Browsing Tag

Atlanta Photography

Friday by + Debra | The Beauty of Birth

The Beauty of Birth can be a strange concept to somebody who hasn’t had a child.  It’s one of those life experiences that you sometimes have to experience to fully grasp.  After all, it is a slightly messy and often times uncomfortable situation.  Above all the neccessary muckiness of birth, there is something timeless and potent about the experience.   When a baby is born, you are reminded that you, as a human, with all your intelligence and opinion are simply an animal, and at the mercy and compassion of the animal that you are.

A year ago, I had never seen anything being born.  I never would have predicted that I would become a birth photographer, I never in a million years thought it would be an experience I would cherish.  I was the type of person who liked babies, but always felt they were that much cuter in somebody elses arms.  My partner expressed concern once while I was pregnant.  He noticed I didn’t fawn over babies, or baby things.  I didn’t have a nursery planned out, or extensive knowledge on babies, birth, or even child rearing.  Having a child of my own, that has changed drastically.

Having a child changes everything.

When I was pregnant, I heard over and over again, “having a baby changes everything”, but I never anticipated just how much a baby would change me.  No amount of book reading, life coaching, dreaming and pondering would have prepared me for the changes in my heart and mind, the growth of spirit and heart that would occur, and is still going on.

When a baby is born, a mommy and daddy are born also.

It’s true that birth is a life process, and it can be a bit messy.  It is also a spiritual process, a change of heart.  A parents mind, body, heart, and soul grow and stretch and expand to make room for the small life you are entrusted with.  A baby changes EVERYTHING.  Your whole lifestyle changes, your sleeping patterns change.  They way you spend money changes.  Babies aren’t expensive, the things you want to give your children, those can be expensive.  Babies themselves need love, plain and simple, to thrive, and that comes free.

I went from being non chalant about taxes, politics, laws, schools, medical practices, cleaning my house, paying my bills.  To caring about all of it, I became educated in areas I never expected.  I hear from all my new mommy and daddy friends that it is the same for everybody.  The world, and your experience in it changes to become meaningful and important in a new and profound way.  A baby changes everything.

The beauty of birth lies in the birth of a family.  A child makes a man and woman become a family.  Your friends and family become a network of love, laughs, and advice.  A baby is a wellspring of love, the universe expands to infinite proportions.  Now, when I meet new babies, I see the people they will become, and I see the love and endurance of their parents.  I am now the baby holding, baby loving woman I never knew I could  be. There is beauty in that depth, and that is why birth, to me is beautiful.  Both the physical birth, for all it’s power and timeless endurance, and the spiritual birth of becoming something more than yourself.  A child is an extension of your flesh, heart, and mind.

Special thanks to the babies, moms, and dads who have shared their birth experiences with me.  Special thanks to the midwives, Dr’s, doulas, and nurses who make the experience safe, loving, and amazing for all the moms and dads out there.  Much love to all who choose to embark on the journey, and to those who choose to participate less directly.

Having a child is not for everybody, but it takes a village to raise a child, and if you are reading this, you are a part of that village.



Lauren + Garrett | Couples Shoot by + Debra

Lauren and Garret are a sweet local couple here in Atlanta.  We originally had the idea to collaborate on a styled wedding shoot, featuring an elopement.  We never made it to the courthouse though, we had waaay to much fun in downtown Atlanta.  There was a lot of walking. Lots of kissing, and lots of hand holding.  We even stopped at a hookah bar!  The pictures show our journey on the train to downtown, and the wonderful places we discovered around Five Points.

A big thank you to Lauren and Garret for spending the morning with me! You’re both awesome!.

Friday by +Debra | Make Do, Make Great.

I used to be a line cook, kinda like the ones you see on Hell’s Kitchen.  Except real kitchens aren’t like that, so don’t buy the hype.  Real kitchens are make do, or make great.  There’s no die, there’s no not do.  It’s all about get it done.  The person who ordered their food is expecting their food, not an empty plate coated in excuses.  One of my chefs would hear people making excuses, why they were slow, why they ran out of an item, etc.  He would always stop them in mid excuse and say, “no stories, just results.” That philosophy has haunted me my entire adult life.  It’s an important lesson in being a professional.
No stories, just results.  Make do, Make Great.
Last Sunday morning it was the phantom voice of said chef that drove me from my bed to shoot for a sunrise shoot that saw no sunrise.  I’m not gonna lie, I whaa whaa’d to myself in the dark about the cold rainy weather and the early call time I had arranged.  Lack of sleep, and a glass too many of wine the night before had me in less than chipper, let’s rock this sunrise in the park shoot, type of mood.  Not to mention that I have a 4 month old baby.  Sleep is a rare luxury.  Then I remembered, I am a professional, and professionals get up and make it happen.

If it was your wedding day, the wedding would happen, whether it was raining or not.  If I was your photographer, you would expect nothing short of amazing from me.  I got out of bed, texted the models and Interns, giving the option to back out to anybody who wanted.  Everybody was en-route, and ready to give it a go.  Yay!  I got dressed a bit haphazardly, thank goodness for sweats.  I soon realized I wasn’t the only person in my house who wanted to snooze the rainy morning away.  Who could blame them.  I bundled up my son, and together we hit the road.
Again, with the snarling face of aforementioned chef in my mind, and the refrain: “No stories.”
Make do. Make great.

