Tag Archives: London

Architecture and Interiors: Travel photography

18 Feb

One of our favorite thing to do, budget and time permitting, is to travel.  Roberto (of Roberto Farren Photography) and I have been together nearly 10 years, and our relationship is almost based on travel. I am from New England, and was living here when we first met.  Bob is a Londoner by birth, and we met while I was on vacation in England, looking at schools to apply to for my Masters program in Educational Psychology. Our first year together was spent over 3000 miles apart, but we still managed to see each other nearly 20 times, with Roberto visiting Boston a dozen times, me traveling to London 6 times, and meeting up in Portugal and Paris as well.

After that first year, we have always lived in the same country, but we’ve continued traveling together ever since!  We’ve added Germany, Spain, Scotland, Austria, Belgium, Slovakia and a number of new places in the US to our list.  We’ve also learned a lot about traveling from each other.  I come from a family where every last minute is planned, and not a site is left unseen, even if you’re seeing it from the car at 60 miles per hour.  Bob’s style of travel is to plan nothing, and experience cities by sitting in cafes and bars, trying out the language (he’s incredibly talented at picking up foreign languages), and speaking to locals. Together, we’ve found a happy medium that works great for us. I get to plan a few key sites/museums/neighborhoods that I want to visit, and in between, we relax, eat and drink in small bars and cafes.  It’s the best of both worlds!

As much fun as I have snapping away with my point and click, it’s never my photos that end up on our walls, and it’s definitely not mine that we look at when we’re feeling like taking a walk down memory lane. Architectural photography and landscape photography aren’t nearly as easy as finding a beautiful view, a stunning building or a gorgeous sunset.  I can stand behind Roberto and take the “same” photo, but the results will be entirely different.  It takes patience, timing, a knowledge of composition, an understanding of light and exposure, and a huge amount of technical expertise to capture the images he takes home from our travels.  His photographs have such warmth and vibrance that I am immediately back at that moment.  Whether I’m shivering on a lobsterman’s dock in Maine, or drinking beer in the sun in a small village in Portugal, I’m brought back to the sights, smells and laughter that we’ve had on our wonderful travels together.

I’m thrilled that Roberto has now launched a new branch to his photography business, and in addition to shooting weddings and events, he will now be shooting architecture, interiors and landscape over at RF Photography.  More on his new venture to come!


And now it’s time for a love story.

30 Jun

When I’m helping my husband Roberto of Roberto Farren Photography shoot engagement sessions, one of my favorite things is when he asks the couple how they met and how they fell in love.  Not only is it a great icebreaker, but it always makes the couple super smiley and giggly which lends itself well to having their portraits taken.

The couples that we’ve photographed have some really sweet stories about how they met.  Some of them are pretty epic, and some of them are the stories of normal friendships evolving into something else, but all of the stories end the same way: with two people deciding that they can’t live without each other.

My all time favorite love story, however, doesn’t belong to any of the couples that we’ve photographed.  They’ve definitely got some good ones, but the prize belongs to Roberto’s parents, whose paths crossed by chance one night in Portugal.  Bob’s father, Peter, was born and raised in London.  He worked for the railway, and soon after he turned 30, he and his father (Bob’s granddad) took a road trip through Europe.

On their last night on the mainland before returning to the UK, they decided to check into a Pousada, a chain of rustic hotels found throughout Portugal.  This one happened to be in Santa Clara-a-Velha, a small village about 3 hours south of Lisbon and 90 minutes north of Faro.  As Peter checked in, a lovely lady caught his eye.  This was his first meeting with Lena.  Lena lived in Santa Clara and worked at the Pousada, but her shift was over.  She was waiting for her friend, who was working at the front desk and checking in Peter and his father, to finish her shift.  There was just one problem… Peter didn’t speak Portuguese.  Lena didn’t speak English.

Image from http://www.hotfrog.pt/Empresas/Pousada-de-Santa-Clara-a-Velha-Santa-Clara

Pousada de Santa Clara-a-Velha

But this didn’t stop Peter, who was so taken with the lovely Lena, that he tracked down the hotel manager and through him, asked her on a date.  The three of them – oh yes, the hotel manager joined them and became their conduit – enjoyed dinner together that evening.

