I can't believe these photos flew under the radar for so long. How could I let this happen?! This was my second trip to Rhode Island last year and seeing these guys is seriously too rare a pleasure.
And, as is customary, we grabbed a few family photos before we drove off back to Virginia. If the rest of these pictures hasn't already suggested, my nephew is not exactly the picture-taking type.
When questioned by a friend about what I was going to be up to this particular week, I explained, "I'm going to hang out with a bunch of friends in a cabin in the woods." He said, "Oh, I think I saw a movie about that once."
I have to be honest, this place was both beautiful and completely eerie. Since my husband couldn't get off from work for the week, I made my way up there alone and by the time I arrived within five minutes of my destination, it was after dark, I was running out of cell service and my GPS couldn't decide where it wanted to go. (I think I've seen a movie about that before too.) I found myself driving cautiously through a cluster of cabins, sure the one I wanted must have been nestled in there somewhere. Unsure, I continued on, all the while the gravel road becoming increasingly dark, narrow and ominous. Finally, it closed in enough that I doubted I would even be able to turn around if I needed to. Trees loomed in close as I stopped dead at a fork in the road where a "no trespassing" sign stood predominately between two even darker and less inviting paths. There was no way I was going any further and at that point, I was thoroughly creeped out.
As I thought, turning around proved difficult but somehow I managed to wiggle and maneuver myself in the other direction and call for help. When my first call was dropped, I started to panic a little bit - how the heck was I going to find this place? Luckily, the further away I drove from that creepy little nook, I was able to reach someone and get verbal directions to the cabin. It was such sweet relief to finally pull up and see some familiar faces!
From then on, things were lovely. I spent the week surrounded by friends, eating (a lot of) good food, drinking (a lot of) good wine and watching (too much) terrible reality television. The cabin we stayed in was incredibly cozy, with a loft to sleep in and a wood stove for warmth. It was the perfect get-away and a great spot to go adventuring.
Emily and I even managed to throw in a woodsy photoshoot before we all left as part of a new series I'm working on! I wonder if you can recognize the theme?
Then, I sneaked in a few shots of our lovely friend Victoria who joined us while we worked.
MODELS | EMILY BAUER & VICTORIA TURNER
This is the family of one of my good friends, Emily. We made a day trip out to Fredericksburg, Virginia and explored the beautiful Chatham Manor. It was a grey and gloomy afternoon, but somehow that just enlivened its intrigue for me. The place already made a great backdrop for portraits, but honestly, I could have stayed there all day long just taking photos of the creepy statues and all of the gnarled trees scattered over the property. Definitely now a location near the top of my list to return to!
But anyway, let's talk more about these subjects! Never has there been a group so easy-going and fun. Even little baby Lydia had a great time, despite being awakened from her nap (goodness, no!). Photographing this family made me realize with a certainty how much I miss working with the little ones! It has been so long since I worked with a baby her age and oh-my-goodness is she cute!
In November, I was invited back to photograph little Ana's fourth birthday. Just like last year, she was such a blast to work with and her happiness is simply radiant in these photos. In case you don't remember, I started working with this family back in my Lifetouch days and immediately hit it off with them. Even in the studio, when most kids her age ran circles around me, cried, or refused to cooperate, she was absolute perfection and so easy to work with! I'm so glad I was able to come back again and I hope to see them again next year!
I simply LOVE how much personality there is in these "mommy and me" photos. These two are just too cute to handle!
Then, as is customary at a kid's birthday party: cake, presents and a whole lot of goofing off!
Gotta love this family!
Within the last year, I made it a goal of mine to get outside more often and go adventuring. It has always been something in the back of my mind as a measure to find emotional balance and a new level of self-happiness. I knew this and yet somehow I always found myself lacking the motivation or energy. If I'm being honest, I decide to stay in a lot more often than not and I sometimes wonder how I even maintain a social life. Though I certainly still fall into that trap from time to time, I've found a lot more momentum and a lot more self-love through getting out there, accepting challenges and saying YES.
