I am just like you. I have a job, a husband, kids, grocery shopping, a home to clean, bills to pay and a life to live! I budget and cut coupons and love groupon and discount sites! I hate spending more for something that I can get cheaper somewhere else. I only have so much money coming and and I really do need to make it stretch as far as possible. I get it! That said… you REALLY DO NEED A PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT done by a professional photographer! A “picture of you” is not just a picture of you when you are trying to sell yourself. And we all need to sell ourselves at times!
I was just searching online for a therapist for someone I love. I found an incredibly helpful site that narrowed down therapists in my area to those that specialized in the the disorder I was looking for help in, where they were located, a short bio about them and their practice and a picture. I was completely turned off by MOST of the pictures! Only a handful had professional portraits and most were snapshots with distracting things in the background and were unflattering. A few looked to have been taken 30 years ago with outdated clothing or hair. They might be AMAZING therapists but I didn’t even click on their profile for more information.
We all love selfies but a selfie is NOT a professional portrait!!!! Yes, I am a photographer and of course I have a professional headshot… but be honest, if you were coming to do business with me about ANYTHING and I had this as my profile picture or on my website, does it look like I invest in my business? It’s a SELFIE with clutter all behind me!
These are the kinds of things I saw when looking for a therapist this morning. There was one where he was standing beside a horse and you could only see a portion of his face but ALL of the horse!
We shouldn’t make judgments on people by the way they look…. but we do have first impressions that are hard to get past. We often have a TON of options in front of us and we navigate ourselves to the ones that relate to us. Often, unless we are buying something and there will have NO interaction (like online), we want to feel connected to the people we will be working with, buying from, spending time with, etc. Some of the pictures I saw today, the therapists were almost scowling… and you want me to come and lay on your couch and tell you my problems??? No thanks, Mr. Grumpy. The outdated ones… um no thanks Mrs. Seventies show. The selfies… is this a legitimate business Ms. Smartphone?
The take-away from this is you NEED to have a professional portrait. It doesn’t need to be BORING but it does need to focus on you and how you are trying to sell yourself. Do you want to be inviting and warm? Powerful and important? Confident and trustworthy? Self controlled and competent? Amusing and charming? Selfless and calm? Different jobs call for different portraits!!
Here are a few of MY portraits. I usually try to go for inviting, warm, and friendly. Sometimes I include my camera, sometimes I don”t. I love to be outdoors and since many of my sessions are on location- I usually choose outdoor locations too.
This will include the session plus one digital image.
Please invest in yourself and in your business. Put your best foot (er… face) forward and see the difference it makes!
We are so excited to announce that we have moved offices! It was a little bit of a crazy (and unexpected) transition but we have settled in quite nicely and have enjoyed making the place our own. The best part is that it is ALL OURS!!! No more sharing!
We’ve made small changes around the office for better efficiency and are happy to say it’s working very well for us! Our favorite addition is an adorable newborn wall where we’ve hung all the outfits and headbands/bows! We also have a changing table for my very little clients!
It’s exciting to see this new season start to unfold so quickly! We love our new office and hope that you love it as much as we do!!
If you haven’t visited us yet, you should! Our new 4862 Shell Rd so feel free to stop by and say hello! We love visitors
I’ve been privileged to take newborn portraits for a second time with Stokes family! Shana and Donnie recently welcomed sweet Sofia to the family and she is adorable! Sweet Sofia was such a good baby who slept most of the time which made my job super easy! We captured some amazing portraits and she looks bee-utiful!
I was blessed to photography their first daughter, Adalynn, and I got to watch this sweet girl grow with the Baby’s First Year plan! I’m so excited to get to do the same with Sofia!
Adalynn is a big girl now and a big sister. It’s tough being three and patient while waiting for newborn portraits but she rocked it and we got some adorable portraits of these precious girls!
I’m so thankful that Shana and Donnie continue to trust me to capture these moments. I am so excited to watch their little munchkins grow into not so little munchkins!
It’s not often when a photographer is on the other side of the camera! This was the first time Amanda has received headshots from me, but I’ve been grateful to photograph her sweet family on many occasions! It’s always such a joy to work with other photographers because we get to play with light. Amanda is a real estate photographer, something I don’t touch, so if you need a great real estate photographer go check out her page here: https://www.amandaporterphotos.com
I love working with you Amanda, so grateful for your friendship and business.
