Welcome to the brand spankin' new Worthington Photography Blog! We are Sam and Mel, a husband-wife photography team based in the "rivah city" of Richmond, Virginia. We hope you'll come on in, sit a spell, and browse through Mel's journal of our most recent shoots and adventures. If you wish to reminisce, you can still access posts from our old blog here. Enjoy!

Amanda & Walker’s Wedding on Saturday, February 21st

February 27th, 2009

Amanda and Walker’s wedding brought us to the campus of William and Mary in Colonial Williamsburg where the couple met.  They were married in Wren Chapel and had an elegant reception to follow at the Williamsburg Winery.  Because their ceremony was scheduled for sundown, Amanda & Walker chose to meet in their hotel before the ceremony and walk together to the Chapel, taking portraits here and there along the way while we still had daylight.  It was romantic and fun.

Amanda’s burgundy color scheme melded perfectly with the red wines and candlelight at the winery, check out this style swatch, warm for a winter’s eve:

We truly enjoyed documenting the warmth, humor and emotion of the day and were even lucky enough to see a performance by the Blues Brothers (aka the Hardy Brothers).   Thanks so much to the Plunkett and Hardy families for both your hospitality and for making us laugh throughout the day.  Here’s a slideshow of their wedding pictures and if you would like to be notified by email when Amanda & Walker’s online gallery is available for viewing, click here.

Posted by Mel @ 7:13 pm, in Weddings | 2 Comments | Permalink

Japan Post #9 – Tokyo

February 27th, 2009


1) These are just tourist pictures, the cheesy ones that everyone takes on vacation, and are not meant to be viewed as professional photography.  We took only one camera, a couple of zoom lenses and no lights: we were on vacation afterall!  We’re definitely not seeking employment with National Geographic here.  

2) We’re not experts on Japan, Japanese culture or religion so take everything I say with a grain of salt. Estimate that I’ll have my facts right about 54% of the time.

3.) To see our pro work (like weddings and portraits) and skip vacation pics, feel free to browse our blog by category!

Sniffle as alas, we are coming to the end of our trip.  Little did we know that we were saving the best for last.   Sam and I weren’t expecting to be too impressed by Tokyo… its probably just like every other big city in the world, right?  Wrong: Tokyo actually has unique character and energy and we wish we had more time there.  Our friends Susan and Erik joined us for this leg of the trip, which made exploration even more fun.

While there are some stories I will have to omit here (ask me about the Love Hotel some other time…), I’ll give you the general timeline.  We covered a lot of ground on our first day, starting out at Akihabara, the electronics district.  

From there we headed to Kappabashi Dori, home of the mythical Kappa and the plastic food district (see my post on food).  From what I can guess, a Kappa is part turtle, part squirrel, and part duck with a concave head.  A mischievous creature, he draws his power from water he keeps in that bowl head of his.  The good news is that he is polite to a fault so that all you have to do is bow deeply to him, obligating him to return the deep bow to you and spill his water and powers.  Here’s a picture of us with a friendly Kappa outside a storefront:

On to Asakusa (pronounced Asooksa) where we grabbed some noodles and did a little shopping before visiting the colorful Senso-ji at dusk.  I was finally able to purchase a fortune, which turned out to be a good one.  You are supposed to keep good fortunes with you and when I pulled it out of my purse to show a friend back home, I was horrified to find that I had kept a bus schedule instead of my fortune!  Luckily I think the fortune has stayed with me even if the paper it was written on didn’t.  Or maybe its just a lucky bus schedule.

Sam and I came to Japan with a mission: to find delicious Japanese microbrews.  We knew that the Japanese love their beer so it seemed like the right country for two beer enthusiasts to visit.  We had read about Popeyes before we left and couldn’t wait to find it.  This amazing brew pup featured microbrews from all over the country as well as some great breweries back home and elsewhere abroad.  Popeyes was a highlight for us, here’s a shot of us as we left Happy Hour very happy… the owner even made us members of the pub with an official membership  card and all!  Long live Popeyes:

After a few brews we were off to Shinjuku, the area that clearly inspired the movie Blade Runner.

