This is Carolyn

Regretfully, I have not been keeping up with writing my blogposts about women I photograph who inspire me. This was a commitment I made back in 2018, when I took a deep breath and wrote a very personal blog, This is Me.  In this post, I described how I felt turning 50, pursuing my passion in portrait photography, my commitment to my health, and my desire to meet and profile people around me who inspire. Back then I stated that I have the opportunity in my career to meet many women who have courageously embarked upon a new career later in life, have found their life’s purpose in helping others, and in general whose spirit and spark drive me to be a  better person. However, as much as I try to keep to a schedule, life gets in the way – and although I met (and photographed) an abundance of inspiring women, I have sadly allowed other tasks get in the way of writing these posts.

If one person could bring me back to documenting and sharing her profile, Carolyn is the one. I have known Carolyn as a friend for over 10 years, as a mother in the community, a parent of children my own kids’ ages, a kind and gentle soul who taught preschool had a massive group of little children in  town who worshipped her.  We used to run together in the mornings, and I loved to hear little stories about the children, and could tell that she cared about the welfare and felt responsibility for every little soul that came into her classroom.

One day, Carolyn announced that she was going to start training in yoga therapy. I had heard other moms talk about that before. We dabbled in this or that, yoga was a little trendy and fun activity. But as I learned about Carolyn, she doesn’t go partway on anything. She strategically planned out the next 5+ years of her life, incorporating her 1,000-hour yoga therapy certification while continuing to teach preschool.  Once she completed her training, she was ready to embark upon her new passion and business of Heart Tree Yoga.

I had a Personal Branding Session with Carolyn earlier this year and I got to see first hand, her studio, how she works with clients, and her extreme dedication to helping people find greater ease of movement, balance, stability and strength through personalized  yoga therapy. I also experienced her desire to be authentic as she commented on the fact that she was growing out her grey and was fine showing that to the world.

It fills me with joy to see these images on Carolyn’s website because I felt that I really was able to capture her gentle soul, her intense desire to help others, and her general joy and appreciation of life and nature.

But what got me to sit down, write this post and share it with the world, was a facebook post I saw that Carolyn had just written about her “Hello Station.”

While it doesn’t surprise me that she wrote it and will be doing what she said she would, I know that it is a stretch for her – emotionally and physically (9am-8pm!), so with her permission, I am going to copy the post in her own words – because, it is emblematic of the type of person she is, and why she was my next logical inspirational portrait session:

My Hello Station

Heads up: This is going to be a fairly long post. I really hope you will read it anyways.

Six years ago when I turned 45-years-old I did something that for me felt a little far-fetched and out of my comfort zone. I invited anyone who might like to come to a free yoga class at the community center to raise money for Crisis Link. I was a new yoga teacher at the time.

This Wednesday I turn 51. (Last year I was in Canada when I turned 50- so this sort of nutty thing wasn’t possible.)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about human connection. As background, this sort of thing happens with me fairly frequently: I’ll be out somewhere and I will see a stranger and the thought will pass through my mind – “I wish I could have a conversation with that person.” It will just be that there is something in them that draws me to them. For example, this past week as I drove along I saw a woman walking with her family, crossing the street and the thought came – “wow, that woman has so much vibrancy in her.” A little later I was walking out of a coffee shop and I saw her again, sitting outside. I started to head to my car – but then I stopped, turned, walked up to her and said, “I don’t know if you have strange people coming up and saying strange things to you very often, but earlier I saw you walking along with your family as I was driving past and this thought passed through my mind – ‘Wow, that woman has so much vibrancy in her.’” When I shared the story, the woman smiled and thanked me. It was a lovely moment – connecting to another human being and speaking truth.

So, I was sitting in meditation yesterday and this thought crossed my mind – “you should set up a Hello Station.” Huh?

And there it was. My out-of-the-ordinary, totally random, far-fetched and out-of-my-comfort zone idea for being 51. So here I go.

This Wednesday, I’m going to set up a small table along the bike trail, near Church Street and the red caboose. It will simply have a sign that says The Hello Station. I’m going to sit there and if you are around, please stop by for a hello, handshake, hug, or even a holler. I think of it as a social experiment. I’m hoping that strangers and friends alike will wander by and stop- that I’ll get to meet new people and catch up with folks I know. What I think will be interesting is noticing how it feels to be there – doing something totally random and vulnerable. (And for those wondering, I have cleared this with my boys. They already accept their mom, strange as she is. God love them.)

Why am I doing this? In some ways, I have no earthly idea. LOL. People who may have always thought I was a bit random will completely think that even more than before. Yet, the thing is, I want to continue to be random as I get older. I want to open myself up to human connection and off-the-wall ideas when they come from my heart. And connection—human connection—is really why I think we are here.

If you are around, please come by for a Hello on Wednesday. I’ll be there 9am-8pm. Whew. That is a long time. This is going to be a challenge, but a good one.

 

Thanks Carolyn, for reminding us of the human connection and why we are here on earth.

These Women are 2Unstoppable!

This is Michelle and Ilana. I recently photographed them in preparation for the launching of their online matching service. But…this is not just any matching service.

Ilana and Michelle had been friends for many years, but the bond between them grew with their shared experience of having breast cancer. Although their personal cancer stories were different, they both realized that staying active during treatment and long after treatment ends was more important than ever — and helped more than just the body. 

As Ilana said, “It gave me the strength and energy that worry and treatment took from me.” Michelle and Ilana know firsthand how difficult it is to summon the energy to be active during this time, and their friends were instrumental in keeping them moving.  “Everyone can benefit from a partner to inspire and motivate us to move, and that’s whay we founded 2Unstoppable!” Michelle told me.

