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Faraway Farm Alpacas Yorktown Heights engagement photos

Alpaca Farm Engagement Session in Yorktown Heights

There is no shortage of amazing spots in the Hudson Valley perfect for your engagement session. However, Julia and Theo really wanted a location that was unique and different, yet matched something that they were both passionate about. “While throwing around ideas for their engagement session”, says Kathleen, owner of Parenthesis Photography, “Julia mentioned that she and Theo really loved animals, especially alpacas. After doing a little research I came across Faraway Farm Alpacas in Yorktown Heights, which looked amazing.”

Anytime you can incorporate animals into your photos, it just takes them to a whole new level. You never know what they’re going to do and they just instantly make you feel comfortable and happy. Kathleen says, “The alpacas were a little shy at first, but eventually warmed up after we gave them some treats.” Food works every time!.

While the engagement session was great, sometimes the best parts are in the quiet moments. “The end of their shoot was my favorite part though,” says Kathleen. “We stood by the fence near the edge of the woods, and I asked Julia and Theo to tell me about how they’d met and got engaged. We spent about ten minutes just talking about their relationship and taking photos until the sun started to go down.”

How many of you would love to have these alpacas in your engagement photos? Are you thinking of doing engagement photos in a non-traditional location? Have you taken engagement photos at a unique location? We’d love to see!

Featured photo credit and credit to all below: Parenthesis Photography


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The Timing of Your Portrait Session and Why it’s so Important

By Madison Baltodano, owner, and photographer at Bella Luz Imagery

Many photographers refer to the “Golden Hour” when suggesting times for your photos. So what is this “Golden Hour” of natural light and why is it so important? How do you use it to your advantage? What happens if you take photos outside of the “Golden Hour?”

What is the “Golden Hour?”


The “Golden Hour” is the last hour of light as the sun is setting or the first hour of light as the sun is rising. During this time of day a beautiful, soft light is created which creates very flattering portraits. You can use this natural light to your benefit in many ways: posing with the sun behind you or with the sun in front of you. Each way will give you very dramatic and different images. Let’s take a look.

Sun behind the subject


Putting the sun behind the subject creates magical backlighting and artistic sun flares.

Sun behind the subject. Photo credit Bella Luz Imagery


Sun in front of the subject


Keeping the sun in front of the subject creates stronger contrasted images, yet still with soft, flattering light.

Sun in front of the subject. Photo credit: Bella Luz Imagery


What happens if you don’t take photos during the “Golden Hour?”


Sometimes couples want to do a first look, and take photos before the ceremony so that they can spend more time with their family and friends during the cocktail hour. This is a great idea and I highly suggest it, but a few things need to be considered for taking photos during the day.

Mid-day sun


An experienced photographer will work with mid-day sun to use it to their advantage in certain situations. Putting it behind your subject if at all possible will help, or taking wide sweeping landscape shots where the harsh shadows on the face aren’t as apparent also works well for high noon sun.

Mid-day sun. Photo credit: Bella Luz Imagery


Mid-day shade or clouds


Shade can be your best friend. Anytime you are taking photos in the shade, especially the shade of a large dense cloud, it is as if the sun has been put into a giant, soft box, again creating beautiful, soft, portrait quality light. So if you are taking photos mid-day or even early afternoon, look for a shaded area to do the first look and family photos.

Shaded photo, mid-day. Photo credit: Bella Luz Imagery


Cloud cover, mid-day. Photo credit: Bella Luz Photography


Overhead sun


If at all possible, avoid taking portraits with the sun directly overhead, which may create dark shadows on your eyes, or have you squinting as the sun hits your pupils.

Your photographer will know what lighting works best and what lighting they are most comfortable using and best suited for their style of photography. It is best to consult with them when planning your photography timeline for your wedding day.
What’s type of lighting is your favorite? What time will you be getting photos taken?

