Thursday, November 27, 2008

December Deals

So, are you holding one of these cards? Wondering what we're talking about on the back -- the great holiday deal? Well, read on friends!

Nathaniel & I adore Black Friday. We develop a strategy on Thanksgiving, then get up at 4am on Friday, drive to pre-planned stores and tag team thru the aisles. It's like full contact holiday shopping. We just love it.

In the fabulous shopping tradition that is Black Friday, we've decided to enter the fray this year. We always offer a December sale on something, but this year... we're doing a crazy mad deal. On Friday morning only.

And now it's past. The deal is over. But the December sales still apply. So props to those who got here in time, and for the rest... we still love you. And you still get the December Deals. : )

the Recessionista boudoir shoot
$125 + MD state sales tax
includes a 1 hour shoot at the studio, one look, private-password protected proofing website and one custom retouched 8x10 display print of gorgeous you; additional prints, products or styling may be purchased a la carte

the holiday family shoot
$175 + MD state sales tax
includes a one hour shoot with any number of family members; private-password protected proofing website and two custom retouched 8x10 display prints of your adorable family; additional prints, products or services may be purchased a la carte

The December Specials will be available from today thru the end of December. Call us now to book your special session and get prints back in time for Santa to deliver! We'll be at 443.904.6743.

Happy Black Friday!
~ Rissa

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving, from all of us

It's so simple in the course of everyday life to lose site of what we are grateful for, the things & people that inspire us. We become wrapped up in our routines, errands, beltway traffic and other elements of our own personal drama. Like tunnel vision, reality closes in tightly and so many people forget the good parts.

We are all reminded at least one day a year to give thanks. To give thanks for a bountiful meal with friends & family, to give thanks to the brave men & women who founded our great nation. And to give thanks for turkeys. Gobble, gobble.

But gratitude is a deeply personal emotion. To explain what you are grateful for ~ what moves you and motivates you, what makes you get up in the morning and puts a spring in your step ~must be done in one's own words.

So this Thanksgiving, the four of us at balance photography are going to tell you - each in our own words, what we are grateful for this year.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all~ we wish you a peaceful and bountiful holiday!

It seems that everyday I find myself “wanting” something (and I’m positive I’m not the only one... haha) And with all this wanting it’s very easy to forget about everything I DON’T want…because of things I already have. I could go on for days – but I’d like to give thanks for all the things I don’t want –

First of all…I don’t want another Prince Charming. Ryan Eby is easily the greatest and most influencial thing that has ever happened to me. “Love of my LIFE” doesn’t come close to expressing the insane amount of love and admiration I have for him. He inspires me every single day, and without him, I wouldn’t have SO many other things in my life that I “don’t want”….LIKE….

My New Job!!!! Well…not so new anymore…and of course I’m referring to balance photography and more specifically Rissa and Nathaniel. If it weren’t for Ryan, I would have never found myself living in South Baltimore in a great little row house for an insanely cheap rent. I’m so grateful that Ryan got Ashley Riddle’s card for me, and I gave her a call after thoroughly exploring her website (Up Do's for I Do's) which directed me to balance boudoir…which quickly prompted me to fall in love with Rissa’s incredible work, then Nathaniel’s..respectively (as he does not help on boudoir shoots ;-) ) I wrote her an e-mail expressing my admiration and awe of her pictures, and since I was referred by Ashley they expedited my initial interview and hired me that day. I was say the is my passion in life. I never imagined that just 1 year out of college I’d be “living my dream”! Corny but true…Rissa and Nathaniel also inspire me everyday, encourage me to be better, and let me express myself through graphic design and photography. WOW – I couldn’t ask for more! Ooh but the icing on the cake – they are absolutely AWESOME and spending time with them is like hanging out with my best friends. And you know I’m not blowing smoke up your butts… I Love You guys!!! Thank you for letting me live my dream!

Something that I’ve never wanted – another family. My mom and dad have molded me into the driven, successful person I am today. My dad is the hardest working man I’ve ever known (although Ryan’s a veryyy close second) We drive each other crazy sometimes..but that’s because we’re both perfectionists and are almost exactly alike…Oooh and neither one of us is EVER wrong ;-) My mom has never let me down..she will bend over backwards, go out of her way, cancel her plans, whatever just to make sure me, my brother and my dad are happy and comfortable. It’s never gone un-noticed to me, though I may not have always said it – I’m thankful everyday for the love and goodhearted kindness she has instilled in me. And my brother…haha…my 13 year-old brother…well I love him very very very much..even though I definitely don’t say that enough because we are usually pushing each other's buttons and bickering.

