Ica Insight: The Best Gifts For the Photographer in your life

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Ever wonder what to get the photographers in your life? It was my birthday just a week ago & it made me think about past gifts that really celebrated my love for photography or gifts that helped me or encouraged me to build my photography career. Though I am not a “gifts person” myself, I would rather spend quality time with people & receive words of affirmation, but whether it was for my birthday or holidays, these gifts were always such a blessing to receive.

I hope that this list helps you celebrate the photographers in your life. I know that receiving any of these gifts was such an encouragement to continue to pursue photography & when it came from a loved one, it makes it that much more special.

  1. A camera bag!
    Kelly Moore Bag - Riverdale Right now I’m currently obsessed & never without my very own red, Riverdale bag that I received from my brother in law this past Christmas. It’s a beautiful every day bag, but it’s also a padded camera bag that can squeeze in my Nikon d750 + a 50mm 1.4 lens if they are *not attached. It’s a very petite bag, & I love that because I’m a very petite women.

    When I’m out with friends & family I often long to have one of my cameras on me but HATE the bulkiness of it in a purse or around my neck. So squeezing it into my Riverdale means keeping a petite profile with a fashionable bag, that doesn’t scream “Come rob me, I have a very expensive camera is in here!” like lots of standard cameras.

Or a work bag!

Maybe I’m old school, but I’ve still got a deep love for my classic & faithful, Shoot Sac. My husband gifted this bag to me while we were still dating & while I was just starting my business. This shoot sac has been faithfully by my side over the past 10 years & it still looks as solid as the first day I got it.

This bag is a work horse & it carries all my lenses on a wedding day so comfortably. I see most photographers these day opt for more fashionable camera bag during weddings and portrait sessions, and to each his own, I just find myself never wanting to give up the comfort & durability of my shoot sac.

2. And awesome camera strap!
I’ve acquired a number of camera straps over the years, some handmade with love, others mere replacements of my original Nikon straps, but none compares to my HoldFast moneymaker straps.

Every time I wear this I always get complimented on how cool I look with this leather goodness on, most especially when it’s tethered to two cameras. But I also just love it for the “backpack” feel that helps distribute the weight of my camera off of my neck and onto my shoulders and back instead. One of my best friends almost gifted this to me, but I purchased it before she could surprise me with it.

3. A starting lens
This gift isn’t such a great gift idea for any seasoned professional photographers in your life, because they most likely already own a lens similar or even better than this lens.

BUT for the hobbyist photographers or brand new photographers in your life, this is a pretty sweet gift to receive. When I was just starting out I purchased this lens on my own, but most of my peers just starting out with me were receiving this lens as a gift for their first holiday or birthday after pursing their photography journey. It helps that this lens is great glass but not a bank breaker.

3. A fun camera!
Sometimes carrying my professional camera turns on a switch inside my brain & makes me go into “work-mode Ica” even when I don’t want to, like when I’m on vacation or just going for an adventure in the city with my husband. So a few years ago my husband gifted me my Fuji Instax camera (and the entire collection of 15 other vintage Polaroid cameras I own).

Whenever I can remember to buy film & have it ready for our adventures, I use it for fun personal memories & it brings me right back to the simple joy I get from capturing life’s sweetest moments. Shooting with this toy camera helps me remember why I love photography so much! And having instantly printed photos is a plus too because we don’t print our photos enough these days!

4. Memory Cards

Maybe you need ideas for filling a photographer’s Christmas stocking next Christmas, or if you have a limited budget to spend on the photographer in your family (we all have an “Uncle Bob” character in the family who is never without his camera & his flash at every family function), these are such little but thoughtful gifts to get the photographer in your family.

I would have never thought about giving memory cards as a gift, but man my best friends gifted me some memory cards the year I started growing my business & it was one of the most thoughtful gifts I received that year. By receiving memory cards from them, I felt their encouragement to keep capturing beautiful photos & fill them up with memories! But make sure to ask the photographer in your life what size & what kind of memory cards they use so that you don’t get them cards they can’t use. Thankfully my besties knew exactly what I use.

And honestly, photographers can never, ever have too many memory cards.
Memory cards have such a limited shelf life, having new ones & extra one never hurt.

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Want to learn how to

take care of your memory cards?

If you are a pro or even a hobbyist photographer, wouldn’t you love to receive these items as gifts?
Please feel free to comment below, other recommendations you have for gifts for photographers.


* Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.* All items are items I personally own & love <3

Instagram Takeover & Portrait Giveaway! **GIVEAWAY CLOSED**

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For first blogpost of the new year & we are starting off with some sweet news!

Today we are taking over Visit Alexandria’s Instagram to share our date night adventure!
We hope it brings you some date night ideas Valentine’s next week.

We love Old Town Alexandria so much for our own date nights,
I’m teaming up with @visitalexva to give away a 20 minute mini portrait session in Old Town Alexandria with 20 professional images! To enter, comment why you love date nights in Alexandria, follow @visitalexva and @icaimages on instagram & tag a friend.
(Please note: Must be redeemed before March 22, 2019 and must be a portrait session:
professional headshots, senior portraits, family portraits, newborn, maternity, lifestyle).