The next day, Peter and his father flew back to the UK.  Peter went back to work and life in London, but he couldn’t get Lena off of his mind.  So he did what any smitten Brit would do.  He enrolled in a Portuguese Linguaphone course and saved his money for a ticket back to Portugal.  He continued this for months, traveling to Santa Clara to visit every chance he could, even for trips where he spent more time on planes and in a car than actually with Lena, and picking up enough Portuguese so that they could speak to each other without the help of the hotel manager.  Their relationship continued to develop, and within a year, Peter proposed to Lena.

They were married soon after in Portugal and moved to London together, where Roberto joined their family, followed shortly by Maria and Filipe.  And around 25 years after that, I officially became part of the family when I married Roberto, and we celebrated our wedding at the Pousada de Santa Clara-a-Velha, where Bob’s parents had met.  Nice little full circle, huh?

Roberto Farren Photography

The amazing view from the Pousada de Santa Clara-a-Velha

This story illustrates a few maybe obvious but definitely important lessons about love:

  1. Whatever the obstacles, always find a way to communicate.
  2. Love happens when you least expect it.
  3. When the aforementioned love happens, don’t let it pass you by.

Thanks for reading,


Roberto Farren Photography

DIY Weddings or “How I Singed Off My Fingerprints in the Name of Love”

25 Jun

Weddings, by their nature, are beautiful events, but there is something particularly lovely about the touches that are made by hand.  Whether it’s the bride- and groom-to-be, their mothers, the bridesmaids, or some combination thereof, some people have the gift of craftiness.  Invitations, name cards and favors are common DIY items at weddings, but as a photographer’s assistant with Roberto Farren Photography, we’ve seen some spectacular shows of skill.

Roberto Farren Photography

For the year before their London wedding, Claire, Joe and their friends folded over a thousand paper cranes to decorate their ceremony. According to Japanese legend this granted them one wish, which they shared on their wedding day.

Don’t think you’re one of those Martha Stewart-esque DIY brides that can make a to-scale copy of the Eiffel Tower (with functioning elevator) out of organic, locally sourced crudités?  No worries.  You’d be surprised what you can pull off before your wedding if you’ve got the time, patience and willingness.

There are certainly amazing things that you can do, and there may be wonderful aspirations that you have, but my first tip is to be realistic and honest with yourself.  And I mean realistic and honest with yourself.  Know your strengths and (more importantly) know your weaknesses.  Not the most patient puppy?  Maybe don’t select a project where you have to paint, stamp and pin 350 petals per hand-made hydrangea.  Have no spatial awareness, nor a steady hand?  Maybe don’t try to address all of the invites in Merovingian script.

Another good thing to remember: If they’re invites, favors, or place cards, you are probably going to be creating these lovely, delicate tokens by the hundreds.  Start early and pace yourself!  You don’t want to end up ostracizing all of your friends before the wedding, or worse, end up on first name terms with the graveyard shift at your local Michael’s (shudder).

However you stretch out the task, at some point you will probably hit all of the following stages.  Be prepared, be patient, and know when to give yourself a break and step away from the grommet press.

  • Once you figure out the 1st one, you’ll be ecstatic (“Look how nice they’re coming out! This is going to be AWESOME!”)
  • By the 8th one, you’re hitting your stride and turning your living room into an assembly line, and starting to spew out pure insanity like: “Alright people, we’re gonna trace, cut, fold, glue, fold again, embossing powder, heat dryer, then you just need to carefully wrap, ribbon and tie on the hand-calligraphied labels!”
  • By the 42nd one, you’re half cut on glue fumes and glitter and running an operation that should probably be reported to the Department of Labor.
  • By the 87th one, you’re starting to question whether marriage is actually worth this and accidentally (on purpose) glue some of your hair to your grandmother’s place card.
  • (Time lapse.)

