Amanda & Ryan | Johnstown-Ligonier Wedding

Amy and Ryan held their beautiful wedding ceremony at St. Mary Antiochan Orthodox Christian Church in Johnstown, followed by a reception at the charming Ligonier Country Inn.  We started the day at Amanda’s parents’ home for some getting ready photos.

Love it when grandmas and dads see the bride for the first time in her dress.  I always find myself thinking about what it will be like when my daughter puts on her wedding dress.  I’m pretty sure I will be a blubbering mess.

Great shot by Jenny, who incidentally is one of my former brides!  Jenny has a passion for photography, and when together we could talk for hours about aperture, shutter speed, lenses–stuff that would probably make other people yawn. :-)  It’s so cool that a client of mine has now become a friend and a second shooter!

Just a short walk away from the reception venue was the historic Compass Inn Museum, an authentically restored stagecoach stop from the 1800’s.

With this cool antique finish to the photo, Amanda and Ryan very well could have been a newlywed couple from the 1800’s.

We found this awesome spot where the sun was shining down just perfectly.

I am loving this trend of having both a cookie table and a candy bar at the reception – the perfect sugar buzz break!

I also love the idea of having a memory table; I wish I had thought of that when I was getting married!  The sign on the table read “Family faces are like magic mirrors…looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.” – Gail Lumet Buckley

Ryan’s dad was quite a dancer!

Amanda and Ryan stole away from the reception at sunset for some photos in this gorgeous little meadow.

Amanda and Ryan, I had an amazing time with you both – thanks so much for letting me be a part of your day!



Amanda - Sandy – you rocked the socks off this wedding ! Whoa! The shot with the jewelry on the fern – BAM!!! THAT. JUST. HAPPENED.

Awesome ceremony shots, love the compass inn, love the meadow – wish I coulda been there! I would have had such a great time with you and Jenny!

Sandy - Amanda you are too funny!

Jen Mcken - LOVE LOVE LOVE :-)

Sandy - Thanks! That’s so funny, I was just reading your blog and was about to comment!

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Little Miss K | 6 Months

So nice to see little miss K again for her 6 month portrait!

Little Miss K had a jolly old time making happy squeals as she rolled around on the fuzzy blanket.  I love this stage when babies play with their toes!

Who could resist a smile like that?

Grandma  came to the studio this time–what fun!

I think these next two may be my favorites.

So good to see you again, Little Miss K!

Amanda - I love the toes and the black and white giggly eyelashes :-)

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Amy & James | Greensburg Wedding

There are a dozen reasons I could give you as to why I love being a photographer, dear reader; I enjoy making art from life and my view of the world…I enjoy the challenge of getting “the shot”…I love being able to freeze moments in time so that they can be enjoyed in the years to come…I love being able to make a living doing what I love.   But none of that matters.

I don’t consciously think about it all the time, but I’ve always known the importance of my job as a photographer. I’ve always known, but never more so than with the wedding of Amy and James. Their wedding day is a two-part story; part 1 takes place in the winter, and part 2 takes place in the spring.

Originally set for May 15th, I got a call a few days before Christmas that wedding plans were changed; Amy’s mom had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. There was no way of knowing if she would be able to make it until May, and so, not wanting to take any chances that she might miss this important event, Amy and James held their ceremony on a beautiful, cold afternoon the day after New Year’s, surrounded by a handful of family members at the Level Green Presbyterian Church in Trafford, PA.

Amy has a wedding photo of her mom in this very same pose, which we recreated.

Such a pretty mix of colors in her bouquet.

The flower girl was such a cutie–she gave me a run for my money as she bolted down the aisle like a little rabbit.

After the ceremony there were both smiles and tears.

It was a little bit cold outside, to say the least.  We decided to save the outdoor photos for the warmer weather in May; my faithful second shooter Amy was kind enough to stand out in the freezing cold and hold the door open so that I could have some nice lighting for this portrait.  Thanks, Amy!

