• Welcome to the website of wedding photographer Saavedra Photography (formerly known as Shang Chen Photography) My mission is to empower people through photography to love themselves and confidently see the beauty that I see in them.

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Morgan, in(SP)ired | Senior Shoot in New York City

Like many of the high school and college seniors I’ve gotten to know this year, Morgan found me online and then told her parents about me. She wore some beautiful dresses (I think one of them is from Zara) and the most cutest (and comfortable) pair of suede booties. We spent a beautiful sunny morning walking around the fashionable streets of Tribeca and Soho in New York City, and also sat on Taylor Swift’s doorstep (she was out of town on her 1989 tour, oh well!). Morgan likes fashion, reading, shopping, and is extremely bright. She was in the city for a summer program where she got to meet really bright people from all over the world. Morgan will be taking names some day.

Saavedra Photography on Facebook Instagram
Based in NYC | photographer of celebrations of love and life | champion of helping everyone see the beauty I see in them


5 common themes among marriages that last

I’ve been photographing weddings since 2008, and I love seeing my social media streams filled with beautiful children from these marriages. I don’t buy into the 50% divorce rate statistic that gets tossed around, because divorce rates are highly dependent on level of education attained and race (Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 2013). In fact, the BLS study showed that those with a bachelor’s degree or higher will likely have a 30% divorce rate. The same cohort study also showed that divorce rates stabilize after about 10 years of marriage. To the best of my knowledge, only 3 of the 100+ couples I have photographed (both engagement and wedding shoots) in the 8 years I have been in operation, have ended in separation / divorce, and maybe another one or two who didn’t make it to the wedding ceremony. That means that I’ve witnessed a much higher rate of strong, committed relationships, than the national average.

As a wedding photographer, I have a special window during which I get to know two people quickly in a personal way. Part of the experience of working with me is that I get to know my couples as individual, passionate people, who meet each other and then unfold into a Love Story. I’d like to share with you some characteristics that I think are the key – the glue – to a lifetime of commitment. I’ve also unearthed some photos from when I was better known as Shang Chen Photography.

1. They have parents in committed marriages – particularly when growing up

For the sake of keeping family photos far from awkward, I ask all my brides and grooms to tell me if their parents are alive, and if their parents are still married to each other. The majority of my couples have parents who are both alive and still married to each other. As much of our cognitive and behavioral development happens when we’re younger, it is no surprise that children who witness a committed marriage when growing up are more likely to enter committed marriages themselves. In fact, this 2008 Journal of Family Psychology paper showed that as long as the parents stayed together – even if they fight – increases the confidence their children would have towards marriage itself.

2. They share values, even if they do not share interests

When I was younger, I thought that the more similar 2 people are, the more likely they would marry. Well, my husband could not be more different than I am. That led me to a curiosity – are people on the road to marriage more likely to be the same, or different? As I learned about my clients, I found that they were more likely to share values, but not interests. For shared values, I am referring to fundamental basics – the meaning of life, family, the purpose of work, kids / no kids. That makes sense, as the decision to get married calls all those values into question. When my clients are religious, they tend to share a same level of commitment to their religion. When it comes to interests, many of my clients are opposites. One person tends to be loud, the other quiet. One is more organized than the other. They will overlap on two or three things – travel and food tend to be popular – but then greatly differ. One person might love video games, while the other one dives into baking. This convinced me that sometimes the best relationships are ones where opposites attract.

3. They let themselves be changed by love

While I do not ask it directly, I do learn that my clients’ Love Stories changes them. More often than not, I would read phrases such as, “Before I met my fiance, I would never __________”. “With him, it was the first time I would do _______ more frequently”. I’ve since deduced that the Love Story leads each individual to evaluate their own shortcomings or areas for improvement, and in order to stay committed, they become changed. This doesn’t mean that one enters a relationship to change another person – that doesn’t end well. Instead, one enters a relationship with the open mind that they will be changed as a result.

