Thursday, April 22, 2010

Saving the Earth=Business as Usual

Some things about making your business - and your life - greener are really easy.

As traditional light bulbs burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent. Recycle paper, glass, metals. Buy recycled paper products for office & home. Use recycled paper business cards. Compost food waste. Use cloth bags at the grocery store & for other shopping. This is all good stuff - and everyone knows it. Hopefully everyone does it, this is the easy stuff that makes a big difference for us all.But what about when you begin to get into other more job-specific areas to photography... like the cases you deliver discs in to clients? That's a little trickier.

Oddly, client often have strong opinions about CD/DVD cases. We have tried different things over the years and some have been more popular than others. One or two clients have called to tell us that even though they loved their pictures, they didn't like the disc case it came in. A few others have called to tell us they loved their disc cases. Go figure. So we try, try again and hope everyone likes the cases their photos discs arrive in.

And now, we are going to green our CD cases. Hopefully everyone likes the new lines as much as we do... Introducing the better, greener CD cases!

First, we want to show off the new disc cases we will be using for our brides and grooms. These are stunners.

These incredible CD/DVD cases are handcrafted by a company called Loktah using organic paper and beads, harvested from sustainable sources. The covers of each case are coated in beeswax to preserve the quality of the the handmade paper and Loktah products are all archival quality. We love these new cases for our wedding clients. They are an elegant and green way to store your memories of your perfect day. (As a sidenote: the Loktah cases were
photographed by our new assistant, Jacqueline! Great work!)

Not getting married? No worries - we have other eco-friendly cases for you!

We are also trying out a few other new disc delivery cases and envelopes. 100% recycled paper hard-side envelopes and plastic cases will be delivered to headshot, commercial and family/pet clients. They aren't as glam as the cases we got for the wedding clients, but hey - you only get married once. The paper and plastic cases are durable and can be reused by you - our clients - after you have safely stored your discs. So share the love and get loads of use out of your new green case as you share photos, files and music with friends and family.

A little flashier.. little sexier - disc delivery for my boudoir clients. Boudoir pictures will be delivered in bi-metal cases - which means you can recycle them if you don't want/need to reuse them. But they are so sleek - they look super cool. Why not find another use for them - like holding small jewelry or even on your desk for paperclips?

We are always on the lookout for new and awesome green products... if you see a better disc delivery case in your eco-travels, please tell us. We want to know!

A friend recently told us about a 20-disc CD case and matching 36-print photo album made of recycled aluminum with a recycled rubber closure. Super fun - you have to check it out! What a great way to store prints and discs.

And hey - while we are talking green (it is Earth Day today, after all) - we'd love to share a few of our favorite green office supply companies with you... use them at your workplace, too! Help save the Earth, doing business as usual.

Greenline Paper Company, fast service, great products for the office, like mailers, pens, etc.
Greenerprinter, incredibly professional- reasonable prices on recycled paper biz cards
Green House Framing, stunning handmade frames from recycled materials
Sustainable Websites, power your website with wind energy
CD Recycling Center, dispose of old discs responsibly
Rapid Refill, reuse ink cartridges and save landfill space

Looking for more green options for your home or business? Check out Green America or Treehugger. They really have it all. Planning a green wedding or special event? Be sure to visit Green Bride Guide, of course! And then swing by Eco-Beautiful Weddings, a new e-zine.

Happy Earth Day, everyone ~

Monday, April 19, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day -Be Stylish

Accessories are fun. Who doesn't love purses and necklaces and bracelets. I sure do. And why not make them eco-friendly as well?

At the Green Wedding Showcase in February, we had the luck to meet Reena, the woman behind Washington DC's noted green gift & accessory company She has been selling environmentally friendly and chic goodies since 1999 ~ well before it was mainstream to be green. is a web-based gallery of unique, well-made, sustainable and environmentally friendly gifts featuring the original work of over 25 artists who are committed to sustainable living and utilize green mediums. The company has been featured in Time, Good Housekeeping, USA Today, Body+Soul, Planet Green, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Reena is on a mission to be spread the word that gifts can be beautiful, well-made, eco-friendly and within a person's budget. We are on board with that!