Amy’s mom passed away just a few weeks after the wedding.  I felt a deep sense of honor that I was able to capture these memories for their family.



Part 2:  The Reception.  A couple of hours before the reception Amy, Jim, my second shooter Kelly, and I spent some time at the University of Pittsburgh campus in Greensburg.

I’m torn; I can’t decide which version of these next three images I like better, the vintage or the original.  What do you think?  Leave me some blog love and comment below!



Original processing:



Slightly Vintage:

Original Processing:

The reception was held at Ferrante’s Lakeview in Greensburg.

Amy and James put on a slide show for their guests that included photos I took at the ceremony.

A donation was made to the American Cancer Society in honor of Amy’s mom.

What a ham!

I wish I could have heard what she said to make him laugh like this.

I was quite impressed with this guy in front, who managed to get down low and drink from his glass without spilling a drop.

And one last kiss goodnight…

Amy and Jim, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your two special days!

Jenny - oh Sandy. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. The pictures are lovely as always. The ring picture on the dogwood branch is awesome. I personally really like the vintage look. What I prefer in #2 though is that it is not at blurred out. What a great cake cutting expression.

Sandy - Thanks for the comment, Jenny. I appreciate your feedback! :)

Amanda - What bittersweet images – all the joy that her mom was with her on her wedding day even knowing it wouldn’t last forever. Such a responsibility each of us has as the documentors – people who take photos professionally or as a hobby or for fun are the family record keepers. True preservationists. Such beautiful memories you saved for them.

Love the shoe shot and the on location stuff at Pitt Greensburg! Where is that set of curved steps?

Sandy - I agree, Amanda. It is such a great responsibility that we shoulder, and we can’t underestimate the importance of preserving these memories for others. I have a lot of family photos taken by my dad when we were kids, and they are so precious to me. My Aunt Brenda always took a lot photos at family functions, and even came to my house on my wedding day to take those getting ready shots before my photographer arrived. I am so grateful for those pictures, because I could not have remembered those moments so clearly without them.

Btw, the shot on the curved steps is there–you must have missed it! :)

Beth Panza - Maybe its just me as the mother of the groom a/k/a “the ham” … but the black and white photo with Jim & Amy at the end of the pathway is wow, I can’t even find the right words to describe it. It actually took my breath away. I believe it would win any photography contest. All of your work is spectacular. I wasn’t able to make the wedding ceremony and truly felt apart of it when looking at the beautiful pictures you did.

Sandy - Wow, thanks so much for your kind words! :-D

Amy Vasquez - I love all of the photos! What a journey it has been, I’m so glad to have had you to document it in such a beautiful way. The shots at Pitt greensburg were just awesome! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Sandy - Thanks Amy!! It was an absolute pleasure working with you and Jim!

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Jenna & Anthony | Oakland Couple Session

I am on a roll, dear Reader–I keep working with the nicest clients ever!  I met up with Jenna and Anthony in Oakland for their couple session, and it was so great getting to know such friendly, sincere, fun people.

If I had to describe how Jenna and Anthony were together, I would say they were like two magnets who gravitated towards each other in an easy, effortless way, even when I wasn’t taking pictures…or maybe more like two pieces of a puzzle that melded to each other perfectly.  Together they give off this happy vibe that just makes you feel happy to be around them.

Couldn’t resist making my own graffiti here. :D

Did I mention that these two were a lot of fun??

Jenna and Anthony, I had a blast with you–I’m super excited about the wedding in July!  Anthony, thanks for running to get my reflector–twice–you are such a gentleman.  –Hugs,  Sandy

Amanda - This is hard to pick a favorite! I like #3 but also all of the fun jumping ones and the black and white. And the processing on the log cabin shot. I think I like them all…

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Sarah & Rob | Couple Session in the Strip

Sarah and Rob were referred to me by my good friend Amanda Wilson, and boy am I glad she did.  Such a great couple!  We had a good time trekking all through the Strip District, which is always a cool place for photos.  Three things I love about Couple Sessions: 1) They are fun!  2) There’s time to go to all kinds of cool places without the time constraints you have on the wedding day, and 3) They are a great opportunity for us to get to know each other and get more comfortable in front of the camera.

