Farm Sanctuary Internship: Day 1

First, let me just say .. BRRRRRRRRRR.  First day here (well technically I got in yesterday, but let’s pretend) and the high was around 16, with a current “feels like” temperature of -6.  Yeah, that’s pretty cold.  I am beginning a month long internship at Farm Sanctuary, a beautiful non-profit organization that rescues and shelters abused or neglected farm animals.  I am at their national headquarters in Watkins Glen, NY, but they also have shelters in Orland, CA and Acton, CA.  FS also works very hard to promote a cruelty-free lifestyle and to eliminate factory farming and inhumane farming practices.  By consistently proposing and supporting many legislative actions for animals, FS has had a great deal of success within the animal rights movement in the past 25 years.  To read about Farm Sanctuary and it’s wonderful staff, mission, origin, etc. visit

I originally applied for this internship last summer.  Since becoming a vegan in 2006 I have been actively involved in animal rights activism, and volunteered at the FS shelter in Acton, CA a few times while living in Santa Monica.  Since moving to the east coast, the thought of interning here has been on my mind, and learning all that I can about working in this field.  After a few months I was so happy to hear that I’d been accepted into the program as an administrative intern.  I arrived yesterday and am living with four other interns on the farm in a nice, cozy house called Vegan House.  Living with compassionate, like-minded vegans is pure heaven, and I feel grateful to be rooming with such kind girls.  I am the only one interning in the admin department, they are all working in the shelter department (bless their hardworking souls).  I will begin my official intern duties tomorrow, and I am thrilled to jump right in and help out as much as I possibly can.

Today, our wonderful intern coordinator, Becky, gave us (three new interns) a thorough tour around the farm.  It was brisk outside to say the least, ha ha.  I thought I’d tough it out, and I did for about 13 minutes.. about the time it took for my one pair of socks to stop doing their job of providing warmth to my toes.  Shame on me for not layering socks 😦  BUT — I could not possibly complain when everywhere in sight were healthy, happy, warm, safe, beautiful, living, breathing, feeling creatures we all call animals.  Today, and every time I am greeted by farm animals, I feel renewed.  You can see by looking into their eyes that these rescued farm animals are grateful, accepting, curious by nature, and loving by all means.. despite whatever horrible situation they once experienced.  They are now home – and yes, quite lucky compared to most others, but these few hundred creatures truly represent the prospect of hope that lies within the animal rights movement; these animals will live out their lives here as peacefully as possible – a small yet significant step toward the end of all animal exploitation.

Some photos, of course, to share this time here & hopefully show just how wonderful Farm Sanctuary is ~

In compassion  ..



~ Favorite Wedding Images of 2011 ~

I am really in awe that this year is coming to an end in just a few hours.  2011 has been an incredible year – as my business has grown, I’ve met and photographed so many wonderful couples, and witnessed pure love and happiness on so many occasions.. I feel truly blessed to be a wedding photographer, to say the least.  I have chosen my favorite images from weddings this past year, a very difficult task.  I had so many favorites, it’s nearly impossible to choose just a few from each wedding.  My favorites here are based on technical reasons, great lighting, emotional moments, and images that just stuck with me from the time of capture..  Again, these are merely my top favorites, and I wish I were able to sit down and post more than just a few dozen.. But that might take a while!

I want to thank each and every person who came into my life this year – whether a client, colleague, friend, or just an acquaintance.  Every encounter is meaningful in some way, and my life wouldn’t be the same without the happiness that I feel when meeting new people, and especially when given the opportunity to photograph a couple’s wedding day.  It is an honor every single time.  This year has definitely been a struggle, as I am slowly building a new business at a young age, learning from the ground up.  My amazing partner, Amanda-lee, has been so incredible and supportive.  She is there for every wedding to ensure that we deliver exceptional images and go beyond expectations to create beautiful moments.  I have learned so much from her, and I feel so lucky to work with such a talented photographer!  Thank you Amanda 🙂

In closing, 2012 will indefinitely have some changes, as I begin the year with a month long internship at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY.  I have been eager to become more involved with animal rights efforts, and am beyond excited to experience this field with such an admirable organization.  I will continue my photography business of course, with the hopes of doing more work for Farm Sanctuary as well.  Each day is a new beginning, and I feel confident that this new year will be full of prosperity, happiness, and positive change.

