Category Archives: Special

Pacific North West Vacation

This post is LONG over due. My wife and I went on a trip to the Pacific North West in July of 2016 and I’m just now getting around to posting these photos. I know, I know. I’m a slacker but it’s been a crazy year.

The only thing I REALLY want to do while we were there was to go see Mt. St. Helens. Which we did. Unfortunately it was a little cloudy and we could not see the entire thing. I sat there expecting the clouds to clear at any moment. They did not.

Aside from that though we saw some amazing sites and got to spend time with my sister and her boyfriend and some of my wife’s friends who we had not seen in a long time.

I don’t want to drag this into some long blog about my vacation so I will end by saying the PNW is one of my favorite places to visit. I can’t wait to go back… soon.

Admirals Hockey | St. Patrick’s Day | ECHL

I was so pumped to photograph the Norfolk Admirals on St. Patrick’s Day. The ice was green and so were the Admiral’s uniforms. Not many people know how much of a hockey fan I am. I played hockey for almost 8 years when I was younger. My love for the sport is still very much alive. I love to watch the game and see how it’s evolved over the years.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

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Salem United Methodist Field Trip

I know I normally stick to business related stuff but this has to be shared. It’s my daughters first ever field trip. We decided to make it a family affair so my wife took off work and I cleared my calendar. We weren’t going to miss out on all the adorableness that would happen. We did have to work through a bit of a melt down and use some bribing and smoke a mirrors to bring her back to sanity. But all the kids had SO much fun. We all can’t wait for the next field trip!

For any parents who want some of these photos you can purchase them by following the link at the bottom of the page.

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Show Bride Promotional Photoshoot for November 20, 2016 Founder’s Inn and Spa | Southside’s Finest

I had the pleasure of photographing the promotional material for Show Bride’s Southside’s Finest Bridal Expo at the Founder’s Inn and Spa on November 20, 2016.

Click the links above for more information on the show. Dragon Studio will be there. Our wedding dates are filling up for 2017 so be sure to contact us for more availability.

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Coastal Virginia Editorial at the NORVA | Norfolk Virginia

Every once in a while I get the opportunity to be a part of an amazing photoshoot. This was one of those shoots that is a once in a lifetime type deal. I’ve been to the NORVA in Norfolk many times for concerts and I’ve even had the pleasure of photographing a wedding there. So when I was asked to photograph an editorial for Coastal Virginia Magazine there was no way I was going to turn it down.

As with any editorial it takes a team of people to make it all happen. I have to give credit to all those people who were involved.

Styling: Misty Saves the Day

Rentals: Distinctive Event Rentals

Now on to the photographs… BTW- there are SO many more images in this post than were in the twelve (YES TWELVE!) page spread in the magazine.
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the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakesdragon studio, misty saves the day, the norva, distinctive event rentals, mad hatter vintage rentals, waterford event rentals, mystique salon, stage right lighting, house of maya, letterlyn, jollity and co., montero's restaurant, hummingbird macarons and desserts, kathy forrest design, WOAH! the band, music inspired wedding, editorial photography, wedding bands, wedding food, wedding florist, coastal virginia magazine, coastal virginia bride, hampton roads bride, bridal magazine, wedding flowers, vintage rentals, wedding linens, string lights, wedding lighting, wedding cakes

VOW Magazine “Brilliantly Betrothed” Engagement Ring Feature

It’s no secret that I love to macro photography and commercial photography. So when Kim Wadsworth of VOW Magazine asked me to shoot a feature that included both aspects I jumped at the opportunity. I felt right at home while working with Kim as well as Nicole and Sherri from the Wandering Petal. Each jeweler we visited had their own take on ring styles. We watched to match those styles as closely as possible with the floral design and ring placement. All the while making each image unique but still keeping the designs cohesive.

I want to share the layouts as well as a few macro shots of some of the rings. I hope you enjoy it looking as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Be on the look out for fresh copies of the latest VOW Magazine.

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Madison Jewelers, Fairfield Square

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Madison Jewelers, Fairfield Square

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The Precious Gem, La Promenade

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The Precious Gem, La Promenade

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Diamonds Direct, Virginia Beach

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Diamonds Direct, Virginia Beach

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Fink’s Jewelers, MacArthur Center

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Fink’s Jewelers, MacArthur Center

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Either Ore Jeweler, Strawbridge Shopping Center

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Either Ore Jeweler, Strawbridge Shopping Center

ILEA Gala | ILEA Hampton Roads Chapter

I hope you enjoy this little preview from the 2016 ILEA Gala held at Cypress Point Country Club. It was a fantastic evening filled with so many great things. Read more below.