And to wrap it up…I don’t want another little beagle – Sierra has become my baby, and I didn’t think it was possible to love a dog so damn much…but her big floppy ears and sad eyes warm my heart!

On a quicker note – I’m thankful for cookies & cream gelato, Chik-Fil-A, garlic knots, my new engagement ring(!), my amazing gym, my good health of course and being born in the grand ol’ U-S-of A!!! Happy Turkey Day Everyone!!!!!

As a college student, I feel like people think I'm supposed to be "having fun" and "living only for today." Carpe diem and all that. And of course, keeping my grades up at the same time. Unfortunately, I usually find myself impatiently waiting for every class to end and every Monday to go by faster; I'm always impatient for Saturday.

I had to change something in my life. I decided to start a ritual for myself: thanking God for the falling leaves, for 50% off sales, for an extra hour of sleep. Little things I am grateful for.

Don't get me wrong. I still count down the seconds on the clock until my algebra class is over, but I have a better appreciation and more love for each day and each little miracle that passes my way.

Some things I am grateful for... living in a country with Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion; toilet paper (ha ha... but seriously...); my roommate; the smell of garlic simmering in olive oil; the chance to attend college and be educated; Italian food; photography; wedding cake and dark chocolate; people who care; every little thing that reminds me how much bigger life is than our human stresses.

Blessings for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Every moment is a blessing. Everywhere I look, there is something or someone to be grateful for...
Warm towels right out of the dryer
Houses with heat, AC, electric, plumbing
Lochrima (our greyhound)
Seashells found on the beach
Hot green tea
My grandmother's laugh
Working side-by-side with Nathaniel everyday
My Nikons & all the other fun toys we play with
Soy candles ~ available even at Target now
Our clients
How easy it has become to find veggie burgers at restaurants
Burts Bees almond hand cream
Word-find puzzles
The sound wine glasses make when they clink during toasts
Volunteers. All of them ~ Red Cross, Animal Rescue, Crossing Guards ~
Cookbooks with color pictures
Sunrise light
Hearing someone's good news
Homegrown veggies from the yard
Kitchen timers
Long dangling earrings
Photoshop actions
Avocado sandwiches on wheat toast
Pink cell phones, fluffy slippers and lip gloss
The scent of cookies in the oven
High heels
Pottery made on a wheel
Talking with a friend for hours
Calculators (thank heaven!)
A goodnight kiss from Nathaniel
Public parks
Nurses, Hairstylists, Vets & Accountants ~ I would be lost without your services!
Mac laptops
Fresh flowers in a vase
Our time with Brit & Josiecat
All the branches on the road that landed me here, today
Food Network & History Channel & remote control
Silly plush dog toys -- and dogs in sweaters
Down comforters
Books -- lots and lots of books
Old mosaics
Art & Music in public schools

I am so grateful to wake up every morning, living my life. My job is amazing, my husband is incredible and always by my side. We have a home we love, a cute little car and a totally sweet dog. On this holiday, I wish everyone good health, good fortune and a wonderful meal with someone (or someones) you love.
Happy Thanksgiving ~

Little things in life make me happy. Little things that happen every day that many people take for granted. I am thankful for everyday life.
Hot coffee in the morning.
Warm grilled cheeze for lunch.
Good conversation and wine.
Cast Iron griddles and skillets.
Fresh lemonade.
Sweet scented candles.
A warm bed and a snuggling hound dog.
A woman who treats you like a king.
For people who smile and laugh with me at the post office when everyone else is grumpy.
For teenagers who have respect.
For the mailman and ups man who always wave, smile and say hi.
For friends who call just to chat.
For teachers with passion.
For flowers.
For art.
For love.
For being loved.

The things we have in our lives are amazing. Our wealth is beyond any I have ever seen in any other part of the world. It is amazing how we come into this world in a place we didn't choose. I count a thousand blessings daily for being an American, having the opportunities and freedoms that go along with that.

