Friday, August 29, 2014

If you live in the Vienna/Oakton area you may have noticed that the W&O Trail has gotten a bit busy in the last year or so...and you may have noticed that the numbers of one specific gender (female) has been increasing...maybe you have been greeted cheerfully by these women on the trail, or given a little smile of encouragement,  or noticed women encouraging others as they run or walk on the trail or around town.  If so, then you have been witness to the recent phenomenon that is the Vienna/Oakton chapter of the nationwide organization, Momsrunthistown.com

Hard to believe, but it's only been about five years since I was peer-pressured by my then 5th grade daughter to run a 5k race with her "Girls On the Run" group at school.  Never having been an athlete growing up, I convinced myself I could run one, maybe two laps around the high-school track at a time; and then I trained hard to make it to the 5k race.


The sense of accomplishment after finishing gave me a thrill and I thought that just maybe I could do more.  I discovered that a small group of friends were meeting early mornings at the caboose in Vienna a few days a week and they convinced me that I could join them and wouldn't hold them back.  A big draw for me was to socialize with these women and grab a cup of coffee after the run.  A motivator was that they would be there waiting for me these mornings and I needed to drag myself out of bed or let them down.

Fast-forward to 2014 and I am still meeting those women 3 days each week for a run and catch-up on our lives.  And since that first 5k, I consecutively ran a 10k, 10 mile, half marathon, and on the verge of Hurricane Sandy a couple of years ago, I completed the Marine Corps Marathon.  I attribute this accomplishment to my husband challenging me to do it (because anything boys can do...) and great friends who helped encourage me to train through an extremely hot summer!

Soon after this race, I noticed that the parking spaces at the caboose were filling up in those early mornings that I went out to run, and someone mentioned that I might be interested in joining the  Group, Moms Run This Town, a free nationwide running/walking group for women.  I joined and my facebook pages and life hasn't been the same since!

Never have I experienced a more encouraging and inspiring group of women.  The amount of positive energy and support emanating from this group is amazing. There is not a fact or tip about a running style, injury, stretch, race, nutrition, clothing, and more that these women don't know and won't share.  I can relate to these women's posts, as they tentatively photograph and share a picture of their "flat mama" (running attire and shoes laid out on the floor -sort of a selfie without the person) before their first 5k, marathon or even ultra-marathon, and then the next day see a post of their smiling face holding a medal as they completed something that they thought was impossible.

As I delve more into the arena of photographing women, my goal is to present an image of outer beauty and strength that equals inner beauty and strength.  My style is not to overuse photoshop or glamour filters on my subjects but to shoot naturally beautiful portraits that honors the individualism of us all.  Because of this desire, I have taken special notice of organizations that support and nurture this individualism and beauty in women. I love the idea that everyone is different in size, strength, and body type - but we're all beautiful, and MRTT supports each woman as they are.

I recently met with Sarah Talley, who founded the group and is one of four current chapter leaders and requested to be a Community Partner for the Vienna/Oakton Chapter.  Sarah's story is impressive on it's own.  When she moved to Vienna from Singapore only 3 years ago, she was looking for women to run with so she started the Vienna/Oakton chapter of MRTT, and today there are more than 1,000 members!  The creation of this local chapter, in turn spurred the establishment of these groups in Gainesville, Herndon/Reston, McLean/Tysons, Falls Church/Annandale, Woodbridge/Manassas, Fairfax/Chantilly, Ashburn, as well as a Moms Tour de Town cycling group.

I invited Sarah and the other Chapter Leaders, Sarah Thomas Foote, Lynn Collins, and Beth Graham, to come and meet me for a min-photo session at the primary MRTT meeting spot of the Vienna Caboose, and we all had a fun time despite the stormy weather.  Here's a fun, little video I made with more of the shots. https://vimeo.com/104714350  I got a kick out of how the attempt to take "serious" shots were unsuccessful and how easily they struck their "Charlies Angel" pose.  And had to get a picture of the ubiquitous setting of the running watch. But the ones that seem most natural, of course, were the ones in which they were running! 

Since MRTT is a FREE nationwide group, they rely on the support of Community Partners and I have committed Melissa Maillett Photography to be a Community Partner and support a healthy lifestyle among women in the area.  I look forward to participating with this great group and encourage other local businesses to support this great group.

For more information about this great group, here is a link http://www.viennaconnection.com/news/2014/jan/29/vienna-oakton-moms-run-town/




Friday, July 11, 2014

We went on a vacation last week.  It wasn't like some of our adventurous vacations of years past.  A simple week in a cabin on a lake.  It was the kind of place that asks you to relax and regroup.  I spent time catching up on my reading (I will finally have a book finished in time for my bookclub meeting), playing games with the family, kayaking on the quiet lake, and watching and listening to the loon family that lingered in front of our dock.

