New Hampshire Birth Photographer :: Baby Henry

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Over the last seven years I've photographed a LOT of weddings and many of those couples have gone on to have babies and I've been lucky enough to photograph lots of these adorable little newborns in their first few days of life - like these:
Baby Pictures
Boston Baby Photographer
Boston Newborn Pictures

However I've never photographed (or even been present) for an actual birth. Until a couple of weeks ago.

My friend Lindsay is also a photographer and lives close to me so we'll often meet up for breakfast. Lindsay was expecting her second baby (with her husband Josh) and she mentioned that she was thinking about asking her doctor if it would be possible to have the birth photographed. I was all "I would totally do that!!" and as there was still a few months to go we didn't really get into details other than it would be a scheduled C-section on April 1st and I was to stay above the drapes and not get any gory picture ;)

I figured we'd talk about details, pictures she wanted etc etc over one of our breakfasts. And then one Monday evening in March I got a text just before 9pm...

I'd just sat down to eat dinner with Paul who watched bemused as I ran around the house looking for memory cards and spare batteries before heading out to Elliot Hospital in Manchester, NH.

After a discussion with a friendly but very suspicious security guard in the ER ("There's someone coming up. She has some big cameras. She says she's supposed to be here.") I was finally allowed up to the maternity unit just in time.

Dr Leclair and the whole medical team couldn't have been more welcoming. And I couldn't have been more honored that Lindsay and Josh allowed me to be present for such an amazing event. I think one of the reasons I enjoy photographing weddings so much is that you have this huge range of emotions happening in one day - nerves, anticipation, happiness, joy. I'd have to say that a birth is like a wedding on crack - the nerves and fear are amplified and the joy was pretty amazing to witness. I'll admit to choking up a little behind the camera.

Lindsay kindly said I could share these pictures and so here are just a couple of my favorites of baby Henry's arrival plus a few from the next day when big brother Ollie got to meet Henry. Click play on the slideshow if you'd like to see more. Rest assured there are no super gory pictures :)

Walking to the operating room with Josh. Before I was a photographer I worked in the medical device world and spent quite a lot of time in the OR observing various surgical procedures which meant I was pretty confident I wouldn't get dizzy or faint!

Congratulations Lindsay & Josh!!! Baby Henry (and Ollie) are lucky to have you two as parents!!!

Click the little play button in the bottom left corner below for a short little slideshow:

Next up on the blog will be all sorts of interesting posts about wedding albums - the process, all of the options, sample wedding albums including...wait for from my parent's wedding album. You don't want to miss it! And I'll be photographing Hanna & Steve's wedding at the Taj next Saturday so we'll be back to our usual wedding programming soon!

Narnia Inspired Ice Castle Wedding Styled Shoot :: Loon Mountain, NH

Friday, March 14, 2014

I was watching the local news recently and this segment about an ice castle at Loon Mountain came on the TV. When I saw how the icicles and the castle were lit up at night I couldn't help but think what a cool setting it would be for some night time pictures. I started thinking maybe...just maybe it might be possible to pull together a winter styled shoot at very short notice.

For those of you not familiar with the concept of a styled shoot, it's basically a bunch of wedding vendors coming together to put together a sort of mini wedding. I feel like most styled shoots are just doing the same old things - I'm so over picnics on a blanket in a field! - but a wedding in an ice castle? Styled shoots are great because you can be as creative as you like, there's usually no time pressures (although not in this case!) although it's a TON of work for everyone involved - you all have to get on board with the vision, come up with products, services, and then put everything together in a very short time. Not to mention we'd be shooting in freezing cold temperatures late at night!

I fired off a bunch of excited yet fairly vague emails and was delighted when I had lots of great responses from super talented wedding industry friends and colleagues. I'm holding off on posting too many pictures and too much info about the inspiration as fingers crossed these images will be published shortly but here's a little sneak peek!

Mallory & Erin (ELM Events) took my vague ramblings of ice queens in Narnia and designed a spectacular setting with a Narnia theme.  Kelli (à deux:bespoke wedding paper) made a clear acrylic invitation laser cut and laser etched and nestled in into a custom white, side-lined, faux-crocodile box amongst other amazing paper products.