Recently balance had the chance to photograph some new items for the website. The always fabulous Ashley Riddle (from UpDo's for I Do's) was our model that afternoon.

This is the Eco Mini Bag. The front compartment closes with Velcro and is the perfect size for a cell phone or camera. We are partial to using it for a camera. : ) Mini bags are made from recycled plastic sacks used to carry 100 pounds of rice to market in the Philippines. The graphic design on each mini bag is unique because the Filipino craftswomen reuse every part of the sack to minimize waste.

The Recycled Rice Sack Sport Pouch, aka "the anti-fanny pack", is adjustable to fit over your shoulder, across your chest or around your waist and lays flat. Pouches are lined with eco-friendly material and feature four zipped pockets — three outside and one inside. Perfect for carrying all your stuff to work - or somewhere more fun.

This funky hand-woven clutch was once juice packs! How creative!

Shimmery beaded bangles are made from recycled glass beads and strung on recycled wire. Perfect for any occasion, really - from jeans to office to fancy dress!

A statement piece for the fashion-forward: the tagua nut necklace. Grown in Colombia, Tagua nuts are gathered as they fall to the ground, enabling them to be harvested without disturbing the palm tree from which they came. Next the nuts are dried, painted and then strung on sturdy cotton thread, with knots between them, for added durability. Each necklace is crafted of whole tagua nuts that average 1" wide. When strung together, they make a bold statement in a burst of bright color that can be worn year round.

There are also cool men's accessories as well. Here Nathaniel is wearing cufflinks with his initials, made from recycled typerwriter keys. These look so cool on French cuff shirts. He wears this all the time. Love it!

So there's no reason not to get your shop on this Earth Day - just do it at to find some of the most upscale upcycling available anywhere!
~ Rissa

Left Stronger

While we are best known for our beautiful weddings, sexy boudoir picts and elegant portraits ~ balance has range. Plenty of range. In fact, we recently did some promo picts for a great Baltimore band called Leftstronger.

Leftstronger is an amazing band that performs all original music in the style of Alice in Chains, Shinedown, Creed and Soundgarden. We had the chance to preview their album "So Close" at the studio before the shoot and we loved it. The sound is like something you'd hear on the radio and sing your heart out to while you're driving your car.

From their website: Leftstronger's music combines all the elements of great, radio-friendly rock and roll: catchy hooks, hard-driving rhythms and strong vocal harmonies. Singer/song writer, Jesse Magee uses his amazing vocal range to dramatic effect and has been said to be the best singer on the East Coast. Jesse's songs all have meaning, so they resonate with fans after only one play. The memorable melodies are enhanced by the guitar solos of the extraordinary Rob Holt and drum solos by award winning percussionist, Eric Steven. Jesse and Rob performed in front of 60,000 people for the largest Earth Day Festival in the nation at the National Mall in DC. Leftstronger has performed many times at excellent venues in the Baltimore/DC Area, including headlining Rams Head LIVE! …always with an incredible response!

Jesse, the lead singer and songwriter has accomplished all this and more despite his personal challenges of being legally blind and having cerebral palsy on his right side. His talent speaks for itself and nothing will stand in his way of his success and being a role model for others.

From left to right... Rob Holt, Jesse Magee, Eric Steven and Spencer Jozwiak.

You can visit the guys on Myspace or You Tube or check out their interview on ABC Channel 2.

Leftstronger has played many of the clubs with in Baltimore. All players are in their 20's and extremely professional, dedicated and reliable. The band is awesome ...with Jesse at the helm, his amazing song writing and vocals, range and pitch-that are rarely heard in this area.

We had a fantastic time working with the guys at their shoot! Definitely check out their free downloads online!

You can hear them live at Rock in My Town on Friday, May 14, 2010 at the Timonium State Fairgrounds. Be sure to check the Leftstronger website for more details!

Wishing you guys all the very best!
~ Rissa

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cocktails for Earth Day. Right On.

