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!

James and Baby William at 9 Months

October 19th, 2012

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You know what they say… life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.  Apparently, the same can be said about photography as well since this is the shot I was trying to take:

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And this is the shot that happened instead, right behind me:

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Which only prompted the shots that followed:

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That’s where the serendipity that I have loved to glean from weddings has followed me into the realm of family lifestyle photography.  Well, for lack of a better categorical name, I’m still trying to give a good name to whatever it is that I think I’m doing these days.

Because family portraiture generally isn’t inclusive of the spontaneous entrance of a Trader Joe’s armor clad warrior:

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This was my first shoot with James and William’s family but Jennifer and Wynn trusted me completely.  No mother plans on having pictures taken in her five year old, Lego maniac of a little boy’s room.  Let’s be honest, a tidy boy’s room would be worrisome but we don’t have to draw attention to the reality, do we?  Um, can we?  And that’s where Jennifer rocks, she let me take pictures in the kingdom of James.  I could see her cringing as I drew open the curtains to let in the light and the result was a powerful ruler reminiscent of Max from Where the Wild Things Are…  He was James, king of the Lego Things.

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Of course I had to dig on brotherly love and bubbly toes…

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In short, I was loving on the family love.  Here’s a slideshow from our day and click here to see their gallery.   I am actually so behind on the blog that I have already had another wonderful shoot with this family that I can’t wait to edit and share, hang in there for some fall goodness with this crew coming soon!

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Posted by Mel @ 3:28 pm, in Portraits, Wee Ones | 1 comment | Permalink

Gratitude: My Cubs

October 4th, 2012

The grocery store is on the way home from preschool and since we carpool, I took both Fiver and my niece Jordan with me to pick up a few things.  They managed to cram both their little butts into the front seat of a Kroger grocery cart car and proceeded to shout out driving directions at one another like an old married couple.  “Let’s take 95!”, yelled Jordan.  “There’s too much traffic”, my son rebutted.  I asked if they could take a left on Broad (the condiment aisle) so that I could pick up some mayo.  (Dukes, of course.)  We were having a blast with it and a shopper walking towards us smiled as I threw my weight into the careening cart of giggles, pushing it out of her general trajectory .  “You have a beautiful family”, she told me.  I thanked her and agreed that indeed I was blessed.  I didn’t bother to correct her, what she saw was true.

I sometimes wonder if I would see my two nieces differently if I didn’t have one child and secondary infertility.  We’re just not sure that a sibling is in the cards so each time that I look at Jordan and Reyna I see not only two beautiful little girls but the foundations of the women who will be there for my son when Sam and I are gone.  They are his family now and, maybe more importantly, going forward.  Something about that knowledge makes me hold them both a little tighter in my arms.  They are not mine per se, they are blessed with wonderful mothers of their own and don’t need another.  But I have come to see them as a special gift not only to their own parents but to myself, specifically.  I was there the day both these girls were born, I was actually in the room at the moment Jordan came into the world and it transformed me forever.  I know that there’s something special about being an aunt, that there are things they will confide in me in years to come that they won’t tell their own mothers.  I look forward to holding that place in their hearts.

But for now, I am thoroughly enjoying the simplicity of our relationships.  We share a love of cuddles, laughing, and all things sparkly.  Thankfully boys don’t have cooties yet.  Its pretty awesome.  On Saturday I got to spend time with both my nieces in very different ways.  We started the day at the National Zoo where the older cousins whipped up a couple of manes out of construction paper and plates.  Painted faces completed their transformation into lion and lioness.  Fierce!

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They tried scaring the lions with their roars but much to their shared disappointment, it didn’t generate much response from the den.

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There was too much to see at the zoo.  The Reptile House was more popular than anyone expected at this age and Fiver had to be coaxed into the Ape House because he thought it was too stinky.  We barely made it to the sea lions before two very sleepy cubs had to be carried out of the park.

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After lunch I left the Worthington clan to head over to Reyna’s house, I can’t believe we’re closing in on a year.  As she posed for me on the bed in her ruffled bloomers and fashionable beret I couldn’t help but sing my own special Reyna version of Don’t Cha, changing the lyrics to, “Don’t cha wish your baby was cute like me?  Don’t cha wish your baby had chub like me?”  Reyna looked at me like I had lost my mind and my sister laughed at the both of us.

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Oh, how I cherish the chub…

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I loved watching Reyna and her parents play.  Katy pleaded and pleaded for a kiss… boose?….boose?   Denied like an insurance claim.

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Truth be told, the last thing I want to do on my days “off” is hold a camera up to my eyeballs.  I hate the way it hangs heavily on my neck like an anvil on a strap, getting in the way of joys like holding Reyna, chasing my son, tickling Jordan into a fit.  I think it was worth it on Saturday, though.  I’m trying to let go of the pressure to take perfect pictures because we’re not perfect people living in perfect circumstances.  Simply, I need to see the beauty amidst the chaos, the gods and goddesses that live in details like curly baby hair, and the love we have for the people we live our lives for now.  Pictures can be about gratitude and I figure I could use a healthy dose of that myself.  So here it is, my Saturday, my gratitude, my cubs.