Baby Bradley is no longer a baby, toddler hood here we come! Bradley may not be able to talk quite yet, but his smile is infectious… this little guy loves to laugh!!!! We had such such a great shoot with mommy and daddy. It was awesome to get some family portraits because daddy was about to leave on deployment. We thank you for your service Aaron!
Bradley absolutely loved his cake smash. Unlike most of my one year olds, he didn’t want to put his cake away, he would have eaten all of it if we had allowed it!
We absolutely love how the portraits turned out and I am so grateful to photograph this adorable family once again!
My Olivia is her own unique girl. She’d rather wear jeans than dresses, brush her hair with her fingers rather than a brush and doesn’t have any social media accounts because it is “all fake hiding behind a computer.” She loves volunteering and helping children. She’s a tomboy with a HUGE heart who knows who she is and what she believes in.
This year was her first big school dance. She picked out a beautiful blue lace dress but, of course, wore converse tennis shoes instead of heels. She even agreed to get her makeup done! (Carly with MakeupbyVega is amazing!) She got her hair re-shaved and was ecstatic to get a mohawk that completed her look.
She HATES having pictures taken (I’m sure that has nothing to do with a mom who has had a camera in her face since she was born!!) but she had no choice in getting portraits taken before the dance. She kept running away though, saying “Enough MOM!!!” (I do get some validation though as when she sat down to view her portraits she said “Are there anymore?” When I told her no because she wouldn’t let me shot for more than 5 minutes, she begrudgingly agreed that she should have let me take more!!)
My sweet girl looked stunning. She is such a beautiful soul inside and out. To see her in a beautiful dress, all dolled up, wearing makeup… momma wasn’t ready. She no longer looked like a little girl, but a woman. I’m not ready. She is beautiful and amazing but I’m not ready for womanhood yet. That said, she is handling it with grace and beauty. I am so proud of my girl.
Her date, Shanyn, is a very nice young man. He was respectful and a perfect first date to her first dance. They had a great time dancing and laughing together. When I picked them up they told me stories about the evening, which took forever to tell between the bouts of laughter. I am so glad they had fun together… I remember awkward moments of silence and uncomfortable conversation during my dances back in the day!
My favorite part of the whole night was when she got home and curled up in her daddy’s lap to tell him about her night. Always has been and will always be a daddy’s girl. <3 <3
Another amazing year has passed. Last year at this exact time, I was just so thankful 2015 was almost OVER. It was a year filled with so much sadness and loss. I prayed for 2016 to be a BORING year at least! I just wanted to get past all the pain of 2015. God answers prayers and more. Like he states “There is a time and a season for everything.” The BORING year I was praying for didn’t happen, instead He gave me so much more.
Personal highlights of 2016… I started the year off on a cruise with my family. The first cruise we have done together and it was a beautiful welcome to the new year! In the spring, I visited NYC with my son and godson and got to see my childhood crush, Will Smith (aaaaahhhhhhh) film the movie Collateral Beauty. (Seriously, I was like a giddy child- and the coolest thing was it was an unexpected surprise to see him on set!! Thanks to an amazing friend who set it up!) In the summer, I visited Ethiopia again, with Habesha Momma, and got to start the process of opening a home for homeless and trafficked children. I also FINALLY got to take my husband to NYC. I love NYC and Brett has said for years ”NEVER” when I ask if he’d like to go with me. However, he finally agreed and we had a fabulous time together enjoying the big city!
One of the biggest personal and business highlights was I moved my business out of my house and into a true commercial space!! It was a HUGE leap of faith but I am so very thankful I took the risk. I LOVE having my own space. I’ve been a successful photographer for years BUT having my own name on the outside of a building makes me feel “I’ve made it!” It has been an amazing whirlwind of a year! I had a phenomenal Open House in my new space and felt so much love poured out. I have been blessed by the opportunity to photograph so many amazing people, families and projects. I truly love my job and don’t take for granted the fact that I am given the gift of creating moments in time for each of you.
This blog every year is one of my hardest… to go through the year and pick my favorite images to share. Each one of you are so special to me, all of our shoots hold special moments and laughs. In every single session- I am creating memories that I pray will be cherished for generations to come. Narrowing that down to 15-20 images to show my year in review… it is SO HARD! But here are some of the highlights I was able to narrow it down too… and once again thank you. Thank you for trusting me, thank you for supporting me, thank you for allowing me into your family.
Most of you all know that a huge part of my heart is connected to Ethiopia. This country gave me my son Messay and I will forever be grateful.
