I’ve got all my sisters with me | Business + Personal

If you had told me back in high school that I would one day be a “sorority girl”, I probably would have laughed in your face. I am by no means a girly girl and not one to hang with a bunch of girls and do group bathroom trips. I like hanging with the guys. I even had 5 guy roommates at one time in college. I would say they were less drama, but that wasn’t always true. For me, it was just easier with guys.
But as fate would have it, I did join a wonderful sorority. Actually, Pi Beta Phi is considered a women’s fraternity. Since it was the first of its kind, there was no such thing as a sorority then. I met my sorority “big sister” my freshman year and my second semester I went out for formal recruitment to see what it was all about. A friend I had danced with in high school was there and had joined just the semester before. I feel in love with some of the women and more importantly what Pi Phi believed in and represented. Their main philanthropy was literacy, something that I felt was important. They did a lot on campus and I enjoyed the involvement. It was definitely one of the best decisions I made in college (second only to deciding to go out with my future husband 🙂 )!
I never would have imagined the benefits Pi Phi would be still giving me after college. Of course they tell you all the wonders of alumni networking and such when you are a collegiate, but you don’t really think that way when you are in college. You kind of think in the here and now.
Although, I’m not actively involved in my chapter or alumni club currently, I have a wonderful network and circle of sisters. We have been a part of each others’ weddings, either as guests or actually in the wedding. Every one of my attendants were Pi Phis. We have seen our families grow and been at birthday parties, showers and more! I love getting together with my sisters/friends for play dates. We have even seen each other become entrepreneurs in our own business ventures.
This has been one of my favorite parts of being a Pi Phi alumni. My Pi Phi sister Kristi and I have really built up a beautiful network. Last year after I started my photography business, Kristi contacted me to take photos of her beautiful hand-made jewelry (check out The Funky Tangerine). Even all of her models for the shoot were Pi Phis!! We have both supported each other and plugged each others businesses whenever possible. I have even put Kristi in contact with another photographer friend who was spotlighting Esty businesses. That is how supportive we are of each other (and also in my photographer network). Pay it forward!!
Just last week, I signed up for a styled shoot that will be hosted by Debbie Laughlin Photography and Jennifer Krieg Photography. I shared the link on my business Facebook page and Kristi saw it. She noticed they did not have a jewelry vendor and asked me if this might be something they would want/need. I put her in touch with Debbie and BAM! it was a done deal! I am so excited for Kristi and so excited for her to get this exposure. I can’t wait to see what she will come up with.
I just love our network. I have sisters who do advertising, jewelry, fitness, graphic design, teach and countless other jobs.  I have even had the pleasure of photographing several of my sisters and their families!!  My sorority little sister, Joanna, is getting married in November and I get to photograph her wedding! I am thrilled!!!! She is still one of my closest friends and my son’s godmother! He even gets to be in her wedding too!

I just never imagined I would still be benefitting from that one decision to join such an amazing organization. Some people say that a sorority is paying for you friends. Well, I feel like I got a great deal, because the ones I got are priceless!!! 🙂

Some photos of me and my sisters at my wedding.

My bridesmaids!!


Pi Phis at my wedding!

pi phi pic
The beautiful Pi Phi models at The Funky Tangerine jewelry shoot. All of them are modeling jewelry made by Kristi.

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My beautiful and talented friend Kristi at her jewelry shoot! She now has that sweet little girl that was in her belly then, in her arms.

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My sister Julie and her family. I got to photograph their family as they anticipated the arrival of their second baby and at Christmas when little Wyatt was just a few weeks old!

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My sorority sister Breauna (who I never met in college, but was thankful that Kristi recommended me to her)! I had the best time photographing her beautiful family this past fall!

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My sister Jenn and her beautiful family.  I am so thankful that we have been a part of each others weddings and kids’ lives!

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Steven and his Auntie Joanna. She is also his godmother. I cannot wait for us to both be a part of her big day!!!


When your photo session doesn’t go as planned | Business + Personal

So I have been meaning to write this post for awhile. I first had the idea after working with several families and during their sessions, their kids just weren’t feeling like having their photos taken. The parents get stressed and apologize repeatedly, reassuring me their children are usually well-behaved and all smiles. I assure them that it is ok, that theirs are not the first kids I have worked with that have off days. They all do, mine included. I then gained this experience first hand and therein comes the personal side of this post.

I know I have written before about the wonderful network of photographers that I am a part of through Amanda Hedgepeth. I decided this past Fall that I wanted to take the plunge and have our family photos professionally done. I know, its what I do, so I should value it, and I do. I really do!! But, like many of you think, it is an expense and one that sadly doesn’t always make the priority list. Well, I decided we needed to make it happen.

