My Fascination with Lighthouses

I've always had a secret fascination with these life saving monuments.
With so many skyscrapers that are simply constructed with the intention of showing off money, housing greedy financial markets and being a symbol of wealth and status, there is something quite humble about the solidarity of a lighthouse.

Its intention is to simply save lives, to protect all mariners as they approach rocky shores and bring light in the midst of the fog.

It almost seems as though these breath taking structures are guarding a secret from the rest of society, tales of lives that were saved and souls that were once housed within its walls.

The open sea is an eerie thought, but a flashing light in the distance is always a symbol of hope, tranquility and comfort.
Feel free to check out my Lighthouse gallery on my photography website

Random Portait Tuesday

As you may already know, one of my favorite places to photograph are on railroad tracks. Thankfully, these tracks are only active on a certain day of the week, and I always have someone on guard to give us a heads up in case that schedule happens to randomly change. Art is important to me, but the safety of my subjects always come first.

Every week I'd like to share a different portrait with you. Whether it makes you think, laugh, wonder or angry. Art is supposed to make you feel and stop you in your tracks.

If you would like to have a photograph shared on the blog, please feel free to email me at kymfajardophotography{at}gmail{dot}com. 

Love on the tracks...

Photographer: Kym Fajardo
Models" Michael Rich and Alisa Rose

Top 10 Things to do in The Outer Banks, North Carolina

Beautiful skies in The OBX
You can't help but be in awe of every view, structure or piece of history left over in this small piece of paradise. But most of all you can't help but notice the pride the towns people have in residing in one of the most beautiful areas in the country. I have to admit, I shed a tear or two the day Kathleen and I left. We were absolutely enthralled with this place, and look forward to going back. But make sure you do within the next 40 years. Thanks to its ever changing coast lines, parts of the OBX (Outer Banks) will not be there in 50 years.
So I created a list of 10 of my favorite things to do in the Outer Banks. Sure there are plenty more to add and please feel free to do so in the comments.

1. The Lost Colony Re-enactment- If you paid attention in history class you might remember the story of the first English settlers and how they vanished centuries ago. On the island you'll find re-enactments, museums and loads of information on what life was like back then. Even on how the islands got their Native American names. You can even hop aboard the Queen Elizabeth II, a replica of the ship the English settlers set sail on.
Blue crab at I Got Your Crabs! in Kitty Hawk
2. I Got Your Crabs!- This restaurant with all you can eat blue crab specials has a funny story behind the name. Each day when the owner's son returned home from crabbing, he would walk in holding up his catch of the day chanting, Mom! I got your crabs! We dined there with the locals who told us about the best places to view shipwrecks, the best seafood buffets in town and much more, all while enjoying an endless amount of blue crab, an ice cold brew while listening to live music, just a man with a powerful voice and his guitar.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla
3. Lighthouses!- We were only able to climb to the top of one lighthouse, Currituck Beach Lightouse which was built in 1857. But the views are incredible! With a mini museum inside loaded with information about what went on in and around the historic brick walls, you will leave with a new found respect for the place.
Elizabethan Gardens within Forth Raleigh
4. Elizabethan Gardens- Only yards away from where the first English settlers arrived, within these walls are Elizabethan era statues as well as native Roanoke Island species of plants and flowers. Although many of the bright colors have faded by Winter, they are adorned with a spectacular light show for the holidays.
Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills
5. Wright Brothers National Memorial- It's no secret North Carolina is where the Wilbur and Orville Wright flew for the first time successfully, but to stand in the exact location where history took place over a century ago is more than awe inspiring. You can view replicas of what their bunks looked like, giggle at a few of their failed contraptions and be completely flabbergasted at where time and innovation have brought us today. And you get to stand where it all began. The memorial also houses a small museum with replicas and portraits of aviators who made history in our great nation. A walk to the enormous memorial leads to a bronze replica of what the first flight looked like, and makes for a great photo op!
Wild Mustang spotted on Mustang Jeep Tour
6. Mustang Jeep Tours- Back in the 1600's when the Spanish ships came to the OBX, unaware of its rocky shores and Graveyard of the Atlantic nickname, their purebred horses were tossed into the ocean and swam to shore. Now, centuries later, you can hop on a jeep where the tour guide drives you to the best destinations on the island for viewing the mustangs in their natural habitat, running on the beach, grazing in the dunes, unaware that we were so enthralled with them. The law of the land is a 50 foot distance since these wild mustangs are not tamed and will defend their territory. But when you spot them make sure to have a camera handy!
Ocracoke Island Lighthouse
7. Ocracoke-  If you're touring the Outer Banks from top to bottom, historic Ocracoke will most likely be your final stop. To get there, you must take a short and entertaining ferry ride with breath taking views of the Atlantic. You might even see a few dolphins on your way there. On the island you'll find some historic cemeteries with headstones that date back to the 1500's, small restaurants and even a Native American museum. It is basically like stepping back in time, everything is intact, restored or left as is from centuries ago.
Kathleen protecting her eyes from the windy dunes
8. Jockey's Ridge- Also home to a parasailing school, here you have the chance to climb the largest sand dunes in the east coast. With strong winds constantly changing the coast of the banks, as well as shifting the dunes, you'll get incredible views of the OBX while standing atop these enormous sandy hills. Make sure to wear sunglasses on extra windy days, or you'll end up like Kathleen in this picture!
Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve, end of the trail...
9. Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve- This nature trail makes for a lovely afternoon hike. With incredible views, enormous trees creating a canopy to protect you from the sun and more opportunities to see creatures such as a two foot red crested wood pecker that Kathleen and I chased until it magnificently soared away. You'll trail across marshes, wetlands and be able to identify all sorts of plants around you. Follow the marked trail that will lead you into the Roanoke Sound, which is swarming with hundreds of swan settling in for the evening.
A horseshoe crab spotted on the beach
10. A Walk on America's #1 Beach- Sure this includes the entire length of the coast of the Atlantic side of the OBX, but a walk on what was once named the #1 beach in America is unlike any beach walk I've ever take on the East Coast. There are countless intact seashells, horseshoe crabs, sea glass and other marine wonders that wash ashore. You can fish or swim here in these calm waters, and even get a view of ship and submarine wrecks that are now a part of the coast line. Make sure you know which direction you're going, especially at night. Kathleen and I were once so busy soaking up the sights around us, we didnt realize how dark it was getting and did end up getting lost on the beach for the better part of two hours. Something I can look back on now and simply chuckle at. Everything you experience in the Outer Banks will be etched in your memory forever. =]

