It’s that time of year…

Yes, I’m late to write about Thanksgiving, but since I have photos of our annual Christmas Tree Cutting in Pennsylvania, I can say I’m early in writing about Christmas.

2014-12-02_0002

I am thankful that we had a peaceful Thanksgiving weekend at home and were able to make our annual trek to meet family and cut down our tree in snow.

2014-12-02_0004

We don’t get to see family much and I love the fact that Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the gifts.  Just family, friends and food.

2014-12-02_0003

Now on to the craziness (I know I sound like a scrooge, and it’s
secretly my favorite time of year…mostly because of the cookies!)

cook

Senior Session at the Farm

When my second child was born, 16 years ago, I needed to make a decision whether to return to my job as a marketing and public relations consultant or become a stay-at-home-mom.  As my maternity leave days counted down I met a group of moms that were pretty much the reason I felt comfortable enough to leave my steady job and start a different chapter of my life.  I have mentioned my friend, Wendy, in other blogposts – significantly the one which described how, after introducing me to gardening, home crafts, and baking – she decided to take it all one step further and move out to a farm in the country.

Who could guess that these years later, she would ask me to visit her on the farm to take her son’s senior portrait.  It’s really so hard to believe, that the handsome young man with the easy nature and casual smile, was the toddler that used to jump in rain puddles with my kids in their diapers, then share large slices of chocolate chip bananna bread, while Wendy and I would peruse seed catalogs, planning our next season’s garden.

Here is a shot from way back then….he was one of my first subjects.

sam

I loved photographing Sam on the farm where’s he lived since kindergarten. He was quite comfortable among the goats and roosters…and then there’s that wonderful red barn. Wendy has indicated that the barn door may be on it’s last legs, and I let her know that if she happens to bring it to my backyard in Vienna, I wouldn’t be able to refuse it!

2014-09-24_0002

When taking some quick shots of my daughter, we realized the hazards of photographing with animals, as the very friendly goat relaxed a little too much during the session…

2014-09-25_0001

 

#TBT Portraits Then and Now…Reasons to Update Your Portraits:

I always love it when a client calls from years ago calls me and wants to refresh their portrait wall with updated family pictures.  I remember every client and often wonder what becomes of them.  In this case it was three beautiful little children, the exact ages as my own, and I was eager to see their more mature selves.  That’s what I love about portraiture.  Capturing a moment and preserving a memory for a family.

2014-09-25_0005

We ended up photographing almost across the street from the location of our long ago session, and I joked with the kids that I didn’t have to dangle any lollipops in front of them this time!  The mom commented on how the kids (do I still call them this?) remembered the session and pass the pictures on the wall every day.  While culling through the photos I decided to hunt out the old ones for some cute “then and now” comparisons.

2014-09-25_0003

 

2014-09-25_0002

 

2014-09-25_0004

The mom remembered this “walking away” shot from the first session and asked that we restage it.  As a mom of teenagers –  one almost out of the house, I see this picture in a different way.  Somehow it has more significance at this age, a little bittersweet but inspiring to see how they’ve grown up strong and on their way to self-sufficiency…

2014-09-25_0006

 

Moms Really Do Run This Town (Vienna/Oakton)!

DSC1082

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.

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!

race-3-copy

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.

DSC1040+copy

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!

MRTT

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.

DSC1082

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

 

A Vacation With Few Photos…

DSC9335-copy

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.

DSC9370-copy

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