Jessica and Johann left their houses at 5:30 am to meet me and Intern Sooji for the shoot.  You may recognize Jessica from my Downtown Shoot.  Jessica is vivacious and witty.  She’s the type of person you could bottle up and drink for an energy boost, or eat as a protein snack.  I mean that in the high energy way, not like the cannibal way.  Err, metaphorical, yeah.  Either way, she is awesome.  I wish I could put her in my pocket, and make jokes with her all day.
Her boyfriend Johann is a perfect match for her.  These 2 exude all those warm happy fuzzy feelings, it was almost like we didn’t need to be sad it was overcast and the sun never came out.
They make their own sunshine.

Off we went, with models and intern Sooji confirmed to meet at the park.  It was an excellent opportunity to work with less than ideal conditions, and also a great warm up for the upcoming weddings I have.  I am so excited for the couples that are getting ready to get married, and thrilled that they are taking a chance with me.
We started out in a particular field, and Intern Sooji helped me watch my son Shannon.  She held him so I could shoot for a bit, and then when it was her turn to shoot, I perched atop his stroller (that thing is sturdy!) and nursed him back into an early morning nap. It was a peaceful morning, with just a few joggers, a couple million spiders in the grass, and me doing what I love, with my son there to somewhat experience it.  Having him there is sweet, but it is also a mental distraction.  I can’t help but worry if he is ok, and what you don’t see in these shots is that he is sleeping in his stroller, surrounded by tall grass, just a few feet out of frame.  I see now that working in these conditions has helped temper me for future shoots, honing an ability to focus, concentrate, and deliver.  Much like cooking for 200+ people a night.  Focusing amongst bustling bodies, screaming chefs, clanging pots, fire and knifes is much like  focusing with a sleeping baby, waking spiders, and a headache.
Make Do.  Make Great.

When I hear people say things like, “oh I didn’t get the shot I was too tired”.  I hear that you didn’t care enough to move yourself into the right place, at the right time. Maybe you were too lazy to make the extra leap to get the shot.  When people complain they are tired, I laugh.  I have a kid.  Go ask any parent you know if they are completely rested.  Chances are, they aren’t.  Go ask any business owner, entrepeneur, hustler, or dedicated worker if they are tired.  It’s not a part of their vocabulary.  Your laziness is my chance to succeed.
No excuses.  Just results.

Special thanks to Sooji, Johann, and Jessica for taking a chance with me that morning, for hustling, carrying a stroller through tall grass, and for being all around awesome.  Thanks to that chef, and the many people who have honed me into the hard working, no sleeping, baby juggling photographer that I am today.  Thank you to the couples who are entrusting their memories to me, and thanks to my supportive family, friends( new and old) who keep this dream alive.

I am doing everything I can to exceed your expectations, and my wildest hopes.

At The River

posted by +Gabriel

You ever notice how busy you are. All The Time. I know I am. It seems like no matter how much I try, I am still busy, even when I am supposed to be relaxing or vacationing, I am cramming as much “fun” as I can into my time of relaxation that I never really have a period of not being busy.

Maybe it is just me, but it is just the way my brain works. I always have to have 100 projects going on, and feel like there is so much I want to do I have to make it all work right now. I used to think I was just a victim of my circumstances and necessity. The older I get the more I realize that it is just a part of who I am. Not sure how I feel about that.

I do know that there are a few precious things that allow me to slow down. Stop planning, stop thinking, and just enjoy. At the very top of that list is spending time in nature – for me particularly water. I love it. One of my favorite past times is fishing, even though I haven’t been able to go in a while, I hope to change that soon. It has nothing to do with the sport. It has everything to do with being able to take in the peace and serenity of my surroundings, listening to the water, the woods, the wind, the silence.

I hadn’t been able to go on a river shoot up to this point due to scheduling conflicts, and almost missed this one. I am so glad I made it happen. I love this set and really felt at home in my surroundings and was able to let go of everything else for a little bit.


Third River Session

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

– Posted by Mark

Hey. We’ve been spending a lot of time in the river lately. The mighty Chattahoochee! IDK. It’s kind of fun for me since I’m from Phoenix and we only ever had one river. The Salt River. Seriously. The Salt River. WHAT TYPE OF NAME IS THAT FOR A RIVER.

That’s like ‘The Water River’. No. It’s worse because The Salt River wasn’t really a river salt, it was still a river of… water. LAME. I will admit that at least the fecal count in the Salt River was always impressively high… and I suppose it was cool to float through the desert on an inner tube in 115 degree heat. Alright. The Salt River was kind of fun.

Anyways. River. We’ve been spending a lot of time there lately with the interns and even a few clients. This time we brought along Alumni Intern Brittany, and a few other models – including current Intern Mishaun’s younger cousin. On my last visit to the river, the water level was pretty low and we could walk all the way out to the middle without dying. It was so low that we made everyone lie down on their backs. See:

This time – it was really deep – and it had a pretty good current going. OH. And did I mention there were snakes? Well, snake. Just one. But you know – when you’re waist deep in water and all of a sudden a snake swims past you… you might freak out. Which is what we all kind of did. Brittany got out of the water… and I waited a little while before I asked her to get back in… Because damn – we were there to shoot and I wasn’t done!