So I started thinking of who I wanted to have take our pictures. My cousin had taken ours several times, and she did a fantastic job, but I wanted someone I knew in the profession. I contacted Debbie with Debbie Laughlin Photography.  I had talked with Debbie online through our network, and she was so kind and helpful.  Besides, I loved her work.  So I contacted her and we set a date.  I started dreaming of our perfect session. Laughing and smiling and all the beautiful photos we would have.

Well, fast-forward and our session date, the day after Steven’s birthday, the weather was 34 degrees and windy.  I was still set on us doing our session though.  So I dragged my husband and our son out to Fort Story and the Cape Henry Lighthouse.  We were sitting in the car letting Steven eat his snack before the session and Mike asked me “Do you hear that sound?”.  I listened and asked if it was a jet?  He said “No, it is the wind!”.  Yikes!   I should have called it off.  But, I had my heart set that we were going to have our photos taken and we had no other time available for the rest of the year! So Debbie and her sweet husband showed up all bundled up ready to brave the cold and wind.
It was a disaster. Not on Debbie’s part by any means. She was awesome!  We were just so cold and the wind was blowing and making it worse.  I wanted us to look nice, so in a complete moment of mommy failure, I didn’t put a jacket on Steven.  He was freezing.  He got so upset and cold that he couldn’t recover.  He was crying and tears were streaming down his face.  We tried everything to get him to smile.  We even all bundled up, but it wasn’t happening.  Debbie was so patient and kind to us.  She reassured us that it was ok and that she didn’t mind.  She hung in there with us and tried her best, but Steven just wasn’t having it.  So she kindly told us that she would give us what she had and that we could reschedule to finish out the session.  We didn’t even last 30 minutes out there!

So, this is a lot longer than I anticipated it being, but what I want to get at is that it is ok if your kids are having an off day. Like Debbie, I love what I do and I love working with families and kids. It isn’t for everyone. Not every photographer does family and children sessions. I do and I love it. I love capturing the special moments and meeting all the little people. If I didn’t like working with families and children, I wouldn’t do it.

So parents, it is ok if your kiddos are off. I will do my best to work with them and try to get them to relax and be their usual charming selves.  I am patient and understanding.  I won’t get upset and its ok.  WE all have our off days.  But, if they get to the point where they just aren’t having it, that is ok to. We can always reschedule. Your session is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and a great memory. Besides that is what we are doing. Creating and capturing memories. They should be pleasant and happy ones.  Being a parent comes first and your children’s well-being comes first.  We can always reschedule for another day! 🙂

I want to give a big thank you to Debbie for being such a patient and kind person and photographer. She is definitely a role model for me as a family and children’s photographer. I am so grateful for the beautiful photos she did capture for us. And, we will always be able to look back at our session as a learning lesson in parenting. Sometimes you really do have to put your kids above your wants and dreams.

View More: http://debbielaughlinphotography.pass.us/zebrowski-session

This is probably one of my favorite photos of us ever!  I love that you can tell he is smiling at Mike!

View More: http://debbielaughlinphotography.pass.us/zebrowski-session

View More: http://debbielaughlinphotography.pass.us/zebrowski-session

View More: http://debbielaughlinphotography.pass.us/zebrowski-session

View More: http://debbielaughlinphotography.pass.us/zebrowski-session

View More: http://debbielaughlinphotography.pass.us/zebrowski-session

All photos taken by Debbie Laughlin Photography.

300 Likes + A “Sweet” Giveaway

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for your support! You all helped me reach a goal of 300 likes on my business Facebook page by the end of 2013.
As I promised, I am doing a “Sweet” giveaway. I love Sweet Frog’s frozen yogurt, so I am giving away a $20 gift card. All you have to do is enter below. Make sure you are a Dana Rae Photography fan on Facebook and you get 3 entries. If you want more entries, leave a comment about your positive Dana Rae Photography experience. If I haven’t had the pleasure of working with you yet, maybe you can leave a positive comment on the photos you have seen that I have taken.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful 2013! I know I have. I feel so incredibly blessed by all the support I have had for my new business. I cannot wait to see what 2014 holds!! Good luck and the giveaway will end at 9pm New Year’s Eve!!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

My favorites from 2013

This has truly been an amazing year! I started my photography business in 2013 and it has been a wonderfully, blessed journey. I am so grateful for everyone that supported my business this year. This year I had 32 different paying clients!! I know that may not sound like much, but I only started charging clients in May and only did sessions on the weekends. I worked with so many wonderful couples, families, and children. I cannot wait to see what 2014 brings!! Here are some of my favorites from 2013. Enjoy!

