January 24, 2013 Reflecting on 2012

2012 was a big (and busy!) year for me – and not least of all because of photography. I got the opportunity to work with some amazing photographers, like Katie,  Jordan, and Erum, incredible clients, and somehow even found time for a person photo project or two along the way. As if that wasn’t enough, I got engaged (!!) to the most amazing person I know - and I’m so blessed to be able to say that my good friend Jordan Bush was there to capture it as it happened. I also got to take a week off out in beautiful sunny San Diego, a place I’m sorely missing with the single-digit wind chills in D.C. right now.

While I’m really looking forward to the new opportunities and challenges that 2013 will present, I’m even more excited to share the weddings and events that I was fortunate enough to cover this year. Over the coming weeks I’ll be updating the blog with some of my favorite images and stories, so be on the lookout for new posts (if you want to see some highlights from this year, check out my recently updated portfolio; I think there are some really fun moments there, too)!

In the meantime, enjoy this image of the newest addition to my life, Gizmo! Thanks for a great year – here’s to an even better 2013!

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Last month, I had the opportunity to shoot with the fabulous Erum Rizvi, and work with an amazing couple. Sam and Alex got married last year, but never got to do their engagement session beforehand, so we took advantage of some great spring lighting, took a stroll down a path in the woods, and captured some wonderful images of the gorgeous couple! I’ll let the images speak for themselves – click any image below to see some of my favorites!

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A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of getting up and exploring the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin area. They brought along their camera and we all got to play around with the beautiful blossoms. Although the cherry blossoms were all but gone at that point, there were plenty of other trees just hitting their peak, and the crowds weren’t too bad as a result. A beautiful couple, a wonderful morning, and some great pictures to remember the day by. Many thanks to Megan and Jordan for being so flexible and patient throughout the morning, and letting me capture some wonderful shots of the happy couple!

Click any of the images to view the full gallery!

Megan Jordan Washington DC Monuments 1 e1334619406724 Megan and Jordan | DC Blossoms

Megan Jordan Washington DC Monuments 2 e1334619646855 Megan and Jordan | DC Blossoms

Megan Jordan Washington DC Monuments 3 e1334619692782 Megan and Jordan | DC Blossoms

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Megan Jordan Washington DC Monuments 9 e1334619829822 Megan and Jordan | DC Blossoms


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Currently hanging at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Annie Leibovitz’s “Pilgrimage” intends to tell the tale of Annie’s personal journey over two years, photographing artifacts and locations related to some of America’s greatest individuals. I attended this gallery with my good friend Jordan Bush, who has offered his thoughts on the exhibition.

The exhibit is a significant departure from Leibovitz’s usual work, with photographs focusing on objects and places rather than portraits of the rich and famous. Yet, despite this, there is a familiarity to the material, as the objects are all related to the well-known and celebrated: Abraham Lincoln’s gloves and hat from the night he was assassinated, Sigmund Freud’s couch and books, Ansel Adam’s darkroom. These are exactly the type of items you might travel around the country to see, and yet, the images did not evoke the emotional connection to the people and the artifacts that I was hoping to experience.

Perhaps I just don’t get what Leibovitz was trying to convey. Perhaps her message doesn’t resonate with me. I felt that many of the images lacked the technical proficiency that I would expect from any exhibition of work honored by the American Art Museum, let alone a photographer of her caliber. Quite a few images suffered from poor lighting, lack of focus (both technically and conceptually), and lackluster perspective. Unfortunately, these deficiencies significantly distracted from the images and the experience. That is not to say that all the images suffered from these distracting qualities; in fact, there were some that were simply stunning — Niagara Falls, Georgia O’Keeffe’s pastels — but for the gallery as a whole, I was left wanting more.

As a photographer, one of my primary goals is to create images that connect emotionally with the viewer, and stand on their own based on a combination of technical merit, interesting subjects, and meaningful perspective. Liebovitz’s work usually gives me all that and more, leaving me in awe of her photographic vision, skill, experience, and execution, but apart from the similarity in people she emphasized in her images, this gallery did not remind me of her work. I found myself yearning for cohesiveness, a force guided by the intention of the photographer that would lead me from one image to the next, understanding the connections between the images, the photographer, and the viewer.