Was it cold? YES. Were the models cold? YES. What did we do? We made them really GET IN the river. None of this ‘posing by the river stuff’. If you know us – our models are going under and coming back up. Not only that – but our cameras are going to be sitting right at the water level because that’s where you should put your camera anytime you’re shooting with a body of water. Everything else is for tourists.

Did I mention how cold it was?

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Now – a week or two earlier, a few Interns went on their own to shoot at this same location. They had been at the first shoot when the water level was pretty low – but now all of a sudden the water was waist deep. For anyone – this can really screw up all of your plans for whatever shots you had in mind. I kind of felt the same way when I first arrive and saw how high the water was.

I felt like the first group kind of let the conditions beat them. I wasn’t going to let that happen – in fact I couldn’t. Because I’m not about to waste 3 hours of shoot time just because of A LOT OF WATER and some snakes. (Snake.) So. And you know what? It’s a great thing that the conditions were completely different from that first time at the river. Because I made completely different photos.

Remember our Improv entry? It’s not what you’re stuck with – it’s what you’re given.

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

One more thing – it makes a big difference if you’re working with models who’ll do what it takes for the shot. You know – models that’ll get in a cold river and stay there for half an hour. Even with snakes. Of course – it’s also the photographer’s job to make them believe that the shots are ‘worth it’ – and I’m not saying that I didn’t keep yelling out ‘OMG This shot is AMAZING!’ over and over again just so that the models would stay in the water longer…

We have one more river session scheduled. We’ll see what we make from that one…

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

Atlanta, Editorial, Travel, Wedding, Photographers, Photographer, Fashion,

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A Step Back – In A Good Way! | Atlanta Wedding Photographers | A Step Back | Green Leaves

-Posted by +Gabriel

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy and hectic for me. Trying to balance out all the different roles I am playing right now and trying to make sure that I am investing my time wisely. After a busy month photography-wise with 4 weddings in one month (3 in Atlanta, 1 in North Carolina), the last couple of weeks have been a little slower and have allowed me to catch up on some projects (and start new ones! ) You may have noticed some of the changes around the LeahAndMark site – I have been working with Mark to get the site ramped up for the summer, and I am super excited about it. But regardless, spending hours on end behind a computer screen is not my idea of a fun day.

Sometimes you just need to take a step back. I have a tendency of getting so caught up in the little things that I forget about the big picture. Ironically, this is a plus and not a minus when it comes to photography. Tonight, I took an hour out of my schedule, to get the camera out, and just focus on some of the small details, the details that I love. And in so doing, hopefully bring some of the bigger picture back into perspective.

I better enjoy it while I can, because it is about to get busy up in here. With everything from the launch of the Facebook PageIndie Craft Experience this Weekend, Portrait ContestsIntern Classes and workshops, and just life in between, I am going to need an extra cup of coffee… or two, or six…

-Posted by +Gabriel

Clockwork Carnival by +Raven

– Posted by +Raven

I’ve always been a casual fan of steampunk.  My favorite time periods have always been Regency {thank you, Jane Austen!} and Victorian {thank you, Charles Dickens!}, and I’ve always had a fantasy/sci-fi flare, meaning that steampunkery just kind of came naturally.

Regency and Victorian both appeal to me, I think, because of the ridiculously romantic picture we in the present paint of the periods, but also simply because I love the styles of dress, the manners, and the courtliness with which everyone seems to have behaved.  I’m a girl, I like a little romance: so sue me.

For those of you who don’t know, steampunk is best described as an aesthetic movement Victorian in time period, but sci-fi in flavor.  You see bits of it in Wild, Wild West, the new Sherlock Holmes, Jonah Hex, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  There’s always lots of brass involved, and you’re not steampunk if you don’t have your trusty pair of goggles.

My boyfriend and I only found out about The Clockwork Carnival {put on by the fabulous Artifice Club} about a week before it took place, and we jumped at the chance to cover it.  Add in my obsession with carnivals {no, fo’ reals; my college thesis was Carnivals in Modern Literature}, there was no way I was missing this event.

And it was, in a word, FANTASTIC.

There was a vendor room, of course, with peddlers and their homemade bits and bobs and costumes.  Starting the night were an incredibly accurate tarot card reader, the steampunk band the Snatchov Orchestra, and the Imperial Opa Circus performing awesomeness, including a walking around on a giant flamingo stilt puppet.  The performances began with Thimblerig Circus, an amazing oddity act and improv comedy troupe, followed by an aerialist performance by Sadie Hawkins, a fire dancing aerialist and burlesque dancer {an absolutely fabulous performer}.  Rounding out the night were the Burning Desire Fire Theatre and the Hot Toddies Flaming Cabaret, both astounding fire-dancing troupes.  There were DJs Doctor Q {the founding member of the Artifice Club, and the reason for such an amazing event} and the Davenport Sisters of North Carolina’s Clockwork Cabaret radio show spinning awesome tunes the whole night.

