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I'm Ali Rae and I love building brands.
So let's build that business one blog post at a time.
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2019…I had no idea what to expect from you. We started the year in a new area, with a new baby, and the best laid plans. Many of those plans went accordingly. Probably an equal amount did not…and that’s okay.
When thinking about the growth ARHP experienced in 2019, I just find myself grateful. Grateful to the couples who allowed us to document their engagement and/or wedding; grateful to the families who trusted me with their memories; grateful to my photographer friends and colleagues who allowed me to shoot alongside them and learn from them; grateful to my family (shout out to Caleb, my parents and grandma, and Caleb’s parents) for helping with Huxley whenever I had a session or wedding; grateful for the education I invested in this year (specifically the Katelyn James Business Journey)’; grateful for the Internet and social media to market myself in a new area…and I’m sure I am missing someone or something, but the sentiment still stands—overwhelmed with gratefulness!!
Most times, the public sees only the tip of the entrepreneurial iceberg so to speak. Once everything is polished, I present it to the world. But there’s so much more happening behind the scenes in order to create that polished product and maintain the “business” side of the business. A mixture of educating myself and some trial and error has allowed me to grow ARHP throughout the 2019 calendar year. I am so proud to say I have taken steps to build my business on a solid foundation so that I can continue to serve couples for years to come. Alongside the business side of ARHP, my technical understanding of light and my cameras has grown as well, thanks to many photographers whose experience outnumbers my own.
My word of the year for 2019 was develop. I wanted to develop my business into the business that I have imagined it would be. While that is a constant process, I feel like I am on the right track. The following ten images captures different areas of the growth and development that 2019 has brought to ARHP.
My year started off with Catie & Elliott. They were one of the first couples to take a chance on having me as their wedding photographer, and I couldn’t be more thankful! The camera loves these two, so my job was easy. This is honestly one of my favorite images I have ever taken. The combination of the light, the snow, and the love between these two, it’s hard to beat.
All those Pinterest images you see with perfectly placed stationery, ribbon, and flowers? Yea, those are hard to create. Ribbon almost never does what you want it to do! But this was the first “flat lay” I put together that I was genuinely proud of. While that may seem small, so much patience and thought goes into just one shot like this!
Altogether I participated in seven styled shoots this year. This was my first one in February that my friend Cara and I planned together. It was a huge undertaking that we totally didn’t anticipate (remember those best laid plans that didn’t go accordingly), but the result was phenomenal. We learned a ton, added to our portfolios, and got to meet some great vendors!
This wedding was extremely special. Michelle, the bride, is Caleb’s cousin. This picture was taken on their wedding day in October, but she married the love of her life in July in the hospital before her father passed away after a long battle with Parkinson’s. This picture is special for many reasons, but most of all because of the man pictured on that pendant. Although it is a small pendant, his impact on his wife and daughters was huge. He was honored in small ways throughout the day, including the bracelets her mother and sister wore that day. This picture. This is why I love my job.
This image was a WIN for me as a photographer for a couple reasons. First…it was obviously taken after the sun set, so I used flash to create this image. For the longest time, I was intimidated by flash and only did the bare minimum that I had to do with it. Now that I understand it more, it is so fun to play with even if it’s not my normal style! Second, the way the timeline came together for this wedding day, my coverage ended before the couple was going to do their final exit. Despite that, I wanted to get them some cool night shots that they could look back on at the end of their wedding day, and I did just that!!
Being just 20ish miles from DC, I wanted to shoot a wedding in DC in 2019. Chi-Chi and Amit helped make one of my dreams come true! She described their wedding day as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and an “enchanted garden.” Well, then we found this very enchanting garden right across the street, so naturally we had to do portraits here. Their trust in me as their photographer meant the world to me, and I would say we nailed the enchanted garden vibe.
This session was straight out of my dreams. Taken at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens on Memorial Day weekend…!!! We were battling a few things—crowds, the business hours of the gardens, and a military schedule. The stars aligned and we were able to make this happen, but in order to beat most of the crowds, we had to shoot from 9-11am in direct sunlight. In the past I have always just found shade and played it safe because direct sunlight brings harsh shadows. But oh my goodnessssss…direct sunlight can be so BEAUTIFUL! And this image (and whole session, really) demonstrates that!
So while I always encourage golden hour portrait times, please know that we can get quality portraits no matter the time of day!
Sunrise engagements are the way to my heart. Something about sunrise that is so peaceful and calm, even in one of the most tourist-heavy places in the world. These two taught me one very important lesson—that everything happens for a reason! First, they grew up just a couple hours away from each other in TEXAS, then met and fell in love in DC years later. Second, we were supposed to have their engagement session in Georgetown, but it was rained out. When it got rained out, we had enough time to apply for a permit to shoot at the Lincoln Memorial and THIS magic happened!!
One of the accomplishments I am most proud of this year is beginning my adventure with FILM! This session was one of my very first ever rolls of film, and, ugh…I’m in love. It is so dreamy and romantic and I can’t get over that this image is mine. Shooting film has even changed how I shoot digitally. I slow down and pay attention to the composition of each image, which is something I didn’t often do before!
And the final image of 2019—a film image from a conference I attended in Dallas. Putting yourself out there is hard. Putting yourself out there in an unfamiliar place…even harder. But because of the friends I have made in 2019, largely in part due to the business course I took this year, makes each transition in business easier. To those of you who have helped me grow, you know who you are…THANK YOU!
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