Friday, March 20, 2009

We love Change!

I am a face of change. A PHace of change. I am part of a worldwide mission for hope. Hope. I know that nobody can prevent me from choosing to be exceptional. From choosing to make a difference. And at the end of the day the only question there remaining then becomes....the only question will be: What kind of difference did I make?

What kind of difference did *I* make?

Are YOU a PHace of Change?

Last month at WPPI, 30 of the biggest names (but so much more importantly the biggest HEARTS) in the photography industry gathered to film the Portrait House video in Las Vegas, Nevada. They stood huddled in the hallway outside of our room, waiting patiently for their turn. They laughed together and cried together. And TOGETHER... they made a difference.

When the last person had gone and the last line had been recorded, I looked at them and I burst into tears. For four hours I had held it in. The disbelief that this was actually coming together. The humbling gratitude that so many would give so much to make this happen. A year's worth of planning and hoping and praying, all taking shape before our very eyes. And it turns out that four hours is pretty much my maximum for holding something like that in. So I looked at them- especially, Ron & Tasra who had given so much of their time and themselves to film this for us, to make this dream a reality- I looked at them, and I cried.

Big fat, swollen tears.

Big fat, swollen tears that were sent free basing off the edge of my cheeks to land on their waiting shoulders below... staining their PH shirts an even deeper shade of blue.

Because they are the PHaces of change. The PHaces of Hope. And it is because of the faces you see below...

That there is no limit to what we can do. Together.

And in honor of all this change that's brewing on the horizon....this song was definitely calling out to me as the perfect anthem:

"Change" by Taylor Swift

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


We're up here in our room about to start filming the PH video!! So many people have come together to make this happen and I am SO PUMPED that it's finally here!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

PHa la la la la la la la la

Announcing The Portrait House Holiday Card PHundraising PHestival of Lights!!!!! (ok, there aren't actually any lights. But you know how I love me some alliteration!!)

So you know how you're going to send out cards anyway, right? The laws of the universe and holiday etiquette practically require it. Santa himself would be heartbroken if you didn't. You're going to send them to aunts and uncles and third cousins twice removed who haven't seen you since you were in diapers because y'know... it's just what you do. It's what we ALL do. So how about THIS year, you give the card that gives....more.

What if you could give a card that would build a house for a family in need? A card that would build hope for a world in need?

Well, this year you can.

Portrait House (PH) is offering two different designs of 5x5 holiday cards and 100% of the profit will go toward building a house with Habitat for Humanity. This year, it's THE ONLY card to give. We're selling them in packs of 25 for $75. I know that's a big commitment this time of year, but together I know we can do so much good.

"PHa la la la la la la la la"

"PHor all mankind"

But wait...It gets SO much better than that!! We're also SUPER excited to announce that the first ten people in each state to buy TWO packs of PHundraising cards will become official PHounders for the Portrait House and receive your own FREE PHounder tee. But c''s about SO much more than the shirt (although I gotta say, they are pretty snazzy!!). You first ten will become our grassroots base, leading the way for PH in your home state as this mission of ours spreads across the country and the world. We'll be calling on you to help make Portrait House a reality that far exceeds any dream we might have had.

If you want to get on board, just email us at to place your order. We also encourage ALL of you to post about this on your own blogs to help spread the word about the only card you need to buy this year! We know there are such amazing hearts out there and we can't wait to see how far this goes. So thank you all so much in advance for that.

***The deadline for orders is December 12th, so make sure you jump on this!!

**** So some of you may be asking yourselves, "Wow, this sounds pretty great....but what the heck is Portrait House?" Great question! The Portrait House is an organization for photographers that Justin & I started in 2007 that is now on a worldwide fundraising mission for....Hope. Because we know that we're better together, we're stronger together, and there's nothing that we can't do...Together. We're calling on photographers across the country to join forces for a common leave a mark on this world that is far above and beyond anything that we could do by ourselves. Step by step, project by project we can accomplish so much more, so much faster...Together. That's why we've created an ongoing project list. The first is to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. The next to grant a wish for a Make a Wish child. Beyond that, there is no end to what we can do... what we must do... Together.