One of the coolest parts of going to events like this is being completely surrounded by like-minded people who all share a passion for the same thing.  Steampunk has only recently begun climbing in popularity – and steadily! – and not only is it so amazing the time and dedication these patrons put into their costuming and characters, but it also really helps to fuel your interest in the genre to be in this type of environment.

The turnout was impressive, the costumes PHENOMENAL, and the event itself was amazing.  I’m really looking forward to being a part of their Weird West Saloon in July, and the Mechanical Masquerade: A Paranormal Fantasy in November.


– Posted by +Raven


Clockwork. Carnival. Photos. Atlanta. Goat. Farm. Photography. Sadie. Hawkins. Fire. Aerialists.

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Paralee Whitmire | The Interview

Paralee Whitmire is – and she’s our friend. She’s also an Alumni Intern, having been a member of Season One of our Internship. Honestly? Paralee was an Intern with us before we even started the internship. More importantly – she’s impossibly awesome, and ridiculously amazing. – Interview & Photos by M. Tioxon


I felt really guilty leaving the public school education system. I felt like I was a pretty good teacher and I was abandoning the kids. I felt really bad about it.

I’m internet famous. But not INTERNET FAMOUS! I get messages from students everyday about how I’m helping them pass their tests. The ones that I get to know are the adults – the ones that always wanted to learn a language and tried every program out there, but mine is the one that worked for them. When you get Internet famous, people don’t expect you to respond to them. It’s weird. It’s very strange for me as person who works from home, has a small group of friends and a simple life where no one recognizes me – compared to the online circles where thousands and thousands of people know my name. It’s amazing.

All of the resources on SpanishDict are free. You don’t pay for any of the content. We believe education should be free for everybody.

I would like to be able to do a backflip on a snowboard off a jump and land it. I’d think it’d be awesome if I could be a full time soapmaker. I’d like to go back to the computer being a fun thing. Anything on the computer is work for me. I’d like to make soap.

I taught at Carver high school in Atlanta. It lived up to its reputation as far as being low rent –ghetto. But the kids were in uniforms and we had laptops, and smart boards – we had endless resources – but ONLY if you threatened the administration that you were leaving. That’s the only way you could get those resources. I didn’t have anything first semester. No textbooks, no room. They didn’t even buy me a cart to push my papers around until I threatened to quit and started documenting what they were saying to me – and then all of a sudden I got $10,000 worth of materials AND a classroom.

I found this job on Craigslist. I joined three years ago to write references, how-to articles – and it was a dream. I was like, “OMG, I’m 23 and I get to write textbooks?”

I filmed 90 videos of myself. When we first started we were renting a room in an office building in Buckhead. It was just ‘a room’. We borrowed all of the film equipment we used. Some fancy Sony camera, two spotlights, and a green screen. A really low-rent setup. And HOT.

One weekend we were behind schedule on filming. So I figured I’d film over the weekend. It was July. I thought it would be fine. They turned the A/C off in the whole building. I toughed it out and kept filming. I was pouring sweat. It was disgusting. I couldn’t use any of what we shot.

It IS big. On average, 5 million unique visitors a month.

Being the only employee for SpanishDict – I’ve had the opportunity to learn everything. Marketing. Video production. Sound Production. Public relations. I have done more content production for learning Spanish and English than I ever thought I would do. I’ve reached so many people. I’ve learned to ask for what I want. I think a lot of people just get into their jobs and assume that their bosses have the whole thing mapped out for what you deserve, when you’re gonna get a raise, why you’ll get a raise. And going from hourly for very little money to now where I’m on salary with health and vacation – I had to ask for those. I had to put together a proposal for the things that I wanted.

I was the captain of the soccer team. I was on the Varsity team my freshman year in high school. I got to UGA and realized that I was a tiny fish in a huge ocean. All of a sudden I wasn’t even good enough to play on intra-mural teams. We had to make our own Jerseys. Stephens County Lady Indians.

Park Tavern. Dollar beers whenever it rains.

I get to make up my own job title depending on who I’m emailing. Director of Interactive Education. Director of Marketing. Director of Public Relations. Always Director of Something. I’m the Chief Operations Officer. I do everything. It’s really cool.

There’s a tiny town in Peru called Huanchaco – a tiny no nothing town on the beach. I could live there. Second would be Florence. I wasn’t expecting that one. I went to Italy after studying Latin for five years. I got to Rome and was totally depressed. Too modern. Too much graffiti, too much fashion – too much tourism. It really hurt my feelings. The people weren’t cool enough to me. They were really stuck up. We got outside of Rome and people were TOTALLY different.

Florence? We LOVED Florence.

An Orthodontist. I think for the money. Because my parents are both teachers in a small town – they made NO MONEY and had 6 kids. I didn’t notice it that much until I was in high school and everyone wanted a pair of these expensive, REALLY UGLY shoes that were ‘cool’. My mom said no.

I was like “This is REALLY important to my popularity!” I really thought the Georgia Boots would raise my status. In college I just got smacked in the head with reality and realized that my parents had it right – living with what you have and a job that makes you happy – and having time for your kids.