One adventure that I'm quite proud of was climbing to the summit of Old Rag in the Shenandoah National Park. A good friend of mine has begged me to go on this hike with him for quite a long time - and I always turned down the invitation. It wasn't necessarily because it sounded unappealing - I just barely had the desire to leave my house, let alone climb a mountain. Then, last year, he left for Africa for several months, and it was during that time that I decided to make these personal changes. So, when he got back home, I finally decided to brave the hike.
Needless to say, he ran circles around me while I heaved my aching butt through those steep trails. There's nothing like a good hike to show me how truly out of shape I am.
We reached the summit just in time for sunset and the view was breathtaking. (These pictures barely do it justice.) That alone was truly worth the hard work it took to get there.
There were a couple of other groups who made it to the top shortly after we did and I managed to sneak a picture of a girl sitting off on her own (below). Trying to catch pictures of strangers always feels so nerve-wracking (and a reason why you don't see a lot of street photography in my portfolio!), but it was so hard to resist capturing that moment!
I have more adventures to share, but this entry would be at risk of getting a little too crazy.
See you soon!
I cannot even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed shooting this session. Jenny is not only an amazing model, but is also an equally amazing photographer. (Fun fact: she helped photograph my wedding back in October of 2015!) So, of course, there was some customary nervousness, but as soon as we started working, that feeling quickly dissipated. She was such a dream to work with. Plus, coupled with this incredible location, it couldn't have turned out better! We could pull off whimsical and then creepy just by moving a few feet.
Having said that, this post might turn out pretty image heavy - I have SO many favorites, it's hard not to include them all!
I always enjoy experimenting a little bit during any session, but a major perk to taking pictures of another photographer is being able to nerd out and talk gear! I ended up playing around with her tilt-shift lens, which produced some really interesting results. Definitely a lens that made my wish list! (And I'll post some more personal photos I took with it later on. It was pretty rad.)
MODEL | JENNY WOLF
But actually though... we can talk about this cat? When I arrived at the location, this cutie followed me around while I scoped out the area. He (or she?) was so loving and eager to be friends (and just look at those gorgeous eyes!) If that kitty had followed me home, I wouldn't have complained one bit.
This post has been a long time coming, and contains some images that are high among my favorites of 2016. I shot this wedding back in October in Virginia Beach and loved every second of it! Andy and Isaac are so great to be around and so obviously in love. I met the two of them a while ago through one of my oldest and dearest friends. So, I was incredibly thrilled when I was asked to photograph their wedding. They are such amazing people and they deserve only the best!
Oh, and did I mention that they're also stylish as heck?
I know I've been promising for a month to "blow up your news feeds" with all of this content I've got brewing. It's still true - I have a crazy amount of things to post and this photo explosion is still in the cards. However! I thought it might be prudent to kick it all off with a personal update and why I've been so quiet since my last entry at the end of November. I'll try to keep the details under control so I don't send you rolling away in boredom... but basically, I've spent the entirety of December being flat broke. I had to fix my car for the second time in a month and replace my computer (twice. The first time, I bought a defective tower. It was fun, believe me.)
Then, after getting all of that squared away, I ran into a bad situation at work which left me feeling sick and mentally drained for days. (It's a long, frustrating story.) So, I haven't felt up to working on personal projects, or sitting down to write productive or positive blog posts. Instead, I just kinda wallowed around and played a lot of video games.
But you know what? It's the first day of 2017 and what better time than now to find some fresh motivation? Ready or not, I know I have to jump back on this boat if I ever expect to catch up and keep up. So, here goes nothing:
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P H O T O G R A P H I C Y E A R I N R E V I E W
(Because they're fun, right?)
Normally, I don't feel too different at the beginning of a new year. I avoid making resolutions because a) I'm horrible at keeping them, let's just be real. And b) I make personal goals for myself all year round and don't always see the point in proclaiming something as a special objective. I'm just here and figuring things out as I go. Life is weird and peppered with unexpected distractions and sometimes things just stop feeling practical. Is that just me?
