Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pieces of Heaven

Today has been long. We've been at the computers for nearly 12 hours now working on production and my mind has been wandering back and forth between images I am editting and images I just can't get out of my mind. Like this one:

Seriously... couldn't you just bite into these little pieces of heaven right about now? That dark chocolate coating, the rich ganache middle.. Really, truffles make any workday go well, right? For some reason we got to talking about these truffles earlier and I just can't seem to shake them now. I even have the image on the desktop at my workstation right now.

Alas, it is not to be tonight... there's some slightly old Trader Joe's chocolate in the cabinet, but nothing that compares to these beauties. This picture is from a shoot we did a few months back for an Owings Mills candy-maker named Emily. I can vividly taste the Banana Cream Dream truffle ... Nathaniel preferred... well, all of them. He's a bigger chocolate eater than me!

Sigh. And by the way, if you want to try them, Emily is a great lady. Her company is Truffles by Emily. We both are huge fans. I may soon need to call her and get a box delivered. If I last long enough for business hours to start up again!

~ Rissa

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our Dream Wedding, Part I

Yes, we are already married. Absolutely.
But we both still looooovvve weddings and always talk about our dream weddings to photograph. Things or places we want-wish-hope to come across as we go about our work of documenting weddings for couples and their families.

I really got to thinking about this after finishing my blog about the venues we've worked at. We've been lucky enough to work at some very special, very beautiful venues. A lot of them actually. I'm so grateful for that.

Still, there are a few places I dream of shooting at that simply have not come to us yet. Maybe if I put it out there, these venues or the other dream wedding stuff Nathaniel and I talk about... maybe it will happen, right? Maybe my next bride will call and say "Rissa ~ that's my wedding you're talking about!"

For me, I dream of doing a wedding at Liriodendron in Bel Air. This old mansion looks like scene from another time. I would just love shoot a wedding there. I imagine the bride is a gorgeous girl with long hair, softly swept 1/2 up, maybe to the side. She is classy ~ probably has a gown of cream lace and a bouquet of roses. Designer shoes, old wines, cake with buttercream and royal icing. I think her ring might have come from Harry Winston or Tiffany's. My Liriodendron bride is old-fashioned, charming and elegant.

I also dream about doing a garden wedding at Ladew. What incredible grounds!! My bride at Ladew is a sweet girl with a generous laugh. I imagine she's the kind of person who is okay going barefoot in the grass and is confident enough not to care. Her gown flows with light layers of silk and I see her with flowers in her soft, wavy hair. Her color pallette is lush and bold ~ to match the gardens. She's a little quirky, my Ladew bride, but that is why everyone loves her.

Nathaniel has different favorites. He loves the Peabody Library and has attended events there, but never done a wedding there. He also talks about wanting to photograph a wedding at the Walters. Actually, we both love the Walters. We've spent many happy hours wandering the halls there. And the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, too. Both of us have also heard good things about Irvine Nature Center, which offers entirely green weddings. A cause close to our hearts.

So many cool and beautiful places! Seriously, how do you ever decide?? I'm glad we got married on Nathaniel's parents' farm. If I had had to choose a place, I might still be trying to pick.

Sigh.. dream weddings. But aren't they all dream weddings, really?? No matter where they are, weddings are a day all about dreams. Dreams of happiness, beauty, contentment, fulfillment or even just plain fun. I know I was dreaming of my wedding from the time I was a little girl!

Dreaming never ends, so please stop back again...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We Get Around...

Really, it's true. We get to work all over the place, which is totally fun. And folks always want to know where we've been working, especially our brides.

So here it is! To all my brides ~ those who are looking and wondering where we have done weddings, if we've shot at your venue, if we have done a venue like yours... I am going to sit down right now and make a list. I'll even make it alphabetical. Before I go on tho... a word.

We can shoot anywhere. We have degrees in photojournalism. We have been trained and are practiced at walking into any situation and making beautiful pictures. We have worked on beaches and boats, in ballrooms, hotels and parks. Really, there aren't many kinds of wedding venues we haven't shot at. If you are getting married at a place not on this list... well, we didn't start with these all on our list. And we love working at new places! It's really fun to explore new architecture & surroundings.

These are the venues local to Baltimore we've photographed weddings or large events at. Or at least the ones I can think of off hand (there are some hotels I can picture in my mind, but can't recall the exact place...). It doesn't include private residences (duh) or venues out of daily-driving range. This also isn't churches or temples ~ that would take me even longer to list.So... here goes!