Our dictionary? Hands down, we have more dictionary entries for Spanish/English than any other online dictionary out there. Not only that – we have a huge user generated phrase book. Phrases like ‘cat-got-your-tongue’ – things that only make sense in English.

I have Googled myself.

I studied for a summer in Spain. We went to Morocco and got mugged at Machete-point. The brother of the Chief of police asked me to marry him. He did get us out of jail though.

I didn’t realize how much work was involved in Search Engine Optimization. It’s really boring. Keywords. Link building. You’re a spammer. That’s what you are. I was a professional spammer for about a year.

Five Siblings. Elizabeth. Maegdlyn. Porter. Tyler. Paralee. Neelie. I love having a huge family.

It’s all telemarketing, and used car sales – at least when you’re looking on Craigslist for a job that has to do with Spanish.

I do so much work FOR Spanish language learning. But MY Spanish has gotten so much worse since I stopped filming myself in the videos. All I do is edit. And work on other things. I never get to practice. We’re moving to Frisco, Colorado. It’s 20 minutes to Five different ski resorts.

We’ll be there for two months and then three months in Chile.

I have like 12 pairs of pajama pants.

It feels good to get messages from students in far off, tiny countries, telling me that they’re learning Spanish because of something I made.


Interview & Photos by M. Tioxon


Paralee. Whitmire. Photos. Interview.

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Season 4 | The (Internship) Reviews

Apply for Season [Gold Lion] of our Photography Internship Here.

“Write as much as you would like to say, and whatever you’d like to say. I will not censor or edit your reviews – and if I do post your review, I will post it in it’s entirety, or not all. This internship isn’t perfect – and we know it – so write what you’d like.”  - Mark

Gabriel. Doty.

Internship : “A period of time during which a beginner acquires experience in an occupation, profession or pursuit”

Good, unpaid, free internships are hard to come by. Our society has become one of instant gratification in every aspect – including work and careers. I truly believe the adage “work smarter, not harder” needs to be reversed, or at least balanced out. We have become a society of work smarter, and completely neglected the hard work. If you think you are going to make a living at photography without working your butt off for the foreseeable future, you better be insanely better than the thousands of other people competing in the same market, even then you are going to need a few lucky breaks.

It is very hard to find a good, free internship these days. Most people don’t offer one because the amount of work required on their part doesn’t translate to enough of a benefit to make it worth their time anymore. As a potential employer, the amount of people looking for work, and the ease by which you can find someone that fits exactly with the position you are looking for almost completely negates the need for you to groom someone into a position.

Of course, all of this is the exact reason why LeahAndMark offer their internship. If you have taken anything more than a surface level look at LeahAndMark, you know that doing things “differently” is the norm, and finding ways to make crazy ideas work is their passion.

I think nearly every intern that has gone through this program will offer you the same statement – “The internship is what you make it”, and I couldn’t agree more. If you come into this expecting to get a quick, easy, path to success, you are looking in the wrong place. This is a lot of work, a lot of commitment, a lot of shooting, and oh yeah, a lot of hard work.

The internship itself will afford you the opportunity to do just about anything that you want to do with your photography. You may read in some of the other reviews that the amount of instruction is minimal (and it is) – but keep in mind this is an internship, not a class. Here your best tool of learning is observation and communication. If you have a question – ask, If you are getting frustrated – talk to somebody, if your still frustrated – keep shooting. LeahAndMark truly do care about your success and your growth, if you don’t take advantage of having open lines of communication with them and the other interns, you are missing out on perhaps the most valuable part of this experience. After spending just a few minutes with Leah and Mark, you will understand that they are people first, teachers second, and photographers last.

This may not be a bullet point review, but in case you didn’t read between the lines, this internship is an awesome experience, I guarantee that you will not shoot as much, or in as broad a range of situations anywhere else, nor will you find a better community of photographers to work with. Sure, there may be things that could be done better, but thats not the point, the point is that it is worth every minute of time invested in it. This internship is all about opportunity, and the opportunity is there, what you do with it is on you.

Whitney. Huynh.

There is no excuse for this internship to not be the best thing you have done in your life.  If it is not, then you have not put your best into it.

This internship is about photography… but it is also about life. Do your best at everything you do.  Apply for this internship right now knowing it will change your life if you let it. Apply because you want to be a better person, not just a better photographer.  Apply because LeahandMark are generous enough to let you.  You will not be disappointed if you give it your best.

Mark is a marketing genius in my book. If you want to get the most out of this, study what Mark does.  Read his blog posts and think to yourself…”now, why did he do that.”  There is always a good reason.   Study what he posts on social media and always ask why.  There is a method to his madness. Post everything you do on Facebook and Twitter and help promote Mark too.  After all, he is doing a lot for you.  Marketing is the most important thing you can do for your business, so make sure you learn as much as you can while you are an intern.

This isn’t photography 101.  It was never supposed to be.

Mark is never going to sit down and say, “this is exactly how you use your camera. This is what the buttons do.  This is exactly how you are supposed to set up your lights and exactly what settings you should be using when you shoot from this set up.”

If that is what you want, you shouldn’t be signing up for this.