 We found an arcade with photobooths and had some fun with that…

Then I had a mission of my own to fulfill.  Susan and I were both religion majors in college so I had to see if we could find Cafe Criston, a lounge that our friends Melanie and Brian had visited when they honeymooned in Japan.  Its quite fashionable here in the West to have an Asian themed restaurant decorated with Buddhas, koi ponds and other temple statuary.  Cafe Criston, on the other hand, is full of saints, cherubs, religious paintings and super-sized rosaries.  Japan is pretty much opposite world so this hip bar and restaurant made perfect sense in Tokyo.

On day two we visited the popular districts of Harajuku and Shibuya.  Harajuku is supposed to be the hot spot for Tokyo’s youth and, on Sundays, teenagers in fantasy dress are on display for all to see.  We didn’t see as many Bo-Peeps as we had hoped for but we did find a place to store our ducks (thank goodness):

Kids clothing in a hipster district?  Not exactly, try doggie couture:

Shibuya is known for having the most insane pedestrian intersection in the country, if not the world.  It is indeed pretty insane:

We turned in early to hit the fish market the next morning (see food post).  On our last day Susan and I sought out a famous yarn store and I was not disappointed… I am now knitting a jacket out of yarn made from paper and stainless steel.  Which begs the question of exactly what would happen if I tried to wash dishes with said jacket but we’ll figure that one out later.  In the evening we had a delicious eel dinner and hit the Ginza district, which I decided was very “shee shee fugu” because of all the high end shops and expensive fugu (blowfish) restaurants.  (Oh come on, admit it, you at least smiled at shee shee fugu… it was clever, darn it!)

While waiting for the train back to Narita Airport I started crying on the platform.  Pretty pathetic but I didn’t want to leave.  Our trip to Japan opened up a world of possibilities… in more ways than I was aware of at that time.  If you haven’t left what’s comfortable and familiar in awhile, do it.  Do it soon.  Do it now. 

Posted by Mel @ 4:22 pm, in Personal | 1 comment | Permalink

Featured Today on District Weddings

February 27th, 2009

One of Caitlin and Harry’s photos was chosen for a post on veils in the fun blog for the Washingtonian bride, District Weddings.  Congrats C&H for catching the editor’s eye!  Check it out here….

Posted by Mel @ 3:42 pm, in News, Weddings | 2 Comments | Permalink

Japan Post #8: Nagano & Yudanaka

February 26th, 2009


1) These are just tourist pictures, the cheesy ones that everyone takes on vacation, and are not meant to be viewed as professional photography.  We took only one camera, a couple of zoom lenses and no lights: we were on vacation afterall!  We’re definitely not seeking employment with National Geographic here.  

2) We’re not experts on Japan, Japanese culture or religion so take everything I say with a grain of salt. Estimate that I’ll have my facts right about 54% of the time.

3.) To see our pro work (like weddings and portraits) and skip vacation pics, feel free to browse our blog by category!

Back to Japan!

We knew that we wanted to travel north and spend some time in the mountains on our trip so Nagano, site of the ’98 Winter Olympics, seemed like a logical choice.   As we exited the train station we wondered if we had made a mistake: from the depot, Nagano looked like any other Japanese city but with mountains receeding into the background, no ski lifts or cabins in sight… harumpf.  It was a very pleasant surprise when Nagano turned out to be one of our favorite stops on our journey.

