Archive for 2011

project inspiration day 3


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There is no doubt that the Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt home is one of my favorites places to shoot. The room has just the ideal lighting conditions and with the way that it's shaped, the light bounces perfectly. This couldn't be more evident than the photo above, as we were simply trying to figure out where KMG should stand. When I noticed that she looked down while I was testing some settings, I asked her to do it again. But as many shots as we tried, it was still that first one that worked.

As a photographer, I am always trying to get that perfect shot. It's a lot like fishing, I think. I don't fish, but it has to be the same feeling. And even though you think you might have caught the perfect shot, you know deep down that there's one even better. But for me, this photograph comes as close as I could come to getting the shot that matched what was in my head.  And believe it or not, that doesn't happen as often as you think.

When I started this project, I knew that there would be so many variables. To have 30 different people agree to a schedule was a miracle in and of itself. But to have everything line up and for everyone to have the same vision in art and execution, is a testament to everyone involved.

I am so proud of what we have accomplished in such a short amount of time. I have never been more honored to work with such a great group of people. To everyone who participated in this project - the participants and the artists - I am grateful for your time, generosity, creativity, and passion. You are truly an inspiration.

fashion runway shows


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In the last 6 months, these are the runway shows that I've photographed at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and Miami.  I think these might double in September alone.

  • A.Ché
  • Aqua di Lara
  • BCBGMAXAZRIA
  • Binetti
  • Caffe Swimwear
  • Carolina Herrera
  • Christian Siriano
  • Crystal Jin
  • Cynthia Rowley
  • Derek Lam
  • Diane von Furstenberg
  • Dolores Cortés
  • Farah Angsana
  • G-Star Raw
  • L*Space by Monica Wise
  • Lela Rose
  • Luca Luca
  • Monique Lhuillier
  • Nicholas K
  • Nicole Miller
  • Norman Ambrose
  • Perry Ellis
  • Poko Pano
  • Rebecca Minkoff
  • Ruffian
  • Vivienne Tam
  • White Sands Australia


fashion in clarendon


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In two months time, eleven 60x40 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week canvas pieces were purchased by the fantastic and fashionably educated crowd of the Peacock Cafe customers in Georgetown. The first time around, three pieces were sold before I could even hang them up.

Since I live in Clarendon, I thought I could also hang them up here. This time, they were on display at the dry cleaners located near my building. I thought it would be a good experiment. And it's a nice place actually and the wall was perfect for a single 60x40 piece. So I started off with the Lhuillier piece (top seller along with Anna Wintour). Their customers were excited to see the piece, but it did not sell. After a few weeks, we switched it with the Anna Wintour piece. The customers recognized the person, but again, it did not sell. The Siriano piece followed and nobody said anything. This weekend, I switched it to the DVF piece to see if anyone would recognize it. The first customer actually chatted with me because ironically enough, she was just picking up one of her DVF dresses from the cleaners. This led me to believe that the customers are pretty knowledgeable of the designers I was displaying and that they just weren't interested in buying a 60x40 canvas piece.

The owners of the dry cleaning place are very excited about my work and they love seeing it in their place of business. But they also mentioned that their women customers are less luxurious in their clothes than the men. They have about 2 or 3 women that bring in the high-dollar clothes, but for the most part, their women customers are of the Banana Republic/Ann Taylor types. There's nothing wrong with that, but I did find it a little odd that Clarendon did not have the Lhuillier/DVF crowd. I thought for sure by now that this young neighborhood would have reacted more positively to the pieces and that eventually, I would have gotten at least an email.

Could it be that they're displayed in a dry cleaner place or that the dry cleaner place is in Clarendon?  And who would have thought the men in Clarendon would have higher priced clothes than the women?