To see the full gallery of photos click the link at the bottom of the page.

If you are a vender and would like to download the photos, I will be sending out an email to everyone with instructions. If you did not get the email you can email me at DragonStudio1@mac.com

I was honored and humbled to be asked to photograph the ILEA Gala for the second year in a row. ILEA is such a greta organization to be a part of. One that has certainly helped my business growth exponentially.

The ILEA Gala is one of the biggest events our Hampton Roads Chapter has each year. So much is packed into one event. We say thank you to our old board members and welcome in the new board. We award the Charger Awards. Congrats to all the winners Dragon Studio, Monteros Restaurant, The Hermitage Museum, Inspired Events by Kelly, Dave Shwartz, Stage Right Lighting, and the Hilton Hotel.

Or course non of the gorgeousness you see below would be possible without the hard work of SO many people. Our ILEA Chapter puts together a board for every gala. This year the board was Jennifer Cregar, Anne Goessling, Alyse Conyers, Nicole Johnson, and Pari Smith. The subcommittee was Caroline Harrison, Emily Miller, Alisa Cowsert, Rebecca Norfleet, and Misty Prewitt.

This year’s gala was full of SO much. Aside from the awards and the board entrance. There was a real live mermaid. Yes! She had a tail and EVERYTHING. Astro Entertainment was on hand with a green screen and photo booth as well as emcee and playing music all night. All of the floral was done by Botanique Flowers. All the linens were provided by Waterford Event Rentals. All the lighting and draping was provided by Stage Right Lighting. The venue was obviously at Cypress Point Country Club who also made all the food for the night. Maya Couture provided lovely dresses and tuxes for the board members as well.

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Click here to see more. 

My Story- An In Depth Account

I’ve told my story in the past but I’ve never really gone into much detail about how I’ve come to this point in my career. It was one of those things that was never really supposed to happen. I wasn’t a business man who had money to spend on a start up company. Nor was I lucky enough to strike it rich by playing the lottery. I was just a college kid who liked to be creative. With a little luck and a lot of hard work I am here. Looking back on what could have been I am so happy for all the speed bumps and detours along the way. It has been a journey to say the least.

This post will not have any photographs but instead it will have words… many, many words. A lot of words.

High School

I knew at some point in High School that I wanted to become a photographer. During my senior year our BIG project was to write a thesis on what we wanted to do with our lives after graduation. I wanted to be a photographer. Part of the project was to call a professional in the area and interview them. I called Forrest Studio. That was where my senior portraits were taken so it seemed like the natural place for me to do my interview. I was nervous about the call but was pleasantly surprised at how nice they were and how helpful they were. I was SUPER excited and ended up taking the “photography” course offered in my high school. I used quotations because it was a half photography and half screen printing class. Our dark room was a closet that was converted into a lab. The chemicals were so watered down that the prints I made 17 years ago have not finished fixing yet (anyone who worked in a darkroom knows what the fixer does- google it). Also the “cool kids” mainly used it to smoke cigarettes and make out with each other. Which left the few of us that wanted to work knocking on the door for them to hurry up.

Being that photography is not my only creative outlet I somehow took a liking to baking. Throughout the remainder of the year I grew less interested in photography and more interested in becoming a baker. To make this long story short(er) I ended up staying close to home to pursue my new dream of becoming the “Next Great Baker”. Fast forward a few months to graduation and then keep fast forwarding a little further to when I was enrolled in Johnson and Wales… keep fast forwarding through that part since it wasn’t very exciting and you get to the point in my life when I decided that baking wasn’t for me and I made the decision to drop out of college. The drop out conversation with my parents was immediately followed up by “You have to at least go to community college or get a job or move out.” Which wasn’t what I wanted to hear but it was either that or start adulting. So I signed up for classes at Tidewater Community College with absolutely zero direction.

Community College

There is a lot of gray area here. I floated around courses for the better part of a year taking, philosophy (failed), poetry (dropped), marine science (passed but too much school), and then it hit me… I’m going to take Photography 101. My parents bought me my camera and I made the 45 minute trek out to Portsmouth for my classes. After a few weeks I started to get inspired again. I started taking more art classes. I took them all. Except painting. No real reason why I just never made it around to it. I took so many classes I was almost able to double major in graphic design too (but I did’t- two classes short). While working on my photography degree I took a studio lighting class. It was in this class that I met (unknowingly) my future (and first) photography employer. Which looking back is weird that he was in my class… more on that later.