Mark is however going to present you with opportunities and equipment to learn these things for yourself.  He is going to hand you some lights and say “Go.”  Honestly, I want to thank him a thousand times for doing that. I learned so much more at the Lighting 102 class because he did not show us.  We tried a million things before we got it right, and you know what happened…we got a killer picture on our own.  We learned what not to do, and what does not work…which is something you would not learn with a step by step tutorial.  It is very hands on…you are not going to find anything more hands on than this.

Is the internship perfect?  Of course not.  Not even close to be honest, but that doesn’t matter. Nothing is perfect.  Mark is an insanely busy guy, so sometimes he isn’t great at communicating, but be patient.  Talk to him on G-Chat whenever you can, and don’t get discouraged if he ignores you.  It’s probably on purpose.  If you find yourself thinking that he doesn’t care, that isn’t true…he just wants you to figure it out for yourself.  He’s not there to hold your hand…so hold your own and move on.  There are going to be weeks where things seem very disorganized and others where you feel like you have nothing to shoot…don’t fret.  Like I said…it’s not perfect.  You can make it better by setting up your own shoots.  Shoot your friends, family, other interns, strangers in the park, whatever you need to do to get the practice.

If you get nothing else out of this, you will be challenged. You will be pushed and pulled and tugged in every way that is possible…and even in some that are impossible.  You see, Mark is sneaky.  He does things in a Jedi like fashion…never letting you know his true motives until they hit you like a ton of brick and the light bulb comes on.  He will frustrate you to no end, until you are so angry that you will spend three straight days figuring out the answer to your own questions.  It is then you will realize that you have been Jedi mind tricked into discovering that you had it in you all along. When you finally realize that you can do this, growth is inevitable.

You are going to come out of this experience a new person, so be prepared. You are going to work harder and shoot more than you ever have in your photography career.  And with every shoot you are going to see change.

S. Andre. Keichian.

This internship provides you an opportunity; how you choose to shape your hard work and involvement within this time is entirely up to you.

It’s swift, I will tell you that. Be engaged, and try to stay that way. But expect frustration… Then expect pride & excitement.

Both Leah and Mark are extremely positive and have energy about them that I always love being around. But despite their encouragement, this internship forces you to become more independent than you would probably imagine.

No one is going to tell you what to do or how to do it. You’ll have to create it yourself. And if you have questions along the way, you now have a help desk of support to direct you to better answers.

Having an army of interns in itself really changes things from the start because you immediately have a supportive crew of folks with varying backgrounds, strengths and interests to collaborate with. I’ve met some really good people this way and learned a lot through these relationships. And I know we will continue to shoot together in the future.

This internship creates a hub for exploration; it gives you all that you would need to take it wherever you want it to go. And the experience, the skills learned and confidence gained are a renewed set of tools you are walking away with. For that reason, this opportunity is invaluable.

My advice is: Be as dedicated as your life will allow you to be. And if you can’t find the time, quit your job.

Just enjoy this opportunity as best as you can, because it really is rare. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Jessica. Arnold.

I applied for this internship because I wanted to see if I enjoyed the day-to-day workings of being a professional photographer, to be exposed to the photography world, to meet and collaborate with other photographers, and to get a taste for what life might be like as a professional photographer. Because of this internship, I had that opportunity and am so grateful for it. Now, I can honestly say that I do want more than ever to become a professional photographer, and I’m looking forward to all of the learning, photographing, marketing, and editing that lies ahead.

Below is what I enjoyed about the internship:

  • Getting to know a community of other photographers with whom I could work, ask questions, and be friends.
  • Required photo shoots. Because we have a number of required shoots per month, I was forced to shoot a lot which made me improve. As Mark says, “Shoot more, shoot better.”
  • Putting my work out for the public. Having an audience made a big difference for me when shooting because it made me more accountable for my work. I had to be proud of what I put out there, and therefore, I had to try harder.
  • Learning about photography. That sounds like a very generic comment but it’s not. I came into this internship without a lot of knowledge about how to take photos beyond a point and shoot camera, and this internship immediately introduced to me all sorts of photography concepts as well as gear, lighting, models, marketing, editing, etc.
  • Writing a blog. The blog made me reflect more on my photos. In the past, I would just send photos to friends or what not. The internship forced me to think about my work, examine my photos in detail, and analyze how I could have improved the shoot. The other interns’ blogs exposed me to different writing styles and their reflections of their work.
  • Marketing Workshop. The Marketing Workshop was one of the highlights of the entire internship for me. As I tried to convey in my blog about the workshop, Mark and Leah do not have to tell us all of their marketing secrets, but they do. They unabashedly open up for over two hours about all of the tips and tricks they have done to be successful. Having never taken a marketing class before, their workshop was incredibly helpful. I left the workshop feeling very excited about opening my own business and confident that I could do it.
  • Critique. The critique organized by Laura was very beneficial because it forced us to discuss each other’s work and find the good and bad in our photos. Do more of these. Without a critique of my work, it’s much harder to know where to improve and it’s always good to have a different set of eyes examine your work.
  • Recreating photos assignment. This was a great assignment because it required me to really examine your work and try to understand every aspect of a photo in order to reproduce it. Additionally, having a structured assignment was beneficial because I had a goal in mind that I was trying to accomplish. Give out more structured assignments.