On a side note, these are the current top sellers. And for the upcoming S/S 2012 collection, I'm going to see if Michael Kors, Tory Burch, or Vera Wang can sell in Clarendon. =)
  1. Anna Wintour/Herrera - 3;  Lhuillier - 3
  2. Legs/NY Fashion Week - 2;  Siriano - 2
  3. DVF - 1

    project inspiration day 2


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    Like the first day, our second day for the Project Inspiration photoshoot went very well. I am completely amazed by how these types of projects go without a hitch. And the one common theme when it comes to successful projects is that you have an amazing group of people who share their talents and time to make it all work. It is a humbling and amazing experience to work with such an A-List group of people.

    The second day of shooting happened at L2 Lounge in Georgetown and I couldn't be more pleased that they would let us use their space. I'm extremely excited as well that the exhibit on November 16th will actually also take place there. There are a total of 17 individuals that are being photographed, styled, and made up. The fact that we haven't had any problems yet is nothing short of amazing. It's one thing to be able to plan a project, but to be successful, you need people to execute on the plan. The opportunity to work with people like Christophe Jouenne, Violetta Markelou, Tray Rogers, Brittney Tiarra, and Elaine Mensah is an incredible treat.

    Additionally, I was happy when one of the participants bought the trench coat we used on her. It saved me a trip back to Banana Republic.

    project inspiration day 1


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    Trying to schedule twenty people to meet you on any day is already a daunting task, let alone when it's a Saturday and it involves stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and directors of several nonprofit organizations.  So the fact that we were able to photograph seven individuals in a full blown old hollywood glamour photoshoot without a single problem or issue was a testament to everyone involved.

    What made it even challenging is that The Kreeger Museum was quite full of visitors for a summer day.  I'm grateful for the museum staff for keeping the traffic clear and for letting us work without any interruption.  And as always, a successful photoshoot would not be possible without a talented team behind it.  Special thanks to the wonderful team of Laura Bateman, Tray Rogers, Anastasia Lambrou, Neven Radovic, Isabel Azocar, Kenyetta Kemy Greene, and Maritza Savage. So lucky to work with so many talented people!  And to the leaders of the 7 nonprofit organizations who came out today - you were fantastic.  Can't wait for Day 2!

    the project inspiration team


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    HAIR STYLISTS
    Christophe Jouenne, Neven Radovic, Isabel Azocar,
    Brittney Tiarra, Maritza Savage

    MAKEUP ARTISTS
    Laura Bateman, Kenyetta Greene,
    Tray Rogers, Violetta Markelou

    STYLISTS
    Anastasia Lambrou, Elaine Mensah

    PHOTOGRAPHER
    Walter Grio

    mercedes-benz fashion week miami


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    During fashion week in New York, they hand out free Diet Cokes. For swimsuit fashion week in Miami, they have a free Skyy Vodka bar. Need I say more?

    This was my first time in Miami, ever, and I can honestly now understand why LeBron would take his talents to South Beach. In a heartbeat, I would totally do the same. And I’d probably do a three hour special on ESPN and then give all the proceeds to charity.

    The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM 2012 Miami event was held at the Raleigh Hotel on South Beach and there were two tents where the shows were held called CABAÑA GRANDE and OASIS. In between these two tents was a large resort type swimming pool with palm trees and several outdoor bars. There was no shortage of adult beverages. Lounging around this swimming pool were some of the most beautiful people you’ve ever seen. And we’re not even talking about the models.


    With the beach all around you and beautiful people on your sights, one would think this would be paradise. And it is. But when you’re photographing a major fashion production such as the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, it is not all paradise. Just as in New York, there is plenty of waiting. I do have to admit that the free Skyy Vodka bar helped alleviate some of the waiting. But at the same time, I’m quite surprised I didn’t pass out in between shows. =)

    Unlike New York, when you’re waiting to get in a show in Miami, you’re actually standing on a sandy beach with all of your photography gear. And when you’re carrying a ton of gear, the beach starts to feel like a desert. After a while, you can hear other media folks screaming “Just let us in!” and “Oh my God, I’m gonna die out here.” At first you laugh at them because how silly can you be when you’re out here photographing fashion week featuring swimsuit models and there’s a free Skyy Vodka bar? But I do know what they mean. I would have preferred to be mingling with the pretty people rather than wait in line with other photographers to save my spot only to stand tightly next to them on the media riser like sweaty sardines.