Arts Club (DC)
Baltimore Museum of Industry
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
Baltimore Waterfront Marriott
Belvedere Hotel
Black Rock Center for the Arts
Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast (VA)
Ceresville Mansion
Centennial Park
Chase Court
Chesapeake Bay Beach Club (all rooms)
Chesapeake Bay Beach Resort
Christian Clay Winery (PA)
Clearview at Horn's Point Country Club
Country Club of York (PA)
Elkridge Furnace Inn
Engineers Club
Founders Inn (VA)
Glen Echo Park
Gramercy Mansion
Grey Rock Mansion
Harbor Court Hotel
Hay-Adams Hotel(DC)
Historic Oakland Mansion
Hunt Valley Golf Club
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay
Inn at Roop's Mill
Loews Annapolis Hotel
MICA/Main Building
Matthews 1600
Montpelier Mansion
Mt. Airy Mansion
Mt. De Sales Academy
Nassau Valley Winery (DE)
Naval Academy
North Point Park/Trolley Station
Officer's Club/Ft. McNair (DC)
Overhills Mansion
Phoenix Park Hotel
Pier 5
Piney Run Park
Savage Mill/Mansion
Stonewall Golf Club (VA)
Stronghold Mansion/Sugarloaf
Tabard Inn (DC)
Ten Oaks Ballroom
University of Maryland
Watermark Yachts
Windows on the Bay
World Trade Center/Inner Harbor
Yorktowne Hotel (PA)

That's all I can think of offhand. Hopefully this is a helpful list but if you don't see what you're looking for, call! We will be glad to check out your cool new venue, and of course ~ this list will grow and change each time we do a wedding at another place!

~ Rissa

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nashville Skyline

To learn about something, you study its history. Today you are about to learn all about me, and get a little glimpse of what makes me who I am! I grew up in Nashville and I love going back there to visit. Most of my family lives around there and on my most recent visit I got to see alot of them and recharge my batteries on the family farm. This is a little bit of what I was doing while Rissa was missing me so much.This is the house that I grew up in. Most of the house was built by my Great Great Uncle Bill but the original part is a 20x20 frontier log cabin built nearly 300 years ago. Our farm was first bought by Uncle Bill and Aunt Ruby in the 1920's. This history of the farm itself is an entirely different story.
This plant was given to Rissa by her Dad on her 16th birthday. She gave it to me in 2000 when she graduated from WKU were we both went to school. I moved it to the farm in 2003 just before I followed her up here to Baltimore. The plant was about two feet tall most of life until it moved to the farm, which is quite a magical place. Now it is over 6' tall.
The cutie pie you see here is Addison Leigh Corn accompanied by my Dad. I got lots of Addie time since my brother and his wife were out of town, ironically at a wedding. She is two years old and every time I see her she talks more and more. My name is uncle camera head because whenever i see her I am taking her photos. Its funny not only how much she looks like her parents, but sometimes when I see her I feel like I am a baby again looking at my big brother.This is King. As you can see he rules the roost and can often be found keeping watch over his kingdom. He is the only cat I have ever known who comes when called. I used to go hiking and camping in the woods all the time on our 128 acre farm and he would always be right there with me. What an incredible friend!
I grew up very close to nature. Animals of all sorts were all around me. Many of the animals on our farm have grown in numbers over the years because of encroaching developments. There are so many different kinds of creatures living there I could not begin to list them all. My love of nature and desire to preserve it comes from this close relationship. Our company trying to be as green as possible comes from a long history, not a passing fad. I, much like many other photographers, love photographing nature. This seems an odd off season shot too but there is a drought in Tennessee so a tulip poplar had shed some of its leaves. I loved the stark contrast of the color on the dark black shale. One of my dreams is to have a book or two of nature photographs so hopefully this shot will have a home in that dream one day.This is my grandfather Jack Corn, the man who inspired me to be a photographer. He is standing in his woodshed were he just showed me an incredible dining room table he made out of cherry for Rissa and I. He is going to bring it sometime this month and I am so excited. On the right is Trey, my cousin looking like a typical Corn farmboy in a long line of Corn farmboys. I see him sitting in a spot I was in so many years ago and I really start to feel some terrible cliche´come on like, "I remember when I was that age." or "I can't believe how old I'm getting." Its true I see him and remember how much fun it was to be that age and how much trouble his dad and I got in, but I don't regret being older now. I truly appreciate every stage of life and every season. Wishing I was young again would only make the present years go by faster and be less fruitful. This way I can look back as an old man and be truly happy with the time I took advantage of now, just as I am truly happy of the time I took advantage of in my youth.

Doing Double Time

We were more than a little anxious for the latest issue of Brides Maryland to come out.

See, a few months ago, a reporter from Brides interviewed Nathaniel about his assemblage, so we were on pins and needles waiting to see the finished story! He had to go thru an interview process via both phone and email (it's hard to explain the experience of viewing a finished assemblage if you don't see one in person, they are very dramatic!). Then he submitted various assemblage for publication consideration and a few weeks passed and an editor at the magazine called for fact-checking.