Overall, I enjoyed this internship. It was stressful at times trying to juggle both this internship and a full time job but well worth it. I am grateful to my fellow interns and alumni interns who encouraged me and with whom I was honored to work. Leah and Mark, thank you for selecting me as one of your interns, sharing your world with me, and having this internship. I appreciate all of you!

Silvana. Alvarez.

First off, really it’s too short. And there’s so much that fills those three months. From a pool of new people- new photographers- with whom you can learn from and share this experience with, to photographing what you haven’t thought of or never thought you’d do. And then there’s Leah and Mark. Both of whom are supportive and always expect more from you- because they know you can do better.

And the aspect I like the most is being in an environment where everyone is excited for a shoot or where ideas are going around and everyone is working towards a photography related goal. It’s not like sitting alone and trying to figure out where to start. It’s a three month long push to get you the tools, confidence, or whatever else you need and then the how the tools get used is up to you.

Jen. Nash.

Participating in this internship opened up more doors for me than I could have anticipated. Between the organized internship challenges, the opportunities to shadow alumni interns, the ideas I was inspired to pursue on my own, and the connections made through fellow interns, I was kept busy the entire three months. Not a week went by without at least 1 or 2 shoots (and sometimes as many as four). The 1 shoot per week requirement pushed me to hone my skills by practicing on a regular basis, and it gave me some accountability to make that commitment. Blogging weekly (aside from that 1 month fluke where my computer broke twice…ahem…) challenged me to reflect on my photography with new eyes, presenting my work to the public. Working closely with 6 fellow interns kept me moving forward and growing immensely.

The highlights of this experience for me were the classes and lessons (yeah, a little predictable coming from a teacher, but I’m ok with that!): Lighting 101, Marketing 101, Improv Lessons, the photo critique, and Editing/ Website class. I took tons of notes at most of them and benefited enormously from the direct instruction. Fellow Intern Gabe was such an asset to our intern team with his knowledge of website design, and +Raven is a rockstar at photo editing. Marketing class was the main reason I applied for this internship, and I was thankful to be a part of it. As a teacher, business sense is at the bottom of my talents list, so I really needed guidance from someone as dedicated to marketing as Mark to get my photography business off the ground. Improv class was far less intimidating than I had feared, and was one of the most enjoyable nights I had at the studio. We learned skills we weren’t even aware we needed as photographers and focused on the importance of positive language. Another highlight was the reproduction assignment. I’d love to see that idea revisited in future seasons, but based on Flickr favorites or famous photographs instead.

This internship works best for highly self-motivated people.

To future applicants, please know as you apply that there is no hand holding or spoon feeding. Outside the one photo critique organized by the fabulous +Laura, I received little to no feedback on my work. I never shadowed Mark one-on-one (which was an unrealistic expectation on my part… there are 7 interns in my season. This is not designed to be a one-on-one program). The internship is also geared toward people who are already quite comfortable shooting manually with an SLR and basic post processing. The editing class did not take place until month 3, so up until then we were on our own to publish blog-worthy photos based on our own pre-existing knowledge. Perhaps in future seasons that editing class would fit better at the beginning.

I personally also struggled with starting a full time job in the same week as this internship. Being an effective teacher and a successful photographer is a draining balancing act. I’d advise future applicants with full time jobs to be aware of the time demands of this internship. You will spend hours upon hours shooting and editing, and those may be hours that your schedule doesn’t exactly have room for. The interns who seemed to get the most out of this experience were those able to fully devote themselves and their time to photography for the full 3 months.

All things considered, I feel proud to have completed this internship. I am a greater photographer than I was 3 months ago. I now call myself a photographer, and that’s a big deal in and of itself. I can’t speak highly enough about the 6 fellow interns I worked with and the teamwork that took place among us. This internship afforded me the rare and wonderful opportunity to join together in a community of artists, exchanging ideas and sharing inspiration. I am thankful for the unique internship program that Leah and Mark offer and for all the people I met therein. What an enlightening 3 months!


Jen Nash


Photography. Internship. Atlanta. Photos. Intern. Program. Reviews.


Boudoir Session

-Posted by +Raven

This is Mandi. Mandi is beautiful. Mandi is strong. Mandi is awesome.

So are you.

One of the things I love about shooting boudoir is something I’ve said time and time again. Women {and young girls, for that matter} don’t feel beautiful enough. {And I’m not saying I’m immune, either.}

We, in general, do not take the time to stop and realize how amazing and strong and gorgeous we are.

It’s simply about being good to yourself in every way possible, because if you aren’t, who will be?

Do you remember that really cheesy character named Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live, back in the early 90’s? Every morning, he said, he would look in the mirror and tell himself “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” And though that character is silly, having a self-affirming moment {even just once a day} is so wonderfully powerful. I don’t know why more people don’t do it.

You may have noticed that, if were to have a catchphrase, it would be “You. Are. Awesome.” It’s the same idea. You read that statement at the end of every blog post from LeahAndMark. I read that statement. The people who write the blog read that statement. You need to be told that you’re awesome, and wonderful, and SO cool. And it’s not anyone else’s job to tell you. It’s yours.

