Being Thankful.

I wanted to take a break today from sharing one of our weddings or engagement shoots and reflect a bit on 2013.  “Reflect already?!” you say?  Yes.  Here’s why:

Over the years I’ve grown to love winter.  After an always crazy Fall season, it’s our time to stop working 7 days a week, 15 hours a day.  It’s time to review our last year, evaluate if we need to make any changes in our branding or marketing.  Time to work on on those little pet projects that don’t get to see the light of day once August hits.  It’s about planning, being methodical, and progress.  So when something out of the ordinary happens and throws your world upside down, it’s hard to feel positive.  Liike say, when your home is broken in to and nearly all of your camera gear being stolen.

Yup.  You heard me.  Stolen.

We don’t know exactly when it happend…and frankly HOW it happened.  We don’t live in an easily accessible area.  We have an alarm system.  We have two dogs.  No one is ever unsupervised in our home.  Ever.  Even the windows are always locked.  Somehow it just vanished.  

A few weeks ago I attended an awesome photography conference in Mystic, CT where I spent the week being inspired and humbled by leaders in the wedding photography industry.  Canon Professional Services was there doing free clean & checks and tune ups on gear so I had packed up a bunch of gear and got it all spiffy again.  I came home from the conference and put the bag in our studio without unpacking it.  I wasn’t going to need any gear for a few days until we were leaving for vacation anyway.  Well, just before we had to leave for the airport we went to grab the gear we needed and the bag was gone!  Tore the whole house apart (which…frankly, there are no hiding places for a large bag full of gear).  Tore the garage apart.  Checked the cars (just in case).  Nothing.

About a month or so ago there was another photographer in the D.C. area who had a similar story.  All her gear was stolen without anything else in her house being touched.  I don’t know what to make of it other than there must be someone out there targeting photographers, who KNOWS who the photographers are.  It’s not a happy, warm fuzzy type of thing that I want to think, but I can’t come to any other conclusion.  It’s left me unnerved, sad, embarassed, and angry, but it’s also left me thankful.

I’m thankful I have insurance for one.  As much as I loved my gear, they’re just tools.  I’m thankful it’s wintertime and I don’t have a ton of shoots to do!  I’m thankful that nothing else was stolen.  I’m thankful even prior to this that I already have business practices in place to safe guard against this kind of thing, so it didn’t affect our clients.  (Even if they had stolen all of the computers and hard drives, we still have off-site backups of everything.)  I’m thankful I have photographer friends all over that have offered me gear to borrow should I need it.

Ultimately, in a long-winded & round about way, it has also made me thankful for our clients & for what we do.  Without them I wouldn’t be having this equipment, and this awesome job where I get to hang out at a big party every week and take photos.  I wouldn’t get to have “slow” winter seasons to rejuvinate & grow.  I wouldn’t get to meet amazing new people all the time, who turn into awesome clients, who turn into even better friends.

A few weeks ago this letter came across my desk from one of our clients and it just made my day, my week, my month even!  Erica and Lincoln have been so fun to work with.  They’re spunky and sweet, and the kind of people that brighten your whole day even if you’ve seen them for 5 minutes.  This is why I do what I do.  They sent us their adorable Save The Date (a crossword puzzle!) that used one of the engagement photos we took for them, and then wrote us a sweet and funny note (I think Erica may have been a tad delirous when she wrote it) that made me laugh at nearly every line.  The best part was the bottom: 

PPS:  It’s late and I just wanted to say please do not confuse this pink sheet of paper with a pink slip…we could never get rid of you guys!!!! (We brag about you ALL THE TIME!)”

Moments like these remind me that I am making an impact on people’s lives and providing something that they value and cherish.  It makes all the other BS of paper shuffling, contracts, insurance paperwork, bookeeping, accouting, marketing, and managing worth it.  Nothing, not even cowardly theives, can stop me from continuing my passion for photography and making impacts on my clients’ lives.

