Welcome to the brand spankin' new Worthington Photography Blog! We are Sam and Mel, a husband-wife photography team based in the "rivah city" of Richmond, Virginia. We hope you'll come on in, sit a spell, and browse through Mel's journal of our most recent shoots and adventures. If you wish to reminisce, you can still access posts from our old blog here. Enjoy!

From Libby Hill Park to Cherry Hill Park

February 12th, 2015

Shortly after our arrival in Falls Church Fiver asked me something along the lines of, “Do you know what’s good about moving?”  I must have been playing Tetris with the boxes in the closet because I remember my response  verbatim. “No, son, I really don’t. Please tell me.”  He told me that you get to keep your old friends and you get to make new friends too.  That’s actually good information but I wasn’t in much of a place to hear it, much less think about what it might mean for my business.

By fall though I was beginning to come around.  I decided to try and set up a Family Day in Falls Church at a new jaunt of ours, Cherry Hill Park, amidst its impressively tall pines and big, grey barn.  Thanks to Cortney (thank you, thank you, thank you!) I booked the day solid and an old friend helped me start something new.

I’ve changed my tune when it comes to mini sessions.  In the past I found them posey and less enjoyable for everyone involved.  It seemed like someone in the group was always “off” and that I was always running out of time to make magic happen.  The result?  A whole lot of bribery during the process and and a lot of head swapping in Photoshop afterwards.  I decided mini sessions weren’t really “my thing”.

Realistically though, not every family can hack a full session and sometimes a wee update is all that’s really needed.  I decided that the process was in need of change, not necessarily the product.

Family life isn’t lived sitting still.  And its rare that everyone is smiling at the same time and looking in the same direction when it comes to just about anything.  So why do we try so hard to make it look that way when we send out our holiday wishes?  We should take some advice from our Elsa obsessed daughters who are always singing, “let it go…”

So I did.  We played games.  We held contests.  We ran all over the place, dropping coats and layers like oversized breadcrumbs.  I got so many high fives my hand nearly fell off.  Compliance wasn’t a problem from the oldest participants to the very youngest, I can’t recall a single reminder of a reward promised being uttered.  It was actually fun!  Instead of seeing the short timeframe as a handicap I made it an advantage and instead of telling kids to smile I gave them things to do so that the smiles came all on their own.  Its a subtle difference but the proof is in the pudding and I can’t wait to try it again in a new and different context.

Revisiting these pics makes me excited to meet up with these fantastic families again and motivates me to keep pursing new relationships, new methods, and new ideas in this new place.   That boy of mine is seriously onto something.

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Posted by Mel @ 6:24 pm, in Newborns, Portraits, Wee Ones | Comments Off on From Libby Hill Park to Cherry Hill Park | Permalink

The fall season began in a special place…

January 21st, 2015

The lack of recent posts combined with mighty cold weather might suggest hibernation on my part but life has been anything but sleepy.  The busiest fall season to date, a new home, happy holiday madness and winter weather have kept things interesting.  Strange as it seems to share photos dating back to autumn while watching snow fall outside my window, I can’t let too many seasons pass without sharing some of my favorite people photographed in what I can honestly call one of my favorite places on Planet Earth.

I’ve been fortunate to travel and explore many places around the globe but there’s one place I keep coming back too and its never far.  Libby Hill Park in Richmond, VA was a destination every day of walkable weather for the fourteen years we lived in historic Church Hill.   It faces the river to the south and the city to the west and I have watched the sun set countless times over both views.  Its prize features shift with the season, the late summer canopy of fuchsia crepe myrtle must give way to the vibrant yellow ginkos that line the hillside as the weather cools towards winter.   Libby Hill sounds like bagpipes and smells like candle wax on the first Friday of December and its the most thrilling place to go sledding in the snow.   It was the last place we took our dog to before he died and the first place we took our son to when he was born.  Its where we taught a puppy to play frisbee and a little boy to listen for trains and ride his bike without training wheels.  To us, its sacred and profane in its beauty and familiarity.  While I never once took it for granted, thinking at least once upon each jaunt, “I can’t believe I live here”, I miss it all the same.  Its never far but its no longer near.

Add to that the fact that I have worked with every single family who came out for picture day at least once, literally photographing some of their marriages for Pete’s sake, I’m not sure how I avoided becoming a giant, teary ball of nostalgia while shooting.  The day blew by as I followed the sun and eked out each of 30 minutes to catch up, catch smiles and catch a little silliness where it presented itself.  It went by too fast and it was pure joy.  Here’s a sampling from the first of two RVA picture days, I am so grateful for these people and pups for their familiar smiles and for bringing me home.

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Posted by Mel @ 5:53 pm, in Portraits, Wee Ones | Comments Off on The fall season began in a special place… | Permalink

Welcome home

November 11th, 2014


When I first met Dina, the world was a simpler place.  That’s actually not true, we were just living simpler lives.  We were college students at a prestigious university and our job was to study hard.   When four years came to a close and she made the decision to study medicine through the Army I was very proud but none too worried.   I mean, it wasn’t like our country would go to war or anything.

Fast forward.  Towers fell.  A baby was born.  He was barely a year old when she left on her first deployment.  I wasn’t a mother then but it looked unfair to me and I knew it had to feel wrong.  I expected her to be heartbroken, upset and angry before she left but she stood tall and she was clear.  She told me this was what she signed up for, that it was her turn and that it wasn’t convenient for anyone regardless: its just what you do.  She made it sound as simple as that.

Now that I am a mother, now that I know how visceral your connection is with each of your children, only now do I know the angst she has felt and the strength she carries.

