Winning | Bethesda Wedding Photographer

As he walked into the ballroom, her hand in his, he knew he had won. He had officially won her hand in marriage. All her laughter, all her smiles, and all of her heart~ he won it all. If love is a battlefield, then Matt sunk Kristen's battleship. As everyone stared on in love and admiration, their smiles and triumphs radiated across the ballroom. And while Matt stared tenderly into her eyes, Kristen's gaze met his and he knew he couldn't wait to take on the world with her by his side.

And just because I love cake, here is an image of their cake masterpiece.


Vendor Spotlight | Certifikid

If I could pinpoint the exact moment in time that defined the future of my business, it would be the day I got a phone call from Jamie Ratner of Certifikid. Her creativity, support, and friendship has meant the world to me and to many local businesses and families. What makes Certifikid different from Groupon/Living Social? One word: Jamie. She answers every single email, talks to every customer, and was born and raised in the D.C. metro area. Her commitment to her customers and her community is not only remarkable, but refreshing in a world that constantly tries to put $$ first and people last. Besides being a local business trendsetter...she is a mom, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a wife...so she completely understands what it is like to raise a family and still try to find time for yourself. She waits in line at Starbucks, lives for her family date night in downtown Bethesda, and loves a good deal. If you aren't signed up for their email alerts, be sure to hop on over because you are missing out...www.certifikid.com

Tell us a little bit about Certifikid? 
Certifikid is the leading website for families in the DC Area that offers daily deals geared to kids and parents. We try to give families the ability to create experiences with their kids they might never have had the opportunity to do or just might have never known about.

Where is home? 
I grew up in Montgomery County and currently live in Bethesda.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
Thailand - good food, weather and shopping

If not a daily deal business mogul, What would you have loved to be when you grew up?
I have a master degree in Security/criminal justice and wanted to work for the FBI

What was your inspiration for founding your business?
I was writing a blog daily that covered all the "finds" I had in the DC area (food & deals). It was just a hobby, but I loved it. As soon as I learned about Groupon and thought of the parent twist on the concept I found a way I could turn my hobby into a business!

Favorite flavor cupcake?
anything with buttercream I love

Favorite Bethesda restaurant?
Raku - the best part of my week is my Friday night Raku and half dozen cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Of course Brian, my husband comes first or he will kill me. He is my biggest supporter. I would have quit before day 1 if it was not for him. He is always the half full person.

What item/company do you wish you had invented/started?
Groupon! I can not believe I did not think of it since I was so into the concept of buying discounted gift certificates before they were even popular.

Which five words would your friends use to describe you? 
obsessive, thoughtful, unique

Who would play you in a film (movie) of your life?
Sarah Jessica Parker

Your favorite deal you have ever offered?
Why Dottie Millwater Photography of course since it is my only recognition of the past 2 years of my life!

Any exciting projects you are working on? 
Of course...TOP SECRET!


Heirlooms and Hard Drives | Why it is Important to Print Your Images

In today's digital revolution, we are finding new and exciting ways to share our images. Social media has allowed us to share special moments with speed and ease and I love it. I am one of the rogue photographers out there that truly believes that clients should have access to their digital files. There are a million different ways to share memories, but at the end of the day, print media is still the only sure fire way to make sure your memories last a lifetime.

Why it is important to print your images
Think about it, what if ten years ago, your parents had kept all of your family photos on floppy disks? What would you have now? Photographs, like memories, are meant to be passed along from generation to generation. Your parent's wedding, your first day of school, your brace faced prom night-- all of these things up until recently had been printed out and are easily tangible images.

It is important to think of memories as heirlooms. Heirlooms are passed down and no matter how hard you try, you can't pass down a hard drive, a digital cloud, or even a website to your own grandchildren.

This is why I believe albums to be the most important investment in your photographic arsenol. It allows you to pass down a collection of images that tell a story about a moment in time in your lives. It isn't just a 4x6 print left in a box, it is something that can be put on a book shelf and proudly displayed and shared with the special people in our lives.