It is a country filled with beauty, joy, culture and love. It is also filled with poverty and need. I am on the board of directors for an amazing non-for-profit, Habesha Momma, that works to help better lives of women and children in Ethiopia. I have been going back to Ethiopia for the past two years with Habesha Momma and am so proud of the work we do there.
I began to sponsor this young man, Endale, after our first trip. I want to share his story.
He lives on Entoto Mountain, where there live a very large population of homeless and sick people. My friend Mesfin, runs a feeding program and has worked for years to help the people of Entoto. After participating in his feeding program last year, I met little Endale and his mother. This was a picture of his family from that first year (2015), Endale is in his mothers arms.
There is a sponsorship program that provides basic needs for families that are living on the mountain, run by Ordinary Hero. Endale and his mother had been waiting on a sponsor for a very long time, possibly because Endale has severe mental and physical disabilities. For some reason, I was drawn to Endale and I asked his mother to hold him… I will never forget those first moments. He screamed and laughed, pulled my hair and hit me in excitement! As I have a degree in special education, I was well aware he wasn’t upset but just happy and showing his excitement any way he could! He gave me lots of kisses and love and we laughed and laughed. By the time I handed him back I was covered in spit, had red marks on my face and my heart had been stolen!
As soon as I returned home from Ethiopia, I contacted Ordinary Hero and asked them to allow me to sponsor Endale and his family. My sponsoring them allowed them food, a place to live and medical care. His mother could finally breathe easier as Endale’s disability wouldn’t allow her to work outside the home. Finally, she could rest at night knowing his basic needs were provided for.
This year, I returned to Ethiopia with Habesha Momma and we were able to visit Entoto Mountain on the last day of our trip. I was so excited to see my Endale again. It is a day I will never forget.
This is me as I finally get to see Endale with his mother. I am sure I was saying something nice but I think I look a little crazy as I am taking him from his momma! I was just so excited to hold him again!
From the moment Endale was in my arms he was laughing. He laughed and laughed! He gave me kisses. He squeezed my cheeks with his little chubby fingers (I think I had red marks again from his fingernails lol!) Did I mention his laugh? It was infectious! He brought our team so much joy… just watching him laugh, smile and squeal in excitement.
This morning I received a message from my friend Mesfin. Endale passed away yesterday. I don’t know how, all I know is he got sick two days ago and passed away in the hospital. My heart is breaking for this family. My heart is breaking that I will never hear that precious laugh again. My heart is breaking knowing the pain his mother must be feeling.
I think back on the life of Endale… the two short visits I had with him. I will never forget his laugh. He might not have been able to talk to me or run around with the other kids, but he showed me love. He shared happiness. He radiated joy. No matter how you were feeling, how sad, upset or angry you were, just being around little Endale would fix that, even if just for a moment! I share these pictures with you to show you his love… his contribution to this world. He might not have been able to tell you his name but he should share the simple joy of being alive with you.
I am not sure if his mom will know how much he meant to me… how much I cherished the moments I was able to spend with him. I hope you take this time to enjoy Endale’s joy. I hope you allow it to lift your spirits. It was what I believe he was put on earth to do… to share pure joy. So please take a moment and allow his joy to fill your heart. Look at that beautiful smile, the glee in his eyes! When you think you don’t have anything to offer the world, think of Endale. He couldn’t do so much… but he could do the very best thing of all… love. He could brighten your day and bring a smile to those around him. He did his job and he did it well. God called him home and now he is running around and that beautiful laugh is filling the heavens!
I am so very very thankful to have met Endale. I thank God he allowed me to hold him just two weeks ago and share his joy. I am thankful he had a mother, a brother and a community who loved him. I am thankful God introduced me to my friend Andrea (president of Habesha Momma), who introduced me to Mesfin, who introduced me to Ordinary hero. I am thankful that for the last year of his life, he wasn’t hungry or unsheltered. I am thankful God allowed me to provide for them.
Not all of the kids in Ethiopia are so lucky. Our project in Debre Markos is working to help children living on the streets, without family, shelter or food. (Watch Video Here.) Please consider going to Habesha Momma and donating. Would you donate a $1, $5, or even $50 in memory of Endale? Help us share his joy by bringing joy and love to more children so desperately in need of it.
