This is the Year

Have you guys noticed that I don’t have like, a “real” website?  When you type in, you arrive at this blog instead of a snazzy home page with a slideshow of images that make you swoon.  Since I started this journey in 2012, I’ve been posting, dreaming, gaining clients, learning, and growing this little business all from a free WordPress blog.

Now don’t get me wrong — I love this free WordPress blog the way I love an old friend.  I’ve poured my heart and soul into this blog for two years.  It’s my scrapbook of sorts.  I can go back to the very first post & remember how long it took me to get brave enough to hit Publish, and I can see improvement with every shoot.  But I’m also going to see those darn bubbles and laugh at how insanely NOT “me” my first blog was.

I knew that 2014 was the year to stop cringing every time I typed in  I knew 2014 was the year to stop apologizing every time I directed another professional to my website.  “I’m searching for the right designer,” I’d say.  Or, “I’m rebranding soon, I swear.”  I knew 2014 was the year to stop making excuses and dive into this thing 100%.

That’s why it’s so hard to believe that as we speak, my domain transfer is happening!  I don’t know how all that technical internet magic works, but what I do know is that the website that Becky & I have been working so hard on will go live next week.  And I could not be more excited to show you all something much more “me.”  Stay tuned.  :)


A Love Letter to Artifact Uprising for Mobile

A few weeks ago, I got my first photo book from Artifact Uprising and immediately fell in love.  I mean, they definitely know the way to this photographer’s heart: great service, an adorable little photo book (made of 100% recycled materials!!) and great packaging.  In case you’re interested in creating a little tangible book of your favorite iPhone photo memories, here’s a little how-to.  :)

Artifact Uprising Tutorial 1

All you have to do is choose from the products available on the Artifact Uprising app (there are more products available online, like hardcover books), then decide if you want to pull photos from your Instagram or from all of the photos on your device.  I chose to draw from my Instagram account so I would a) avoid completely overwhelming myself and b) make it easy to choose photos only from 2013.

Artifact Uprising Tutorial 2

Then you choose a cover photo, which is maybe the hardest part of the process.  You can change the layout of the cover (full page, circular photo, centered, with or without a title, etc.).  After the cover is set, you can pick 30-100 photos.  As you can see in the 3rd photo above, AU is kind enough to count them for you.  Hint: It does help to keep them in the order you want them to appear in the book.

Artifact Uprising Tutorial 3

Now you can change the order of the photos & then edit each one individually.  I didn’t realize until after I ordered my first book that you could zoom the photos in and out to make them full page, centered, etc.  You can also choose whether or not to include your original Instagram captions, and you can also add the date.  Once you’re finished, the app allows you to review your final product, then place the order.  You can check your order status and tracking number right from the app.

Give them some time for production, some time for the shipping and voila, you get a sweet little package in the mail!

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Artifact Uprising-2

Artifact Uprising-3

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As a lover of the tangible & printing photos, I encourage everyone to get your memories “off your device and into your life!”  I also encourage you to follow AU on Instagram . . . sometimes their posts really change the direction of my day.  :)


The Weekender

I have been meaning to start a Monday series for so long . . . and here I am, writing my first Monday series post in the late afternoon.  It’s been a crazy day!  The sky even looks crazy, like a spring thunderstorm is going to start any minute.  I LOVE thunderstorms, so I’m perfectly content with waiting for the skies to open up.

I digress.  The point of a Monday series is to a) start the week off with blogging, which is a great habit and b) share some of the fun and not-so-fun happenings of the weekend.  This weekend, for instance?

  • This weekend kicked off my wedding season!  Saturday I second shot for Stephanie, who is an absolute darling.  She is the only person I would second shoot for the day after my birthday. ;)  It was a great wedding, and the couple’s silver confetti exit left The Commonwealth Club looking like what I would imagine the aftermath of a Gatsby party to look like.  It was awesome, and it made me wonder who was going to vacuum all that up.  I should have volunteered.  I LOVE vacuuming.
  • Since I had a wedding Saturday, some friends and I celebrated my birthday on Thursday night with dinner at Comfort and drinks downtown.  I highly recommend Comfort if you’re looking for some southern soul food in the city.  They also have a very interesting drink menu . . . one drink included egg whites.  What is that about?!
  • When I was getting ready for my birthday dinner, I paid the price for being so addicted to my curling wand.  Somehow or another, I touched about half of the wand onto my shoulder while it was cranked up to 400 degrees.  Word to the wise: take extra care when curling your hair in a sleeveless dress.  :(

I didn’t go up to DC for the cherry blossom peak this weekend, but I did get to see these pretty blossoms at Maymont last week!