The Outer Banks, North Carolina Part 1

I recently had the pleasure of going on vacation with my bestie Kathleen. When she first invited me to North Carolina, my eyes lit up with anticipation. I LOVE North Carolina, was my first thought. But then she said, we're going to the Outer Banks. Although I had never heard of this place, I automatically agreed and did some research on the location.

All of the photographs and website information on this narrow strip of land surrounded by The Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the Currituck Sound on the other did not do this place any justice. It's one of those wonders that you must see to believe, must stand in the center of to experience.
Our condo was in a small town called Duck. There were no fast food signs for miles, simply pristine beaches and protected wildlife around us. Each and every day I simply stared in awe at the white sand and excited at how close we were to the water on each side.

On one of our first outings, we came nearly face to face with a wild mustang. We kept our 50 feet distance which is the law of the land, and took photographs, amazed at this majestic wild creature. Several feet further we spotted a few more. They were not bothered by us one bit and simply grazed without disturbance. I embraced that moment, knowing it would be etched into my mind for eternity.
One of my favorite sights were the historic and awe inspiring lighthouses. I revealed to Kathleen my fascination and admiration for these incredible structures. How they are built for one purpose, to save and protect the lives of sailors and sea men. Each light house contained so much history, jaw dropping stories and photographs of the keepers that occupied them throughout the years.

We heard stories about how the OBX (Outer Banks) is considered the graveyard of the Atlantic, with shipwrecks that pre-dated the 1600's, World War II stories and even a ship that had crashed to shore only two weeks prior to our arrival.

I cannot put into words how amazing and relaxing this trip was. How it brought me back to Earth and placed me back in touch with nature. There was something new to see each day, and if you're a total history nerd like I am, you'll come back with enough knowledge of the historic OBX to create your own pamphlet.
There are not enough words or photographs to describe my experience. But here are my top places to go when you visit the Outer Banks.

In Part Two I'll discuss my top locations you MUST see when visiting the Outer Banks, everything from the Wright Brothers Memorial to the Lost Colony re-enactments. Stay tuned!

Plus Magazine Features & Good News!

Life as always, has been pretty hectic, unpredictable, and yet amazing all at the same time. I am grateful for the wonderful opportunities that have presented themselves, and eternally in debt to the generous individuals who have provided those opportunities for me.
 But for now, I am sharing two wonderful things that recently happened in the plus publishing world. I had my first interview as a plus photographer! For the up and coming Curvz Magazine. I'm a bit shy about sharing so much of myself, as I have been a lot more closed off in the past year. It was hard to put myself in such a vulnerable position, but how could I turn down the opportunity?!

You can read the write up here. And although I did not shoot the cover image, I was humbled and flattered to have my name on the cover. ;)
Then there is Skorch Magazine. Being that it's one of the most popular plus magazines in the country, I was very hesitant to share the big news when I heard I would have my Lala Liberty feature published. I had submitted images a few times before to no avail, but sent these in without hesitation. I was floored when I received such positive feedback and couldn't have been happier to learn this news, but kept it quiet until the issue was published. I teared up from the excitement.

