My first beach sunrise portrait session of 2018.

Jessica Magary and I team up to celebrate the arrival of summer.

You know the saying about how something is like riding a bike? Once you get it, you’ll never forget it? Well, that might be true but you might be rusty as hell the first time you get on a bike after a long time away.

Well, photography is like that. Sure, the basics are drilled into your head but things do get rusty if you don’t do it for a while. Like beach sessions. The first one of the season is the hardest as you have to remind yourself of so many things plus gear might not be at peak performance, either.

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So, when I can, I like doing the first “fill in the blank” session in a while with someone that I’ve worked with in the past. It takes the pressure off knowing the other person has faith in you as you struggle to get back up to speed. Plus they don’t get upset with when you curse yourself or your gear a few times.

This was a first in a few ways. It was the first summer beach session of 2018, the first sunrise session of the year, and the first session since my return to the area. Typically, I get in a couple “standard” sunset beach sessions in before I take on a sunrise session.

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For me, there was no other person I’d want in front of my camera than Jessica Magary. We have a long, awesome, history together where we have created some of my best work ever.

We met at the butt-crack of dawn at our favorite place for sunrise sessions. We hugged and then make the trek to the surf line. As expected, there were a few struggles with gear and settings at first but we were soon firing on all eight cylinders. Then we kicked in the turbo and were off.


jessica-magary-virginia-beach-sunrise-photo-session 18It was magical. We joked, we goofed, I started saying “Jess” instead of “yes” when she asked me a question. I got an unexpected sloppy kiss from a wet dog passing between us at one point. The images were amazing. In short – it was exactly what I needed to feed my soul and confirm that I belonged here, doing this, with people I connect with on another level.

Here’s to future sessions. I can’t wait to see what comes in the future.

Mark Knopp is a Yorktown-based portrait photographer covering the Hampton Roads/Richmond areas and beyond. Contact him today at mknopp1(at) for your portrait needs or for photography lessons.

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