I think it’s safe to say Jahlai had NO IDEA a Sicilian sunset proposal was coming for her when she arranged a couples photo session with me.
When Jahlai messaged me to set up a couples photoshoot, I was happy. I LOVE photographing couples and I don’t get near enough of that here. But when Paul messaged me later to ask if I would be willing to photograph an intimate sunset proposal, I was ecstatic!!!
Jahlai and Paul are both in the military, but Jahlai is deployed to Sicily for a temporary amount of time. Paul has been working for months to surprise her with the perfect ring and an unforgettable proposal when he came to visit. It was honestly so perfect; I was tearing up the whole time!!
When I talked with Jahlai about preparing an outfit, she told me she already had it planned. She knew they were going to wear their colors, black and gold, and dress formally. She even brought along the cutest picnic setup! The look of shock on her face when she turned around to see Paul down on one knee was priceless. He even surprised her with sweet a little gift after the proposal. Scroll down through to photos to see what he got for her!!!
Jahlai and Paul, thank you sooooo much for having me. Congratulations and best wishes for a long and happy life together!!!
I distracted Jahlai by pretending to photograph her alone and sent Paul to wait with my husband. Jahlai was very cooperative, even when I said “Don’t move! I’m going to get some shots of you from behind,” as I ran out of the way. Then I told her to turn around and there was Paul down on one knee!! I think it’s safe to say Jahlai was in utter shock!
We moved to our next location to let reality set in and snap a few engagement photos. Paul presented Jahlai with a sweet little surprise gift and we had a few a laughs before we called it a night.
Congratulations again Paul and Jahlai!!
When Amber contacted me about a family session, she knew exactly where they wanted to have their photos taken – a rocky beach. And luckily, I had just the place in mind! As Ryan remarked during the session, this place looks like the Amalfi Coast of Sicily. I had never thought about it that way before, but he was right!!
We met just an hour or so before sunset and had a great time hopping around on the rocks together. The boys showed me their best superhero poses and each one got to pick where they wanted to take a photo with their family. I can truly say, the Albano family has such a great sense of humor and knows how to have fun!!
Amber and Ryan, I hope you guys love the photos! We had such a great time with you and the babes 🙂
It’s possible the Gilmores are the best dressed family I have ever had the pleasure of working with! As soon as I stepped out of my car, I knew it was going to be one of my favorite sessions, because they looked like they just stepped out of a magazine. Talk about a photographer’s dream!
Not only did this family have impeccable style, but they were also so sweet and incredibly kind. Erica and Richard shared lots of laughs (especially towards the end), which made our time together even more special. We had a lot of fun exploring the rocky Sicilian coast while hanging out with baby Ezra. Is he not the most handsome baby you have ever seen?!
Once baby Ezra was tired, mom and dad continued with the shoot until we literally ran out of light. I really hope this isn’t the last time I’ll have the honor of working with this family!! Erica and Richard, thank you so much for choosing me to capture your beautiful family!!
Occasionally, I write a bittersweet post. If you haven’t already guessed, this is one of them. The thing about living the military lifestyle is that a lot of people come in and out of your life. When you meet really great people, you get excited for the friendship. But, you know that your time together is only temporary.
When we moved to Sicily, we had our sponsors (turned friends) select our house for us so we could move right in upon arrival. The home they picked for us just so happened to be right next door to the DeMauros. We got lucky. The very next day, these people were on our doorstep with dinner. We were so thankful, as we had not had a hot meal in a few days and didn’t have a car to go out and get one ourselves.
Over the year and a half that we have lived here, the DeMauros have fed us more times than I can count. We have babysat their children (yes, you read that right. I was in charge of a child and it survived). And we have taken a day trip or two. We’ve hung out at birthday parties and had some serious discussions about life. It’s honestly been a comfort to know that they were right next door, as we know we can count on them in any time of need. They have been not only great neighbors, but also great friends.
We are incredibly sad that the DeMauros’ time in Sicily will be up soon. I am so thankful that they were able to make time for one last photo session before heading back to the States.
Amanda and Adam, we will miss you guys and your beautiful babies. I will certainly miss Atti yelling, “Hey, Madalyn!! Watch this!” And, “See you later, crocodile!” And, Alba’s sweet hugs and rebel child style. Thanks for everything you’ve done for us. We love you!
The annual Chief Petty Officer (CPO) pinning ceremony is one of my favorite events to photograph of all time! Last year, I photographed two brand new Chiefs, while this year I had the honor of photographing SIX! These six included four Navy Chiefs and two Air Force Master Sergeants. You might be thinking, “I had no idea other branches of the military could partake in CPO Training!” And, that’s because it is quite a rare opportunity. Occasionally members of other branches are invited to participate, be accepted into the CPO Mess, and be pinned as Chiefs. This made photographing this year’s ceremony even more exciting!
