Tag Archives: Nikon

Sarah and Jordan’s engagement session at First Landing.

Keeping it simple and pure when it comes to a couple’s session.

I recently met up with Sarah and Jordan at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach on a warm, breezy May day. It was cold and rainy for almost a week beforehand but it all went away on the day of the session.

I’ve known Sarah for a couple years now but never had the pleasure of meeting Jordan until our consultation day. It was apparent from the moment we all met that it was going to be an epic session. We agreed to a beach session, made plans, and counted the days until go time.

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Despite what the calendar says, location portrait sessions continue.

There is no real “off-season” here in Virginia Beach.

The main reason I moved down here over eight years ago was the nice climate. Where I’m from snow flies before Halloween and lasts until May. Count it out on your fingers – that’s six months that snow could fall. And let me tell you, it falls. My hometown averages 140 inches of the white stuff every year.

Let me repeat that – averages 140 inches. 12 feet of the white stuff. We’d close up shop by late September and wouldn’t poke our heads back outside until at least mid-May.

Here is southeastern Virginia it really doesn’t get cold and it doesn’t stay cold for long. There are spans of time where it might only get to 50 but then, when the conditions line up right, we suddenly get a spat of 70-75 degree days. Thanks to technology we can see those days coming ahead of time and make plans.

Take, for example, Sean here. He reached out to me about doing a fitness session at the beach recently. A quick scan of the local forecasts showed that it would warm up over the coming weekend so we made plans.

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Kristin Bauer’s Health Coach fitness session.

The trick to doing this job well is to make it look like anyone can do it when really only you can do it.

I would say that the biggest challenge any professional photographer faces today is the thought that anyone with a camera, hell a cell phone camera even, can do our job just as well as those that have been doing it for many years. So many people look at our work, think it’s easy to get the same results, and don’t hire a pro.

Now, this is not an entry where I bash those with cell phone cameras or do it for fun on the weekends. Not at all. Heck, I even offer photo classes where people can learn how to get better images from the cell phones or point and shoots.

This is, however, an entry to show that there is a lot more that goes into a “simple” photo session. Let me take you on a rare, behind the scenes, look into my world behind the camera.

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Kristin Smith’s amazing sunrise beach session in Virginia Beach.

Preparation and mindset are the keys to any successful photo session.

So many things are swirling around in my head right now as I try to write this entry about my session with Kristin Smith. She was amazing. Stunning. Graceful. Gregarious.

But I have to be careful as I don’t want to set this up as a rare occurrence with a one-in-a-million kind of person. Which she is, don’t get me wrong. But the reason why this session was such a success was because we both came prepared.

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Jennifer Pascual’s return to the beach.

We had so much fun the first time that we had to do it again. The results show it.

Sometimes a session goes so well, you can’t wait to do another one. Such was the case with Jennifer Pascual. She’s an up and coming model based in Virginia Beach. She’s currently in New York City working Fashion Week and working with photographers up there as I type this.

We teamed up for her first ever beach session earlier in the season. During a review of the images we discussed what worked and what could be worked on in terms of posing, et cetera, to do better next time. This woman wants to be tops in her craft and is like a sponge, absorbing as much information as she can get to improve.

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Valerie’s beach portrait session.

Doing a beach session has been on her bucket list for a long time.

Valerie is no stranger to the local modeling scene as she has walked in numerous shows and worked with several, very talented, photographers. Sadly, I wasn’t one of them. We have several friends in common and but our paths never crossed until I got a message from her recently.

During our chat she revealed that she had never done a beach portrait session. It was something she has always wanted to do but never got the opportunity. Talk about a match made in Heaven. We quickly set up a time to meet up.

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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?

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