Tracie and Akbar met freshman year of college and in 2005, when YouTube launched and W became president again, they tied the knot. They said that with each major anniversary they had talked about going on a nice vacation, one being to visit the Grand Canyon finally, but then various life things happened—birth of a kid, and now coronavirus. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop them from celebrating and having this photo session gifted to them by a friend, so I hope that my presence made up for missing out on the Grand Canyon – again. Happy anniversary, you two!
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.
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.
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!
Weddings are beautiful—but marriage isn’t always so Pinterest-perfect. I have always wanted to take some very realistic shots of marriage, 10 years later, when everyone’s completely settled into a whole different life with kids, mortgages, financial obligations, career changes, messy houses, the mundaneness of the day-to-day. But 10 years is an excellent marker to step back, examine the original wedding vows, and see if they need some refinement or fit into your current life.
I had the opportunity to capture some wedding vow renewals of Nick and Amy—two people I’ve known them since they passed their five year anniversary, and now they’ve just surpassed 10 years. They decided to officially renew their vows and added a couple with their daughters. They chose a secluded woodsy spot on a beautiful fall day in Rock Creek Park, complete with a picnic and twirly dresses for the girls. As Amy put it, it was a second chance to do the wedding the way you really wanted to the first time around. Here are some shots from this lovely morning.
B was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer about four years ago. She was a friend-of-a-friend, someone I met maybe once or twice, at the mutual friend’s wedding and possibly at some other party. In the spring, I learned that her prognosis wasn’t very good, and she was organizing a get-together with her close friends to assemble photo albums and videos to leave to her children, who are 8 and 6. Since she lived maybe 30 minutes away in Virginia, I offered to do a photo shoot for her with her kids, as a gift, which she gladly accepted.
We met up at Glen Echo Park, and her kids ran around with my kids, riding the carousel and playing on the playground. I took pictures of B and her kids hugging, tickling each other, being silly, laughing, all the things that young kids are good at doing with their mother, who, at that age, is the most important person in their lives. She also sat with each kid independently and they chatted while I hung back with my camera. I’m not even sure what they talked about, but it wasn’t my conversation to eavesdrop in.
Despite that these are the most important photos I have ever taken, and out of respect for her family, I will probably never publish them anywhere. They were only meant for B and her kids. I did choose this one to post, mostly because it’s from far away, but also because even from far away one could appreciate the closeness that mother and daughter had. The photos turned out really well, and B was very emotional about them. Our timing was good, because soon after, the sweltering DC summer temperatures set in, the carousel at Glen Echo was closed for renovations, and she spent her summer trying to stay cool while in and out of hospital visits. She passed away a few weeks after the school year started.
The kids might not remember that they went to Glen Echo that day, much less that I was there or who I was. At the very least, I hope these photos give them some comfort and memories of a time when their mother was still there.
I met up with Niki and Eric and their kids for a summer photo session at the Maryland Soccerplex, an enormous complex of 24 separate, full soccer fields (and indoor ones!) in South Germantown, Maryland. If you couldn’t tell, this family is clearly a soccer family. Both kids are dedicated and very talented players. Their son will be celebrating his bar mitzvah over the weekend, which will be, of course, soccer-themed. We lucked out on a slightly cooler (i.e. not ridiculously humid) late August day to play with their new puppy and kick around a soccer ball. Enjoy the pictures!
This boy, with his two loves: a soccer field and his new puppy, is becoming a bar mitzvah this weekend! Stay tuned for shots from their family photoshoot at the expansive Maryland Soccerplex, and later some shots from his bar mitzvah.
This is my third opportunity to photograph members of this family – first headshots for entrepreneurs David and Sarah, and now with the rest of their gang. They welcomed their baby a few months ago, and their other kids absolutely adore her. The oldest is thrilled to have another girl in her corner, but the boys are going to be the big brother protectors as well. These were some of the most behaved kids I have ever worked with, and they are all under 8 years old! I don’t know what was in those snacks Sarah gave to them before, but they were charming and smiling and adorable all at the same time. You can see for yourself.
This was supposed to be a picture of just David and Sarah quietly enjoying a moment together, which as parents know, is short-lived. One by one, the kids started piling up on their laps. As usual, spontaneity results in one of my favorite photos from this session! Also, these kids are unbelievably well-behaved! More later from this shoot.
THIS GIRL. She loves to run, twirl, make silly faces, and soon she’s going to be a big sister!
I knew this family already from soccer, but you can tell these three generate enough energy to power their home utilities and more. I spent the session photographing them climbing all sorts of things: trees, monkey bars, each other. It was great fun to capture them in their element.