    In some ways, they are correct. It is a ton of work and you do have to wait an awfully long time to get in the air-conditioned tents. And of course, once you get in the air-conditioned tents, you have to wait some more. It is quite inevitable that there’s waiting involved when it comes to a fashion show.

    Considering that this was only my second Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week event, I was pretty pleased with all of my shots. I learned a lot while shooting the one in New York so I applied those lessons in this one. The first one was to bring my wheeled Gator hard case so that I didn’t have to carry my gear. I could wheel them around like a suitcase. Unfortunately, this lesson also generated another lesson - you can’t wheel things around when you’re on a beach. When you’re in Miami, bring a backpack.

    However, I was able to use my hard case while I was on the media-riser. I could stand on it and give me an extra foot or two to be higher and shoot over the other photographers. Brilliant. The other lesson I learned was to have a monopod. This is similar to a tripod except it has one leg and it is quite helpful to get steady shots. But more importantly, when you’re shooting six shows back to back to back, it can definitely help lighten the load.

    Overall, it was a great trip. I didn’t think I would notice the difference between the swimsuits. By the end of each night, I could actually tell which were better and how they were different from each other. Then again, maybe it was because I was stopping by the free Skyy Vodka bar every single time after each show.

    You can view the SWIM 2012 photos here:
    http://shootforchange.smugmug.com/MBFW/MBFW-Miami-SWIM-2012


    mbfw swim 2012 miami photos


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    allsaints spitalfields


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    AllSaints Spitalfields opened up a brand new Georgetown store in Washington DC and I was invited for a press event to take photos of the store. I didn't know this when I arrived, but we all ended up receiving a $100 gift certificate for being there that day. Nice. More photos here.

    volunteer of the year 2011


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    This nomination letter written by the Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home was read aloud during the awards ceremony at the DC Health Care Association's annual convention. I am still speechless.

    ***

    Sometimes miracles do happen. Sometimes someone so special, so dynamic, so sincere in their desire to help others comes along and truly rocks your world. That happened to this facility in the form of our nominee for Volunteer of the Year for 2011. It is not often that one finds in someone so young such an amazing willingness to give in both time and talent. By day, this young man works a full-time job in the information technology field; by night, he runs a photography business where all the money he earns goes to charities he supports.

    We were extraordinarily fortunate to have him discover us in the course of doing a charity photo shoot at another DC nonprofit. He was so taken by what he heard about our facility that he contacted us and asked if he could help us in our fundraising efforts. And his involvement was not just personal. He reached out to others among his circle of friends and acquaintances and told them about us, urging them to become our supporters as well. He sought out other volunteers to assist us in our spring fundraising event including a vocalist, a portrait artist, a videographer, a writer, and members of the local media. His impact on this facility in terms of spreading our message of service to the elderly of DC has been immense but we aren't alone in benefiting from his involvement. His philanthropic efforts extend across the greater Washington DC metropolitan area, helping to raise more than $60,000 for various non-profit organizations since 2006.

    But the money he has helped us raise and the exposure his efforts have provided this facility aren't this individual's only gifts. He has taken the residents into his heart and has demonstrated a pureness of spirit that is almost too good to be true. He loves interacting with the seniors and takes the time to really listen to their stories and their own histories. He is genuinely one of the kindest and most selfless individuals we have ever encountered. He is already helping us to plan an especially large anniversary gala and remains committed to seeing to it that our viability as a long term care institution is protected for future generations of the city's elderly. He has raised the bar against which all other volunteers to this facility will be measured. Words are frankly insufficient to express our gratitude for what he has done and what he continues to do on behalf of this facility and those we serve. It gives us great pleasure to nominate this exceptional young man for DCHCA's Volunteer of the Year.

    brand '47


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    I am totally hooked on these Brand '47 retro shirts. I have about 3 Mavs shirts and 2 TX Rangers shirts.  Wish they made them for the Cowboys and the Aggies.

    resident artists show raises $10k


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    The Resident Artists show at the Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt home raised over $10,000. That's over $10k worth of artwork, photoshoots, raffle tickets, and more importantly, dozens of smiling faces from the seniors living at the home.