We’ll announce the winner Monday, February 11th!

CLICK HERE to jump on over to the giveaway!
This giveaway is now closed

*******UPDATE: OUR GIVEAWAY WINNER IS
@KIMBERMEER!******

alexandria virginia portrait photographer ica images
Name *
Name
What kind of mini portrait session are interested in?

Skycroft Convention Center: Middletown, MD Wedding: Leland + Danielle

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"Where you go I follow
No matter how far
If life is a movie
Then you're the best part" - H.E.R.

When you get married on the camp grounds that you lived on for 22 years, then you see your groom for the first time on your wedding day under your most favorite tree in all the world, there's bound to be a river of tears & so much celebrating. Did I mention that guest were invited to camp out with the bride & groom at the end of the night, right there by the reception tent, under the stars in an open field?

Leland & Danielle's mountain top, camp site wedding was everything I'd imagine it'd be.
It was laid back, so personal & fun, & the weather was perfect! The forecast called for rain but the Lord moved the clouds for us & gave us cloud cover for the ceremony, a light drizzle during the first dance & a gorgeous sunset to polish off our day. 

And my oh my were their tears. From the first look where Danielle & Leland shared their personal vows in private, to best man who's love for his best friend was so evident & so endearing as he cried during most of the ceremony standing next to the groom, to Danielle's father's speech that literally had the entire tent of people weeping with tears. I've never seen a speech have such an impact on a wedding day, but when you have a father like Danielle's, who spent countless nights praying over Danielle's future husband while she was still a baby in her nursery, every single word was drenched in powerful love.

Leland & Danielle, thank you for being one of the most loving & generous couples I've ever had the joy of working with. You both love BIG & love deeply, and now I see that it's because of the incredible love you two were raised in & the immense love you two have been surrounded by all of your lives, & of course, because of our great God's perfect love. I love you both so much & I feel like the luckiest girl not only because I got to capture your wedding day, but because both of you, your friends & family all invited me right in to the celebration like I was family all a long. 

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Mount Airy Mansion, Upper Marlboro, MD Wedding: Brandon + Loydel

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It rained a bit today but we barely noticed because Brandon & "Del" got married & it was all joy & sunshine inside Mount Airy Mansion. The rain cleared up just as the ceremony ended so all our portraits were done outside, rain-free (thank you, Lord!), the DJ had the dance floor packed with happy guests & Del & Brandon beamed with joy all day long. God is good & He's started a good thing when he brought Brandon & Del together.

Brandon & Del, I love you both & I'm so happy for this new chapter of your lives. 
It's been so sweet to see the Lord work in your stories, allowing His perfect timing for both of your stories to intertwine. Praying for blessing upon blessing over your new family & for the ministry, I know your marriage will be to everyone around you. Congrats, you two!

Swan Point Yacht and Country Club Wedding, Southern Maryland: Mike + Cassie

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This weekend two of my dearest friends, Mike & Cassie got married!

It was the first time I've ever been asked to be matron of honor AND photographer on the same day & for Cassie, I'd gladly do it all! Cassie is one of my heroes & one of the greats in my life. Long before she met her husband in our home, I made a promise to photograph her wedding one day & this past weekend I got to deliver on that promise as her matron of honor.

I'm not sure any wedding experience will ever compare to wearing both hats on a wedding day & it would not have been possible without the kindness, talent & flexibility of my new found friend & fellow photographer, Shannon of Shannon Ensor Photography. Long before the wedding day arrived, Shannon, Cassie & I found a balance in dividing up the wedding day in a way that allowed me to fully participate & fulfill my role as a bridesmaid, yet also capture the photos Cassie always pictured me taking. It takes lots of communication & partnership to make sure everyone is happy in a situation like this & I'm so grateful to have worked with the very best this weekend.

Mike & Cassie, I love you both so fiercely.
I'm a mess of words & tears as I write this because I am overjoyed to see you both so beautiful & so incredibly happy. It's so kind of the Lord to allow both Tim and I to have you in our lives & allow us to watch your love grow since day one. Cassie, thank you for allowing me to celebrate all that God has done & your marriage, in all the ways I know how to celebrate best (tears, words, photos & dancing!!!). It was an honor to stand by your side as you became a wife & I've said over and over again, knowing you & having your friendship in my life has made me a better woman.

I'm so excited to share these few photos as a preview
to all the photos Shannon will soon share with the world! 

Venue: Swan Point Yacht & Country Club
Bridal Gown: Love & Lace Bridal Boutique
Bridal Alterations: Annapolis Bridal & Tuxedos
Groom's Suit & Shoes: The Black Tux
Hair Stylist: Christina Piper (friend)
MUA:  Natural Looks by Victoria

Franciscan Monastery, DC Engagement Portraits: Nella + Tyler

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Nella & Tyler had to travel to the opposite side of the world on a trip to the Philippines to figure out that their Maryland made friendship was much more than just friendship. It was basically an honeymoon before the relationship even began & now they are just a few short months away from saying "I do" then they'll be off on their actual honeymoon. 

