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Small Business Saturday/Shop Local

Saturday November 27th is Small Business Saturday.  American Express is promoting this by offering a $25 credit to cardholders who pledge to shop at a small business that day.  They are also offering $100 in free Facebook advertising to the first 10,000 business owners who sign up.  (Yes, please!)  So while I’m excited to have free advertising and the prospect of more clients, I also thought it would be good to promote some small local businesses that I love.

So pretty much everyone I know buys their gear at Adorama, B&H, Amazon, or eBay.  I am definitely NOT saying that there is anything bad about these places because I purchase things from them also.  But in the spirit of supporting small businesses, I thought I would share my favorite two local photography supply stores.  Ace Photo in Ashburn, VA is awesome.  They have TONS of stuff, are very helpful, and have extremely competitive prices.  They even have an on location studio you can rent!  Photocraft (Embassy Camera in DC) is in Burke, VA.  It is a really small store, but they have GREAT prices (just an example, I got a new body and new lens for less than they were REFURBISHED on Adorama).  Neither of these places sells any gray market goods, and it is really cool to be able to walk into a store and look at what you are buying.  They both have rentals, also.  The big difference between them is size:  Ace is huge and they usually have things in stock.  I got a slightly better deal at Photocraft, but what I wanted had to be ordered.

Not at all related to photography, but if you are out shopping at small businesses and looking for good pizza in the area the two best places, hands down, are Pomodoro Pizza Pasta & More in Fairfax Towne Center, and Tony’s Pizza in Fairlakes.  Try them out – you can thank me later 🙂

Posted in Business |

DC Smug

I attended the DC Smug launch meeting Monday night, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I got to meet a TON of very talented people, and it was so encouraging to hear people who are excited about sharing information and helping others.  I had kind of hit a brick wall (repeatedly) trying to network with photographers in this area.  I would search for local photographers, follow their blogs, and try to get in contact with them, but wasn’t having much luck.  I must have just been contacting the wrong people, because at the meeting it seemed like EVERYONE was willing/wanted to meet.

The speaker was Kristi Odom, and let me tell you, she is AMAZING.  She is so accomplished and while she has every reason to be stuck up about her talent and her work, it seems like she is the exact opposite.  I really hope I get to talk to her more in the future – what a person to learn from!

I can’t wait for the next meeting, and the one after, and the next, and the one after that…

Posted in Business |

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

I am late in posting this, but Bart, Calvin and I went to the Rally… well, kind of.  We tried to, but couldn’t hear/see anything on stage.  That’s okay, though, because this was some of the best people watching I have ever done, and I LOVE to people watch.  (I also like to make up conversations for the people I am watching, but that is a different story…)

I really liked this sign, and the woman holding it wasn’t yelling or doing anything else to draw attention to herself – she even held the sign mostly in front of her face.

No Winking

This is one of my shots of the crowd.  I jumped up on a brick wall, but still wasn’t tall enough to shoot over some people.  For some reason I thought the Begin Bike Route sign in the middle of this massive crowd was hilarious.  I don’t know why, but it is still making me laugh.

People, people everywhere!

There was this group of dancing robots that I took a series of.  This is my favorite, though, because I caught the one girl with a huge grin.


I have most of the photos posted on Facebook, but you can also view them here.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Quick Pic – Molly and Kevin

Molly and Kevin @ Tarara

Posted in engagements |

Preview from today’s session

Posted in Families |

Teardrops to Rainbows

A friend of mine sent me an email a few months ago asking if I would be willing to donate anything for a charity auction for Teardrops to Rainbows.  Teardrops to Rainbows is a non-profit in Fairfax, Virginia which provides support, services and financial assistance to area children with cancer and their families.

The auction was on November 4th.  I donated two, two-hour portrait sessions which raised a total of $475.  According to my friend Jen, the entire auction raised about $30,000, not including donations collected that evening, or the dinner/table price that those in attendance paid in advance.

It felt really good to contribute to such a great cause that is also local!  I received an email from one of the winners the very next morning, and actually have a family portrait session with her this weekend.  I hope that anyone who bid on the package and didn’t win still contacts me – I look forward to meeting/working with all the people who found out about my business at the auction, and I look forward to contributing again next year.

If you want to know more about Teardrops to Rainbows or if you want to donate, you can do so on their website:

Posted in Business, Charity |

Business Update

I have had a few people ask me, “So are you still doing that photography thing?”


While I haven’t been able to devote as much time to my business as I would like, I am still working.  I like to over research everything, and that is part of what I have been doing lately.  I’m getting ready to send out my first newsletter with updates on the business, ideas for holiday cards, and a special running now through the end of November (you want to know what it is, don’t you?!?!?)  Sign up for my newsletter by clicking the link in the left sidebar. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time, and I won’t spam you, I promise!