Featured photo shows the sun behind the subject. Photo credit: Bella Luz Imagery


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J Ferrara Photography Poughkeepsie Grandview Wedding

Summer Wedding at the Poughkeepsie Grandview

“Rita and Alex’s wedding at The (Poughkeepsie) Grandview was nothing short of one amazing day,” says James Ferrara of J. Ferrara Photography. “The bride’s dress was beautiful, and all day she was one big smile. She was relaxed, had fun, couldn’t care less about the rain that threw us for a loop,” he says. Summer weddings in the Hudson Valley can be unpredictable, and unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about the weather. “It goes to show you how much the attitude of the bride sets the tone of the day,” says Ferrara.

“We went to the church (St. Martin De Porres Roman Catholic Church in Poughkeepsie) for the ceremony, and afterward, we headed up north for photos, with looming storm clouds on the horizon,” he says. “Just as we pulled up to Franklin D. Roosevelt Estate for photos, the rain started. We were only there several minutes, then headed to the Poughkeepsie train station and waited out the storm. Once the torrential rain and wind died down, we did bridal party photos there.  From there, we headed to The (Poughkeepsie) Grandview ballroom, where the rest of the night was great with a live band that kept everyone on their feet.”

How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal?


Rita says “We met as Freshman in college at The University of Scranton Chapman Lake Retreat Center. We worked together, attended a few classes together, and were friends for nearly all of college before we started dating. There was always something special about Alex. We shared fun times throughout college and when Alex and I finally realized we really liked each other more than just friends we started dating a few months before graduation. he and I were long distance for 3 years before we no longer had a 2+ hour drive between us.”

“The day of the proposal was also my dad’s birthday,” says Rita. “Before going to dinner with my dad, Alex took me back to the place we met. He got me there because he and mom cooked up a story… Since she works for the University, she told me that she thought she lost her wedding ring at a meeting there the day before. What an actress! On the way there, I asked Alex, “Do you think we’ll find the ring?” He said, “If there’s a ring there, we’ll find it.” When we got to campus, he proposed in the same exact place where we met…There are no videos or pictures from the proposal but I remember every single part of it…oF course, we go to the “birthday party for my dad” to find that he and mom knew all along. Dad says that 65 was the best birthday he’s ever had.”

What was the inspiration for your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any cultural or religious traditions in any part of your day?


“I had many inspirations during the planning process… but, in reality, the inspiration was quite simple: we wanted to throw a party to celebrate our families, who made us who we are (ultimately the best partners for one another!),” says Rita “With every single detail and decision, Alex reminded me “we have to keep it fun” and we certainly did…The band was key to a fabulous party. Before we knew any details, we knew we were going to have a band. In terms of colors… I focused on romantic ivories, pinks, and peaches with lots of fresh green accents. Our religious ceremony was very traditional with both sides of the family having key parts in the mass. It was important to bring the family together from the very beginning. The Groom’s Mom sang during Communion and the Bride’s Mom was Maid of Honor. It meant a lot for me to have my father walk me down the aisle…Our priest, Father Scott Pilarz S.J., was someone we both met while attending The University of Scranton. He drove in from Maryland.

Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?


Rita says, “The wedding theme was an elegant, fun party that would ultimately bring everyone together on the dance floor. The venue was perfect with guests entering through a tunnel walkway to a windowed room that overlooked the Hudson River. Guests had the option to go outside on the deck or stay inside to enjoy the view from a room resembling a winery. We had a memory table with picture displays we created that sparked great stories about family not with us. When it was time for the reception the curtains that created the tunnel were raised allowing the guests to enter a room filled with summer flowers, candlelight and lots of love. We were blessed in that our venue was so stunning in itself. the view of the Hudson River was perfect (luckily, no rain for the cocktail hour) and our flowers were perfect for our space.”

What were the florals like? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?


