Several years ago, in my wine-slinging days working events for Old 502 Winery, I was scheduled to work a bridal event at Midlane Farm in Hikes Point. They set up my table next to a photographer and that photographer was – you guessed it – Ben Marcum. Throughout the evening, we sipped on wine samples and had great conversation and it felt as if I had known him for much longer than the few hours that we were at this event. He shot my headshots a few months later and we have been friends ever since!

When Ben put out feelers to find out who would be interested in a portrait session, I knew I had to jump on it, and I knew I had to bring up the dress. I sent him photos of other clothing that belonged to my grandmother but we both agreed the dress had to be seen. I stopped by the studio one afternoon to show him the dress in person, and also see the new studio! It’s a place where you’d want to kick your feet up and hang out and have a cocktail. The room where your photos are actually shot is incredible, with a ton of natural light. After stopping by, I was really looking forward to getting my session scheduled.

On the day of my shoot, I brought several looks and after deciding which ones we were going to use, I sat down to have my hair and makeup done by Pam (from The Beauty Patrol). You guys. What a freaking GEM of a human being. She made me feel very at ease. I had just cut off roughly 12 inches of my hair a couple weeks before and got a little nervous when she pulled out the curlers, fearing that my hair would look too glam. It turned out perfectly. My makeup looked amazing. I wish she could do my hair and makeup every day!

Ben guided me through the entire session. I’m totally serious when I say that you’ll feel like you’ve known Ben for a hundred years. Being in front of a camera can be awkward and you’re at your most vulnerable. I felt very comfortable throughout my whole session. We all cracked jokes and had some awesome moments throughout the shoot that made me think Ben had captured something really special, even without seeing the photos yet.

One of the looks we did involved my late grandmother’s light blue dress from the 60s that is embroidered with sequins and beads (it’s beautiful and heavy af). I found it while cleaning out my old room at my parents’ house. My mom told me it was okay if I wanted to consign it but I’m so glad I held on to it. It’s one thing to have cool vintage clothes hanging in your closet but to have the opportunity to wear them and be photographed in them…totally amazing.

I’ve been a classical musician for the majority of my life and an actor since college. I love performing but I never craved a violin solo and I didn’t have my first lead role in a play until last summer (5 years post-college). I hadn’t really had portrait photos taken since my high school senior pictures. I had never seen myself in print before and definitely not AN ENTIRE WALL of me.

…seeing that manifested in print form left me speechless.

Over three years ago when Ben did my headshots, I was at a completely different place in my life and it wasn’t necessarily a good one. The last few years have been filled with challenges, failures, triumphs, tears and laughter. There are days where I feel defeated, like I’ve gone nowhere and I have so much left to do but then there are days where I feel great and I know I’ve come a long way. Seeing these photos made me feel the latter. It’s taken me 27 years to figure out how to love and take care of myself and seeing that manifested in print form left me speechless.

I’m a realtor and I go-go-go a million miles a minute, every day, all the time. While it’s fun to be able to send a picture instantaneously via your smartphone, there’s something really, really cool about the patience of waiting to see your photos live and in person. I highly recommend it. A portrait session like this one is something that I would do again in a heartbeat. I’m really looking forward to sharing these photos with my family and friends for many years to come. Take the time for yourself!

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