Sibling Bonds

To have a sibling is something that cannot be explained or understood, only experienced. 

I am one girl of three brothers, and I have learned over the course of my lifetime how precious the relationship with a sibling is, and how easily it can be taken for granted. My oldest brother lives in Colorado- I see him only a couple times a year. My youngest brother lives with my parents, and isn't much interested in my company. My second oldest brother, I bid farewell to 12 years ago- My family lost him to suicide at only 14 years old.

You never know when time runs out.

This past winter, my family was paid a visit by a face I haven't seen in a very long time- My aunt Lucy. Aunt Lucy is a big personality oozing out of a tiny frame. Her Californian-accent fills the ears of everyone in the room- if they're part of the conversation or not. She always smells sweet, and her skin has always been as soft as silk. She is my dad's only sister, and we maybe see her every other year around Christmas time- sometimes not even that often.

It was quite an experience, seeing Aunt Lucy this time around. I was still living at home and in high school when she had visited the Mitten last- and this time I got to bring her into my own home, and show her my independent life. I also had some time to get to know a cousin I wasn't aquatinted with in our more mature ages. Eric and I were close as kids, but life had taken us to far different places than just Super Mario Sunshine on the Game Cube in my bedroom. 

While the time I spent with them was truly wonderful, there was a more important interaction going on that had nothing to do with me spending time with relatives from out of town.

Watching my father and Lucy together was fascinating. It was a connection I had never picked up on prior to this visit. My mother comes from a very close, loud family of six. I was used to that- they all live in the area and I see them at least weekly. What I had failed to think of was the family my father had grown up in, and the little sister that was apart of that time in his life- much like the way I was a little sister to my two older brothers. 

These two shared times in their lives together that no one else can explain or recreate. They knew their parents, and each other in ways that I could never imagine. They were kids in the yard, they were teenagers dating, they were young adults going out to parties. They grew up in a Hungarian speaking home, and were saturated in a lifestyle and culture that didn't match up with the one that was outside of their front door. 

Suddenly, it became very important for me to document this moment for them.

Sometimes it just feels like another day, or another visit, which doesn't call to be captured as a big event... but sometimes times escapes you. You take a portrait at 20, maybe 30, and think "Oh we won't have to take photos again for a long time... Oh we will next time we see each other..." and then suddenly, decades have passed, and you can't remember what the changes in-between looked like.

So on a very bitter cold December day, I dragged my aunt Lucy and father out into a small field behind the A&W, and snapped a couple quick portraits before running back to the warm car.

Those quick shots on that chilly day are now some of my favorite work I have ever done.

I don't know if it's the similarities- the dark hair, the crooked smile, the brown eyes- or rather the stories of kinship that their eyes tell us... but there is a beautiful haunting that comes along with them. It's not only a gift from me to them, but a gift to me my brothers, and cousin Eric as well. That moment is a part of the family tree that almost wasn't. It could've been too cold, I could've decided I didn't want to take photos that day. 

Sometimes we need to realize that there is no "waiting until next time", and seize the opportunity before it has escapes you.

Aunt Lucy is back in the California sunshine now. My father is waiting for Michigan to finally thaw. But in this moment, they are together forever.

Please enjoy.


Reflection is frustrating and fascinating. I've found this to be especially true lately. 

Since re-doing and remodeling many parts of my website and business, I have been digging through my old Hallmark hard drive, looking for diamonds in the rough to display. Last night one so bright and beautiful came to me, I cringed.

Let's rewind 365 days for just a moment. That would put me right before my college graduation, finishing up my final portfolio.

Now, when putting together a portfolio with a deadline, you start to eat, sleep, and breathe your task. Photo shoots in the morning, editing in the afternoon, more photo shoots at night. All of the sudden, only 1 of every 3 shoots comes out with anything you care about, and you start trashing whole shoots all together and quickly moving on to the next.

On my winter break, I was back in Michigan with the worst shooting conditions possible. We were in the middle of the "snowpocalypse" and I had no studio access. Such a situation led me to a good friends farm with two freezing little girls waiting to have their photos taken so that they could get back in their warm car. Their mom, an old friend of mine, dragged them out for me because she knew how important finishing my portfolio was for me. 

It's amazing what people will endure when they care about you. 

We moved the girls around the barn and fried off a few quick shots and were done with it. One image wasn't worth pneumonia. When I got home, after feeling returned into my toes and fingers, I hardly bothered a second look. We rushed through the session and I doubted anything was even in focus. 