I like to think of our family fun shoots as an experience rather than an exercise in getting photographs. What better way to show an experience than a story? That is why my albums(both print and digital) are called storybooks. They are the story of your family. Each image is a special chapter, but together as a whole, all of the images tell the story of our time together. I myself am guilty of still not making my wedding album. I come up with a different reason every week, but my new years resolution is to start creating albums for my own family as well as my clients. How many months have gone by since you said you were going to create an album for your family heirloom?

Pro Printing Sites vs. Costco/Target/Walgreens/Ritz Camera
So I have you convinced now that you need to print your images(as well as back them up to a cloud...but that is another post to be written). A frequent question I get asked by clients is "Where should I print my images?"

I believe that both professional printing sites and consumer printing options have a place in everyday life. The bottom line though is that a professional printing lab will result in the best quality possible of your images. The paper, the ink, the process, the packaging....all of these things are advanced, and yes, slightly more expensive.

I personally use a site called "SmugMug" to deliver and offer printing options for my clients. The reason I love SmugMug is because it is the best of both worlds.  It allows my clients to both share their images electronically with social media AND gives them access to affordable professional printing at a reasonable price point. Is it more expensive than Costco/Target/Walgreens/Ritz Camera? Absolutely. Is it dramatically more expensive than those places? No

If you took some pictures with your point and shoot on a recent trip to the playground, by all means, pop over to Target and print out some pictures to mail to your parents or put in a small frame on your desk. I even have some pictures I printed on my home inkjet printer displayed in our house. The most important tip to using a consumer lab is to make sure they do not auto color correct your images for you. I have seen way too many people look like ooompa loompas or green aliens thanks to various places.

In terms of "special" pictures, it is my opinion that if you took the time to hire a professional photographer, spent weeks trying to find the perfect outfits, and truly love and appreciate your images, then printing them properly and professionally is the final touch your memories deserve.


The best laid plans | Georgetown Family Photographer

Anyone who really knows me knows that I am a planner. I am the kind of girl who made her new years eve plans 3 months ago and already knows what I will be doing most weekends until July. I had today ALL PLANNED OUT.

I picked the perfect location for a holiday mini-session. There was warmth(starbucks), a breathtaking tree (christmas), reindeers made out of ivy(coolness), parking(paid and unpaid, but readily available), and it wasn't even that cold today! Rock. it. out.

As per the saying, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.  The power went out at midnight last night and starbucks couldn't open. By 10am construction workers descended upon MY tree(By then emotionally I thought I owned it until at least noon) and taped it off with caution tape. No problem, we will go to my favorite spot by the canal....oh wait...the park police were there fishing trash out of the water. ughgughgughtught.

So while everyone knows that I am a planner, you might not know that my motto in life is "make it work". Ok, maybe that is Tim Gunn's motto, but I still adhere to it. We had an amazing day with some wonderful families. Thank goodness each of my clients was as eager to make it work as I was. And you know what happened? Instead of 6 families having the same photos, I am now downloading and looking through a diverse array of brilliant smiles in different locations and I LOVE it.

Thanks to everyone who came out this morning and "made it work" with me. Your images are spectacular and I can't wait to share them with you.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a sneak peek of an unexpected client. I don't know his name, but he was so adorable I had to take his picture. Lucy could learn a thing or two from him.



The Campbell Family | Bethesda Family Photographer

As the leaves begin to spend more time on the ground than on the trees, I've started to reflect on another year in this beautiful city. This small town girl from Pennsylvania gets to live her dream everyday. So as Thanksgiving approaches, I am thankful for all of the usual things(family, friends, etc.) but most importantly I am thankful for my clients. Ok, ok, I know it sounds cheesy, but without the beautiful and gracious families I have had the pleasure of getting to know this past year, I would never be able to not only express myself with photographs, but to make lasting connections with all my new client friends.  So cheers to smiles, giggles, mischief, races, and jeers to student loan payments and traffic. Gobble Gobble.


The Lindsay Family | Arlington Family Photographer

Meet little Elena.  A little girl with a smile that could light up the world. Her mother, Naomi, has a matching grin. Can't quite figure out who makes the other more happy. Thanks for allowing me to capture your little bundle of joy before she grows up too fast.