Upon arriving, we stopped by the tourist office to find a ryokan to stay for the night.  We were given a map with the name of the ryokan both in Roman script and Kanji.  We were told it was near Zenko-ji temple, the city’s main attraction and it sounded good to us.  But please, our travel agent asked, honor the reservation you have made because foreigners she had sent there in the past didn’t show up.  How rude, we thought, of course we’ll show up for our reservation!  As we got off the bus and followed our map to the relative spot, we realized why the other foreigners had bailed: all signs and addresses were in Kanji!  Because it was a somewhat residential spot, we couldn’t find anyone to ask for direction.  At first we tried to match the characters on our map with the characters on the buildings.  That’s how we became aware of just how many fonts there are, the characters looked too different to an untrained eye.  We finally found someone to point us in the right direction and his finger pointed to the back of a building within the temple gates!  Would you have ever guessed that this was a hotel?

The shrine in front of our ryokan is the most common that we saw in Japan, it looks like a Buddha with a red cap and bib, sometimes you will see a row of rocks with red caps and bibs with or in place of the Buddha figure.  Here’s another example on Zenko-ji’s complex:

We were told that these shrines were for children, both born and unborn, who had died.  The shrines on the grounds of Zenkoji temple were extremely moving, parents had left children’s toys and other affects behind in memory.  We spent some time on those grounds saying our own prayers. 

Of all the beautiful temples we had visited in Kyoto, Zenko-ji was our favorite simply because it seemed less like a tourist attraction and more like an active place of worship.  In one of the buildings I sat and listened as two monks sang and played drums in a ritual style.  In the quiet of night, after the temple’s doors had closed to the public, we watched Japanese men and women getting their nightly exercise by running up and down the steps in bright colored sweat suits.  The temple seemed an extension of life in Nagano rather than an historic building or point of interest.  We were grateful to be able to stay in such close proximity to it for one night.  Here are some shots from inside and just outside the temple gates:

(Cultural note: Don’t forget that Hitler stole the swastika from ancient Eastern religions.  Shaking the negative Western connotation of the symbol takes some effort when you are traveling around Asia where it is not only prevalent but considered auspicious.)

We wonder how ancient this tree is:

The cutest little Buddha…. ever…

In addition to the peace we found near Zenko-ji, we were happy to finally find really friendly people.  Perhaps we have become too Southern in our exchanges, back home we expect the giving and receiving of at least a “hello” when passing a stranger on the street if not a full blown conversation.  In Japan we found ourselves feeling quite invisible, foreign and isolated except for our encounters with school girls (see previous posts for details).  But in Nagano, a woman said good morning to us while we waited for the bus and we were almost too surprised to return her greeting in a timely manner.  Our hosts at the ryokan gave us the gift of an apple when we departed and a bartender we met struck up an enthusiastic conversation with us as he poured our beer and offered us various snacks.  (Sam, in return, may have taught him how to play roulette, long story but a great night).  

The next day we boarded a train for Yudanaka, the most remote area that we visited on our trip.  The reason for our visit?  Snow monkeys – Sam’s request.  I have had a mild fear of monkeys ever since living in India, seriously, you can’t trust a monkey.  Out of love for my husband and a bit of curiosity too, I followed Sam to the monkey park where the animals run wild and enjoy their own natural onsen. 

Here’s the sign that greets you at the monkey park.  I would love to know what the caption beneath that 3rd panel has to say.  And yes, we did see examples of scene #3, I will spare you those pictures since this is a family channel.  

Sam will be equally disappointed to see that I am omitting his (admittedly brillaint) poop portraits.  But come now, let’s not proliferate popular stereotypes about monkeys…

Awww…. Aren’t they cute?

Mmm-hmm.  Until the group violence begins:

Here’s a rather uncomfortable Mel demonstrating just how close we are to these things.  If focal length helps you photo enthusiasts to understand our proximity, we didn’t bring anything longer than 105mm with us so they are hanging out at our feet:

A few more shots from in and around Yudanaka, including some Christmas lights on a restaurant and a sign from a strip club.  We love Japan.

Wouldn’t you just love to check out the ladies at Butterfry?  More on Tokyo to come…

Posted by Mel @ 8:52 pm, in Personal | Comments Off on Japan Post #8: Nagano & Yudanaka | Permalink