The make up was inspired by the light and the shadows within the ice itself. Cheeks and lips were made up to look kissed by the winter glow. Hair was glossy and elegant for the bride and set off with a stunning headpiece and a more relaxed imperfect curl was given to the bridesmaid that mimicked the lines in her fur coat:

No joking, it was maybe 6 or 7 degrees and way past midnight when we shot this one. Jess & Scott deserve medals "most romantic in horrific conditions!". If you'd like a recap of their awesome wedding you'll find it hereA bride and groom in an ice castle for a Narnia theme wedding in NH

Our fabulous cake designer Erin (Wild Orchid Baking Company) told me "When I designed the cake I imagined a beautiful garden inspired cake that had been taken over by frost. The focal point of the cake was the lush, fantasy, sugar flower sash running from top to bottom..." Have you ever seen such a perfect table? ELM Events, Rentals Unlimited and Flower Kiosk came up with a look beyond my wildest dreams.
Narnia inspired wedding photographs in the ice castle at Loon Mountain

Hugest thanks go to all of the fabulous people who worked on this project! Some with very very short notice indeed (the castle is usually only open through the end of February so we didn't have a lot of time to plan!). Although just checking the site it looks like the current close date is March 16th for the NH location so you still have a couple of days to go visit!!! You really don't want to miss it!

ELM Events - Mallory & Erin jumped on my "wouldn't it be fun to do a shoot in an ice castle with some tables and flowers and stuff?" email and came up with the most beautiful design which they executed perfectly. Mallory even picked up all sorts of rental furniture and linens and drove a precariously loaded pick-up truck up to NH!

Flower Kiosk - I'd worked with Betsy on a beautiful wedding where she brought in giant birch branches to "bring the outside inside" and hide the tent poles and she totally got our vision for this shoot and brought it to life with the most beautiful (and fragrant) bouquets and snowballs of flowers and centerpieces

Flair Boston - Stacey not only loaned us all sorts of dresses and accessories but she even came all the way up to style our models late into the night (not to mention being official coat-holder). Stacey also sourced all of the stunning jewelry (E.B Horn) and the furs.

Wild Orchid Baking Company - Erin came up with a masterpiece of a wedding cake that literally shone - it was the softest silver with rock sugar "ice" and "snow" and the most delicate flowers I've ever seen.

Joya Beauty, & Hair That Moves - Joanne & Lena went all out, pinning shots of hair and make up looks to our pinterest boards, buying new make up materials and taking two fabulous ladies and making them look even more beautiful. They then came with us to the ice castle for touch ups!

à deux: bespoke wedding paper - Kelli took our Narnia theme and worked it into the escort cards, the favors and other luxurious paper products. Even the envelope box for the invitation was addressed to Aslan the lion AND everything was ready a day early!

Rentals Unlimited - Mallory and Erin were given access to the most stunning tables, chairs, linens, china, glasses, silverware, chargers and more which made our tablescape look amazing in the ice castle.

Last but not least, you can't have a wedding-themed photoshoot without someone getting married so I was delighted to hear from two of my previous brides when I put out a plea for models on my facebook page. Jessica even convinced her husband Scott to come up with her for the day so they became my bride and groom (again!) and Laura took the role of bridesmaid. I can't tell you how COLD it was on the night that we shot, maybe 8 degrees, and they were all troopers - shivering away in their thin dresses/suits and looking like they were warm and cozy! I had 4 layers of thermals and my ski suit on and was still cold so I don't know how they did it!

The always fabulous Audrey helped out massively at this shoot, I'm surprised her arm didn't fall off from holding lights for close to two hours! Not to mention staying late to help with the load0out before an early morning flight to TX!

Finally a huge thank you to the Ice Castle Team. Jackie, Ryan and Cory were super helpful over email in the run up to this shoot. The biggest thanks to Andy who stayed late into the night once the ice castle had closed to the public, helped us with location, even brought in sleds to help us load all of our equipment in and out.

Come back next week to see some of my images that just won awards from the International Society of Portrait & Wedding Photographers! *blush* Have a great weekend!

Best food in Maine :: the LHP restaurant awards

Friday, March 7, 2014

It's restaurant week in Maine! So it seems like a fitting time to share some of my favorite places to eat and drink in Maine.

First of all a bunch of important disclaimers!

1. This most definitely isn't the definitive guide to food in this wonderful state - there are still tons of places we have left to explore/restaurants we need to make reservations at!
2. My only qualifications for choosing these restaurants is that I'm local and really enjoy eating and drinking.
3. If I'm out for dinner then I want to eat my food while it's hot and I also don't want to annoy the chef or fellow diners by setting up/lighting my dinner plate/pulling out my big camera. So all of the food pictures are quick cell phone snaps :) Don't judge! My wedding photography skills don't seem to extend to food photography when I'm hungry ;)
4. Sometimes I'm so into the food that I forget to snap a picture until I'm half way through eating. Deal with it :)

Where to start? Hmm, how about our favorite places to eat close to home. We have a house in Casco, ME it's literally minutes from the amazing Maine wedding venue Migis Lodge on the edge of Lake Sebago. I'll be photographing a number of weddings there later this year so hopefully this information will also prove useful to my Migis Lodge wedding clients!