Having said all of that, though, I actually find myself feeling a notable difference at the start of 2017. Unlike years past, I finally feel like I'm starting fresh, or stepping in with a clean slate. 2016 has been a trying and traumatic year for a lot of people and for a multitude of reasons. It's a year that a whole nation seems ready to kiss good riddance. It could be that 2017 might end up being the same, or worse... but I like to think that beginnings present the hope of betterness and I'm keeping a strong hold on that optimism for as long as I can.
But how can I possibly sum up this past year? I feel like there's just too much to say and no good way to say it. In fact, I've been stuck on these last couple of paragraphs for the better part of an hour, struggling to figure out how to put it into words. So, maybe that's just my cue to stop talking and start throwing more pictures at you.
Despite every way 2016 went wrong, it was still a year for personal growth. I started doing yoga (something I've been promising myself to do for years), writing, making more art, getting up earlier in the mornings, and eating better. I started going outside more often, hiking and opting to participate in activities with friends instead of staying in. I learned to stand up for myself and to find a healthy balance of love, compassion and self-confidence. I learned to embrace conversation and to get to know people more closely.
As a photographer, 2016 was a year for resurgence. I revitalized my portfolio and worked to get to know my camera a little better. I've learned new techniques and I've explored different, unfamiliar mediums. I think in just one short year, I've progressed much faster than I had in the previous five, simply because I finally had the time and energy to buckle down and get it done. It's amazing to be able to look at work from just last January and be able to see visible differences in style and aesthetic. I can only hope that I continue to grow in years to come!
Anyway, I know this wasn't a very long or intricate year in review, but I hope you enjoyed it nevertheless. I think I've worn myself out with how much time it took me to do this... but now that I'm done, I feel freer to start blowing your stuff up as promised. See you soon!
Like many sessions with Caitlin, this one was yet another impromptu success story. We started with one idea, and made our way to a park not too far away from my house. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of the more uninteresting places that the area had to offer and it was slim pickings when it came to finding a good place to stop and shoot. But, like we do, we made it work. (Of course, as we drove out, we started noticing the nature trails that we somehow missed on our way in. So, perhaps I wasn't being fair calling it "uninteresting." The truth is, we are not good at parks.)
Don't let looks deceive you! This whimsical little spot was riddled with painful, thorny barbs which I ended up finding in my clothes WEEKS LATER. We only took a couple of steps in, snagged a handful of shots and then bolted out of there.
While we were in the park, I decided to play around with that cool "levitation" portrait I've seen trending online for a while. It may be a little cheesy and I may not be the greatest digital manipulator, but here's my first go around (and there will be more, because I'm determined to get good at this!)
The rest of these images were taken in various places downtown, as we eventually got tired of wandering around the local jogging path looking for interesting trees to pose in front of. I am personally in love with how versatile Caitlin is - pulling off moody and whimsical looks to rocking it 90's style in the city. Have I mentioned how much I love shooting with this woman?
Model | Caitlin Riley | Instagram @caitarr
We have gone ten days into October and already the breeze is starting to find a crisp edge. I've always found Autumn to be incredibly cathartic, whether it's because of the cooler weather, the vibrancy of the colors or all of the metaphors for change. Regardless of the reason (or perhaps a combination of all of them) there's unequivocal internal peace that comes with it. And now that certain distractions are gone, it's easier for me to revel in it.
These shots were taken recently during my very first impromptu romp at the Pipline with the ever-lovely Stephanie Dennehy. It was kind of a gloomy, chilly evening. But that just made it perfect for some coffee and a few moody photos.
I still feel like I've been too quiet lately, so I'll make a bigger effort to post more often! Plus, I'm sure there will be plenty of Fall portraits to go around if there are any takers out there! Hope everyone is making the best of their Monday. (I've got some yoga and coffee under my belt this morning, so I'm feeling pretty good!)
The end of summer is upon us and I'm still getting used to the idea that Christmas isn't terrifying anymore. A couple of years ago, September meant the onset of panic. October was like the calm before the storm when I could convince myself for a moment that everything would be okay. Then November and December would blow up around me like some beast from the lowest levels of hell.