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything that you gave me." -Erma Bombeck

Monday, June 30, 2008

PHotographer of the week | Steve DePino

This week we have the awesome Steve-y DePino out of Connecticut. This joy of a young man has been involved with the foundation of PH and is an active part in the PH Advisory Team (PHAT). We are truly blessed to be surrounded by gold-hearted talent.

This dude makes me laugh... :D

Where do you hail from? Guilford CT.

Single, taken, or looking? Depends on who's asking... wait that sounds creepy... single

If you could read the diary of anyone dead or alive who would it be? Anne Frank

I am happiest when...
When I make people smile

Your favorite Sesame Street Character:
Gordon Robinson

Preferred Superhero power:
Web- slinging- I'm not even sure I would want that power but I would like to tell people I have "web-slinging capabilities". I think it would look good on a resume.

Favorite 80’s Movie: All of them

Something you cant live without:

First thought when you wake up in the morning:
"me should.. coffee... get"

Best piece of advice you ever received:
"Don't take advice from strangers"

Favorite quote:
"Everything I'm not, made me everything I am" -
Kanye West

What was one thing you wish someone had told you before getting into photography?
Never be afraid to make mistakes or ask questions.

What inspires you? Anything that is incredibly well designed and simple

Someone you admire:
Frank Gehry

What kind of candy best describes you?

Never have I ever....
answered a question like this.

I have a celebrity crush on
... Natalie Portman

What are you wearing today which is the most reflective of who you are? my comfy sunday warmup pants

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around? A small note from my dad that simply reads "have you ever felt like your where stuck between a rock and a hard place? " My dad left me that note on the breakfast table after I "parked" his fairly
new truck on a massive bolder at my girlfriends house the night before. He forgave me and made me laugh all at the same time. thats my dad.


Check in each week as we continue to explore more amazing souls behind the lens.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

PHotographer of the Week | Eric Laurits

We love our photography community, and are continually astounded at the amount of gracious hearts we find behind all the cameras, websites, & blogs. With this in mind, we want to get to know a little more behind the rockin' souls who so generously give back to the community and ultimately the world.

Beginning this week, we will be highlighting a new photographer each week who we have observed does just that.

First up... the inimitable Eric Laurits of :e:. This man truly embodies a heart for others and lives his life putting others before himself. Don't just take our word for it, check him out.....his actions truly speak louder than his (or our) words.

Your name: eric johannes laurits

Where do you hail from? Inside.

Single, taken, or looking? Single and taken with looking.

If you could read the diary of anyone dead or alive who would it be? I'd rather not, thanks. I trust you.

I am happiest when... you are nearby.

Your favorite Sesame Street Character: Ron Jeremy

Preferred Superhero power: can stop people from wearing makeup and help them to understand that they are perfect just like they are. Because you are, you know.

What is one thing people mistake about you? I'm about as cool as a kick to the junk.

Favorite 80's Movie: uh…. I'd love to pretend that decade never existed.

Something you cant live without: kindness.

First thought when you wake up in the morning: Oh man, who is that?

Best piece of advice you ever received: better safe than pregnant.

Favorite quote:

Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That's so long ago, I don't remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.

What inspires you? The way the light dances with her hair.

Someone you admire: Andres and Virginia Laurits

What kind of candy best describes you? Strawberries.

Never have I ever.... been serious.

I have a celebrity crush on .... LaCour

What are you wearing today which is the most reflective of who you are? A turtle around my neck.

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around? My donor ID card. Just cause you never know.

We generally approach volunteer work with the heart of giving back, yet more often than not, the giver is often the one changed. Please share with us your favorite volunteer experience and what you learned... I was in the AmeriCorps for a year. It was so incredibly tough on my soul, but watching children in need [especially the boys] of a positive role model in their life flourish academically and socially because of a single constant has given me enough love to last for the rest of my life.


Check in each week as we continue explore more amazing souls behind the lens.

Friday, June 6, 2008


In the past twenty four hours we have been absolutely the best possible way ever!! After the incredible & beautiful Miss Jasmine posted about PH on her blog, the emails have been pouring in from all across the country from people wanting to be involved. We are overwhelmed by your kind words, your generosity, and the incredible rockin' hearts that fill this industry. You bless us more than you'll ever know! We're working hard to get back to each & every one of you, but please be patient with us as it may take a little while to get through all of them!

We love you guys!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Think diPHerent!

