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  • Welcome to Our Journal

    Keith is a photographer who believes that kids are nearly perfect and that great images capture a bit of that perfection for all eternity. He loves that children don’t filter their emotions. Living loud is their power. And his job is to capture a moment of their uncontained imaginations: your children, unscripted.

    Melissa is the studio manager, adoring wife, busy mom and occasional writer that believes she is living the most beautiful life in the whole world.

    Keith and Melissa have two amazing daughters, Isabella and Gabriella and a little Jack Russell named Pooch.

    This journal is our personal blog about our family, photography, travel and how we are inspired by children in all their authenticity, one beautiful photograph at a time.

Isabella turns 10 | Personal

isabella turns 10Double digits. Wow. So hard to believe that time has passed this quickly. Isabella is 10 today.

It seems like yesterday that Keith and I were racing across the Tappan Zee Bridge on our way from Nyack to the little hospital in Sleepy Hollow, New York. And now this beautiful big (still little) girl is standing before us.

I wasn’t sure back then what type of parent I would be or what type of child Bella would become. I’m not sure I’m still sure of so many things. This much I know – I love this kid to death. I love the good, the sometimes bad and everything else in between.

She was born being kind. She is just not mean. She is sensitive. She has a sweet spirit. She is soft spoken.  She is thoughtful. She has taken on so many great qualities in her decade here on earth.

She’s perceptive.  She has a great sense of humor. She is funny. She can be moody. (But so can I.) She is serious. But wow when she laughs does it fill me with so much joy. I love her laugh. She asks lots of questions, personal one’s too. She inquisitive in a subtle way.

She’s creative. Yet she is our little entrepreneur. Always dreaming up her next business. She’s a planner. She has her survival plan in case she in stranded in the water.

She dreams. I love that she dreams.

I know that we are on the precipice of young adult and it’s not always pretty. In one interaction she can be sarcastic (oh she gets that from both Keith and I), dismissive and make me want to scream. But then a moment later she is endearing and genuine and I question how I could ever be upset with her!

How could all of this evolve in 10 short years? How could I love this little girl anymore than I do? My mom always told me about how much I was going to love my kids – and was she ever right!

Happy Birthday Isabella.

Cefalu Beach | Sicily Travelogue

Cefalu Beach SicilyCefalu Beach SicilyI must admit, the posts have become a bit scarce this past week. It has been a busy week of documenting all that lead up to the beautiful wedding that was photographed this past weekend in San Cataldo, Sicily. There is so much to share. So many great photos and memories. Italian beaches are a post all their own.

Yesterday, we went to the beautiful little town of Cefalu. I had heard so many great things about Cefalu and believe me, seeing it in person it was better than described. It is the quintessential antique little Sicilian village, perfectly placed right on the coast. History, charm, beauty. What more could you want? If you are planning a trip to Sicily, do not miss this place, in fact consider staying in this area for a few days!

Over the last three weeks, we have been to at least 6 or 7 different beaches. They each have their charm. Some have small rocks, some have large rocks and some have beautiful sand. We have experienced beaches with no waves, waves, wind, sand bars, beach clubs and crystal clear water. But what I have never experienced in my life is how crowded these beaches can be!

Wow, the Cefalu beach was jammed yesterday. I kid you not when I say we had to dodge and weave under and around these colorful umbrellas and the masses of people that dot the beach. We finally found a little sliver near the water to set up. People as far as the eye could see.

Things worth noting. There are vendors that walk around and sell everything. From cut up coconut to everything you need to enjoy the beach. I saw someone selling bikinis (really? who buys a bathing suit on the beach?), sarongs, floats, blow up toys, sunglasses, necklaces, bracelets, CDs (I can’t imagine he is selling many of these) and every single beach play toy you can think of – all carried by one guy! A walking store.

The girls next to us were applying their baby oil liberally (yikes, I haven’t done that since the 80’s – sun block is not embraced here at all). I was the only one, and I mean the only one – regardless of body type or age that had on a one piece bathing suit. Volleyball in the water. Music, dancing, snorkeling, laughter every where.

The beach was just spectacular. The water perfect. The kids enjoyed the waves and the ideal water temperature. As crowded as the beach was – it didn’t seem that way once you jumped into the water. Plenty of water to go around!

The perfect family beach.

Ragusa Ibla | Sicily Travelogue

scicli, ragusa ibla sicilyragusa iblaragusa iblaragusa iblaragusa ibla modica sicilyragusa iblaragusa ibla italyDSCF0689modica italy“Italy without Sicily leaves no image. Sicily is the key to everything.” Johann Wolfgang Goethe, “Trip to Sicily”

As beautiful as Modica is, it does have a rival. Yes, Ragusa Ibla is just incredible.

We drove from Modica to Ragusa Ibla along the windy country roads that connect the two. Hard to believe how people traveled between these towns (well cities really) back in the day. But what a surprise when you come around this hair pin turn and this amazing city emerges before your eyes, perched on the side of a hill – as far as the eye can see.

We made our way to the old town area. Found a parking spot and set out to explore. There is a special little park that overlooks the gorge and makes you realize just how high up you are. Beautiful baroque style buildings were all around. We walked to the Duomo and did the super touristy little train ride through the old streets. It was a good way to cover some ground quickly as we did not arrive in Ragusa Ibla till late in the day.