Time lapse

  • Instead of a clear memory of completing the last item, you’ll probably wake up from an origami induced blackout, surrounded by tiny scraps of colored paper that you’ll still be finding years later.  Congratulations!  You made it!  You’re ready for your wedding, where family and friends will “ooh” and “ahh” over the lovely DIY accents you’ve created for your celebration.
  • NOW: Go bandage those papercuts and get a manicure.  And you should probably make sure that your friends/sweat shop workers are still speaking to you…
Roberto Farren Photography

Mike’s unique boutonnière was handmade by his new wife Denise for their recent Cambridge wedding.

Finally, just a reminder to give your wedding photographer the details of the special items that you created (see my post on creating your shot list) so they can be sure to photograph them for you.

One last tip: Beware the Pinterest.  More on this to come…

Thanks for reading,


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Very Hungry Caterpillars and Old Lace: The personal touches that really make a wedding

21 Jun

Today will be the first of what will almost certainly be a number of blogs about some of my favorite personal touches that couples include in their weddings.  Weddings, for the most part, follow the same overall story arc: Ceremony, vows, party.  There are special clothes, food, drinks, flowers, family, friends, outpourings of love and affection and usually some very animated dancing.  However, it is usually the smallest of details that makes your wedding YOUR wedding.  Here are a few of my favorites from some of the recent weddings that I have helped to cover with Roberto Farren Photography in New England.

  • At Erin and Randy’s autumn wedding at The Stone House in Little Compton, RI,  Randy’s son and groomsman carried the wedding rings in his grandfather’s baseball mitt.  Not only was this a nod to a favorite pastime of the couple, but it was also a touching way to involve 3 generations of Randy’s family in their sweet, personal ceremony.
Roberto Farren Photography

Randy’s son presents the wedding rings in his grandfather’s baseball mitt at a recent New England wedding.

  • Mike and Denise’s recent wedding at Dante Restaurant in Cambridge, MA was full of small details with big meaning for the couple.  Denise, a children’s librarian, used some amazing origami skills to create all of the bouquets and boutineers from up-cycled book pages.  If that sounds impressive, you don’t know the half of it… she also created the table centerpieces and other decorations for their reception in the same way!
Roberto Farren Photography

Denise’s bridal bouquet, handmade from the up-cycled pages of children’s books

  • Another sweet touch from this same wedding: Denise’s mom and grandmother wore the same wedding dress.  Denise continued the tradition by having her wedding dress made, and asking the tailor to incorporate the gorgeous, hand-stitched lace from her mother and grandmother’s dress into her new dress.  The result was wonderful.  An absolutely beautiful dress that suited Denise perfectly, with which she carried on a lovely family tradition.
Roberto Farren Photography

Denise’s gorgeous wedding dress, made by hand and incorporating the lace from her grandmother’s dress.

One last thing: Like I said in my post about creating your shot list, give your wedding photographer a heads up about these special details.  Unless they’re part of the ceremony or speeches, it’s possible that they could go unnoticed by those that aren’t in the know.  These are the moments in your wedding that you’ve put the most thought into, make sure that you give the photographer the opportunity to capture them for you.

Thanks for reading,


Roberto Farren Photography

Don’t Eat All the Chickens in the Village – Top Tips for a Destination Wedding

20 Jun

Are you totally over the buffet choices at your local Marriott Hotel?  Destination weddings can be an exciting, exotic choice when planning your big day. Who wouldn’t want to be married on a beautiful tropical beach or a pristine, snowy mountain?  BUT. There is a lot more to consider than the backdrop for your wedding photographs.

When Roberto (of Roberto Farren Photography) and I became engaged, we were already guaranteed a destination wedding for at least 2/3’s of our attendees. I’m from New England in the US.

Roberto Farren Photography

Boston, MA skyline at sunrise.

Bob was born and raised in London, to an English father and Portuguese mother.

Roberto Farren Photography

Moody skies over the Queen’s House, Greenwich, London

We were living in London at the time, but spent a lot of time visiting my family in New Hampshire and Boston and Bob’s mother’s family in Portugal.

