Life in Diptychs | Snowflake Photography| Pittsburgh, PA portrait photographer

Lately I've been looking at life's stories and it seems that a diptych might tell you a bit more about the story I want to tell.  Traditionally a diptych is two wooden hinged panels with paintings on them however in photography they are two pieces of a story or two stories that share a something in common (seen or felt)  Here are a few I've shared on @Snowflakephotos instagram account. 

TRADITION | Snowflake Photography | Pittsburgh PA, Portrait Photographer

I would agree in parts with Thorton Wilder that love is the bridge between this world and the next. I know that it is my love that keeps us together through times of celebration and heartbreak. But I would argue that tradition is the bridge that roots us to the past, that gives us something to cling to when the waves of life are unforgiving.

I grew up in a mostly Italian American household. My mother was Polish but she catered to my father’s tastes. He immigrated to this country from the Marche region of Italy as a young boy and his mother, my Nonna, cooked delicious foods from their hometown from scratch. As a child I took part in many traditions but it was the holidays that stand out to me the most. My family here lived close by and we partook in the same traditions year after year. It was important to my parents and little did I understand how important it was to me; how it would sustain me when I needed it the most.

At the end of December of 2011 my Nonna was diagnosed with cancer in her brain that had all started a few years before as skin cancer. Fourteen days later, as 2012 began, she passed away.  I remember writing to a friend that 14 days didn't seem quite enough to prepare me to have someone larger than life turn into a ghost in front of me.  I may not have been ready but she was ready and told us so often. She had a strong faith and was prepared to see my Nonno again, her husband who had already been gone too many years for her.   Making cappelletti (we pronounce it "cap-a lett") just a few weeks prior, she said in her thick accent “If I’m here, God willing” about the next year’s noodle making.  She prefaced many things like this and she said this every year. I would rebuke her and tell her that I was sure she would live for a long time. She had to, I had so many more memories to make with her. 

 I had no idea.

To lose a woman like her from your life was to snuff out a candle in a dark room. How could I have known that months later my own mother would pass away un-expectantly and we would be left, like lost children at age 30, 34 and 38.  To be a woman who still didn't really know how to be a mother, and to have had so many things about being a daughter that I needed to do better felt like a kick in my gut.  

As the darkness grew around us it was my sister who believed in my mom’s spirit of Christmas.  As if to say that we would not lose the love and essence of the holiday that my mother showed time after time, Nicole strung light after light on every bit of foliage around her home.  She lit the night in a holiday glow with more twinkling lights than I had seen previously on her home. From far down the street (because that's where I live)  her house shined. To me, it was almost as if to say to my mom, that this all was still important.  Christmas would not be dark for us, not for her children, not for our mother.

The Christmas of 2012 was the first year we made the cappelletti on our own. Tear streaked cheeks and unsure hands we fumbled through a half written recipe that we jotted down two years prior on a scrap of paper, and a memory of a woman we loved.

Every year it gets closer to being correct and every year there are more children to learn. It’s impressive to reflect on the years before this that my Nonna would make enough noodles for soup to feed 25 people or more all on her own. I can imagine her hands working tirelessly just as her Mother-in-law’s hands did in Italy so many years before. The only instrument of change between the two being the pasta rolling machine. It has carried us over 100 years, a noodle in soup served around a table of our family.

I could try to share the recipe with you but I don’t think it would come out correct enough to do it justice. It’s not a secret that we are trying to keep. To be honest we’re not sure that we have it down quite yet. They are delicious, but maybe the loss of her thick accent and the things she did before we even arrived those last ten years that we began our training in the evenings after work, are keeping us from perfect replication. I can tell you that the noodles are filled with chicken, cheese, and swiss chard. The dough is so thin that it melts in your mouth and when you mix it on the board.... Well it starts as an egg volcano and then you incorporate it until it looks just right. What’s that, you might ask? Well you’re just going to have to come and learn.

Thinking on this I want to take and give so much more than a recipe because it's so much more to me.  I can only hope that my daughters know a few things. That I love them with all of my being, that traditions will sew our lives as a family together, and that when it’s my turn to leave this world, I have lived, loved, and am ready.  I'm not sure how I will get all of that done in my time here but hopefully with a little guidance from this world and the next I can shed a fraction of light I have been given into this world.  

Shadow and Light | Senior Session: Snowflake Photography | Pittsburgh PA Portrait Photography

Have you noticed that far more of my seniors are choosing urban environments?  It seems like it to me and I am totally fine with it if they all turn out so awesome.  I think if I were to have my senior portraits done again..... I just might find myself with bricks and skylines too! 