Best Restaurants in Windham, Raymond, Casco, Naples and Bridgton, Maine
Our home is off of the Roosevelt Trail more usually known as US Route 302 on the quiet and charming Thomas Pond. Route 302 runs from Portland, Maine all the way up to Montpelier, Vermont. In Windham you have the usual chain restaurants but I prefer to visit locally-owned places - I'll be honest, Windham isn't really a hot bed of foodie choices but there are some solid choices :)

Best BBQ in Windham, ME - Bucks Naked BBQ
Bucks Naked BBQ - 4 Turning Leaf Dr, Windham, Maine, 04062 - 207 893 0600
Cozy bar and restaurant, great cocktails, excellent ribs and pulled pork. I usually get the grilled Korean short ribs which are the perfect heat (once you add the jalapeños) when wrapped up in a fresh lettuce leaf. There are also restaurants in Freeport (near the outlets) and downtown Portland

Best Cinema Pub in Windham, ME - Smitty's Cinema
Smitty's Cinema - 795 Roosevelt Trail, Windham, Maine 04062 - 207 892 7000
One of our favorite things to do on a lazy winter afternoon is to head over to Smitty's to catch a movie. It's a little different than the usual movie experience as you sit in a sort of stadium style theatre on a big comfy leather chair (on wheels) and enjoy snacks, dinner, dessert and/or a cocktail or beer. Chicken wings are good :) 

Best Ice Cream in North Windham, ME - The Dug Out
The Ice Cream Dugout - Rt 302, North Windham
Skip Dairy Queen and drive a little further along Rt 302 to get to the Ice Cream Dugout. Baseball themed flavors and sizes abound and the ice cream tastes amazing. Pick up a loyalty card and you'll soon get a free ice cream.

Leaving Windham and following Rt 302 you'll enter the little town of Raymond and it would be remiss of me not to mention The Good Life Market. Keep going and you'll hit Casco, Naples then Bridgton.

Best Pub for lobster roll and a local beer in Naples, Maine - The Galley
The Galley- 327 Roosevelt Trail, Naples, Maine 04055 - 207 693 1002
This unassuming building in the back of a parking lot near a gas station is amazing. The lemon pepper lobster roll is killer. Man vs. food also declared it one of the best lobster rolls in the area.  The mussels are plump and swimming in the perfect wine/garlic/butter sauce along with hunks of crusty grilled bread to mop up the juice. Parmesan fish bites are a tasty little snack if you're just having a pint of locally brewed beer at the bar. Speaking of beer they have an amazing option of local beers on draft and they change weekly - if Baxters is on the list then try a pint with the mussels. If you're a hot sauce nut then check out the insanely hot shrimp and wings challenge - my brother only managed 3 and a half shrimp before admitting defeat.  Closed on Mondays, there's trivia on Tuesdays and Karaoke on Fridays.

Also worth mentioning - Bray's Brew Pub in Naples, ME. Great option if you want a beer that's been brewed on site. The food is good and there's a great little beer garden in the back. Try one of the beer samplers - pick 6 different options and get a cute little wooden tray with little beer glasses.

Best Provisions Store in Raymond, ME - The Good Life Market
The Good Life Market - 1297 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, Maine - 207 655 1196
Part deli, part coffee shop, part liquor store, part specialty market - I love this place. Everything from wine and beer to international foods, prepared foods (make sure to get the brocolli salad, the wild rice and chicken salad and if they ever have quiche you don't want to miss it). Soups are always piping hot and tasty. The perfect spot to pick up picnic supplies, a sandwich for the drive home, a hostess gift if you've been invited to dinner! You can eat in, there's a little dining room in back or picnic tables outside in the summer or take out. They also have a really great selection of Gluten Free products in the freezer.  Call ahead to order your sandwiches in the summer as it can be crazy busy - the breakfast sandwiches are delicious with made-to-order egg and veggies (and sausage or bacon) and unless you're ravenous they easily feed two people. In the summer we'll pick up sandwiches and they take them out on the lake for a picnic - I love the Blue Moon Chicken Salad with walnuts and cranberries, Paul usually gets the Lob-Star with a generous helping of lobster meat, pine nuts and mozzarella (sounds weird but really awesome).

Best Ice Cream in Raymond, ME - The Mosquito
The Mosquito - 1333 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, Maine 04071 - 207 655 2899
Huge portions (the tadpole is the smallest size and it's still huge), a ton of great flavors and milkshakes and frappes.