At the end of the day, I’m left wondering, if this wasn’t an Annie Leibovitz gallery, would it be hanging in the Smithsonian American Art Museum? Regrettably, I think the answer to the question is no.

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and plenty of couples sure to be getting engaged – who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky couples taking the next step in your relationship! To celebrate this holiday, I’m offering a special package for the soon-to-be newlyweds, so check out the whole deal here and book your session today!

Whether you just got engaged in the past few days, popped the question over the holidays, or are planning to ask your loved one to continue on your journey together soon, an engagement session is a fantastic way to share your happiness with friends and family both near and far – not to mention capturing moments that you and your partner will be able to look back on for years to come.

Here are some images from an engagement session I did with the wonderful Dan and Jess last fall in Washington, DC – take a look and let me know if you’re interested in having me capture some memories for you!

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November 2, 2011 Remembering Steve Jobs

I’ve been an Apple user my entire life. My house has always had Macs, in fact (and my mom may correct me later on this) my first Apple memory was using her Macintosh II, playing around with the Kid Pix software. As I grew up, so did our computers, and in high school I was able to purchase a refurbished G3 iMac from the Apple Store in the Palisades Mall. The fan was so loud on that computer that my mom could tell if I was up too late even if my door was closed, but I loved that machine. It was my first Mac, and I had paid for it all by myself. I love my Apple products, from my iPhone, to the newest addition, my MacBook Air. Apple products make doing my job easier and feel less like work – and I can only hope that Apple continues down the path that Steve has guided the company along for all these years.


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Just a few days after Steve Jobs passed away, I was in New York City, and took the opportunity to visit the 5th Avenue Apple Store to see how Steve’s life was being commemorated. I still find it hard to believe that the mind behind the products that I use on a daily basis is gone, but seeing how many other people’s lives were impacted in a similar way was comforting. What I saw at the Apple Store that day was numerous fans paying their respects to a vision of technology that is accessible and puts the user first. That’s what I’ll remember about Steve, and it’s what I hope Apple never forgets.


SteveJobsAppleStoreMemorial7 M Remembering Steve Jobs

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I love the fall. The crisp breeze, the beautiful colors, and pretty much anything that has apples in it. So going out to pick apples at Stribling Orchards with Hilary and Sarah was a great way to spend an absolutely gorgeous fall Saturday. We picked our fair share of apples – 25+ pounds… which, just two weeks later, are all but gone – and I took advantage of the beautiful location and company to take a few shots. Take a look, I hope you like the results as much as I do! Click the image below to see the full gallery.


ApplePickingStriblingOrchard11 M Apple Picking at Stribling Orchard

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October 17, 2011 Kindergarten to 60

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing a sixtieth birthday party for a group of friends who first met in Kindergarten, along with their closest friends and family. This was my first event as the official photographer, rather than “guest first, photographer second,” and it was quite an experience. In addition to sharing some of my favorite images from the night, I’d like to reflect on what I learned – and thank the guests of honor for allowing me to take part in their festivities.


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The first, and possibly most important, lesson that I learned was that the more comfortable you are behind the camera, the more relaxed the guests become, leading to better pictures. I was quite “stiff” at first; I was afraid of interfering with everyone’s night, of getting in the way, of disrupting the very moments that I was there to capture. And, to be fair, I’m sure I did that more than a few times in the first hour or so, by not realizing that relaxing behind the camera, laughing with the guests, and acting like I had been there before, was an integral part of being a photographer. You can’t capture a moment if your very presence interrupts it, but as I became more comfortable in my role, everyone else did too. I took a step back, and a deep breath, and then got to work. Once I was smiling, so was everyone else. I was there to capture what they were experiencing, and they gave me every opportunity to do so.