“The flowers were magnificent and brought the elegance, beauty, and color we wanted,” says Rita. “We wanted there to be a romantic garden feeling that was soft and yet bright. The centerpieces and tablescapes were alternated on the tables allowing the eye to capture the beauty of the room with sparkling candlelight. My bridal bouquet incorporated flowers from my Communion veil. My Aunt Am, who was also my Godmother, made the veil. She passed away from cancer six years ago. Our florist was able to take these flowers and seamlessly weave them into my bouquet so part of her was with me throughout the day.”

Did you personalize the day in any way? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?


Rita says “The question is: What wasn’t personalized? Our signature drink at the cocktail hour was named “The Chapman Cooler” after Chapman Lake where we met and also where Alex proposed. Every single food choice was chosen based on our individual family favorites. Making sure there was pasta for my family and pigs in a blanket for Alex’s. We had a saxophone playing during cocktail hour. Alex worked on recommended songs to give the band for a year leading up to the wedding. Capping the night off, a Venetian hour and pretzels to-go kept the guests engaged and partying until the end. The University of Scranton has been a key part of our lives. As mentioned, not only were we married by our friend, a Jesuit priest, Fr. Scott Pilarz but we also had so many of our college friends in attendance…”

Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look?


“I tried on dozens of dresses,” says Rita…”I truly did not know what look I wanted. but, I did know that it needed to match our theme: It needed to be fun! However, much like everything else, it also needed to be elegant and timeless. I wanted something that had a wow factor and that no one had seen before. I truly believe I found that in my Tara Keely dress…I felt like such a bride rocking that train down the aisle. As for Alex, he wanted classic black which is always something that I’ve loved. in fact, it is what my bridesmaids also wear. At first, I thought the bridesmaids would wear blush and the men navy. but, like many things when planning a wedding, visions evolve and at the end of the day, I loved how Alex’s shawl-collared tux stood out from the groomsmen.”


What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?


“It’s tough to say what was the most anticipated or special moment of the day,” says Rita. “When you are so involved in the planning, you are excited about every element… but, for me, the most anticipated moment of our day was our first dance. Alex and I struggled with the choice for our first dance for months (maybe a year). we went back and forth. Alex is very well versed in music so he was picky and I was less picky on the song but, having some dance experience, I knew the kind of dance we wanted…We danced to “Because the Night” by 10,000 Maniacs. We received so many compliments on our dance because it was a song that no one expected and truly kicked off the night as a party.”


Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice?


Rita says, “For a few weeks after the wedding/honeymoon were over, I went through something referred to as “The Princess Crisis.” It sounds a little dramatic but I truly loved every single part of the planning that when it was over, I missed it. It just went by as quickly as everyone says it does. We danced all night and WITH EACH OTHER. I know that sounds funny but it is easy to get separated when there are so many people pulling you in different directions. Our friends gave us the advice to stay together during the day and we did. I would also say to process everything as “this is part of my story; it’s ok”… on the day of the wedding, my blusher was missing, it was raining during our pictures and we had to choose a new location, my bouquet was left at the first photo location and I didn’t have it for the second. Well, let me tell you what happened from all of those seemingly “imperfections” — my lovely friends saved the day and came through for me, we ended up getting beautiful pictures at the second location and beautifully romantic ones of Alex and I with an umbrella…and my flowers were safely recovered and there for my entrance. Every single thing is part of your story and no one’s story will be alike. If it was, weddings would not be as fun! Overall, my advice is from the moment you are engaged to enjoy the journey. Make the planning a partnership with your fiance. Take opinions as “just opinions” and make decisions based on what is most important to you – and on the day of, have the time of your life because that party is for you!”



