Monday, November 12, 2007

The Upside of Talking to Strangers

If you were anywhere within 100 yards of me during the months of September and October you probably heard about the Pink Carpet Premiere. I haven't blogged about it because I wasn't sure how to keep it from becoming a novel. The nutshell is this:

I was sleeping soundly in my hotel room in Vegas, where I had gone for a photo workshop. My husband called at 5 am (8 am ET) reporting our son had... thrown up in carpool. In someone else's car. Ewww. He was fine (the child) but then I was wide awake and my roommate was not. So I brushed my teeth, threw on some clothes and grabbed my laptop seeking refuge in the lobby Starbucks.

Next to me appeared another bleary eyed east-coaster, Linda, a documentary filmmaker. We started chatting. She told me about an independent film she had made chronicling her her sister-in-law's battle with breast cancer, "The Breast Cancer Diaries". Linda also happened to be an award-winning journalist (CNN, NBC). "Wow. What are you going to do with it?" I said. Linda replied that she was mulling how to screen it as a fundraiser in a few select cities across the country. What a great idea!

I came home and presented it to Becky Massey and the VCU Massey Cancer Center. They loved the film and its incredible message, and put put their mighty muscles behind it. I called 16 smart, wonderful women who happened to also be good friends and the committee was born. We worked hard, tapping into every resource we had to make the event a success. On October 12 we premiered the film, threw an after party, held a huge auction with incredible packages and netted over $85,000 for breast cancer research.

Oh....and during the auction my bid card shot in the air during the L.A. Girls' weekend package. That was a surprise for all of us. Especially me! But it feels pretty dern good when the money goes to breast cancer research! It's a win-win-win-win.

Jill and Kelly (above), my great friends who co-chaired and will join me on the L.A. trip, and the rest of the committee members, worked so hard, reached out to contacts, families, and businesses to get incredible food donated (from 10 of our favorite restaurants), secure auction items out the wazoo and put together some amazing flowers... they're the BEST!

We will forever be indebted to Easton Events for hearing my plea and DONATING their time to help plan our event. Thank you Lynn, Kennon and Dickie. You guys are awesome!

I will always be grateful my friend and fantastic photographer Julie Skarratt who flew down from NYC and donated her time to come shoot it (and for answering my email many years ago when I told her I loved her work and was thinking about getting into wedding photography). And we love The Martin Agency (you made me miss working there!!) for lending us two amazing art directors.

Mostly, I am so amazed by the strength and inspiration of beautiful Ann Murray Page who kicked breast cancer's ass and was willing to tell her very personal story, and Linda Pattillo who helped her tell it. We miss you girls!

Check it out: The Breast Cancer Diaries

Thursday, November 8, 2007


OK, a mass apology is due to everyone I have ever e-mailed. Ever. I was trying to be organized and efficient and did an 'auto-reply' message that I'd be out of town and holy went into action and sent it to everyone I have ever known. Luckily my buddy in Vancouver called and said " Hey, how are you?? Uh...please stop the madness...turn your computer off...I just got 18 emails from you and they keep coming". Sorry. Please ignore. But I have made contact with some old friends due to the error... that's a plus.

Following are a few Virginia Living items from this issue. One is a beautiful wedding I did with an adorable couple, Macon and Cole. They were so happy and easy-going, and didn't seem to notice it was 104 degrees outside.

The other spread is a piece we shot for Christmas, which was so odd to do when it was still warm and all, but we definitely got in the holiday spirit. Nothing like a roaring fire in the middle of September! The homeowners were so fun to work with and made it very easy, and the stylists were GREAT as always.

I am working on some really cool projects now (oh, the logistics...) and will post soon...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Hot Oils

Late in August Tyler called and asked if I could shoot some infused oils for the Sept/Oct issue of Virginia Living. I confessed I had no idea what he was talking about, but it sounded interesting. We decided to do it at my fancy studio (my house) so the talented chef, J Paul, could prep and sautee and infuse his heart out. It was so cool to see my kitchen being used... the way it was meant to be used. Fresh herbs and ingredients all over the counters, halibut, scallops, sea bass filling the fridge. The food was very, very good. It almost made me want to cook.

