SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE

I’ve always believed that good things come in three’s. This is possibly a bias towards my favorite number, or perhaps it's merely the curse of perpetual optimism. Either way, this lucky phenomenon is both proven and validated by one simple word: Trifecta. It's a term defined as “a run of three wins or grand events” (a.k.a good things… in three’s). 

This was the word that came to mind a few weeks ago, as we rolled our photo gear out of Al Badia Golf Club, trying to make sense of the glorious celebration still booming behind us—trifecta. It was the only logical conclusion to the beautiful collision of Nigeria, Ethiopia and Arabia, somehow happening all at once. 

That collision, was the international black-tie affair where Ms. Betty Samuel became Mrs. Chinedum Nwaneri. A stunning Ethiopian/Eritrean bride and strapping Nigerian groom with enough style to give the Middle East elite a nice run for their money. The couple tied the knot in none other than Dubai, the city of their courtship.

It was there in Festival City that we found ourselves in the midst of one of those nights you’ll never forget. Surrounded by guests from all over the globe and enmeshed in one of the most colorful cultural events we’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting. 

What began with a custom white gown and embroidered tuxedo, gave way to a native Nigerian dress, golden head wraps and later—a regal pair of black and gold capes for the newlyweds. Each change ushered in a new spotlight of Nigerian and Ethiopian/Eritrean customs; blurring the lines of performance with the art of tradition and the beauty of love celebrated in earnest abandon. 

It was the kind of celebration that had its own pulse. A night so alive, it pulls in anyone and anything that’s not already nailed to the ground. Ourselves included—happily swept up into a place that existed neither west in Nigeria, nor east in Ethiopia, but somewhere in between. Somewhere that surely hung there in the Arabian sky long after the evening ended. 

 

 

THUG WIFE

Typically, most weddings have that one lively guest who carries the self-appointed title of Hype Man Extraordinaire. A role commonly reserved for that especially colorful groomsman, on a mission to see every preteen and grandma turnt all the way up. 

But for Nicole and Tim Caputo, this was not the case. This was a job for Nicole herself—the young, whimsical and effortlessly gangsta bride known as, Thug Wife. 

…Did that description just throw you off? It threw us off too. Because, admittedly, our first impression (and her extensively detailed wedding manual) had us expecting someone prim and proper. But buttoned-up as she seemed, we pulled up to Nicole’s, heard that beat drop from inside the house, felt the bass all the way across the street, and realized we were in for something new. 

That something, was one of our favorite parties of the year. A one-of-a-kind celebration of love and life—thug life. Because lavender, roses and wind-blown chiffon can really make a girl feel like a boss.

And honestly, after you’ve planned and executed the perfect wedding, you and your lady swag deserve a moment to celebrate. 

So with the permission of Mrs. Caputo herself, we bring you...

 

The Top Tips For Thuggin Out Your Wedding:

 

 1.    It's All About Your Ride-or-Die: Let’s face it, this is the reason why we’re all here. Because you said yes to spending the rest of your days sticking by your best friend through thick and thin. So maintain perspective ladies, it’s all about the love. 

2.    Thugz Mansion: When hosting your first reveal at Old Westbury Gardens, be sure to allocate time for the requisite soul train line (as seen in the movie, Hitch). Note: we know Will Smith isn’t exactly the face of hardcore thuggin, but feel free to channel your inner Rick Ross (or Nicole) for inspiration.

3.    Squad Up: Chemistry is everything. And because your bridal party is with you for the entirety of your day, be sure they’re girls who help create and carry the atmosphere you want on your wedding day.  

4.    Putcha Stunna Shades On: This is a big one. Pick a Maid (or Matron) of Honor who can speak from the heart and still slay the game on your toast. Bonus points if she spits her speech to a custom track like Nicole’s sister, Victoria. (p.s. can we please shoot your wedding one day?!) 

5.    Make a Mean Playlist: Whether your songs include Frank Sinatra, Fetty Wap or some glorious combination of the two—make sure the DJ knows your must-have jams. 

6.    Just Keep it Real: Above all, make sure your wedding day is YOURS. There’s often pressure to meet everyone’s expectations, but rememberthugs take orders from no one. So don’t shy away from being who you truly are. The most beautiful brides are the authentic onesnever opting for a fake smile when the moment calls for a deep belly laugh, a few honest tears or some serious mean muggin (like our girl, Nicole). You’ve waited your whole life for this day, be sure to show the real you :)

DANCE LIKE NO ONE'S WATCHING 

Crazy things happen in New York City. I mean... cray. This month alone, we've encountered a naked man in a box, heard unfortunate stories of a mass cricket-release on the F train and enjoyed a mid-sidewalk serenade by Pink Santa (because you know.. September..........).