    I remember the first time I saw their art work at the Capital Breast Care Center office with my friend Jennifer Harlow. We were there for completely different reasons and when the Director of Development, Susannah Fox, told me that the art work hanging on their walls were from the LLDH home, I was instantly floored. And when I learned that the home served low to no income seniors, I instantly knew I had to take their photos.

    I knew that with the portraits, I needed someone to write their stories. I'm grateful for Megan Harrington who spent countless hours interviewing each of the Resident Artists and hearing more about their stories and inspiration. The essays that Megan wrote made the art work and the residents come alive and made everyone learn more about each of the Resident Artists. A picture maybe worth a thousand words, but sometimes you actually need words to accurately capture the essence of the individual. Megan is an incredibly talented writer and I'm grateful for her time, support, and excitement about this project.

    At the same time that we were planning the exhibit, I knew that I wanted to get the help of Lindsey Mask, founder of Ladies DC. I sought out her help and support as I felt that her organization was an organization that I wanted to affiliate with. As I knew more about Lindsey, there was no doubt that I was meeting a very special and caring individual. I was really glad that she met me one day (a holiday no less) at Sushiko in Chevy Chase. She instantly saw the art work, felt inspired, and wanted to help as much as possible. What she and Ladies DC have done to promote, support, and raise awareness were simply outstanding. I am also grateful for Clark Seydel, who Lindsey brought with her when we met the staff one evening to help plan the event. It was a tough time for both Lindsey and Clark as they were dealing with a loss, but they took time out of their incredibly busy day to meet with the LLDH staff. Both Lindsey and Clark are wonderful people I hope that everyone can have the opportunity to meet them both.

    Around the same time, I met singer Sheena Alexis at an event at Puro Cafe. I actually heard about her and instantly Googled her and found a video on YouTube. I was immediately impressed when I heard her voice and I am so happy that she came out to sing a special song during the LLDH awards ceremony. Her performance brought tears and I'm grateful for her taking the time to be there and also inviting a special band that made this event even more unique. I hope that you will all have the opportunity to see Sheena Alexis perform.

    Last and certainly not least, I would like to thank Don Patron for painting portraits of each of the Resident Artists. His work, quite simply, made this event very special for me. For him to take the time out of his busy schedule and paint each portrait quickly and amazingly made this event very special. All of the Resident Artists loved his work and many of them made sure they thanked him and showed their appreciation for his work. Despite the fact that Don has many things on his calendar, I'm grateful that he took the time to work on this project.

    Hands down, this was one of the most special projects I've ever been involved with. I'm grateful for NBC Washington, Georgetown Dish, Bisnow, and Her Exchange for covering the event and sharing the stories about the LLDH home.

    The artwork is always available for viewing. Please feel free to call the home to setup an appointment. You can also view their work at both Sushiko locations in Chevy Chase and Georgetown. I guarantee that you will love it and you will never forget it.

    For more info about the home, please visit their website at www.lldhhome.org.

    a thousand words


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    100 members of the Washington DC community courageously came together to express how breast cancer has touched their lives. This photo exhibition was held for one night only on April 19, 2011 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. This exhibit raised over $3600 for Capital Breast Care Center.

    View more photos here.



    one thing leads to another


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    it's funny how one thing leads to another. but as you can see, "shoot for change" is much more than just about one person or one organization. in some ways, it has become a kaleidoscope of ideas and possibilities and more and more people are executing on those ideas and possibilities. and that is pretty cool.