Special thanks to our amazing friend, Jasmine, for being one of the first in our grass roots ad campaign to get the word out about PH. Mary & I are just so thankful to have people like her in our lives, the kind of people who drop everything to make Hope happen! We love you Jaz!

We also want to thank Candice & Mark of Mark Brooke Photography and Gabriel & Carlie of Gabriel Ryan Photography for helping Jasmine out for this shot!!

We have a whole line up of killer photographers who are going to be doing their own PH ad, so stay tuned for that! To get your own custom PH shirt, just send us your ideas and we'll get you all set up.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

On PHire!

Getting the word out is essential to our cause... Check out how some of the friends of Portrait House are choosing to make their statement!

Friend, and now partner, in The Portrait House Project, Shyla shows us that a little spark can start a big PHire!

How will YOU make your statement?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weibners rock the HOUSE!

Its amazing to see how people get creative to give back to Charity! Documentary Photographers Jennifer and Mary of Love Life Images have created an amazing lecture series called "Photo Nights for Charity" where suggested donations are received and given to that month's highlighted charity.

Friends of The Portrait House Joel & Rita Weibner spoke at the April lecture series and raised $1100 for The Portrait House!

Rock on my friends!!!

(ps) Maybe the traveling shovel can make an appearance at the groundbreaking of our first Habitat House! ;)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Wiebners raising money for Portrait House!

A couple weeks back, Mary and I got the chance to meet the wonderful Joel & Rita Wiebner when we went down to speak at the Philidelphia PUG meeting. These guys are so awesome! On April 9th they'll be speaking at the first ever "Photo Nights for Charity" event in Savage, MD which was started by photographers Jennifer Domenick and Mary Gardella of Love Life images. Joel & Rita have chosen Portrait House as their charity to sponsor for the night, so all donations that are made will go toward PH. If you're in the Washington, D.C, Baltimore, MD or even the Philadelphia area be sure to go check these guys out. There is also more information about the event and future lectures on the Photo Nights for Charity blog... so go show them some love!

Friday, January 11, 2008

PHotographer of the month!! - Christy Murray

January's PHotographer of the Month is Christy Murray. Christy has raised $850 dollars so far for PH and she has no plans for stopping anytime soon! Thanks so much for everything Christy!

1) What inspires you most when you're shooting?
A combination of things, I suppose. My clients, the locations, the light… I work 100% on location, so whether I am shooting a wedding or a portrait session the location is always different, the light is always changing, my clients are always moving around. All of these things keep me on my toes and my creative gears spinning away. If I HAVE to pick just one thing – it would be the people I work with. My clients are a fantastic group of people – fun, loving, expressive, adventurous. I am constantly looking for new ways to showcase each client’s uniqueness and personality – I find that constant challenge inspiring.

2) How did you get into photography?
In college I participated in a program called Semester at Sea. I spent 4 months circumnavigating the globe, stopping at various ports, learning about different places and different people. I was studying Anthropology at the time, but found that I was a much more effective storyteller when I used my camera instead of my journal. The seed was planted. Over the next few years I started taking courses part-time at the Maine College of Art and later at Boston University while I was working. My family and friends were extremely supportive – they were among my first clients! Word of mouth took it from there…

3) What advice would you give to a photog just starting out?
I have only been doing photography full time for a few years – so be warned that this isn’t sage advice! With that said, I would tell them to try as many types of photography as they can. When I went back to school to study photography I thought I wanted to shoot catalog work in a studio – that was my dream. Then I started assisting a food photographer… I was bored out of my mind. I found stylizing a green bean for hours torturous – I needed fast pace, I needed variety. I never thought I would end up shooting weddings – but here I am and I love every minute of it!

4) If you had to start all over, what would you do differently? the same?
Different – I would have taken more business courses in college. I am grateful that I have an accountant with unending patience!

The same – I am glad that I was willing to take risks and try new things. My career path is much like the path of a migrating butterfly. In short bits and spurts it probably didn’t look like I have had much direction – but I ended up just where I needed to be.

5) What other photographers inspire you? Do you stalk any blogs?
This may sound corny – but here it goes … - every photographer inspires me. Regardless of experience or training each and every one sees the world through differently – I love that!