This girl is officially a bat mitzvah! And I’ve decided that bar/ bat mitzvahs are my new favorite event to photograph. First, it’s sweet and sentimental—I’ve seen this girl around since she was eight, and now she’s quite the young lady, and that growth is acknowledged nicely with a formal ceremony for which she prepared for months. She even wore her hair out of a ponytail—a rare sighting—and coupled with her mature conduct during the ceremony, she really shined. Since her ceremony wasn’t held in a synagogue, I was allowed to take a few shots, but out of respect for those who might be alarmed I didn’t shoot the entire ceremony. Second, bat/ bar mitzvah parties are SO MUCH FUN. I wish we had gotten one of these emcees and played games at our wedding. Plus, at this one, the grown-ups held their own on the dance floor, risking pulling muscles and backs trying to play Coke and Pepsi with the kids and more. Her party theme was Around the World, and I loved the mini-suitcases with the vintage postcards and symbolic items to represent each country. Here are some shots from that day!
Stunning family, right? Dr. Mark Klaiman, is one of Washingtonian’s Top Doctors and rightfully so for his incredible patience and accuracy to diagnose your physical pain issues (pointperformance.com, if you’re looking for someone to examine those back or knee issues). His wife, Lynn, is passionate about childhood education and created a fantastic learn-to-read program called Rhyme to Read. Together, they raised two kids who are mirrors of themselves, as you can see. We wandered over to Rock Creek Park one humid Washington day for some photos before their daughter headed back to college. It was a bittersweet reminder that once the kids grow up and move on, the opportunities for family moments, even a photo, are harder to come by. Here are a few from that day.
I’ve known this family for years, and they live around the corner from us. Their twins are creative, bright, and never dull; Jack and Montana are clearly partners when it comes to handling two of the same-aged kids. We went to Woodend Sanctuary for some beautiful fall photos, where the kids picked leaves, ran through the woods, and possibly clung to Montana for a little bit through the initial pictures. Here they are!
She’s only two and already has that cool, calm, collected, hair-don’t-care demeanor. The truth was she was racing around the yard gathering Easter eggs and was temporarily intrigued by my camera lens pointing at her. After we had a mini face-off, she took back off. But those few seconds were all she and I needed.
I love this family! More to come…
Salsa, Jeff, Beth, and their daughter spent a warm afternoon walking through a rustic path in Takoma Park, coaxing their pup with treats to stay patiently for a few family photos. Dogs are like toddlers and babies: you call out their names a lot, try to distract them by dancing around or waving your hands, trick them with treats. The difference is dogs are a lot of wiser, so they don’t fall for our human antics as often. Every once in a while, Salsa would just sit and gaze towards the camera, and we seized those moments to capture a few memorable shots. Here are some of those!
This family – they could be a Gap ad or something (not because they are wearing Gap – I actually have no idea what they are wearing). But they have a clean, fresh and happy glow and were so laid-back and fun to photograph. The kids ran around the playground, but the little girl stopped every so often to flash me a bright smile. Here are a few from that afternoon.
Meet Salsa, the star of this family’s photo shoot. Well, the occasional star. The rest of the family shined pretty well through the whole session. More to come.
This little girl is really just this adorable. Stay tuned for more from her and her family…
That’s Marie, sporting a baby bump, and dad-to-be Patrick! The two wanted to capture the pregnancy, since it’s one of those rare moments in a mother’s life where she is hauling a bowling ball around in her belly for all those months. Marie, however, carries it like it’s no big deal. I regaled them with stories about my pregnancies and told them to go see lots of movies before the baby came. Yet the two of them together seem completely content just to sit side by side, passing the time by conversing with each other instead of passively staring at movie screens. Here are some shots of them in a quaint and quieter time in their lives, awaiting with anticipation for the next new, exciting phase. Congratulations, you two!
Violeta contacted me: “My entire extended family is coming into town and we want to take a picture of all of us. ALL of us.” And, there were a lot of them – particularly these little ones. But they were so smiley and completely photogenic, so with a few obligatory silly faces, we had a great time – even the littlest one who wavered between smiling and pouting. Here are a few select shots.
(probably my favorite shot of the day – this little girl with her big expressions)
Sara has been coming to the Outer Banks her entire life, when she spent her childhood here and then later when her parents invested in a vacation home. We got to spend a weekend with them, watching the sunrise and sunset, playing on the beach, and eating seafood galore. We lucked out on a hot, 90-degree weekend in April for the weekend. Sara likes to bring her own little family now to share in her favorite place, so we took some memorable moments at sunset with her husband Phil and their 11-year-old son.
This fall I got to photograph Alice and Joseph and their cute little boys. Big brother loves his little brother, but had a hard time standing upright next to him – every hug resulted in them falling backwards into a cuddly heap. It was a lot of fun, though, as we wandered through their Takoma Park neighborhood and neighborhood park. Finally, I found some time to post their photos!