The Story Behind the Magic at Hayfield Catskills
The roads wound around the mountains as we approached the Catskills for the first time. The trees barren except for the snow on the branches, I tried to imagine how the area must look in full Autumnal splendor. But it was still beautiful now. Goodness, before I moved to New York City, I knew the constant metropolitan-ness would start to wear on me, but I hadn't expected how fully I would appreciate seeing land clothed with trees rolling into the distance. It felt quiet. A feeling that's difficult to find in the city.
We were going to visit a brand new wedding venue called Hayfield. The owners, Christiana and Scott, had reached out to me a month or so before, asking if I could help them create beautiful images for the barn they were restoring, and I told them I'd love to be part.
When we stepped inside, it was still in full restoration mode. There were woodworking tools in the middle of the dance floor and sawdust everywhere. The stairs were unfinished. There were small gaps in between wooden slats where the light shone in. Rogue snowflakes made their way into the barn to land at our feet. I stood at the sliding barn door and looked out at the field and hill that were covered in at least a foot of snow. And even though I knew that everything especially sounds silent in the snow, I felt a different sort of quiet. A quiet that made me feel like I had stepped into a different world where weathered wooden boards are protection against gentle snow. Where broken floors are remade to be smooth and danceable. Where I could curl up with a blanket and my best friends around some candle light and be able to really be there with my friends.
As I walked, Christiana and Scott told me their vision of the place. Their warm, smiling faces explaining about what it was like to reinforce the floor and get a septic tank and how much they wanted to have nice bathrooms (as opposed to some venues with little more than outhouses), where they were going to hang the lights, how they spent so much of their time up at Hayfield when they weren't in Brooklyn. I asked them if any of their friends thought they were crazy to do such an undertaking. They laughed and nodded in a way I know too well. But through the whole conversation, it was clear what kind of atmosphere they dreamed of having for their clients. I was standing at the top of the stares, looking out over the barn, and you know that scene in Anastasia where she's in the old palace and she remembers the ball she had attended as a child as if the place were transformed and it's all magical and full of light? That's how I felt looking out across the barn. Again and again, I kept having the feeling that I would love to celebrate something special there with the people I love. Of course I'd want to bring them there. And the thing is, I've never really cared for barns. But I do care for at least one now: Hayfield.
I wanted everyone to feel that before they even had a chance to visit.
Creating the Shoot:
When I started putting the shoot together, I knew I was creating images they would use for their website and Instagram. My biggest priority was to showcase the natural beauties of the Hayfield property and the secluded, safe, natural feel of the barn. I used handmade (or handmade-looking) props, natural hair and makeup, subtle gowns, and natural-feeling floral arrangements to compliment the natural feel of the wood of the barn and the secluded nature of the environment. However, I also knew I wanted to stay as far away from rustic as I could, knowing that trend did not fit the upscale clientele I wanted to attract for Hayfield. So I chose an art-deco ring with a modern shape and asked that the invitations feel modern and minimalist by using a lot of type. At the last minute, Scott brought in an antique Turkish rug they just happened to have and asked if we'd want to use it. D'Arcy and I about died. As you'll see in the images, the rug was one of the staples of the shoot, elevating the images and creating a lot of interest. Just another example of how you can't know how everything will come together exactly.