The Duomo was impressive. The gelato was enjoyed by the kids. Fortunately for us, we chose to visit Ragusa Ibla during it’s annual music competition, The Ibla Grand Prize. (our dumb luck!) We happened across and impromptu collaboration when a pianist started playing and a violinist joined in. Such beautiful music in such a setting. How lucky are we? Did I mention that I noticed out of the corner of my eye and old friend from NYC? The magic didn’t stop in this delightful little town.

Fact: Ragusa Ibla is the largest UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world. Just spectacular.

The last two shots are of us back in Modica. Walking into town for dinner we were passed by this group of small cars – probably an auto club of sorts. A few adorable little Fiat 500s from way back. Look how the kids are hugging the side of the wall as the cars pass. Honestly, when you are walking on these tiny little side streets it is impossible to imagine that a car might come along, never mind a caravan of cars. Still wondering how they fit!

PS I have had the camera out on this trip! Two photos in this series were taken by moi. One is obvious. Which is the other?

Who doesn’t love the spiaggi? Donnalucata Beach | Sicily Travelogue

sicily beachessicily beaches donnafugataday at the beach sicilymodica italymodica italy

Modica, Modica, Modica. How we love thee. This town is so charming that if you sketched the perfect little Sicilian Baroque village, this is what you would come up with.

In an effort to make everyone happy on this trip, we decided to balance the touring around with trips to the beach. The kids can only handle so many churches or museums in one day, so we figured if we wanted to make the most of seeing the sights then we better give them some beach time.

Driving out of Modica, we were headed in the direction of Marina di Ragusa but decided to try and find a more quiet beach. So we drove a few extra kilometers towards Donnalucata. (Sidenote: worth seeing is the Castello di Donnafugata) We drove through town and then turned down a tiny little street on the edge of town where we could see the beach. Easy parking and a short walk to this perfect little spot.

We arrived around 12:30 or so. Nice little crowd. Thatched umbrellas with people’s chairs leaned against the base. Kind of reminded me of when it used to snow back east and once you shoveled out your spot on the street, you would put some piece of furniture like a folding chair or something to claim your spot. So these leaning chairs didn’t necessarily mean that there were people using these umbrellas, but that they were “reserved”.

Lunch hour arrived – and every Italian on the beach made a quick exit. We figured out quickly that once 1pm rolled around, every town shuts down and people enjoy lunch for a few hours. So we now had the beach to ourselves. Since we had just arrived, we enjoyed the quiet beach and even snuck some shade from one of these umbrellas. We made up our own story line of the mafioso who was going to come question us about sitting under “his” umbrella. Needless to say, the beach stayed empty besides one little boy throwing his bright colored bocci balls around the beach.

Back in Modica we caught up on some laundry. I haven’t used a clothes line since I was a kid. But truthfully, living in Phoenix, I need to reconsider. The laundry would dry in minutes. Gabby liked to sit on the balcony and look over at the family of cats that lived down below. She had names for every stray in the neighborhood. And I don’t need to tell anyone who knows her well enough that if she could have she would have packed up every single kitty in her suitcase and brought them home with her. There were points where she was like the pied piper with a little kitty following behind her. Love this kid.

The perfect way to spend the day.

A Walking Tour of Modica | Sicily Travelogue

modica sicilymodica altamodica italy modica sicilytravel to modicaold town modicaold town modica death noticesst giorgio modicas giorgio modica s giorgio modicas giorgio italy

Once we settled into our adorable little apartment in Modica’s old town, we set out for a short uphill walk to the grocery store. Along the way, Keith took a few snapshots of the neighborhood.  The first few photos show just how old this neighborhood is. It was rebuilt in the 1600’s after an earthquake destroyed this part of Sicily. To think, many of these buildings are still standing nearly 400 years later. I just love the color of the buildings, the more distressed the more interesting.

I’m particularly taken by the death notices. I guess it is the equivalent of my grandmother reading the obituaries every day in the paper. It looks to me like these papers that have the person’s name, date and age when they died and a short little obituary, are hung around town (and near their home) so that people who knew them will be informed of their passing.

We are so near to San Giorgio – a beautiful church steps from here. The church bells ring to let you know of a marriage or church service or high noon. There are something like 300+ steps that lead up to the church. Broken ankles Gabby hasn’t even complained once about all these stairs. The kids are so much more fit than their mom. But I love that we have to climb up or down to get anywhere. It is sweet, they have a little grocery cart that drives through the streets for the older folk who can’t get around.

One other note, I appreciate they way they present their produce at markets or in a grocery store. They don’t pretty it up like they do in the US. The tomato is what it is, it might be small and not perfect or large and perfect, but they don’t make them shine or fit all uniform into the bin. You are getting the actual fruit and vegetables with what looks like to me, not much to preserve them. Eat them at the moment, why would you want them to last for a week? They are fresh and you can tell. I like that.

Another beautiful day in Sicily. Off to the beach.

Thelma - August 21, 2014 - 10:16 pm

300 steps to the church? WOW! The villagers must have “bums of steal”—I want to live there. Lol!
Lovely shots of the village, Keith.
What would an Italian village be without at least 1 Vespa motor scooter?! Enjoyed the “walk”, and I didn’t have to climb those 300 steps to see that beautiful church; thanks to the Pitts’ family. Ciao, T & G