FIRST J & D STUDIO BLOG!!! Wow!!! This has been 16 years in the making! When I started this business back in 2000, I had no idea how far this pathway would lead!
If you enjoy reading ‘the whole story,’ then go for it! Otherwise, just scan our archived photos! Enjoy!
Growing up in a large, close-knit family, I enjoyed ‘setting up’ my siblings for photo-shoots in front of my bedroom curtains or mirror or anywhere else I could find ‘great’ backgrounds. My Mom must have brought countless rolls of 110 and 35 mm film to be processed for me (thanks Mom!) .
When I was close to 18 years old, through my parents wisdom and God’s leading, I began working at a portrait studio. I loved working with children and getting them to smile. There was so much joy that came from capturing that child’s ‘perfect smile’ for Mom’s who had never had someone take the time to ‘really try’ in the past. I had an incredible manager there that taught me everything she knew and really gave me the ‘eye’ for good cropping and posing.
The rules at that studio were that we were not allowed to work for competition, and since the studio did not offer outdoor photos, I was able to start taking outdoor senior and family photos on the side. This continued as I became assistant manager at the studio and increased my skills, as well as my love for portraiture and preserving family memories.
After leaving the studio, I was asked to photograph my first wedding.
It was a request by a really sweet lady that had always brought her children to me at the studio for their yearly photos. I had always wanted to photograph a wedding and this seemed like a great opportunity. However, I was very apprehensive because Wedding’s are a once in a lifetime thing and I wanted to be sure that I could give them the best photos possible (I had heard too many horror stories of other weddings- “I thought they could take good pictures…”). So I apprenticed under a professional wedding photographer and he let me photograph by his side at a couple of weddings. His skills, humor and very relaxed manner were vital to my beginning years of wedding photography. (Thanks Tim McGowan!)
I made brochures and hung them at different grocery stores, flower shops and bridal places. Through those brochures, I got my first wedding. A HUGE wedding party at a Catholic church in Quentin. My sister Dianna who had been assisting me up to this point, joined me as my wedding assistant and we shot our first wedding together in March of 2003. It went well and because of our experience with big groups (we grew up in a large family), it really wasn’t an issue that there were 8 bridesmaids, 8 groomsmen and a couple of flower girls and ring bearers. The thing I remember about that wedding to this day is that they partied hard and that I forgot to get single photos of the Groom until well into the reception. So I tried to be creative and had him stand in the foyer and hold the rings (which he had a hard time doing because he had already been drinking for a while) and I took ‘candid’ photos of him. Back then I was using 35mm film and didnt’ have a scanner yet, so I wasn’t able to edit the sweat off of his brow later. Oh well… the worst thing I forgot at the wedding, could have been a lot worse. 🙂
By the time I photographed that sweet ladies, daughters wedding, I had already photographed a couple of weddings and felt like I was ready!
Their wedding is to date, one of my favorite weddings.
From the Bride’s sweet, gentle spirit and gorgeous lace dress, to how the groom couldn’t take his eyes off of her and blushed quite easily! They were also married in the church where my parents had been married, so it was extra special. Their true love for each other and for Christ was so refreshing and made me want that kind of commitment and love some day. Their wedding party was so sweet and helpful and they were also very funny! The only photo I could find quick when creating this first blog is this silly photo that I took. If only I could remember where I filed all of those old photos.
That first year we shot 6 weddings on our own and within the next year began offering wedding and event videography as well. At an event I was photographing, someone wrote out a check to “Photos by Deb” and I didn’t notice it till later. Since I couldn’t get a hold of that person, and the bank would not cash it unless that was my name….
I registered as “PHOTOS BY DEB” and thus, that business name began!
I never liked the name, but I kind of felt stuck with it and didn’t want to spend the money to re-register it. My side jobs those first couple of years included 2nd camera for another videographer as well as working at a restaurant as secretary/waitress/hostess and teaching piano lessons to around 30 students.
I am very thankful that I learned how to photograph with film.
Most people have been trained on digital and have the mentality of ‘just keep shooting and we’ll get something good somewhere’ or ‘we’ll just edit later.’ I was trained on film, where you only had so much film with you and it was expensive to develop, so you were careful to anticipate the moment and work hard to get the right cropping/angle the first time and take a second or maybe third if it was a group of people. I began with two 35 mm Nikons and graduated to a Mimiya full frame medium format camera. Then I bought my first digital camera – a Fuji Finepix S2 with a Nikon mount. It was really scary for the first couple of weddings since I didn’t have anything on ‘hard copy.’ I had my assistant basically shooting everything I did, but with a 35 mm camera as back up. Over the years we have of course graduated again to full frame digital Nikon cameras and there is always another one that comes out that goes on our ‘wish list!’