Then we just waited and waited to see the article. It's like waiting for Christmas when you are a kid, it seems to take forever for the day to arrive!

Anyhow, to our surprise, not only was Nathaniel's artwork featured on page 188 of the magazine in an article called "A Work of Art" ~ but my photo was on page 205, with Ashley Riddle from Up Do's for I Do's! All three of us were at a networking party last spring at Linganore Winecellars. Honestly, I don't remember posing for the photo, but hey ~ there we are!! Ashley and I are "Rustic Chic."

So, if you're flipping thru Brides Maryland, be sure to check us out ~ we're doing double time in the magazine this month!
~ Rissa

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Nathaniel has been in Tennessee for the better part of this week visiting family & friends. Which left me alone, but far from lonely. Our assistants and clients have been coming and going. There have been shoots and production to work on, of course.

And when Nathaniel leaves, I always have his garden. This time of year, it's almost like every flower is smiling up and me as I walk out for the mail or into the backyard. He even has flowers that bloom in moonlight! And of course, they are full of the love with which Nathaniel tends them with: strong, healthy, vibrant, lush.

Just before he left he cut enough flowers to fill up ~ no kidding ~ 14 vases and place them all around the house. Gladiolas, black-eyed susans, even peach colored roses greeted me at every turn. (I truly hope all women are this spoiled by their husbands!)

I was out in the garden earlier drinking my usual green tea and saw this not-so-usual stunner of a flower. I have to admit, I don't know what variety or type of flower this is. But I loved it.

When I looked at it, I saw Nathaniel.

I can't wait to pick him up at the airport today!

~ Rissa

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Gone in 60 Seconds

When we got married, I did my best to avoid shopping for a wedding dress by having a custom gown made. There are times tho, when I wonder if I missed a really fun experience. It must be cool to walk into a dress shop and sip champagne while an attentive sales associate ooohhhs-and-ahhhhs over every swish of satin.

Or maybe it would have been fun to do something a little more aggressive. Like go to the annual wedding dress event at Filene's Basement. They call it the "running of the brides" because it has been compared to the running of the bulls in Spain. I can only imagine.

This year's Maryland dress event at Filene's is in Towson on July 11th. That is soon. The D.C. store is having theirs on August 1st. I am tempted to go to one of these... just to experience it. They say the deals are so insane that literally all the racks are emptied in 60 seconds and that employees have to hold the fixtures so nothing topples over. Dress that normally would cost between $900 and $9000+ are on sale for $249 to $699.

Filene's website says that each store carries between 1300 and 2500 wedding gowns on the day of the sale. And apparently, brides line up outside on lawn chairs waiting for the doors to open. Some have as many as 3 or 4 helpers along, too. I have to say, those are devoted pals.

Interestingly, the website also points out that if you go later in the day, like at 5pm, your chances of getting a dress are still excellent. But be sure to go to Filene's website ~ you should read the rules of trading etiquette and so forth before you go. I was sure surprised to learn there are ways to "trade" for dresses in other brides' discard piles or even that some brides and their helpers wear matching uniforms and carry walkie-talkies.

To those brides running this year... I wish you luck! May you find the dress of your dreams for a bargain. And may you find it fast ~ it may be gone in 60 seconds!


Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Salads of Summer

So you already know since my very first post on our blog was about wine, I love wine. But that's not all. What else do I love that goes great with wine? Chocolate, yes. Cheese, yes. Lounging around with friends, yes. All of these are fabulous pairings for a rich and happy life.

The point I am really trying to get to is that I also love great food. I love to cook and eat wonderful food. I thought I would share today's offering.
I grew up on a farm in Tennessee and we always had lush gardens this time of year. If you come to visit us and see our front or backyards you will see how that has carried on in Catonsville! This time of year my absolute favorite thing to eat on a hot summer day is a huge salad piled high with lettuce, herbs and flowers from my garden. Herbs don't only taste good, they have loads of health benefits. There are also lots of flowers, both common and uncommon, that are edible and quite delicious. Daylilies, nasturtium, pansies, hibiscus and chrysanthemums are just a few of the tasty delights you may have right in your yard. Also, if your herbs or lettuce goes to flower, usually the flowers taste similar to the herbs themselves. Arugula flowers are just as flavorful and peppery as the arugula itself.

Salads alone can be boring, but add to them a big pile of fresh herbs and they become quite amazing. You can see here my lunch from today...
The ingredients from my garden were:
Mixed lettuces
Arugula & Arugula flowers
Thyme & Thyme flowers
Yarrow & Yarrow flowers
Lemon Basil
Onion flowers
Garlic flowers
Elecampane flowers
Lavender flowers (not too many unless you're looking to take a nap after lunch!)