I have of course still been shooting at every chance I can get, but we did some major home improvement projects over the last few weeks.  You may be thinking, “What does that have to do with anything?”  Well, my hard drive where I keep all my photo files is of course still in the office, where we have also piled EVERYTHING from the kitchen that we had to move out for the remodel.  I could look at it as a challenge, an obstacle course of sorts, but I would probably break something if I tried to conquer it (by “something,” I mean both something in my body and dishes/glasses from the kitchen).  I’m a very particular person, and I don’t want to mess with my storage or backup system, so I have been saving up photos until I can get back into my workspace.

Since that is the case, here are some pictures of flowers from my mom’s awesome garden, just because they are pretty.

Posted in Business |

Outer Banks Vacation and Maia’s Wedding

My good friend Maia got married the first week of August in the Outer Banks.  We decided to make a week of it and take a family vacation.  My mom came down with us, and my brother Brian flew up from Orlando.  Brian and Mom had never been to the Outer Banks before, and it was really fun to have a family vacation together (plus a few friends also staying in the house).

Calvin LOVED the sand, but wasn’t too sure about the water.

I took this picture (and a few others) with my mom’s little point and shoot.  I didn’t want to lug my camera down to the beach, and I think her camera did a pretty decent job once I had it on manual.

Maia and Sean got married on a Friday.  I was NOT the hired photographer – just a guest – but I did take my camera and tried to get some good shots.  The wedding was beautiful – on the beach at sunset – and the reception was at the Saltaire House, which was also gorgeous.  I didn’t take my camera to the reception, but here are a few of my favorites from the wedding.

We had an awesome time at the wedding – thanks Maia and Sean!

Posted in Weddings |

Not all business is good business

Just starting my business, I thought, the way to get started is to do things as cheaply as possible so that I get a whole lot of customers!  Right?!?

Not really.  While I did get some jobs from the “start up special” that I ran, and they did provide me some experience, I now find that I am getting referrals based solely on price and not on ability or style.  Even though my “special” is now over, I’m still getting offers from people to do me a “favor” by letting me shoot them so that I can expand my portfolio (for free, of course!).  I’ve also gotten requests to copy another, more expensive photographer’s style (they didn’t really want to spend that much on photos, so came to me hoping that I could just copy the photographer they really wanted).

Do I want more business?  YES.  Do I want to sacrifice my name/brand/time/money just for the sake of getting new business?  No.

I may be still developing my style and individuality, but it is just that – individual.  I want people to hire me for me.  Would you go to a Chinese restaurant when you are in the mood for Italian?  Probably not.  I think the same thing applies here.

My friend Leeann told me to be very careful discounting my services and that my friends (unintentionally) could be the first people to devalue my work.  This was great advice (as is all of the advice I get from her – thanks Leeann!).  I really am grateful for my friends referring me to other people.  I think that in an attempt to get me more customers, both myself and the people contacting me lost sight of the fact that I’m running a business – not just trying to start one.  Along with that, I’m not trying to be a photographer, I am one!

So, how do I get out of this trap?  I’m not entirely sure.  I’ve made Lawrence Chan’s blog my go-to business guide.  I’m working hard to develop my personal style and point of view, and I’m trying to stick to my guns (and business plan) when people ask me for favors or to do something that I don’t think is in my/my business’ best interests.  Does this mean that suddenly my prices have skyrocketed?  No, of course not.  I’m just trying to create a successful business and sometimes that requires drawing the line.

Posted in Business |


My mother-in-law is the president of the Northern Virginia Swim League and also a member of Woodley Pool.  She asked if I would be interested in shooting a few swim meets, and I jumped at the chance, of course!

The first meet I found much more challenging than I expected.  It took me a while to get used to the timing of things.  What I found is that while I expected cleaner, neater strokes from the older kids (thinking that this would give me a better chance at getting a nice shot), some of them never take a breath!  That ended up making it more difficult to get faces – especially with freestylers.  For the most part, I set up on one side of the pool, and while I moved back and forth length-wise, it was hard to book it around to the other side of the pool in time to get a shot.  For some of the strokes, this was fine, but again with the freestylers, if they always turned to the opposite side to breathe, I had some trouble.

The other thing I ran into with this, and with other sporting events I have shot so far, is what photos to keep/post because the parents and kids will like them, and which ones probably aren’t the best to post even though I really like them (hands coming out of the water, cleats on the ground running, and other shots with no faces in the frame).

Here are two swim shots that I think are pretty successful in both counts – I think parents of and kids in the shots would like them, and I like them myself (splashes are always cool!).

Woodley Swim Meet 7/24/10 Woodley Swim Meet 7/24/10

To view the rest of the shots from both meets, click on view portfolio below this post and click on sports.

Posted in Uncategorized |