For the first time in years, I'm actually planning Christmas present craft nights. It's amazing to me how quickly hatred for the holidays will dissipate when retail is out of the picture. So, for anybody out there who is still in the game, know that I feel your pain. Isn't it messed up that the beginning of September makes me think about the holidays? I have some serious mental re-wiring to do.
But let us rewind a little bit and celebrate SUMMER. There's no denying that this year has been an admittedly terrible one. So, for me, warmer weather meant spending more time with friends and loved ones, as well as appreciating the relationships I have, and accepting the inevitable changes that time brings. Life is all about the unknown and this is neither good nor bad. It just is.
It's our job to make the best of it.
I haven't really been posting any personal photos on this blog - and I don't know why considering that they are usually high among my favorites. I'm a strong believer in the candid portrait and my friends tend to make very good subjects when we get together (though, of course, I may be biased.) If this post serves as a dump for the pictures I haven't shared from the past few months, prepare yourselves... narrowing things down has never been my forte.
Myself, Caitlin, Charlotte and Gabe all recently made the collective mistake of camping in Virginia Beach in the middle of August. Though I can't overlook how relaxing the ocean water was, nor deny the beautiful evening breezes... the afternoon heat was enough to send us packing (literally). We left a day earlier than planned and were all too eager to jump back into the world of air conditioning. Sorry not sorry?
Otherwise, the warm weather has been enjoyed by various get-togethers, parties and cook-outs. We have fun.
And I would be remiss if I didn't include the all-you-can-pick sunflower event at the Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery last weekend. Ate some tacos, drank some beer and picked my fill of sunflowers (which are now wilting and shedding pollen onto my kitchen counter, but it's all good.)
I'm sure there are more photos I could be sharing, but I think this is a good sum-up of these last couple of hot months. Now, I have the autumn months to look forward to, and the deep breaths that come with calm. Like I said in another entry, I have to keep reminding myself to keep posting, even when it seems like I'm too busy (or scatterbrained) to think straight.
Assuming that you made it through this entire entry, please feel free to share your own favorite images / experiences / sentiments from this summer in the comments!
(But only if you want to.)
Wow! I really haven't posted in a whole month? I guess this warrants an apology for being so quiet lately. But the good news is: I've been busy! Between projects in the works and hauling my camera almost everywhere I go - I have a lot of photos stored up to share with you. So, I suppose I'll start with my recent visit to Rhode Island where my oldest sister lives with her two kids. And because I promised my mother I'd return with some pictures she could hang on her wall, we went to the beach and did a proper family session:
Of course, it is safe to assume that most of the visit was otherwise spent taking pictures of their puppy, Ollie. I just could not get enough of him.
But when I wasn't following their dog around, I was spending some quality time with my sister - something that I don't get to do so often from Richmond. I'm also discovering just how much I love city photography. Maybe this is new avenue to explore?
I moved to Richmond three years ago. I came here to start a life of my own after facing, and losing to, my father in court for domestic abuse. And what a life I have now! My favorite thing to do in the city is to bike! I love to explore the neighborhoods and see the art and pedal down all the streets, especially in search of coffee.
I always consider a photoshoot a success when I walk away from it feeling as though I barely did any work at all. Working with models like Erin is such a breath of fresh air - so easy-going and open to ideas as they come, willing to try things on the fly. Not to mention, she is drop-dead gorgeous!
Before this blog post is over, I have to make mention of the park we shot these in. Midlothian Mines Park was like something straight out of Alice and Wonderland. Upon entering, it seems pretty modest and unassuming, but go a little further and on the other side of a small, graffitied tunnel is an expanse of beauty and nature that seems to erupt out of nowhere. I highly recommend taking a stroll there if ever you have the opportunity. It will definitely be one of my new go-to shoot locations from here on out.
Yet another gorgeous wedding, this one taking place at the beautiful mountain campus of Sweet Briar College. I simply can never get enough of the mountains, so even the drive there was breathtaking. Adrianna and Justin were just as sweet as they could be and I had so much fun being present for this special moment in their lives together.
