2018 was a year of exponential growth for me both professionally and personally. Looking back, it’s a bit overwhelming to consider all that has happened in the lives of not only my friends and family, but in the world.
It was a year that reminded me more than ever to WAKE UP, slow down, and be intentional each day.
2018 was also an affirming year. Despite a blanket of grief which lay heavily over our family for the first seven months of the year, Good Things were abundant, and as I worked my way through a complicated experience, I was transformed.
In 2014 I had a bit of luck in photographing a wedding on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. The day before the wedding, the bride and groom hosted a Lowcountry Oyster Roast/ Welcome Dinner at Mingo Point, which I also photographed. I started talking to the man who was roasting the oysters, and discovered that he and his family had been in the oyster business for decades. The images I shot of him that day sparked something inside of me, though I didn’t know what, exactly.
A few years ago, I watched Andrew Scrivani’s workshop on Creative Live. After a short time, I convinced myself that I would never be a food photographer. It was too complicated, there was just too much to it all. Really though, I was intimidated and fearful.
However, over time, I began a descent into the waters of food photography via lifestyle photography; I dipped my toes by crafting cocktails, styling setups with baked goods, and photographing my creations. In May 2017, I photographed my friend chef Kip Poole’s culinary event, Elementum, and felt the same spark as I did when I photographed the man from the oyster roast. I did these as my own creative outlet, so that I could grow as a photographer, and to challenge me to step outside of what I normally do.
In late 2017, I was feeling pulled in the direction of exploring new areas of my photography business. I love wedding photography, but I also love photography, period. I never want to stop experimenting with new genres, and challenging myself to become a better, more well-rounded photographer. I knew that I wanted to expand my portfolio to include work with food, boutique hotels, restaurants, travel, and more lifestyle projects. I wrote down a very specific vision for what I wanted my life to look like.
As spring approached, I was blessed to come into contact with Robin Kidder, who was behind the graphic design of a new restaurant that was set to open in Kiln Creek— a golf course and community located in Newport News. I was asked to photograph the restaurant, and create content for the website and social media. (Essentially branding photography).
I began in the last days of construction, and it was exciting to be a part of the behind-the-scenes preparations. One of my first assignments was to head up to Virginia Beer Company in Williamsburg to see how they were crafting a beer especially for the restaurant— the Nest Pale Ale. I learned a ton about the craft brewing process, and felt welcomed by the crew at VBC.
Over the course of 2018, I shot quite a bit for Nest. I photographed breakfasts, lunches, dinners, cocktails, beer—lots of beer—the kitchen, the patrons, and the atmosphere of Nest. I created relationships with some of the most down-to-Earth people I’ve ever met. I felt part of a team who all had a vision for making Nest a fantastic place to hang out, have a beer, and enjoy a great meal.
This week I was listening to this episode of The Photo Report with the legendary John Dolan. He was asked how he got into photographing celebrity weddings. (He’s photographed Will Smith, Kate Bosworth, AND Gwyneth Paltrow’s weddings). He answers simply, talking about all the “cobblestones” that were laid out over the course of years for that to happen, and stressed the importance of slow growth.
I mentioned my history, qualified myself if you will, because Nest was my first commercial job in the world of food and lifestyle photography, and while it may seem like the opportunity came to me very quickly after I set my intention, the cobblestones had been laid years before. It started with a man roasting oysters at a wedding welcome dinner— the smallest flame, ignited somewhere inside of me.
I love food. I love the history of food even more. The culture behind it. It is fascinating to me, and it brings me joy. I want to fully immerse myself in this field, learning all that I can. My hope for 2019 and the future is that I will continue to lay cobblestones, and enjoy a moment on the ones that were laid long before.
I am so incredibly grateful to the people at Nest and Kiln Creek who not only took a chance on me, but who were some of my greatest cheerleaders during this process. Seeing how positive and excited they all were made me even more enthusiastic about doing my best for them.
Mel, Jess, Chris, Leslie, Ivey & Zack,
THANK YOU so very much for your tireless work ethic, your dedication to being better, and your passion for fantastic beer and delicious food. It’s hard to imagine finding a more supportive team. I look forward to seeing each of you every time I go to work.
You can click on each image to enlarge