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I also learned how easy it is to become overwhelmed – 100+ people and just one photographer, how to do make sure you’re capturing everything that’s happening? The short answer is, you can’t, but it’s easy to feel that as the professional, you are responsible for recording each and every single moment, and by missing something, you’ve failed in some way. Being a photographer means learning to anticipate a scene worth capturing as it unfolds; if you simply react, you’ll often miss the pure emotion that you set out to capture. By taking stock of what was unfolding around me, and attempting to anticipate what was going to happen next, I was often able to place myself in an ideal position. I couldn’t be everywhere at once, but I was where I needed to be when it mattered most.


Kindergarten to 60 Birthday Party 22 e1318895554848 Kindergarten to 60


Ok, final big picture lesson from this event: when the moment allows (e.g. posed shots), take more pictures than you think you need to. You can’t do this with every shot, nor do I advocate taking thousands of pictures of everything, hoping one sticks, but I found that often shots I thought were great while at the event had flaws that meant they didn’t make the cut. Whether it was one person with their eyes closed or looking away, or just slightly out of focus, taking the time to shoot a few more frames would have dramatically increased the number of unique images I ended up with.

A great friend and outstanding photographer said to me the night before this event that you never forget your first professional photography event. He’s right, this was a night that I will always remember, and rely on to guide me forward as a photographer. So, Joey, Angela, Carol, Chrissie, and Sally, thank you all for for the experience, the laughs, and the chance to grow as a photographer. I hope you had as much fun that night as I did, and that the images did justice to the great time that was certainly had by all those closest to you.


September 23, 2011 On Being Deliberate

For my first post, I thought I’d share with you the philosophy behind my photography, and how it developed over the past 2+ years. It’s how I try to think when I’m behind the camera, and while I can’t say I’m always as good at this as I’d like to be, I think that the more time I spend on photography, the more I follow these two (seemingly) simple words: Be Deliberate. It’s easy to say now, but it was a long road getting to this point, and even today I still find myself forgetting how important it is.

I’m ashamed to say that back when I got my first DSLR (a Canon 50D), I thought that a fancy camera made better pictures. Or, more accurately, I thought having a better camera made you a better photographer. Of course, I learned soon enough that it couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact, it is often the opposite. What I found is that while the image quality – the color, the depth of field, the clarity – was better, the finished product wasn’t. In fact, the greater resolution magnified the flaws in my work, and not truly understanding how to use all the features the camera possessed caused me to miss more than a few images. While I knew what aperture and shutter speed meant, I didn’t how to use this newfound control to create better images. I wasn’t thinking like a photographer, yet, I was thinking like a picture taker. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I expect more of myself, and I got this fancy new camera to take better pictures.

That’s when I realized that I couldn’t start taking great pictures until I understood the basics, from where each feature and setting is controlled within the camera to how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO interact to control different aspects of light and influence the final image. I also learned different photographic theories, techniques, and rules – and that it’s ok to break all the rules because photography is an art as well as a discipline. By far the greatest learning experience has been painstakingly culling my own images down to a select few I am truly proud of, and then sharing them with people willing to offer honest criticism. This perspective has been invaluable in developing my own photographic eye, and helping grow my abilities as a photographer.

When I was first learning the in’s and out’s of photography, I took as many pictures as I could, very few of which ended up being anything worth keeping. It was only after I learned enough about my equipment and how each element comes together to produce an image that I was able to start growing as a photographer. Without these things standing between me and the scene, I was able to create great pictures and capture outstanding moments that I would have otherwise missed. I was still taking too many pictures, but significantly more were worth keeping. The realization that I was spending more time combing through bad images than sharing and enjoying the good ones is what really led to my decision to focus on being deliberate.

In my mind, to be deliberate is to see the shot before it unfolds, and to ask yourself “is this picture worth capturing, and if so, why?,” all before pressing the shutter. It certainly isn’t easy, but it has led to me taking far fewer pictures each time I go out with my camera, and I’ve found that I have infinitely more images that I’m proud of when I get home.

At the end of the day, for me, the difference between a “lucky snapshot” and a true photograph is the intent of the individual holding the camera. So, I try to be deliberate, so every image I share is one that I created, rather than something I happened to snap, rescued from the pile of rejects. That’s what I strive for, and hopefully, those are the images I’ll be sharing with you.

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