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Reeves Family-59
Winslow Family-102

Back-to-school Lucia-11

Back-to-school Jack-1

Kegan and Mason-22

Fall Mini Session - Savannah-4

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Lily Kessler-62

Brian and Karen-67

Weaver Family-59

Stotesbury Family-55

Franklin Family Christmas minis-7

Tomlin Family Christmas minis-19

Slaba Family-47

Zimmerman Family-23

Zwick Family Christmas minis-34

DeJarnette Family-7

Small Business Saturday + New changes for 2014

So I figured “Small Business Saturday” would be the perfect time to make my big announcement!!! Starting January 1, 2014, my prices for sessions will be going up slightly. 2013 has been such an amazing year for my business and me. I have learned so much and grown in my business and my skill as a photographer. I have met so many wonderful people and worked with awesome clients. Thank you all who have supported me, who helped me get started and who have returned for more sessions! I am so grateful for you all!
Starting in 2014, I will be charging $175.00 for a full session. This includes up to 1 1/2 hours of camera time, one location of your choosing, 1 outfit, 60-75 images and rights to all edited digital files. I will also be charging the 6% sales tax required. I will occasionally schedule mini sessions several times a year. Dates, locations, themes and prices for all mini sessions with be decided upon and announced throughout the year, so make sure you check for updates!
As I book more sessions, I am choosing to spend less time with my family. I love what I do and I love my family. This career choice was one that we agreed would be flexible and a good way for me to help support our family financially. As anyone with children knows, time with our children is precious. I am simply making sure that if I have to be away from my husband and son, that is definitely worth my time. Again, I love being a photographer and enjoy each session! Also, as I grow my business, this requires more expense such as a website, equipment, insurance, etc.!
Again, thank you all so much for all of your support for my business and my family! As a special thank-you, I’d like to offer a special deal!!! Starting today and going until December 31, 2013, if you book a session for 2014 you can get the 2013 pricing!!! This package will include everything listed above, just at the current rate of $150.00. To secure your session for 2014, you must pay the retainer fee of $75.00 and sign a client contract. You will receive a gift-certificate for a session good for the 2014 calendar year!
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and ends 2013 wonderfully! Thank you all again!!

My little guy and his Uncle Zach


Some of my favorite photos from this year! I wish I could post them all!

Winslow Family-87

Jones Family-6 Back-to-school Lucia-11Kegan and Mason-22 Lily Kessler-62Brian and Karen-7 Weaver Family-22 Stotesbury Family-32Franklin Family Christmas minis-7 Tomlin Family Christmas minis-19 Slaba Family-47

The Funky Tangerine | Styled Jewelry Shoot

Whoo Hooo! My first styled shoot!! I was so excited and flattered when Kristi Bell, owner of The Funky Tangerine, asked me to take photos of models wearing her handcrafted jewelry.

Kristi and I are sisters in the most wonderful organization, Pi Beta Phi, as well are all her beautiful models. I can say that joining Pi Phi was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Most of my girlfriends are sorority sisters, and now we are helping foster each others growing businesses!

Kristi makes beautiful jewelry, from earrings to stylish necklaces and bracelets.  You can visit her Etsy shop here. Check out these beautiful pieces she wanted to showcase at the City Center and Huntington Beach in Newport News, VA.  I love the colors and funky accents she combines to make gorgeous pieces. She even has a line for children. 🙂

The Funky Tangerine can be found a many trade shows and other such events. If you would like to learn more about this business you can find them on facebook.

Jewelry: The Funky Tangerine

Make-up: Gretchen Pierson Tubolion (Mary Kay)

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Taking the plunge | Personal + Business

So here it goes…May 1st is tomorrow. I told myself that starting in May, I would begin to charge for my services. I have rethought that deadline, second guessed it and dreaded it a million times. But, it is now here and I’m sticking to it.  I will no longer be doing sessions for free.

I will always be practicing and learning; that is the nature of this business. But, it’s time for me be valued for my time and my work. Not many people start a job without pay. You want to get paid to work, paid for you time.

I’m sticking by my goals and by my work. I can see how much I’ve improved and learned in just the last 6 months. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in another 6!!!

I am worth it, my time is worth it, and my family is worth it.  I hope to be able to work with lots of new clients in the coming year. I can’t wait to see where this adventure is going to lead me!!!!

 So… without further ado here is my pricing.

Full Session


1 ½ hours

Up to 2 outfits

30-40 images (guaranteed)

Rights to all digital files

Mini Session


30 minutes

1 outfit

10-15 images (guaranteed)

Rights to all digital files

I truly hope to work with you in capturing your special moments. Here’s to the next step!!!

Take a look at how far I’ve come in the last few months…I can see a big difference! 🙂

Last Fall 2012


April 2013