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Posted by Mel @ 12:49 pm, in Portraits, Wee Ones | Comments Off | Permalink

Sarah and Chuck’s Wedding

September 28th, 2012

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“This is what I like about shooting weddings,” said Sam with the car keys jingling in his hand.  The gear was heavy on our backs and the night air was filled with sparkler smoke and the sound of summer crickets still pulsing strong into the first official night of Fall .  Anyone walking alongside us would have had no idea what he was talking about.  The end of the night?  Is that what you like?  (Well, to be honest, yes, we do.)  But having been been married for over ten years and after shooting together for even longer than that, I knew that he was actually referring to this:

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If you read this blog, you already know that I am a giant art nerd.  I was the grad student who couldn’t wait to talk about Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida.  I ate Susan Sontag for breakfast and moved on to Andy Grundberg for lunch.  I absorbed anything that critics had to say about the medium of photography because they all, essentially, believed the same thing.  That photograph you are looking at?  It ain’t real.  Its every bit as imaginary and contrived as a painting.  Its power lies in the fact that you believe it is real and you believe its real because its creation is grounded in something tangible but it is not, I repeat, it is not. Real.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, fans and critics, rest assured that we didn’t make all this up.  It was no trick of the lens.  I mean we’re good and all but we’re not that good.  There is no faking this kind of happiness.  You can’t eek it out of the best models, actors, photographers, cameras or any combination thereof.   The celebration was very, very real.  People who don’t normally like to dance danced for Chrissake.  Really!  Sarah and Chuck are the real deal and that’s what Sam was talking about in the parking lot.

Hello there, Art School.  Just so you know, I stand corrected.

Back to the deets, Sarah and Chuck were married at the lovely Mill at Fine Creek which, if you haven’t been out there lately, has taken on some new renovations and sweet details.  The Mill has long been a favorite of ours, aside from the loveliness of the ruins and the creek, the professionalism and hospitality you will find throughout the very talented staff there is beyond compare.  So is the food, I have no idea how they do it time and again at such a level of delicious perfection but these guys are so good that they will serve scallops in a buffet.  Scallops, people.  One of the most difficult of foods to cook perfectly in the first place, much less serve to a large volume of people.  And that, in a scallop shell, is the Mill at Fine Creek.

Here’s a slideshow with our favs.  Sarah and Chuck, congratulations and thank you for being so fun and easy going, you had us smiling all day right along with you.  That’s what we like about shooting weddings.

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Posted by Mel @ 3:14 pm, in Weddings | Comments Off | Permalink

Alannah is a Big Sister and Welcome, Baby Fiona!

September 27th, 2012

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I had just arrived and was changing lenses on my camera when Alannah strode up, put a hand on one hip and told it to me straight.  “She’s going to cry a lot.  You know that, right?”  There she was, standing before me, one of my very first, first year documentary babies, so grown at the age of five and giving me advice about a baby that was the spitting image of herself as a baby.  Talk about a freak out moment for me.

Even though its been four years and some change since I have seen Alannah, we fell right back into our rhythm.  She is still just little bit diva and just little bit shy, still my muse.

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While I kept a lot more color in the family’s edit, I was feeling black and white big time on this shoot.  When I first arrived we repeated the now famous Eddy shot, a black and white studio-esque shot that has been taken with each of his daughters as babies.  Maybe it was the repetition of this tradition or maybe it was the girls’ white dresses but I found myself thinking in more timeless terms, snuffing out color and welcoming more black and white imagery than I normally find myself drawn to these days.  I’ve had a bit of a fling with color in recent years but I was reminded that black and white is my first and true love.  Its both simple and profound, the play between highlight and shadow that culminates into a moment trapped in time.

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Fiona, only 5 weeks old in this shoot, is such a beauty:

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Alannah is such a proud and loving big sister.  She shared the dragonflies that used to adorn her own nursery along with a few pretty updates…

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Alannah is so sweetly willing to try and soothe her sister’s tears.  Its something sisters do for each other throughout a lifetime, I had forgotten that we know how to do it from the very beginning.

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She is also very excited to fill up Fiona’s baby book with memories.  I think she’s off to a pretty good start…

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Loooove Alannah’s reaction to all the lovin’ in this posey family sequence.

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A lot of love, indeed!  Here’s a slideshow from our shoot and a gallery too.  Congrats to Alannah, Erin and Eddie and welcome, beautiful baby Fiona!

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Posted by Mel @ 3:39 pm, in Newborns, Portraits, Wee Ones | Comments Off | Permalink