The thing I feel the most blessed and grateful for is my family. Even though they are 700 miles away I think about them every day. No matter where I go their love is with me and my love with them. Each one has shaped and influenced my life in some way and is a part of me and who I am. So if you think I'm crazy you have these people to blame! I see the faces of my family and take their spirits with me wherever I go. They are my source of unconditional love and there is no end to the love in my heart for them.

Although most of my family is down south, the most important part is right here with me, my wife. I am grateful for her loving me in all my craziness. I am so lucky to have such an incredible woman by my side.

I am grateful to be free to follow my dreams and live them every day of my life. To do what I want to do, be who I want to be, have the family I have, and walk through life with my incredible wife, I am the luckiest man I know.

The Corn Family, photo by Jack Corn


Pumpkin Pie (or Why I Married My Husband)

Every family has their own holiday traditions. Some traditions are very specific, others are broadly accepted and personalized by everyone. Pumpkin pie is one of those things for sure. Everyone has a memory of pumpkin pie, right?

Nathaniel's family, most of whom are in Tennessee, have this wonderful tradition of real pumpkin pies. Not that frozen crap you buy at Giant. But real pumpkin pie.

No joke. I think this is one of the reasons I married Nathaniel. His off-the-hook pumpkin pie. A million years ago, he walked into the college photo lab carrying a homemade pumpkin pie that he had baked himself. And I mean seriously homemade ~ the crust was hand-rolled; the pumpkin was grown at home and baked to the perfect sweetness. Nathaniel's pies are the real deal. Until you have a real homemade pie with non-canned pumpkin, you just haven't lived a full life.

As I type this, Nathaniel is in the kitchen right now toiling over his annual batch of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies. In addition to the ones he makes for us, he now has to make several for my grandmother. She adores his pies. She starts asking for them in August.

So for the first time ever, here is Nathaniel's pumpkin pie recipe. It is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. And worth every second.

Nathaniel’s Pumpkin Pie
(Makes 2, one for you and one more for you!)

4 cups cooked fresh pumpkin (see notes below)
4 eggs
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup natural unprocessed sugar
1 T cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t allspice
1 t vanilla extract
2 pre-baked pie crusts (your favorite - we do whole wheat)

Combine wet ingredients. Mash pumpkin but don’t puree. Add dry ingredients. Mix together and pour into pie crusts. Bake for 15 minutes @ 425 degrees. Turn oven back to 350 and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and chill before serving!

Nathaniel reminds me to tell you all that it's also good with crushed & toasted almonds on top or the traditional whipped cream. Or to mix things up, add a handful of chocolate chips into the batter before baking. He says that if you can't find pumpkins to bake, you can also use butternut squash or sweet potatoes in the same ratios for this recipe.

How to cook pumpkin:
For two pies, you will need 3 sugar pumpkins or a large carving pumpkin. Scoop out the innards of the pumpkin and slice flesh into palm size chunks. Place flesh side down in baking dish half full of water. Bake in oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool then peel the skin off. You are ready to make pie or you can freeze the pumpkin and make pies later!

Don’t forget to save and roast your seeds!
~ Rissa

Monday, November 24, 2008

Italian Food and Supermodels

You always hear stories of supermodels being "discovered" in the grocery store by some fashion mogul. Every girl has heard this story and secretly always wishes that one day out of the blue it would happen to her. The truth is that this rarely ever happens. One out of 10,000 girls is actually found this way. The rest have to claw their way to top on an empty stomach.

But seriously, that one that is "discovered" is amazing. They photograph like magic and there is something about them that captures you when you look into their picture.

Enter Bridgette. She was out with her family eating dinner at Chef Paolino (our favorite Italian place) Little did she know that Rissa and I saw her from across the room and couldn't stop talking about how stunning she was. We think you will agree she has supermodel written all over her.

We had to photograph her. And we did. We got to her first. So when you start seeing her on the covers of fashion magazines and in advertisments, remember -- you saw her here first.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guests at the Party? Us?

Everyone knows we go to lots of weddings. But until a few weeks ago, Nathaniel & I had never actually attended a wedding together as guests. Crazy, right? We've been talking for years about how incredibly fun it would be to attend the wedding of a friend -- without the job of creating their photographs.