Photographer: J. Ferrara Photography

Dress: Tara Keely

Florals: Flowers by David Anthony

Venue/Catering: The Poughkeepsie Grandview

Band: Sound Image Entertainment

Cinema and Video: Kevin Fonash Studios



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Pioneer Media Hudson Valley Weddings

The Most Common Regret Couples Have About Their Wedding

Wedding videography. It’s one of those decisions many couples struggle with. Do you hire a videographer or do you not? It really is a love/hate relationship with many couples and is one of those elements that couples question until the very last minute. If you’re like me, you’re probably asking all your friends if they hired a videographer if they watch the video, how much did they spend on it, etc. In fact, tell me if any of these thoughts crossed your mind at some point in the wedding process…


Thought #1“We’ve already booked a great photographer, so we know we’re going to get amazing photos. A video is nice, but not necessary.”


Thought #2“We’ve already ‘spent’ a lot of money not only on our photographer but our venue and everything else to make our wedding special. We don’t want to spend more money on a video.”


Thought #3“We don’t need a video. We hate being on camera and we’ll never watch it. It’ll just sit on a shelf or in a box collecting dust. It’s a waste of money.”


If any, or all those thoughts have played out in your head, you’re not alone. “Many sources show that the top regret of brides after their weddings was not getting videography”, says Bryndon Romero, Owner of Pioneer Media. “If you Google “biggest regret in weddings” the first three search results point to “not hiring a professional videographer” as the number one regret of real brides.” Google search it yourself, you’ll see.





Who wants to live life with regrets, especially on the biggest day of your life?

Unfortunately, I fall into that regret category. While we have video taken by family members, it’s still not the same as having a beautiful quality edited video.


Why is videography such a back-and-forth decision?


Well, first off, videography can add an additional $500-$1000 (or more) onto your budget. “Weddings are not cheap,” says Romero. “Most often it’s one of those ‘If -there’s-room-in-the-budget-at-the-end’ type of decisions. For some, a video is not considered a must-have, like your DJ or photographer. Many consider it a luxury, not a necessity.”


Emma Cleary, owner of Emma Cleary Photo & Video agrees. She says that it’s not always a last-minute decision but certainly comes after booking your photographer. “Sometimes the couple will wait until they know how much they have left in their budget before booking videography,” she says. “Couples often like to secure their photographer first and have the option to add video to their package at a later date.”


Why is videography so important?


Cleary says that, while it sounds cliché, a wedding day goes by VERY fast! There are so many moments happening throughout the day that you might miss, and while you think you may not watch a video, at some point, and in some way, you’ll want to relive the day over and over for some time to come.


She says that while photos are great and are certainly a very important investment, there is one thing video can provide that photos can’t. That’s sound and voices. It’s one thing to see photos of people dancing, it’s another to actually hear the music, hear the cheers or clapping, see people in active motion. It’s great to have your grandparents in your photos, it’s another to actually hear their voices and hear what they have the say to you on your wedding day. In years to come, your kids will want to see you as a young couple. They’re going to want to hear all about your wedding day, and how special will it be for them to actually hear you recite your vows to each other instead of just seeing photos of it, without really knowing what you said?


What type of videography is right for you?


Hudson Valley Wedding Photography

Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

Ok, so you’ve decided that you want to invest in video, but have horrible flashbacks of when you saw your parent’s weddings video. Videos, where the cameraman goes from table to table with a microphone and has each guest, say a little congratulatory message to the new couple. Well, if you’ve been on social media at any time, you’ll know video has come a long way. They’re more like mini motion pictures.


“In weddings, there are basically two types of videography,” says Romero. “Documentary style has traditionally been the most common form of videography. Its purpose is to provide information through visuals; it tells the viewer what is happening. Typically longer clips are used that show the beginning of an action until its completion.”


“Then there is cinematography,” he says. “The goal is to entertain by structuring the story like a movie. Shorter clips are used, not necessarily in chronological order. A combination of shorter clips, music, high-quality audio, and camera movements are artistically used to engage the viewer and to entertain.”


What is a highlight reel?