Hey everyone - This Thursday the 22nd is EARTH DAY! So raise a glass... join us at Green Drinks in Annapolis.

All the details are below, reposted from the Annapolis Green Drinks Website...

See you there!
~ Rissa

April Green Drinks
Our Second Annual Green Drinks for the Chesapeake Bay

Thursday, April 22, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Severn Inn, 1993 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard, Annapolis

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, Green Drinks chapters throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed will come together for the second annual Green Drinks for the Chesapeake Bay to concentrate on action our grass roots movement can take to influence to legislation and government regulation to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay -- while having fun with our eco-awareness, of course. Annapolis Green Drinks and Virginia Beach Green Drinks are the at the helm of the coordinated "toast" and call to action, with each Green Drinks group from Pennsylvania to Virginia meeting simultaneously on the 22nd each in its respective location.

The effort also is an attempt to top the Green Drinks world attendance record of 1800 people, currently held by a group in Melbourne, Australia.
severn  inn
Green Drinks Annapolis is returning to the Severn Inn for its event, where we hope to top last year's single group attendance and the watershed-wide number of 1200 that we gathered in 2009!

Call to Action The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009, now working its way through Congress, has been called by many the last, best hope for restoration of our national treasure. We are going to use the powerful grass roots networking of Green Drinks to help move this bill along to passage.

We Green Drinkers will add our unique voice to the fight for restoration of the Chesapeake Bay by enlisting our colleagues, friends and family all across the country to obtain votes for the bill's passage in Congress - and we'll have fun doing it too!

The Chesapeake is as important and wonderful a national treasure as the Grand Canyon, the Smoky Mountains, the Badlands of South Dakota, the Everglades or Death Valley. It is tied directly to our early history as a Nation, and it is the largest estuary in the country. It is the heart of our local heritage and it is dying. Also, this legislation is important to all Americans because it will impact other bodies of water too.

Bring Your Friends to Green Drinks! Green Drinks at the beautiful and beautifully located Severn Inn is sure to be loads of fun! We'll have much more info on the actual event in our next email. There will be door prizes and other surprises for you!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tastes Great

When you live in Catonsville, you absolutely know about this one fabulous thing that happens in mid-April every year... the Taste of Catonsville. All the different restaurants and cafes all over town get together at the Rolling Road Golf Club for one evening and show off their finest entrees, desserts and other wonderful treats. Sigh... if only it happened every week!

The crowd packed into last year's event.

The Taste of Catonsville really has something for everyone. There are plenty of soups and appetizers, seafood offerings, hearty meats, vegetarian dishes, ethnic food, delectable desserts, pastries and more.

Salmon dish from Overhills Mansion/Whitehouse Catering.

Yummy desserts and cake from Baker's Park.

Scones and coffee from Atwater's.

This year the Taste of Catonsville will be on Monday April 19th, from 5pm to 7:30pm. It doesn't matter that it's a Monday night - the only way it will interfere with work on Tuesday is if you're still too full to move the next morning. I mean, it could happen. The experience of eating food from all those restaurants is pretty intense.

So skip lunch that Monday and leave plenty of room for the Taste of Catonsville. The event will be at the Rolling Road Golf Club, 814 Hilltop Rd., Catonsville Maryland. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. Buy in advance from the Chamber of Commerce.

See you there!
~ Rissa

Doing Double Time

When it comes to weddings, we rarely break the rules. Not that we have a lot of them - but one is we never double up on being in a wedding party of a friend/family member AND doing the photography. It's a big commitment to do either thing, and we never want to be stretched beyond where we can do our very best for friends and family.

This is a rule we have held fast to through thick and thin - until this spring. One of my oldest, dearest and closest friends asked me for this - to be a bridesmaid and to document her wedding. Her name is Leslie and she is a fabulous writer living a fabulous life in southern Florida. We have been friends for over 15 years - since we were both young reporters at the York Dispatch newspaper.

Leslie could have asked any number of photographers to do her wedding - she probably knows about 100 zillion and is like a local celeb in southern Florida. But the begging and pleaded started... please do both.

