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Cyclocross Nationals in Boulder, Colorado

I spent this past weekend with my good friend, Jon, covering the 2014 Cyclocross National Championships in Boulder, Colorado. It’s no secret that I’m a huge cycling fan, so photographing a bike race is the next best thing to actually being on my bike. After three straight days of photographing races, I have to say that the thing that impressed me the most were the juniors racing up the steps, lugging bikes half their body weight or more up three flights of brutal steps. There’s a real beauty to cycling in general, but cyclocross is in a league of its own. Take all the pain and determination of road racing, add beer, cold, mud, and thousands of heckling fans, and you’ve just begun to scratch the surface of the beauty of cyclocross. Part competition, part circus: There’s really nothing like it in the world of sport. If you ever get a chance to watch a local race, you won’t be sorry! One of the real treats of the weekend was getting to cover a handful of Virginia natives who were competing in the races. Congratulations to Jared Nieters and Sam Lear, racing for SEAVS/Haymarket, and to Julie Hunter out of Richmond, VA racing for Phaup St. Journal. Next year’s championship is in Austin, TX, and I can’t wait!

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Mel and Kory’s Alexandria Engagement

Mel and Kory and I hit it off right away. They’re getting married at Woodend next year, and I can’t wait for the wedding! For their engagement, we strolled around Old Town Alexandria on a gorgeous fall afternoon. Check out their pictures below. Aren’t those some of the most infectious smiles you’ve ever seen, or what? If you’re just here for the pictures, scroll on down. But if you’re interested in the process, read on!

One of the hardest lessons that I have learned over the last eight years of documenting couples in love, is that the most successful portraits (in my mind) come about when I don’t relieve my subjects of the tension that they experience during a portrait session; Which is antithetical to everything that you’re taught as a portrait photographer, and everything that you would instinctually try to do as a compassionate human being. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make you feel uncomfortable, but early on in my career I noticed something. Oftentimes, the most genuine, sincere moments occurred between a couple right after I had taken the camera away from my eye. The photos I captured were good, but the photos that could have happened one second later would have been magic!

It took me a while to figure out that all it really took for me to capture those magical moments on a more regular basis was patience. The thing is that a lot of what we do in wedding and engagement photography feels artificial or contrived. It’s become this bizarre world where no one questions the reality of the scenario, because in a lot of ways, we’re all like raccoons. SHINY! “Oh Hey, just walking around this empty field together like we always do.” “Look at us kissing on the hood of a taxi, no big deal, we’re passionate like that.” You get the idea. I’m not making fun…those are all things I’ve done. And done well. Because the secret really isn’t that the scenario is believable. The secret is that the interaction between the couple is so genuine, that the scenario becomes believable. And for me, that took learning how to be patient. Because when I put a couple in one of those less-than-believable scenarios, I want more than anything to make them feel comfortable. But what I finally realized was that that wasn’t my job. My job, in these instances, is to remove myself from the equation, and wait for the couple to turn to each other and make themselves comfortable.  And the beauty of this is that every couple does this in a different way. Sometimes its laughter. Sometimes it’s by hugging, or kissing, or resting their heads on each other’s shoulders. It could be the subtle way that they place their hands, one on top of the other. I don’t always know how it’s going to happen, but when it does, it’s unmistakable, and I know right away that I’ve helped create something magical, and in the end, it’s what makes me fall in love with the job over and over again. That was a really wordy way of saying, I really like these photos of Mel and Kory, so thanks for indulging me!

lam - simple and neat. Great style

Amie and Jeff’s Briar Patch Wedding!

 

After a late night of hanging out by the pool for Amie and Jeff’s rehearsal, we all rolled out of bed casually at the Briar Patch Bed and Breakfast, where there were delicious pancakes and fruit and quiche waiting for us. After a long breakfast, Amie and Chloe and I headed into town to First Impressions Salon for the girls’ hair appointments. After that it was back to the Briar Patch to join the boys to get ready, and pre-ceremony portraits. It was raining off and on all morning, so we had to move the ceremony inside. However, we were fortunate enough to get a break from the rain to get some gorgeous portraits of Amie and Jeff, and the family. Amie and Jeff took a lot of care to make their wedding personal and family friendly. Awesome catering by Pizzeria Moto, flowers by Katie Martin, a bounce-pumpkin-thing, and a caricature artist were the hits of the party. Congrats Jeff and Amie!

John’s Downtown Fredericksburg Senior Portrait Session

One minute into John’s senior portrait session and I could already tell that this was going to be a different senior shoot than I had anticipated. The weather had turned gloomy, and I couldn’t get a read on John. Part of my job as a professional photographer is to connect with my subjects. Sometimes, that’s the only job. Luckily, we started with John’s passion, soccer. We tried a few static shots, when John began to dribble out of instinct. He agreed to keep dribbling for a few photos, and after that, it was as if John had stepped into the role of professional soccer player. In fact, I’m assuming Nike will be calling any day now for their next print ad. John’s a naturally thoughtful guy, and instead of trying to force him into the typical smiley senior portraits, we went with what felt most comfortable and natural for him. After all, senior portraits are supposed to be a reflection of the individual. I think the results speak for themselves, but I’m gonna go ahead and tell you that these are some of my favorite senior portraits to date.

Amie and Jeff’s Poolside Rehearsal Dinner

Back in July I had the honor of shooting my good friend Amie’s wedding. She’s an awesome photographer based out of Ashburn, VA, and I was touched to be a part of her wedding. It’s a great feeling when an esteemed colleague trusts you with their own wedding! Amie and Jeff were married at the Briar Patch Bed and Breakfast in Middleburg, which is such an awesome venue! I joined Amie and Jeff the night before the wedding at their laid back pool party rehearsal dinner at the Briar Patch, and had a blast documenting their non-traditional rehearsal.  More from their wedding day soon!

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