Any time I feature a friend in Hello RVA, the temptation is ever-present to get a little cheesy and sentimental. Caitlin is one of my nearest and dearest friends and has been a part of my life for many years. Between her undying love of nature and her inextinguishable commitment to her friends, I could write an entry a mile long with all of the reasons I'm so thankful for her presence. But don't worry, I'll save that one for another time.
Life doesn't come pre-packaged with meaning and I don't believe there is any thing or place for our souls after our bodies tire of this earth. So, I want to see and experience every last drop of the natural world that I can to quench my curious thirst before I go. And, no matter where my wayfaring feet take me, Richmond will always remain my home.
This "Hello RVA" feature also doubles as a sneak peek from one of my latest stylized photoshoots. Keep your eyes open for the rest of the set. In the meantime, meet Erin!
"I've lived in Richmond most of my life, but I've had a few adventures around the east coast - especially New Jersey. Not trying to be a weenie but if America had an armpit, it would be there.
Richmond city is a beautiful place though. On my days off from obscure makeup experimentation and selling helpless citizens vapes, I take my happy ass down to belle isle, or Hollywood cemetery. There's something humbling and transcendent about all of the art on the graves, and realizing directly under you there's someone who lived their life in the same places you did.
Aside there's a few late night Pokemon adventures to be had downtown, especially Brown's island and Monroe park.
My favorite thing about the city though, even through the plethora of hipsters and VCU kids, most have a common interest in the arts. At almost any corner you can find some huge ass mural; whether it be of Bernie Sanders or some girl in a strawberry jar, it's all beautiful.
I remember back to when I was about 3 years old, and my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I quickly replied with "MAAAAHM I WANNA BE A UNICORN!!" to my dismay, she told me I can't change my species. So I thought of something else, "MOOOOHM I WANNA BE THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND" Because you know, who wants to be a princess when you could be a queen? Again she told me I wasn't cut out for the job. Finally, she asked me if I loved puppies, and of course duh who doesn't love a cute pupper? My mom told me that If I tried hard enough I could save all the puppies and kitties in the world if I grew up and went to school to be a veterinarian. Big word for a three year old, you could imagine I had some trouble pronouncing. Here I am now 21 years old after a few failed attempts to be a hair stylist, tattoo artist, and hookah pro, finally decided in life I'm going to be true to myself and save all the kitties and doggos in the world."
"Have you ever just looked at the sky and started to realize, with all the screwed up shit that goes on down here on earth how petty and just completely and utterly hilarious it is that we decide as a group of people that we're all so different and compartmentalize ourselves into countries and create armies to defeat each other, we stereotype and profile one another, even kill each other over mundane things like money which is just a metaphor for a nonexistent power we just placed upon ourselves to just do it all over again. Yet in this world the only imperfect thing is the atmosphere and sky above us, even when it's dark with rolling clouds it's still an amazing thing to have every day to remind you that there's more than this world we stand on. There's boundless seas of helium gas combusting at distances so far we cant even fathom, worlds and galaxies we haven't even seen. It's very likely we're not alone in the universe. Yet we still believe ourselves as humans with 46 chromosomes fight and kill on another. ASiDE though I believe there's just as much good in the world as there is back, can't have darkness without light you know? Shout out to my hero Carl Sagan for inspiring my interest in astro physics from age 6."
Sometimes, I need to remind myself that even though I'm buried under work, I should keep posting. The Hello RVA project still lives and I have a few portraits in the queue waiting to be shared. First on the list is Emily! This girl has been in my life for years and I have always found her to be incredibly admirable on many different levels. She's an amazing seamstress, has mad decorating skills, cooks the most delicious food and embodies a kind of collectiveness that can be difficult to find in people.
These were taken a few days after that dumb storm barreled over Richmond and covered our yard in felled trees and assorted limbs. She was among a handful of friends who came over to help clean. (And don't worry, more pictures of that mess will be along soon.) Anyway!
My name is Emily, and I was born and raised here in Richmond. My major hobbies include crafts, cooking, beer, and doing nothing. The weirdest thing I collect is copper unicorns. My favorite thing to do in Richmond is pack up a backpack full of beer, find a quiet spot by the river, set up my hammock, and chill all day with friends/ my husband.