“A highlight reel simply is a short video of the best parts of the day,” says Romero. “Often times, the key traditional moments of the day are put in the highlight reel: walk down the aisle, the kiss, the vows. Personally, we like to take whichever clips are most epic, cinematic, whatever footage looks the best, and combine that with the best audio we captured. For those three to five minutes that we have your attention, we want to blow your mind. The best way for us to do that is to combine the best shots of the day with the highest quality, personal audio.”


Have you decided on investing in video for your wedding day? What made you decide to do so? On the flip side, are you not investing in video? What made you decide not to?


Featured Photo Credit: Pioneer Media

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Charming Rose & Gold Wedding at Falkirk Estate & Country Club

Falkirk Estate & Country Club in Central Valley, NY was the perfect setting for Amanda and Chris’s wedding. Having met in high school, they weren’t high school sweethearts…just friends. Little did they know, they would turn out to be each others soul mates!

After hanging out in the same circle of friends, they realized they had a lot in common and became close as time went on. They even did the baby project for health class together! Once high school was over they kept in touch and one day, they realized that their friendship was turning into something more.

During their first year of dating, Chris, who at the time was working a part-time job with not much extra money, decided to make Amanda’s birthday gift. He went out and bought construction paper, stick-on googly eyes and a couple of other art supplies to hand make a picture frame of himself. When Amanda opened her gift, she thought it was the sweetest and most thoughtful gift anyone has ever given her!

Seven years later, Chris, as an ode to their first year of dating, wanted to show Amanda how far they have come. He proposed to her the same way!

On a random Thursday, November 5, 2015, Chris picked up Amanda from work. As soon as she walked into their apartment, she saw a beautiful display of red roses, along with a handmade picture frame of Chris with the words “Will You Marry Me?” going across it. After she said yes, they celebrated by popping a bottle of champagne and calling all of their loved ones to share the news!



Venue: Falkirk Estate and Country Club

Photographer: BOM Photography

Dress: Memories Bridal by Reem

Cake Designer: Palermo’s Bakery

Floral Designer: Yumila Wedding and Event Floral Design


Photo Credit to All: BOM Photography



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J Ferrara Photography Hudson Valley Wedding Hollowbrook Golf Club

Fall wedding at Hollow Brook Golf Club

Christina and Mike celebrated their late fall Hudson Valley wedding at Hollow Brook Golf Club. According to their photographer, James Ferrara of J. Ferrara Photography, “Christina and Mike are SUCH a fun couple. When we arrived, the girls were all just hanging out, putting on custom temporary tattoos with the couples hashtag. Christina’s dress was gorgeous and fit her perfectly.” Once “getting ready” shots were taken, Ferrara says, “We did a first look on the porch, and then walked and drove around the grounds on a golf cart to do their portraits. It was a chilly day for sure, but these two were troopers and the cold doesn’t show through the images.” However, the cold temps did mean an inside ceremony. “With it being so cold, we had the ceremony inside, which is a first for us, but it worked out just fine. Anthony from Platinum Entertainment DJs kept the party rocking all night, even getting the bride and groom to crowd surf!! It was a terrific day, filled with love and laughter and lots and lots of fun.” Check out this amazing gallery of this amazingly fun wedding to get inspiration for your own special day.



Photographer: J. Ferrara Photography

Photo Booth: iFlick Photo Booth

Transportation: Silver Star Limo

Bakery: Dream Cakes Bakery

Florals: Joseph Richards Florals

Officiant: Jeremy Ziegler

DJ/Entertainment: Platinum Entertainment DJ’s

Reception Venue: Hollow Brook Golf Club

Photo Credit to all: J. Ferrara Photography


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3 Easy Ways to Stay True to Yourself and Make Your Wedding Special

By guest blogger Amanda Hudes, owner of Smiling Through Chaos.


Weddings are best when they showcase YOU!


2018 is all about customization baby! Nobody wants to have their wedding look and feel just like every other wedding out there, but where do you begin? Well, begin with YOU. By doing so, you almost guarantee your wedding will be different because there’s no one else out there like you. No one else has your style, taste, or imagination.