Congratulations to Chief Aragon, Chief Beatty, Chief Harden, Chief James, Master Sergeant Chavez and Master Sergeant (Sel) Garza! Thank you all so much for this opportunity. What an honor!
Congratulations to all of those whom were tested, tried, and accepted as a Navy Chief Petty Officer this year!
It seems like it was just yesterday that the Plankenhorns and I met up for Kristina’s maternity portrait session in Brucoli. Just a few weeks after our June maternity session, baby Niels was born!
In August, I had the honor of visiting the Plankenhorns in their beautiful home for a few lifestyle newborn photos. It was important to them to incorporate the whole family, including mom, dad, and brother Fynn. So, we did just that! Everyone hung out in the living room and oohed and ahhed over the little Niels while I snapped away.
Falk and Kristina, Niels is absolutely perfect. Thank you so much for inviting me into your home and trusting me to photograph your little family.
The biggest compliment you can get as a photographer is having another photographer ask you to photograph them! Stephanie is another photographer here in Sigonella who I’ve photographed a couple of times before. If you follow along with my blog, then you may remember Stephanie, Will, and their adorable daughter Hadley from our Veteran’s Day mini session back in the fall!
To be completely honest, I photographed the Clark family only YESTERDAY, but was so in love with the photos that I had to edit the entire session TODAY. I just couldn’t wait. One of the things I connect with is humor, as I dearly love to laugh. The Clark’s session was not even a little bit short on laughs! I know I had an incredible amount of fun capturing their love for one another. I hope they did too!
Check out the images from the Clark’s Sicilian vineyard family session below. I promise, their happiness is contagious!
Thanks for having me Stephanie and Will! Can’t wait for next time!!!
Okay, so it’s no secret that I LOVE SENIOR PORTRAITS!! There is just so much excitement surrounding them. Last year of high school! College! Boys! A fun photoshoot to share with your family and friends! For Alex, it was about a little bit more than those things; it was also about leaving the island.
While senior sessions traditionally take place in the beginning of one’s senior year, Alex elected to have hers at the end. When I met her, she was just preparing for her last few weeks in Sicily before some travel and then COLLEGE!!! What an exciting time in life.
Alex brought her S-T-Y-L-E and her family, which I loved! I’m pretty sure she’s secretly a model, but I’ll let you be the judge!
Alex, thank you so much for trusting me with your photos. I hope you love them and will cherish your last few months in Sicily forever. Best of luck in college and your future endeavors.
If there is one single thing I knew I must do while living it Italy, it was visit the Dolomites. After posting a ton of photos on Instagram (check them out here), I realized that many others dream of visiting as well. The planning and researching stages of this trip were a bit tedious (as with our trip to Ireland), since I didn’t really know from the beginning which places were a “must see” in the Dolomites. Thus, I thought I’d write about exactly what to see and how to visit here!
From my Instagram stories, I’ve had many questions about the Dolomites. To clarify, the Dolomites are located in northern Italy and are a part of the Southern Limestone Alps. One thing you will realize very quickly is that everything there has two names – one in Italian (as they are in Italy) and one in German. While you’re there, you feel like you are in Germany. The towns have a very Bavarian feel and many people wear traditional Bavarian attire. Just think of it as a place where you can order both pasta AND apple strudel at dinner.
Summer is the most popular time for hiking, as the weather is warm. August is the busiest month, so I would aim for June or July. September to October are fall colors time and November begins the ski season. If you choose to visit in a shoulder season, you will find lack of accommodations and restaurant options. Thus, it is important to plan accordingly.
There is no airport in the Dolomites! Thus, I would recommend driving. We flew to Venice (Marco Polo, but you can also fly to Treviso as well), rented a car, and drove 2.5 hours north. You can also fly into Verona, Innsbruck, Milan or Munich. I’d recommend you Google Map it. Here is a great “how to get to the Dolomites” resource here with more information.
When flying in and renting a car, I’d highly suggest ensuring the rental car office will be open when your flight arrives 🙂
Great question! This was the most difficult one for us to answer for ourselves. Cortina d’ampezzo is a great base for Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Sorapis, Lago di Braies, and Cinque Torri. Ortesi is a great base for Alpe di Siusi, Seceda, and Lago di Carezza. Passeo Gardena and Passeo Sella are between the two towns, so you can stop in on your way though.
There are a ton of other towns to stay in, but these two are general “hubs.” You can also stay in the rufigos, but to do this, you need to pack SUPER LIGHT because you’ll have to carry all of your stuff up the trails with you. So, keep this in mind (and make a reservation in advance).
I’m listing Tre Cime di Lavaredo first because it is probably the most iconic place in the Dolomites and it was my personal favorite to hike.
To get to Tre Cime, use this pin here. You will park right at the peaks, but to see them properly, you need to walk away from them (because they are just so huge). On your way up to the parking lot, you will reach a booth with an attendant. The fee for parking is 30€ per car. I know, it’s outrageous, but totally worth it for the views.