    --

    january 2010 started out with officially moving to dc and a letter from the mercedes-benz fashion week new york. this led me to shooting dc fashion week and pink jams. that drove me to shoot all the fashion related charity events including fashion for paws, tigerlily, and couture for a cure. next thing i know, i'm invited by angela steever and jennifer harlow to a don patron mother's day portrait show at the peacock cafe to find out if i would do my first photo exhibit in washington dc there. done and done. ironically enough, you could hear pink martini playing in the background.

    during the summer, i did an event with merissa benitez and anastasia lambrou at the puro cafe in georgetown. this event benefited women empowered against violence. it was a small event, but it would somehow lead to meeting several cool new people including lais lacher, april watts, michael gomez, and later on, jazz singer sheena alexis who will be singing at future sfc events. in addition, kemy greene is hosting an event at boconcept georgetown in march 2011 that's also benefiting women empowered against violence. and of course i have to write that my connection with boconcept only happened because jennifer harlow was taking a real estate class and decided to sit next to the cool looking girl, tia mamada, who happened to be working at boconcept at the time.

    shortly thereafter, micky farivar recommends me as a photographer to a few peacock cafe regulars including photographing a surprise birthday party and an author who just finished writing her mother's unfinished book. lynda plott needed headshots before she toured her book and at the time of our shoot, she didn't know where to donate the money. two weeks later, she emails me and says she's donating the money to capital breast care center during a special breakfast fundraiser. she didn't mention where the breakfast was going to be, but for some strange coincidence, i was at the same hotel that same morning with my parents as i was dropping them off at their megabus trip to new york. later that night, i found out that most of the folks i know were also at that breakfast.

    angela steever came up with a great idea called SFC Family Day where we take family portraits for $200. several families signed up quickly and before we knew it, we had to turn people away. this led to jennifer harlow organizing another SFC Family Day that would benefit an organization she just learned about called capital breast care center. she was also at that same breakfast. as we were planning the 2nd SFC Family Day, i suggested that we have an indoor location just in case the weather didn't turn out right. i threw out the kreeger museum and next thing i know, jennifer harlow calls me back and says they're interested and next thing i know, we're touring the museum. we didn't actually work with the kreeger museum, but they kept SFC on their radar and eventually invited SFC to be a partner in a fundraising event for their alzheimer's program called "conversations".

    after the 2nd SFC Family Day, jennifer harlow suggested that we hand deliver the checks to the capital breast care center office. i agreed and we meet susannah fox at the cbcc office. as we were walking around the office, i saw some of the best artworks and paintings i've seen, which led me to asking her where they got them. in short, she told me that they were done by seniors living at the lisner-louise-dickson-hurt home in chevy chase. i was so inspired that at THAT VERY MOMENT, i said i wanted to do photo portraits. i emailed the info email address i found on the website and two days later, i'm sitting in front of the CEO and executive director of the lisner-louise-dickson-hurt home pitching to them my idea. they were so floored that we're having a big photo and art exhibition in may 2011 at the home.

    at the same exact time that the above paragraph was happening, a photo exhibit project with pink jams was brewing that would benefit, once again, capital breast care center. this photo exhibit is large (requires 100 feet of total display), expensive (i asked people for money and eventually used shoot for change as a major vehicle to raise funds), and mind numbingly exciting (i couldn't even look or edit more than 3 photos at a time because of the emotion in the photos). this exhibit is on april 19th at the atlas performing arts center. and because of the generosity of so many people, capital breast care center does not incur any of the costs. and because of this photo exhibit, i just photographed linda mathes, the CEO of american red cross for the national capital region. this photoshoot would then lead to...

    my first mercedes-benz fashion week new york experience


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    I first want to say thank you to Elaine Mensah and SVELTE, LLC for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity of photographing the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. Without doubt, this has been the most exciting photography experience I’ve ever had since I picked up a camera in 2006. Thank you Elaine!!



    When I first arrived at my first Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York event, I stood next to a photographer and said, “I can’t believe I finally made it to the Super Bowl of fashion events.” Of course the actual Super Bowl just happened a few days before so the comparison was obvious. But what I didn’t expect was his response, “Oh no, this isn’t the Super Bowl of fashion events. This is just the playoffs.”

    WHAT?