I was back to scheduling the next shoot, and brushed the shoot with the girls under the rug. 

Now let's fast forward to yesterday evening... I put the finishing touches on the advancements to my website and Facebook page, I catch up on e-mails, and then I start to dig into over due editing... I pull up the photos of the girls so that I can send some rough copies over to their mom. The second image in the series jumps off my screen and I immediately identify my mistake. 

This image should have absolutely, undeniably been in my portfolio.

I sat down and gave it the time and affection it should have had in the beginning, and suddenly one of my favorite images I have captured to date emerged. 

Take time, friends. Take time to look over and observe a situation before you dismiss it. We so often miss important details, that entire opportunities pass us by. Sometimes what we're looking for is right in front of us, but we're so blinded trying to find it that we don't even know what we're looking for anymore.

It's my pleasure to debut this image of Brooke, one that should have come to light long ago.


Who would've even known she was cold? And those eyes... Wow. 

Stay warm,



Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.
— Karim Seddiki

Emily Rose Imagery L.L.C has finally found its home in Southern Michigan.

My lovely townhosue

My lovely townhosue

In the last six months I have worked with a wide variety of both portrait and corporate clients. I've photographed families in their backyard, assisted on shoots at the Detroit Opera House, and lit large pieces of metal automotive equipment in warehouses. It has been both tiring and exhilarating. 

There have been a lot of changes and advancements in the services I provide. I am now selling different photographic prints on both wood and metal, as well as finding a way to incorporate my love of interior decorating as a service to share with you all. 


Let me tell you something that is probably redundant and obvious, but it is quite exhausting starting a business. Long days, long nights, but endless pay-off. 

It has been absolutely wonderful to be home with friends and family and long time clients. Everyday I advance a little bit farther in my business model, and every day I get to connect with incredible people. They say it isn't what you know but who you know, and it really is the people I know that inspire me to get up a seize the day.

Short and sweet for now friends. 

I do hope everyone enjoys the new website layout, and will stick around to see the changes and growth that will continue to happen rapidly.

Stay warm friends, 


Go to Boston

Life has changed in many ways for me in the last few months.


When the wheels are turning and you're moving forward without pause, there isn't a lot of time to ponder... but when you do take a moment, breathe in, and reflect, sometimes there are things that don't sit well in your soul.

I would like to share an insight that I hold close to my heart, because I think the mentality is healthy for all. 

I would like to tell you a story...


A few months ago when I was still surrounded by the rolling mountains of Western Mass, I woke up on a morning where the confining walls of school just didn't sound very appealing. There were shoots to do, progress to turn in, and portfolios to worry about. But on that morning, I didn't want to deal with any one of them. 

An individual, dear to my heart, was having the same reservations. So with the sun still high and an entire day ahead of us, we decided to drive to Boston. It was only a two hour drive from Greenfield, MA, and there was free admission to the aquarium.

I couldn't think of a better way to escape reality for a moment or two.

So we got in the car and began to drive.

I was curled up in the passenger seat, sun beating on my cheeks, air from the vents brushing my loose hair against my eyelashes.

While the drive began promising, me and my companion started to become drowsy and irritable. The steady hum of the engine as our bones started to settle reminded us of how exhausted we really were- so we pulled off at a Five Guys in Orange for some food.

My head was pounding, my eyes were watering, I was miserable.

We sat, and I sipped on my vanilla root beer for a few minutes. My companion and I looked at each other and made the unspoken decision that we would turn around and succumb to sleep. The only satisfying medicine for our condition. 

So that was that. We turned around and went home. 

Now to this day- that decision doesn't sit well with me. 

I miss a memory I never had. 


What I'm trying to say is, go to Boston.


Don't wake up one day and think of what you could've had. Don't turn around and miss something new. Get in that car, go to Boston, and soak up every second of it. Spend a day with someone that you love, while they love you. Spend a day with someone you might never see again- remember the way the air felt, how the food tasted, how your skin tingled, how their eyes caught the sun. Spend a day with someone because life is short, and life isn't well spent unconscious or alone.

Make memories, and hold them close. 

Life has no limitations if you give it none. All you have to do to get from point A to B is simply to drive, and don't think twice about turning that car around. 


Go to Boston, because you'll regret it for the rest of your life.

Go to Boston, because you can.

Go to Boston, because tomorrow won't wait for you. 

Go to Boston, because you rather miss what you once had than what you never took a chance on.


Goodnight, friends. 