See, we've made a rule to our pals that we will attend their wedding as guests or they can hire us and we will document it for them. But we don't "just come and hang out, but also take all the pictures." Being the photographer whose job it is to cover a wedding is no small deal. Asking someone to both be a guest and the official photographer is, in our experience, truly impossible.

At a wedding five years ago, Nathaniel was a groomsman. In addition to being a groomsman and all that entailed, he was also trying to shoot it with me. We have a pretty airtight system for covering every angle of a wedding perfectly. The two of us can move like a well-oiled machine. But with Nathaniel out-of-play at this wedding on so many essential moments, it left only me to cover as one person what we normally do as two. The pictures were still lovely & our friends were thrilled, but to make a long story short, after that wedding the either/or rule happened. We just didn't think it was fair to have only part of our usual photographic coverage for our friends.

Since then, we have been at many friends' weddings ~ as their photographers. But we have not gotten to just sit down, enjoy a meal, dance ~ we were constantly working for our friends and family on their special days. It was an honor to document those weddings, still, someplace inside, you still wonder what it would be part of the party, not only recording it...

What a different experience it is to be a wedding guest!

This is us as wedding guests and yes, Nathaniel is hiding a camera in his left hand!

Our friend Ken recently got married to his adorable lady, Nelly. And he insisted we come and just have fun. Ken himself is a wedding vendor, so he gets it, the whole "come-be-a-guest-and-also-work" thing. It's not really a realistic request and he truly understands why we feel that way from his own life experiences in the industry.

So we arrive at Ken's wedding and our first impulse was to look for good angle for the ceremony. Duh. We had to remind ourselves -- we're not working at this one. The ceremony began and two times, I jumped out of my seat and lunged to the edge of the aisle to get a shot of the bride (yes, I admit it, we both had cameras!). Darn Rissa -- you're not working, relax! Alas, we stopped fighting it and took photos whenever we felt like it. Making sure, of course, to stay out of the way of Ken & Nelly's hired photogs and videographers.

We had to really focus on being guests and not photographers. We gave each other a pep talk at the cocktail hour and decided to refocus our efforts on being awesome guests. The kind of guests that make great images for the hired photogs & videographers. We stood and applauded the toasts; we cheered on the cake cutting; we danced all night. Turns out that being a guest at the party is quite a lot fun!

And in the mix a little, we still took quite a few pictures, without the pressure of being the official photographers. : )

Congrats Ken & Nelly ~ oh, and we have some photos from the wedding for you! Thank you both for inviting us to be part of your special day ~ and giving us the freedom to enjoy it as your friends!
~ Rissa

Friday, November 21, 2008

3-2-1 Liftoff

We have yet another website!

Folks have been telling us for ages that moving between all our various websites is either confusing, difficult or even impossible. So we've solved the problem.

Introducing the balance photography portal page at

It links to all our different sites and gives you a little preview of what you'll find on each. There's also a preview of what our next two new websites will be in 2009: a new headshots-fashion-commerical page to replace our original site from 2005 and a dedicated family & seniors webpage. But more about that later.

First, let's just bask in the glory of the portal page. Nathaniel worked really hard to make it happen. The rollover buttons are my favorite part. Check it out.

~ Rissa

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wedding Nightmares/Dreams 2

As the end of the wedding season 2008 is moving in on us, I felt it was time for another installment of Wedding Dreams & Nightmares. This is about mistakes brides make and they could have prevented if only they had listened... And because there is so much to dish about, this is a series. Last time we wrote about hairstylists from hell and also interviewed the fabulous hairstylist from heaven, Ashley Riddle.

No other wedding vendor sees everything that the photographer sees. We are there all day ~ from the make-up in the morning thru the clearing of the tables at the end of the night. Photographers seriously have the inside scoop on other wedding vendors. Oh -- and we have the pictures to back it up. : )

Today, we're groovin to the beat. Today's topic is disc jockeys.

In doing the research for this blog, I noticed there really isn't much out there to guide brides (or other folks shopping for a DJ) on how to hire a DJ or what questions to ask. Being a photographer, we're accustomed to clients showing up with lengthy lists of "must-ask" questions from the Knot designed specifically to help brides interview potential shooters. In one hour online, I couldn't find any such list for DJs. What gives with that? I can tell you firsthand, there are some incredible Dream DJs out there ~ and some downright disgraceful Derelict DJs, too.