We liked the indirect, diffused light in my backyard so we carried my kitchen table outside, set up the scenes, and one by one shot the meals as they were prepared. However, it was the hottest day of the summer. I had to leave my equipment outside as the humidity from in to out would condense on each layer of glass in my camera, and we'd have to wait for it to clear otherwise. As I was shooting, the oils would start to 'melt' and become watery, so it was even trickier than shooting the ice cream on a hot day. And then there was standing on a ladder, shooting down at the spices while trying not to drip sweat on them. It was SO hot. But we got the shot!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Catching up...

OK, that was pathetic. I had not fed my blog in so long I forgot my sign in ID. Terrible! It took several tries.

Things around here have been so crazy I have purposefully neglected my blog. Every time I thought about adding to it I was the proverbial deer in headlights, not sure which way to go. Too much to cover and too little time! So I didn't do anything at all. But I am finally responding to some gentle prodding by some friends who have gotten a little bored with the ice cream shoot (as much as they loved it ;-). I hope this is a new beginning of more regular posting. Wish me luck!

This summer was amazing. The kids have gotten to that age that it's really fun to travel with them. Not that it wasn't fun just used to be a lot harder. Naps, bottles, diapers. Now we just pick up and go. And hanging out with them is like being with your favorite group of friends. They're funny, smart, observant and can talk about anything. They show us stuff we would otherwise miss with that wide-eyed appreciation that comes from seeing things for the first time.

We went to NYC for the kids' first visit. In a million years I never thought it would be so much fun to do the big city with the kids. They loved everything about it! Peyton's favorite part was being on TV (CBS this morning), Dylan's was the horse-drawn carriage ride (worth every over-priced penny for the vision of her hollering "I love New York" as we cruised the busy streets). Spencer's highlight was chatting up Adam Sandler on his movie set on 5th Avenue. He's a nice guy! I haven't looked at all the pictures yet. The photos are trapped on hard-drive 6.

We spent a week in a big rambling house on the coast of Massachusetts, on a bluff overlooking a small harbor, a beach and the vast Atlantic. We explored, hiked, searched for sea glass, went whale watching, hit Fenway Park, went on a boat ride, swam and ate lobster. None of us will ever forget it - it was beautiful and such a happy place. These can be found on hard-drive 7.

I hope to liberate those family photos sometime soon.

Business has been great. Lots of gorgeous weddings and the sweetest couples. When it comes to photography, work comes first. I'm keeping up with those. What's that saying about the cobbler's children? Ha.

Above is a fun wedding that appeared in the inaugural 'weddings section' in Virginia Living. I hope to see lots more in there! It was a beautiful day with lovely people, orchestrated by the inventive and tack-sharp party planners at Easton Events. Here is the slideshow for Liz and Scott's Wedding.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Cover

Somewhere along the way, on this wild photography ride, I became adept at shooting food. Go figure. It's a very learnable talent (as proven in my case) but I think you can begin to excel if you love it, like I love food. So many foods are really pretty if you think about it, with unusual shapes and textures. Eggs are timeless perfection. Fruit is colorful and gorgeous. A great dessert is like fine art.

My friend and food photo mentor said "if you are taking a photograph of a delicious pie, make sure your image captures the pie-ness of it." I laughed out loud when he said it, but it's so dern true! You just try to capture what it is that makes it so delicious-looking. A killer lens or two helps. For those of you who know me and are snickering, I re-admit that I don't actually enjoy making food. The irony is classic.

I am writing this because of ALL the things I photograph and love to shoot, my food photography is what has earned me the coveted spot on the cover of Virginia Living. I could go on and on about how much this means to me. How I still have the e-mail I sent to the Editor 5 years ago asking if they'd be interested in looking at my work. Their response that it was not really what they were looking for (it was all kids' portraits and not all that great). No guts, no glory, right?

Bottom line, I have had a crush on that magazine ever since I first laid my hands on its super-sized, color-laden glossy pages. And it's positively mind-blowing that this opportunity has arrived. You'd have thought I won the lottery if you were anywhere near me when I got the call.