4. They surround themselves with strong community

I really like watching bride and grooms greet and hug their guests at their weddings. Through the non-verbal communication, I can see how strong these bonds have been and how they will continue going forward. Strong marriages, as I’ve learned, are not formed in isolation. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that the couples need to have hundreds of friends, or that these relationships need to be very public (many of my clients are very private), or that they have to be best friends with their parents. However, when I meet the whole community at the wedding, I can tell that the bride and groom are getting their strong community from somewhere – parents, siblings, family, friends, community – and they tap into this community consistently through good and bad times.

5. They make their time together count

A common theme among clients in strong marriages is that they share a litany of inside jokes. A certain look, a whispered phrase, a little dance, these couples find ways to make each other laugh that I would never be able to – nor aspire – to get them to do myself. I call these the keys to unlocking the love in the relationship – moments that are personal and completely their own. I originally wrote the title for reason #5 to be “they spend a lot of time building the relationship” when I realized that I photographed a lot of long distance relationships. I was in one myself. So it wasn’t so much the amount of time, but the quality of that time together. Remember what I said about shared values, not necessarily shared interests? When these strong couples are together, they focus on their strengths – shared interests and hobbies – or they gently develop one another in something they’re not good at. That time spent together, over time, becomes their unique Love Story.

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Saavedra Photography on Facebook Instagram
Based in NYC | photographer of celebrations of love and life | champion of helping everyone see the beauty I see in them

October Boston Mini Session Marathon

I’m so excited that you’re interested in my Mini Portrait Session Marathon! These sessions are a great way to get to experience my personal approach to lifestyle photography. They are meant to achieve one GREAT photo, they are not a substitute for my longer bespoke sessions. 10% of the proceeds from this marathon will go on to benefit Operation Smile, a charity I care deeply about as I myself was also born with cleft palate and cleft lip.

When: Sunday, October 18, 2015 between 9AM – 5PM – see booking form below for more details
WhereBoston Public Garden, meet by the Make Way for Ducklings sculptures
What: 20-minute mini sessions. Perfect to get an updated headshot, a family photo, a couples’ picture, or just because
Cost: $100 for up to 2 subjects for every 20 minute block, $25 for every extra subject

The Session Includes:

  • The Saavedra touch: upfront planning via email where I will learn about what you’d like to achieve in the photoshoot and how you’d like to be photographed
  • Tips for how to prep and dress for your photoshoot
  • 20 minutes of my time – 5 minutes to set up, and 15 minutes to shoot
  • An online viewing gallery to see your photographs within 2 weeks
  • 1 high-resolution digital file, no watermark, yours to keep and share

Optional extras:

  • $25 extra per extra subject. The 20-minute sessions are best for one family, if it’s a large group, I may recommend that you purchase 2 slots back-to-back
  • $20 for each additional digital file (can be purchased after seeing the gallery)
  • $100 for digital files of the entire gallery (can be purchased after seeing the gallery)

Frequently Asked Questions

How many photos can I expect?

It will really depend on conditions and cooperation of everyone involved, but you can expect around 20 – 30 photographs from each 20-minute block in your gallery

Can I see some samples?

Of course, see images from my last mini portrait session marathon in Boston here.

Can I book more than one 20-minute block?

Yes! Please indicate on the form that you’d like to have more than one block.

What if it rains?

- If there is terrible weather (raining cats and dogs) the entire day, I will cancel and refund everyone as I will not return to Boston any later this year
- If it is only rainy weather during your block, you have an option of rescheduling to a later slot if available
- If you are not available for the later slot and it was due to rainy weather, your retainer will be returned to you

What if I’m late?

Please try to arrive early! Your session cannot be extended due to tardiness

Do I get extras if I refer a friend?

Yes! For every successful referral, you get another high-resolution file, a $20 value! Refer 5 friends, and you get all the files from your session free!


I’m in! How do I book you?

1) Fill out the form below. I should respond within 1 day (with the exception of Friday sundown to Saturday sundown)

2) Pay your non-refundable $50 retainer within 24 hours after I’ve emailed you with your time slot. If the retainer is not paid within 24 hours, your slot will be released to the next person who has requested it

3) Current available start times: 10:00AM, 11:00AM, 11:20AM, 2:00PM, 2:20PM, 2:40PM, 3:20PM, 4:20PM