 

Fall Wedding at Raspberry Plain: Katie & Hans

October was a busy month for us and one wedding that kept us busy was the one of Katie & Hans in Leesburg, VA at beautiful, Raspberry Plain.  The historic mansion was the perfect setting on this crisp & blustery Fall day.  The wind sure gave us a run for our money while we were shooting, but in the end, we totally won.  Check it out:

Earlier, the little flower girl was very concerned that the DJ would be playing Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA”.  Chris Rao (awesome DJ extrordinaire!), of Sound Wave Entertainment made sure to make her little wish come true a little early while we were out photographing.  It was adorable when she started rocking out and the other ladies joined in.  Too cute!!

 Rick’s Flowers in Herndon, VA made these simply stunning bouquets!

 I can’t get over how adorable this couple is! 

Not only is the cake topper adorable, you would not believe how yummy this cake was by Edibles Incredible in Reston, VA.

I included this photo to tell everyone out there just how much I LOVE copper.  Look at how stunning this centerpiece is!!  So creative and it worked just perfectly into the orange & purple color scheme.

I think Katie & Hans (to date) have had my favorite sparkler send off.  They’re the first couple we’ve seen actually get into the fun themselves and grab some sparklers!  Awesome!!

What a night!

India: The After Session

After the main part of the Hindu ceremony was done, we got a chance to spend the day with Hannah, Rajesh, and Hannah’s family toodling around the Indian countryside to take photos for an After Session.  SO much fun!

We were driving on our wait to a temple and someone in the car noticed the camels on the side of the road.  One thing I learned about India is that nothing seems to be off limits regarding exotic animals.  Our driver made a U-turn and stopped at the roadside.  We got out and asked if we could use the camels for some photos.  A few rupees later, Hannah and Rajesh were up on a camel (and later, Kristi & I were, too!)

 Of course, one of my favorites is Hannah and Rajesh with one of the horses that was there.  Many of you know that I’ve been riding for about 20 years.  It was SO cool to finally see this beautiful Indian horse breed, called Marwari, in person.  They’re characterized by their unique, paisley shaped ears that tip in to the middle.  I was touched that the people there brought the white horse (very auspicious in Indian culture) over in it’s best show bridle.  It was beautiful.

Another thing I learned in India is that the phrase “it takes a village” rings very true.  These are all the men that had a hand in facilitating the photos with one camel and one horse. 

After the roadside camels, Rajesh took us to a spectacular Jain temple.  It was a challenge because of the religious rules involving just about zero tolerance for men and women touching (save for a hand hold) at sacred ground, but the place was so beautiful I wouldn’t have traded the location for anything! 

Mmmm!  Fresh coconuts!  YUM

Again, a HUGE thank you to Kristi of Kristi Odom Photography for taking me along on this trip.  Without you, this would not have been possible.

Hannah & Rajesh: Married in India!!!

Words can not describe just how excited I was when my friend Kristi (of Kristi Odom Photography) called me up and asked if I wanted to do a wedding with her IN INDIA!!  (Seriously?! Do you have to ask?!)  I’ve wanted to go to India since I fell in love with my first bite of Indian food and began learning more about the people and culture.  

I am so grateful for the opportunity Kristi gave me.  While we were there we took thousands of images.  It was such a saturation of colors, lights, sounds, and people it was hard not to take photos.  The only problem with taking so many is then narrowing down your favorites!  It’s taken me a while to whiddle it down to the best of the best but here they are!

Day One:

The first day of wedding festivities started at the groom’s family’s home for the Bride Making ceremony.  When we arrived we were greeted with what was soon to become a familiar scene; piles of shoes on the porch.  

I loved how all of the houses we were in had these beautiful marble slab floors.  The bride’s henna contrasted with her American toe nail polish was a fun play on the mixing of cultures.

I couldn’t get over the detail and beauty of all the equisite patterns of the sarees.

 One thing I love about this photo is that it’s not just a sweet portrait of Hannah helping her mom get into her saree, but it’s a record of the time.  We were told to arrive early because the ceremonies HAD to start by 7:30am.  Well…this was the start and you can see the time.  This became a common theme and a very interesting cultural experience.  We just had to laugh and let it unfold in it’s own time.