Best Outdoor Maine Wedding Venue - Migis Lodge on Lake Sebago, South Casco, ME
Best Elegant Camp Vacation Resort - Migis Lodge on Lake Sebago
Migis Lodge - Roosevelt Trail, South Casco, Maine 04077 - 207 655 4524
Yes, I'm giving two awards to Migis Lodge. It's seriously one of the most stunning locations in Maine to get married. You can plan your wedding in May, the first weekends in June and then September through to the first weekend in November. You get exclusive use of the property on your wedding day and your guests can stay in the 35 cottages and 6 lodge rooms. You'll arrive in an antique boat and can exchange vows under the pines overlooking Lake Sebago. I'm so excited to photograph two weddings there later this year and another in 2015! Here's a beautiful Migis Lodge Wedding for you to check out.

If you're not planning a wedding and you're just looking for an amazing vacation in Maine then Migis is such a great option. It's kind of like super elegant camping - you have a private cottage with your own porch, full maid service, fresh flowers, ice and firewood delivered daily and the food - amazing! Lakeside cookouts, picnics on the private island, pancake breakfast down by the lake and lakeside lobster bakes. Jackets are required for dinner. You don't have to stay to enjoy dinner - just make an advance reservation if you're in the area!

Best Winery in Casco, Maine - Blacksmiths Winery
Blacksmiths Winery - Rt 302 Casco, Maine (opposite the turning for Migis Lodge) - 207 655 3292
Stop by this local winery to pick up cute wine theme gifts and to try local Maine wine, crisp apple hard cider and tasty sodas. Hang out at the tasting bar or even sit out on the porch to enjoy your wine.

Best Irish Pub in Naples, Maine - The Black Bear
The Black Bear Cafe - 215 Roosevelt Trail, Naples, Maine 04055  - 207 693 4770
This is our "local" I guess and it's awesome! Oh those breadsticks! You'll walk in and be warmly greeted by John or Susan. The chef is SUPER talented and cooks food that would be at home in any great restaurant in Portland or Boston but hoorah it's in Naples, ME and just a few miles from home. A mug of tall salted/herbed breadsticks warm from the oven will be there for you to munch on while you choose what to eat. Our favorites include the twin filets, fish and chips (ask for malt vinegar for your chips), the margarita pizza with fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil and pretty much everything else on the menu. There's usually live music on a Friday and Saturday and it can get really busy so go early or call ahead. In the summer you can sit outside (bring your bug spray if you'll be out late).

Best Frozen Custard in the World - Raymond's Frozen Custard
Raymond's Frozen Custard - Roosevelt, Casco, ME 04015 - 207 655 1116
The egg yolks are key to the ridiculously creamy and rich ice cream. This little farm stand on the side of road has a little white board which is updated each day with the freshly churned flavors made on site.  Vanilla and Black Raspberry are standards and then there are usually 4-6 additional flavors which change every few days. Rum raison, strawberry cheesecake and mint choc chip were all historic flavors. Bring a cooler and some ice and buy a few pints to take home!

If you continue on further along Rt 302 you'll eventually arrive in Bridgton.

Best Pub in a gas station - Standard Gastropub
Standard Gastropub - 233 Main Street, Bridgton, Maine 04009 - 207 647 4100
No it's not a restaurant in an old converted gas station it's actually a working gas station with great beers and the most delicious sandwiches. You walk in and check out the huge selection of craft beers (don't try to open the fridges, they're locked!), make your selection and then order at the bar.  The food menu features just a few items and the pulled pork with slaw sandwich is to die for. Perfectly toasted bread pilled high with a generous helping of tasty fall-apart pork.

Best Drive In Movie Theatre - Bridgton Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre
Bridgton Twin Drive In Movie Theatre - 383 Portland Rd, Bridgton, Maine - 207 647 8666
If you want a great drive-in movie theatre experience pack your lawn chairs and radio or plan to stay in the car/truck and head to the twin drive-in movie theatre in Bridgton. There's a nifty little snack shack there (pretty great french fries and candy selection), I also like to stop by The Good Life Market and stock up on some yummy snacks and then have a little movie picnic.

Best Old Fashioned Movie Theatre with a bar - The Magic Lantern
The Magic Lantern - 9 Depot Street, Bridgton, Maine 04009 - 207 647 9326
Yay for the on-site bar and restaurant. Get dinner before a movie and then order an extra round of drinks and the friendly bartenders will carry them through to the theater for you. In the summer there's sometimes a farmers market in the parking lot.

If we're not hanging out near home then we'll sometimes head into Portland which is maybe 25 miles from us. We recently came across the awesome Homerunners service. Better than a taxi company, you can call Homerunners to come pick you up and they'll drive you home in your own car! Really great if you decide to do a 9 course tasting menu paired with wine...

