Kids and Families

Socially Safe Family Photos!

(A couple of kids, photographed from a socially safe distance, who have been stuck together at home for 2+ weeks. With me.)

When people were ordered to stay home from school and work due to novel coronavirus, the first thing I thought was: wow, scheduling spring photos should be a snap. Everyone’s home! Parents! College kids! But then we had to follow that six-feet-wide distance rule, which theoretically isn’t a problem when you have some great zoom lenses. However, since I’m a photographer and not a spy, I knew it would limit some of my work, including setting up lighting equipment and having the flexibility of approaching people closer than the allotted six feet.

As much as I enjoyed documenting the non-quarreling moments of my family’s day-to-day in this interesting state of affairs as I navigate between Khan Academy and work emails, I wanted to get out and talk to other people. Even if it meant yelling from 10 feet away. So I did, with camera in hand, around my neighborhood last Tuesday, when the weather was forecasted to be warm and sunny. In exchange for a “socially safe” session, families donated $30 or more to the Capital Area Food Bank. In total, I raised about $800 through Facebook and separate checks people wrote—and counting! And I met many new neighbors, fellow elementary school parents, kids, pets, and their neighbors. People really took the opportunity to get out of their sweatpants and dressed their kids up, and, as one person admitted, made her husband shave the mustache he had been carefully cultivating. Cherry blossoms and magnolias were in peak bloom and people’s hair still looked fresh from their last visit to the stylist’s.

THANK YOU to you all for such a fun day, and for helping other families in the DC area get food—which we know is not easy, if you’ve tried buying eggs recently. It’s an unprecedented time I have dubbed Stranger Things. (Which, sadly, I finished bingeing before we were asked to stay home.)

I’ve received numerous inquiries as to whether I will be doing another session like this, and I will keep you all posted! In the meantime, here are the families who participated in my first “socially safe” photo sessions.


Headshots: Amy!

Nutrition is a very important part of daily life, and with all that misinformation out there on the world wide web, why not consult an actual nutritionist who can help guide you through all the necessary criteria to fit your (or your family’s) health needs? Here’s Amy, MS, CNS, LDN, local nutrition expert, who recruited me to help take some more updated headshots. If you must know, the fruit bowl was deliberate. And I’ve included some outtakes so that you know that Amy is not all about vanity but is a real, blinking, laughing (a lot of laughing) person. She also comes with an authentic English accent, so you’re more likely to pay attention to what she says than you would to any other health expert out there.

Kids and Families

Family: Grant + Court + Kids + Canine Kids

This blog post is going to be a huge promotion for Grant’s Amazing Bacon (GAB) even though he’s not exactly in the business of selling it. However, Grant is an incredible griller/ meat smoker/ pickler/ chef/ etc-er who I once traded photographs for his melt-in-your-mouth bacon (and then purchased the next order with cash). Literally, I brought home the bacon. And everyone to whom we’ve ever served this bacon has had the same reaction: “OH MY GOD! WHERE DID YOU GET THIS BACON?!” From San Francisco to Chicago to New York to Washington, D.C., we have been spreading the gospel of Grant’s Awesome Bacon. There was even a toddler, once diagnosed with failure to thrive, going back for third and fourth servings of this bacon, to the point that his mom was asking us for Grant’s name and contact, so she could especially order his bacon if it meant her kid would eat and grow.

Anyway, slightly beknownst to Grant and Court, I have been trying to encourage Grant to market his delicious cooking to a greater population, an idea over which he hems and haws. However, though I did not photograph any pictures of bacon, I have photographed their warm, kind, welcoming and very well-read family. (Court you may recognize from prior photos that I’ve taken of her company). Here are some pictures that we took right before the holidays.

Kids and Families, Special Events

Cool Blue Bat Mitzvah!

