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Ladies and gentleman, this is not your average New York City marriage proposal. Fasten your art aprons and prepare to take your paintbrush for the ride of your life. At the end of this painting class, he might just put a ring on it.


I've always been a hopeless (or hopeful) romantic. Pair that with my passion for all things art & soul, and you get over 10 marriage proposals at The Art Studio NY in just one year. All resulting in a big YES, each newly engaged couple danced away with a diamond ring, ear to ear smiles, and "Will You Marry Me" artwork to cherish for a lifetime. Now if that's not the most creative marriage proposal you've ever heard of... How did taking photos of other human beings at their happiest moments become NYC photographer Amber Marlow's thing? Inquiring minds should definitely read on.


Rebecca: How does it feel to be so involved in others' intimate life experiences?

Amber: It's wonderful! In fact, it's the primary reason I've chosen to focus exclusively on smaller weddings: I get to share more fully in their joy. There have been elopements that are so small, I am the only witness and get to sign the marriage license. For portraits, going into someone's home and seeing where they spend their days as a family feels very special. It's an honor to see people creating and celebrating their families.


Rebecca: Your grandmother's wedding album played a role in your own career. How so?

Amber: I love my grandmother's wedding album. As a kid, it was fascinating to me that she looked so different from the way I knew her, and yet I could tell that it was her in the photos. We would look at it together, and the photos inspired her to tell me stories about this aunt or that cousin, and she would recall putting her dress on, cutting the cake, and how happy she was. It's exciting to think that people's grandchildren are one day going to be pouring over MY photography like that.

Ready to pop the question? Contact The Art Studio NY to create a marriage proposal where the ONLY ANSWER IS YES. Contact: info@theartstudiony.com or 212.932.8484


Rebecca: Your photography captures intimate moments that usually don't get captured on film. What's your trick, and what do you look for during the photo shoot?

Amber: I'm shamelessly nosey, so I watch for little moments that show true affection. For example, during a maternity photo shoot once, we were doing the "dad stands behind mom and both put their hands on her pregnant belly" shot. You know the one; you've seen it a hundred times. The couple thought that my camera was focused on her belly, but when I looked up and realized they were cheek to cheek and kind of nuzzling each other and grinning, totally not focused on me and super into each other, I took that photo instead. My instinct for knowing when special moments are about to happen has gotten really sharp. It's a wonderful skill to walk through life with, even when there is no camera in my hands. I see the most wonderful things.


Rebecca: You have now done two photo shoots of surprise art marriage proposals at The Art Studio NY. Tell me more about shooting these proposals and what emotions you experienced doing these shoots.

Amber: It makes me giddy and nervous. Taking photos of what will likely be the most romantic moment of someone's life while they have no idea it's about to happen is so exciting. And remember how I'm shamelessly nosey? Seeing someone get proposed to up close is the best. After the big question, I have no qualms about snapping away, the couple generally doesn't even notice I'm there. Then, I try to back off to give them a moment. I have never shot a proposal without getting teary eyed. This photographer is sappy!


Rebecca: You shoot a lot of same-sex marriages. Tell me more about that.

Amber: Since my wedding photography career really got started right around the same time marriage equality came to New York in summer 2011, I have a lot same-sex couples that invite me to photograph their weddings. It's funny, sometimes people hire me last minute for a spontaneous elopement, and they'll give me their names, but I still won't know what combo of genders I'm going to get until we all meet up on the courthouse steps. "Jessica and Vanessa" were pretty clear, but "Jordan and Sam" could be anyone. That's always fun, and it's all the same to me. Love is love.


Rebecca: What is the most challenging aspect of being a professional photographer?

Amber: Feeling stuck as an artist. On my worst day, I take a better photo with my iPhone than most people take with their real cameras, but I always want to be better, and sometimes it feels like my skills have plateaued. Pushing through that is really hard, and knowing that there will always be room for improvement can feel overwhelming sometimes. Interestingly, though, that is also the biggest joy of making art: there's always going to be something to aspire to.


Rebecca: What advice do you have for budding photographers who want to turn their passion into profit?

Amber: Take photos all the time. If you want to be a wedding photographer, bring your camera to every party you go to and share the photos with the host soon after. Offer your friends portrait sessions so they can have awesome Facebook profile photos. Find a wedding photographer you admire and second shoot with them for free. If you want to be an editorial photographer and take the kind photos they feature in Martha Stewart, find someone who dreams of being a stylist and create editorial stories to create and photograph together. Call a real estate agency and volunteer your services for listing photos. No matter what, make sure that you have savings, or else do your current job in tandem with photography until you can cross all the way into being a photographer full-time (keep in mind that this transition is really hard and trips a lot of people up). Have a good website that ends in .com, and learn the basics of SEO. Realize you are going to mess up a whole bunch of times, but it doesn't count as failure unless you give up and quit.

Rebecca: Describe the impression you want to make on the world (through your photography) in five words.

Amber: "She tells the greatest stories."



Ready to pop the question? Contact The Art Studio NY to create a marriage proposal where the ONLY ANSWER IS YES. Contact: info@theartstudiony.com or 212.932.8484 All photos in this blog post are by Amber Marlow, 2013. Contact photographer Amber Marlow at www.ambermarlow.com.

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