Rob was a little unsure about this whole taking pictures thing; but by the end of the session, I think it’s safe to say he was a pro.  He even admitted that it wasn’t all that bad.  Woohoo!  I’ll take “not bad” over “this sucks” any day!

Love the look they are giving me here.

We stopped at this cool place called Leaf and Bean, which is a great hangout for cigar and coffee connoisseurs alike.  I love the sign above the entrance: “Large walk-in humidor…Leave attitude outside”.  That is awesome.

Muy caliente!

Sarah and Rob will be getting married at the end of the month.  Can’t wait!!

Amanda - I’m jealous ! Why did I have to be booked for their date! They’re so much fun!

Sarah - Such a fun day! And yes, Rob gave me a bit of a hard time about taking pictures, but he survived! And everyone loved the guest book. Can’t wait to see pics from the wedding!!!!!! PS Hi Amanda!

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Sarah & William | Pittsburgh Wedding

Sarah and William were held their ceremony at the beautiful First Presbyterian Church in downtown Pittsburgh, and their reception was held at the equally beautiful Grand Hall at the Priory.  Photog friend Paige Butcher was my second shooter that day.

Sarah’s train was long and absolutely gorgeous.

Sarah carried a bouquet of white lilacs, while her bridesmaids carried purple lilac bouquets.  They smelled soooo good!

William looking handsome just minutes before marrying his true love.

Doesn’t she look radiant?

Favorite from the day.

The Grand Hall at the Priory is a beautiful reception venue, and the service was impeccable.  Plus, they were kind to the photographers, which says a lot in my book.  :0)


I love how even their cake was decorated with lilacs.

wedding cake with lilacs

Sarah and William opted for a unique and personal wedding favor/place card idea; each guest’s place card was put into a wallet-size frame, which would then become part of their favor.  They were also asked to write their special wishes for the bride and groom a special album page, which had a spot to paste a photo and then afterwards would be placed into a keepsake guest album.  I brought my photo booth set-up, so that after the wedding Sarah and Bill could send a copy of the guest’s photo in their thank-you card.  What a cute idea!

Another cute idea they had was to name their table after significant dates in their family history; each table had a framed photo of the corresponding event next to the centerpiece.

Photo booth, Truth Booth, Shot Box–whatever you want to call it, the one thing you can’t call it is boring!

Photo Booth Fun 1
Photo Booth Fun 2
Photo Booth Fun 3
Photo Booth Fun 4
Photo Booth Fun 5
Photo Booth Fun 6
Photo Booth Fun 7

Shot from the balcony at Pittsburgh

Sarah and Bill, it was an absolute pleasure being your photographer.  I wish you all the best!

Frank - Very nice images!

Amanda - Favorites: the detail shot of the train, the super wide shot of all those gorgeous windows in the church and the wide angle with the little bit of sun flare in mellon square park – that one is HAUTE :-D

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Introducing Little Miss A

Oh, how I love newborns in all their tiny, sweet-smelling, fuzzy-haired glory!  Little Miss A’s parents came to the studio recently for their maternity session, and it was a good thing that they came when they did; this little sweet pea arrived 5 weeks early.

yawning baby

I love this one; the flowers were planted by Miss A’s grandmother, and the bench was actually a piece passed down from her great-grandmother.  I really like being able to incorporate elements into the photo that are meaningful to my clients.

Welcome to the world, Little Miss A!

Jenny - Beautiful work as always. So cute!!! Love the expressions in the 3-panel.

Amanda - The hair! I love the bench with the pink flowers in the background :-)

ginny - Sandy, Your work is simply beautiful. That you care so much about the people you photograph is what makes each and every photo so extraordinary!