Also I made a fresh salad dressing that you might like to try:

2 tablespoons soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon Veganaise (or mayonnaise)
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of ume´ plum vinegar
Fresh cracked pepper
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Chef's note: The above measurements are estimates because I don't typically cook with measuring cups. Also, you can find ume´ plum vinegar at Whole Foods or Roots. It is the key element in making the dressing so yummy!

Here is a favorite homemade salad dressing of Rissa's too:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne
Heat oil and cumin in a small pan over low heat about two minutes until cumin is fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl and combine with other ingredients.


Thank You Calendar

Giving back has always been important to us. Last summer when we got an email from the Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, asking for donations of items like deodorant, shampoo and gum for wounded soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, we wanted to help. But we wanted to do more than just send a few bottles of shampoo and some packs of gum, we wanted to find a way to raise more funds than we could donate to this cause AND to let the soldiers and veterans there know that folks were thinking of them.

Enter the Thank You Calendar. We decided to create a project to answer all those needs and more. We photographed a 12-month calendar featuring All-American girls in familiar scenes from home, like by a Christmas tree, fishing from a pier, baking cookies or on a picnic. The models all volunteered their time and were selected for their wholesome looks. Some were professional models, others had never been photographed beyond school pictures. Hair and make-up guru Ashley Riddle, owner of Up Do's for I Do's, also volunteered her time and talents to make the models look incredible.

Next came Jackie Geyer. Jackie was already working on a similar project and mailing it to two soldiers stationed in Iraq. She was taking her Olympus point-and-shoot camera everywhere with her and getting photos of all sorts of everyday people holding a hand-written sign that simply read "Thank You."

We all connected via Ashley. Nathaniel & I work with Ashley in both the wedding and headshots business. She has beautified brides and actors and models ~ and even us ~ for pictures. Ashley introduced us to Jackie, who is her aunt, and the two projects fit together perfectly. Jackie's "thank you" photos were inserted into the calendar in the empty day spaces and gave the pages real life and lots of personality.

The 2008 calendar raised just over $2,000 for wounded veterans. We were thrilled the project was such a success in its first year!! All funds were donated to Maryland for Our Military, a 501c devoted to supporting soldiers and their families at Walter Reed. It is headed by Kathy Ratti, an incredible woman with passion for the cause and endless amounts of energy. We all have huge amounts of respect and admiration for her!

So, we are now working on production of the Thank You Calendar for 2009! All the models have been photographed and the smaller "thank you" pictures are almost all done as well. The newly updated website will be launched soon, so check back often!

We will need publishing sponsors again this year, so let us know if you or your company are interested in helping to support the cause!

Happy July 4th to all and a special thanks to those who have served ~

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

We Heart Kelly

We meet and photograph hundreds (maybe thousands, if you include wedding guests) of people over the course of any 365 day period. We love it when we get to see folks over and over, though. It's as if we become part of their lives and our pictures are woven into their story.

Kelly is one of those people. We first photographed her in 2006 when we did a set of black and white actor headshots for her. She's a friend of a friend ~ our pilates teacher Maggie is friends with Kelly, who is also a pilates teacher.

Anyhow, we had the pleasure of photographing Kelly in spring 2006 with hair & make-up by airbrush artist, Leah DeLacy. Kelly used the pictures for her acting headshots and a few to promote her pilates classes.We loved her headshots so much, she was one of four faces on our advertising to actors for the next two years. Out of the hundreds of pictures in our portfolio, Kelly's images brought us lots of new headshot business, perhaps more than any other. Many new females clients came in and said "I want to look like that blonde on the flyer!" (Thanks Kelly, for being the face of Balance Headshots!) Kelly's pictures became part of our story, part of our work ~ just as much as the headshots we did were part of hers.

Earlier this year, we were excited to work with Kelly again ~ this time, to make pictures of her with her husband, Garth. We did their portraits at Patapsco State Park. The entire shoot went so well, I could have chosen almost any photo to post here! They were a blast to work with and the images are almost ethereal. Take a look...And then Kelly needed new acting headshots. We photographed her a few weeks ago, this time in color with make-up by Kim Reyes. Kelly looks like she belongs on CSI Miami, right?
One of the things we love about our work is clients like Kelly. People we see again and again, whose images become meaningful on unexpected levels. We never know when we meet someone in life where that meeting will lead. We never knew Kelly's beautiful face ~ her stunning headshots ~ would bring so much good into our lives, not only on a professional level, but also on a personal level.

Thanks Kelly and Garth for coming back to us over and over, for trusting us with images for your personal and professional lives. I hope you enjoy your pictures for years to come & we look forward to seeing you both again!
~ Rissa