Shooting With Style.

If I could tell you the insane amount of time I spend lurking in second hand stores or recycle sales looking for just the right dress/gown to strike me with inspiration for a period or styled photo shoot, it would probably make you laugh and think I'm crazy at the same time. Sometimes I take my daughters, and I pull a dress off the rack, and they look at me with that look that every mother of teen girls sees when it's obvious that mom is NUTS! I find a dress or a piece of jewelry, or sometimes a chair or just a book, and I create a storyline around it. All the pieces come together, and I have my own photo storybook to enjoy.  One day I will print them all on canvases and be surrounded by my own, personal photographic library of sorts.  My husband will shake his head at me, but it brings me great joy to look at the finished product!

It helps that I have a self made house full of models who are pretty good at working the camera from both sides.  Katie, my oldest, has that clever, funny, and quirky personality that adds to the believability of the scenario. It helps that she has a background in theater and dance, and has grace, poise, and an understanding of being "in character" for the shoot.  My second, Ally, is a natural model. Her tiny face with enormous and expressive eyes have always been a favorite of mine to photograph. I've learned lately that she can really pull off any personality or time-period, and she tolerates my photo adventures, and even helps me come up with ideas for sessions at times.  She, too, has dance and acting in her background. Carolyne, my number three, is coming into her own take on the styled shoots.  She knows that every once in a while they may include a furry friend, and she is always up for a bunny or puppy photo excursion, and has dazzled my social media playing the parts of Alice in Wonderland and Red Riding Hood flawlessly.  She is so funny, because she is a true tom-boy in every sense, and to see her dress in frilly dresses with underskirts and makeup is always amusing. She still pulls it off with tremendous skill. Lucy, my fourth daughter, is in a stage right now where every time I point the camera at her, she either sticks out her tongue, or makes a really typical "tween" facial expression. For now, she is on hiatus from my style sessions. Hopefully she will rejoin the family biz in the near future. Number five, and most fickle, is Lily. She is six, and although she loves to get her picture taken, she has no tolerance for climate that may be in the least uncomfortable, or looking at the camera AT ALL..... EVER. (Actual conversation: Lily! Look at mommy's circle on the camera!.... I AM!!!..... no, you are looking 3 feet to my right at nothing in particular.  I am nowhere near where you are looking!) I have about 45 minutes of prepping her, and at most 5 minutes to shoot before she tires of the whole process and starts to cry big fake tears.  She'll come around.  Then there is the boy. God bless him.  Let's just hope he makes it in this family of women who are constantly spoiling him, influencing him with their interests in musical theater ("What's your name man? ALEXANDER HAMILTON), and occasionally dressing him up like a princess or Tinkerbell ("Pretty BOY!!"). 

This blog took a turn I hadn't expected with all the family details, but you see where I'm both inspired, exasperated, and altogether surrounded by the inspiration of such endeavors. If I could make a full time career of stylizing and putting together vintage/period/fairy tale photo sessions, I would do it starting today. For now, I will enjoy my captive and complicit models as often as I can. And I would be remiss if I did not recognize my friend, Rachel Ranno, who continues to stun me with her tremendous talent in producing exquisite period appropriate hair styles and make-up for the girls. If you are in Fredericksburg, she can perform her magic on your hair, too, at the Hair Cuttery at Cosner's Corner, Spotsylvania.

1940s girl, leaves the homestead to venture to the big city.

1940s girl, leaves the homestead to venture to the big city.

Big dreams beyond her small town life and books.

Big dreams beyond her small town life and books.

And a random "Marilyn" moment!


And a random "Marilyn" moment!

Soldier meets girl, innocent and flirtatious.

Soldier meets girl, innocent and flirtatious.

1950s style soda shop fun.

1950s style soda shop fun.

Duty calls.

Duty calls.

But he will never forget.

But he will never forget.

Classic Red Riding Hood.

Classic Red Riding Hood.

Elsa, my little Snow Princess.

Elsa, my little Snow Princess.

Winter bride, or Belle of the Ball.

Winter bride, or Belle of the Ball.

1960s bker chick.  On a HARLEY!

1960s bker chick.  On a HARLEY!

Wait A SECOND!!!!

I'm going to be honest, I LOVE to work! In my dreamworld, I would have a wedding or other such photo session every weekend and portraits during the week, but for now, well, I am still reaching for that goal. HOWEVER, I am thrilled when I get to second shoot for another photographer.  I get to spend the day doing something I love with someone who loves it, too! We share ideas, I learn things, sometimes they learn things. Most of all, I'm not sitting home on a weekend doing nothing, I am enjoying a wedding or other monumental event in someone's life and capturing the moments for them to enjoy for the rest of their lives. I would rather be WORKING than not working, so if I do not have my own booking, I am thrilled to second shoot for another photographer.

The photographers I love to work with are the ones who trust my vision, do not feel the need to micromanage me, and know that I will deliver a product to them to make their brand stand out.  Second shooting is not about ME! It is about doing wonderful work to make someone else succeed as well. I am also very appreciative to use the work I do for them to enhance my own portfolio. I am always over the top about giving credit to the other photographer's company for the work. Second shooting is being their employee, again, it is NOT about ME! 

Photography can be an incredible sharing community.  There are some people who are intimidated by working with other people. Maybe they feel insecure about their own talent, and are constantly comparing themselves to someone else. Maybe they feel like they are going to lose clients if they work with someone else who they feel (or even know) is better.  Or maybe, they can be humble, and enjoy personal growth, in any way/shape/form they are given. I try very hard not to compare myself or my work to others. One very wise piece of advice that I continue to use as a reminder to myself, "the only photographer one should compare oneself to is the photographer she/he was yesterday." I actually have tried to emulate other photographers' work that I admire, and found that for my own image, even if the style very closely resembled their work, did not appeal to me. I learned through that the appreciation for others' styles, and also an appreciation for the growth and formation of my own, unique style. Second shooting is a great way to learn about myself without the huge pressure of being the lead photographer.  

I have learned many things while second shooting. I have learned some skills that I needed to work on from others who have more experience. I have learned about new equipment and changes in the industry. I have met many amazing people and gotten to share in the most important moments of their lives. I am not going to lie, I have enjoyed some pretty yummy meals and awesome cakes, too! And, because I am who I am, I have "Dougied" and "Cupid Shuffled" with the best of them.  I have helped others, who in turn have helped me, and in the process, learned to appreciate my own work on another level by knowing that another professional has faith and trust in my work enough to hire and rehire me to supplement their own amazingly talented work.

I would like to thank first and foremost the very talented Jennifer Casey Scida of Jennifer Casey Photography for allowing me many opportunities for assisting her, as well as allowing me to rent her fantastic Annapolis studio.  She is one of the best I have ever met! I also worked a fabulous wedding as second shooter for Lisa Banting Photography. Lisa is stellar, and I look forward to working with her much more in the future. Here in Virginia, I worked with the incredibly talented Siobahn Young Photography, and NatalieJayne Photography based in Richmond.  I have enjoyed working with such incredible women, and am hoping to network and work with many more talented people in the industry in the near future, whether I am the lead photographer or assisting as second, I thank you all for helping me grow!

Second shooting for Lisa Banting Photography

Second shooting for Lisa Banting Photography

Second shooting for Jennifer Casey Photography

Second shooting for Jennifer Casey Photography

Second Shooting for Siobahn Young Photography

Second Shooting for Siobahn Young Photography

Second shooting for Natalie Jayne Photography

Second shooting for Natalie Jayne Photography