Between her husband Paresh and herself there have been five tours so far while raising three children.  No one gets to be the default parent in this scenario (though Dee will be the first to tell you that they each handle their roles as single parent in their own, unique way).   And not once have either of them complained, not to me anyway, not even when Dina was about to give birth to their second child by herself with Paresh stationed on the other side of the world.  (That child is his spitting image these days.)

I felt a little guilty conspiring against the kiddos when I bumped into their family “by coincidence” as they waited at the baggage claim for their grandmother to arrive (wink, wink).   I’m grateful to have been there to capture the greatest surprise and welcome her home.  I especially loved that her first born, that first baby she had to leave, was the first to see her and run to her.  Granted, his legs are a little longer and that gave him the advantage over the girls but I would like to think that this was the last deployment for their family and that the journey came full circle in that moment.

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Think, for a moment, of a price… an income that would be worth leaving the ones you love the most behind and putting yourself in harm’s way.  There isn’t one, it doesn’t exist.  No one signs up for this unless they believe it is right.

On behalf of my business, myself and my family I want to wish Dina, Paresh and all men and women of service a Happy Veteran’s Day.  I realize that if I go to bed at night and feel safe there it is because of every tour, every time you left the ones you loved and put yourself in harm’s way.  I know that you did it for your family and for mine.  I can’t fully appreciate your sacrifice but I can thank you for it.

Welcome home, Captain Dee, MD.  You are my hero.


Posted by Mel @ 6:26 pm, in Personal, Wee Ones | Comments Off on Welcome home | Permalink


October 30th, 2014


So the goal of the shoot was to get images for Anna and Ella’s birth announcement, my first photo shoot with twins!  I was terribly excited the day before the shoot and poured through Google for ideas, is there a “right” way to approach cuteness times two?  Could this double dose of adorable cause a lens explosion?  I had no idea what to expect.

I knew that the girls had a big brother, age 6, I just wasn’t expecting him to be my muse on this particular shoot.  When he finally let me get close enough to him all I could see was the most beautiful set of eyes peering at me through plushie short hand for a hug and a kiss.


His mother, Lynne, assured me that XO was a welcome presence in the pictures since anyone who knows their family knows XO as well.  Its actually half of of a whole, there are two soft XO pieces that velcro together to make XOXO.  But for Hayden there is a good side of the pair that is loved and worn and the other side doesn’t feel quite as right for some reason.  Two items that look the same but most certainly are not… which felt like a bit of a theme that day.

But it got me thinking.  There is the person our child needs to be for a short period of time because it helps them to navigate a big world.  Then there is the person we, their parents, know they are becoming and we just want others to see it too… which can get us squirrely when a camera comes out.   Allow me to explain: our son can’t put on anything that doesn’t have a superhero or superhero symbol on it and it makes my husband (whose job is to think about branding day in and day out) borderline insane.  On a recent family getaway to an idyllic location Fiver insisted on wearing a Batman rain jacket everywhere despite the lack of rain.  Which meant that in every breath-taking, scenic photograph stood a kid decked out in bat symbols, making a “tough” face, hands balled in fists and ready to battle… no one in particular.    Sam was getting frustrated.  “Why can’t he just be himself for one day?  That stupid jacket is ruining otherwise beautiful pictures.”

There is this teeny-tiny window where a child does something that annoys us profoundly in the moment only to become the very thing we talk about most fondly when childhood has passed. And its often related to some thing: a dolly, “wubby” or blankie that they have difficulty parting with or a ratty piece of clothing they insist on wearing day in and day out.  Should this item become lost, washed or otherwise unavailable all hell shall break loose.  Over time its story gets told and retold so often that it becomes the stuff of family legend.

A portrait taken in a studio in the 80’s hung in our living room throughout my childhood, the making of which took extreme pleading followed by a bold bribe on the part of my parents in order to successfully extricate “nakey baby” from its inclusion.  I recently noticed that this photo was replaced by an enlarged snapshot of us where nakey baby, every bit as naked as her name suggests, dangles at my sister’s pigtailed side.

The reality is that a child won’t need this thing forever.  At some point it is cast aside and we pack it in a box and wonder where the little boy or girl went.  They do, absolutely, become the person we always knew they were and feared others might not see behind the quirk.  And I guess that’s why it melted my heart when Hayden’s parents welcomed XO into the photos, no bribes or conflict, and it actually became a part of things.

And I’m not sure if its because it was welcome or because he was willing anyway, but XO wasn’t actually in most of them.  And wow, is Hayden handsome when he let’s you see his face.  It was towards the end of the shoot that he placed it, lovingly, with the girls who happened to be wearing red. I couldn’t have planned it better had it been my own idea.

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Anna and Ella are indeed absolutely beautiful and thankfully my lens didn’t explode.  To be a fly on the wall of this shoot would have been comical as three adults juggled two babies to coax simultaneous naps or waking moments, they refused to do the same thing at the same time, almost as if to assert their individuality.  But the craziness really  is just part of the wonder right now.  I just hope that I am still taking pictures of this group when XO is in a box and each girl has her own version of it to include.

As for me, I am embracing pictures of Batman on a pebbled beach with a bay and lighthouse behind him fighting no one.  I know that someday he will be fascinated by the infinite color variations of each unique pebble, that he will pick them up and want to carry them home because he is curious.  I know that someday he will love the wind in his face and love its sound as it whips past his ears because he is thoughtful.  I know that someday he will look out at the vastness of a body of water and dream about possibilities because part of him is free.  Its OK if these things elude him right now.  Its OK if he needs costumes to help him sort out the complexity of the world and an iPad once in awhile so that he can rest comfortably inward.  He will become who I know he is.  I’m not in a hurry.

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Posted by Mel @ 1:26 pm, in Newborns, Portraits, Wee Ones | Comments Off on XOXO | Permalink