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Little Man K | Adventures in Child Photography

A few weeks ago my sister asked me to photograph her son for his first birthday/Easter portrait.  It’s hard to believe he is already a year old!  I had great fun chasing after her two children and my daughter that evening as they got their sugar buzz from all the chocolate, lol.  Here Little Man is expressing his displeasure at being forced to sit momentarily with his sister, by “hulking” furiously.  If you’ve never seen a baby hulk before, you are in for a real treat.  It is hilarious!


You know all those really cute pictures of babies and toddlers where they are sitting ever so sweetly together and looking right into the camera?  Yeah, that’s about 1 out of every 50 pictures.  The rest of them usually look like this:

We child photographers really work hard to get those perfect shots!  It’s a ton of fun, though–totally worth the sweat and hard work to get that shot, and always an adventure.  I absolutely adore photographing babies and children!   Here is Little Man looking all dapper in his cute little outfit:

Happy Birthday, nephew!

anna - Ohh my these are so sweet!! his little teeth are so adorable :P
That first shot had me cracking up. I love the expression.

Sandy - Omg, I almost couldn’t take the shot because I was laughing so hard!

Natalie - they are too cute! It looks like Danica is trying to tackle him!

Sandy - It does look like that–she is actually trying to keep him in place and he is resisting with all his might!

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J & R | Expecting

Do you know what I love about doing maternity photos?  It’s the wonderful feeling of anticipation.  All of your hopes and dreams for this child, the wonderful future you imagine for her…the world of possibilities waiting for her…the infinite potential packaged in this tiny person, cradled in her mother’s womb…knowing that life is about to change very soon…  These aren’t just belly pictures; they are portraits of love and hope.

What a privilege it is for me to be given a glimpse into a couple’s private world for a moment, to witness the love they have for each other and for their child. “J” and “R” allowed me to be a part of their world for a moment, and together we created some beautiful images.

They even brought their first two “children”–their furry children, that is. :)

J & R, thanks so much for letting me share in your anticipation for a little while.  I’m so excited to meet your little girl for the newborn session!

Amanda - I’m loving 3 and 5. In 3 it’s such a great moment in their own little world. In 5 I love the man’s arm muscle right there around the belly – very protective. Great expressive photo :-)

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Nicole & Johnny|Engaged

How the time flies, gentle reader!  I’ve known Johnny for ages; he started out as my cousin, and now he is actually one of my clients.  In fact, I used to be babysitter to him and his three sisters!  Who would have thought that all these years later, I would be his wedding photographer?  In the blink of an eye, this sweet young boy transformed into a fine young man with an excellent career, a wonderful fiance, and an amazing future ahead of them both.

Nicole, Johnny and I spent a lovely evening exploring downtown Pittsburgh together for their engagement session.  Though there was a lot of construction going on, there were plenty of great spots for photos.  Pittsburgh has so many cool spots to photograph, from grand to grungy.

Love this purple little corner of the burgh.





I think this one is really cute.


I processed this one to give it a slightly aged, washed-out look.


We may have broken some rules for this one…sshhhh!







Love PPG Place.





Wow, what a perspective!


Love it when couples get a little spontaneous and do something fun!








Love the look she is giving me here.




We hoofed it all over downtown until dark, finishing with one last kiss under the theater lights.  What a great way to end the session!


Johnny and Nicole, thank you for a fabulous time–cant wait for the wedding in September!

Amanda - AH! The purple wall returns! The bridge ones are my favorites :-)

Marcia - Sandy! How special is that? Awww! I remember when he was born! *snif* Absolutely beautiful photos!

Sandy - Yes, it’s hard to believe that we are all grown up now and there is a new generation of kids to take our place at Grandma’s house. *sigh*

Sandy - Yes, it is the return of the purple wall! I love finding spots of color in the city like that. Top it off with peeling paint and I am in heaven!

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B E   I N   T H E   K N O W !