Best Restaurants in Portland and surrounding areas

Best Fine Dining Restaurant with Tasting Menu to Die For - David's Opus Ten
Opus Ten - 22 Monument Square, Portland, Maine 04101 - 207 773 4340
Paul's parents gave us an envelope stuffed with cash for Christmas with one proviso - we had to go out and spend it on a really great dinner. It was a cold Friday night in January when I logged onto Open Table to see what was available. We totally lucked out with an early reservation at the chef's counter table no less at David's Opus Ten in Portland, Maine. I was a little bemused by the "restaurant within a restaurant" concept but once we walked through the main David's restaurant to find this little haven of fine dining I was in love. I won't bore you with a course by course description suffice to say that each course was better than the last. We did the reserve wine pairings and they were matched beautifully with each dish. Standouts include the butter-poached lobster, the "chicken and waffles" which was actually quail, foie gras butter and a tiny little waffles, the gnocchi, pear and mint sorbet - heck, there wasn't a bad course.
One of my favorite things about the experience was that although the food and the service were absolutely exceptional, the atmosphere was fun and relaxed. Chef Bo even encouraged us to pick up the quail and eat off the bone. Fine dining without any stuffiness. It was so good we were there again the next week and I'm already planning my next visit...

Best French Fries in Portland, Maine - Duckfat
Duckfat - 43 Middle Street, Portland, Maine - 207 774 8080
For some reason as soon as they arrive in Portland,  EVERYONE seems to head to Duckfat to try the French fries. There's a good reason for that, they're pretty awesome. Portions are generous and you can easily share. Poutine is pretty great with delicious duckfat gravy. If you don't feel like a local beer or wine then the milkshakes are luscious but filling so have one as dessert or maybe take it to go. It can be absolutely packed with a wait line on the street outside in the summer so try to go early or in between lunch and dinner. You're just a few steps away from Shipyard Brewery if you feel like a brew tour afterwards.
Honorable Mention: Chips with curry sauce at Ri Ra

Best Irish Pub in Portland, Maine - Bull Feeney's
Bull Feeney's - 375 Fore Street, Portland, Maine - 207 773 7210
Paul is somewhat of a Guiness afficianado and he informs me that the pour is pretty great here. It's a great cozy pub with excellent food - try the mussels!
Honorable Mention: Ri Ra - yes it's a chain but the bartenders are super friendly, you can get Tato crisps and I highly recommend an order of sausage or chips and curry sauce.

Best Small Plates in Portland, Maine - Central Provisions
Central Provisions  - 414 Fore Street, Portland, Maine - 207 805 1085
This interesting space just opened in the Old Port and it's two floors of intriguing small plates and tapas. It's a little pricey but really worth it (in my opinion!). The restaurant definitely has a hipster-ish kind of vibe but the wait staff and cooks are all super friendly. I enjoyed the "bread and butter" which had some kind of cold whipped egg yolk sitting on sit of heavily seasoned butter to smear on crusty bread. The foie gras dish was divine with a crunchy millet and sweet rose hip glaze. I'll be heading back to try the sucking pig and crispy chicken next.

Best place for a glass of wine and and plate of cheese - Vignola
Vignola Cinque Terre - 10 Dana Street, Portland, ME 04101 - 207 772 1330
They have a selection of maybe 20+ cheese with all sorts of little accoutrements like pickled walnuts, mostardes and honeycomb and will happily bring you more crostini to go with your cheese. Nothing better than sitting at the bar with a good glass of wine and some perfectly ripe cheese. There's also a full menu and brunch options at the weekend.

Best Bakery in Portland, Maine - Standard Baking Company
Standard Baking Company - 75 Commercial Street, Portland, ME 04101 - 207 773 2122
Expect a line out the door in tourist season! Imagine every type of delicious little pastry, croissant, brownie you've ever had the pleasure of eating - they're here. Surrounded by foccachia, baguettes and crisp and airy bread rolls. Pick up some bread and dessert and then head over to Browne Trading Co for cheese and wine and you have the makings for the most fabulous picnic.
Also check out: Two fat cats and The Big Sky Baking company

Best Fish Tacos and Mexican food - El Rayo Taqueria
El Rayo Taqueria - 101 York STreet, Portland, Maine 04101 - 207 780 8226
Each time we eat here I look at everything on the menu and then inevitably get the fish tacos. So good. The fish is perfectly cooked with a little dry run with just the right amount of heat. Topped with crunchy cabbage and a spicy cream it's a little bite of heaven. It's super casual and relaxed and you can sit, grab a beer and enjoy a taco or burrito. Haven't tried it yet but sister restaurant El Rayo Cantina is next door and open for dinner.

