A Trip to Stone Barns
This Memorial Day weekend, I got to assist my photographer friend Alexis Buatti Ramos on two photo sessions with families up in Westchester. Because natural light is best first thing in the morning and in early evening, the shoots were spaced out by about six hours, which meant we had lots of time to kill. Luckily, we were in one of the most gorgeous and food-filled areas of the state with a few fancy cameras in tow.
We visited a local farmer's markets, had a tasty lunch in Pleasantville, NY, helped a friend in the area prepare lamb chops and strawberry shortcakes for guests who were coming over later in the day.... and then we still had three hours left and nothing to do. That's when we noticed signs for Stone Barns, a nonprofit center for agriculture and fully-functioning farm that you can visit on weekends. We veered off course and winded through the Hudson Valley forest road as the trees cleared to reveal a gigantic farm with grazing cows, rows of lettuces, tractors creeping up the dirt paths and a big (gorgeous) stone barn at the center.
When you get to Stone Barns and pay your (newly instated) entry fee, you can explore all of the eighty acres as you wish. We traipsed through the pasture, climbed on rusty old tractors, got a little bit too close to bee hives, tried to get the cows' attention and made faces at the fearless, feeding sheep that grazed in the field. Had we planned better, we would have known that if you spend the whole day at Stone Barns, you can grab lunch at their cafe and then participate in classes and events throughout the day--things like feeding the chickens, taking a tour of the greenhouse and more.
Now that I know Stone Barns has way more to it than a fancy restaurant that I can't quite afford (but desperately wish I could!), I can't wait to return for a full day sometime this summer. Check out their website and plan your own trip; it really was a magical and not-too-crowded way to escape the city for a day.
Also, in case you were wondering, being a photography assistant requires little more than carrying a backpack and holding a reflector. Otherwise, I learned a million things about family portrait photography by watching Alexis, and then I got all of these cool photos that she took on the fly at the farm. It was basically a free day trip out of the city; I definitely got the better end of the deal.
Check out Alexis Buatti-Ramos' other work on her website. (She also took my head shots!) She's especially talented at capturing kids in their element; I definitely recommend her if you're looking for a photographer for an event or family session!