How I met my “Knight…”
My family switched churches in 2000 and I met Joseph at that new church. I didn’t pay any attention to him though as he had a unique western style and was just different than the type of guy I was interested in getting to know. It wasn’t until I photographed his senior photos in May of 2004 that I began to see past his unique style and see a genuinely caring, guy that loved people, serving others and God above everything. This is what drew me to him from then on. It started as a friendship and grew to a deep love and admiration from there. I like to tease,
“best payment I ever got for photos!”
Joseph already liked to ‘tinker’ with cameras and photography, so that, combined with his love for people and his troubleshooting skills, were a great bonus to my already growing photography business. He joined me in 2005 in helping with weddings and we have grown together in our skills through photography workshops, training sessions and most of all, experience.
We were married in February of 2007
We photographed 15 weddings in 2007, two being the weekend before our wedding and right after an ice storm! It was actually harder to choose what we wanted for our wedding day because we had seen SO many weddings already. We more so knew what we didn’t want and things to avoid. One of those things was the exhaustion of having a late night rehearsal the night before the wedding. So we had our rehearsal on Thursday evening, which left Friday to finish up the last minute things that we thought of during the rehearsal.
We went with a snowy theme since Joseph does snow plowing during the winter. From the church sanctuary looking like a winter wonderland with fur trees and white lights and cotton down for snow, to our reception having snowflakes hanging everywhere, and then us leaving in a snow plow truck… it was a beautiful winter wonderland!
Joseph and I have grown so much together in our friendship, our walk with the Lord and learning to communicate. I’m sure we’ll never know fully how to communicate, but we will keep on trying as we walk hand in hand toward the same goals. It’s been almost 9 years now since we said “I DO” and I didn’t think it was possible that I could love him more, but I do. God has blessed our home with children and we are so thankful for our family and cherish our time together.
We steal glances at each other during wedding ceremonies and he’ll wink at me and make me smile.
Joseph and I have been many places to photograph wedding’s and events. For a couple of years in a row we spent a weekend in Williamsburg photographing a government conference. We have been to many states including South Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Delaware and New Jersey for photo-shoots and weddings. We also have done quite a few weddings in Maryland since it is only an hour away from us. I couldn’t be happier to have my best friend by my side for all of these travels.
Joseph and I recently spent a week in Egypt photographing our first international wedding! We had such a great time together that it felt like a second honeymoon!
My sister Dolly apprenticed under me for many years and joined us as a photographer about 5 years ago.
She is an amazing photographer and has such a carefree, fun loving spirit about her. I have since handed over almost all of my editing to her and I just love to see what she does with my works of art in turning them into the finished masterpiece that you all get to see! It’s so wonderful to be surrounded by family in this business and I feel so blessed that Dolly has chosen to come alongside us and build our business even more. We also look so much alike that may people mistake us for the other sister!
Joseph and I decided to make our business LLC and were asked if we wanted to change our name since we were going to have to re-register anyway… So finally, after so many years, we were making the name change! Yay! I wanted a cool name like “Cherished Memories” or “Captivating Images” only to find all of these names taken over and over again, even in PA! So after a lot of prayer and a lot of time on google and domain name registers,
J & D STUDIO, LLC was created!!!
It has been a long, hard couple of months through re-branding, new websites, paperwork, filing, lawyers and accountants, but we are so thankful for all of the people that God brought our way to help us to get this all done correctly. We are still learning all of the ‘fun stuff” of LLC’s and employee’s and payroll and paperwork, but we have been assured over and over again that it WILL get easier as time goes by! 🙂
Our clients are like family to us…
I just wanted to take a moment to deeply thank all of our clients throughout these many years. It is because you put your trust in me/us, that we are where we are today. I have grown very close to so many of you and have photographed your family as it grows. I’ve been through good times and hard times, right by your side, capturing it for you and enjoying it with you! Thank you for giving me/us this privilege. We look forward to many more years of capturing your families memories!
Joseph, Deborah & Dolly
J & D STUDIO, LLC
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you.”