Anniversary Shoot :: Tom + Melissa of Long Haul Films

Oh where to start on this one? If you're in a rush you can just skip to the pictures of a couple called Tom & Melissa who've been married for about 8 years. And if you're not in a rush get your coffee, your diet coke or your wine and make yourself comfy...

Let me give you the background story. For a loooooong time I've been thinking that it would be nice to add some kind of video to my website/blog. Choosing the person who's responsible for documenting your wedding day memories is such a huge decision and I thought it might be nice to help potential couples get a sense of what it's like to have me as your wedding photographer.

Here was the issue...lot's of photographers have a sort of "me in action" video. They get a cute couple and take them out for a sort of weird staged "this is how I work" video. The photographer wears a cute little outfit and spends the video being all "OMG!! That's gorgeous! You two rock!!! The light is amazing! Love it!" The thought of making this kind of video was freaking me out. Except for the family pictures and couples portraits I kind of prefer to work in a more understated way. Not to mention I am 197845% more comfortable BEHIND the camera and not in front.

Back in October of last year, I met Melissa & Tom of Long Haul Films. I was photographing Eunis & Jeff's wedding at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, MA and they were the wedding videographers/filmmakers (I never know the official term - either way they were in charge of moving pictures and I was doing the still pictures :)

Those of you who read the blog regularly will know that I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with videography at weddings. Done well, it's one of the best investments you can make. Done poorly, it can not only ruin your day but also your wedding pictures. After 5 years of photographing weddings, there have literally only ever been 2 videographers I can happily recommend. After seeing Tom & Melissa in action I was impressed, they didn't get in my way, I tried very hard to stay out of their way, they didn't turn the whole wedding into a movie shoot and they were pretty easy going. Of course the final test as to whether I would ever recommend them would be when I saw the actual video. Very often wedding videos are simply a moving version of the photographs, you'll see everyone standing for the formal pictures and the video camera will be moving around them. Whatever. The video from Long Haul Films blew me away - I felt like it truly complimented the photos - it caught the specific moments where movement and audio makes a really big difference. I guess I felt like Tom & Melissa just "got it".

On further investigation I found out that not only did they make great wedding videos, they were actual filmmakers - with real documentaries and whatnot! They were married themselves and write an awesome marriage blog which you should totally bookmark. It all started to make sense. With that kind of background of course the wedding videos would be amazing. And then I found out that they also shot commercial film.

So we got to talking and I explained my quandary. It all came together - like you wouldn't believe :) I'll be posting tomorrow morning about the actual film process, my FABULOUS past wedding couples who starred in the film and the awesomeness of Long Haul Films during the project but for today, I thought you might like to get to know Melissa and Tom a little bit better.

Here they are!

Melissa and Tom have been married for 8 years now and by their own admission they don't have a lot of great pictures of them together. So after they worked on my video project I was delighted to have the opportunity to spend the day with them recording a sort of "Day in the Life of the Dowlers" - you know, hanging out kissing next to graffitied walls ;) that's how they roll:

This picture was taken in the South Street Diner where we stopped for an awesome lunch with a mid-afternoon beer. The South Street Diner is home away from home for Tom and Melissa and they even made a documentary film about the place. And...get this...the documentary is an official selection for IFF, the Boston Film Festival. You can read more **here** including the link to get tickets for the screenings

I asked Tom and Melissa to tell me the story about how they met. As they talked about how Tom's friend Rik had dragged him along to the birthday party of Melissa's friend Lizzie they smiled about how it had been pretty instantaneous, introductions were made, the rest of the evening passed in a never ending conversation filled with "Me too!" exclamations and there may have even been a first kiss:

And this one was on the walk home in front of their favorite cake store:

Just hanging out with Angell and his chicken toy:

Tom not only plays the ukelele but also the piano. Melissa has secret rock start ambitions. It's a match made in heaven:

As I mentioned, Tom & Melissa write a blog on marriage. It's remarkably honest and open and funny and sad and everything in between. I had their blog in mind when I proposed this picture. Don't worry, I didn't make them get nekkid. Not that kind of blog people.

I was loving the amazing wood floor of their home and Tom and Melissa were totally cool with lying on it for these pictures:

Anytime I'm taking pictures I'm always really trying to capture who the couple really are. Yes, I'll provide some helpful hints on clothes to avoid in terms of color or patterns that don't photograph well but I always say "Well, they're your pictures so just be how you are normally. " It would have been all too easy/obvious to stick Tom into pants and a shirt to match Melissa's adorable dress and boots but this how they are. And I like it

It's nice to be able to be in your own little "couple bubble" even in the bustle and craziness of Chinatown:

Tom and Melissa like to go for bike rides together. Probably not usually in alleyways but we didn't have time to locate some countryside so let's just go with it:

Tom confessed that the very first time he met Melissa at that birthday party he couldn't help but check out her legs. I see why:

There's that little bubble again:

Melissa recently wrote about the importance of "play" on their awesome blog all about marriage, here are Tom and Melissa "playing". Also note how Tom turns to make sure Melissa is OK and hasn't done a face plant. Ahhh

After an epic day of fabulous company, we walked to the Boston Waterfront, had an excellent dinner at Legal Test Kitchen and finished with a last nighttime picture.

Make sure you come back tomorrow morning around 10amish for more about Long Haul Films including some of their awesome wedding videos and then at 1pm it's going to be video week on the blog. You don't want to miss....make sure you "like" my facebook page if you want to be notified when they're posted!

And if you've been married for a while and you'd like your own "day in the life" photoshoot then get in touch! Email me at


  1. Leah, I'm having trouble deciding what was better... how much fun we had on the day of the shoot or the joy of seeing the final photos! You made it easy, relaxed and enjoyable for us to be in front of the camera instead of behind it. And the photos themselves are so beautiful and full of laughter and love. We might have to make a Leah Haydock anniversary shoot a regular tradition!

  2. You guys!!!! You look amazing!!! So happy for you =)

  3. @Melissa - so happy you like them :) I'm allover an annual shoot. What better gift to yourselves? A fun day out and pictures to remember how you felt :)

  4. Leah! I just want to that diner with Marie and Kevin not long ago! Cute shoot:)