Wise words

Sometimes you know the answers, but crave the words to come from another that you respect more than you trust yourself. 

"I long for something that's safe and warm, but all I have is all that is gone."

I'm growing a fondness for Passenger. 

One of the many striking images in Claire Rosen's bird series

One of the many striking images in Claire Rosen's bird series

Today I had the the pleasure of catching up with, and getting some worldly advice from New York fashion photographer, Claire Rosen. If you aren't familiar with her work, you should be: 

I met Claire at Hallmark while she was doing a three day guest workshop. During this workshop we were put into groups that were supposed to create a structured conceptual photograph. The moment I saw Claire I knew that we were kindred spirits. Her long curly brown hair, red lipstick, and vintage skirt were the dead giveaways. "She'll get me," I told myself, and I was right. 

Claire inspires me as an artist because she pursues what she loves, no matter how it will "fit" into the industry. Every single photograph she makes, or job that she does, is rooted with art. They are each their very own masterpieces. So thoughtful, tender, and handled with care. I knew that there was something intimate behind every image- a story she needed to tell. There's nothing I could respect more than the passion and drive to do more than just get the job done. 

A few weeks after Claire came to our school, I was fortunate to meet her for dinner in New York. It worked out that she was in town and I was visiting for the weekend. It was then that I realized that Claire wasn't just a muse and idol- she was a person, and a wonderful one at that. It was then that I started to accept that the industry wasn't a soulless one. That there are still people who love and laugh and cry.

As I ate my overpriced shrimp cocktail and tipped my head back to laugh, my heart was full. 

So this brings us to today.

When I spoke to Claire this morning, I was on the edge of my seat. I was so anxious to hear from someone that I respected so much. But of course, she told me exactly what my conscious has told me all along. "Stay busy, stay on top of it, pick a day, get out of there," Which is exactly what I intend to do.

So stubborn are our souls, to spare the tender heart. How grateful I am that there are so many people only wish to see me succeed? So begins the journey to the next.

I'm ready.

To love your enemy

While it is technically Wednesday, the day has not ended until I sleep. And since I have yet to close my tired eyes, this still counts as my Tuesday posting. Which ultimately means I refuse to admit I have already broken my once-a-day posting streak. 

Now let us get deep in the late hours.

Have you ever loved an enemy?

In this last year of my life I have come to realize that the only true form of disconnect and lack of feeling toward another human being is not hate, but indifference. To not be moved at all by the happenings, actions and reactions of another. Love and hate are the most aggressive and passionate feelings, and neither are to far from the other. It takes a lot of feeling and emotion to hate someone. I had the pleasure of that passion while at Hallmark.

Jessica Reilly was beautiful and talented and a bitch.

Or so that was what I told myself. 

Mine and Jessica's rivalry would go on to shape our entire experience at Hallmark. It would effect our relationships with others, our creative visions and process, and our day to day functionality. Without hating Jessica, I would have not seen the world the way I did, the way I do. I would not have held close those that I did. I would not love her now, the way that I do. I needed to hate her to be able to grow and reflect on the reasons behind why I did in the first place. 

Before leaving Hallmark I had the distinct honor of photographing Ms. Reilly. It was a sunny afternoon. Our final portfolios were turned it, and we both knew it was time. The portrait studio was completely empty, and we worked without disturbance. As we got ready, there was a heaviness in the room. She evoked the emotion she had burdened me with for so long, and I did from her as well.

Few experiences in my life will amount to that moment. There is so much I could say, that I could tell you about that afternoon, but for now I will refrain. 

I hope now to take the series of images that I made of Jessica and tell the story of that afternoon in an essay/photo story form. I hope that Jessica might contribute her thoughts, images, and raw emotional material to my project as well. I look forward to not only writing this piece, but sharing it with you as well.

There is growth in love, in hate, and in realization.

Goodnight friends. 

Jessica Reilly

Jessica Reilly

The graduate

4:09pm on a Monday. I'm sitting on my aunt Rosemary's white shag rug listening to my new Cher record. "Bang, bang, he shot me down. Bang, bang, I hit the ground." I bought a Crosley record player as a graduation present to myself, and I haven't turned it off since.

I have been a very neglectful blogger.

In such a fast moving and life changing last few weeks, I've lost track of all time. But here I am now to share the great accomplishments I have had recently, and to announce that I will now be making a blog update every day of the week for these next few months. I think it's helpful for the creative mind to have a place of release, and it also gives me a daily task to remind me that I'm not on vacation. Not all will be lengthy and vastly informational, but each will have a point. 