All alarmingly normal incidences to the average New Yorker. 

So when we took to the streets with pancake tutus and a (seemingly) intrusive wish list of shots, we knew these un-phased pedestrians would prove the perfect audience for a day galavanting with the talented, Caitlin Olson. 

And galavant we did. Whipped by the wind of a passing train, tangled in the rungs of a well-placed fire escape,  dangling gracefully above the concrete landing pad below. 

We took to these activities with boundless, carefree joy. Basking in the emancipating comfort that comes when no one's watching. Be it barren platform or busy street—we danced our hearts out, knowing the security of this city's unspoken agreement. Passionate performance or peculiar scene, only few will bat an eye. 

INBAL AND CARISSA - PLEASE TAKE A BOW

Don’t let the big tires and tech gear fool you—we’re photographers, but we’re girly girls at heart. So when we see a gown like Carissa Bentley’s knockout number, we put the cameras down and take the requisite moment to swoon in the presence of such perfectly layered lace. 

And how could we not? Anyone with a pulse and even the faintest fashion sense would do a hard triple-take in a mere Inbal Dror drive-by. Because this isn't just a dress. It’s a work of sheer artistry from the supremely impressive designer that's quickly making “Dror” a household name. 

Our encounter began just like any other summer Saturday. We arrived at the bridal suite, calm and unassuming; greeted by the equally beautiful (soon-to-be) Mrs. Bentley. After introductions with warm family and winsome bridesmaids, we took in the subtle current of pre-ceremony buzz, grabbed a few lenses and got right to work. 

It was then that we slipped into an adjacent suite—a simple attempt to capture the jewelry and accessories, not knowing “she” would be waiting in the window. 

But there it was. Our first Dror encounter of the season. Layers of ivory culminating in a tulle train, draped in tapered lace. A trail of traditional buttons, giving way to a delicate mermaid silhouette. Crystal beading and appliqué straps leading into the deep, T-shaped cutouts of an embroidered lace back. This could only mean one thing.

We fell into a momentary state of dream-like adoration and finally snapped-to with one name on our lips—Inbal Dror.  The Israeli bridal genius has (unknowingly) sparked many-a-Instagram arguments over which of her stunning style was “ours.”

But now, here it was and one thing was clear—this one belonged to Carissa. And if the custom hanger left room for question, her glove-like fit was undeniable. This one was made for Carissa and beautiful wedding day to follow. 

So kudos to both the beauty and the brains behind this style stunning duo. You ladies have us ALL taking notes.


REVEALED

Throughout history, many cultures across the world have upheld traditions requiring brides to enter into special time of preparation before stepping up to the alter and into their new lives. For months before the wedding, they retreat for various rituals surrounding prayer and purification. Of course, we’re no stranger to the polish and process many brides adopt today; but after considering these time-honored practices, I couldn’t help seeing a few similarities reflected in a recent process of my own. 

While much less formal (and far from bridal) I’ve taken a form of a retreat myself. A brief intermission in more of a metaphorical than a physical sense, but a time for clarity and refining nonetheless. To take stock of my current position, my passions and goals, as an entrepreneur on the outside, but an artist at heart. To truly identify my core principles, evaluate my best work and reestablish my commitment for the journey ahead. 

Because stepping up to an altar, whether in a church, on a beach or under a tree; whether as a the officiant, the photographer or the bride herself, requires careful thought and consideration to properly revere the moment at hand. 

So with this process in mind–cleansing completed, purpose polished and reason rekindled, I’m ready for a first reveal of my own. Because today not only marks the launch of the newly redesigned ginaesposito.com, it represents the beginning to a new and exciting season in my life as a photographer. And call me old-fashion, but in the spirit of tradition, I’d like to mark the date with a few public vows of my own:

To let passion take precedence in everything I shoot. To favor personality over automated output. To say what I mean and shoot what I see. To lead with creativity and follow each story as its unveiled. To keep expectations high, and ego low. To aim for excellence and land on authenticity. To be present in the moment, sensitive to the atmosphere and conscious of emotion. To capture subtle nuance and grand statements alike. To never sacrifice integrity or lose perspective on the moment—these days are absolutely as priceless as they seem. 

Above all, I commitment to being myself, building my craft, taking nothing for granted and making memories of my own along the way. 

Here’s to the new chapter ahead.