I love shooting boudoir because, when it’s done correctly, it makes you feel beautiful. And sexy, and everything you feel you’re not when you’re having a bad day.

These shots are more than a present to your significant other. These shots are more than a really fun time. These shots are a love letter to yourself.

And you need to read that letter. Every. Single. Day.

You. Are. Awesome.



-Posted by +Raven


Atlanta. Boudoir. Photography. Photos. +Raven.

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WoW Player Caleb | The Interview

I’m Caleb.  I’m 18.  And I play World of Warcraft.

I used to play another MMO, and I kept hearing about WoW, and then eventually I migrated over and met a lot of cool people and just kinda stuck with it.

MMO is short for MMORPG which is a massively multi-player online role-playing game.

It’s very silly.  A lot of MMOs get really dark and you have to kill all these people and everybody’s dead; WoW is just, it’s more fun.  It’s not as dark and terrible, but it can still be dramatic.

Some of the people.  Because they act like a bunch of asshats.

He is a level 85 orc shaman.  I picked a different race, but he was in another faction, so I decided to switch to horde, which is what I’m playing now, and it just appealed to me.  I was playing on a different character and I saw one run up to something and he hit it and a huge tornado erupted from it and I was like “that was really cool.”  And I stuck with it because I like the totems.  A totem is these things a shaman can make appear and each one does something different, like there’s a water totem, a manna totem that restores your manna.  I’ve got a whole bunch of different totems.  You’ve got one for every element.

I have 11.  This one’s named Choup, thinner than chowder, thicker than soup – this one because I decided to make a funny character.

Medeas.  No, a lot of these names I did make up, but not this one.  The game picked a name for me.  I was just starting and he was one of my first, so, I wasn’t that creative yet.

They’re all like a different aspect of myself.  He’s really funny and nice, like me, and he can be a jerk.  He’s helpful, but a jerk, at times.

Here’s a level 1 character I have.  You start the game and there’s an opening cinematic thing that introduces you to the race you’re playing, and their little backstory.  Then you get an opening quest, you complete that quest, and a completed quest gets you rewards, like money, armor, and weapons.  It also gives you experience.  Once you get a certain amount of experience, you’re the next level.  It takes more and more quests to level up the higher and higher you get.

I’d say so.  I wouldn’t say I had that last year, and by last year I mean 2009, but before that I was playing too obsessively.  Then I kind of burnt out and didn’t play at all.  Then I came back, and you have to have other things to occupy your time.

There’s just so much you can do.  And you make lots of good friends and you only know them through the game, so maybe you’ll log in just to chat, not to actually play, just to have good conversations.

You know, it’s for nerds and people who have no life.  But that’s not true, because there’s such a wide variety of people who do play WoW.  It’s not just people living in their mother’s basement.  People seem to see it in a negative light.  Like, “people get too obsessed and spend too much time on it; they need to go out and live life”, and all that.  You just have to keep one part from the other.

They’re stupid.  If anything, it would probably deter violence, because if you’re taking out all of your aggression on a video game, you’re probably not going to be as angry in real life.  I’ve read really good arguments, and lots of people seem to think that “it’s like a murder simulator,” not Wow but other video games, because WoW’s not that violent.  “I’m shooting lightning bolts at someone; I’m going to go shoot lightning bolts at someone in real life.”  It doesn’t translate.  It’s ignorant people who don’t play video games in the first place who think video games equal real life when it’s not like that at all.  But then there are people who get arrested and they’ll say “Grand Theft Auto made me do it.”  No, they’re just looking for an excuse, a way to get out of what they’ve gotten themselves into.  I can almost guarantee that those people would have committed those crimes whether they played Grand Theft Auto or not.

Well, people aren’t allowed to own guns in England, but criminals still have guns.  It doesn’t take the guns out of the hands of the people who shouldn’t have them, it just makes the people who might need them to protect themselves makes it illegal for them to have them.  Bad guys are going to have weapons no matter what the law says, because they don’t follow the law anyway.  Even the cops don’t have guns, in England, and I think that really puts more lives in danger than it needs to.  I think that would be a mistake here in the states.

Being Human, Castle, Doctor Who, Dexter, Eureka.  I’m not big on vampires.  Firefly, Stargate.

Most video games are escapes, because life can suck sometimes, and you might want to go ride on a dragon.  Or steal a car from an old lady.

I’ve made some really good friends in WoW.

Read, play other video games.  Little Big Planet 2, Gran Turismo 5, Halo.

I’d like to have my own house, family and junk: average.  I’d like to not have a job, but have lots of money.

I like lots of animals.  I like penguins, wolves, lions, bears.  Not a fan of tigers.  Everybody likes tigers.  Narwhales, I love narwhales.  They’re the unicorns of the sea.

“The only sovereign you can allow to rule you is reason.”  That’s from the book Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind.  It makes me think, don’t always believe what people tell you.  Because another one is, “Given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they’re afraid it might be true.”  That’s also Terry Goodkind.

Probably 4-5.  I spend most of my day on the Internet.

I think the future will be pretty much the same, but with better graphics.

People who use the word virtually when they mean literally.  And literally when they mean virtually, too.  Like, “you literally have to become one with the plane.”  No, you don’t.


Posted by +Raven

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