In Front of the Lens | Bethesda Family Photographer

Generally, I show up to my shoots in my comfiest clothes with a starbucks pumpkin spice latte in one hand and some gummy bears in another and think, "God this is going to be so much FUN". I stroll up to meet the family and often find tense moms with weary looks on their faces and I can't help but wonder why they are so stressed out? This has got to be so much easier than going to a portrait studio right? We are just going to have a fun morning and run around and play and you can't get less stressed out than that right? WRONG 

You know that saying, "Everything happens for a reason". Well, my family photoshoot this weekend was the perfect slice of humble pie I could have ever received.

I scheduled our family shoot in between 3 other shoots Sunday and had "plenty'" of time to get ready for it(yeah right). I was getting my hair done after my morning shoots, a friend was coming over to take the pictures, and how much time could I possibly need for our pictures? WHAT COULD BE EASIER? I'm a pro, I do this all the time. 

Well, let me tell you something...it was anything but easy. It felt like my wedding day all over again. Rushing to get everything and everyone ready, making sure Lucy had a bath and was brushed and her outfit was laid out. Tearing my husband away from the Redskins game and constantly asking him to shower and shave. Then our friend was lost in the parking lot at our condo complex, Rob had temporary amnesia on how to get to Glen Echo, and just to make things oh so much more fun....Lucy got away from us at the park and almost ran into MacArthur Blvd. All I kept thinking is "WE DON'T EVEN HAVE A CHILD!"

So, to all of my client moms out there who have much more than a puppy to get ready for a family fun shoot, I applaud you. I grovel at your feet. I want to buy all of you a trip to the spa. Because I don't know how you do it. You always come at the craziest of hours to sometimes the most inconvenient places in the worst weather and you always smile and have fun.

You deserve so much for your patience and love and graciousness. Thank you for allowing me to capture your family love and for being the best clients I could ever ask for. Because in the end, the pictures are so worth it!

Here is a sneak peek of all my hard work


Photo Adventures!

The Greenwood Family | Arlington Family Photographer

The Greenwoods are the NICEST family I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Kim is so warm and friendly and her husband, Dan, adores her and their son Charlie. There is so much love in that family, it makes me want them to adopt ME. Here are a few photos from their Georgetown shoot on a beautiful fall day.


Sneak Peek | The Smith Family

This is the second time the Smith Family has modeled had their family photos taken with me. Jessica's daughters are gorgeous and I think they all belong on the cover of a J.Crew catalog. Can't wait to share more from this session with everyone.

Fall Family


The Old Stone House | Georgetown

The Old Stone House in Georgetown is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to photograph. The garden behind it is magical and there are always flowers in bloom no matter what the season. The light is yummy and it is hardly ever crowded.

 A little history courtesy of the National Park Service

The Old Stone House, located at 3051 M Street in Georgetown, was built in 1765, making it the oldest standing building in Washington, DC. The exterior of the house is constructed of locally quarried blue granite. The house was built by Christopher Layman, a cabinetmaker by trade, as both a residence and a shop. Layman died shortly after constructing the house. It was sold to Cassandra Chew who added a wing to the rear of the house in 1767. The street (then called Bridge Street) was a main thoroughfare for road traffic from the Western frontier and paralleled the canal into Georgetown. The house has been used throughout its history as a residence or residence/shop, until it was purchased in 1953 by the U.S. Government.


The Villa Family | Georgetown Family Photographer

When Shelbie asked me if I would drive up to their family home in New Market, Maryland I was so excited! See, I love my usual spots. They are magical anthropologie sweetness. But every once in a while it is good for me to leave my comfort zone and try something new, and the Villa family lake house community did not disappoint. They live in the most charming community north of Washington, D.C. and I am officially in love with it. It is quaint small town, meets friendly neighborhood Connecticut charm, meets pocono mountain scenery. It is the kind of place you dream of raising a family, and Rob doesn't know it yet, but once they invent a high speed non-stop train from New Market to Georgetown, WE ARE MOVING THERE!


Parker | Cutest Kid Contest Winner

Parker was one of the winners of the spring cutest kid contest, but she won something else last weekend...my heart! I am obsessed with this sweet & charming little girl. I could spend all day just watching her laugh.