Best Sushi in Portland, Maine - Miyake (actually Best Sushi in Maine!) 
Miyake - 468 Fore Street, Portland, Maine - 207 871 9170
Words don't do this restaurant justice. Tucked away on Fore Street this calm and elegant restaurant serves some of the very best sushi and Japanese food on the whole of the East coast.  The hamayachi appetizer has a bed of hot sushi rice nestled in a shell and topped with generous chunks of lobster, crab, scallop and broiled spicy mayo. So good. The super toro roll is another of my favorites. Skip dessert and order a piece of foie gras nigiri - it'll melt in your mouth and tempt you to order another immediately!

Best Ramen Noodles in Portland, Maine - Pai Men Miyake
Pai Men Miyake - 188 State Street, Portland, Maine - 207 541 9204
Sister restaurant to Miyaki, this noodle bar in the Arts District is a cool little hangout. Make sure to get a refreshing Yuzu lemonade cocktail in the warmer months. There are really great lunch specials and it's an awesome late-night hangout. Highlights include the pork buns, hamayaki, sushi rolls but the real standout is the ramen. Paitan with chicken and pork broth is my favorite.

Best Oyster Restaurant in Portland, ME - Eventide
Eventide Oyster Co. - 86 Middle Street, Portland, Maine - 207 774 8538
This light and airy space is a must-stop in place if you want a plump fresh oyster that tastes perfectly like the ocean. There's a little patio outside or a great bar to sit at. You'll get a little paper menu with the current selection of oysters and you can choose all sorts of amazing accoutrements - my favorites's the pickled red onion ice. The crudo is amazing and you would be very foolish not to get at least one of lobster roll. Not your typical lobster roll, they're on little buns reminiscent of Chinese pork buns with lightly dressed lobster and drizzled with a nutty brown butter. Get two or three if you're hungry!

Best Fish, Cheese & Wine Market in Portland, Maine - Brown's Trading Company
Browne's Trading Company, Merrill's Wharf, 260 Commercial Street, Portland, Maine - 207 766 2402
An amazing selection of wines and fish make this a must-stop by store. Bring your cooler and some ice and stock up. All sorts of "caught this morning!" fish along with the best local smoked salmon (smoked on site) and caviar at every price point. Good cheese too!

Best Vietnamese Restaurant - Phoever Maine (just outside Portland in Westbrook)
Phoever Maine - 100 Larrabee Rd, Westbrook, Maine, 04092 - 207 887 9093
Just a few miles outside of Portland in Westbrook, Maine is the hidden gem Phoever Maine.
Mmmm Pho! Just off of exit 47 on I-95 this small little restaurant is fantastically clean, the owners are super friendly and the Pho is just perfect. Huge bowls of fragrant steaming hot broth with generous helpings of meat and noodles with a side of lime, basil, and hot sauces to adjust to your taste. Delicious and really affordable at less than $9 for a great big bowl of tasty soup. I highly recommend #4 which has both brisket and rare roast beef. Paul isn't a big spice/hot food fan so he usually sticks to Pad Thai or a rice bowl.

Best Farmers Market in Portland, ME - Portland Maine Farmers Market
Saturday: Deering Oaks Park & Wednesday: Monument Square
If I'm not photographing a wedding one of my very favorite things to do on a Saturday morning is to head to Deering Oaks Park and check out the farmers market. You can buy a bunch of tokens to make payment easier if you've forgotten a bunch of dollar bills. I love to wander through and pick up all sorts of fabulous local produce and then figure out what to make with it. If I'm photographing a wedding then I'll head to Monument Square on a Wednesday morning to check out the market. Not just vegetable and fruit - herbs, flowers, local meat and more!

Last October we were about to hop on a plane and go somewhere warm for vacation when Paul suggested we stay in Maine and go to all of the places we don't usually go - a "staycation" if you will. Here are some of the highlights:

Best Restaurants in Camden, Rockport & Rockland Maine

Best Fine Dining/Tasting Menu in Camden, Maine - Natalies
Natalie's at the Camden Harbor Inn - 83 Bayview Street, Camden, Maine 04843 - 27 236 7008
I'll be completely honest and say that I chose the Camden Harbor Inn as it was somewhat close to Primo Restaurant (where I've been wanting to go forever) not to mention a Relais & Chateaux property. We had a "fine dining" evening planned for later in the week at the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport and Paul has a finite amount of patience for fine dining so we hadn't planned to eat at Natalies. We stopped into the (beautiful) bar for a drink one evening planning to go check out Camden and find a casual place for dinner. As we enjoyed our drinks we were brought a complimentary amuse bouche and that one little mouthful was enough to make Paul say "Well, I guess we could eat here if you want to..." BEST DECISION EVER.

