Sarah & Jim | Lake Mercer

I usually try to avoid calling certain shoots my "favorite," because like teachers and parents, we photographers aren't supposed to show favoritism, right? ;) Well...I might just have to be a bad human being and admit that this maternity session with Sarah and Jim (and their adorable labrador mix Jambon!) is honestly one of my favorite shoots of all time! 

It goes without saying that I love all of my clients and each session I do is special in its own way. But I simply, absolutely adored capturing these sundrenched, joy-filled images: I love how Sarah glows, the tug-on-your-heartstrings way Jim looks at her, Jambon's infectious smile, and the beautiful, natural way this family interacts with each other.

Oh, and also, I just gotta say...I love maternity sessions, and I love dogs. Put them together, and I am basically squealing with happiness (which was me half of the session, not gonna lie). If you've ever thought of bringing your fur baby to a shoot, let these adorable pictures of Jambon cast all doubt from your mind: DO ITTTT!!

[Not shown: my fiancé, Manuel, babysitting Jambon for those shots where we just wanted Sarah and Jim. Thanks, babe, you're the best! <3]

Enjoy~!

signaturesmall.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 1.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 2.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 4.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 5.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 3.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 7.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 8.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 15.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 9.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 16.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 10.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 11.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 12.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 17.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 13.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 14.jpg
Alexandria Fairfax Mercer Lake Maternity Photographer 15.jpg

Abby | Georgetown

Phew, it has been a while since I've last blogged! I have several super-belated spring posts, but first I wanted to share this lifestyle shoot I did a few weeks ago with the one and only Miss Abby!

Abby and I met about seven years ago when we started studying fashion together at Cornell, and as fate would have it, we continued onto the same job after we graduated. She's cemented her place as one of my best buddies, and luckily for me, she's also gorgeous, stylish, creative, and adventurous - making her one of my very favorite models with whom to shoot. :)

Although I have taken some scenic shots of Georgetown before, this was the first portrait session I've ever done there. I really loved how every corner had a different feel, how peaceful the neighborhoods were once you got away from the bustling shopping district, and the hidden gems we found just by wandering around.

Enjoy~!

signaturesmall.jpg
Georgetown Portrait Lifestyle Photos 2.jpg
Georgetown Portrait Lifestyle Photos 16.jpg
Georgetown Portrait Lifestyle Photos 15.jpg
Georgetown Lifestyle Portrait Photos

 

 

Rebel Days | Pentagon City & Georgetown

Last weekend, Manuel, I, and our good friend Mimi strolled through Pentagon City and Georgetown from noon to dusk, enjoying the crisp fall air, toasty hot Starbucks holiday drinks, delicious ramen and rice bowls, random hidden trails and fountains, classic waterfront scenery, and Georgetown's famous shopping scene. I left my fancy equipment at home and brought my cheap, old Rebel XSi and a 24mm 2.8 pancake lens - less than $300 worth of equipment that let me breathe easy and forced me to think creatively at the same time.

Recently, I have been teaching Manuel some of the basics of photography (keep your eyes peeled for a blog post on that soon!), and doing so made me look back at my own early photos, when I first started developing a passion for photography in 2010. I carried my Canon PowerShot SX120 (described by some, quite accurately I may add, as a "point-and-shoot on steroids") in my tote bag literally everywhere I went, and would stop to take pictures throughout the day: between classes at Cornell, on the way home from studio late at night, on family trips and travels during the school breaks. Some of the early photos were quite embarrassing to look at (although I'm sure I posted them with great pride on Facebook at the time!), but they made me remember the importance of taking photos day to day and never neglecting your personal work.

The photos in this post were taken with my cheapest equipment and yet they fill me with a sense of joy. My hope is that even as my professional work grows, I will never stop taking snippets of everyday scenes and elements and bringing my own vision to them. That is my joy and privilege as a photographer.

Enjoy~!

Georgetown 42.jpg
Georgetown 44.jpg

Dan & Ivy | Christ Chapel, Ithaca

Last summer, Manuel and I took a trip to my alma mater, Cornell University, to visit a few college friends, and it didn't take very long to realize that two of those friends, who had previously been casual acquaintances at most, were feelin' the spark. Towards the end of our stay, I had a good chat with Ivy, told her that Dan was one of the best guys I knew, and encouraged her to go for it!

Fast forward a few months, and they were engaged!!!

When Dan asked me to photograph their wedding at the end of spring, I nearly did somersaults of joy. Needless to say, it was an unforgettable experience, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the honor of documenting the love and commitment of two dear friends. I thoroughly enjoyed the craziness of wearing multiple hats throughout the day, as I got ready with the bridesmaids in the fireplace lounge, hung out with the groomsmen in the church nursery, guarded the restroom to keep the coast clear for Ivy before the ceremony, helped Ivy change into her reception dress after the portraits, and hopped around everywhere taking photos of everything from the rehearsal dinner to the send-off.

