Alexa Ann Portraits | Richmond Portrait Photographer

I’m slowly catching up on blogging sessions from the last 6 months and I am particularly excited to share these portraits. This winter when I was in the throws of morning sickness and could barely get off the couch some days, I decided it was time to hire on some part-time help to get me through the spring to catch up. Just as I was considering this I got an email from a VCU senior looking for second shooting opportunities. I was SO impressed with the professionalism of her email, the way she inquired and the quality of her portfolio and resume that I thought to myself - I have to meet this young lady and if she is as amazing in person as in this email. And if so,  then I HAVE to bring her on board. Sure enough we met at Panera and she was every bit as sweet, kind and professional as her email and I knew I had to have this girl on my team. 

Isn’t God so good? He brought to my doorstep exactly what I needed before I even had to ask or put in energy that I didn’t have in that season to find someone! Well, Lexi came on board a few weeks later as a part time assistant/intern and was the most valuable asset to my business this spring! She tinkered away behind the scenes accomplishing things that had been on my long term to-do list for ages and assisted me at a few sessions.  Since she was a senior so close to graduating and about to launch full time into her own Wedding Photography (Brides, she is fantastic.) business I knew it wouldn’t last forever, but I soaked up every moment that she was still a student and grew to have a sweet friend in the process! 

One of the things that was so pivotal in the beginning for my success as a photographer and small business owner was an internship opportunity another amazing photographer and dear friend, Jessica Mae Photography gave me. Internship / Apprenticeship is such an age old concept but it has SO much value and I think everyone should try to find an opportunity like this. If you are in that stage, talk to Lexi and have her give you pointers on how to compose the perfect email. ;-) 

Although Lexi has officially flown from the Andrea Pesce Photography nest and into her own full fledged business (I feel like such a proud mama bird! haha) I still wanted to introduce you to her and give you a peek behind the scenes of my business this year! It has been a great year with a lot of growth and a lot of changes that will continue to slowly unfold as the timing is right. Slow growth is becoming my favorite kind of growth because as Lara Casey said so well in this post - it allows deep roots to be planted, creating an unshakeable foundation.

Lexi, may your business boom and take you to amazing unthinkable heights. You are beautiful inside and out, and your current and future clients are so lucky to be in front of your lens! Cheers to deep roots my friend!

The Art of Staying Inspired

It can be easy as a business owner who relies heavily on creativity to reach burnout, to be short on inspiration and especially to forget yourself. When this happens things can feel like they are quickly spiraling out of control and to our followers and clients it can appear confusing. The best thing an artist can do for yourself is to know who you are very well. While I realize it can be a long journey to know ourselves I have found several things to be helpful to staying inspired while working in the creative industry. 

Take a personality test to better understand yourself.

The Myers-Briggs and other personality tests can be incredibly helpful in understanding yourself and vital to the health and wellness of your creativity and business. Pablo Picasso famously said to "know the rules like a Pro, so you can break them like an artist." If we don't know the rules then we surely won't know how to go beyond them as artists, and even more so this applies to our personalities. If we do not understand our tendencies and what it is that we do naturally then we will not understand how to move to the next place in our businesses. For example: I am an ENFP who by definition - gets extremely excited about new ideas and the world around me. Knowing this illuminated that I need to be around DIFFERENT kinds of projects. I started to look for opportunities to shoot people, events and concepts outside of my speciality, so that I will continue to be challenged and excited about what I do. Since I started saying yes to a few things outside of weddings I have seen my creativity during a wedding day expand and my skills increase twofold. 

Ask yourself WHY and ask it frequently. Learn to live from the inside - out. 

One of the biggest disservices we can do for our businesses is to not know why we are doing WHAT we are doing. For a long time I didn't know why certain aspects of photography inspired me until I started noticing why I was so alive or so drained after certain kinds of photoshoots. If you want to avoid being burned out quickly find out what makes you feel alive and what drains you. THEN go to the next level and start asking why you are doing your various day to day tasks. You will soon find a lot of things you are doing don't have a point. Find better ways that YOU work so you can experience freedom, efficiency and be more decisive about what works and doesn't work.

Spend quality time with others in AND outside of your field. 

If all we creatives do is spend time with one another in similar lines of work everything will start to look and sound homogenous. I spend a lot of time with family and friends who aren't in similar places of life, business or anywhere near my age and it always challenges and breathes life into me. Conferences, networking, industry friends...they are necessities just as much as these other relationships! I treasure my non-photography friends for their variety in life, wisdom and ability to speak into my life with an outside perspective.  

What's in My Bag

Personally, I feel like it is always fun and interesting to learn how each photographer differs in the gear they choose. Like any other form of art, photography gear is just a tool in the hand of an artist which means person to person even with the same exact gear their images are going to look very different!

I have recently had a lot of people inquiring whether I shoot film and what camera bodies I use, so while this isn't an in depth look at the features of each camera body or lens, hopefully it will inspire you to make the most of the gear you do have or plan to purchase!

Nikon is my preference and while I adore each piece that I have, that was not always the case. It was sort of happen chance that I began with a Nikon camera, and while I could list the reasons Nikon was superior/different than other cameras I still had trouble achieving the look and feel I wanted with my gear. I struggled with the possibility of switching brands or getting into film for a period but ultimately decided to just learn to love Nikon. That was the best decision I have made because little did I know that it was largely the way I was processing images in post! I share this because while everyone around me seemed to be switching to film or using Canon, I can finally say that no matter the equipment - in the end it is simply how you use it. 

Although I own a film camera and shoot with it often for personal work, I don't use it professionally.  I love film and believe it will always be timeless, inspiring and unique - I just prefer digital! 

I carry my gear in ONA's Brooklyn Bag which I invested in at the beginning of last years wedding season. I'm so glad I did! I love this bag because of its durability, genuine leather and stylish look! The fact that it isn't so large keeps my gear load small (my back and shoulders thank me) and only to the things that are completely necessary. 

4/5 of my lenses are pictured here but I do not carry every lens unless it is a wedding day. Pictured but one I don't carry with me often is the 108 2.4 G Macro Lens

85 1.4 G - This is my very very favorite lens. Hands down. The bokeh is to die for and the colors amazing! If it weren't for tight spaces I would probably keep it on all the time.

35 1.4 G - I love this lens for many reasons but the framing I want in tight spaces makes it invaluable. In general I prefer it for a photojournalistic feel and even on occasion for portraits. 

50 1.8 G - This lens is like a child to me, it will always be one of my favorites and even though it's aperture is more limited than the 1.4 it is spot on all the time. I actually traded this lens in a year ago for the 50 1.4 and was SO disappointed. Almost immediately I decided to buy it back and keep both. Each has it's own reasons I use it and each one has it's limitations. More often than not though the 1.4 is the first to be left at home because it is so much less reliable. 

D610 - is the primary professional Nikon body I use although I do have others for backup this one is my preference. I prefer the smaller body and file size over the D810. Adding a pro lens and flash during the reception and my wrists already ache at the end of the night with the 610! People often hate on this body for its low-light capabilities but I have found my preference is a more film inspired look which is more grainy. The high-ISO is grainier on this camera than some of the other Nikon bodies I use but I don't fear the grain - I embrace it as part of the art of the image. Just what I favor...

Lens cloth, SD case & business cards - These go without saying really, but I LOVE my Delkin SD case. It protects them and keeps them organized so I always know they are safe. 

So tell me, what's in your bag?