Carrie Ellis’s bon voyage beach session.

This remarkable young woman was off to college the following week so we had to get one last session in. Why is she special, you ask?

A typical conversation between someone looking to do a session and myself involves several texts, phone calls, and/or skype sessions to establish a rapport, cover topics like expected outcomes, limits of exposure, outfits, make-up and hair style appropriate for such a session, availability, and so on. I then get everything set up, go over last minute issues and such right up to the start of the session.

The whole point of that is to point out that setting up a session takes some time. Days. Weeks even.

When people like Carrie contacts me, our messages typically go like this:

Carrie: Hi Mark, I was wondering…

Me: Let’s do it. When are you free?

carrie-ellis-beach-portrait-mark-knopp 7

It’s over that quick. I don’t have to look at my schedule because if she’s free just this or that day then I will move thing around to make it happen.

She’s a dream to work with. She’s always on time, comes over-prepared with outfits, her hair and make-up is spotless, she’s always full of energy, and open to suggestions. She moves with the grace of a gazelle, can laugh at herself, loves doing what she does, is totally at ease in front of the camera, isn’t afraid to do her own thing, and generally is just awesome to be around.

To say she is beautiful would be a massive understatement.

Notice that looks is that far down the list of desired qualities. To me, the success of a session rests more on attitude and preparation than “looks”. The results are just better when you have someone there to have fun and frolic with lots of outfit options.

A person that comes to a session with just three or four outfits and a long list of conditions severely limits opportunities. We will still get good images, don’t get m wrong, but they won’t soar like the others.

One of my favorite sayings is “The best thing to bring to a photo session is a positive attitude and a willingness to play.”

Carrie is the epitome of these ideals. I am going to miss her dearly and look forward to working with her when she’s home on break from school.

Mark Knopp is a Virginia Beach-based portrait photographer covering the Hampton Roads community and beyond. Contact him today at for you photography needs or if you’d like to learn more about photography.


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