What is so bad, you ask? How could playing music get screwed up? Well, try this one on: We were at a wedding where the DJ took off his shirt (bare chest - hairy belly and all) and starting spanking the bride's bottom in the middle of the dance floor. Nathaniel & I exchanged glances... just waiting for the groom or the bride's dad to start throwing punches. Flip to an elegant wedding at the Belvedere. Very posh, very upscale. And when it was time for the bride and groom to cut the cake, the DJ puts on "My Humps" by the Black-Eyed Peas. He hadn't even noticed the couple had started cutting the cake. You should see the photos of their faces and the faces of folks behind them.

These are just a few offerings from our archives of the many Derelict DJs we have had the bad luck of working with.

Enter John Paul Berry. He is a DREAM DJ. John Paul is the vice president of Absolute Entertainment and has been in the DJ business for more than a decade. We love working with him. He stopped by this afternoon and I interviewed him for this blog. (Thanks for your time, John Paul!)

"People come in and ask me if I have blow-up toys and props, if I talk into the mike through songs or jump into all the pictures and my only comment is 'Who are these people?' " he said.

According to John Paul, all of his clients have a pre-conceived notion of what they are looking for in a DJ. Do you want a party-starter? Do you want someone who isn't going to talk at all? What's your fit?

"My style is to be more of a coordinator at the wedding," he said. "I am running the reception and creating a customized event where the music itself will be a reflection of the bride and groom to their guests. That's what keeps it interesting for me. If I had to roll out the same canned set of songs for 60 weddings a year, it would be boring."

John Paul does the booking for not just his own shows, but also many of the other DJs that are employed at Absolute Entertainment. When someone is shopping for a DJ, he says the right fit is important, and you should insist on a face-to-face meeting at some point in the planning process.

Because shopping for a DJ is a new concept to me, as well as to most brides, I asked what people should be looking for. It’s clear there are no standards to go by, and it’s difficult to know what someone’s style is like from a website or phone call.

“It’s hard to say how you can know a good DJ from a bad one, because there are DJs out there who are just going through the motions,” he said. “A lot of DJs are meeting clients at coffee shops or bookstores with their laptop and it’s really hard to get a feel for their style in that scenario. You have to wonder if you’re comparing apples to apples when you’re meeting with people.”

John Paul always does a live mixing demo at his office when he meets with people. He thinks it’s an ideal way for clients to see him in action and get a feel for how he plays music. And because DJing it his full time business, John Paul devotes a good deal of time to keeping up with technology and new trends.

“We’re getting more into wireless systems now, and the lighting we can offer is great, too. I just saw pictures from a wedding where they used our dance floor lights and it looked very chic and sexy,” he said.

Talented DJs are in high demand in the wedding, party and corporate worlds ~ so even though magazines say 4 to 6 months before the Big Day is the ideal time to book a DJ, you should not wait if you want to get a Dream DJ like John Paul. During busy months, like May, June, September and October, good DJs can book a year or more in advance for Saturday nights. For example, John Paul booked two of his weddings for October 2009 in August of 2008. If your wedding is during an off-month/off-day, you may have a little more flexibility and still may be able to get a great DJ 4 to 6 months before your event.

One of the most common things associated with wedding DJs is the play list. We’ve been at weddings where brides were so strict with the play list that songs were looped two times and no requests from guests were allowed. Needless to say, that’s not fun for anyone but the bride.

John Paul suggests that requiring too strict of a play list is like handcuffing the DJ.

“What happens if the song doesn't fit the audience? I like to have a play list, I tell my brides I’ll use it as a guide. I tell them circle things you like, put stars next to songs you love and cross out the ones you hate.”

The don’t-play list is more important to him, he said, than the do-play list.

“Based on my experience, I can know what the couple will like. But this is the United States, the melting pot of the world. I need to be able to make everyone happy and play the music the guests will respond to. It’s important never to tell a guest that the bride thinks their song request is lame or corny. If a guest makes a request on the bride’s don’t play list, I allow them to make another selection off the bride’s favorite list,” he explained.

Because America is a melting pot, many DJs are faced with blending cultures at an event. This takes experience, finesse and education to pull off. And we’ve seen inexperienced DJs totally flop at this very thing. At weddings where there was a meeting of two cultures and one was exotic, like Turkish or Vietnamese, a DJ who can’t successfully balance both traditions will not keep the guests engaged.