Check back in soon as I will be blogging from Farm Sanctuary during the month of January!

Happy New Year!!

~ Kiley

A beautiful twin boy baptism!

What could be better than getting to spend a day photographing an adorable 5-month-old baby boy? …  Spending the day photographing TWO!!  Yes, I was very lucky to take part in these little guys’ special day, as they shared their baptisms together in Poughkeepsie, NY.  Their Mom is the sister of Mike, and his fiancee Kiki – one of my 2012 couples.  They are the proud Godparents of Dimitri.  These two are such a cute couple, and I can’t wait to see how their summer wedding comes together!!  With their amazing families who I met at the baptism, I know it’s going to be a blast.

Matthew & Dimitri are truly the sweetest boys – and so very well-behaved all day long!  Their little suits were just too much — we were teasing that they just needed little newspapers to hold and they’d be all set.  And the hats, priceless!!  Their big sister, Sophie, was very proud, as you can see below.  Just a great family and a great day overall!  The reception was held at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor, NY.  Enjoy 🙂

Gabrielle & Alex ~ engagement session

Ah, just looking at these photos reminds me of how incredibly beautiful this day was!  It was perfect weather for Gabrielle and Alex’s special day at Colonial Park in Somerset, NJ.  If the trees weren’t colored amazing shades of yellow, red and orange, you’d think it were a Spring afternoon.  But as you can see, Autumn is in full swing here – and they couldn’t have chosen a better location for their engagement photos.  These two are just plain adorable, sweet, kind, and so happy together.  We had a ton of fun with their session (especially when they were tossing leaves into the air!  Yay!) and I was amazed at how natural they both were in front of the camera.  I mean, aren’t they a gorgeous couple?!

I’m really looking forward to their June 2012 wedding – and I know that if they look this cute in regular clothes, they are going to be breathtaking in their wedding attire!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Kristin & James’ magical day

Kristin and James.  Beautiful couple.  They are both teachers, and so kind-hearted.  I originally met with them over a year before their wedding, and I can’t believe how quickly it came!  The day was so lovely, and had a magical feel to it — gray skies, with different shades within the clouds.. a brisk wind that felt like Fall, and the spirit of a very important person who couldn’t be there, James’ father.  Their families felt very close knit, and it was a very happy occasion for everyone.  We took James and Kristin’s formal photos near an apple tree that was planted in the memory of James’ father; such an amazing gesture that I found inspiring.  The reception was held at The Crabtree Kittle House in Chappaqua, NY.  What a gorgeous, rustic place for a wedding!  Everyone there was dancing the night away, we even had a duet with James and a pumpkin (see below) that ultimately ended in two pumpkin halves on the dance floor, ha ha.  There was also a very special person in attendance who I would like to mention.  Kristin’s grandmother (pictured below in a black and silver blouse with the couple and also on the dance floor) was clearly elated to be at her granddaughter’s wedding.  Amanda-lee and I found her to be so sweet, and I was happy to see her dancing as much as she was able.  With much regret though, Kristin told me that her grandmother passed just days after the wedding.  I was shocked and heartbroken, and so was Amanda.  Fortunately, I was able to send Kristin all the photos I took of her grandmother, and they even used one for her funeral.  I can’t help to think that this beautiful woman was holding out – for just a few more days – so that she could dance at her granddaughter’s wedding before her time had come.  I can’t explain why things happen the way they do, but looking at the photos of her smiling next to Kristin and James, I feel certain that she passed with happiness.  And I am so glad that their family has these photos to cherish forever.  Sometimes I don’t appreciate the power of photography – even when capturing someone’s wedding day.  But moments like this remind me that life is very short, and having photos of the ones we love may be more important than we know.