College was tough. I had no idea what I was doing. I also had no idea what I was going to do when I got out. I thought maybe Sports Illustrated would hire me or Victoria Secret or Nike or some newspaper or something big because…. you know… thats what happens in the real world. HA! Not so much. I can vividly remember talking to my priest during some random conversation and out of no where he tells me “I don’t think you’re going to make it as a photographer. I know photographers and you don’t have the right personality. You should just consider finding something that would suit you better.” Seriously? No joke- thats what he said to me. Not to go into too much detail and get all political but I didn’t really like him and didn’t hold his advice to a high standard… or any standard at all. But this was certainly fuel for the fire to drive me to succeed. I went back at it with even more drive and fire to get that degree to prove him wrong. Believe it or not he wasn’t only person who told me I shouldn’t be a photographer. Friends would tell me. Family would tell me- my grandma told me “Photography is just a hobby. You should drop out and learn a trade.” hahahaha grandma. Thanks for the motivation. Plus photography is a trade- to me. So now I had to finish school to not only prove all these people wrong but to also accomplish what I set out to do… which was… what? I had no idea but I was going to get that damn degree!!

My First Photography Job

During my final year in school I had a project for one of my courses that I had to spend a day with a photographer and interview them (sounds familiar right?). At the time I was working for a friend who had a auto detailing and landscaping business (I know- weird combo). He told me one of his clients was a photographer and that I should call him and go hang out with him one day. So I did. And he said yes. So I show up and guess who it is? The same dude that was in my studio lighting class. Except now he was running his own business. He had an employee and lots of cool stuff and he was “big time”. Lets’ fast forward again a few weeks. I was now getting paid like $5 to do grunt work and learn photoshop and basically just hang out. Fast forward again to a few months later and I walk in the door first thing in the morning and my employer was frantic. He was on the phone calling a bunch of people. Turns out his photoshop girl never showed up. She never came back. SO now I had a job! YAY! right? My dream is coming true…

As a young person who didn’t know anything about life or business I had a lot to learn. My job consisted of a 40 hour work week that I would photoshop the hell out of everything I saw. I would also assist on shoots and second shoot from time to time. This is where things get dark. The weird thing for me was all the back stabbing and double crossing that went on. I would hear my employer bashing someone in the office and then act like their best buddy in person. It was super odd to me. This “high end” photographer would literally plagiarize other photographer’s work. No joke. He would literally look through a book from the VPPA before a session and copy the images out of it. He also stole some of my ideas and took credit for all the work I did for him as if I was just there to keep the chair warm. Oh yea- he also tried to convince me that I owed him $2000.00 because I filed my taxes incorrectly… Yea… it wasn’t the best place to get my learning experience from. So I quit cold turkey one day and walked out. So this was my very first experience in the industry. Was this how things are? Was this what I was supposed to act like? Is this how everyone is? All these questions going though my head and I had no one to answer them.

Having gone through this experience and not knowing what to expect as a professional in the industry I had NO idea how I should act or what the moral and ethical laws were. What I did know is that I did not want to be shady or back stabbing. It wasn’t and still isn’t in my nature. So I focused more on creating images I was proud of and creating a business I could be proud of. Ah! Back to the warm and fuzzies.

All By Myself

So I should mention that the entire time I was working for this other person I was also getting my own paying jobs. I was shooting events and weddings and families and kids and things were pretty ‘Ok’. When I quit I had no plans. I had nothing else to do and then a job fell into my lap. It had NOTHING to do with photography but it was going to pay my bills. I was going to be a glazier. What’s that you ask? It’s a person who works with glass. I’m not talking glass plates and cups. I’m talking 6 x 12 feet sheets of glass, 400 lb insulated panels, hanging off the sides of buildings in snow storms, large heavy sheets of metal and lots of things that could kill me. I’m surprised I did not die or get seriously injured. It was a high stress job with a tiny paycheck. All the while still doing photography but the work became more and more rare and it was becoming more of a hobby for me.

By this time I had met a new girl. We’ll call her “my wife” to make things easy. And also since that is what I call her now. I’ll save you all the mushy love story about how we met (on myspace) and fell in love and moved in together and bought a house. My dream of becoming a professional photographer was just that- a dream. I far distant unachievable dream. I had a sit down with my dad, who at the time was doing all my book keeping, and he told me I needed to strongly consider my future as a photographer since I wasn’t making enough money to support myself let alone a family. So now it was do or die time.