The yummy ice creams and sorbets were made by the amazing J Frank. Tyler and I co-styled the shoot, largely with bowls and linens from my favorite store, Anthropologie. My sweet friend Ivy let us shoot it at her farm and use her family (see earlier post 'A Day at the Farm' which is when I got the location idea) and ALL the kids had a blast, especially during the unscripted egg toss. Even the grown up ones! (p.s. brown egg shells are stronger than white ones and will often not crack even when chucked like a football 30+ yards...just sayin').

So here it is. My first cover of Virginia Living. Can you believe it?? Now go buy it!! (on newstands July 10ish) and get a subscription too! I shot another article in there about quirky-wonderful Colonial Beach, VA. I'll post those soon.

Here is the actual article. If one of the kids looks kind of familiar...well...what can I say....;-)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day

We've given David shirts. Ties. Gift Certificates. All well received, some slyly returned, some never used. Like the Nano we gave him ages ago that still sits in the box. No time to deal with loading it. So it sits.

But not this one, no sir. The kids and I did a little photo project and the little saints sat so professionally for me (ha!!). We gave him this gift yesterday, the nine images filling the holes in this great big frame I found. He said it was his favorite Father's Day gift ever. Ever!

I've been in a little bit of a family photo rut. I still love my digital camera, LOVE IT!! I love everything it can do. But for as many photos as I take, so many personal photos are trapped (and archived on CDs, ALWAYS archive...) in one of my many external hard drives for lack of time to deal with them. Noone to look at them. Just sitting there in pixels and bits. So I just keep buying new hard drives. Sad. Like the nano that sits in his closet, new technology brings great benefits but requires time to learn, do, deal. Ugh.

I plan to retire someday and spend lots of time organizing the thousands of photos in there, but for now they wait. I spend too much time at my computer already. But it's nice to know they are there when I am ready to tackle them, and archived, sometimes even printed. And I am sure his nano will one day be stocked with great tunes, especially if we hire our babysitter to do it for him...

Marty and Spencer's Beautiful Wedding

Aren't they adorable? And get this, her Mom MADE the dress and her sister did her hair and makeup. Wonderful talent to have around for your wedding, for sure.

Marty and Spencer's wedding day started out hot and sticky. The kind where you really don't want to venture outside unless you have to, especially wearing a wedding dress or tux, and you move reeeaaally slowly or you risk breaking into an instant sweat. As we drove from Marty's home to the ceremony at the stunning Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, the skies turned purple, lightning flashed in the distance, rain splattered on the windshield. We feared the worst for their outdoor wedding.

But it seems Marty and Spencer have been very, very good this year. In the short while we were there, the skies cleared, the humidity was swept away with the storm and we got the kind of light photographers dream about...golden, warm, glowy. I couldn't believe it!

Their ceremony was so sweet. They had written a few words about eachother that gave me goose bumps and a lump in my throat, and the rare access to the front of the altar allowed me the gift of capturing their expressions. It was genuine, lovely, and perfect.

Check out Marty and Spencer's Slideshow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Marty and Spencer

Marty and Spencer's wedding was a-MAZING! They were adorable, funny, sweet and kind. She works for the Vans shoe company and had custom Vans made for the 14 groomsmen. Love the wedding date on the heel!

I'll try to get more photos up pronto, but am a wee bit swamped. Three weddings back to back is hard enough to keep up with, especially if you overshoot like I do. But throw in every end-of-year school party, fieldtrip, baseball playoff, dance recital, soccer wrap up and you're glad just to get the images on your computer!

The few photos I peeked at looked so great. A testament to the great couple and their super-cool families. I can't wait to work on them! Come back to see!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dorothy and Darth

Up until about six years of age, kids are nutty. They say what they think, don't edit anything, and certainly don't care what you think of them. They just do what comes naturally, and it looks so fun and liberating! After six, they start to lose that 'lack of censorship' so I am savoring every moment...

Dylan saw the Wizard of Oz last week and decided she IS Dorothy. We don't have actual Dorothy clothes or a black Toto, so she made do with pink sparkly shoes, a white toto, braids, the closest thing to a blue dress....and (washable) magic marker freckles.