6) How do you organize your shoots for PH? How do you promote them?
I literally found out about PH the day before I started promoting it! I enjoy giving back to the community – when I got wind of what Mary and Justin were spearheading I knew I had to be a part of it. I threw together a small promo and emailed it out to my list of clients and friends. I had three bookings by the end of the week – and word of mouth took it from there. My clients did most of the promoting from there by passing it along to their friends and family.

7) How did you get your clients excited about PH?
My clients who participated LOVED the idea that their portrait session fee was going directly to Habitat. I even had a few who wanted to give more! I plan on doing a few more promotions spaced throughout this coming year. To keep interest high I am only going to offer the PH fundraiser during certain parts of the year. Tying it into the holiday season this year worked out well, so I think I’ll give that a try next year as well.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christy Murray Photography

Check out Christy Murray's new PH marketing campaign! In the last two weeks she has raised $650 for Habitat!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The $2000 mark!

The check I was really waiting for came today, bringing my total since i started to just over $2000. I'd like to thank everyone who donated to this cause and made it so fun.

Robert Norman

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

pHotographer of the month!!

Justin and I would like to announce our first ever pHotographer of the month! As soon as we came up with the idea, there was no question who should take the innaugural role: Robert Norman has raised over $1000 dollars in three short months (shattering his initial goal of raising that much by Christmas) and has brought such big names to the cause as our Governor: Jodi Rell. We asked Robert to do an interview with us so he could shed some light on how he has made his business and his contribution such a huge success.

1. What inspires you most when you're shooting?
What gets me going is getting a reaction out of someone you’ve shot. Could be a smile, a laugh, an ‘oh my god’, maybe a tear. The fact that you have created a situation for a client to enter where they are comfortable and end up looking a way they never thought they could, is just incredible. Capturing those moments that will mean so much to them is just so great. I also love that moment when you realize that the subject has dropped their guard and are getting into the groove of what you’re doing---at that point you’ve got ‘em and they're yours…they open up, trust you, and trust THEMSELVES. Your shoot moves up a few levels at that point, and you can start finding shots you never expected to see.

2. What's your favorite lens & why?
I’m not much of a lens nut like so many photogs are – I have always been more into having a couple of ‘practical’ lenses that can get me through most situations. I have a Nikon 24-70 2.8 that I almost always use…give me something a little wide and a little long and I can make it work. I did buy a Sigma lens recently that is surprisingly sharp (I was hesitant to buy something other than a Nikon, but it’s sharper then my Nikon version of it, so I guess you never know)

3. How did you get into photography?
I actually got into photography because I had to, and by that I mean that it was a college requirement that at the time I had no real interest in. However once I got into it, I dropped as many of my graphic design classes I could and became a photo major. My design teacher was not too happy and thought I was possibly making a big mistake. The spontaneity of it was the real selling point for me, especially with all of the dragged-out studio classes I was taking.

4. What's been your favorite shoot?
Gosh that’s a tough one—there have been so many fun ones. I guess the highlight all in all was photographing Paul Newman at his house. I received the call and photographed him all in the same day, so it was a very surreal experience. But I guess in general what’s most satisfying is coming up with a shot idea off the cuff that ends up being better than anything I could have ever planned for ahead of time…that’s very rewarding.

5. What advice would you give to a photog just starting out?
I think the main thing is to not close yourself of to opportunity. Many things can pass right in front of you if you’re not paying attention or if you’re too focused on waiting for that ‘one thing’. In college I had a rather distinct vision of how things might proceed in my life, but if I were to map out what I’ve done over the years, who I’ve met along the way, and what that’s all led to – it would not only make my head spin, but is NOTHING like the way I thought my career would go. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I have done stuff I never dreamed of doing since.
Stick with it, have fun, be open to new ideas and don’t take it all too seriously.

6. If you had to start all over what would you do differently? The same?
My 2 years of assisting in LA were brutal but also fun and a great training experience, and I would not have changed that. I guess I wish I had more guts at the time to pursue assisting in NYC. I also wish I had a more focused vision when I was in college and had listened more in Art History (I often think about what I would get out of college if I were there now!) But you know, that’s all hindsight and I believe that I would not be where I am now if those factors had changed…we are all doing the best we can at any given time. Regardless, I’m not sure I’m cut out for anything but photography. I can’t ever see quitting or ‘retiring’ or anything like that…it’s what I do and has become who I am, so it will always be a part of me in one form or another.