Sometimes I felt guilty I wasn't taking more pictures.  Where is the annual family vacation photo?  But I felt more like experiencing the vacation than documenting it.  I think I captured some moments and was happy for that, coming to the conclusion that sometimes it's okay not to always have the camera in hand.  I did find myself wishing I had a photographer along to capture our moments so I could be in the moment.  But it was nice.  I watched my husband teach my youngest son to catch a fish on a fly rod, my dog remember that she could swim, and my kids play together in the water.  Board games, card games, and even one game of Scrabble on a rainy 4th of July.  Not many more years of this.  I gave myself a pass.  No spectacular adventure photos, but a lot of nice moments.  And that's okay.

They don't call this place Camp Sunset for no reason.

p.s. I'm still taking applications for 2015 senior reps.  See my previous blogpost for details and application.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I am looking for Senior Reps for the Class of 2015.  If you know of a rising high school senior in the Northern VA area who is interested in participating, please have them fill out the form below.  I will be selecting 4-5 students to be my 2015 Senior Reps/Models, and they will receive a discounted photo session, mobile photo app and opportunities for cash rewards for referrals.

Here are some more examples of my senior portraits, and here are details on the packages.



Monday, June 23, 2014

For 12 years, I've known that although I can do a quick run with friends early in the morning or maybe sit down and edit some photos or respond to emails, my day doesn't really become my own until 9:15am when all kids are off to school. 

The daily routine of "the walk" begins around 9am, when Misty comes to me as I am intently working on the computer (or scrolling through Facebook) and patiently sits in front of me to remind me that we need to leave now or we'll be late and that we MUST not leave her behind.

We've walked in sunshine, in rain, in wind that blew school papers and made us walk backwards. We've walked in snow, jumping over ice patches, and in through tunnels of sidewalk after some of the major blizzards.  I've been dressed for meetings, dressed in yoga clothes, or running clothes, or making a pathetic attempt to hide the fact that I was still wearing what I wore to bed.  In every state of preparedness for the walk, we've become a regular fixture, with cars beeping and people waving (I recognize most of whom wave and beep, but wave no matter what, because I know I know them!)  Sometimes, a friend will pull over and we will catch up on our lives and I feel connected to the great community my kids are growing up in. 

There is no reason that my youngest, who is 12 years old, couldn't walk to school by himself, but I've walked with him because my dog insists on it.  And because she's so good at that pathetic stare, he doesn't argue or act too "cool" to walk with mom.  It's even therapeutic, if the morning didn't go so well, he has the dog to run with and play with for a few blocks, to settle himself down and be the last contact of home before a day of school.  Chase, himself has done the walk since birth, being born when my oldest was in kindergarten, he was carried, pushed in a stroller, and then toddled along with me until he was old enough to actually step into the building.

The routine ends this week, as my youngest graduates from 6th grade and my life of elementary school ends.  It's sad for me - even gaining an extra hour of quiet, empty house every morning.

I'll be OK, more time to devote to my photography business, but I do feel sad for Misty.  It's hard to break such an established routine.  So, if you see a golden retriever walking herself the few blocks to school, you'll know why.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

In celebration of Fathers Day, I thought I'd post some cute photos of dads and kids I've photographed throughout the years.  Yay for Dads posing with their kids!  You both will treasure these some day....


And here's some of my personal favorites (fathers that is):

my own dad....

and my wonderful husband (and great Dad)...
 Happy Fathers Day!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014


There's nothing like a late afternoon on a June weekend.  The flamenco guitar music was playing, some of us enjoyed a glass of chilled white wine and these beautiful women bravely posed for me.  Thank you girls for giving me the privilege of photographing you - it's what I enjoy doing and you did it so beautifully.


I am enjoying my venture into photographing women.  It's not your 80's "glamour shots" any more but I am seeing more and more that us women who work hard to maintain our health and our bodies and we should be celebrating that.  We are strong and beautiful within and I want to reflect that beauty on the outside.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

It started with a kiss...the dad planted one on the mom and the kids hid their eyes.  Thus started a tradition in the annual family photo shoot. 

One thing I treasure about being a family photographer is the chance to watch a family grow up and share in annual traditions that include the family photos.  This particular family has been so consistent and loyal and fun that our largest challenge is finding new, fun locations to photograph!

It started even before number three was born.  We've been getting together every fall since 2005 and we play, we laugh, we catch up on the past year...and we make memories and records of the year.


Oh, and those jumping photos!