She went to school in full Dorothy costume, and when told she really couldn't wear that every day, she decided Mondays would be Dorothy days. Freckles and all. This is her interpretation of the witch coming... Oscar, please....
When Spencer was five he had serious Star Wars fever. Even sent a Valentine to George Lucas, no lie. But he made his own costume, just came down to breakfast one day in it. Unfortunately he used permanent sharpie markers to make his face like Darth (under the mask). He looked like that for DAYS.
We're never at a loss for photo ops here....

Beth and Jimmy's Wedding

I had the honor of shooting Beth and Jimmy's gorgeous wedding last week at beautiful Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Virignia. The amazing folks at Easton Events performed their usual magic and entire evening was perfect!

Here is Beth and Jimmy's Slideshow.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kids, Kids, Kids

I love kids. I love taking photographs of kids. They keep it real in every sense. Their expressions are honest, they quickly forget I am there, they do their thing, and I just go along. And I shoot a lot. That helps!

My kids are a bit camera savvy so the honest photo takes a little work... sometimes they'll just ignore me. Other times they'll let me take photos but know I can go on and on, so they'll just tell me when they are 'done'. Hmph! But I admit I can be a the time my daughter got stitches and I (slightly) tortured her trying to get a macro shot of the wound.

Here's a little Kids Slideshow I put together that hopefully shows what I mean....don't worry, it doesn't include photos of the stitches...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


(click on images to view larger)

If someone had told me 10 years ago I'd have a photo assignment in the Carribbean, at one of the most luxurious locations in Jamaica, I would have asked them what they were smokin'.

In March I was asked (no giggling, please) to spend several days capturing beautiful Bluefields Bay. Along the bay are 5 villas, owned by a family in Alexandria, VA, which are rented out much of the year. These are fantastic houses, and their best features aside from their cliffside perches, open air architecture, gorgeous beaches, infinity pools and freezing cold Red Stripe Lights (I swear, Red Stripe Light!) were the amazing staff who magically reappeared when you even thought you might want something.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the owner, Debra. She showed us around, our eyes big as saucers, astounded by our good fortune. She returned us to our rooms, where our clothes had been carefully unpacked and hung, suitcases stored. Yep. Great start. And the laundry was scooped away each night and rediscovered in the closets the next morning clean and pressed. A tired mother's dream! Huge canopied antique beds, large doors that swung completely open to let in the sea air while you slept. And a view to die for.

Every meal was cooked with fresh ingredients and served on china and silver, on beautiful antique linens. Lobster, fish, mango sorbet, key lime pie. All were deftly served with a smile and drinks were replenished before you could ask.

I know you're thinking, "What a cake job!", and yes, in some ways.... yes. But it is daunting, trying to capture that fourth dimension of amazingness, where the smells, the views, the textures, the lightness of being and being pampered, are all relayed in a two dimensional photograph.

But I'm not getting any sympathy here, am I.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tyler and Schuyler

Springtime is a busy time for most photographers. When everything is in bloom and the weather turns warm, the phone will ring. Editorial shoots, inquiries about weddings for '08, ordering albums, clients asking for prints from previous shoots. It can be overwhelming, but it's all good. Then there's wanting to actually enjoy the weather, hang with the family, the homework/soccer/baseball/dance recital rigamarole, and before you know the week is gone. Poof.

It's been nuts!

So on Thursday I took the kids to school, barred the doors, hunkered down and vowed not to leave my house until Tyler and Schuyler's slideshow was done. I have been wanting to work on it for two weeks now!

So here's Tyler and Schuyler's slideshow. It was a very special wedding. Lots of emotion, happiness, warmth and love. It was awesome!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Great Day at the Farm

There was a time that the word 'Colonial' put me straight into a catatonic state. History has never been my thing, but as I am forced to revisit past eras through my kids' homework I am realizing it's really not all that bad. I almost even like it..shhhhh.

Especially when I can work on my..I mean my child's.. projects and let the creative juices flow. Peyton, my oldest, was assigned to do a poster about indentured servants, so naturally the camera reared its head and wanted to join in. Hey now, I am a photographer. It's allowed!