Desperation

In a last ditch effort I put out ads on craigslist and started teaching personal photography classes for a whopping $50 per class. It was nothing in terms of overall income but I was getting calls left and right. One came in from a grandmother who wanted a lesson with her grandson. My initial thought was “This is going to be interesting.” So I went and met her and realized she was extremely talented and just needed a few pointers. It was a fantastic lesson and we both had a lot of fun. After the lesson we started chatting about her son’s wedding that was coming up. They ended up hiring me for their day and the wedding couldn’t have gone any smoother. Well it turned out that the bride (Jen) was the manager at Kiln Creek Golf Club and Resort in Newport News. They loved their wedding photos so much they wanted to buy an album. We got to talking about cost of the books. She mentioned the possibility of a trade. I don’t normally like to trade but I was desperate and I would be trading the book for a spot in their bridal show. There were two bridal shows; one in the spring and one in the fall. I was in both.

The Rest is History… or the present… well this is where things got better!

The first show I was nervous. I had no idea what to expect. I showed up with a slideshow on my tv and a small three panel folding frame thingy with 8×10 prints in it. I bought it for $20 on craigslist. (I still have it in my consult room to this day) I printed a few brochures and showed up. I booked 5 weddings that day! FIVE!!! So awesome right? Especially since the year before I had only photographed five weddings total. I got home that night and immediately started googling bridal shows. I found three big ones in this area. Uniquely Yours, VOW and Show Bride. I decided to start off with a couple Show Bride shows. Guess what? Each show I booked weddings. Maybe 2 or 3 on the day and then a couple more in the coming weeks. I went from going out of business to being busier than I ever imagined. That year I ended up with 35 weddings in total. Crazy… one year it was 5 the next was 35. And its been that way ever since.

Standing on the edge and looking down

Now I have these 35 weddings booked and I was rocking and rolling. I was getting more involved in the wedding community and meeting a lot of people. When I would tell them I had been doing this for 6 years (at the time) they would always ask me “Well where have you been?” I was under a rock. If the rock were made of wrongful guidance and insecurity.

So it came time that I was so busy I did not have time to work a full time job anymore. Quite frankly I was at my wit’s end with it and was absolutely miserable. By this time I was engaged and our wedding plans had begun for the early spring. At the start of the year I set a goal to have a certain amount of weddings booked and a certain amount of income by the end of the year. Once I reached that goal I would quit my job and do photography full time. The initial plan was for it to take until December. I reached my goal by April. I ended up quitting my job a week after I was married on June 1. (which was insanely stressful). June 1st will forever be MY independence day.

Now things weren’t all roses and sunshine. I went from a steady pay check to paying myself half of what I was getting at my job. The plan was to be back to paying myself that same amount within a year. It seemed as though my wife and I had a long road of eating spaghetti and peanut butter and jelly in front of us. I ended up hitting my goal and was able to pay myself MORE than what I was making within three months of quitting my job (maybe four months I don’t really remember).

So Now What?

Good question… I’ve been doing this photography thing for about 4 years full time, now going on 5. Regardless it’s been a journey that has spanned over 17 years. Every day I remind myself of what I want to be and what I don’t want to be. It’s so easy to get caught up in drama and negativity and self doubt. I’ve found so much comfort, respect and inspiration from my peers in the industry. It’s important to surround yourself with like minded people. I have so much to thank my family for. Imagine your son telling you he wants to be a photographer and then imagine him telling you he wants you to put him through college for it. It’s kind of amazing that they let it happen. Photography isn’t one of those jobs you are automatically destined for success. Of course my wife gets a lot of credit for kicking me off the ledge and convincing me that if I jumped the fall wouldn’t be too far and I wouldn’t die when I hit the bottom.

Every day I look at what I have. My lovely adorable amazing daughter and a beautiful wife living in a dream home. Business is booming and everything is great. The hustle is still real every day. I work harder than I ever have. I don’t have days off. I take time to spend with my family. I work from home and take care of my daughter during the week while running a full time business.

It’s not easy but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

The moral of the story

I have no idea what the moral of the story here is. I’m not some sappy dude who’s going to tell you to follow your dreams and stuff because dreams come true. I will say that you should always stand up for the things you believe in. Once you discover what is worth fighting for you should fight to the death for those things. Set goals and then crush them. Make friends and surround yourself with positive like minded people.  Make your enemies love you and fear you at the same time. Don’t be a follower but instead lead by example. Be original and love what you do.