    Now I think he was referring to some of the events in Europe, which if you were to compare it to that, then I can see the analogy working. But at the same time, there are not a lot of fashion events in the US that attract photographers and media from around the world. In my short time there, I met photographers and videographers from Italy, Austria, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Korea, Japan, and China. And those were just the ones that I know about. If you have that kind of international media personnel covering an event, I think it’s safe to say that it is the Super Bowl of fashion events and not just the playoffs.

    Now before I start talking about designers and their collection, I have to first admit that these names did not mean anything to me whatsoever. Christian Siriano, Carolina Herrera, Diane von Furstenberg, Monique Lhuillier? I mean, I can’t even say their names let alone tell you who they are. I’m really glad that Elaine was there to help straighten me out because I really didn’t know any better. To me, I was in the Super Bowl!! Who cares who’s playing? Where are the models?

    As a first time photographer at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, I was glad that I had some previous fashion runway experience. I know the magnitude doesn’t even compare, but it helped me tremendously in terms of anticipating the models walking down the runway, knowing when it might be good to take a photo (as opposed to just holding down the shutter), and also perhaps that there might be better spots than others.

    However, what I did not totally anticipate was ALL THE WAITING involved. If you want a decent spot on the media risers, then you need to come early. If you don’t come early, then you’re pretty much at the back of the line and you might not even get inside to see the show. Within the next 15 minutes, you’ll start seeing other photographers line up. The problem is that there’s a show every hour so if you want to go to the “big name” shows, then you might as well forget the other ones and just camp out. Once they actually let you in, then you still have to wait another 45 minutes before the show actually starts. It takes a while to get 200 media people and an additional 800+ people seated for a show.

    As a photographer, you are constantly looking to find ways to get a good shot. But when you’re in the media risers at a fashion show, you’re pretty much stuck to where you are. There’s no moving around at all. In fact, once the show starts, you can’t even move your feet. There are people literally sitting on your foot and leaning on your leg. It is like being in the Metro during rush hour or like being in a mosh pit. If you can imagine that, then continue to imagine that you’re holding on to your backpack, camera equipment, and all the other things that you need to carry with you. You’re holding on to your 70-200mm lens that’s about as long as a forearm so now you can see how complicated this can get when you have 250 other people trying to get a good shot.

    It is absolute chaos. But once the lights dim and the music starts, then magic happens. All the anticipation and all the waiting and all the pushing and shoving comes to a halt and as you see the first model walk out and the lights brighten up again, then you realize you’re not photographing just any fashion show. You are in the crème de la crème of fashion shows. You’re in the Super Bowl.

    Ten minutes later, it’s over.

    Yes, it’s about 90 minutes of waiting for a ten minute show. And then you do it again. By the 4th day and the 15th show, I was quite simply – exhausted. The last thing I wanted to do or see again was another model walking down the runway. But at the same time, I didn’t want to lose touch of where I was and what I was doing. It’s not every day that you get to see a preview of the Fall 2011 Christian Siriano collection. And it’s definitely not everyday that you see Diane von Furstenberg walk around the runway after her show. But after all those shows and all those photographs, I was simply tired.

    On my last day, I only had two shows to cover. The first one was Carolina Herrera’s and even though I wasn’t really familiar with her, I knew that she was a very important designer and that many people wanted to shoot her event. So I stayed in line as I described above and was fortunate to be one of the first ones to be in the media risers. In previous shows, I normally shot from the left side, but somehow for this show, I thought I’d mix it up a bit and shoot from the right side. Perhaps it was divine intervention as I attended the youth service at St. Paul’s church after watching Diane von Furstenberg’s collection the day before. =) I picked my spot and started chatting with the video guy next to me. It turned out he was covering for CNN, which is always a good sign. He then pointed out that Anna Wintour was at the show and that she would be sitting in the front row. As he pointed in her direction, I saw her. For those of you who might not know, Anna Wintour is the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue magazine. My ultimate dream shot for fashion week was to have Anna Wintour watching the models walking by. And I got the shot. I couldn’t believe it. After that show, I didn’t feel like I was watching the Super Bowl of fashion events. I felt like I had won it.

    You can view the photos here:
    http://shootforchange.smugmug.com/MBFW/mbfwnyfall2011