Hope you all enjoy some of my favorite shots from the day!

alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg
alexandria wedding photographer.jpg

Ashley & Tyler | Old Town Alexandria

Spring in Northern Virginia has been such a tease this year, with bright warm sunshine one day, followed by a week of thunderstorms or the like. After a few months of trying to plan around the weather, I was super excited to finally do Ashley and Tyler's engagement shoot, and even more excited when Ashley chose Old Town Alexandria for the location!

The best thing about Old Town, other than the beautifully preserved historic streets, ubiquitous red bricks, plethora of amazing eats, and iconic Potomac waterfront, is the fact that there is always something new to discover. 

We met up at the Old Town Visitor Center with plans to meander slowly towards the waterfront, but ended up heading through Market Square and westward, where Ashley and Tyler introduced me to the historic Christ Church, one of Virginia's oldest colonial churches built in 1773. Not only are the building and grounds amazingly gorgeous, it was frequented by George Washington and Robert E. Lee back in the pages in American history!

For anyone planning a visit to DC, I'd highly recommend stopping by Old Town Alexandria - you won't regret it! 

Easy Buildable Makeup for Portraits

While nobody really cares how photographers do their own makeup (our faces are usually blocked by huge camera bodies and lenses anyway!), photographers are people too and, like the rest of humanity, share the burden of needing to look generally presentable in polite company.

Today I'm sharing the super simple makeup routine that I do for my day job every morning (except, of course, those blessed days when I get to work from home and look as disheveled as I please). A few things I love about this routine:

  • It takes just five minutes to do. And that's a wonderful thing when you love sleep as much as I do!
  • It looks completely natural, and instead of looking like a whole other person, you get to look like a more awake, even-toned, and generally-aesthetically-pleasing version of yourself. So it's a great look for lifestyle or family portraits.
  • It's super easy to build on if you want a more dramatic or glamorous look.

(DISCLAIMER: I am not a makeup guru by any means, and the products/techniques that I use are simply ones that work well for me personally. I would definitely recommend checking out some real makeup/beauty bloggers like Makeup Geek and Michelle Phan to learn more about specific techniques or recommended products. I'll also be directing you to a few helpful tutorials along the way!)

Step 0: Cleanse and moisturize.

portrait makeup 1.jpg

Got your attention, did I? ;)

In all seriousness, though, whatever makeup products you use will look better if you take care of your skin on a daily basis (and applying moisturizer beforehand will help your foundation last longer). I'm a big fan of e.l.f.'s cleanser/soothing serum/moisturizer trio, and I also use Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque once a week for deep cleansing. 

mint julep masque.jpg
elf skincare.jpg
portrait makeup 2.jpg

Here I am with a bare face, after cleansing and moisturizing. I'm lucky enough not to have any major skin issues (not missing you at all, high school!), but in general, my skin tends to be a bit dull and uneven, with random patches of rosiness (especially if I've just had a glass of wine) and more-visible-than-I'd-like pores on my cheeks and nose. I also look really, really sleepy. So let's see what we can do to remedy this.

Step 1: Apply foundation and concealer.

clinique foundation.jpg

I'm usually pretty frugal when it comes to cosmetics, but I splurge a little on foundation because I love how weightless, blendable, and low-maintenance Clinique's products are. When I'm having a good skin day and only need sheer coverage, I opt for Clinique's Moisture Surge CC Cream SPF 30 (in Light), but if I really want to even out my rosy skin tone, I use Clinque's Redness Solutions Makeup SPF 15 (in shade 02, Calming Fair).

To apply my foundation, I always use a beauty sponge blender. These are sold everywhere now under various brands, and are absolutely indispensable in helping your foundation blend into your skin, avoiding a cakey or overdone look. Not to mention, they come in fun, colorful shapes and are soft and soothing during use. 

I'm a fan of the PRO Beauty Sponge Blender Four Piece Set, which includes four different ergonomic shapes for different purposes. I really only use the pink teardrop, but the other ones just make me happy to look at!

pro beauty blender.jpg

After applying foundation, it's time to spot-check. Thankfully I don't have any noticeable zits at this time, so I'm just tackling the slight dark circles under my eyes. A favorite is IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer (in Neutral Medium).

it cosmetics bye bye under eye.jpg
foundation and concealer, check!

foundation and concealer, check!

Step 2: Contour!

Contouring can seem intimidating but with a bit of practice, it's really not so bad. The most important thing to remember is to blend, blend, blend! Or else you will look like...

portrait makeup 4.jpg

...THIS! Unless you're trying to rock football stripes, I would recommend running away as fast as humanly possible from this look.

In cases like this, the aforementioned beauty sponge blender will be your best friend! Simply rub it gently against any noticeable edges, and the contouring will look more natural in seconds.