We did the tasting menu paired with wines and it was definitely in my top 5 dinners ever. Our waitress was lovely - warm and friendly and the sommelier was knowledgeable yet approachable and gave us just enough information about our wine without intruding on dinner. The food was historic and not at all stuffy - one course was some kind of picnic that we unpacked ourselves to find a local beer with some cheese. We also had the BEST BREAD I'VE EVER EATEN and I don't make that statement lightly. The crisp warm exterior gave way to a light fluffy interior and we were offered a choice of 9 flavored salts from The Salt Cellar to accompany it. We've since been to the store and stocked up on white truffle salt and porcini salt. I plan on this being an annual trip/stay/dinner. 

Best casual seafood restaurant - The Waterfront Restaurant
The Waterfront Restaurant - 40 Bayview Street, Camden, ME, 04843
After checking into the Camden Harbor Inn (you MUST stay there if you visit Camden!) we wanted to grab a quick lunch, we walked down to The Waterfront mainly because it was one of the few places in town with a TV and the Red Sox were playing. It appeared to be a fairly standard tourist type restaurant but the food blew us away. Maybe we lucked out and it was a delivery day but the mussels were the best we have EVER eaten - plump, fresh, drowning in buttery garlicky juice. My lobster stew was beyond tender, it tasted like they'd poached the lobster meat in butter, it was spoon tender. Don't miss out on this hidden gem for a casual yet super tasty lunch.

Best farm to table restaurant in Rockland, ME - Primo
Primo - 2 South Main Street, Rockland, ME, 04841 - 207 596 0770
Great restaurant with a focus on local produce. Crazy popular so make sure you make reservations. There are also great taxi services in the area to bring you home afterwards (not to mention the parking lot is crammed full).

Best Restaurants in Bangor, Maine

Best Restaurant - The Fiddlehead Restaurant
We only stayed for one night in Bangor so only one restaurant for you but heck, this was a good one. You'll definitely need a reservation so call ahead. Arrive a little early so you can sit at the bar and try one of the cocktails. Get a huckleberry finn cocktail and thank me later - that perfect mix of sweet and bitter at the same time. Everything we ate was delicious, I was feeling kind of foodie'd out after a number of big dinners so went with the light and delicate lobster wonton in lobster broth and it was just what I needed! 

Best restaurants in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit and Wells, Maine

Best Fine Dining/Tasting Menu - The White Barn Inn, Kennebunkport, ME
The settings is absolutely amazing -  truly romantic. The food was good, the atmosphere is definitely more formal than my other recommendations. Jackets are required and we actually saw someone asked to put to put their jacket back on when they took it off ;) I adored staying at the Inn - especially afternoon tea which is available each afternoon in the lounge with the most adorable English tea sandwiches. 

Best American Restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine - David's Kennebunkport
Davids KPT - The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, 21 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport, ME 04046 - 877 266 1304
We wandered around Kennebunkport looking for somewhere to eat and stumbled across David's KPT. The whole restaurant is newly refurbished and a great spot for lunch or dinner. Great bar, outside patio and romantic dining room. Tuna tartare was fresh and flavorful and lobster pasta had huge chunks of tender lobster meat.

Best Restaurant in Cape Porpoise - Pier 77 and The Ramp 
Pier 77 - 77 Pier Road Cape Porpoise Harbor, Kennebunkport, Maine 04014 - 207 967 8500
I photographed a beautiful wedding here a couple of years ago. Not only was I wowed by the views out over the ocean but I thoroughly enjoyed the food. Pier 77 is a more elegant dining room and The Ramp has more of a casual bar feel but both are warm and welcoming. 
Best Irish Pub in Kennebunk, Maine - Ryan's
Ryan's Irish Pub - 17 Western Avenue, Kennebunk, MA - 207 967 3564
Yup - you may have noticed a theme here. Anytime we end up in a new place Paul makes a beeline for the local Irish pub. He managed to eat both "sausages and mash" and also a traditional Irish boiled dinner during our stay and raved about them. He actually said that if he had the chance he's probably go to Ryan's over the White Barn Inn but maybe that was the Guiness talking.

Best Slow Food/Farm to Table Restaurant in Wells, ME - Joshua's Restaurant
Joshua's Restaurant - 1637 Post Road, Rt 1, Wells, Maine - 207 646 3355
Full disclosure: I photographed Chef Joshua's wedding last year but regardless, you should totally check out this restaurant if you want to eat ridiculously fresh local food. Joshua sources many of his ingredients from his own farm and bakes all of the bread daily. The restaurant was originally built as a private home in 1774 and has been renovated since including the addition of a cozy bar.

Not a restaurant but check out Fleurant at 173 Port Rd for lush flowers, plants, luxe candles, bath products and artisan jewelry.

