert we travelled to Essaouira, a bright and breezy port city on the Atlantic Coast, offering a more laid back alternative to the frantic streets of Marrakech. Essaouira boasts a noticeably European vibe, explained by it’s French influenced history. The present city of Essaouira was built during the mid-eighteenth century by the Moroccan King Mohammed III, who hired a French engineer, and several other European architects and technicians to build the fortress and city along modern lines.

Essaouira also maintains the elements of a romantic, resort community, and the beaches are a popular surfing destination, something Philippe and Elie took full advantage of. Morocco is known as one of the best winter spots for European surfers, and Essaouira carries the local title of “the windy city,” making it relatively consistent for good surfing conditions year round. While my family rode the local waters I embraced the local food scene, educating myself in the authentic style of tagine cooking, a technique I brought home and have been experimenting with to get me through the winter months.

From Essaouira we trekked to the High Atlas, a.k.a Grand Atlas Mountains in central Morocco, a magnificent range that stretches eastward from the Atlantic Ocean to the Moroccan-Algerian border. Again we enlisted help, this time a four legged sherpa named Charlotte to help carry our luggage and food, and were rerouted due to heavy snow. Along the way we encountered several Berbers, a group of people whose culture dates back to prehistoric times. Amazingly, Berbers have remained uncolonized, and have managed to preserve their own language and culture, while living in the mountains of Morocco. We met Berber nomads and visited several Berber villages, where we were again greeted by friendly faces with Moroccan mint tea.

When I think about our range of experiences and the many people who contributed to our journey I am filled with gratitude for our time there. From the stunning architecture of its ancient cities, to its sweeping deserts, and epic mountain ranges, Morocco is a place that fills you with warmth and vitality wherever you go. The opportunity to explore a place so different than our daily life is a gift, and Morocco is a gift to the world.

To learn more about life in present-day Morocco and the country’s diverse culture I recommend reading The Lost Treasure of King Juba.