For great contouring tips and to see a pro in action, I highly recommend watching Makeup Geek's 1 Minute Contouring and Highlighting Technique video.

blending these bad boys away!

blending these bad boys away!

To help both the contouring powder and foundation last longer, lightly dust translucent powder using a kabuki brush over your entire face (avoiding the eyes).

pictured here:  e.l.f. Kabuki Face Brush &nbsp;and  Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder  in Transparent
contouring applied under my cheekbones and around the sides of the ball of my nose to add some extra definition

contouring applied under my cheekbones and around the sides of the ball of my nose to add some extra definition

Step 3: Fill in and groom eyebrows.

I have really sparse, sheer eyebrows, and filling them in is a must, even though they're usually hiding behind my bangs. I find that because eyebrows frame your face, defining and grooming them really helps you look more put together and alert.

I usually apply a medium-to-dark brown powder with the stiff flat end of a dual eyebrow brush, and use the spoolie end to groom stray eyebrow hairs or lift out excess product. If you are more gifted in the eyebrow department than I am, a great, natural way to accentuate your eyebrows is to use tinted eyebrow gel, which grooms and defines at the same time. I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Mott Queen of the Fill (in Medium Dark).

queen of the fill.jpg

If I'm using eyebrow powder, I always set the color to make sure it lasts throughout the day. You can do this by lightly patting translucent or setting powder over your eyebrows with a stiff dome brush or concealer brush.

pictured here:  Bella Pierre Extreme Concealing Kit  with Banana Setting Powder and Concealer Brush

pictured here: Bella Pierre Extreme Concealing Kit with Banana Setting Powder and Concealer Brush

eyebrows filled in with dark brown powder&nbsp;

eyebrows filled in with dark brown powder 

If you aren't sure what shape or color best suits your brows and skin tone, check out the "10 Tips to Perfect Brows" in Makeup Geek's How to FIll in Your Brows tutorial. You can also watch the video, where she teaches a few different methods, including penciling. 

Step 4: Add a touch of eyeliner.

portrait makeup 8.jpg

Here's where eye shape really comes into play. I have kind of a weird hybrid monolid/double lid eye shape, and to give my eyes a natural, subtle pop, I lightly apply a medium brown eyeliner just above the upper lash line, about one millimeter thick, blended into zero towards the middle of the eye and swept up into the corners. This gives me an understated, faux no-makeup look while still opening up my eyes a bit and helping me appear more awake.

Depending on your own eye shape, you may have to apply less or more to achieve the same effect. Beauty & the Boutique offers an adorable, infographic-style guide here.

When it comes to specific products, I am super picky, because I have oily eyelids that reject 90% of eyeliners out there, leaving me with panda eyes before lunch break even starts. Waterproof liquid eyeliner is great if I have time to be precise, but for everyday, I stick with pencils. So far, only three pencil liners have made the grade, and they are (in order of most expensive to least expensive): Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, theBalm Cosmetics Mr. Write Now (pictured below), and Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eyeliner Trio. All three last from day to night, apply smoothly, and are water and smudge resistant. 

mr write now.jpg

Step 5: Love yo' lips.

fresh sugar.jpg
elf lip exfoliator.jpg

Healthy lips are happy lips, and happy lips make great smiles (and great pouts!). Make sure your lips are well moisturized, and they'll love you right back.

Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment is a definite splurge, but nothing gets my lips from A to Z faster. One swipe, and they're ready to conquer the world. It also greatly improves the texture of any lipstick when applied beforehand.

e.l.f. also makes a great budget option with their Lip Exfoliator, which buffs away dry skin to help your lips make the transformation from chapped to smooth.

For a touch of color, I like to add a tinted lip balm or a lipstick shade that is just a couple of shades darker than my natural lip color.

pictured here:  tréStiQue Mini Matte Lip Crayon &nbsp;in Florence Fig and  Maybelline Baby Lips  in Cherry Me&nbsp;

pictured here: tréStiQue Mini Matte Lip Crayon in Florence Fig and Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me 

wearing Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me

wearing Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me

Optional Step 6: Layer it on!

Here's a before and after of what we've done so far:

portrait makeup 9.jpg

Pretty sweet, huh?

I'm a simple gal (and a bit lazy when it comes to makeup), so 95% of the time, this is where I'm ready to head out the door. If you want to take it one step further for more drama, simply layer on eyeshadow/eyeliner/lip color to your liking. This is a great springboard for a zillion other awesome looks.

dark brown eyeliner applied to upper waterline and above upper lash line, smudged with gray eyeshadow to create a cat eye, plus bold lips using  Rimmel Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick by Kate Moss &nbsp;in shade 107

dark brown eyeliner applied to upper waterline and above upper lash line, smudged with gray eyeshadow to create a cat eye, plus bold lips using Rimmel Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick by Kate Moss in shade 107

before, after, and after-after!

before, after, and after-after!