“At (Absolute) we love doing multi-cultural events. It’s an exciting challenge to put together a reception that will truly please everyone,” said John Paul. “ Saying ‘I’ll play some Latin music’ is about as descriptive as saying ‘I’ll play some American music.’ What does that mean? American music is as different as country to metal. It’s not different in other cultures. You can’t stereotype it by saying ‘Oh, Latin music – sure, I’ll play some Ricky Martin.’ ”

Our final question to John Paul and one of the worst things we’ve seen at weddings… iPods. Nathaniel & I have been to several weddings this year where there was no entertainment of any kind but an iPod plugged into a dock with speakers. Inevitably, no one dances or gets into the reception at all. Frequently, guests leave early.

“An iPod wedding is one of the worst things you can do,” he agrees. “What happens is that it’s difficult to manage playlist, your iPod doesn’t make announcements or run your party for you. You just can't predict the people at any reception. Every wedding, every crowd is different.”

In closing, you must find a Dream DJ for your wedding. Do it for yourself, do it for your guests, do it so your grandma is not subjected to "My Humps" when you cut your wedding cake. Find someone you trust, someone you feel in tune with. Someone who will take care of you and your event.

“A good DJ will go far beyond playing songs from a list. They will meet and exceed your expectations,” John Paul said. “I spend the time before an event and do the work so I can really get into the couple's world. I treat each event like the special day that it is for the couple and their families.”

You can find John Paul, as well as his awesome colleagues, Ken and Jason at Absolute Entertainment. They are all three Dream DJs and their company is based in Linthicum. We also adore Chris at Beat2Beat, who is based out of Catonsville.

Rock on

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shady Photographers

What is the deal with CSI and shady photographers?

Though we don't watch tons of TV, Nathaniel & I are big fans of CSI. I love the Miami version and he likes Gary Sinse's crew in New York the best. But what do the writers of CSI have against professional photographers?

The first episode I ever saw of CSI, the villan was a fashion photographer who was raping models and killed one. Though I loved the CSI concept and the filming was gorgeous, I was so annoyed by this cliche "bad photographer" storyline, I didn't watch the show again for many months. So, I sit down to watch CSI again... and hey-hey, how ironic -- the villan is a wedding photographer murdering couples on their first anniversary! And then I saw my first episode of the New York CSI and check this out: a food photographer was killing people in wheelchairs.

It's been awhile since these three shows, and I had forgiven CSI. We were finally forging a better relationship, me and crew down in Miami. Until last night, when a family portrait photographer kidnapped a baby. GEEZ! Why do the CSI writers despise us, the professional photographers of the world??

We know lots of professional photographers. All over the country, even some in other parts of the world. They have all sorts of specialties, from weddings to commerical to fashion to photojournalism to baby portraits. They are all hard-working people. They have families, homes, dogs, car payments. They just happen to take pictures as a profession.

In every profession, in every walk of life there are always a few bad apples... people who are shady in one way or another. It's true, yes, that there are some shady photographers out there. But there are shady everythings out there and it's not like all photographers are shady! Seriously, we know hundreds of photographers. None are murderers or baby-nappers or rapists!

Our photographer friends are good, honest, real folks. They spend hours and hours in front of computers so clients look magazine-gorgeous. They carry 30+ pounds of lenses and lights and equipment around on jobs. They deal with parts of this profession I will not even talk about here, but I can tell you -- it's not all glamour by any stretch of the imagination! I've seen a photographer friend spend so much time in front a computer doing Photoshop, his eye burst a blood vessel. (Our rule with the computers here is that when our eyes are burning or watering, we step away from the computers... but that's still not pleasant!)

This job is fun -- it's true, but it is hard work! If spent all day plotting crimes and avoiding the police, there wouldn't be much time for making pictures, production work, answering emails, designing albums, or other functions of the business.

Interestingly, the CSI writers aren't the only folks out there who think photographers are shady. We were at a Barnes & Noble Bookseller recently to browse around. We sat down with some books and one I selected was a recently published guide for brides about hiring wedding vendors. I flipped open to the chapter on wedding photography and the first sentance said "Brides should know that wedding photographers are lazy and dishonest by nature." This is a direct quote and no -- I'm not going to plug her book for her by sharing the title -- I was furious that she published such a load of crap!