When I asked them what they love about each other I nearly cried at their responses. Nella spoke so kindly of Tyler's never-ending thirst for knowledge, & his burning desire to change the world (these were direct quotes). While Tyler shared that Nella is simply inspiring, she is so hard working, patient & is one of the most caring people you'll ever meet. These two are the kind of people who are humbly & gently changing the world with their love, their passion for building others up & helping all those around them with all their skills & knowledge.

When these two are in each other's arms, the admiration in their eyes & the incredible joy on their faces when held by the other is the kind of magic that inspires love songs & movies. It's such a gift to be able to call these two some of my newest friends & I'm over the moon excited to be shooting their wedding in a few short months.

Tyler & Nella, Your love for each other & your passion to change the world for good is so inspiring. Thank you for bringing that encouragement & beauty into my life. I could not have asked the Lord for sweeter clients in this season of my life & I'm so blessed to be working with you two incredible souls. I love you both & your wedding can't come quickly enough!

Photography tips to take on vacation

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It's almost summer & your next big vacation is right around the corner. Are you ready to capture some amazing photos of your trip? Here are the few of tips & tricks I keep up myself when taking photos during vacation. 

(All these photos are images taken during a day trip with family & friends to Wilmington, NC)

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TIP #1. The best camera to use on vacation is the one you have one you. Use it!

One of my best friends went to Greece for a mission trip during our teen years & all she took with here was a disposable camera. There was no such thing as Instagram or Google at the time & I'd never seen anyone's personal photos of Greece before hers. To this day I still remember the impression those photos made on my heart, when she came back & shared her photos with everyone. Greece was stunning in all the graininess & harsh shadows from her disposable camera & that day I saw those photos was the day I put Greece on bucket list of places to visit.

All that to say, YES, more expensive cameras do take better quality images & as a photographer better quality is always ... well better. But sometimes remembering special moments on vacation, means simply taking out your cell phone, or the Polaroid camera you just loaded with film & snapping away. Better a moment remembered than a moment forgotten. 

All the tips I'm sharing today apply to any & all cameras.

*** If you are interested in renting a camera for your next vacation, check out Borrowlenses.com This post is in no way sponsored by them but here is a $20 off discount code just for the Ica Images fam. ***

https://www.talkable.com/x/vfgUEk

TIP #2. Be present on vacation. Truly soak in real, undiluted moments & take photos of friends & family who are soaking in the moments too, these are the good memories you'll want to look back on one day. You don't need to turn every second of your vacation into a full-on photo shoot because real life is sweet & beautiful all on it's one.

But there is a time & place for everything so there are bound to be posed photos of the people you love most. When it comes to taking those group family photos don't simply keep the moment in mind but think about how you'll want to remember it when you get home.

TIP #3. When taking group photos take the photo both horizontally & vertically. 
Someone in the family might want to print out vacation photos to show off at home.
Give them the option to frame it or print it either way.

TIP #4. When you have to ask a stranger to take your photo, first take a photo of the composition you want, then show it to them before they take the photo (or else who knows what you'll get when they hand you back your camera). 

Example: Photo 1 was my composition, Photo 2 my husband & I ran across the street & posed in the spot I wanted.

Another example of TIP #4 but this time with the added challenge of a shallow depth of field. Always make sure you tell the person taking your photo to focus, however your camera focuses. 

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TIP #5. Take in the sights! Literally, take photos of all the pretty places you pass by. Look up or down, check around the corner, turn back & you might like the view even better. Instead of taking trinkets home I like to take photos with signage or flags that are only found in that particular place. It's the same as keychain, but it's saved on my computer instead of my key ring.

And there you have it! A perfect combination of people, places & moments that will help tell the story of your vacation adventures.

Are you in the DC metro area & want to practice out these tips with me during a day trip to Alexandria, VA? Or want to follow me on Instagram as I play tourist down in Oldtown?

Come join the fun in person or online,
on Saturday, April 28, 2018, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm.
as I do an Instagram take over for the
Visit Alexandria!

Get your free ticket for InstaMeetALX: HERE
Or follow me over on Visit Alexandria's Instagram on Sat: HERE

Waldorf, MD family portraits: The Proctors

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If there is room to run, and time to play, if there are trees to climb & kisses to share, do it.
Life is too short to miss out on the good stuff. 

An afternoon with the Proctors reminded me of all the sweet stuff that fill up this life.
It's funny that children are so tiny yet they know how to live & love so big!

I love you, Proctor family & thanks for adding more of that good stuff to my life.

Alexandria, VA Confetti Engagement Portraits: Brian + Lyssa

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I've been so eager to share Lyssa & Brian's colorful engagement session from way back in February. This confetti filled engagement session was one for the books as Union 2016 studio served as the perfect crisp & white backdrop.

Brian & Lyssa are just the sweetest.
They love video Gaming, dining and joking & laughing together,
& in each other's arms, they are so at home.

I can't wait for their Rust Manor wedding later this year, especially with Lyssa's graphic design skills. I'm almost certain that as much as I adored shooting their confetti engagement portraits, their confetti & glitter filled wedding will take a run for it's money.