Moving along...

February 28th, 2014; the last few days of February, my late older brothers birthday, the day of my college graduation. 


My Feb. 28th morning began at 6am. While curling my hair, I found a few gray strands. I paused and sighed and thought of how old I felt I had become in the past ten months. The stress, commitment and exhaustion I had experienced was unlike any other time in my life. Pulling up to the school I realized it would be the last time I would do so for what could be a very long time. I swallowed hard, and smiled. Today was what we had waited for, what I had worked for, and I couldn't wait. 

Rich Barnes began our ceremony, making jokes and brightening the room per ususal. We listened to Lisa Robinson, who had become like my mother away from home, address our class and praise our accomplishments. Our guest speaker was Simon Alexander- the same man that was on the panel at our final review. He made one of the most eloquent and moving speeches I've heard thus far in my life. Simon touched on several points; to stay driven, to love what we do, that life happens in the blink of an eye.

Then something incredible happened. 

In the midst of Simon's speech, he tied in a quote by Dr. Susses...

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go."

Suddenly I was thrown back to a month prior, sitting in my grandmothers basement. You see that's where my uncle Donnie lived, before he took his life this last winter. I was sitting there with his son and my closest cousin, Little Donny. I was on my second leave of absence and was ready to drop out of Hallmark. Worn down, worn out, and hopeless.

We were rifling through little post it notes and stacks of paper. I was thumbing through a leather bound journal I had stumbled upon when a page with few words written in dark marker jumped out at me. I found them so touching, so fitting for where I was and what was happening.

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go."

I'm back at my graduation now. Eyes swelling with tears.

Mr. Alexander takes a seat, and soon after we are presented with our certificates. My heart is full of pride. So close to giving up and here I finally was. I couldn't remember the last time I had smiled so genuinely and persistently. 

Next, we move on to the individual awards. There are three plaques and one trophy catching glints of light on either side of the podium. First awarded is my classmate Dean Tocio for his academic excellence. Dean is quiet, grounded and talented- I'm more than thrilled for his recognition.

Next to present an award is Gregory Heisler. We have all come to know Greg as a teacher, and a friend. He is presenting the award for Portfolio of Highest Excellence, which is the trophy everyone has been eyeing since being seated at the beginning of the ceremony. He says some wonderful things about what is about to be awarded, that it isn't just the "best" Hallmark portfolio, but a professional portfolio ten years beyond its maturity. We all listen attentively to his presentation, my eyes drift to my peers and we all smile at each other anxiously, 

"Let's see who this goes to... Oh, it's Emily Rose Darrow!"

Shock. Pause. Sobbing. 

I tried to come to my feet, and had to latch on to my teacher Tony Downer, just to make it up the stairs to the stage. I hugged Greg fiercely and clutched my trophy to my side. Was this happening? Months of doubt, months of fighting, months of no sleep, months of sickness, months of feelings like quitting, months of loneliness, months of loss, yet here I was. Many embraces followed as I existed the stage before I met my father again on solid ground- he was sobbing too. He held me tight and told me that I was better than any academy award that he could have ever had. My heart was so full and words couldn't form, so I just kept squeezing back.


Next were three awards for three students in the top 10% of our class. They called up Steven Turner, Jason Frank and Jessica Reilly. If I could have hand picked who deserved those awards the most, I would have done nothing different. Up there stood three individuals that sculpted my time at Hallmark, and the person and artist I am today. Proud couldn't even begin to describe the overwhelming feeling in my chest. 

All of the sudden, just 30 hours later, my apartment was packed, the goodbyes had been said, and I was on my way back to where I started. 

I am now back in Michigan, and there have been new life developments daily- but for now, I'm taking a deep breath. Who knows where I will end up next, but for now I'm trying to enjoy the sunshine and a good record. Because you know what? It all happens in just a blink.

Late night habits

screen capture of a posting on the Hallmark Institute of Photography website.

screen capture of a posting on the Hallmark Institute of Photography website.

Here we are again in the late hours of the evening, and I am getting ahead of myself with my to-do list of the morning. There have been so many developments in the last few days that they have been almost painful not to share right away. 

Friday was my final portfolio review. Few things in my life have been as important, nerve wracking, or intense thus far. When my images went up on the screen before I was called on to the stage, I was shaking so hard I did not know how I would ever find my feet again. When I stood up under those bright lights and collapsed into my seat at the overhead sound of "portfolio accepted" I was thrilled and defeated at the same time. I can't even bring forth words that would do justice to that feeling. 