Maybe her wedding photographer was lazy and dishonest, but I don't know any who are, and I know dozens. In the words of our wedding photographer friend John, "People somehow get the idea that wedding photographers make a killing but most of us just make a living." It's true! Nathaniel & I regularly work 10 to 14 hour days (not to mention the hours worked by Josie & Brittany), sometimes answering as many as 100 emails in a day, processing and retouching thousands of pictures a week, running the business and many other tasks. If we were lazy, we would have been out of business years ago. If we were dishonest, the government would have caught up by now with our paperwork. And if we were killing people, you wouldn't be reading this right now.

So, please, give the professional photographers a little breather. We are regular folks doing our jobs.
~ Rissa

PS... Here is a shot of Nathaniel & Brittany at a crime scene, covering the evidence...I mean, uh, getting some cool angles at a recent wedding. Same difference.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Make Peace with Your Butt

Growing up I was really shy. I mean, seriously shy. There were days that went by in elementary school when I spoke only when spoken to by a teacher. The responses were probably in a whisper. Getting past my shyness was a lifelong challenge. In high school I forced myself to become a tour guide & talked to strangers in small museum. At 18, I moved to New York City and had to talk to people ~ lots of people. At 20, I got a job as a newspaper reporter and had to not only approach random strangers and talk to them, I had to get quotes from them and write about it. So believe me, no one understands shyness better than me.

That said, it is surprising to a lot of people when they learn that in my 20s, I was also a professional bellydancer. No joke. I took years of dance lessons, practiced for hours ~ and never intended to become a performer. It was supposed to be for fun and exercise. That all changed though when I saw a bellydancer on stage named Piper. She was elegant, fluid, beautiful, classic. Piper's dancing took my "fun exercise" and elevated it to a timeless, feminine, exquisite art form. She was so amazing, she made me want to perform publicly.

This was a huge step to me. Dancing in front of people ~ but doing so in a scanty outfit and dealing with any insecurity I had about not only being shy -- but my body as well. Bellydance costumes are not merciful -- they call it a "bra, belt and skirt" because that's all there is to it. To wear one, dance in it and carry it off, you have to be incredibly secure. That was one of the biggest steps of my life -- putting on that outfit and dancing in public.

But I did it. And after some time, I loved it. Bellydancing was much more than good exercise, it completely changed my life. Sure, I'm still a little shy when I walk into a room of new people. It's nothing like it used to be. Though I retired from bellydancing two years ago, the courage and confidence remain.

I wish I could give this experience to every woman. Every woman is critical of herself. How may times have I heard it... "My nose is too big/small," "My butt is too big/small," "I'm too tall/short," "My ears look funny." You get the picture. I hear it a lot being in the photography business. Women especially always have some excuse about their personal appearance that is the reason they hate being photographed. I hear the excuses from headshot and portrait clients and brides and bridesmaids. And definitely from my boudoir clients.

Ladies, seriously ~ ease up off yourself a bit. Embrace who you are and realize that no matter how shy you think you are, how imperfect you imagine your nose/butt/arms/ears/whatever ~ no one sees it that way except you.

To prove it... here is me, in a bellydance costume, photographed and immortalized forever. These were my promo pictures. I do see flaws in myself in these pictures, I saw them the minute they were shot four years ago. But honestly, no one else has ever pointed them out. Knowing that, I was able to make a little more peace with my imagined flaws.

So there. Now, a few less excuses from you. A little more gorgeous confidence, please.

PS. If you want to step outside of your usual, I highly suggest a few bellydance classes. : )

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A New Partner

We've been super busy with the fall season and there's much excitement to share.

But first, a quick note to all our old clients and of course, for the new ones: we're switching online hosts. Our new online partner is and we're very excited to be hosting our image catalogs with them.

All of the client websites we will host with Collages will have slideshows and music (that you can turn off or leave on, as you like). You can email images to a friend, order DVD slideshows of your favorite pictures, view pictures in color, black & white or sepia tone ~ really, we love the new Collages proofing sites.

We're in the process of switching all of our old client proofing sites over to so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of this wonderful new photography partner. If you go looking for your old website and don't see it ~ call us, we have been emailing new links and passwords for the past two weeks.

Talk to you again soon