Best Restaurants in Belfast, Maine

Best Vegetarian Restaurant in Belfast, Maine - Chase's Daily
Chase's Daily - 96 Main Street, Belfast, Maine 04915 - 207 338 0555
Yelp alerted me to this local vegetarian restaurant and we weren't disappointed. Be prepared to wait, we were there on a cold fall Wednesday and it was crazy busy. If you're in a huge rush head to the back of the store to pick up produce and some ready to go backed goods. I bought a couple of quiches and they were delightful.

Best local pub in Belfast, Maine - Darby's
Darby's Restaurant & Pub - 155 High Street, Belfast, Maine 04915 - 207 338 2339
Good standard pub fare. Excellent fish and chips. The zucchini slider is excellent. Welcoming staff.

If you're in Belfast check out the following interesting little stores:
Fiddlehead Artisan Supply - all sorts of fabrics, ribbons, sewing notions, felts and quilting supplies
Vinolio - artisan olive ils and vinegars and flavored salts
The Good Table - a tardis-style kitchen shop with every gadget you could possibly want along with kitchen supplies and more.

Best restaurants in Bar Harbor, Maine

Best Restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine - Havana
Havana - 318 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 - 207 288 2822
Sadly for you, one of the very best things about our dinner can't be experienced again. That's because it was Halloween when we went for dinner and our waiter spent the whole evening in character as a slightly sinister Dracula. Awesome!!! Creepy characters aside, the food was epic! Foie gras topped filet and seafood risotto were perfectly paired with a crisp bottle of Veuve Clicquot for our anniversary dinner. President Obama and first lady Michele even had date night there! 

Best Italian Restaurant in Bar Harbor - Guiness & Porcelli's
Guiness & Porcelli's - 191 Main Street, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609 - 207 288 0030
It was the final game of the world series and we didn't want to miss it so we decided to stay in our hotel and get take out. They do half portions of pasta so I totally over-ordered. Beet salad was lovely. Buccatini with arugula, pecorino and a fried egg was perfectly garlicky and tasty. Parpadelle with ragu had tons of meat in the sauce and seafood risotto was a standout. Quality cell phone picture of our hotel picnic:

And I think that's it for now!

I plan on updating this post as we get to more fabulous restaurants in Maine. Up there on my list of places to try out (based on great reviews by friends):
Fore Street, Portland, ME - I can't believe we haven't actually eaten here yet, it's known as one of the very best restaurants in Portland, we've just never managed to get a reservation and Paul won't wait in line ;)
Hugos, Portland, ME
Boda, Portland, ME
Shepherd's Pie, Rockland, ME
Paper 40, Camden, ME

Further Reading:
Check out The Maine Mag's 50 Best Restaurants in Maine
and 80 best places to eat in Maine 

Portland, Maine Engagement Pictures :: Amy + John

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Just over a week ago I met up with Amy and John in Portland, Maine. We thought we'd start with a little beer at a new brewery/distillary pub in Portland, Maine - Infiniti

It was a steamy hot day in Ithaca, NY when John was moving out of his upstairs apartment and Amy was moving in to her downstairs apartment. One of the worst possible days to be carrying a ton of heavy boxes. They both had a lot of stuff and kept passing one another on the stairs. John proposed an ice cold beer in an air conditioned bar and Amy accepted.

That cold beer led to a relationship and eventually Amy & John moved back to New England. Spending a hour with these two was all kind of fun. John was a little skeptical of the whole engagement pictures thing but he admitted it wasn't too painful. And I don't think Amy stopped laughing all afternoon :) 

Amy and John live in Jamaica Plain. John is a keen sailor and one evening he convinced Amy to go out on the pond for a sail. This time John wasn't proposing a cold beer but marriage!

Winter engagement pictures can be chilly but after a week of 20 degree weather we lucked out with a balmy 35 degree day. And Amy & John had the promise of Dim Sum with friends to keep them warm during the shoot.  

Amy and John will be getting married at Migis Lodge in South Casco, Maine in May and I can't wait to be their wedding photographer! Migis Lodge is one of the most beautiful outdoor wedding venues in Maine. A rustic yet elegant camp on the shores of Lake Sebago AND it's less than 2 miles from our home in Maine. Engagement pictures of a couple getting married at Migis Lodge

Probably the only thing that I'm sad about is that Taco the dog won't be joining us at the wedding. It seems Amy & John's dog has somewhat of a lifeguard complex and if anyone's swimming he panics and tries to rescue them.
Amy & John - thank you for braving the cold weather and for being so fun to hang out with! I can't wait for your Migis Lodge Wedding in May!

In other news it's Restaurant Week in Maine this week - tune back in tomorrow to hear all about my favorite local restaurants and things to do if you're vacationing or getting married at Migis!