Here are some tips to help you figure out…


1 – Who you are


2 – How to feel confident about who you now accept, love and cherish, and


3 – How you can stay true to who you are on your wedding day


Go deep


Many of us go through several stages in life, and often times each stage is represented by our style. Does anyone remember wearing “babydoll tee’s” as our bodies were changing in middle school? What about the phase of “Oh my gosh, I’m going to graduate so I have to go out and buy a few suits for interviews!” And what about the stage when you said, “Yes!” to a marriage proposal and started shopping for the dress you were “supposed to” love?


That’s where we say, “Hold up!” Underneath the makeup and your favorite current fashion trend, who are YOU? Do you love poetry or heavy metal? Do you love adventure, or are you someone who loves to be comfortable in jeans and a sweatshirt most days? If you’re someone who loves to wear sneakers and sweats, you might be very uncomfortable in high heels all day, which will show in your pictures and your face when speaking to your guests! I’m not saying wear sneakers and sweats, but I am suggesting keeping “comfort” in your mind and choosing a wedding dress or jumpsuit. When you feel good, you smile, you laugh, you enjoy, and that helps others to do the same.

Who are YOU?


That’s the first step before proceeding with any wedding planning. Once you figure that out, you will feel so much more comfortable with your decisions and with the style of the wedding because it will represent the two of you.


Care for and love yourself


Once you realize who you truly are, it’s time for self-care and self-love. You know the saying, you can’t love someone else until you love yourself first. Well, I say love yourself because you are SO worth it, and when you love yourself, you become so irresistible that your significant other will love you even more. If the two of you are practicing self-care, this is magic.


Self-care starts with taking time to laugh, to enjoy moments with friends and family, and providing yourself with moments of silence and reflection.


Self-love also involves accepting and cherishing the body and mind that makes you so special. What makes us different makes us special. There are no such things as imperfections. You are perfectly you!

Do what feels right


So now it’s the time to plan your look and your wedding!


What feels good to you? Do you adore the smell of fresh flowers, or would you prefer more greenery? Have you realized that you would absolutely love a regal gown so you can feel like a Queen that day, or would you prefer to wear a mini dress with sandals? What says YOU? What feels right, and good, to YOU?


Being absolutely clear on what you enjoy and what makes you happy is crucial to having the day of your dreams. Confidence in owning who you are sends a clear message to those around who might be trying to sway you in a different direction. The more confident you are in your decisions, the less likely someone will be in trying to make you change your mind.


What are things you discovered about yourself during the planning process? What are some things that are truly you that you are doing at your wedding? What are some ways you care for yourself?  

Featured Photo: Ricky Restiano Photography

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J Ferrara Photography Abigail Kirsch Tappan Hill Mansion wedding Tarrytown, NY

Elegant Tappan Hill Mansion Wedding in Tarrytown, New York

Emily and Matt had the perfect day for their Hudson Valley fall wedding. Taking place at the majestic Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown, NY, both the bride and the groom were glowing as bright as the sun was for them that day. J. Ferrara Photography elegantly captured every moment. “This was a gorgeous fall wedding at Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown NY,” says Ferrara. “Emily and Matt are both beautiful people that are so in love, it just shows through every image.  Emily’s Hayley Paige dress was stunning, and Matt looked sharp in his tux.” Ferrara recalls the timeline of the day…”We did a first look, followed by portraits, and then a beautiful ceremony outside with the perfect late day sun glow.  A reception followed in the ballroom with lots of dancing and laughs.” Check out the beautiful gallery below to get some inspiration for your wedding day.



Caterer: Abigail Kirsch

Dress: Hayley Paige

DJ: Generation Events

Venue: Tappan Hill Mansion

Photographer: J. Ferrara Photography

Photo Credit to all: J. Ferrara Photography


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