I hope to not make this a sad memory, but a day that was simply magical and joyous.  Kristin and James, I wish you both all the best – happiness and love, and many many years of memories.  I am beyond honored to have been your photographer.

Holiday portrait mini sessions!

Yvette & Andy’s Vegan las Vegas Wedding

Excuse the silly title.. I couldn’t help myself.  Yes, this wedding was vegan, which meant a delicious wedding cake and awesome Mexican food minus the meat and dairy.  Yvette is a vegan and Andy is a vegetarian, so it was only appropriate 🙂

I met Yvette when I lived in Santa Monica, she in Hollywood, back in 2006.  We became great friends as we were both vegan and had many things in common (a passion for photography being one of them).  Yvette is truly one of the kindest people I know, and has such a big heart.  I soon met Andy, her then boyfriend, and it didn’t take long to realize that they were completely meant to be.  I love their laid-back, friendly, musician-minded, non-judgemental, free-spirited, loving attitudes; they are both so much fun to be around.  It was a sad day in 2009 when Matt and I decided to leave California, leaving behind many wonderful friends – Yvette & Andy included.  We have kept in touch though, and as I’ve trotted across the country over the past 2 years, Yvette and I have always kept in touch.  When I heard about their engagement I was super excited.. and even more so when Yvette asked me to be their photographer.  I loved the idea of a Vegas wedding, especially since their best friend Tim was going to officiate – dressed, of course, as Elvis.  What Las Vegas wedding would be complete without Elvis involved in some way?  Needless to say, the day was PERFECT.  It was somewhere around a breezy 90 degrees, and surrounded by Yvette and Andy’s amazing family and friends, I had the best time ever.

Yvette wore her mother’s original wedding gown from the 70’s, only making a few minor changes.  She looked so beautiful and vintage-chic!  Andy looked super handsome in an adorable tuxedo t-shirt, top hat and long jacket.  His boys wore Converse All-Stars and also rocked the tux t-shirts.  I was so happy to find out that Yvette chose the same bridesmaids dresses for her girls as I had chosen for my bridesmaids – without even knowing!!  They are fun 50’s dresses from Unique Vintage, and were so pretty in the plum color (mine were canary yellow).  We’re obviously both really into vintage things and have the same style 🙂

The ceremony was held at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in their lush garden gazebo, and Yvette’s cousin walked her down the aisle.  Afterward, Yvette changed into a sexy black vintage dress for the reception and after-party.  We celebrated at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Vegas, then headed to Fremont Street for an all-night after party, complete with ziplining (oh yes).  Let me just add about the vegan cupcakes from earlier – there is an amazing bakery/restaurant in Vegas called Pura Vida, led by chef Mayra Trabulse, and is it seriously the best vegan food ever.  Mayra is the sweetest lady who cooks the tastiest South American vegan cuisine and baked goods, and if I could hire her to be my personal chef, I would do so in an instant.  She lovingly made cupcakes and cake for the wedding, and yes, they were heavenly.  Not that you really need an excuse to take a trip to Vegas, but knowing that Pura Vida is there now, I am so planning another trip back soon!!

Yvette, in all of her creativeness, made several paper flowers for the boutonnieres and centerpieces.  They looked so cute and it was an eco-friendly way to save fresh flowers from being thrown out after the event.

I truly enjoyed myself over the weekend, and met some really amazing people as we all shared the happiness of Yvette and Andy’s wedding day.  I wish we were closer to spend more time together, but the thing is – true friends will never really grow apart, no matter the distance between them.  I have learned this first hand.  Wishing so much love to you guys, and thank you! thank you! for letting me capture all your precious memories, while creating my own that I will cherish forever.  I love you both.

Vendors to thank:

Ceremony venue: Flamingo Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV

Reception venue/caterer: Chapala’s Mexican Restaurant, Las Vegas, NV

Bridal gown:  Bride’s mother’s

Bridal shoes:  Rocket Dog


Bridesmaids dresses:

Cake/cupcakes:  Pura Vida Bakery & Bystro, Las Vegas, NV