2018 was so busy, and although it surely did not feel like it as the year progressed, looking back I seriously have to take a second to sit back and just enjoy the moments. The absolute highlight on the year has to be meeting and capturing portraits of our US Vice President Mr. Pence and his wife. They were amazing people and very sweet to all of the family at the TAPS event in Washington DC. (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors)
TAPS has been amazing to work with. I happened to accidentally work with them during their National conference in 2017 (right time, right place kind of scenario) and I took an image that is now in their top 10 images to represent who they are. It was of one of the soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in DC, carrying their wreath made by the surviving children of lost soldiers. This image has been printed in their magazine and in 2018 they posted it wall size in their National Headquarters building in Arlington. It was also presented to Chef Robert Irvine in the form of the image posted below and is now hanging in his restaurant at the Pentagon. If you know me, you know that I am not a crying individual, it takes alot to get me to that point, and I have to admit I cried hard when this was given to Chef. I did not know that he was going to be presented with this, and I was taking images for TAPS so when I saw this through my lens, it hit me hard. Pride, a sense of accomplishment, the confirmation that I am doing exactly what I should be doing … it all hit me hard. By far my time with TAPS this past year was this highlight of 2018 for me. I was also honored to work with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , Gen. Joseph Dunford and his beautiful wife. Of course I have the worlds largest and cheesiest grin, but hey … it was a great event. I couldn’t have made it without my Spider Holster, which helps me carry the weight of my camera around my hips, and Gen Dunford thought it was a great idea. I also was able to spend a great deal of time with Chef Irvine and that man inspires me every day to work harder, smarter and to take care of myself. He has so much energy!! I can’t wait to spend time with my TAPS family again in 2019.
I also covered the Disney Princess marathon in Orlando Florida where we captured images of those running in the marathon for TAPS. This event was so much fun but tons of work. We were in the park before the sunrise, and then we walked for miles. I guess I can’t complain since I only had to walk. I am so impressed with everyone that can run a marathon … especially dressed up as a Disney character!
2019 also brought me a great deal of photography opportunities on Fort Stewart. I work closely with the USO on post and cover a great deal of events for them, from Operation That’s My Dress with Sherri Hill to the USO Special Delivery with Heidi Murkoff, the author of the What to Expect series. The USO is such a very special organization, which supports not only our soldiers in uniforms, but their families that support the cause from home. I was also able to organize and run a fall baby expo where we brought in 25+ local motherhood vendors and brought local information to over 100 families. Knowing a new area and all that is available is a challenge for new families at a new duty location and I was so happy to be able to help and the USO was gracious enough to host the event for us. It turned out so great we will be hosting a spring and another fall expo this year in 2019! There were also some fun family events that we helped provide for the families of Fort Stewart, car shows, coffee meet ups, speed networking for military spouses, and a May the 4th celebration. Supporting the USO is something I strongly believe in and I try to spend as much time as I can there to capture these precious moments for our troops.
2018 brought many unexpected surprises, and none could have been as big as being honored to be a part of the US Army Women’s museum in Fort Lee, Virginia (http://www.awm.lee.army.mil). I was asked if my Army mom’s breastfeeding image could be shared to be a part of their museum. I knew this was going to be big but until I saw the images I had NO IDEA just how big. An even biggest honor was the ability to visit the museum for the first time with my grandmother. Sometimes it is nice for your family to see how your work has progressed, and I was so very happy that she was able to visit with me.
I also spent some of this year supporting our military working with both the ACS, Army Community Services on Fort Stewart. ACS provides so many fun events for our Fort Stewart families and although schedules sometimes make it hard to be at the events, I make it to as many as I can. I was also the Starbuck’s photographer for our local dedication of a Starbucks Military Family Store. Sending images to Starbuck’s was such a great opportunity and one that I’m sure to not forget.
I also spent yet another year as not only a member but as a director for the Georgia Professional Photographers Association . GPPA allows me to meet and spend quality time with like minded local photographers. I also enjoyed my time at our yearly conference held this past year in Savannah. Not only did I teach a maternity & breastfeeding class, I also ran our print competition. I scored over an 80 on 5 of my entries, took home a distinguished plaque and as well as the Dick Dickerson award. I also shared the MC role with my buddy Gray at our award ceremony and spent the night in front of the camera for a change.
When I wasn’t volunteering for these amazing organizations, I was actually in my own studio shooting for families that required either motherhood images (maternity, birth, fresh 48, newborn & breastfeeding), military homecomings or post-deployment family images. I was able to capture approximately 150 sessions this past year. Looking back I’m not sure how I was able to fit them all in, and I am so humbled by the idea that they all trust me and my simple small home studio to capture and create beautiful and wonderful images for them and their families. Here are a few favorites…
Finally, this past year surprisingly came with some great recognition. I spent another year as an ambassador for Spider Holster, of which none of my sessions could flow as smoothly as they do. I was also asked to be an Ambassador for Tamron Lenses! I ONLY shoot with Tamron lenses. You can read the story about how that came to be here. I can’t begin to describe just how amazing that moment was for me and I hope for a very long and joyous relationship with them!! Last year I also entered in both PPA’s District and National competitions as well as in Shoot & Share, placing in all of them. I have so many high hopes for 2019, and I hope to find the time to dedicate to more competitions, as I am a strong believer in that is how you learn and grow. I finished the year enjoying having yet another portrait go viral, supporting cystic fibrosis mother who fought the odds and had a beautiful and healthy little man. You can learn more about her story by visiting the following link, https://www.facebook.com/TaraRuby/photos/a.544680902217171/2238245926193985/?type=3&theater
2018 was busy, went to fast, produced some amazing images, brought me a ton of new professional friends and taught me more about myself that I every thought I could learn. And to think … this is just the highlights of my business side! I am also the mom to 3 amazing children, a wife to a very active, active duty soldier, and a daughter and granddaughter. I have pets, dogs, chickens and recently ducks and I love to fish and hunt. So I bet you can only imagine just how crazy it can be. But through it all I have loved every single second and I can only hope that 2019 is bigger, better and more beautiful!!