Scavenger hunt at the Carnegie Museum of Art | Snowflake Photography | Pittsburgh, PA Portrait Photographer

The long weekend we were gifted recently left us weekdays to explore.  We opted to use our Monday to go to the Carnegie Museum of Art.  In order to draw my girls into the excursion and not let the trip turn immediately into a mere pause before seeing the dinosaurs I decided to have them help me make a scavenger hunt.  We came up with a list of about 20 things that we might see in paintings.  With two clipboards and the list we hit the museum.  It was great because in looking for these things it got the girls asking questions about other pieces of art.   I am in no way an expert but having a father who taught art for years and having studied a bit of it in college (during my small phase of wanting to become an art history major)  I felt like I had a decent handle on our exploration.  Anyways I thought you might like to see a bit........


The little things | Snowflake Photography, Pittsburgh, PA Portrait Photographer

Everyone says that it's the little things that make this life so sweet.  And by everyone I mean friends, books, movies, quotes..... everyone.  (Okay so maybe I just mean that I hear it quite a bit)  but as it stands the little things are what makes life so blindingly bright and wonderful for me.  The small baby that I delivered into this life, the small crack of light that filters through our curtains leaving shadows of tree leaves on the opposite wall,  the small bit of toothpaste my husband leaves ready on my toothbrush every morning,  the small hands that look for mine in a crowd, the small jewels of fruits and vegetables in our yard, and the small days that are not extraordinary in any other way except for being totally mine.   I know that many of us joke about wanting to see the start of a school year, to get back to a routine, but this non-routine is the plan I like best.  Slow mornings, breakfast on the porch, and endless games played by two little girls so enamored with each other at times that I worry what the disconnect will feel like in the chasm between kindergarten and second grade.  We are enjoying the small things and taking this last bit of a month one day at a time.  I hope things are as sweet for you as well.  


~ Marisa

Intimate Wedding in Joplin, Missouri | Snowflake Photography | Pittsburgh, PA Portrait Photographer

When you are in the presence of true love, it really moves you.  These two timeless souls exemplified all that one can expect from a relationship built so firmly on love and respect.  I had the honor of photographing their wedding weekend in Joplin, Missouri and will remember the day for a very long time.  Their vows written and spoken to each other were filled with such honesty and had a magic to make you feel as though you were listening to the beating of their hearts.  I would wish them all of the happiness in the world but I am pretty sure they will make that happen.  


~ Marisa


OHHHH and did I mention that before all of this they ran a half marathon on the day of their wedding!  xo

Keeping it real | In Home Lifestyle Play Session| Snowflake Photography | Pittsburgh, PA Portrait Photographer

When I first started my photography journey I used my canon slr and loaded roll after roll into the back.  I shot my sister washing her car, my dad planting a tree, my brother goofing around or my mom cooking dinner.   I captured images of the flowers in our yard or the garden as it grew.   I wish I had taken more of my grandparents doing their thing.  I hold those images close to my heart.  My own personal photography is full of just the everyday beauty of dirty knees and moments that just happen to present themselves in our natural day.  So getting to shoot an in home session with one of my favorite three year old was what I would consider perfect!   We did what he wanted to do. That list included play with trucks, use his umbrella, swing from the garage as he loves to do in any temperature, play in his tent, and eat lunch (super hero glass included).   It was a day of him at three and that's worth remembering.  It's worth having a professional eye look at your everyday to turn it into a keepsake.  So from their home to yours.....

~ Marisa


The best place in Pittsburgh to photograph Newborns | Snowflake Photography | Pittsburgh, PA Portrait Photographer

Leave your baskets and props on the shelf and come with me to the best place to photograph your newborn....... 

Your home of course!  I know you're thinking that maybe your home is not Pinterest worthy but I bet there's a story there and more beauty than you might think. 

When I first took my photography into the realm of being a business I kept away from newborn photography.  Not only did I think that I lacked the skill to pose those cute little newborns on bean bags and propped up in baskets, I really lacked the desire.   Now don't get me wrong, I think that some of those images are super cute and I marvel at the skill to edit out fingers and posing helpers as well as sooth a newborn into some of those super dreamy positions but I just didn't feel as though it was what I wanted to capture.

I have been lucky enough to have clients who want that sliver of life within their walls that tells a story of what it's like for them as parents to a newborn in their own home.  Swaddled up sweetness, bathing beauties, tired little bundles within their own cribs and parents just completely smitten by that new little person.  

So if you are expecting, maybe give your home a second glance...


A little fun in windy Pittsburgh weather | Snowflake Photography | Pittsburgh, PA Portrait Photographer

The weather here in Pittsburgh has been changing from day to day.  With that change in temperature comes wind.  Yesterday was an exceptionally windy day and the play cape came in handy.  I am lucky that she thought of it because I try really hard to capture the authentic moments rather than anything contrived.   

 What we ended up with was a super interesting collection of images with movement and speak again to the magic of childhood.  To think that we spent only five minutes in a small space of our driveway.  Further proof that you don't have to leave home or have super romantic scenes to get images that are dear to your heart.