Hello, gorgeous.  Love. Love. Love. 

 Hannah was definitely a queen.  Everyone was there to wait on her and make her just perfect!

 All the spices…

Rajesh told us later they had all of the bridal jewelry custom made.  Absolutely stunning.

OK.  I had to put this photo in just for perspective. We weren’t the only photographers there.  Hannah had us as the American photographers and Rajesh’s family hired Indian photographers and videographers.  Needless to say, it was a packed house. 

 Day Two:

I love that Hannah arrived in a swanky VW through a beautiful tunnel of cloths.  Very fun!

 This golden saree belt that Rajesh’s family presented to Hannah at the ceremony was stunning.  I’ve never seen such a thing!

 One of the most interesting things I learned about was the “mole” they put on Hannah.  There’s a tradition that one can not be too beautiful as to upset the gods, so they must “marr her beauty”.  Fascinating!  Whatever the tradition says, I certainly thought she looked just perfect!

 Another interesting tradition was not allowing the bride and groom to see eachother before a certain part of the ceremony.  This handmade banner served as a barrier at the beginning of the ceremony.

Here’s another bird’s eye view of the setting.  We were all on a small stage with about 56 billion other people on it.  Elbowing for prime photo space between the other photographers and videographers was an experience.  

 Hannah hands the coconut to Rajesh under the banner.

 Love this moment where Hannah’s parents are blessing the couple while they’re holding hands.

 All 500 some people who were there lined up to bless the couple. 

Throwing rice is symbolic with showering blessings. 

 One thing that surprised me was in the middle of the Hindu ceremony, they did a Bahai ceremony for Hannah and her family.  In a culture so steeped in tradition, it was really cool to see the two families coming together.

Signing the Bahai marriage contract. 

 After the Bahai ceremony (which seemed to be only a nano second long compared to the Hindu ceremony) we went back to finish up the rest of the Hindu ceremony.

Loved this moment!  So fun! 

 This whole experience was incredible.  I still can’t believe all of the amazing people I met and things I learned.  I feel truly blessed and humbled to have been afforded the opportunity to photograph such a unique wedding.  Stay tuned for my next installment when we got to take Hannah and Rajesh out for an after session!

Christiana & Aaron's Vintage - Chic DIY Wedding

I’m so glad I’m finally getting a chance to blog this super romantic & beautiful wedding!  Christiana & Aaron (remember them from the Glen Echo engagement session?) were married in her family’s church but the prep work & partying were all at the historic Rockledge Mansion in Occoquan, VA.

The house is hundreds of years old and very (and I mean, very) cool.  Parts of the house are built into the hillside; or the hillside is built into the house.  I don’t know which is the proper way of describing it, but it’s pretty cool!

Christiana’s dress was simply fairy tale and stunning.

 LOVED her shoes.  And the flowers?  Yeah…the bride MADE them out of coffee filters.  How amazing & talented is she?!

In celebration of the vintage beauty this venue had to offer, I used one of my vintage lenses.  It makes me miss being in photo school terribly.  Back when I had to use 4x5 view cameras.  Those are the ones you have to set on a tripod, and go under the little curtain to frame up the shot.  Old school.  Anyway, I just love this moment Christie is having with her maid of honor helping her into her dress.  So sweet! 

With the veil, it’s real! 

All of Christie’s maids were adorable and sweet in their dresses.  And their bouquets?  Yup.  The bride made those out of coffee filters, too!

And here’s Aaron, the groom.  I got a kick out of his Star Wars storm trooper.  

The sincere happiness and love between Christiana & Aaron is awe inspiring.  I was humbled to watch the ceremony. 

Notice all the little paper stars?  Yup.  DIY!  The bride confessed to me later that there was a typo on their first round of invites, so rather than let them go to waste, they thought up to string these whimsical stars over their ceremony. 

Their centerpieces were very cool!  And their cake was sweet and romantic.  Just like them. 

This dress can move!  Christiana’s dad took her for a spin around the dance floor and put on a spectacular show. 

After that, the ring bearer showed off a few of his moves, too. 

I’d say a good time was had by all!