Flashback Friday, Or FAQ #1.

I have a tendency to get into a “reminiscent” mood on rainy days, which today made me think of a question I’m often asked.

“How did you choose Birchtree Photography as your studio name?” Or some variation of that question.

The short answer is that I fell in love with birch trees while living in Moscow, Russia when I was a child. Yes, I lived there for 5 years when I was growing up–and no, my parents weren’t spies–at least, I don’t think they were. Since I thought “Mary Schwarz Photography” sounded boring (and was difficult to spell!), I decided on Birchtree Photography because I think birch trees are beautiful.

Four years ago this summer, I actually spent 10 weeks in Moscow as part of a study abroad program in college. Much had changed since I had been there in 1998, but surprisingly, much had remained the same.

At that time, I only had a point and shoot camera, but here are a couple of photos anyway.


Moscow has a number of great forests/parks located in the city. Birch trees are a common sight:

I’ve circled the apartment where I lived for several years. Note the drab concrete-slab architecture.

And a famous tourist spot–Red Square–with my twist on it.

You can actually find some more photos from that trip–and other places–here on my website.

Emily and Bob’s Engagement Photos at Phipp’s

All day yesterday I kept wondering who would win–the rain or me? Turns out I won last night as we ended up having some great weather for Emily and Bob’s engagement shoot. We met at Phipp’s Conservatory–one of my favorite places to shoot. You just can’t go wrong with flowers and a Victorian greenhouse. We also moseyed on down to Schenley Park for a couple of shots. Ah, I love Pittsburgh and her philanthropists.

Emily and Bob actually met in high school–but it took them some college and time in between before Bob knew Emily was the girl for him (or maybe it was Bob knew all along, but it took Emily some time to decide Bob was the guy for her). Either way, as Bob put it, he went for “100% surprise and 0% romance” for the proposal. It obviously worked!

I enjoyed getting to chat with these two, and thankfully, they both put up with my silly questions! (Emily has a very interesting job as an OR nurse at Children’s Hospital and Bob’s a teacher–so I had to ask some questions about that). I’m very much looking forward to their wedding in December.



Jim Cauley - Emily & Bob get my vote

St. Sylvester’s Church Wedding | Emily and Bob » Pittsburgh Wedding Photographers | Birchtree Photography Blog - [...] Saturday I had the most wonderful time getting to photograph Emily and Bob’s gorgeous wedding at St. Sylvester’s Church in Brentwood. This was my second time to [...]

SmugMug: More Than a Print Partner » Pittsburgh Wedding Photographers | Birchtree Photography Blog - [...] since a post with no photo is lame, here’s one from Emily and Bob’s wedding last Saturday. It snowed, and it was perfect! Posted in Business | Tags: smugmug is [...]

Jennifer - Oh how lovely! What great shots! You absolutely captured their true personalities! I can't wait to see the wedding pictures! (I am Emily's sister.)

Sweet Baby Amelia

Last night, our new pastor and his family came over to our house for dinner. We’re so excited to have them at our church, and I have really enjoyed getting to know Angela the last couple of weeks.

John and Angela actually lived in Scotland for three years while John undertook his Ph.D, so they had some good tips and maps for our upcoming trip (which I can’t believe is only a little over a week away!).

Of course, I couldn’t go the night without pulling out my camera. So here are some shots of the little cutie Amelia.


Angela said Amelia should be the new poster child for Chick-Fil-A

Serious face.

I caught her sucking her thumb!

I Love Horses…and Rocks?

It’s true. Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved horses.

I opened a savings account when I was four so I could save my money to buy one.

I’ve always thought I should have been born when people used horses for transportation (on second thought, I really do like air conditioning and indoor plumbing).

I ran around on my hands and knees like a horse until I was way too old to be doing so.

And growing up (in Texas), I never understood why it seemed everyone and their brother had a horse, or had a cousin who had a horse, or had a neighbor who raised horses…except me! And they never seemed impressed by the fact that they got to ride horses. The conversation usually went like this:
Them: “Yeah, we had four horses growing up. Had to ride them everyday.”
Me: “What? You had four horses? That’s awesome!”
Them: “Uh, yeah, I guess so.”

And the sad thing is, I still love horses (and I still ask for one every birthday and Christmas). Unfortunately, horses cost a lot more to keep than cameras. So, my wish to own a horse has yet to be granted…I’m still holding out though (Jay, pretty please?).

Since I don’t have a horse right now nor plan on getting one soon, I try to get my fix in other ways. Naturally, I couldn’t escape the siren-like call of this poster on the Carnegie Museum of Natural History that I spotted several months ago.



So, finally today I went with my friend Anita to see the exhibit.

Unfortunately, they did not allow me to take any pictures of the horse exhibit. But, that’s OK, because I took plenty others of the interesting rock and dinosaur displays.


You can see the actual paleontologists hard at work from inside the museum.

Mmmm…pretty green.

Snow cone anyone?

This rock was having a bad hair day:

Some of them even glow in the dark.

Martha, this one’s for you.

The variety of colors was amazing.

Yeah, it almost hurt my neck to take this photo as much as it does yours to look at it.

I wanted to capture just how ridiculously long this dinosaur’s tail was.

Jurassic Park.

I have no idea what this was, but I thought it looked interesting.

Awkward hold-the-camera-and-take-a-picture-photo.

Thanks Anita for going with me!

martha - Cool photos! I'll keep my eyes peeled for glow-in-the-dark rocks now.