Turning 24

I’m big on birthdays.  I think everyone deserves a day to be ALL ABOUT THEM.  On April 1st, I declared it birthday month and this week is birthday week.  Someone told me that’s preposterous, but I think it’s perfect.  Life is too short not to celebrate every chance we get — celebrate BIG.  After all, not everyone gets a 24th birthday.  That’s why I took a personal day today.  Today is a day for sleeping in, taking a long lunch and finding somewhere to hang my new hammock. ;)

Two years ago, I discovered this post by Lauryn Galloway and thought it was the most brilliant thing to do on one’s 24th birthday.  I do love a good list.  :)  So, at age 22, I started making a list of things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 25.  (Because 25 seemed SO FAR AWAY then!)

Ruth's Chris Networking Lunch-12

Since then, I’ve altered the list about a million times, adding and subtracting things as I accomplished them early or decided I didn’t actually have any real DESIRE to run a half marathon.  I put a lot of thought into the things I wanted to make sure I do before I reach my MID-TWENTIES.  I think I’ll put this list in a frame and keep crossing things off as I go because honestly, isn’t crossing off the best thing about lists?

1. Go to Europe. I have some preferences, but mostly I just want to GO!

2. Ice skate outside

3. Sew something I can wear . . . or someone else can wear. Honestly, I want to make a bow tie.

4. Go on a camping trip with some awesome people

5. Stay at a bed & breakfast, the more eccentric the better. This is a direct result of my Gilmore Girls obsession.

6. Read 30 books (I’ve been chipping away at this one)

7. Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans

8. See the Black Keys live

9. See The Nutcracker at Christmas

10. Try barre & pilates

11. Print an album of personal photos at the end of the season or year

12. Relocate to Richmond

13. Go to another festival

14. Join a life group through LifePoint Church

15. Fill my dream camera bag. This means buying all the lenses I need, and we’re getting there!

16. Launch the new SDP website & blog — we are so close!!

17. Shoot a proposal – all the secret planning would be SO much fun!

18. Watch the sun set on Reddish Knob. I can’t believe I never did this when I was at JMU.

19. See The Lion King on Broadway

20. Shoot senior portraits for someone

21. Have a wedding featured on a major blog

22. Go apple picking

23. Tour the Biltmore at Christmas time

24. Continue my film journey – shoot more, learn more

25. Visit my friends in North Carolina & Tennessee

That’s all, folks.  I’m off to go test out being 24.

Claire, Keely & Emma’s Senior Session

I had SO much fun shooting senior portraits for Keely, Emma & Claire!  We had free range of Maymont on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.  In fact, thanks to girls’ mom, we had the KEYS to Maymont!  Here’s a sneak peek.  :)




They’re so cute together!


My Why

Lately I have been working on a daunting, exciting, fun, excruciating task: rebranding.  Any photographers out there know what I mean by this mix of adjectives.  Trying to assign words, colors, graphics, and a design to your photography life feels like one identity crisis after another.  I’m a quirky people person.  Just kidding, I’m actually kind of shy and introspective.  I LOVE pastel colors.  Just kidding, I need something a little muted, a little more serious to go with my old soul vibes.  The process has me feeling a bit schizophrenic.

So I closed the Pinterest tab and started digging much deeper for inspiration.  I started thinking about what Justin & Mary always say about finding your WHY.  Why do I photograph weddings?  Why do I love the portraits and the candid moments?

After much contemplating and reliving and searching through my images, I have decided on My Why — the thing that keeps me going, that makes me work harder, that makes me keep putting myself out there despite the taunts of the I’m Not Good Enough monster.

I do what I do for those epic moments when I hear the shutter click and think, “Yes.  I just captured a black & white, look at it over and over, keep that print until it’s in tatters and then keep passing it down moment.”Chestnut Hill, Orange VA, bed and breakfast, Orange VA wedding photographer, Orange VA photographer, Chestnut Hill weddings, mint green wedding

I want people to look at my photos and feel the way I feel when I look at my parent’s wedding photos and when I find those stacks of old tattered prints that we keep passing down.  I want people to feel like they’re looking at a real moment, an intimate piece of someone’s history.

Most importantly, I want people to look at my photos and remember what it felt like to be madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love, especially on those days long after the wedding or engagement session when love feels like it’s getting lost in the every day.  Everyone deserves to have at least ONE of those photos that makes them feel that kind of excitement & emotion again, and that’s what I want to give to my clients.  

Lake of the Woods Church wedding, Locust Grove VA wedding, Orange VA wedding photographer, Lake of the Woods


The sentimental side of me just wants to note that this is my 50th blog post.  WOO!  I’m celebrating with green tea & Edward Sharpe on Spotify.

Earlier this week, I took advantage of Artifact Uprising’s 10% off sale & ordered my first photo book from them!!  Since then, I’ve been checking my order status every other hour.  I will definitely post some photos of it when it arrives because I am THAT excited.  I believe wholeheartedly in three things: God, Love and printing your photos.   Ok, I believe in a lot more than that, but I have a flair for the dramatics.  ;)  Until the glorious arrival of my favorite iPhone photos of 2013 in book form, here are a few of my (vertical) favorites from 2014 so far.


Happy Friday, darlings!