I had the honor to be reviewed by some of the industries most esteemed photographers; Lois Greenfield, Simon Alexander, and Scott Zuehlke. (Please do yourself a favor and look them up. It's so inspiring to look at such sophisticated work. Healthy for the soul...) and of course- Hallmark's own in-resident celebrity Gregory Heisler gave feedback with the panel as well.  I won't go through every comment, as most of it was a blur- but the moment that really stuck with me was the statement Mr. Alexander made right before the applause and my exit from the stage, "You are going to be very successful," I have been beaming ever since. 

(from the left) Simon Alexander, Gregory Heisler, Lois Greenfield, and Scott Zuehlke reviewing my prints.

(from the left) Simon Alexander, Gregory Heisler, Lois Greenfield, and Scott Zuehlke reviewing my prints.

Since review, I have reviewed myself as a photographer quite a bit as well. I now feel this responsibility to myself to really cultivate and care for the work I do. I feel as if it has a bigger reach and purpose than I have ever given it credit for. Sometimes it takes that outside voice to come to that realization. 

On Saturday I will be moving my things back to Michigan. After that is very taboo. 

Following my review I had a conversation with my father about my future endeavors. I talked loosely about my idea to explore the west coast, and was taken aback at his suggestion on stay out east. He had a bit of a point. Hallmark has given me the gift of connections that some can only dream of, and to walk away without exploring that would be a shame. 

Right now I don't know what the immediate future looks like, but the long term has become a bit clearer. For now I will send e-mails and see where fate puts me. I will remind myself every step of the way how blessed and fortunate I am to be where I am, regardless of what happens. 

I think I'm happy. How crazy is that?

My final portfolio as it was presented.

My final portfolio as it was presented.


Tonight, I am going to cheat. I know my postings are supposed to happen on Mondays and Fridays but... hey, it's after midnight so I suppose it is technically Friday anyway. Moving on...

Today, is the day of my portfolio review. 

In a few hours I will be getting ready, and soon after that I will be at the school, being judged by a group of panelists on a body of work that I have been working towards creating for the last year of my life. This brings me joy and tears all at once just thinking about it. All great things must come to an end, I know, I understand, but I'm just not quite ready to let go.

"Well it's four in the morning, things are getting heavy, and we both know that its over, but we're both not ready. And you're talking like a stranger, so I don't know what to do. And I'm calloused and I'm cruel to everyone but you..."

My experiences in Massachusetts are unlike any I've had so far in life. I know this comes with the territory of new life experience and getting older, but this was my biggest leap so far. I've loved, lost, explored, sobbed, rolled on the ground and laughed, and learned more than I could have ever imagined. I've met people I will miss for the rest of my life. I've seen sunsets that I will never witness the same. 

"Yeah the stars shining through our window, and the stars shining through our window. And it's been a while since I stared at the stars, yeah it's been a while since I stared at the stars."

Tonight I lay awake much to late and wonder why it is so hard for me to let go. 

A few hours ago I drove through Greenfield and went slow by place where I could see myself walking, midday July in a summer dress. My skin was sun-kissed and everything was new. I'm laughing with friends I've made. We're making big plans. Then all of the sudden we blinked, and here we are now. 

"Spring can be the cruelest of months, but bringing in your life, yeah we're promising so much. Like the pledge that you gave when you said that you'd always love me, but we both know by autumn you're like the color of leaves,"

I made a big decision last week in regards to my next big adventure. I'm selling all of my furniture, packing my car up with whatever will fit, and heading for the west coast. I am a creature of comfort, a hoarder of all things that carry sentiment, and I think that by starting to let those things go I can start to let go in other parts of my life. I'm young, and I think this is the first healthy decision I've made for myself in a very long time. Life is too short to settle and dwell.

"Yeah the stars shining through our window, and the stars shining through our window. And its been a while since I stared at the stars, yeah it's been a while since I stared at the stars."

I will miss the stars on my bridge, the water rushing that I fall asleep to every night, the smell of fresh flowers in Shelburne Falls in the summer time, catchlights in fond friends eyes, but life goes on. Ready or not, morning will come. I'd like to think that I am ready, or I will be soon. Goodnight.

"Well I don't think that it's the end, but I know we can't keep going. Well I don't think that it's the end, but I know we can't keep going. Because blue skies are coming, but I know that it's hard."