2Unstoppable is a non-profit organization that these enterprising and caring women  created to help women with a cancer diagnosis find the right exercise partner. Using a free online matching program, women are paired based on needs, interests, abilities, and other criteria. The goal of the program is to help forge powerful, motivating and supportive partnerships to encourage physical activity during treatment and long after treatment ends.

Studies have shown that: Physical activity plays a critical role in improving breast cancer outcomes, enhancing the recovery process, and facilitating secondary prevention.

 

I was so pleased to help out Michele and Ilana with some professional headshots for their website. We met for coffee a few weeks before the session, and as I listened to them talk about their personal stories, I was reminded of my mother – who for the 5 years she dealt with ovarian cancer, walked on the beach almost every day, even when it was the most difficult. I also think of my own running crews  and the Moms Run this Town organization that I have been a part of for a few years – that gets me up and on the trail every morning, despite extremes of cold and heat – it’s more than running, it’s running therapy!

I can’t wait for the matching to begin and to watch these women who have gone through something that could have been such a negative actually turn it into making a positive impact both for themselves and for others.  Please pass on this information to anyone in the DC area (and beyond) to let them know about 2Unstoppable and the free fitness buddy matching service! You can learn more and stay in touch with 2Unstoppable by subscribing to their newsletter at their website and follow them on Facebook.

 

Actor Headshots: What Makes The Best Headshot?

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If you’re an actor, your headshot is your single most important marketing tool. If you want to be taken seriously by casting agents, and when it lands on that decision maker’s desk or computer monitor you want the reaction to be “Wow! Let’s see that person!”

When shooting headshots for actors, I often get the question “What are they supposed to look like?”  or “how do you know you are getting the best headshot?”

The simple answer is… the best headshot for you is the one that fits your style and the look you are achieving.  Headshots can be on black or white backgrounds, and in natural or studio light. The standard white backdrop is gradually being replaced with a cinematic outdoor (but well-lit) setting, but both are acceptable as long as the image highlights YOU.  The focal point here is your personality. As long as you are not upstaged by a busy background the setting is not as important as the quality of the photograph and its ability to present the image you want.

Yes, there are some rules when it comes to actor headshots – and these fluctuate according to the type of work you are trying to get – stage, commercial, TV drama, etc.  Do some research in the field for which you are auditioning and make sure the technical details are there (print vs. file, cropping, etc). Bring all this to your photographer and make sure you leave your session with what you need.2017-01-16_0001

Christian Webb,  a renowned NYC Headshot photographers points out what I believe is the most important criteria for selecting a photographer for you actor headshot, “…make sure that the photographer is actually BEST for you regarding comfortability.  When searching for someone to shoot your headshots, it’s important to get a sense of the photographer’s personality and their way of working.  Checking referrals,  reading their info on their website,  asking around from others who have shot with them before can help in making the decision as to whether a particular photographer is BEST for YOU to work with.”

Because ultimately, you want to be comfortable in your session. After all, you may be living with this shot for quite a while and you want it to showcase you and your ability.

When I photograph actors I discuss the type of roles they are going for, whether they are looking for the commercial “I can sell cereal and cars” image or you want that big part in a then next hit Netflix mystery drama.

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A headshot session should be a fun, collaborative process with your photographer. Killer images will make the casting agents stop for just that extra second to pause and consider your image.

 

 

Headshot Session for Shelter House and the Purple Purse Challenge

Last month I took these headshots of executives of Shelter  House, a community-based, non-profit organization serving homeless families in Fairfax County, Virginia.

They were gearing up to participate in the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge, and even though it ends on October 25, I wanted to help spread the word and also share a little more about the Shelter House organization. Shelter House  was formed in 1981, when several ecumenical groups came together to better serve Fairfax County’s low-income population. In 1985, Shelter House’s facility was moved to its current location in Falls Church. In 2007, Shelter House was awarded Fairfax County’s contract to operate the Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter in Fairfax. In 2010, Shelter House became the first non-profit to operate Artemis House, Fairfax County’s only 24 hour Domestic Violence Shelter.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I want to share information with you that unfortunately has been or currently is a reality for 1 in 4 households in Fairfax County. 99% of victims of domestic violence experience financial/economic abuse and it is one of the tools of power and control wielded by an abuser. These are just a few examples of how this abuse occurs.For more information on the Purple Purse Challenge, https://www.crowdrise.com/shelterhouse-purplepurse2016.

I first heard about Shelter House when I went to a book reading by the author, Carene McCandless. Carene is the sister of the Chris McCandless, who was made infamous in John Krakauer’s book and  Sean Penn’s movie, Into the Wild. Shelter House helped sponsor the reading and Carene spoke about the domestic abuse that she grew up dealing with and pointed out organizations like Shelter House that works to combat domestic violence and abuse. It really struck a chord with me that what looks like a happy, healthy family on the outside, could be something very different underneath.

If you would like more information on how you can help, here is the Shelter House website: http://www.shelterhouse.org/

 

 

 

Headshot Day

 

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Who knew a day of headshots would be so fun! (well,  I did I guess…I love taking headshots!)

A portrait photographer’s dream! I got to spend an afternoon with these ladies, updating headshots for their website. It wasn’t a hard task,as you can see from these beauties (that happen to work at a dermatologist/spa).

I photographed both the women who worked in the spa area  and the doctors.

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Another great thing about the session was the natural backdrop we had with their “water wall.” I simply stood in their doorway (luckily it was a warmish day in January) and shot!

Here are some “behind the scenes shots” of the location.