December in the DC area is very fickle, and for this bat mitzvah, we happened to land on some of the colder days of the month, even though the girls were so good at pretending like it was a balmy tropical day in their sleeveless dresses (a lot of me calling out, “THINK FLORIDA! WE’RE STANDING ON A WARM BEACH! YOU’RE GETTING UNBELIEVABLY TAN!”) We shot photos during the bat mitzvah girl’s rehearsal and then a week later at her party celebrating the actual bat mitzvah at The Loft at 4935 in Bethesda. To keep with the winter theme, they chose shades of blue – in their dresses and at the party – and the guests had a blast with nonstop dancing, party games, food and a photo booth. Here are some pictures from that fun day!

Special Events

Celebrating: Bookish Bat Mitzvah!

This December bat mitzvah at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rockville was one of the nicest ones I’ve been to: small, low-key, and with such understated elegance, as the photos will illustrate. The bat mitzvah girl loved reading, so the theme was books. It was a refreshing challenge to the guests who volunteered to help come up with the design for the decor – how does one make books seem fun and party-ish? Well, they pulled it off with the use of encyclopedias, paper flowers cut from texts, and bookmarks as name cards. I was allowed to subtly photograph the ceremony from the back and then capture the rest of the party, where kids ate Chinese food (brilliant choice) for lunch, and everyone played games, danced, took photo booth pictures, danced the Hora and watched a slideshow of her growing up. Here are some pictures from that lovely afternoon.


Places: Maine

Jordan Pond

There’s a phrase in Chinese: pao lai pao tu. It translates to “running here, running there.” My college roommate’s father, after hearing about my various travel shenanigans through the four years, one day declared that I was very pao lai pao tu and my own family agreed, and I do not dispute this.

Our trip to Maine two summers ago (2018) is exemplary of this motto and my personal philosophy, even though it causes those around me to grumble while I plan all the details. We decided to embark on a two week trip camping trip to Maine (with a two-day stop in Boston and three nights in an Airbnb farmhouse in southern Maine). This includes, but is not limited to, driving about 12 hours to Maine with a 4- and 6-year old in the backseat of our CR-V and then sleeping in a tent with them for nights on end. Now, a CR-V is a nice small-medium SUV which is not really designed for a two-week camping trip to Maine, especially when your kids are still confined to carseats, but in all my years of pao lai pao tu I had succeeded in packing everything tightly, from suitcases to car trunks, like a winning Tetris game. Our kids may have complained about having their feet propped up with bags underneath.

Because we had a then-4- and 6-year-old, one of whom gets carsick from watching an iPad for more than 2 minutes, I planned out our trip to break up with a stop at Rye Playland in Rye, New York, where the end of Big was filmed and where I spent my summers as a kid; then in Boston for a few days where Jon could work from the Cambridge office of his company while I dragged the kids around the Freedom Trail; then an extended lunch at the Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier in Kittery, Maine where I ate many a lobster when I used to work in Boston; and a stop at a waterpark in southern Maine before we reached our first destination in Lincolnville, Maine before we headed into Acadia National Park. We spent a few days hiking and checking out the cutesy New England towns before we went into the woods to camp lakeside in Acadia for a week. To make things extra complicated, I piled some camera equipment with me, of course, to document the whole experience, though I did leave my flashes behind – we were going au naturel on this camping trip.

There’s a difference between a photoshoot and photographing your vacation. I didn’t take pictures the whole time—for example, whenever sand was involved. Or if it was raining, which was most of Boston, so there are no Boston shots except on my iPhone. My camera weighs a lot and sometimes I just didn’t feel like dragging it up a mountain. I also didn’t want to be stuck behind the camera the entire trip—I wanted to actually be on the vacation itself. Also, when you have two kids tugging at your clothes or complaining through a hike, there’s only so much creativity you can have.

In any case, I was able to capture a lot of great moments, anyway, so here are some of my favorites.

First stop: Rye Playland
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier, Kittery, Maine
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier, Kittery, Maine
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier, Kittery, Maine
They picked me flowers (Lincolnville, Maine)
Camden, Maine
Rockport, Maine
Outside Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
Jordan Pond
Thunder Hole
Scarborough Beach, Maine
Back to Chauncey Creek for last lobsters