So, we did it. I was a bridesmaid for the very first time. And toted a camera as well - in heels, make-up, fancy hairdo and bridesmaid dress. I'm sure it was a hilarious thing to see. Thank heavens Nathaniel was working too - three inch stilettos and an above-the-knee hemline slowed me down ever so slightly from my usual shooting style. (Tip for my other brides - please don't ask me to shoot your wedding in heels! It's not comfy!)

Leslie married Scott - who she knew in high school in Baltimore, but reconnected with on Facebook in the past few years. They are the cutest couple and Nathaniel & I are sooo happy for them both! Two wonderful people who deserve a long, happy life together!

They were married on a perfect sunny Florida afternoon at the gorgeous Colony Hotel in Palm Beach. Here are some picts from their day...

The Colony Hotel was the ceremony & reception site, and did all the catering.

In addition to which the Colony was a gorgeous backdrop for pictures!

This is my fave picture of Leslie... she looks like a movie star!

Adorable flower girl. : ) And all the bridemaids had different dresses in Leslie's two favorite colors:
pink and purple.

Mazel Tov!

One of my favorite parts of any wedding are the unexpected emotional moments - like here when Leslie got a big hug from her mom just before getting her hair & make-up done. So sweet!

Leslie's veil, from Etsy.

And I LOVE shoes. Shoes, shoes, shoes. Can someone have an addiction to shoes?
Maybe I have that...
Leslie's shoes were Chinese Laundry. Shown with her bracelet and ring.

Breaking the rules sometimes is worth it. As you can see. Not all lifetime relationships are with the person you marry. Some are with your dearest friends - they are the family you choose to spend your days with, the women you love like sisters. The people you break the rules for.

Leslie and Scott had a really beautiful wedding, surrounded by friends and family that loved and adored them as much as we do. It was amazing to be part of it ~ as a photographer there to document their memories, as a bridesmaid to stand by Leslie's side, and as a friend to someone who has been by my side for much of my life ~ for better and worse, in good times and in bad. Only for a great friend - one of the best women I have ever known - would I make the choice to break those rules and be both bridesmaid and photographer.

We wish you both a world of happiness together, Leslie and Scott!
Big hugs and love always ~ Rissa

The ingredients of Leslie and Scott's Day:

Venue & Catering: The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach, FL
Planner: Kim Walsh Phillips
Flowers: Seed to Flower
DJ: Tim Foley
Officiant: Rev. Paul Underhay
Hair and Make-up: Britney Walton of Puyre Salon
Ceremony Musicians: Louis Johnson, New York, and Melanie Hood Wilson, Baltimore
Dress/Veil: Dress, Distinctive Designs Bridal, Rockville, Md. (owned by a former contestant on "The Apprentice"); Veil, Etsy
Rehearsal Dinner: Havana Hideout (as seen on Food Network)

Everyone Loves Wedding Cake

Everyone knows we love going to wedding shows. And one of our annual favorites is about to happen this weekend: The Bridal Showcase at Historic Oakland in Columbia, MD.

Beautiful August bride Carrie is walked to her ceremony on side-garden at Historic Oakland by her dad.

If you've never been to Oakland, it's absolutely worth a visit as one of the most important preserved historic sites in Howard County. The house itself is so gorgeous. It was originally built in 1811. Inside there are majestic fireplaces, a ballroom and two dramatic staircases. An incredible backdrop for a wedding, rehearsal dinner or bridal tea! Oakland is also home to the Maryland Museum of African Art, which is definitely deserving of a visit.

The Bridal Showcase this weekend is on Sunday April 11 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Vendors from the Baltimore/Washington area will be on hand to display their specialties. We have been part of the event every year for five years in a row - and we're always in the tent on the patio. So please stop in and say hello! And hey - don't forget the best part of wedding shows - wedding cake samples! Even the most manly groom will be agreeable to that!

The cost is $10.00 for advance ticket purchase and $15.00 for tickets purchased at the door. For further information or to purchase tickets, please call 410-730-4801 or 800-730-4802. Historic Oakland is located at 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, Maryland, 21044.
~ Rissa