7. What other photographers inspire you? What blogs do you stalk?
I am impressed by photographers who are uber-talented but don’t have an attitude about it. I have no patience for obnoxious boasting, which is SO easy to come across, especially in the wedding business, you know? I look at others work from the perspective of ‘Wow! How’d they get that?” of “What a cool angle.” I don’t see it from a competition point of view, or one of ‘if I praise you you’ll steal work from me’ That is absurd, since there are so any more components to each photographer than a single interesting shot!
I jump around a lot on Blogs, and will often check comments and then go to THAT persons blog…I’ve found some fun stuff that way. I check out some Photoshop ones, tech ones, Adobe, camera news/updates etc.

Aside from that, I try to keep open to the rest of the photo biz, especially documentary and landscape photography. I subscribe to LensWork Magazine for a good dose of that. It’s a narrow approach to only focus on the field you’re in, and I have always been interested in all aspects of photography and the arts in general. I can only read magazines on studio lighting and hard drive reviews so much. Reading about photography projects that I would have never considered inspires me (there’s a film about homeless people living in the NY subway systems they call home, I’m curious about seeing) All of these things can really help you out when they’re all tucked away in the back of your head. That’s why I try to take a trip once a year – just for myself – somewhere usually out west. I’m heading in January to Yellowstone for a seminar where they haul you out into the sub-zero weather to shoot animals and steaming natural sulpher pools. Not for everyone, but I’m really looking forward to it.

8. What made you get so involved so quickly with the PH?
Years ago I attempted to volunteer for Humanity but it never panned out for a number of reasons. When you guys mentioned it to me, a light went off and I thought “OH! Maybe I can get this to work this time.”
I believe that the environment you surround yourself with, as well as the beliefs and mental attitude you have about what’s possible for tomorrow are what actually create your future. If you think this is it, and nothing will ever improve, then that’s what you’re setting yourself up for. So many people are stuck on that treadmill to nowhere, with no positive role models and nothing to look forward to, hope for or even care about. So I really think the pride and personal responsibility that Habitat encourages is the best type of positive reinforcement. It can set a new standard in a neighborhood in such a positive way.
I’m at a point now where I realize 2 things – I’m doing well enough to be able to give more…AND most importantly, you really do get by giving! I know how corny that sounds, but it’s the truth. It’s no skin off my back, clients are happy, I work with people who WANT to be here and help out and so it’s a great felling. I haven’t once thought, “OH, that money should be mine.”

9. How do you organize your shoots for giving to PH? Do you donate a portion/all of the proceeds from every shoot? Do you have PH months?
To start, I decided to simply offer shoots for $100 of which 100% went right to Habitat. I had clients write their checks out to Habitat, so they knew I was not seeing any of it. My goal was to reach $1000 by Christmas, but that took mush less time than I expected! What I’m doing now if offering shoots for $200 of which I will donate $50.00 through December. After that, I’ll have to think about how I want to handle it. I think the key it to be sure that clients KNOW the money is really going to where they think it is and not in my pocket.

10. How did you get your clients excited about PH?
In a way that has taken care of itself – all it took was my putting the word out and it just happened (if you announce it, they will come!)I chose to make it a prominent addition to the main page on my website. I am really amazed at how many people have said how great an idea they thought it was – it’ s really gotten people thinking about photos they’ve wanted to take and have put off for one reason or another. I’ve done families, engagement, babies and even boudoir photos(!) all for the PH. Most of the people have spread the word to other friends who in turn have come for a shoot. It took virtually no effort other than asking to get the CT Governor to participate either! They also seem impressed that I’m just doing it and giving it all away…I have a feeling many of these folks will be back in the future for more photos because of their participation with the PH.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Spread the Word!!

We've been getting a TON of emails from people all over wanting to get involved with The Portrait House, and there are so many things we need your help with! The biggest thing would definitely have to be helping us get the word out about the project. So, we just made these cool badges that you can put on your blogs and they link back to the PH blog. These are the three basic badges, BUT if you have a personalized one in mind (and you're super nice to us! :P) we'll send you one made just for you! Just drop us an email at to get yours!