Copyright Joe D'Cruz Photography

Santa Clara a Velha, Portugal

While it didn’t take us too long to decide to hold our wedding in Portugal, it wasn’t a decision we  rushed, and it certainly wasn’t one that we made alone. I discussed the decision with my parents and my close friends, who were the ones who would be traveling furthest if we celebrated our wedding anywhere but New England.  I knew that the length and cost of the flight would unfortunately mean that some aunts, uncles and cousins, and most notably, grandparents, would not be able to attend.  This applied to Bob as well, who had family and friends that weren’t able to join us in Portugal, even though the distance and the cost was a little less overwhelming.  What we did know was that, for those that were able to sacrifice the time and money to join us in Santa Clara-a-Velha (the small Portuguese village where Bob’s mom was born and lived until she married his dad and moved to London with him) it would be not only a wedding, but a trip that they’d never forget.

My immediate family was able to make the trip, as were most of my closest friends and some of my extended family.  Bob speaks fluent Portuguese, and was able to make great arrangements for accommodation for all of our non-Portuguese attendees, which was a massive help.  I learned enough nouns and colors to get through most of the rest of the planning, and we were also extremely lucky that we were both able to take sabbaticals from our jobs, get to Portugal a month early, and work out the final details in person.

We took a lot of different factors into our decision and planning… here are some of the important ones, including some we learned along the way, and a couple that we wished we’d learned earlier:

Some tips as you make the decision to hold a destination wedding:

  • If you, like us, have family and friends all over the world, talk to people.  Get feedback from parents (especially if they are helping to pay for your wedding) and close friends, and work with them to make the best decision for your core group of people.  On your wedding day, your marriage is more about the people that surround you than the place you’re standing.
  • Consider other guests as well: Will they need passports or visas? Do they HAVE passports? How long are flights? How much will flights and accommodations cost them? Will older guests be able to travel the distance comfortably and safely? Will there be a language barrier?  Know the answers, plan ahead, and provide people with as much info as possible.
  • Speaking of info, don’t forget the following: currency; customs; key words, if you’re going to a country with a different language; cultural differences, especially cultural no-nos; weather; electrics (will they need power adapters to charge/use electronics?); driving (which side of the road, etc) and the list goes on.
  • Don’t forget the budget: Given 3 equal piles of money, what you can do in London is different than what you can do in New England is different than what you can do in rural Portugal.
  • If you’re going somewhere off the beaten path, give a heads up to the locals as applicable.  This was particularly needed in our case… we let the local bar, cafe and gas station know that about 40 Brits and Americans would be descending on the village.  While they were able to order enough beer and wine to keep us jolly for the week, we managed to eat all of the chickens in the village by day 4.  I’m not even joking.
  • Unless you are going to a resort that specializes in destination weddings, be aware that things you’ve come to expect might not be  the norm in other places.  Things like wedding favors, make-up artists, and vegetarian meals don’t exist in the small village of Santa Clara (“Yes, this is vegetable meal… it only has bacon and a little bit of chorizo.”).   Think ahead, make lists and double check.
  • Do your homework.  Do you need a marriage license from where you live before you are married abroad?  Do you need to file paperwork, show birth certificates, or produce proof of your first communion to priests or city officials?  We did.  Go ask Google what you’ll need.
  • Amazon Prime has not quite reached every last corner of the world… hold on to your good attitude, and if wake up on your wedding day to find out that you need to pick up your wedding favors at a gas station from a man on a motorbike, then go pick up your wedding favors at a gas station from a man on a motorbike.  It’s a wedding, it’s a marriage and it’ll be a great story!
  • Think about having a low-key gathering closer to home following your destination wedding.  Roberto and I traveled back to New England a few months after our Portugal wedding for a cookout at my parent’s house.  All of my family and friends that hadn’t made it out to Portugal were able to attend and we had a great time celebrating and sharing the memories of our Portuguese wedding.

Once you think you’ve covered all your bases and make your decision, enjoy the process!  Destination weddings are an adventure for all involved.  Don’t get too stressed about the details (who cares that the ribbon on your bouquet is a shade lighter than the ribbon on your flower girl’s basket? NO ONE!) and enjoy the location for the reason you chose it.

Copyright of Joe D'Cruz Photography

Making our escape from the village in a second hand Land Rover. TO ADVENTURE!

Thanks for reading,