We visited my friend's beautiful farm, put him in his garb, and had the best time with her three kids and mine traipsing around creating colonial-looking servant scenarios. Yes, that sounds kind of dorky, but the kids loved it and got very involved and it was cool to watch their brains churn with ideas. I think they were learning out there.

I learned I have an irrational fear of cows. They freaked me out a little, but that's another story.

Peyton also got an education in photoshop as we removed the 'adidas' from his cleats and ran cool actions to make the photos look old.

Then as the sun set, we Moms poured some wine and watched the kids play capture the flag and I was pretty grateful we didn't live back then. The kids were exhausted from just pretending to do the work.... and there's the cow thing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Peaks

As with every career, there are peaks and troughs. Some deeper, some higher, and sometimes things are just regular. And regular is fine a lot of the time.

But the peaks, well, ya gotta love 'em. You know you can't stay there forever, so you just enjoy it and try to figure out how you got there so you can visit again really soon.

The past few weeks have been like that, culminating with the beautiful wedding of two really wonderful people. The day couldn't have gone more smoothly. They were so kind and easy-going, and clearly meant to be together. When the gospel choir broke into "Oh Happy Day" and once the goose bumps on your arms subsided, you could only agree.

I also completed a sweet travel assignment for my favorite magazine. Can't say much about that until it publishes next month, but it was one of the most blissful locations I have visited. Ever. And it didn't hurt that it was sunny, warm and came fully staffed with outstanding people who made sure your every whim was met, and a view that could make you cry.

One last international magazine emailed asking to use some of my work for their next issue. Can't say who yet, but...oh, happy day!

Ahhh, I love my job.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Gift

A few years ago I started doing pro-bono photography work with a pediatric hospice called Noah's Children.

The families I shoot are in varying stages of losing their children. I can't put into words how it goes, stepping into their lives for a few hours. The parents overwhelm me with their attitudes and their skills, managing respirators, medicines, feeding tubes. I just go in there and try to capture their relationships, and their joy in having these children, if only for a little while.

The social workers with Noah's are saintly. They care for these families as their own. I have been told what a gift these photo sessions are to these families, but they have no idea what a gift they are to me.

Richmond Magazine published an article about Noah's and all their amazing work this month. I was honored they used my photos. You can click on the article above if you want to read it. It's really nice.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Viva Las Vegas!

I just got back from an amazing trip to Las Vegas where I met up with my favorite fellow photographers and a few thousand others I didn't know, went to a mind-boggling quantity of photography seminars and workshops, and checked out all the latest developments in the photography field. The warp-speed changes in technology make it necessary to keep up... but can also make you want to run madly into the desert yelling "why can't I just shoot film?!".

Digital offers so many benefits over film, but requires us to be photographers and tech experts. It can be pretty demanding. You learn one thing, it gets overhauled, and back you go to square one (ok, maybe 2). Or you buy a camera that costs more than your first car, and they come out with a new version rendering your old one obsolete. Argh! And you want it. Bad.

On the artistic side, I really love the direction that wedding photography has taken the past several years. It's fresh, dynamic, beautiful and relevant. And the talent!! It's humbling and motivating. I left there totally inspired.

Best of all, I got to hang out with my little brother, Will, a Vegas resident. It was so great to see him.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Lesson from a Five-Year-Old

Dylan, my five year old, has been bugging me for a week to wash her favorite baby doll, Babette.

Dylan has had Babette since birth and she is well-loved, soft and smells yummy. I can't put my finger on it, but it's a combination of Gain laundry detergent, candy, and that good, sweet, indescribable baby smell. She has a clump of yellow yarn bangs that Dylan will roll between her fingers when she is stressed or focused. Or she'll put the bangs right under her nose and breathe herself to sleep.

But when Babette loses her smell, she doesn't work the same magic.

Dylan kept asking "Please, Mom, can you push the button and make her clean?". I kept forgetting. But she did not.

I went down to do laundry today, opened the washing machine door, and surprise!, there she was in her faded pink, velvety glory ready for the wash cycle. Lying there, expecting me, with that "I am so loved" smile on her face. She was even sprayed with Shout to get those pesky stains out. I did not move her, I just laughed and got my camera. She's such a poser, that doll, having been photographed a lot over the years.

I learn so much from Dylan. She's a doer.