We arrived at Tre Cime around three hours before sunset. This was just as everyone was hiking back to the car to head home for the day. However, we had sunset views in mind, so this worked perfectly for us.
From the parking lot, walk toward Rifugio Lavaredo on top of the hill. Once you reach it, you just follow the path after it. Then you are on your way! We walked for about two hours until we reached Rifugio Locatelli (the third one on the path). Then, we stopped for a while before heading back in the dark.
There are many other paths you can take and hikes you can do here besides this one. For example, instead of walking to the first rifugio, you can walk away from it for additional stunning views (like, Paternsattel). You can also keep walking past Rifugio Locatelli if that is your jam. Many options for exploration here.
For lodging on site, you can camp in the parking lot or stay in a rifugio. We opted not to do either (as I’m not really down with group sleeping hostel style). Also, these rifugios offer meals, so you can stop in and grab a beer or food. Note, they are cash only!!!!
There are some incredibly steep drops here, so if you are bringing kids, make sure they don’t walk too close to the edge! Paths are very wide, so this should be doable.
This was the most popular place I visited (according to my Instagram replies, at least). Everyone seems to be in love with the light blue waters here and I can’t blame them.
To reach Lago di Sorapis, park on the side of the road at the Passo Tre Croci (click for pin). There will be a big field (probably with horses or cows). The trail begins at the end of that field. To know you are going in the right direction, look for signs for trail 215. You will follow 215 all the way to the lake. This is most certainly a trail that I would want to do in either the early morning hours or late in the evening (and walk back in the dark, as we did). The path starts out wide, but narrows quickly to a one person at a time path. There are also some areas where you must hold on to a wire rope, as you are walking along the edge of the mountain with no fence (sheer drop-off).
For this hike, I would not bring small children (unless you plan to carry them). As I said, the path is narrow, and the drop offs are steep!
Another iconic Dolomites peak, Seceda, is breathtaking! To reach the top, you can simply take a cable car from Ortesi (this is what I would recommend). It is 17€ one way or 34€ to return. The hours for the cable car are limited (08:30 – 17:30 in summer) and a ride to the top takes approximately 30 minutes if you time it right. You will first take a gondola and then board a cable car that takes off every 15 minutes. Just be careful not to get stuck up there if you aren’t prepared for the 2+hour hike to the bottom.
If you choose to hike up, you can park at the Praplan Parking lot. The hike is relatively steep and takes around two hours.
Once at the top, you can walk (uphill) for approximately 10-15 minute to get the best view of the Geisler Peaks. There are also endless hike possibilities here as well.
Seceda is open for skiing in winter as well.
This Alpine meadow is absolutely worth visiting. As the largest high-altitude Alpine meadow in Europe, Alpe di Siusi is home to some worthwhile views.
To reach the top. You have two options: drive and hike or take a cable car. The cable car is located here . Like Seceda, the hours are limited, so it’s important to plan accordingly. If you choose to drive and walk (as we did), it is very important to note that there are many driving restrictions associated with Alpe di Siusi to preserve its natural beauty.
To drive, park at the Compatsch parking lot and then walk the remainder of the way. A good path is to follow the road to the ADLER Lodge Alpe. It is incredibly important that you don’t drive past the Compatsch parking lot AND that you don’t drive to or from the Compatsch parking lot between the hours of 09:00 and 17:00. This is because this road is restricted usage. Both driving past the parking lot and driving to and from the parking lot after 9 and before 17 will result in fines upward of 150€. We drove here at 04:30 and left by 06:30 (for sunrise) and did not have to pay a parking attendant. However, parking for the day at that lot is 18€.
During our drive from one hotel to another, we drove through both of these mountain passes. The roads wind back and forth up and down the mountains and the views are simply stunning. We pulled off the road quite a few times to soak in the views and take a few photos. There are a plethora of hikes and gondolas around the area, so you have plenty of options to choose from if you elect to do more than just pull over.
I’ve had a few other photoshoots in Bellini Park before (like this one), but none with a “farewell to Sicily” theme. I honestly have no idea why I haven’t blogged Karryne’s images already. I’ll attribute it to the fact that I have a growing backlog of blog posts to make. Look out world, I’m about to step up my blog game!
Karryne’s session is the third farewell session I’ve shot (see more here and here) and they just keep getting better and better. I think I’m in love with these types of shoots because of the pure emotion going into them. Now that I’ve been here for almost a year and a half, I can say that leaving the island is probably quite hard. Karryne was a breeze to work with and she really brought it for this shoot. With every snap of the camera, I was more and more in love with the images. We even did a little city night shooting at the end. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to check those out!
Karryne, thanks so much for trusting me. I hope you had as much fun at your shoot as I did!