I just returned from The Mid-Atlantic Regional School of Professional Photography (MARS) in New Jersey. It is a school I have been attending for the last seven years to stretch and grow myself as a family and portrait photographer. I love spending time with other professional photographers. Often, we will talk about WHY we became photographers and I have found that my story into becoming a professional photographer is often different than others. Most of my peers fell in love with the ART of photography. They began taking pictures at a young age and learned to develop film in a darkroom, excited by the process of photography. They often began by taking pictures of flowers, sunsets, landscapes, etc. Often that love of photography transferred into taking pictures of people. They seem to all have a deep appreciation and love for art of all kinds. They love visiting museums and often are skilled as artists with a pen, paper or paintbrush as well as behind a camera. They are passionate about art.
My story is different. I didn’t have a camera in my hand growing up and I’ve never developed film in a darkroom. I don’t often visit museums and I never did very well in art class. If you ask me to draw a dog, it might end up looking more like a horse… or a bunny. I fell in love with photography as a TOOL to capture love. I LOVE people. I am passionate about people and the connections between them. I began photography because I wanted to capture the love of family, the strength and passion in a marriage, the love of parents for their children, the connections between siblings, the transition of a young man or woman as they graduate high school and the beauty of new life in a newborn. THAT for me is the art I am passionate about. Photography for me is so exciting because it allows to to take those moments and preserve them forever.
That being said, I don’t shoot landscapes, flowers, trees, inanimate objects very often. I often will see a beautiful landscape and think “That is beautiful, I wish I had a family or couple here so I could create a beautiful portrait.” I notice the beauty, but to me, it would be made more beautiful if I could incorporate the love and connection of people into the scene.
Recently, I reconnected with an old friend who is an amazing artist in multiple different mediums. We had some long discussions about art and the definition of an “artist.” He inspired me to stretch myself and try to expand my view of art through my own photography. Don’t get me wrong, I see so much beauty and talent in landscape photographers, I have some friends who are incredibly talented in that field! I am in awe of what they capture! I just have a hard time myself bringing that same beauty to life behind my own camera.
Like I said, my friend encouraged me to try and stretch myself, and see beauty, vision and perspective in way that DON’T include people. Since I was going to be at MARS in Cape May NJ, a gorgeous place to photograph landscapes, old Victorian homes, animals, boats, etc, I decided to take him up on the challenge.
IT WAS HARD! I am so used to having a vision of what I want to photograph before I start, a vision that ALWAYS includes people. To just walk around and try to find inspiration in the objects around me… that was hard! I only really had one day to work on this personal project, and that day, it was raining and foggy. So my go-to sunrise or sunset pictures were out.
I’m definitely not ready to start selling postcards, but thought I’d share a little piece of myself with you. I feel like a brand new photographer again, as I definitely have a lot of room to grow here, but it’s important to stretch yourself and grow. Here’s me growing…
What a year this has been. Last year was a pretty terrible year for me personally and I was so ready for 2016. I was expecting a much better year, but I didn’t expect this!!!
Less than two weeks ago, I signed a lease on my new office space. It has been dream of mine, to get out of my home office, for such a long time but I have been so afraid to take the leap. With a HUGE nudge from my husband, I finally took jumped off the ledge and did it!
My space is located at 1642 Pleasure House Rd. Suite 108, Virginia Beach. The downstairs space is Synergy Space, an amazing multi-use space that can be rented for multiple different uses (parties, classes, networking, meetings, etc) and the upstairs space is ALL MINE!
It’s not a huge space, I’ll shoot newborns and professional portraits/headshots here, but I’ll still rent my other studio space for larger studio work. It is an AMAZING space though to work, edit, meet with clients and have my viewing sessions!
It’s been a long two weeks getting it ready and I am SO THANKFUL to everyone who helped me. Jeris at Smartgiraffe (www.smartgiraffecs.com) was amazing at helping me get my computer up and running and a new screen projector installed and working. My friends were amazing and stepped up helping me paint, decorate, rewrite and organize. My husband Brett did a majority of the work while I was out of town and did all the heavy lifting! I may run this business alone, but I am SO VERY thankful to those who lift me up and surround me with support.
Here is a progression of our before and after images!!
My Olivia helping put up my curtains and touch up all the paint!
My handsome bandyman. I wouldn’t be here without his support and encouragement!
ALL DONE!!! A few little tweaks here and there BUT I’m officially open for business!!!
Soon, I’ll be announcing my open house date and I can’t wait to celebrate with you as I embark on this new adventure… but don’t feel you need to wait. I’d love it if you’d stop by and say hello. I love visitors!