That's all for now, folks! Thanks for joining me in my little makeup bubble, and I hope this post has been amusing if nothing else. ;)

Until next time!

unleashing my inner she-Hulk, grwawr!

unleashing my inner she-Hulk, grwawr!

 

 

Scott & Olivia | Alexandria Waterfront

Ten minutes before our shoot, I got a text from Olivia: I'm seeing drops of rain...

I texted back, Uh-oh. We'll do our best!

Sure enough, a steady drizzle commenced as we made our way over to Jones Point Park. But once we got there, we were amazed at the range of great shooting locations we found, and just a little while later, the rain faded away, leaving a moody, thickly overcast sky in its wake.

It goes without saying that every person and couple I photograph has their own special touch, but Olivia and Scott were truly amazing, enthusiastically jumping to whatever challenge I set out for them, whether it be shivering out on the waterfront, dodging pedestrians and bikers in the jogging path as the sun began to peek out, exploring adorable little lighthouses, balancing on coastal rocks just so I could get the classic "him-carrying-her" shot, or hunting for the perfect start-of-spring flowers.

I loved capturing their adventurous spirit and their cozy, joyful, natural, and affectionate interactions with each other. Hope you enjoy these photos as much as I did taking them! :)

alexandria waterfront jones point park 1
alexandria waterfront jones point park 2
alexandria waterfront jones point park 3
alexandria waterfront jones point park 4
alexandria waterfront jones point park 5
alexandria waterfront jones point park 6
alexandria waterfront jones point park 7
alexandria waterfront jones point park 8
alexandria waterfront jones point park 9.jpg
alexandria waterfront jones point park 10
alexandria waterfront jones point park 11.jpg
alexandria waterfront jones point park 12.jpg
alexandria waterfront jones point park 13.jpg
alexandria waterfront jones point park 14.jpg
alexandria waterfront jones point park 15.jpg
alexandria waterfront jones point park 18.jpg
alexandria waterfront jones point park 10
alexandria waterfront jones point park 20
alexandria waterfront jones point park 21

 

 

Styling Tips for Couple Portraits

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients before a shoot is: "What should I wear?" 

As a fashion major, the question always makes me giddy with excitement as I think of every possible outfit idea under the sun (and that effect is multiplied exponentially when I realize how many more outfit possibilities there are between two people!), but I usually rein myself in and provide the following guidelines:

1. Coordinate instead of match.

Rather than try to wear all the same colors, prints, or styles, a more effective strategy is to coordinate pieces around a central theme or palette. This will provide a more natural, "lived-in" feel that is hard to achieve with head-to-toe matched colorblocking, for instance.

A fun brainstorming activity is to imagine an event that the two of you are attending: be it a state fair, a concert, a rodeo, a reunion, a wedding, or just a lovely stroll through the park on a beautiful sunny day. Think of what you would naturally gravitate towards for the chosen event, and let that guide your outfit and styling choices.

 

2. If your session includes an outfit change, bring one outfit from your everyday wardrobe and one outfit that you would be more likely to wear on a special occasion.

I'm personally a huge fan of having multiple outfits in a shoot, as what you wear often makes a huge impact on how you feel and what you exude.

Everyday clothes offer a comfortable, easygoing, and natural vibe that is excellent for lifestyle shoots, while special occasion outfits let you step out into a new light with confidence, elegance, and charisma.

The combination of the two makes for a multifaceted collection of images that are uniquely you!

 

3. Jewel tones are your friends!

Ahhhh, jewel tones. Flattering on a wide variety of skin tones, beautifully and vibrantly rendered in photographs, and almost impossible to get wrong.

Did I mention that jewel tones are also super coordinate-able? Say hello to your new besties.

 

4. Consider small-scale rather than large-scale prints.

As a rule of thumb, small-to-medium-scale prints tend to be much more flattering than large-scale ones. This is especially pertinent if you are short (ahem) and/or curvy (ahem again). Thin stripes, cute small/medium florals, small polka dots, and closely-spaced plaids add visual interest without visual distortion!

 

5. Accessorize!

Bracelets, watches, necklaces, earrings, hats - the list goes on and on. Accessories are a great way to add that extra "something" to an outfit, whether it be subtle or loud, and can also help in coordinating between two outfits (noticing a trend here??). They are often the perfect finishing touch to a session-ready outfit!

 

Keep in mind that the above points are just guidelines meant to spark your imagination and give you insight to your own wardrobe, and rules are meant to be broken. Have a dress with a huge floral print that makes you feel beautiful and bold, or super matchy couple ouftits that have a special significance to you? By all means wear these to the session!  The most important thing is that you love what you are wearing - that ease and joy will show in your portraits!

 

Now go forth and coordinate!