I have entered into the world of wedding photography and am loving it! I will be sharing more tips and advice on how to break into the industry, as well as behind the scenes videos of my upcoming fashion shoot. Yes me...being recorded...preparing, posing and shooting my subjects, in my weird quirky way ;) I look forward to introducing my new bestie (and partner in crime) Stacy Espinoza. We have joined forces since first becoming attached at the hip at Daniela and Sal Longo's wedding. I promise you guys will love her as much as I do =]

I have some even bigger news about the plus publishing world coming soon, but I've learned (from several mistakes and let downs) to not be quick to pull the trigger, and so I will share when the time is right. For now, I continue shooting and editing silently, waiting for that day to come. Sometimes, silence truly is golden. =]

Daniella & Sal Longo's Nutley Memorial Park Wedding

What a beautiful week this has been! If you live on the East Coast, you've been experiencing some not so fall-like weather. It seems more like mid August again with this scorching heat.
 Well here I have another beautiful wedding to share with you. It was a lovely and peaceful ceremony for Daniella and Sal. Their wedding of about 60 took place at Nutley Memorial Park. The ceremony was quick and painless, filled with a few chuckles here and there. Overall, everything went off without a hitch.

 Daniella literally smiled the entire day!! Not a moment of stress. Even when her earring broke moments before leaving to the ceremony, Sal swooped in and saved the day. A couple truly meant for one another. 

The reception was fun and the food was awesome! A big thanks to Daniella and Sal for the pleasure and privilege of photographing their wedding. And another thank you for inviting me to the after-after party too. We had a blast and even continued the party the following weekend. Can you believe I just met this wonderful couple less than 3 weeks ago! 

I hope everyone has a phenomenal weekend! See you all next week! 

Zombie Photo Shoot: Part Two

Thanks to your views and interest, the zombie photo shoot has received some great feedback. So back by popular demand, more lovely zombies. Have a great weekend everyone!!

Models: Pamela Rose Cichy, Lia Italiano & Milie Raid
Make Up Artist: Anthony Giordano

State Scare Haunted Attraction opens October 5th! Check out their site for dates and more information.

Cassie & Victor Hugo Brooklyn Botanic Garden Wedding

The same day I had the very exciting (and now somewhat popular thanks to your views!) zombie photo shoot, I had rushed over from photographing a beautiful garden wedding at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Victor and Cassie Hugo were the lucky couple to get married on a perfect day in New York.
I arrived about an hour before the ceremony was to begin. No shadowing the bride photos. It wasn't ideal for Cassie since her wedding began at 9 in Brooklyn and she was traveling from Suffolk County Long Island.

I set up my camera equipment, and met with the bride and groom separately. After just a 15 minute delay, the wedding went on as planned. Although the location where they were set to wed was lovely, it was a tad cramped and so I calculated each move to not get in any one's view. One obstacle of course was shooting alongside the videographer with out getting in the way of one another. At one point we were both standing on a bench, with no support behind us. Just a pond.
 Another thing I took notice was the amount of cellphones held up in the air. For the last wedding, I only dealt with a rude passerby who decided to stand right next to Brandi and Tiffany and snap photos with his phone. I tapped his shoulder and signaled for him to leave and after a few brief seconds of a dirty look, he did.

 How do I ask others to kindly put down their phones and enjoy the ceremony. That's what we're here for! I thought to myself. But it's something I have in mind to tell the next bride and groom. Family and friends, live in the moment! Enjoy the beautiful ceremony going on a foot in front of you. That's why you hire outside help, so that they can capture the instances you want to relive. ;)
  After the I do's, the newlyweds greeted their guests and braced themselves for photos. Here came the next obstacle. I'm used to a crowd behind me watching me pose and shoot my subjects, but until now, never experienced the pressure of the family observing the way you pose their loved ones, fall silent the moment your lips part. They will be remembering that moment when they view the photos, to see what sort of images result from my methods.
I loved photographing Cassie and Victor. Their families were very friendly, happy and accommodating. Doesn't take from the fact that I was a tad nervous, but I was very pleased with the results, and so were they! They were even kind enough to send a hand written letter to thank me, and continued thanking me via email. What a heartfelt gesture on their part. =]

Here's another wedding photographer tip for anyone starting out like I am. It is NOT for the faint of heart. There is a ton of pressure to capture the most important day of two people's lives. You're capturing their legacy, for future generations to view. Making sure you have the right equipment, sufficient memory cards, back up lenses, and everything in between is crucial. But I'm sure you already know that ;)

Make a list, and check it a million times before you arrive at the wedding destination (whether you're shadowing the bride before the ceremony, or arriving straight there). Make sure to include shots that the couple has asked for. Even if you took beautiful spontaneous images, if you didn't get the one they asked for, they won't hire you again.
Be hard on yourself, but at the same time, pat yourself on the back for the little things that you did capture. For getting beyond the fact that everyone is watching you, waiting on your word to pose the couple. Congratulate yourself on your composure and your kindness. Then push yourself to not repeat the same mistakes, to learn from your experience and to not compare yourself to other photographers. But compare yourself to where you were months, even weeks ago. 
There's a saying I first heard in culinary school, and still hear in the industry today, you're only as good as your last dish. I like to think, you're only as good as your last shot. Which is why, I'll never stop shooting ;)
*If you have any wedding photography advice you'd like to share, or have a question about shooting your first wedding, please feel free to let us know in the comments!

**Stay tuned for more wedding photography tips when I give a sneak peek and write up on the most recent wedding I photographed, Daniela and Sal's perfect park wedding here in Jersey.